Friday, April 17, 2009


Yes, I finally saw a kangaroo. A real live one, in the wild, enjoying his breakky in a field. And now you can see him too – if you look very, very hard at this photo. See the blur, just slightly to the left of center? That’s my roo, hopping away while I try to focus the camera.

One of our adventures post-race involved visiting MJ’s sister Gabby on Australia’s Gold Coast. Gabby and MJ are both avid equestrians, and one evening we spent the night at the barn where Gabby boards her horse Jack (not in the actual barn, but in the guest accommodations). Gabby wanted us to meet the barn managers and her good friends Tor and Mel Van Den Berg, two of Australia’s top riders. Our dinner with Tor and Mel was so entertaining that even if we had slept in the barn, it would have been a worthwhile visit.

Knowing that I was slightly kangaroo-obsessed, Tor regaled us all evening with roo stories. Granted, many of these stories involved hunting the animals, as they can be a plague-level nuisance to ranchers, but it was impossible not to laugh at every incident he described, with his colorful story-telling skill.

Apparently there are close to one hundred kangaroos out and about on the ranch every morning, so Tor made it his mission to help me find them. While MJ and Gabby rode Jack, Pablo and I loaded into Tor’s brand new ATV and explored every inch of the ranch – without seeing a single kangaroo. We did find one wallaby, but substituting a wallaby for a kangaroo is akin to swapping a bobcat for a mountain lion – it’s just not the same thing. Tor was in a state of total disbelief, and probably would have driven us around all day if we had been game. We did need to get moving, however, so we finally thanked him profusely for his effort, and assured him that we would probably see a kangaroo as we drove the long road back from the ranch. And sure enough, that’s when we saw this roo, captured so skillfully on film.

The next morning, I received a call from Gabby. She had stayed another night at the ranch, and sure enough, awoke to a huge kangaroo grazing right outside her door.

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