Monday, December 29, 2008

Christmas Australia Style

We drove up to the Hunter Valley on Christmas morning. It's a lot like Napa 20 years ago before it was as crowded and pretentious and with much cooler wildlife. No, they did not just put up this sign because it is insanely cute. We saw a dead wombat about 20 feet from the sign. If only he'd gone a little farther to the wombat crosswalk...

Roses are grown at the end of rows of vines because they're in the same family as the grapes and serve as an early warning sign if soil conditions are beginning to deteriorate.

This is our gang sampling some organic wine...This man purchased another vineyard first and tried to convert it, but he quickly determined that the chemicals in the land would take 250 years+ to bleach out, purchased another vineyard, and started over. It took him four years in the second location to make a harvest. It makes me nervous just hearing about other people doing risky things like that. Next to Eric are Kate and Dan, from the UK. Behind them are Stefanie and Jake from Destin, Florida, USA, followed by Anna (Russia) and Reza (Iran, although in Australia for the past 22 years). We're a pretty diverse crowd, but wine helps everyone to get along.

I went walking in the woods one morning for 1.5 hours, and this guy hopped along side me for a while. He'd hop a few feet, and I'd walk to catch him, and then he'd hop a little farther. More threatening were the many brightly coloured spiders whose webs I walked through. Bugs are big here, like ones you might see in an amusement park ride.

These are some of the kangaroos who ate in our yard each evening about dusk. There were probably 15 around the house throughout the evening. It's really cool to watch them graze. They keep their tails flat on the ground for balance as they lean forward to eat, then they slide their tail along the ground between their legs, lifting their little rumps in the air, until they can take a little hop forward, using their tail for extra propulsion. They just kind of slink around like that until they're ready to go, and then they hop off into the forest. Kangaroos are much like deer in that they hide in the shade of the forest all day, coming out to eat in the morning and at dusk. (We were never awake to see them in the morning...) Kangaroos are also similar to deer in that they also like to commit suicide on the highway.

This is the 3-bedroom house where we stayed. It's about 6,000 times nicer than where we live. I thought I'd never get Eric out of the shower. You could turn around in it without hitting the walls. We spent most of our time out on the big porch drinking wine, playing cards, and looking out for kangaroos. By the time we headed home, my liver was crying for help...We came home along the coast, and I'm proud to say that I drove most of the way. It's not enough that they have to drive on the wrong side of the road, but they also throw in a roundabout every 50 feet. Sheesh.

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