Week 1 | Support Team - Team Support
Vehicle | Car
Nights | 8
Hospital Visits | 3
This first week blog was supposed to begin something like this, 'Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the road.' - Jack Kerouac, On the Road. Unfortunately, I sit here back in my Moana home searching the internet for quotes like 'Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans.' -Allen Saunders (popularised and often attributed to John Lennon).
We hit the road, fully loaded with months of supplies last Friday and made our way to Mambray Creek, a couple of hours north of Adelaide and just a few minutes off the highway. I hadn't stayed here since I was a kid, not often traveling inland as a surfer. The damp gums and camp fire smells redolent of memories of summers with family and friends. It was wonderful to wake to kookaburras laughing and emus walking among the campsites, nothing had changed in 20 years. Juniper and Myf were having an experience I myself had had as a kid.
We packed and made our way west in no particular hurry, making Kimba by the early afternoon, and officially half-way across Australia. Deciding to camp near-by we searched for parks that offered us something different than what we would see over the next months, Lake Gilles Conservation Park for some lakeside bush camping was the choice. Arriving at dusk we made camp just as first serious cold-snap of winter hit. It rained, and rained and rained, a very soothing sound from within a tent. A demonic wind however soon followed and destroyed any rainy tranquility and the chance of a good night's sleep. The track in was already a struggle for our heavily-laden car and trailer and after 6 hours of constant rain my mind returned to the one particular sentence in researching the park, '… the roads quickly become impassable after a rain even for 4wds.' Myf and I decided that 6 hours of rain constituted enough to make the soft sands softer and we pulled up stumps just after midnight, not wanting to wake up in the morning to find ourselves bogged on day 2 of the trip with no-one within cooee. We limped sodden back to the warm embrace of Kimba and warm 3-minute shower for $2.
The force of the storm the night previous knocked the 3 of us for 6, we all came down heavily and quickly with colds and made the decision to bunker down in a Ceduna motel for a night before making our way to Fowler's Bay and only a day out from my official start point in Eucla. The last time I had spent any quality time in Ceduna was for the 2002 total solar eclipse along with 20,000 others. It was definitely quieter this time around, with no sign of the 'locals only' bar, long since demolished. It was to be our first of many nights in Ceduna, unbeknownst to us.
The afternoon next, Myf had gotten the three of us out of the motel room for some fresh air when Juniper had an innocuous fall in the car park. We thought little of it and waited for Juno to dust herself off but her cries turned to screams, meaning Myf picked her up to comfort her, knowing something was very wrong. Juno's eyes rolled back into her head, her face went blue, she fell unconscious, her body jolted stiff, arched her back and her arms shot forward, fists clenched. I grabbed Juno, and Myf dialed 000. We didn't think she'd hit her head, the fall was the same fall any toddler experiences 5 times a day, but there she was, my 20 month old daughter unresponsive in my arms. Juno came to and was as scared and confused as the both of us. Myf comforted her while I got the details of the Ceduna Hospital and we were there in minutes. She was assessed as having gone into shock after a jolt of adrenaline from the fall. Nothing to worry about, we got the green light to continue our way west, and we would, tentatively the next day.
Fowler's Bay beckoned, the town at risk of being swallowed whole by sand. We arrived on a perfect winter's day, blue skies, not a breath of wind and whales in the bay. Welcomed by the caravan park, we set-up camp while Juno made friends with her new neighbours, regaining some of her spark. Her parents however, were still shaken. I spent an hour in the iconic dunes trying to find a photograph but nothing materialised. It was perfect light and a rich subject for 360 degrees yet I couldn't make a frame. I made my way back to be with the girls for dinner. We sat as a family surrounded by other families enjoying the beauty and serenity of the bay. We finally began to settle and enjoy the journey west. I cracked my first beer of the trip, Myf a wine and we enjoyed conversation with others around the camp kitchen. I would be in the saddle tomorrow or the day after and LAND SEA YOU ME would begin in earnest but Juno's body had different ideas. As Myf and Juno were returning from brushing their teeth, Juno had another episode and for the second time in two days I had my daughter seizing in my arms.
I broke up our camp in record time while Myf kept Juno comforted and entertained with our neighbours. Leaving most of our camp behind, we jumped back in the car and traveled the 170kms back to Ceduna Hospital, there was no fall this time, no jolt of adrenaline and we wanted a firm diagnosis of what was happening to little Nipper. We were seen by the same nurse who under instruction from the doctor had appointments made for first thing the next morning. Again we would spend a cold night in a Ceduna Motel with a confused and groggy toddler.
The following morning the doctor would diagnose Juno with breath holding spells (read about them here) a ridiculous name for a completely involuntary and terrifying experience. The doc would suggest that this were something we would have to deal with for a few years yet. On top of that Juno was also prescribed antibiotics for her cold which had now wormed its way into a chest infection. We headed back to Fowler's Bay to pick up our camp from the night before and let everyone know Juno was fine before once again making our way back for 1 final night in a Ceduna Motel, Juno would have two more episodes this night, two more terrifying experiences for Myf and I. It was then decided in consultation with the doc for us to head back to Adelaide to have Juno assessed further, a second opinion.
So we now find ourselves back home, all three of us on antibiotics, seeing more doctors and working out management plans for Nipper.
As far as LAND SEA YOU ME goes, fear not, we are still full-steam ahead, just not this week. We will be back on the road when we're ready. I haven't even put 1 pedal forward yet and I have a very itchy trigger finger!
Update: Juniper has been given the green light from her doctors. Looks very much like a case of breath holding spells.
PS If you're ever in the need of wi-fi passwords anywhere in Ceduna or reviews of budget accommodation we have you covered!
PPS Vegetarian options are far between the further you go west, '...we took them off the menu, they weren't very popular.'