Wednesday, March 24, 2010

We're in the Grampians, My Friends

Today we turned north and bade farewell to the Southern Ocean as we headed into the Grampians mountain range.

Having seen the Rockies last July, I have to say that the Grampians are more like big hills than mountains, but they are pretty nonetheless. And I should add that they aren't really much smaller than my beloved Green Mountains in Vermont.

We drove through clouds on a road that had no - and I mean NO - other vehicles going in our direction. So when we finally arrived at a suddenly sunny Hall's Gap, it wasn't much of a surprise to see that there was hardly anyone else here. We have, I believe, discovered the off-season.

Shirl looked through the literature and decided that our two-day stay here would be a bit of a challenge on the fun side since almost all there is to do is take bushwalks. I don't have to tell anyone reading this that we are not your most enthusiastic back-to-nature hikers.

My solution seemed simple. If tomorrow looks like a wipe-out, then let's have a damned good reason for not taking one of those bushwalks. At that point, Shirley and I discussed in depth whether tonight would be Margarita Night or Martini Night.

LK pushed Margarita Night because she still has this overwhelming urge to cook and wanted to do tacos and tortillas in our cabin. (Did I mention we're in a cabin?) But first we needed lunch. However there wasn't much open in town. In fact, there was hardly anything open in town - and certainly the local pub was shut.

However, further down the road we found a hotel with a bistro and a bottleshop. Two for the price of one. The bistro food was good - lamb shank with about 20 pounds of mashed potato underneath it. Yummm.

When we left, we went to the bottle shop to get the ingredients for Margarita Night, having yielded to LK's Mexican arguments. Unfortunately the store seemed a bit understocked.

"You wouldn't have ready-made Margarita mix, would you?" Shirl asked in a tone that said she already knew they did not. The clerk replied by picking up a bottle of tequila to see what ingredients went into a Margarita. I gave him points for knowing the basic food group at the core of a Margarita.

As he stared at the label, LK jumped in before his lips had even started moving. "What we will need is Triple Sec. Do you have any of that?"

I am pretty sure he had never heard of Triple Sec. He may have even wondered if she was from New Zealand and saying something altogether different from what he was hearing. Regardless, it was clear within seconds what was going to happen.

I stepped in. "Not a problem. Margarita Night has officially been postponed. Tonight is now Martini Night. Do you have any dry vermouth?"

The look on his face wasn't encouraging, so Shirley stepped in and repeated "Do you have any vermouth?", obviously assuming the poor guy just couldn't get his head around my American pronunciation. However, even hearing it in his native patois did not help. Vermouth was as mysterious as Triple Sec.

"Not a worry," I said, sizing up the situation. "Martini Night is also officially postponed. Tonight will be Wine and Vodka and Scotch Night, which we already have plenty of."

Thanking him for his help, however slight it may have been, we left.

And so it came to pass that we were all sitting around the table in front of our cabin drinking our usual drinks when we looked across the lawn and saw the local fauna.

Our good friend Jaki had so wanted to see kangaroos when she and Robert visited here and never succeeded unless you count the wallaby road kill we saw in Tasmania. But unfortunately we have only just discovered that kangaroos only come out at what we consider cocktail hour. So it is only in places like this, where the roos come virtually to your front door, that you can see them as you sip a wine.

This video is dedicated to Jaki, because we know how much she would have loved seeing this herself. And now we know where we can bring her the next time she visits and wants to see kangaroos.

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