Saturday, June 25, 2011

You Got To Know When To Hold 'Em

This week's PhotoHunt theme is card(s).

When I looked at the theme for this week I almost went for a pass. Then I realized that Mark and I play Gin Rummy almost every evening before we eat, so I figured I had to have a picture with a deck of cards somewhere. As I was going through my files I found this picture taken on our anniversary last year. We were camping on Kangaroo Island and the flies were so thick that we had to sit inside our tent. If you look closely you can see Mark is posing nicely with his cards in hand.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Be Warned

This week's PhotoHunt theme is informative.

In Australia there is no shortage of informative signs. This one provides informtion on how not to fall victim to Australia's dangerous holes.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Eye C U

Last February, when my mom finally bought her ticket to come and visit me in Perth I was thrilled. I was excited that not only we would be able to spend some quality time together, but that I would be able to share my new home and life with her. This wasn't her first trip to Australia so we would skip the touristy stuff and I could focus on showing her my day to day activities, as well as all the small things I love about the place I currently call home. In anticipation of her visit I decided I wanted to take her camping, after all, the bush has been such an important part of our life.  There would be no dramas since we have an extra tent and sleeping bag, and I figured we could always rent a RAV4 and she could sleep on the back if need be. As Mom's trip neared the days became shorter and winter began to settle in. A few weeks before her arrival the not only did the temperatures dropped and the rains arrived; I realized that camping with Mom would not be a joyful experience. So, we decided to go with plan B and show her how we experienced the Australian Bush before we dished out 25 buck for our tent--a night in an Ozzie  Caravan Park.
It was just our luck that just up the road in Cervantes was a Caravan Park we had previously visited. The place had been clean, and had all the amenities to provide a true experience. Unfortunately, the place was all booked up. So we moved on to plan C. We decided to stay with the destination because of its proximity to the Pinnacles, but we didn't want to pay to stay at the overpriced hotel in town. We remembered from our previous visit that the town boasted a Backpackers accommodations.
I was in a bit of a quandary and I had to question if I really wanted to put my mom through a hostel experience. I had only stayed at one Backpackers in Australia and it was extremely clean and comfortable, but I couldn't shake the vision of some of  my less that stellar experiences in Europe--like the place I stayed at the first year I moved to Granada. The University had recommended it as an ideal budget accommodation to stay at while we looked for apartments, but perhaps exotic would have been a better description. Sure, the centrally located Hostal was very clean and the family that ran the place were very nice and made you feel like part of the family. However, things became a bit too friendly when, during one of my curtainless showers, I became the star of a peep show. The door which was missing a door knob had a wad of toilet paper stuffed in the round hole, and half-way through my shower a human eye replaced the paper.
I put my past experiences aside and after much deliberation, we decided to give the Cervantes Backpackers a go since it would be for just one night. Besides the room  had its own ensuite, whereas at the Caravan Park we would have had to to make the midnight dash across the park to the Ablution Block.
As it turned out there was no need for the earplugs I had packed, as there were no drunk young'uns running around to all hours of the night keeping us oldies awake. In fact, we pretty much had the immaculate place to ourselves, and our room even had a view of the Indian Ocean and Mom was a happy camper.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

I'd Like To Report A Theft

We returned to the car later than expected, but there was no doubt that our day of hiking in the Port Lincoln National Park had been successful. The sun was just beginning to dip into the Southern Ocean filling the evening skies with vibrant yellows, reds and oranges. We would have loved to stay and watch the entire show, but we knew we had over 20 kilometers of driving on an unsealed road to reach our campsite. 
Our hike had left us exhilarated, while at the same time exhausted. We considered a cuppa for the the road, but decided it wasn't worth taking the time heating the billy. Instead we decided to raid the bag of lollies--this would provide us with a burst of energy and the sucking action would help us focus on the road. I opened the glove box and pulled my treasured treats. As I peered into the small paper bag I was glad to see we still had a variety of candies to choose from. It was a hard decision but I decided to forego the toffees, creams, creamy mints, fruit jellies, and fizzes. Instead, I pulled out two hard candies. After all, I knew it would soon be time for a coldie and I didn't want to ruin my pallet.
Fortunately, the track we had to traverse was in good condition and we didn't encounter any 'roos or emus, and in less than 30 minutes we arrived at the campground. As promised, in the provided park literature, it was a bush campsite, and there were about a dozen spots to choose from. The only downside was that the place was a mess with garbage and broken glass strewn everywhere. There wasn't much we could do about the situation, so we decided to make the best of it. Besides, it was already cold and dark so we would be spending most of our time in the RAV4. 
After a few rounds of cards, and a simple supper of canned chile beans we decided to call it a night. We stashed our belongings in the front of the SUV--after years of living in bear country we  still can't get accustomed to leaving anything out. We crawled into the back of vehicle and it wasn't long before I was in a deep sleep. 
I had no idea how much time had elapsed when I was awakened by a rustling noise. I lay in the darkness focusing on the noise and when I was sure that there was something out there I poked Mark in the ribs and asked him if he left the trash outside. The response, as I knew it would be, was "no". When I told him about the rustling he said not to worry that it was just an animal in the bush. However, just moments later when he heard the noise that appeared to be coming from directly below us he decided to get out an investigate. With torch in hand he searched around and under the car. He couldn't see any animal or trash that could be making the noise. Eventually we decided it was an animal in the bush and the sound waves made it appear to be right below us since the rustling continued sporadically throughout the night. As we do with most bush sounds we pushed it aside and carried on with our slumber. 
We awoke early the next morning and quickly began to prepare to hit the road. I was in the process of transferring my bags from the front to the back of the vehicle when I noticed a piece of candy on the floor. When I picked it up I found that it was damp. I wasn't surprised since winter camping involves a lot of morning condensation in the vehicle. However, closer inspection of the fruit jelly revealed strange marks on the wrapper. I was a bit confused and wondered if I had dropped the candy the previous evening and the stepped on it. It didn't really matter how it happened, but I now had a problem since it meant that I would be one candy short (I buy all candies in pairs and they are evenly distributed at my discretion.) Hmmmmm,  I started to brainstorm solutions to my problem: I could always not report the situation and eat the other jelly on my own, I could try to pawn off the damaged candy or we could go halfers. I decided it was too early for such a hefty decision and decided to stash the evidence with the other lollies until later. 
You can imagine my surprise when I opened the glove box, pulled out the candy bag, and found it completely empty. I began to chuckle as I the events of the previous evening began to come together. I pictured our childhood treats being enjoyed by a small honey possum that snuck into the glove box via the car engine the night before! 

Saturday, June 4, 2011

I'll Skip The Bubble Bath

This week's PhotoHunt theme is dirty.

With all the mining in Western Australia you got to wonder what is being dumped into this river making it dirty?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Where There Is Smoke There Is Fire

The heat of summer lingered and continued to hold us in its grips even though the days were growing considerably shorter. We decided to head a couple of hours south to try and find some relief from the unseasonable heat. We had picked our final destination, Wellington National Park, not because of its several waterholes but for its magnificent eucalyptus forests and several hiking trails. 
We were on our final approach to the park when we passed a large smoke plume. The burning fire was far away and wouldn't impact us, but as I watched the billowing black smoke I couldn't help but feel sad since I knew the drought conditions would make it hard to control the fire.
At the park entrance we turned off the bitumen onto a red iron track. Slowly, we made our way deep into the forest, and we were soon surrounded by towering mahogany colored trees. At the campground, when we exited the car, a feeling of uneasiness came over me. I quickly realized\ we were surrounded by red. It was not just the ground and trees, but the air had taken on a red tinge--the result of the sun filtering through the haze created by the distant fire.
We were so anxious to hit the trail that we couldn't be bothered with setting up camp. Instead we set out a table and some chairs to mark our territory, and hit the trail. 
The single track followed a crystal clear creek, and even though the water looked inviting we knew we had to carry on, especially if we were to complete the 20 kilometer loop before dusk.  At least the temperatures deep in the river valley were cool. Unfortunately, it wasn't long before the track left the valley and headed up a steep escarpment. As we zigzagged our way up the hill the air became warmer and thicker. When we reached the top of the hill our view was hindered by the smoke that was rolling in over the valley. If we hadn't known where the actual fire was at this point we might have become concerned, but we knew it was far enough away that we need not worry. At least that was what we thought until we were an hour further down the rim. 
The eerie red glow that had accompanied us earlier that morning had been replaced by a shroud of grey. We stopped to scan the horizon for an indication that the fire was moving our way. There were no plumes or flames to be seen, but the thick warm air had been replaced with a searing hot breeze. We began to question if we had made a mistake and if the fire was closer than we thought or, even worse, had a second bushfire started in our vicinity. We tried to remain calm and kept trying to convince ourselves that if the fire were close we would see flames, and that it was just the wind that was carrying the heat and smoke. At that point we were less than half-way into the loop and it was time for us to decide whether to turn back towards our car or carry on. The decision was difficult, but we figured that, by continuing, within 30 minutes we would be at the dam and our return trip would take us along the river which would become useful if there was indeed a fire traveling our way. As we continued on I couldn't help but beat myself up mentally for not being bushfire prepared--we didn't have all cotton clothes and hadn't left our hiking plans with anyone--how could we have been so careless? This experience would certainly go down as a lesson learned in the outback.   
Our fast steps quickly brought us to the dam and even thought it contained very little water we couldn't help but feel relief.  As we dropped back down into the cool air of the river valley we knew our fear turned from fire to arriving back at camp before dark.