You may or may not have noticed, but I’ve taken a little time off. I just returned. Here’s a recap of the week that was …
My mind was going a little crazy; new ideas, the desperate need to get things done before the end of the year (2012, obviously, not 2013. Yet …) and the overwhelm of the need to reschedule my entire life due to the inevitable aging of the children and all that goes with it. Particularly in the education department of their upbringing.
Despite my I Need To Do Some Work frame of mind, I was able to tentatively grip the You Need A Holiday voice, speaking up from the back of the detritus littering my brain.
Thus, a last minute, somewhat spontaneous, Let’s Go On A Family Road Tip, They’re So Much FUN transpired. With slightly less than two days warning.
We were leaving. And that was that.
I rang my dad, because, really, so spontaneous was the concept there was a) little to no accommodation available in the vague direction in which we were headed and b) I hadn’t left much time to think about where we might stay. So I asked if we could come visit him, in his little sanctuary along the northern coast of New South Wales, just south of Port Macquarie.
“We’re on holiday,” he tells me, elaborating on his equally spontaneous road trip with his wife and their caravan.
Buggery, I thought. I would have to be slightly more organised and work out what to do.
“But it’s ok,” he continues. “You can stay there anyway.”
Hurrah! I thought. And plans were made.
We pack the suitcases, discuss taking the bikes, stuff the boot full of Family Road Trip Paraphernalia, and a cooler bag of food related Family Road Trip Paraphernalia, go to bed, wake early and leave.
As per usual, the first hour and a half is relatively standard; we barely speak for an hour due to not having had a coffee, then decide where we are going to be stopping for breakfast. This is partially determined by the Awake versus Sleep State of our offspring. If they are asleep, we continue onto the next Stopping Point on the journey. If awake, we stop before we make it out of the state.
It is over breakfast (the further Stopping Point, which takes us over the Vic/NSW border) that I decide I am bored with this trip and want to do something different. Thus, rather than head up via Sydney, we opt to head further inland.
“I want to go to Dubbo Zoo,” I say. Yes, apparently somewhat like a spoilt four-year-old. So that’s where we plan to head.
This, of course, takes us through the famous Parkes and its “dish” that played a significant role in the 1969 Moon Landing (assuming it was not faked).
The plan had been to visit The Dish in the afternoon, on our way to Dubbo, spend the night in Dubbo, head to the zoo first thing, and forge ahead.
We were waylaid by the spotting of a “Steam Train Museum” sign, that had me automatically yelling “look, trains!” and subsequently kicking myself. I cleared my purse of any loose change I had for the “Entry by Donation”, leaving us entirely cashless but feeling good to have supported the vintage steam train industry.
And a half hour is spent wandering around dirty, dusty, greasy, fally-apart train engines and carriages in high-30 degree temperatures.
Thus, we arrive in Parkes (with the brochures relating to The Dish in our hands) just prior to 4.00p.m. leaving us approximately 33 minutes to drive the additional 20 minutes to the landmark and experience it.
Plans change, and we head to a caravan park to secure a cabin in which we may sleep. They are booked solid. But, very nicely, ring the other one, way over on the other side of town, to see if they have a cabin for us. They do. We understood why upon our arrival.
A swim, dinner, a sleep and we set off to see The Dish, where we discovered it was actually open until 5.30 and not 4.30 as the paperwork had advertised. After spending ten educational and informative minutes there, and eating a breakfast of sorts, we had seen all there was to see and lamented the fact we could have seen it and continued onto Dubbo, as per our original plan and started the Zoo thing first thing.
As it was, we arrived late morning. Just in time for the 36 degree heat for the remainder of the afternoon.
We hired bikes, because at 4.30a.m. when we left Melbourne, we decided the bikes would not fit, so we left them at home, road around, viewing all the animals in considerably open enclosures (?) (environments?) lost each other at the otters, had a water fight once we were able to actually locate some drinking water for our refillable water bottles and not out of a vending machine (grrr – more on that later) and left some four and a half hours later.
Much later than anticipated, as it meant our arrival time out our final destination would be delayed.
Off we go, anyway, with the coast in mind, but leaving options open. I mean, why not? The entire holiday so far had gone along that path, so we continued with the theme.
Beyond the Black Stump (because we just had to choose the road that took us through Dunedoo – hilarious!) and a stop in Tamworth where they play both kinds of music – Country and Western.
(Yes, that was the ‘joke’ from the time we realised that’s where we were headed at some point.)
Dinner, discussions about staying or continuing on – accommodation, breakfast and half a day lost driving, or new boogy boards (old ones left at home with bikes) and a full day at the beach … and we carried on, over the range and winding roads. And fog. Lots and lots of low lying fog.
So much that I temporarily lifted the blanket ban on the game of I-Spy … which went something like this:
“I spy with my little eye, something beginning with “F”.”
“I spy with my little eye something beginning with “F”.”
“Is it fog?”
“I spy with my little eye something beginning with “F”.”
“FOG,” we yelled in unison, initiating a squabble over whose go it was next, given the other players had answered at the same time.
We make it to our destination prior to midnight, work our way into our temporary abode and Grumpy and I are ready to crash.
Inevitably, the kids are full of beans from sitting on their arses for several hours and have no intention of settling down …
Day Whatever Day We’re Up to we head to Port Macquarie for a day at the surf beach, where boogy boards and thongs are purchased, we end up with salt water and sand in our hair, up our noses and various other exposed and unexposed orifices, sunburn and good times.
An evening walk, where Monkey Boy removed a sizeable portion of the skin covering his knee.
The next two days are spent at a much calmer watery area, where the sea runs into a lake. Calm. Shallow. Just a salty. Fish swimming around feet as you wade. And didn’t freak Chippie out, causing him to scream at such volumes as to cause concerned beach-goers nearby to wonder if he were being mauled by a shark.
After three days of sun, sand, sunburn, sand up bums and mozzie bites – all hallmarks of a fabulous holiday! – we head off to visit relatives in Canberra, where we had planned to stay for one night, but figured that might be a little rude.
Also, there were bushfires and temperatures of 40 degrees plus, in which we had no desire to drive 600km plus in order to get home.
The Canberra leg of the journey, of course, took us via a model train exhibition/shop, just outside Mittagong.
After a nice, family meal, a decent sleep and a good breakfast, we head to Questacon to get out of the heat and do something with the day. We explored lots, learn new things and I had several goes on the “Free Fall” thingy they had there. FUN!
Monkey Boy was then invited up to “die” at the end of a presentation about reptiles. Basically, he had to compete with someone else to perform the “best dying” … he won.
The children spent all their time at their Aunt and Uncles house using up their internet by trawling through You Tube clips, mostly of Gangnam Style, the new Metro advert entitled Dumb Ways to Die and various Horrible Histories songs.
Dumplings for dinner, one more sleepover, and a final breakfast before we had to leave. Chippie insisted on doing laps around the living/dining area and not eating breakfast, thereby forcing (not really) Grumpy Pants to pretend he’d eaten all Chippie’s porridge.
Chippie, vehemently incensed, informed his dad that “I’m very angry wif you!” and started to cry. In order to cease the tears, I attempted to show Chippie his full bowl of porridge. clipped the edge of my own bowl and, well, basically threw his porridge at him and across most of the table.
He then refused to eat it.
So we left, but not before another 45 minutes of YouTube surfing.
Inevitably, Chippie was hungry just as we got to the highway, and Godzilla needed to do a wee.
The usual stop at Holbrook and climbing the submarine and we make it to about two hours before home and the kids turn on each other.
Godzilla finds a voice volume that gives the Sound Barrier some competition and is unable to refrain from speaking in such volumes.
Chippie, bored, finds pressing hard on the scab forming over Monkey Boy’s knee is entertaining at any number of levels. He then sticks his finger up Monkey Boy’s nose.
And then into his mouth.
I nearly vomit.
Monkey Boy, equally bored, just becomes obnoxious and uses the “I’m only joking” and “But I’m having fun” as his defence.
I try to distract by discussing the holiday and asking them if they had fun.
I elaborate and ask what their favourite part was.
It’s unanimous – “Watching Gangnam Style parodies on You Tube!”
1 car. 3 kids. A husband. 3000km that took us Beyond the Black Stump. And the highlight is Gangnam Style on You Tube …