"" Writer's Wanderings: May 2020

Friday, May 29, 2020

July 8,1992--Train to Karunda

[We have been back to Karunda a couple of times. Cairns was a place to spend a couple of days before diving in Papua New Guinea. This first trip was less harrowing than when we drove ourselves up there. Sheer cliff on one side of the road. Whew!]

Wednesday, July 8, 1992

              We rise early to a beautiful day. Our tour bus drops us at an old railway station for breakfast. After eating, we board the Karunda Railway Train for a ride through the rain forest to Karunda, a small town at the top of the mountain bordering Cairns.
              At Karunda, we follow the itinerary given us, stopping first to peruse the flea market. Boomerangs, plush ‘roos and koalas, homemade jewelry, Australian opals and lots of t-shirts are available for reasonable prices. We do half of our souvenir shopping there.
              An older Aborigine is selling his boomerangs and offers to show us how to throw them. We step into a clearing across the road. He throws successfully a few times. When one is caught by the wind and does not return, he smiles at us and sends his dog after it.
              Bright colored butterflies flutter throughout the sanctuary and land on those visitors with pink or white shirts on.
              A troupe of Aborigine dancers entertain and inform a theater full of tourists with dance and music from hand crafted instruments. The dijerydoo player is fascinating. The instrument is a large hollow tube that seems to take a lot of lung power. The tones and sounds he makes are intriguing.
              Lunch time gives us an opportunity to taste a popular Aussie dish, pumpkin soup, as well as a variety of BBQ specialties.
              After a quick trip through the Noctarium, a museum of nocturnal animals, we board the coach (bus) for the trip down the mountain. We pass huge waterfalls and lush tropical growth. We stop on occasion to admire the view of sugar cane fields, the city of Cairns and the ocean beyond.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

July 7, 1992--Climbing Ayers Rock

[Climbing Ayers Rock is no longer allowed. The reason is a combination of the damage being done and the fact that it is sacred ground for the Aborigines. Uluru or Ayers Rock is still a wonder to see and well worth a visit.]

Tuesday, July 7, 1992

              The challenge: to climb Ayers Rock. The bus drops us off at the base of the large flat topped rock rising 1260’ from the desert floor. From the side you can see the angle of the climb is 45-50 degrees. The only aid is a chain on poles driven into the hard, smooth rock surface but it only goes partially up the climb. There is no safety rail, no trees, nothing to break a fall. We learn five people have died falling from the Rock.
              The challenge is too great for me. I climb it halfway and make the mistake of looking down. The height is dizzying. I wave the boys on and I sit on my behind to scoot back down. At the base, I wait for the guys to finish their climb and get to know an Australian lady a little better. Rob and Bob return in about forty-five more minutes looking victorious, having recorded their names in the book at the top. The book was the only thing up there besides weary people and a spectacular view.
              We tour the base of the Rock, stopping to hear tales of the Aborigine tribes and view their painting on the walls in the cave like areas at the base.
              An hour later, we fly over the Rock and the desert below on our way back to the tropical area of Queensland and the Great Barrier Reef.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

July 6, 1992--The Big Rock!

Ayers Rock (Uluru)
 [This was our first visit to Ayers Rock. We returned years later and had booked a sunset dinner. It was a rare occasion but we were "honored" as the tour guide explained when they canceled the dinner. We were among the few tourist ever to see the Rock in pouring rain. It was fascinating to see the waterfalls, etc. but I was really disappointed to miss our dinner. We did get a damp sunrise breakfast though.]

From my Australian journal:

Monday, July 6, 1992

The Olgas
              As the plane passes over the Australian countryside, we see the landscape becoming less green and more red. We are nearing the center of the country—Alice Springs and Ayers Rock.
              We begin our first tour quickly. The large sight seeing bus takes us out to the Olgas. They are a large cluster of huge rocks rising from the middle of the desert. All the earth tones you can imagine are before us—oranges, olives, buffs, browns, ochres. The land is flat. Red sand and greenish scrub surround the Olgas and Ayers Rock.
              We stop to watch the sunset against Ayers Rock. On a good night, the sunset causes the Rock to change colors. Tonight proves to be a bit too cloudy.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

July 5, 1992--A Sunday Surprise

[You never know when we may show up no matter where in the world you live. This was a fun surprise.]

Sunday, July 5, 1992

              We surprise our friends who pastor a small church in Croyden Park, a suburb of Adelaide. We are asked to dinner (which I find out later was supplied by someone in the congregation who knew the pastor’s wife wouldn’t have cooked for more than two). While we are visiting, someone from the church calls and insists that we need to return in the evening. They have quickly planned a fellowship and are preparing the favorite Australian dessert—pavlova.
              The evening is filled with an exchange of culture. We learn so much more about the people than we would have as just tourists. The pavlova is scrumptious. Usually a meringue shell with a sweet creamy filling topped with strawberries, mango and kiwi. We discover there are many different versions of the dessert and we have to sample each of them. Thank goodness we aren’t asked which we like best. They were all good.

[My favorite pavlova is a meringue with a berry topping. I found an easy recipe for it on Allrecipes.https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/12126/easy-pavlova/]

Monday, May 25, 2020

July 4, 1992--Kangaroos, Koalas, Emus, Oh My!

[Continuing my journal from our trip to Australia in 1992]

Saturday, July 4, 1992

As we drive southeast to Victor Harbor, we listen to news reports on the radio about Americans gathering for a fireworks and Fourth of July celebration. Apparently there is a large population of Americans in Australia.
              We have heard that this is the time for whale watching at Victor Harbor and a whale was sighted three days before but there is nothing for us to see. We walk out to Granite Island and explore. An Aussie family tell us to watch for droppings on the rocks and then look in the cracks and we will see the penguins. To our delight, we find the little critters nestled in a pile of rocks, one eye peeking out at us.
              The ocean is beautiful crashing against one side of the island. We look out in the direction of Antarctica. It is breezy and cooler here but light jackets keep us warm even though it is winter.
              The countryside on our way back is rocky and hilly, predominantly filled with sheep and dairy farms. We become aware of the eucalyptus trees.
              Hahndorf, the first German settlement in Australia, seems like a good place for lunch. I laugh. We have come half way around the world to Australia to eat German food.
              Just outside of Adelaide we stop at the Cleland Conservation Park. On our way in we buy bags of food to feed the kangaroos and emus. To our delight and surprise, the kangaroos are not the least bit bothered by us. To the contrary. They hop right up and put their forepaws around my waist to beg for food. They are gentle with us but we see some of them scrap with each other. The emus are like ostriches and stand tall enough to look us right in the eye.
              In another section of the park we get to handle a koala. He is every bit as cute as his stuffed polyester version at home.
              I fall asleep listening to Rob and Bob watching TV trying to figure out net ball, the Australian version of basketball.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Tyler's Commencement


While commencement is mostly thought of as the ceremony of conferring degrees on those who have completed their studies, the number one definition for the word is:
1.       A beginning or start

We were out scuba diving at the commencement of your life, Tyler. We didn’t realize how significant that would be eleven years later when you would begin diving with us. Back in those days (does that make you feel old?) we relied on email and fax. Your dad emailed us that birth picture and we fell in love with our first grandson.

As you grew and matured, so many memories were made. We watched you stand and giggle while the golden you had then licked pizza off your face. The vocabulary and amazing way you used it in those preschool years gave us pause to wonder what was to come. Your Lego skills grew as much as your collection of pieces.

Most precious will always be those weeks we spent diving. It was a chance to grow with you, to see you challenge yourself and win over your fears. Not only that but it was an opportunity to explore a whole new beautiful world together with you.

Needless to say your academic achievements have been enormous but more than that they have come with a maturity that has made you a most remarkable young man. Your tender heart and soft uplifting humor are a gift to us all and will be to everyone you meet.

This end to your school career has not been the one we all looked forward to as the traditional celebration of academic achievement but it is unique, as unique as you are. And really, commencement is not all about the receiving of a diploma. It is a new beginning, a start to a new chapter in your life. There will be many commencements in the future, new starts, new beginnings. Life is full of them. Embrace each one with the same courage and hope that you have this one. We are excited for you!

With much love, Grandma and Grandpa

Friday, May 22, 2020

July 3, 1992--On To Adelaide

[Bob has gotten quite adept at driving on the left side of the road since '92. We've been to several other countries where he has been challenged.]

Friday, July 3, 1992

              A quiet and gentle rain falls as we leave the Colonial Club to begin our trip by air to Adelaide in South Australia. As we land in Sydney to change planes, we can see the opera house that has become so famous. I wonder if we have made a mistake not including the large cities in our tour.
              At the airport in Adelaide, we rent a car—steering wheel on the right. We ad a new phrase to our conversation, “Turn right, remembering to keep left.” Bob does fine and we make it to the hotel in one piece.
              We explore a portion of Adelaide, a smaller city than Sydney (pop. 900,000) but one of the largest Rob has seen since leaving home. We eat at Hungry Jack’s (Burger King). Rob tells us something about BK not being able to use the word King in their name here.
              On the return to our hotel, we pass the old train station which has been renovated and made into a casino. We try to enter to look around but this is not like Vegas. We are not dressed well enough to be allowed in. We have jeans on.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

July 2, 1992--Hello Australia!

[Today we have Facetime to see that our son, Drew, who is in Japan is doing well. Back in '92 we only had long distance phone calls--not ideal. It was so good to see Rob in person.]

A familiar face beams a favorite smile at me as we exit the customs area at the Cairns Airport in Australia. It has been four months since Rob left home to begin his year of study at the James Cook University in Townsville. We are greeted with “G’day” by his friend and her father who have brought Rob to the airport to meet us.
              It was ten hours in the air on leaving Hawaii June 30 to arriving in Cairns. It is now 5 AM Australian time on July 2. July 1 lasted about two hours for us before we crossed the International Dateline. Time will be confusing for a while.
              We await our shuttle van to the resort area and watch a glorious red sunrise. Even though this is the winter season, the air is warm and fragrant. We are in the northern area of Australia called Queensland. Opposite of the United States which is in the northern hemisphere, Australia, in the southern hemisphere, gets warmer the farther north you go.
              Arriving at the resort area, we check our luggage with the concierge since our rooms will not be ready until 2 PM. The lobby area is bustling with tour groups being organized. Safari wagons and buses to the rain forest and to large catamarans that take groups out to the Great Barrier Reef line up for the tourists who are on a holiday (vacation). This is a time for school holidays which is why Rob will be free to travel with us for the next two weeks.
              We decide to eat breakfast and find a delightful buffet of fruits (some recognizable others that look like a new experience for us), cereals including rice bubbles (Rice Krispies), coffee, toast and Vegemite.
              Vegemite is the Australian answer to peanut butter. Rob has warned us about it but we need to try it for ourselves. It says on the label “a yeast extract”. I don’t know what they extracted but it is brown, slightly gooey, strangely smelling (not like yeast), and has a semi-bitter taste that makes you want to shiver. Well, we tried it.
              A resort bus takes us to downtown Cairns, a quaint, tropical looking town. One and two story buildings mostly except for the large hotels. The colors are all white, buff or pastel. Palm trees and tropical foliage abound. There is a harbor area where large catamarans, cruising boats and sailboats are leaving to spend the day at the reef. We watch excitedly knowing we will be doing the same in a few days.
              We find a small cruising boat that offers an afternoon cruise of the river and creeks in Cairns and provides lunch. The Terry Too takes us past the shipping area of Cairns and begins hunting the creeks for crocs (crocodiles). Our captain assures us that once the tide goes down, the creatures will come out to sun themselves on the mudbanks. In the meantime, we enjoy a lunch of chicken and prawns.
              Sure enough, on our way back to the harbor, we find a medium sized crocodile sunning himself on a mudbank. He even lifts his head a moment reassuring us that he is real.
              The Colonial Club resort is made up of strips of single rooms which surround two pools and lush tropical gardens. We decide to dine at their new restaurant, Jardine’s. “A bit too fancy for me,” one Aussie told us. But we enjoy the leisure dining and the opportunity to catch up with Rob’s life.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

June 29, 1992--Remembering Pearl Harbor

 [This remains one of the most profound moments in all of our travel experiences. For a little nicer story I wrote about it you might want to read: In Living Tribute]

Monday, June 29, 1992

              Pearl Harbor. It has always held intrigue and mystery for me. We visit the submarine Bowfin while we await our time for the visit to the Arizona. The Bowfin is a World War II sub. It amazes us that men could have operated in the cramped quarters let alone lived in them and then to imagine being below the surface of the sea. . . .
              At the prescribed time, we enter a theater to view an informational movie about the attack on Pearl Harbor. As we sit with busloads of Japanese tourists who have just arrived from the airport, still wearing their fresh leis, we listen to the park ranger speak reverently of the monument we are about to visit.
              Discomfort sets in as I watch the movie explain the Japanese plot to attack the American naval base. Sitting in the middle of Japanese tourists, I watch the old movie clips of the bombing, the destruction, the loss of life. Emotions rise in me that I never knew were there. What do “they” feel? Why are “they” here? This is our memorial. I chide myself. It was our fathers and grandfathers who fought this war, not us. This was not our war. The thoughts help a little.
              It is a silent group of people that we leave with to board the small naval boat that will take us out to the USS Arizona. Obviously we have all been touched somehow. On the boat trip we are again told that this is a memorial and we should be respectful of that. Nothing except flowers may be thrown into the water.
              In the memorial itself, I look out over the base of gun turret #3 that is the only part of the ship rising above the water. A buoy marks the end of the bow and another, the stern. Through the clear water I can see the silent tomb below. As I stand, lost in thought, I am suddenly aware again of the Japanese with us. Each is removing the flower lei from their neck and dropping it in the water. Even the little children, without hesitation, are giving up their adornment. Quietly the pastel colored rings of flowers float out over the length of the ship. I brush away a tear. What a touching tribute they have given. My heart warms again.
              We drive and explore more of Oahu, finding an underwater preserve where many are snorkeling and diving. It is actually the base of a volcanic crater. One side has been broken through by the sea. We walk down the steep road to the beach but opt for a trolly ride back up.
              The Benihana is a Japanese steak house. Our companion diners around the table are two brothers from Minnesota just beginning their vacation in the Hawaiian Islands. Their itinerary includes snorkeling, a few nights on Maui, a luau, a helicopter trip over the big island of Hawaii to see the volcanoes, and a deep sea fishing trip. I am almost envious not knowing exactly what lies ahead for us in Australia.
              Bob and I stroll the little shopping mall in the Hilton Hawaiian Village at Waikiki after dinner. We are inside the lobby without even realizing it. There is almost no demarcation between inside and outside. Is the weather always so perfect that they never need protecting walls and doors?
              The sun is beginning to set. This will be our last leisurely evening in Honolulu. I begin to feel nostalgic. Then as if tempting, beckoning us to stay, the sunset bursts forth with a brilliant sensation of yellows, golds, oranges, pinks, reds, purples, all as a backdrop to the black silhouettes of palms on the beach. I am standing in the middle of a postcard—this cannot ne real. But it is. I whisper a quiet “Aloha.”

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

June 28, 1992--A Little Paradise

[Our goal in stopping in Hawaii on our way to Australia to see our son was to hopefully cut the jet lag a little bit. I loved our time there.]

Journal Entry: Sunday, June 28, 1992

            The skeptic in me has been cured. With the morning comes a beautiful day. Hawaii is truly the paradise people have tried to describe. We eat breakfast outdoors on the restaurant terrace. A warm gentle breeze filled with the freshness of the ocean air makes it seem like a dream that we are here.
              We begin our day with a trip to Diamond Head. Inside the crater, across from the small military installation, we find the beginning to the trail that leads to the top. Signs warn of a steep climb and the need to be in decent physical shape. The trail starts up and bends back and forth. A good breeze cools us every so often but our body temperature is definitely rising from the exertion. About the time we feel we are getting close, a wall of steps appears in front of us. I call “Time out.”

              What an exercise but worth the effort. The ocean is so blue. The sky clear. The city of Honolulu stretches before us. The mountains rise up behind it. Lush greens with patches of bright purples, reds, pinks and yellows are everywhere. We descend, a feeling of triumph from the conquest and renewal from the natural splendor of the view.
              The sun warms us as we drive the scenic road in a little red Mustang convertible. A Hawaiian tan would be nice. We head for Waimea Falls Park at the north end of Oahu. The park is actually a botanical garden. We see giant stems of ginger, heliconia and other large flowering tropicals. Many plants are endangered species being nurtured through the park’s program of conservation.
              Inside the park we see a short program of hula dancers and sit beside the waterfall to watch the cliff divers as they soar through the air dangerously close to the jagged rocks before disappearing into the pool of dark water below.
              We drive the shoreline along the east side of the island enjoying the views of the mountains, the ocean and sugar cane and pineapple fields. We arrive at the Hilton Kahala where we decided to spend the next two nights. It is away from the congestion of Waikiki. Our room looks out over a golf course in one direction and a glimpse of the ocean from the corner window.
              We dine in an open air restaurant partaking of the large variety of seafood offered at their buffet. I courageously sample sushi for the first time. We sip our coffee as dusk fails and the torches along the beach are lit. The strains of Hawaiian music softly float through the air to mix with the gentle rush of the waves touching the beach. Truly feeling like we are in paradise.
              Tired, we return to our room to find the bed turned down and, in place of the usual mint on the pillow, a fresh cut pineapple on the nightstand.

Monday, May 18, 2020

June 27,1992--The Adventure Begins

In 1992, our son Rob became an exchange student at James Cook University in Townsville, Australia. It was not easy for his father and me to let him travel halfway around the world (and to a different hemisphere) but we tried not to let it show too much. It was however the perfect excuse for our first trip to Australia. After all, we had to check up on him and besides, he needed to take advantage of being there to see a little more of the country.

We mapped out a tour with a company in California that specialized in Australian tours and they did most of the booking and scheduling for us. We were not yet seasoned travelers but you could say this was a first step to becoming so.

Now 28 years ago, I was a lot better at journaling than I am today--except for keeping my blog now. As I was doing some COVID cleaning (another name for spring cleaning) I came across my handwritten journal. It was a pleasant surprise and since there is no travel in the near future, I thought I would share that memorable trip here and reminisce. I do apologize for the pictures. We weren't digital yet.

June 27, 1992

              We arrive in Honolulu late, 11 PM. It is raining but not really rain. More a misty wetness. It is very warm and humid. We drive to our hotel, the Hyatt on Waikiki Beach. Bob has earned a free night for us with his travel points. We walk up a few steps and into a mall area and suddenly realize we are in an open air lobby. Immediately I notice beautiful large floral arrangements of ginger, anthurium, orchids and tropical foliage. Gratefully we accept our key and find our room. It has been a long day of travel.

Thursday, May 07, 2020

No More Middle Plane Seats?

Maybe for now but I wouldn't count on it for the future. Too many dollars would be lost and/or the price of a plane ticket would skyrocket because they wouldn't be filling the planes to capacity. I know. I sound pessimistic but with the economy as it is right now and the airlines taking a hit, they are going to have to do something to survive and that usually involves higher ticket prices.

Perhaps the good things that may come from all of this "unprecedented" time (I hate that overused phrase) is a better and more diligent cleaning of the planes. That would be very welcome.

Of course it will be interesting to see which airlines survive all of this and how innovative they get in competing for the trickle of passengers. Business travel should pick up a bit as countries are beginning to open up again. I'm not so sure about travel for pleasure. The big question will be how much will travelers who don't need to fly will trust the safety and cleanliness of the airplanes?

So much speculation. Where are all those quality crystal balls?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...