How can I begin to recall the details? It must suffice to try a brief recollection:
Friday, July 6:
Beautiful yellow parrot visits my bedroom in Williams, slowing packing. Must be someone's pet. Enthralls Gina and Alex for hours. Bake a chocolate cake for Phil.
Saturday, July 7:
Ice cake. Drive Alex and Gina to Freo for an afternoon of shopping and snacking. Head to Ballajura to stay with Chook and Phil. Prep veg while roast cooks. Enjoy dinner.
Sunday, July 8:
Walk Kippie around Emu Lake. Head to airport after shopping for candles and castor oil for Erin. Fly to Monkey Mia. Look for camels. Camp in Denham with Kees and Erin, after a visit with Syversons, an exchange family from Medicine Hat, Alberta. . Coincidence to meet them here!
To Monkey Mia to see dolphins and enjoy camel rides with Henk. Drive to Eagle Bluffs. Gorgeous deserted beach with crystal clear water for as far as eye can see. Spot about 20 reef sharks lurking 2-3 meters off shore. I climb dunes for a better look, while Kees hikes back to get fishing gear from van. Valient effort, but no catch for dinner. Contemplate camping here even though we have no overnite free permit, as wine goes down well with sunset.No bluffing a warden who visits, so on to Nanga Bay, no bush camp for us. Nice spot. Meet a student and her family camping here for two weeks. Nice.
July 10: Torrential downpour all day as we buck a headwind to Carnarvon. Jump out at Hamelin Pools to view famous stromatolites, but high winds and rain drives us back, drenched. Arrive at Carnarvon in time for cooking evening meal. Luckily, all our gear is still dry as we pitch a tent and grab showers at caravan park. Kees and girls have fun at Op Shop, where the great green Clackerwhacker costume presents itself. At $3.00, it proves too much of a bargain for Kees to pass up. Groceries, then off we go to Coral Bay. Yay!
All day to drive to Coral Bay. Enjoy the camp set up and sunset. So crowded at caravan park, but close to dive shop! Say hi to Syversons again and see their place at the resort. To bed early.
July 12: first inner reef snorkel is good, but chilly. See lots of plate corals, cabbage coral, brain corals. Two turtles! A zillion fish. Visibility murky due to much wind. Off to outer reef: albatross, many humpback whales! Chills set in, but Clackerwhacker costume saves the day for Kees, who later shares it with a shivering Gina. Breaching, waving flukes and large mammalian shenanigans keeps us entertained. There were may, at least 30-40 it seemed.
Then it happened.
Queasy seasickness is never a pretty thing. Although I had consumed Gravol earlier in the day, 3 meter swells bested me. Nay, they floored me; that is where I spent the remainder of the day, after repeatedly attempting to empty an already empty stomach. It was a huge disappointment to me to miss the actual shark whale dives , but there was no possibility for me to lift any part of my cramped and numb body off the wet deck. I spent the next unhappy 4 hours slipping in and out of consciousness, freezing cold and quite miserable. I am pleased to report that
everyone else on board managed one or two successful dives with an amazing young male whale shark. I know this because evidence was captured on video and posted on Facebook by my thoughtful husband. There were also many excited exclamatory chats overheard on the voyage homeward. It was not until we returned to the calmer waters of the inner reef that I was able to rouse my sorry shivering self off the salty deck and contemplate the magnitude of my lost opportunity. Without sounding too sorry for myself, it must be noted that during that day of adventure on the high seas, all except about 6 of the 28 people on board spent some of their day spewing over the port and starboard sides. We all have different tales to tell, but I think mine is the sorriest.
July 13 pack up to move on, but find a nicer site at People's Park in Coral Bay. Book in rather than drive north. Day of rest to let body catch up with intentions. Afternoon beach walk as I contemplate joining Kees for a swim. Try a snorkel using wetsuit, but still turn blue. Time for hot shower!!
Dinner out at Fin's, renowned for fresh seafood. Ruby snapper is very good.
Just another beach day. 26c in the shade, with sky such a bright blue that sunglasses barely dim the glare. Apply sunscreen. Laundry. Erin applies for work at shops. Meet the Miles family by chance, sunset beach walk and a drink at the Coral Bay Resort bar, where we discover it is Mike's birthday. Ben Ford, new friend from the whale shark trip and chef from resort, joins us and encourages Erin to apply at Coral Bay Resort. Potluck BBQ ensues at our nearly private outdoor camp kitchen. Chicken, noodles, squid, fresh mushrooms, candlelight. Good times!
July 15 Sunday is a day to relax. Walk the beach all the way to the jetty. Enjoy tidal pools and dunes. Great sunset. Prep for morning departure.
July 16 Monday drive to Exmouth by noon. Fill up on groceries, water and gas, then head 50 km northwest to Turquoise Bay for ebb tide at 3. Find water a bit warmer, with about 3 meters visibility. Not great, but enough to draw us out to see a small 1 meter reef shark, a blue spotted ray and good coral. Okay! Stop off at lighthouse on our way back to Exmouth. Spend night parked on driveway at rented holiday home of McDonalds and Syversons. BBQ and movies for all kids, who are a bit grumpy due to travel itinerary. Adults visit. Nice evening for us.
July 17 Tuesday
Drop teens to shop a bit while we visit Diane Lawler, another Canadian teacher who is traveling with her visiting sister and 2 teens. We missed Jim, who has gone fishing. Great hour of chat over a coffee, comparing travel experiences. Then onwards, beginning our long trek home.