Feet, Trains, and Roads

It has been nice to get back into our new routine here, and I have to say, the ‘dead of winter’ here is not too bad once we get out of our icebox/tent/house.  Needing a light jacket each day that I can shed by lunchtime, looking at different flowers and trees blooming, enjoying beautiful sunshine and picnics with no humidity—I think I can get used to this winter!  Will I miss my glittering snow in years to come, or will I appreciate this for as long as it lasts?  Who knows—we will have to wait and see. 

We have been warmly received at our schools, jobs, playgroups, music groups etc. and have felt very special with kind new and old friends extending us invitations and trying to catch up.  I had wondered how long we would last in such great health, after enjoying a great month in the dry heat and sun.  Well, we have the answer:  9 days!  Doh!  Oh, well.  So far it’s just typical little colds that aren’t affecting us too much.  Our grumpy old man is affected the most, but isn’t that usually how it works?  😉 

The past week has not been without ups and downs, as is to be expected.  The first day last week that I drove out of my little town and comfort zone, just to a nearby town called The Gap (the town names here are very interesting—more on that in a minute) was terrifying!  For one, the sweet proper Aussies don’t ever use their horns towards other cars (it’s just pedestrians that make them angry!).  Well I honked my horn numerous times at one poor car that I thought I was in a left turn lane with because he wasn’t going and we had a green arrow.  Turns out it was a lane to go either straight or left and he was waiting to go straight.  Oopsie!  I almost got us killed a couple times too, inaccurately navigating these tiny lanes, but someone is watching over us and we’re all here to tell about it.

A bit on town names (suburbs):  Many are named after landmarks, Mt. Cotton (the Aussies wouldn’t use a period/full stop after these abbreviations), Mt. Gravatt, Stone’s Corner, Victoria Point, etc.  I think because of this they say that you are ‘at’ a town, rather than ‘in’ one.  For the longest time, I thought Victoria Point was an actual Point along the coast (it is) rather than a town.  They also say your house is ‘in’ the street, rather than ‘on’ it, and lately, I’ve heard many people saying they’re ‘going to gym’, meaning going to a/the gym.  Funny stuff! 

Back to the roads.  I got to jog quite a bit back in Colorado, and the first time was my first morning there.  Everything about the experience was different than jogging here, and it was fantastic.  First, the air was dry so I didn’t sweat nearly as much.  Second, I passed several other healthy, fit people out enjoying the morning air and without fail, all of them greeted me with a wide smile and a cheerful “Good morning!”  I also got a gorgeous view of mountains, although the views around here are pretty darn good, too and the birds here are just too wonderful to compete with anything else.  Thirdly, every driver on a side street attempting to turn down the main street I was running along, stopped to let me pass first, often nodding Hello.  Aaahhh!  Thank you!  I am back to jogging here and that does NOT happen and makes me very bitter.  BUT, I have decided I’m going to say good morning to each person I pass still, no matter how surly they look, and, pleasantly, many of them do respond back even though they look a bit surprised—maybe that’s just at my funny accent.

Finally, the road—-oh that glorious road.  Steve had always told me that Australian visitors to the U.S. are amazed by not only the number of, but also the sheer size of the roads.  During visits here, I never understood that, feeling roads were much similar.  Now that I live here, I get it.  My Mom told me how to get out to a nice road to jog on and said ‘it’s big, but residential and quiet enough.’  I got out onto it and almost gasped (and no, not from the altitude).  Aussies, picture this:  The houses lining the street, then grass outside their back fences, next wide sidewalk/footpath, followed by grassy median, curb, bike path, two lanes of traffic, grassy median, two lanes of traffic, bike path, curb, grassy median, footpath, grass, houses.  And hardly any traffic!  Far cry from running down a similar style road here and almost getting hit by a bus that barely fits in the lane, while I am on the tiny sidewalk!  Wow! 

So, I am all about being brave now that I am back and jumping back in and being less foreign.  Except that I am still fiercely allegiant to the U.S. and still a bit of a snob about it.  So, not quite sure how this will all work, but I am confident that I can pull off both.  😉 

Steve gave me a night out last Friday, and I met a friend in the City by taking a train (and for part of the ride it was dark!) and then finding her at her train platform.  I ordered drinks all by myself at the bar (You always have to order at the bar here, not your table, often for food, too and I usually make Steve do it, because it seems weird and I worry I’ll screw up somehow or they won’t understand me) and the bartender asked about my accent and actually started talking to me about the Rockies and Nuggets.  J  I took a cab home by myself that night (after my friends actually put me in it and spoke to the driver first—I’m not crazy brave or anything!) and the cabbie loved my accent too and chatted to me about the U.S. all the way home, even turning off the meter and sitting outside my house to keep talking about it. 

We had a really lovely weekend as a family, meeting up with a few friends, but also relaxing and being mellow and getting outside to enjoy these beautiful days all together again.  It was great. 

Yesterday we went to the music group that’s held in the building where Steve teaches and got to stay and have lunch with him and the other staff and students.  The boys thought that was about the coolest thing ever.  Hard to tell which won out—that or the boat ride on the water taxi on the Brisbane River on Sunday. 

I forgot to relate my story of getting on the wrong train, just before our trip in June.  I had been taking the train with minimal issues for three months and feeling quite comfortable about it all, like I fit right in with all the other commuters.  I often get to it just in time to jump right on, so as I was leaving work that day and got down to the platform and saw a train, I figured it was mine and jumped on.  At the next stop I heard the driver make an odd announcement about where it was going and realized too late that I was on the wrong train, headed who knows where!  Everyone knew I was not a local then, when I shouted “Oh, God!” and jumped up and tried to get off.  A lady by the door said “You’re too late, love.”  Everyone here calls me doll or love—very odd.  Luckily, she worked for the trains, and told me what to do when I got to the next stop.  However, she did not have her information quite right and I had missed the train she had told me I’d need.  I found out how to get another one to get back to where I could get on the line that went in my direction and did that.  I got on the one headed in my direction, only to find out it was an express going past my stop.  I feel like everyone, on each of these three trains was just staring right at me, and on that one I finally called Steve back (I had told him right away what had happened) and in a choked voice asked him and the boys to please come pick me up—it was actually the stop nearest our house; it’s just that my car was at the stop nearest Zach’s school.  Three trains for that evening were enough for me!  Rookie mistake, I guess.  Now at least I have learned to pay attention better and not feel TOO comfortable. 

I will close with my disappointment on the Olympics coverage.  I had been so excited to watch them this year, and cheer on both countries.  I knew the focus would be on Australian athletes and that is fine—I can catch up on whatever I am missing about the U.S. online.  However, I am used to the Olympics happening in time zones that are ahead of mine, whereas now they are nine hours behind us.  I guess that must be why the coverage must be so poor.  Instead of holding everything that happens while we sleep for us to watch at primetime the next day, they air it all live, while we are sleeping.  All we see are heats and qualifying rounds, and then during breakfast we see quick replays of what happened during the night.   Bummer.

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