A Brisbane Birthday
We ventured up along our way to the Gold Coast, but first took a quick stop at the Byron Bay Lighthouse. Because we can't drive by a lighthouse without stopping. Okay, maybe the kids would be just fine driving by, but not me. It was such a beautiful morning, super windy, but beautiful.
We stopped for lunch at Snapper Rock, a famous surf break where they hold the Quicksilver Pro. There weren't many surfers out and the waves weren't too big, but it did have a beautiful view of the skyline. We were here on the Queen's Birthday which is a public holiday so it was super crowded everywhere we went that day. Parking was a nightmare and parking a huge campervan was near impossible. It made us appreciate the empty New Zealand beaches even more!
We thought we finally lucked out to get a beautiful somewhat warm day at Surfer's Paradise Beach. We drove around forever trying to find a parking spot and then dragged all the gear to the beach. Not even ten minutes after we finally got settled, ominous gray storm clouds started rolling in and the sun slipped below the beautiful high rise back drop. But this beach was stunning no matter the weather. And all these storm clouds that keep following us sure do produce some pretty spectacular rainbows.
The next morning was Ryder's 4th birthday. It's always hard celebrating birthdays on the go, but I would say Australia is a pretty awesome place to spend a birthday! We kept it simple, but the thing I love about four year olds is that they get so excited about the small things. Donuts for breakfast, a Kinder Surprise Egg I picked up while grocery shopping and picking out a new nerf gun and truck at Kmart made for the best day ever. We also had a fun surprise when we called to say hi to Judy and she just so happened to be near Brisbane for a last minute trip to visit her daughter! We spent some time with them, and I'm kicking myself for not getting a picture, but here's a picture of the birthday boy as excited as can be with the new ball Judy bought for him.
We said our goodbyes then headed up to Brisbane. We stopped at the Daisy Park Koala sanctuary and as we made our way up the hill to the parking lot the engine started giving out. I took the kids and rushed through the center before they closed while Jason was on the phone trying to figure out what to do. It was a cool place in a beautiful setting, I wish we would have had more time to spend here. We saw some adorable sleeping koalas that were so cute we just wanted to cuddle them.
They told us to take the campervan to the Apollo dealership in Brisbane to trade it out, we just had to get there before they closed at 5:00. We booked it as fast as that little engine could go, but were nervous the whole time that it would die in the middle of the freeway. We finally pulled into the lot only to realize that it wasn't even open on Sundays. That information would have been nice to know over the phone. There was plenty we wanted to see and do in Brisbane, we just made the most of it and kept our fingers crossed that it wouldn't die. The City Hopper Ferry is a free ferry service that runs all along the Brisbane River in the center of the city, you can just hop on and off and wander around. I was excited for this unique way to explore the city, and it was especially gorgeous all lit up at night. We hopped on the first ferry we saw and I was so impressed with how new and fancy it was. We glided effortlessly along the river, taking in all the sights and sounds of the nightlife.
I've always had a thing for big cities at night. It brings back memories of when I was younger and my dad would sometimes take me to Atlanta when he had meetings at night. I was mesmerized by the bright lights, driving through the streets sipping a Varsity shake with my face pressed to the window dreaming of a penthouse life.
We hopped off and walked around Southbank. It had a cool vibe and we wished we could come back during the summer and swim in their man made beach.
As we were waiting in line to hop back on the ferry we realized that we had accidentally got on the wrong ferry the first time. It wasn't the free city ferry, which explains why it was so nice, and I felt bad we were totally free loading. We went to the different dock to wait for the free one and we had to laugh when it puttered up. Gone was the sleek white ferry and in it's place was an old rickety rusted out red tug boat. Our quick 20 minute ride over turned into an hour long ride back, and honestly, we were just glad we made it back with out it dying. By the time we got back, the novelty had worn off and the kids were starving and tired, but holding my sweet new four year old on my lap while we silently cruised along under the starry sky and bright lights was a pretty special way to celebrate his birthday.
We had researched different family restaurants to take Ryder to for his birthday, but by the time we got back it was so late so we settled for Pizza Hut and cupcakes (which were surprisingly difficult to find- go figure) in the parking lot. And Ryder couldn't have been more excited. That boy brings so much joy into our lives. He has more energy than a litter of puppies and gives the sweetest kisses. He tries so hard to be one of the big boys, but little does he know that he'll always be my baby. His morning snuggles are the apple to my pie. He can be so bashful and yet so confident. He knows how to be a good friend and looks out for others. He has such a funny sense of humor and watching his little personality develop is just golden. He is my little side kick. My little cheeky monkey. My little snuggle bug. My baby. Oh how I love him so. Happy birthday, buddy.
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