January 27th, 2009

Tania pratfall

Abandoned Town

Travel plans have changed slightly - we're cutting out the glacier due to weather/flight concerns, and in Wyoming, we're doing Yellowstone only, then flying straight from there (must check if Wyoming has an airport and if so, where) straight down to New Orleans.

Also, I did mis-mark a couple of things on the map; will fix that!

ANYWAY. It was a long weekend here downunder, and we blew all our energy on the first day with a mammoth expedition, along with niaid's cousin Nikhi, out to the flatlands behind Toowoomba. Basically, most of the way down the east coast of Australia, there's this chain of mountains inland and most of the population sticks to the coastal side of those mountains, because behind them is a whole lotta nothing.

So we went to see the whole lotta nothing, and thanks to a great tipoff from Nikhi's dad, we found a town that had been built on top of coal seams, and subsequently abandoned when the coal mine bought it all out so they can do as they please with what lies beneath.

A whole TOWN of abandoned houses.

Actually, that's not entirely true. One or two residents were hanging in there. We think some of them might have been squatters.

Livejournal, meet Acland. Acland, Livejournal.

It was a boiling hot, humid day. The insides of these old houses were like ovens. A storm was brewing on the horizon, something I first noticed when we were wandering in the trashed, overgrown backyard of one place and the rusty old windmill came to life above me. (Creeeepy...) We climbed on and under things. Peeked in water tanks, opened old ovens. Found a sad pile of feathers that had once been a bird. Found plants growing from the gutters. Found a couple of perfect little mouse skeletons. Found a house that had been owned by hippies, where one wall of the little girl's room was devoted to a giant mural of a unicorn, and the other wall was covered in pentagrams.

It was extremely easy, wandering through this town, to imagine that we were picking our way through the world post-zombie-apocalypse. The silence was deafening.

I don't have Joe's photos from the day yet (foolishly, I didn't bring my camera - we didn't know when we set out for the day that we'd wind up here!) so in the meantime, here are some shots from Nikhi.

In the left of this shot you can see the windmill that started turning as I stood beneath it. It made a wonderful, creaking, snapping sound with each turn and the pipe beneath it gurgled. We thought perhaps it was still operational, drawing water from deep underground.

This was the place with the crazy murals in the bedroom. 'Whispering Winds' was pretty much all we could hear in the town; that, and the distant thunder of the approaching storm. We were pouring with sweat and actually hoping the storm would hit us while we were there. No such luck.

We think this place was made of maple wood. It was gorgeous inside - wooden floors, wooden walls, wooden ceiling, wooden doors. It smelled of pancakes.

Oh, and we had another friend along for the ride - Nikhi's bearded dragon, Kali. Yes, that is a tiny harness. As we wandered around, Kali rode on Nikhi's shoulder and was lucky enough to score any bugs that we noticed along the way.

Like at Alkira (god, I STILL have to upload those photos... slack!) we found the sure signs of military exercises- swept-up glass piles mixed with spent paint bullets. Those military lads love abandoned places more than we do!

We weren't the first ones to come through. Most of the houses had been stripped; some had been trashed. We found a calendar and figured the place has been mostly-abandoned for at least four years.

...which is long enough for nature to take over. Nature both big...

...and small. We found this guy in a fuse box.

Storms chased us home.

Kali had a temper tantrum in the car on the way home and turned bright orange. Compare her colours here to the earlier photo.

I'll have more extensive photos soon, of both this place and, of course, the long-promised Alkira photos. Speaking of Alkira (which was an abandoned nursing home near where we live), the keyword there is "was" - a construction company moved in and razed it to the ground. There is literally nothing left; just a field of flat, freshly turned earth.
Angry Beavers: Norbert

Car stuff / appeal for job tips

Forgot to mention in my last update, but the day-long round trip to Acland sounded a death knell for Joey's car. The poor old thing is still running, but it's making some decidedly strange noises, and he's driving it as little as humanly possible (which right now, is no more than driving to and from work, as there's no public transport out that way).

Ironically, he's only got $50 left before it's entirely paid off. Hurrah? ;) The loose plan is that we'll get it checked out, and if the problem is of enough magnitude that it's not worth us fixing it, we'll sell it for scraps and buy a new car between us - which will be our first seriously co-owned bit of property (does the Wii count?). So I'll probably try to talk Robbie into coming down for the day one weekend, as he was always good at finding Cars That Last for no more than a couple of thousand dollars. (Which reminds me - I caught up with Rob recently, he's doing well and we had a great time!). Or we could possibly take Joe's dad with us, he's awesome with mechanical stuff.

Co-owning the vehicle will give me another reason to get my license, which I've been putting off because, living in Brisbane, I just haven't needed it yet. But with our plans to do more and more driving trips around Oz, I'm going to want a licence so I can share the load!

In other news, Joe is looking for a new job - full-time, preferably indoors - he enjoys the work he's doing now but the managers there are pretty rotten, and working in environments that are DESIGNED to be hot and humid is not the most enjoyable work over summer (though he admits that with the current heatwave, it's sometimes cooler inside the insect buildings than outside). Joe is bright, quick on the uptake and good with learning new systems (computer and otherwise). If anyone local could give us any job leads, it would be greatly appreciated. He is OK with entering into a job that requires training too.

Also, it's not urgent - this is a very stable job which he can stay with as long as he likes, and he won't walk away from that (especially with the looming recession and whatnot) unless he's got something else stable lined up in its place - but yeah, he's pretty jack of it, and I hate to see him frustrated. So I'm appealing to you, my wise network of friends. Please keep your ears peeled for opportunities for us. <3