Thursday, January 1, 2009

Surf 'n Turf

We hit the road around 10am and head north out of Brisbane for the Sunshine Coast. This is a string of beaches and beach towns extending upward toward the Tropic of Capricorn. It's Florida-hot here, but not at all as humid. We arrive at Sunrise Beach, find a place to park the Land Rover (it's wide and long), and head down to the sand. Now, I usually hate sand, but a good experience last week when we drove down toward Portsea has made me think twice about it. Australian sand is golden, and sort of the consistency of light brown sugar. The sand I can't stand is the very soft, very talc-y, and very dry.

I slather myself with sunblock, and then hit the water. Although the surf is kind of rough, there is no real undertow and the water is pleasantly warm. A team of surf lifesavers have set up a patrol area, the idea is to always swim between their flags. It turns out that the surf lifesavers are volunteers, and that there are surf clubs all over Australia that watch over various beaches. Bryce continues further up the beach so he can go fishing.

I go in and out of the water a few times, and crack open the huge Thomas Pynchon novel that I've been hauling around all week. The breeze is stiff, the sun is bright, the day is warm. I am so relaxed that I think my brain would just slide out of my head if I tilted it the right way. I take a long walk to the far end of the beach, where there are rocky tide pools. The rocks are covered with little limpets and barnacles, and tiny fish. After my walk, Bryce notices that I'm starting to sunburn, so we pack up and head back toward Brisbane.

After a stop at McDonald's (abbreviated to "Macca's" by the locals, Aussies seem to abbreviate everything) for a frozen Coca Cola (think Slurpee), we drive the tourist road to the Glasshouse Mountains. On the way we pass the zoo started by Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter, the guy that was killed a couple of years ago in a bizzare stingray accident. The mountains are all that are left of a series of ancient volcanoes. All the parts of the cones have eroded away, leaving only the basalt lava "plugs" that were the heart of the volcanoes.

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