Trippin

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It was the holiday that was constantly in danger of being remembered as ‘that holiday’… Exmouth 2016… probably the last time we venture there in July. Rain, wind and jam packed caravan parks made for an unpleasant 10 days so it may be time to consider other options.

By day 3 I found myself saying to Danelle, ‘maybe we aren’t caravanners any more?’ Driving rain and obnoxious neighbours (yes the people I was trying to think the best of in a previous post…) were taking their toll and I was becoming a little grumpy. Maybe more than a little…

I like to remember the holidays we have had so this is nothing more than a collection of random reflections – read on if you are up for a brain dump.

dongar

Friday lunch time we hit the road – new van yet again and towed by the Colorado and ready for some fun. We rolled into Dongara mid afternoon and had barely unhitched before Sam and I hit the water for some good waves. A warm sunny afternoon and glassy conditions were a great way to start. The Wesleys were on their way but wouldn’t get there till 7 so we kicked back and relaxed. We had checked Exmouth weather but couldn’t really believe what we were reading – heavy rain for 3 days at least – one day up to 270ml they were predicting.

 

We had a fun first night in Dongara and hit the road for Carnarvon. Well, when I say hit the road… we made it to the S bend for fuel, then stopped in Geraldton for coffee and shortly after for a wee break, so it was a while before we were rolling at full tilt.

Neither Stu nor I like to do the grey nomad thing of sitting on 85kph to save fuel, so we hit cruise control and drove and drove at 100kph for most of the way. The fuel economy took a hit, but when we worked it out, it seems we may have paid an extra $15 for fuel and saved 3 hours of travel time. No brainer really… And driving in cruise control in so much easier than trying to keep the pedal to the floor.

Carnarvon was chilly and wet. We got there in time for a run and some late dinner before hitting the sack. The next day we drove to Exmouth and by the Minilya turn off the clouds were forming. By Waroora turn off the rain was smashing down and we were wondering what was happening. Not what you hope for…

park

We arrived and set up the van in the rain. Even with a minimal set up I got soaked. Stu & Carolyn had a nightmare set up with the power, gas and water not working on their hire van initially. The gas and water were an easy fix but there was no power until the next day. Still not sure what went wrong, but it righted itself and was good.

And it rained… and rained… and rained… We now know for sure our van is watertight.

annexe

On day two we decided to put the annexe up. I’m not an annexe fan, but every time we opened the door we got wet and cold so this gave us some shelter and a place to gather. I almost left it at home, but so glad we brought it.

And it rained…

Then our neighbours arrived on day 2. Sadly they weren’t warm friendly people, like most of the rest of the campsite. They had booked 3 adjacent sites – sites we needed to walk thru to get to the ablutions, but early in the piece it became clear they weren’t happy about that. The kids got told off several times and then as I walked across for a shower I heard them comment, ‘there they go again… walking across our site’. I walked another few steps and then stopped, turned around and decided to ‘hear’ the passing comment. In the end the reason they didn’t want us walking on their site was because it was ‘theirs’… hmmm… I couldn’t argue with that so I left. We met as families and agreed that it wasn’t worth causing a fight over and we’d walk 30m up the road a bit to cross thru someone else’s site.

Unfortunately that set the tone for the rest of the week as they yelled and screamed at one another descending into full frontal arguments at times and making the whole vibe pretty unpleasant for anyone who happened to be around. I could go on, but I won’t…

surf

We got out of camp as much as we could to escape their yelling, but with the weather what it was there were only so many things to do. We had a couple of lame surfs, went fishing to no avail a few times and splashed the cars around in the mud, not remembering how difficult it would be to clean them later.

I had started ‘running’ again, well, ‘intervals’ is what we were calling it – walking and slow jogging, which felt so pathetic, but even with that low impact work my knees were arcing up. I pressed on hoping they would get better. They didn’t, so I began popping anti inflammatories instead!

atpark

After 7 days in camping purgatory we escaped and went to the National Park where we had 3 nights booked at Osprey campground – well we thought we had three nights, but in reality it was two, as I had stuffed up the booking. Even in a busy campground it felt peaceful as we weren’t listening to people bicker all day. The rain had stopped, but in its place were strong winds for most of the day. Osprey is a beautiful area and the campground is great, but on the 3rd day when the campground host came to ask why we hadn’t packed up I think we weren’t that bothered because the winds were forecast to get stronger and we were ready for a change. So in the space of half an hour we cleared out and began the trip back to Carnarvon for the night before planning to land in Dongara for 3 nights. (We had heard our previous neighbours plans to go to Kalbarri so we ruled that out as an option.)

We headed south and into a strong headwind. At 100kph the Colorado got 23l/100 with the van in tow – not pretty at all, but we weren’t going to sit on 80 to save a few $$. With a tailwind a few days later it got 15-16 at 100kph, but usually its around 18l/100. I guess you spend time or money and we will choose money.

We enjoyed another cool night in Carnarvon, people had showers and then in the morning headed for Dongara. Along the way the coffee machine had died and the chemical toilet opening mechanism had failed. No coffee wasn’t an option so we picked up a new machine in Geraldton and also got the toilet part. Sanity restored.

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It was a really nice few days in Dongara, relaxing, surfing, reading, and chatting. The surf was still pretty average, the fishing was lousy but we had fun as two families together. As a holiday it could well enter the realms of the forgettable, if not for friends.

With lousy weather, bad surf, no fish, wacky neighbours and a collection of breakdowns you could lose your cool. Or, as we did, you could just be glad to be in another space for a period free of responsibility and work.

We cruised back into home on Saturday morning hoping the rain that was predicted would soften the mud on the car prior to washing. But for once the rain didn’t come and we drove home dry. The only event of the drive home was watching the caravan window cartwheel back up the road near Wedge Island. We were fortunate it didn’t hit anyone or even get damaged in the dust up. It had wiggled open as we drove and then the force of the side wind had snapped the rivets and dislodged it. I fixed it this morning and its all good – which is nice because as I reviewed online prices for parts and repair it was ugly.

So here we are back in Perth in mid-July… all thanks to our kids now having a regular edukation. I haven’t spent this much of a winter in Perth for quite a while so it will be an interesting change. Normally I come back from holidays and hit the ground running as the retic season kicks off, but being mid winter I’m not sure what to expect. It seems I already have nearly 3 weeks of work booked up and I’m not sure how that happened. But maybe its a good thing as we need to generate a bit of income again.

Next year’s mid year break won’t be in Exmouth though…

 

 

 

 

 

Post Holidays Car Conversation

rain

So we just got back from a great two weeks of holidays and driving to church today I asked the family – so what was the highlight of the last two weeks of holidays?

Ellie – ‘hmmm hanging with our friends’

Sam – ‘yep – fun with the Wesleys’

Danelle ‘same’

Me – ‘haha – yeah that was it for me too’

Then Sam asks ‘what about your low points dad? Got any?’

Me ‘the never ending rain, the dipstick neighbours, the wind that came once the rain ended, the lack of surf, the coffee machine dying, the toilet breaking, our crap fishing efforts, my (other) knee giving me pain, stuffing up the campsite bookings…’ I stopped there.

I’m sure there was more, but the point was made. When you hang out with good people you can have a great time even if the weather, surf, fish and everything else conspire against you.

We won’t be heading back to Exmouth again in July, but it was a fun holiday anyway!

 

Murky Boundaries

I have it on good authority that a previous generation of pastoral leaders were advised often not to become friends with their congregations, to keep them at a (professional?) distance and maintain the relational boundaries – the pastor / congregant divide. So when ‘the pastor’ came to visit everyone was on their best behaviour as they sat in the ‘good room’ and drank tea together. I think we know such talk is utter nonsense now. In a world where authenticity is our greatest currency who wants to be a number on a church roll?

My generation heard another rather binary message. Maybe it wasn’t intended as so, but the essence of it was that you needed one day off / week where nothing of church entered your realm and when you took holidays you allowed no church business to be part of what you did. It was intended to allow clear boundaries between work and rest and to ensure recharge actually happened. Good in principle but maybe not so much in practice, especially if your church community are your friends and you want to go on holidays with some of them, or if you are able to live in such a way that life is not a desperate 6 day sprint followed by a brief window of collapse and exhaustion.

For the last 15 years or so we have allowed the boundaries in our lives to become increasingly blurred, to mix work and fun, rest and engagement and we haven’t come close to burn out or to disillusionment. My hunch is it’s partly a maturity/identity thing where we feel at ease in who we are and don’t feel a need to attend to every request the moment it comes in, but it probably a result of a more peaceful approach to life in general. Rarely do we have nothing to do and rarely are we bordering on exhaustion.

So as we trundle off for two weeks of holidays I know I will answer the phone to people, I will respond to emails and I will think about work both in its pastoral form and my business. But the boundary I have is that I do it when I choose to. I ignore what I don’t wish to deal with and I engage with that which I do.

This morning an inspiring email came in from one of our church community offering their service to help others.

‘What are your thoughts Andrew?’

I don’t use an autoresponder these days – because I generally like to respond – and I wrote back straight away. It was good – a great idea and one we can discuss more when I get home. That didn’t hurt – I wasn’t offended that he had emailed me while I was on leave. I enjoyed the energy the idea brought to me.

We’ve been thinking thru a new venture as a church community. It feels like a great idea that we are pursuing, but I don’t have the time to be the primary driver in it. Conversation with our friends while in holidays has helped me see what my role needs to be. It wasn’t hard to have those conversations. It’s just who we are and what we do and it would be weird not to talk about one aspect of our lives because it was holidays. And the outcome was clarity and peace – a win.

Perhaps you need the distinction of the ‘day off’ or the uninterrupted holiday. That’s fine – I don’t think there is a one size fits all approach to Christian leadership, but if you’ve only been sold the one binary model then maybe you should (intentionally) experiment with a different way – ‘intentionally’ because then you won’t feel guilty and see if there are other ways to live that work better for you.

I get the sense that frustration is inevitable when we try to make that which is fluid and complex into something solid, defined and clear, because it just won’t play out like that. So when a day off gets interrupted or a boundary breached we get gnarly rather than just rolling with it.

We are very much at home now in the murkiness of indistinct boundaries and a fluid work, family, play schedule. Occasionally we may just turn everything off and disconnect but now that’s the exception rather than the rule. It is a way of being that fits the life we have chosen and the rhythms we live by. But I wouldn’t want to make it a rule…

Then we’d be back to square one 

The Other

As the Exmouth rain teems another 3 carload of travellers arrive to the site behind us. An old 80 series Cruiser pulls up on the grass, along with a couple of other old fourbies and a tribe of people tumble out.
Raucous laughter and rough Aussie accents fill the site behind us and we cringe and roll our eyes as we look at each other, just waiting for the Acca Dacca to crank up.
We are coping with the rain, but now we have the bogan neighbours to contend with. They erect their tents, squabbling, shouting, laughing and making light of the fact they are getting drenched. Their ability to keep positive is a feat in itself.
When they have finished there are so many tents it’s like a small city has appeared in our backyard. Are you really allowed that many people on a site we wonder…The cartons of Emu export get dragged into the kitchen gazebo and they have all the outward appearances of being difficult neighbours, the ones you hope you wouldn’t be stuck next to for a week.
And while we sit in our van listening to them and passing judgements I realise that they will be those people. While we stand at a distance we will make them into people to despise, to avoid and to treat differently.
And as we demonise and fear those we are unfamiliar with, I am reminded that we simply replicate what our nation does on a larger scale. Inwardly I am chastised by my own foolishness and darkness and yet for some reason I want to be right. 
Maybe if I’m ‘right’ it means I don’t have to engage with them… Maybe if I’m ‘right’ I can fob them off as losers and disregard them. I can see them as an imposition – as a disruption to my desire for peace and quiet. I can call them ‘stupid bogans’ and chuckle with superiority at them.
There is only one solution – to move sites… 
Or… to walk over and open a conversation, to get to know ‘the other’ and in so doing they will cease to be ‘other’ and become people – real people…
And so we chat, and they are folks on holiday from the city, seeking the same things we are, but just expressing themselves a little differently. They don’t seem to be much for conversation and I could take that as confirmation that they really are knobs, or I could accept that they are busy trying to dismantle a gazebo that has been damaged in the night and don’t really have time for me. I can choose offense or I can choose common sense.
I can choose to despise those who are other or I can accept that at heart they are just like us… and their difference is not a cause for treating them poorly. The fact that I ‘should know better’ is no deterrent to my prejudices kicking in. My double standards are justified (I tell myself), but perhaps small steps in the other direction will negate my natural hypocrisy and help me become the person I think we should all become. 

How to Vote

On Saturday Australia votes and (broadly speaking) as a result we will get the government we deserve. Vote like a donkey (i.e. do not fill in the forms) and expect to be governed by donkeys. Vote thoughtfully and you at least have a chance of being governed by people who care about where we are headed as a country.

The image below reflects some of what happened in the UK over the weekend. It seems a bunch of people didn’t do their homework and simply cast a vote without realising what they were doing. So on Sunday morning Google trends shows ‘What is the EU?’ and ‘What does it mean to leave the EU?’ as the two most significant search trends for UK citizens after the vote…

euThe problem is that after the vote its too late to do your homework.

And we need to learn from that, so come Sunday morning we don’t set google trends humming with ‘who is the Pirate Party?’

Unlikely that will actually happen I realise, but you get the point. An uninformed vote is irresponsible and a waste of the privilege we have in this country. That said an informed vote is complex and laden with tension because no one party ‘ticks all the boxes’ on everything. I voted last week as we will be on holidays on Saturday and as I left the voting booth I felt dirty – compromised – because I couldn’t endorse everything about the mob I voted for. But I would have felt that no matter who I cast my vote for.

So how do we form a vote as Christians?

There are a few helpful articles here:

I spoke to this issue yesterday at church and offered my own ‘how to vote’ proposal. The topic is intended to be provocative and evoke a bit of a ‘who do you think you are to tell me how to vote!’ response, but its actually different to telling you who to vote for. Deciding ‘how to vote’ is on one hand very simple, but on the other requires thought, interaction and careful reflection.

Hamo’s ‘how to vote’ guide is simply this:

  1. View all parties policies thru the lens of the kingdom of God and the teaching of Jesus. Use the sermon on the mount, use the Gospels, but try and see who lines up best with the stuff Jesus was on about. That’s both simple and complex, because no one is a perfect fit.
  2. Pray, read, discuss and repeat… I’m sure many of pray and read, but the ‘discuss’ element often gets tetchy and we shy away from letting people know who we will vote for or how we are going in our thinking. What this second stage does is tests our concerns against the way other Christians read the Bible and read the policies. God put us in community right?… Well part of that is because we are able to think better together than on our own. Alone, we are limited in our thinking, but when we start to interact with other Christians we have to explain our positions or accept that maybe we need to re-think. Threatening? It doesn’t have to be… That’s why the third part matters.
  3. Agree to live in harmony no matter what. I don’t intend to malign anyone for voting in a different way to me because they have made the best call they can with the info they have and the issues they see as core to the kingdom. So if we know that there is a commitment to one another that goes beyond our political preferences then we can love one another whether we vote Liberal or Green.

My belief is that for all of us there are some issues that matter more than others and they will give strongest shape to our final decision. Some of us will see religious freedom as the biggest issue, while others will fight to the death for the barrier reef.

For me the ‘clincher issue’ was asylum seekers and our inhumane treatment of those in detention. I didn’t want to go see ‘Chasing Asylum’ last week, but as I went I prayed ‘help me to see something worthwhile in this… help me to know what I am doing here…’ The outcome was that I left having decided not to vote for anyone who could endorse this form of suffering and to cast my vote for those who would seek to end it and treat people more compassionately.

Its slim pickings when you choose to make that a ‘filter’… and in making that choice I inevitably voted for some people who hold different perspectives to me on other issues. But I know what I’ve done and I’m prepared to live with the consequences of that – both good and bad.

So, that’s Hamo’s How to Vote guide for yet another election…

Have fun voting as we will be somewhere between Geraldton and Carnarvon on that day 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

Third Row Back

row-boat-in-heavy-seas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last weekend we had our QBC bloke’s retreat up in Lancelin and as part of that I led us in a meditative exercise using Matthew 14 and the story of Jesus walking out on the water to the disciples who are in the middle of a storm.

I always find it tricky ‘leading’ and participating fully, but I managed to enter into the ‘imaginative’ phase of this time, where we were picturing ourselves as one of the disciples and trying to see where we ‘found ourselves’ in the story.

I’ve preached on this passage a few times and its usually been one of those ‘get out of the boat’ messages. You know the one – the call to take a step of faith and keep our eyes on Jesus rather than the storm?… It suggests that we most commonly imagine ourselves as Peter in this story – or even that we should see ourselves as Peter…  but what if that isn’t the case?

As I entered into the story this time I imagined Jesus telling us all to go hop in the boat and take off while he hung around to send the crowd away and then get some alone time. In that moment I saw myself as just one of the crew, doing as I was told because he had said it. The horizon looked dark and it was probably going to be a tough journey, but oh well… He calls the shots and we just do what he says.

As we got in the boat I found myself third row back pulling an oar.  And in that space I was simply plugging away and doing what needed to be done to get the boat to its destination.  As the storm increased and it got ugly I just kept working. When Jesus appeared on the water I wasn’t at all interested in hopping out of the boat and going to see him. I was intent on staying focused – on keeping going – and not stopping.

It made me wonder why I wasn’t seeing myself as Peter, as adventurous, daring and courageous. He is the one who we hear about and who we seem to like to identify with. John Ortberg wrote that book ‘If You Want to Walk on Water You Have to Get Out of the Boat’, but no one has written ‘If You Want to Get the Other Side You Have to Keep Rowing’. It is distinctly less glamorous, but much of life is just that – keeping going and doing what is needed.

Maybe that’s a fair metaphor for my own life at the moment – leading a small church in an outer suburb, running a small business that has no dreams for world domination and being a dad and husband along the way. None of it is earth-shattering stuff, but its all good stuff. And it is the stuff I have been called to do and for now its just head down and keep rowing.

Maybe one day I get to be a ‘Peter’ again, but for now I am ‘Bartholomew’… and that’s just how it is.

And its good.

To Weep With Those Who Weep

asylum web

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘Want to go see ‘Chasing Asylum’ with me?’ Danelle asked a few weeks back.

‘Dunno…’ I replied.

‘Why dunno?’

‘Because I already know the story and I’ll probably just end up pissed off, frustrated and feeling powerless at what’s happening… not sure I can stomach it. I hate being told there is a huge problem – oh and by the way – you can’t do anything to fix it.’

I still hadn’t decided at 5.00 tonight and the movie began at 6.30. In the end I agreed to go. I prayed as we drove… what do I need to see in this tonight?

And I did end up feeling pissed off and powerless, but perhaps that’s beside the point. The story wasn’t new – much of it I had heard before – the movie didn’t go anywhere surprising and while it was quite well made and gave some insights into the lives of those in detention, it also told the tragic tale of Australia’s resolute refusal to even contemplate sharing our country with anyone coming by boat.

So its no surprise that I’m in favour of doing more – much more. If we can spend $500000.00 annually to keep people in tents on an island then I imagine we can surely use that money to help them become valuable members of our society. The amount of money spent is the exact value we place on not having ‘those people’ in our society.

That said, I’m not an idealist. The movie didn’t address the question of ‘what if everyone came?’ How would we cope with the load? How would we need to change to accomodate the challenges that would go with that? Maybe that’s because those questions are so far removed from the Australian psyche that we can’t even contemplate them. Right now the best we can hope for is a fair(er) go for those poor people locked up indefinitely offshore.

The movie included stories from asylum seekers, stories from Aussies who had worked in detention centres and who could stomach it no longer. It told stories of the families who had seen loved ones head off in search of a better life only to die in the process.

Video of Tehran made me think again of my friend, Stephen, who came from there and was unable to settle in Australia, despite 4 years on a temporary visa, despite getting a job and finding his feet. Along the way he ‘accidentally’ found faith and his life was transformed. Unfortunately this was interpreted as him ‘conveniently’ finding God, while the truth was anything but that. His new faith made his possibility of settlement much harder. About 18 months ago he was arrested, sent back to Villawood and then Darwin, before he eventually gave in and agreed to go back to Iran. We haven’t heard from him since, but we hope he is still alive.

I sensed the most poignant moment was the footage of Vietnamese refugees coming to Australia and being welcomed and settled. I guess we could say that all turned out ok?… We didn’t finish up being overrun, or losing our identity, our jobs, our livelihoods to these new migrants…

At times as I watched I was hoping the movie would end. Some of it was boredom. I have heard it all before. Some of it was simply not wanting to hear more information about a situation I feel helpless to change. I don’t like feeling powerless, or living in a democracy where the current choice is for either party A who will enforce the status quo or party B who will do the same.

But in the end I sensed that maybe I was just there to weep with those who weep. Perhaps the point of tonight wasn’t to spark me to build an extension to take in a new family or to up stumps and work somewhere else among these people.

Perhaps it was just to share in their pain and feel a smidge of their helplessness and to pray for the wisdom to know where that leads.

Not 21 Any More

Since the age of 30 I have struggled with tendonitis of the ilio-tibial tract, a fairly stock standard overuse injury for people who run a lot, like I used to and I haven’t been able to run for a couple of years. Recently that knee has been hurting just from everyday use so I decided to see what can be done. I went to see the Doc and explained that I was over the minor pain, but more than that I wanted to run again. I asked what can be done to ‘fix’ this permanently?

He mumbled and muttered and basically said ‘not much…’

So I pushed him harder – ‘If I had 100K what could be done to fix this and get me running again?’

He sent me off with a script for an ultrasound and a cortisone injection (which is now in the bin). He didn’t want to know and once I had realised that I gave up and went thru the motions of listening to him just to get the consult over.

Waste of time.

So I decided to go see my physio – Damian. I like him because he is a straight shooter and knows his stuff. If anyone can fix me, Damian can.

‘So Damian…’ I gave him the history, some of which he already knew and then asked, ‘what’s it going to take to get me running again? If it takes surgery and major effort then I’m pretty much ready to sign up.’

Thankfully he suggested surgery is the last thing I need and probably counter-productive, so both the wallet and the mind breathed a sigh of relief. But, he told me he reckons he can get me running again in a few months. Here’s his plan.

Step 1 is some good shoes. I have good shoes, and have always worn good shoes, but he recommended going to see some of his physio mates who own a running shoe store and getting some that really fit my ‘problem’. Ok – I can do that. Sounds easy.

Step 2 – interval training… I cringed. My last experience of intervals was when I was playing basketball and doing some serious sprint training. Intervals really kicks your butt. Damian’s intervals were 10 minutes walking, 3 minutes light jogging, 10 minutes walking 4 minutes light jogging followed by 10 minutes walking.

‘Are you serious?’ I asked. ‘That’s so lame… I will be embarrassed to even do that!’

Damian tells me, ‘Andrew – you’re not 21 any more. You’re 52 and your body responds differently to exercise. It will take longer to get there, but if we do this right you will get there.’

I just hear the words ‘walking’ and feel like my next step is a gopher. I have always run with the idea that ‘running is running’ and I may walk the dog, but that’s about it.

And then the final stage we are working on now is some exercise to strengthen the muscles that are allowing the ilio-tibial to be overworked in the hope of easing the strain on it.

My hope is that by January I will be able to run 5ks without pain. Then from there I’d like to run a half marathon ( but I think Damian might just say ‘one step at a time…’)

Its hard accepting that I am not 21 any more. I want to put on some shoes step outside and run 5ks. But I can’t.

My body reminds me often that my youth has gone, but I would like it to shut up and start behaving differently. I live in the confident hope that one day I will get a new body – whatever that mean and whatever shape it takes – and I am ready for it. But for now I’d like to ‘re-tread’ this one and get a few more ks out of it before handover.

 

I’ll let you know how I go…

 

Wussification

woosification

Don’t you just love your local Facebook community forums as places of thoughtful sensible adult interaction?

This photo appeared on one of our local sites recently and I had to withhold comment because anything I was going to say was not likely to be helpful. Its a photo of a group of school-kids from QBC kayaking from Two Rocks up the coast to Moore River with their Outdoor Ed teacher and two adult assistants.

From the hysteria on the Facebook page you’d think they were about to grow big beards and hop on a plane bound for Syria…

A bunch of kids were off on an adventure – doing something that will stretch them, challenge them and mature them, as well as teaching them some valuable lessons along the way. Remember when we used to think that was a good thing? Remember when setting young people a tough challenge was considered part of growing up?

It was before the wussification of young people began… before we started to worry that they might get cold, hungry, home-sick, that they might get wet or that they’d miss their ipad…

A bunch of young people who’d prepared for the activity, were doing it and today they will get back home – probably cold – probably hungry – probably wet, but tougher, tighter and better equipped to face many of the other challenges life throws at them. And it will form memories in them that will last for many years. I still bump into my ex school students from the days when I ran the survival camps and inevitably we go back there in our conversation – because those were valuable times… maybe not that safe… but then that was the 80’s.

When will we realise that cocooning young people does not prepare them for the world they are living in and that we do them a disservice by shielding them from struggle? But when we take them out of their comfort zones and push them to new limits they grow and flourish and become better people for it, and as a result we become a better society…

Great work Brock and crew – I hope my kids are out there one day cold, wet, hungry, weary, but tougher, sharper, better people for the experience!

‘On This Day’

arnhem

My Facebook feed does that ‘on this day’ thing, where it pops up memories of events in previous years and lately its been peppering me with images from our trip round Oz in 2009. Each time I see a pic something in me goes ‘boom’ and I want to be back there. Here’s one of Danelle and Sam at Ubirr in Kakadu. Danelle is showing Sam the way to Arnhem Land – and possibly hoping he and his teddy would take off there because he was being a proper little turd that day! That’s where we were on June 8th 2009…

If I had a memory/memories I would choose to carry with me every day of our life as a family then it would be the 6 months we spent on the road travelling around this country. As soon as I see the images I think ‘we should do it again!’ It triggers one of those ‘feel good’ chemicals in my brain and I want to quit everything and hit the road once more in anticipation of an awesome experience.

Then I come back to reality.

It’s not that we couldn’t do it, because we probably could make it happen. But the reality comes in knowing that part of what made it special was that our kids were 8 & 6 and still loved hanging with us. We had a ball together. They are teenagers now and while we get on really well, the thought of 6 months away from friends cooped up with us just doesn’t inspire them like it did then. Now when we go on holidays the primary question is not ‘where are we going?’ but rather ‘who else will be there?’ and often ‘when will be home?’

And then there’s the reality that seeing somewhere twice is never the same as the first time you encounter it. 2009 was a trip of ‘firsts’, of saying ‘wow!’ often, of waking up in strange new places or sometimes just on the side of the road and unsure of what the day would hold. It was our first extended time of camping and figuring out how to live on the road. We’ve been to a big slab of this country now and seen it at its best, and I know that having revisited some places since, the magic of that first visit can’t be replicated. We’re experienced campers / caravaners now and it all seems less of an adventure now.

But how good is it to have memories – thoughts that spark feelings of good times – that remind us of how good life can be?

I sometimes have to remind myself that while on that trip we lost a job and $250K in a bad investment, because those are not the things that come back to me. What does is the beauty of our country, the joy of family travel and the fun of adventure.

I’m hoping that one day we will do it again, most likely just the two of us, but who knows, maybe our kids will take their kids and invite us to join them…

And just for fun here are a few random memories that still make me smile:

homeskoolingHomeskooling in Exmouth – ok so this is going well…

brekkieBreakfast somewhere on the Stuart Highway on the way to Queensland

danelleEvening at Barn Hill… hooahh!

feedingAt Seaforth in Northern Queensland with the grey nomads teaching the kids how to feed the birds.

capital

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our first ‘capital improvement’ to the camper. In Mission Beach we bought a portaloo and Danelle was excited.

kenleanne

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We stayed with Ken & Leanne in inner city Brisbane and it was one long narrow driveway to back the van up.

pambulaCold water surfing in Pambula – scored some great waves in those few days!

dunnyDunny at legendary Oz surf break – Cactus in the desert in South Oz

cactusMorning waves alone at Cactus – sharky

Yambuk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A stormy night in Yambuk made better by this crazy slide

And I could keep going as I’m having another winter day off from retic, but that’ll do for now, or I really will want to hit the road again