Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Not As Easy As We Imagined

In my family we go by the motto,  Hope for the best.  Prepare for the worst.

I love that saying.  It's a healthy mixture of pessimism and optimism.  

Unfortunately, I usually lean a little too much towards the preparing for the worst--worrying too much about all the bad things that might happen.

I was different in Australia though.  

I was extremely optimistic.  I gave new meaning to the word Rose-colored glasses.

So when Tim told me it should take about two hours to get from Sydney to Port Stephens, I believed him.

I thought all would go well for us.

But if it did, I guess I wouldn't have a blog entry to write.


We left my most favorite city in the world on December 20.   A few days before that, Jack and I returned to the Taronga zoo while Tim searched the city for a booster seat, so Jack would be safe on the ride up to Port Stephens.   We figured we'd buy one and then hand it over to my cousin who'd need it one day for her kids.  

Poor Tim.   While Jack and I watched bird shows in close to unbearable heat, he went on some awful grail-seeking adventure.  

And he came up empty.

No worries, he said--because by now we were totally using the Aussie lingo.  We'll just rent a seat from the car rental company.   (okay actually I don't know if this was his exact words because all this happened months ago and I can't remember the exact dialogue.  But we can PRETEND this is what he said.   The general idea was there)

On Thursday morning we packed up our belongings.   Then Tim went to get the car while Jack and I went to Wildlife World.   (Do you spot a trend here?   I make Tim do the work and meanwhile Jack and I enjoy looking at animals)

We figured it would take about an hour or less to get the car.

Jack and I hung out at Wildlife World.   After some time, I pulled him away from the butterfly exhibit saying we needed to get back because Daddy will be back soon with the car.

He wasn't back.

No worries.  We waited in the lobby.

And waited.

Finally, he came.

The thing is the car had the much needed navigation system.   But it didn't work.   Once Jack and I got into the car, I got to see this for myself.

Jack sat on the booster seat that wasn't high enough--so we augmented the thing with the telephone book that came with the rental company.   I mean really.  Who were we going to call? Better to let our son's butt rest upon it.

I complain about my husband a lot, but he does have some great qualities--one of these is the ability to drive in a bit city.   He drove in NYC.   I admire anyone who can do that--including my cousins who manage to drive in Sydney and San Francisco.

Okay, but driving in a big city,on the side of the road you're not used to driving on, without a navigation system is NOT easy.

I don't know why we imagined it would take us only two hours to get there.

I'm kind of unclear of what happened next.   I just remember driving around looking for the bridge.
You know that big bridge in Sydney that I climbed up?    I loved that bridge and I still love it today.  But for that moment, I hated the damn bridge.   

I mean yes we could SEE the bridge.  But seeing it and knowing what road to get on to get your car on the bridge is a whole other story.

We tried to find a gas station so we could buy a map.

No luck, but I guess we found someone who told us how to get across the bridge.

Then at some point, we went to a second gas station.   We looked around for maps.   Nothing again.

I'm thinking now.  Okay, Australia.  Still love you.   But what is the deal with the no maps.   Are Australians equipped with some kind of inborn navigation system?

The man working at the gas station was incredibly friendly and helpful.    He said he had a book of maps, but it was expensive.   When we took it out, Tim gasped.  It was the book Jack was sitting on.  

Not a phone book after all, but a book of maps.

Ah!   Okay.

We replaced the book with some towels or something and then found the map we needed.

We were on our way.   I think by now the two hours it was supposed to have taken to get to Port Stephens had already passed.

Tim drove.  I daydreamed.   Jack slept.

Then at some point, Tim saw a sign that said something like "Tourist's route."

He said we should try it.

I said he was crazy.   Don't you dare.

He didn't listen.

We got lost.

I gave him a lot of I-told-you-so's.

We found our way back; and eventually we found our way to The One Mile Beach Holiday Park in Port Stephens.    I think we had expected to get there a little past lunch time.    We ended up getting there at dinner time.

Jack wanted to go swimming, but the pool was already about to close.  Tim and I wanted to eat dinner.  
We fought about it.  Tim and I used our age and parental leverage to win the fight.  We all went to eat.

Soon it was dark and there didn't seem to be a lot of people outside.   The pool was closed.

Nothing to do.

We were bored and not tired enough yet to go to sleep.  I missed Sydney.

I took Jack outside for a walk.  In the dark.   Without flashlights--or torches as they call them in Australia.

We saw a redback spider--our first encounter with dangerous Australian wildlife outside of a zoo setting.

I suggested to Jack that we return to our cabin and go to sleep.

We all hoped that things would look better in the morning.