What you have to understand girls, is that Stuart is a Capricorn
12.09.2015 - 13.09.2015
Saying goodbye to Jane in Sydney meant saying hello to Rebecca in Brisbane. Rebecca and I worked together on Mackinac Island in Michigan three years ago, and she made the silly mistake of offering to meet me if I ever came to Australia.
Note: I take people up on those offers. You have been warned. As Annie in Bulgaria learned, there is no location too remote.
Rebecca and her family generously offered to let us stay with them in Redcliffe, outside of Brisbane. And since she has weekends off, she proposed a little roadtrip around the Sunshine Coast on Saturday and Sunday. So we set off bright and early on Saturday, starting with the Eumundi markets. It was raining pretty steadily but that didn't affect us much as we wandered under the tents and awnings.
In addition to the market staples like jewelry and art prints, there was also a whole section dedicated to psychic readings, tarot card readings, reiki, massage, etc. That was kind of cool. For some reason I can never convince Gina to get a reading though.
Afterwards we set off for Noosa, a famous beach area and national park. We had lunch in town and drove up and down in the car a few times before we finally found parking at one of the quieter beaches. It was still sprinkling off and on and the sky was flat and gray but the view was still amazing. The sand is fine and it slides out gently into the ocean, with some rocks just at the edges of the bays.
Then it was on to the Buderim Ginger Factory, which was a lesson in branding. Much like Coca Cola or Cadbury, the ginger people took what was an unremarkable factory and turned it into a huge tourist attraction. There are tours, cafes, a whole village shops, a little mini locomotive and a boat ride. If something was made from or resembled ginger in any way, you could buy it there. We didn't do the rides as they were expensive and geared towards children (same with the factory tour) but we did pick up some lovely ginger beer.
THEN THIS HAPPENED.
Isn't it marvelous? My friend Karen and I have a thing about having our picture taken next to huge things. We call it our World's Largest Collection. We took a few pictures out front before a man walked up and offered to take one of all three of us. When he finished we said thank you, and he commented that the pineapple was still open for a few more minutes? To which I said "You can go inside??" and took off. The giant pineapple was build by a growers association and the inside has dusty little dioramas educating the masses about pineapple farming and packaging. The little people were a bit creepy but the cool part about going inside was that we could come out of the top and stand by the stem.
Did you know if you plant the top of the pineapple it will grow into a new plant? Well maybe not in Michigan but somewhere warmer. See how educational this blog is? Lookitchoo learning and stuff.
It was raining again by that point so we messaged our Airbnb contact and asked if we could check-in early. The man, whom I will call Raymond, said yes of course, come by whenever you like.
I had booked an "entire home" option on Airbnb for Buderim because the price was friendlier and there was more availability than Noosa. But I guess I didn't expect them to be home. Gina said that whenever she has booked the entire home option on Airbnb the hosts are gone and they just leave you the key somewhere. This was not to be the case. It was a bit awkward. Raymond ushered us into his home, which was clean and spacious and lovely--he had even built a fire in the living room. But the awkardness was palpable. Raymond is a negative nancy. He sat us down in the living room and chatted with us, but it felt like every direction that Gina tried to steer the conversation in, he found a way to drag it way down. Also, I'M TIRED OF HAVING TO ANSWER FOR DONALD TRUMP.
Currently, when people hear you are American, they want to know three things:
1.) What is up with Donald Trump? Is that for real? (Please god no)
2.) Do you all have guns? (no)
3.) Is House of Cards based on reality? (please god no)
So to boil down that conversation, he doesn't like Australia but he doesn't like his native New Zealand much either. The things he liked he can't do anymore because of his age and his health. All Americans are trying to shoot each other. Thailand is crap. He has two sons but they don't have their acts together. Then his partner Lynn came home, bless her. Raymond is probably in his mid-sixties, pretty strapping and tall with white hair and a tan. Lynn is the same age, a little slip of a woman, with a thick gray bob and elegant clothes. At first she seemed very meek and Raymond seemed to walk all over her but as the evening wore (dragged) on we noticed she actually had lots of control over the situation. What she did not have control over though was the wine. Raymond must have had a few glasses by the time we all finally sat down to dinner, and his filter was nonexistant. Unfortunately for Rebecca, everything was aimed at her. I just sat back, bemused, as he repeatedly proclaimed that she would be perfect for one of his sons (we were confused as to which one). Lynn was embarassed by this, and Raymond responded by shouting, "What! He needs a good girl! Instead he's out running around with those floozies!" He complimented Rebeccca on her hair a few times, asked about her job, her father's job (he asked us all about our fathers' jobs but not about our mothers'. Telling?) her eating habits, before giving her a brief lecture on the healing powers of asparagus. "It will fix everything!" he said, "I guarantee it! Canned, fresh, it doesn't matter! I even eat it raw! I love it! Tell you what! In the morning, I'll go out and buy-"
"I can buy my own asparagus," Rebecca was finally able to say, but Raymond just huffed and sat back in his chair. "Yeah well. You should. It'll fix you right up."
"What you have to understand, girls, is that Raymond is a Capricorn," Lynn said from the kitchen. "And a Capricorn has to call the shots."
We went round and round a few more times, us refusing offers of ice cream between Raymond sizing Rebecca up for a wedding gown, (and getting more obsessed with her hair) before we were finally able to retreat to our rooms. I was bursting to jot all of this down, and would take a good story at a home stay over an unremarkable hostel bed any day. Unfortunately for Rebecca, breakfast was more of the same. Over bacon and eggs Raymond repeatedly beseeched us to stay as long as we liked, but as we backed out the door and to the car we said thank you so much but no, we have plans to drive around again today. Plus we needed time in the car to jibe poor Rebecca with comments about her future in-laws. She took it like a champ but I think she was really glad when we were finally on the road again. We drove to Kondalilla Falls outside of Montville, on the Glass House Mountains tourist drive. The viewing point from the bottom of the falls was closed due to falling rocks but we could still climb down to a viewing area towards the middle where the falls form a pool and then stream off again over the cliff.
A few brave souls were swimming but the day was chilly. After the falls we drove to Montville itself, which is an adorable little mountain town of basically one street lined with shops and cafes. We had lunch at the Poets Cafe, which was stunning. It was classic Australian architecture with a sort of art nouveau interior, complete with marble cafe tables and long verandahs looking out over the valley. We loitered around Montville for a while before driving to Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve, which is a huge nature reserve to preserve some of Queensland's rainforest. That's how far north we suddenly are guys: there's rainforest.
Due to the sensitivity of the flora and fauna you are only allowed to walk on the path, but it wound for a few kilometers past some of the coolest trees I have ever seen. The ancient fig trees are taller than my camera can ever communicate, with winding roots and trailing vines that make them look like something from Lord of the Rings. We saw a red-legged pademelon (rainforest wallaby) and hundreds of huge fruit bats throwing a fit up in the tree canopy. They had to have had a two foot wingspan. It was a little unnerving, listening to them shriek and flap overhead.
We had driven almost full circle by then, so the drive back to Redcliffe was only about an hour. Rebecca's parents treated us to a lovely dinner and then we collapsed from exhaustion. It's evenings like that that make me fall behind on my blogging--because when you finally crawl home the last thing you feel like doing is stitting down to type. It's pretty obvious when that happens because I don't read back over anything and just publish it, typos and all. English major shame!