In true Guinnip fashion, we waited until it was almost too late to go to the beach. It was Mother's Day, and Troy said the day was mine to spend as I wanted. The problem was that I didn't really know what I wanted to do. The weather predicted a cloudy day, but that was not proving to be the case. We should have figured this out by now, but it seems that Brisbane weather often calls for clouds or rain that rarely materialize. So, with a sunny day in front of us, I decided that stand up paddle boarding (SUP) is what I wanted to do. It was an hour drive north to the beach, so we packed a cooler, threw on our cossies (Aussie lingo for swimsuits) and hopped in the car.
During the ride north, we listened to a podcaster named James Altucher. He has a podcast called Ask Altucher. As with all podcasts, we eat the meat and spit out the bones. Sometimes we just like to be challenged in our thinking and try to imagine another way or option. This podcast happened to be about why a 401K is a scam, but that's for another discussion.
An hour later we arrived at the Noosa River that flows into the ocean at Noosa Beach on the Sunshine Coast of eastern Australia. It is a calm area perfect for water sports. So we ate lunch under a palm tree and then rented a kayak and a paddle board. I hopped on the SUP and the kids and Troy got in the kayak. The plan was to let the kids take turns riding on the front of the SUP, but not until I got some sea legs first.
Our goal was a sandy island in the middle of the river. It looked like it only became an island in low tide, so there wasn't much on the island except thousands of crab holes and a few mangrove trees. While Silas, Morgan, and I began exploring the area, Troy decided to give the SUP a try. A few minutes later, he was paddling up to us soaking wet. To our dismay, we all missed his fall.
Silas and Morgan both took their turns paddling the board around the shallows...until I saw something. It appeared to be an eel-type creature that was moving from crab hole to crab hole eating. We had never seen anything like it and didn't know if it was dangerous. I kept the children back at a safe distance, but we all wanted to watch it feed so we would lean in and then jump back as it got closer to us. This mixture of intense observation mixed with the fear of death went on for about 5 minutes until I bravely reached out to touch it with the paddle. It didn't move or change in any way. In fact, it suddenly looked strangely like a stick. After a few more pokes from my paddle, I lifted it out of the water and confirmed that it was not an eel-like creature feeding on crabs. It was a stick. To our credit, it was a hollow stick that appeared to be a root of a mangrove, so it made it float in a life-like manner with it's 'head' down in the sandy floor. Before you roll your eyes at our naivety, remember that we are a family from the tame Midwest of the US now living in the land of the most poisonous creatures on earth. This alone sets the scene for adventure everywhere we go.
We braved our way back through the killer, man-eating sticks, and returned safely to our car before heading to the ocean to play at the beach for a while. The kids hunted for pumice while Troy and I relaxed on the beach. Morgan had packed her bubbles, so with the setting sun, we chased iridescent bubbles as they danced along the beach. The light caught Morgan's silhouette and the bubbles just right, giving this mother a magical moment I won't forget.
The walk back to the car was almost in the dark. An owl swooped past us and perched on a branch, beyond which was a view of the bay that is forever etched in my mind. We tried to capture the beauty with a photo, but the light wouldn't allow it. From my mind's eye, I remember a single star in the orange sky and a single sailboat silhouette on the ocean. The waves were crashing against the rocks and white foam caught the last light. Troy and I both stopped and stared, breathless with the beauty we beheld. The scene provoked longing and emotion that is hard to put into words. Reluctantly we felt ourselves dragged away by whining children who were tired and hungry. Thus continues the delicate marriage of joy and struggle when traveling with children. Happy Mother's Day to all my kindred spirits who travel to places of beauty with their children in tow, whether it be the beaches of Australia or the backyards of the Midwest. - Stevyn
I am a wife, mother, and exercise physiologist with one foot in the world of travel and one foot in the world of fitness.
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