Story from May 1 Through May 9

May 1

After leaving Karjini National Park, we did the long drive, first to get off the red dirt roads of Karjini & back the Northwest coastal highways. After that it was quite a ways to Exmouth which made us drive at night. This can be dangerous due to the Kangaroos out, but we made it safely. We decided to take the first camp ground in town which turned out to be decent, but expensive. Especially when you consider that we were just on a dirt patch. The truck had already gotten a bit dusty from the trip through Karjini, but still it was one of the most expensive places we stayed. I also made a few calls that night since there were phones available & I had not had a chance to be online for while. It is always nice to call home to your parents when you are on the road.

May 2

We spent a good part of this day researching the area & doing shopping plus other task you need to do while on the road. We went to the information center & dive shops to see what we could do for diving & snorkeling. We also had to get a snorkel & mask for Adrian so we spent time looking for a decent one of those. While doing that I was able to look into more about becoming a divemaster because it was something that I had started to strongly think about completing after my dives on the Great Barrier Reef. We decided after spending quite a bit of research time that we would snorkel in Exmouth for a few days & do our dive from Coral Bay.

The only activity we got to other than that was going to Bundegi beach for some snorkeling, swimming & tanning which was relaxing. We had not been to the ocean in over 4 weeks (saw it in Broome but couldn't swim there). The snorkeling was not great but we saw a few fish. It was mainly just nice to be back in the ocean again. It is funny how attached we got to it. Growing up in Wisconsin there is not an ocean anywhere near me. But on this trip it seems to have always been a few days away & I missed it when it was not there.

We ate supper at a restaurant called "Blue Lips Fish & Chips", this is interesting because well its a cool name & because we got a magnetic sticker which we put on the truck & was good luck until I removed it later because it was so worn down. We decided to stick it out one more night at the caravan park mainly because there were no other options in exmouth.

May 3

This was to be a day that we spend in the water snorkeling at numerous sites. The first of these was the SS Mildura wreck. It was the best snorkeling experience I have had. I like wrecks as is, but there were things I had not seen like cuttlefish & lionfish that I saw for the first time. It was so nice & we saw so much that I would call it more of a dive than a snorkeling trip. The water level was perfect for it when we went there. We saw the wreck up close & could easily get to the bottom. It was also good because there were not too many waves pulling us into the wreck. We stayed out there for quite a while & went around the wreck 2 different times. After that we went to the Cape Range National Park to see what they recommended for snorkeling & where the reef was. What we found out that the good part of the reef was too far away to snorkel to at any point which was disappointing. They told us that we should do the Turquoise Bay area which had some nice areas. We also looked around at the Milyering Center which had information on the reef & park area. We did do that area which was good, but nothing compared to the SS Mildura. Other than the snorkeling we also did some tanning & I did some reading on the beach & back at the 4WD. After that we headed back to town. For the night we decided to stay behind the information center, which ended up working out ok. I was also able to get in touch with Sayoko that night & set things up for when we would get to Perth, because she was meeting me there to go traveling.

May 4

We decided to go back the SS Mildura for another time snorkeling, but this time was not near as good as the others had been. The water level was lower making it hard to swim to the wreck & there was more current so we would get pulled in different directions. Plus the water was not as clear & there was not that much for aquatic life. We decided that since this had been the best place to go & was not that good today that we would head to Coral Bay. We stopped at the store & stocked up since Exmouth is bigger than Coral Bay & were not sure that we would be able to get anything there. Then we went to Coral Bay. Once there we went to a Caravan Park because it did not look like a place we could get away with free camping. We checked out the different places that we could do a scuba trip with & signed up for a 2 trip package for the following day. Then we went down to the beach & did some snorkeling. On the way back in I saw some more blue spotted rays, but other than that it was not that great. At that point we headed back to the park. We went back early enough to make Mexican which was great & to get all of the receipts caught up so that we knew who owed what to each other. We had originally decided to split everything for the truck down the middle. However, since Adrian was staying in Perth & I was going traveling with Sayoko I decided to buy his half out. We figure out what I needed to do to accomplish this & we got a plan set for it. Adrian & I worked together on this really well. We also figured out how much we had spent a day on average. I had spent about $63 Australian a day while we had been traveling where as he had been more around $52 Australian. I usually bought a little more places & did a few more activities along the way. That was pretty good when you think that it included gas, food, lodging & activities. The hiking in national parks is a great activity for the budget. We also cleaned things up from the truck a little at this point & got to bed early since we needed to get up early for the dives we would do the next day.

May 5

This was a day I had been waiting for, getting to dive on the Ningaloo Reef. Since I had started researching Western Australia I had been reading about how nice the Ningaloo Reef was to dive. Since my last dives had been on the Great Barrier Reef & they had been amazing I was really excited to get in the water again. We got up early to make sure we were there on time which was not a problem. We actually had to wait a while for the people from Exmouth to come because it was a combined tour thing. Once they got there & all the equipment was sorted out we went to the beach. At that point we had to carry all the equipment to the boats. So much for customer service, but everyone pitched in & it got done after about 5 trips per person. After that we went out to do the dives, the boat drove for maybe 45 minutes until we got to the first dive site. The name of the first site was the 23rd Parallel. On that dive I saw lionfish, glass fish, nudibranchs, moray eels, a turtle & angelfish, plus other fish I didn't identify. After coming up from the first dive Adrian did not feel well. We got lunch while on the boat which was decent & some drinks. It was kinda different after getting used to eating lunches on the go. Adrian didn't feel any better for the second dive & sat it out. It was a nicer dive & took place on a site called Heikes Ledge. On this dive I saw a huge ray (to see look in "05-05 - Underwater Pictures") , trevally, more eels & a scorpion fish, plus coral. I enjoyed the second dive even more than the first one, but both were nice. They were not as good as the dives on the Great Barrier Reef, but the SS Yongala is tough to beat. After coming up from the last dive we headed back to land. Throughout the day we had been talking to other people on the boat. It was nice to be able to socialize with other people, Adrian & I were together enough that we needed some space from each other. It worked out well because the people from the boat told us that they were going out that night & where to meet them. After talking it over we had decided that we would stick around for the night, even though we had planned to start driving after the dive. We did not want to pay for the campground again so we scouted the town & decided that we would stay behind the grocery store. After going out for a meal & a few drinks the people headed back to there hostel. At that point we went back to the store & found our parking spot. After that we went to hostel bar which was only people staying there I think ;) I stuck around for a little while but to be honest the people were not that interesting, so I went back to catch a nap. Adrian had a German girl who really liked him (of course being a good boyfriend to his girl back home he turned her down). He did stay a little longer than I did which was one of the few if possibly only night I was ever asleep before he was. Either way it was a really nice day, always good to meet new people.

May 6

We got up pretty early so we would be out of the way before things got opened. Even with that we did have a guy from the store ask us to move because there was a delivery truck coming in the area where we were. The first part of the day was spent driving. We stopped in Carnarvon to get some groceries & connect to the Internet to pickup new e-mail messages. After picking that up we had some more driving time ahead of us. It was the later in the day by the time we got to Monkey Mia, but having our new groceries allowed us to make Mexican again which was nice. Can never have it too often :) We also did have a little time to look around when we originally got there so we could figure out where everything was taking place the next day. I was also able to call home again which was nice because I did not have time to do anything but receive my messages when we had stopped earlier in the day.

May 7

We sat our alarms for the next morning because we wanted to be there early to get a good spot for the dolphin feeding. We were up early enough to see the first show, which was great because I got to feed a fish to one of the dolphins! They only get 4 fish each & there were four there, so considering the 70+ people there your odds are not that good. The only thing that was bad was that do to me being out of film I did not get a picture of it,...oh well. Either way it was really cool. I actually went to see this on the trip with Sayoko & I will go more into detail about everything when I show those pictures.

After seeing the show we left to go see Francois Peron National Park which was right near Monkey MIA We went "sand bogging" which was fun even though Adrian almost wrecked us once (we just took out a bunch of small bushes with the passenger side). It was an actually road but if you got a little out of the ruts it would really take you where it wanted. We went to this cool lagoon where I saw a big ray and some kind of small shark, which made it worth the trip. The sand was really deep and I even got a little out of the ruts once and hit a bush with the side of the truck. In those conditions I am better driver than Adrian. However, at the start I almost got stuck a couple times, luckily we were able get out. It was a little uphill & it made it tough because I did not have enough speed at the start. Once I got going I was driving it in 4th the whole time and Adrian was having issues trying to go fast enough to stay in 2nd. It was really the closest thing to mud bogging I have ever seen. I really reminded me of driving the mud cat, which was a mud bogging truck I drove back in the United States in competitions when I was younger.

After we got back to the Peron Homestead (also where the good road starts again) we stopped & took a dip in the Artesian Bore. It provided us with some nice warm water, which was rather relaxing. Then we saddled up & headed towards Kalbarri National Park, know that most of our trip was now over. It was really one of the last 2 places we wanted to see on the trip to Perth. We had to go past a few of the attractions to get to the town where we ended up staying the night. We had planned to try to free stay, but got to town & just didn't find it worth the effort. We ate pizza at this quaint little place for supper. Then we went to a rather big campground. It was one where every site has power that is pretty sweet because I was able to recharge my laptop batteries.

May 8

The following morning we got up & back tracked to Hawks Head & Ross Graham Lookouts. Both were very nice & going there would provide me the info I needed for a place that Sayoko & I could stay for our trip, even though I didn't know it at the time. After that we headed back to the city, then on to see Red Bluff, Pot Alley Gorge, Castle Cove & Natural Bridge. There are pictures of the last 2 in Adrian's pictures dated 5-10. Sayoko & I also stopped at these places which I will explain more in those pictures. Going to Castle Cover & Natural Bridge was the only time we had to walk anywhere to see it & these were both easy paths. At this point of the trip Adrian & I were both pretty much "hiked out". It was nice that everything was so accessible, we were just out of energy. Both of us were pretty much ready to get to Perth at that point. An actual bed & electricity was sounding pretty nice, plus he wanted to start working & I had so many things to get ready for the rest of my trip & the trip I would do with Sayoko in Australia. Having things easy to get to was also good because we were able to see what we wanted quickly. It allowed us to get to Geraldton. The problem was that did not have anything to make us want to stop there (not even a Boost Juice!). So we ended up driving on as far as we could during daylight & staying in a sleepy little town called Dongara. I think we slept in a community park that night. Either way there was nothing there to do or see.

May 9

This would be the last day of our adventure. The only thing we had on the agenda was to see the Pinnacles, which was something we got to rather early in the day. Sayoko & I also visited these later & I will have a description with those pictures, because it makes more sense then :) After that we aimed the truck towards Perth & hit the gas. It was quite a few kilometers, but we were able to make it in good time. When we got there the first thing we did is find where Sayoko's hostel was as we had planned to stay there (but it was full). It was great to see her again because we had spoke on the phone & e-mail but not seen each other since January. I had met her in Brisbane while traveling up the east coast of Australia. After talking to her a little we started our hostel search & decided to stay at Globe Backpackers. They also provided a place we could park the truck (for a fee of course). But it was nice because it was right there where we could get things out of it. I was also able to get a new cell phone to replace the one I had lost, of course it a lot more than the original had. Either way I was able to keep my number which was nice. That nights sleep was nice, I forgot how much I had missed an actual bed. Adrian & I's adventure was complete, but I had a week to get ready for the next adventure, this time it would be myself & Sayoko on the road & in the wild Australian wilderness.