Amateur version of Amazing Race

Lanie and I were pretty much masters of our domain after the first night in our camper (well, aside from the fact that I couldn’t drive the thing as it was a manual and we didn’t want to die). Our conversations in the van went something like this:

ME: “Lanie, have you seen my phone charger?”

LANIE: “Ya I think it’s in the electronics department, do you know where my sleeping bag is?”

ME: “Check the bedroom, can you chuck this in the kitchen for me please?”

LANIE: “Ya, I’m just heading to the wine cellar do you want another drink?”

All of this took place, meanwhile, without either of us moving an inch from our respective positions in the back of the camper van. Yes, we truly thought we were living the high life, until we met up with our friend Ash that is. But I’ll get to that in the next post.

So after Byron Bay, we continued up the coast, stopping to check out Surfers Paradise, Coolangata, and Brisbane along the way.  Tourist trap, tourist trap, city. Next please. Then we got to Noosa where we met up with our friends Danny and Lola, two more people who also did the snow seasons in Wanaka. Noosa is a super cool little surf town, but unlike Byron Bay, people here live for the surf. Byron was better for beginner surfers and people who wanted to chill out by the beach, but in Noosa you find the people who sleep in a Swag (its an Australian invention, a sort of pimped out sleeping bag that you unroll and it has a mattress and a tent cover if you need it) by the beach so that they can catch first breaks at dawn. People who live and breathe for the surf. Lanie and I obviously opted not to surf here. We didn’t want to show people up with our super sweet skills and make them feel bad about themselves.

Lanie, Danny, and Lola heading to the surf

Because everyone is so obsessed with surfing, there is not too much  night life in Noosa aside from chilled out jams on back porches. Lola and Danny wanted to take us out though, so we went to the one place that was open. It was basically my idea of hell on earth. An over-crowded backpacker bar filled with 18-23 yr olds off their faces, dancing to blaring top 40 playing at uncomfortable volumes while they anxiously awaited the wet t-shirt/wet jocks (yes boys, your turn in the pseudo-nudie arena has finally arrived) competition.  We gave it a good effort but in the end all looked at each other and decided to bolt. Maybe that makes me old, but I don’t think I mind. The next night we went for the chilled out jam on back porch option and had a much better time. Lola and I used to play every Sunday at a Wine bar in Wanaka called Uno, but we realized that night that we had never actually played together before, so it was cool to get our Taylors out and mess around.

Twin Taylors

After Noosa, we headed to Rainbow beach were we would depart for our Fraser Island adventure the next day. Needing a place to park our camper for the night, we drove around the National Park where we saw loads of people with flash campsites set up. Trying to hang with the cool kids didn’t go as planned, as our camper was not 4wd and we got it stuck in the sand. Having just come from the beach, I was wearing a sundress and Lanie had a pretty much non-existent tank on over her bikini, clearly the ideal costume for crawling around on all fours trying to dig your tires out of the sand. After a few failed attempts to get the van out, night had fallen and we realized were going to have to enlist some help. Feeling like massive tools, we wandered about for a while, stopping around various tents then chickening out and running away before we finally asked someone. A little boy with a Toy Story head torch leading the way, we showed the curious man and woman in the tent our pathetic situation. A few feeble attempts at pushing later, we conveniently found ourselves in the way of a giant 4×4. We asked the man in the drivers seat if he could possibly help, getting more and more embarrassed at the scene we are causing. He hopped out of his car, looked at our van, and disappeared into the darkness, only to return a few minutes later with an army of men (where were they hiding??) who got our van out in one swift push. By this point in time, half the campsite had gathered around to have a good chinwag and discuss the fishing and our general stupidity. Lacking social graces and not particularly interested in either conversation, we said a few emphatic thanks, waved goodbye to our egos, and bolted back to town and paved roads.

The next day we did a 4-wheel drive trip of Fraser island, famous for its untouched sands, rainforest drives, and blue water lake. It’s only accessible via 4wd vehicle, and we learned why the hard way the night before. It was a fun day, but we had bad weather so we didn’t get to see the stunning blue water we had been promised on the brochure. Also, word of advice to the ladies (or guys with moobs) make sure you wear a sports bra if you decide to do this trip, or you’ll miss half the scenery like we did trying to reign in the children.

We got back from the trip in the evening and began our mad dash up to Airlie Beach. It turned out to be our own version of amazing race. We had 12 hours of driving to do, had to return the camper by 3 the next day (but we thought it was 5) and check in to our hostel before that so we could drop off all our crap, and check in for our Whitsundays sailing trip by four. As we had spent the last three nights parking our van on the road to sleep, neither of us had had a shower and all of our electronics were dying. My phone had kicked it about 2 days into the trip, so we were depending on Lanie’s iphone for outside contact and google maps. We were on schedule (for the 5 oclock return, already two hours behind) until we ended up getting delayed 2 hours because a massive truck overturned on a bridge on the only road to our destination. In true Australian style, the guys in the car in front of us got out of their car, cracked open a beer to wait out the traffic, and opened up a trailer attached to their car to reveal a portable bbq. I seriously think Australians could bbq their way through nuclear warfare.

Portable BBQ and ball, key items to get through an emergency

Once traffic began to move again, we used the last of Lanies phone battery to call Wicked campers to tell them we’d be a bit late as we didn’t want to get charged for an extra day, at which point we were informed of the 3 oclock return time. Making a mad dash for it, we arrived in Airlie just before 4, desperately trying to decide in what order to accomplish everything. We had 5 minutes to check in everywhere, no more google maps for directions, and no phone to call anyone to tell them we were on our way. Oh, and the empty light had been on in our van for about a 30 minutes. We went to the wrong travel agency to check in for our boat trip, finally found the right one and stopped the receptionist just as she was on the phone to the boat captain to report us as no-shows, then sprinted across the street to our hostel to drop off all our bags while we had the van (no, I do NOT want a tour of the kitchen facilities just give me the key damnit!!), then got to the Wicked camper depot just before five, thinking we had actually succeeded. But wait, surely that was too easy. Turns out no one thought to tell us when we rented the camper that before you return it you have to get it fully detailed. They shooed us away and sent us 20 minutes out of town, back the way we came, to a gas station where we then had to manually power wash and vacuum the whole vehicle. And this whole freaking time we never had a chance to go to the bathroom. Or eat. Or drink. So what did we do?

We laughed. We cursed our lives and we laughed. We returned the camper, went to the hostel, looked in the mirror, and laughed even harder. Dear god how many people had we talked to that day looking the way we did??

Luckily, little did we know it, with the campervan ditched our lives were about to get a whole lot more glamorous. G-L-A-M…O-R-O-U-S

2 thoughts on “Amateur version of Amazing Race

  1. Hi Shannon…

    Your Mom sent me this “wild and crazy” journal entry!
    What a journey you are on. So terrific you are able and fortunate to take in the world as you are.

    I had written to you on another past post about our traveling in Ecuador. We loved Quito and the Otavalo Indians, flying over the Andes…exciting experinces that are as vivid as if we were there yesterday!!

    Uncle Sandy and I have been very fortunate to have traveled on Eco- trips. Rafting in Borneo, para-sailing over the South China Sea…wonderful adventures!:-)

    Travel allows us to understand people and other cultures. It is priceless…knowledge and education while seeing the world!

    Hope to hear from you again one day~enjoy the process:-) A book in the works?
    Aunt Peggy

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