The weeks since we had been back in Australia passed seemingly forming a normal distribution curve, and like all normal distribution curves, there is a slippery slide after the halfway point, which slows to a crawl towards the right hand end of the curve…..
We’d done pretty much everything that needed to be done back in Australia. Clyve had given a number of weather presentations starting the morning after we returned to Australia in July and continued for a fortnight including
the annual ASWA (Australian Severe Weather Association) Conference in Sydney (1,000km / 600m from Trentham),an AMOS (Australian Meteorological and Oceanic Society) afternoon presenting alongside a number of weather professionals concentrating on “Tornadoes of 2013” in Melbourne at the Bureau of Meteorology, and ending with an evening presentation to the Trentham Lions Club at the local pub (hotel) accompanied by roast beef and pudding and custard…….
We sat back after that and caught up with friends and family, caught our breath, and went back to walking the paths through our local Wombat Forest at the edge of our town….a beautiful eucalyptus forest presided over by Manna Gums and stands of Blackwoods……photographing kangaroos, kookaburras, magpies and currawongs…but this year we didn’t see the wombat who lives just under the fence in the paddock alongside…..
It rained, and as pluviophiles we re-established ourselves in the dampness of the Trentham climate, lit the wood heater and settled back to enjoy a few brief weeks of an Australian winter.
All too soon it seemed, we had plummeted down the right hand side of the ‘curve’ and were counting down the days rather than weeks before we returned to the USA……a flurry of activity in the last few days and we were organised to try something a little different this time…..getting from our little town of Trentham 100km / 60 miles northwest of Melbourne in Victoria, which is only serviced by 2 buses a day to Woodend train station 23 km to the east….to the town of Hillsboro in Kansas, which is not serviced by public transport…….and doing almost the entire trip by public transport with the exception of the last 30 miles….
The plan was to:-
– Walk half a km to the bus stop outside the local fish and chip shop. The bus stop incidentally is the only one I’ve ever seen which is planted in the middle of a parallel parking section of the street!!!!! It’s probably the only place in the world where you can’t be booked for parking in a bus stop!!
– Catch the 4.57pm VLine bus to Woodend
– Catch the 6.24pm VLine train into Southern Cross station in the Melbourne CBD
– Catch the Melbourne Airport Skybus (frequency every 10 minutes, 24 hours a day)
– Meet Clyve’s son Lyndon the next morning after he travels to the airport from Geelong on the Gull Airport Bus.
– Catch a V Australia flight to Los Angeles from Melbourne
– Catch a bus from LAX into Union Station in downtown Los Angeles
– Catch the SouthWest Chief (Amtrak) train to Newton in Kansas (30 miles from Hillsboro) with a couple of days break catching up with our good friends Rich and Bette Koivisto, in Bullhead City, Arizona..
– Walk across the railroad tracks to the storage unit at Newton Station, reconnect the battery in the Traverse, cross our fingers that it starts after 2 months, go to Walmart (24/7) in Newton at 3.30am and finally, drive the only private 30 miles of the trip to Hillsboro ChaseBase.
Except……that as always when we leave Trentham to go overseas, the weather has very different ideas!!! The morning of the day we were leaving we were woken by hail, thunder with periods of steady rain that got more frequent through the day …..and the idea of walking to the bus stop, suddenly didn’t seem like such a great way of starting the current adventure. So we invested in a Yellow Taxi cab ride instead…that’s still public transport!
It’s 2.45pm and the taxi backed up the driveway, but no way was the driver going to get out and help us load 5 bags into the cab in heavy rain…..
Out at the train station in Woodend in plenty of time for the 3.20pm train, which was on time as are most of the Victorian country services now they’ve reworked the timetables to allow for herds of cattle crossing the tracks as well….or so it seems….
We met a nice elderly lady named Shirley on the train who originally came from a town in far northwest Victoria and who, coincidentally, knew quite a few of the train drivers up that way, so Shirley and Clyve (who started his career driving freight trains) chatted for much of the trip about people they knew from 30 years ago.
Off the train at Southern Cross station, we dodged our way through Melbourne’s peak hour crowds arriving at the station and went around to the Skybus depot and onto our next leg of the journey.
The Skybus is an articulated bus service running every 10 minutes to the airport, and almost always full…..