Just call us crazy. But this was shown online as being a tourist activity for Cairns, so maybe we aren't the only crazy ones.
Last Friday evening we drove about 75 kilometers, over the small mountain where Kuranda Village is located, and to the outback town of Mareeba. Just to watch the newest Harry Potter at a drive-in movie. Wish we had arrived during daylight so we could have seen the topography better as this was our only experience in what is called the outback. But the only things we really saw were the stars. At least Elisabeth got to see the Milky Way on that very dark night.
The Rodeo Drive-In is a very, very basic drive-in movie. There was only one screen and it was not a big one. Dirt roads and dirt parking area (not even gravel like the old drive-in movies of the old days). The radio speakers did not work in the old van we had rented so we could not utilize the FM radio sound system for the movie. Instead, we used one of the old-style big speakers that hang inside your car door. There was a concession stand where we were able to buy popcorn. We had brought a cooler of beer, Diet Cokes and Diet Sprites. Before the evening was over we were cold inside our our van, even with the windows rolled up. We sort of forgot that once the sun goes down the temperature drops dramatically. Bill and I brought pillows and snuggled down on the reclining rear seats of the van; we didn't care if we saw this movie or not so we let the others have the forward seats with better visibility.
The people in the car next to us were obviously regulars. They had brought folding tables and lawn chairs and a small grill. They made this family movie experience into a picnic. Many of the cars and trucks had brought lawn chairs and blankets but this was the only car we saw that also brought a grill. Glad to see that these old-fashioned drive-in movies are still operating. We enjoyed them immensely during our childhood.
Saturday morning we took the kids to ride go-karts. Zachary was not tall enough nor old enough to drive a go-kart alone, but they had double karts and his Uncle Aaron agreed to ride with him. There were also some small jeeps that did not go as fast as the go-karts and the kids could have driven the jeeps by themselves. But for some reason Elisabeth did not want to try to drive a jeep by herself. We tried explaining to her that the jeep did not go fast and would be like her old little Barbie car, but she wouldn't change her mind; and Zach did not want to chauffeur her around the track in the slow little jeep. He preferred to "drive" the go-kart with his Uncle Aaron. There was a steering wheel for the double seat, but no foot pedals.
Zach said later that he knew that he wasn't really steering the kart because the steering wheel would only turn a little bit either way and then would lock. Aaron said the true steering wheel was very difficult to turn and required muscles. Maybe there was something wrong with the steering on that particular go-kart. At least Zach enjoyed zooming around the track even if he wasn't really driving. We found out later that there supposedly is a much more elaborate go-kart place out in Mareeba. And there is a WWII museum in Mareeba. If we had known that earlier we would have driven to Mareeba much earlier in the day instead of making that long trip just for the drive-in movie.
Later in the afternoon the kids made their final visit to the lagoon together. This lagoon is the best tourist attraction in Cairns. The kids love it. The brown in the far background of the photo on the left is the mud exposed by low tide. When it is high tide the water looks pretty; but during low tide the yucky mud is exposed W-A-Y out. Thank goodness Cairns has this public swimming lagoon because there certainly isn't an accessible beach.
Early Sunday morning Zachary and Bill flew to Brisbane. Zachary's flight home was just before noon, and Bill flew back to Cairns that afternoon. Zachary almost did not make it onto the Qantas flight to Los Angeles. When they arrived at the Qantas ticket counter in Brisbane, the agent insisted that Qantas must speak to Zachary's mother on the phone before he would be allowed on the plane. They needed to confirm verbally that his mother would meet the arriving flight in Los Angeles. Well, that just wasn't possible since his mother was on a flight from Houston to Los Angeles at that particular moment.
Bill pushed the issue through 3 levels of supervisors. Finally the general manager for Qantas Brisbane agreed to let Zachary on the plane after Bill personally guaranteed any costs incurred by Qantas should Zach's mother not meet the arriving flight. I think the deal-breaker was that the general manager checked the Qantas records and found that we had phoned in twice to confirm exactly what the procedure would be for an unaccompanied minor flying internationally. Not one person had told either Zachary's parents or us that the airline would need to speak directly with the person who would be meeting the arriving flight. Guess Qantas needs to have a little training session with some of their employees regarding this service. Two other kids were denied this same flight for this exact reason.
Zach was met in Los Angeles by his mother and his maternal grandmother, and they flew back to Houston together. He is back in Houston adjusting to the time change and getting back on a normal sleep schedule before his school starts next week. We thoroughly enjoyed having Zachary for his summer vacation. He is welcome to spend his summers with us anytime.