Sunday, December 30, 2007

Day 7

Friday 28th- Day 7
We went to the Melbourne Zoo on Friday. It was HOT- felt like 90 at least. Nathan liked the elephants and Jared liked the butterflies. They both liked the gorillas, orangutans, and fish. The fish weren't really an exhibit, but that's what they liked.
We stayed until 3:00pm and then drove back to Canberra.
We made good time, getting in around 11:00pm.

Day 6

Thursday 27th- Day 6
We went back to the temple in the morning and traded off watching the boys. The boys loved wandering around outside the temple and playing in the dirt in the lot next to the temple.

We finally got to see some friends we met in Canberra a few years ago. Their little girl Zoe was a newborn when we last saw them. It was fun to see the kids playing together. Zoe had a new trampoline that was a hit and the boys also liked pushing the doll around in the stroller. Maybe we should get the boys some dolls...

Michael, Zoe, and Naomi (Naomi is expecting TWINS!)

Day 5

Wednesday- Day 5

We let the boys play at the playground in Apollo Bay in the morning and then we finished the Great Ocean Road. We drove to the temple in Melbourne, but it was closed, since it was "Boxing Day." The day after Christmas is a big day in Australia. We ate at a nice Chinese restaurant- the chopsticks were fun to play with... and then we ended up staying in the same motel in Ringwood, a suburb of Melbourne, that we stayed in 3 years ago.

the end of the Great Ocean Road, near Geelong

"I love to see the temple; I'm going there someday..." - just not today

Day 4

Tuesday 25th- Day 4
It turns out that Santa Claus found us after all. But he possibly left some bigger items back home in Oklahoma. We weren't sure if Santa was going to make it or not, but he did...
Christmas morning was a little depressing. I think this is the first Christmas that I haven't been with other family (besides Alex and the boys). And we didn't have a tree or anything festive, just each other and a few small presents from Santa.
We left the motel for 10:00am check-out and headed to Port Fairy. We walked to the lighthouse and then let the boys play at the playground. After that, we began our Great Ocean Road tour. We saw all the major spots- the Grotto, Arch, London Bridge, Loch Ard Gorge, and the 12 Apostles in Port Campbell National Park.
We finished off our day in Apollo Bay. We didn't get into town until about 8:00pm and hadn't eaten dinner yet. Not much is open on Christmas Day. We found a pizza place open and then started to look for a motel. We searched nearly every motel in the town. It was a little ironic that we had just talked about "no room in the inn" the night before. We couldn't find any vacancies. I think we ended up with the last room in the town that was less than $200. And the lady was nice enough not to charge us extra for Nathan. We spent $140 for the equivalent of Motel 6... I guess that's what you get for not planning ahead! We were just thankful we didn't have to travel in the dark on the Great Ocean Road...
Jared at Cutter Cove

London Bridge

The Arch

12 Apostles

The Grotto

lighthouse at Port Fairy

Santa came...

Jared could care less about the toys; he went straight for the M&M's (Santa knows him well...)

Playground at Port Fairy

Day 3

Monday, 24th - Day 3
After a short stop by the toy store for last-minute items, we headed into Grampians National Park in the morning. Our first hike was Pinnacle Point, near Halls Gap. It took us about 3.5 hours. Since Nathan quickly grew tired of walking, Alex carried him on his shoulders and I carried Jared in the backpack. It was a little bit chilly for the boys, but great weather for "bush walking."
We also took a short walk to Mackenzie Falls and some other look-outs. We drove a couple of hours into Warrnambool that night. We read the Christmas story from the scriptures and sang a few hymns.
Mackenzie Falls

The "Balconies"
look-out point

We hit 3 birds along the way. This one broke the grate and got stuck in it. Poor bird...

little waterfall on our hike to Pinnacle Point

nearly to Pinnacle Point

Pinnacle Point

The boys enjoyed sitting in the bush, eating apples.

Some pretty pink flowers along the trail.

I don't know what they're called- if anyone does, let me know...

Day 2

Day 2 of our escapade was Sunday, so we went to church in the morning. Luckily there was a branch in Wangaratta. The 30 people there were very excited to see us, but sad we weren't staying... We got a chance to watch the First Presidency Christmas Devotional, again, during Sunday School. I thought that was a blessing from the Lord. We tried to watch it a few weeks ago, but were only able to see the last 20 minutes, due to our walk taking longer than we expected. (That was when my heels were bleeding). So we got a 2nd chance, and we were really touched by the message and music. After church, we headed on to Ararat, near the Grampians. We had Easy Mac and soup for dinner (yeah for microwaves!).

Christmas vacation

We had an amazing week, although long and lots of travel. For the boys and I, it was vacation within vacation. For Alex, this was his week off of work. He's been doing research at the Australian National University for the past month. We had a full week to do whatever we wanted to- we thought about our options.
1. Drive north to Brisbane, about 15 hours or so from Canberra.
2. Drive 24-30 hours to Uluru, in the Red Center, near Alice Springs (via Adelaide)
3. Drive 8 hours to Melbourne, take a 10-hour ferry ride to Tasmania (for $1000) + rental car and accomodations for a week
4. Drive south through the Victorian High Country, the Grampians, along the Great Ocean Road, and into Melbourne.
We chose option 4, due to strong influence from me to see friends in Melbourne.
Here is our dinky little car we drove, a Toyota Yaris, with almost no trunk (or boot as the Aussie's say). We were jammed in there with the pack 'n play, 3 bags, food, and other stuff.
I will try to break our trip down into days. (By the time the photos get done uploading, we may be headed back to the states.)
Saturday: Day 1
We drove about 5.5 hours to the Victorian High Country. We visited the towns of Mt Beauty and Bright. After visiting those two towns we visited Mt. Buffalo National Park (the first national park in Australia).
This was one of the many trees we saw in the area. Most of them had the bark falling off of it. I thought they were very majestic.

This suspension bridge was nearly our 1st stop, in Mt. Beauty. Nathan enjoyed jumping on it.

It rained most of the 1st day, but that brought this beautiful rainbow in Mt. Buffalo National Park.

Nathan, with Lady Bath Falls in the background

Me, in front of the (Lower) Eurobin Falls, close enough to get wet from the spray.

After Mt. Buffalo, we drove about an hour to Wangaratta.

Monday, December 17, 2007

more laundry

Did more laundry today... "Raffe" (Jared's snuggly toy) needed a bath this time!

Bird Walk

Today we went to a walk-in aviary, and the boys loved it (for the most part). It took a little getting used to the birds being right there and sitting on your shoulder or head. One of the birds did get a little bit mean- he started pecking at Jared's feet and shorts. I even tempted the bird with an apple, but he wanted to peck at Jared instead. We tried to shoo the bird away, but he was clinging to Jared's pants with his beak. I picked Jared up and the bird was still trying to hold on... Jared must have had something tasty on his shorts. Other than that one bird, the boys had a good time. Nathan took the picture of me.

what's wrong with this picture?

After walking for an hour to get to church last week in my supposed-to-be-comfortable sandals, I got smart and wore my running shoes this time. Much better! (Last week, we walked to whole way to church and my sandals cut into the back of my heels and made them bleed.) This week, we took a bus part of the way and only had to walk about 25 minutes. It did rain though, of course. Just can't win... but I'm hoping that we're getting extra spiritual brownie points!

Alex came to church with us, but he has been sick all weekend. After being sick for 5 days, he went to the doctor this morning. He just has a bad cold...these Aussie colds must be harsh, because Alex rarely gets sick. It was hard being a "single mom" this weekend, but we survived.

the park

We didn't do anything out of the normal last week. We mostly just did the basics- laundry, groceries, and play. There's a park about a block away that the boys enjoy.

cheap entertainment

The boys spent about 45 minutes pulling bark off the Eucalyptus tree in the backyard... about the time it took me to hang 78 pieces of clothing (socks and underwear, etc.) out to dry. I miss my dryer! Anyway, the boys had fun.