Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Jon at another rib related dinner
It was so good because it was a perk to have food from home, not a necessity. After almost two years here, I have started to miss the things from home less and less. I've learned to go without, developed new favourites (Christ, I just automatically spelled that with a u) or found adequate substitutions. It's funny how that happens. It took me two years to have my Mom stop sending me bras and figure out the sizes here, to be able to make coffee without a coffee maker (which I didn't even know was possible), and I have accepted the fact that my Christmas cookies with always involve a trip to the sex shop bearing the stigma of purchasing gay lubricant to make my cookies the proper way with Crisco.
I digress; our meals were amazing and completely authentic. After our meals, I asked our Kiwi waiter which of the take-home sauces he would recommend for the pulled pork that I've started making for Jon since he missed it from back home. He looked at me like I had ten heads and asked me "Why would you want to pull pork?" and shuffled off to the kitchen to get the chef.
From the kitchen emerges Victor Kimble. I am willing to say after the hour or so I spent talking to him, he is one of the most inspirational human beings I have met.
From what we learned in the short time we spent with him, he grew up in Birmingham, Alabama "before integration" as he put it. A scholarship for playing the trumpet made it possible for him to go to college and he not only went to college, but succeeded in becoming a maxillofacial doctor. That's crazy amounts of school - undergrad, plus med school, plus dentistry school. As a maxfac surgeon, he toured the world with the Navy (I believe) doing intense trauma work. Through a series of twist ans turns, he landed on the Sunshine Coast, cooking for a living because it was the way his mother was - always cooking for the community and being friendly to everyone.
C'mon I know you want to reach out and hug him right now.
July 4th BBQ at Soul Food Kitchen is going to be sooooo good! Be there!
Thursday, May 22, 2008
Now, I had never heard of World Heritage sites or UNESCO before I moved to Oz, so find out what World Heritage sites you have visited.
Anyway, back to turn of fate that made the weekend very interesting. Our plans were sidetracked when Jon was asked to handle a remote call over the weekend meaning he could venture outside a half an hour radius of the hospital.
So, I made the bold decision to go it alone. How bad could it be, I thought? The other times I was up on the Island there were heaps of people around and the Great Walks seem to be fairly popular, so I surely wouldn't be camping in the middle of no where by myself.
I couldn't have been more wrong. It was all downhill from there.
On Saturday morning, the weather looked a bit dodgy, but Jon and I rented a car for me to drive the 3 hours up to the barge landing, so I felt obligated to go. After checking the weather forecast and seeing that it called for 10% showers all weekend, I decided to drive up to Hervey Bay to the barge and see if the weather cleared. Blue skies greeted me at the barge landing, so I purchased my walk-on ticket and weaved my way through the numerous 4WDs to find a seat on the upper deck. I should have realised I was a fool when I was the only person walking onto the barge.
The trip over on the barge was beautiful. Dolphins were chasing the barge and playing in the wake, the sun was shining and the weather seemed to have turned for the better. As I walked off the barge with my big purple pack, all of the cars honked and gave me the big thumbs up and I flashed them a hang loose. Miraculously, as I was walking away from the barge my cell phone rang (I never expected service out here) and I was able to have a quick conversation with Jon wishing me luck on my walk.
As I followed the access road to the trail, my pack seemed to lighten and I covered the first 10km fairly quickly. Perhaps, I got a bit over ambitious and decided after a quick lunch at Central Station that I would push on the trail to the freshwater lakes walker's camp about another 10km further down the trail.
I started to get a little nervous as the trail descended further and further away from the road and deeper into the rain forest. The brush on the trail hadn't been disturbed in a good long while; I was climbing over fairly large fallen branches and the leaf bed hadn't been disturbed in weeks. About two hours into my hike off the beaten path, I faced a decision: I was far enough away from more populated Central Station to make turning around mean I would be hiking after dark and I still had high hopes that there would be other walkers in the camp and that made me feel safe. My biggest fear was I would be alone and in danger of something bad happening where no one would know.
Of course, my fears were exacerbated as I hiked onward. It started to rain. Not just rain, but pour. Sand and heaps of rain make walking tedious; it was like walking through wet cement - with 30lbs on your back. However, this wasn't a stroll on the beach in the rain, it was lovely rolling hills - rolling hills of wet freaking cement knowing that I might be walking further and further away from everyone on the island.
As I reached the banks of Lake Benarron walker's camp, wet and exhausted, I was lucky enough to have a break in the weather just long enough to set up my tent. There was absolutely no one else in the walker's camp, so I had prime pick of campsites and heaps of time for my fears to run wild. That they did - not shortly after my arrival, the excitement started when I had some four legged friends come out to enjoy the late afternoon sunshine with me. That's right, as I was just about to make dinner 6 wet, cranky dingoes emerged out of the woods. Now, they are only known to assault children, but they appearance of the pack made me *consider* thinking of sleeping within the safe wooden walls of the composting toilet that smelt like Jon's socks x 1 million.
I made the decision to sleep in the tent. So, here I am, alone, wet, tired and in the woods 10kms from the nearest person with 6 dingoes prowling for food. Since I really did not feel like sharing my noodles with a pack of wild dogs and for lack of a better idea, I took out the small Nalgene shampoo bottle I had filled with tequila, took the two shots that were in there along with the Benadryl capsules I packed for emergency allergic reactions and snuggled into my sleeping bag to read. It was the only way there would be any sleep tonight.
I had packed two books with me: Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert and Bill Bryson's Walk in the Woods. I was reading the Bryson book and just as I hear the bristle of fur brush against my sheath of green nylon, I was reading about Bryson's first encounter with a bear on the AT.
Eventually, the anti-histamines and tequila took over. A little bit of sleep came, until I shot awoke turning on the head lamp to try and scare them off. Over and over, what a long night. I would drift in and out of sleeping waking to -
Sniff, Sniff. Shuffle, Shuffle,
Shriek (some small animal.)
Snap. (Bones of said small animal)
Chomp. Chomp. Chomp.
I would fall in and out of sleep to these sound wondering if whatever was outside would try to make it into my tent. Even though dingoes aren't that big, it was incredibly unnerving and incredibly scary. I have had bears come into camp and been less frightened because I had someone with me. Here I was knowing that no one could hear me if I screamed and no one was expecting me back for two days. My heart actually burned with fear.
The coming of morning was never so welcome. Silence reigned over the woods, still I was afraid to leave the safety of my tent. After an hour of tossing and turning and reading, I mustered up the courage to venture outside. Other than paw prints in the sand, there was no evidence of anyone else being there that night.
I quickly packed up the tent and after having a short battle with the Huntsman that was living with my food in the dingo proof container, I decided to cut my trip short and head back the way I came in hopes of catching the 4pm ferry.
I was thankful that the hike was uneventful back to Central Station. Upon arrival, I had a good laugh at the backpackers that crawled into the dingo-proof food locker and were locked in by there travelling companions. They came back 20 minutes later after the boys had tried every way out of the enclosure, only to prove their comedic intelligence by pretending to poop pine cones.
Knowing rain was in the forest, I set back out on the boring part of the hike - the access road. I hiked along the road that was well worn path. It was boring a tedious hiking. By the time I reached the last 2 km point, I had a feeling there was no way I would make the 2pm barge because the backpacker vehicles were whipping past me. I trudged on.
As I passed the 1 km mile marker, I began to curse everyone and everything in existence. Out of no where a pink 4WD vehicle from Fraser Roving (the same hostel I drove out of a year before) stopped and gave me the high sign to pop in the back.
I was so incredibly thankful to hop in the back that I felt ashamed when they were so excited that I had cigarettes and lollies.
They smoked my last few cigarettes, gorged themselves on my leftover food and I donated my leftover noodles to their trips onward to Sydney and Airlie Beach. I gained insight into traffic laws in Sweden, Korea, Germany, France, and the Netherlands.
I had never been so thankful to see a rented car and get behind the wheel. I was only gone 24 hours, but it felt so good to call Jon again. That night taught me that I can be strong and survive on my own, but the whole experience is more pleasurable if there is someone by my side.
There are no pictures from this trip because of the pouring rain that nearly destroyed the camera =)
Sunday, May 18, 2008
Saturday, May 17, 2008
Jon was in the process of being fitted for new contacts; as most of you know he requires special hard lenses that give him heaps of trouble. He was trying a loaner pair - yes, loaner pair - how gross is that? Just the idea of a loaned contact lens completely grosses me out, but that's how they do it!
Saturday morning he returns from a boys night out and his eye is all puffy and red, so he fiddles with the lens as per usual. Next thing I know, he is such pain he is lying on the bathroom floor sick to his stomach refusing to go the the Emergency Room.
Three hours later, we are in the queue at the hospital to have his eye looked at. We can't be sure what happened but he ended up with a big gash on his cornea and is sent home with an eye patch and ointment that I have to put in his eye.
I am pretty sure he is feeling better because he has been playing World of Warcraft for 5 hours straight with his one good eye.
Thursday, May 8, 2008
But that is all balanced out by the fact that there is absolute bliss in 3rd floor homewares. A display of American food!
Now, I didn't realize how much I missed Wheat Thins, Diet Root Beer, Nilla Wafers and Graham Crackers until I had them this weekend. 3 weeks of a steady supply of yellow mustard, *real* Cheerios, Crystal Lite, the list goes on......
I am absolutely over the moon!
Sunday, May 4, 2008
Then, it happens.
I go to boot up the laptop today and nothing happens. The battery light blinks and bit and not much else. Try another plug, take out & replace battery, nothing. Beads of sweat and nervous tears begin to form. Carefully inspect all connections. Notice that the converter is beeping. This cannot be good. Call Jon in tears.
The good news is the according to Jon the problem is isolated to the power supply being faulty and it's under warranty so it's no dramas to go to OfficeMax and get another one. However, today is a public holiday and the stores are all closed. Bugger.
So, the laptop is holding two papers hostage while time quickly ticks away to my due date. Fingers crossed, this will all end well and the moral of the story: anything important gets backed up on a memory stick!
Now, as we pull into the car park it is not looking promising. The restaurant is dark. I see the outside tables stacked inside before Jon does and when he does his face drops. His fate is sealed; no down home cooking for this boy tonight.
He was so shattered that he sat down on the sidewalk to contemplate how the Soul Food gods could have let this happen. It was heartbreaking.
I rallied him by suggesting that we go and see if the Moroccan place down the road had an available table. He’s been keen to try this place since we moved here, but weekend bookings are nearly impossible to get; since it was a Sunday night, I thought we might get lucky.
Lucky would have been an understatement. There was only one other table in the restaurant when we arrived. I quickly ascertained that “they talk like me.” This is my choice phrase to alert Jon that someone in the vicinity is speaking in a North American accent. My shining moment was when I came home and told Jon the PA system on the train to Brisbane talks like me.
After Jon confirms the accent, we then have a bit of fun trying to deduce whether they are Canadian or American. The tip off tonight was that a guy at the other table said, “If you are in any large city and find yourself on Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd., you are not far off from getting shot.” Definitely American. Our assumptions were confirmed when they referred to the lettuce as iceberg and not cos.
As our food arrives and another couple enters decked out to the nines in University of Illinois gear. Jon and I smile at each other thinking this could be a really weird turn of events; in the year and a half we have lived here on the Coast, we have not met another American outside of Brissy. Is it possible that there is some weird stroke of fate that had assembled 12 of us into a random Moroccan restaurant in Cotton Tree?
Apparently, yes. As soon as the Hoosier opened his mouth, it was confirmed he was one of us and more than likely from a “red state.”
I never realized there was a correlation between Yanks and Moroccan food or that were actually 12 of us residing on the Sunshine Coast. Randomness.
PS ~ minted yoghurt and lamb are not my cup of tea, but I did try!