I guess I’d better finish this up before I forget what we did…. The final installment of “What I did on my summer vacation.”
Kings Canyon was supposed to be a pretty big hike. You hike 6+ km around the rim of the canyon, involving some very steep stairs right in the beginning and no shade whatsoever. The other option was a 2km hike through the center of the canyon in the shade. The little guy, only 2 days out from receiving second degree burns on his foot, and a little sore from the long trek the day before, opted for the short walk. I can’t say this mom was too disappointed. After we finished the short hike, we decided instead of sitting around for another hour and a half waiting on the group, we would go at the big hike from the end. We put on our fly nets (these suckers are aggressive and abundant - up your nose, in your ear, in your eye) and searched for the trail. Supposedly, the climb wasn’t as steep and the views were excellent. 2000 stairs and 30 minutes later, we were at the top! Jake was a trooper…I think he felt like he had been tricked a little bit. But the views were well worth it. We sat for a little bit resting and listening to the guides as they came by. We learned that it was the Australians that introduced Eucalyptus to California and provided so much fuel for those nasty fires! They did apologize...
Lunch was at a big campground, complete with playground. Here’s where exciting event #2 happened for Jake. He was playing with this little girl from Canada on the monkey bars and they were taking turns seeing how far each of them could jump and grab the bars. I was watching but was trying to be the mom that let her kid take some chances (I’ve been criticized once or twice for being a little uptight in that department). Her brother comes along and the boys start daring each other….well, one thing led to another that led to Jake taking a giant leap across the bars. He got it with one hand but the momentum sent him sailing through the air only to land smack dab on top of his arm as he hit the ground. I thought for sure he had broken it. After another visit to Dr. Daddy, we deemed he had just bruised it, maybe sprained it at the worst and he was wrapped up in a makeshift sling and given a little dose of “suck it up” and “you know you don’t have to take every dare given to you, right?”
|He sports his injuries well, I think.|
Our drive to our campsite this day, was when we started making use of the 4WD portion of our bus. Geesh, we bumped and turned and bobbed and shook….Jake passed out cold on my lap. The campsite was at a pub so for the first time, everyone partook in a little drinking. It went a long way in loosening up our group. Everyone was extremely nice, but not very outgoing. I won’t even say they weren’t friendly, because they were…we just weren’t getting the “fun” vibes from very many people. After traveling so much and then going on this trip, I see one reason people think American’s are obnoxious. We’re friendly. We force people to talk to us…even if they don’t want to. I think we might have been a little guilty of that a few times. Jake slept right through the steak dinner (arguably the best dinner we had on the trip) and straight into the morning (his only night sleeping in a tent). When he woke up, the poor guy had a trail of bug bites going all the way across his bum. He itched for days.
Day 4 is a blur to me. We did a really nice hike and a swim in a gorge that was so cold, it literally took my breath away. Other than that, I remember thinking I was just about done with the outback. We camped out in the middle of no where with no water (outside what we brought with us) or toilets or anything – all sleeping in swags – and had the most peaceful night yet.
|I thought we took the polar plunge. I have never swam in|
such cold water in my life.
|Katie, preparing our dinner the last night on her make shift|
|Showing off our fly nets. I lifted mine up in a moment of|
|These are the swags we've been talking about. That's Jake in the|
Our last day, we got to stop at an aboriginal community and take a little tour as well as paint some of our own artwork. This was a lot more interesting than I had hoped and would rank right up there at the top for me. Our guide was “cheeky” (a new Australian word, I’m still working out the exact meaning of), a little superstitious (ok, a lot), and very open and honest. We got to do a little cultural exchange as she asked me if America is really as dangerous as it looks on tv (she watches a lot of COPS). She was shocked that we eat deer and didn’t believe me when I told her I thought it was more tender than kangaroo. Apparently, I had not had kangaroo prepared properly…no doubt she was right.
This week had us spending a lot of time contemplating how the aboriginals were treated by the Aussies...very similar to our Native Americans in the States. Andy and I changed our opinions many times and in the end, never really came up with a solid stance. It's all so complicated, and is never what it appears... I was hoping to educate or enlighten or at least force my opinion on you, but in the end, I walked away as confused as I ever was. If nothing else, at least I'm more educated on the topic and have some new things to think about.
|The handprints on the wall there were from early "artists,"|
according to our guide. I think...
|Jake, showing off his Komodo dragon (I know, not|
indigenous to Australia, but inspiring none the less).
|Those circles are supposed to be watering holes. Jake thinks|
I went a little overboard with the dot painting technique.
"Sometimes less is more, Mommy."
As we plopped back down into our hotel beds that evening, we all agreed that this was definitely an experience to be remembered forever. If you can believe it, our tiny little family actually got closer. Jake showed some extreme toughness and the ability to make lemonade out of a mess-ton of lemons.
We were happy to land back in Kuching and get back to Savannah, but we all agreed we wish we could have seen more. It was kind of like a foreigner coming to the United States for 10 days and seeing the Grand Canyon. It’s Grand, but it’s only a tiny piece of what’s available.
Unfortunately, we were met with tiny little rat turds all over the boat….I bet you can guess what I’ll write about next time…