Monday, April 30, 2012

The Van

We've rented the camper van! It's a big, beautiful, wood-and-metal contraption with lots of place to sit…

And practically no space to store anything. This one may look nicer, but the cabinets around the top are too narrow for our bags. Honestly, I'm not sure how six people live here without a great deal of bags being set in the front, back, and sides at vaious times of the day.

As it is, we not only have our backpacks, but also five outdoor chairs— the big sort, that come in bags, and an outdoor table (never mind that we have two indoors). The point, of course, is that we may at some point want to dine outside.

My opinion? Pointless. We can always keep the door open if we're really hot, or eat standing up. It's really annoying to not have the appearance of space.

We drove 550km today, stopping at Devil's Marbles to take pictures and walk for 20 minutes. They're basically boulders that stay precariously or solidly on other boulders or the ground. They're rusty red, like all the other big rocks around here, and warm from the sun. Some have cracked open— inside they're gray. It's because of the iron in them that they're red.

Back to the camper van. There are basically four benches, three of which pull out to make two beds. The one in the back blocks off the kitchen when extended, while the two in front block off nothing but the storage space between the benches. These can be extended further to the side to block off the ladder space which leads up into the loft (and the biggest bed). All the benches are cushioned with beautiful navy blue cushions, and the two in the front have four seatbelts which we're supposed to wear at all times. 

We spent most of the day on the benches, in various positions while reading, singing, looking out the window, or playing iPad games.

I finished Jane Austen, Her Life and Letters by Richard Arthur Austen-Leigh, and started Poor Folk, by Fyodor Dostoevsky. I liked the biography, but I don't understand Poor Folk. Yes, the two main characters are friends, but the general substance of their letters seems to be: "I'm very poor, very down-in-the-dumps, and you mustn't sacrifice yourself for me, really you mustn't! Also, here's a book."

I can't get into a novel like that, though I'm trying to understand what makes this book good. I'm hoping it gets revealed at the end, but not expecting it.

We stopped at a camping place, figured out where and how we were going to sleep, and ate soup, mashed potatoes, ham, and yogurt. It was, to say the least, a very delicious meal. Ileana volunteered to go wash the dishes, so we all trooped out carrying the dishes, some of us meeting with more adventures than others.

When Ileana came back, we piled into bed, turned out the light… and started sleeping, writing, or playing chess.

Sunday, April 29, 2012


It's Day 120 of the year! It's amazing how quickly it seems to have gone by… I still remember cavorting to Lily the Pink (a ridiculous song… but highly entertaining) on New Year's.

And I can't really seem to remember what came after that. I remember the books I read in each location, and a bit of the places we've been, and some of the things we've done, but writing about it is way beyond me. I've been trying to write the blog posts for Hawaii… all I remember of Hawaii is that we moved around, did state tests, watched Friends, saw volcanoes, got our hair cut, met an Indian family at the olivine beach, and went to a coffee farm. That and the reaction to our lack of luggage at the airport.

Otherwise? Not much. Practically not anything. I don't recall what order the places were in, which is completely different from New Zealand (we went in a counter-clockwise circle), Australia (Sydney, Melbourne, Outback), India (and, let's be honest, there were tons of places), or anywhere else. It's all disappeared. And, I repeat— it's only Hawaii.

Dad said once that we're probably the only people forced to come to Hawaii on vacation. It's probably true— we needed to take our tests, 'check in' to the USA again to make sure we're still normal residents, etc. But we didn't come for the beaches, the volcanoes, the sights… if it had been up to us we probably would have selected another country.

So it's hard to remember, hard to put the place into words better than the rest of the family has, and I'm really not in the mood to try. I'm not even writing at my own stories— I'd much rather be reading, and, if I have to, writing book reviews. I've just hit 114, I'm reading a biography of Jane Austen, I've got a list of other books to get through, and I'm very happy with that, even though I've got the blog posts to worry about.

Isn't there some way just to erase the record, note a few notes, and say I honestly can't remember which order things were in? Because I can't, I really can't.

On to happier subjects! We watched most of The Sound of Music today— only most because the times are a half hour apart and  we didn't realize that until 7:25 when we missed both 'the hills are alive' and 'Maria,' which are two of my favorites. Ioan and Ileana didn't remember it almost at all, but I think we were all transfixed, even though they cut off every scene horribly when it came time for the commercial breaks.

I hope they never make a remake of this movie. It would just ruin it, and it's too good a movie to be ruined by a remake.

Anyway, I love the movie, and I love Julie Andrews, and in general I'm just very happy with the world.

Saturday, April 28, 2012


Today is Mom and Dad's 22nd anniversary. We woke up to a pretty warm tent, a luxury (you realize how big of a luxury a real bed is when you're in a tent, and when there's a cold night warmth when you get out of the sleeping bag is a real luxury).

Packing up the tent has become a bit automatic too… and I think we're all very happy to be taking it back now. We must face that, while we can do this if we have to, we will never be 'LET'S GO CAMP OUTDOORS AGAIN!' people. We just weren't trained early enough.

We drove a while and stopped at Ghost Gum to walk to the lookout. It looks out over a waterhole and a gorge (I always thought a gorge had water in it, but these 'gorges' generally have puddles somewhere, if anywhere at all… not at all like ours). The stones are red, flies are everywhere (I'll yell about the flies some other day), and we're all tired from so many days of walking everywhere.

But it's a beautiful day, and it's a beautiful view, and we take pictures and start off down the trail again.

We drive until we reach Alice Springs… and then we reach a hotel (or collection of apartments?). The apartment is huge. Wide open spaces, a balcony, red tile like the stones in the gorge on the floor, white walls, room for at least five people in the kids' bedroom alone… and two out of three cabinets in the kitchen completely empty, with the dishes put in the one furthest away. I have many things against the kitchen.

Mom and Dad take the jeep to buy food.

I snap the beans when they come back, thinking about nothing in particular. It's interesting how my mind goes a bit blank whenever I'm snapping beans or cleaning potatoes.

We have tortillas with ricotta, lettuce, and meat for dinner (an 'invention' made by Mom, and absolutely delicious— even though I don't, in general, like ricotta), then a strawberry and cream mousse for dessert, while we discuss Ileana's conquests.

After dinner, I head off to finish Maitreyi, and Ileana and Dad begin to clean out her account…

During which we find old videos we made of ourselves goofing off. Dad hasn't laughed this much in ages.

And I can't believe I've cut my hair! It was so long… so pretty… so useful! When I had it, I couldn't have cared less about it— it was always in a barid. Now I don't have it and I can only think about all the cool hairstyles I'd be able to do!

Ah well. It will grow. And in the meantime, I can practice on Ileana.

Dante's Peak with Pierce Brosnan came on while I was in the last stages of Maitreyi, so I watched enough of that to realize I didn't like the movie, then went off with the internet to post all my posts.

I'm almost done, but I'll do more tomorrow.

Friday, April 27, 2012


The most interesting days are the ones where we meet a lot of people. Yesterday we saw "Madagascar" and her group more than once. She has a lovely accent, and has traveled parts of Europe, South America, Central America, and California. She's from Madagascar, hence the name we gave her, since we never exchanged names.

We met our tour guide two days ago as well. She used to be a bus driver, became more interested in the Aboriginals, was taught a few things, became a tour guide… and married an Aboriginal man five years ago.

This morning we said goodbye to a couple at the campground who are traveling around Australia for six months. That's about all we know about them, but when you see someone in five or six places, you say 'hi' like you've known each other for years… and then move on.

It's the same thing with three girls from France, and a small family that's also French. 

Today we went to Red Banks Gorge, all the way through beautiful veined rocks  I could look at for years. At the water hole, we stopped to touch the water (absolutely freezing), played around with an air raft that was lying there doing nothing, and started taking pictures of the rocks.

A family of what we presume were Jews came. They surveyed the water hole, saw the air raft, and asked, "Don't you want to go in the water?"

"No," we said, "It's too cold for us."

The dad and two boys stripped down to underwear, sat on the boat (the dad in the back, the two boys, each about six to nine, on their stomachs on the sides), and paddled off.

I should mention this air raft doesn't have a bottom— it's like a floatie but in a boat shape.

And then they paddled off into the gorge.

We said hello and bye, and that was it, but… wow. Getting into freezing cold water just to paddle around a bit? Not for us.

As we kept going, we passed a sign that said Tyler's Peak. We pulled in… and saw a behemoth of a camper van. It looked almost amphibious, huge, white… with printed on the side, AROUND THE WORLD, and SWEDEN and GERMANY flags on the back.

The size was amazing. Dad went up and asked to take a picture…

It's a couple with white hair and German accents, who've been on the road since January 1st… 1997.

They've been through Europe, South America, South Africa, USA, the Middle East (in 2005-2007). They were in Africa for 3 years and a half. They'll be going to Asia next. They've been in Australia for a year. They won't be going to New Zealand, since the truck won't fit.

The camper van was custom-made. The top raises up. It's… enormous.

Dad took a picture from every angle possible on the outside, and we went on.

All we could think of was… and people said we were crazy! And how fantastic would it be to do that!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

King's Canyon

We drove all the way to King's Canyon to climb up a steep set of stairs to get to the top of the canyon, to walk six kilometers in pounding sun with no water-replenishing sites… above a pretty deep hole with a great deal of rocks on the way down.

You're right. I don't know why we do it either.

That said, King's Canyon is the best place we've been so far. Kata Tjuta was nicer than Uluru— the Base Walk is much too flat to be anything but mindless droning, and Kata Tjuta actually has flat parts.

If I had to walk a long distance and I was given the choice between a rough road with lots of big rocks and a smooth road, like asphalt, I'd choose the big rocks. They're more visually interesting.

King's Canyon is home to one of the largest permanent waterholes in Central Australia. Its name? The Garden of Eden.

To get to it, you deviate from the Rim Walk path and walk 300m to the waterhole, where you encounter a pool of water that smells weird. There are insects and beautiful light gray birds flying. There's a sign with swimming guidelines, but we didn't do anything beyond putting our hands in. It was a bit cold and probably full of bacteria.

As we came back, we sat down on one of the 'pancakes' to rest. Dad looked over to the left and saw a bird hopping around on the path.

"A bird!" Dad exclaims.

We all look over and smile. It's so hard to actually see these small sparrow-like birds up close. They're my favorite sort, too, because they're so small and fuzzy and cute.

It's hopping around, looking somewhat inquisitive… and then I realize it's fluttering its wings and seemingly trying to escape from something.

"It's caught." I said, standing up and trying to figure it out.

"Loosen it." Mom says.

It seems to be a really, really thin wire, caught around the bird's right leg. Ants the size of my pinky nail are beginning to approach it. I realize it's wrapped around the bird's leg, which is bloody.

"I can't loosen it. It's wrapped."

"Pick it up."

I do, and Mom comes over to investigate. The bird's heart is pounding. 

"It's a human HAIR!" Mom exclaims.

That's right. And who knows how long it's been here in the baking sun?

"Where's the nail clippers?" Mom asks. We need something to cut the hair off.

"In the Scottevest… in the car." I say miserably.

Mom remembers the tweezers. With our hands over the bird's head to keep it calm, Mom tweezes away the hair. We put some healing cream on its foot and wing, fill Ileana's hands with water (it drinks), hold it a bit more, and then let it fly away.

It stays in Mom's hand very comfortably, no longer trying to escape. We wait a bit longer, set it down on a rock with a small puddle of water, and say goodbye.

I wonder where it is now?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


We did the Ranger-guided Mala Walk today. Our guide, Martha, was fantastic. At the beginning, I thought she talked perhaps just a bit too quietly, but afterward, it was the perfect volume.

We saw so many places, including the 'wave cave,' which literally looks like a wave froze in stone… and then had a ton more rock on top of it.

Uluru is basically a red stone dropped in the middle of nowhere. There are stories from the Aboriginal Creation story that explain how these rocks came to be— but explaining them would take longer than 500 words. Suffice it to say, there are marsupials, snakes, and pythons featured in the story, and they're frozen almost like a strange comic book in parts, from right to left in some places and left to right in others.

The one sign I saw the best was a left footprint taller than Mom. It's the footprint of a woman who was running from her enemies. To the right of the footprint is her 'body'— much harder to figure out.

The Base Walk is 10.6 kilometers, though since we did the Mala Walk before it probably went to a bit over 11 kilometers.

It's a flat, meandering path that could fit a car. I liked the Valley of the Winds walk we did yesterday much more. It's not that there was more or less shade (I think it was about equal), or that there was more or less wind (ditto), but that walking on a straight path gets boring after a while. Climbing up and down the rocks and having to actually look where you're going is much more interesting.

After one of the water holes, Dad gave us the key and we children started on ahead. We walk faster than they do, mostly because we don't take pictures.

There are many signs everywhere around Uluru, noting that so-and-so is a sensitive men or women's site. The Anungu people believe that a man who looks at a women's site too long or too hard will lose his maleness. And looking at a men's site if you're uninitiated or a woman can be very dangerous.

It makes sense. Once Mom took a picture of an icon of the Virgin Mary— one that gave off myrrh. The camera started malfunctioning, and we couldn't figure out what had gone wrong with it. When we deleted all the pictures of the icon from both the computer and the camera, it suddenly began working again. So we have no problem believing what the Anungu say.

After walking about a fourth of the Base Walk on our own, we children arrived at the jeep only ten minutes before Mom and Dad— sweaty, tired, and really annoyed with the flies that buzz everywhere.

There are different flies though— small ones which seem to attach themselves to peoples' backs, just to hitch a free ride to wherever it is they're going. It makes me wish I could do the same. I don't think I've walked so long in ages.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Kata Tjuta

We're camping out in a real tent. There was no rain last night, and we woke up to the sound of birds. They sound different from those in America, but in a good way. Sweeter, a bit more melodic.

Breakfast is simple— I accidentally drop the entire bag of cornflakes and half spills out. Luckily we managed to salvage about a half of that, so we're not completely without corn flakes for the next five days.

The order of the day is visiting the Culture Center near Uluru and then walking around the Kata Tjuta (which means "many heads").

The culture center is an interesting spot, with a long video comprised of dancing Aboriginal men and women, painting, little children, etc. After a while, the singing sounds like cats. I wish I could understand what they were saying! I think the songs are about the history of Uluru, but you can't really tell from the dances what's going on, so you can't follow it.

Also in the culture center is the 'sorry book,' which is comprised of letters from people who took rocks from Uluru, realized what had happened, and then sent them back. 

My favorite?



BLESSINGS, [Name blacked out]

Another of my favorites was one from a student in Japan that began, "Dear Stuff," and was riddled with grammatical and spelling errors. It makes me remember Japan and one of the signs on a locker: "We are not responsible for valuables left in rockers."

When we reach Kata Tjuta it's already 2:30. By the time we park, fill our water bottles completely, and get on the road, it's 2:33.

The circuit we're taking— the hardest one, the longest, and quite possibly the most dangerous— is 7.4 kilometers. It's supposed to take four hours.

There are signs everywhere that say:

"Drink one liter of water every hour. Don't wait until you get thirsty. Drink in small quantities every 15 minutes. STAY SAFE."

We didn't drink nearly so much water— probably a good thing. The temperature was 11 to 20°C, and apparently the guidelines are in place for hotter days.

It's a fantastic walk. First is the easy path— the path from the car park to the beginning of the circle which goes around and through Kata Tjuta. This one is about 1.8km.

And then comes the rest of it— the high uphills, the relatively flat walks that are along the side of the rock…

We stop once, at about the hour mark, to eat some sandwiches and drink water. 

The place is silent except for the whistling of the wind. There's a crow that's been watching us and now flies up, cawing to one of its neighbors. At one point it seems to growl or whimper, we're not sure which.

After a few ridiculous pictures, in which Dad sneezes or is about to sneeze, we head to see the sunset.

And I'm out of words.

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Jeep

We woke up at 4:30am to get to the airport to catch the flight that went to Alice Springs.

After a long night in which everyone in the house went slightly mad— I think honestly, I think the entire family goes through PMS once a week. Every tone is an evil tone, everyone is out to get everyone else, and there is no safe way to do anything. 

But past that.

We had the equivalent of high style on the QANTAS flight because there was a complimentary breakfast… and a video screen. When we reached Alice Springs (smack dab in the middle of Australia), Dad headed off to rent our jeep, and we sat down in the airport to check email and enjoy an internet connection that we don't have to pay for.

Three hours later, Dad shows up with the jeep. It's a bit larger than our BMW and a bit smaller than our SUV. The back is filled to bursting with groceries and sleeping things.

We stuff our backpacks into the back and prop the sleeping things on our laps… then begin to drive toward Ayer's Rock. It takes half the time it would have taken had we had a camper van, but we still arrive at about 7:30pm. 

The campground is a veritable campground. There aren't many camper vans around because a few of the roads aren't accessible to the behemoths. We have to pitch our tent, which we do in about… ages… trying to figure out how to put together the sticks that aren't joined by elastic. It's a pretty big tent— we all fit comfortably, plus all our bags. It's lovely.

The kitchen is outdoors and made of wood. There is one sink. There are a few hot plates.

Mice and what we assume are kangaroo rats scurry around everywhere. We make ramen quickly, sit on the seat backs of the benches with our feet on the seats, holding the bowls close to our faces.

Dad bought three bottles of wine on sale for $13, so we toast to reaching Uluru. 

There are no plugs that we can use without being overrun by mice. For a second I panic, trying to figure out how I'm going to survive without having any books to read— I've finished all the paperbacks I'm interested in, and I'm not about to waste my time with the ones I don't want to read.

I'm further in Maitreyi and I'm trying to figure out if Ulysses will ever make any sense. It probably shouldn't at this point— most of the people on GoodReads agree that at about halfway they start liking it. That's fine. I read Jane Austen. She gets fantastic at about the halfway point on the first readthrough.

This is our first time camping since I was about five years old. The last time we went camping it started to rain so badly that I woke up in the morning in a hotel room… without my stuffed animals.

They were soaked in about an inch of rain.

Sunday, April 22, 2012


Today is the April Toppler for my reading group. The point is to read at least one book for various prizes during one twenty-four-hour period.

I'd decided to wake up early and read Wuthering Heights for the prize of 'book longest on the to-be-read shelf.' I woke up at 5am and read till six, trying make sense of the plot and the language until I fell asleep again. I slept till about 8, which was lovely.

The rest of the family woke up and began to move around— they're going to spend the rest of the day in the city, going to church and the library.

They leave at about nine and I make myself a bologne sandwich with ketchup, check in to GoodReads to tell everyone how I'm getting along.

By twelve, I'm starting to wonder if Wuthering heights is ever going to finish. I can't stand Linton, and Hareton is quickly becoming one of my favorite characters.

At about two, after beating out some sort of drum solo on my water bottle in an attempt keep reading, I read Chapter 32, which has enough romantic and friendly scenes to make the drum solo worth it. Chapters 33 and 34 follow in quick succession, and because it's ended so well I'm convinced I lived the whole thing. I give it four stars.

Next is The Old Man and the Sea, by Ernest Hemingway. One of the challenges is the Wild Goose, which asks that you read a book in a new way, be it a new format, in a different setting, etc.

This award presented a few problems. I've read basically every format applicable, be it audio, electronic, or paper. I've also read practically veerywhere, including the stoplights of the sidewalk, waiting for the light to change. I read while walking ,bouncing, even, for a few moments, in a handstand. So I decided to read all of The Old Man and the Sea while standing on my right foot. The second I put my left foot down, I'd stop reading. AT about 5 I finished the book and sat down to figure out what to read next. I'd thought of Ulysses, but reading 800 pages of complicated prose after Brontë and Hemingway seemed just too much. I decided on Maitreyi, possibly a worse choice because it's in Romanian, which requires more of my concentration. I got abotu 12% through before I couldn't take any more, as well as 2% through Ulysses, but my brain was turning to mush and I needed something simpler. I started Zombicorns by John Green, which I'd been planning on erading for some time, and finished before bed.

All in all, a lovely, beatiful, very productive day. I'm so glad I stayed at home. Even though they went to the library, I finished a great deal of books, which, in my opinion, counts for more than finding books to read. The latter is much easier than the former.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Through Melbourne

We walked at least 6 kilometers today on the way back from… well, I can't even remember properly.

We basically wanted to see the city, so we took the tram to somewhere where they sell a great deal of tickets. The others will be sightseeing all day tomorrow, but I'll be reading for the April Toppler. More about that tomorrow.

We went over to St. Paul's Cathedral (I was struck by the friendliness of it; the signs say:" You may, You are free to," not "Don't"). It has many stained glass windows (including the ceiling one, which is beautiful) and a mosaic. 

The difference between Catholic and Orthodox churches is always interesting— we have icons painted on basically every inch, and there is a wall between the altar and the rest of the church, not to mention there are very few pews in the older churches. Most of the congregation stands or kneels during the service (and you can only stand or kneel at certain times). The chairs are generally reserved for the elderly or those who have 'purchased' a chair. 

There was a comedy show starting just as we showed up in the park, and Ileana and Ioan hung out to see it, while Mom, Dad and I headed off in search of somewhere more quiet.

Two hours later, Mom was bored stiff, the 'children' had never laughed so much in their lives, and I was very happy, having listened to Irish street singers and read my books. We walked home through the War Memorial, the botanic gardens, through the streets, over a great deal of bridges, pausing every once in a while to take a picture or look or read or figure out if this really was the right way.

We stopped at Aldi's to buy some frozen pizza, alcohol, and sausages, then, with aching feet, came home. Many of us slumped on the bed with our feet up (best invention ever, this putting the feet up). It reminds me of Paris the first time. It was our first big trip, and we arrived on Valentine's Day, 2006. I was eleven, and the entire week we had in Paris was spent in going to the Louvre (three times, I think?), the Musée d'Orsay, the Modern Art Museum, etc. Since we were so young and it was the first time in Paris, and this trip wasn't even thought of, there was no question of staying home in the small apartment with a retractable bed. Our feet hurt just as badly.

And, according to Mom's pedometer, we only took 10,800 steps! It's a bit saddening to think that one should take at least 10,000 steps a day.

Dad and Ioan are playing chess. It's always funny to hear them— Dad generally ribs on Ioan for having made a stupid move… one can frequently hear Ioan going, "YES! Nooo… YES! Nooooo…." (Not always like that, of course.)

I think we're all veeery, very sleepy. Good night!

Friday, April 20, 2012


Did you know that in 1898, Morgan Robertson published a story titled Futility. The story was about an enormous ship named Titan, deemed unsinkable. The ship sank on its maiden voyage after hitting an iceberg in the North Atlantic

Fourteen years later, in much the same conditions, the Titanic sank. I haven't yet read Futility, but it's on the list (which has swelled to about 700). It's also in the mental top half of the list. 

We headed into Melbourne by tram today— I'm very happily contemplating an actual blog post about these trams— and ended up in some park or other, walking toward Museum Victoria where we'd be able to see a great deal of Aboriginal Exhibits.

As we headed into the museum, we came across a movie poster for Titanic in iMax 3D (on, as Ioan put it, "The 3rd World's Largest Screen"). $92 later and we have tickets for both the 3pm show and the museum.

The Aboriginal exhibit is closed until 2013, so we stare at the sign a bit and head off to the forest exhibition, where we see a female bowerbird, a great deal of stick insects and frogs, and the tallest, smoothest trees ever. Afterward, we head towards the Phar Lap exhibit— Australia's wonder horse, believed to have died of accidental arsenic poisoning at the age of six. He's been, to put it bluntly, stuffed and is on display in a glass case. And he's absolutely stunning. 

Mom took a look at his coat and said, "See, in the movie his coat was two-toned, and look, it's really true!"

"Oh, no," I said, "they clipped his coat so he'd be able to sweat better."

"I never knew they cut horses' hair." Mom said, a bit bemused. (To understand the humor better you have to know that Romanian has a verb that means 'to cut hair,')

"Yup." I said, and we moved on to something about the early 1900s living conditions. I'm not certain what it was.

Afterward, we went through the Mind & Body exhibit to get to the Evolution part. When the four of us finished with that, we realized that Ileana, besides being hopelessly and irrevocably lost since possibly before we reached Evolution, still hadn't shown up.

And we had only twenty minutes before we had to start toward the theater.

Mom and Dad ushered Ioan and me to the couches next to the enormous Pygmy Blue Whale skeleton. I sat down to read my book, Ioan looked around…

And Ileana showed up. She'd gotten lost in the "Mind" part of the Mind & Body Exhibit… the same exhibit I decided against exploring because there would have been no time to do it justice.

After good-natured ribbing and a few explanations of the awesomeness of the exhibit, we headed towards Titanic

Where possibly the entire theater were treated to crying of mini-earthquake proportions.

It's a beautiful film, but I'll never be able to sob at movies. My eyes watered, but I couldn't flat-out sob.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Perfect Day

Today's been a perfect day, just like the title of the song I've been listening to. It's quiet.

We did laundry, they watched a movie…

I finished this year's 100th book today. Most of them are romances or books I've picked up along the road, but whenever I feel slightly guilty about it I remind themselves that most people haven't read the Mahabharata (or enjoyed it), and reason that with all the traveling and schoolwork and the classics and the writing it's only natural that I should indulge in the sort of reading that requires no brain cells at all.

And it is a relief. We were Skyping with Grandma today and Mom said something that's very true.

At the beginning, we had no problem going off to see the world after resting only a half-day. Now, we'd take two days if Dad wasn't so eager to see everything.

To me, though, Melbourne is just another city. For me, we've seen quite enough of it as we were hiking from the metro station. We aren't going to go souvenir shopping for anything but the rare postcard. And there are no wonders of the world to be seen here that I know of. At least, not yet.

I only stopped griping about the entire round-the-world trip because it suddenly became unavoidable and very real. Besides, it was special then— something very different and very interesting, sure to make me an amazing person to talk to and hang around with. The bragging rights, as it were.

Now, I'm thinking of going to camp and discussing the trip as little as humanely possible. Possibly not telling anyone at all. I'm not interested any facet of any city but the bed, the view, and the books. Better yet, no books, so I can catch up on blog posts from sheer boredom.

It's a pain to think about entertaining the world with something that's completely normal.

"Yes, just last week we saw Macbeth at the Sydney Opera House, and two weeks before that we were in Hawaii. We spent my sister's birthday at the Antarctica Center in Christchurch, New Zealand. It wasn't as enjoyable as Tibet, which we saw in November, but very nice in its own way…"

You say that's amazing? Let me ask you something. Have you ever had a new puppy? 

It's the coolest, cutest thing in the world— for a week. Then you face that it's just a bit of a slobbery, adventurous mess of an annoyance that just so happens to be lovable anyway. Still, when it destroys any bit of your peace of mind, you wonder what you were thinking. If you weren't completely on board from the beginning, you wonder why you didn't speak up louder.

Still, it's a cute pet, and you wouldn't pass up the experience.

But couldn't it just LEAVE YOU ALONE once in a while and let you back to your own miserable life before IT showed up?