Information on this blog is raw and sometimes unverified reporting straight from the road by teams. The event will issue a media release for any events requiring an official notification.

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Friday, September 7, 2007

Michigan: Route Survey - Day 4

We awake early to the sunrise and a great view of Island Lagoon, a huge dry lake that stretches to our south (this particular stretch of the highway runs mostly east-west). Enjoy? a quick meal of frosted flakes in the blustery conditions. Standing with back to the wind prevents frosted flakes from blowing off spoon.

Route survey continues north toward Glendambo, the next control stop, with Mike at the helm and Dave manning the survey computer. Arrive at Glendambo roadhouse without incident, press on without stopping as gas guage is still over 3/4. Inverter pops and smells of smoke. Pull off on the side of the road, repairs unsuccessful. After a brief conference, we determine to press on without the inverter, losing the ability to collect GPS data. Will buy an inverter at the earliest opportunity (not too many electronic stores in the outback). This is not too much of a problem, as the return trip GPS data is what will actually be used.

100 km to Coober Pedy, vehicle display shows a remaining range rather smaller than that. No gas stations between here and there. Mike reduces speed to save petrol, but range is still lower than remaining distance. We coast to a stop and remove the luggage from the roof rack to reduce aerodynamic drag. Only a minor improvement in range outlook, so we proceed with AC off at 80 kph. Somewhere just past the sign indicating 20 km to Coober Pedy, range remaining reads zero with the gas needle on empty, but the car is still running. I'm pretty sure I see a wedge-tailed eagle circling. We decide that 2 of us will start walking when the car stops and 2 will stay with the car. We get out the sat phones to stay in contact.

Somehow the car makes it to Coober Pedy (source of something like 90% of the world's opal), sputtering a little bit as we pull up to the gas station. We fill up and eat a quick lunch of sandwiches and red dust just north of town. Continue to drive, crossing border into the Northern Territory. Pull into Alice Springs, the biggest town between Adelaide and Darwin and the halfway point of the route, around 6 PM, shortly before sunset. Everything apparently closes at 6, so no luck with the inverter. Dinner at KFC. Nate asks nicely and gets a free extra chicken wing with his "ultimate burger meal" (Aussies call basically any hot meat sandwich that isn't a steak sandwich a "burger" apparently, so a chicken burger is just a grilled or breaded chicken breast sandwich). Press on northward for a couple more hours, stopping at Ryan Well, a mid 1800s stock watering well. Wind is much less than last night, and the rocks are somewhat less sharp.

--Garrick Williams