small town shut down.

it’s almost the chinese new year, and it’s almost valentine’s day. so i figured i’d better do a post summing up my birthday, christmas, and new year’s eve before another holiday takes precedence. yes, i know it’s way overdue, but oh well. deal with it.

’twas three days before christmas…

we got in the truck and headed out to a close-by national park. my human navigator informed me it was a two-ish hour drive. google maps informed me it was closer to four. but either way, we hit the open road once more. it had only been a week since we landed in south hedland, but it was my birthday, and since there is not much to do in town, we headed out of town.

back on the open road. back soaking in the beautiful west australia outback from the passenger side window (on the left side) of a sturdy white pick-up truck. red soil and gum trees and sunny skies.

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four hours and several musical artists later, we arrived at my birthday present: a breathtaking maze of river gorges complete with awe-inspiring cliffs and refreshing pools.

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also known as karijini national park.

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when you are with ryan, you never know what kind of adventure you are in for, but we managed to walk by a deadly snake unharmed, swim through several connecting pools without staring down a crocodile, and inch along unprotected ledges without falling to our death. i’d call it a successful entrance into my twenty-seventh year.

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and to top it all off, mother nature threw in a picturesque dust/thunderstorm.

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and a bushfire extravaganza on the ride home.

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’twas time to celebrate christmas…

shopping for gifts in south hedland is an interesting endeavor. your choices are pretty limited. if you can’t find it at kmart, well, good luck. but ryan and i managed to fill up the space under our makeshift gum tree christmas tree.

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i cannot remember the last time i spent christmas away from my family. it might have been when i visited my best friend aisha over winter break back in the fifth grade.

needless to say, it was a big deal that i was halfway across the world spending the holidays with a man i had only known for a couple months. on christmas eve, i had no idea if i would have an emotional breakdown and purchase the next flight home in a teary haze.

luckily, that was not the case. that was not the case at all.

instead, ryan and i spent the morning laughing hilariously at the random gifts we had ended up getting each other and awing at the thoughtful gifts that still managed to find their way under our gum christmas tree. we also got to enjoy the gloves with light-up fingertips that my mom sent us…for about five seconds, before storing in the closet. love you mom. (we haven’t quite found a use for them in the 100º weather yet, but we’re still trying.)

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then ryan went on a weird productive streak. he mowed the lawn and built a bookshelf.

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i sat in the sunshine and enjoyed my first ever warm christmas.

it was weird.

i have never celebrated christmas without the blustery cold tapping at the windowsill. i now know how people living in california experience the holidays.

to be honest, i prefer the snow.

now i understand that everyone reading this from the united states is currently cursing me, and i am sorry that old man winter has taken his temper out on you, but christmas just isn’t the same when it’s warm out. an evergreen covered in tinsel just needs a crackling fireplace next to it. trust me on this one.

on the other hand, celebrating the holiday in an empty house with someone you care about makes you realize that where you are doesn’t really matter. (insert a bunch of heartfelt comments about the spirit of christmas here.)

but i did manage to stay up late and skype with my family as they awoke on christmas morning. it was the perfect way to end my holiday away from home.

then nothing was stirring or leaving the house…

i celebrated my first boxing day by watching the weather radar. a large swirling cloud was moving closer and closer to the dot labeled port hedland. people were clearing the shelves of the grocery store and there was a limit on how much alcohol you could buy from the liquor store.

cyclone christine was on her way. blue alert. yellow alert.

and then, as we got the final “red alert” warning, all of south hedland and port hedland entered a phase i like to call “small town shut down.”

no one left their house. in fact, if you did try to drive the streets, you could apparently get up to a $50,000 fine.

it turns out that everyone seems to overreact to cyclones up here. did she do some damage? sure. was it necessary to buy four gallons of milk? not so much. but overall, cyclone christine was another gift to me from mother nature.

however, the cyclone was nothing in comparison to another bit of luck that came our way on boxing day.

the air conditioning broke.

oh yes. we braved over 100º temperatures and 85% humidity…for a week.

it seems that everyone goes home for the holidays, and that includes all the smart people who could fix the air conditioning. so for over a week, i discovered new and exciting places that sweat. and how impossible it is to work when you’re dripping on your keyboard. and how much i hate bugs inside the house.

after enjoying several days of the cricket symphony, i realized that they were not just serenading me from outside the window. they were inside. and they were taking over. apparently the air conditioning had kept them away, but now we were left defenseless.

ryan told me not to worry because the frogs will eat the crickets. but then followed it by informing me that the snakes would eat the frogs.

great. snakes in the house? this nature girl was not ready for snakes in the house. especially when we were sleeping on a blow-up mattress an inch off the floor.

and the next day when i saw a frog in the toilet, i knew it was time to unleash chemical warfare against the relentless cricket army. (i do apologize to all my insect-loving, non-chemical-using readers, but it had to be done.)

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so i guess some hedland residents did get to leave the house over the holiday…

until the clock stuck midnight…

somehow, ryan and i managed not to kill each other in the post-cyclone heat and humidity. after being cooped up in a sweaty house all week, we still managed to have an entertaining celebration complete with puzzle-ing, dancing, and white wine to ring in the new year!

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then finally, the small town shut down started to slowly lift its grip over port hedland. it was like at the end of a yoga class when the teacher whispers for you to start wiggling your fingers and toes, bringing life back into your body after a restful shavasana.

people started returning. stores didn’t have weird hours. the gym and pool were open again. but most importantly, the air conditioning mechanics were back at work. unfortunately, they couldn’t even fix the problem.

fortunately, ryan was able to pick up some temporary window units. i don’t think i have ever found anyone quite as sexy as the moment he turned the air conditioning back on.

it’s the small things in life, and i’m looking forward to every single small thing 2014 has in store for me.

and welcome back to present day…

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2 thoughts on “small town shut down.

  1. No idea how I happened on this site, but i found it captivating. Nice job whoever, wherever! Keep doing what you’re doing.

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