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Sunday, June 7

Kimonos Down Under: Day Four and the Final Hours on Day Five

When we woke up on our final full day in Australia, the worst weather so far drenched everything outside of our open windows. We didn’t have any major plans for the day except to explore Cairns, which we had only seen snippets of when we left the marina there. A little rain never stops us though, so we were ready to head off bright and early again.

Our rental car was to arrive at 10:00 am, and they were surprisingly prompt. So far, many people were often a bit late to pick us up or drop us off in the land of “no worries, mate!” And I swear… every local person we talked to said this at least once in the course of conversation. I have since adopted it for my own use, much to KH’s chagrin. One little glitch with the rental, though…. it was a stick shift. Neither us can drive one. Years and years ago, I could have at least made it a little ways, but that training has long since eluded me. It never occurred to me to specify when we booked this. But the guy’s response… “no worries… I’ll be back in an hour with another car.” This actually worked out to our advantage as I got to head back to the room and finish watching some strange Australian program that had me previously engrossed and the rain had a chance to slow to a fine mist. The rental was indeed back in an hour, car seat installed, and we were off.

Even with guidebooks in hand, we honestly still had no real game plan for the day. Driving directions in Cairns weren’t that tricky and we knew how to get down to the center of the city without a map. You just keep going straight through the 800 roundabouts scattered down the highway, hang a left past the massive Captain Cook (whom I was certain was George Washington) and then follow the water line down to the main part of the marina.

We parked, and since it was so close to lunch, headed down the main street in search of the restaurant our tour bus driver had been so kind to share with us the day before. KH had chatted the guy up so friendly-like, that he even dropped us off right in front of the hotel instead of the designated location at the bus stop down the street.

His recommendation was Barnacle Bill’s. From the name of it, we honestly were not expecting anything fancy, which made us very surprised to see white linens and wine glasses on every table. But, no, this place would not disappoint. As adventurous as my husband and I are with our traveling, so are we with our food. There were several things we had heard about, but had yet to try. This place would prove to be the absolute perfect location for real Australian food. We ordered two platters and split them both. The first was your land lubbers’ grub… complete with a trio of Australia’s special fish barramundi, medium rare kangaroo and grilled crocodile. Good God in Heaven… kangaroo is damn delicious. Who would have known?? I had alligator before, which was chewy and salty, but Steve Irwin’s croc?... yummy would be the only word that sufficiently covers it. The second platter we ordered was your sea-faring platter full of natural oysters, cold cooked prawn and bug, beer battered fish, calamari and scallops. A fellow blogger who hails from Down Under had told me that I had to try the bug. I thought she meant real bugs were served. I cringed, but if that was what the locals eat, I was willing to go for it. So when the bug was delivered to our table and it looked like a giant crayfish (which it is), I was very pleasantly surprised and much less grossed out at the prospect. Although my brother would later tell me that crayfish were essentially bugs of the sea. Gag.

After our feast, we really needed to walk it off. Not really choosing a particular direction, we meandered street after street, letting glimpses of my shopping interests lead us in whatever particular direction. It continued to drizzle as we walked, but it didn’t slow our enthusiasm for the rather quiet day of doing something, but not necessarily anything spectacular. Once we thought we had seen all we wanted, and spent all I should, we headed back to the car.

Mid-afternoon at this point, it seemed way too early to head back to the room, especially since the rain would keep us off the beach. We threw ideas around as we headed out of Cairns and back to Trinity Beach. I think in the end it was only that our interest was peaked on what could be so dang wonderful that everyone we had talked to kept talking about Port Douglas, several miles north, that we decided to pass Trinity Beach and keep going. We pulled off the highway into the other area we had debated, Palm Cove, and it was nice… a bit larger and busier than Trinity… but nothing in the end that changed our minds about how much we loved the area we had chosen to stay in.

Back on the highway, we continued north, where there wasn’t much to see but trees, rocks and a few signs of particular interest. The first told us that this was a very high accident zone. The second showed insanely twisting roads, complete with lots of falling rock. It would only be a mile or two until we realized why it was a high accident zone. It is pouring outside now on this already dangerous road, and yet every car around us seemed that they insisted on going at least twenty kpm over the speed limit. There were several areas where slower cars could choose to pull over into a short slow lane and I insisted that we take advantage of each one. This didn’t stop the very next car to come barreling up on our ass as KH navigated as best as he could on wet roads that dangled precariously on steep cliffs overlooking the ocean. I sat in the back with KP and closed my eyes several times, trying not to think about the obvious insanity of these other drivers. At least there were a few overlooks where we could pull off, take in the view and mostly begin breathing normally again. That drive was 100 times worse than our drive along the narrow, cliff roads in Santorini. At least there, everyone moves at a reasonable snail pace! And the road went on forever!

We drove and drove, sure there had to be a ton ahead because of all of the cars coming towards us, and yet we weren’t certain we would ever arrive. No one ever explained just how remote this resort town was. Nor did they explain that since it was further into the rainforest, on an already rainy day, that it would be hammering down the rain in the resort. We finally found the main street, full of gorgeous little restaurants and boutiques, but neither of us could even imagine getting out of the car to enjoy them without a bucket on our head and galoshes on our feet. The thought of ice cream was tossed around for less than 30 seconds before it was tossed right out the window into the torrents. Instead, we both thought of our nice, dry, and overly large apartment back in Trinity Beach and decided to head straight for there.

We had yet to spend much time in our room, and we still had all that beer from our first drunken day chilled in the refrigerator, so dinner seemed an easy choice… head down and grab some gourmet pizzas and salads from one of our favorite restaurants down the street and chill on our balcony while we ate and watched the waves roll in and out.

Later, I would spend some time repacking and trying NOT to bring any of the thousand ants home with us that had invaded our room since we got there. Seriously… they sure do like baby formula! Yikes!

The next morning, I awoke before sunrise thanks to a tiny peanut enjoying his favorite pastime of kicking mommy in the stomach. Outside the window were glimpses of the day to come… and it was going to be gorgeously sunny. Of course it would. We were leaving.

At least we got our blue skies for a few hours before we headed to the airport. And back to Japan.


Lans said...

Thanks for sharing your story. I would say just go for the things you want to do. This site might interest you too. Thanks again.

Kimono Karen said...

Thanks for your comment, Lans! I checked out your U-Tube link... are you trying to get me to break down, spend the money and head back to Hawaii? I would if I could... in a heartbeat.