Hopping Into Your Glass

“I want you to bring me a souvenir from Australia,” A friend requested.

“It has to be small and inexpensive.”

“Something tacky would be good.”

“That’s right, something tacky, small, and inexpensive.”

A bright orange, flexible silicon, ice cube and baking mold shouted, “Take me home.”

“Fun for children, and the whole family. Withstood temperature extremes.”

“Kangaroo ice cubes hopped, right into your glass!”

My friend was pleased with his souvenir from the land “down under.”


First Impressions

Aussies were friendly. Fascinated by American accents–especially Southern dialects. My wife has a mild Southern accent.  Victoria had a varied topographical mixture–flatland, rolling hills and valleys, mountains, seacoast. The Mornington Peninsula, where our daughter resides, reminded me of Southern California.  Ballarat, a gold rush town, the Grampian mountains, reminded me of scenes from the American West.

Had the route from Melbourne airport memorized.  Or so, I thought.  The last freeway change threw me off course.  I wanted the M11 Mornington Peninsular Freeway.  I took the Frankston freeway instead, which soon ran out.  Who knew, the proper exit was to a place called Portsea?  My response, during the heat of battle, “I’m not going to any unfamiliar destination.”  Those words came back to haunt me.  In retrospect, those were a lot of letters to squeeze on one highway sign.

My spouse and co-pilot didn’t hesitate to remind of speed limits at every opportunity.  “Speed limit’s 100 KPH, not 110.”  “Yes Dear, I’m doing the best I can.”  It was even more difficult to drive 80KPH.  Australia used speed enforcement cameras.  Highway tolls were automatically assigned from cameras on overpasses.

Before getting completely lost, I asked a friendly Australian chap shopping at a petrol station/convenience store for help with directions.  He stayed just ahead of us as we departed, pointed out a right turn at the third roundabout–which led to the esplanade and our destination.  My spouse amused, because my jacket, previously secured to my waist, dangled behind like a dragon’s tail.  That day my entertainment skills exceeded my sense of direction.

As time went on, got lost a few more times–even with GPS.  Misguided, looking for a winery, took the worst washboard dirt road I’ve ever experienced.  Amazingly, the rental car remained intact.  Aussies were always helpful–even a surfer dude visiting from Adelaide.

Directional signaling with the windshield wipers, as the controls were reversed and unfamiliar, happened several times.  Somthing I had to unlearn upon my return stateside.  A two-day drive along the beautiful Great Ocean Road, cemented left-side driving techniques. I learned to look right, then left at intersections.

Talking the talk: Aussies liked abbreviations–McDonalds fast-food restaurants christened, “Mackers.”  The Aussie Woolworths giant food chain, shortened to “Woolies.”  Trade workers were,”tradies.”  Truck drivers, “truckies.”  Special occasions/events, “speckies.”  Heard G’Day and G’Day Mate frequently.

It began with the Qantas flight out, when I misheard the flight attendant announce breakfast choices.  “Eggs are free,” instead of what she meant–“Eggs or fruit?”  Of course, I opted for eggs, since they were free.  Incidentally, Aussies shortened breakfast to “brekky” or “brekkers.”



Exploring New Surroundings

What would it be like to reside in Australia?

There would be some major differences. It’s the Southern Hemisphere, seasons are reversed.

How long would it take to adjust to the time difference? Twenty-seven hours ahead of central daylight time.

Driving on the left, I could handle, with concentration.

I’ve always wanted to visit Australia. Another place on my wish list is Alaska.  Perhaps some day these visits will happen?

Anything’s possible.  Never thought I’d make it to Hawaii, either.