Monday, February 25, 2008

Margaret River and Reuben

(Picture: Reuben and me at sunset)

After spending the first four days lounging on the beach, Lily and I needed a change of scenery. So we went somewhere completely different--to another beach. I can remember in London Lily talking -- always with an even bigger smile on her always smiling face -- about her family's beach house in Margaret River. She told me that it was one of, if not her most, favorite places on Earth. 

On Friday afternoon, after her sister Anna finished at University, the three of us along with Reuben jumped in the family car and drove three hours to Margaret River.  Margaret River is a cute town nestled in wine country along the southern coast of Western Australia. Immediately upon arriving in the town, I saw something that was pure Australian: dozens of wild kangaroos grazing in a field. After licking my lips and imagining all the cuisine possibilities my attention was quickly diverted to the traffic ahead. A row of cars had stopped at the intersection to the only entrance to the hillside community where the Salter house is located. In the distance a giant plume of smoke lingered over the hills and the smell of fire was in the air. A policeman stood in the road and told car after car what was happening: a fire was raging in the forest. The road was closed for at least a few hours. 

Instead of pulling over and waiting out the fire we decided to make the most of our day. We headed to one of Lily and Anna's favorite beaches called Red Gate. The beach did not disappoint. The water was emerald green and completely translucent. The sand was the color white you'd expect to see on the cover of Travel & Leisure magazine. Frankly, it was gorgeous.
Before I go on, let me quickly talk about Reuben. As I mentioned in my last email I fell in love with the Salter dog. Reuben and I immediately hit it off. Some might say love at first sight. With his big brown eyes it was nearly impossible not so slip him some food or rub his belly any time he approached me. I often found myself asking out loud, "How do you do it Reuben?" and "What's your secret?" The world is his oyster. Within minutes of the car ride he was laying in my lap and later that night he was sleeping in my bed. All that said, we have an Ike and Tina relationship...and unfortunately I'm Tina. 

I know Reuben loves me but sometimes he gets a little crazy. Something about the beach triggers his insane gene. Within minutes of arriving at Red Gate beach Reuben pounced on my clothing and unfortunately covered my pocket camera with sand. The camera no longer works and I had to FedEx it home yesterday. Reuben swore to me that he was sorry but that he did it out of love. I forgave him. The next day at the beach Reuben went mental again. This time, with my back turned and holding a stick, he sneak attacked me and bit my finger...drawing blood. Again Reuben told me he did it because he loves me so much. (Mom, don't worry about the bite. The Vet sister said he was all clean and that Rabies doesn't even exist in Australia. He's nibbed at a few people before and they've all been fine!). 
There is so much to tell about the weekend get-away so I'll just list some highlights:

1. Two gorgeous sunsets over the Indian Ocean. I can also now check off another Ocean that I've swam in.
2. Three delicious home cooked meals by Ana. Each night she outdid herself...and was amazed that I could finish four plates.
3. A quick wind storm that for some reason only took my stuff. It literally disintegrated the book I was reading. Philip Roth's "American Pastoral" flew up about fifty feet in the air and the pages that weren't torn out and disseminated all along the beach ended up drenched when the book landed fifteen feet into the water. My hat also was taking about two hundred yards down the beach and rescued, to the chagrin of Lily who hates the hat, by some surfers. 
4. Wine tasting. In Australia wine tasting is FREE. Yes, free. In the states, at least in Santa Barbara, you have to pay around $10 to taste. Although you often get to keep the glass in America I'd always prefer free.
5. On the final night we see a free jazz concert as part of the Perth International Film Festival. The band, The Bad Plus, was from America. They put on a great show as we laid back in a vineyard eating cheese and sipping wine. 
6. Clapping every time we walking along a path to the beach to, according to Anna the Vet, "avoid being stung by snakes that will kill you in under five minutes." Good times. 
7. The fire that was eventually put out six hours later. 
8. As we drove back from watching the sunset on the first night, the car in front of us swerved across the road. We all looked at each other wondering, "What was that about." Seconds later we saw for ourselves--a giant kangaroo was standing on the side of the road. As I mentioned in an earlier entry, kangaroos often jump in front of cars. They're very dangerous and we literally came within a foot of hitting one. Phew. 

Lily and I are off to Rottnest Island today. It's a thirty minute ferry ride off the coast of Perth and is supposed to be amazing. There are no cars on the island, great snorkeling and a ton of some kind of animal that supposedly looks like a little kangaroo. I already asked and no, we can't eat them.