Sunday, June 03, 2007

Byron Bay Trippin

Roberta and I are now back in NZ and are already planning our next next vacation. Hmmm.... We are dreaming about Japan, or Thailand, or maybe Vanuatu or Fiji. In the short term we will be coming back to the states in August to visit friends, go to a wedding, and be there for my dad's 60th birthday and retirement party.

Our trip to Australia was great. The security conference was a real eye opener (There is another post coming) and the trip down the east coast of Oz was great.

We start the vacation part by having Roberta's flight on Emirates Air from NZ to OZ canceled with no compensation. Normally the airline would offer some type of discounts on future travel but nope.

I picked Roberta up from the airport in Brisbane and we drove about 2.5 hours south to Byron Bay. Roberta wanted to stop and see Surfers' Paradise but I just told her to imagine Reno with a beach. We pulled into Byron Bay and were only planning on staying for a night or two but when we saw this cute little hippie town we decided to spend our whole vacation there. We would also highly recommend the Byron Central accommodations as they were reasonable priced, walking distance to everything, and nice. In the off season ask them for a deal on multiple nights.

The weather there was as close to perfect as you could get. Nice and warn during the day but not oppressive. The water was warm enough to swim in after a brief period of screaming like a school girl getting used to the temperature. The sand on the beaches reminded me of flour it was so fine.

Our first walk around town we noticed that there were almost more crystal shops than people. You could get all your fire spinning needs filled at a couple shops that only sold fire spinning goods.

And the restaurants.... Oh the restaurants.... We ate well. After leaving the states we haven't had high expectations for Mexican food but we decided to try the Mexican joint anyhow. It turned out to be as good if not better than most of the Mexican food in Portland. Oh great, I just made myself hungry thinking about it, time to cook some burritos.

We took a hike up to the lighthouse and saw two packs of dolphins swimming by. We were hoping to see whales but no luck. We had some extremely good ice cream up at the lighthouse also. Mmmm....

The next day we took a kayak trip into the ocean. I am glad that I did it as a guided tour as the waves started to pick up. We were out in the ocean rolling throw the waves in these tiny sit on top kayaks. Super fun. We didn't end up seeing any dolphins on that trip but it was fine since we got our dolphin fix the day before. On the paddle back in Roberta and I (in a two seater kayak) got to surf in the waves which was great fun.

Supposedly Byron Bay used to be a nice little community of alternative thinking people. Now it is more of an alternative tourist destination. At points it gave me the feeling of being in a hippie zoo. But hey, we were tourists and we hadn't seen real hippies in a while so it was refreshing. When the housing prices went up and all the ferals (crusty hippies) got kicked out they then took over a town called Nimbin up in the hills. We were going to go check it out but were told that the only redeeming feature of Nimbin is the ease of scoring drugs.

Instead we took a recommendation from a nice lady we met in Byron Bay to go to the Sunday market in Bangalow. We were expecting a couple dozen stands with some produce and hand made tile mirrors. We were shocked to see something that looked like a toned down version of the Oregon country fair. There were booths as far as they eye could see and they all had some cool stuff. Back on the topic of food, one booth had a sugar cane press and was making ginger/sugar cane juice. Roberta got this antique tin with a koala bear on it and I got a camphor wood cutting board. There was also this family band playing there that were absolutely amazing. It was this old hillbilly guy with 5 kids who all played a number of different instruments playing old timey songs. It was a little ego deflater in that these kids could rip it up harder than me and they were only 10.

On a side note, I am joining a band right now and are planning our first gig soon. We are a cross between Johny Cash and Pink Floyd.

After leaving the market our next destination was a glider field in Boohna which was closer to Brisbane. We got there and met some really nice glider folk and got to go up in their ASK 21M which is a large two seater self launch glider. We turned the motor off at 2000 AGL and then I took control and we thermalled up to about 6000'. We hauled ass all around the area for an hour and 16 minute flight. We only came down because Roberta was waiting on the ground to go up. She also had a great flight.

We spent the last night in Brisbane and flew out in the morning. Our Emirates flight back to Auckland was 45 minutes late which was the icing on the cake of never flying Emirates again. Air New Zealand is so much nicer in every way.

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