Monday, May 18, 2009


Well, I spent some time today cleaning out under one of the workbenches in the garage. I mentioned a while back that I was starting to tackle that mess - and was making a bigger mess than when I started...

Today I spent the day in nostalgia. I found photos and other memorabilia from a trip my mom and I made to Australia in 1986. Photos, ads from several places we must have visited, the itinerary for the trip.

Mom & Daddy had been pretty "into" rock hounding before my dad passed away. After he was gone, Mom stayed active in their rock hound group.

For those of you not "in the know" - rock hounds are people who chase ROCKS! Oh sure, they're looking for specific KINDS of rocks, but they're chasing ROCKS. And they go through all kinds of hi-jinx to get those ROCKS.

Anyway, Mom decided she wanted to take a rock hounding trip to Australia, and she invited me to go along with her. The group would consist of rock hounds, all of whom were Seniors. I was in my 40's at this point, and I wasn't exactly ecstatic about 6 weeks with Seniors. But how could I pass up a vacation to AUSTRALIA? Fully paid? Of course I couldn't - so, I said yes.

It was a LONGGGG 6 weeks. We traveled over 5800 miles while there and got to see so much of the country! Most Aussies I talked to said I was seeing more of the country in 6 weeks than they'd seen all their lives.

I learned the difference between garnets and tourmalines, opals and chrysoprase, chrysacola and citrines, sapphires and rubies... I got to see many different kinds of mining, whether I was interested or not. I spent a LOT of time riding in a 22 passenger bus. LONG rides on roads that were not always paved.

The salvation for the trip was that the tour leader was an Australian gal, Margot, who was probably around 25-28. Her helper, Leigh, was even younger - maybe 22. They were both very good with the seniors. Obviously, they'd had practice, since ours wasn't the first rock hounding tour they'd led.

Being able to spend time with them while on the tour, was a God send. It kept me sane, on those days when we traveled 11 hours, and the gal who was my seat mate wasn't very nice. I even had the opportunity to drive while there!

You know, they drive on the WRONG SIDE OF THE ROAD over there!

We were way out in the outback one day and I happened to have pulled the magic number and gotten to ride with Margot in the smaller van - just the two of us. Blessed relief! She asked me if I'd like to drive.

We were somewhere headed north and west from Ayers Rock, on a one lane dirt road. And I had to remember to drive on the WRONG SIDE OF THE ROAD. I was really nervous, but did OK, until one of those danged long trucks came along.

They pull double trailers over there. Those things make me nervous on the interstates when we're all going the same direction! But meeting up with one on a one-lane unpaved road is enough to give you a coronary - especially when you're driving on the WRONG SIDE OF THE ROAD!

But I didn't get us killed, so I must have done OK.

I got to meet a lot of Aussies. They are a lovely group of folks. Being there in 1986 reminded me of the US during the 50's and early 60's. Very laid back, outgoing, eager to be friendly. The "Yanks", as they called us, were met with love. We had, after all, helped them out considerably during WWII, and they, as a nation, still remembered.

Remember, the folks we were meeting were seniors, too, so all had WWII in common. I'm sure when there was time, there were stories swapped amongst the men. Never in front of me, but I couldn't really relate anyway.

We had the opportunity to go to Cairns, Townsend, Broken Arrow, Adelaide, Coober Pedy, Ayers Rock, Alice Springs, Mt. Ida, and back to Cairns. Lots of other smaller towns in between, but I barely remember the larger towns, let alone the small ones.

I found the diary I'd kept for the trip, as well as a ton of photos. I already have two scrapbooks with photos in them from the trip, but haven't really LOOKED at the photos in years. I'll have to drag them out again now, because I would suspect the better photos are in those books.

They are not traditional scrapbooks as we know them today. They were books where you could stash 3 photos/page and do a little journaling, and consider your scrapbooking complete.

Were I to do it today, it would be a LOT more elaborate! Stampin' Up! does, after all, sell scrapbooking, so whether I've wanted to or not, I've learned how to scrapbook. Mostly by osmosis, I would add...

I also found letters I'd saved from the daughter of a friend. I've known this girl all of her life - almost since the day she was born. And I consider myself fortunate that she still keeps in touch with me. Matter of fact, she just sent me photos this month of her son graduating from high school. Talk about making me feel old! I also found a photo she'd given me of herself and her son's father. I'd forgotten about him, since he's been out of the picture for a long time.

I found anniversary and birthday and "just because" cards I'd saved over the years. And I found a TON of cassette tapes (remember those?) - music I'd forgotten I had. Of course I tried to put Santana Abraxas into the tape player to listen to it while I was putzing out there, and couldn't get it to work! "Oya Como Va" would have sounded really good this afternoon.

I also found some photos I'd entered in a photo contest where I worked. I took 2nd place with one, and Honorable Mention with another. And I was up against my boss's boss, who was an awesome photographer. I was proud of how well I'd done with my elementary photography knowledge at the time.

It's amazing how much time you can spend looking thru boxes of "stuff" you've stashed away over the years. Needless to say, I didn't get much DONE today, but I spent a pleasant afternoon, nonetheless.

It must have done something to my stampin' MOJO, though, cause I spent all evening in my stampin' garage and couldn't come up with a single idea for my Team Meeting Shoebox Swap tomorrow night! I'll be pulling my hair out around 6 PM tomorrow...


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