The final or should I say the beginning of a monumental road trip.
This road trip has been 12 months in the making, from the first day my niece Amber attended a careers day for the defence forces to today ( wed. march 29 2017).
In August of 2016 she had enlisted in the Air Force, passed all their tests and finished high school. 2017 begun with her leaving us for RAAF Wagga Wagga, NSW for her gap year and the next step – albeit a very large step- in her life. I was emotional when she left because I had loved her like a daughter that I had never had and was so DAMN PROUD of what she was about to do.
So, like all good road trips some planning had happened.
Motel – check even got breakfast thrown in for the 3 nights her dad and I were staying.
Graduation details – double check. Wednesday March 29, 2017 @ 10.15 am front gate for sign in, parade @ 11am, lunch afterwards.
Music – like all great trips it is about the music because who really wants to listen to talkback radio, or some sort of convulted mass produced music that is “supposedly local” but is part of Austereos network across the nation.
My choice was :- Nickelbak, The Madden Brothers, Van Halen, Keith Urban, Poison, Best of Phil Collins, Inxs, and unbelievably Taylor Swift ( only on the return home trip).
Food – I always take a mix of nuts, currants, dried fruits, etc , fresh fruit and some type of chip – in this instance it was my and Amber’s fav. Cheese Twisties, Cheezels and Salt and vinegar chips. Plus water and a coffee from home. I do not eat the junk food stuff so at petrol stops I tend to avoid that part of the service centres. When I am really hungry I tend to leave the hwy for small towns and spend $$$ n the bakery or a cafe. This trip it was the town of Benalla and i had a delicious coffee with a yummy jelly slice from Bouwmeesters in the main street.
It was a warm 32 and the day was fine, unlike north of us where cyclone Debbie was reeking havoc in QLD.
Wagga Wagga is 1 hr north of the NSW /VIC border city of Albury Wodonga.
It is reached by the, not so nice and smooth, Olympic Way. You travel through the towns of Culcairn – terrific Burgers ( according to my nephew and brother who had gone to Wagga previously), The Rock, Henty – where one of Australia’s’ biggest farm field days are held, Yerong Creek and Uranquinty. Just as you enter the city on your left is the The training base – Kapooka- for all the army people. Amber’s friend Billy is there training to be an artilleryman.
So here we are, along with her mother, surviving grandparents ( mike and carol), 2 of her besties, Dave (dad), Jordan (the bro.) and Aunty Robyn Louise. sitting in a grandstand watching 54 recruits march in, get inspected, and then declared graduated, with a final march past . Boy I so tried not to cry but hell I did. Dad had tears, even the bro. had that goofy look – like 21 yr old get, pretending he’s cool but still damn proud of his sister.
Afterwards she could not stop smiling, we met her ‘new friends and family’. spent up big on photos and merchandise. Inspected their living quarters.
When it was time for all of us to leave Amber nearly broke down and cried, too. I came back to Melbourne that day but dad and the others stayed on for 2 more days spending valuable time with her. I could not stop smiling……But finally I cried again because Grandpa Mac was not physically there to see “his clever little cookie” graduate. He would have been just as proud… So some road trips are really worth it.