Melbourne Cup Musings

I’ve always loved Cup Day. My great-grandfather was a farrier, and I’m pretty sure there’s some genetics at play to determine whether you’re a horse person or not. Plus, wearing hats and drinking copious amounts of alcohol are two of my very favourite things, so any chance to combine them is alright by me.

In the last few years though, I’ve started to look at the horse racing industry through different eyes. Through Cai’s eyes. And I haven’t really been all that down with what I’ve been seeing.

It’s a hard thing to explain to kids. We whip these animals so they run really fast and earn (or lose) people heaps of money. Sometimes the horses die. Sometimes the jockeys die. Sometimes people bet their rent or food money on the outcome of these races, and then have nowhere to live or nothing to eat.

I’m not down with the Melbourne Cup anymore. But yesterday, old mate came around with a sweep. “Clare will be in that” said Matt.

I’d decided that I wasn’t taking part this year (I hadn’t last year either) but I felt obliged. So I put my hand in my pocket to the tune of $7 and had a couple of entries in the sweeps.

Yep, peer pressure at 38 years old.

Anyway, race time drew closer and we wandered over to a neighbouring campsite to watch the Cup. That was a bit of an experience in itself, as our fellow traveller had penned a bit of a bush poem that she recited to us all about horse racing. It was about a horse named My Face, and I pretty much could have lived my whole life without hearing her scream “COME ON MY FACE” at the poem’s, well, climax.

There was also the race goer in the hat who, after I complimented her on it, informed me it belonged to her dog.

And the generator dying resulting in the TV losing power less than 30 seconds in was something even Murphy would be shaking his head at.

As it turned out, one of the horses I drew ran third, netting me a big $13. The kids thought that was pretty ace and promptly started hitting me up for new scrapbooks and maybe an iceblock.

Until they heard that one of the horses had collapsed and died shortly after the completion of the race.

And another was undergoing surgery.

Then, my little animal activists had a different view of that $13 altogether.

We’d like to donate that $13 to an animal charity, preferably equine, so if you are one or know one please get in touch.

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Losing My Travel Mojo

I don’t know what happened last week, but the shine fell off a bit. I lost my travel mojo.

I felt like I wasn’t seeing anything except the inside of a supermarket.

I felt like I wasn’t doing anything except waiting around for the boys to come back from fishing.

I felt like none of our systems were working, that nothing had a home.

I didn’t want to go home, and seeing as how we have tenants in I don’t think they’d really dig me turning up on the doorstep either, but I just wasn’t loving it sick anymore.

And feeling like that didn’t really make me a joy to be around.

But I’ve discovered that I’m not alone. It seems to be a bit of a phenomenon that around about the three or four month mark, some of us wanderers get a bit…homesick isn’t the right word but it’s a similar emotion. And I think that slowing down, and not really having a plan for what’s next, and wondering where we are going to spend Christmas, and chomping through our financial buffer zone a bit (hello new windscreen) certainly compounded that feeling.

And it probably sounds ridiculous and spoilt and entitled and a whole lot of other things too, to be living this amazing lifestyle and have even a moment of not enjoying it. But the reality is, we are five people living in very close quarters and we don’t all think the same or want to do the same things all the time, or have all the same interests or priorities. And that can cause a little bit of tension, especially when you’re not right on top of your game anyway. Let’s face it, life’s not all unicorns farting rainbows when you live in a house; it’s a bit ridiculous to think it will be in a tent.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that even when you’re on the trip of a lifetime, bad days happen. Bad weeks happen. It doesn’t always mean you’re not doing the right thing, or that you should pack it all in and go home. Sometimes it might. But I think for the most part, if you push past it you’ll get your mojo back. A good pack down, a smooth move and a dip in the ocean and I am back. Bring it on.

Cai’s Wild Life

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Yesterday started out with rescuing a lorikeet out of the river and taking it to a vet in Gladstone and ended up with an email from Bindi Irwin.

A few weeks back, Cai decided he wanted to enter a competition being run by Australia Zoo Wildlife Warriors to find a Visionary Wildlife Warrior ages between 5 and 17. And while he didn’t win, he was one of 8 finalists for 2014. I’m so proud of him for his passion and his commitment to that passion, and I wanted to share his entry with you all. Cai expresses himself much better verbally than in writing (I think I’m the opposite so I don’t know how that happened) so he spoke this to me and I typed it up for him.

My name is Cai and I am 9 years old. I come from Brisbane, but at the moment I am travelling around the country with my family in a camper trailer.

Steve Irwin inspired me to become involved in wildlife conservation. When I was little, I was a pretty sick kid. I spent a lot of time in hospital. One day, my mum and dad got me a Crocodile Hunter DVD to watch while I was on a drip. I loved it so much I watched it over and over. And from then on I was interested in wildlife and wildlife conservation. I used to walk around with a pillowcase full of rubber snakes and do snake shows for my family and friends. Mum says that I would only wear khaki clothes and she used to have to take my Australia Zoo shirt off me when I was asleep so she could wash it. When I got older, mum and dad let me have some snakes of my own – a friend of ours is looking after them for us at the moment – but mum is still saying I can’t have my own freshie. Yet.

I am passionate about saving our saltwater crocodiles and changing people’s ideas about them. Salties are my favourites. When I was in Cape York I saw a big saltie on Jackey Jackey Creek and it was just awesome.

Because we’re living on the road, the whole of Australia is my community. We meet heaps of new people all the time, and I always talk to them about wildlife. I explain to people why they shouldn’t catch and kill sharks when they go fishing, and if dad and I catch a shark we always let him go. I also started a petition at my old school to send to Campbell Newman asking him to stop shooting the crocs in Far North Queensland. I took my whole family to a protest rally to try to stop the shark cull in WA.

I always talk to other kids about why crocs, sharks and snakes are awesome and why we shouldn’t kill any of them, and I’m working with my family on putting together information packs for kids to help them understand why we need these creatures in our environment. I think that most kids really like them as much as I do, but they learn to be scared about them from their parents. I’d like to help kids teach their parents all about wildlife. I’m also working on making some YouTube videos too.

I want to help teach other kids about why our ecosystem needs apex predators like sharks and crocs, and what will happen to the environment if we keep killing them all off.

Steve Irwin taught me to be passionate about our amazing Australian wildlife, and why we shouldn’t muck with it. If you don’t look after nature, the whole ecosystem will collapse. I’ve always wanted to be just like Steve, and one day I will.

I know you will mate.

A Surprising Week

Hurricane Harper

Hurricane Harper

I’m not mad keen on them, but if I had to name the thirteenth week of our adventure, it would be the Week of the Surprise. Some good, some not so good. Some – well, you’ll find out.

Let’s start with the good.

1. Watching the mighty South Sydney Rabbitohs win the NRL Grand Final for the first time in my lifetime. That was pretty special, even if we weren’t there but were in a caravan park in Airlie Beach surrounded by backpackers who had absolutely no idea what was going on.

2. How much I really enjoyed Airlie Beach. I thought it was going to be a bit touristy, and it is don’t get me wrong, but the colour of the water well and truly made up for that. We could probably never afford to live there in a million years unless we lived in one of the van parks, but that doesn’t mean I’m crossing it off the list.

And then, the not so good.

1. Opening my cutlery drawer and watching a mouse crawl out of it. It took me a minute to work out what was going on, because mice in the cutlery drawer isn’t something that generally happens, unless you’re Snow White I guess. Anyway, I was less than impressed, and the cutlery all got a big dunk in the bucket of Milton.

2. The squashed spider on the chopping board. I can only assume that Spidey had been attached to the pumpkin I pulled out of the vege box, and then as I rolled the pumpkin to cut it, he met an untimely end. RIP Spidey, and another contender for the Milton bucket.

And finally

Harper is at an age where she’s starting to make a few connections about going to the toilet. We let her have a fair bit of time with no nappy on to encourage her to work it all out. She also likes to jump in and out of the tent when we are setting up or packing down, because it’s not difficult enough to do without having to worry about squashing a toddler.

We packed up and left Airlie Beach, and on arrival at Carmila Beach started to set up the tent. The initial unfold and getting the poles in is a two person job, so I jumped in to help Matt in what’s a pretty familiar routine now.
And then I stepped in something squishy.

Yep, Harps had pooed in the tent 280km earlier at Airlie Beach, and we had unknowingly wrapped ourselves up this little present and brought it with us.

Suffice it to say, no nappy time will be a bit more strictly supervised from now on.

How was your week? Step in anything you shouldn’t have?

Contingency Planning (or A Tale of Too Many Kilometres)

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Before we ran away from home, we discussed the hypothetical situations that would see us have to temporarily abandon our trip. It was probably the most logical thing we did in our planning stage, which was less planning and more having a beer and looking at photos of Cape York. Anyway, we talked about having a slush fund in case we had to go to a funeral, or what we’d do if the tenants trashed the house, or if one of us got sick (me) or eaten by a crocodile (him). And we talked about what would happen if our team, the mighty South Sydney Rabbitohs, made it to the NRL grand final.

We’ve contingency planned that one ever since we left Sydney almost eight years ago. We’ve always said, if we make a grand final, we go to Sydney. But given that the last time Souths booked a grand final berth was five years before I was born, we’ve never had to use it.

Until now.

When we are 2000km away.

Without, like, jobs and income and stuff.

Driving 2000km to watch a game of footy sounds absolutely ridiculous. Because it is. But that doesn’t mean I don’t want to do it.

Because this isn’t just any game of footy. This is the game of footy I have been waiting for my whole life.

Matt is being all practical and logical about why it’s a ridiculous idea, but a) logic has no place in footy b) everything we do is unpractical and illogical and c) he once drove from Brisbane to Sydney to buy a snake.

Matt said he doesn’t want me to hate him for saying that we shouldn’t go, and I said that was ok because I have heaps of other reasons I could use instead.

I don’t know what our contingency contingency plan is. Maybe we’ll try to find a caravan park that will show the game. Maybe we’ll find a campground within walking distance of a pub. Maybe heart will override head and we’ll end up gunning it down the coast.

It’s going to be a long week.

Why You Should Always Drink Your Wine in a Coffee Cup

A few weeks into our adventure, the inevitable happened, and I found myself in possession of a cask of wine. The silver handbag. Chateaux de Box. Cardonnay. Goon. At $3.50 for 7000 litres, it seemed like a good idea to have a box stashed in the truck for emergencies.

Of course, cask wine is never a good idea. Whether I drink 1 glass or 5, I have a thumper of a headache the next day. I guess that’s because of the sulphites – Cai is massively allergic to sulphites so as a rule we all stay well away from them – but Google can’t find me an organic, preservative free wine in a box, weirdly enough.

Anyway, with the kids tucked up in bed last night we thought we’d goon on next to the campfire. We only brought our mugs with us, so they have to double as glasses. It looked as classy as it sounds, goon in stainless steel camping mugs. It was about 9.30 or so, so it was pretty quiet around the campsite.

And then a car came ripping through.

And then again. And stopped right in front of our fire.

The female occupant of the car was, how do I put this delicately, completely off her face. Smashed. Rat Arsed. Maggot. I’m not sure about the bloke, but seeing as how he was controlling a vehicle I can only hope he was in a better state. She had a very large glass of something in her hand.

“Do you wanna have a drink with me? I’m looking for someone who wants to have a drink with me!”

Matt didn’t miss a beat.

“Sorry love, we’re just having a cup of tea and then we’re going to bed”.

Sheer genius.

And that, dear readers, is why you should always drink your wine out of a coffee cup.

Spring Resolutions – mindfulness and the art of a better blog

I have been a very slack blogger of late. I’ve been lured by the quick hit you get from Facebook and Instagram, the instantaneous-ness of it rather than sitting and planning a post.

And then I heard myself say something ridiculous, and realised I needed to remove my foot from my posterior and hop to it.

I said “I haven’t had time to blog”.

Girlfriend, you live in a tent and your biggest daily decision is whether to go and sit on the beach in the morning or the afternoon. You have nothing BUT time.

So, I’m reconnecting with my blog. Expect a flurry of activity! But as the first Spring morning of the year dawns, I’m also working on myself. Because if I think I don’t have time to write a blog post, I clearly need help.

I started off yesterday, trying to get my meditation mojo happening again. Harper was asleep on the beach next to me, the boys were fishing. I closed my eyes and tried to focus on my breathing.

“What are you doing?”

Mackenzie had returned from practising her seagull calls further down the beach.

I explained that I was meditating and asked her to join me. Which she did for all of about 3 seconds and then started poking me with a stick.

Perhaps the blogging bit will be easier than the mindfulness.