That night was one of the worst I’ve ever experienced. The heat was relentless, the humidity was just gross and there was no breeze to cool down the camper. Still suffering from heat stroke, not able to sleep in the heat, I lay in bed sweating profusely. It really is gross, no mater what I do, I can’t stop sweating, its like I’m in the middle of a hard summers run, but I’m just lying in bed, creating a pool underneath. I pull out a towel to lay on and another for the pillow to save some kind of hygenic sanity, but the water is coming out faster than I can replace it.
It is a night from hell, and the sun just couldn’t rise fast enough. I didn’t get one wink all night, and all I wanted to do is get up and sweat somewhere else, other than in my bed. Like a cruel trick, the sun breaks just as the early morning temperatures come to a non-sweating level, bumping them right back up again. Enough is enough, I’m getting up. My head still aches from the heat stroke and my energy is at zero as a meander over to the washrooms for a quick shower. It feels great to get under some cold water, but all the washing is for not as I’m a sweaty mess as soon as a make it back to the trailer. All its good for is taking off the layers of old sunscreen, bug spray and previous perspirations in turn for fresh layers
It’s an early run out to an airstrip about 50km out of Townsville, we are greeted by the airstips caretaker, an eccentric old guy named Roy, who amusses us with all the anecdotes we could ever ask for. Then when he’s not chuckling out a story, he’s “whooping” with amazement at everything he sees. He’s a character to say the least. Glen and Mark are setting up the Paramotors for their first flights. However, it wouldn’t take long for drama to ensue as Marks first take off is late and sketchy at best. He clips a tall bush at full throttle, and circles around the airstrip looking rather uncontrolled. Then he makes a dart for the ground, not letting up his speed and crashes into the ground at nearly 50 kmh. Craig runs to the crash site while I get the money shot on video, problem was the sun was obscuring the screen and missed the whole shot. Regardless, Mark is on his feet, just a couple bruises to tell he had just fallen out of the sky. The issue was a mirror strapped to his wrist to check his fuel levels. It had become tangeled in his steering and brake lines on takeoff, and sent him on an uncontrollable ride into the ground. However, he’s all fine and after a couple flights, both pilots know what needs changing and what’s good to go.
Headed back to town, its still early in the morning, however, with the sun much higher in the sky, I can feel the heat stroke soaking back in. I’ve had a camel back hanging from my mouth for nearly 24-hours now, and I’m already on litre number 4 of water today. A headache, bit of nausea and very little energy had me and Craig moping around the site, slowly loading up the truck and camper to move out to the airstrip that night, so that the pilots can take off first thing in the morning and we can hit the road.
Arriving back at the airstrip, We’re greeted by Roy once again, and yet another couple stories distract him as we set up camp next to a barn. I start cooking up some sausages for dinner while darkness falls, multi-tasking as I set up a camera to shoot a spectacular lightning storm that his floating in from the west. Glen and Mark are making last minute modifications to the paramotors before we all sit down to eat dinner and watch the spectacular light show going off in the distance. A full moon and clear sky behind us shines more than enough light for us to eat. It looks as though the storm won’t quite make it to us, then a few minutes later, we see that it is spreading out to the sides, and an arm of cloud has actually reached around the back of us, almost like a hook, reeling us into the storm. A quick cleanup and we’re off to bed; I throw a towel over the hole in the roof above my bed, just in case it rains. in the darkness, then a quick clean up and off to bed.
Out here the temperature is much cooler, less humidity and a breeze being sucked in by the storm is making form one of the most comfortable nights yet. I’m just about to fall asleep when… CRACK… the inside of the trailer lights up as a streak of lightning strikes somewhere very close. All of a sudden, the silent streaks of lightning we were watching earlier were now upon us with the upmost fiery. Sheet lightning fills the sky, Buckets of rain begin to fall, and the trailer begins to shake with the force of high winds. At first nothing is coming in as we have all the windows open to cool the camper down. Then, water starts to spray in from the left side, and Craig and I close it up. Then the wind picks up even more, one of the paramotors just outside topples over and I notice a light in the garage. Glen has dragged his tent into the barn then runs out to save the paramotors in the driving rain. Craig in nothing more than his underwear, bolts out the door to help, quickly returning completely soaked, while I’m trying to zipper up the right side as the wind has changed. Then the trailer begins to rock back and forward, the wind pushing it, the walls bubbling in like some great force on the other side wants to get at us as the lightning continues to streak all around us, great booms of thunder quickly follow. Somewhere out in the tree’s, Mark was still in his hammock, likely getting rocked around more than us. I jump back up into my bed, the angle of the rear window is currently enough to keep the rain out, at least for now. However, the tear in the fabric roof above my head is giving up the ghost as the towel has blown away and water begins to stream down next to my head. I spend several more minutes maneuvering my mattress and laying down another towel to soak up what was getting in, but it was a fruitless attempt.
Mercifully, the crashes of thunder became more and more distant, and the rain eased to a slight shower to nothing at all, and the bright full moon showed its face once again. With a mattress only slightly damp, I could now get some much needed and earned sleep. Our introduction to the expedition proper was official and something we will not soon forget. The boys will be in the sky for the first leg in the morning.