Monday, October 29, 2007

DAY 23 Esperance to Salmon Gums

DAY 23: Esperance to Salmon Gums
Sunday 28th Oct 07
104 km @ 19.2 km/hr
Strong W side wind, very cold

Yesterday’s storms were astonishing with lashings of ice-cold hail and strong winds. The wind was still much in evidence this morning, but it looked a little brighter, so no question of not setting off. I will ride with Thomas Donovan, a lawyer from Seattle, who is riding Perth to Adelaide, before going up to Cairns for a weeks scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef. We have agreed to ride together as far as Norseman, 204 km to the north, in 2 days - a slightly quicker journey than I would have liked, but then it is mostly flat and there is a slight tailwind.
It was bitterly cold though - only 9 deg C! At times the westerly crosswind was hard to cope with, but for the most part there was some shelter thanks to the endless gum trees and increasing Mallee shrubbery. After a short stop for a Mrs.Mack’s pie (Gawd bless ‘er) and cup of tea after 20km, there would be no services until Salmon Gums, another 80km or so - in fact nothing at all really.
We stopped a couple of times on the way to Salmon Gums but got so cold once stopped that there was no pleasure in it at all. After one 10 minute stop I was literaly shaking with cold.
It warmed up slightly for the last 20km into SG and on arrival we checked out the available ‘facilities’ in this ‘town’ of only 40 people. The hotel was a nice looking old building (see pic). We had a beer while we thouight what to do and learnt from our hostess Jackie (I bet I’ve spelt it wrong if so sorry Jackie) that a double room in the Sheep Shearer’s Sheds’ would only be $32 so that was the chosen option - less hassle than unpacking everything to set up tent etc., and besides, judging by the local characters we were in for an interesting evening; also, there was a huge log fire to melt in front of and watch the unfolding action. Off we went to shower and by 1700 we were back in the bar awaiting our order of T-bone, chips and salad. We chose a nice bottle of red to go with it - live in style why not?! - I’m on holiday!
The meal and wine were delicious, and things were starting to happen to hold our attention. For one thing a succession of animals came and went - a lovely old white lab (or was it a Pyrennean Mountain dog?) followed by a very fat cat that rather aggressively demanded our attention, and not least Emma, the pet Joey. She had been rescued when injured and was still quite a young kangaroo. As the animals competed for attention 2 young German girls, Uta (20) and El (24) arrived and swpotting a bargain when they see one, decided to stay the night. Soon after their arrival Jackie brought Emma out wrapped in a blanket, and gave her to Uta along along with a baby’s feeding bottle, and Uta played mum for a while while El and I took pics. Thomas and I were sat either side of a huge log fire - so welcome after such a cold day.
A local man, Ivan chatted away to everyone, and we were later told that he was a millionaire - the story goes that he was left some land and built a new house on it - when he knocked the old one down he found $2 million dollars under the floor! We did wonder whether it was a tourist wind-up but you never know with these guys!
Uta and El joined us by the fire and we helped them improve their English, which was pretty good to start with I have to say.
By 2130 we were all talked out and tired and hit the sack, asleep in seconds.

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