Skipping Stones

My post is about skipping stones, well, not all of it, but some of it. If you try to skip a stone the wrong way, it rolls, which would turn it into a Rolling Stone. Oh, sorry, I didn’t mean to get off topic. Anyway, today I learned how to skip a stone. ‘Where?’ one might ask, ‘When’ another might ask, and another might ask ‘How?’ I will be answering all of those questions, but you have to sit through the whole thing. This is the way of it:

We had gone to the Waterberg National Park, which is a large plateau that is taller than everything around it for a long ways so you can see for miles. We had done that and were back at the guest farm after Eryn and I swam when I finally found the oldest of the three sons of Nadia, the owner’s daughter (or daughter in law.) I found him on the back of a truck with a knife in one hand and a stick in the other. He was whittling and trying to hollow out the center of the stick, and that wasn’t working. Just then, Mark, Nadia’s husband, drove up in his truck and asked us if we wanted to go with him to clean the road grater. We all said yes and climbed into the back of his truck and we drove to the house by the lake and started power washing the grater. We did that for a while and then got invited inside for some Coke and chips. Marsel (the oldest boy) and I took our cokes and went down to the lake. There, he taught me how to skip stones on water. The most that I could ever do was one skip, but he could do four or five. When we came back, we finished our cokes and got back into the truck for the ride back to the farm. When we got back, it was 7:00 PM.

Day 100!

Only 265 days to go!

Today was another hot day and we spent it hiking up, down, and around the Waterberg Plateau. We went on the Kambazembi Walk first, accidentally, thinking it would bring us to the top. After an hour, we decided it wouldn’t. So we made a 360-degree turn and finally got on the Mountain View trail. Mom kept saying, “I don’t do well with rocks” as the trail was covered in chunks of plateau.

There was a little canyon in the side of the plateau, and that was the way up. To go beyond the lookout, you have to have a special permit. Which we (thankfully) didn’t get. The view was great, grand, and gushingly gorgeous. To get down, we followed the white footprints (not the yellow brick road). Mom and I were worried about territorial baboons attacking us, and we almost choked with terror as a herd of gemsbok (more commonly known as oryx) fled through the bushes.

I commented on how I was relieved, but Dad said, “I wish it had been baboons.” Just then, we reached the road and had to walk up a hill to get to our South African car. As we rounded a corner, we saw- you’ll never guess!- baboons! We only saw three, but Dad reassured us that there is always a group. (That wasn’t very reassuring.)

Walking by the little brick buildings used in the hotel, we saw a group of warthogs, or vlakvark. We finally got in the car, went a little ways on the Francolin Walk (francolin is a type of bird), and then got Magnums at the shop.

Once home, Ethan and I swam in the pool, using the little yellow boat to recreate the Titanic.


Hohenfuls Hike

Today the four of us, with Lilly, climbed to the top of Hohenfuls Mountain. Ethan left a note in the success notebook by the white cross. Not many people have left notes since January 2012, which is when the book started. Ethan said,
Made it to top with Lille, the dog, and family. Beautiful view. Wish you were here. Oh wait- you are!
Ethan, age 11
Oregon, USA

So he spelled Lilly wrong. But he used his best handwriting.

We weren’t officially at the top at the cross; we were just at the end of the spray-painted orange dots. Even when we stopped we weren’t officially at the top.

With all the rocks, you had to watch your step. I fell once, Mom slipped once, and Ethan fell/slipped the most. Lilly was the most sure-footed of all of us. We didn’t see any snakes, which was kind of disappointing. Dad kept saying, “Watch out for snakes,” as if I wasn’t on hyper-alert for the reptiles. I saw one yesterday. Not the whole thing, just the last five inches. For a second I thought it was a lizard, but then I remembered that it was moving in a squiggly motion.


Driving on Dirt

In Namibia, there is a lot of dirt. It’s in the desert, so that’s understandable. Most of the roads are dirt, too. In our past travels here, we have been on the paved roads, and that allowed us to go quickly. Today, however, we drove on dirt.

I’m not sure if I wanted it, or even if I didn’t want it, but it still happened. We drove around on dirt roads for two hours this evening. It was a beautiful day, the sky was blue, the sun was bright, and the clouds were few. All of those things made it a good day. We had been waiting at the front building when Alex drove up in his white truck. He told us to get in the bed of the truck and to stand up so we could see all the animals. At first, we saw none, and even though we looked in every direction, we could not see a single animal. We saw lots of signs that animals had been there, like the bark scratched off the bottom of an acacia tree by a porcupine and several large warthog holes. But it was not to stay that way. The first animals that we say were some klipspringers, which are about the size of a jackrabbit. Then, after driving some more, we saw some hartebeest. Several minutes later, we saw some gemsbok, stopped, took some pictures, and when it left, moved on. Later we saw a rabbit.

Aside from birds, those were the only wildlife that we saw on our drive, though we drove around a lot more. When we got back, we had dinner and went back to our cabins to go to bed.

When at Weavers Rock

Weavers Rock is a guest farm in northern Namibia. We are staying here for four nights, and we have already spent one. But since the last time I wrote was in Botswana, I’ll try to catch you up to where we are now.

Yesterday we started out early and went to the Botswana/Namibia Border to get across. We got across and passed through several small towns before arriving in Windhoek, the capitol. In Windhoek, we got sim chips for the phones before heading off again, this time north. After two hours of driving, we arrived at Weavers Rock Guest Farm, and got greeted by Alex, the owner, and his medium sized dog Bonzo. We ate dinner by the pool and when I went to feel the water, I got startled by the light brown giant-of-a-dog, Tasso. He started growling, but after more time, I have come to think that it was snoring. During the rest of dinner, three dogs ran past, two of them stopping. The three dogs were Bonzo, Lille, and Nala. Nala and Lille stopped, and let us pet them. Then we went to our cabins and proceeded to go to bed.

The next day, when we woke up, we had showers and then went outside for breakfast. After that, we went back down towards the pool, and saw the four dogs on the way; Bonzo, Lille, Tasso, and Nala. I played around with them and then found a puppy named Choc, as in chocolate, who is the son of Tasso and a very cute puppy. I played around with those until I found a six year old boy named Dominic. We played around for a while, in the pool and otherwise, before I got forced to go to the water hole. We went, and when we got back, I jumped in the pool a couple of times before giving that up and going in.

A Dog Day

Tasso, Lilly, Nala, Choc, and Bonzo are the dogs’ official names. Susa, Choc’s mother, was killed by a snake. I suppose that Miro is dead, too.

Tasso is the giant hulk. He is the father of Choc but seems loathe to admit it. Tasso loves the rope and was growling at Alex- the owner- when he tried to take it away. Whenever he’s thirsty, he goes for the nearest water, be it planter, pool, or pond.

Lilly is not who I thought it was. Lilly is the medium-sized black dog. She usually stays out of fights but loves the rope almost as much as Tasso. One of her favorite pastimes seems to be being chased by Nala and Bonzo.

Nala looks like a docile little daschound. That’s just a cover for the demon who comes out against Choc and Bonzo. Her teeth are like little razors. Nala is sweet when you get near her… just as long as the rope isn’t around.

Choc is the daughter of Tasso and the late Susa. She was the only puppy of six who looked like Tasso. She is eight weeks old. Susa died three weeks ago. Choc is short for Chocolate, and she was so named because of her milk-brown coat and floppy dark brown ears. She is, in my opinion, the cutest of the dogs. She is a fierce fighter. Well, she wishes she was. She’s too small to challenge Tasso, Lilly, and Bonzo, but Nala is just her size. Actually, Choc is slightly bigger than Nala. And Nala is full-grown.

Bonzo is the most outgoing of the dogs. He was the one who came to greet us last night as we arrived. He seems the most content with his life and spent this afternoon curled up by the side of the pool. Bonzo play-fights often with Nala (and Choc, too, but she is too small to really count).

I love all five, but Choc has to be my favorite, followed, in order, by Nala, Bonzo, Tasso, and Lilly.


Tons of Traveling or Ze Zany Zoo

In the last week, we have been in four countries, stayed in three, traveled in two continents, and are still on one planet. (The countries are Australia, South Africa, Botswana, and Namibia.)

Just today, we’ve done two: Botswana and Namibia. The border crossing still took a long time, but that was just because it took a long time for Dad to fill out all eight forms.

We got across, took a picture of the sign, and drove for hundreds of kilometers before reaching Weavers Rock Guest Farm. The sun went down and it got dark, and we were very worried about, say, an oryx jumping out in the road and stabbing the people in the front seat as it slid through the windshield. However, we hit nothing. We saw dozens of warthogs, though, plus two rabbits and a little dik-dik, which is a teensy-weensy type of antelope. (A klipspringer is smaller than that, though. It’s about the size of a rabbit and jumps from rock to rock. And yes, it’s an antelope.)

We pulled in to the barking of Bonzo, one of the four dogs. The other dogs are Tasso, Lilly, and Miro. Tasso is the huge black one, I’m assuming that Lilly is the daschound, and Miro is the medium-sized black dog. There’s also a very friendly cat and supposedly two ponies and their foals. It’s like a zoo!


Marriage in India

Arranged marriages are still the norm in India, although the process has changed a bit in at least some parts of India with advances in technology and western ideas of falling in love and selecting your own spouse. Many families place advertisements in newspapers to find a potential spouse for their son or daughter. The larger newspapers have a whole section dedicated to matrimonial ads in the Sunday edition. The ads, which are similar to the personal ads in US newspapers, include information about age, height, looks (fair, handsome, beautiful, slim,) religion, caste, intelligence, education of potential spouse or father seeking spouse for son/daughter, type of employment of potential spouse or father seeking spouse for potential son/daughter, and city or village. One ad seeking a wife desired a “homely or working class girl.”

Who has input or makes the decision in the selection of the husband or wife varies from family to family.  In Agra we stayed with a family that was searching for a wife for the oldest son, about 28 years old. The family put an ad in the local newspaper and in just one day after the ad was printed, the family received almost 30 phone and email responses. Quite a few of the responses were made directly by the potential bride, rather than her father or mother. After a few days the young man and his mother planned to narrow down the list and set up a time to visit with each potential bride still on the list. The son, who lives with his parents, has an MBA and runs his own export business, wants an attractive and intelligent wife. The mother feels that it is very important that she and the bride get along. Her mother-in-law has never liked her and that has caused friction in the family. She wants the situation to be better for her oldest son.

The youngest son has already fallen in love with a young lady he met in college and his parents like and approve of her. , As a result, no search or traditional marriage arrangement will be made for him. He would like to get married, but the oldest son needs to marry first. So the search is on for a wife for Shiron.

Watering Hole Poem


Waking up early by day,
to look at animals, they say.
But when you see no movement,
you are not afraid to comment,
that there is nothing there.
When eating breakfast later,
and seeing the metal ‘gator.
Eating scrambled eggs and toast,
hoping it is not warthog roast,
all of which they offer.
Seeing movement by the pond,
running back, so quick to respond.
Seeing some animals drinking,
knowing what they should be thinking,
that is time to move on.
That is pretty much how our day went, because the only other animals we saw were a couple of kudu, and even then, only their fleeing backsides.

A Gnu Waterhole


A wildebeest is a gnu, a gnu is a wildebeest. For some of you who watched the Adventures of Harriet Hamilton, you might remember the line about how the new gnu knew. Just for the record, I wasn’t there, as I was in South Africa, looking at real live gnus. We saw one gnu today at a waterhole, and even then, it was mostly in the dark. We had been eating supper and looking at the passing springbok drinking from he waterhole when the guard gestured towards the hole at one of the darker sections. I saw the gnu when it moved; a great roiling mass of bone and muscle that moved towards the light, scaring all the springbok while at it.
For those of you who have recently latched on to this saga, we are in Botswana, a country right above South Africa. We have driven from the capitol, Gaborone, and are now at a place called Thakadu Bush Camp. Its central focus is on the watering hole, and people sit around it all day.
Today Eryn and I called ECA (Emerald Christian Academy) to tell our classmates our website. The only ones that actually talked into the phone (yelled, more like) were Destiny, Emma, and Krista. Then, because of some error in the connection, the line disconnected, and after Eryn tried several different tones of ‘hello’ and got me to say ‘yo’ she ended the call.

An Overview of Oz

This Oz is not the one Dorothy and Toto visited. No, this Oz is- you guessed it!- Australia. We visited about eight distinct places (Sydney, Darwin, Ambalindum Station, Alice Springs, Ayers Rock, Gnaraloo, Amble Inn, and Perth), and it is fair to say we liked them all. My personal favorite would have to be Darwin of the beaches and warmth, followed closely by Ambalindum Station with Mel, Dave, and Fatso, and Amble Inn, home to Sandy, Millie, Peter, and Mr. Fluff.

Sydney: When we first arrived at the airport in Sydney, we were in for quite a climate shock. It was a frigid 55 degrees (or so) that night as Andre Wu picked us up in his van. After a week in Jaisalmer, India, we were about to freeze. Andre and Sabrina Wu, along with their son Anthony, were our hosts for the week. Sarah, from Germany, was a fellow guest. We lived far away from the city center but the transportation system made it relatively easy to get around. The city didn’t officially end even on our way up to the Blue Mountains.

Darwin: Our limbs warmed up as we landed in Darwin. We had a pretty good apartment that had a pool, and we often watched the sunset from the beach. The entertainment was good, especially watching Brave at Deckchair Cinemas.

Ambalindum Station: I am the Reeder star in Ambalindum Station’s TV commercial. I am in the background as Mel lifts the damper out of the camp stove. We befriended Dave, the gem-collector and cow horn polisher, Fatso, Skinny 1, and Skinny 2, the magpies, and Rex, the director and film crew of the station’s TV ad. We tagged along behind a cattle muster, too, which took forever but provided some interesting experiences.

Alice Springs: Ethan and I braved the chilly depths of the pool at Kathy’s B&B. Once. That was more than enough. Ethan also took a didgeridoo lesson there and was disappointed at the price of an instrument.

Ayers Rock: Now called officially called Uluru, Ayers Rock is a popular tourist destination, even though Ethan doesn’t get why. It was cold there, too, but the bush fire along the highway warmed the car up to 31 degrees Celsius.

Carnarvon: We were only here two nights, but while we were, we murdered pancakes, walked along the beach, and sorted pictures.

Gnaraloo: Snake tracks were everywhere, and, in what Ethan and I dubbed Valley of the Shadow, there were plenty of sheep skeletons. Valley of the Shadow was between the big dunes and the ocean. At Gnaraloo Bay and 3 Mile Camp, Ethan and I made awesome sand creations that got destroyed by the rising tide.

Amble Inn: Ethan and I fell in love with Sandy, Peter, and Mr. Fluff. Millie was harder to like. I never really did. Peter and Mr. Fluff, the adorabubble bunnies, were vicious. At least, Peter was, scratching my arms when I was holding him securely and therefore ruining my tan. I still love him, though. We visited the Pinnacles, Mt. Leseur, and nearby Jurien Bay, where we met two siblings who were named Erin and Ethan.

Perth: In Perth we did nothing that stands out to me except playground-hunt and eat pizza at Hero’s, where there were free slushies and Pac-Man games.


Come Look Inside

I now invite you to turn off your cellular devices and any other noise-making electronics or young children. Cameras are allowed, but using the camera on your smartphone is not.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Chalet #1. There are two rooms. Walking through the front door you’ll see a double bed, and there is a cot to your left and a low mattress to your right. Also on your right, you can see a table with a hat, glasses, and a kettle on it. Beyond the wall the double bed is against are the bathroom and a closet. Now let’s do a U-turn and see what lies outside.

You’re now on the front porch of the plastic-walled raised cabin. To your right is a table, a bench, and an ashtray. That is the living room. On the ground in front of the living area is a tree with weavers’ nests. Return your view to straight ahead. You can see dirt and trees. Now go left and down five stairs. Go straight for about five meters, turn right for five meters more, then turn left and follow the stone-lined path for about 25 meters. Stop! You’re about to hit that table!

Turn right and pass the firepit. You’re now at a low brick wall. Follow the wall to the left to a bench. From this bench, you can see the waterhole that animals like rooibok, springbok, impala, elands, ostriches, wildebeest (or gnus as I like to call them), and many flying birds to visit. Keep going, past the metal crocodile and past the shallow pool. Go up the steps. Take a sharp right.

Oops! You just fell into the pool! Here’s a towel. Dry off and we’ll grab some rooibos tea from the restaurant. That’s right back down these steps and straight across the muddy path. Yes, it’s mud. In the Kalahari. That’s because those sprinklers are always on. Here, let’s sit down. The dogs are over there by the parking lot playing. Holly, the dog that looks like Sandy of Amble Inn B&B, is the wild one. However, it gets beaten by Candy, the dog that looks like Millie of Amble Inn B&B, in playfights.

I hope you enjoyed your tour. Thank you for choosing Reeder Tours.


Gnu Animals

Today I have seen four new animals. They are just-seen in the wild for only me because I, unlike Mom, Dad, and Ethan, had never before last week set foot on African soil. The four animals were ostriches, guinea fowl, gnus, and springbok.

Ostriches lined the Trans-Kgalagadi Highway today as we drove northwest. There were dozens, and after a while we stopped taking pictures. Most had the brown colorings of females, but there were some males, too.

Mom was the one who spotted the first guinea fowl on the side of the road. I saw the birds, too, and there are more here at Thakadu Bush Camp. These reminded Mom of the bowls Dad brought her from South Africa in 2009, which are colorful and have guinea fowl on them.

Another name for a gnu is wildebeest, which is the Afrikaans word. I always thought a gnu was sort of like a kangaroo or rodent. I had only heard of a gnu once, in a play when I was in fourth grade. The character Harriet was given a word in a spelling bee and told to spell it and use it in a sentence. Harriet said, “Gnu. G-N-U. Gnu. The new gnu knew.” That line has stuck with me ever since.

Springbok are smallish antelope. They were nervous and scattered when Dad got up to take pictures of them.

There were some other animals, too, just of the human sort at supper tonight. One woman claimed to be from Oregon.

Other humans were involved in today, too, as an entertaining call to the classmates of Ethan and I was made. Naturally the guys were all too shy to say hello to a girl.

The service was awful and we got cut off. That Orange network is very disappointing.


Cheerfully Chowing on Chicken

After breakfast at News Café, we drove out with Dad intending to climb Kgali Hill. We couldn’t find a road up, so instead we did a U-turn and took pictures. We stopped by Riverwalk for groceries, and then put the food away at our hotel. A few hours later, we emerged for rooibos tea at the President Hotel, which even has a Mma Ramotswe Tea Corner.

All of us had the same thing: rooibos tea and chocolate cake with cream. It was delicious, even though the chocolate cake got boring after a while. We looked around the African Mall for a Clicks, and then at the Westgate Mall, but there wasn’t one that was open. So we retreated to the cool of our room until six o’clock, when we went out to supper at Nando’s, the chicken restaurant. Ethan and I had burgers, and Mom and Dad shared a salad and chicken with Spanish rice.

It was delicious, and the chicken made me think of ‘partridge’ for the game of 20 Questions Ethan and I were playing. Sadly, Ethan guessed the name of the bird. But then I discovered his ‘okapi,’ leaving me the as-of-yet winner.


Presedential Tea Time

Though we aren’t English and don’t drink tea regularly, and weren’t in the company of a president, we nevertheless had a presidential tea time. How we had that, is something that is better told with a back-ground.

On our second full day in Gaborone, we decided to go to the Cresta President Hotel (mentioned in the Number One Ladies Detective Agency) for tea after seeing the sign yesterday that said, on the balcony, Mma Ramotswe Tea Corner. That had caught our eye and we had decided to go. Around three o’clock pm, we left our hotel and started the three minute journey by car the the Cresta President Hotel. Once there, we went upstairs to the resturaunt and got some rooibos (red bush) tea and some chocolate cake to eat and drink. We did that and gazed down at the empty mall below, where, yesterday, there was a formidable array of shops and stalls. But then again, that’s what happens on a Sunday afternoon.

A Bout of Botswana

We’re mainly in Botswana because of Mma Ramotswe of the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency. In the fictitious series, detective Precious Ramotswe lives in a little house on Zebra Drive. We went looking for Zebra Drive, but the closest we found was Zebra Way. There are lots of animal street names here. We’re on Giraffe Crescent, off of Hippopotamus Road.

We visited one of Mma Ramotswe’s favorite places, the President Hotel, and took a look at the African Mall behind. Because it was high noon, we did not stop to have yummy rooibos tea at the hotel like the detective commonly does. We may return tomorrow at tea-time.

We eventually returned to our hotel and got wi-fi for 48 hours from the front desk. It was a relief to check email after a whopping twenty-four hours “off the grid.”

For supper, Mom persuaded us to visit Embassy, which is an Indian restaurant. We had ordinary curries and extraordinary garlic naan.


Exploring Gaborone

Gaborone isn’t a big city, about 250,000 residents. But still it seems to be a pretty big city. Today we have seen a lot of it, but not all. To tell where we went, I will tell you what we did.

We woke up late this morning and finished breakfast at around 11 o’clock. By noon, we were gone on a drive towards the President Hotel to look around and see the mall behind it. The mall was a large one on a street between other shops. There were lots of wooden products that were carvings and other things like that that were for sale by street vendors. There were even people selling CDs, and to make people notice, they blasted the music out of speakers, and since there were a couple of those, it created a large and uncomely din. Once finished, we went to Zebra Way and looked around, seeing as though that was the closest thing to Zebra Drive, which has a role in the series The Number One Ladies Detective Agency. We did that and then went to Kgali Hill, a hill at the edge of town. After chasing baboons with the car, we looked, but couldn’t find a way to get up the hill, and in the end just gave up and went back to town. In town again, we went to the President’s Office and looked at it, before going back to our hotel. We sat around there and then went to an Indian restaurant called Embassy for supper before going back to our hotel room to go to bed.

When in Gaborone

The waiting game is a long one. Sometimes people never show up and others keep waiting the rest of their lives, and others people are just gone a really long time. Today I had two examples of the waiting game happen to me; one was at the border crossing between South Africa and Botswana and the other one was waiting for the rental car in the Johannesburg International Airport.

How we got to that airport is probably a mystery for you. Because of that, I will tell the story. Last night we went to the airport in Perth. We waited in the lounge and then boarded a plane towards South Africa. 12 hours later, we were in South Africa. We got some mochas, some sim chips, and then headed toward the Budget Rental Car office on the other side of the airport. They had a car for us, but then decide to give us a taller car. With that upgrade in mind, they worked on it for an hour and twenty minutes, and finally finished and let us get the car. We left.

We drove 5 hours to get to the South African/Botswana border. Once there, we sat around in line for a while on the ZA (South Africa) side before heading over to the Botswana side. The main wait was when we were trying to find money we didn’t have, but eventually just remembered that we had spent it. We changed the number and then drove to Gaborone, where we are now.

An African Adventure- 1

Within the last 36 hours, we have traveled through many towns, six time zones, three countries, two continents, and one land border crossing.

Where are we now? Peermont Mondior, Gaborone, Botswana, Africa.

We had supper in Perth, filled the rental car with fuel, and left it with Avis at the Perth International Airport. At the airport, we checked in, lounged in the Qantas Departures Lounge drinking lemonade and eating olives, and finally got on our flight behind all the tired little kiddies and their parents.

We took off after midnight and landed twelve hours later. Along the way, the girl across the aisle from Dad and I got motion sick, I watched Glee and Modern Family, and all of us tried to sleep.

After going through customs, immigrations, and the motions of getting a rental car, I got in the front seat, Dad got in on the right, and Mom and Ethan chilled in the back. We eventually left Johannesburg proper about a half hour (or so) later. We stopped to buy snacks at a grocery store along the way. Tom Bodett entertained us up until the Botswana-South Africa border.

We  parked. Got out. Took out the passports. Entered the building. Entered our vehicle’s registration number so that Botswana could be sure that we weren’t stealing it. Walked down the hall. Left the building. Got in the car. Drove in to No-Man’s-Land, between the border stations.

The stress level got higher as we couldn’t find all that we needed to declare to enter Botswana. Finally Ethan and Dad went back, and when they returned, all was well. We got to our hotel, got a SIM for Dad’s phone at the mall, bought take-out pizza and milk shakes, and ate supper here. Yum!


Perthian Playgrounds

Today Ethan and I tested five different Perth playgrounds. Here are the results:

Near East Fremantle: – – – – –
This was, I think, the most disappointing playground. Where the sign said ‘Playground’ in big, bold letters stood a U-shaped wood structure with steps. That was it. I was not thrilled, and therefore did not join Ethan in trying it out.

The Steamboat: O O – – –
The Steamboat is right next to the river. It is shaped like a steamboat (*gasp!*), and Ethan and I played Escape on it. In case you don’t know what Escape is, I will tell you: The person who is ‘It’ closes their eyes and hunts, relying on their senses of sound, feel, and smell alone. They finally tag the next person, and that person becomes It. There are two ziplines, multiple horizontal ladders (that’s what I call them), and two rock-climbing walls.

The Pack-a-Punch Playground: O O O O –
The PPP was an orange playground. The actual playground part itself was made of ropes and just begging to be made an obstacle course. There’s also a zipline, swings, microphones, a slide, a sand pit, a see-saw, a spinning climbing net, and a tire swing. We did not play Escape on the PPP because it seemed too dangerous.

Playground in Miniature: O O O O –
The PIM gets a high rating because it was surprisingly fun. It had a tire swing and rocking horse off to the side, and then there was the main castle: a climbing rope wall, two Siamese-twin slides, a climbing wall, and a shelf beneath. The person who was not It regularly cowered on the low shelf.

The Playground for Children of Ancient Times: O O O O O
Ethan and I give this one a full 5/5 because we stayed there the longest. There was a clever sort of see-saw, a bar for me, a chain climbing wall, and a playground on which Ethan and I played Escape. It is for children of ancient times insomuch as the floor is rusted metal and some things are creaking and cracking. But it was So. Much. Fun!


Parking in Parklands

Unlike at all the other places that we have been to in Perth, Kings Park had free parking and was very big. We parked and got out at least five times, and all the way through, there was no fee. Anyway, we went to the park around noon. The car entered the park and we went down the road until we reached a playground, where Eryn and I ran off and played. The playground wasn’t like any that I have been to before. It was wooden platforms with ladders and poles off to either side and slides at each end. Not at all what I expected, but still okay. We then moved on and stopped at a lookout and a garden on our way up to another playground, which was a little bit less than we thought it would be. We parked and walked toward the playground. The main part which Eryn and I wanted to use was the Space Net, one of those pyramids made of rope that you could climb. We used that for a little while before we got bored and went off to find other ways to have fun. We found some ziplines (metal, of course) and used those one handed and backwards till we got bored with that and left. Before leaving the park, we did two other things, one of those was a DNA tower that you could climb (it wasn’t that interesting) and a playground, which had a plastic tire swing, and that was about it. Then we left.

Another Park: DNA Makes Its Mark!

Today we went to another park!

It was Kings Park, a 1,003-square-acre park, located near downtown Perth. We only visited about ten of those acres. What we visited includes the DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) Tower, Synergy Parkland, and Lotterywest Family Area. The Parkland and Family Area were, yes, sponsored by Synergy and Lotterywest.

Our first stop was Synergy Parkland. It has a playground based on the dinosaur ages, with fake climbable Stegosaurus and little dino babies. Ethan and I quickly tired of it and sat down with our parents to enjoy the corn chips and the pumpkin and chili dips.

Next we visited two lookouts, from which we could see Perth, the Darling Range, and the harbor. At the Lotterywest Family Area, Ethan and I climbed on the Space Net. I did flips on the lower, stiffer ropes. Ethan challenged me to a round of C-O-W. Ethan went down to O-W when I did several flips he couldn’t perform. Then I did a drop that he thought I couldn’t do.

Ethan changed his mind and made yet more rules: “Okay, and these can’t involve flips.” I quit then and went to the ziplines. We zipped and lined for a while, then returned to the Space Net. We finally left for the DNA Tower, which supposedly has 101 steps. The stairs run like a double helix, with two sets of stairs, and from the top you can see Perth, Kings Park, and the Darling Range.

Our last stop was a ground. They took the ‘play’ out of ‘playground.’ I was very, very disappointed.


Sensationalizing SciTech


Today we went to SciTech. SciTech is a science museum much like the OMSI in Oregon. There were lots of exhibits, from trivia machines to simulated helicopter flying, they had a lot.  When we first entered, Eryn and I went to the trivia machine. It asked questions like ‘what is the largest organ in the body?’ the answer ‘skin’. Then we moved deeper into the area. There was a ball exhibit where you pumped a crank to get a ball to go on a roller coaster-type ride, and there was one where you peddled as fast as you could to see how high you could get a ball. Moving on, there was a simulated helicopter ride, two racing rides, and a soccer (or should I say football??) kick. In one of the racing games, you peddled as fast as you could to move your little icon around the fake track and get to the finish line faster than the other person. In the second racing game, it was like one in an arcade, pedals, steering wheel, and computerized races. On the helicopter ride, you controlled the helicopter around a Google Earth simulated projection with animated cars, trying to do something. Those were probably the most fun of the exhibits, but there were lots of others that probably would have been more fun if we were younger.



SciTech is kind of like OMSI in Portland, except I like OMSI better. SciTech is more for little children who get scared of robotic dinosaurs and electronic things in general. However, there were a few interesting things.
The speed section had two races: pedal cars and an electronic car. For the pedal cars, you pedaled as hard as you could until your little figure on the screen crossed the finish line. The electronic one was just like a typical car race at, say, Roaring Rapids or an arcade. Except this was at no extra cost.
We visited Horizon The Planetarium for the Wildest Weather show. It was done by National Geographic and detailed the trip of the imaginary spacecraft Arion. It dropped probes, landers, or the like, depending on which planet it visited. It visited Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Titan, which is one of Saturn’s moons, Neptune, and Triton, a moon of Neptune.
They found seasons on Triton, an atmosphere of its own on Titan, and diamond hail on Neptune.
The lady at the planetarium also told us that we could see Mars and Saturn in the night sky here in Perth. That is, if there was less light pollution.

A day in the Life…of a Prisoner


Today we went to prison. The reason: Eryn was caught shoplifting. Actually, she wasn’t, we went because we stopped in a no stopping zone…even that isn’t the truth, though we did stop in a no stopping zone. No, the truth is, we went so that we could look around the World Heritage Site.
The Fremantle Prison is situated on a hill in what used to be the outskirts of Fremantle. Now, however, after years of growth and development, what used to be a prison away from everything turned into what it is now: a jail in the City Center. It is a large prison and has lasted for over a century, but was recently closed in 1991. The Reason: There was no sanitation, in each 7 ft by 4 ft room, there was a bunk bed, a desk, and a bucket. The bucket was used as a toilet. With 16 hours a day locked in a cell with another person, think of how bad that bucket would smell. On that happy note, let’s go back to talking about the prison.
The prison was built in the 1800s by the convicts. The original building is made of limestone blocks, cut and quarried on the site by other convicts. In the back, there are the ‘yards’ which are exercise places in which the prisoners exercise. There is also the kitchen, in which the best job is, getting paid $37 a week, no holidays, 7 days a week. That is more than three times the amount you would be getting if you were a cleaner, a bleary $11 per week.

Lucky-to-be-Free-mantle Prison


Fremantle Prison used buckets for toilets in 1991.
That’s one of the reasons it was shut down in 1991- for sanitary reasons. When it was shut down, there were about 600 inmates, all men. Women used to stay there, but they eventually got their own jail.
The blocks of cells even have nets above the floor to stop suicide. The first block we visited  is the largest and tallest in the southern hemisphere. In several rooms, writing was allowed on the walls. One was the cell of an Aboriginal, one was the cell of someone whose painting was therapy, and one was the church. You wouldn’t want to insult the church here; the only man who got 100 lashes from a cat o’ nine tails got these for cursing the preacher.
In this Church of England, there are the Ten Commandments painted on the wall. The sixth one- typically known as “Thou shalt not kill”- reads “Thou shalt do no murder” because the gallows were still being used. In fact, forty-four people, all murderers, were hanged at Fremantle, including one woman, Martha Rendell.
Rendell moved in with her widower boyfriend and his five children. She killed three of Thomas Morris’s children with hydrochloric acid. She gave first seven-year-old Annie something to eat that would make her throat sore. When Annie complained of a sore throat, Rendell applied the acid, claiming it was medicine. This inflamed the throat, making it so the child couldn’t breathe. Annie died on July 28, 1907.
Then came Olive, 5, and Arthur, 14. Olive died on October 6, 1907, and Arthur died a year later. Dr. Cuthbert asked to do an autopsy on Arthur, but nothing was ever found. His death certificate most likely stated that he died of diphtheria, as did his sisters’. Then Rendell tried to kill George, who ran to his mother’s house because he didn’t want to die like his siblings.
Police eventually noticed, and she was tried and convicted. Rendell died on October 6, 1909, two years after Olive and a year after Arthur. The last person hanged at Fremantle  was Eric Edgar Cooke, a self-confessed serial killer. He died on October 26, 1964 and was buried above Rendell in Fremantle Prison’s cemetery.

When in Perth

We are in Perth. Perth is a big city; not as big as, say, Bangkok, but a whole lot bigger than Eugene. We are now staying in an apartment in Perth and have most of our stuff laid across our rooms. The reason: someone lost two cords, one for the GPS and one for the MP3 player. We unpacked everything, but after all of that, there were no cords to be found. On the bright side, we were able to re-fold everything in our suitcases.

We drove to Perth from Jurien Bay today. It wasn’t too long of a drive, but still, it took a while. When we started to see buildings again, we drove for another 30+ kilometers before turning on a tiny street that only has a street sign on the right side of the road. We went to Coles, afterwards, and bought some food for dinner before eating dinner and arriving where we are now.

Perth Pastimes


Ethan and I had to bid good-bye to Sandy, Peter, and Mr. Fluff today, but only after taking Peter on a walk (yes, with a leash) and getting the chickens’ eggs. We drove for three hours and saw, on the way, emus, roadkill kangaroos, and a bob-tailed
Once in our house in Perth, we settled in and then went to Coles for groceries. Upon our return, Ethan and I went to the nearby playground. We returned in time for supper, which ended with chocolate ice cream.
Now we have to empty our luggage in search for two cords, one of which I’ve found in my luggage. The other is still lost.

Sandy’s Stare and a Kangaroo Pair

Peter the rabbit is my favorite of the two rabid rabbits. Mr. Fluff is what I call the other one. (Peter really is the other one’s name.) I still love Peter even after all the scratches he gave me on my arms, ruining my tan by breaking the skin.

He gave me all those scratches after Mrs. Murray took us on a ‘tour’ of the land. She showed us the two ponds, the canola fields, their son’s house, Dennis fixing the barbwire fence, and the fields of yellow wildflowers she called dandelions (they weren’t our definition of dandelions). These flowers pollinated our shoes, so Mom’s hiking boots, which were once brown with the sands of India and red with the dirt of Ayers Rock, are now yellow with pollen.

Dennis gave Mrs. Murray, the four of us, and the dog Sandy a ride back to the house. Sandy is the rabbit-watcher. A herd dog by breed, she has a long attention span and was obsessed while Ethan, Dad, and I held and ‘played’ with Peter. Sandy is only three years old while Millie, the inside dog, is fourteen and nearly blind and nearly deaf.

Once Peter was safely in his pen with Mr. Fluff, Mom, Dad, Ethan, some food, and I climbed into the car and drove to the IGA supermarket. Mom and I got out and bought bread, chili-and-lime flavored corn chips, cheese, and lettuce for our picnic at the Pinnacles in Nambung National Park. We drove to Thirsty Point first and got attacked by sand.

At the Pinnacles Desert Discovery, Mom and Ethan flew through the Interpretive Center and discovered that there are no picnic spots. We eventually had a supper of sandwiches, oranges, and a chocolate-mint bar in the car. We saw three kangaroos at the next lookout: a joey in its mama’s pouch, Joey’s mama, and another one.

We watched the sunset that was 38 seconds late and then drove to Amble Inn B&B in mortal fear of suicidal kangaroos.


A Post about Animals

Today I will write about animals. There are a lot of animals here, from alpacas to chickens to rabbits. When talking with the owners, Anne and Dennis, we have figured out most of the following about  the domestic animals:

  1. Rabbits: There are two rabbits, one is white with brown, and the other is white with black. The black one is named Peter and the brown one is named Mr. Splotch or something like that. In day they can be seen wandering around in their small oval enclosure; either in their bucket or eating grass from the ground. At night they can be found in their pen that looks like it was supposed to be a chicken coop, but it accommodates them anyway. Peter is fairly small and active around his enclosure and has laid back ears (my father commented that everything about them was laid back). Mr. Splotch, however, sits around in one spot with ears off to either side and around his fat head. He is very fat. They both like to be picked up, but only if they feel secure will they not scratch you.
  2. Dogs: There are also two dogs, named Millie and Sandy. Millie is an old gray dog (about 12 years old) and sits inside on her pillow most of the day. She isn’t very active most of the time, but when it is very sunny and warm, she will sit out in the grass and lie there until it gets to warm and then go sit on the concrete until she gets to cold and then goes back out to the grass to get warm again. Her fur is light gray and a bit curly in spots and she growls at people if she doesn’t know them. Her tail is very short and doesn’t wag much, if at all. Sandy, on the other hand, is completely different. She is an active 3-year-old dog about Border Collie color and size but is a sheep dog by birth. She has a long attention span and can sit all day in front of the rabbit enclosure watching them move about. I had fun with that early in the day when my sister and father were playing with Peter the rabbit and he was watching them, I stood in front of her face and when she moved her head, I would lean over that way and vice versa. Sandy goes all around the property and is an outside dog, and enjoys that. She is very nice and her long tail thumps hard against your legs when you pet her.
  3. Chucks (chickens, pronounced chooks): There are about a dozen chickens in a pen down the road from the homestead. When I went down this morning, there were eight eggs in the nest. The chickens are very active and are great fox bait. Not that Anne and Dennis want them to be. They are all different colors and they are pretty big.
  4. Sheep: There are two sheep that hang around with the cattle. Dennis got them for Anne a while back because she likes animals.
  5. Alpacas: There are two furry alpacas that follow the sheep and cattle around; they were also from Dennis to Anne a while back. As you can see from this list, she likes animals.
  6. Cattle: The station now has about 900 head of cattle on their 7000 acres of land, they used to have more, but they sold them and now predict that it will probably get smaller.

Deceased: Anne said that she used to have geese and turkeys, but they all got eaten by foxes and she doesn’t want to give more food to the foxes, which are considered

Leaning Trees and More EEs

Today could technically be called a driving day, but we didn’t actually go anywhere. We stayed in the car for a long time, but there were intervals of hiking/walking. Our first break was at Mt. Lesueur, named after a French zoologist. We hiked- or, should I say, I hiked- four kilometers up and down the plateau. Ethan, Dad, and Mom did another 2K loop while I went in search of the facilities.

Before this death march, we had gotten out to look at the informatory signs and take pictures of the flora. This flora included kangaroo paws, buttercups, and melaleucas.

We stopped several other times before leaving Lesueur National Park. Our last time was to look at a sign with a leaning tree on it. Well, a leaning tree that was an echidna. Mom was like, “Oh, that’s a leaning tree sign!” Ethan: “That’s an echidna, Mom.” Mom: “No, that’s a leaning tree!!!” (In her defense, it looks like a tree from a distance.)

That was the first of three echidnas, or porcupines as Dad called them just to bug Ethan, we saw: two on signs and one on the road near Amble Inn. It was so cute and I wanted one (I still do), and I also wanted one of the rabbits that three-year-old Sandy, the Murrays’ dog, was watching so intently. One was brown and white and it was the cuter and fatter one. I picked it up, but it was pooping. I put it back down. Immediately.

I finally got the black-and-white one in my arms and it is, in my opinion, the cuter of the two.

While playing at the playground in Jurien Bay, Ethan played tag with a brother and sister whose names were, coincidentally, Erin and Ethan.


A Day of Lesueur


The parent’s room is called Lesueur, there is a park named Lesueur, and even a mountain in the park. Everything is called Lesueur after a topographical painter and the the natural history artist on the expedition on the French vessel the Naturaliste. The people on the boat (Frenchmen) decided to name the two prominent hills that they could see from the coast Mt Lesueur and Mt Peron.

We have traveled a long ways since I last wrote. The GPS says that we traveled 750 kilometers since Gnaraloo. We drove a whole days worth yesterday, and today we went to a park.
We went to Lesueur National Park and saw lots of flowers, from Kangaroo Paws to Yellow Lilies. We took a long walk up to the top of Mt Lesueur and from there went on another loop around a small hill.
Now we are staying at the Amble Inn B&B. Sounds like Ambalindum, or Anne Boleyn. Now all we need is King Henry the 8th and then we’ll all be dead.  : )

Driving Down


Amble Inn B&B is our current location. It’s kilometers away from Gnaraloo, Jurien Bay, and Carnarvon. We drove about 750 kilometers south, plus some east-west. We only hit one animal, a rabbit, although we saw a dead kangaroo, dead rabbit, and a stupid sheep that ran across the road right in front of us.
Anne Murray (who owns the B&B) said that there are lots of foxes, and about once a year the people in this area go on a fox-shoot at night. Two years ago, Mrs. Murray said, they were out from nine pm to three am and bagged 120 foxes. That’s one every three minutes, plus the ones they didn’t hit.

Building by the Bay, Part 2


We went to Gnaraloo Bay once again, and Ethan and I built things once again. The tide was coming in, but it was at the place where the beach drops a foot. Ethan put a line in the sand after I started building my own “castle.” I put a hole in the back of mine and a canal going through o that, should the tide actually reach it, there would be a place to store the water. It didn’t really work, though, and our time at the bay ended when trespassings started occurring and a land rights fight proceeded.
After doing homework, we went out to the dunes where Ethan and I tried to parental units and dead sheep. Supper was beans, salad, zucchini, avocado, and pumpkin, and then Dad, Ethan, and I made our own toast over the little fire on the stove.

Sand & Salt


After climbing on the dunes, Ethan and I dug a hole. It was frustrating with all the sand-falls, but after while we could see the red-and-white layers of sand.
On the way back, we looked again at the lizard (dubbed Lizzy) and for the first time at the six emus. Dad had found them and was taking pictures. (Lizzy had already been photographed.)
We drove to 3 Mile Camp, where Ethan and I first tested the chilly waters and then built Lump. I dunked and then got Ethan mostly wet. Once we were sufficiently cooled, we dried off and Ethan started digging/building. First it was an O. Then he suggested that we fill it in and make it three or four feet tall. So we did… Just not that tall. Why?
The tide was coming in. Two feet up and two feet wide when a wave hit it and the ocean-facing half slid off. My piece of coral, the Lump’s topping, fell, too. I quickly built the top up so the coral could have a place. Then I helped Ethan.
I quit because we were trying to hold back the ocean. It still stood by the time we left, although I doubt it still does. Time for supper.

Building by the Bay


Down by the bay
Where the watermelons grow
Back to my home
I dare not go
For if I do
My mother will say
Have you ever seen a goose
Kissing a moose
Down by the bay?
No watermelons actually grow at Gnaraloo Bay, but I’m sure that Ethan and I could have sculpted one from sand. We tried to make a castle with walls and a double moat, but the tide started coming in. So I tried to make a hole, but only its wall stayed standing with all the waves coming in.
So Ethan and I added onto it, making a crescent, named It, which eventually got mostly destroyed by the killer half-inch waves. My corner still stood, though! So we built an O off of that, and it wasn’t destroyed by the time we left with our loot, which consisted of cool shells and formerly, cool coral, too, but we’re not allowed to take that. Oh, well…..

Now in Gnaraloo (NAR-uh-luu)


We finally arrived at Gnaraloo Station today after 150 kilometers and a blowhole. We were greeted by the bleating of sheep and the barking of dogs as we walked in to the office.
We’re in Cabin 6, which is overlooking the dunes and ocean. Walking to the ocean once everything was organized, we saw lots of squiggly snake tracks. There are six types of poisonous snakes here, plus two sea snakes, sharks, a venomous octopus, and jellyfish. To increase my fear, we saw sheep skeletons on our walk.
We dipped our toes in the Indian Ocean and saw a pod of whales blowing. Mom was lucky enough to see one breach; the rest of us only saw the splash. After some more sandy episodes, we climbed back up to the cabin and watched the sun set.
For supper we had salad, snow peas, beans and rice, and a raspberry mousse Cadbury bar. Delicioso.

Skelatal Beach

Yes, skeletons, on a beach. Some are old, and some are new, but they all have one thing in common, they are dead. Today when we were walking along the beach, we saw bones, and lots of them. Here is how it was (or how I would like to tell it):

After a long day of sitting and playing on the beach, Eryn and I, along with our parents, went back to the station homestead and went to our cabin. Now it came to pass that every night, we have gone out on the beach to walk along the dunes and on the beach. Tonight we did that, but we saw some very different things. At first the walk was like all the other ones, walk down the hill, go through the gate, go down the road, and then climb up the dune. Every other time, we had gone to the right or straight to the beach, but today we went down and to the left. I immediately left them and went and hid in the bushes, moving even with them but staying out of sight. On my side, I saw several deposits of bones but thought nothing about them. Eventually, I ran down the side of the dune and enlisted Eryn as a partner in the business of staying out of sight, and we both crept back out of sight. We did this for some time before the parents turned around while we were resting and startled us. We ran to the first bone deposit that we found and made a skull and cross bones with a skull and crossed bones. We ran some more and when we got to the next one, I took two jawbones and laid them on the beach on a rock, trying to be sure that the parents would see them. Eryn and I had agreed that she would lay another skull and crossbones on the beach at the first deposit of bones that I had found, but when we got there, the bones looked fresh and grisly and Eryn didn’t want to touch them. When we got to the top of the dune, my father ran up behind Eryn and gave her a start before we all got back to the big dune and made way for home.



Today the E&E Exploration Team (EEET for short) built a Lump. At the beginning, when I was building by myself, I just made it a round wall to protect a little hole in the middle against the incoming tide. When Eryn came and started helping, I came up with the idea of filling it in and making a tall tower. Eryn thought that that was stupid, but agreed to do it to humor me. We got it about two feet high and Eryn but a piece of coral on top, but in the onslaught of incoming waves, it fell, along with half of the Lump. Not the lump, thEE Lump. The Lump turned out to be a flop, literally, and most of it fell to the sea, but not before Eryn and I spent a lot of time and energy trying to fix it.

Let’s go to the Beach

Today we went to the beach. It was called the Gnaraloo Bay and it had warm water. When we first arrived, I saw a whale breaching but no one else believed me. Eryn and I immediately went to the water and dug holes. Well, it was more like I dug a hole and Eryn waded in the water and complained about how cold it was. I dug a small hole and built a small wall around it and then dug a moat complete with its own wall. Eventually, I gave up on the middle part and just focused on another hole in the moat that needed a wall around it. Eryn showed up about then and found herself a hole adjacent to mine and did the same thing. She built a big corner and a tiny wall that kept getting washed out by the incoming tide. After watching mine flood a couple dozen times, I aided Eryn on hers and built up a decent wall. We got bored with that and walked away. 20 minutes later, when we came back, the only part that looked the same was Eryn’s original corner. After bearing Eryn bragging about that, I built a wall that went all the way around the center and dug out the middle. Then we left in the car for Gnaraloo Station.

When in Gnaraloo


Gnaraloo, a place of comfort, sheep, and sand. Everywhere you look, there are sheep or there is lots of sand. In the distance, there is the glittering ocean with waves that have sea snakes and poisonous octopi in them, and knowing that there are so many poisonous things around. There are bones everywhere and you can only wonder what brought upon such a death.

We arrived in Gnaraloo and went to the beach after getting settled in our to room. At the beach, we didn’t see any sea snakes or octopi, but Eryn still was too afraid to wade in the inch deep water, even though the rest of us were doing it. On the way back, we saw no sheep, but we did see lots of sand and a LOT of sheep poop.

Carnarvon Capers

Carnarvon is a little town on the Indian Ocean. It is (obviously) in Australia, directly across from South Africa. It is the only place where the Australian desert touches the ocean, Indian or otherwise.

It is also home to Mt Augustus, which is more than twice as large as Ayers Rock, but apparently less impressive because it is covered in shrubbery.

Carnarvon is, as Dad put it, a resort town without the resort. It is a very sleepy little town, but it has oceanfront property, three banks, three supermarkets, a dozen restaurants, and even a Target Country. The town must have a gymnastics club, too, because yesterday at Post Office Café there was a girl on the lawn doing cartwheels, handsprings, splits, handstands, and head stands.

Carnarvon has a few places of interest, including Mile-Long Jetty, which was built out into deep water. This way big ships could have an easy way to transport goods to the mainland. There is now a train out to the end, or you can walk, but both cost money. There is a new Interpretive Center being built between the jetty and the old sheep-shearing museum.

We also went to Pelican Point, where we felt the chilly waters of the Indian Ocean wash over our feet. Ethan tried to be elusive among the sand dunes, but it didn’t really work.


Pelican Post

Being on in a seaside town has its advantages and disadvantages, and pelicans are in one of the categories, but I don’t know which?

Today we had pelicans involved in our activities, mainly, Pelican Point. Pelican Point is a point out on an island in Shark Bay, west Australia. We could have driven out to the point, but since the car has such low clearance, we probably would have gotten stuck. On the point, there are lots of pelicans and they seem to be okay with humans around them, but I guess that that is from so many people being in the beach and feeding them. On the beach, we walked for awhile before heading back to the car and driving away into the sunset.

Okay, maybe it wasn’t the sunset, but there sure was sun involved.

Roadside Recreation

Animals, animals, so many animals that my father says that I have missed. From emus to lizards he says that I have been oblivious. I haven’t, cause I’m always on the wrong side of the car to see them. The only animals that I have seen are a crow, a goat, three sheep, and an emu. However, this nine hour drive hasn’t been off a waste, for we have gone a long ways up the coast and are still heading for Carnarvan.

Later that day….
We have arrived in Carnarvan and are at a house called Fish Tales. The decoration is mainly fish, because of the name (or vise versa). The house has a living room, a kitchen, two bedrooms, and two bathrooms.
After moving into the house when we arrived, we went to Woolworth’s and then  to the Old Post Office, a restaurant in town. There we had a supper of pizza and salad before going back to our house to go to bed.

Coming to Carnarvon

Jurien Bay is about 400 kilometers south of us. We’re at some rest stop on the way up to Carnarvon. We stopped halfway to here at Geraldton for some fruit, crackers, and water at Coles. Sometime between here and there we switched from right next to the Indian Ocean to a long ways inland.

Ethan has played Colossal Cave for pretty much all four hours we’ve been on the road. I’ve been sleeping and playing Hearts on the iPad, Dad’s been driving, and Mom has been feeding us, sleeping, or writing a menu.

Dad has woken from his teensy-tiny nap and requested chips and dip. (He got them.) So far he’s had some capsicum dip and a sultana and carrot cake today. Oh, would you like to know what those are?

Sultana– raisin
Capsicum– bell pepper

The beet and sweet-potato chips with the capsicum dip is “pretty tasty stuff.”

We’re now in Fish Tales, which is a little 7-room house in Carnarvon on the ocean. We went to supper at Post Office Café, where we enjoyed a pizza and a salad. Ethan had a red lemonade, which was called a Fire Engine. I tried it, and it was the same as pink lemonade (just a different color).


Airborne Above Australia (Again)

We’re finally in WA- that is, West Australia. We got here after flying from Ayers Rock to Alice Springs to Adelaide to Perth. There used to be a regular flight from Ayers to Perth, but Qantas Airlines canceled it.

On the flight from Ayers to Alice, we got a snack of two cookies, cheese, 110 milliliters of water, and three crackers. There was an hour-long layover in Alice, and then we headed for Adelaide. I watched an episode of Big Bang Theory, and then, because the regularly scheduled programming was canceled, two really boring programs played. Instead of watching those, I read Sacajawea.

It was raining in Adelaide. In case you don’t know, Adelaide is on the southern coast of Australia. We had a three-hour layover (or so) there. The domestic terminal had a surprising variety of shops (of course, Australia is a big country), including Chocolat & Wicked Desserts and Smiggle. I love Smiggle! They organize the store by color. There is pink, purple, green, black, blue, and white/rainbow. I found the cutest mouse mouse, which is a cordless pink computer mouse that is shaped like a mouse. The ears are the buttons and there’s even a little face!

Chocolat & Wicked Desserts was more my style, though, what with its generous scoops of gelato that were inexpensive by Australian standards. I got two scoops, one of chocolate and one of honey-cinnamon. Ethan got one of chocolate and one of hazelnut. Mom got the same as me, and Dad got one scoop honey-cinnamon and one scoop chocolate-hazelnut.

We finallyfinallyfinally got on the plane after a ridiculously long delay. Once we were on we were told the reason for the delay.

When we were coming into Adelaide, there was some really strong turbulence. Some people threw up, so we had to clean it up and replace some seat cushions.

TMI. We did not need to know that there was a storm that we would fly through. There was a little bit of turbulence, but it was the first time that I have heard people (females) squeal on a plane. For supper, we were served pumpkin pasta, a mini Toblerone, cheese, and crackers. I also watched The Sapphires, the beginning of Rio, and three episodes of Modern Family.

Once we landed in Perth, we got our four suitcases and our Avis rental car and headed north for two hours until we reached Jurien Bay. It’s been a long day.


Point of View


Rise and shine Ethan! No sleeping in today! We have to go see the sunrise at Ayers Rock! C’mon, up up up!… Ethan, NOW!
Oh, you’re cold? Go stand by Mom. Yes, it’s freezing. The car said it was fifteen degrees Celsius. No, I don’t know what that is is Fahrenheit. Ask Mom for her phone.
Are you done with your breakfast yet? We have to go walk to the waterhole.
That was some waterhole. I’ve seen Periodic Tables with more H2O than that. You want to climb the rock? And die? Be my guest.
Look, you could actually climb the rock here; there’s the chain. No, it’s closed due to high wind. When will ten-o’clock ever come? Here’s the ranger, five minutes late. Let’s go.
What did you think of that? I thought he said “I don’t know what I’m talking about” too many times. He was also trying to convince you not to climb the rock. Like you would’ve even if it was open!
Sorry, I’m not going swimming in that freezing cold pool. I’ll stay here.
Mom, let’s open the Tim-Tams!!! … I want the last one too! Fine, we’ll split it. NO, I do not have the bigger half. I intentionally gave you the bigger one.
Ugh, this walk goes on forever. Ugh, that pun was so blah: “This is gorgeous!” We’re in a gorge. In the Olgas, 50K away from the Rock. That’s where we are. What is Sparta?!
Ohmygoodness, these potato crisps are so good. DO NOT sit on me. I’m serious Ethan. Pose for the camera. UGH! That picture is so embarrassing!!! Yes, Mom, we’ll be quiet. Oh, did you see that bus that was missing an S and said, This bus is licensed to  eat 46 passengers?

We will, we will, rock you

Today was a day that had big rocks involved. Mainly, Ayers Rock. Ayers Rock is a big rock out in the middle of nowhere and is very red. People can climb the rock, but today it was closed…too bad. We did two walks today, and luckily for us, they were very short. One of them was a  walk to a waterhole,  which actually had some water in it, and the other one was to another waterhole, but this one was guided. The guide seemed to know a lot, and we walked a ways before the group broke up to leave.

Flaming Foreigners

We barely, just barely, made it to Ayers Rock today. We wouldn’t’ve if it hadn’t been for a Californian couple on their way to Alice from the Rock.

Oh, you want details? Okaaay…

We left Kathy’s Place at around nine-thirty am after breakfast and several games of tetherball. Mom and Ethan were dropped off at Woolworth’s and my postcard was dropped off at the post office.

We left the actual vicinity of Alice Springs about an hour later after our car had become sparkly clean. We dug into our garlic-and-chives-flavored spreadable cheese (with crackers) at about noon-o-thirty and enjoyed it to the finish. Another hour or so passed, and The Cloud loomed ahead.

The white swirls at the edge of The Cloud merged with the blue of the sky. To the south was a red-grey wall. Straight ahead, to the west, was a sliver of blue. Looking north we could see a dark-grey column rising, defying gravity.

Three cars passed us, all heading toward town. A fourth finally stopped. In it was a couple from California coming from Ayers Rock. He advised us to put our aircon on recirculating and to keep our high beams on, but he convinced us to do it.

We could see the flames leaping on both sides of the road ahead. Mom took a deep breath. I dug my fingers into Ethan’s arm. Dad pressed down on the gas and… we were past. But the white smoke, it was awful. Swirling ash filled the air and we couldn’t see three feet. We finally pulled through the wall, only to have the worst still ahead.

I think Ethan has bruises on his arm now.

Looking back we could see The Cloud growing in size. A mile or so away from our hotel was a police car that blocked the road. The only way from Ayers Rock is by air (yes, there is an airport). I’m guessing Ayers Rock Resort has a lot more visitors than they planned on tonight.


Fiery Fun

We drove from Alice Springs to Ayres Rock today, and on our way, we saw something interesting. We saw a big cloud and knew that it was a fire but thought that it was just a regular small bush fire away from the road. It wasn’t. When we passed a rest stop, we saw a man shaking his head at us as we passed, we passed more cars with the same response. Finally, when we were almost to the flames, a couple flashed their lights at us and we pulled up and they told us that they had made it through and to just be careful. We took their advise and went through carefully, going fast past the worst bit and using high beams to see through the smoke and haze. All the time that we were in the smoke, Eryn was gripping my arm so hard that afterwards, I said that I would probably have bruises all up and down my arm where she had gripped me so hard.

Top 5 (or so) Lists for Vientiane, Laos


Laundry – I attempted to go to one shop but not it did not open at the posted time and we had a ride to catch, so I had to do all the washing by hand in the hotel sink.

Visas – Lots of worries on this topic. Would we get a visa on arrival for Laos? We weren’t absolutely sure.  Would the India visas be ready when we returned to Thailand? Would Thailand let us back in after leaving so recently and the first visa expired the day after we left? Fortunately all worked out well.

Hiking on the slippery rocks and trail on the jungle




Swenson’s Ice Cream Parlor

Beautiful traditional skirts worn by women in offices, shops, and villages

Visit to Tad Xai Waterfall

Pastries and breads from bakeries and coffee shops/cafes

Bike ride along Mekong River

Eating in Vientiane, Laos

During our week in Laos we enjoyed many foods and noticed both a Thai and French influence in the cuisine.  Most of the fruits and vegetables are the same as in Thailand and because of the previous French occupation, the people of Laos enjoy French bakery items such as croissants, baguettes, and cakes.

Rice – The principal food in this country is steamed sticky rice, which is stickier and drier than in Thailand. One way to eat this rice is to take a small handful and dip it in a sauce.  We enjoyed sticky rice dipped in a thick, spicy tomato dip at one restaurant.

Yogurt – Just like in the US and many foreign countries, fruit and plain yogurt is available in Laos. Unintentionally I also tried a flavor of yogurt that included red kidney beans, nuts, corn, dried fruit, and fresh fruit.  It was interesting, but I wouldn’t say tasty.  Now I look at the pictures on the front of the package more carefully if the ingredients are not written in English.

Long Bean Salad – Long beans are a common vegetable in Laos. At one restaurant the bean salad was made with blanched and sliced long beans, peanuts, and a spicy, oily dressing. Very tasty!

Laab – It is a spicy, sour protein dish often made from meat or poultry.  It includes lime juice and fresh herbs. The name means good fortune in the Lao language and is considered the national dish.


Didgeridoo Day

A didgeridoo is an instrument that is used by Aboriginal Australians.

Wikipedia says that the didgeridoo (also known as a didjeridu or didge) is a wind instrument developed by indigenous Australians of northern Australia around 1,500 years ago and still in widespread use today both in Australia and around the world. It is sometimes described as a natural wooden trumpet or “drone pipe”. Musicologists classify it as a brass aerophone.

Quoted from Wikipedia.

Today I learned how to play a didgeridoo at the Sounds of Starlight Theatre in the Todd Mall. There were lots of didgeridoos and I got to pick which one I got to learn how to play. I choose one that was unpainted but looked regular other then that and then got to ‘toot my own horn’ for a while. Every now and then, the instructor/owner would come over and offer some more tips, which were helpful. In the end, I learned how to play a little bit, but since I don’t have a didgeridoo, I can’t ever use that skill…too bad.

A V-Air-y Good Day

Ethan took a didgeridoo course this morning at the Sounds of Starlight Theatre at the Todd Mall. After that half hour, Mom, Ethan, and I looked at the shops around it until Dad got frustrated of waiting on a bench for us. So we meandered down to the Royal Flying Doctors museum. We were all disappointed that the “cockpit” was out-of-order (OOO), but we got to see a movie and look at the displays.

After some more walking, we bought some Rocky Road, which is really marshmallows on fudge, thinly covered in the same chocolate. It was really good and we ate it by the Todd “River.” We had a ten-minute delay, but we finally got to the School of the Air center. We got to see two lessons being broadcasted from Studio 1 and watch a movie in the room next door. We also got to look at the Harmony Quilts made by the kids. All 131 students get together at least three times a year. There are 15 total teachers, and each teacher meets every one of his/her students once a year.

They also had a map that showed where and who and at what level all of the Students of the Air were. We even found Jackson from Ambalindum, who is a preschooler. On another wall it showed pictures and autographs of famous people who’d been to the center, and it including Queen Elizabeth II (signed ElizabethR) and Princess Diana and Prince Philip.

On the way home, we bought peppermint Magnums at Wentworth’s. After eating ours, Ethan and I went swimming in the chilly 70-degree pool. We only stayed in for a mere half hour. Once warm and dry again, Ethan and I played tetherball (sadly, he won all three games). We went up to Anzac Hill for the sunset and then bought pizza and a salad from La Casalinga. It was very good, and we ate all fourteen slices.


Where to look

We seem to have settled into a division of labor here on the away team. Eryn and Ethan do most of the scribbling; click on their pages for daily updates of our goings on. Susan does occasional thematic entries, presented on her page. And Jerry works the photographs, a very small subset of which are on the Photos page. Enjoy.

When in Alice Springs

Today we drove to Alice from the Old Ambalindum Homestead. It wasn’t a very long drive, but it took up a while of our day.

We woke up this morning to another clear day…We ate breakfast and got packed, and when we were all done, we left, bidding farewell to Dave as we did so. After a long drive, we arrived at Trephina Gorge, which, quoting my sister, was gorgeous. We took a loop around the rim then got back to the car and left.

Now in Alice Springs, we are staying at somewhere called Kathy’s Place and have eaten and are getting ready to go to bed.

A Day with Dave

Dave is one of the workers here at the Old Ambalindum Station, and he has some interesting things. He feeds a magpie a lot and it is called ‘Fatso’. On his porch, he has lots of rocks, like rubies and zircon. There were some rocks that were nicely polished and engraved with something that looked like an ‘R’. The interesting thing was, all of these rocks were found on the property. But then again, it isn’t that hard to say that with about 3000 square miles of land in which to look for rocks.

When we were done with that, we went over to the workshop and looked at all the things that he had. There were cow horns that were nice and shiny and smooth that where multi-colored and all polished. He also had some hooves that he was doing the same thing to, and he had one that was partially polished. On one of the boards, he had a skull hanging, and it was a saber-toothed tiger skull. Not really, though, it was a horse skull backwards with cow horns glued on either side of the neck bone.

I’m a TV Star!!

In the heat of the day in Australia, life seems to move at a slower pace. Despite a few trials, such as snakes, dehydration, and fights among my men, I have been enjoying myself in Australia immensely. I can only hope my men benefit from it as much as I. Each day, I see everyone start to relax a bit more, even in the fear of Aboriginal people attacking; which I think a silly fear… everyone we have met on this journey has been of the friendly sort, not the attacking, contrary to my men’s imagined Australians… the nature is beautiful. There is a whole moon tonight and the sunset was magnificent. The animals are bountiful: kangaroos and wallabys and lizards and brightly-colored birds abound… it is so pleasant here that, had I my family and childhood friends with me, I would undoubtedly stay for the remainder of my life.

Extracted from A Record of My Experience in the Great Land; Australia by Geoffrey Allen Reid


That excerpt from Reid’s book is in relation to what happened today. After a relaxing sleep of about ten-and-a-half hours, I woke up to the beautiful light streaming in through the crack in my window shade.  I got up and went to breakfast before going out and looking around the Old Ambalindum Homestead premises and learning about the shearing shed and the Bushcamp, which are old dormitories that people stayed in a while ago. After that, my dad went outside and went on a walk to the Ambalindum Lake, which actually held water, though it is the dry season and on his way back saw a kangaroo. When he came back, we went in the car up to the lookout, and though we couldn’t see the station, it was a magnificent view. On the way back, we kept our eyes peeled for any sign of wildlife, but all we saw was little green budgies in flocks of thousands.  When we arrived at the station, we found that a TV crew was there and that they were filming an ad for the homestead and that they wanted us in it. Since then, we have watched horses come galloping in to the yard, damper (bread) getting cooked on the campfire, and marshmallows getting roasted (by Eryn and I). And all of it was on camera.

When in/at the Old Ambalindum Homestead

The Old Ambalindum Homestead is a cattle station out in the bush north-east of Alice Springs. We got there this evening after a full day’s drive from Tennant Creek, which is on the highway from Darwin to Alice Springs.

On the way, we stopped at Devil’s Marbles, a site where there are lots of round rocks. We saw a brown snake, but it moved away. In one cluster of rocks, there is a base rock that has three big rocks on top of it and a little room around those rocks on the shelf of rock. My father and I found a way to get to the other side of the rock by going through a crack that looks like it dead-ends but actually, it turns and goes to the other side. When we were done with that, we kept driving for a long time, stopping only to get fuel for the car until Alice Springs.

In Alice Springs, we went to a Woolworths and got some food for the rest of the week because the Homestead is self-contained and the closest town (Alice Springs) is a two hour drive away. After the long drive, we had luckily not seen any kangaroos in our headlights, and we arrived safe and sound (but a bit jostled) at the Old Ambalindum Homestead.

On the Grid

Finally back to civilization! After two whole days of being off the grid at Ambalindum, we’re finally able to catch up at Kathy’s B&B in Alice Springs. We also got on the grid on the way here when we drove over them. We saw some kangaroos last evening and this morning before we left the station. On the way here we stopped at Trephina Gorge and took a two kilometer hike around the rim and on the bed of the creek.

Once we got here, Ethan saw the pool and instantly started begging me to swim with him. Well, at 68º Fahrenheit, I’m not touching that water. Ethan eventually did, though, and Dad watched him. I hope he had fun.


The New Cowboy

The New Cowboy is on an ATV. He drives across Australia at the back of 990 head of cattle. He stands up in his seat and his jeans are covered in fine red dust. He and seven partners, one in helicopter, three in trucks, two on motorbike, and one on ATV, have the task of moving mothers and their babies to the yards.

He stops for a lunch of a ketchup-and-cheese sandwich and Lamington squares before heading up the hill to herd the cattle. He turns around and cuts off a calf’s escape. Sometimes the calves get so far behind that the two ladies in the rear truck have to rope it in. The helicopter lands to help them, but they can’t do it without the New Cowboy.

He tosses the calf in the bed of the truck with ease. He does this for three more strays later on. By the time he gets to the yards with his seven partners, he is exhausted. But the cattle are finally where they belong; he can finally go home.

(I am not writing about a specific cowboy from today because this is a combination of things different people did. Mel was on an ATV, and so was some other guy whose name we don’t know. Glenn and Michael were on motorbike. Ambalindum Station’s owner’s niece and the helicopter driver’s wife were in the truck at the rear. The owner, Tim, was in the truck at the front. His wife, Emily, and their three kids, Jackson, Harrison, and Georgia, were in the car at the very front.)



Ethan should be so happy; we got to sleep in! (Well, 8:30.) We had showers and a quick breakfast of cereal, toast, veggie sausages (with sundried tomatoes and kalamata olives), and oranges before moping around the homestead for hours. Well, not really.

First, Mel gave us a tour. She showed us the garden, the Bunkhouse, the Cottage, the Bush Camp, Dave’s cool rocks, the Shower Under the Stars, and the sheep shearing shed. In the garden are her and Dave’s cool rocks, including granite, quartz, quartz with iron oxide, and sticks of rock that a Japanese mining company dug up. Some of these have garnets in them.

Mel reminds me of a friend back home, from the blond hair to her love of Australia to the worn cowboy boots. She is, I think, 26 because she was wearing a Class 12 2004 shirt. She told us that the whole station is 3,316 square kilometers, which is the same as 5,121 homesteads, 819,401 acres, 3,277,606 roods, and 1,280 square miles. Mel also showed us the old butcher’s shop, and in it is a meat cutter, a poster showing different cuts of meat, and a freezer with beef on hooks in it. She told us that she likes the beef at her home, where they get it from English cattle. Here they mainly have Drought Masters (or something like that), with some others mixed in.

She also asked if we’d seen Lollipop the pony or Rapunzel the calf in Claraville on our way up. (We hadn’t.) She said that they belong to Tim, the owner of this place, and that his two-and-a-half-year-old son named Rapunzel. Mel gets to name the next calf here. She’s planning on it being a little girl who’ll be christened Amba, short for Ambalindum.

After schoolwork was done and Dad had gone on a walk and seen a live kangaroo, we got in the Kluger and went up to the lookout. After coming back down, we found that the film crew for the Old Ambalindum Homestead TV commercial was here! (Film crew of two.) So were Dave, Tim, and the other owner of Ambalindum. Dave, by the way, is an older guy who likes rocks.

The first shot that I saw taken was of Tim driving in twenty-four horses (there are twenty-seven owned by Ambalindum). Ethan was supposed to be captured leaning against the fence of the pen. He and I don’t think he was.

Once Rex (the Kiwi cameraman) came back from his wild ride across the bush, Mel and Dave built a fire and, once it got dark, we got filmed. Mel was supposed to take the pot off and on, depending on Rex’s command, the fire, Ethan and I were supposed to roast our marshmallows, and the adults (Mom, Dad, Dave, and Rex’s wife) were supposed to chatter. Dad said, “Whoa, did you see that huge spider?!” I dropped my first marshmallow; the second burst in to flame. Mel had to present the damper (a huge sultana scone. She called it raisin, and Dave said, “Getting fancy now, are we?” Rex’s wife said, “He doesn’t know the difference.”) to the camera. We were dying of laughter before Rex said “Cut!”


Driving Day Dos

We had another driving day today. We drove from Tennant Creek to Devil’s Marbles to Some Little Town in the Middle of Nowhere to Alice Springs to Emily Pass to Jesse Pass to Corroboree Rock to Old Ambalindum Homestead.

  • Tennant Creek: We stayed there last night and had breakfast at Top of Town Café where Mom and Ethan had French toast with faux maple syrup and vanilla ice cream. Dad and I each had eggs and toast- he had fried eggs with plain toast while I had scrambled eggs with raisin toast. He also got a chocolate malt cupcake, as Top of Town Café is home of the Pink Molly cupcake. The owner has a daughter named Molly who likes pink. The owner also gave Mom and me a raspberry brownie cupcake.
  • Devil’s Marbles: This is an area with round red boulders stacked on top of each other and just begging to be climbed by eager little children (such as Ethan). Mom just read the signs as she was scared by the snake we saw when we first got there. For the record, I saw it first. Then Mom, then Ethan, then Dad. Thankfully, it didn’t attack but just slithered off. It was brown.

It is well known that the Country is home to the World’s most Venomous snakes. There are two different Varieties of these snakes: snakes that are brown in color and the dreaded Taipan. The Taipan will kill you; you have no Chance. If a brown snake bites, you have an Opportunity to live if you hurry to Help. Providence is with us thus far; we have encountered only three snakes. Two of these were Pythons and one was a Taipan crushed by one of our wagon wheels.
A Record of My Experience in the Great Land; Australia by Geoffrey Allen Reid

  • Some Little Town in the Middle of Nowhere: We tanked up on fuel here. The official town name actually began with a T.
  • Alice Springs: We had to stop and buy groceries like eggs, cheese, milk, and bread. We also got four Magnums: they were Infinity Chocolate Caramel. They were delicious!!! At the store in Some Little Town in the Middle of Nowhere, and elsewhere, it was AU$7.00 per Infinity Magnum. At the Wentworth’s it was AU$7.99 for four.
  • Emily Pass & Jesse Pass: Two gaps in big red rocks. There were Aboriginal paintings of caterpillars and emu fat. In reality they were just white lines made from white lime, animal fat, and dirt of some sort.
  • Corroboree Rock: Another big black-and-red rock. Some inappropriate jokes were made here, and I discussed my future. Unfortunately, I discussed it with Ethan.
  • Old Ambalindum Homestead: This is a farm in the middle of nowhere, a hundred-some kilometers from Alice down a dirt track and some sealed road. On this road we saw two dingoes, four dead kangaroos, and plenty of cows and their calves. We have a whole house to ourselves. I was in my element, organizing all our food perfectly in the kitchen. For dessert we had a chocolate-mint Cadbury bubble bar.