The next day was another early morning as we had to leave our hotel around 7 am to meet the great ocean road tour bus. I debated not going with my family to do this tour for the second time and spending the day curled up with my laptop and some room service, but I figured that since this was supposed to be a family vacation and all I would suck it up and just go. At the very least I could be sure that dad would do something ridiculous that would embarrass the family, and who would want to miss out on that.
It takes about two and a half hours to get from downtown Melbourne to the start of the Great Ocean Road, and true to form Melbourne was overcast, windy, chilly, and rainy. The driver we had for our trip didn’t do nearly as many stops on the Great Ocean Road as the driver I had the first time did, although this might have been because we had a much bigger group with us, or because since it was now winter there were less daylight hours to spend on the road. Regardless of how many stops you make the one stop everyone makes is at the Twelve Apostles rock formations. The Twelve Apostles are the seven remaining limestone rock formations that sit away from the shore, there used to be twelve but over the years erosion has left only seven.
Given that this is one of the main attractions on the Great Ocean Road, it is the longest stop the tours usually make, they give you about 45 minutes. So Mom, Dad, Julie and I piled out of the bus when we got to this stop to check out the formations. We wandered around for a good twenty minutes or so before heading off in different directions. Since Julie, Mom and I are all capable of telling time, we were back on the bus when our 45 minutes were up and of course Dad was nowhere to be found. Julie and I were quite unconcerned about this. I mean, he is 50 something adult male in reasonable mental standing and therefore it is reasonable for us to expect that he can take care of himself. Mom seems to feel otherwise.
She started pestering us as to his whereabouts, which of course we had no more knowledge about than she did. Soon her pestering turned into suggesting that one of us should go after him since she couldn’t get very far on her bum ankle. Julie and I made eye contact and without words knew that neither one of us would be volunteering to do this alone, so I asked her if she would go with me. Julie and I tossed this idea around for another minute or so as Mom moved from worrying to a full fledged panic as the bus driver began counting everyone on the bus. As the bus driver comes by to count us Mom explained that Dad was still missing, and the driver seemed unconcerned since it was an adult that was missing and not some small child. Little does he know that my father being missing is perhaps worse than a small child being missing because at least a child knows that he should not be out on his own, whereas my father still thinks he is capable of wandering off without supervision. Mom tried to explain this, but the driver only laughed.
Finally, seeing the desperation on mom’s face Julie relents and we both got off the bus to search for Dad. Having never been a member of a search party Julie and I made the rookie mistake of splitting up, and of course as soon as we had run off in opposite directions Dad showed back up on the bus, thus shifting Mom’s panic from where Dad was to where Julie and I were. Since I hadn’t made it as far away as Julie had, I heard Mom when she yelled at me to come back, and I did, but then we were still one person short.
The bus driver has counted the number of passengers on board at least twice, and as mom and dad both pester me to go after Julie (didn’t they get that this didn’t work the first time?) the driver shuts the doors and begins to drive through the parking lot towards the highway entrance. Now both parents are panicking and practically pushing me up to the front of the bus. Why the responsibility to find Julie who Mom sent to look for Dad falls on my shoulders I don’t know, but I suspect it just has something to do with shit rolling downhill. So I go up to the bus driver and sheepishly explain that my sister is still missing and he looked considerably less than pleased. Our family has held the whole group up a good ten minutes and he seems even more frustrated when I explain that I have no idea where she is and the only recourse is to go out after her myself. Embarrassed and frustrated I take off after Julie and luckily it isn’t long until I find her and we are both back on the bus. As soon as we are, we dig into Mom for sending us out after Dad, and in response Mom yells at Dad for not being able to tell time. Dad of course absolves any responsibility for the situation saying that by the time he was on the bus Julie and I were the ones missing. So in other words, everyone ends up disgruntled and frustrated and its another lovely day with the Lapointes.
Thankfully the rest of our trip on the Great Ocean Road passed uneventfully and we got back to our hotel in Melbourne around 9pm that night. We went to bed almost immediately after returning to the hotel because we had to be at the airport by 7 the following day meaning we had to be in the lobby waiting for our shuttle pick up by 5. This was to be our last night in Australia, next stop- FIJI!