Sunday, 26 October 2008

Straight roads and One Horse Towns

Earth Science Camp, Episode 4:

There was mutiny in the air. While the teacher was away with half the class looking at bulldozers and piles of gravel, the rest of the kids were doing calculations. It was already close to lunchtime. If their tour of the roadworks took as long as the first group’s, they’d be away until at least 1.00pm. We were supposed to be doing two other activities before we set off for Mt Magnet, 550km away. No way were we going to get there at 6.30pm as planned.

So they were going to be expected to put up tents in the dark? They’d never pitched tents before. How were they expected to do it in the dark? The bus driver’s smiling assurance that he could turn the bus and shine his headlights on the campsite was met with glowers. As far as they were concerned, Mt Magnet was the end of the earth.

While they were off on their tour and the returning group were busy making themselves drinks and lunching on chocolate chip cookies, the three adults did some consulting on the bus. No, there was no way we were going to get there at our planned time. The teacher was loath to drop the other two activities, but even he had to admit it wasn’t viable. He’s one of these people who likes to cram 36 hours worth of work into 24, but at last he agreed that we’d need to head off to Mt Magnet as soon as the others got back. He phoned ahead to the station to let them know we’d be late. No worries, they said. They’d pitch some of their own tents for the boys and the girls could sleep in the ‘dongas’ – mobile metal sheds used for shearers’ quarters. They’d have dinner ready for us when we arrived.

Much relieved by the change of plan (there was only me and one of the girls disappointed that we wouldn’t get to sleep in tents) we set off at around 2pm, stopping around an hour later for lunch and then on up the straight, straight road that leads to the desert.

For a while the kids were really quiet. In fact, many fell asleep. The late night had caught up with them. When they awoke though, they were ready to party. The CD was turned up full bore and the bus began to bounce. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to listen to Pink’s ‘So, so what’ without thinking of that trip and a busload of fifteen-year-olds screaming it out.

They’d been promised that we would stop for a break at Payne’s Find. When the bus pulled up in the light of the setting sun, they looked out, aghast. There was the roadhouse. Where was the rest of it? Where was Payne’s Find? No, this is it, we said. This roadhouse IS Payne’s Find. Now they began to look really worried. Payne’s Find was a big dot on the map and this was it? Where were we taking them?
(I took this photo on the way back)

I must admit, if I’d never been out that way before, I would probably have been thinking the same thing. Even I was relieved when we finally rolled through the gate of the station at 8.30pm and smelled the cooking steak and sausages. The best part of the weekend was about to begin.

All together now....'Nah nah na-nah na nah nah, I'm goin' to start a fight...'

Facts about teenagers- No.4 : The average teenager has no concept of what the world is like outside their own domain. However, after some initial qualms, most will embrace a new experience with enthusiasm (maybe too much enthusiasm in some cases!)


Luc2 said...

Many adults also have no concept of the world outside their domain. And I'm afraid part of the teenagers' domain is part of that uncharted territory. I'm shuddering at the thought what will be hit music once he'll become a teenager. I think you could do worse than Pink...

Kate said...

Good point, Luc. Even though we've all been teenagers, they're still as you say, unchartered territory.

By the way...we DID do worse than Pink. I just chose her because she was one of the few with a recognisable tune! I quite liked her. It's a source of amazement to me how a lot of words shouted on one note can be defined as 'music'. But then, my parents thought the same of Dr Hook. How could anyone not like Dr Hook?

Rena said...

I thought I left a comment last night, but I guess I didn't. I'm really enjoying the stories of your trip. :)

C.R. Evers said...

*expectations of a roadhouse
*disappointment of the roadhouse
*sleeping arrangements
*booming music
*watchings teens become aware of the world outside of their comfort zone


You've got some priceless writing research at your disposal!

Good stuff!