We slept in the trunk of our car…..


……The clock was teetering midnight at the Avalon airport in Melbourne and we were frantically trying to rent a car as we had just been told we couldn’t sleep in the airport that night.
Double Ruh Roooow.
We had just gotten off of a horrendous 3 1/2 hour flight of screaming children and a Danish man that sat behind us that talked as if each word that came out of his mouth was gold. Too bad it was crap. But never mind that, we were in a bit of a pickle as a bus into the city would be $19 each and then we would have been forced to stay at a seedy motel for a whopping $80 for the night…. Thats already half the cost of a rental car for 4 days. We had to act fast. We were at our last rental car company desk as all the others were out of cars or closed and I nervously awaited to hear if they had anything…. Yes– we were in luck- one car left and it was an automatic. (note to self- learn how to bloody drive a manual)…. Now, how much? Crikeys…. $260.00– But we were still better off. We would just sleep in the car tonight and save on accommodation to level out the good ol’ budget.
Right– now where do we pull off and get, um, "comfy?"

Just 10 km from the airport we pulled into a BP truckstop and squeezed inbetween 2 massive trucks– pushed down the back seats and maneuvered ourselves through the small hole in the trunk. This is not for the faint of heart OR the claustrophobics.
As we looked over at eachother after fitting ourselves through we started to laugh hysterically. And with tears in our eyes and smiles on our faces, we just realized we had just hit an all time crazy low.
And we loved it.
But let me now back up a smidgen…. To more, ahem, luxurious times….. :)

11/19– Well, they didn’t run away after first glimpse of us.
After literally being chewed up and spit out on our journey down the Western Coast Sarah and Mike welcomed us in with blistered lips, boils, peelage’ and all….. Rough shape we were in- but we knew we were in good hands and amongst great friends to recharge our dull batteries. Our white winners tape beckoned us as we struggled to fight our way through the last few days of camping. Almost 20 days of pretty intense bush camping. We needed a bed- we needed a good scrub down…. we needed to collapse.
Funny thing was, that was all instantly forgotten as soon as we walked in the "Silver Sands" resort in Mandurah. The receptionist took one look at me and inquired if I happened to be "the long lost friend?" And then moments later they walked through the doors… and there were our Antosh’s. And they didn’t even gasp at the likes of us.
Oh and what a fantastic 4 days we had with them… my only complaint is that it went incredibly too fast. I told Sarah this morning that it most likely won’t even hit me that they were actually here until we pull away.
But isn’t that how it always goes?

We arrived Monday the 5th at the resort Sarah and Mike were staying at and spent the evening catching up- sharing stories and getting my "fill up" on all the happenings back at home and in the media biz. How I have missed Sarah’s gift of gossip… her attention to detail is limitless and even had Ray impressed with her wide range of "celebrity knowledge." But man, was I out of the loop…. so I hung on to every last word soaking it all up and so ecstatic to have her right there in front of me.
Tuesday we drove to Fremantle to hop on a ferry and cruise over to spectacular Rottnest Island. It reminded me a lot of Mackinac Island in Michigan… no cars allowed and just about 11 Km long. "Rotto" was quite the choice for the perfect "day tripper." We explored the native wildlife (our special love of the Quokkas we spotted) the aqua bays and white sand beaches all by bikes- and of course, with our "special helmits."
These Quokkas were one of the highlights of Rottnest and of course, one of Sarah’s "check-offs" as she is notorious for her famous "must do’s." I have to share quickly the whole reason as to why she chose Perth to meet us in and not Brisbane or Melbourne… She needed to, no– scratch that… was ABSOLUTELY determined to get a picture with a wombat. And where could you do this? Only in Perth…. so her decision was made. And amazingly enough, not only was she able to check it off her "must do’s" she even got a bloody picture with that 40 pound crazy looking creature. Whilst’ it pooped, mind you. (Bonus) Now hows that for determination?

So goes it with the mysterious Quokka animal. Bearlike in front-ratlike in back… it was a peculiar looking one. But Sarah sought it out and we all marvelled together at what it took to make Sarah’s "A-List".

Wednesday Ray and I soaked up all the much needed luxuries of the condo (to take a shower without having to wear your flip-flops is truly a luxury in itself) as well as Ray got an opportunity to create some of his masterpiece "treats" for us all. A batch of salsa and peach and nectarine crumble later Sarah and Mike were back after their day trip down South- -as once again, our Sarah had to cross off seeing where the Indian and Southern ocean meet. That night we were taken out by "the Jode" (and of course, "zee Thomas," too) as she had enclosed a little extra somethin’ somethin’ to spoil ourselves with in the care package she had sent with Sarah.
***Sidenote: As I had mentioned before (okay- or have whined about a zillion times) Western Australia is completely ridiculous with its prices. Even at a "Applebees" like restaurant a main meal will run you about $18-25 buckarooos. We haven’t been "out to eat" since the egg and cheese sandwhich we purchased in Darwin that ended with gasps of horror from Ray and I when we found out that 2 coffees and 2 bagels cost us just about $20. zeeee-oinks!

So spoil ourselves we did… THANK YOU so much again for the incredible gift mum and dad!! You have no idea how excited we were for a "proper meal."
….oooh, not to mention the ziplocks that you included in the package as well….. woooo weee was that exciting! I am beginning to think that I may have a slight addiction to ziplock bags– I can’t get enough of em’….. I can’t wait to open something just so I can then shove er’ in a ziplock. The more I write about it the more bizarre this is sounding…SOOOOOO……

Thursday… Wine-TASTIC’ Thursday. There is nothing better then pulling up to a beautiful vineyard in Margaret River as the sun is shining and your amongst great company. And then- just when you think it couldn’t get any better….you are welcomed into the "cellar door" entrance as a friendly face offers you lots and LOTS of FREE WINE. And to set the record straight (and the pictures that may SEEM to convict us) the small "cat nap" that Sarah and I look to be taking is just that. A cat nap after all the excitement of the day… nothing induced by lots and lots of wine. :)
It was Sarah and Mike’s very first wine tasting adventure and they couldn’t have been more fantastic at it. But then, how could sipping free wine overlooking vineyard like views in Australia BEEEE hard?
We frolicked to at least 5 vineyards (never staggering, promise) and with a bloody lip being the only injury of the day (don’t ask- lets just say sun blisters are horrendous) we ended the festivities with a full on barby at the condo…hot dogs, steak, lamb, cous cous, salsa and all…. Not to mention the "4" free bottles of wine we acquired at the last vineyard… Or "scored" rather. We aren’t sure if the gal pouring had already had a few or was just feeling super generous…. but sent us on our way with every bottle that we tasted. Sensational! What a great way to end our time with zee’ Antosh’s.

Friday morning we said our goodbyes on the beach…… And as we drove off I hesitantly looked over at Ray as he gave one of his "crazy smiles" and then I believe he stated something like…. "I’mbaaaaaaack— 24/7-in-your-pocket-style!" Oh how could they leave me with him all by myself– all over again!? Oh… the…. horror.
…..From Ray……
With such a pleasant final sentence I (Ray) will continue this for a while or I will never get any peace from her!!! (right back at you Lyssrr’) it is an interesting thing when you wake up with no idea of where you will go that day (or where you will sleep) but as Sarah and Mike drove off we "put the pin in the map" and headed towards a coastal area called Yullingrup which was back in the wine region area (purely a coincidence). It turned out to be a great choice- the campsite was the most expensive on this entire trip ($32) but was situated with an amazing view of the beach and the coastline which was a big surf spot– after pitching our tent (which takes us about 4 minutes now) we went for a 2 hour hike amongst the hills around the coastline which not only gave us some great views, it also completed our exercise portion of the day.

The campsite turned out to be a great place to meet people because they had wood fired BBQ pits overlooked the ocean so people gathered there for the sunsets and to check out the surf-break. The evening was filled with fire, chat, boxed wine (goon) and me cooking. (again.)
Much to our financial surprise we signed up for one more night, mainly because of the BBQ area- and then hit the road towards Augusta which is the most South Westerly point in OZ and where the two oceans meet. The drive was spectacular, a 90KM drive through forest and vineyard lined streets which led us to the tip. Breakfast of muesli and strawberries (thanks so Sarah’s leftovers) was eaten overlooking the Southern ocean and fueled us on towards the lighthouse which we viewed through steel gates as we were too tight to pay the $6 to get into the grounds. The salt encrusted water wheel was however free and un-impressive- that ladies and gents was Augusta.
As sheer luck, "ah-hem", would have it our journey back to the campsite took us through the heard ot wine country so we simply had to try free wine again. In all we graced 6 vineyards with our presence, ranging from small and organic to huge and commercial. And with a picnic lunch by the Margaret River it was a perfect afternoon….
Sunset again was viewed through the heat wave from our wood BBQ and the evening again was filled with conversation, box wine and me cooking…. I did get to meet some Danes– and finally got to speak Danish again… its funny how quickly it comes back to me….
…. and this folks, is where Ray got bored of writing. He was suppose to insert a few paragraphs on Fremantle and Perth (where we spent our last day on the West Coast before flying to Brisbane) but alas…. This is why I, Alyssa am in charge of the Blog. :) heee.
But I will conclude his "portion" with some final Western Australia specs:
1000 KM….. 10/23
2000 KM…..10/24
3000 KM…..10/28
4000 KM….10/30
5000 KM….11/3
6000 KM…..11/9
And our total KM on 11/12 when we brought back the car was 6643 KM’s. How bout’ them apples?
-1 Black and white medium sized bird
-1 Possible swipe with a small white bird
-1 Bird of prey
-1 Sparrow sized bird
-1 Possible "knick" of a lizard.

***Fisherman Ray***
I am very pleased to announce that on Sunday the 4th of November Ray caught his very first fish in Jurian Bay. Not just one mind you– but at least a dozen "skippers." Too small to be able to keep (as Australia has a very strict policy for sizes you can keep) but hot diggity folks, was it a riot to watch him pull ONE after ANOTHER in!

11/14- Wednesday– We just passed by the Flemington Racecourse which just less then a week ago was all over the TV in Australia. Picture the Kentucky Derby celebrated all over the U.S. on Raceday. And I’m talking Superbowl status here…. People dress to the nines all over the country- hats and all to feel a part of the festivities. Its a massive event and Ray even worked within the madness 7 years ago when he lived in Melbourne for 3 months.
We are on our way to the wine region right now…. yah, I hear you scoffing– but its not ONLY for the wine this time- but because its suppose to be spectacular scenery– OK, and pretty darn good wine, too. I won’t lie. Not to you….

Ahhhhh…. Melbourne…. As we drove towards the city yesterday morning (after- ahem, the "trunk stay.") I had to take a double take as I could have SWORN we were on 94 heading towards Minneapolis. And as we walked the streets of the city that afternoon it really did feel like home. Melbourne is most definitely one of my favorite cities so far- with its Chinatown, Greek and Indian area it has quite a delectable choice of cuisine… and as the Yarra River winds through it give that same beautiful feel of the Mississippi River– but the MOST dynamic example is how they display their art all around the town. It gives it such a "classy-dassy" appeal.
We started at the Victoria Market yesterday morning and then worked our way through the city. We took took in the afternoon by the side of the Yarra river overlooking the city with a picnic of hummus and cheese we had purchased from the market. (and who says you can’t be "posh" while backpacking?) It was a beautiful day and it was so hard to rip ourselves away from the atmosphere of the bustling city back towards our lonely campsite. Our $36 campsite, that is. But no matter- I was looking forward to all the good eats we had purchased from the market that morning for dinner- and after all this exploring and "city action" I was getting famished.
**Sidenote– we did try our luck at the Crown Plaza casino- but alas, I don’t have the skills of my Grandma and Grandad Glowaski– but it was a good hour of 2 cent slot machine entertainment…. (oh, and we got free soda drinks– too.)

11/16– Friday….
You know those days when you wake up on the wrong side of your trunk and nothing seems to go right after that? Yah- well- we’re having one of "those" days. But I think we have finally sorted ourselves out. Not before having to ask everyone at the BP parking lot "aka, home" at 6:30 am this morning if they had jumper cables (werps, some light in the car got left on overnight)– to only end up having the rudest most crabbiest man EVERRRR helping us out. Wowza… crazy uncomfortable.
Then after landing we spent the entire morning signing our LIVES away at this very dodgy car rental place that took almost 2 hours to even come fetch us from the airport.
East Coast Car Rentals=DANGA’!
And when we finally thought we were on our way with the bags in the trunk and all- I look out to the parking lot and notice that there is another family getting into OUR car!?!? Um… HELLLLOOOO!?

Total chaos… but alas, we are now finally on our way towards Byron Bay…. "Heaven on Earth" as many have called it. Ray’s rambling on about how he doesn’t understand why mothers talk about their children’s age in "months" and how he is now going to tell people hes "388 months old." …..So, it looks like life is just how it should be once again in "Wyatt World."

11/18– Today…. ITS PICK UP BROOOTHER BEAR & KRISTI DAY!!!As I write this blog I am growing FAR too excited to keep my thoughts together and write about the last 2 days in Beeeeautiful Byron Bay…. But I will tell you this much, Ray and I are coming back here to spend at least a week of "chillin’ like villians’ and practicing our "surf skills."
Its a surfing "earthy" spectacular utopia here. Small independent shops line the main street– and no sign of corporate chains like McDonals or KFC in site. Its laid back…. its full of travelers… and we are at a campsite right on the beach in the middle of it all.
As we sat at a picnic table last night with the sound of the roaring ocean in the background amongst Germans, Australians and Brits soaking up life and sharing our stories, I couldn’t help but think that "this" was what it was all about for us. Meeting people whilst’ exploring the most brilliant places all over the world…."this" is what creates our happiness. And "this" is what makes us tick.

But eeeenough of "this" and "that"– we have "a" Brother and "a" Kristi to pick up at the airport very shortly– so let me wrap er’ up.
First and FOREMOST…. I just want to say a HUGE congrats to Justin Fast on your engagement….. And she is quite a catch my friend–GOOD ON YA!!

Grandpa…. I am sending you all my love and hope they figure out how to fix your GIGANTIC heart as soon as possible! I love you so much….

Jen— Give me an update on everything on how you are doing and feeling!? Did they figure anything out? I am thinking about you!!!

Holl… How did the bachy bach party go? Dying for details and PICTURES!!!

Tony Tony…. Hope you are back on the trains and out of the office and feeling GRRRRREAT!

Thanks again Dingo and Al for the info. on the West Coast….. Missing you!!

Rocky….. I love hearing how you are doing through my Dad– its hysterical!! I MISS YOU MORE!! …..thanks for being his "stand-in" daughter while I am away…. :)

Phil…. you are a tart.

…and more comments people…. Is anyone out there!?!? Bueler? Bueler?

Take care of EVERYONE– we are thinking about you and miss you so very much!!!
All our love…
Lyssserrr’ and Ray

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