Half-Way Day!!! :D

Today, in honor of the half-way mark, we climbed Lion’s Head. Well, that wasn’t really in honor of, but we did it anyway.

So far we’ve visited seven countries in six months. My favorite place so far has been Thailand, but Upington—with its croc-free Orange River and good food—is a close second. Early next year we’ll head north to Dubai for a week then cross the Atlantic to spend three months in Argentina, Chile, and Peru. We’ll then fly back across the ocean to Morocco, where we’ll spend a month, followed by France, Switzerland, and Greece.

In Thailand, we got up close and personal with tigers and elephants. We enjoyed mochas in Bangkok and fried bananas at Doi Suthep, with green and sweet-and-sour curries in between. Then we experienced the Drama of the Indian Visas, which saw us fleeing Thailand as our visas there were about to expire. We chose Laos, just across the Mekong from rural eastern Thailand, and rode in the jumbos, ate ice cream at Swensen’s, and took a hike to a waterfall in the jungle.

We returned to Bangkok to pick up our visas really quickly before hopping on a plane to India. Because we were a week late, we didn’t spend much time in New Delhi—it was only a few hours before we rode a train to Agra, where we saw the Taj Mahal. Soon after we visited Jaipur, where we watched the Olympics, Jodhpur, where we visited a village and schools, and Jaisalmer, the fortress city and our starting point for a camel trek.

We returned to New Delhi and flew to Sydney two days later, where we spent a week freezing. We warmed up in Darwin before heading south to Tennant Creek, Alice Springs, and eventually Ayers Rock. From the rock we flew to Perth, drove up to Gnaraloo, then drove back down to Perth before jetting off to Johannesburg.

We drove up to Gaborone and eventually ended up in Namibia. In Etosha we saw a leopard and many, many elephants. We were in Swakopmund for my birthday, after which we made our way to Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park where we saw our first cheetah and yet another leopard. We then visited Upington, where Ethan learned to waterski. After a night at Witsand, we visited Oom Dennis, Tannie Marietjie, Griet, and Dinky.

We finally made it to Kruger where we saw two leopards, six cheetahs, a bunch of lions, and many more elephants. Working our way down the coast, we jumped on the trampoline at The Haven, saw penguins at Boulders, and visited the southernmost point in Africa.

We’re now in Cape Town where we’ll be celebrating Christmas in five days. We’re also imagining our snowy home…


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.


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!


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.




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.

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.

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.


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.


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.

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.


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?

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.


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.


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.


A Thousand Kilometers of Nothingness


Today we got to see 992 kilometers of “sealed” road go by on our way to Tennant Creek from Darwin. That’s a long way to go south in one day, but we do it from home to California just about every summer. Anyway. I rode up front for the first three hours, then Ethan, and then Mom rode on the left side for the last 256K.

992 kilometers of dead kangaroo after dead kangaroo. Ethan and Mom each saw a live one, but Dad and I got to see a dead horse. That’s a fair trade…right?

Once we finally arrived, Ethan and I jumped at the chance to swim in the pool. It was FREEZING! Okay, it was probably just about the same as a lake in the Cascades, but to our India-hardened bodies, it was Antarctic. After a mere fifteen minutes we hopped out and went to Room Five of El Dorado Motel. There we dried off and warmed up and got ready for supper, which we had at a Portuguese restaurant run by a Portuguese woman. We ate tiny portions of our pasta to the tune of Nicki Minaj, hardly making dents in the huge amount served.
After we refueled the Kluger, we passed the Red Rooster restaurant sign. You should look it up.

Water Way, Water Day

Today was our water day. And guess what? We even went to a park! Not a waterpark, officially, like with slides and rides, but it was Berry Springs Nature Park. It is supposedly crocodile-free, and we didn’t see any so I can’t officially argue with that. A lot of people on TripAdvisor and signs at the springs said that there are lots of wallabies and water monitors, but we didn’t see any. So why am I supposed to believe that there are wallabies and water monitors and pythons and no crocs?

At first it was uncomfortable. The rocks were slippery and spiky, the fish were nibbley, the people (namely Ethan) were annoying, the croc attack was imminent, the water was dirty, and the bugs were buzzing and biting.

We left the first and shallowest pool through the shallow canal to the Main Pool, where nothing really interesting happened except Ethan and I got brave enough to do handstands and I thought I saw a crocodile’s head. We went through another canal to get to the Lower Pool, and this time Mom said, “Wow, the current’s really going!” Dad tried to float with the current but kept hitting rocks and I said, “Currently, I’m feeling no current.” And when Ethan said that the current was really fast (or something to that effect), Dad said “Is that a currant or a gooseberry?”

What pathetic comedians we make.

Anywho, we got into the Lower Pool alright and went to the little dock. Ethan was singing the tune to Jaws. I was doing handstands. Mom and Dad were off to the side talking, probably about us. I did handstands and front flips to my heart’s content (not!) and then we swam downstream a little ways. We couldn’t find the weir, so we turned around. Ethan tried touching the bottom where it was twenty feet deep (feet-first). Actually it could have been deeper than that. We couldn’t see the bottom.

Oh, by the way, he failed. He also had a moment where he was scared of logs.

We fought our way upstream through the really-going current ‘til we got to the little platform at the Main Pool. Ethan snuck up on me and touched me with a leaf. I freaked out because I was still worried about crocs. He said, “Geez, it was just a leaf Eryn!” And I said, “That’s just like you hitting me with a log!!!” Of course that made him mad and he started lurking (though he was already mad about something else). (That’s when you lag behind because you’re mad. Not to embarrass Ethan; I do it too.)

Dad was the first one to the Upper Pool, and he and I stuck our heads under the waterfall. It was really heavy and I almost (not) drowned. Then Ethan and Mom came and Ethan and I stuck our heads under the waterfall, and eventually our whole selves til we were in this little cave. Then we left it backwards and floated out with the current-that-is-not-a-grape.

We finally left, picked up ice cream at Crazy Acres (two mangoes, one banana, and one passion fruit), and fed fish bread at Aquascene. It was mostly the same boring old slimy (yes, we touched them. We know) fish, but there was one spearfish- Speary, officially, but Ethan called it Speargun- and four rays: Raygan (the first and biggest one) and a group of three we called Robbie, Ronnie, and Rex. Robbie is short for Roberta. These and Raygan and Speary were too shy to get any bread, but I tried and tried for Speary. And therefore I failed and failed.

We’re also planning on going swimming again tonight. Yay!


Darwin Down Day

It was so nice to be able to sleep in today!

After a (too-long) breakfast of rice, beans, and toasted (and non-toasted) crumpets, Dad sorted pictures, Mom did laundry, and Ethan and I forced ourselves through grueling hours of schoolwork: a review and mid-book test in Science, reading a lesson (or five) and a book in History, and doing a day’s section in Math. I also finished reading Prince Caspian and started on The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. So far, Reepicheep, Kings Caspian and Edmund, Queen Lucy, and “Useless” Eustace have been captured as slaves. Aslan has not yet appeared. (In case you don’t know who I’m talking about, I would advise you to read The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis.)

After eating our peppermint Magnum bars, Dad decided it was time to Do Something. So we got in the car with our swimsuits on to go to the beach and Do Something. Casuarina Beach is an actual beach, unlike the rocks outside our apartment. Ethan and Dad went way farther out into the surf than Mom and I did because I was worried about jellyfish and Mom didn’t want to be burnt to a crisp.

Soon enough we left and drove to Wentworth’s. Mom and Ethan got out there to buy groceries while Dad and I continued to the Greek restaurant and ordered supper. I memorized the twelve flavors of ice cream alphabetically: Boysenberry Swirl, Butterscotch, Chocolate, Chocolate Chip, Coffee Chip, Mango Swirl, Mint Chip, Rainbow, Rum and Raisin, Strawberry, Triple M&M, and Vanilla. Sadly we didn’t get any, but we did get a salad (consisting mainly of cucumbers, tomatoes, and onions and not much lettuce) and four pita-wrapped things in three different flavors: one Chippy, two Falafel, and one Saguaraki (we think that’s how it was spelled). We enjoyed these at a picnic table across the street from our apartment, and Michelle, our landlord, came to talk to us.

Ethan biked up and down the path by the side of the beach until he tired of it, then we all came in, and hopefully we’ll have chocolate ice cream and go swimming before bed. Ciao!

Meet the Crocs!

Today we went to Crocosaurus Cove. It is (obviously) in Darwin but it took us a seemingly long time to get there because we couldn’t find it at first. Once we did find it, we parked two blocks away and walked through the heat to the entrance.

After paying, we walked through the little cave at the entrance, ran past the aquarium displays, sped up the stairs, and arrived at the Jaws of Death just in time to see the (fake) crocodile head bite a piece of ice. The saltwater croc has over a ton of pressure behind its jaws.

The lady then showed us most of the crocs in the display: first there was Burt, and one of the other croc-keepers, Paul, fed him chicken. Burt starred in the original Crocodile Dundee and provided the basis for the computer-generated croc in Rogue. Next to Burt was Chopper, who was named after the Aussie criminal Chopper Reid because “they both have missing limbs and fierce attitudes.”

After Chopper came Denzel who is apparently the meanest crocodile at the Cove. In confinement next to Denzel was Wendell, who was named after the rugby star Wendell Sailor. Sailor said that the name was fitting because the croc was big, bad, full of attitude, and loves the spotlight. Wendell is the largest croc at the Cove right now at 5.5 meters, just barely longer than Chopper, who is also at 5.5 meters.

Houdini and Bess- nicknamed William and Kate in honor the royal couple- came next. Houdini got his name for getting fish out of a trap and escaping enclosures at the Darwin Crocodile Farm. He has been tamed since being put with Bess in 1991, and Bess laid a clutch of eggs in November 2011.

Harry was named after the inspector in Dirty Harry. He is apparently psychic as he has correctly selected the results of the Federal Election, AFL, and World Cup Grand Finals by picking the chicken under one competitor or another.

After we all were introduced and friendly, the four of us left for the mall, which sadly closed at 3:30 pm because it was a Sunday, the pool at our apartments, and the Deckchair Cinema, where you sit out under the stars and watch a movie. We saw Brave. Ciao!

Corroboree Crocs

Corroboree Billabong was our destination today, and we arrived after many kilometers in our Kluger.

We got on the flat-bottomed boat with two dozen of our new closest friends and rode out on to the billabong, which is an oxbow lake that connects to the river system in the wet season. Corroboree is forty kilometers long and is home to over 1600 white-bellied seagulls. After seeing just one saltie (saltwater crocodile), we had a lunch of salad, cheese, a boiled egg, and two slices of bread. We then saw more salties and a couple of freshies (freshwater crocodiles) and plenty of seagulls, bats, and other flying things.

There is one croc, Rosie, who lurks in the area around the docks. She is very territorial because she is a female saltie, and one of those could have a territory with a radius of up to one hundred kilometers. Their bodies can be a significant fraction (one out of 25,000) of those hundred kilometers as they grow to be about four meters in length. Males are even larger, growing their whole life and even to a whopping 8.6 meters!

They also have a good memory, sharp eyes, and a keen sense of smell. They can smell you (if you give off a strong enough scent) from ten kilometers away and can see colors just like you or me. They can feel vibrations up to a kilometer away using the sensory cells that are all over their body.

Salties can live in both fresh and saltwater, unlike freshies who can, you guessed it!, live only in freshwater. Some other random facts from today include:
1. The bats were there to eat mangoes.
2. If you cut off a saltie’s leg, you can count the rings on it and know how old it is, just like a tree.
3. The jabiru (a type of bird) bend their legs in the opposite direction as us.
4. The male jicana (another bird) takes care of the babies.
5. The white-bellied seagull was originally the white-breasted seagull, but its name changed because of the need for political correctness.


Today it was Leanyer Recreational Park, which was run by the YMCA so it was free. It has a playground, a skate park, shade, a café, and, best of all, a waterpark!!!

It included three tube slides plus a water playground and a big pool. The playground had two short tube slides (pink and green), water guns, two superfast red slides, and a huge bucket that dumped water every three minutes and twenty seconds (Mom counted). Ethan and I had races following one format:

  1. Go through a tube.
  2. Run back to the stairs and go through the other tube.
  3. Go to the net.
  4. Climb up and go down one of the superfast red slides.
  5. Pull the three ropes (that activate water flow) that are near the main stairs.
  6. Go up the stairs.
  7. Ride the other superfast slide.
  8. Run to the water gun in the corner.
  9. Touch it first.
  10. WIN!!!

The three big tubes were okay. The blue and yellow tubes were for people only (no inner tubes), which meant that you felt the bumps as you changed section of slide. Those hurt. The red slide was good. You had to go down in an inner tube, so Ethan was in the back and I was in the front. It is pitch dark in the tube once you get away from the entrance and exit. That meant that I could tickle Ethan’s feet without him knowing I was going to do that. And that could have been the sole reason to go to the park! Ciao!

A (Mostly) Darwin Day

The day started off with breakfast at the Wus’ consisting of cereal, eggs, toast with Nutella, and oranges. We took the apples with us.

After finishing packing and saying good-bye to Andre, Sabrina, and Anthony, our host took drove four people, four backpacks, four suitcases, and two hats to the Sydney airport where we checked in. We got on our plane at Gate 5. There were a lot of people from the US Army on our flight, and when we touched down our captain wished them “the best of luck here in Darwin.”

The flight lasted four hours and forty minutes, and we were entertained by the movie Mabo about an Aboriginal man fighting for his land and The Big Bang Theory episode. Once we landed and got our luggage, we got our car from Hertz and watched (and heard. Definitely heard) the F-16s take off from the air force base next to the airport. Dad told us to be quiet on our short drive to our apartment because he hadn’t driven in about two months and hadn’t driven on the left side of the road in about two years.

We arrived safe and sound at Villa de la Mer, which is right on the Indian Ocean. After settling in we drove to the nearby Woolworth’s and picked up a week’s worth of groceries, including, but not limited to, lettuce, potatoes, tomato sauce, cupcakes, and butter. We hurried home to see the sunset, and we could watch the pink sun sink below the horizon. After that we hung out on the rocky beach for a little while then came home to have a homemade supper of pasta, tomato sauce, beans, broccoli, salad, and chocolate ice cream.

That makes for full people and a full day.


Feelin Blue


Today was our day in the Blue Mountains, which are a three-hour ride from our house. We missed our first train so had to wait an hour for the next one. Meanwhile, I had a Drumstick and the other three had Magnums.
Once in the little town of Katoomba, we walked down the street and walked in to Hot French Bread. After long moments spent dilly-dallying we finally chose: a cinnamon roll for Mom, a piece of cake for Ethan, a chocolate eclair for Dad, and a sticky, sultana-y snail danish for me. We enjoyed these about
 an hour later at Echo Point overlooking the hilly forest. After eating those and some crushed multi-grain Pringles we looked down the cliff and walked out to the Three Sisters via the Giant Stairway. The mountains and sixty-degree weather had it feeling like home but with the Three Sisters…
After that we walked to Katoomba Falls on the muddy track. We saw the last trolley go by following a photo shoot starring a flock of yellow-crowned white parrots.  I went to entertain myself on the playground while Dad finally came to conclusion: we would walk back to the train station.
It wasn’t that far. It only took us thirty-three minutes including our time in Subway ordering our sandwiches. We ate on a bench in the cold but finally moved when it started drizzling. Just like home, right?

Time-taking Transportation

Getting to places from a suburb called Beverly Hills takes forever in Sydney. Thankfully there is a complex transport system and a handy app called NSW TransportInfo. (NSW stands for New South Wales, the state in which Sydney is.) To get to the main harbor (Circular Quay train station) from here takes about an hour.

First you have to walk to the Mortdale train station. You have to get on and head toward Bondi Junction. You get off at Central (or Redfern or Town Hall) and change trains. After riding a few more stops you get to Circular Quay and the main harbor.

The way with less walking is: walk to a nearby bus station and ride to the Padstow train station on the green line. Get on the train and ride all the way to Circular Quay.

Once we were there we poked around until we missed the 2:10 ferry to Watsons Bay. To waste forty minutes we got on the train, switched at Redfern, and crossed the bridge to take in the view. We promptly got off at Milsons Point and took the next train back to the quay.

Finally we were on our ferry. We went through all four stops and were informed as we stepped on to dry land that that was the last ferry to Watsons Bay.

We were stranded! (Not.) So to ease our minds Ethan and I went to a playground and rode the spinning seesaw. After we tired of that, we walked up the hill to the cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The last time we saw the ocean (not from a plane) was last spring in Costa Rica. And it was the same ocean, too.


Parking [a]Lot

Isn’t it interesting how you park on a driveway and drive on a parkway?

(Unrelated content above.)

Today we went to three parks. Two were intentional. One was on the side of the road. The three parks were Plaza Park, Millennium Park, and Sydney Olympic Park. The Plaza and Millennium Parks were in the Olympic Park. We saw the Millennium Park as we rode by on a ferry up Parramatta River. We got on a train at Parramatta (which is a city, separate from Sydney) and rode to the Olympic Park. Once there we argued about the correct way to go and finally went the right way (my way). After a few minutes, Ethan saw the playground at Plaza Park and headed for it.

It was a climbing playground, filled with ropes walls just begging to be scaled. Ethan was done in five minutes.

Kilometers later, we arrived at the ferry wharf and walked the 2.7K to Millennium Park. Dad was waiting for us there.

The Millennium Park is awesome. There is a giant chess board with foot-tall pieces (the king is two feet), swings, a giant fort, slides, tunnels, climbing “walls,” a spinning thing, a giant spider web, and zip lines. Ethan and I had a race that went from the top of a hill, through the tubes, across the web, up and down the fort, down three slides, across a beam, and to a pole. It got cut short after Ethan had gone down two slides and I had gone down one. The sun had set so the park was closed. Ciao!


After a day spent taking in the Delhi sites- the minar in a complex, the lotus temple, the India Gate, government buildings, ice cream- we hopped on the plane at 11pm. After a few hours and a couple of time zones, we flew in to Bangkok at five. A few minutes later, we were in the Thai Royal Silk lounge and enjoying the “free” cake, fruit, and hot cocoa. Our time came to leave and we loaded the near-empty Boeing 747. Sadly we weren’t on the top floor, but our seats were comfortable enough. The seats were 3-5-3. Dad had the whole middle section to himself, and I watched our first Australian sunset out Ethan’s window after watching The Hunger Games.


1 Hindi word IS 1 English word
1 cow pie IS 28 bird droppings
1 Taj Mahal IS 1 Sydney Opera House
1 wrinkled paper rupee note IS 1 plastic Australian dollar bill
1 veggie burger IS US$24.00 (AU$22.83)
2 meals at waterfront restaurant ARE AU$500.00
1 family’s week-long train passes ARE 3 tickets (second child is free)
1 40-degree Celsius reading IS 1 40-degree Fahrenheit reading