Black’s Beach, Mackay
I love a good road trip, don’t you? I grew up in a road tripping family and I have so many wonderful memories of travelling together for hours, days, weeks, even months – around half of Australia, the USA, down into Mexico, up into Canada…
As teenagers, we were packed into the car like sardines, suitcases bumping the backs of our heads as we bounced along, a banjo and a guitar sandwiched between us in the back seat, portable electric typewriter on my lap so I could type out my school assignments as we drove. Endless roads, new friends everywhere we went, beautiful scenery, singing together and telling stories, cooking Australian treats like pavlova for our American friends and trying their foods, and taking photos of wildflowers and canyons and lakes and snow. Once road tripping is in your blood you just can’t get rid of the addiction. I dream of spending a whole year travelling around Australia with my family, showing the kids this amazing country of ours.
Sadly, my husband does NOT have any desire to pack up all our earthly goods and set off into the sunrise, living the gyspy life on the road. He’s totally not interested in packing four noisy kids into the car with a bunch of luggage and food and a Thermomix, and driving endlessly just to see what we can see. He’s so practical. I’m a bit of dreamer. Like my dad. But I DID manage to get him to agree to a one week road trip to Mackay and Townsville in the second week of the school holidays, and I think he actually enjoyed it! Well, most of it. Maybe not the bit where I got really sick with a tummy bug and he had to cook and look after the kids who were constantly wanting to go to the beach when he just wanted to sit inside with a book. But hey, I didn’t enjoy that bit either.
Okay, so in case you’re wondering, here’s how I convinced my husband to do this whole road trip thing. Ford picked me (along with 19 other Voices of 2013 bloggers) to take part in their “Choose Your Own Adventure Challenge,” test driving their newest, sparkliest, most top of the range Territory Titanium! (Yeah, I know, awesome huh!!) We’ve been given this brand-spanking-new car for 6 weeks, and it even came with $400 worth of fuel vouchers and a full tank of fuel! Well that just shouted ‘road trip’ to me, and hubby had to give in to the pressure.
Picking up ‘my’ car! Woo hooooo…
I have to say, my ‘totally not interested in cars or road trips’ husband is now as much in love with this car as I am. After driving it for two weeks, including a 10 hour drive in one day, we are completely smitten. As we’re driving along, hubby will turn to me and say, ‘I love how the electric windows can still be rolled up after the motor is turned off – make sure you mention that on your blog!’ and ‘It’s so comfortable, and so smooth to drive’ and ‘The POWER!!!’… ha ha! I think we’re both loving the quiet, smooth, panther-like power the best – we’ve never driven a V6 turbo diesel before, it’s awesome!
My front seat office!
We’ve never had such an easy road trip with our four kids as this one was. It was so quiet I could write, and chat with hubby while we drove. The GPS kept us on track, the kids were comfortable, no one felt squashed or cramped, and the built in DVD player kept them distracted for the 10 hour drive. We only stopped twice. This does not usually happen!! Big win for the Ford.
Morning tea break…
…and a tailgate lunch.
I brought some homemade roast beef, some spelt bread rolls that I baked quickly before we left in the morning, a jar of my homemade tomato sauce, and some salad, and we made lunch in our makeshift ‘kitchen’ by the road. I also took fruit, chia puddings in jars, and a homemade trailmix. Easy, and lots cheaper and yummier than buying greasy roadhouse food!
The only negative was all the road works we encountered on the drive. No, that is not some strange kind of tattoo, that’s my hubby keeping track of how many road works we’d passed through. Ha ha!
We really enjoyed catching up with old friends in Mackay, and I had fun cooking with the Thermomix girls there. (A big thanks to my lovely friend and recipe testing guru, Lauren, who invited us all to her house.) I made them a few recipes that will be in my book to see what they thought, and everything got the thumbs up – woo hoo! I have sworn them to secrecy, so don’t try and get the recipes out of them, Mackay peeps!
Some of the Mackay Thermomix ladies
And this is where things went a bit pear shaped. I got really sick with a tummy bug. Maybe because I’d been a bit careless with my eating when visiting old friends, and it got me all out of whack, I don’t know (no one else in the family got it), but after a day or so in bed I managed to get back on my feet and the holiday continued. I had to take it pretty slow, and we didn’t do all the ‘stuff’ we’d planned to do. But that’s okay. Just being able to rest and relax was probably exactly what I needed. Sometimes when you won’t stop, your body MAKES you stop. Right?
I think my body was telling me it was time to slow down…
I spent some time resting, walking on the beach, and preparing myself for the next leg of the trip, which I knew would be very busy. I find I can handle the crazy, hectic times as long as I intersperse them with quiet, rest times. And it really helps to have some alone time now and then, too. It’s all about finding the balance between stop and go.
“Cultivate Solitude.” It’s good for the soul.
So after a rest, it was on to Townsville. I spent Friday afternoon at Sprout, prepping the food for my cooking demonstrations the next day. (That was pretty cool, being given free rein to use anything in the store, as Sprout were the sponsors for my demos. Love that shop.) Then Saturday it was off to the Townsville Plant & Garden Expo to do some Quirky Cooking demos. It all got a bit chaotic, trying to set up and cook and speak and pack up and wash up with a make shift camping sink, then start all over again after an hour or so break, but with the help of my good friend Bron and a couple of others who pitched in, we managed it. Thanks to those of you who came to watch and chat, and especially to those who helped out with the serving and cleaning up when we were running out of time – you’re awesome!!
Here’s a little snippet of my demo, taken by my friend Felicity…
A few of you have asked for the recipes from the demos – so here they are:
Coconut milk: as made in this recipe.
Beetroot Salad: same as the one in the Thermomix Everyday Cookbook, served on a bed of baby spinach and sprinkled with crumbled sheep’s feta.
Tangello Sorbet: Tangello zest blended up with 100g coconut sugar, 10 sec/speed 9; add 350g ice and blend 10 sec/speed 9; add another 350g ice and blend 10 sec/speed 9; add the peeled tangello (I froze the portions, didn’t remove seeds) and an egg white, blend 30 sec/speed 9, using spatula to help mix. Top servings with ‘ice magic’.
Ice magic: 100g dark chocolate, grated 10 sec/speed 8, plus 50g coconut oil, cooked 2 mins/50C/speed 2.
made with frozen avocado to make it thicker like an ice cream.
Macadamia Satay Chicken & Rice with Beetroot Salad
Tangello Sorbet with ‘Ice Magic’
Now we’re back from our epic road trip and the holidays are over. Today I started back with the homeschooling and book writing and house work and everyday life, so things are back to normal here, except for the shiny car in my driveway… Hopefully I’ll be able to sneak off on a few mini road trips to make the most of ‘my’ car before I have to give it back. Hey, do you think Ford would notice if I disappeared into the sunset with the Territory for an ‘around Australia road trip’?