Sculpture in the middle of the Oodnadatta in Australia's Outback

Cruisin’ the Australian Outback on the Oodnadatta Track

Cinnamon-red mud splatters the windshield, and our van slides precariously sideways toward the ditch, righting just in time to keep us on the road. We don't dare stop; the thick mud is as slick as ice, and deep enough that we would be stuck in seconds. Charles and I are driving the infamous Oodnadatta Track, which cuts through the heart of Australia's Outback and traces the route of the old Ghan railway. We decided to brave the track, sometimes notoriously rough and difficult, in our 14-year-old, 2-wheel-drive, Toyota HiAce van. We are prepared for the trip: the van carries enough water to float a small navy, food for a few weeks, spare tires and a jack. Still, I'm worried that our van, which we've owned for barely two weeks, won't be up to the trip...