March 13, 2005

Riding the Ghan from Adelaide into the Red Center:

The morning started with a really nice visit to church. Vienna and I kinda shook off the grime from last night and put on a bit of spiritual armor for the rest of the trip. The Church was across town but we eventually found it. As a bonus, the temple was right on the way, so I got to take a picture. We arrived about 25 minutes early so we had plenty of time to go back before the service started.

At first, I didn't think I'd get a good picture of the temple because when we drove by, the sun was shining on the back. But, as it turned out, the sun was actually shining on the front (I think that temples generally face east), and we had driven by the back.

Of course, the temples are closed on Sundays so we couldn't actually go into the parking lot, but driving around to the front proved to be a better shot anyway. I was a bit farther away and took the picture through the fence but it worked out very well. There were a couple of trees adding a frame and, of course, the sun shone brightly on the temple.

I enjoyed the service with Vienna; the peace and the music uplifted me. Afterward, we returned to the motel room and we checked out. We were able to return the first rental car to Hertz successfully - a very important detail to Andy - and then walked around town a bit more before catching the train tonight. We ate lunch at a Middle Eastern/Lebanese take out, which was very good. We had Yiros (Gyros in the US) and drinks (Andy had Lift, of course) and baklava for dessert. Yummy. As a side note, Vienna is a bit sad today after the concert last night. Today was a bit of an anti-climax, I'm sure, and she misses Billy Joe and the band. She loves her t-shirt though and has been wearing it all day after church. After a brief stop at a local cyber cafe and a couple of phone calls home, we started our walk to the train station. It was just a couple of kilometers from town and the exercise was nice.

The Ghan (pronounced like “ran”) is the train taking us from Adelaide to Alice Springs in the red center of Australia. It is a train with a long interesting history dating back to the men who imported camels to carry cargo while they built the rails. The emblem is a camel (named Simpson by the way). We have been looking forward to our train trip for a long time, not only for the fact that we can relax and let someone else do the driving for a while but also for the opportunity to see the scenery roll by us. We got a bit of that tonight, seeing the Adelaide plains and even a kangaroo as we passed.

We have tiny little cabins that convert from sitting rooms to bunk beds. Andy was to share a room with another person as only two can fit in one room. But, that man was able to move to a room by himself so now Andy and I can share one and Vienna can have her own. I get the top bunk, though. So far we are really enjoying our trip on the Ghan. We're spending the evening talking, watching out the window, writing and relaxing. We are looking forward to seeing the desert when we wake up in the morning and having brekkies as we watch out the window. Then, we get to Alice Springs and Uluru, tomorrow. That will be really cool and we are excited to see this grand part of Australia.