(Previously on The Mundane Misfit: Rich people were nicer than expected, eat well, and have free boats. Also, PARASAILING!)
Hello all. So… I totally wasn’t going to finish this blog, since my computer died while we were on our trip, and it’s now several long months later. However, when I looked at my logs from the trip, I noticed that I stopped RIGHT before the wild dolphin interaction. Now, I cannot NOT share the wild dolphin interaction. It was absolutely incredible, and goes so well with my earlier writing about wild cetaceans…
Anyway, let me take you back to last October! Dododododo…dododododo…
Day 22 (Wednesday) Our Red Planet preview…
We got up early enough to go across to the marina and have breakfast at a café on that side before we had to turn our buggy back in (it had been a 24 hour rental). When we got to the café, we discovered that their pastry case contained – music of the angels plays here – the donuts from the bakery! So we got to have another round of divinity…
And then we turned in our buggy and we were back on foot. Like animals!
Nah, it was great. We checked out of our room, walked back over the hill to the marina one last time, and obviously got ice cream one last time, as well as grabbing our PARASAILING photos from the shop. Then we went back to the lobby of the hotel, where they had internet, so we could get up to date on our devices while we waited for the bus to the airport. The first bus that came had an Asian group on it that had been on island making a promotional video for the island to use in Asian markets. We used our Asian Assumption for our benefit and managed to be the last three people on their specially ordered bus! That got us back to the airport in time to grab lunch before our plane back to Brisbane.
Back in Brisbane, we checked back into the hotel and then went over and got tickets to see The Martian. It was pretty hilarious to be taking a break from our vacation to see a movie, but I’d waited quite long enough to see it, thank you, and we were very happy it was still in the theaters. The next showing was a couple hours later (it ended up being the last 3D showing at the Brisbane IMAX – the following day it went to the 2D theater, so we felt really lucky!), so we went to grab some dinner first, ending up at Harijuku Gyoza, where we enjoyed everything we ate… except the gyoza. Seriously. The agedashi tofu was great. Wonderful chicken wings. Apple juice that H said was the best she’d ever had. The potstickers? The thing they’re known for and named after? Meh.
Anyway, we were fed and ready, so we queued up for the film… and walked back in time. I estimate that Brisbane theater was located somewhere in the mid 1980s… the music, the lighting scheme, the seats… I can’t pinpoint a specific thing, but just the pure fusion ‘80s-ness was overwhelming and very funny to Chang and I, although H didn’t know what we were giggling so much over.
We watched the movie and all enjoyed it very much, though H was drooping pretty hard by the end. Back to the hotel and straight to bed, with Little Miss feeling so puny that we put her in bed with us. Thus we all slept in one pile, which meant very little sleep for the adults…
Day 23 (Thursday) FEEDING WILD DOLPHINS!
…and thus waking up on a travel day on the wrong side of a very crowded bed. However, we had a lovely breakfast buffet at the Mantra before heading off to the ferry to Tangalooma, our last stop on the east coast before heading to inland Australia.
The ferry was great, especially since I was all on back on board with boats again since the PARASAILING, and also because a little over halfway through the trip, we saw two (2!) humpback whales. I swear, ferries have been some of our best cruises this whole trip!
We got to the island after lunch, so we were a bit hungry, yet ended up with ice cream for lunch yet again – bad habits carrying over from Hamilton! But it was fine… it’s vacation! Besides, the ice cream shop was nearby the scheduling desk, and there were so many things we wanted to do at Tangalooma that we spent a lot of time at that desk – we would have spent more time there that day except that the woman was kind enough to tell us that if we immediately went on a marine animal boat tour, that they would put our family in for possible stand by tickets to FEED THE WILD DOLPHINS! (oh no. Another thing that must always be in all caps. Sigh. I’m getting old.)
So we raced off to get on the marine animal boat tour, which was a bit of a bust – we did see a Bull Ray, which we hadn’t seen yet, but it was just a big dark blob in the water. We’d apparently been quite spoiled with the water clarity at our other spots – not to mention with glass bottom boats! Still, totally worth it for a second chance to… FTWD!!! (Is it any better as an acronym? No? Oh well…)
About 4:30, we went to the dolphin information center to attend a presentation about the dolphins on Tangalooma and how the feeding program had come about. To our shock, we were the only people there, so they kindly gave us a private version of the presentation, and it was fascinating.
Basically, the female owner of the resort noticed a bunch of wild dolphins coming in to get at the fish that the fishermen on the wharf dumped into the water when they were done, and she began to hand feed one female that came in with her calf. Over time, this dolphin – they named her Tinkerbell – brought many other dolphins with her. When other people started wanting in on this, Betty (the owner) did exactly the right thing in my mind, and contacted Sea World park and the Australian government to find out how to best share this experience with others without harming the animals.
There was a decision made that there would be a limited amount of fish given to each dolphin, so that they were getting no more than 10% of their daily needs from this feeding, that the guests not be allowed to touch the dolphins with their hands, and of course, that no dolphin be constrained to attend. This last was almost immediately challenged, as one of the males showed up with a fishing line entanglement, and, again after contacting Sea World, they end up beaching him so that they could cut the line off. It was a good precedent, actually, as he was far from the only dolphin to show up in need of human help, including one poor lug who came in with a shark bite! He was transported to Sea World, where he was allowed to heal by himself in a tank for seven months, and then returned to Tangalooma, where he was released into the wild, and still returns for feedings to this day (RE: in fact, he was one of the ones we fed!).
After absorbing all this information, directly from the marine biologists – so H was in full hero worship mode – as well as seeing videos, we grabbed takeaway dinner and went back to the room for food and a short rest. Then up to take showers to wash off all sunscreen and other things that might have been on us, and then off to FEED THE WILD DOLPHINS!
A recap of the rules, a huge line for the gate, and then there we were in the water, fish in hand, and a wild freaking dolphin at our knees.
I’ve had interactions with truly wild dolphins before, when I was at Kalani. They weren’t nearly as polite as these. These guys are sleek, gorgeous, gentlemanly (and gentlewomanly), and… completely wild animals. They are here because we offer them something (an easy meal) and they take it, but then they go off, almost literally into the sunset, back to their wild lives. It’s… kind of perfection.
And I’ve never. Ever. Ever. Seen H so happy. Ever. She was floating. Dazed. Blissed out. She couldn’t even make words as we walked back to the room. She would start to try, and then just subside into silent wide eyed reminiscence of what had just happened.
We waltzed back to our room because we couldn’t imagine adding anything else to that evening, and went to sleep to dream of dolphins.
Day 24 (Friday) QUAD BIKES HOLY YEAH!!!!
Woke early to grab some breakfast before heading out to PARASAIL…oh, just kidding! Psych! There would be no PARASAILING this day… We got on the boat to PARASAIL, and put on the gear to PARASAIL, and went out with the boat to PARASAIL, and then the skipper took the wind measure and cancelled our PARASAIL. (It was apparently 20 knots, and at anything higher than 18, the sail can drag the boat, rather than vice versa. Safety. Pitt…)
No, really it was fine, because they rebooked us for the next day and instead we headed over to the QUAD BIKES! Oh yeah!
This time we were all going to get to go on the bikes, and since H had previously done the course at Hamilton, she got to ride her own. This was very good for me, as I was terrified! And would have been more so if I’d been tandem with my kid! We mounted the seemingly elephant sized 4WD all terrain vehicles, did a short informational course, learning to turn and brake and emergency brake. And then, way before I was ready, we were off, headed up into the hills.
Did I mention that Tangalooma is on Moreton Island, which is the third largest sand island in the world? (Fraser is number one, which means that we’ve now been on two of the top three.) So going up into the hills (which was, again, terrifying) then turned into skimming at ramming speed over sand dunes! Which is when terrifying turned into AWESOME! It was like riding a land based dragon, I tells ya. Gripping the monster with my thighs, leaning into turns, spitting sand out of my mouth, diving down the steep cliffs to get to the beach and then roaring back up…
I just bloody loved it.
I had a hard time figuring out how I could possibly love this. It’s kind of the opposite of all the things I love about PARASAILING and snorkeling. Those are cool, quiet, calm, water based, and also all about animals and nature. This was hot, loud, exhilarating, land (and sand) based, and SCREW NATURE! Donuts in the sand!! WHOO!
I’m serious. I’ve never felt so redneck in my life, and I was just loving it.
We came back to the room after to change into swimsuits and then went down to spend some time on the beach. We built a pretty large sand castle as a family, and then H and I built a footrest for Chang, who had found a plastic chair. He sat while we went in the water for a bit, and then we went back to the room again to get dressed for dinner.
We went to the Fire and Stone restaurant, which had a two-sided menu of “fire” items – i.e. Szechuan Chinese – and “stone” items, which apparently meant grilled things. Which I would think of as fire. But whatever. It was tasty.
Then we went down to the dock to watch the dolphin feeding from above. We felt very lucky about our evening the night before, when it turned out we’d seen all 11 of the dolphins that ever come. This night there were only 5 present, plus a calf, which they don’t feed, so they didn’t even have enough attending dolphins to have one for one each line/bucket of fish provided. Again, we felt very lucky to have had our experience, but Chang got lots of good photos and some video from a different angle, and we also saw our first wobbegong shark, so it was well worth the trip to the dock. Then it was back to the room with us for an early bedtime.
(Next time on The Mundane Misfit: Who knows?? Could be days 25-28 [Segways, more dolphins, and then into the Red Center for Uluru/Ayres Rock], could be the announcement of my new reviewing blog, could be personal introspection… Heck if I know! If you have a preference, leave a comment. 😉