Sunday, March 21, 2010

Branch Out

Why are these ladies smiling? Stay with me, and you'll find out.

Posting has been a challenge lately for some reason, so I will try to do a catch-up today.

On Friday we drove to Devonport to stay over night before catching the ferry. I booked the hotel.

Linda has decided I will never be permitted to book a hotel again. And I completely agree with her. This may have been the worst room we have ever stayed in.

There was a plus side to the place in that we ended up with all our clothes clean, but I will leave that topic to a post later this week.

The ferry ride over on Saturday was long, but uneventful. We now know that the Spirit of Tasmania never seems to leave on time, which may or may not be a comment on the state. But since we've retired, that's neither here nor there.

The real adventure came when we got off the ferry. I should mention that Honor the GPS has been put on compassionate leave and we have hired Mandy, a perky American-voiced GPS. Mandy, who joined us in Launceston, was doing pretty well on her first week of duty around Tasmania but she and Chief Navigator Linda had some tense moments in Melbourne as we tried to get to our hotel.

I went online before we left and wrote down the address, which was in the 800 block of St Kilda Road (and no, Americans, I have no clue who Saint Kilda was, but I am pretty sure he is the reason there are no bears in Australia.)

Anyhow, Mandy kept insisting there was no address in the 800's for St Kilda Road, so she agreed to get us to the 600 block and let us work it out from there ourselves. Well, to make a long story a bit longer, we ended up running out of room on St Kilda Road and could not find the hotel, so we stopped at the 7-11 at the intersection where it ended.

LK went in to ask the clerk there for advice, and when he and his friend pulled out a map book to try to locate the street they were sitting 10 yards from, she politely told them she was going back to the car to see if the GPS was working again.

Fortunately, some guys pulled up at the store, heard our problem and told us in very clear terms how to get to the hotel. It was only when we got there that I realized I hadn't been wearing reading glasses and had thought the 3 was an 8. Oh well, at least LK and Mandy are back on speaking terms.

On Saturday we drove to the airport to pick up Shirley and then headed down to the Great Ocean Road to tour the coastline between Melbourne and South Australia. It is spectacular scenery and you could stop every few minutes to take a picture of the beautiful places. Well, you could if you weren't driving with a couple of people who kept saying, "No, let's just drive on. There will be plenty more opportunities to see beautiful coastline."

Today we are staying in Apollo Bay, and I decided to organize a bit of a sightseeing expedition. I got LK and Shirl to pile in the car and suggested we take the road marked "Scenic Route" up the Barham River to Mariner's Falls.

From the back seat, Shirl piped up that the literature from the visitor center said it was 3.6kM walk to the falls, but I told her we were driving there not walking, and off we went. The road was a bit narrow, but when it turned from farmland into a rain forest, it became quite impressive. Well, the scenery did. The road, however, narrowed and soon became a dirt road with lots of curves.

I was humming the theme from Deliverance when I drove over a small branch that got stuck in the undercarriage of the car. It wasn't doing any damage, but it was making a very annoying noise so I pulled over to try to get rid of it. I was just trying to figure out how to look under the car without having a winch to get me back up when I heard a chainsaw start up not too far away. I did not wait for the big guy with the hockey mask and the butcher's apron, but got right back in the car and drove on with the branch scraping the road.

We finally got to the parking lot for Mariner's Falls and pulled over. As you can see from the picture, the falls are charming. We, like you, however are relying on the picture at the right because in the parking lot there was a sign saying the walk to the falls 3.6kM. Which is, as you may recall, what Shirley said before we headed out from Apollo Bay.

Anyhow, I quickly calculated 3.6kM in miles as 2-point-something, and decided that I could make a decision as tour guide. "No way we're walking that far just to see a waterfall," I said. Which may have been the first popular decision I had made this morning judging from LK and Shirley's reaction.

Anyhow, in gratitude they solved my car problem by getting the branch out from underneath. I guess it was gratitude even though LK said, "I am getting down and getting that branch out because there's no way either of us can get you up if you get down there."

So grabbing an umbrella, LK poked at the branch and when it shifted to the side, she passed the baton to Shirley who got it out completely.

Anyhow, by the time we got back to paved roads and eventually Apollo Bay, it was time for lunch. Bloody Marys to start, tapas for starters, chardonnay with the mains of octopus, grilled fish and mussels.

Tomorrow, we see the Apostles and end up in Port Fairy. I still have a few catch-up posts to do. I need to write about LK's obsession with laundry, and I am struggling to find a way to write about some of the things Shirley has said or done without appearing cruel to her.

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