13 December 2009

Planes, Train(ing)s, and Automobiles

31 August 2009

It was hard to say goodbye to Jenny and Bob this morning - we had had SO MUCH fun - although they probably needed a couple of vacation days to recover from our vacation! 

Bob gave Rex some last minute driving tips, and we got our road train warning, but we were so glad to have a sunny day for travel.  We had no worries as Bob led us through town and got us pointed in the right direction on the Brand Highway.  I liked this sail sculpture we saw as we left town.

Rex was doing some better with the turn signal today, and we had time to laugh about the other side of the road experience.  We even found a radio station that was featuring a pair of DJ's from Australia who were touring the US in an RV.  They were in Mississippi and could not believe the size of soft drinks (and of the people who drank them) in the States!!  Of course, we've hardly seen soft drinks here, and certainly no drive thru's or Big Gulps!!

It wasn't long before we saw our first road train - this photo doesn't do justice to the experience!  Rex loved that Australians call 'passing' overtaking.  Shelley explained to us that passing means you pass someone who is traveling in the opposite direction, so overtaking is when you pass someone on your side who is going slower than you.  Here are a couple of signs...

We enjoyed the drive south and had no trouble finding our way to the airport.  We used the maps Bob gave us where he plotted out our route - great job, Bob!!  Anne, Dan, and Eric were waiting for us at the airport, so we loaded up the van (wow - it was really something!) and took off for Freemantle and fish & chips!  I should mention here that Dan is Anne's good friend and he was our driver for the day (thanks, Dan!) and Eric is Anne's son, who is a quadriplegic following a horrendous car accident many years ago, so the van really was tricked out to accomodate Eric and his chair.  Rex and Dan were up front, Eric was in the middle (he was the middle seat driver!), and Anne and I brought up the rear.  I'm not sure why I didn't take any pictures of us in the car - probably because Eric kept me laughing the whole time!  Anyway, soon enough, we were in Freemantle (home of the America's Cup yacht races) and going into Cicerello's for their famous fish and chips.

We have laughed at some of our language differences, but where I've noticed them most of all is around food!  Not that I can't figure most of them out, I just find it humorous that we differ so much at the table!  But no worries, we sure know our deep fried seafood!!  It wasn't Calabash, but it sure was good!  Can't you almost smell and taste it?  Oh, one thing really cool about this oceanside restaurant was the 22 metres of fish tanks full of colorful fish inside.  As long as I didn't think about eating them...

After lunch, Dan drove us around Freemantle a bit, and then he steered us toward King's Park in Perth.  Along the way, we stopped at Cottesloe, a cool old beach club, which also happened to be the site of Heath Ledger's wake.  There was one brave (and undoubtedly cold) surfer out there, adn one mom with a few little (bottomless) kids playing in the sand.  Must have been potty training time!  Anne and I posed on the elephants in front of the Indiana Club there.

Even though we thought we'd been spotted by the helicopters from Sydney, Dan got us safely to Kings Park, which is even bigger than Central Park in New York City.  You can see a bit about it at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kings_Park,_Western_Australia if you'd like to know more.  We spent a good amount of time in the Botanical Gardens, and I had a great time taking photos of the gorgeous flowers.  We found even more kangaroo paws - a black variety and a pink one, in addition to the red & green one, but I was glad we saw them first in the wild.  They are still really cool plants. 

We sort of all parted ways in the park and saw what we wanted, so after the gardens I wandered over to the water garden and then to the fountain honoring pioneer women.  It was there that I saw the little family of ducklings - they were so cute! 

There were LOTS of birds in the park today - it was fun just having time to leisurely walk around and take pictures.  At one point I looked up to see Eric flying down the grassy hill in his chair - we had a nice chat as we took in the sights of the park.  Dan found us and drove us over to the DNA Tower - see if you can guess how it got its name!  From up here, we could see Anne and Eric down below us, as well as Perth's Central Business District spreading out around us.

After we climbed down the many steps of the Tower, Dan drove us over to the State War Memorial, which is located on Mount Eliza overlooking Perth Water.  It comprises the Cenotaph, Court of Contemplation, Flame of Remembrance and Pool of Reflection.  It was really serene and just beautiful in the light of the setting sun!

Here's one last shot of Perth - I see yet another Ferris Wheel and am kicking myself now for not riding at least one of them!  Guess I'll have to go back!
Dan fought through the evening traffic to get us back to the clubhouse where tonight's training would be.  I was excited to have been asked to do some training for the Western Australia girls - it's such a long way that many of them were not able to attend Showcase, so this was a way we could bring a little bit of it to them.  There were about 30 people in attendance, which for a rainy (didn't start raining until after we got there!) Monday evening wasn't bad!  Anne had handled all of the arrangements for Wendy (the only Director over this way) and everything went well - even got the projector to work!  Best of all for me were the great pressies - tons of candy, a huge card, a commemorative coin, and more.  After the training was over, Dan and Anne drove us back to the airport for our red eye flight.  But did they just drop us off like I would have done - no, they came in with us and waited at the gate until our flight was called!  We ate some dinner and had a little visit, and all too soon our time in WA was over.  Thanks a million, Anne, Dan, and Eric, and to the WA CMC's, for making our trip to Perth a memorable one, even in a really short time!

Planning to get some shut-eye on the red-eye,


PS  Remember that dinner we just ate in the airport?  Qantas served us a full hot meal on the flight...

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