Last Tour of This Trip

When the alarm went off at 7:15 this morning, this tour thing did not sound as appealing as it did yesterday. Because of the multi-male bathrooms, we are able to get all bathing needs done simultaneously. Ron is always quicker with his glasses than I am with my contacts, so he was up in the kitchen fixing breakfast by the time I was ready. The shuttle bus was prompt at 8:40 like they told us. It held 22 persons and we were told it would be full. Still, the seating was comfortable for a day’s adventure. The day started out hot and continued to get warmer as the day went on. The shuttle was cool, but not well enough to battle the heat. The driver/guide was a great commentator, starting as soon as we had collected everyone, pointing out different things along the way. I kept saying, remember this, remember that, but after the second winery, it was all down hill from there. How many people can say they have seen the World’s Largest Rocking Horse, or even care to admit they did? This was our first stop after a colorful history of Adelaide and North Adelaide, a separate city. There is a toy manufacturing company that is really out in the boonies. Having difficulty drawing crowds, they followed the example of other businesses that constructed giant things to attract attention. So along with a giant lobster at some restaurant that we did not visit, they had this rocking horse constructed of cement and steel. Since 911, the insurance for letting people climb to the top was so expensive, it put the company out of business. The people who bought the business started charging people $2.00 to climb up to the top to help defray the costs of insurance. Along side of the toy company, but also owned by them is an animal sanctuary, where they keep birds that have been hurt, kangaroos, wallabies, peacocks, and some type of geese. As you walk through the toy store to get to the gates of the animal kingdom, there are bags of sawdust for sale, but labeled “genuine rocking horse manure”. Getting into the petting zoo is free. They had some gorgeous birds, but we were warned as much as they like to be petted, they also like to bite finger off. Further in, there was a peacock strutting around, but partially molting. He came right up to us. Behind him was a peahen with chicks. Neither of us had ever seen peacock chicks before. The gray geese with yellow markings came up to us too, until they realized our hands were empty. Then we were shunned as cheap pariahs who would not spring for the $2.00 bag of food. Three kangaroos were huddled together, one was lying on the ground. When I was busy scratching the one eating, she totally ignored my advances, but the one lying down burst into the air, looked totally startled and then hopped away. We both thought this was hysterical behavior, but then realized he had just made a major poop, missing my sandaled foot by an inch. He was on the run. Back on the bus, the driver sent around a list of the seven entrées we had available to choose from and then making it more difficult, there were four different desserts. When we made our first wine stop, he called it in. Our first winery stop was the Wolf Blass Winery, started by a German man who immigrated with a degree in oenology already in hand as well as years of experience. When he arrived here, they were only creating three types of wine and would not take his ideas seriously. He settled into creating the wines they wanted for years, but then took his VW Beetle and drove around the country offering his expertise as a consultant. Finally, he returned to this area, bought some land and started his own winery making wine his way. After winning a number of international wine awards three and four years in a row, people here started to take notice. The visitors center is modern with a entry sculpture of eagle wings that weighs fifty tons. In the center of the courtyard is another eagle statue. The land was originally named something with eagle in the Aboriginal language and the flag of Germany has an eagle on it. Here we tasted seven wines. Since I am not much of a wine drinker, I taste and then spill the rest. Not today, however. I was threatened that if I were tempted to spill the rest into the bucket provided, I would be harmed if I did not spill it into Ron’s glass instead. Just out of spite, I drank them all, whether I cared for them or not and generally, it was a not. Our lunch was the next stop at a town called Nuriootpa, a German settlement and there we ate at the Vine Inn. Due to the size of our group, we were allocated three tables. Each table was given a plate of German appetizers, pickles, sauerkraut, and smoked meats sliced. We had access to a large salad bar, but once they started bringing out the lunches, most of us avoided the salad bar. I had chosen chicken parmigiana, which was a huge portion, served on a bed of French fries, or chips as they call them. There was no way I could do this justice and partake of the salad bar too. When I was finished, bursting was my main concern, so I went for a quick walk around the building. At my setting when I returned was my dessert, cheesecake with blueberries. It was not the solid NY type cheesecake, but rather a creamy fluffier type, so I was able to shovel it in, but not without reservations of popping my belly button. Ron had a fish called barramundi, a local fish. His portion was as large as mine. We were having a chat with the others at the table. I mentioned that I was disappointed in that we did not see any kangaroos on Kangaroo Island. One of the men turned to me and said, “Well, you better avoid the Virgin Islands in that case.” Though it is an old joke, it struck me funny, considering he was Australian. As we waddled back to the bus, we made our way to the Vinecrest Winery. This was a boutique winery run by the 5th generation of wine makers, located in the Barossa Valley. Our driver had warned us that the first winery after lunch was difficult and he was right on the money with that statement. Here they offered six samples. I settled for four, before calling Uncle and quitting. When liquor is concerned, I am a cheap date. With not enough time to stop for photos, we did quickly stop at the Menglers Hill Lookout, which has a wonderful panorama over the entire Barossa Valley. Onward, we went to the Barossa Vines Winery, another boutique winery offering us six samples of their offerings. When we left here, our guide was telling us that they were closing the tasting center since they have another winery also. The financial crisis that has impacted the world has really hit the wine industry severely, so many are trying to cut costs wherever possible. South Australia, of which Adelaide is the capital, is the driest state in Australia. They are on severe water rationing, since they have been under the needed rainfall for nine years. They had been using water from the Charles River, until it was found that the other states who were using it also has created a danger to the river, but lowering it to the point of harming the entire eco-system. The last stop was the Kies Family Winery. They offered six different tastings, but by this point, I threw in the towel completely. They had a coffee shop, so I sprung for a coffee and aspirin instead. Ron, the trooper that he is did not want any winery to feel under appreciated, so he soldiered onward. Finally, we had one stop left, but not another winery. It was the whispering wall. What it actually is is a dam that at one point in time was the largest dam in the world, but no longer. Due to its construction, if you stand on one end and speak in a normal voice, a person 140 meters away can hear you like you are standing next to them. Ron stood on the one side, while I walked to the other. While others were in line ahead of me, I could hear the people speaking to them as clear as a bell. When I spoke to Ron, I did not get an answer. Trying a second time, there still were no results. I thought it figured since he never answers his mobile phone at home either. One thing that the guide did tell us about that I do remember is that they have a Oban bus track here. It is the only one in the world, outside of Germany. A specially equipped bus can drive the city streets, but when it gets to this specific track, a special part comes down from the wheel and the bus is driven automatically without the assistance of the driver. We would like to try this tomorrow. The Tour Down Under, a major cycling event is having its pre-event tonight. Lance Armstrong is here to make his comeback debut. Cycle clubs from all over the world are here to compete. It seems that this was Adelaide’s dream ten years ago to increase tourism. They worked out with the cycle clubs in Europe to host this event, which is a win-win. The weather here is warm to hot this time of year, it gives the cyclists the training in a competition they need before the European season starts, and the city gets flooded with tourists. They expect 500,000 tourists alone for this event.