Then it was back in the car, to try to “beat the sun.” I wanted to reach Nambucca Heads before it was totally dark. I just made it, pulling in at the Destiny Motor Inn just as the afterglow began to fade from the sky.
This place is a bit more flash than last night’s lodging. Not the Ritz, mind you, but there are more amenities and brighter décor, plus a patio overlooking a serene lily pond. Pleasant and comfortable. (I had picked my lodgings for this first part of the trip based entirely on location–proximity to things I wanted to see or simply “this is how far I think I can drive in one day”–so I really wasn’t certain what to expect.)
Of course, just as the motel is a bit more flash, so is the dinner menu. I had lamb loin stuffed with spinach and macadamia nuts. Almost ordered the whole baby barramundi with lime, ginger, and chive sauce. They also offered a pair of quails and a smoked venison platter among the evening’s half-dozen specials. Pretty impressive. But then I’ve always thought of Australia as an excellent dining destination.
They had a fire in the fireplace, since the evening is chilly. The hostess was charming and friendly, and as has happened often during my travels in Australia, she stopped to chat. She was originally from Sydney, but she likes living out in the country better.
There were not a lot of guests, which is a shame, since everything was so nice: cloth napkins, a bouquet of herbs and fresh flowers on the plate, the crackling fire. In fact, there was only one other couple. I’m always sad when any business is not doing well, but especially when it’s a really lovely operation, like this. But it is not the busy season, so I’ll hope that they do better at other times.
I had brought John Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley along on the trip, to have something to read in the evenings. It’s the perfect book to read during a road trip. It is true, as Steinbeck notes in the book, that every journey has its own personality. Maybe that is why my heart only half recognizes where I am. This trip is so different from the previous one that it’s taking me a while to get to know it, to really feel like I’m back. It is like seeing the face of someone related to a cherished friend–partly but not entirely familiar. But the face is still beautiful, and loved.