As an idea somehow connected to the Greatness Project, Jeni was trying to organize all the family down on the beach, where everyone could create their own kind of beach art to be photographed for an album.
Uncle Jim used colored rocks and sand scratching to make a big bunch of grapes (I think he's into wine). Bob and Jimmy made a huge sand sofa, complete with umbrella and beer holders. Dee collected red, yellow, and black rocks to make a sort of small daisy pattern with a hole in the center. I made a big sea turtle with a mosaic of the Earth on its back, and I scratched the names of people I loved around it. Jeni made a big splashy sun. Devon made an octopus. Tyler sculpted terrain to symbolize certain parts of his life. Laina and Aunt Lucy collaborated on a beautiful bird, made with colored pebbles around a natural arrangement of tiny sandballs made by crabs during the night. Beanie took sticks, seaweed, and sponges, and stuck them together into a sand dancer.
After that was finished we broke up for other activities. Tyler, Devon, and Jeni went to a local wildlife park. I went with Dee, Bob, and Grandma Shirley to a butterfly house just out of town, which also boasted a tearoom and walk-though maze (I love mazes).
When we arrived, we all walked through the butterfly house together. Then Bob and I skipped out to run around the maze. They'd given us a paper with butterfly questions on it, and the answers were hidden around the maze, but the answers didn't specify which question they matched, so there was some confusion. At the center of the maze there was a cement platform with a pattern of colored stones, with further challenges about attempting to reach the center using certain color combinations. We played with that for a while and then untangled ourselves.
The building was out in the countryside in some wonderful pastoral farmland (Dee got a fabulous picture), and there was a nice little backyard with flowers and children's toys for us to explore. Dee and I played Tic Tac Toe with some oversized markers on a large board in the grass. I futzed about on the hopscotch run. We sniffed around the giftshop for a while and I was sorely temped by a neat little set of curvy carved wooden drawers.
We had a bit of dinner there before we left. I think I had pumpkin soup, but the real entree was my mountainous iced chocolate, which is an item on most Australian drink menus, but I've never seen it here. It's basically a tall glass of cold chocolate milk over ice, spritzed with cream and a few sprinkles. It's quite delicious. Dee got a neat picture of it.*1
I checked out a cool tree in front (white peely birch-like bark, but very soft and spongy), then we drove back to Helen and Lynton's for a big family dinner, all of us together. Dee played her usual great folk music on the guitar. I took pictures and compared dive notes with Laina. Aunt Helen served us pavlova for dessert, which is some sort of very light sweet cake piled with fluffy meringue. Beanie added strawberries, sliced kiwi, and passion fruit seeds*2. I got somewhat hooked on passion fruit in Australia...the seeds over sliced bananas made for some wonderful breakfasts.
Bob helped me pack up the selected Australian beer I'd bought for Dad and Uncle Jeff the day before in a donated wine box, Tyler and I walked back to the house together*3, and that was our last night in Coff's Harbour.
1. However, one thing that caught my attention was the spoon that came with it...a tiny spoon-dish on the end of an unusually long and thin handle. I loved it. Not believing my weirdness, I actually went to the counter and asked them if they'd sell it to me. After some weird looks and a conference in the back, they agreed. I wonder if they still talk about the crazy American who bought one of their spoons. So cool a spoon.
2. Passion fruits have the outward appearance of round avocados, but inside, they're mostly air. It's just a spoonful of what looks like green or pink tomato seeds suspended in a little spiderweb of red membrane. But oh, are they delicious. Very tart and flavorful.
3. The resort where we stayed was gated, and the gates only operable by controllers on the two sets of car keys we had for the seven of us. There was a lot of calling to let people in or out, but a lot of the time we made judicious use of the mail slots and our upper arms to just climb the wall.