From the Devils Marbles we were about 400km outside of Alice Springs. We planned to pass through the city briefly as we had marked a free rest area campsite just past the city as our destination for the evening. We made our short stop in Alice Springs, where we restocked some food and attempted to visit the visitor center. Unfortunately, it had literally just closed for the day. Quick aside, that happens to us a LOT. We have basically given up on actually getting to see the inside of a visitor center, but I digress.
Now that we were this close to Uluru, I could hardly contain my excitement, so we jumped back into the car and headed for our planned campsite. The sky was clear, so we shouldn’t have any problems with rain, so everything was going to be fine or at least we thought.
We found the rest area easily, pulled into a picturesque clearing, and hopped out of the car, only to be hit by gale force winds, well maybe not that bad, but it was crazy windy. Setting up the tent was nearly impossible because the wind would catch some loose piece and attempt to turn it into a kite, ripping it from our hands. The people in the camper parked near us probably got quite the kick out of watching us flailing around like mad people. Ultimately, we moved the car to use it as a windbreak and to anchor the tent to the wheels. With our home for the night settled, we hastily cooked a quick soup and dove into the tent to get out of the wind. We uneasily drifted off to sleep with the wind howling all around us.
For the second night in a row we were woken up in the dead of night, but not by a rainstorm this time, no this time it was something much more diabolical. This time, it felt like someone transported us to the arctic or brought the arctic to us. It was beyond freezing. I’ve never been so cold that it’s woken me up before, but that’s what it did. We had been camping and traveling for over a month and it hadn’t been cold anywhere. We didn’t even own a blanket. We had just been using a sheet on top of the mattress and some nights we didn’t even get under the sheet because it was so warm out. With both of our teeth chattering away in some unknown morse code I decided to act. I bolted out of the tent to collect all the warm clothes I could muster and tossed them into the tent. We bundled up in multiple layers the best we could, but it was a lost cause, there was no getting comfortable again.
Eventually we said “enough of this” and we climbed into the car and cranked the heat. After we began to feel human again we hurriedly packed up all of our stuff and begrudgedly headed back to Alice Springs. We desperately needed some warm weather supplies. We had to wait around for the town to wake up, all the while running the heater on full in the car. These tropical Floridians/Guangzhou-ites were not prepared for single digit temperatures. Once the stores opened, we picked up a nice thick blanket and some warm pajamas. Feeling more prepared for the cold we retraced our previous day’s journey south, groggy, but bursting with excitement. We knew that by the end of the day we were finally going to lay eyes on Uluru! And that’s where we’ll pick it up next week.