Return to 2006 Australia Trip
Sunday Night, Windsor, New South Wales – 8 PM
I wasn’t going to post another Ramblings tonight, but I have an hour or so available, so I will do so. Not enough pictures yet to put up another batch, so I will just write. I don’t understand why I write, but I do.
I did manage to get my pictures posted last night, although I had a number of problems, some of which I still haven’t figured out. One of the interesting things about computers is that there is generally more than one way to do any given task, and I used a couple of “workarounds” last night, to get my pictures up on to the website, but it was a nuisance and took a long time.
This morning I was up early again, though not quite as early as the previous mornings. I think it was about 6:15 when I pulled myself out of bed, and the sun was already up, for a change. I went for a little pre-breakfast walk and didn’t see many birds, but it was lovely out and I did see a Rockwarbler again, although not as close as the day before. Maybe 50 yards away this time, but I still got a good look through the binoculars.
I paid Oska and got on the road by about 10 AM, which was just what I had been targeting. It is only about a three hour drive over here to Windsor, but I took it easy and stopped briefly a couple of times, not to mention that I took the scenic route as well, and I pulled in here to my motel at about 1:30 in the afternoon. That included a stop at a McDonald’s for lunch. The Mickey D’s over here (or, Macca’s, to use their slang) are always totally packed as far as I have been able to tell. There just isn’t any kind of Aussie equivalent, and they seem to be extremely popular, and crawling with kids, of course. There aren’t anywhere near as many over here, but there aren’t nearly as many potential customers, either. Every time I have stopped at one, it has been difficult to find a parking place, and sometimes impossible.
When I got checked in to my modest motel here (the best in town, though, as far as I can tell), I discovered that I had left my unopened bottle of orange-mango juice back in the refrigerator at Oska’s. I hope he enjoys it. This is the juice that I use for my evening drinkies with my Bundy rum, so I had to do something about that situation. First I called Keith, the local birder who had offered to take me out birding tomorrow. He wasn’t in, so I left a message and rushed out and found some juice for my drinkies – mandarin-mango this time, which turned out to be fine, although the color of the drink is not very appealing – especially with no ice. When I got back, Keith returned my call, and we set it up for him to pick me up here at my motel at 6:30 AM. It is a good thing that I am still on an early, jet-lagged schedule, but I am going to have to set my alarm, to be sure I am ready. Early morning is the best time to see birds, so I am really trying to keep my schedule early, even though that goes against my normal pattern.
With those important things taken care of, I ventured out to see if I could find some birds. At that point, I had only seen one new species for the trip today, and I wanted to improve on that. I wandered around and found several places that I had read about, and ended up seeing another 8 or 9 species for my trip list. They are all probably ones I would have seen with Keith tomorrow anyway, but it was still fun to find them today, on my own. I picked up Cattle Egret, Pallid Cuckoo, and Bar-shouldered Dove, along with some very common ones, which pleased me.
I had my drinkies, and then went out looking for dinner. I had fish and chips at a really great place – maybe the best fish and chips I have ever had. The fish was incredibly “light” and non-fishy tasting. I didn’t let it cool enough, though, and now my tongue and mouth feel like they were slightly burned. It was a great dinner, though, and I finished it off with a double scoop ice cream cone. Not exactly a healthy dinner, perhaps, but it sure was damn tasty.
So, that is a report of my day. Now for some observations on Aussie life. This motel is really typical of Aussie motels, and Aussie business in general, I think. Forget about the customer. The focus is on convenience for the people running the motel. They haven’t heard of ice machines in Aussie motels, but that can be chalked up to local customs, I guess, although in a country as hot as this, you would think that eventually they would catch on. Service is in the European style – not surly or anything, but very different from the American style of “the customer is always right”. This is a fairly nice motel, but it is run very much in the Aussie style, as opposed to the American style. For example, there is one waste basket in the room – in the bathroom. They have a little refrigerator, which is nice, but no ice machine or ice tray to make your own ice. The phone is by the bed, on a short cord, even though there is a nice desk area across the room. The phone not only doesn’t have a modem jack, the cord from the phone to the wall doesn’t have a jack at the wall, but is hard-wired, so to use my computer, I have to perch on the bed and put the computer on a chair. There is only one electrical outlet by the bed, so if I want to use my CPAP machine, which I need to do, of course, then I have to forgo the clock radio they generously provide. The air conditioning is preset “for my convenience”, so I have to either have it on or off, and I’m not supposed to adjust it for temperature, although I think I can do so if I really want to. As I said, it is a fairly nice motel – they just have a completely different idea of “customer service” here, compared to the US. It is the US that is out of step with the rest of the world, not Australia. I believe it is because the most aggressive, most pushy, most ambitious people in Europe were the original immigrants to the US, and over the years, that has continued with immigrants from other places. You have to work at it to get to the US. The Mexicans who make across the border illegally are the most ambitious and hardest workers. The result is that the good old USA is the king of the hard sell, compete with a vengeance, push all the time, way of life. That isn’t necessarily a good thing, but it does make for better customer service, because the laggards go out of business and the ones who provide the best service survive. I think it is this kind of difference that makes McDonald’s so successful over here. Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that this is a “better” way to be – only that this is how I observe it to be. Judge for yourself whether it is “better” or not. I have mixed feelings about it, myself. I certainly do enjoy Australia and Aussie people, and it may very well be that their way is “better” than the American way. I notice the differences, though.
Okay, that is enough of that stuff. I will see if I can go online and post this as Ramblings04. One last thing – if anyone is reading these scribblings, drop me an email to let me know. I need to hear from home, to sustain me in this foreign land. I have written four of these now, and if anyone is reading them, it is only fair to send me a brief email to let me know.
Have I really only been here for 4 days? I arrived Wednesday night and this is Sunday night. Four days? That is incredible. It seems much, much longer. I sure am enjoying it. I have continued to do great with driving on the wrong side of the road. It feels really comfortable, and the only “mistake” I ever make is to occasionally turn on the windshield wipers when I am trying to turn on the turn indicator. So far, anyway.