“You kids need to make your beds,” I heard Tracey telling the kids when I woke up on Monday morning.
She’d let me sleep in a bit because we were heading off on our next big adventure – driving down to Paronella Park to see the ‘castle’ – and she wants me fresh and well rested when I take the wheel of our 13 tonne beastie.
Everyone I’ve spoken to who’s seen it says it’s worth the time. For me, I want to know about the history of the hydro electricity which was installed there. I saw it on a doco once and it’s stayed with me. I also figure it’ll count as educational for the kids. Points for me.
The run of poor luck stopping us from getting there, though, has been otherworldly, even for us.
It began when we’d started to pack up the day before.
“We need to get this done before it rains again,” Tracey kept saying.
“Just left me finish another coffee,” was my repeated response. Because coffee. And lazy.
Then it started raining.
So far, nothing unusual. Me ignoring Tracey and paying a price.
But since then it’s been one thing after another. There’s been a shit-tonne of rain so bridges and roads were flooded and to top it off some poor sods had an accident on the Captain Cook Highway and the road was blocked. In the end we decided to wait until the next day and I went back to bed. The kids still had to make theirs though.
Then, rather wonderfully, I got to sleep in again this morning because, you know, I was driving the bus. But it seemed I used up the last of my good luck on that.
“Can you smell that?” I asked my family shortly after we passed the Port Douglas round about.
“It smells a bit like rubber,” said Tracey. “How’s the temperature?”
“It’s all good,” I said. “But the bus is sluggish.”
I’d been wondering if maybe it felt like that to me because I’d been driving my sister’s zippy little car around for the last couple of weeks.
“It could be burning sugar cane,” suggested Miss9.
“I hope you’re right,” I said to her, sniffing. “It could be. Maybe.”
We decided to pull over and check it out anyway. And unless there was someone burning cane somewhere between our back tyres, it was probably the brakes.
There was smoke to go with the smell.
“Everyone out!” I said, jumping back onto the bus.
No one moved.
“Everyone out who doesn’t want to die a horrible death,” I tried next.
That got them out of their seats. And might I add, thank you for the inspiration, JK Rowlings.
It all settled down and we tried again. We’d been going through an especially hilly and windy and imminent death about a meter to our left sections of the road, so I’d been using the brakes a bit. I was hoping I’d just been a bit reliant on them.
But when I nursed her into Cairns and she refused to ease away from a set of lights I figured we weren’t going to make it another two hundred kilometres so Tracey got on the blower to find us a place to park her until we could get a bus doctor to take a look. As it turned out, we already had one looking at adding a fan to our radiator on Thursday.
And, sadly, Paronella Park is looking less and less like it’s going to happen this trip.
“We can still try get there on our way back to Gympie,” Tracey said tonight after we’d tucked the kids into bed and were looking at our changed itinerary for the next week or so.
I don’t know if I want to risk it.
“It’s starting to feel like forces beyond our control are working to stop us getting there,” I said.
“Or maybe,” said Master11 from the bunk where he was supposed to be asleep, “the force,” because Star Wars, “wanted us to find this place to stay first. It’s awesome!”
Yeah, it certainly isn’t going to feel like we’re roughing it while we wait to have our bus looked at.
Maybe we were just meant to stop here on our way there. We’ll know soon enough.