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September 19, 2011
FINISHED!
Thank You.

Two hours, that’s all it is taking me to fly from Adelaide to Sydney. And from my airplane window the world looks so big. The landscape keeps spreading out with only small dirt roads that cut lines into the nothingness of rural Australia.  Sprawling out, the roads look like blood veins that carry people and goods to the small towns that I fly over in only minutes. And though now those towns and individuals appear to be so distant and far apart. I know that it is not the case. While this was a solo trip I did not do it alone. So in this final blog I want to say thank you! Thank you to all the individuals and families who donated to the cause and spent time in prayer for my travels. Thank you to all the individuals and families that opened your homes to me as I walked through your piece of the world. There are too many to name and yet, your kindness and provision both sustained me in day after day of walking and even more by enriching my experience in your beautiful country. Though The Earth Expedition is not over, for me it is. By Friday I will be taking a test in a lecture hall, and next week I will be caught up in the homework from the three weeks of this semester that I have missed.  Even though I will be living a much different story, I will be walking in a new reality. A reality that from my vantage point in seat 21 F is so much more apparent. We, us, the near 7 billion people in the world are so much closer then we think or feel. When you hear about bush fires, earthquakes,  terror attacks, and yes, people just like you and I except they are locked in poverty by their inability to attain clean drinking water, all these people are within walking  distance (from the airport).

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September 8, 2011
The Home Stretch... Almost Home
37k on 1Liter:

Bwinkle_1.jpgThe Coorong is an inland sea that stretches out alongside the Princes Highway and from Kingston to the township of Salt Creek some. It is some of the most desolate country in which I have ever walked through. It gave me the hardest and driest day I have had on this entire walk. Some of my friends couldn’t believe that I was doing this trip solo. Mainly for the fact that (to put a positive spin on things) I am a visionary, not one into details. I like to just go for it. Going out with the mind set captured in the Aussie saying, “she’ll be right.” And when I could not find a cart to push the freshwater I would need in Kingston I once again decided, “o’well she’ll be right.” After all I pack 4 liters and that would be enough to get me to near the two houses that according to google I would walk past the morning of the second day. As I made camp at the end of the day just off the road in a evergreen scrub thicket the plan was coming together. After cooking dinner I had exactly 1 liter.

The next morning 5K into the walk I came to the first house. After several attempts at knocking and loudly saying “is anyone home?” nothing. But there was a spout that looked like it came from the house. So I filled up my Nalgene knowing that if I got caught I simple explanation would most likely suffice. The liquid looked decent flowing into the blue bottle. But then came the leafy floaties as the bottle was topped off.  Luckily, I add an extra purification tablet to make sure. When I tried to fill the next bottle the water immediately turned brown, I dumped it out.  No worries, as  I thought there is another house. The next house was vacant. At this time I began to get a little worried. It hit me fairly hard that this is serious. But what could I do? I kept walking. By lunch I had managed to make it 15k in to the planned 30k day and had managed to conserve .5L of water. When I opened my can of tuna, instead of draining the brine I chugged it. After a short nap I was on the road again.

Bwinkle_3.jpgThe cloud cover that had kept the morning cool and shaded had long since burned off by the time I reached the 20k mark, it was as dry as my camel pack. I was empty. Well kinda. For the first time that day I felt the need to pee, a sure sign of dehydration, and in the moment every Bear Grills episode I have ever watched flashed before my eyes. I had heard stories of people surviving without water by  “recycling” their own, and in a moment I grabbed the plastic bottle and filled it half way. Vowing to only drink it as a last resort.

I knew from my tourist map that there was a public camping ground with fresh water 5-10k past where I had planned to stop for the day so I made the decision to go for it,. I didn’t really have a choice. By 27k I felt myself getting a bit light headed. I pulled out the water that had now had time for the purification tablets to work fully. Taking a big mouth full I quickly reversed the flow spitting the water out on the ground.  The bitter taste of salt water hung in my mouth, it was from a bad well.  By the 35k mark I had to sit down because I was dizzy. I pulled out the yellow, last resort beverage.

I’m not that bad, I thought. Slowly and more cumbersome than usual I dawned my pack and trudged slowly forward.  And then 2k down the road I saw it, a sign sitting in front of the ranch that said BANFF. I began slowly to walk up the long dirt drive. Behind me I heard the sound of gravel crunching and a pickup coming up the drive. Introducing myself and my cause gave me a place to camp and all the fresh water I could drink.

bwinkle_4.jpgTrying to guess the ending.
Resolve, it seems to be something that deep within the human nature we long for. There is nothing worse than a movie in which the credits begin to roll and the tension that has been building is still there, and the questions you have been asking throughout the story still remain unanswered.  However, when a story resolves in a way that is both beautiful and logical to the plot there is no greater feeling. It is like a compass is realigned in us and for a moment all of life makes sense. It is a ring that signifies so much being destroyed. It is the death of Lord Valdimore, Rudy finaly playing in a game,  the mission complete and the, “you may now kiss the bride”. The Hawaiian tropics bus pulling away from Harry and Loyd  as the pair walk into the sunset  saying, “We’ll get our break some day.” As I close in on the last week my mind tries and fails to picture the end. What will it feel like? What will it look like? and the next morning to get up and not have to walk anywhere. Weird. As the sun starts its downward fall on this adventure there in front of me stands a worthy foe composed of 4 days of rain and a considerable distance that I am not even going to add up in total till its done. But after it is conquered, and the credits role and this expedition for me will be over  I wonder will there be resolve? ~Ryan Beerwinkle

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