03/22/2020 Royal National Park Sydney, Australia

Today, we leisurely visited Royal National Park, just south of Sydney. We stopped at an overlook and decided to take a quick stroll up a trail. The quick trail ended up meandering to the top of a cliff and then down to an authorized nude beach. Kathy decided to stop before getting to the beach. Still remembering the trauma of the old man who ran on the beach in a speedo, and seeing several older men climb past us, she chickened out and used the excuse of “I’m tired” to leave before Dave had a chance to experience a real nude beach. The climb back up was long, so in the end Kathy felt good about the decision, although she did harbor guilt about depriving Dave of some new views, especially the day before his birthday. (By the way, the day after our trip to Bondi Beach, the authorities closed that beach as too many people were gathering too closely to be observing proper social distancing!)

We then drove along the famed Grand Pacific Road. We stopped after driving on one of the longest bridges to take in the views. It reminded us of the Linn Cove Viaduct along the Blue Ridge Parkway, but was much, much longer and hovered over the ocean. A few pictures and a walk along the bridge capped a wonderfully relaxed day.

Now it was time to get stressed!!! Grocery shopping – one of Kathy’s all-time favorite things to do. However, this trip to our nearby store was one of the most unique experiences ever!! We were greeted at the entrance by a girl squirting hand sanitizer into the palms of the patrons. We then went through the store, picked up our few items, and then headed to the checkout register. No cash was being accepted, though, as they do not want to touch money due to the virus. Patrons had to stand behind a line until the next person can move up to the register. We experienced this all day long, including at the national park, where you cannot review a map with a ranger as they do not want anyone leaning over the counter. Dave picked up a map – and ended up having to buy it as he touched the map with his hand. Strange new world we live in. If it keeps Australia healthy though, we are in complete support of the plan!!

Now, it was time to head home, or at least our “home away from home” for the next two days. We leave on Monday. Although Monday is March 23 in Australia, it is March 22 in the US, and is Dave’s birthday. He is NOT happy to have to spend 24 hours in planes and airports to fly home on his birthday! We are heartbroken to have to leave so early, but we are comfortable that this is the best decision for us.  (Panic set in when Kathy woke up and the app on our phone said flight cancelled, but the airline says it is still on—keep your fingers crossed for us)

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