Friday, January 13, 2012

Our First Family Roadtrip

So this year we decided to take a family road trip to the small town of Emerald, located about 10 hours North-West of here. Why on earth would you do that, you ask?  Because our loved ones, Tia Carmen and Tio Joe and our gorgeous niece and nephew Ellie and Noah live out there. And what an experience it was!

We left at about 9am on the 27th and drove to Toowoomba where we stopped and had lunch. Things were going awesome, which was a shock to us since we were afraid Anabel would go crazy sitting in the back seat for longer than 30 minutes, which is what she does if we dare drive into the city to have lunch with daddy. Good thing we turned her seat around backwards again and voila, we had a happy little camper! 

As we continued, even Tori and Eadie seemed to adapt well to road-trip life, as they watched their DVDs on Juan's 'tablet' and had the occasional nap. Oh, and yes the lollies helped.. 
We went through lots of little towns and pulled over for a stretch, a change of nappy and something to eat every now and again. It wasn't so bad!

But by about 7 o'clock, we realised we had a problem... In our flurry to find a decent place to eat in Roma, the sleepiest town we had ever encountered, we forgot to fill up with petrol.. And we still had about 3 and a half hours to drive but only just over a quarter tank to go. We were sure there would be a petrol station in the upcoming towns, and we just prayed that they would still be open... but I began to get confused as I noticed the towns on the map coming and then going as we passed through 'town' after 'town'. "Since when has a letter-box on the side of the freeway classified as a town?" we complained, beginning to freak out..
The petrol gauge was dropping quickly, and we knew we would either come to a chugging stop on the side of the road about an hour out of Emerald, or we would have to pull over on the side of the road and sleep in the car unless we found a hotel or a petrol station in the next hour. By now it was almost 9pm and the next town was about 20 minutes away. We were both of us praying over and over that the next town was not just a small house on the side of the road as it had been for kilometre after kilometre. Still, I committed that I would even knock on their door and see if they had an petrol, if it was the case. And what made the experience even worse was that Juan's mobile, which we were using as our navigation, kept on dropping out of range, so for hours we couldn't actually tell where the next town was! All we could do was keep driving forward and hope for the best. SOOO nerve-wracking! 

After a couple of hours (but what felt like a life time) we approached a sign with the turnoff to Emerald, but had the feeling to keep driving a bit further to a dot on the map called Rollstrom. We just prayed they had a service station.... please... please... pleeeeease!!  As we entered the quiet street we noticed all of the lights were off in the few houses lining the road. Then suddenly we saw a petrol station! But no lights were on, and we were heart-broken when we noticed the CLOSED sign on the front door. Nooo!! What do we do now?? 

Suddenly! We saw a small printed piece of paper on one of the fuel pumps. It read: "24 hour fuel. Use Credit Machine". We looked around... what machine?!  :-O  That machine!! That wonderful, heaven-sent miraculous machine!! We put in our card, selected our tank number, and it turned on the fuel for us to use. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!! Thank you Heavenly Father, Thank you Petrol Station owner who put in the 24 hour credit machine! We were going to make it!! What a wonderful relief. Needless to say, any security camera filming that night will have footage of a man praying and a woman dancing, around 9:45pm.

At about 11pm we arrive in Emerald. We had a great time with Joe and Carmen, just as the kids did with Ellie and Noah, to the point where Tori still talks daily about wanting to sleep in Ellie's room again. It was her first 'official' sleep over and she LOVED it. 

Here, I'll give you the cliffs note version of the fun we had: As well as just hanging out, we also went to a beautiful local lake (anything under an hour drive is called 'local' in Emerald, which we thought was hilarious), and I swam in a lake for what I think is the first time ever, and so did Anabel!! Needless to say we took heaps of pics in case she never wants to go back in the water again (which she has never wanted to do before! Even in the bath!) Of course of all the things, I completely forget the kids' swimmers, which were the things we actually needed!! (OK, I admit, I also forgot their toothbrushes, but Carmen is so awesome and well-prepared that Ellie let the girls borrow one of her 'spares'. What a mum!) So thanks to Ellie who let all three of our girls wear her old swimmers, and thanks to Carmen for keeping them for days like that! :-) 

We also went 'fossicking', which is using a pan to search for sapphires in dirt. And we actually found some!! We are the proud owners of apx 15 small (ok, tiny is a better word), blue sapphires from a real sapphire mine. Although they are not worth a single cent, it is still very exciting. :-)

We relaxed, we laughed, we had a great time. It was so nice to get away and leave our busy life in the 'big city' for a bit. Things in Emerald were so much slower than here, but still so many things were exactly the same.. the kids act the same, driving each other insane and run around half naked for most of the day, and the mums do the same things we do here. The dads go out to work and you order the same tasting pizza on the weekends. But the thing that is always the best to notice is that even though you can have months and months away from your family, as soon as you meet again it is as if you had never been apart.  Thanks Carmen and Joe for making our first family road trip such a great one! xx
 Anabel loving her time at the lake-to everyones surprise!

 Juan found this rock as we left the sapphire mine. No, it's not a sapphire.. it's just a rock. How exciting..

 The girls showing off their imaginary rings

 Ellie pretending she is a mermaid at the lake. So cute! 

 What a relief Bel loved the water! And even I got in! 

 Cousins and a trampoline. Best. Fun. Ever! (And yes, Noah is pant-less.. so glad my kids aren't the one ones who do this!)

 "Stick em up or I'll pee all over you!

 The girls had a great time fossicking for 'diamonds'

 Although there was no getting Eadie into that lake, she still had a great time!

 Fun with mummy and her new hat, which worked perfectly I might add ;-)

Tori LOVES the water. Even after her lips have turned purple and she is shivering with cold, she still wants to stay in there!! 

Pausing at a highway diner for a stretch and to pick wild flowers on the way home... 
Great times!! 

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