Getting There

Previous Weekend Diary Excerpt:

With too many other commitments for various family members over this weekend, we've pretty much written off any more riding training. Today has been packing day (just a bit important!) We've been trying to rationalise how we are going to fit all our gear into 2 bags each. 25kg per person, 2 bag per person limit, with max. weight of a bag = 14kgs. Measurement restrictions are 50 x 50 x 100 cm. I've been anxious about it, but the reality is that it can be done easily. Only drama is needing to purchase a big duffel bag, or some such, to fit 4 sleeping mats in them - they don't actually weigh too much, but are just bulky. So that we have an 'odds and sods' bag. (He has no faith in me - he always reckons I come home with more bags (eg. of dirty clothes) by the end of a trip...not to mention miscellaneous items in a dozen extra that I bring out when he's packing the car before we leave!

Meanwhile today it's been a 'find the needle in the haystack' day. The kids are stashers. Things always turn up eventually in nooks and crannies, in boxes, or bottoms of wardrobes... but often not in time. Drives me nuts. And drives him even more nuts... so there was a bit of ranting and raving going on today because one sleeping mat (that has been stored 'inflated') is missing its elastics that hold it together when rolled up. (They were used when we had visitors over xmas... and - mea culpa - it was my job to keep track of the bags and elastics. Must be written in my job description somewhere...) We have also managed to "lose' one net bag that the camping towels came in. Zoe's. Must be stashed _somewhere_.

It feels like pure madness in the run up to leaving. Yesterday Marc had to be at a touch footy tournament up on the Tweed Coast (a practice run with some Queenslander teammates for their Over 40s Oz vs Kiwis match at the end of March. This was following on from being away for work all week. He got a plane back from Sydney on Friday arvo, got home around 5.00, dumped his washing, his bag, swapped cars, and left to drive the 3 hours north to this tournament.

I had to work at netball registration yesterday morning.

Caitlin had to be at netball for 4 hours this afternoon.

Zoe had a party at Maccas to go to.. and so I bludged a lift there and back for her, which has involved her going off and doing something else with this friend after the party.

Poor Alison got stuck with carrying and weighing and getting into trouble for things which have been 'stashed'.

Now 4pm and Marc has gone to pick up the netballers... I perhaps could go and do some more "looking".. although I simply sewed up some more elastic up for the mats. I did find a late library book that noone had been able to find. (Something else to cross off the MUST DO list for this week.)

Tomorrow afternoon I have swimming, then after school Cait has 2 hours rep netball training. I have a netball committee meeting at 7pm. Marc has touch.

Tuesday afternoon Cait's first netball training for her netball club starts. (And I need to talk to the girl who is feeding the dog while we are away.)

Wednesday afternoon Zoe has swimming, Caitlin has touch, and then Marc has touch. (yes, a lot of touch, but he misses a hell of a lot while he is away for work.)

Thursday is D-day from here. Alison and Zoe have the District schools swimming carnival.. we are sending them off with Caitlin (with a lift)... and will finish packing and meet them in Coffs at the end, and continue on from there.

And in all those days, the packing must be finalised!! Heeeeelllllppppp!

Getting There: The Recap

Surprisingly we managed to get away on the Thursday as scheduled. Perhaps someone more organised could have been packed by the night before AND watched their kids swim in the District Schools swimming carnival, but we are just not that good. Instead we sent Alison and Zoe off with Cait (missing school) as supervisor for Zoe. Arranged a lift with Alison's friend's mum, dropped them at their house, then came home to try and pull it all together. In between heavy showers of rain (which was a sign of the week to come round here.)

Somehow we pulled it all together without even getting stroppy with each other. I also managed to run the vacuum cleaner around, and clean the bathroom vanities, so that the house wouldn't be quite so putrid upon our return.

We made it to the carnival in time to see Alison in her relay race (which they blitzed, as she'd hoped.) She'd swum well... seemed she should have got 11 yrs girls champion, but they hadn't worked it out yet. Felt guilty that we were taking her away from competing in Zone the following week, but the reality is that once she gets that far, the serious swimmers, the ones who train 5 mornings a week, are the ones who shine over part-timers like her. Not that that is an excuse not to go, but I seriously felt we had a worthwhile alternative experience about to happen.

Zoe had got a third in her heat, and had swum well, according to Cait. Good experience for her. Both she and Alison were sunburnt, Alison of course having ignored Caitlin's advice to put sunscreen on (properly)... and Zoe just having spent too much time in the wading pool, washing the cream off her face.

We set off for Newcastle - Swansea to be more precise - to spend the night at Marc's parents' place. With a breakfast of Papa's fried eggs under our belts, we were off again by 8 am the next morning, even with having had to unload the bikes, and reload them back onto the car in the morning, and we made good time to Holbrook. Despite being philosophically opposed to having had to pre-register for a visitor's toll road e-Pass, (which incurs extra fees - to match your numberplate, and to simply register), the trip around the outskirts of Sydney on the new M7 was bloody amazing. (Having for many years made the trip from the north of Sydney through the traffic till connecting with the Hume Highway heading south west, this was unbelievable.)

A quick stop at Pheasant's Nest servo to pick up a package from a bike shop down that way (long story)... and we tootled down the freeway, stopping just for a Maccas lunch, and then to play tourists at the Dog on the Tuckerbox at Gundagai. Or rather, 9 miles from Gundagai. (Or 5 miles.. there seem to be two versions!)

And (next pic) here's the car loaded up with the tandems on top.. and Zoe's trail-a-bike on the Mac Rack behind. We did get a few 'looks' as we travelled down the highway, and of course as we neared Holbrook we were expecting that other cars carrying bikes were probably heading for the Big Ride as well. Turns out that one lot who seemed rather friendly were in fact friends of friends who had been told to look out for us. They thought they were pretty clever spotting us before we even got there!


So, we found Holbrook and the motel we'd booked into. And it had a pool, so the kids were happy. We found a pub to eat dinner at, along with other Big Riders.. Made friends with a lady (older than me) who had returned to do it by herself this time. It was the start of a real eye opener for us, of the amazing 'ordinary' people who were there to do this ride.. and what's more, for many, to do it for the second, third, etc etc time. There were people much older than us. There were people "bigger" than me. Not many carting around 3 girls though!!!

Back to the motel for the last sleep in a bed for a while (and the first of many nights trying to dry out swimming costumes!!!)

>> Day 1