3 pm. Tim’s phone rings out. Just as well. I have time to calm myself.
Eventually a girl’s voice answers. It’s not Renee. It’s a young backpacker’s voice but she’s smart enough to read the emotion in my voice.
‘Tim. It’s for you.’
‘Hi Tim. It’s Steve here. Hummer Steve. Remember? Yeah the cars running well.’ I’m practicing my calm voice. ‘But the tent situation is a f…ing disaster.’
I tell him the whole story. Upside down, inside out, dissemble, reassemble. I’m not about to let him be unclear about our predicament.
‘Someone had better sort this out’ I tell him '‘cos sleeping under the stars is not worth the premium price we’re paying for the Hummer plus camping package.'
‘I’ll check with Rennie’ he says. Rennie? Is there a Renee and a Rennie? Is he trying to do my head in. I suppress the conspiracy theory growing in my head.
I suggest airbeds instead of stretchers. He agrees, surprisingly enthusiastically.
‘Can you get them to us at Cape Leveque tomorrow somehow?’ He is suddenly less enthusiastic.
‘I’ll have to call Brisbane’ he informs me and promises to call back in the next hour.
It’s 4 pm and I haven’t heard from Tim (or Rennie or Renee). I call Tim’s number. It’s engaged. I walk once around the campground. I call again. Engaged. I report back to the silent team on the lack of progress. Andrea has taken to one of the beds. The third time Tim answers.
Tim is less chatty this time. He tells me the boss from Brisbane will call me.
My mission to negotiate a solution by sundown is looking less achievable. I report to the team. We waste a lot of energy trying to second guess the Brisbane boss and finally agree to the inevitable. We’ll sleep out tonight.
We now work hard at finding the silver lining. What a stroke of luck. Without this we would never have chosen to do this. How romantic. Under the stars. Full moon.
Andrea spoils the mounting euphoria by pointing out that we’ve now taken four and a half hours to set up camp. Denis and I claim it as a new world record. We’ll call the Guinness book of records tomorrow.
Pauline giggles. Denis rolls his eyes. Andrea says she’s going to lie down. She has a choice of inside or outside. What luxury.