Thursday, August 12, 2010

Melbourne: The End of the Great Adventure

I have put off doing this post because it sort of really means that our vacation is over. In truth, we have been home for two weeks, wrecked our house with all our dirty laundry and unpacking, gotten it back together in somewhat working order again, gone back to work, and are now in the process of gearing up for our 4-day trip this coming weekend to Indianapolis for Patrick's next big school session. Whew! All this is to say that I really know the Australia trip is over, but I'm hanging on by a thread to all the delicious, lovely memories of it. I want to for a long time.
So, here is the final 3 days of our trip.
We flew into Melbourne on Monday afternoon and rented a car. Patrick wanted to go to Wilson's Promitory, another awesome national park and one of his favorite memories from his last trip to Australia. He was determined to find the rock he sat on for so long the last time he was here, contemplating what it would be like if he ever got to come back to this place. How old would he be? Where would he be in life? Would he bring his wife? A family? He sat on that rock and pondered his future and thought it would be pretty darn cool to return now that a little into the future has finally come.
So we got out of the city a little ways and stopped in for the night in Warragul at a Best Western. Again, not really like our Best Westerns here, in that this was more of a nice motel (instead of a huge commercialized hotel) and the man running the Inn was at the front desk when we checked in. He was so nice and friendly and gave us plenty of ideas on how to spend our one and only day in Wilson's Promatory (we really needed a week!). He also pointed us towards town and an amazing little Italian restaurant where we had the most yummy pizza!
The next morning we set out for "The Prom" (which I continually joked about and told Patrick that he was FINALLY taking me to the prom! I know I know, not as funny as I was going for...). It was a nice day and the scenery along the drive was beautiful! It reminded us of New Zealand.

We got to Wilson's Promatory and drove around for a little bit. There was a fire 2 years ago and you could really see some of the damage. The beaches though were still beautiful. It was such a crazy mix of mountains and beach.


This is our little seagull friend that we found on the first beach we visited. He was injured and it was so sad to see him hobbling along when all of his little seagull friends were leaving him behind! We debated about whether the park rangers would care about an injured seagull and went ahead and reported it. The poor little guy!
Some more amazing views of The Prom.


We did find an incredible rock. It was not The Rock, but it certainly sufficed. We sat for an hour and talked about the beauty of God's creation, thinking back over our trip, talking about what life would be like when we returned home. This was the view from our rock.

The walk back to the car.



We saw these amazingly RED birds and kept trying to take a picture of them. Finally in the parking lot, we looked over and saw a man with one on his head! He was with his wife and his daughter who had cerebral palsy. She thought it was hysterical that the birds were pestering Dad for his ice cream cone! Patrick went over and tried it out. They were kind enough to lend us their ice cream cone.

On the way out of the park I said, "I wish I would just see one more emu." And then, seriously, we rounded the bend in the road and there were some emus.

And then we made our way back to the city of Melbourne, where Patrick had booked us 2 nights at the downtown Hilton. We had some issues with our car rental return. We did not get into Melbourne until around 4:45 and we had planned to return the car to the rental place downtown, which was closer to our hotel than the airport. But it had to be back by 5:00. We checked in, dumped our luggage and asked the concierge to send it to our room, and rushed off. We did not count on the fact that Melbourne is a big city and we really didn't know where we were going and we were DRIVING forgoodnessake. By the time we got to the rental place, it was 6:00 and it was closed. We now had to take the car ALL THE WAY BACK to the airport.

I was really stressed. Patrick was really stressed. It was not good.

We got all the way to the airport, literally into the parking garage, and realized we had not refilled the gas tank. So off we went to do that. But we made it, although we had missed our time AND the one hour grace period so we had to pay a little extra. We hopped on the SkyBus headed back into the city.

By now it was bordering on 8:00 and I was pretty much thinking we were going to have to get peanut butter crackers from a vending machine for dinner. But we decided that we would do a little walking and exploring before heading back to the hotel. We found a nice Mexican place and had a GREAT meal. I don't know if it was really that great or we were just STARVING, but either way, it was awesome. We walked happily back to the hotel and found that we had a seriously nice room with a seriously nice view.

The view from the window in our room. Seriously.

The next morning we had breakfast and I laid around and read the assortment of magazines provided by the hotel in our room while Patrick finished up his final paper for the school term. Then we set out to explore the city a little.

We saw Flinders St. Station.

We went to the Royal Botantical Gardens.


We attempted to use public transportation and failed miserably. We ended up walking all the way back to the hotel to have some down time before dinner.

The view from our window at night. Check out the fire along the walkway to the right! The next morning we were picked up by the bus and driven to the airport. We got Krispy Kreme donuts to celebrate our return to the U.S. (It seemed like it fit???) And boarded our first plane to New Zealand. We barely made our connecting flight from NZ to L.A., which was probably a good thing because it did not give me time to process the fact that we were setting our for an 11 hour flight.

Actually the flight was not bad. We were able to get an exit row that had plenty of leg room. Air New Zealand had great food and we had our own personal little screens to watch movies on. And we slept. Not as much as we would have liked, but we did sleep.

When we got into L.A. we learned that our flight from Dulles to Roanoke had been cancelled and the next flight was not until the next day. After a lot of waiting in line and frustration, we were able to get rerouted through Chicago, which had a flight to Roanoke that night. What we didn't know until we actually got to Chicago, however, is that we were not guaranteed on that Roanoke flight. We were waitlisted. I was furious and little pushy with the lady at the desk, who did not seem to care at all that we might have to sleep in the Chicago airport for the night. She told us to keep checking back to see if we would be able to get on that flight.

Finally, we got word that we had been on the Cleared List.

(!!!)

And we made it home! We were literally the LAST flight into the Roanoke airport on Thursday, July 29. It was so great to see my mom, who had graciously come to pick us up. We got home and of course were not tired at all since we were still on Australia time. And it was dinner time in Australia so we were hungry. Patrick's friend who had stayed at our house while we were gone took us out for a welcome home breakfast/dinner at 2:00 in the morning!

And then we crashed.

For about a week.

It was HARD getting back to normal.

But we are so happy to be home, and to have made such wonderful memories!

Thank you to everyone who has followed our trip and prayed for safe travels!

1 comment:

Rachel said...

Okay, I just feel like I need to confess that I have been stalking your trip, and I am wildy jealous of your globe trotting adventures. Pleeeeeeeeease take meeeeeee next time!