More Life And Death Experiences for the Stupid Tourist
One of my dearest writing friends, Cathryn, recently added me to her RSS feeds and said she was looking forward to keeping up with me through my blog. As a regular reader, you will be laughing as hard as I am right now because you know that I don't keep up my blog. This string of posts is an anomaly prompted by the aligning of several key planets: I have a topic (trip to Oz), I have time (just sent a submission on Thursday--wish me luck) and I have reached the level of guilt required to make me put in the time to write a few decent posts (I can't bear to disappoint Cathryn!)
I suppose I could have also titled this post Dear Friends With Whom I Don't Spend Enough Time since I went to the Gold Coast to meet Supa Sal, a cherished friend for nigh on twenty-six (seven?) years. Yes, Sal, we are that old. Yikes!
I met Sally on a Contiki tour of Europe. Eighty percent of the travellers on that tour were from Oz and two years later I went to Australia to visit with many of them. Eight years after that, hubby and I honeymooned there. That's why seeing a lot of Australia wasn't on my agenda this trip. Don't get me wrong--I think it's a beautiful country and given an unlimited budget, I'd spend unlimited time there getting to know the wonderful people and seeing the gorgeous beaches, the opal mines, Tasmania which I never have got to, more of Perth, Darwin...
However, this trip was very much about spending time with my sister and her new husband and baby so that's mostly what I (very happily) did. I couldn't go all that way without trying to connect with Sal though. She very kindly met me on the Gold Coast. She has friends and family there so it worked for her. She also still has awesome connections in the travel industry and got as a sweet deal on a two bedroom flat overlooking the ocean. OMG I lived high for a weekend.
But it was a weekend of contrasts. My sister drove me down there and spent the first night with us, which was awesome. Sally brought her son, who's a gorgeous three year old who really does have the most precious Aussie accent and one of those pre-schooler lisps. "Tooz me, Dani. Can you help me?" Of course, sweetpea, can I take you home with me? Sooo cute!
Anyway, we had the loveliest, most relaxing evening, got the boys off to bed and had a girls' evening with a few glasses of wine and some amazing take-out Thai from a nearby restaurant. All good. Then I got horribly sick the next morning. I swear I didn't drink that much for it to be a hangover, but I was sick, sick, sick. I could barely see off my sister and thankfully Sally had friends to visit because I went back to bed and stayed there for about six hours. By evening I was ready for Mexi food though so whatever the bug was, it was short-lived.
The next day was raining pretty hard so Sally and I went shopping. Her son was amazing--definitely going to make some woman very happy someday because the two of us shopped our brains out and he very patiently put up with it. Both Sally and I live in very rural areas. We both have jobs and kids and limited budgets of purse and clock. With every shop screaming "Mid-Season Sale" we were about in heaven. Very cool plaza of shops too, part of it like a typical mall here in North America and part of it spilling outside to a courtyard maze of shops with a small canal. I highly recommend a visit to the chain of Rivers stores. They have hilariously campy, dull-voiced ads on the telly, but they also have great bargains if you have time to poke through their selection.
By afternoon the skies were clearing so we hit the beach. I was so happy to have that opportunity since it really would be a crime to go all the way to Australia and not swim in the ocean at least once. I am the biggest sissy when it comes to the ocean though. I don't have any confidence against the power of waves and am quite certain they will suck me out to Japan at the first opportunity. Sally, a surfer who has lived in the ocean most of her life, didn't help when she came out and said, "Watch out for that rip over there."
What rip? I can't see it!! The three-year-old was braver than I was, but generously held my hand and showed me how to jump the lapping foam high up the beach where we couldn't get into too much trouble. After much coaching from Sally though, I did manage to get up to my thighs in the water and duck under a wave enough to say I 'swam' in the ocean. I was head-to-toe wet is what really happened, but that was enough to vindicate me. I'm always mad at myself if I go to the lake here at home and chicken out of swimming because it's too cold. I wasn't mad at myself when I left the beach, although I was assured by my brother-in-law that only Stupid Tourists swim in the 'winter.'
Here I am working up my courage:
Speaking of Stupid Tourists, when I got back to my sister's the news reported that the beaches on the Gold Coast had been closed because sharks had been sighted. That's sharks--plural. (No, that's not a fin behind me, just another Stupid Tourist.)
The entire trip was a mixed bag of weather since it's their Spring. Look at the storm that rolled in after we'd been on the beach for the afternoon:
Since moving from the coast to the interior, we don't get as much rain as I grew up with. Not heavy, pelting rain that makes you want to curl up in bed with a book. I miss that sound so I was thrilled when the thunder storms moved in and I could open the doors and watch Mother Nature's show.
All in all it turned out to be a perfect time of year to visit since the heat was never too intense (although it was plenty hot when the sun did come out.) The humidity was there, but not overwhelming. The cool days were damp and made you reach for long pants, but weren't cold. And everything was coming into bloom. Did I get a decent picture of the jacaranda trees? No. I'll let you look it up or visit yourself to see them.