The sun came out for nearly an entire day for the first time in ages today, and we walked around looking at the beautiful man-made lagoon along the waterfront, the shops along the Esplanade, the lovely old architecture combined with the new, giving it a strange feel for us. Cairns is very commercialized, with Asian-owned souvenir shops EVERYWHERE. On the flip side of this is the benefit of having great eateries, salons and every kind of shopping at our fingertips. Sadly on this beautiful day neither of us thought to bring our cameras. But Cairns lagoon and Esplanade are easily "googled", for probably a better picture than could be taken by us anyway. Today our main mission was a trip to Whitworth's Marine store that happened not to be at our fingertips. There is a very small but well equipped chandlery right at the marina and yet what we needed could not be found there.
Although we plan to have entirely new and updated electronics (chart plotter, radar, etc.) installed in either Singapore or Thailand, new requirements implemented January 2012 necessitate our installing an AIS component in order to cruise Singapore waters. We have been researching AIS devices with the assistance of our favorite Aussie electronics professional and have found one that will perfectly amalgamate with our current device. We would like to install and utilize it on the way over "the top" to Darwin in case there are any glitches or bugs to work out before leaving Oz. Whitworth's is approximately a 4-mile walk from the marina. We could take a bus or a cab, but why not stretch our legs? Walking also gives us a better feel for what is where and the opportunity to stop wherever we like along the way at our own pace. We made a morning of it, paying visits to several stops on the way. We ended our excursion at what we call the town square, although I didn't pay attention to what it is really called. It is sort of a people mall where we noted three things of import: there are more Aboriginal people in Cairns than anywhere we have yet been, there is a café named The Gingerbread House that serves the BEST French pastries, sandwiches, pies and the like, and I found a hair salon that felt right. We stopped for a very late lunch and while waiting for our meal to be served, I made my hair appointment and Frank watched people. After lunch we strolled about watching volunteers ready the town for the Iron Man competition that would be taking place over the weekend. This is a big one – full Iron Man, half Iron Man, Iron Man Kids and some other events including concerts and the whole she-bang. It is touted as a festival. We've been forewarned that beginning Friday the town will begin shutting down to accommodate the thousands of athletes and their support people; families, friends, trainers, and so on. Vendors are already pouring in.
All in all it was a lovely day, and as we wandered back toward the marina big dark clouds began building like giant black cotton balls being crammed on top of one another. It just might get ugly. It did get ugly and cold! Our plans to grill turned into Frank running out for a pizza (I would have cooked but he was Jones-ing for pizza), and then we snuggled up to watch Revenge on TV. Yes, we are hooked and enslaved to this show now every Monday night.
Tuesday we awoke to rain. Not much surprise there since the weather forecast calls for it the rest of the week, increasing toward the weekend. After some morning chores we grabbed raincoats and umbrellas and set off for separate venues – me to my hair appt., Frank in search of boat stuff. We met for lunch at the Gingerbread House, finished some business in town and returned to the boat to get warm and dry. We had looked into getting a rental car for a drive out of town to the Tablelands, and the surrounding countryside but the big event coming to town created too much difficulty for us to make it a manageable option.
Wednesday we set out – in the rain – just to get off the boat since we are on a dock and able to get out and walk around. Volunteers continued the seeming never-ending task of setting up the Iron Man courses that were becoming more muddied as passersby trod upon the parts that veered from road and sidewalk. What a mess. The sky is black/gray/sinister. It is freezing out.
Thursday – more of the same. Tonight my friend Pauline Broadhead is flying in to visit her life-long friend named Meimei Battaglini who lives here. We look forward to hooking up with them for dinner. Pauline arrived on a delayed flight, but no matter to us we met the two ladies at a restaurant down on the waterfront for dinner. Meimei is a delightful lady! She appreciated our problems around doing the rental car gig and offered to take us for a drive on Friday. So we parted with the promise of an early departure tomorrow for an adventure with Meimei and Pauline.