26 August 2010

Winter on Lake Cochrane

Clara sitting on the rail of the Mac Masters Beach Rock Pool.

The kids and I arrived at Sydney airport on Saturday 21 August at 6am. We had no waiting in the immigration lines. We gathered our luggage but could not find 1 bag. As we were looking, the crowds grew. The bag was recovered and we made our way to the long line to exit. Fortunately, a customs agent took pity on me and reviewed our declaration documents, and sent us through the exit from the back of the line!

Dave met us with a rented mini-van. We were very glad to see him! All the luggage and passengers fit and Dave drove us to MacMasters Beach and our holiday rental just up the street from where we lived previously.

Our Holiday House as seen from the walking path near the Lake. This is how we saw it whenever we would walk by. The house is on small stilts, in the event of flooding.

Lake Cochrane is literally outside the sliding door. Within 4 hours of arriving, I saw our neighbor from last time! It was great to see her and be welcomed back.

This holiday house is great for the kids. They love feeding the birds and ducks. A pair of kookaburra have the tree out back here. It's in close proximity to the beach, and we have been at the beach everyday - several times a day, even though it's winter. The nights have been cold, but the days warm up beautifully. Since we've arrived, there was one wet and rainy day.

Interior of the Holiday House. As you can see, the Lake is right out the door. The full wall of windows is amazing to view wildlife.

Our days have been spent getting the cars registered (rego). The registration process has 3 parts: insurance (called a Green Slip), Proof of Road Worthiness (Blue Slip), and a trip to the Roads & Traffic Authority (RTA) for fee payment and licensing.

Livingroom of Holiday House.

Yesterday I went to rego Dave's car, but they would not allow me to do it since his car is registered in his name. Shortly after he arrived, the computer system went down, so he had to wait until that recovered so he could get his car's license plates.

The Trajet is looking worse for the year in the sun. We are going forward to repair it, only because it will hold the entire family. We'll consider looking at a replacement family vehicle in 6 months or so.

We needed to get some electrical work done on the Trajet and the tail light replaced. The rats had chewed the wiring. The rego on that vehicle went smoothly at the RTA.

Kookaburra eating bread. Another kooka stole Clara's sausage roll out of her hand as she was about to take a bite. He just flew past her and grabbed it away from her.

We signed a 12 month lease on our permanent rental. We will take possession and collect the keys on Monday 30 August. Dave is the only one that has seen the inside of the house. Having said that, I have seen the house from the front and the back. I've also walked around the backyard and looked at the pictures from the estate agent.

The red arrow marks our Holiday House location. Our permanent rental is on the left above the trees - which is part of the Bouddi National Forest.

The house is within walking distance of the beach - but it's a steep climb through part of Bouddi National forest. We'll be on the other side of MacMaster's Beach - not close to Copa as we've been in the past. We are excited about moving in on Monday.

23 August 2010

A Day in Disneyland

Neo loves Mickey Mouse!

We spent our last night in Madison at the Country Inns and Suites. Our friends the Rosebooms brought dinner to our room and we played in the pool. We were given a shuttle ride to the airport on Wednesday morning, the 5 of us and our 12 pieces of luggage!

Our flights to LAX were good. Everyone traveled well - what a relief. We collected our luggage and took our reserved shuttle to the Ramada Plaza hotel in Anaheim. The hotel room was large and the staff accommodating and very helpful.

We ate supper at the Cheesecake Factory in the Anaheim Garden Walk mall. Huge portions. Then we tried to catch the Anaheim Resort Transport to Disneyland. After 30 minutes, we were finally picked up because we waved down a shuttle. The driver said that our route wasn't being covered and he took pity on us after driving by the first time.

Clara's meal at the Cheesecake Factory.

Finally at Disneyland, we walked right on to Pirates of the Carribean, and Haunted Mansion. Then we had a 20 minute wait for Splash Mountain. From there we watched Fantasmic! and a fireworks show immediately following. Then took ART back to our hotel. Neo fell asleep in my arms on the way out of the park.

Thursday morning, we woke up at 7am, had a full breakfast and took the ART to Disneyland. We entered the park a little after the 8am opening time. Clara went to get fastpass for Space Mountain while the kids and I went to Finding Nemo ride. Finding Nemo has been changed/improved. Space mountain was down for repairs and did not open the rest of the day. We rode the bobsleds, Neo loved it! Then Big Thunder Mountain. By this time, it was nearly 10am, so we stopped for fruit and drinks.

Petrified tree at Disneyland.

We rented a stroller for Neo, then went to California Adventure. Clara, Neo, Zoe, and I went on Tower of Terror - again the ride has been changed for the better - great ride! I laughed the whole way! We walked over to Grizzly River run, but the line was 40 minutes. We had our picture taken with Pluto - a perk of Disney Rewards. Then went back to our hotel to get the luggage in storage, rest, then check out. Again the hotel staff was very helpful!

We returned to Disneyland about 2pm. Neo insisted on a visit with Mickey Mouse. The pictures were very cute and he was so happy. Then we stood in line 20 minutes for Buzz Light Year ride. Had lunch at the Ranch near Big Thunder Mountain about 2:30pm. Our final ride was Roger Rabbits Cartoon spin - after a 40 minute wait!

The kids by the water feature outside our hotel.

Neo fell asleep on the way out of Disneyland. He slept all the way back to the hotel on the ART and in the lobby on a couch for 30 minutes waiting for the shuttle. Then he slept the 45 minutes to LAX. Finally woke up to help us get checked in at V-Australia.

Luggage checked, we took the elevator to the 2nd floor for security - and it was like we were in the fastpass line! The que for security snaked around the first floor then up the escalator to another twisting line. We were in the "family" line, which was shorter.

We had a bite to eat from Burger King and waited for our flight to board. Once we were through the gate check, I sent the kids up the ramp, each with their boarding pass. Neo went with them and I was following along, having stowed the passports into my pack. A V-Australia employee asked if she could check the wait of my carryon bag. I agreed, thinking it would be but a moment. Unfortunately, she could not get the scale to work. After trying a couple of minutes, I explained that my 3 year old was unaccompanied on the ramp. She still did not release me. I then recalled I had my purse stuffed into the luggage. I pulled that out, the employee lifted the bag, decided it was OK and sent me on my way. The line was huge. When I finally got to the plane, Neo was with the stewards and crying. I hear another employee remark that he figured that the minor was "left" by his parents.

I was not happy with that situation!

17 August 2010

Murphy's Law in Full Force

If anything can go wrong, it will. That's what it's been like the last few days.

First, Tristan received his retainer on Friday the 13th. On Sunday, I closed the kitchen and packed up the dishes. We went to lunch at a restaurant where he left his retainer wrapped in a napkin and it was promptly swept out with the trash. On Monday, we were fortunate enough to get an emergency retainer made, the replacement charge was $200!

Just before Dave left, water began dripping in through an electrical outlet in the loft. It had never occurred before, and the wind was unusual. We thought the wind may have pushed the rain into nearby roof vents and it found it's way down the wiring. With 4 days to go, another storm caused water to come through the same outlet. I called a roofer, who arrived on moving day. He'll replace the roof vents later this week.

The movers arrived 1 hour early. Not a bad thing - but it meant we weren't as prepared as we might have been. I directed which items were being donated and which to be brought to the storage unit. When we arrived at the storage unit, they informed me that not everything will fit. After stuffing it full, we brought back a dresser, the tall cabinet, Clara's locker, and a few smaller items for donation.

The rental car wasn't very "full size". The interior not very roomy, and the trunk space somewhat small. We had asked several times for a replacement and were even came at an appointed time to swap it out, but the replacement vehicle didn't appear. As a result, it took 2 trips to get all the luggage and people to the hotel.

As I was locking the door to the house for the final time, I pulled it shut, but something seemed not right. The lock seemed too rigid. As soon as the door was pulled closed, I tried opening it again with the key. It would not open. I unlocked the back door and tried opening from the inside - it would not open or unlock. Finally, the handle would turn, but it still would not unbolt. So there will be another charge to get a replacement lock/door knob.

Having said and done all that, we are finally on our way! It's great to be free of the packing and moving bit!

We've had some great times with friends and family these last few weeks. We'll miss everyone. Thanks so much - keep in touch. Goodbye Madison!