After we decided to move to Australia I began to feel a bit overwhelmed by all the logistics of the actual moving part. There is a lot to do. Passports, Visas, the dog’s quarantine, packing all our crap up, selling the house, selling the cars…this is too much to put in your brain for too long at any one stretch.
So, I gave up on trying to figure out the minutia of the move and focused a bit on the fun stuff. As one friend put it “You just go to work and sit at home and watch TV. What difference does it make if you do it here or in Australia?” That thought bothers me. Because that is exactly what I do. It is sad really. Hell, I am sitting on a couch right now with a bad movie on (An Australian crime thriller called “Swerve”) writing all of this out on a beautiful Colorado day. Seriously, this is pathetic. I should be out with the dog, hiking in the Rockies. And if we are going to move to the far side of the world, damn it, Game of Thrones can wait (no, not really). So, I have started to compile a list of the things I wanted to see. Locally, then moving further away.
Because we are going to Alice (and because I watched Outback Truckers) I have decided that first I am going to need a good truck (or Ute as the locals say). And that if I leave town, even a short ways, I should be prepared. Water, extra fuel, food, etc. Because the outback is nothing to be trifled with. First, I looked at Alice and her immediate surroundings. Then when I realized that Alice is near, well nothing, and that the next “town” with any services an American would be accustomed to was nearly 1,000 miles away. Darwin to the north and Adelaide to the south, it didn’t matter, it is extremely far. The equivalent of traveling from Detroit, Michigan to Tampa, Florida. I have done that drive in the States, usually with more than one driver and it is a good 22 hours of drive time; actual behind the wheel moving down the highway. But the difference is, when making that drive you see towns, cities, farms, truck stops, and a McDonald’s every 15 minutes or so at least. The Stuart Highway will have none of that. In my mind it will be hours of not seeing another car, no trees, no fence posts, not even a gas station. I could be behind the wheel and watching a movie on an iPad and not miss a thing or hit anything. Like traveling south to north in Nevada, but with less, and for much much longer. Which leads me to believe that if I do find a gas station, I stop, whether I need it or not. Because who knows when the next one will be. If there will be. Oh dear god there are no gas stations, we won’t have any water, and a snake or spider or some massive desert monster (come to find out these are real) is going to bite me, poison me, and then eat me and no one will ever know what happened. I will have just disappeared in the middle of a big red desert. No wonder my mother is upset by us leaving.
This is going to be an adventure and I cannot wait to get there, get a car, and just start driving.
Several years ago I had a hankering for some Jambalaya. I had the boxed stuff but wanted some real stuff with fresh ingredients and real New Orleans flavor. I mentioned this to my wife one Saturday night while we were drinking. Booze, a credit card, and internet access has never been a great combination for us. We have made some phenomenally bad decisions thanks to this combination. By the time the conversation was over we had plane tickets, hotel reservations, and no plan what so ever for what we were going to do other than see Bourbon Street and get some Cajun food. It wasn’t a bad plan, but we could have done better. When we arrived in New Orleans we checked into a niche hotel just off of Bourbon Street down the street from Jean Laffite’s Absinth House. The hotel was without a concierge service which we were desperate to take advantage off after our last trip to Key West proved this to be remarkably useful. We were on our own for entertaining ourselves. We walked down Bourbon Street and Found Spirits on Bourbon (remember we watch a lot of TV and Jon Taffer’s Bar Rescue is a favorite). This has turned out to be one of my top 3 favorite bars in America. We took a walking ghost tour, walked canal street, went to the aquarium, walked along the river, went to the mall, stopped by the casino, and the WWII history museum. We did stop in one of the booths about taking a guided bus tour and we could get it for free if we sat and listened to a 2-hour long pitch for a time share. I cannot tell you how many of these we have sat through and I now regard them with abject hatred. They are not worth it under any circumstance. But it did lead to tickets for the bus tour. Unfortunately, we took this tour on the last day of our trip. We learned more on this one 3-hour tour than in our 3 days wandering around on our own. We found we were staying in the wrong part of town. We found the areas we wanted to see, the food we wanted to try, and saw the city the way we wanted to. Just too late.
The reason I bring this up is that we invariably do our vacations backwards. We set out to see what we can find on our own. Typically, that means just walking around in the heat. Don’t get me wrong, it has led us to many fine things (more booze usually). But we should be beaten for never taking advantage of our concierge, or taking the city tours at the beginning of our trips instead of the end. We have done it in New Orleans, London, Paris, Key West, and many other places. And we invariably find things that would have made our trip more enjoyable. So, I was delighted to find that Alice has half-day and full-day tours of the town and surrounding area. This is on the top of my list of thing to do first. I think it will help us get our bearings about town.
The second … More on that later.