Farewell Melbourne

In the morning, I board a QANTAS airplane, along with the rest of my extended family, and jet up to subtropical Brisbane Australia. The week plus of time in Melbourne and surrounds has been fun, but if I were to do it again, I would set up base camp in Point Lonsdale and do a few day trips from there instead of driving all over the place like we did. Driving is stressful under the best conditions, but when you have to drive on the "wrong" (left) side of the road and aren't too sure where you are going most of the time, it is much worse. My dad did most of the driving because he grew up Australian and is rather ambidextrous as far as driving on either side of the road is concerned, but that was unfun for him because he tires easily now that he's a bit older. I helped out by navigating and tried to be as patient as possible when my orders went unheeded. For the most part, I just swallowed my angst and let it go. I think I was a decent navigator and traveling companion.

I hope there's no driving in Brisbane. My dad verifies this is so. There will be planes, ferries, and trains. I love that kind of travel. I will document it as best I can.

We drove this morning from Point Lonsdale to the Melbourne Tullamarine Airport via the historical gold mining town of Ballarat where we had lunch and my niece and nephew "panned for [fake] gold." We also drove through Mt. Edgerton where my dad's dad reputedly grew up. There wasn't much there.

When we arrived at the Quality Hotel near the Melbourne Airport, we ate a nice dinner. I ordered fish, as usual. It was a whole grilled Snapper, head, tail, bones and all. I probably wouldn't do that again...too much work navigating bones...but the novelty of it was worth it. I can check that item off my rather open-ended, spontaneous, make-it-as-you-go checklist of things to do in Australia.

After dinner, my dad and I returned the rental minivan to the airport and took the hotel shuttle back. I was glad the day was over, even though it was mostly enjoyable. I am pretty geeked for the Brisbane, Gladstone, Heron Island, and Great Barrier Reef segment that will round out the 2014 Leonard Family Australia Adventure. I am not unsatisfied with the first leg. Like I said, less driving would be superb, but I felt like it was not too little and not too much time to see and do what we wanted. It was, paraphrasing Goldilocks, just right.

In other Aussie news, they have a whole fleet of new car names here for playing the Anal Car Name Game. Skoda made cars don't exist in the USA and the KIA models here have different names. Our minivan was an Anal Carnival. Glorious. See the attched pics for more.

Note: Hungry Jacks is Australian for Burger King.

I will be flying back to the USA in a week. I don't want to and I am not looking forward to it. I am still hoping to meet an attractive, intelligent, professional, gainfully employed dream girl here who falls hopelessly in love with me so I can ditch America forever. But she'd have to be fantastic for me to say goodbye to my bands, friends, home, and probably at least one dog (I would probably try to bring Foster here, but I think Buddy is too old to make the trip). I know it's a long shot but it could happen. I do not miss America's anti-intellectualism and cruelty to it's needy and minority people. I would be fully justified in disenfranchising that 20th century savagery for a modern 21st century progressive country like Australia, where, as luck would have it, I am also a citizen (dual).

I'd actually be OK with some sort of crisis next week that grounds plane travel to the USA so I can extend my stay here a few days longer, provided the crisis only negatively impacted charlatan bankers, corporate politicians, and mainstream American media. That'd be OK, wouldn't it?

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