Sign of the times

Monday, 27 August 2018

I invented "splits cash" about 18 months ago.  It's the system where I pay $1 to the kids for each faster leg split they do when we run the same orienteering course.  For the first 6 months I just needed to NOT make a mistake and I'd be ok as the kids were still stopping at each control and generally dithering around.  

Yesterday at Knocklofty I had a pretty good run with just a few dumb moments and Jett beat me overall by 20 seconds as well as on 12 of 16 controls. Zali (who was pretty tired from a stack of otehr activities) even managed to get a few dollers off me. Hmmph.  I think that the system will soon needs to reverse such that they'll be paying me if I manage to squeak a win.


Other Signs

Monday, 27 August 2018

A few months ago I bought myself a felt signboard from K-mart as I had been coveting Clare's for some weeks.

Unfortunately before I could even get it out of the box (ok I did leave the box lying around for a day or two) , it went missing..

Then I found it in Zali's room.. hmmph.


I reclaimed it and put it to use..note - I advertised the cat at $8, but Zali thought she was undervalued and added some more numbers.

Either way there have been no customers.  Perhaps they realise the 'goodish mouser' description is a lie, as she's actually never caught a mouse.


Not the Larapinta Stage Race - Day 5

Monday, 27 August 2018

On our last day in Alice Springs we got up earlyish and went for a final run at Telegraph Station.  Despite the last few days of exercise I certainly felt better on this last run than I did on our very first run when I must have been coming down with my cold..  

Back at our nice little studio apartment (which strangely featured a table that could seat 10, but a couch (see below) that only could fit two, fairly un-comfortably)

we ate most of our remaining food. Then we packed up and did our only cultural activity for the holiday - visiting the local art gallery which was really fantastic.

Then it was out to the airport, where we enjoyed what must be one of the few departure lounges in Australia that allow you to sit out on the grass under the trees.


Our trip home was uneventful, the highlight being a lift from the airport from Granny (who had also done most of the child care in our absence) . Arriving home after 10pm we found the kids had put themselves to bed but left us a nice welcome sign..


We weren't sure how we were going to go with the 9am checkout time though! 

Not the Larapinta Stage Race - Day 4

Tuesday, 21 August 2018

We had different plans for today, but I was feeling decidedly average in the morning so we abandoned our plan to do a 20k steep and rugged jog-hike and figured we'd just head out to see the sights and see what happened.

First we drove the 30kms out to Standley Chasm. Amazingly we had it pretty much to ourselves while we were there.  It was the only attraction we've had to pay for as it is privately owned.

After walking through the Chasm, we hiked straight up to a lookout to see it from above.


Then we drove 10kms down the road to Simpson's Gap - it was also spectacular, and also quiet:



After a quick lunch, we decided to head off on the Woodland Walk.  It is an 18km loop walk from Simpson's Gap that I wasn't sure I'd feel up to doing all of, so Jon's plan was to walk for a while with me, then run ahead and follow the Larapinta Trail all the way back to Telegraph Station just outside of Alice Springs where I'd pick him up.  I was either going to do the full loop, including 7.5kms on the Larapinta Trail, or simply turn around and head back the way I came.



The trail was really nice and quite flat and not very taxing.  After 5kms of walking I still felt pretty good so I decided to complete the whole thing. I let Jon go ahead (as he had a long way to go), and then I jog-hiked the rest of it. It was great!



I arrived back at the car pretty happy about my Larapinta experience today!

While I ran, then drove back to Alice Springs, then showered, then made some phone calls, then visited the botanical gardens, then drove out to Telegraph Station, Jon ran. He ran and ran and ran and after 44km he turned up in the park where I waited, looking decidedly tired!  He didn't have many words to spare (beyond 'do you have water'), but I've got a few pictures from his phone..



 He is now having a well deserved pre-dinner nap. If he was able to respond I'm sure he'd say he'd had a good day out on the Larapinta Trail today too. 


Not the Larapinta Stage Race - Day 3

Monday, 20 August 2018

Today we really needed the 4wd..


Not because we got lost but because we had a clever plan. More on that later.. 

Because I still have a cold, and because we were both tired from yesterday, we slept in and took it pretty easy today (well, relatively speaking - Jon still managed to run for 90 minutes and I hiked a good 7.5km).  We decided to stray from the Larapinta area in the West MacDonnell Ranges and go out the other side of town to the East Larapinta Ranges. They were just as spectacular.  

We started with visits to a couple of gorges in Yeperenya Nature Reserve. These were very short walks but there was some cool rock art (that we weren't allowed to take photos of), and both the gorges were beautiful.  Often there is water in the waterholes but today there wasn't.


Then we drove onwards to Trephine Gorge Nature Park - about 80ks east of Alice Springs.  At one end of the park we did the Panorama walk, then we did the Gorge Walk.  Both were lovely.


Then I said goodbye to Jon and he set off on the one-way 9km Ridge Top Trail..


..while I drove down to the other end of the park which is where the 4wd was required for the last 4kms. It was a public road, just a very very hairy one! I've never had to negotiate lumps and bumps and ditches and rocks like that before - but the Ford Trailblazer did just fine. The most nerve wracking part was what to do if I encountered another car but luckily I didn't, even though there were plenty of people in the car park when I finally arrived! 

While Jon ran, I walked the Chain of Ponds walk, which again was absolutely lovely (but hard to capture with the deep shadows and for some reason I didn't think to pack a proper camera!).







While I was doing that, Jon was doing this..


It looks like that ridge top track went up very high indeed!

 With some amazing timing I reached the trail junction just as Jon arrived..


Then I let Jon experience the fun of driving the car back out again..

Once on our way home we made a final stop at Corroboree Rock to finish our lunch that we had started about 3 hours earlier!


It was a great day and once again the scenery was amazing.  It's going to get down to 0 tonight so it will be a cold start for us tomorrow. We're planning to head to Standley Chasm for another stretch of the Larapinta Trail.  


Not the Larapinta Stage Race - Day 2

Sunday, 19 August 2018

Today was a big day and I'm writing this from bed with the electric blanket on in lieu of a bath as the place we are staying only has a shower.

We left home at 8am and drove the 150km out to the furtherest point of the Larapinta Trail.  The standard Larapinta hike goes for 12 days if you do it all and on the last day the hikers do the 15.8km out and back climb of the highest point of the West MacDonnell ranges - Mt Sonder, which allows them to look back over where they have walked.  Today we climbed it and looked back over where we hadn't walked.  

But first I want to talk about that road that we 'definitely' needed a full size 4wd for. This is it:


OMG. So. Treacherous.

With the worlds most graded gravel track behind us we set off from the carpark at about 10am.   I took it pretty slow on the way up as I woke up with a cold, so Jon ran ahead of me on the uphills then looped back about 50 zillion times.   


It wasn't that hot today - when we left the carpark it was 18 degrees, and when we got back it was about 22. Very pleasant for hiking/jogging.  



The route featured a few downs as well as a lot of up. That's the peak in the distance ahead of Jon in the photo on the left. 



The views from the top were spectacular - The photos don't do it justice.  I never realised how mountainous it was all around this area.

We made it back to the car just after 1pm, but there was no time to dilly-dally as we had another adventure planned for the afternoon. Just 30k down the road was Ormiston Gorge, another must-see destination according to those in the know.  Although the 9k circuit hike was going to be a bit arduous after the 15k morning jog-hike, we didn't want to have to drive all the way back out another day, so it was now or never.   

And it was a great hike.  The trail wound its way over some low hills then down into an open pound area with escarpents all around. Then it hit the river and followed the gorge ending up at the swimming hole just a few minutes walk from the car park. 

 We actually ran into a few stragglers from the race at Ormiston Gorge, as their 22k run finished there today. A very close encounter with the race!



The colours of the rocks in the gorge were amazing. Really red in some parts, purple and pink in others 


It gets so cold at night that our swim was pretty brief! I reckon the water was easily as cold as some of the rivers on the Overland Track! 


It felt good to get wet though.

Despite it being almost dusk the long drive back to Alice Springs was uneventful. In fact it is noticeable how little wildlife we see out here. I think we saw about 10 birds today and that was it! No kangaroos (dead or alive), or anything else.  I guess we aren't looking in the right places.

We're not sure what we will do tomorrow but whatever it is I suspect it won't be quite as arduous! 


Not the Larapinta Stage Race - Day 1

Saturday, 18 August 2018

I think I have blogged about this before, but about this time last year I decided it would be a great idea for Jon and I to enter the Larapinta Stage Race which is a 4 day running race held over stretches of the famous Larapinta Trail which travels through the McDonnell ranges near Alice Springs.  My motivation wasn't to race at all, but to get to cover a fair bit of the trail without having to carry a heavy pack, and also to have all the logistics taken care of. There was a shorter version which I was going to enter (11k, 20, 22, 30km), and a longer version which Jon would have done.  

When entries finally opened 6 months later I realised to my horror that the entry fee was going to be $1700 for both of us.  That was crazy, so I immediately ditched that idea and decided instead that we should just go there at the same time and simply hire a car and do our own thing (since I'd booked leave for those dates and all).  With this new plan in mind I immediately booked flights.  Not more than 2 weeks later we received Emma and Rory's wedding invitation and had to adjust all those flights by a few days.  Anyway -the end result is that we are here in Alice Springs, not doing the Larapinta Race.   And it's been great so far. We arrived at about 1pm, went to the supermarket, then checked into our nice AirBNB accommodation.  After a late lunch (we were starving after the early start at the caravan park), we headed out to Telegraph Station and went for a run around some of the trails there.  


After being burnt by being too organised and booking the trip too early - thus having to change flights at great cost when we got the wedding invitation, I hadn't really made any more plans for this trip (which is unlike me). In fact once the new flights were sorted out the only preparation actually I did was to buy the Larapinta Trail map and to book a hire car - the cheapest hatch possible.  

So when I finally opened up the map on the plane to Alice Springs I realised that one of the destinations we'd been told not to miss was only accessible by 4wd.   Oops.  That meant or Toyota Yaris probably wasn't going to get us there.   Once off the plane we decided we'd just try our luck at the Budget counter and ask the person behind the desk if she thought we'd be able to make it there in the Yaris.  As we expected she said we'd need a full size 4wd for that trip but before we could even begin to ask how much it would cost to get one, she offered us a FREE upgrade ! Free!  yay!  So that turned out really well!  So the funny thing is, if I'd done the research before we left I would have probably booked a 4wd (at 3 times the price probably), so being un-organized has saved us money! Just like it would have if I'd been a bit less organised with booking the flights in the first place. Hmmm.  Whilst you can't rely on getting a free upgrade for being unorganized I do think I need to learn from these experiences and try NOT to lock everything in the moment I think of a great plan!


36 hours in Adelaide

Saturday, 18 August 2018

Well, technically it's probably been more like 16 hours in Adelaide, then 20 hours in the Barossa valley, 6 of those on a farm (not a winery, but an actual working farm).

After a hectic day at work trying to get things organised for my absence (on top of a busy time at home getting packed and all the kids while-we-are-away-stuff organised), Jon and mum picked me up from work just after 5 which gave us plenty of time to make the re-instituted  direct flight from Hobart to Adelaide (which was SO good compared to the usual awkward 4 hour wait in Melbourne).  We made it to Hilary & Tony's place by 10pm, where they were all still up warming themselves in front of the fire. This makes a nice change to arriving in Adelaide in midsummer, when it's impossible to imagine anything but hot hot streets and brown hills.  As evidenced by this photo from the run we went in the park the next day, Adelaide is delightfully cool & green at the moment..

After the run and a quick repack, we all headed up to the Barossa valley and to the Tanunda caravan park.  We quickly got ready then were back in the car for the 45 minute drive to the wedding of Jon's nephew Rory to his lovely fiance Emma, which was being held on Emma's parents farm.  It was a cold day but skies were clear for the ceremony which was held in quite a dramatic setting.  We were under strict instructions not to use our mobiles for photos or post any images of the ceremony to social media, but when I saw that Emma's dog was being the ring bearer, I simply couldn't abide by the rules as I had to report this to Zali who was already outraged at missing the wedding, and would have been further outraged to miss immediate news of the ring-bearing dog.  


The rest of the wedding was fun - it was a canape wedding, which can make food scarce for vegetarians but this time we were well catered for, with the waiters honing in on us when they had plates of vegetarian offerings.   This was because we had been instructed to make ourselves known to the chef at the start of the evening, who then had his wait staff take down a physical description of us all which was a bit uncomfortable at the time! I didn't get to see what the list looked like but I bet it was something like this: "Annoying person with red dress - Vegetarian", "Really annoying person with blue tie - Gluten Free", "Unbelievably annoying person in blue skirt - Gluten Free with Nut Allergy".  For me I reckon the description would have been something like "Annoying person in purple dress and boots", as it turned out I was the only female at the whole event wearing boots as opposed to strappy shoes which was surprising given the low temperatures as night fell.  


Anyway - it was great to see most of the rest of the McComb clan especially as we won't be back for Christmas this year.  After talking ourselves all hoarse, and drinking & dancing ourselves into a lather (not me, but others) we made it back to the caravan park by midnight and fell to bed listening to the rain hammering down on our little cabin roof.

The next morning we had to get up pretty early to get to the airport for our flight to Alice Springs but it was all smooth going and we made the flight with plenty of time to spare. Goodbye Adelaide!



Waterpolo Finals

Sunday, 5 August 2018

We're all really happy for Jett as his waterpolo team won a nailbiter of a grand final on Friday night. His Taroona High team won the grade 7/8 boys competition.  

Zali's team also made it to the final but got beaten 3-0 in a tight contest.  

Conningham Paddle

Sunday, 5 August 2018

It's been a while since I've had my boat out from under the house, so it was really lovely to get out for a paddle before the Conningham orienteering event on Sunday.


Taroona to Kingston

Sunday, 5 August 2018

Saturday was such a nice day that I couldn't resist running home from Jett's soccer game in Taroona.  On my way I passed Jon who was running from home to his game (someone had to take him home!).  


Taroona Beach

Heading up to the Shot Tower



Down and up some steps, then in and out of ferny gullies


Looking down over Kingston Beach 


Kingston Beach was packed with dogs and dog owners.  Ok, maybe not 'packed', but it was busy! 

Finally turning onto the last bit of track towards home.  The flood damage still looks pretty bad a bit further up the track, but some restoration work had begun which was heartening.

Happy Birthday to me!

Monday, 30 July 2018

For my birthday I almost got this cake, made by Jett & Zali in the days leading up to my birthday.  


 It was inspired by the photos I took of the houseboats on the Noosa River.

I say 'almost' because they made such a great cake the entire population of ants in the Kingborough Municipality moved into the houseboat the night before the reveal. 

I bet the real houseboats don't have that problem 

Unsupervised Holiday Activities

Wednesday, 25 July 2018

Zali loves school holiday days that she gets to spend at home unsupervised.  She hasn't had that many this this holidays as she had a week-long ski-trip at Mt Hotham and Jon was around for much of the first week.

She got the whole day to herself on Monday though.

In the evening Jon noticed that the bottom of Zali's feet were blue. 

Jon: Zali, why are your feet blue ?

Zali: Because I was making rainbow cheese.

(of course) 



Sunday, 1 July 2018

Today was a lovely day out at an orienteering event near Buckland - an hour or so from Hobart.

Somehow I managed to arrive at the event with 4 pairs of shoes. None of them were my orienteering shoes so I had to borrow Zali's (although I was tempted to run in the ugg boots).

Zali, Jett and I all ran the same course - a short but hard navigation course.  I made almost no mistakes and managed to squeak a win over Zali by 30 seconds.   Jett ran really well too - by the third control he was already a minute ahead of both Zali and I (I was coming third at that stage!), but some mistakes in the latter part of the course cost him 5 minutes..   I was really proud of them both for having such confident runs on a harder course than they are used to ands it's clear that my days of being faster are nearly but not quite over. This time next year I'll be reminiscing about the days when I used to beat them!

World Cup Soccer

Friday, 29 June 2018

Pinto's hectic World Cup watching schedule has taken its toll..


Or maybe it's actually our viewing schedule which has been keeping her up. That's what happens when you sleep in the living room. 


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