Thursday, August 29, 2002

Medicine Cabinet

I'm here at home while the contractors work on the bathroom. They're starting with replacing the medicine cabinet. One of the reasons we're having them replace it is that there is a hole in the back of the old one for disposing of used razor blades. Unfortunately, sometimes when it rains, rain water comes through the hole and into the bathroom.

They pulled the cabinet out when they got here, and what did we see, but...hundreds and hundreds of used razor blades. I don't know why I was surprised, but I guess I thought the blades would have fallen down a hole and rusted away somewhere. Anyway, it's funny what you find in an old house like this one.

Saturday, August 17, 2002

Road Signs

In Australia, we saw many signs warning us about wildlife crossings. These departed from the usual deer crossing signs you see in the States, and Christina started "collecting" pictures of them -- pictures of koalas on yellow signs, etc. The untimely malfunctioning of my camera interfered with this project somewhat, but we got a few. One sign, in particular, however, caused us to do a U-turn on our way to the airport so we could get a picture...

Monday, August 05, 2002

Big Trout

As promised, here is a picture of the Big Trout Motor Inn.

We stayed in a number of interesting roadside establishments in Australia. For less than the equivalent of $40 (US), we stayed in a four-bedroom beach cottage in Coffs Harbour. (OK, so it was the off-season.) We stayed in the Best Western Ambassador Lodge in Hervey Bay for slightly more. It was pleasant enough, if unremarkable. I've stayed in Best Westerns in a number of places, and the level of hotel varies enormously. I stayed in an absolutely stunning one in Innsbruck. This one I'll remember most for having to rouse the proprietors at the late, late hour of 9:30 PM. (People seem to turn in early in small-town Oz. Then again, it got dark at 5.)

Perhaps the best place we found was the "Pink Place" in Tenterfield (aka the Henry Parkes Motor Inn). If for some strange reason you find yourself on the New England Highway in New South Wales, definitely stay there. They had a deal on a room for around $65 (US) with a spa. The food was decent and also priced right.

The Big Trout was less exciting. Christina holds a dim opinion based on her having been woken twice in the morning by someone trying to get into the room to clean it. (Since we were only staying for one night, you think they could have let us check out first.)

Our final lodging was in the Lurline House in Katoomba. If you've stayed in a nice B&B in the UK, you know what to expect. A reasonable price, comfy rooms with antiques and breakfast made for you by the proprietor. We had a little trouble finding Blue Mountains accomodation (apparently the "Christmas in July" celebration is wildly popular) -- hence the night at the Big Trout, but the Lurline House fit the bill nicely.

Thursday, August 01, 2002

Billabong Bob

On our drive up the Pacific Highway in Australia, we stopped at the Billabong Koala Park. In general, I lobbied for pushing on to our destination, and Christina lobbied for stopping to see the sights. We ended up doing a fair bit of compromising. We got where we were going, albeit a bit late some times, and we saw a number of sights along the way, albeit not all the ones we were interested in.

The Billabong Koala Park was one sight we did see. It appeared to be some sort of private nature preserve with a bunch of native Australian animals, including koalas, kangaroos and wallabies. It was neat to be able to see those animals up close, especially on our first day there. On the other hand, we felt kind of bad to see these animals cooped up like that.

While waiting for Christina to freshen up, I read a bulletin board with articles about the park and testimonials from visitors. I discovered that the proprietor, "Billabong Bob," was a fashion designer who had won Australian Gown of the Year in the 1960s. I thought this was an interesting, if specialized, piece of information, but was suprised to read about the 2002 competition in the next day's paper.

I also read a testimonial from a couple in New Jersey. As I said, it was really cool seeing these animals. But this couple described the visit to Billabong Koala Park as the best part of their trip to Australia. Unfortunately, this colored my impression of the whole place. I mean, the best part of their trip? What else did they see, the Big Banana? Australia is really an amazing place to visit, and I feel bad for them if seeing a koala was the highlight of the whole trip for them. I mean, it was in the top 10 or 20 things I saw.

Anyway, we stuck around until feeding time, which was a good thing, because we were able to pet the koala and the baby koala. I mean, when I think about it, it is pretty amazing. And a trip where that was the best part could still be a pretty good trip. This one was even better, though.