I remember when I was young, getting so excited when my dad's work would take him out of state during the summer - because the whole family would go! My dad would work, but would always fit in hours in the pool with my brother and I at whatever La Quinta or Holiday Inn we were calling home for the week. He would also fit in a few cool side trips to see the likes of Jesse James' Oklahoma mountain hideout, or Silver Dollar City in Missouri - all pretty cool destinations as I still remember the details many(well- not so many!) years later!
Fast forward a couple years and it is the Judge kids turn to follow along on Dad's business trip to Sydney. We found some neighbors to watch our dogs, packed the car, locked the house and headed off to Sydney ~ or Cindy as Abby calls it ~ for 4 days of relaxation! It was a really great trip. We took in lots of the typical sights - Opera House , Harbour Bridge, and Darling Harbor. We also enjoyed some time with Ellie and Matt and their children- thanks for a great dinner and a fun evening you guys!!!
On the way home, we decided to take the scenic route - Canberra via the Blue Mountains. Easy enough drive to the mountains from Sydney - very beautiful scenery. We arrived at the "Three Sisters" scenic lookout at 4pm. We had time to take the incline railway down and the cable car back up the mountain side. Cool - I always love a relaxing train ride... you know, like at Disney when everyone is so tired and hot from the sun - hop on the train and take a 360 degree trip around the park and just "chill" watching all the other guests frantically make their way from ride to ride. So - we buy our tickets and just as we walk up to the kiosk, a uniformed gentleman tells us to hurry and get on the train - it departs in just a minute. OK.... but we did have the stroller and all the other paraphernalia that goes along with 4 children. But... we run and hop on the "train"! Hmmmmmmmmmmm.... not like any other train I have been on. There is a metal mesh net very close and tight over our heads and the seats are a little tilted. I start fidgeting with Abby getting her close to the side so she can enjoy the view - Joe and Joey are in the row directly in front of us - Holly and Daniel ran to get the "front seats". BAMMM!!! I was plunging down a mountain! What had I done.... my stuff was falling off my lap... I was holding onto Abby in a panic - my 4 year old reminding me at that second that this was fun and not scary at all!
Wow - I was thinking that the metal net was to keep rocks from falling on me - not me from falling on the rocks! The terror ended shortly after it started - plummeting down a mountain side on a track takes no time at all! At the bottom, I soon learned that I had just ridden the fastest and steepest (52 degree) incline rail in the world. You think they would have told me that on the top!!!
So we get off - my heart pounding from the "excitement" (fright) and Abby looks up and says "Mom, I see the mountains, but they are not blue"! We were all laughing! I have to research the name! We walk 10 minutes along a "boardwalk" on the mountain side and come to our only choice for ascent back to the top - cable car. Wow! This is not what I bargained for. Huge cable car that holds a hundred people or so as they go up up up - hanging by a thin black wire over the hard rocky ground way way below. The kids loved it - Joe thought it was beautiful - I don't know as my eyes were closed! I have decided Joe and I as "Amazing Race" contestants is not going to happen!
So we get back in the car and head off to the "Major" highway that links the Blue Mountains and Canberra. It is marked "Scenic" - Cool! So we fill up with gas and drive off.... For nearly an hour we did not pass a car. The road went from winding through the mountains with safety railing and bright yellow stripes to a few white stripes and no railing to just a plain slim paved road. WE were wondering if we had missed a turn as Joe said, "I'll only worry when it turns to a dirt road". My tears started shortly there after when the road turned to bumpy gravel and then dirt.... We all decided it was too late to turn back so we would keep going straight. Thank goodness it is summer and does not get dark until after 9pm. We drive 5km down the dirt road and then it becomes a thin paved road again... after the big "road floods bad" signs and 6 meter high marker it becomes a nice paved road again with rails and yellow painted stripes... and then 45 minutes later, we come upon a small dot on the map - a town! We were going the right way! 30 minutes later we were safely in a Kentucky Fried Chicken gaining strength to make the last hour of the trek home!
What did we learn? That our plans to take a camper van around the island of Tasmania need to be adjusted! We need the biggest camper van made so the kids can spread out!
Now we are back home - unpacking and washing clothes. Joe is at work, the kids are focused on the start of school in a few weeks and I am counting down the days until Lilli joins our crazy clan!