Sunday, August 22, 2010

Another Brush Stroke

Light was just peaking over the horizon when we woke up one chilly winter morning.  As I looked across the bay the waters were calm. A glance at the trees confirmed there was no wind.  Perhaps the weather forecast was wrong and the strong winds would not reach this far south.  I hoped so since we were heading down to the coast in search of whales.  Even though it was still early in the season and there would be whales in the area for another month and a half, they would be long gone by the time I returned from my trip to the northern hemisphere.
As we got ready I could see change brewing on the horizon. I was a bit surprised when I spied the quick moving clouds coming from the west.
By the time we were all loaded up in the car we had a full on storm, with lots of wind and rain. Had we not already paid for our reservation at our favorite small hotel in Victor Harbour we probably would have skipped the excursion.  As we climbed Adelaide's surrounding hills we entered a thick fog, and travel was slow going.  We decided that instead of cutting across the inland valleys we would follow the coastal road.  This would give us the opportunity to call into some of the coastal towns we had yet to visit.  The fog lifted, but the rain and wind continued.  When we had to turn inland, for the final stretch of our drive, I became worried that the large gum trees that lined the narrow country road would drop their branches on our rooftop.
By the time we reached Victa (as the locals call it) the rain ceased.  We headed straight to the coastal trail about 10 kilometers out of town.  Even though the sun was out we opted for a quick lunch in the car before hitting the trail--the winds were too fierce to try and eat out in the open.
We took to the trail with our daypacks filled with our rain gear.  Past experience had taught us how quick those strong winds can bring torrential rain. Fortunately, we weren't faced with the bitter cold of the south; in fact, it was rather warm out.

The coastal trail slowly meandered from from the crescent beach at King Head up to the Waitpinga Cliffs.  When we reached the apex of our climb it became apparent that we would not be seeing any whales--the water was just too tumultuous.
The whales may have been absent that day, but the views were aplenty. For a brief moment a feeling of solitude spread across me as I stared across the vast ocean towards Antarctica. The loneliness dissipated as the waves beating against the rock face, 100 meters below,  drew me back into the present.  My focus turned from the dark stormy sea to my surroundings.  The winter rains had turned the cliffs and rolling hills into a collage of various shades of green highlighted with bright yellow wattle flowers. The vibrant colors of the land were tied to the dark ocean by an arching rainbow--a sight to behold.
As we returned to the car I internalized the intense, contrasting colors and textures that surrounded me, and I added them to the palette from which I continually draw to paint the picture of Australia I will carry with me for a lifetime.

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