Tyler wanted to spend time with his brother and sister, Jeni and Devon wanted to ride together, and I thought 5 in one car was too many with 2 in the other, so Tyler rode the whole way with Jeni and Devon and Tim, and I rode with Bob and Dee. We drove over the Harbour Bridge, got stuck in traffic for a while, and then rode north, taking a few scenic detours through eucalyptus forests*(4). We saw smoke from a few fires in the distance, and stopped for lunch at a roadside hot sandwich restaurant that was patronized by about 60 motorcyclists. It was a little intimidating, but Jeni stuck up a conversation with one biker, who turned out to be a very friendly scuba diver (lots of talk after that).
We continued to drive north, not seeing much of the coast as we were further inland. We stopped for dinner in a tiny town called Forster, where we all scrounged for our own meals and I wound up with some nice Indian mushrooms over basmati rice. I think I also got a Milkybar, which of course, was FULL of Milkybar goodness. Jeni and Devon got a box of mint slices (round chocolate wafers with a minty top, dipped in chocolate), which quickly became a necessary staple for the rest of the trip.
It eventually got dark and I slept in the car for a time, listening to Dee’s Harry Potter books on tape. We got to Coff’s Harbour fairly late, made a quick call to Helen and Lynton (Dee’s aunt and uncle), and dropped by for the keys to our house. We had a long visit with them (my allergies started to go, as often happens in old houses), then drove just down the street to our condo, at the Aanuka resort on Digger’s Beach*(5). Our house was actually an offset duplex—a house with a small apartment attached, which Jeni and Devon claimed.
The house itself (downstairs) had a nice kitchen, dining area and living room (Tim took the folding bed in the couch), and a downstairs half-bath and laundry room (used often, for de-sanding). Upstairs there was a master bedroom and balcony for Bob and Dee (with master bath, including a deep Jacuzzi), a second bedroom with twin beds and big windows (Tyler and I took this room and pushed the beds together), and a separate bathroom (bath and stall shower) which Tyler and I largely had to ourselves. The only problem for that night was that the heat had never been turned on for us, so I was pretty cold and had problems getting to sleep. I was happy to be there.
1. Many various cereals, 3 or 4 jugs of different fruit juices, all sorts of sliced fruit, toast, bread, crackers, coffees, hard-boiled eggs, applesauce, canned fruits, bacon, sausage…and Vegemite. I actually tried some. It’s vile-looking (jet black, sticky, and stinky), but not entirely bad. Too strong for my tastes, though.
2. The local espresso stand was closed, so I went to a Starbucks across the street. This Starbucks, in the heart of the city, saves all its old coffee grounds and puts them in bags by the door, so customers can take them home for compost if they choose. How cool is that?
3. I also had a not-very-small phone bill to settle. I’d called my Grandpa Bob’s best friend, Ron, whom I hadn’t seen in years. Evidently the hotel makes all its money from people making outgoing calls.
4. I took it upon myself to read the driver’s manuals for our little Holdens, and found helpful instructions regarding the installation of and warnings for “roo bars.” Apparently you can install these bars on the front of your car that are fairly deadly to any pedestrians you hit, but will protect your car from the impact of a kangaroo collision. Hm.
5. Helen and Lynton had very kindly prepared a bucket of food for us to tide us over until we could go to the store. There was a jug of milk, some eggs and other things, and a small box of something called “Vita Brits.” It turned out to be something like pressed cakes of corn flakes, only a) they were not the least bit sweet, but almost a touch salty, and 2) pouring milk over them turned them into a deeply soggy, ultradense mass. I was amused, but glad I tried them. Fun. I don’t think we finished them.