My cell phone beeped a second time before I realized that it was the low battery indicator. Last night was the first time I've turned it on in six days, and the power indicator said full when I'd set it last night, so it surprised me that that's what it was this morning.
Robert treated us to a $12 per person continental breakfast, which consisted of various cereals, toast (white or wheat), a variety of bottled juices, yogurt, tea, and coffee.
I was able to get a wireless connection to the Internet (which continues to amaze me) in the lobby, and I took a few minutes to upload my blog entry from yesterday.
"Mario and Helena" run this Best Western, and they were both very gracious and welcoming people.
Upon checkout the bonus of the whole lost reservation saga was that the room alone (before tax) where we were going to stay was $166 AUD, and upon checkout here, we found out that the room was $110, our dinner last night was $25, and our breakfast for $24. Altogether, it all came out cheaper than our stay alone would have been at the other place. Yay!
As promised, we were picked up by Paul from the Rydges (the hotel that displaced us), and he took us down to the marina, where we checked in for our cruise on the Reef Voyager to Heron Island.
We had about an hour wait for departure. Here's a picture of the Gladstone Marina area, where we were waiting.
Choppy seas were in order as it was quite windy today, and I was offered some motion sickness pills.
It's about 10 hours later now, and I'm reading how innocent that last line looked so many hours ago. Here's a barf bag:
Up until today, I had never used one. The "nice cruise on a catamaran to Heron Island," turned out to be a "five-bag ride" for me. Robert didn't take any motion sickness pills and didn't get sick at all.
Mine started first with the sweat, then the loss of color, then the queasiness. The "tipping point" (my fellow ENG 515 students will appreciate that) came when I heard two people behind me calling earl. Perhaps the 21st-century version of that should be "calling URL." But I digress...
After the second round, which consisted of three bags—"Yes sir, yes sir, three bags full"—I managed to contain myself as we neared the island.
I'm going to spare more details. Let's just say that it was an awful, awful two hours. Robert was a dear tending to my mess. Thank you, my sweet.
We were welcomed to the island, given a short introduction to where everything was, and then escorted to our rooms. Here's Robert on the balcony of our Heron Beachside room:
The first thing I did after that was to head back to Registration, where I booked a $318.00 helicopter ride back to Gladstone on Saturday, even though my return trip on the catamaran is already paid for and nonrefundable. It could've been a $1000 and I'd've paid for it.
Here's a shot of the pool as we walked by it. That bird flew by just in time.
Robert is going to be a dear and ride back as scheduled on the catamaran along with our luggage, which is way too heavy to take on the helicopter.
We had lunch, which I was delighted to be able to eat with no problem. I think throwing up really helped, as the last time I got this seasick was on a catamaran in Greece, on a day trip from Mykonos to a local island, when I didn't throw up and I was sick the entire rest of the day when we got back.
At 3:30, we met about eight other folks for the daily "Island Tour," with our guide Cath. This island has an incredible amount of birds on it. And a lot of them really let you get close to them, as long as you don't agitate them.
On our walk along the beach we spotted this sting-ray just offshore.
There are two types of turtles indigenous to Heron Island, the Loggerhead and the Green Turtle. Researchers come here to study them, and here's a marking they put in the ground to make notes about the approximate area in which each turtle lays its eggs.
Here's a shot of a Coastal She Oak. I liked the beach and water behind it.
Next, I snapped a close-up of this cute little guy, a Silver Gull, and with the red and green involved in this picture, it's a leading candidate to be one of my photo holiday cards this year.
Here's a shot of tour guide, Cath, who was, well, let's just say she seemed to know her stuff, but her voice was a tad grating on the nerves, which is not, I would think, an admirable quality in a tour guide. I'm just saying...
I like these trees, called the Pandanus, and I liked this one in particular.
We caught this nice shot of an Egret, which used to be called a Heron. It seems rather unfortunate to me that the namesake of the entire island changed its name. But I digress...
We ended our 1.5-hour tour at this sign.
After our walk, one of the two (free) washing machines were available, and we put in a load of clothes. We took a walk along the beach and on the reef where we were allowed to walk, while the clothes washed.
We had a killer dinner, a buffet that included heaps of a lot of thing—including kangaroo, which Robert and I both had to try. No, it did not taste like chicken. It tasted like steak.
We both ended our meal with the highly acclaimed and recommended Sticky Date Cake with Butterscotch Sauce. Out of this world.
At 9:00PM, we walked down to the helipad, for the stargazing program. It was cool and windy enough that we had wind-breakers on. There were probably about 12 of us, and the guide gave us a shortened program, as it was on the cloudy side, and the moon was quite bright, so it was hard to see a lot of things.
He lost us when he started explaining that you could use trigonometry to figure out where some constellation or other was in the sky. Overall, the guy was very interesting, and certainly knowledgeable, but we were tired, and the advanced mathematics really did us in.
The coolest thing about the whole thing to us was the laser he was using to point out stars in the sky. The beam seemed to go all the way to each star and touch them!
Back at the room, I finished this blog entry, and we hit the sack. It's been a long—at times excruciating, at times wonderful—day.
As I sat on that balcony, on which Robert is photographed above, at one point during the day, it was the first time I really thought about it, "My god, I'm 50 years old."