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Travel Australia with Kids

Friday 8th April 2011

Parmiss Keyhani - Sunday, April 10, 2011

We spent a lovely morning for breakfast with the Pulo Family - it was nice to see them all again. Then the short drive (funny I used to think it was such a long drive before!) to Cherrybrook to surprise the Keyhani Family.  As we pulled into Curtis Close, our bulk taking up much of the street, we saw a car pulling out of Mom and Dad's driveway.  We stopped just short and waited for them to see us as they pulled out - it took a full 20 seconds of Dad staring out of the car window directly at us to register that something that shouldn't be there, was in fact there!  The look on his face as reality dawned was absolutely priceless!!

We had luckily just caught them as they were heading down to the local park down the road to celebrate Seezdeh-bedar (a Persian New Year event) with a few close friends.  As it happened, grandma was already at the park, so we all headed down together.  The boys' niece (3 year old Phoenix) and nephew (8 month old Xavier) were also in the car - Phoenix was beside herself at seeing her cousin "Tinny" - kept hugging him and telling him "I missed you Tinny"!  So Michael grabbed Phoenix under one arm and Tiran in the other and headed down to where grandma and close family friends Mr & Mrs K and H were sitting at the picnic table.  Well the happiness in grandma's eyes and face at seeing us all really did make the last 5 days of constant driving worthwhile!  We were lucky we didn't cause any medical damage at the shock received!

We spent nearly a week at Mom and Dad's house and turned their life upside down for the duration.  All plans were cancelled and the family gathered most nights for dinner - it put Mom and Dad through a lot of trouble!  I had requested that as much as possible our visit be kept under wraps - we so wanted to visit with all our friends, but we knew that once we started, we'd be in Sydney for a month!  So we kept all the festivities limited to the close family.  The kids got spoilt rotten by Mamani and Baba with trips to Sydney Aquarium, the Wildlife Park and the Reptile Park.  They got lots of playtime with cousin Phoenix (even a sleepover!) and cousin Ali and lots of cuddles with baby Xavier! It took a few days after we left to bring them back to the reality of not getting what they want at the drop of a hat! We got spoilt rotten too - free laundry service and showers, amazing dinners every night and lots of breaks from the kids!  And most importantly, grandma saw the kids everyday - it was hard to see her unwell but Mike and I were glad that she got the chance to be around all her great-grandchildren all together again.

Not all was good with our Sydney visit however.  We had called ahead and booked a service of the 5th wheeler with the manufacturer (Travelhome).  There were 2 major problems that needed addressing:  one was the placement of the solar toilet fan (which needed to be relocated from the side of the van to the top) and the other was replacing the entire awning as the rotor wheel installed in the door to keep the awning from tearing as the door opened and closed had actually torn the awning.  We had already had several discussions with Travelhome about the awning during our travels (as it had torn nearly 2 months ago).  On their request, we had taken the 5th wheeler to a Dometic dealer (manufacturers of the awning) while we were in Adelaide who had assessed the problem and declared that it was an installation issue (fault of Travelhome) and not a user fault.  The Dometic dealer had relayed this information to Travelhome and the contact that we had with Travelhome since that time was geared towards them finding a way to install the awning so that it doesn't happen again.  However, once we took the 5th wheeler to Newcastle and they had looked at the awning, they declared that it was in fact our fault that it had torn and that it wouldn't be covered by warranty!

Several very tense days of negotiations and finally threats by us to take them to the Office of Fair Trading for failure to honour a warranty finally saw it move in our favour with a full free replacement of the awning.  But their treatment of us throughout the process left us enraged at their lack of professionalism and even dirty tactics to get out of fixing something that was broken through no fault of ours.  We were even informed when we went to pick up the caravan (finally!!) that the gates had been locked at the owner's request so that we would not "take" the 5th wheeler without paying the bill! Needless to say we will not be dealing with Travelhome again!!

And just when we thought that all was in place for us to resume our trip, the Silverado broke down in Mom and Dad's driveway!  The entire day was spent attending to it (from Mike driving down to Smithfield to get a fuel filter and change that, to calling the insurance people who organised for it to be towed to the garage in Smithfield that specialises in the US-made cars).  The garage deemed that the batteries were ok and needed to be re-charged and we finally left the garage around 7pm with what we hoped was a fixed truck.

But who is to say why these things happen? Maybe we were meant to be delayed in Sydney longer than we anticipated. As Mom said, maybe the delay led to us not being in an accident or in bad weather. It was certainly worthwhile to us to be around our lovely family again. We made the goodbyes short and sweet - just the way goodbyes should be!

Mamani with a very serious Xavier - Cherrybrook, NSW (03Apr11)A yummy Xavier sandwich - Cherrybrook, NSW (03Apr11)Kia and Body - Cherrybrook, NSW (03Apr11)Body and the great-grandchildren: Phoenix, Tiran, Kiavash, Xavier - Cherrybrook, NSW (03Apr11)
Boys doing their best not to smother Xavier (a bit hard!) - Cherrybrook, NSW (05Apr11)Great to see our cousins too! Tara, Ali, Sara, Nima, Tiran - Cherrybrook, NSW (05Apr11)Loads of fun playing with cousin Ali! Cherrybrook, NSW (05Apr11)A picture I'll treasure: Tiran, Kiavash, Body, Xavier, Phoenix - Cherrybrook, NSW (06Apr11)

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