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ColumnistsPeter Nelson's TravelsPeter Nelson's travels - Australia -On top

Peter Nelson’s travels – Australia -On top

by Peter Nelson

Climbing The Rock. It’s over 1,100 feet high, but the western end has a fairly accessible route up. They’ve installed a chain handhold where it’s narrow and can be a bit tricky in a strong wind.
Climbing The Rock. It’s over 1,100 feet high, but the western end has a fairly accessible route up. They’ve installed a chain handhold where it’s narrow and can be a bit tricky in a strong wind.

Okay, it’s pretty desolate up here on top of Uluru. About as sunbaked, windy and parched as a place can get. Certainly nothing could live up here, right? Well, that depends on what you call ‘living’. In fact, there are hundreds of little hollows in the surface on top of The Rock which are shelters for desiccated brine shrimp eggs. These microscopic little dudes actually hang out up here, just cooling their heels until it rains, and they can hatch. Could be ten years before that happens, but, hey, they’ve got nothing better to do!

 View of The Olgas from the top of Uluru. Magnificent desolation.
View of The Olgas from the top of Uluru. Magnificent desolation.

But let’s think about this. How did all those shrimp eggs get up here in the first place? Blown by the wind? The nearest ocean is about 1,000 miles away. That’s “a long time to hang in the sky”, as John Denver put it. Were they incased in the fallout of bird droppings? What bird would be dumb enough to fly out here, hundreds of miles from any food or shelter?

And what evolutionary sideroad would ever guide these tiny ova to the top of The Rock to spend their whole lives? True, the view is just spectacular. (Do brine shrimp even have eyes?) And you’d certainly never have to worry about being swallowed up by predatory fishes.

But man, your life would have to be about as boring as it can get! Once you’ve checked out the view, what else is there to do up here? Not much. And, come to think about it, the dating game might be a bit tricky, even on Saturday night. Where would you go to meet your honey? Everybody in your own pool are aunts and uncles and cousins, so that’s out. Do you just hop on over to the next pool? What are the chances of even getting there, let alone meeting another briny babe who tickles your fancy?

 Getting my first haircut in 2 years. Hope I’m not squashing any shrimp eggs!
Getting my first haircut in 2 years. Hope I’m not squashing any shrimp eggs!

 

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