Monday, September 15, 2014

Up And Down Mountains Named "Beer"

I huffed and puffed my way up the trail. I had forgotten how little I like walking uphill. I assume this is some sort of self-preservation mechanism, because I get marched up mountains with depressing regularity. Erik and I, sadly, are walking-incompatible. I can walk forever on flat or gently rolling terrain. And I enjoy it. But when things get steep, the fun factor drops dramatically. Erik, on the other hand, hates walking on flat land.  This is because he is secretly a mountain goat. The steeper the grade, the happier he is, and he will gladly spend a day (or weekend, or month) skipping from crag to crag, pausing only to land in the odd cow pat.

We were exploring the Glass House mountains north of Brisbane. The mountains are old lava plugs, exposed when the softer sandstone around them eroded away. Which is cool - who wouldn't like to hike on a hunk of frozen mantle? We tried to get the girls excited about going to the mountains, but whether they were jaded from years of visiting impressive landscapes or just tired after yet another weekend of birthday fun, they played it cool.

Of course, the girls always play it cool until we arrive at Destination X, and then they are always full of enthusiasm. Not necessarily for whatever is supposed to impress them at that moment, but still. Indy and Stylish dutifully spent a good three seconds looking out from the lookout point, and then began to play Fire Dragon and the Two Bridges. Indy explained it to me later; it appears to be a tag-like game involving a dragon and a fish running across a pool of lava. I note proudly that lava was involved, so the kids clearly internalized something about the Glass House mountains - daily dose of education managed.

Erik and I took a look at the map. "Let's try the hike at Mount Beerwah," I said. The summit was closed due to rock slides, but a simple stroll through the forest would be just the ticket.
Mom's idea of fun.
Mount Beewah plus attractive family.
As we admired the pretty basaltic structures of Mount Beerwah, Erik began to get antsy. It is difficult for him to look at a mountain without being on said mountain. Back at the carpark, he marched over to the posted map and stabbed a finger at another walking trail.
"There's a good one," he said. "We're going there next."
"Mount Beerburrum. Another beer mountain*?" I looked at the description. 1.4 km, grade 4 track. "Bushwalking experience recommended," I read. "Tracks may be long, rough and very steep. Moderate level of fitness and ankle-supporting footwear required." My natural optimism took over. Steep, sure, but a moderate level of fitness meant it couldn't be too bad. The track was paved, for goodness sake.

We arrived at Mount Beerburrum. Erik was 50 m up the track before I had even unbuckled my seatbelt.

Up, up, up we go.
Indy took immediate possession of a too-tall walking stick, and worked her way up the hill like Gandalf wrangling the Fellowship. Occasionally she would sweep the stick to one side, hoping to irritate carpet pythons hiding in the grass, perhaps. The stick also served to punctuate her conversation. She was an absolute menace, and I soon fell back to avoid serious injury. Being last in line definitely had nothing to do with my huffing and puffing. Certainly not. I can't comment on Stylish's experiences up Mount Beerburrum, because she, like her father, moved forward like the Terminator following John Connor. Single-minded ascent.
Our reward for a steep climb: a beautiful view.
Looking out from Mount Beerburrum
Not to suggest that we were so disgustingly healthy as to simply dance up and down mountains all day. We also enjoyed a very civilized lunch, a silly number of snacks, and on the ride home, a delicious pineapple crush (which was simply a pineapple run through a blender, no water added).

You would think, at this point, that we had had enough for one day. And we had. Everyone was a little dopey on the ride home, whether from the walking or the sugar crash. But we had borrowed the car from an acquaintance, and had to get it back to her before we could take our weary selves home.
"There is supposed to be a nice park down the street from Gayle's apartment," I said. "Do you girls feel like stopping there for a little while?"
Like magic,the girls straightened in the back seat. "Yes, yes, yes!" I don't think I ever ever seen them tired enough to refuse a visit to the park. And so we joined the hundreds of other kids in the park that afternoon.
Spinning, spinning, spinning
We dropped the car as the sun set. And even though we were all genuinely tired now, no one really wanted to admit the day was over.
"You know," I said, "they just fixed up the movie theatre down the street. Anyone want to see Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles?"
A quick meal of butter chicken and lamb vindaloo later, we were enjoying the (wafer-thin) adventures of Leonardo & co. The girls curled into the enormous bean bag chairs at the front of the theatre, and Erik and I sat behind them like the grow-ups we are. This was purely practical on my side - if I had claimed a beanbag, I would have been asleep within minutes.
So comfy.
Today, we are back to our regular routine: school, swimming, park. Unless something really good comes along. Which, I'm glad to say, it almost always does.

* From the Dungidau language "birra", meaning "sky". This makes much more sense than the English "beer", because climbing and alcohol don't tend to mix successfully.


Anonymous said...

What a simply wonderful day the 4 of you had together: I would have voted for the more leisurely trail myself.

I see that brown teddy was treated to the movie too.
Love Mom

Jane Babbitt said...

I read your blog after reading your piece in Cruising World this month. In 1988 our family of four cruised for a year (our daughters were then 7 and 10). This brings back such great memories--of how the girls learned to make fun happen wherever they were, how laundry and groceries could be so time-consuming, how some days were school-centered and some were experience- centered... Our girls are now in their 30s with great memories of the year we cemented our family bonds, and my husband and I are getting ready to shove off again.
(We did the July 1989 cover story for Cruising World called We Took the Kids)

Amy Schaefer said...

Hi, Jane. I found your Cruising World story online - it sounds like you had a great time. I'm glad to hear that your girls retain such fond memories of your time aboard; I hope ours will, too!

Jane Babbitt said...

Amy, your girls will always think back on these years with happy and grateful thoughts, I believe. And they're accumulating essay material for their entire school careers! And by blogging, when (?) you return to land people will understand a bit better what has transformed you all.

Little Red and the Wolf said...

Sounds like a really fun day! I love walking too and agree flat is better suited to my enjoyment.