Sunday, January 27, 2008

Guest Log Book #1

Written by Beth's Mom, Catherine - Our first visitor!


Dec 31st 2007

On the Way to Melbourne 10:15 CST about 1 hour before landing in LAX and E and E have warned me about the confusion the remodeling of the terminal in LA caused them. The pain in my left heel has intensified so I decided I'd ask for handicap help to the Int'l Terminal.The handicap van was a laugh. They left me off at the Sydney Qantas Terminal. Obviously they didn't want to circle again and just told me to check at a ticket counter. I dragged my carry-on to the next terminal and finally found Qantas/Melbourne tucked away in a corner.- Aboard the neatest plane with TV, three seats all to myself, endless snacks and meals.It's quite a long flight. I awoke from a long nap and saw on the screen that we had not even crossed the Int'l Date Line yet. The thought came to my half-awake mind that it might be best that the pilot do a u-turn or I'll need to sit here for hours again to get back to MSP.-


January 2nd MELBOURNE
Beth and Eric, all smiles, were waiting for me outside the secured area. We hugged and kissed and hugged some more and then walked through the sunshine to their Honda. I jumped in the back seat. There was no way that I would sit where the American driver would be at the steering wheel. We headed into Melbourne and Beth kept turning around looking at me and talking and not attending to driving. I finally said, "Shouldn't you be paying more attention to your driving?" She calmly replied, "Mom, I'm not driving."I realized that we were driving on the "wrong" side of the road but forgot about the position of the steering wheel in the car.
I calmed down and we arrived in their green, tree and flower filled urbanization where their all-white furnished with plump comfy beds (and other furniture and housewares, of course) apt is. Some things are quite interesting in their apt. such as differences of having drying rooms in place of dryers and the bathroom divided into two rooms, 220V that allows you to heat water in an electric teakettle in no time flat, shutters on the windows, and balmy breezes that must have something to do with the proximity of the ocean.-E an E worked schedules that were modified due to the Australian Christmas, New Year, and school long vacations prior to the start of the new school year.

It's a great time for me to be here as Eric is off for the week and Beth's schedule is reduced. Unfortunately, my heel is painful and holds me back. I've visited a MD who was most discouraging; he stated that he was acquainted with another MD who had this plantar's fasciitis for 9 months with no relief. Later in my visit Beth took me to a podiatrist who taped my foot and that helped. After several more weeks Beth took me to another Podiatrist who padded some shoe inserts and then I could finally make some tracks.


We've shared some great, great day trips and 2 super 3 day weekend trips. The 1st week in Melbourne we had an old fashioned picnic on the grounds next to the Botanical Gardens. I'm fascinated by the abundance and variety of trees, bushes and flowers here. The green areas around the Yarra River which runs through the city and the many other parks and tree line streets are most pleasing.
The Australian Open is also being played here at this time. The three of us attended 2 matches one evening or I should say on and on into the night. It was great, though, I hadn't seen a tennis match since Bobby challenged Billie Jean and that was on TV. I had no idea a tennis match could be such an enjoyable spectator sport.

Our first trip out of the city was a about 90 minute out day trip to Phillips Island to see the fairy penguins. This was a total thrill. The island is in a bay area on the southeastern coast of Australia. The three of us and about 2,000 other folks sat on concrete risers on the beach and waited for the sun to go down. The rangers turned on lights on posts high in the air and we could witness the little shavers black bodies riding in on the waves and then receding back a bit. Finally the first brave one put his feet down and waddled to shore through the shore birds. They came in with about 10 or 15 in a group. The penguins waddle up the shore to their burrows in the sand dunes. They have fished all day and then when they reach their burrows they regurgitate these fish in order to feed their young. It all seems to be about raising the family. Viewing the vast number of them in their emergence from the ocean was amazing.


We spent another day at a wildlife sanctuary where we got close up to what Australia is well know for, kangaroos. There were many other creatures of the wild namely, wallabies,dingos, emus, duck-billed platypuses, koalas, blue wrens, Tasmanian devils, cockatoos, snakes and lizards. We drove through such scenic areas to get to the sanctuary. There were rolling hills with cattle and sheep grazing, winery areas, and mountains in the distance.


On Beth's birthday Eric had made plans for a gala dinner experience. We took a dinner ride on a restored old time city tram. While we followed regular city tram routes we were wined and dined and sung to by great waiters. We had a meal, food, and wine to die for. What a treat that was. Sure glad she is a January baby as it paid off this trip.

Our first 3 day trip was to The Great Ocean Drive plus the Australian Temperate Rain Forest. I have never seen an ocean such as this. The Aussies call it the Southern Ocean but I believe the map said the Indian Ocean. I'll have to check that out. The 12 Apostles, the sandstone cliffs that are out in the ocean and the wild waves are breathtaking. The drive is south and west of Melbourne and is about 6 or 7 hours. On the way to The Ocean Drive you go through the rain forest. We deviated a bit from the highway onto gravel so that E and E could climb around to a scenic waterfall. We stood around inhaling the fresh and fragrant rain forest air. I'm not sure what all contributed to the odor, perhaps the fern trees (yes, trees), eucalyptus trees, wild flowers, and such. The last time I smelled anything that delightful was upon landing in the tropical rain forest in Canaima, Venezuela.
Beth had a sales meeting in Sydney so that was a great chance for the 3 of us to go to that city. Beth went on Qantas early on Sat the 19th with co-workers and Eric and I flew up on Virgin Blue later in the morning. We three shared Beth's posh room at the Shangri-La. Eric and I checked and went up to the 25th floor to our room. The fellow at the desk was so kind to assign us that room. Eric pulled open the drapes and there in the big windows was framed the Opera House and the harbor. I'm not sure what I said but in spite of the overwhelming view I hope it was something proper. Eric and I each took a windowsill and stared to our hearts content. Beth was occupied all day and in the evening at a dinner at the Opera House so Eric and I walked steps, steps, steps and through quaint alleys to the wharf. (This was several days following my 2nd podiatrist visit). We took in the sights and ate. Beth came in late and cuddled in with Eric. I had a huge and so comfortable bed by myself. I'm beginning to believe that the beds in Australia are all soft and comfy.On Sunday afternoon we took a ferry to the Manly Beach. Much of it was closed off due to rip tides but a portion was open for me to sit in the sand while the others jumped and were tossed in the ocean.We had most of Monday to explore the city walk around the Opera House and to tour the worlds largest aquarium. I'm not a swimmer so I'll certainly never see such water life again. The nearest I can hope for is the IMAX Great Barrier Reef. I've had such happy times just being here with Eric and Beth. They enjoy their times together, they are good to me, and so pleasant to each other. We play including their modified version of rummy which they are probably going to call Australian Rummy. I also barely got started learning a Tjossem family game named Smear. Sounds like New Ulm or Lewisville to me. I've managed the train on my own a few times, learned how to make roasted capiscum, and walk on the left side of the sidewalk. Now in a few more days I will board the luxury plane to LAX. Perhaps, I'll wake up from a long nap near the International Date Line and wish the pilot would make a U-turn from that long flight and the LA airport and return to Melbourne.

17 comments:

c3 said...

Catherine, Great entry, and great trip. So happy to hear you had a wonderful time despite the foot problems. Now I know what you were doing on those nights that I was on Skype with E & E. I look forward to hearing more.
E & E, I am happy that you guys are blogging... it really does sound like you are really enjoying yourselves. No wonder your so tired when we chat. See you soon!

Anna said...

Catherine!!!! How we miss your face around our neighborhood!!!
What a beautiful account of your trip! It's so nice to not only be able to experience a taste of Australia through Beth and Eric's blog entries, but it was also very nice to read about the Country, and their new life, from your perspective. I am so glad you got to visit them!
We miss you - stop by for a cup of tea sometime!!!
Anna

otrey3 said...

Oh, what a wonderful accounting. THe only thing missins was perhaps an opera? ALthough no one talks about the Sydney Opera, just the opera house. Hmm. Telling. I hope you took a gazillion pictures. Glad you're feeling better.

--Laura

amybonnema said...

The guest blogging rocks! I felt like i could hear Catherine right in my ear narrating her trip. Awesome.

Amy Brenengen said...

For God's sake! How long do we have to wait for another entry? It's February 23 in case you didn't notice!!!!

This message was sent with love.

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