It's been two long years now
Since the top of the world came crashing down
And I'm getting it back on the road now
But I'm taking the long way . . .
Dixie Chicks, Taking the Long Way
In 2012 I was working at UWA, where I had been teaching for four years. The screensaver on my desktop was a slideshow of me and Larry camping — him painting and me writing. This daily reminder of my alternative life was essential for maintaining sanity. We were saving hard and hoping to find a successor to Sunshine.
Then came the big detour. I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I lost my job. My mum died.
For the next two years I was surrounded by so much support, I consider myself the most fortunate of women. The lifts, the meals, the visits, the love. The many cards and gifts of all sorts. Especially the ones with little camper vans — thanks Christos and Michelle. It all helped keep my heart light.
On two indelibly blissful occasions Adventurous Jen (who is also a nurse) smuggled me out through my treatment haze and brought me to the ocean, the river, the bush. She knows her medicine. My starving soul was fed. Just enough to get by.
I bided my time. I dreamed. I read the entire set of Enid Blyton's Adventures of the Famous Five - last year's Christmas gift from my cousin Maureen. Perfect! It was all I could manage to concentrate on - and it was full of camping.
And now Christmas has come around again and Larry and I have given ourselves the longed-for gift . . .
Larry and I have a tradition of singing themed songs (in my case loudly and tunelessly) when we travel. If you're old enough to remember Hair, you can sing along. It's a terribly silly song, but who cares?
Starshine already has a full soundtrack including Don Maclean's Vincent ("Starry, starry night"), Joni Mitchel's Woodstock ("We are stardust, we are golden/we are billion year old carbon/and we've got to get ourselves back to the garden"), the aforementioned Dixie Chick's Long Way Round ("I hit the highway/ in a pink Kombi/ with stars on the ceiling") Mama Cass' Dream a Little Dream of Me ("Stars shinning bright above you"). If you have any suggestions for additions, please feel free to add them in the comments below!
The Freeway Song is one of my very favourite songs by my brother, Erik Christensen ("Cold wheel in the cabin light/head off down the hippie trail/feel naked as a footprint in the early dawn/you drink from the holy well"). If it ever goes up on You Tube (Erik?) I'll link so you can listen.
Heading off down the hippie trail . . .