KI, Day two


Up and at ‘em early on the 9th.  It’s a long drive across the Island to Flinders Chase National Park.  Over an hour and a half away one way if you aren’t rushing.  Which we weren’t doing.  Crossing 1oo odd kilometers across the island from our beach house.

About 20 kms from the park, we encountered our first roo preparing to cross the road.  It was standing on the left, looking back and forth for traffic.  I couldn’t decide it was waiting to dart out in front of me, or waiting for me to pass.  So I slowed wwwaaayyy down and watched.  It finally decided to amble across the road, no rush, no worries.  Humorous watching them walk.  They lean forward and put their front paws down.  A quick lift with the tail and the back legs are elevated.  They leisurely move their back legs forward to near their front legs.  Then lift tail and front legs.  Several of these in succession equals a mosey across the road.

Hopping is only for hurrying or scurrying.  We’ve all seen that on TV.  They can scoot right along and turn on a dime.  No wonder they are so hard to avoid with a car at night.  We had one dart in front of us later that day.  I saw it well in advance, but it shot across the road like a bouncing ball.

While I’m on roadside animals, another frequent road visitor are the local goannas.   Looking kind of like a monitor lizard, they can range from a foot or so to maybe three feet.  They don’t hurry at all and I’ve seen several plastered on the bitumen.  If you get out of your car, they flash into the brush.  So cars aren’t a threat to them, in least in their minds.  We had a big one on the roadside yesterday.  I thought it was a branch on the ground (the winds were fierce 3 days ago), but Praxy got excited as we passed.  The “branch” moved and flicked out it’s tongue at us.  Pretty cool looking.  Nothing like that in the states.

Our 90 minutes passed and we found ourselves at the visitor’s center for the park.  A quick entry fee, followed by some souvenir shopping, and we were on our way.  One thing I really wanted to try was spotting a wild platypus.  So off to the platypus holes walk.

Regrettably, all we saw was their habitat.

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A one mile walking loop provided vistas like this.  Overlooks on the brackish looking water.  The rangers said that this wasn’t the season for them.  Might have been too cold and they are a nighttime critter in any case.  A little bit of a let down, but animals have their own schedule.  Sometimes I get lucky, some times not.

Wait, here’s one!!

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Bronzed!

Back in Ben, our trusty car, to see some other sites further into the park.  The car in front turned right, so we turned left.  And found ourselves at the Remarkable Rocks.

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From a distance.  In a few minutes we’d discover about 50 people from a Princess Lines cruise ship were at the rocks.  Looking at this telephoto shot, I now see some of them.

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What an odd looking sight!

Wind sculpted granite.  Hard as nails.  The wind must have been working on these for a hundred thousand years or more.  No problem to walk right up to them.  Although several people have been killed here.  Wander to far to the edge, and you end up falling to the ocean hundreds of feet below.  Hopefully to a mercifully quick death as the breakers are rough as hell flying strait into the fallen rocks.

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This is for fish and seals only.  No humans are welcome.

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Looks vaguely like a snapping turtle getting ready to chomp on my wife.

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The two of us had a great time posing in the natural sculptures.

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The most bizarre looking wind erosion I’ve ever seen.  Worth a stop to ponder this oddity.

Next up was the left turn to Admiral’s Arch.  First up, though was a stop at the Cape du Couedic lighthouse.  Picturesque, but not much else to see.  No tours, just a few interpretive signs.  Still, it was quite nice to walk around.

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All lighthouses on Kangaroo island have been decommissioned.  GPS has rendered them obsolete.   This lighthouse and another we visited have holiday cabins for rent where the lighthouse keepers used to live.  The houses look charming, but the places are totally remote.  You’d have nothing but birds and tourists to keep you company.  Still, for a peaceful getaway, they’d be worth considering.  I haven’t been able to learn prices.

Next up, Admiral’s Arch.  This looked like a total let down, although there were a ton of cars in the parking area.

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There was a boardwalk leading down and I kept thinking the arch was on this island across the way, North Casuarina.  Quite a let down.  Yawn.  Oh well, follow the boardwalk down to get a closer look.

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Oh, there’s SEALS.  That must be what everyone is looking at.  Out came the telephoto lens.  These are New Zealand fur seals, an endangered species.  Come to found out this area is a rookery for them.  One of only a few in the world.

Farther down looking at seals and…there was the arch.  It was impressive.  The boardwalk had taken us over it and the stairs brought us down close to arch and closer to seals.

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A nice Japanese tourist and I exchanged family photos.  There were 6 in his family and they were all taking turns being out of shot.  Until I showed up.

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Seals, unimpressed by the arch, relax.  Fur seals, unlike Sea Lions, don’t like direct sun.  They get too warm.  I’m guessing this will be crowded in a few weeks when the weather warms up.  Notice we are wearing warm cloths.  The wind was cool, not many people wearing shorts.

I’ve been told it’s summer down here.  I’ve been wondering about that.  Everyone assures us that this is the coldest, wettest, year in recent memory.  It’s sunny and warm today (11th) but I still have a jacket on me inside our house.

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The wind was kicking up some pretty big waves.  This little smack right here is probably 40-50 feet into the air!  It looked to me like the seals were being careful when they tried to haul out.  I watched one spend 5 minutes before it got on to land.

Time for lunch.  Oops, we forgot the sandwiches.  Back to the Visitor’s Center for a burger.  Didn’t really care for it that much.  Cooked at much too low a temp and it was soggy.  Oh well, better than being hungry.  We’d walked a long ways and had another stop yet.  Hansen Beach.

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Soft silky sand.  A little chilly for swimming, although a few hardly souls have been venturing out.

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Walking along the cliffside going sound provided some great scenery.  The ocean breaks across long sheets of some sort of flat rock.  So sometimes those sheets look like sheets of cotton from the surf.  Awesome.   We found a hoodoo tucked away along the cliff.

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Watch your step on this walk.  The sharp little rocks grab your shoes and trip you.  Both of us went down.  We discovered you had to pick your feet up and walk deliberately.  Look down when you are moving.

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The beginning of a hoodoo, perhaps.

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Awesome to watch these huge waves roll in and punish the shoreline.  I was mesmerized and had to pull myself away.

Praxy had to take a little dip in the ocean.  She said the water wasn’t bad.  But it would have been cold swimming as the wind howled.  ALL. DAY. LONG.

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Praxy clowned around a bit, a set of foot and hand prints.  The sand is so fine and dense, it packs easily.   Makes for light prints for a petite lady.

Still an hour to drive back, we arrived around 6.  Leftovers for dinner, neither of us wanted to cook.  We settled in and enjoyed a quiet evening.

Next up, the other side of the island near Penneshaw.

12/11/2016  1:30pm

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KI, Days three and four


Up early again at 6am, ready for another round.  I’m eating my breakfast…

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…and Praxy hollers, “What’s that bird doing out there?”  See out the window on the left?  She composed a picture.

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I laughed.  I knew what it was up to.   Looking for a hand out.  It’s right foot was injured, so it had gotten used to panhandling around the area, looking for sympathetic tourists.  And maybe sympathetic locals.  Corvids (jays, ravens, crows, magpies) can be a nuisance.

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Club foot and all, it made off with a slice of bread.  Down onto the  ground below the deck, it spent a happy 15 minutes devouring it’s prize.

This isn’t the first time I’d run into this with a corvid.  Steve and I were tagging baby salmon on the South Fork of the Salmon river one morning and a Stellar Jay showed up in the fir tree above us.  It was making the strangest noises and hanging around looking things over.  This went on for an hour.  We were both puzzled as neither of us had heard one sounding like that.  We listened carefully and realized it was trying to talk.

Someone had tamed it down a bit and it was mimicking human voices.  Then, it hit me.  I had a little package of peanut butter crackers sitting on the table.  It had spotted those and was kicking up a fuss.  I watched closely; then I saw it looking at those crackers, first with one eye, then the other.  Hilarious.  With some coaxing, I got that jay to take crackers out of my hand.  It wouldn’t touch them until I looked away.  Steve got a big kick out of it and shot a bunch of pictures with my camera.  For some reason, I don’t have those pictures on my laptop.  They are probably on my backup drive at home.

After breakfast, we decided on an itinerary.  We’d gone west both days, how about nearby and east? 

Out again with our trusty steed, Ben the Toyota Corolla.  Why I named him Ben?  You’ll see soon.  It’s appropriate.

Btw, Ben was going to get a workout today.  There are a handful of roads that are paved on KI, the main connecting roads.  The only paved side roads are to American, River, Seal Bay, and the Flinders Chase National Park road going to Remarkable Rocks and Admiral’s Arch.  If you visit Kangaroo Island, make sure you rent a car that allows travel on unsealed roads.  People that rent a motorhome or camper van (caravans) may face severe restrictions on off road destinations.

First off was a leisurely drive to Clifford’s Honey Farm.  Bird watching and just generally lounging to pass the time until they opened up for the day.

KI is noted for having a very pure strain of special bees from Italy.  Ligurians, imported in the 1,800ds.  It’s a huge fine to bring in bees, honey, honeycomb, anything bee-ish without a special permit.  (Unwashed potatoes is another one)    Beekeeping is huge business here.  And the honey is very tasty.

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Inauspicious little place, but lots of goodies inside.  The smell of honey was everywhere.  The owners were in the process of making honey ice cream.  Yes, we tried some.  Of course.  It was yummy.  We bought some samples to bring home.

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The display room full of information and history. 

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And, the obligatory beehive in glass for people to take a gander at the frenetic activity.  I spent a little while looking for the queen and gave up. 

We made a quick stop at the eucalyptus oil factory, then made our way to Kingscote for fuel and a few dinner supplies.  We had invited the owners of the house to dinner and we need a few other items to make the dinner special.  Sherry.  Then a stop at American River for fresh oysters in the shell at The Oyster Farm Shop.

Quick lunch at the house, then back on the road heading east.

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Through the eucalyptus forests to…

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Penneshaw.  And onward to Dudley Cellar Door Winery.

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Quite the view here of the mainland.

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We bought a bottle of wine after tasting several.  I gave it a half hour before we moved on.  Not taking any chances.

 

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There it is, the Cape Willoughby Lighthouse.  Several of them on this island.  The shore was (and still is) extremely dangerous to shipping.  Thanks to GPS tracking, these lighthouses are pretty much obsolete.  The only one still being use was the one at the Cape Jervis port.

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Those red roofed cottages can be rented nowadays.  Those were quarters for the lighthouse keepers and their families.  Couldn’t locate prices.  The remoteness would be a bane.  Or a blessing.  Depending on your perspective.

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Here’s Ben!

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We walked down the trail a bit to get a picture looking back towards Penneshaw.

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Dammit!  See that spot on the picture?  A fly.  On my camera lens.

I thought Mexico had the worst flies in the world.  I still think they are.  But what Aussie flies lack in toughness, they more than make up for in numbers and determination.   THEY ARE EVERYWHERE. 

No chance to avoid them.  They lurk on every bush, tree, person, rock, stump, fence rail, even every atom.  I caught one of the little devils and looked him over. 

Cattle flies, so they are.   Nasty, dirty rotten, no good little cattle fly looking things.  As they are indigenous, they didn’t evolve for European cattle, sheep, or horses.  So, they must be the blight of wallabies and kangaroos.  And what other two legged critters inhabit Australia and stand upright?  Yep.  Humans.

Lucky us. 

There are a few ways to deal with the little turds.  Special hats with netting.  Repellant (gonna get some of that).  Going out on windy or cold days.  Or, the “Australian Salute”, shooing them off with your hand.  Grumble grumble grumble.

A quick wave and presto…

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…a proper picture.  I’ve found they don’t taste too bad.  Unfortunately.

Alicia attended an outdoor event one time that absolutely required netting.  The flies were so thick and determined that they would crawl under the netting on your neck.  Egad!

Australia needs to import about a million tyrant flycatchers from the USA.  (tyrant flycatchers are renown for their aerial skills at snatching flying insects)   Only problem with that is…the flycatchers would have soooo much to eat that they would breed in huge numbers.  Next thing ya know, we’d be dealing with another “crisis” on our planet.  Global “sidewaysing.”  The extra weight from all those obese birds would tilt our planet.  Or make it sink into the lower universe as Australia is “down under”.

Enough silliness, no worries.  I’m not letting a few flies get the best of me.  Or even a lot of them.  As with the Mexican flies, they are part of the adventure and I’m going to honor them with a little good humor.  This is all I’m going to mention about it.  I hope.

On the way back we stopped and checked out another “wine cellar” between Penneshaw and Island Beach.  I’m not mentioning names, but the place was ridiculous.   $115 per plate for a four course meal.  Wine was outrageously priced.  View was fabulous.  But, these places are not affordable for working class people.  There must be one helluva bunch of the “elevated pinkie finger” crowd, more commonly known as the “wine and cheese” crowd.   This place wasn’t serving food in the afternoon, but we could get a “cheese plate”.  Yeah.  Right.

Back to the house.  We ate leftovers, played cards, and lounged.  Praxy ended up calling Alicia and I fell asleep as they were talking.  All this fun was wearing me out!

Day four-After pouring over the maps trying to decide our day, we both agreed.  Stay in and relax.  After a two hour walk along the beach (I now have a sunburn), we just hung out.  I wrote up the two previous KI blogs. Besides, we had guests coming and a dinner to prepare.  The owners were dropping by.  Since they cut us a great deal on the house, we went all out.  Totally all out.  Some of this was leftovers that had to be cooked anyway.

House cleaning as well.  Praxy and I spent a LOT of time straitening up.  The house was so nice we couldn’t fathom anything being out of place.  The menu.

Roo steak, teriyaki chicken, BBQ’d oysters in the shell, grilled potatoes, steamed veggies, Asian salad, apple crumble w/ice cream.  Celes brought some Philippine empanadas and a sticky rice dessert.  Sherry for Chris and myself (he’s English) and wine for the ladies.

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Roo, chicken, and potatoes.  Oysters on last, a little later.  Note the Guinness beer, lower left.  Gotta have a BBQ beer while cooking.

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Praxy set the table and the feast was on!  We made some wonderful new friends.  Amazingly, we ate most of banquet.

Celes gave me the wifi password and I uploaded all my blogs that evening after they went home.  I hope you are enjoying reading as much as I enjoy writing.

Celes works around the area keeping houses cleaned and checked while the owners are gone.  She has the two holiday houses to clean they she and Chris own.  Plus beekeeping.  I think the beekeeping is just about over, though.  Chris is starting to struggle with the work.  There is a lot of lifting and he’s almost 80.  They stay in one of the holiday houses when they are empty.  If occupied, they have an RV (caravan) nearby.

We hope to come back some day.  But given the distances involved, I’m not confident.  Figure about 10,000 miles of travel to get here.  Not exactly next door.

This was our last evening in KI.  Obviously we survived my driving, as we’re still going strong back here in Mount Barker.  Exit from Kangaroo Island next.

12/13/2016  6:00pm

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Day five, time to say goodbye to Kangaroo Island


Up early as usual.  Pack, clean, and organize.  Feed the bird.  No rushing.  We got out a 9am heading for the ferry at Penneshaw.

We figured we’d be there early enough to walk around and do some sight seeing as our ferry was scheduled for 11:30.  But, we were there in time to make the 10am ferry.  Was there room?  Yep.  Cool!  More time for me to get the rental car back on time.  Here comes our ride!

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Praxy watches and waits from a bench.

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Buses waiting for the next round of tourists.

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Inside the terminal, passengers wait.

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Ben waits in line.

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And the beautiful sand beach at Penneshaw waits for pictures and footprints.  The sand on this island is incredible.

The island waits as well.  To show off it’s amazing beauty.  There is no rush here.  Unless a visitor wants to rush.  Total relaxation.

I’ll miss it.

Shoehorned Ben onto the ferry.  The crew is very adept at assembling cars into a jigsaw puzzle.  Space is money in this business. 

We enjoyed the leisurely cruise across the channel, sitting at the front of the ferry and watching the mainland approach.  Seas were a little choppy as another series of rain storms approached the area (rain today on 12/14). 

On arrival at Cape Jervis, time to unload Ben.  Driver to your cars and…there was a car crammed into every conceivable corner.  Down the stairs and a hefty older lady was in front of me.  A little red Honda with just a teensy bit of room between it and the end of the stair rail was at the bottom of the stairs.  She tried to squeeze through.  Nope.  Between the upper and mid rail on the handrail.  Nope again.  She was SO embarrassed (I was watching and waiting), she forced her way through the gap with some straining and groaning.  Red faced, she quickly disappeared.   I wonder if that was an incentive to go on a diet. 

At any rate, now I was faced with the same predicament.   Gulp.  And, I squeezed right through with no problem.   Now I have an incentive to STAY ON MY DIET!

Over to the car, and NO SQUEEZING HERE!  There was about 6 inches between Ben and a Nissan SUV.  Passenger side.  Nope, same amount of room.  That loader had really crammed me in.  Nothing to do about it but wait.  I jokingly told a man in a car behind me I’d have to go in spelunking through the hatchback.  Not worth it as all our baggage and food was in the way.  The SUV finally cleared and I safely exited the ferry.

We were hungry, so we stopped at the first pull-out.  This turned out to be the Cape Jervis lighthouse overlook.

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Praxy had to hold on tight to her hat, the wind was screaming through.  This is actually a working lighthouse, a beacon for the returning ferries from Kangaroo Island.  Very modern, no cottages, no keeper.

We sat in the car to eat sandwiches, Sunchips, yogurt, washed down with bottled water.  Not a bad view.  Other passengers had the same idea.

The GPS brought us safely back to Mount Barker.  After a brief rest, it was time to take Ben home, downtown Adelaide.  It went very smoothly, the GPS took me right to it.  I was supposed to follow Alicia, but of course we got separated at a red light.  No problem, I beat her to the Budget Rental lot.  Uh oh, forgot to top off the fuel tank.  Fuel was double price if Budget did it.  So I had another brief round of Adelaide traffic, 7 blocks each way to the nearest gas station.  It went fine.

Back at the rental agency, I was a little on edge.  On about the 3rd day, Praxy noticed the left front wheel cover had a few scratches in it.  I tried to place the blame on anything and everything else, of course.  In a couple of hours, it hit me.  I remembered touching a curb in Mount Barker while practicing clockwise roundabouts.  The marks weren’t serious, but I figured I’d have to buy another wheel cover.   Nope.  Budget wasn’t worried about it in the slightest.  They probably see a lot of it from us foreigners.

Other than taking out that white and pink parrot looking thing on the way to Kangaroo Island, those were the only two things I touched.  Well, a tiny limb or two on a bush while parking in a tight area.  And hopefully a hundred thousand of those dumb flies (Oops, I promised not to talk about them).  Felt good about that.  First time ever driving left side in my life.  Car and us all back safely.

Off to Graeme’s house, then downtown to another beach for a fish-and-chips dinner and a walk along that beach.  On the way to the restaurant, trouble.

The first night in town, we’d gone to a different beach area for a drive and looksee.  We drove by a restaurant/bar, and there were several guys out in the street.  One of them had another in a headlock making him eat pavement with four more standing by to help.  I guess they were helping.  A big crowd of young adults gathered nearby to watch.  What I missed was the two women duking out on the porch of the bar.  Dang it. 

Women can REALLY get it on when they fight.  No Marquis of Queensbury rules.  Fingernails, fists, feet, teeth, shoes, beer bottles, anything goes.   Cloths can go flying.  Even hair can fly!  (Seen that)  Good fights are rather entertaining if you’re safely outside the Andy Capp/Beetle Bailey “cloud fight ball” zone and you don’t know either contestant.  Much better than televised pro wrestling imo.   I found out later that this double rhubarb made the local news at 10pm with several arrests.

Here we are at a different beach and…two guys rassling, punching, and break dancing on the concrete with a large crowd of young adults gathered around to watch.   What the heck?  Is it booze or fish-and-chips that triggers this behavior?

We passed by quickly.  Figured it wasn’t anything we wanted to hang around about.  At least no weapons were involved.   Other than stupidity.  A great anti-weapon.  Einstein once commented “There are only two things that are in infinite, the universe and human stupidity.  And I’m not sure about the first one.”

After dinner, we decided it was too warm, nearly 100F, to walk on the beach.  We lounged in a park watching some locals play soccer and a crested pigeon look for goodies.

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Much cooler and more pleasant.  The soccer players ranged from guys that seemed almost retired semi-pro to 6 year old boys.  All were having a blast and it was cool on the grass in the shade.  Another man wanted to join in, but he had a two year old son that insisted on being included.  It was hilarious.  The man showed endless patience with his son and the players let the little tyke make a goal.  He finally had to pack up, take his son, and leave as that little boy screamed about being excluded from the game.

Anyway, this about covers Kangaroo Island.  Having a great time!

12/14/2016  6:00pm

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On our way to Flinders Ranges


Let’s visit another “Place you May Never Get to See”.   One of those out-of-the-way locations that I find irresistible.

Graeme and Alicia decided to treat us to a remote park.  That they certainly did.

According to my local travel friend, Flinders Ranges is a place very few foreigners truly get to experience.  It is off the beaten trail, far north of the wine and cheese crowd.  There is very little pavement, so rental cars are not normally allowed.  And, the roads in the interior of the park are rough and only marginally improved.  Well, they are improved to some extent.  When the road washes out a bit a bulldozer is sent in to push the river cobbles out of the way.  A grader comes in to level it.  SUVs, and Land Cruisers, and pickups tamp the rocks down into some semblance of a road bed.  Similar to a cobblestone road.  Not a good place for novice back country drivers.

The park crossing reminded me of the dirt tracks I travel in Idaho, Washington, Arizona, and Death Valley, California.  My kind of country.

http://thenomadicexplorers.com/content/flinders-ranges-national-park-general-information-maps

About the best map I could easily find.  It’s located in northern part of the state of South Australia.

Before I start, everyone should realize that Australia is huge.  It takes a long time to get anywhere.  About the time you get out of small towns with low speed limits, you run out of bitumen (pavement).  And the corrugations (washboards) can get horrible.  Yep, both of us get to deal with them damn things.

We got out of Adelaide around 9:30 in the morning.  Looked like a quick drive up to Flinders.  Nope.  By lunch time we were still a long ways away.  Just after lunch, the first interesting stop.  Gladstone.

At the old train station lay this little bit of artistic whimsy.

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Made from old spikes and other hardware gleaned from a nearby abandon railway line, this sleepy lizard and spider were quite a collection.   The lizard takes a hoist to lift it.

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Across the street, an old hotel.  Now a residence, it’s for sale.  Love the name Booyoolee.

Then across town to the old gaol.

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The guard tower overlooks an amazing array of antiques.  This was once the largest jail in the southern hemisphere.

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An old washing machine.

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The blue thing is a steam powered extractor.  Similar to the spin cycle on your washer.  I’ll bet that thing was noisy when it operated!

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My readers know what a modern mangle looks like from the laundry room of the cruise ship Rhydam.  This is an oldie, probably from the 1930’s or so.

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Wringers.

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Once the exercise yard.

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The view from the guard tower.

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One of the cell blocks.  For $20AUD, you can bring your bedding and spend the night.  Yes, you really can.  Can’t imagine doing that myself but…

There was a women’s section as well complete with a birthing room.  Records show 6 births in the prison.  An infirmary complete with dentist chair and exam table.  A large recently built (maybe 50’s) multipurpose room that can be rented for concerts or (ulp) weddings.  I can’t imagine a wedding in a prison either, but maybe Aussies can.  They have a different outlook on life.  Very humorous.

We made a few other unremarkable stops.  One had some old cars.  A Land Rover beside a Plymouth Valiant.  Odd combo.  The local cat came out and rubbied on our shins as we looked around.  Figured it was a member of the local “Welcome Wagon”.

On to our motel in Peterborough.  IMG_3729 

The Hotel Peterborough.  Rather rustic, just like the rest of the town.  Just like the rest of the country once we left Adelaide. 

Graeme had found out there was a Christmas celebration with a parade and fireworks.  We arrived and got situated about half way through.  No worries, they turned around at the end of Main street and came back.  I ran across the road between floats to shoot a picture of our vantage point.  The old man in the wheelchair appreciated all the candy Praxy collected for him.

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Quite entertaining.  I drank a couple of beers from the bar and enjoyed the fun.  It looked like people turned out from many miles around.

Later, while eating dinner, we noticed this thing sitting across the street.  An inspection was in order.

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A German hand cranked music machine from the 1800d’s.   All we could see from the restaurant was the cardboard feeding in while the crank was turned.  None of us guessed correctly.

Afterwards, we walked about 10 blocks down to the local soccer pitch for fireworks.  They were great, closest I’ve ever been to a display.  Maybe thirty yards to the mortars.  Noisy and fun.

Quite the party night around town.  Three bars in town, and all of them full of noisy revelers.  They made as much racket as the fireworks.  This particular Friday was the last day of work before the annual two week holiday for many Australian workers.  Everyone was making the most of it.  Beer was disappearing at an amazing rate!

I finally turned on the air conditioner fan to help drown out the din.  We all got a decent night’s sleep.

12//19/2016  6:15pm

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Flinders Ranges Part 2


Next morning, up at 6.  No restaurants, so we took off.  Finally ended up in a little town called Hawker at 9:30am.  We needed gas and brekkie.  Had to wait until 10:00am for the only café in town to open.

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These are photos of his photos of a kangaroo that kept getting on his tin roof.  Very odd.  Graeme had never heard anything like it.  I wouldn’t have believed this unless I’d seen the photos.

I’m going to have to go off topic for a bit here.  The crotchety old boy that owns the place cornered me, looked me strait in the eye, and demanded, “Are you a Trumpie?”

Dozens of Aussies have asked me point blank if I voted for Hillary or Trump.   Gas stations, wine tasting, supermarkets, restaurants, along the street, on the train, at the parade, everywhere I get questioned.  People are very direct here.

Anyone that knows me knows who I voted for.  Reading my blog would should probably confirm it.  My writing style and subject matter might be a good hint.  At any rate, I’ve only found one Aussie that liked Hillary.   Many don’t like Trump, but almost agree with one another.  “He was the better choice.”

They all have the same thought about our last election as I do.  Trump is going to stir the pot.  And the political pot in the US needed stirring.  Badly.  The stagnation was really starting to stink.  We’ll see what we’ve got by the end of February.

After breakfast, we took off north for the west entrance to Flinders Ranges.  And the mountains looked pretty imposing.

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Here we are at the west entrance.  10 kilometers of dirt road to get here.

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The Ranges consists of tilted layers of sedimentary rocks from 520 to 650 million years old, Cambrian to Precambrian.  That’s some old rocks.

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Pre life type of rocks.

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Weird looking stuff.  How the Brachina gorge got cut through these hard layers is beyond me.

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I took off and walked ahead of the car during a rest stop.  I wanted to see, hear, smell, and feel the canyon without the car.  Walked about 2 miles.  Got warm and thirsty.

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A surprising amount of water in the gorge.  This has been the coldest, wettest winter in over 70 years.   Here they are catching up to me.

I smelled the trees, heard the birds and insects, felt the wind and warm weather.  Nice.  Scared up two little groups of kangaroos.  They and a few birds were my only company.  Oh yeah, a Toyota Land Cruiser went by.

Back in the car, a treat was in store a little further down the track.  A family of wild emus drinking and grazing.

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Daddy and six little ones.   None of them seemed the least bit concerned about me taking pictures over the hood of the car.  Not that I would try to get close.  Daddy might give me a swift kick.  I don’t think birdshot would work on these.  I think you’re looking at buckshot to bring one these babies down.

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A sandstone pig, maybe?  A lizard?

Out of the park after a two hour crossing, we went to an overlook.  It was entertaining as half of the bushes around us, at least the bigger bushes, had a roo resting under it.

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The last one was right next to the road with two others.  It still looked half asleep after it bolted about 10 feet.  10 lazy feet.

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Looking south towards Adelaide.

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The southern end of the Flinders Ranges.

After a while you pick up bumps and ears that turn into kangaroos as you get closer.  They are quite a nuisance at night, many get road killed.  Also saw a couple of road killed emus.  That’s odd looking.  More strange things.  A “sleepy” lizard crawled across the road once, and I spotted what could only be a bearded dragon along the roadside, alive.  Funny looking creatures.

It was a very long drive back to Adelaide, we arrived at about 9:30pm.   Rather ordinary looking scenery, not much by way of pictures that were interesting.  There is a very odd tower in Port Wakefield that caught our attention.

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There are grain silos nearby and what looks like tenement houses.    It may be a lighthouse, but that is a stretch given the distance from the nearest rocky shoreline.  Whatever it is, there it sits.  Maybe a guide for UFO’s?

12/23/2016  2:30pm

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Exploring Adelaide Hills


(12/18/2016  2:30pm, I’m back writing.  5 days behind.  Yikes!  I also just figured out my camera is still on US time but everything else is Aussie.  10 minutes of confusion followed as I struggled to find a “missing” day.  I’ll get that day back January 10.)

12/25 missed getting this uploaded.  I’ll go back later and put things in order.

We don’t want to rest TOO much.  Might miss something.  Alicia had several more days off, so time to explore.

I found that I now knew a quick path to the local Macca’s.  This time the walk took 27 minutes compared to over 40.   A cappuccino and a table, time to upload truths, stories, tall tales, and bs to my blog.  That took  about an hour, the ladies came and picked me up about half way back.  I didn’t mind the walk, but I did notice that evening that my legs were getting sore.  Had to break out the ibuprofen in the middle of the night.  Keeping it handy now just in case.

After a quick lunch, time to check out some of the local sites.  There was a Botanical garden at nearby Mount Lofty, so we took off for an afternoon drive.  First stop was a winery and strawberry farm.

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Must be run by one of my coworker’s sloshed relatives.  There are a hoard of these little shops around here catering to the tourist.  The local hamlet of Hahndorf is simply loaded with them.  Selling any type of thing a tourist could want.  Jewelry, art, food, beer, cloths, crafts, stuff, everything.  The largest presence is represented with wine tasting rooms.  Every now and then I pick up a bottle of the local fermentations.  Very nice.

Afterwards, up to Mount Lofty.  Disappointment there.  The gardens were closed because of a high fire danger.  I don’t quite understand why, but whatever.  Because the visitor’s center at the top of the mountain was still open.

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The view of Adelaide was stunning from there.

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A bit hazy, but that has been the norm.  There has been a lot of moisture in the air and summer finally arrived a couple of days ago.  This picture was shot under the threat of more rain.

Just below the summit is a short little trail through the brush.  There are several stations with poles and visitors are encouraged to take mobile phone shots from the tops of the poles.  A huge wildfire burned here a few years back and the flora recovery is being carefully monitored.  People can download an app, and the stream of photos will document any and every change.  Since I am rather stupid as far a smart phone goes, I declined to participate.  I’d probably still be standing there trying to figure out how to get the app running.

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A shot from the trail near one of those poles.  I was more interested in the scenery rather than the undergrowth.

Back to Mount Barker on the freeway.

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Doncha love that traffic on the wrong side?  Alicia hates the driving, so I volunteered to drive from this point forward.   She thought about it briefly and accepted.   First trip out on my own in Alicia’s car, back to Hahndorf to get something special for someone special.  My daughter.   Neener neener if you’re reading this.  You’ll have to wait.

Practice run survived.   Managed all the roundabouts and weird feeling traffic and earned my title of “driver”.  I kind of miss seeing all the cool stuff, but we are now going more places.

Next morning, after brekkie, off to Victor Harbor.  Not too far south of Mount Barker and a driver doesn’t have to mess around with downtown Adelaide.  It’s in the same direction as Kangaroo Island, a little east of the Cape Jervis ferry terminal.

A pleasant drive in the cool morning, a sprinkling of rain here and there.  Not many people or cars, I think the weather was discouraging them.

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Imagine that,  More tourist shops.  Sigh.  Groan.  But wait!  What’s this?

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Adventure.  A causeway to a nearby island with railroad tracks on it.  Not for trains.  For horse drawn trolley cars.  Too cold and rainy for the trolleys that day, not enough riders.

This was irresistible.  I left the mainland to explore.  I also left the ladies behind as the weather was too cold and rainy for them.

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Upper center.  Little penguins.   People flock over here at night to see the penguins come up out of the water and waddle to their burrows.  They do that at night to escape predators.   No penguins during the day.  Sad smile   As I write this I’m thinking about returning and spending a night nearby to go have a looksee.   But there’s that trip to Antarctica that I’m still dreaming about…

OK, I’ll take a walk around and look anyway.

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The causeway.

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No wonder my legs are tired!

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Lotsa pictures coming up.  This walk was great!   Town of Victor Harbor.

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Rosetta head, just south around the bay from Victor Harbor.

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Seal Island.  Over the top and about 2000 miles away is Antarctica.

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How was I to know that Granite Island was the spawning grounds of the Remarkable Rocks?  Seriously, I was stunned to see this.  Never thought I’d ever see anything close to the Remarkable Rocks again in my life.  A yawning baby hippo?  It’s about 4 feet long.IMG_3677

Fluffy seedpods for the local grasses.   Weird looking things.  Probably helps them survive fire

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I stole this selfie during a break in the rain sprinkles.  The wind was howling and I didn’t want the camera lens speckled up.

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The car is parked in front of those apartments

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A trio of cormorants.

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I didn’t look back on the way out, this is what I missed.  The trolley terminal.  Praxy and Alicia are walking out to meet me.  They drank coffee, ate cinnamon rolls, and stayed warm.  I stayed warm with brisk walking.

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Looks like a Clydesdale to me.  They are noted for their gentle temperament and great strength.  Best way to get ‘em used to the people, noise, and traffic is to throw ‘em in.  Just noted the roadapple diaper, missed that when I took the shots.  The pee must be free.  Or go free.

Last stop of the day was McLaren Vale.  There were at least 50 wineries with tasting rooms within a 10 mile radius.  This is what the Adelaide area is famous for.  Wine.  Tourist and buses are everywhere sampling and buying.  I got a bottle from a nice man at the local Visitor’s Center.  Small operators, too small for a full tasting shop, get to rent a spot in the center for two weeks at a time.

A person could REALLY REALLY get sloshed hanging around McLaren Vale.  A sip here, a sip there.   In a few hours you could easily be on your lips sipping the sidewalk.  Designated drivers are a must.  Or outriggers on your shoulders.

I thought I might buy some local cheeses, but the prices were totally outrageous.  Not even close to a “buy” point.  The wine-and-cheese crowd have much deeper pockets than this hick from Pomeroy.  But we stopped in a local nursery and here was the largest grape vine I’ve ever seen.  Monstrous.

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A years worth of grapes for me in one shot.   A few months out from this point.

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Great fun!

The next day was rather a day to relax.  We took off to Murray Bridge to check it out and  make motel reservations.  We’ll be back here on Jan 4th and spend two nights to look around.   Blog will come up at the appropriate time.  But here are two things that we probably won’t see again.

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A freight train on the bridge.  The auto bridge is on the other side of this bridge.   And…

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This “Good Ole Boy”.  I didn’t ask him his name, but I had to get his story.  He was more than willing to chat.

The Murray river is pretty much at sea level at this point.  Brackish water with plenty of carp to catch.   There is a large herd of these house boats hanging around the area on both sides of the river.  These boats can come here and tie up for 48 hours, leave for 24 hours, then return for another 48 hours.   It looked like there were about 20 or so slots.

This is his house.  He has a huge house cat (Lounge sized to the Grants) that is the shipboard mascot.   BBQ, propane fridge, no rent.  Walk to the store for groceries.   Generator off and on when he needs to charge something.  Chat with the tourists for entertainment.

Low stress lifestyle.  Seeing a lot of that down under.

12/18/2016  4:30pm

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Lounging around on Christmas day


104 degrees today, not excited about being outside.  Time to catch up a bit.

I really don’t have much of interest to write about.  We’ve been hanging around with friends going shopping at malls and relaxing.

I took one day that Praxy was feeling under the weather and took off across town to Costco.  Not to shop, but to look around.  It takes three buses and over an hour and a half to get from the Trott park/Flagstaff Hill area to Costco on the other side of the CBD (Central Business District).  Both directions.  The transfer in downtown Adelaide was quite confusing, but I’ve got it now.  I lost a little time there.

Costco in Australia is quite similar to Costco in the USA.  Many of the same items are available.  Kirkland branded items are rare-ish, but can be found.   Some things are a bargain, beef for example.  25% lower price than the USA for the same cut.  Considering the exchange rate, most items are similar.  (Aussies are taking a hit.  US dollars are getting stronger as we stay longer.)  Some of my favorites were there.  Jelly Belly jellybeans.  Kirkland AAA and AA batteries.  Premade pizzas.  Cheap hotdogs and drinks in the snack bar (which was packed, btw).  Canon and Nikon SLR cameras.  Kirkland mixed nuts in a jar.

I noticed a lot of Asians shopping there, Chinese in the lead.  Looked like many of them were stocking their restaurants, like they do in the USA.   Probably good prices.

Three buses back to the house.  I was a little late and Praxy was starting to wonder about me.  No problem, got back fine.

Time for a few little opinions I’ve formed about this beautiful country.

Prices here are higher than in the US for most items.  Even considering the favorable exchange rate.  Food and gasoline lead the way with gas around $4 per gallon.  My old international standby, MacDonalds, is about 20% higher.   Burger King (called Hungry Jack’s) is higher as well with no “value meal” options at either.   Bargains, at least true bargains, are hard for me to find.  Vietnamese is your best bet for a mealtime cheapie.

Cars are smaller.  There is no such thing as a 3/4 ton pickup such as my Dodge Cummins diesel or a Ford F250.  I see many a small pickup and van pulling what I consider a large RV trailer considering their diminutive size.  I’ve wondered how the tow rigs were faring.

Most places and parks are clean and relatively free of litter and debris.  Crime is low, but some friends were hit hard by an express burglary.  Traffic violations are dealt with harshly at great expense and hardship to the driver.   Don’t speed here.  Ever.  Traffic cameras are everywhere.  I hope I haven’t been caught screwing up.  I’m trying not to, but I’m getting a little paranoid.  The authorities will catch up to me if I do and the rental car agencies are required to help them.

I haven’t seen anything that remotely resembles slums in Aussie.  I’m assured they are here with Sydney being the biggest collection.   None in Adelaide.   Some of the outlying areas look a little seedy, but everyone seems to keep busy.  In short, Australian people seem more industrious than the people from the USA.  From my limited perspective.

Voting here is compulsory.   Prices for electrical kilowatt hours are some of the highest in the nation in this area.  Water is scarce with most yards being totally brown.  I assume prices for water are high as well.  Guns are outlawed, although many still remain hidden away.

All adults are required to be tested and found a career.  I find that rather refreshing.  Welfare types seem to be frowned upon.  Wages are generally decent.  Welfare is only for sick or handicapped.  I believe that health care is state sponsored.  It is best to have your own private insurance as those people tend to get to the front of the line for treatment.  Uninsured can have very long waits.

Public transportation is super.  You can get most anywhere in the city with a bus ticket and a 30 or less minute walk.  Price for a fare is $1.50-$3.00 depending on time of day.  A REAL bargain.  Trains, buses, and trams.   Only place I’ve seen that compares is San Diego, California.

A new friend took me to the wine area of Barossa the other day.  It was a great time as I wasn’t driving.  I could sample any and every thing.

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This winery is quite well off.  They had a bottle of great Shiraz called “Double Barrel”.  It was aged in two different whiskey barrels from the USA.

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The best, as usual, was a little hole-in-the-wall place called Whistler.  It’s hard to find, but worth it.

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They had a Merlot that was about the best I’ve ever tasted.  Yeah.  The ole hick from the sticks now knows that wines have a wide variety of qualities and tastes, even from the same region.  I always thought that wine was wine.  Nope.   We went to a very fancy place that at least the wine didn’t impress me.  They had a lot of other cool stuff, though, and great history.

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Great ambiance and many things to see.  Charlie and I took off into their cellar museum for a quick look.

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Charlie is married to Praxy’s schoolmate’s younger sister, a toddler at the time Praxy left Asgad for good.  He took me around for a quick trip to the famous Barossa Valley area for a few stops.

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That liter of 1916 is under lock and key.  $700 per liter.  The 1926 is a bargain at $500 a liter.   No, I didn’t get to try it.  Why would I?

There was a metal and knife shop, a leather shop, and an art studio here.  Much to look at.  We killed over an hour looking around.

I have to admit I enjoyed the wine tasting.  Maybe there is a scrap of cultural hope for me after all.  Still can’t get my pinkie finger elevated as I sip my wine, though.

The Barossa area maybe covers 5 square miles.  There must be 150 wineries in that area.  Amazing.

It was an 1 1/2 drive each way for Charlie to take me back across town, so I hopped a train from near his house north of Adelaide.  $1.50 to travel 35 miles back to Marion Center mall and Trott park.  Not bad.  Not bad at all.  Train was air conditioned and comfortable.  I had to wait almost an hour to catch the M44 bus to Marion mall, but our friends were waiting for me there.  Saved the last bus leg.  Yay!

Moving on to another round at Victor Harbor.  Victor Harbor is an interesting, fun place to visit.

12/27/2016  4:30pm

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