Camel fence

I collapsed upon the floor in the tent.

My car , a prado wrecked outside the flaps.

My host offered me coffee from a golden pot and some dates to eat. I was shaking from the shock of course and shivering from the mental flight.

‘What’s your problem mate ?’

‘I think it’s a case of the camel and the needle’ big bloody camel just came onto the car. Lucky I rolled it actually. The car that is. Otherwise it would’ve come straight through the windscreen. Just like a kangaroo.  Of course you can’t really build a fence to keep the Kangaroos off the road. But I see you have a pretty decent fence here.  So what’s with the camel?’

‘Inshallah someone will keep the gate closed next time.’

‘Well like I said, the car is a wreck out there in the heat and dust., had some water sat least and it didn’t get chucked out., but I hit that palm tree pretty hard. It all happened so fast.   The brakes, the camel, the rolling flight through the air, thinking… This is going to be bad… And then hittin the palm half way up and bouncing off that with dust and burning all around.’

‘You kill the camel ?’

‘Must’ve grazed it at least’

‘Maybe it hopped back over that camel proof fence you got out there.’

‘You got a bit of a graze there though mate. How’s the head ?’

‘Think I hit it on the roll.’

‘Hope the camel’s ok though. It’s got a much longer neck- and a heavier head really.’

‘Sure – / – you sure it was a camel ? I mean – there is a fence – no gate / camels can’t jump – and they usually don’t survive entanglement with a prado — you get my meaning?.’

‘You must be dreaming’


Travelog 3 – long storm journey

Wednesday afternoon 1 June Houston, Tx.

Nothing like a black cloud dogging your travels.  Even though the summer is coming, it’s flooding in Paris and Texas and yes, you look up in the sky and there it is, just out there in the afternoon.  Low hung black and uncool. Everyday another 6 inches of rain and then the sun comes out and then more rain. So every step of the way these past few days, it’s been a black clouded weather issue.

Normally getting to Australia from Texas is not an issue.  It takes a few hours and one connection in Dallas, with plenty of hours of layover to make sure bags and everything including the mind, make that never-ending leg from Dallas to Sydney.

Of course, yous start out hopeful, checkout the handy travel app, says all is ok and on-time.  Check out from the hotel, say goodbye to the hotel staff and pack everything in your bags and your bags into the boot of the rental, to check in and forget about until two days hence landing in Sydney.

Having arrived at Houston airport car rental, plenty of time to spare, got my reciept and caught the shuttle over to terminal A.  I had a 6pm flight to Dallas which seemed on time and even though the newspapers were full of reports of TSA inefficiencies and queues, managed to scrape through TSA-PRE in a matter of minutes and get over to the gate.

On the way, I saw Chilli’s and having had no lunch thought a grab it while you can approach might work.  In this case, a seat at the bar, with my back to the window and the ominous weather, a few margaritas [house economy] and the queso dip should do the trick.

About halfway through the first margarita, the lights went out.  Strange for an airport, but then the lightning flashes through the window into the twilight of the bar seemed to indicate a cause.  Conversation subdued, we all hoped to was temporary. We being the born again loud guy two seats down, the loud lady 4 seats down and round to the left with the laptop [an Apple] and the South of the border bartender with a friendly smile, but suddenly no cash register.  Naturally I made a joke of it, telling friendly bartender that it was all bartender B’s problem, being so tall and standing too close to the refrigerator.

Some time passed, and the sun went down into the west, the room got darker, so dark I had to use the little iphone torch app to find the way into the restroom. I’m pretty sure that was a first.

I had waited over an hour to get my check, pay the bill and get to the gate. In the end I gave up and had to pay in cash and didn’t get a receipt, and no doubt people will talk about my shady transactions in cash in a dimly lit bar in Houston airport for some time to come.

when the power goes out blink

cash tills can't think

how quiet the world is of late

at the dark waiting air gate

Finally my predicament became really obvious.  Out at the gate was a plane, due to leave some hour before but still there, full of people and stuck due to the lack of power at the gate.  We had first for the power to come back, the plane to leave, our plane to arrive, get cleaned and then be boarded.  I chatted to the people next to me. I dozed off, I woke, dozed off again and… Finally some 3 hours later, I left Houston for Dallas.

Naturally you get to land in the rain and wind and trundle to the new gate in Dallas, off load knowing that nearly everyone in the plane must’ve missed their connection that night.  Approaching the gate staff in Dallas, I enquired about the now most probably useless boarding pass in my hand [Dallas-Sydney].  I didn’t even ask a hopeful question.  Just handed it over to the gate attendant and watched her type into a helpfully powered computer.

Long story short, had to stay the night in the airport hotel and get a new flight in the morning.

The clouds of dogging kept it up the next day.

Thursday 2 June DFW

I checked into my flight for 11am to Los Angeles, but then found it had it’s gate changed and that it was going to be late as well. An hour late.  No biggie, I would have had many hours free of layover in Los Angeles.  I sat down and chatted to a young would be rock star from Missouri… looking for a big break in Los Angeles and who just wanted to hear how anyone could fly on a plane where the trip lasted longer than 3 hours.

The black clouds came nearer and soon the rain was coming down fast.  Outside I could see our plane had arrived and well turned up at the appointed hour and started boarding.   We crawled down the taxiway in a queue of planes hoping to ‘get the hell out of Dodge’ but that was easier said than done.  It turned out only getting out flying North was working, due to the storms in the South West.  We finally took off, with  the rain streaming past the windows and straight into the cloud layer and beyond. I’d gotten a book to read.  Crime novels in paperback are plentiful and low cost. After about 71 pages written the pilot came on and informed that we were in fact the last flight out of Dallas before the DFW airport had been closed.

Announcing pilots attended

when you are travelling late

stories of lucky last takeoff,

your predicament now seems great

By now my next flight scheduled to leave LAX at 10:30pm is late.  Not minutes late. Hours late.  We’re now expecting to leave the confines of the very relaxing Qantas lounge at LAX by 2:40am.  One quick way to find out what happened is to check the flightaware website. Turns out the aircraft forming QF12 left JFK way late and at 11pm is still only halfway across the country and wont even land at LAX until well after midnight.  A quick check of the arrival weather in Sydney shows the bad weather closing in from the northwest with a notorious ‘east coast low’ developing.  Could be pretty crazy for the flight arrival Saturday.

Thursday June 3 LAX

Another casualty of delayed flights, particularly long ones are the faint possibility that someone booked on the flight, checked in, and frustrated after one or two too many martini’s just got up and left the airport.  It’s a risk and the longer the delay, the more likely more delays start happening once the people all get on board.

Yes – in our case, said person didn’t turn up for whatever reason and his bags had to be taken off the plane.  On an A380 this can take some time.  Let’s say another 30 minute delay, sitting on the plane.  Not a problem, quickly review all the movies that I might watch to put me to sleep as soon as having had a quick bite after takeoff.

After takeoff, you know that up to 17 hours of weather will happen around the world and surprise you a bit on landing to show you just how well you can forecast it.

SYDNEY Jun 4-5 Weekend

In Boston they have the Nor'Easter

In Sydney the East Coast Low

Either way its double trouble

For people who come and go

A pearl of wisdom

Just then though the light turned down. I thought the jagged Island would give a colored mystery. A diffusion of grey, like a water color of a muted trumpet against a rhythm of blue, where thinner wings buzzed in the misty air with no intent but to be there


That sound led me out there, and as I approached, I saw a woman standing. There she stood, just off the shore, with her white arms waving slightly but her head cast down.  I went up to her in the fading of the light.

“Can I borrow a pen ?” wondering what else to ask.

She looked at me carefully and nodded slowly, but said.

“Please, just waiting one moment”

I waiting a moment continued for quite sometime, and the tide receded till eventually only the crab holes were exposed in the mud.  Waiting a moment, like in a lobby bar in a far off oriental hotel.

“How do you like the Island ?” I asked.

She looked around and then back and laughed…

“Just like an inverted martini,

kept cool by a woolen scarf and beanie”

I thought maybe she was crazy, standing out here all alone, well almost all alone, and then whatever she said came in laughter and rhymes.

Down lower goes the light, falling behind the isle, but we still stand waiting, looking for crabs or something, she doesn’t say…  Or crawling things with neon eyes and skittering sideways with lots of legs and darting minds.

“So what then are you looking for ? ” I asked quietly.

“Do you really want a pen ?” She asked me back, then said.

‘dropped my earring in the tide in the light

waiting one moment ’til time is right

when the tide runs out, it will be muddy and new

gleaming in the moonlight

a single pearl

yes, altering your view’

Estuary Island
Estuary Island :Photo by permission – Jeanmarie Shelton