we went to the airport via taxi, where we think emily left her phone :(. there we chcecked in got some food and embarked upon the hour or so flight to ballina (byron bay). emergency exit row! i failed to re-beat the elite four. the airport was really small at ballina..basically it fit one plane and was about 3 rooms--one for people checking in, one for people checking out, and one for the security checkpoint. Emily had the great idea of renting a car, and we did!
we put everything under brians name, so he was the official 'driver'. it didnt seem as difficult to remember to stay on the left side of the road as it did to remember that the turn signal was on the right and the windshield wiper was on the left.
we checked in at the Arts Factory Lodge where we were staying for only 24 bucks a night. it was an amazing little place! there was a swamp trail with huge elaborate tents to stay in (not for us tho), pool, a pool, a hot tub and all sorts of recreational stuff. the room we stayed in was about 6 bunk beds with random people. we all shared a room and people came and went as they pleased. everyone looked really interesting and unique. later we went to the bar/club area which was divided into two major areas - one was the bar, and the other..well lets just say that me and brian were both taken aback as soon as we entered by the heavy smell of..um..smoking. drugs!!! hehe.. and here dan had previously told us the other people in our group were having trouble finding anything without going really far from sydney. oh well. we hung out in the bar (tho i wanted to go back over but didnt get the chance becasue it all closed at midnight :( ).
also, during this weekend i picked up a new topic that i plan to evaluate extensively: the connection between drugs, apparent depth of personality, its affect on physical attraction, as well as eyes! i think it may explain alot!
so anyway, after that we went back to the room, built a fort in emily's bunk, and played rock paper scissors, and blackjack. i ended up falling asleep on the foot of emilys bed.
before all of that, after we first checked in, we went out and explored the town and got food and such. byron bay's not that big of a town, but its all really pretty. there's a lighthouse in byron bay. on a mounatin. we drove up as far as we could and then, on foot, went around the gate and proceeded to the lighthouse which overlooked a cliff and peninsula and crashing waves and beaches below. the ocean lay on one side and the bay on the other. it was great. (not to mention the full moon!) there was a small, winding path that led down the other side and we took it to the beach, which was remote. we climbed on rocks and looked out at the ocean and the moon. on the way down we encountered a mountain goat and several frightening bats! the path back up took forever...so many steps; we were exhausted...
those were the highlights of friday, tho we fit a few smaller things in there too, like a different beach we walked out on and claimed our own little island.
saturday, we woke up early and had breakfast at out hostel. we made a point to not leave anything in the room unattended and were glad we had a car, thought a LARGE crab-like spider had made its home in the trunk! we tried to get rid of it, but it snuck into a crevice and was never found the duration of the trip. thus, every time we entered the car we were afraid it was laying in wait to kill us. anyway, we went snorkling!! it was supposed to be this 'swim with sea turtles' thing, but we only saw one sea turtle. the three of us and a slightly bigger group got wetsuits and such and went out to this big rock (the giant turtle king!) in the middle of the bay. from there we saw all sorts of fish and reefs.. it was great! the water was pretty warm and reasonably warm. some of the people were diving and they got to see endangered nurse sharks, but i was fine with all the fish and things. there had to be almost a hundred fish within a couple feet of me. it was really cool. big fish, too.
we we finished all that and it was still really early in the day. we took a little road trip through the beautiful hills and scenery around byron bay to two smaller towns. i forget the name of the second, the first was Mullimbimby. anyway, they were even smaller than Byron Bay, and one had a bowling club.. but it was elderly people bowling... it was really strange....
anyway, me and brian really liked the scenery..it was really tranquil and nice, especially after snorkeling. im sure emily would have liked the scenery too, if she had been awake.
then there was more food, and more cheesecake (raspberry was pretty good, but the caramel macadamia nut cheesecake was AMAZING!) and we went back to the lighthouse for a daytime visit. on the way emily (it was her chance to drive.. she was so excited..it was hilarious) accidentally took us to some random beach which turned out to be beautiful.. it had all these spiffy houses on the hill behind it, rocks big and smooth enough to sit on about where the shore line was, the sun shining off the water, tropical trees all around.. beautiful!
after that diversion we went back to the lighthouse and we saw dolphins and a whale and a turkey. there were lots of people here (yeah i guess i should point out that all the other beaches we'd visited we were pretty much the only ones on them), but it was still pretty cool. it was around sunset by this point (not quite tho) (so, just before 5). In front of us the path sloped downward to a point at the ocean where the waves crested onto the rocks below. behind us stood the lighthouse. to the left was the bay, which curved around so that you could see the beaches and the quaint Byron Bay town, and beyond that the silhouette of low mountains with the orange sun hiding in some magnificent clouds right above, painting the sky in sunset colors. to the right the hillside dropped down with more waves breaking upon rocks at the bottom of the cliff and the whale and dolphins swimming along nearby, the ocean spreading out 180o, and the full moon perched above looking slightly velvet in a rose pink sky.
yay for descriptiveness.
however, on the way up to the lighthouse emily, with her great driving skills, drove the car against some railing and got paint on it! so our next manner of business was to (after finding eatables) find some nail polish remover and fix it. which we did!
then we went to the theatre to see Transformers!!
and then we went to check out the popular bar in town and caught the end of the football game with new zealand and spent the next while in the bar playing blakjack, poker, speed, and ERS.
next we went to dominoes and got 2 pizza, one with cool crust that had cheese and bbq sauce in it! we went back to the lodge, ate, and slept.
the next day we woke up, checked out of the place, and were surprised to find the small, empty town very busy. almost every street was lined with cars and there were people everywhere. what was going on? well it turned out that that sunday morning was the morning of the big Byron Bay Market that only happens once in i dunno how long. it wasnt actually that big, but after seeing how small all the nearby towns were the day before, i understood why people would come for any sort of excitement. it was a little fair/market, with booths selling all sorts of things set up. friends back home would have loved it. understand that, in general, Byron Bay is sorta a hippie town, and the nearby places definitely are (like Nimbin!). the market reflected this, and there was all sorts of things for me to look at and, sadly, not buy, for i only had about 10$ on me.
on the way vack to the car we passed a small parade of people with rainbow banners. it turned out to be some sort of anti-america parade like: "australia needs to cut all ties with america!".
parking confused us greatly in the town. not only is it all strangely angled parking, where you park into traffic, on the left side of the road, but the signs all say 1p, 2p, 3p, or 4p, and then list a variety of times of day, without ever saying what any of it meant. anyway, after the fair we got back to the car and had a ticket. we're not sure what for, but it was 80$. we weren't happy, especially brian. we decided our time in byron bay was over. on the way out we stopped by the police station because emily wanted to try to use her amazing charm to get us out of the ticket, but the police promptly informed us that it was not them, but some council, that was in charge of tickets. also, that council was not located in byron bay, but back in the town of Mullimbimby, and, on top of that, they were only opened on weekdays. dang. so suddenly we owed 80$ and another 40$ to the rent a car people. a few hours from our flight time back to sydney, we headed airport-ward.
on the way we stopped at a couple beaches and a big overlook area to take pics and look at the scenery. brian and i managed to trap emily in the sand several times, and we all helped to draw an angel...thing......
back to the airport, the rent a car people didnt say anything about the paint or about the ticket, so neither did we, and we skipped that 40$. the other 80$ we need to pay online within 21 days... and we have no intention of doing so, considering we'll be out of the country, continent, and hemisphere. anyway, we checked in, and emily got caught up by security, dunno why. that settled, we made it onto the plane and headed home. emily stole my pen and i tried to steal it back and brian threatened me with dogs. there were little children behind us yelling and climbing on our seats.
alas.. back in sydney.. food in the airport and a reluctant taxi back to the UniLodge.
after that, i had a group meeting with Jess, i entruded on Scott and Brian's group meeting, and i slept.
busy three days.