Thursday, July 12, 2018

(Backup) July 10/11: 28 Exhausting Hours

28 hours. That’s how long it took me to get from Perth to Seattle. Cathie and Marlene took me to the airport the night of July 10th. Jared had joined us for dinner and dessert, but wasn’t feeling so great afterward, so we dropped him back at home first. In Australia, people can go to the gate even without a ticket, so Cathie and Marlene sat with me at the gate until it was almost time for me to board. We said our goodbyes with hugs all around. I boarded shortly after they left.

Bag packed

Dessert at San Churros

Goodbye Perth 

I tried to watch a movie, but I kept nodding off. In the whole trip (Perth to Sydney and Sydney to LA—there were no movies for LA to Seattle), I think I slept through parts of about 5 movies. 

The good part about the flight from Sydney was that the plane was not very full. 

Those seats were empty. People later moved into the aisle ones, but the seat next to me remained empty.

Sydney in the distance

Because I learned my lesson about layover times when you have to go through Customs, I allowed plenty of time in LA to get through Customs, drop my bags at the bag drop, and get to the Domestic Terminal. 

The last flight was the hardest because I was so tired. Fortunately, the pilot flew extra fast, and we arrived in Seattle 27 minutes early! Dillon picked me up. We were home by early afternoon. 

My Sweet Baboo came over just after I got home. He was as excited to see me as I was to see him. He drew me this picture.

That’s me on my bike in Australia (pretty amazing for a not quite 4 year old!)

So, now I’m home. All told, my tour was 6222.3 kilometers. That’s 3866.4 miles. Because I didn’t do all of the Munda Biddi, it ended up not being my longest tour, distance-wise. However, time-wise, it was my longest tour. 

I know I have thanked these people, but since there’s no way I could thank them enough, I must thank them at least one more time. In order of appearance...
Natalee and Ian in Melbourne—My intro to Australia was made fun and easy by these two! I am so grateful that they were willing to host me not once, but three times, as I arrived, went to Tasmania, returned, then went to Sydney, and returned before finally heading West. 

Patrick and Mikaela in Sydney—Without these two, I would not have been able to experience Sydney like I did. I feel so lucky to have met them. One of these days, Mikaela will be a movie star, and I will say, “Yeah, I know her!”

Cathie in Success (Perth suburb)—Here’s someone who really missed her calling. She definitely should have been a tour guide! I can’t believe all the things we did! She was willing to put up with me for 22 days. We had the most awesome time together. While Ian and Nat, and Patrick and Mikaela could have been my children, Cathie is nearly the same age as me. We have so much in common. I really enjoyed getting to see and do so much while I was with Cathie (and Jared, and Judy, and Marlene), but what I cherish the most is the friendship we developed. We will be forever friends, and I WILL go back to Australia (I will also make sure I see her when they come to the US next summer). 

Finally, I must thank again the two people who made it possible for me to meet my new friends, Kim Pearson and Katie Kolan. Natalee is Kim’s husband, Keven’s, cousin, and Cathie is Kim’s friend from their husbands’ Navy days. Katie is Patrick’s cousin. When they found out I was going to Australia, both Kim and Katie, right away, told me they had family/friends in Australia. 

Thank you all a million squillion times!!!

Now I must finish this up because I am falling asleep while I type.

Monday, July 9, 2018

(Backup) July 9: Heading Back With a Bit On the Same Road I Rode On

As always, all good things must come to an end so one can appreciate how good it was...and so is the case for our trip to the Margaret River Region of Western Australia. We had one last hurrah at the Goose Cafe in Busselton for coffee (hot chocolate) before getting on the road north.

Okay, I might have had a cherry ripe slice too...

Cathie’s friend, Lisa, who we had met up with briefly in Harvey, and lives in Australind, was available for us to drop in on our way back. To get to her place, we went on the same road I had ridden from Bunbury. We even went by where I camped in Bunbury. 

We had a nice visit and lunch with Lisa and her daughter, Billie. Billie’s twin sister, Poppy, came out and said hello to us. Afterward, we went to the Bunbury Farmers’ Market.

It’s kind of like the IKEA of farmer’s markets. You work your way through in one direction. It was very busy. There were some interesting items.

This looks like the squid face guy in Pirates of the Caribbean. Really, it is called...

Ah yes...not squid.

Any guesses???

Did you get it right?

This was amusing to me.

Get it?

And finally...

Well, I did see camels! Might be interesting to see a camel being milked...

Oh, and there was this humorous sign too.

From the market, we bee-lined it to Coolup to drop off Judy at her grandkids. We had a bit of a visit, then headed to Kiwanna to drop off Marlene. We rolled into Success as the sun was setting. It was a most awesome trip! It’s been great because I haven’t really been thinking about going home because we’ve been so busy seeing as much as possible.

So, now, I have just one more day, and that’s only because my flight is not until 11:55pm. Tomorrow, I will be packing up the panniers, then it’s the marathon flight home...

Sunday, July 8, 2018

(Backup) July 8: Nearly Swept Away by Beauty (and a big wave)

Day 4 of our adventure in the Southwest began with a walk on the beach by our villa (Cathie and I). The washed up beach grass was nearly two feet high. 

That’s all beach grass.

Amongst the grass and sand was bits of coral, shells, and cuttlefish skeletons.



Interesting bit of coral or something wrapped around a small stick.

We got on the road around 10:00 or so. We were going to work our way to Augusta. Our first stop was Yallingup Beach. This is a famous surfing beach.

Yallingup Beach

An actual surfer!

From Yallingup, we moved down the Coast to Prevelly, Gnarabup, and the mouth of the Margaret River. We drove through Prevelly, stopping briefly at the dog beach before moving on down to Gnarabup. There was a nice little cafe where we had a little snack while looking at the beautiful beach.

We went back to Surfers Point and the mouth of the Margaret River. 

Surfers Point

The mouth of the river and the beach

As we were walking over to the mouth of the river, I saw a SHARK! I managed to get this photo.

There were quite a few people at the mouth. It’s shallow enough to wade across if you time it right. I had taken my shoes off and set them on the sand while I walked in the water. A big wave came in, and I realized my shoes were going to be swept away (or at least get soaking wet). As I’m running toward my shoes, this woman in front of me gets to my shoes first and scoops them up just in time! I was ever so grateful! 

Next, we headed inland the tiniest bit and drove through the beautiful forest of Jarrah and Karra trees. 

We stopped for lunch at the Boranup Cafe and gallery. The gallery had some really nice art, and lunch was delicious.

There were also quite a few birds (real and metal)

Real Kookaburra to go with the metal one

Honey eater 

My lunch of smashed avo on sourdough with feta, grilled tomatoes, pumpkin, and pesto.

Continuing down the Coast, we pulled into Hamelin Bay. This Bay is known for its manta rays. However, at this time of year it is unusual to see any. Still, the beach was pretty speckie (as they say here).

Limestone of Hamelin Bay

More limestone 

It was time to hustle on down the rest of the way to Augusta. When we arrived in Augusta, we stopped at the mouth of the Blackwood River. I camped along the Blackwood in Bridgetown.

The river is a little wider here.

Looking toward the mouth

On our way to Cape Leeuwin, we stopped at the Waterwheel. 

The Waterwheel was built to provide water for the workers who were building the lighthouse.

I climbed up the rocks, and could see that I could walk all the way to the lighthouse along the Cape to Cape Trail. The rest of the gals drove, and I met them at the lighthouse.

Walking across the rocks

The Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse

Unfortunately, we arrived too late to go out to the Lighthouse, but it was okay. The view was still good.

Heading back

We drove back to Busselton, and had dinner at the resort restaurant. Our last full day here was as awesome as all the other days! I feel incredibly fortunate to have gotten to come to this part of Australia with three fabulous women. A squillion thanks to Cathie for arranging everything, and being our tour guide extraordinaire! 

Saturday, July 7, 2018

(Backup) July 7: Today Was All About the Chocolate (and Wine...For Some)

While yesterday was all about the scenery, today was all about chocolate and wine (and a bit of soap). 

Cathie and I took advantage of the pool and jacuzzi this morning. Other than wearing my swimsuit while I was doing laundry, this was the first time I’ve actually gone swimming in Australia. For awhile, it was just Cathie and I, and...a couple of ducks. Yes, the ducks decided a morning swim in the INDOOR pool was a good idea! It was a great way to start the day...for us and the ducks!

After breakie at the resort restaurant, we hit the road for Day 3. Today’s ultimate goal was Margaret River. Of course, there were many stops to be made along the way. The Margaret River region is known for its wineries. There are 215 wineries in the region. But, first we stopped at a soap place. It smelled quite good in the shop.

The first winery we stopped at was Aravina. 

Vines on the hillside


The surf/car museum at Aravina’s winter here, yet these camellias are in bloom

From Aravina, we stopped at Wills Domain winery so Cathie could get some special German wine that Dennis, her husband, requested. 

Yellow Bird of Prey

Cool artwork in the winery

The vineyard at Wills Domain

While I’m not a wine drinker, I enjoyed the buildings and the grounds. But, next up was Gabriel Chocolate.

The chocolate map.

I purchased a few bars of single-source chocolate. It’s very good chocolate! 

Back in the car, we were ready for a bit of a snack, so we stopped at Black Brewing Co. 

Black Brewing Co.

The fountain at Black Brewing

Interesting gazebo with glass panels depicting various wine making histories of the world (like Roman, Egyptian, etc)

Next up was another chocolate factory. This one was the Margaret River Chocolate Factory. This was quite the place. It reminded me a bit of the chocolate factory I went to when I was on the Great Ocean Road.

A whole lotta chocolate!

Pretty flowers outside the chocolate factory

The Margaret River Chocolate Factory had a cycling jersey. I was going to get one, but they didn’t have anymore of the women’s jerseys, so no jersey for me...otherwise, I only got some Rocky Road.

Just down the road was a place called Providore. They have more savory things like sauces, chutneys, soup mixes, and whatnot. They also had jams, and the most delicious passion fruit curd (I had two sample spoonfuls). I managed to resist buying any as I really don’t have the space.

Our final shop visit was at the Bettenay’s and Margaret River Nougat Company. I picked up a cherry coconut nougat bar, and a wild berry and macadamia bar. If you bought 4 bars, you got one free. We went in together and got a limoncello bar for free.

Oh yeah, they also had wine...of course.

Nice grounds here too.

We finally rolled into Margaret River. It was a bit too early for dinner, so we drove around a bit. As we were coming up on the Catholic Church, Marlene thought she could probably go to church. Sure enough, so we dropped her off, and went back to the Settlers Tavern (that doesn’t sound so good does it?).
Actually, we did park at the tavern, but we didn’t go in. When it was time to get Marlene, Cathie went off, and Judy and I went in to get a table (see, we’re not that bad). 

Dinner was had, and since we were ready to head back to Busselton, we didn’t stay for the music, but drove back. It was another fun filled day in the Southwest.

Clouds in Margaret River