Tuck Your Pants Into Your Socks
Trip Start Dec 31, 2011
9Trip End Ongoing
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Chapter Vacation One
Easter is quite the holiday in Australia. There have been chocolate Easter eggs at the grocery stores since we got here in January. Cadbury completely ignored Valentine's Day. At any rate, we got a week off for the holiday and I’m dog/house sitting for an American friend-of-a-friend-from-home in a tiny town called Evans Head in New South Wales. It was recommended by two sources that Ashley and I take a trip to see Minyon Falls
Our beach house comes with a mini-van, so we fueled up at the petrol station and started on our merry way. Driving on the wrong side isn’t nearly as difficult as I expected it to be. Only one near-death experience so far. The scenery along the road could have been straight from Eastern Washington: fields and trees, trees and fields. One odd difference is that the cows all have pet ducks. I don’t mean, a gaggle of ducks just hanging out next to a herd of cows. I mean each cow has a duck sidekick. Exactly paired. Soul mates.
We arrived at the top of the waterfall and took pictures at kind of an awkward side angle. Of course the pictures don’t capture the awesomeness, so use your imagination when viewing. There was a family of four also taking pictures. Ashley and I stared at the trail map for a good 5 minutes trying to understand it (future doctors with four completed degrees between us) and finally we just took a picture of it, although I think we thought we had it figured out. The first 100 feet of the trail was a raised pathway with handrails. At which Ashley questioned my advice of the morning to change from shorts to pants
After a few misdirected attempts at finding the correct trail, we found a trail, which according to map 1, was the only trail. We hiked along happily, enjoying the rainforest, which reminded me so much of home. This wasn’t a high traffic trail, so we were more or less alone. Occasionally, there would be a sign with double-headed arrows, at points where there really was no question as to which way to go. At the trail’s forks though, no such guidance. Finally we reached map 2, which didn’t really resemble map 1 at all. It guided us to another set of breathtaking waterfalls. Our destination was the base of Minyon falls where we planned to picnic.
It drizzled rain off and on throughout the day, but we were well prepared with plastic bags for our electronic devices
Ashley and I selected a flat boulder and we pulled out our crackers and hummus lunch. The waterfall was creating a fine mist around us, which developed into drizzle, then rain, then torrential downpour. Ashley pulled out her flimsy yellow umbrella and we faced it towards the wind while we tried to finish our lunch and started to freeze. Good thing we wore our bikinis under our clothes for a swim in the pool eh? We abandoned our lunch endeavor and started hiking back. The rain dissipated, and we thought we were getting close to the car. There is something called a scribbly gum moth that decorates trees, literally with squiggles. I’d never heard of them before, but lots of the trees were covered in perfect scribbly lines.
After another hour or so of hiking, the trail started to get wider and flatter and it acquired handrails. We were thinking we were almost to the car, and we got to a lookout that closely resembled the one at the top of the waterfall, except…it was on THE OTHER SIDE OF THE CANYON looking directly at the waterfall where our car was parked. Minyon Falls, still sensational and awesome, but now laughing at us
Hiked some more, now just wanting to get back to the car, completely ignoring the surrounding beauty. Ashley’s Amazon–long legs had me jogging to keep pace. I’d never been quite so happy to see a minivan when we arrived back at the parking lot. We were joking around about the leeches, which Ashley had nonchalantly been calling slugs all day, and she wanted to take off her shoes to double check for them. She found one and let out a blood-curdling scream (I hate that adjective, but it fits here). She then begged me to take off her shoes and socks and check for leeches, with instructions not to tell her if I found one, just to get it off. She sustained two bites.
At this juncture, I had worked myself into an uncharacteristic state of panic and disgust. As Ashley gagged, I removed my own shoes and socks, and one-by-one found four leeches on my ankles and calves. Pathetic, teenage-city-girl-just-saw-a-mouse screams involuntarily emanated from my larynx
When we got home, I pulled the plastic bags out of the back and systematically removed the leeches from the clothes and squashed them under my shoes. It took my whole body weight and extensive twisting-squashing action to kill them. Ashley asked me if our blood squirted out of them, from the porch, 100 feet away. One of the smaller ones I let live for a minute to see how it moved, and it could suction its face to the cement and waggle it’s tail around 360 degrees. According to wiki, some leeches have a mouth at both ends. Vomit.
At this point, I had dried rivers of blood around my ankles and feet, but the shower dissolved the clots and the bleeding started all over again. Thankfully, as I write this, the bleeding has ceased and I didn’t go into hypovolemic shock. Feeling sorry for myself, I read Hunger Games last night and I think Katniss may have been worse off with the fireballs, reincarnated killer wolf-mutts and all…but at least she got rejuvenated in the hospital in the end.