Left, Left, just Stay left

Have you ever voluntarily put yourself in a position where you had to drive on the opposite side of the road? In a giant Motorhome? With kids in the back who need snacks every 7 minutes?

This was a dream for Nick, a ridiculous one albeit;). He loves driving, if it’s not fast it may as well be big and therein lies the challenge (which he loves) – for parking and filling up with fuel and for me to drive – at least in my opinion;) Nick doesn’t trouble himself with such details, he is totally fine with all of it, in fact he thrives!!! Who am I to get in his way – This was an opportunity to show him my generosity and let him drive the entire time. What can I say, I’m a nice wife;).

Leaving Mount Perry was much easier than the trip in. Apparently there are 2 roads that lead to the swooping magpies and one of them is totally paved – imagine that;)

To the coast!!! It had only been 2 days but we missed the ocean. Can you say spoiled? We headed to a place called 1770 – Leave it to Australia to have a town that’s numerical, not hard to believe considering they have some of the best town names like Woolloomooloo, Booti Booti, Bli Bli and Bald Knob – Yep, all real and there’s plenty more where that came from!!

1770 is a beautiful place and we ended up meeting a fantastic family at a playground and the dad just happened to be the music act at a local fish and chip shop that evening. Needless to say we had fish and chips for Supper and it was delightful – all of it, live music, food and the company!! Meeting people that change the trajectory of your day is the best part of travelling.

Onward!! We were so excited to get to Cory and Jess’s house in Emu Park (Again, a real place;). Are Soul Friends a real thing, you know like Soul mates but for friends? Hmm….but in Australia, Mates are friends so I guess it is?? Confusing and now I have more questions than answers;)

Cory is our Soul Friend – A person we could go 40 years without seeing and pick up right where we left off and when we arrived at his place, we didn’t miss a beat. Seeing him with Jess and his family and having our kids all play together was extremely special considering we all lived in Vans, like the type of vehicle not the shoes, at some point in our lives. We’re legit grown ups now!!

We met Cory while Camping in Byron Bay 17 years ago, we hit it off, met his family and we left Australia knowing that we would see him in Canada someday. Someday was a year or so later and we had him in our lives on and off for the next 2 years. In no time, we had a van full of Aussie’s living in our neighbourhood!! It was great times. Nick and Cory went out for breakfast one morning to help absorb the copious amount of alcohol consumed the night before and that’s when it happened – Cory met Jess!! Lot’s of great things happened as a result of that camping trip in Byron.

The week was spent fishing, worming, crabbing, driving on the beach, waterslides, a few drinks, pedicures, coffee, nippers, zinc, nursing sun burns, sand boarding, sunsets, reunions, deep conversations, watching Bluey, singing Whitney Houston, great meals and A LOT of laughs!!! We were able to reconnect with Cory’s parents, Fred and Leigh, and it was just amazing to watch our kids fall in love with them, like we did:).

Saying goodbye is always so hard and I’m terrible at it – I like to leave under the impression that I’m just running out to the store and I’ll be back soon. This way, I avoid the uncomfortable sobbing mess I could become. The kids and Nick also had a tough time as well and the entire ride back down the coast was filled with, When will we see them again? Can we have a playdate soon? Can we just move here?. I hear you kids, but isn’t it so special and amazing that we have friends all around the world? I think so!!!

We headed south as quick as we could because we had to drop off the ‘ol Motorhome – which was also sad!! We’ve grown attached to her and had a mutual agreement that after 1 blown tire, 1 flat tire and that little mishap with the fuel..eek…that we were going to be kind and treat each other with earned respect. But alas, the next round of tourists were lined up to have, hopefully, the best trip EVER in her.

On the way South we hit up the Bundaberg Rum Factory which was cool considering that we supported them almost our entire trip;). I’m being generous by saying we but what I really meant is that Nick supported them and as any good tourist would do – we bought the T Shirt, the coozey’s and the fridge magnet proving our loyalty to the brand!!

Another highlight of our trip was catching up with Jay, Cory’s Brother, and their friend Danny both of whom we were able to spend time with in Canada!! It was great to catch up and see that they are still great people and that they’re doing well. We know that won’t be our last visit, until next time guys:)

We packed up Allllll of our things – Nothing makes you feel quite like a hoarder than packing up your motorhome after a month long trip, I mean how did we acquire all this stuff?? We only came with 3 checked bags, thankfully, so I could take advantage of that sweet, sweet fourth – already paid for – checked bag and fill it with all our treasures!! You want to know what we…I mean, what I bought most of? Kids Books!! Man am I a sucker for a good book!! Good thing I chose something so light and easy to carry.

I have a habit of always trying to be the most organized and somehow failing miserably!! Isn’t failure one of the best ways to teach? Or supposed to make you stronger? I personally believe all of that but I also enjoy my blood pressure at a healthy level and living a cool, chill life (don’t believe everything you read!! I haven’t lived a chill day;). Also, without failure there wouldn’t be anything funny to write about in this blog – So there’s that!!!

Weeks before we returned the Motorhome, I had ‘booked’ a hotel room at the airport. You know, let’s make it easy on ourselves – stay nice and close, it was a great hotel. I thought, we have lived in a motorhome for a month, let’s splurge a bit on a nice room before we spend endless hours on all the planes. We get to the motorhome place, drop everything off – it goes well so we order a cab. I’m searching through my emails and can’t find any confirmation so I call the hotel – NO reservation…..I didn’t press confirm!! Last Night, no hotel. Okay, cool cool – we’re FINE, I’m FINE!! Let’s book another one!! I called 10 places and Nick looked online and NO Vacancy. I am in full panic mode – The Taxi will be here ANY minute!! Nick finally finds a MOTEL, a last minute motel that’s moderately priced, should I be worried we’re going to be sleeping with cockroaches? I’m totally worried we’ll be sleeping with cockroaches!!

We arrived in the pouring rain, get out ALLLLLLLL our stuff – 4 big bags (thanks to the hoarding), 4 carry on’s (2 of which are the heavier than our checked bags), 1 Pillow, 1 GIANT stuffy and 2 booster seats!! The cab leaves and when we check in, the lady explains that we have to walk 2 blocks, make a left at the lights, keep going another block and we should see a building that has the tiniest red sign on it…….oh and do it while carrying ALLLL of your stuff in a torrential down pour with 2 six year olds! Okay kids, let’s do this – and we did!! It wasn’t pretty and it wasn’t fun but we made it!! We had to haul ALLLL of our stuff up 2 flights of stairs so Nick went ahead and when he came down, he made it seem like the room was a total dump!! I pretty much cried. I made my way up and it was a lovely little apartment with 2 rooms, a giant bathroom, a little kitchen and not a cockroach in sight! Did I forget to mention that the kids room had a tv and that their room was bigger than the entire motorhome? What a relief!

We showed up at the airport, well rested and ready to go!! We flew Air New Zealand, which we highly recommend for various reasons but in particular – imagine yourself at the airport and your airline is actually helpful and extra nice to you!! It’s bananas!!! It’s honestly almost shocking, especially if you’ve flown United, Delta or Air Canada recently – they could give a shit about you and now we’re spoiled!!

Our flights went well for the most part. Brisbane – Auckland – Vancouver – Edmonton! We exchanged kids this time around, Lily slept with Nick and Jake and I got to cuddle. Lily loves the plane rides so much and I’m sure it has nothing to do with the endless screen time and games;) Consequently this over stimulated her and prevented her from sleeping as much the first go around and therefore stimulated Nick to be miserable on the 13 hour leg of the trip!

We only had a 2 hour connection in Vancouver – incase you’re wondering if this is enough time, I can absolutely tell you that it ALMOST isn’t! We had to haul ass so that we could get through Customs, retrieve our bags, recheck them and then go through security ALL over again. If you’re wondering if this is stressful and the thought of missing your flight that would let you sleep in your own bed is overwhelming, I can tell you, it is!! We made it, with minutes to spare thanks to the help from a lovely customs woman that snuck us ahead of the line – she didn’t even know we were in a hurry, she said she just didn’t like to see kids waiting. The WestJet people working that day were the exact opposite of helpful and beyond frustrating which was a steep fall after dealing with Air New Zealand.

We were all sweaty, hungry and tired!! Boarding a small plane for the 1 hour flight from Vancouver to Edmonton was a complete shock to the kids and it was hilarious to see them being humbled after such a cushy flight across the ocean. Where are the TV’s? Why are these seats so small? Why don’t they have food? Kids, I hate to break it to you but this is our reality;)

Nick had the great idea to AirTag our Luggage. Its an apple product – It’s the size of a toonie and you can slip it easily into your backpack – Your AirTag sends out a secure Bluetooth signal that can be detected by nearby devices in the Find My network so you can track your luggage. There was a 2 hour wait for our luggage – It was extremely frustrating as I’m sure so many of you have experienced as well. Having our luggage AirTaged allowed for Nick to see that his Backpack was still in Vancouver so we grabbed all of our bags and didn’t waste time looking for his!! Super handy!! It arrived 2 hours later and Nick went and picked it up the next day, thankfully.

What a wild and crazy awesome ride!! A few hiccups but we can’t wait to do it again:) I’m hoping it doesn’t take us another 17 years to get back to Australia – although we’d almost be Seniors and maybe there would be some discounts involved;).

We owe a gigantic thanks to our friends Craig, Ashleigh, Cory and Jess!!! You are all amazing people and we are so thankful for all the memories. Big Love From The Willards:):)

Our last trip to Australia would come up in conversation almost weekly over the last 17 years and I know that this trip will be the same. I do hope the kids remember some of it but I’m certainly happy that I will be enjoying these memories for a lifetime. As always, I don’t seem to give my kids enough credit – they handled all the challenges thrown our way and honestly enjoyed the experience. If you ask them if they liked Australia, they will say No!!! We LOVED it!!

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