...or "The Last Day and The Shortest Night"
22.06.2012 - 24.06.2012 20 °C
Morning rolls around and I have a choice: no one (I think) would blame me for holing up in this room for the day - clearly exhausted from the epic trip I've been on - or I could make something of it. I know I would regret if I went with the former plan of attack, so after locating breakfast I packed up and decided to take the 'coastal walk' to Bondi Beach, some...I don't know how many Km (because I have no Internet) away. Now, I have taken some good walks on my trip here in Oz, through mountains and vales and forests, but damnit, this was a hell of a walk.
Soundtrack: the iPhone is completely in synch with me: Seasons of the World / Kirlian Camera, Breaking the Girl / Red Hot Chili Peppers, Kitchenware and Candybars / Stone Temple Pilots, Kill the Light / Lacuna Coil, Say That You'll Haunt Me / Stone Sour, Nobody Loves You / Garbage, Sister of Night / Depeche Mode, Apart (Renholder Remix from Underworld) / The Cure...this has got to be the most depressing song I've ever heard, why am I listening to it? Skip...Reverie / Lacuna Coil. Etc.
It winds along the Sydney coast, from beach, to beach, to beach, (insert really huge, really awesome graveyard here),
...to, yup, more beaches...the whole coast kind of has this southern European / Monaco feel to it (again, I ask - how the hell would I know this?)
...until finally, Bondi Beach comes into view after about 90 minutes (and unfortunately my regular camera is out of space, I have only video now)...and what the hell, is that a blister? Are you telling me after tromping through the Kimberley for almost two weeks in these shoes, only now I get a stupid blister? Ok, yes, I put on totally the wrong socks. Thankfully, the 'discount' pharmacies (e.g. 'chemists'...which means something *completely* different in British Columbia) here sell singles of bandages. Brilliant.
It's in Bondi that I find a cafe that has wifi available for paying customers - and I'm not talking some shitty I-paid-$11-for-it wifi, I'm talking a really good 'free' connection, which is where I posted two more blogs - hastily edited and marked up with pics, so sorry for any grammatical errors or if accidentally posted the wrong pictures. I also made sure to *tip* for lunch...especially for the wifi connection
Bondi was epic and magnificent, but after a couple hours I got what I needed out of it and slowly half-limped back to Coogee, showered, and spent some time just playing guitar on the beach, where it went from "you call this cold? Bitches, please! (I'm from Canada)" to "Jesus, it's cold! I can't feel my heart!" in a matter of 30 minutes.
After returning to the hotel - to put on a jacket (feeling defeated) - I went back to the beach where I found a busker playing. She had an miked up acoustic guitar, and a microphone all set up. And god (or insert other diety-or-belief-symbol-here) as my witness, she had an absolutely beautiful voice. I sat there, as the sun completely disappeared behind me, just watching the beach and listening to this woman sing and play for about 40 minutes, with the ocean waves as her back up singer. Her music was the perfect conduit for my reflection on everything I saw here in Australia, everything I had done, everywhere I had gone, and maybe even some things I had left to do - not just here and now, but maybe from now on until I'm only an aged photo in my grandchildren's photo album.
When she was done and was packing up, I went and thanked her, gave her $10 (I should have given her more), and told her she had a beautiful voice. And then I walked away, feeling somehow content with everything.
Only one last thing to really report on - dinner. I won't bore you with the details, but ultimately I finally - on the waitress' recommendation - ordered a kangaroo plate ("it's like a steak, but better because it doesn't have the fat"...but imagine that spoken in the typical sexy Australian accent); so it's red meat. Of course it is - this is Australia. It comes medium rare, served on a bed of spinach and caramelized onions, covered in some kind of wonton-like thing (probably what they call 'wontons' in these parts)...and sided with a pumpkin pie - no, not the dessert type, the type that is a meat pie but filled with pure pumpkin. I eat everything but the pie (as I had started with a side of 'jumbo' prawns, and I'm going to laugh from now on when I see that term on a North American menu, because these jumbo prawns were whole - and about 6 to 8 inches long), and *holy shit* - kangaroo seriously kicks ass on steak! I wish now I had creamed that one on the Tanami and BBQed the fucker.
I made sure to leave a tip.
This may be it. Really, what left is there to tell? Tomorrow I have a rushed morning, airport shuttle ride at 9:15am, and a long, long flight back to LAX. I suppose if anything interesting happens I may add a bit of an addendum, but for the most part I think it's all done now. There is lots left to reflect on, yes, but these things are matters that I think are a result of me taking this trip, not about the trip itself; they will probably bore you to tears so I'd rather go out in style whilst still having your attention. I truly appreciate you all reading my blogs and following along. It really has been a bit like having you here with me...but as really quiet (and hence boring) conversationalists. But that is OK. I had to take this trip alone, there was no other way to do it, and I don't regret it for a second. Well, maybe the part where I left the hotel room curtains open while taking a shower (not as much as anyone who might have looked in would regret it)...but everything else I'd do again in a heartbeat.
Thanks for traveling through Australia with me.
Soundtrack: Fox Confessor Brings The Flood / Neko Case...("...I flooded my sleeves as I drove home again.")
I pack up and catch the airport shuttle back to Sydney Airport. I'll revise my previous statement - it is actually a really beautiful airport, at least on the departures level. Skip ahead to the dreaded long flight - which felt shorter somehow (thankfully) than the trip over, but because my body clock is adjusted thoroughly now to Australia time, I think I spent most of the flight awake. I tried to sleep - I may have nodded off once or twice, or simply forgotten most of the flight, but because we were flying against the path of the sun the actual 'nighttime' definitely seemed shorter than it should have.
After landing, collecting my bags and making my way back to the domestic Alaska Air terminal, I feel really, really gross (e.g. in the personal hygiene department). But here's a hint for anyone taking a long haul flight - pack a clean pair of socks in your carry-on, and just before you board, change into them - and the moment you get on the plane kick off your shoes (not embarrassing yourself with smelly socks...because you are so damn smart); it makes the trip so much more comfortable. Of course you may not be able to get your shoes on properly at the end of the flight because at this point your feet have become olympic-sized swimming pools for blood. Oh well, the swelling will go down during the long walk to US Customs.
Skip ahead: I fly back to Seattle on a short hopper flight. I don't remember most of it.
Skip ahead: my suitcase has been partially destroyed by baggage 'handling'. Alaska Air simply replaces the bag and credits me a few thousand air miles for the now missing iPad charger due to the aforementioned torn-up front pouch of my now previous suitcase.
Skip ahead: I'm driving home now, not needing to adjust much to driving on the right side of the road. I do engage my windshield wipers instead of my turn signals frequently though, and probably will for a few days to come.
Skip ahead: Christ, I haven't really slept in more than 24 hours - should I really be driving?
Skip ahead: funny that I never thought I could get good food from Denny's (in Bellingham) as I waited out some of the ridiculously long border line-ups. But I had a gift card. And the food was actually really good. Maybe I am delirious?
Skip ahead: I stop in Mission and buy the nicest bottle of BC VQA wine I can get on a Sunday evening (in Mission)...I miss it tremendously. Oh yeah, I miss my family too. Mmmm...BC wine...
Skip ahead: I have hugged my family with every ounce of love I have in my heart. I miss Australia, but I belong here now - I'm home, and it has never felt so good.
Soundtrack: my youngest telling me about his 'Star Wars / Minecraft' mural, now proudly displayed on our entrance hallway wall. And my eldest showing me the awesome Father's Day (oh yeah, that happened, didn't it?) card he made. On Minecraft.
Skip ahead: I just had the best shower I've ever had in my life. Ok, that's not's really true...
(Thanks for reading!!!)