The Good Land of Oz

July 12, 2008 at 5:18 am (Lil G. Rain's World, Travel Musings, Wedded Bliss)

5 Reasons this is the Good Land of Oz
1. People make a living wage without overworking one bit, they have healthcare and pensions and the dole for the dry spells and there is abundance everywhere you look.

2. The air is so clean you can almost choke on it (in a good way) and the water is glass-bottom-boat clear all the time, so far as I can tell.

3. The radio is exceptional, with news that actually informs you and many stations playing bands you’d want to go downtown to see every night if you could.

4. They have gobs of National Parks and set aside reserves for surfing with golden green points and rainbow lorakeet filled gums.

5. Did I mention how cute the koalas look on the yield sings?

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Kinda nice to stay and play local today because we’re getting ready to hit the road again tomorrow for Sydney (a few days drive the way we’ll do it). Seems that most days we’ve had our hair on fire in the morning to get out and see and do before G Rain needs her nap. Often, of course, she ends up sleepign on the bumpy road or in the little Getz and for that, we often pay the rest of the day. But, such is life as a gypsy. Naptime is just one of the many things that make this trip different than those we took before becoming parents. We work it out though, and often that means that each of us does our thing while the other stays with G (not that there’s much staying in G – land). I like to hike and write and Ian, well, Ian surfs of course, and since we got here that’s been the thing to do around here, lucky boy!
So this morning we headed down a trail on Lennox Head, he to surf and me and G to walk the 2kms or so to the playground in Lennox Shire. It was a bumpy but lovely ride through the grasses with a sea eagle keeping pace below us on the beach (a big shout-out to Maclaren stroller for handling off-roading in the bush just as well as being pushed down the sidewalk one-handed with a veggie roll and chai latte fresh from the bakery.)
Almost to the beachside park for G to get her play on, we crossed a bridge over some tidepools with some big girls. They had a bucket that they kept exclaiming smelled bad and so of course, G wanted to follow them to the beach. I sat back and let her approach  the girls at the shore and they included her in throwing crab shells to gigantic pelicans whose torsos were bigger than our little bear, never mind their fat necks and menacing beaks. She loved it! The park had a birthday party for a little guy we’ve come to know as Spidey cause he runs around Ballina in a Spiderman costume complete with  fake pecs. There was, of course, a Spiderman cake with sparklers on it, something I’ve never seen before . Having seen the way the little tykes pulled back when the sparks started to fly, I don’t see the trend catching on anytime soon.

…now to pack….

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Greatful List 1

July 10, 2008 at 11:45 am (Greatful Lists, Surf, Travel Musings, Wedded Bliss) (, , , , )

Grateful list for the day:

1. that I didn’t walk into that huge (by non-Aussie standards) spider in the middle of the trail today while hiking around Broken Head

2. that the water was warm enough that Ginger and I could get our clothes totally soaked and still stay warm in the sun while Ian got shacked right in front of us

3. the mama and baby dolphin in the clear blue waves next to Ian and the cola colored sea sponge with a honeycomb patchwork of holes that G and I found on the beach

4. that nobody (like my husband) teased me that Jews Point is so close to Snapper Rocks on one of the trailhead signs. What are they trying to say, anyway?

Lil kitten
Teeming with life

Teeming with life

Lil kitten
Morning walk
What are they trying to say?

What are they trying to say?

Morning walk

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The Crossing part 1

July 5, 2008 at 10:35 am (Lil G. Rain's World, Travel Musings, Wedded Bliss) (, , , , , , , )

2 hour delay in Honolulu airport

Landed exhausted and confused in the Gold Coast airport after almost 20 hours of travel. Due to a delay in Honolulu, we’d missed our flight to Brisbane and could not agree whether to stay the night in Sydney and fly out in the morning (once landing it would still be a 2.5 hour drive to Ballina, where Jan and Eric live) or hop on the little flight to a slightly closer airport in Coolingata. We chose to keep going and were just worn out by the time we got to the Gold Coast, our body clocks were chasing their own tails, and one of us wasn’t very happy  to not be asleep in a room in Sydney at the moment. Well, maybe two of us, as Ginger hadn’t slept much at all on the flight and it was midnight back in the States.

While I waited in the terminal for Ian to fetch a car, I scoped for signs that I was in a different country and was somewhat disappointed. The people dressed in a casual, trendy, surf-town sort of way that could have been any number of destination spots in California and so far, much of the merchandise and servicing seemed pretty familiar. If anything though, things were even more expensive than in the US. The national obsession of rugby, or

Mama and G overlooking Lennox Head

Mama and G overlooking Lennox Head

footy, blared on a TV in the corner of the terminal at a volume that even in the States would have been way too loud. I mean, the only travelers coming through that place at such an hour had to be pretty exhausted and the entire area was being totally dominated by the booming sound of announcers on steroids. About that time, with the slacker style and the too-loud TV ripping through the air, I formulated the thought that these people are more American than Americans are. This was to be confirmed by the trip we then took into the Surf Town USA of Kirra at midnight. We arrived just as the big State of Origin footy game had ended and loosed several hundred IQ-compromised revelers onto the streets. As we crawled around town looking for a motel in which to finally close our eyes, the natives literally shook their fists and did war-dances when our tiny, yellow, overstuffed Hyundai Getz rolled by  (as I said, more on footy and its devotees in an ensuing post).

Anyway, we’re here now and recovering from the rabbit hole of crossing the international-date -line with a toddler. Jan and Eric’s place is amazing, the living room wall’s made of glass and opens onto a deck with a view of the best humpbacked whale-watching this side of Maui. Ballina is a lovely little shire (it really is called a shire) and I look forward to exploring it and its environs like Lennox Head and Byron Bay extensively in the days to come.  So far, it seems like a sub-tropical Scotland (sweeping green headlands leading up to rugged, empty coastline) filled with unbelievably friendly people all eager to find out where you are from, help you figure out where to go next, and are dying to tell you that they live in the best place on earth. Already, I’m starting to believe them.

For those of you wondering how G Rain is doing (for her fans): she’s mostly as good-natured a love as ever. Of course, she’s still exhausted and her body-clock is still quite thrown off. The nights are rough. Today, she napped at 10am for the second time here (rather than the usual 12:30ish) and was down for the night by 5! She does seem clingier with me so far and I admit that I fret a bit about how the new lack of continuity might be effecting her sense of security. But I choose to believe that the ways in which she’ll become more flexible on this trip will overpower the ways in which she’ll be thrown by so much change. Overall, she is loving all the fun new adventures like swimming with sea turtles, chasing bush turkeys through the New South Wales rain forest and seeing Dada drive on the wrong side of the car. And she’s started saying 3 word sentences like “Missed you Dada” and “Go wake Mama,” so all in all I’d say that things are very right in her universe.

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Firsts

June 30, 2008 at 3:11 am (Lil G. Rain's World, Travel Musings, Wedded Bliss) (, , , , , , )


We spent our first day and anniversary of 5 years at a deserted beach on the Mokuleia side of Oahu. It lies just past “horses” beach, so named because of the open pastures of red dirt horse country that patiently surrounds the coast side of the road. I observed the other side of the road, Maulka side Hawaiians would say, from my beach walk. It’s sharp toothed cliff faces dripped with lime green tree canopy. The occasional skydiving plane blared in for a landing on a strip below the mountains, breaking the quiet of the ocean’s roar. The sand was white and sinking under my feet ND, of course, the water was first clear, then green, then turquoise, then blue. As I pumped my calves into the thick wet sand, I turned to see two sea turtles, honus, playing  in the shoreline. A mama and baby, bobbed and surfed over the reef. They surfaced only once in a while, prompting G to call them shy later on. I walked to the water and the tide brought them towards me. Then I almost got sucked back out and raised my arms for balance, first out to the side like a cross and then up over my head. The honu scattered at the threat I presented. I must have seemed like a pre-historic scarecrow (scarehonu?).

When I first arrived and washed my sins of plane travel in the rolling surf, I floated on my back in that same crucifixion pose and the sand clinked together in my ears like hands running through pearls. Amazingly, later we were on our way to the Wailua Sugar Mill and I saw a front yard garden with several white-sheet scarecrows which looked eerily like church crosses blowing in the wind.

Well, I don’t quite know what to say about all of this. I know what my Christian friends would say, can hear them right now. Know what my Jewish relatives would say too. The pagan in my husband, though, would probably approve. One God, and all. Five years doesn’t seem very long but I am grateful for every minute.

Right now back at Auntie Alish and Uncle Marcello’s, a rooster crows. There is a tropic breeze cutting the afternoon heat perfectly. I am writing outside while Ginger Rain and her cousin, Kailani play idyllicly in a house whose long French-doored front room is just as much outside as it is in. Kailani drumbs a beat with an empty water can and Ginger plucks away on a child’s coconut ukelele.

This day would seem like a dumb cliché if it weren’t so breezily real. There are fresh baked chocolate cookies here. I swear.

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The Dream, The Last Straw, and The Plan

June 21, 2008 at 6:38 am (Lil G. Rain's World, Surf, Travel Musings, Wedded Bliss) (, , , , , , , , , )

THE DREAM: Someday we would take our daughter, Ginger Rain, on the road and experience life in far off places, even if her brain doesn’t remember, we know her soul will

THE LAST STRAW: Ian finally gets laid off from working for the man, he’ll go independent from now on but before that, there’s time for one last adventure (that’s what severance checks are used for, right?)

THE PLAN: Take 2 and a half months to visit friends across Australia and Bali, sell off excess fat and sublet our home to help cover costs, teach the toddler to say “loo” and pack the travel potty just in case

Trying to worship like the ancients was not hard today down at Cardiff Reef for a late-day Solstice swim. If you were here, you know that the longest day of the year was endlessly sweltering, enough to pull me away from the heap of things I need to get done before we leave a week from tomorrow. I knew I had to put my nose to the grindstone, prep the house for the Travelling Nurse Subletters of Our Dreams, pay, organize and stow a life for the road and one for storage while we’re gone from home. I can’t help but wonder, at which point that word begins to appropriate itself to the new place in which you find yourself. After 5 weeks, will Australia be “home”? Bali after 4? I should know better though, there are places I’ve lived for years that weren’t home. Thing is, I finally do have a home here in Cardiff By the Sea (ok, I just like saying the whole name). We have friendships here, groups, neighbors, community. I went for coffee with Ginger this morning and ran into and chatted idly with no less than four people we knew (all of whom commented on the killer day, btw, even though Cardiff has given us nothing but high expectations as far back as we can all remember). It could be harder to leave than we thought. We could be happier to arrive home than we think. Too, I’d allowed my nesting instincts to get hopped up on post-nursing hormones and sometimes worried about a lack of continuity in taking our toddler away from everything she was coming to know.

Vacation. Travel. Adventure. It all sounds good and it is. So good for us and so good for the baby. But, of course, I am the realist. It’s up to Ian to be the optomist of the family. So I’ve been waxing melancholy about getting to go on the adventure of a lifetime.

Coulda been the Solstice, though. Did I mention the heat? Did I also mention the rapture of the cold seawater on my skin as I ran into waves with my lab, Anakin? Did I mention the perfect barrels peeling of the reef (yes, bloggers, get ready for some surf-talk, it’s contagious). Those waves were an inspiration. They looked like very long rows of blue green houses out there and the air was pure gold dust . As I walked back to the circus my family was holding down while I was gone, I was California Dreamin’. Just as lists and figures began to re-enter my brain, I had a quick flash of insight. The Solstice hadn’t sharpened my desire to stay home, it only made me want to travel more, get more of life-affirming swims and stellar days coming to an end. How could I complain about the work or worry about what we’d leave behind? What’s a little work and change compared to soul imprints and memories for generations to come. There’s gold and green pastures over them there hills for me and mine and we’ll do whatever it takes to to get there…

…stay tuned for the post from the airplane where I reveal that trying to take a 21 month-old half way around the world on our laps was an act of pure delusion and decide to move to OZ to avoid the plane trip back…

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