Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A Sunset and A Late Arriving Moon Rise over the Breakaways

I was lazy this morning and slept in to about 9am. The thing about this place I have noticed, you are not woken up like other cities in Australia. For one, you are sleeping in rock, so sunlight really can't reach you. Another thing, in ever city I have stayed in so far, the birds will wake me before the sun bothers me. There are no birds here. You do not have to worry about the squawking that woke me in Brisbane, or the chirping that was common in St. Kilda. Even at night, standing outside, all I hear is the occasional dog and crickets in the distance. After getting up, I watched the competitive kid game shows on Saturday morning TV and ate my free brekky. I called Grandma around 11 to tell her happy birthday and excitedly talk her ear off about Coober Pedy. I decided to venture out around noon. I noodled unsuccessfully for a couple hours in the very windy, sunny weather. I would have noodled longer, but I can't help but always feeling like I am in a scene in some apocalyptic movie in which the next scene consists of me being attacked suddenly by crazy people with mohawks and losing a race to my car. I then ran by the bank and got "lasagna" at Johns before going by Oasis to see if I could book the Breakaways sunset tour for tonight. George said they would be running the tour, and to show up about 5:10 pm. Little did I know what a treat I would be in for.

Few people understand the relationship I have with the night sky, and more specifically, the moon. You see, we have our own way of interacting, almost flirting, the moon and I, and when the moon is at it's absolute best, when it's big and full and magnificent just once a month, it makes the event extra special. I can be seen peering over my shoulder every once in a while, sneaking peeks of my beloved, making sure he is still present and looking as good as ever. He plays along in this game, hiding behind clouds or trees from time to time, but always returning, dependable and true, to his position of prominence in the sky. My friends can attest to my perhaps unnatural attachment to my sky suitor. They have all occasionally received frantic text messages from me, pleading them to not miss the display being put on in the sky by the lunar Romeo. Well tonight, I was able to witness his unveiling among the spectacular mountainous formations of the Breakaways, and the Mars-like setting of the Lunar plain, red and desolate and dotted with flatted stones.

I arrived at Oasis and paid for the tour. We loaded up the car, just George, me, and two middle aged Australian couples. We drove and drove, way out on dirt roads, past Crocodile Harry's, past all the thousands of mining hills, to the ending of a cliff that overlooked the Breakaways. We all got out and took pictures. It adds nothing to my experience to keep hearing about the films made in such a serene area, in fact, it hurts my heart to think of the numb skulls that tromped around the place, munching donuts from the crafts service table and bitching about the heat or the flies or something like that. But it is an amazing area. And not to sound like some kind of hypocritical groupie or something, but I totally bit the dust big time in the exact place that the scene was filmed in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome where the plane almost goes off the cliff but turns at the last second. (Another draw back of people continually mentioning the Mad Max film is that I continually have Tina Turner singing "We don't need another hero" in my head.) We continued on the dirt road, stopping to take pictures of the formations from almost every angle and pondering what drugs people must have been on when they claimed to see a man or a dog in the rock shape. We stopped at the dog fence, the longest fence in the world, built to keep the dingos from eating all the sheep. We continued on to the moon plain, which now doesn't look so moon like, because as I continue to hear as I make my way across Australia, there has been an unusual amount of rain, and the usually red, desolate desert is now remarkably green. But we did come across a crackled, light textured ground, that sank under your foot. It was like nothing I had ever walked on. We found evidence of the internal sea that existed millions of year ago, as well as the rainforest that existed before that. A petrified tree lay beside my foot, something you think would be stuck in a museum somewhere. We watched as the sun sank down low behind the Breakaways in the distance. I did my best to capture the brilliant pinks with my camera. George had promised a brew at this time, which in American means beer. Imagine my disgust at being offered tea or coffee. Thanks Brits. But I accepted my tea and muffin, and awaited the arrival of my moon. It was later than usual, playing coy with me. We all talked and slapped at mossies (mosquitoes), waiting for the moon to arrive. I kept my eyes fixed on the horizon, knowing he was due any minute, and that he would be full tonight. I was the first to notice and call out to the others, as he appeared first as just a glow under the soft clouds blanketing the horizon. But quickly, he rose, emerging full and orange over the horizon, greeting us and mocking us at the same time. I tried to take pictures, but the cameras I have can never capture the brilliance of the moon. I watched it rise into the sky as we loaded up into the van and made our way back to Coober Pedy, which sparkled on the horizon more than you would expect a tiny town of that size would sparkle. As the moon rose, it changed out of it's orange hue to glow it's brilliant white. It continued to rise over me, and I was always watching it, even along my drive home. I made a sandwich for dinner and ate outside in the moonlight. A full moon rise was really the most perfect way to end my Coober Pedy experience. I love Cooper Pedy for what it is. And I know it sounds crazy, but I can imagine scenarios where I would very much like to move here and live in their little mountain dugout oasis.

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