Lord Howe I’ll Miss You

This morning I head over to the museum and order up a coffee and spinach and cheese wrap from the coral Cafe with the intent of publishing a story. When I sign on to the Very Expensive WiFi (VEW) of Lord Howe Island, I’m shown that I have 70kb left. It should be plenty to publish a story and send a few E-mails. Unfortunately, five-minutes after logging in, I’m locked out and told I have no usage left. When I ask the museum to check, it shows that it is indeed all used up. Apparently, although I have automatic updates turned off and, when Firefox asked if I wanted to download their update I declined, it did it anyway (Dear Firefox: No means no) and left me with nothing. I’ve decided to stop fighting the WiFi challenge and let this one wait until I get to them mainland.

Farmer Jane comes to meet me and we enjoy a nice lunch before riding our bikes over to Lord Howe Environmental Tours where we rent a two-person kayak. We remove our shoes and drag the kayak into the water and begin paddling, After about twenty-minutes, we arrive at Old Gulch, a beach area with the only camping allowed in LHI. (Don’t get excited as only locals are allowed to camp here.) After dragging the kayak onto the beach we note the small motorboat already there and, as Farmer Jane knows who it belongs to, we hope to chase them down and ask them to tow us back, as the current seems to be picking up.

BeachWe walk through a skinny pathway farmed by jungle-plants on both sides before it opens up to reveal a rocky inlet with sharp, volcanic rock on both sides. Farmer Jane leads me to one side and we begin Hikingscrambling along the rocks. For the next twenty-minutes, we climb along the edge being careful not to fall into the water or trip on any of the sharp ricks jutting out. It’s fun as we scramble past small tide-pools where Farmer Jane tells me that, in the summer, they sit and have drinks in some, while jumping from rocks into others. One is home to crab which we stop to watch climbing the walls (none of these for dinner as they’re not the eating kind).

TidepoolsWe turn the corner and come upon three-fishermen. These aren’t the ones the boat belongs to, but Keith and Chopper, two-local men, and Brian, Keith’s son. As we sit chatting on the edge of the rocks, Brian has something bite his line. It’s a big one (don’t ask me what kind as the only fish name I could ever remember was The Incredible Mr. Limpit, an early 70’s Don Knotts movie). After dropping him in a tiny tide-pool, Brian baits his line once more, but this time Keith and Chopper toss their lines in and Fishjoin the fun. It’s incredible watching the fish bite, one after the other. The guys reel in the fish as fast as I eat Snowcaps at the movie theatre. After watching the guys reel-in no less than five more fish, Farmer Jane and I bid our farewells and head back along the rock’s edge.

Once we arrive at the beach, we take a seat and wait to see if the fisherman who owns the boat is returning soon. After about thirty-minutes, we finally give-up and resign ourselves to the fact that we’ll be paddling back. Luckily the wind has lightened, and we have a fun time paddling back while playing a car-game my family used to play on road-trips. (Name a word and the players must sing the line from a song with the word in it.) By the time we return the kayak, our bums and feet are wet and cold and we ride off to our separate abodes and grab showers before she and Kongy pick me up for one last dinner at the Anchorage.

I awake in the morning and pack up, as today’s the day I leave Lord Howe. While I often hang around a place to await the results of the next vote, Lord Howe is just a bit too pricey. Even while staying with friends, the food and WiFi are costly. And I really don’t want to over-stay my welcome because, as mom used to stay, “House guests are like fish; after a few days, they begin to stink.” Yes, Lord Howe is a bit of heaven, but it can cost as much as those pricey pearly gates. So, in order to save money while I’m waiting for your decision, I’ve decided to fly to Sydney, one of the most expensive cities in the world. Nope, I never said I was smart.

I spend the morning biking around LHI enjoying the final bit of beautiful scenery. I head down towards the south to see what I see. As I never received the E-mail confirmation of my flight which was booked with one simple phone-call while on the island, I figure I’ll just stop by the airport to be sure it’s all good. If this were the mainland, I’d have placed an irritated and concerned call much earlier than this, worried that my flight hadn’t been booked. But this is Lord Howe so, it’ll most likely work out alright and, if there’s a problem, I’ll just stay a little longer.

As I ride south, I say hello to the cows hanging in the pasture on the side of the road and turn into what I think is the airport drive. It turns out it’s the weather station and I decide to drop by to see if they’re launching the weather balloon today. You may recall, when we stopped by to see it on the Chase ‘n’ Thyme island tour, it had a wardrobe malfunction and couldn’t be launched that day.

I walk in and meet Amy, the meteorologist and Ruby, her dog. Amy explains that, unfortunately, the balloon won’t be launched today due to a technological issue. I’m beginning to wonder about this Dogtemperamental balloon. Still, I don’t miss the balloon at all as wind up being quite entertained by Ruby who really enjoys a good game of fetch, though she makes me chase after her to get her ball. Amy, the meteorologist, has been on LHI for about four-months. She came here ten-years ago and loved it and promised herself she’d be back. She went and studied meteorology with the hope that she get a post on LHI. I admire her for going after her dream. Amy makes a quick call to the airport for me and I confirm my flight.

After a good half-hour of chatting with Amy and playing with Ruby, I say goodbye and hop on my bike again, with one stop at the museum to grab a coffee and a muffin, and say goodbye to the good people at the museum and the Coral Cafe who have fed me coffee, I continue on to my lodge to meet Farmer Jane who gives me a lift to the airport.

I’m flying Qantas Link and, unlike my flight in, it isn’t a continuation of an international flight, which means, not only is my carry-on limited to 7kg and my confirmed checked bag to 14kg (the highest Airplaneallowable for a LHI flight – see Lord Howe Did I Get Here?), but the maximum allowable checked baggage for a domestic flight is 23kg and, well, I’m over that by about 5kg so I’m charged AUD$40. Farmer Jane and I wait in the sunshine on the lawn of the airport building (yup, the wind has died down and this is the best weather I’ve had since I’ve been here; just in time to leave). The flight isn’t full and I’m pretty confident that both of my checked bags will arrive with me (this is more than I can say for most other flights I’ve taken around the world). After tight hugs goodbye, I walk towards the plane without looking back. This constant travel can be a lonely business and it’s been nice spending an extended period with an old friend.

Tomorrow – An AirBnB learning experience.

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