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16 March 2000, Cairns, Queensland

By 7:00 we were “slept out” and decided to get up and get on with the day. When we opened the drapes and looked over our patio to the pool, we could see that rain was falling pretty heavily. We could barely see a hill about a half mile on the other side of the reception building. We decided that we didn’t really want to go to Kuranda under with these conditions, so if it was still raining after breakfast, we would cancel our tour.

It was still raining after breakfast, and thick, low clouds had moved in. We cancelled the trip to Kuranda. Chris wanted to go shopping in town, something she does much better if I’m not with her. She arranged a seat on the 10:05 bus from the hotel into the center of Cairns, and we went back to the room. I decided to kick back and just take it easy around the resort all day. Part of my relaxation would be to take care of the laundry. The Novotel has a clean, well-equipped laundry room. In a little more than an hour, I had washed, dried, folded, and put away all of our dirty clothes.

Chris headed into town while I was still taking care of the laundry. She spent the day shopping at the pier shopping center where the bus dropped her off. The clerks in the stores were friendly, helpful and interested in our travels. She bought lots of gifts, taking care of birthdays and Christmas presents for the year. At around 2:00, she had a light lunch and watched the rain fall in the heaviest downpour yet. At 3:00 she caught the bus back to the hotel.

While Chris was in town, I really took it easy. While the laundry was in the driers, and after it was done, I spent some time getting the trip journal updated. Around 12:30, the rain had let up, but not stopped, so I put on my kangaroo-leather hat — to test its performance in wet weather — my poncho, grabbed four rolls of exposed film, and walked to the beach, where we had seen a photo shop the day before. The small kangaroos were still in their protected field, and they watched me walk by. The hat worked as advertised, keeping my head nice and dry.

The photo shop keeper said he could have my film done by 2:30, and I headed next door to a little cafe for a sandwich and Coke. I then trudged back up to the hotel. I called home to see how things were going. We had found out shortly before our trip began that my father was going in for some heart tests on March 16. In North Carolina, it was about 10:00 the night before his procedure, so I called home to see how he was doing and to wish him well. It was good to talk to Mother and Daddy for a while. E-mail is great, but there’s nothing like hearing a familiar voice from home. Daddy was feeling good about the procedure, and Lynn, my oldest sister, had arrived to keep Mother company. Everyone was in good spirits and hoping for the best.

After the call, I finished another day in the journal, rested a while, then it was time for the pictures to be done. However, the rain was bucketing down, and, even if the hat worked well, I’d get boots full of water by the time I got to the beach. I waited for it to let up, then headed down. Before I left, I grabbed a large ZipLock bag to carry the pictures in.

Another round trip to the beach, and just my socks were damp from the water running down my legs below the poncho. Chris returned soon afterward. We looked through the photos, discarding the ones that didn’t turn out well. Considering how many pictures I took of rock formations and billabongs, we kept a lot — over half of the ones I took. I have scanned some of them and posted them on this web site.

We had reservations at the Red Ochre Restaurant in Cairns for that night. The specialty of the restuarant is “wild food,” meaning game animals from Australia. We caught the 6:00 bus to town, and when we arrived at the pier at 6:45, it was pouring down rain. We had borrowed a large umbrella from the hotel, but it was just raining too hard for us to walk to the restaurant with it. We hailed a cab and put AU$5 to good use getting there without getting wet.

When we got to the Red Ochre, we discovered that we had actually made the reservation for the next night. No worries; there were plenty of tables available. Dinner was very good. Chris had excellent veal, and I tried emu fillets (pronounced “EEM-you FIL-ets” in Australian). The emu was very tasty, but kind of tough.

When we left the restaurant, the rain had nearly stopped. We walked under the store awnings back toward the pier, opening the umbrella only when we had to cross a street or when we walked through the small park just before the pier. We were early for the bus, so we walked around the mall, Chris showing me where she had bought all of the goodies earlier that day. We caught the 9:00 bus back to the hotel and were there by 9:45.

As we had promised, we went to The Varandah, where Horas were playing. When they finished the song they were singing when we came in, the bongo drummer waved to us and said “You said you’re from California, right?” and the band launched into Hotel California. We loved it. When they had finished a couple more songs, Chris requested “Cheeseburger in Paradise”. They had never heard of it. We said “Jimmy Buffet?”, and they said “No Jimmy Buffet. Sorry.”

After a couple more songs, Chris had decided on a song she knew they could sing: Roy Orbeson’s “Pretty Woman.” When she called out the title, the drummer said “Yes, you are!”, and a passing waiter mumbled something about “fishing for complements.” Everyone got a good laugh, but the band played the song. The next request — from a table behind us — was for a song called “Have you ever really loved someone?” The band nodded in unison and just answered “Yes!”, then went on to the next request. It was that kind of night.

The band finished at 10:30. It was raining lightly, but we decided we needed a dip in the pool to cool off. We were right. The water was just cool enough to make us feel better, but not too cold. After just a few minutes, we got out, dried off, then went to bed. There had been warnings about a possible cyclone throughout the day. We hoped it wouldn’t build up to that, but we figured the next day would be pretty rainy in any case.

Next day

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