January 10, 2009
The last two nights we stayed with Michelle and Mim. Thursday we had a touch of home, when Holly (the angel who’s checking our condo, forwarding mail, and making it possible for us to be away so long) and her daughter, Lahine, sailed into the Port of Melbourne on Royal Caribbean’s Rhapsody of the Sea. The day we spent with them was too short, but it was a real treat.
Last night we invited Rick and Mario, a couple we met on the Volendam, to join us and Michelle and Mim for dinner. Michelle took us to the South Melbourne Market to shop for fresh ingredients and then headed off to work. By the time she and Mim were home, we had the feast pretty much ready.
It was the kind of evening that will stay in our memories. Lively conversation on a wide range of interesting topics in the company of intelligent, warm, fascinating people. Doesn’t get much better than that.
Michelle and Mim dropped us off at Southern Cross Station in plenty of time to check our luggage and catch the train. They sent us on our way with a lunch that was the envy of anyone who walked by, including the best tuna sandwiches we’ve ever had (tuna with sundried tomatoes, pickles, corn, carrots, cheese, and a spicy zing – on Michelle’s freshly made bread).
We’re on The Overland, a train rocking its way toward Adelaide. We have crossed the border between Victoria and South Australia, turned our watches back a half hour, and had interesting conversations with a couple who lived on the Nullabor Plains and a fellow who has developed technology to link a laptop into the satellite system, providing GPS, Internet, VOIP, and entertainment anywhere in the world.
I was warned repeatedly that the scenery between Melbourne and Adelaide is mostly flat and boring. That might be the case if we were driving, but from the comfort and ease and higher seat of a train, I’m finding the gum trees, fields, hills, farms, and big sky endlessly fascinating.
In fact, the only shadow over the day is some pain from yesterday’s nasty fall. I’d just gone out to take Wilbur (Michelle’s and Mim’s dog) for a walk when I stumbled on a patch of broken sidewalk and took a flyer. Fortunately, unlike my header in Banff last July, I’m just a bit scraped and bruised. No cracked bone this time, and I can still type, so life’s good. Very good.
When we reach Adelaide, I’ll finally get to meet Robin’s twin, David. I got a sense of just how alike they are when we had a short visit with David’s and Jeannette’s daughter, Tanya, and ten-month-old Ella. They were here from Bangkok on a Christmas visit. Little Ella looked at Robin with a slightly puzzled look and then cracked a big smile. She’d just come from a visit to her grandparents and definitely recognized the family resemblance between her grandfather and her granduncle.
We’re going to miss Michelle and Mim, Darren and Nat and little Lily. And we’ll miss the people who’ve made Melbourne such a welcoming place for us. But we’re off on our next adventure. How lucky can we be?