I’m not normally into writing Blogs on holiday but in this instance, there’s a couple of mothers and other Grandparents who have a vested interest in what’s going on.
The holiday came about when Ann & I had a timeshare week that we had to use or lose, with initial options being a biking week in Queenstown and when that was looking too expensive, a biking week in the Bay of Islands, which was also dropped in favour of taking the Moko’, Avania, on a trip to the Gold Coast for her 7th birthday. We thought it would be quite cool to see the theme parks through her eyes and we also offered to my niece to take Jake, who is the same age as Avania and would be a good mate for her to share the experience.
After that, the build-up to the trip was an ongoing saga in itself, with learning about where we were off to, the creation of lists of items for each person to take and other general planning. I didn’t have much to do with this as I just go along when and where I’m instructed, doing as I’m told! So I didn’t really get too involved until I had to pack my bag the night before.
Along the way, we also offered for mum to come along so she could visit my Aunty & Uncle in Tweed Heads, but that turned to custard when Aunty Eunice died on 28/12/10. At that point mum balked, but a quick explanation that there were no refunds on the ticket and she could stay with us at the resort had us back on track. Mum turned-up on Tuesday, got pissed Wednesday night, fell off her perch….and probably cracked a rib! …She’s a tough old bat though and still came.
DAY 1 - 21/1/11
0330 Friday morning meant that Mike turned up at our place with Jake and the van, we all piled in and were finally embarking on our adventure. We checked in at the airport, said our farewells to Mike, Carmelita & Denny then went through to the Koru Lounge for an early breakfast and relax in what travel is really all about….waiting!...but at least this was in comfort and with good tucker.
0555, we boarded and settled in for the three hour flight, selecting entertainment options. It looked like Ann was watching some TV series and the kids sounded like they were playing games, whilst I opted for a selection of music and promptly nodded off for an hour or so. The only thing that set this flight apart from countless others was that, since it was Avania’s birthday, she and Jake got to dole out the lollies as we started to descend.
We were welcomed into Brisbane by a descent through clouds and showers as we taxied in, but by the time we got through Customs & Immigration the weather had eased, so we kept dry while waiting for East Coast Rentals to pick us up to take us to collect the car. I was a bit concerned about this as we had originally booked a Corolla and I was pretty sure this would be too small, so we would be trying to upsize, but fortunately there was a Hyundai Elantra waiting for us. The downside was learning that the ‘Comprehensive’ Insurance we had selected wasn’t really ‘comprehensive’!!??? Go figure....it was comprehensive in that we had full cover for a car vs car event, but for a single vehicle event (Hit Static Object; Hit by Kangaroo; drown in a flood etc) we had no cover at all!!! What a pack of bastards! Naturally I saw red and told the pleasant young gentleman that they were ripping us off, but in the end I had to pay the extra $21 per day as I couldn’t afford risking the $30-$40K vehicle.....I’m still pissed off about that though as it almost doubled the cost of the rental. He did give us a gratis booster seat for Jake but!
By the time I had set-up the GPS and we rolled out, it was pissing down again and not looking good for the programmed visit to Movie World. Recent road changes around the airport area had the GPS wrong, but it soon recalculated and had us on track and before long, the kids had been out cold and we were having to wake them in the Movie World carpark. The weather had cleared somewhat, but was still marginal and as they were so tired, we talked them into coming back on the first fine day, then took them to McDonalds across the road. By the time we emerged from there, it was lovely, but we stuck to the plan, heading straight for the resort, dropped our bags then went for groceries. It worked out quite well as we were just leaving the supermarket when the resort rang to advise we were OK to check-in.
We sorted all the groceries before retrieving our bags and settling in, then after a bit we took the kids for a swim at the pool. Avania was in like a rat up a drainpipe, but Jake was a little more hesitant and I wondered if his mother had been telling stories (lies) about the dastardly Uncle John. I did however refrain from tossing him in the deep end and after a short dip around the edge of the pool, he seemed happy enough skipping around or soaking up the rays and he did manage an exploration of the resort with Ann. Meanwhile I managed a few lengths, then played with Avania in the water.
To finish the day off, we celebrated Avania’s birthday with dinner at her choice of ethnicity restaurant, which turned out to be Chinese at Christine Corner, then we returned for an early night, although I started watching movies on TV and didn’t get to sleep until Holmes finished at 2300 (0200NZ time)...Buggered.
DAY 2 - 22/1/11
An early start had us breakfasting at 0700 and I had the kids at the pool by 0800. Once again Avania was straight in the water, Jake preferred to flit around the fringes of the pool area. I had to remind Avania a few times about waking the natives and had to show Jake the Pool Rules to remind him not to run, but even a wee slip didn’t go far towards that.
After a quick dip, we went upstairs to prepare for the day’s outing and were soon on the way to Movie World, arriving just before 1000 to find many people already there. The first order of business was to get a wheelchair for mum, then we slipped into the 4D - Journey to the centre of the earth. Both kids seemed impressed by this as it’s not every day you get shaken, tickled and wet going to the movies.
Next we headed for Wayne Manor to assist Batman find the Joker, Catwoman and Freeze, who had escaped from Arkham Assylum and were about to cause havoc. After our introduction and briefing, we were soon flitting between buildings as our hovercraft chased down the baddies, although our pilot was a bit rough and managed to bounce us around a couple of times. Jake really enjoyed this ride whereas Avania didn’t have a lot to say, thinking it was a bit tame as she only had eyes for the Superman Roller Coaster.
Right next to the Batman Adventure Ride was the Batwing Spaceshot! This damn thing is a 60+ Metre tower where one gets shot up then bounces their way down....and there was no getting past it, so we joined the queue and slowly made our way to our turn. I removed my glasses, placing myself between the kids, the restraint bars came down over our shoulders, the safety-strap snacked shut, then the countdown started as we were elevated slightly.....5..4..3..2..1............a healthy pause to elevate the anticipation and adrenalin........and we were off!!....Cooool..we were shot up like a bullet...”This isn’t so bad” I thought as Avania was screaming with delight, but then we slowed, stopped momentarily...then shifted to a freefall, all in the space of a moment. I knew this happened quickly because my greenstone taonga suddenly flew out of my shirt and hovered between my eyes!.....”Oh shit” (or words to that effect) I thought as we were plummeting earthwards and I reached to constrain the pendant...more screams of delight ringing in my ears. “This isn’t fun” was flashing through my mind as I looked down to my left and to see Jake hunched down in his seat...both hands gripped in prayer by his nose and eyes tightly clenched shut.
Odd....He bounced off the ride grinning from ear to ear...an all conquering hero!!
A quick suck of water and a piece of orange was consumed to sustain us as we shuffled to the next item of terror. I eyed the Superman Escape with the same excitement as the two little idiots next to me, but deep down I knew what horrors lurked in the vertical descent from 50+ metres and I plodded on in trepidation and hope. Trepidation of the ride...and hope that the kids were too short and .....Yeaah Baby....they were!! Jake by a couple of inches and Avania by barely one....Oh Darn!! Next Please!
As Ann and mum got organised, I led the kids to the Scooby-Doo Spooky Coaster. We got there to find it had a 50 minute queue and after a quick assessment, to find Jake was just tall enough, I figured the line wouldn’t get any shorter so we went in and after 35 minutes, I estimated we were within 5minutes of our turn when the bastards shut down for a break!!??£”&*!! Some sat down, half left and we waited on until they started up and we made it to the embarkation point. The ride has two benches that seat four people per carriage, so the two kids went in the front and I sat alone in the rear and was able to monitor and tweek them through the early tame ‘spooky’ part until we timed our lunge beneath and between the swinging axes, that led into the meaty part of the ride that starts with gaining some height, then a short reverse for positioning (I hate going backwards)...then we got into the ride proper as the cart accelerated along short, slightly declined straights then would spin maniacally through 180º to take us back and forth along a series of switchbacks.
After about three of these, I had anchored myself with an arm on each side of the cart, squawking, “Ho-ho-ho hoooeeee!” when next I heard a terrified scream from Avania, “Jacob, Jacob, Jacob!!” I immediately shot my eyes in his direction, staring through the gloom...and I couldn’t see him!! “Oh my God! He’s fallen out!” was my immediate thought as I started to grope for him....Avania was still screaming and I couldn’t find him...”Shit, shit, shit!” as another two switchbacks were negotiated....and then my eyes finally focussed and my hand found his shoulder as the little bugger was hunckered down into the seat.......”Wheeew!” A few more dips and turns and we emerged about 1 hour 10 minutes after entering....Jake bouncing along and beaming as the hero returned!....but not too keen to take on the Wild West falls Adventure Ride!
It was now after 1pm so we stopped for lunch, myself ‘enjoying’ half a cold burger and cold chips while Ann took the kids for a treasure chest of chicken & chips with drink. We consumed these and caught our breath, with Jake firing in a few enquiries about the next ride in an effort to assess its adrenalinious nature. (It helps for heroes to know these things). There were a few lies mixed in to keep the champ guessing and I’m sure there was still an element of trepidation as we walked through the old western township, approached the ride, went straight through with almost no queue and boarded our boat, once again the two of them in front and me behind. All the fears melted away though as we drifted down the river, admiring scenes of cactus lined gulches, mining talings and more ghost towns. Then we were being dragged up, a bit of reverse for positioning (I hate going backwards)...slinked around the inside of the mountain, then erupted out the top of the mountain, streaked back down to the river where we pulled up in a huge wave and were engulfed in sheets of spray.....very cool...ing!
Our day was being consumed by rides and we missed all the shows (Looney Tunes, Stunt Driver, Parade etc). We finished the day in the Fun Zone, starting with a ride on an old time carousel, closely followed by a squirt on the Road Runner Roller Coaster. To look at it, this ride is pretty tame with no big climbs or drops, but as it turned out, it was bloody quick with reasonable banks through the bends....(it could possibly be likened to being on the back of the ST on a mach run over the Takaka Hill). Anyway, once again, Avania was excited and fizzing whilst poor old Jake was ducked down and by the time we leapt off, he looked positively green with a bit of wrinkle in the hero’s smile and a wobble in the gait!
There was certainly no enthusiasm expressed by Jake toward going on the Looney Tunes River Ride, however it didn’t take much to get the hero back on track and the gentle meandering boat ride through scenes involving all the Looney Tune characters proved to be one of his highlights before the day petered out on Speedy Gonzales Tijuana Taxis, Sylvester & Tweety’s Cage Ride and Yosemite Sam’s Railroad. We then grabbed some memorabilia, dropped the wheelchair and hit the road back to the resort, arriving home in time for a swim at the beach.
Once I’d had enough, I went up the beach and continued to keep an eye on them from there as Avania continued to play in the water while Jake tended to spend his time between the beach and the shallows. I’d been suspecting that Jake had a busy wee mind and this time highlighted that. I’m convinced that he’s a ‘Legend in his own mind’ and a super hero lurks within his tiny frame but I was never quite sure if he had just beaten of the angry horde or had just completed the last 5Km of a double marathon as he sprinted up the beach, suddenly incorporating a series of side-steps, or plodded up, staggering to a halt and collapsing in a heap on the sand.
One thing’s for sure though, the day highlighted what a nutty Adrenalin Junky Avania is, while Jake proved to be Team Player...focused and enthusiastic for the cause and always ready to ‘Take One for the Team’,...of course the other explanation is that his little mind is so busy that he doesn’t really listen and just sees the glory without realising the consequences.....until it’s too late. But at that point he bares it out and points on a brave face...which is easy ‘cos he’s already thinking about the next adventure. This was reinforced the next day when selecting a coned delight from the gellateria.
DAY3 - 23/1/11
Jake has a gluten and dairy intolerance so when we walked down to the gellateria, it was explained that there were four sorbet flavours he could choose from, being Lemon, Strawberry, Chocolate & X....whilst his gaze scanned further down the cabinet and he requested Mint.
This occurred after we had been for a walk along the beach front and the kids had a play on the park equipment and in the sand while Ann & I enjoyed sitting in the sun and taking in all the activity around and about.
After that, we returned to the resort to get ready to go to visit the local whanau for lunch, being Uncle Ted, cousins Peter and Penelope and their families and cousin Nicole and her family. We had a great afternoon sitting in the Bali hut by the pool while the kids swam, rode the horse, fed the chickens, played with the dogs and watched one of the dogs take out a chicken. We enjoyed a bar-b-que and a few drinks, getting back to the resort after 1700, with mum and the kids having an early night, Ann going to bed about 2100 and I followed soon after ....but ended up watching another movie and not getting to sleep until after 2300...again.
DAY4 - 24/1/11
This was pretty much a blobby day but we did go to the big shopping centre in Robina for mum and Ann to get some perfume. The kids were given some $’s to spend as they wanted, which they did, we got a few more groceries and another ice-cream, then once we got back, we had lunch then blobbed.
Later in the afternoon we took the kids down to the pool, spending a little time on swimming lessons for Jake, then, when he and Ann went up, I continued to play with Avania, diving for a ball she had brought. The day finished off with them doing their journals, then, I took them down to the games room for a little ‘spacy’ time while Ann was off for a bit of tennis.
DAY5 - 25/1/11
This was Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary day and after being woken at 0700 by Jake’s machine gun, we arose did a couple of laundry washes, sorted breakfast and got away around 0930.
We started with a train ride to the Reptile presentation where Jake volunteered to help and got his arm strapped in a compression bandage when simulating what to do for a snake bite, then both got to hold a snake afterwards. Jake came into his own at this event as every question or request elicited a rapid and enthusiastic response. From there it was next door to find out about Echidnas, then go to a bird show which featured, a red-tipped black cockatoo, a pelican, owls, kites and an Australian Eagle. After the show the kids had a photo with the Eagle, we checked out the hospital where they were operating on a Kookaburra with a broken wing, then we went for a stroll.
Along the way the kids were excited to see goanas along the pathways, a Tasmanian Devil, a big Salty Croc’ and several smaller fresh water ones, they petted and fed kangaroos, got up close to emus and saw koalas and Dingoes. All in all a good day and quite educational for them. We finished off with another train ride back to the entrance, bought a few photos and memorabilia, then went to KFC for a late lunch.
Back at the resort we watched Wozniaki beat Schiavoni to go through to the semis then took the kids down to the beach. This time Ann came to watch them so I could have a swim and that was great. It was the first time I had been in decent surf in years and even though the body is a bit past it, I really enjoyed getting thrown around and catching a couple of good waves. The surf was a mixed bag with some of it rough enough to rip my hair tie out and when we got back to the resort I bent over to get something and water gushed from my sinuses and out my nose....I don’t recall that happening before?!
All in all....another pleasant day.
DAY 6 - 26/1/11
Ann had a tennis planned so after the normal start to the day of a breakfast of cereals, fruit, yoghurt, toast and tea at 0800, we tidied-up and blobbed around. Avania finished off her holiday journal from the day before and at around 1030, I went down to the beach by myself to have a decent swim in the surf. Being Australia Day, the crowds were out enforce and the beach was packed.
With not too much time on my hands, I dropped my gear by the lifeguard flag and continued straight into the water,
threaded my way through the bathers and made my way out to the break. The surf was not quite as rough as the day before, but still reasonable enough to catch a few good rides over about half an hour, then make my way back to watch the kids, while Ann played tennis and mum relaxed.
Our guests were waiting at the lift when I strolled into the carpark so I rode up with them, grabbed my camera and collected the kids from the courts to take them to the pool....more Australia Day crush, but fortunately there was one lounger under the shaded edge of an umbrella so I took up my position on lifeguard duties.
I was soon surprised to see Jake jumping in the pool and make his way around the shallow half with a mixture of dolphin kicking and dog paddle. This was a far cry from the kid that barely left the steps on our first day and just didn’t seem too interested in swimming at all. The extra two, slightly older guests helped with this and all had a good time with, as per usual, Avania not leaving the pool until the tennis players arrived and hour or two later....pity I didn’t put any sunblock on me or the kids but!
Even though I was sitting in the shade the whole time, I managed to get a slight tinge of red on the shoulders (must have been from reflected rays), Jake had a T-shirt on so he just managed a little redness above his elbows and Avania was starting to run to a light shade of blurple...with white rings around her eyes where her goggles rims had been.
After the tennis players had refreshed and we enjoyed a snack and chat, they departed, we went back to the apartment briefly and while Ann cooked up a feed, Ora & I took the kids to the beach. She watched them while I went out for another dip, but I didn’t stay long as the surf was quite broken and shifty so it was difficult to position oneself at the break to catch the waves. When I got back in, Jake had had enough and was up the beach so I signalled Avania to come out by me. Surprisingly, she wasn’t too keen but came out anyway and seemed to enjoy being latched on to my hip or back as we worked through the protocols for swimming in surf, like keep looking toward the waves, when to go over or under etc.
This was all great but as I mentioned earlier, the surf was very erratic and broken and there was a secondary break right on the beach and just as we were leaving the water we got slammed by about three big waves. At this point we had just let go hands and she got whisked off her feet and hammered....! Oh darn! She emerged a little the worse for wear and with a bit of a whimper, reaffirming that she’s not keen on surf, we showered off the sand and returned to the resort for a snack.
We blobbed for the rest of the afternoon until about 1800 when Peter & Laura turned up for dinner, we strolled around to find a restaurant, settling on Chinese again, enjoyed a good feed and more chatting, finally returning about 2130 and settling in for the night.
Day 7 - 27/1/11
Last day and nothing planned apart from mum & I visiting Ted for the afternoon. Breakfast at 0815 then relaxing time until about 1030 when Ann phoned the perfume shop in Robina to see if her flavour of choice had come in, which it had, so we went over there to get that and a couple of grocery items.
After a quick lunch mum & I took off for Tweed Heads, returned after a few hours there, then Ann & I took the kids to the pool for a swim. While we had been away earlier, Ann had packed the bags (except mine), I had a play with the GPS to set the route back to East Coast Rentals, so we were pretty much ready to go at 0500 the next morning.
Day 8 - 28/1/11
I thought I’d finished but the last day started with Ann up at 0345 and the rest of us soon after. We were in the car and on the road ahead of schedule, making good time in steady traffic that got steadier the closer we got to Brisbane....when it all turned to shite!
We’d made it to the Gateway Motorway, sitting on 100 or 110’ish (whatever the limit was and the traffic was flowing at) with both lanes full, when the car in front of us braked...so I did as well, but just lightly. The gap between us was disappearing so I applied a bit more, but we were still catching so I gave them everything! I was surprised when the brakes actually locked momentarily, but the ABS kicked in and did its thing, bringing us to a halt within inches of the ute in front...maybe a foot at best! I was just exhaling a big ‘wheeeww’, we got shunted into him!
Bugger! We did the deeds of getting details and continued on. The boot wouldn’t shut and there was a slight leak out of the radiator, but made it to the rental shop, out to the airport and back to NZ OK.
These blogs were posted on the KiwiBiker forum but I decided it was time for a change.