I was originally hoping that I wouldn't have to do any more trips to St George since they were intending to have retired and moved up the Coast by Christmas, but unfortunately that was not meant to be.
Dad's 65th birthday was Saturday, and Ed, one of Dad's old friends from Canada was visiting and his was on Sunday. As a result they decided to have a bit of a party on the Friday night for the family and a number of Dad's friends to celebrate the event.
I of course was invited, and felt like I had to attend, so another trip out to St George for me. However, I didn't drive my car this time, I rented a car for the weekend. If I was going to take my car I would have had to put him in for a service before I went, and that would have been $400 to $500 (Hyundai are not cheap for their services), so instead I paid $200 for a bigger car (Nissan Pulsar) with air conditioning and cruise control.
The drive out was so much more comfortable that normal, even with the bizarre weather we had. Picked up the car Friday morning (took Friday off work) in the city and drove back to my place, loaded the car up and left about 10.
The sky was overcast and threatening to rain, and just before I hit the range up to Toowoomba it finally got around to rain. Stopped in Toowoomba for half an hour to try and find a copy of Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King for Dad's birthday present. Eventually found it and took off (still raining).
Pulled in to Dalby for lunch (and I was a good boy and brought my own lunch instead of buying fast food) and a quick call to Mum to let her know I was just leaving Dalby. Since there is no mobile phone coverage for the entire 300km section, and there is only two towns along the way, Mum makes sure I ring her before I leave Dalby so she knows when to expect me, just in case something goes wrong.
Dalby to St George is 302km, and most of it is 110km/h zone, instead of the usual 100. It's 115km to Moonie, then 70km to Westmar, and then 115 to St George. You have to slow down for Moonie and Westmar (I usually stop at Moonie for about 5 minutes to stretch my legs) so it means the entire trip is about three hours drive.
Rain stops about half way between Dalby and Moonie, but it's still overcast and miserable looking. I pull into Moonie and stretch my legs for about five minutes, and then pull out again. About 20km into that section it starts to rain again, though just a light spit.
I then come around a bend in the road and about 200 meters in front of me is a white wall of water. Eek! I slow right down, and the rain really hits. I was down to under 60km/h with the windscreen wipers on hyperactive speed. This lasted for about 20 minutes before it let up, and it was another 20 minutes or so until I felt the water had cleared enough to get back to normal speeds.
I pulled into Mum and Dad's at 5:30pm, seven and half hours after leaving home.
The party that night was good. It was Mum, Dad, Glenn and myself, plus Ed, plus two lots of next door neighbours, and an old friend/workmate of Dads. Mum put on a barbecue (Mum's really good at them) with salads (including my Mother's special potatoe salad, the worlds best) and everyone just sat around and chatted, gossiped and reminisced.
Theoretically I was staying at Glenn's place (my brother) since Ed was taking the spare bed at Mum and Dad's, but...
Mum and Dad had planned to sell the house before they moved. For many years Glenn had been saying that he wanted to buy it, but of course Mum didn't believe him. A couple of weeks ago Mum finally realised he was being serious and they sat down and worked everything out.
This meant that Glenn's house was on the market. As a result the house was absolutely spotless and neat. This meant that even though I was sleeping in Glenn's spare bed, I couldn't leave any of my things there, and had to make sure that everything was spotless when I left.
So I was sleeping at Glenn's, but living at Mum and Dad's!
It didn't help with the shifts Glenn is currently working. Monday to Friday he works from midnight to 6 am the next morning but on Saturday and Sunday he works from 7pm to 7am. He does one of the security shifts at the local cotton gin. However his main job is not to stop thieves or anything like that. He is required to do a walk through the warehouse where they store the cotton bales every two hours to make sure none of them have set alight (something that happened about 4 years ago). All it takes is the right conditions and suddenly a bale bursts into flames from the inside, and there's a couple of million dollars in damage.
This was why the party was Friday night and not Saturday night. Glenn was at the party with us until about 11 or so, then went home, changed and went to work. I went to bed just after he left. He got home just after 6am and went straight to bed. I got up about 9am, neatened up the room, and then went down to Mum's place for a shower, breakfast, etc. Glenn woke up about 1:30 in the afternoon and then Mum and I went down to his place to help him do some last minute cleaning because the real estate agent was showing some people around his house at 3pm.
He bought the house about 5 years ago for $70,000 and took out a standard 25 year home loan for it. If he wasn't selling up, he would have the entire loan paid off in another 2 years. In the last five years he's put about $30,000 worth into the house including new carpet, new vertical blinds for all the windows, a new carport attached to the house, etc.
The real estate is putting it up for $158,000. I think he's done well.
That night Ed was taking us out to dinner at about 7pm. Of course this was when Glenn was working but that didn't stop him. All they are required to do while at work (him and the guy who takes the other shift) is do an inspection once every two hours or so. What they do outside of that time is up to them, so Glenn usually takes a DVD player out there and watches movies all night.
So Glenn goes out there in his good clothes, relieves the other guy and does his first inspection and then comes back into town (the cotton gin is about 15km out of town) joining us at the restaurant by quarter past. We have a nice leisurely meal (very nice meal too) and Glenn leaves just before nine to return to the gin and do his second inspection, where he changes into his normal work clothes and returns to his normal night watching DVD's.
With Glenn buying the house off Mum and Dad, that solves another little problem that they had. Since it's a private sale, they don't actually have to put the house on the market, meaning that most of the town don't know they are intending to move out. This works in with Dad's plans of not giving his work any more notice than he has too.
Dad's been working the same place for over 20 years now, I think probably closer to 30. However, in that time he's worked for 5 different companies. Originally it was a family owned company and Dad got on very well with the Management. However, they were bought out eventually, and then that company got bought out, then they were bought out, and finally that company was bought out.
Now Dad has to put up with copious quantities of red tape, bullshit and stupidity, and he's sick of it. As a result when they do retire to the coast (currently planned for mid January) Dad is giving them the required two weeks notice and nothing more.
Of course, I ended up bringing home a lot more than I brought with me. With Mum and Dad moving in under three months (yay!) Mum has started going through everything and sorting what they want to keep and what they are getting rid of. Glenn gets first choice with most of the things in the house they don't want (since he is buying the house) and I get second choice. Everything else will probably go in a garage sale closer to the move date.
I also got stuff off Glenn as well. He's changing things around now that he's going to be moving into the family home, so I got some of his stuff as well.
From Glenn I got his old Akai stereo (about 15 years old, but still a good unit once I give it a service to remove the 15 years of dust that's inside it) and another portable evaporative air cooler unit (to go with the two I've already got). From Mum I got a coffee table, a pile of office stationary equipment and more Tupperware! However this Tupperware is stuff that I will actually use, mostly cake boxes and the like.
I also got from Mum one of the two kangaroo skin wall-hangings that have been hanging in the Family room for as long as I can remember. Glenn got first choice, and I got the other one. Now I just have to work out where it's going to go.
It took a little while to load the car Sunday morning (I'm glad I wasn't in my car, I don't think everything would have fitted!) so I didn't leave until about 11:30. The drive back was mostly uneventful, except for one blasted emu.
Emu's are big, solid birds, with very little in the way of brain. I was about 30km outside of Westmar on the way back when I saw two emus ahead crossing the road. I slow right down from 110 to about 40. I was almost past them when they finally notice I was there and panic and run away. Of course when they ran away they run back the way they came right in front of me! I missed the first one, but the second one decided to run straight at me. I swerved a bit, meaning he missed the head lights and instead impacted on the left front panel of the car. There's a big thud, and the emu runs back the way they were originally heading.
I stop in Westmar for a stretch and to check the car and there is a big dent in the panel. Bugger!
The rest of the drive was fairly normal, with no rain until I got down from the range and was almost back in Brisbane.
I dropped off the car at the rental place this morning, and had to fill in an accident report. Of course, most of the accidents they deal with would be involving other cars, so the report is geared to that. Passengers in the car? None. Witnesses to the accident? Two emus. In your opinion whose fault was the accident? The emu. :)
The drive was a lot better than it would have been in my car, and there is no way I am taking my car for the last drive over Christmas, I will be renting again.
Now I'm back at work, trying to make it look like I'm actually working. Oh well, such is life.
I've mostly worked out what I'm getting the family for Christmas. I'm buying Glenn a new stereo to suit the new house, Mum and Dad I'll be getting a Mahjong set for once they retire and for Mum I think I'm going to get a set of Enjo gloves. She indicated she would really like one of the dusting gloves so I think I'll get her a set of them.
All I need to work out is what I'm getting Dad.
So, anyone know of where I can get a good quality Mahjong set, and to the Green One, who do I speak to about Enjo?
That is all.