09 September 2009

From Hilltop to Mountaintop; Rainforest to River

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

We were determined not to waste a minute of our last day on DDI, so we got up and packed, put on our swimmers and sunscreen, and walked to the other end of the island via the Rainforest Walk.  This little hike took us across the ridgeline of the island where it really was rainforesty.  There were some great views of the water and neighboring islands and we just enjoyed a little more nature. 

We passed the huge water treatment plant (nicely camouflaged) and the staff quarters, and the trail ended at the wedding chapel, which had fantastic views of the water!  A lot for a bride to compete with!!

We saw this incredible spider web and even got to see the spider spin a little bit and mend the web.  We walked back on the sidewalk, past the playground and the rock with the lizard sunning on it. 

Oh, and I totally forgot to mention the bats!  Last night, as we were walking back down this same path after dinner, the sky was filled with what we first thought were birds – until we heard them and watched them a little closer.  From high up on the ridge, wave after wave of bats soared from the trees out across the ocean, evidently going to another island to hunt.  We had looked for signs of them on the rainforest walk but didn’t see any, so who knows where they ‘hang out’ during the daylight hours!  Just as we were getting to the boat dock, we saw a cockatoo devouring a bag of pilfered cashews.  He was so funny, and he must have thought we would take them from him, because he grabbed the bag and flew up to a nearby balcony!

We wandered down to the beach near the mermaids and soaked up a few last rays of sunshine as we waited for Mermaids (the restaurant) to open for breakfast.  One of my favorites, eggs Benedict was on the menu, so that’s what I had.  It turned out to be eggs Florentine/Benedict, but it was still good.  I’m pretty sure Rex had an omelet – as mentioned earlier, the food was the weakest link here on Daydream.  Not bad, but nothing to waste many words on!  After breakfast on the patio, we spent our last hour or so at the pool, just reading and relaxing.  All too soon it was time to get cleaned up and catch the boat for the airport.

We rode on the top deck of the boat and met Ariel, who is from New York.  At the airport, we met her friend Rachel, who had gone to NYU and now lives in Austin – just like our kids – small world, huh?  We didn’t know it, but it was Race Day on Hamilton Island.  The harbor was full of boats and the airstrip was being used as a racetrack in between flights!  Too funny.  The joint was hopping though, and our plane was a bit delayed (perhaps on purpose, for maximum racetrack use) but we were on our way to Brisbane and there before we knew it!

When we arrived at the gate, Jan V was there to meet us.  At the gate!!  It made me realize how nice that is and how much I miss being able to do that in the States any more.  Jan said she saw and recognized Rex (who she’d never met) before she saw me – the advantages of height and white hair!  We passed a coffee shop advertizing iced tea, so we got some.  You know those dome top cup lids they put on top of Icees?  Did you know that if you take one of those lids off of your iced tea so that you can sweeten it, it would be a really bad idea if the guy had filled the dome part with tea?  Well, some things you learn the hard way….  Anyway, it was okay, but it turned out to be peach flavored tea from a bottle.  But it had ice in it!!

We had arrived in Brisbane just at rush hour, so it was slow going as we made our way out of the city.

Jan pointed out some grass trees (they were so cute) and showed us a really beautiful old Queenslander style home - weatherboard, on stilts, shingled roof, nice Victorian looking wrought iron - a house built for the heat of Queensland. 

We drove and drove, and the city became the country and soon we were going up, up, up, until we were at the top of Mt. Coot-tha.  Elinor and Chris were waiting there for us, and what a perfect spot it was!  Incredible views of the city below allowed us to see the meandering Brisbane River wind its way through town.  In the tile flooring of the overlook was a map of the river and its many curves, and to our left was a café and restaurant.  What a perfect place for dinner!  We watched as the twinkling lights of the city came on and we had a lovely meal and got to know Jan, Elinor, and Chris. 

For dinner, I had a delicious salad of greens, pumpkin, goat cheese, and nuts, which I thought I was ordering to share, but which came as an entrée just for me.  And here I thought I had figured out how things worked here – salads had been coming with or after mains and were usually shared…  Anyway, it was so good I was glad I didn’t have to share.  For my main, I had a Javanese noodle dish with prawns, chicken, beef, and pork and everyone else had surf and turf, which was a nice tenderloin and ‘bugs’, which are a crustacean we had been told we had to try.  They’ve been described to us as like shrimp, crayfish, lobster, and crab – to me it looked like a crayfish shell that was the size of a lobster tail.  Rex gave me a taste – yummy!  I’m pretty sure we shared a dessert, but that was so many meals ago that I don’t remember what it was!

We split up going back to Elinor and Chris’s – Jan, Elinor, and I drove in one car and Rex rode with Chris.  We were really not that far from downtown Brisbane, but we were out in the country.  It was so nice and I was looking forward to seeing the countryside in the light of day.  We girls arrived before the guys, but Elinor’s housekeys were in Chris’s car, so we were locked out.  We sat on the back porch and met their cute little terriers.  It had gotten chilly, so I went looking for my favorite blue CM windbreaker, which was missing in action.  Must have left it on the plane – rats!!  So I snagged Rex’s sweatshirt and we waited for the guys to show up, which they did before too long.  Elinor and Chris showed us around their lovely spacious home, and we settled in for the night.  Big day tomorrow!
I just have to say here how grateful we are to all of the people, strangers until now, who have opened their homes to us, taken time off work to show us around, researched and planned itineraries, fed us, fixed me iced tea (!), washed our clothes, and become our friends.  Sometimes I laugh when I think about how all of this came about and other times I just shake my head and pinch myself.  We are so blessed!  Our everlasting thanks to our new Australian friends who have been so kind – you know who you are!

Feeling mighty lucky and well taken care of!


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