The Saratoga Sun -

Drop Bears and Jackelopes

 

August 21, 2019



I am loving this time of year. Wyoming in the summer can’t be beat and I revel in living here. Winter and wind be damned, now that summer is here.

I am blown away every time I enter the town of Elk Mountain as the summer progresses. It is lovely. I go there almost every week, so I have seen the fields outside the town get greener and more lush, with horses languishing near the creeks as the summer rolls on.

The Valley has so many awesome places to visit during this time of year, I never really know where to start. I have loved hiking around Lake Marie since the day I discovered it. The Encampment River Trial is another area I feel that is just spectacular.

I also really like the high desert and Hanna is perfect for me as I hit mountain bike trails that are minutes from my house.

Yeah, Carbon County is amazing in the summer.

I am really happy I bought a place here 20 years ago.

Truly, I love living in Wyoming and I am glad to have made my home here.

Still, there is a place I have lived that gives this great area a run for its money in my book. I actually came close to aborting my plans to live in Wyoming and settling in this tropical land.

The Land of Oz

I don’t know how many people who know me in Carbon County know I am a beach guy.

I Love The Ocean

Sitting out on a beach at night, listening to waves crash on the shore and looking to a starry sky is a pleasure I never get tired of.

So, when I made my home in Noosa, Queensland-the second time I lived in Australia-I found a paradise.

Noosa is considered one of the best, if not the best, surfing beaches in the land of Oz. It is about three hours north of Brisbane on what is called the Sunshine Coast. Many people have heard of the Gold Coast, which is south of Brisbane, but the two towns could not be any different. It would be like comparing Las Vegas (Gold Coast) to Saratoga (Noosa).

Noosa is well known to Australians since many wealthy people have second homes there. Noosa is actually made up of four towns spread along a river, beaches and two national parks. I used to run five miles almost daily in Noosa Park because it went through a tropical rain forest, a huge beach and then cliffs along the sea.

It was fantastic. More than once I would stop my run, go body surfing at the beach and then go back to my run.

Another cool thing about Noosa, although it was only a city of 20,000 or so when I lived there, is that eight of the top 20 eating places in Australia were located in this town. It is staggering how many great restaurants are located there. I was fortunate to work at one of them.

Palmers had a reputation as one the best places for years, but I lucked out working there when it changed into younger hands. So, it had the reputation, but the management was trying out cutting edge culinary arts. The best part, they put me in charge of one of the most beautiful bars I have ever seen, much less work at.

Then There Were The People

The owners of Palmers could not have been kinder to their lone American worker. In truth, not many Americans come to Noosa because Australians like to keep the place off the global tourist map.

“How did an American end up here?” was a question I had to field often enough.

I would launch into my story about I was in a bus coming over a hill and saw the town and water spread out in such a manner, I told myself I found my new home.

I got off the bus, found a motel and, within a week, I was employed and living in a very cool furnished condo.

Another component of why I enjoyed my time in Noosa were the people.

Australians have very sharp wit in addition to using slang that I often could not make heads or tails of.

I will be the first to admit, I am a bit slow when it comes to snappy comebacks. No doubt I was the brunt of jokes, but that is how you know you are well liked by Australians.

Drop Bears Versus

Jackelopes

One time I was with a bunch of mates (getting back in my Oz vernacular) at a bonfire on the beach next to a jungle. It was a lot of fun and everyone was in good humor. It was also very dark away from the fire.

No bathroom facilities had me walking towards the nearby vegetation.

“Hey, Mike, be careful of the drop bears when you get next to a tree,” a friend shouted out to me as I walked to the foliage.

“Huh? What is a drop bear?”

I was told that it is a koala bear that is up in the trees getting stoned off eucalyptus trees leaves at night time and, when they hear noises below the tree, they sometimes drop down and will attack with their sharp claws.

I knew koalas have sharp claws and that they did get some sort of buzz off the eucalyptus leaves which made them somewhat docile. At night, these docile creatures aparrently get vicious. I was told there were instances of more than one person who had their face clawed to hell and back. I should probably interject here, I saw koalas all the time at Noosa Park, so it made sense they would be in the trees I was heading towards.

Crazy

Needless to say, I took a very careful bathroom break.

I guess it was about a dozen times I was warned of drop bears being out with different friends.

Then, one time, I mentioned I was careful of drop bears and my Ozzie friends burst into laughter.

It turns out drop bears are Australians version of a Jackelope.

Drop bears exist only to play jokes on unsuspecting visitors to the country.

I thought it was good joke.

Two weeks later, I overheard this Australian guy tell these two young Swedish ladies about drop bears.

I laughed when I thought of all the times I looked vigilantly for drop bears at night.

Enjoy Summer in

Wyoming While I Can

My time in Australia is filled with great memories and honestly, when Wyoming winter winds and snow start, I do miss Noosa.

Saying that, winter in Carbon County makes me appreciate the summers more. It doesn’t really get cold in Noosa, so every day is very tolerable.

I think that is the charm of Wyoming. Many days seem intolerable and summer here makes you appreciate it while it is here. There is no taking it for granted.

So, although there is a place that was very hard to leave, I don’t regret making the choice to live in Carbon County all those years back.

Of course, mid winter, I will probably be singing a different tune. I just have to keep saying “What does not kill you, makes you stronger.”

But it isn’t winter now and I am going to enjoy every day summer lasts.

And maybe I will run into an Australian visitor and tell them about Jackelopes.

 

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