Friday, October 19, 2012

Not Forgetting the Beach

Of course, no trip to the “Far North” would be complete without a visit to the beach.  Palm Cove is our favorite and since jellyfish season doesn’t start till November we were free to pick our own spot to swim.  (Other times of year, it’s recommended that you swim only within barriers intended to block the stingers.)


In my opinion, the beach is best enjoyed while knitting. <grin>

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Science Field Trip

Claire and Isaiah have been learning about different animals around the world with Sonlight’s Science B curriculum.  Would you believe that this week they were to study animals from Australasia?  I didn’t even plan that, but it’s pretty cool how it worked out.  So not only is our visit to Australia a medical trip and a vacation, it’s also a science field trip!

First we got on the Skyrail and got an awesome view of the Queensland rainforest via a gondola ride right over the canopy.  En route are two mid-stations where we explored the forest floor and learned about the plant life and creatures to be found there.


At the end of the cableway is the town of Kuranda.  A tourist town—almost an Australian Eagle River, WI for those who know what I’m talking about.  But it’s a fun place to visit with opportunities to sample all things Aussie.

Jon and Isaiah decided to visit the Australian Venom Zoo—where as Jon described it, “We saw several critters that could kill you in 30 seconds or less.”  I’m assuming that the animals they’re holding below were NOT venomous, but I’m not sure because Claire and I decided to skip the venom and taste some Aussie coffee and scones instead.


Later we re-grouped to visit the Rainforestation Nature Park.  After a visit with Jack the Ripper*, a dragon and Claire’s favorite—”kuddly” koala…


15 May 08 (25)141

…we rode on a duck (DUKW) through the rainforest.  Ironically, our duck is also a misplaced American from Pontiac, MI.  <wink>  Our tour guide gave an excellent lecture on much of the local flora and fauna—much of which is entirely unique to Australia.  And which one do Claire and Isaiah remember?  The Stinger which can cause a painful rash for weeks.  Good one to remember since it’s fairly common in Queensland.


We finished our field trip with an aboriginal dance demonstration and a lesson on how to throw a boomerang by a real pro.  Wouldn’t it be great if school could be like this everyday?

Next week we’re studying the animals of Antarctica….

*A 16-foot saltwater crocodile weighing 1433 pounds with a reputation of having killed 12 of his girlfriends in times gone by.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Granite Gorge

When we’re in Papua New Guinea, the kids and I don’t get out of Ukarumpa very often.  (Imagine never leaving the square mile around your house for months on end.)  So one of the things I look forward to most about going to Australia is just the freedom to roam.  When Jon asked me what I wanted to do while we were in Cairns I said, “After I have my big brekkie and a flat white, I just want to get in the car and drive.”

So we did.  A local friend mentioned that Granite Gorge Nature Park might be a good bet for our little nippers*, so we packed our swim suits, drinking water and a snack and headed west into the Tablelands of Far North Queensland.  It’s amazing how quickly the lush, tropical climate of the coast turns to dry, scraggily bush—although still beautiful in its own wild way.  An hour and a half later, we found ourselves here:


The kids were initially disappointed since they were mainly interested in swimming and finding kangaroos.  But shortly into our hike these rock wallabies came out to see who was intruding on their domain.


After we paid the toll in food pellets, we were allowed to pass and follow the short trail to Granite Creek.


We spent some time enjoying the slippy moss-covered rocks and cold water.  And it’s a good thing too, because afterwards our ankle-biters* got addicted to following the white spray-painted trail dots and we walked…


…and climbed,


and hiked some more.


(Can you see “dino” and his footprints?)

It might have been a very hot and miserable hike had we not been wet when we started.  When we reached the end, we all agreed it was a grand little adventure, but the best way to finish it off…was with ice cream of course!


*Australian for “children”

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

“I Can See All the Way From Here!”

--quote by Isaiah upon trying on his new glasses.

The first order of business upon arriving in Cairns, was to get our eyes checked—right after a big brekkie* and a flat white from Stratford Deli.  <sigh of contentment>

I was diagnosed as glaucoma suspect a number of years ago and now that I’m reaching that magical age of 40, <gasp> it was recommended that 017an ophthalmologist check my eyes once a year.  (Actually, more often than that, but this is what we can manage right now.)  Praise God, I have no signs of the disease.

Claire had her yearly eye exam, and we were pleased to learn that she would not need new glasses this time around.  This was Isaiah’s first eye exam and as we had anticipated, he left me as the only un-spectacled one in this family.  Maybe that should be the only unspectacular one in the family, because I think he looks pretty adorable handsome!

*Australian for a breakfast of sautéed mushrooms, thick bacon, poached eggs, toast, and a grilled tomato.  May or may not include baked beans, sausage and/or hash browns.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Rest (v.)

I tried looking up “rest” in the Encarta Dictionary for North America and I couldn’t find it.  Somehow that doesn’t surprise me, since in general we North Americans don’t seem very good at doing it.image

The thesaurus on the other hand had some helpful synonyms for the verb:

  • relax
  • take it easy
  • have a break
  • put your feet up

Yeah…we need to do that.  It’s been a crazy month of long hours in the aviation department for Jon.  The kids have not been shy about telling me that are ready for a break from school, and I feel like I’ve been so busy with the mundane aspects of life, I didn’t even have time to tell you how mundane they were.  <wink>  This planned holiday comes at a good time, because if it hadn’t been planned we would have been too busy to do it!

So the scene for the next couple of weeks will be in Cairns, Australia.  “Home” for Claire as much as any place probably is since that is where she was born.  We’ve got some doctor appointments to fulfill, a bit of shopping, and then nothing but “takin’ ‘er easy.”

Do I sound excited?  I am.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Stranded Airplane

Most of the aircraft maintenance that Jon does happens in the airport hangars just a couple of miles away from home.  Occasionally, however, one of the planes may develop a problem that prohibits it from flying home.  It doesn’t always have to be a major issue.  Sometimes the pilot just doesn’t have the tools or materials needed to straighten out an otherwise minor issue.  Either way, when this scenario occurs, the mechanic with the most experience on the particular issue has to be flown out to the sick aircraft.  Jon enjoys the infrequent opportunity to make a “house call” and his turn came this week.

While landing on a rough airstrip, the windshield on one of the Kodiaks started coming loose.  The pilot was able to continue flying to Wewak in western PNG, but quickly realized the windshield as it was wouldn’t make it all the way back to Ukarumpa.  He radioed back to home base, and the maintenance team flew into action.

Top left pin: Wewak.  Lower right: Ukarumpa.

Because it was so close to dusk, there wasn’t time to fly anyone out to Wewak until the next morning.  As soon as the sun was up on Tuesday morning, Jon and another mechanic (both with a lot of experience on Kodiak windshields) made the 1.5 hour flight out to the stranded plane.

005A sprawling metropolis Wewak is not, but it does have a few stores, a couple of restaurants, a paved runway and most importantly—a place to work on the airplane out of the scorching sun.

By evening, the windshield was fixed and the plane ready to fly, but again it was too late in the day to fly back to Ukarumpa.  Jon spent the night in our organization’s guest house located in Wewak before heading home on Wednesday morning.

It wasn’t an aircraft rescue fraught with much adventure, but that’s the way an aircraft maintenance engineer likes it.  Jon says, “We had much to thank God for—a hangar to work in, all the necessary tools and materials were within reach, and no surprises.”  In the “Land of the Unexpected” we appreciate the “boring” days too.