Camping in the Stirling Range – Part One

This past week we went camping. It was a bit of a last minute decision really, only gave ourselves a few weeks to get ready but it was SO worth it. ¬†We (I) needed to get away from the city, from the busyness of life, from people even (sorry!), and be in nature. I’ve always found the natural world to be a place where God meets me, a place of clarity of thought, a place of peace. I knew I didn’t want to go to a holiday park; even though our last experience at one was good, they’re not really a “natural” place or a peaceful place, particularly during school holidays. We wanted to go the Stirling Range because we wanted to do some hiking. At some point leading up to my 30th last year I said to Tim that I wanted to complete something physically challenging in my 30th year. I wanted to set a benchmark for my 30s of adventure and physical fitness. I wanted to focus and achieve a physical goal, although because it was a bit of a last minute decision to go at this time I didn’t really get much training in, unfortunately.

We booked in at the Stirling Range Retreat, not really knowing what to expect, and made numerous lists of what we would need to bring. We have to pack light because of our small car and there’s always something that ends up on the roof. Here’s how tightly packed in we were.

Tim and Eden

Tim and Eden

Katie and I

Katie and I

We drove for about 2.5 hours and reached Kojonup which is a lovely little town. We packed a picnic lunch and ate at the park where the girls played and ran around for a while.

Swinging like monkeys

Swinging like monkeys

Lunch time!

Lunch time!

Then it was off for another 2 hour drive to the Stirling Range Retreat. The girls travelled well in the car. We had some podcasts/stories that we listened to, they slept some and that was pretty much it. We didn’t bring any DVD/video devices and didn’t need one at all. To you Canadians reading you may be thinking that a 4.5 hour car trip is nothing, to which I would agree, but we rarely drive longer than 30-40 minutes in the car at any one time, so we weren’t sure how the girls would make out. They did well and hopefully we’ll make the trip up to the Ningaloo Reef sometime in the next few years (we may have to upgrade to a 4-wheel-drive for that trip! :))

We arrived at our campsite and first thing we noticed was no grass. We shouldn’t have been surprised really, but it was a bit tricky getting the tent pegs into the hard, dry ground. Growing grass would be such a waste of water in this dry area, so it makes sense. I’m glad we had some good mattresses to sleep on ūüôā

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First things first – Sun cream!

Girlies watching Tim through the tent

Girlies watching Tim through the tent

Eden wanted to take a picture of me!

Eden wanted to take a picture of me!

The camp ground was spacious and perfectly located close to the Stirling range. It had a great little park and really nice swimming pools. It wasn’t that busy – despite being school holidays – and had a great communal kitchen area, and clean bathrooms/showers – as long as you don’t mind a few bugs…

Dry and dusty with the mountains in the background

Dry and dusty with the mountains in the background

Testing out the tyre swings

Testing out the tyre swings

Eden wanted to take a picture of Tim with our tent in the background.

Eden wanted to take a picture of Tim with our tent in the background.

The lovely pools!

The lovely pools!

That first evening after our swim and supper we watched the sun set behind the mountains and knew that we had made the perfect choice for our holiday.

The sun beginning it's descent

The sun beginning it’s descent

Roasting marshmallows

Roasting marshmallows

Pretty sky

Pretty sky

Beauty

Beauty

Sometime in the next few days we’ll write a post specifically about hiking Bluff Knoll, which was the centrepiece of our trip. Until then, hope you’ve enjoyed this look into our holiday.

Proverbs 26:11, or not

“Like a dog that returns to his vomit is a fool who repeats his folly.”

I’ve always been prone to¬†a touch of drama, but this verse often came to mind over the last 2 years as I considered reactivating my facebook account. For those of you who have previously deactivated your accounts, you’d know that it sends¬†you off with a little farewell message along the lines of “Sorry to see you go. If you ever change your mind, simply log on again with your old details and all your data will be restored.” Kind of creepy, but okay.

I decided a few months ago to take facebook¬†up on that offer but, like most things, it took me a while to get¬†around to it. Last night, after enjoying New Years Eve festivities¬†with a few¬†Aussie (well, ex-pat) friends and their families, followed by a couple good games of Catan, the time seemed right. Some of you may recall reading my blog post called Farewell to Facebook, in which I detailed my reasons for leaving. Looking back on that post, I can’t say I feel much differently now than I did¬†then about Facebook’s capacity to waste time, but I guess I neglected to consider¬†one critical¬†factor: I like my friends.

I’m not a super nostalgic person… I mean, you’ve got to have some capacity to move on in order to uproot and move across the planet¬†with your young family. Lots of ex-pats seem to suffer homesickness more than I do though, which is probably related in part to the fact that many retain mostly¬†old-country interests (e.g. Canadians following ice hockey) instead of trying to get into local interests and culture (e.g.¬†AFL, known affectionately as footy by most West Australians). I have found however, after almost 2 years away, that I’ve been thinking and wondering more about the old friends with whom I’m no longer connected in any way.

The turning point was about 3 months ago, while talking about music and¬†jamming with some colleagues up north. The scene¬†provoked a memory of the 2009 Relay for Life in Lab City and a¬†somewhat ill-fated performance by¬†The Iron Clad Commitment, a trio consisting of me and two IOC colleagues. I managed to develop a case of laryngitis that night, which caused my singing voice to deteriorate rapidly through the course of the set, but we¬†had a blast despite¬†the embarrassing pre-pubescent squeaks I was emitting on¬†most¬†high notes. Preparing¬†for the set had been a lot of fun too, and as I dwelt on that memory I thought to myself, “I miss Louell” – Louell, if you are reading this, you can pretty much take credit for initiating my return to facebook.

There are lots of you out there though, particularly the ones who aren’t friends on facebook with Kathryn, who can share that credit: Radian6 friends, childhood/school¬†friends, geologists and IVCFers, Labradorians and Kiwis. There’s nothing profound here, it’s just that I like you guys and I’ve missed you. Besides, I thought freeing up facebook time would have resulted in better blogging and creativity, but I’ve blogged less and arguably¬†been less creative than ever before in 2014. Instead of my news feed, I’ve sunk more time into¬†ABC, BBC, and CBC news. Rather than clever¬†memes, funny videos, witty comments and (sometimes) valuable insights into my friends’ minds, I’ve read about terrorist plots, tragic murders and fiscal woes the world over.

I can’t say I’m happy to to associate myself with facebook again per se, but as I laid in bed last night in the wee hours of the 2015, scrolling through my news feed and seeing the faces and words of old friends – some with new beards and new babies – I’ve got to admit: it made me happy. I don’t feel like a dog returning to its vomit at all; more like one returning to a buried bone, rediscovering the pleasure of that familiar old flavour (haha, don’t overthink that one).¬†It’s nice to see you all again.

Happy New Year, and keep an eye out for our upcoming annual Year In Review.