Australia Zoo (Wednesday)
My sister Lynda, my mother and I headed off to Australia Zoo near Beerwah on the Sunshine Coast today. We caught "the Croc Express", which picked us up outside the apartment, and delivered us to Australia Zoo some three and a half hours later. The trip took longer than expected as the bus detoured into Brisbane to pick up some extra passengers. I can understand that the bus company was saving money, but it was a real imposition for them to add an hour to our trip there and back. If I'd known that was going to happen I would have opted out of the tour.
Mind you, our visit to Australia Zoo was extremely enjoyable. I hadn't known what to expect, apart from a crocodile show and a few Australian animals. What I discovered was a fabulous experience, friendly staff, excellent amenities, good food, interesting animals and a fun time. I enjoyed seeing the elephants and the tigers. The wildlife show was well presented and gave Lynda the opportunity to win a photo with a koala for enthusiastically acting like a chicken. She generously allowed me to appear in her koala photo, so I got the benefit without having my actions broadcast on the big screen.
The day seemed to go too fast and we didn't see everything. I kept company with Mum for the day, which meant no tearing off around the park. The ambling pace was very relaxing. In terms of exercise, the day was a write off, but I'm pretty sure it scored high in the recovery stakes.
Dad took me off to see where we used to live more than 40 years ago. Three of my sisters, Janet and the twins (Lynda and Sandra) were born here. The house we lived in is long gone - a financial services business now occupies the corner of Queen and Scarborough Street where we lived for a couple of years. The house next door was still there as were a few across the road, but much of the area had been rebuilt. We headed up the street in search of the site of the kindergarten and my first school. They are also long gone, but the church is still there, so we were in the general vicinity.
I loved going to kindergarten. I remember it vividly. Apparently my brother and I were lucky enough to go to a progressive kindergarten. We learned lots. Unfortunately, this resulted in a poor start at primary school. I remember being in trouble on the first day of school for being able to write already. Things went steadily downhill from there. My first religion lesson scared me silly and I seemed to spend a lot of time standing in the corner. Fortunately for me, my family moved to Bundaberg six weeks later and I was lucky enough to end up with a wonderful Grade One teacher at my new school.
I told Lynda about a time when I got dumped in the waves when I was little. She started to laugh, as Mum and Dad had told her the same story a few days earlier. They had been holding my hands but the surf dragged me away from them. I vividly remember Dad rescuing me. All sorts of memories came flooding back to me as we drove past various landmarks. I remember waiting outside the hospital when Lynda and Sandra were born. It was during the tail end of a cyclone. Children weren't allowed in the maternity ward, so Jim, Janet and I were waiting in the car, while Dad went in to visit Mum. The palm trees were bending over to the ground because of the high winds. Fortunately the world was a more enlightened place when Patricia was born two and a half years later, as we were all able to go in to see Mum.
After visiting Southport, we drove out past Seaworld to the Spit, and went for a walk along there. We then headed off for a coffee at Mariner's Cove. Unfortunately, we were there too early. There was no way we were going to get a coffee before 11:30. We headed off to Main Beach, where we successfully managed to order a coffee.
The pace of life here is so different to Melbourne. While waiting for our coffee a fire engine raced past with sirens blaring. Just after our coffees arrived it returned at a slower pace. I joked to Dad that they had been on the early morning coffee run and he burst out laughing, telling me that there was no way they'd have been able to get a coffee at the Gold Coast that quickly. I had to agree with him.
The rest of the day I just mooched around. I went for a swim in the pool and a walk along the Esplanade. It was another lovely relaxing day.
Long run (Friday)
I went for my long run this morning. I hadn't felt like it on Thursday, but Friday was my last chance. I headed out along the Esplanade, telling myself that it didn't matter about the distance - it was about time on my feet. I planned to be out for an hour minimum. I walked for the first five minutes, and then started running. I tried not to run too fast, but I really have no idea how fast I'm going at the moment. I'm going to have to upgrade my HRM!
It had been raining earlier, so everything had that clean, just washed look. As I was running along the path I could see rain out to sea. I didn't know if it would come in before I was finished, but I really didn't care. After all, now that I'm an outdoors runner, running in the rain is part of the package.
Instead of running the path twice I kept going when I reached the surf club. At the end of the path I came to a national park. There was a narrow bitumen pathway and runners were coming along it, so I decided to head off into the park. There were signs warning about rock falls, which was a little disconcerting, but I figured that all those runners wouldn't have been out there if the rock falls were frequent.
I'm glad I ventured along the path, as it was such an interesting run. I turned around after I'd been out for half an hour. I was tempted to go further, but I've only run more than an hour once before. I decided on discretion rather than valour.
It started to rain almost immediately. It felt incredibly refreshing although I was wishing I'd worn a cap because the rain was obscuring my glasses. A quarter of an hour later the rain had stopped. I made it to the other end of the esplanade, to the bottom of a steep hill. This had been my turning around point every other time I walked or ran along here. After the national park had turned out so well I thought, what the hell, and ran up the hill to see what the view was like up there. There were a couple of lookouts. From one I could see all the way to Surfer's Paradise and from the other I could see Coolangatta. The views were well worth the effort of running up the hill.
After I'd been running for an hour I walked for another five minutes then did my stretches. All up, I was out and about for an hour and a quarter. A respectable effort for me. I had my breakfast then hit the pool for 30 laps. Believe me, I was starving when it came to morning tea time.
We headed off to Pacific Fair for a couple of hours of shopping. My legs were telling me that a slow steady pace and a complete avoidance of stairs were in order. I was happy to oblige them. Pacific Fair is the largest shopping centre at the Gold Coast and it's well worth a visit.
Tomorrow we're flying home to Melbourne. It looks like I'll have time for one more walk along the Esplanade in the morning, as long as I'm up really early.