a The Transit Lounge: March 2007

Back in the Day: I had a quarter life crisis, headed to Osaka, Japan for the unknown–only to discover that a passport plane ride are not necessarily a ticket to escape. Some Years Later: Settled back in Oz, the man of my dreams ended up in Tokyo for work–which is how a passport and plane ride showed me home is where the heart is. And Now: Well as luck would have it, we are about to embark on Japan Mark 3, with a baby in tow and another on the way...

Thursday, March 15

WTD#10 - 13: Difficult Days

Mon: Tamworth - Armidale - Glen Innes
The girls at the motel we stayed at were 3 and 5 and very excited to think Dorothy was in their midst. We told them she was staying in another motel. Didn't have the heart to point out the big red body bag in the back of our van...
Tue: Glen Innes - Inverell - Moree - Narrabri
Moree is awful. Bars on the windows, dirty-ish streets and a very tired feeling to it all. Lock your cars and take everything with you because this is the city it will get broken into and/or stolen. We took everything of importance with us and actually hoped the Kia would get stolen. No such luck. I said we should have taken the dinosaur too - that just probably freaked people out. I also had some very "lovely" indigenous locals tell me they had something that wiggles for me. I very politely told them "That's what they all say." The kids at our Moree appearance were a little....shocked (sooky was a word someone else said). The local paper asked me for a quote about the day and the only thing running through my head was the sooky that had been uttered in my ear moments before. Thank god I managed to mumble something about the kids being utterly in awe of meeting Dot in real life.
Wed: Narrabri - Gunnedah - Mudgee
Had a radio interview with the local Narrabri sttaion. Was very amusing because no matter how many times I explained that I am Liz Dorothy's special friend and not the dinosaur herself, the host could not get it right. In the end she asked to pretend to be the dino - something very against the rules and when I declined she said "I guess Liz will have to do." This morning I also had another "pleasant" experience with an indigenous local. He told me I was neat and pretty and how he would like to see me wiggle. Again I politely laughed and told him to take a number. I then crossed the street, grabbed Meg and got the hell out of Narrabri. Today was a funny day of driving, it was my day on. The roads really started to deteriorate. Freeways quickly became lanes barely 1 1/2 cars wide with terrible potholes and no lines. Fun for when roadtrains were coming the other way!! Lots of gravelly patches. But we had a funny experience when I realised we had no petrol and had to make an emergency stop in Tambar Springs. Population 103. And we learned it was "The Place Where Dinosaurs Once Roamed" and then quickly died out of boredom I speculated. Fuel was about $1.50 a litre out here and entire township was made up of a pub and a general store. The lady at the general store got quite cranky when I wanted to pay by credit card as she had closed off for the day. I said well unless money grows on a tree out here, you are going to have to ring it through. Love. As we passed through the local pub in Coolan (pop. 1000), I asked Meg if she would indulge me and stop and have a beer a this random pub in the middle of nowhere. So we stop and walk in....to a room full of men who had just knocked off for the day. All eyes were on us. This seems to happen in any pub we walk into. Always full of real Blokey blokes, drinking beers, watching the footy, in their boots, cowboy hats and wife-beaters. It happened last night again in Budgee Mudgee (which I have nicknamed the mud capital of Oz) when we went for our bi-weekly chicken parma and no doubt it will happen again tonight when we hit the Dubbo local...
Thur: Mudgee - Dubbo
Let's just NSW roads are terrible. Really bad. We arrived about 10 minutes later at the scene of a head on crash. A young guy rounding a corner too fast ended up on the wrong side of the road and hit an elderly lady who had to be airlifted. Her prognosis wasn't good. He had smashed the entire left siude of his body to pieces. It was a huge reality check since we have done so much driving (already over 5000km in little over 2 weeks) with so much more ahead of us. Got to Dubbo "Home of Australia's Beat Meat Pies". Such a slogan proved too tempting and we had ourselves a pretty decent pie. Will be coming back here on Saturday to go to the zoo here.
In summary. NSW roads really do suck. And also we have being getting a little narky with each other, not necessarily because of anything major. Tuesday was probably the worst of it and a little bit yesterday but other than that we have been good. It is funny, as I remember having the same kinds of reactions and attitude and responses as Meg does now when I was her age. Does that mean I have matured?? Probably not. My parents picked up our puppy Harry yesterday so I am looking forward to meeting him when I get home at the end of next week.

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Sunday, March 11

WTD #7 - #9: JoeTrip, Power Ballads and Fannys

Part 1 - Vote JoeTrip
Door to Door: Sydney to Newcastle via Tuggerah and Wyong on the Central Coast
Distance Covered: 167km plus about an extra 50 km of running around.
All Aboard: Em, Megs and moi.
Time: Since we had to do a drive by the 3 store on George Street right in the CBD, the day was a long one. Only one media appearance, which was in Wyong and was Meg's Dotti debut. By the time we got into Newcastle, we were all fairly tired.
Out and About: Not much in Tuggerah. Andy was right about that. Em said we had to name the car so settling on JoeTrip seemed to make sense. The name is woggy for something, coming from a poster advertising candidates for the upcoing state election here in New South Wales. We were a little hesitant when looking for our accom in the suburb of Islington. The area looked less than...nice. As we looked for the apartments we had booked, we said if it was dodgy we'd up and go. Lo and behold amongst all the crap, rose our apartment block. Very new, very clean and very lovely! Had a lovely dinner in Darby Street for Em's last night.
Bizarre Moment: The return of the Power Ballad - Meg has this great CD called Power Ballads and it is full of Power Ballads. Cher got on board with us for a while and we drove around Newcastle after dinner literally rocking the streets of Newcastle. Windows down, music up full and voices at capacity. The men manning the evening roadworks along the harbour got into it with us as we stopped at a redlight. Roadsigns became microphones and everyone had their hands in the air. All we needed was a shit, cannon and some gaffa tape and I believe we all could have "Turned Back Time" and recreated that Cher moment for real. We sat by the bay for a while having a moment with Richard Marx, with random people joining in. Newcastle was embacing us. Heading home, we were saying how funny it would be if the apartment next to us had 3 hot surfers in it. Well it did. Except they looked barely 18 years old. Which explains why they were pushing notes underneath the door our apartments shared, nor did it stop them knocking on our door all night. Also got RBT'd on the way home. I was tested a new way - instead of blowing, the coppers hold something up to your mouth and you count from 1 to 10. I had only consumed 3 drinks so was totally fine.

Maitland Mania - Okay by now my memory of even just a week ago is getting a little hazy. Maitland was eerily quiet, apart from a woman in a wheelchair singing tunes in the town mall. Again, it wa sjust the one media appearance today, and Em departed us from Newcastle airport. I also finally let Meg take the wheel, something I was nervous about seeing as she is still on her P-plates. But she took everything I had to say on board and understood why I had to say it. Again we invited Cher on board fpr the tip out to the airport. I also got some great news via the wireless (wireless internet that is). That mag I had kind of ripped into ("Date") for having "Australia's answer to Carrie Bradshaw" on board offered me a monthly column beginning with their March edition. 700-900 words. Look out world. So for those of you in Melbs, it is a free streetpress mag, available from most places you would find Beat or Inpress. They are also on the Internet but have forgotten the site. In honour of this, Megs and I decided to go back to the Irish pub in Newcastle, drink coronas and mix with the locals. The locals from Sydney that is. Had the funniest conversation with 2 young lads who decided to invite us to their beach party - apparently it was just going to be the 4 of us - before settling for a signed Dorotht poster instead.

Dead Tired - Friday saw us visit Singleton and Muswellbrook. But don't let the W in MusWellbrook fool you. It is silent as I learned the hard wayz. Some ladies in a shop got really narky with me for daring to pronounce the W, declaring it was obvious I wasn't from around there. And happily so I added. Megs and I did really well on a first solo day together. (Solo and together in the same sentence? You know what I mean). By our t-shirts and bagfs, it is obvious we representing a particular Kids brand - and a very famous one at that - so we get a lot of attention while we are out and about from everyone. It certainly helps that this brand is loaved across the board. By the time we arrived back in Newcastle, we pretty much collapsed right away, and didn't wake up for 12 hours. Dead tired, dead happy.
The Weekender
Let me say, Saturday was awesome. I drove us up to Nelson Bay in Port Stephens where we both had a massage and pedicure. Totally and utterly divine. We also packed a lunch, bought a heap of useless souveniers and had our lunch on the rocky outcrop on One Mile Beach. From One Mile Beach, we could see the start of the expansive sand dunes. Photos to come but the view took our breath away. We got back in the car and drove to the dunes and spent about an hour walking in them and snapping away. The dunes stretch almost all the way back to Newcaslte (to Stockton), which was nearly an hour drive away. We were waiting for the camels and Arabs, it was just what I imagined the Sahara to be like, minus the big ocean it came out of. We got back to the apartment to find a bottle of champers and choccies waiting for us from the office back in Melbourne - so lovely. It was about this time, I realised that the women walking around the streets in our area were in fact prositutes, much to Meg's shock and horror. We were going to go for a walk but that changed our minds and another bottle of wine later we grabbed a cab into town. The cabbie quickly informed us that Islington was THE place in Newcaslte to pick up pros. We went back to the same bayfront bar/club we went to on Wednesday night. I am not kidding you, once people found out what our job was, we had boys flocking to our tables and getting in queue to talk. I now know how to never be short of make attention. All of what happened on SAt night made perfect fodder for my new column, and I was mentally taking notes all night. Megs and I ended up spending most of our time with some really funny British blokes who were up from Sydney on a bucks night. They couldn't quite get their heads around the dinosaur thing. After the amount of tequila we drank, neither could me and Meg! Needless to say the drive to Tamwortth - or should I say Ghostworth - was a hard one the next day. A 3hour leisurely drive turned into 6 hours of hell, as well as some I Spy and "What am I thinking of?" kind of games. It even resulted in a stop in the carpark outside one of the pre-schools we had visited to nap for an hour in the car. Tamworth was quite the disappointment. Beautiful and scenic was the surrounding country, and we were so sure we would meet some cowboys. But upon checking in to our very strange motel (it was actually a medical centre, very veyr bizarre), we decided to get a lovely pubmeal....only to learn cowboys obviously don't go to the pub on Sundays because they were all closed.

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Tuesday, March 6

WTD #5 & #6 - Manic Monday & Spanish Harlem

Manic Monday
Started off with some great news. I made the cover of the Manly Daily newspaper on Saturday. Along with the dinosaur of course! And i also made it into the photo in the article...
My assistant - who would believe it? I have an assistant! - flew up today. Meg. She is great and loves all my music, so I think it will all be sweet. Had to drive out to Penrith and then Seven Hills. It was Luke's last day, with the reigns officially being handed over to me. Look out world.
Seriously, was a great day with the 4 of us on the road. Meg will be taking over from Em, who leaves us on Thursday night and Luke was able to give me some last minute pointers. Out in Seven Hills Luke and I did a short interview for the local paper. Since the dino can't talk I speak on her behalf. You would be surprised at how wrapped up the adults - parents and teachers - get with it all. It is great, everybody gets a little starstruck when Dorothy makes her debut and the kids reactions really are just priceless. It is great when the reporter and photographer are as enthusiastic about the whole piece as they were during the afternoon appearance.
Poor Meg has really come into it hitting the ground running. She was up at 4am, arriving in Sydney by 7, and then trying out the Dorothy costume a few hours after that! But we have all come into it via a baptism of fire really - and I think for what we are doing it is by far the best way to get into it. She has a great attitude though, a recent PR grad, and is very eager to do and learn.
Spanish Harlem
I felt like today, well this morning, we were doing one of those special Sesame Streets episodes where they all speak Spanish and have Linda Ronstadt come in and belt out Bessame Mucho.
I stepped out of the car to be greeted by a Hola! cómo es usted? And I don't know if it was MexiMaria or MexIvan's influence or what but I answered "buenas gracias" and then I stopped. And the director of the centre actually thought I was Spanish - and continued on. It became very clear to me that English was a second language in this particular area! It took nearly the whole appearance time to convince the Director I wasn't Spanish and that I could not speak anything else, but she was not deterred and pressed on anyway, introducing me to everyone in Spanish - kids included. So when I took centre stage in my mother tongue, the kids were a little confused. I wondered on earth how this could have happened. Apparently the day we contacted them was the one day their Aussie girl works....and she didn't think to tell us otherwise!
But as soon as Dot came out, and the music came on, it didn't matter. Today proved to me that love certainly transends all languages, particularly when it arrives in the form of a big green dino.

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WTD #4: Koalas & The Weekender

Why Did the Koala Fall Out of The Tree?
Remember those jokes? Now I know the answer for real.
Firstly, it was Wildlife World in the morning, which meant not just Dorothy but all of her Dance Party friends. Wags the Dog, Captain Feathersword and Henry the Ocotpus. All went really well bar a couple of things.
"Wags" could not keep his hands to himself. A bit to touchy feely for a young man in a suit. All that kept running through my mind was the Late Show skit about Shirty The Slightly Aggressive Bear. That and the parking for about 2 hours cost $44. Yes $44. I said that we had got the car in the lot in time for the Early Bird Special. I was then told that only applies if we kept the car in the lot for another 3 hours.
Had photos with all the characters in the koala enclosure. Some of the koalas got a bit freaked out, which was quite a sight as koalas are usually quite docile and dopey in nature due to the toxicity of the euclapytus leaves they munch on, which keeps them slightly and permanently innebraited. Who ever thought I would say "I think the koala spazzed out when the Dinosaur walked in. The purple octuspus didn't help much either." Who ever knew koalas could fly between the trees.
I hosted the entire afternoon appearance for the first time this trip. Was a lot of fun, although 3 year olds can prove to be a tough crowd...
Finished up in Balmain having more than a few beers with Em laughing at the girls next to us dressed up like The Blakely Twins circa Neighbours 1988. Apparently Balmain is a classy part of town. The TAB wasn't.
The Weekender
Caught up with Andy, he of the broken arm, and we went up to his beach house in Avoca. He had his cast removed a week earlier and so we spent pretty much the entire time in the surf and sun. His house literally fronts right onto the beach. So we sat on the deck chairs, drinking copious amounts of wine, watching the public in front of us struggling with sand issues. I hate sand, so it was doubly enjoyable for me.

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Thursday, March 1

WTD: #3 Bondi and Typos

Two media appearances today - the first one on Manly Beach with the Manly Mayor and Head of Clean Up Australia Day (this coming Sunday March 4). The second was at a pres-school in Chatswood. Luke gave me the chance to take the reigns a bit today. I'm settling in that's for sure! Had dinner with Andy. His cast is off - nice big scar - and he cooked me a carbonara and then we had ice cream down at Bondi and watched the skaters at the skate park. Pretty cool. I was fairly proud of myself for having driven the Kia all the way from Ashfield to Bronte Beach and back again without once doing a wrong turn (or a right turn for that matter) or getting stuck going the wrong way down a one way street. Then I came back to the hotel and Emma and I did typing tests on the laptop. That is, I opened up a word document and typed random paragraphs about my day, while Em timed with her stop watch on her mobile. Last count was 91 words a minute. Rock.
And it's only the third day in...

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