The longest dead straight stretch of road in Australia was about half a quagnackle long and took Rigabold the pernickentness about an hour and a half to traverse. Not that he didn’t believe his GPS, after all it was far more advanced that anything any Earthling had, but Rigabold really was surprised too see just what nearly a hundred and fifty kilometres of dead straight road looked like as he watched the screen in the dashboard preview his trip.
As any driver knows it’s important to keep your eyes on the road for traffic both in front and behind you. As anyone with half a clue about driving in remote areas knows keeping track of those vehicles not only helps your mind stay focused but it helps to make you a safer driver. It was something Tumcuddulan’s also learnt during their driving skills tests, but all that practise had not prepared Rigabold for the stretch of road between Balladonia and Caiguna.
What made the road in Outback Australia so much different was that not only was it dead straight it was almost dead flat, and unlike some of the other ‘straightest roads’ in the world it didn’t have any bends in it. It was the flatness of the road that helped make the road so disorientating and no doubt a danger to a fatigued mind.
Rigabold didn’t have to worry about fatigue, he’d slept less than six hours prior, however that didn’t mean the illusion played out less different. He first noticed it about fifty five kilometres out of Belladonia, he was cruising along at just under the hundred kilometre speed limit and looking ahead. On the horizon he could see a dot, immediately he knew that dot was a vehicle coming towards him.
A few minutes later and still focused on the oncoming vehicle Rigabold realised that it was too large for a car and was obviously a truck. A few minutes after that the truck was slightly bigger but still little more than a dot on the horizon. When the dot finally became recognisable as a truck the two vehicles had been travelling towards each other for nearly twelve minutes. After seventeen minutes although Rigabold couldn’t make out the model of the truck but he could tell it had three cattle trailers and was a cab over as opposed to a long nose, but the most distinctive change was the heat haze that surround the truck. A visible circle of heat that seemed like it was attracted to the truck as it punched it way through the warm Western Australia air. That heat haze remained around the truck until Rigabold could make out that the truck was in fact a white Western Star.
In all, from the moment he first saw the truck as a dot on the horizon to the time they passed each other at nearly a hundred kilometres per hour each more than twenty seven minutes had passed. In that time Rigabold had travelled fifty kilometres, or nearly a third of the longest straight stretch of road in Australia. It was something that Rigabold knew he have trouble explaining to fellow Tumcuddulan’s who hadn’t experienced such things before because it just didn’t seem possible, didn’t seem that such a thing could actually happen. But thankfully Rigabold had it all recorded.
Just over an hour into his trip along the longest straight road in Australia Rigabold had the Dodge driving itself and was sitting back enjoying the scenery as it passed. Nullarbor might have meant no trees but that didn’t mean there wasn’t anything too look at. There was many, many shrubs roasting in the hot, dry sunshine, which the dashboard reported to be thirty nine degrees. There was birds, and a large number of road kill, a lot of which Rigabold didn’t immediately recognise, left behind by large vehicles that more than likely hit the stray, wayward animals in the hours of darkness. But even the nothingness that was out there was something and it was a something that was ever changing, it was difficult to explain how nothing could change so much but it did and it was amazing to see it.
Two hours after leaving Belladonia, and the American space craft he ran into nearly forty years earlier, Rigabold pulled into Caiguna. Caiguna was nothing more than a roadhouse, motel and a small caravan park built purely to give long weary travellers a break. In the large parking area there was four large trucks, only one had two trailers the other three were triples. At the fuel pumps Rigabold could see another two triple trailered trucks and over closer to the roadhouse he could see half a dozen parked cars, it didn’t appear anyone was staying in the roadhouse motel. Caiguna was obviously a quiet little place on a long dry highway but since Rigabold was only there for two things the fact that the place wasn’t over run with people did not bother him in the least.
The first thing Rigabold did was hunt out the 11th hole of the Nullarbor links golf course which was a par three named Ninety Mile Straight, obviously named after the straight stretch of road he’d just travelled on. It was a nice little par three hole with a small dogleg left onto the green for the second shot and seeing it made Rigabold wish he’d been able to play the course.
The second thing that Rigabold stopped at Caiguna for was of course Chiko Rolls. He didn’t expect anything he bought at the small roadhouses to be the sort of quality that might see him wanting to borrow the chef to take back to Tumcuddula with him but in the fairness of doing his job properly he had to at least give the roadhouse a chance.