Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Driving to Albury (and back)

Yawn! A sixteen hour drive that we managed to squeeze into 21!! Queen's Birthday weekend (except in Western Australia)- double fines, double demerits for speeding. New South Wales was dotted with traffic cameras spanning the highway- and I hope we were smiling. Not sure if we were ever caught speeding (funny, isn't; given the first sentence!?) or whether our savings will cover the accumulated fines (up to $3300 for a speeding offence- so the signs say. Eegads!)


Meals took an hour on average and the number of wrong turns, missed turns, back tracking was really minimal. (I was an excellent navigator.) We just couldn't stay awake past 9 pm. Used to be just me- and I could sleep whilst (nod to Au, there) Kevin drove. Now, I must struggle to remain alert to keep Kevin awake. The first night we stopped at least every 30 minutes to get out of the car and into the cool night air to wake up. (Well, Kevin did that.) Or, we just slept in the car. What a time to be committed to a caffeine-free lifestyle!


Albury trip count:
1 fox alive- at least 1 dead
3 living leapers- plenty of carcuses
Gallahs, Falcons, kukaburras
--despite signs warning of the risk, we saw no cattle or sheep on the roadway, nor stiff-legged on the shoulder.


A concerted effort of billboards lined the NSW highways. We studied these. We debated. We stopped the car and pondered. What IS that picture?

There's a fender and best we can figure a disembodied brain- or maybe an eyeball? My belief is that if you have an appropriately elevated blood alcohol level the image transmutes into a horrendous monster and frightens you into sobriety, abstinence, or a taxi. Still looking for volunteers.

The first Australian Games Expo!

Photo: Kevin (playing yellow) gets his butt kicked in Settlers.

Albury NSW- site of Australia's first Games Expo! Kevin, former candidate for game czar of Cleveland, Ohio couldn't miss that! Signed up to compete in both the national championships for "Settlers of Catan" and "Carcassonne"! The winner of each would go onto Essen Germany to represent Australia. How cool would that be!

The Games Expo was held in the convention center Saturday and Sunday, June 10 and 11. The competitions started at 9 AM on Saturday. Kevin was scheduled to play 3 games of each before 5 PM that evening. (Didn't see much of him!) Settlers was not very good to our man- but Carcassonne! He won every game he played and went into the semifinals on Sunday in 6th place overall.

We pondered- how would it play, a Yank winning the first Australian competition and representing the country in Essen? Surely, we could not be denied an application for permanent residency- maybe even citizenship! Still, we decided, it might be best to sneak off immediately with the crown before the pitchforks and torches were pulled.

Kevin lost in the semifinals.

Ah! it was a dream!

Return to Oz

OK. I know this is "dated" 21 June, but I returned 2 June. My flight left Cincinati at 8:30 am on May 31, arrived in LA around 10:30 am, and left again about 11 pm. Somewhere, I lost June 1. Guess that is how I'll think of this year. The year I lost March 6 and June 1. I'm feeling younger the longer I think about it.

This trip was special because it included the infamous Ms. Z. We spent about a month trying to feel good about "our" crate. Ate supper there. That's as far as we got, really. When I dropped her at the cargo building for Delta, I don't think the death cry that followed was any less heartfelt for all those meals in the carrier. She did OK. She had a very nice hotel in LA- and somehow accumulated 2 days of boarding there in only 6 hours...??? We parted ways in LA. She flew on to Sydney while I winged on to Brissie.

I was traveling with 2+ months of my nutritional supplements and was a might bit concerned that the customs officials wouldn't appreciate them. I held my breath as the lovely beagle bitch moved through the crowd sniffing at each bag. Damn. I was done for! My bag probably had a big red beagle bullseye because packed within were Zelda's chew bone, her giggle ball, and her babble ball! "Hey! What are you doin'?" "Aaaaaaa! I'm gonna get you!" How am I going to explain a talking backpack to "the man"? She passed on by. No worries!