Following our brief leisure time at the Outback Steakhouse, Hayden went back to the campervan park to begin a long night working on getting the wheel shrouds mounted with the mech team. I walked back just following sunset with the strangest feeling.
The apocalypse was nigh.
The mech team buckled down and began making angle brackets and working on mounting strategies. I sat in the Hertz and wearily provided moral support as Hayden, Sarah, Cori, and Ben toiled away.
Throughout the night, the apocalypse fell upon us. In the outback, we expect flies. But on this warm and windy night, hundreds of beetles of different species and sizes descended upon us, chaotically whizzing into our headlamps and clustering around our flood lights. I had never seen anything like it before. The beetles were everywhere.
Eventually I dragged my sleeping pad and sleeping bag into the Hertz and attempted to conk out. A stray beetle smacked itself into the trailer wall and I trapped it in a cone of tape to contain its spastic movements. I was able to sleep after that. I slept to the sounds of a dull hacksaw against aluminum, occasional drilling, and the beetle trying to get out of its confinement.
Metal benders are the strongest of the earth benders. Cori mused for many hours about what kind of bender everyone was.
It was a night to be remembered.
I woke up at 4 am and went to wash dishes in the kitchen. The beetles were littered across the kitchen floor – dead and alive. They were stuck against the screen door, sliding around in the sinks, EVERYWHERE.
I went back to my sleeping bag in the Hertz. The beetle continued its flitting efforts to escape the cone of tape. Hayden said that everyone was almost done. I went back to sleep.
When I woke up, the sun was up and Hayden had joined me in the Hertz. Everyone’s tents were full of sand and the potential for beetles, so the Hertz was a safe choice. The wind had picked up and the Hertz shook back and forth. With 6 hours of restless sleep under my belt, I was pretty much awake.
Hayden woke up too. He and the rest of mech had been up until 5:30. None of the mech kids were really sleeping either. I felt so bad for Hayden that we went to the front desk and asked to rent one of the park’s cabin units, hoping we could get an early check-in so Hayden could sleep in a quiet place during the day.
We were in luck and were told that we’d be able to check in at around 11am, so we and the mech kids went to get breakfast at the Outback Steakhouse.
After the Outback Steakhouse, Hayden and I walked further into town to see an art gallery that I remembered from last cycle. We talked to a local about motorsport and viewed some local art by the artist Tommy Crow. I like his art a lot. After that, we visited an underground bookstore that looked kind of cool. I didn’t get anything, though. We got snacks at the gas station next to the Outback Steakhouse and headed back to the campervan park, where our cabin was waiting for us.
The cabin was actually more of an apartment. It was wonderful! Hayden decided that we would be staying here longer to celebrate my birthday, and that I had no choice in the matter. There was no sand in the apartment, and there was a shower and a washer and dryer! The communal shower and laundry facilities both cost money (oh, the stressful 20 cents per 2 minutes of shower) so it was like we were actually making money here. We did 4 loads of laundry and I took 2 long, hot showers that evening. We had a nice long nap though to the evening, when we had to wake back up and finish up some mech/wheel shroud stuff.
When we returned, we found several beetles, lying on their backs, on the floor in the apartment. It was unclear if they were playing dead or actually dead but it was tremendously creepy nonetheless. I was reminded of that one time Melanie found a bunch of dead ladybugs just everywhere littering the streets. Like that.
You can’t escape the apocalypse.
The next day, the cleaning staff cleaned up all the dead beetles on the floor and only a few more appeared dead in the apartment after that. A few days later, in another town called Marla, there was a sign that basically said ‘sorry, but there are a lot of bugs around so you’ll probably find them in your room.’
The next day was also my birthday! Tune in next time to hear about that.