Saturday, May 29, 2010

Coffs Harbour, Macksville and back home

May 28th - Three weeks back in the states and no blog entries?  Yes, that busy! I’m in Conyers Georgia and have a big wedding tomorrow at a lovely estate in the country. Have a little time tonight to post my last (lost) entry from OZ - I started it and never finished - I could write so much but really have had no time and it will be a few more weeks before I am out of the weeds with editing and
the following was written on our last night in OZ...
So that’s it? My 5 weeks in Australia are over? How did that happen so fast? Can I get an extension? 
Yes...all these thoughts are running through  my mind right now - I’m in our motel room in Sydney relaxing after a long day of teaching and travel, mentally preparing for the long flight home tomorrow. What movies will I watch? How many movies can one watch during a 15 hour flight? Ugh... Let me change the subject before I get  tired of flying, especially since I’m not even on the plane yet.
The last few weeks have been a blur - hard work and not much time between clinics - the last clinic was in Macksville, about an hour south of a lovely city called Coffs Harbour - Coffs is the closest ‘large enough’ airport to Macksville - we flew in last Wednesday and rented a little car and drove south along the Pacific Highway. (Down the wrong side of the road still - I’m finally getting sorta used to that ‘stay left’ thing - still weird when you make a right - you have to cross traffic and it is backward in a way that makes you kinda lose your sense of where cars are supposed to be with respect to what you are doing, but we lived so all is well)
The Pacific Highway is a two way highway that occasionally turns into two lane pairs when you come to larger towns, but mostly it winds through lovely rolling hills and coastal rain forests. Several small towns are tucked off the highway - places like Tooramina, Urung, Valla,...
Just north of our destination (Macksville) is a town called Nambucca Heads (rhymes with Nam-trucka, but use a ‘b’) We stopped there on the way down and it was right at sunset - we walked out onto this nice jetty at the confluence of the Nambucca River and the sea. Off in the distance you can see several coastal mountain ranges and ‘heads’, large rock or hill formations that are right on the ocean - usually between the heads there are beautiful beaches and this particular area of Australia is gorgeous - The sun was going down but the last few clouds were going a really nice color of pink. (side note - have I found any places here that I didn’t think were gorgeous?....nope.) 

As we walked out onto the jetty, we discovered that the huge rocks were a public place for people to make art. Drawings and paintings and mosaics were all over the rocks - There were plenty of messages that were just words, like “traveling in Australia 2008, or religious messages or ‘I was here’ type messages, but there were other much more elaborate paintings and even some very elaborate mosaics that people had put a lot of time into - some were really beautiful and it was neat to see. One of my faves is pictured here. Pretty much sums it up for me...
We made it to Macksville after dark and found our little motel, the Mandarin - nice small motel with big rooms. And free internet. First place in OZ to give that away. Actually one of my only complaints with the entire country is the lack of included internet with motel rooms or free internet hot spots. Internet has gotten to be such an integral part of work and staying connected with important things in ones life  that it’s weird to go somewhere and not have it available 24/7. Maybe that’s a sign I need to be less of a slave to my internet habit!
After the first day of teaching, we explored the area a little more and found a fantastic small town called Scott’s Head. More ‘heads’ and beaches and coastal rainforests in close proximity to the ocean. Beautiful. Found a piece of sea glass the minute we walked out on the beach, something I will treasure because I had a personal request from a VIP in my life (Mom) to bring back a piece of sea glass if I could find one while here.  

We managed to explore the same area the next morning - Climbed up onto the top of a head that looked out over the Pacific - beautiful!  We also made time to explore the coastal rainorest on another day - Drove up and up on the coastal rainforest road - rough and remote, wild and diverse - Lowland tropical plants gave way to higher climate trees and flora - primitive bridges and creek crossings in several areas - our little rental car made it just fine, but the land rovers we kept passing were probably saying something like ‘tourists!’ We made it to the top of a lookout before heading back to teach class (remember this is all before 9 a.m....) So glad we were able to make these little side trips, but they really whet my appetite to make a return with more time for exploring...someday!

The clinics went fantastic, all of them - I would take photographs and Karen would teach -  her combination of theory and riding and demos kept everyone challenged and the changes the riders were able to make over a five day period were amazing. It was so neat to see the same progression from clinic to clinic - learning to be clear with your horse and learning how to do this makes a huge difference in the way rider and horse interact. Karen is so good at working on problem areas and helping riders learn ways to correct and change them - she truly has a gift in this department (and she didn’t even pay me to say that...:))  
At the end of each clinic, it felt like we were saying goodbye to family members, as everyone gets to know one another after going through the class and being in close proximity for five days. I feel like I have fifty new friends  - that’s more than I have in the states! (except for the facebook technicality of having lots of ‘friends’, but that doesn’t count...)   surely I kid a bit but the point is, I feel like I have made friends all over Australia - everyone was just so nice and glad to accommodate us wherever we went. It was the trip of a lifetime, and I’m setting my mind to figure out how to have another.

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