Friday, January 1, 2010

Australia Travelogue--Part VI. Very long post!

I have lagged in posting this last part, as if by not summing it up and posting the pictures, the vacation will never be over and I can still keep a part of me in Queensland!  But the end of the year calls for cleaning up loose threads, so with a sigh of regret, I wake from the dream that was Australia...

Thursday, November 17 was another hot and sunny day.  After a quick breakfast (I continued to be impressed with the speed of the electric kettle for my cup of Earl Grey each morning), Susie and I went into Port Douglas for some leisurely souvenir shopping on Macrossan Street.  I found a few unique items for the girls and some traditional ones, like tank tops and Tshirts, for the men.  There was a great art gallery of aboriginal art, huge painted pieces as well as sculture and crafts.  There is nothing like seeing art in person!  

We headed home after yet another trip to the grocery store and were there enjoying lunch when Jon returned from Cairns after having picked up more wedding guests, an old friend of Jon's and his wife, who had just emigrated to Australia from the UK several weeks before.  They were eager to visit the boat and, to my joyful surprise, we once again headed out to the reef, returning to the Low Isles to "find Nemo" as Jon had promised.  It was another calm day and we snorkeled for a short while, without Susie, due to a misunderstanding of thinking we were short on stinger suits.  We did indeed "find Nemo" and I greatly enjoyed being out in the water again.  Later Jon made another trip to Cairns to pick up his daughters.  That was his third trip in one day, having been to the tip at dawn!

The whole bunch of us met for dinner at a pub at the Courthouse in Port Douglas.  I was suprised to find that Chicken Parmesan came served over "chips", with salad on the side.  This earned me laughs as of course everyone else knew that pub meals always come with chips! 

Friday I had a quiet morning as Sue was off to town to do errands and Jon took work calls.  It rained for about 10 minutes in the morning, which set off all the frogs in the lily pond!  A very hot day with high humidity.  The catering crew was working on setting up lights all over the garden and making it look festive. 

Sue's daughter and son in law and their two very young children arrived later and it was wonderful to finally meet them.  The kids were a bit overwrought, having weathered a long flight delay from Darwin and there was a bit of clinging and crying, but after a swim and some lunch they seemed better.  I developed a rash on my arm which Sue said was from the heat; that and the humidity made me feel very sleepy in the afternoon and not very comfortable!  I should have retreated to an air conditioned room but didn't... More family and friends came into town and I met Sue's older son, some of their employees, and also Jon's son.  We had another swim session; I played baseball with the pool noodle and managed to hit the large ball every time despite being without my glasses.  All stayed for a late dinner at home and even later chatting and laughing under the pergola. 

Saturday, Nov 21:  The Wedding Day started with a heavy rain shower, but didn't dim our gathering at a local marina restaurant for a lovely family breakfast--I was honored to be included in that grouping.   Back at home, we helped clear furniture from the living area for the caterers to set up the tables, did a lot of floor cleaning, and watched the caterers work. They set up this huge table for 30 in the living/dining room:

A hairstylist/cosmetologist came later and made Susie gorgeous as well as doing the hair for four others, including straightening mine--a real feat in the heat and humidity, as it rained on and off through the day.  I helped make some luminaria for the garden and then finally it was time to dress.  Ever the joker, Jon put on his costume first while Sue was getting her hair and makeup done. 

Too funny!  Sue's mum appreciates the joke...I think!  Sue and Jon stayed in their airconditioned room as the guests began to gather, and finally emerged hand in hand to begin the ceremony taking place on their own gorgeous front entryway.

Their wedding officiant led them through their specially written vows and Sue's mum read a lovely piece for the service.  All smiles afterwards, we applauded them while their dog Jonesy looked on (I swear Susie does have two legs!)  Her dress was gorgeous but Jon was sweltering in that suit. 

What a lovely party ensued with fantastic food and drink as well as some hilarity when Jon gave a speech, first thanking specific people--I was shocked and pleased to be first mentioned--and then launching into a very funny bit about passing Sue's family's "test" of his morals and merits.  The rain came down on and off all night but we partied for hours.  As the only American in attendance, the question I was most asked was "So, what do Americans think about Obama?"  I was asked to show the quilt I made and received lots of compliments.  It was a hot and humid night and there was lots of smoking, drinking, and eating, but no dancing due to the wet weather!  Finally Jon could stand his suit no longer and ended up in "boardies" and diving into the pool to cool off.  There was an invasion of flying ants brought on by the "wet" and even a visit from a large rhinocerous beetle and lots of frog activity.  Truly a tropical note to the evening! 

Sunday, November 22, 2009: My last day in Australia and I woke to the sound of Lorikeets squawking loudly in the trees.   The nearby eucalyptus were loaded with these huge bats, big as crows.  They had not been visible while nesting the rest of the time I was there.

 I wandered to the kitchen where Sue was with the UK guests.  Jon came out of the bedroom and said "Good morning, Annie" and "Goodbye Annie" in the same breath almost!  He was heading to the marina to get the boat ready for 16 guests.  Sue was staying behind as she insisted on driving me to the airport herself but we followed everyone to the marina to see them off. 

This narrow track train steam engine was leaving the marina as we arrived.  Another two minutes and I would have missed seeing it.   

A view of the marina's main building (Sue and boys/guests walking ahead). The blue awning shades the entry to the Lure restaurant, where we ate wedding day breakfast.  \

It was another perfect day for boating.

Jon motoring out of the boat slip...

...And everyone waving us goodbye.  We wished we were going out with them then!  Sue said it was the first time Jon had ever gone out in the boat without her and it felt a little odd.  He was trying to arrange a helicopter pickup for her later in the day. We drove back through town and spied her daughter having an outdoor restaurant breakfast with her family and we joined them for a few minutes.  Then Sue took me to Four Mile Beach for a last wade in the Coral Sea.

The little sand crabs made these cute little balls of sand while clearing out their holes, I couldn't resist taking a picture (my foot for scale).

I had brought a small vial with me containing some of my nephew's ashes.  He died the same week four years before.  I spread some of his ashes in the Coral Sea.  Rest in Peace, Jake.  So sorry you missed the real thing but now a part of you is in the Southern Hemisphere.

Too soon I was packed and we headed back to Cairns for my plane ride first to Sydney and then home.  Sue got a call from Jon, who had arranged to meet her with the boat so she would be able to join the group.  I called home one last time just as we got to the airport, and then Susie and I said our goodbyes, amazingly without tears!  The flight from Cairns was sparsely seated and I had a window seat so got to watch the pretty coastline views for awhile before the plane turned inland.  I noticed we were flying in over downtown Sydney so was able to catch a glimpse of the famous Opera House and Harbour Bridge.  It was very hazy and smoky and the cabin crew annouced the temp as 41 C (about 106 F) when we landed at 5:30 pm!  I had a several hour layover so did some shopping, picking up some more trinkets and a new mascot for my sewing room.

The flight to LA was extremely heavily seated and I had a long, boring, and uncomfortable night and day...sitting next to the loo was a really bad idea as the traffic was continual.  I used my earplugs and travel pillow and tried to sleep but was not too successful.  My next trip to Australia will definitely not be Economy--I have learned my lesson!  Finally we landed, went through immigration and customs and I fell into my sweetie Grant's arms and saw Erica, soo happy to be home!    


Carol E. said...

I have never heard the word "orts" before. I learned something today! Your trip to Australia almost makes me cry..sounds so wonderful, and I was touched when you talked about your nephew, Jake. I hope some day I get to visit Down Under!!!

Tanya said...

Lovely wedding pictures.

I just saw those little crab balls on Japanese TV and thought them so interesting! Glad you had a nice trip.