Thanks for joining me!
It is always hard to find the best place to start. When did it all begin? Was it when our children started flying the nest? Or when they found work overseas? Was it when we saw that we now had an opportunity to explore the World ourselves? Or when we had earned enough money to begin planning?
Working seven days a week was nothing new. Most of our lives had been spent working all the hours under the sun (or moon). At least this time we were managing to save, but it didn’t take long for our feet to start itching. Our lives in Australia had been spend doing casual jobs, and being constantly on the move must have become a habit. So after seven months in one role, we were planning to take our savings and head to the northern Hemisphere. Russia to be precise. After all, two of our children were now established in Moscow, and it was long overdue, we felt, for us to see how their lives looked.
We spent many hours planning and looking at different options. We had Concert tickets booked in the first few weeks of our Escape, and we wanted to spend some time with our two children that still lived ‘Down Under’ before we left for unknown territory. We also had lifelong dreams to satisfy, dreams of visiting places where our ancestors had lived and seeing the places they once lived. Research was the name of the game at this time- weighing up counties to visit, cities to explore and analysis of places to stay. All the time, there was our Family Tree to scrutinize, seeking addresses of the homes of long ago, all in an attempt to create a tour that would cover the most of our aspirations in the most economic way. Decisions were made, and unmade. Flights were booked and rebooked, and hotels and B&Bs were assessed. It gradually came into shape and we could visualize most of where we were going.
We were thinking we wanted to break the longer parts of the long haul flights by stop-overs, and we would take the opportunity to see new countries. Bangkok was chosen by random, and Turkey was also considered by popular choice, but dropped out when there was terrorist activity in Istanbul. The United Kingdom was a must, as was Ireland, because that is where our families had originated from. Latvia was selected as a final stop-over because most of the flights seemed to go there. Final destination: Russia. Our plans were coming together. Our budget was settled and foreign currency ordered. The level of excitement was rising.
Since we were located in the centre of Australia, we had several options for getting out of the Outback. Catch a bus into town and a flight out of Alice. Hire a car and drive. Buy a car and explore. It seems that the slowest way suited us the best, and we had half a journey to complete. Seven months previously we had driven across the Outback Way from Laverton to Alice Springs. Ideally, we would like to complete the shortcut through the last leg to Winton. Since an accident had left us carless in the Outback, purchasing another vehicle would not be easy (working 7 days a week- remember); but we set our minds to doing just that. It took several months of following prospective cars, but we finally found one we were happy with, it passed a mechanical check and Graham took a single day off work to pick it up.
The countdown was on. Somehow, the days went slowly by, hour by hour until our final day. Sunday. Which meant we finished at noon, giving us the afternoon to drive the nearly 500 km from our last accommodation to The Alice, the Outback town in the Red Centre of Australia. Everything we owned was squeezed into out lovely new 4×4 the night before and the house was cleaned. The last few hours dragged, but eventually they were over and our adventure was about to start.
Final good byes to work mates and we set off, the red dust rising on our trail. Even the first part of the trip was setting the tone for later as we wandered off track and explored roads that we had seen before but had not been down. Eventually we were off the dirt tracks and on the Highway, and our adventure was truly started.