Choose Your Own Adventure Challenge – Roadtrip

I’m guilty of not getting out and seeing too much of the world around me. I travelled pretty extensively in my twenties but my thirties have been more about home. In particular, working from home.

I saved #roadtrip for last because I wanted to plan a journey that warranted use of that keyword. I’ve been on a few roadtrips in my time and all of them have covered great distances and left me with even greater memories. I was determined that this roadtrip was going to be the same.


^ The Pinnacles at first light


^ Stormy Blue Holes Beach, Kalbarri

Kalbarri bound

Last Saturday we woke at stupid o’clock (i.e. 4:30am), packed the car with our belongings and headed north. Our destination was Kalbarri – 595km up the Western Australian coast.

I hadn’t visited the seaside town for 20 odd years and had fragments of memories to draw upon, including one involving a horse that bolted – with me clinging desperately to it – through scrub land that borders the massive gorges for which this area is famous. Needless to say I haven’t been near a horse again and horse riding was absolutely not on the agenda for this trip. This trip was about seeing this part of the country for the first time (Tony) and seeing it through older eyes (me).

595km is such a long way to travel – even if you make regular stops – the drive is still tiring. But it wasn’t the gruelling trip that I expected. It was actually fun and I’d do it all again tomorrow if I could. Here are a few of our favourite pics from the trip.


^ Hawk’s Head Lookout


^ The view from Pot Alley at sunset


^ Red Bluff beach


The red beast (i.e. the Ford Focus Titanium) made this trip a pleasure. Here’s why –

  1. We sat in the same spot for 7+ hours and didn’t feel sore thanks to the comfiest seats ever.
  2. The car provides perfect maneuverability in every road condition (we experienced rain, winding roads, flat highway that stretched for kilometres and the odd gravel track).
  3. I felt confident and in control when I had to overtake slower cars. The car responded to my actions instantly (very important when you have to overtake a road train!).
  4. We only had to fill the tank twice on a 1190km return trip!
  5. Adaptive cruise control worked like a dream. The car senses when a vehicle in front slows down or stops suddenly and it adjusts the speed of the red beast accordingly (see the photo below).
  6. The Ford Focus Titanium is fitted with super bright headlights that illuminate around corners. Very handy when driving at night (and in kangaroo inhabited bush!).
  7. We fit a lot of luggage in the boot. Probably more than we needed for a two day stay.
  8. The GPS navigation came in very handy when we were searching for somewhere to eat in towns that we’d never been to (we were on the hunt for sausage rolls and we found them! If you’re ever in Dongara drop by the BP Roadhouse).
  9. The rain sensing wipers came in handy again. The last thing you want to do when you’re driving at speed is to fumble around for the wipers.
  10. My favourite thing about this car is the sunroof. I will always remember waiting for fish and chips on our final night in Kalbarri, opening up the sunroof and seeing more stars in the sky than I’d ever seen before. That was pretty cool.

^ Adaptive cruise control is an awesome feature. If the red beast detected a car in front it automatically slows down (pic 2). Very handy.


^ Various spots we stopped along the way

It’s hard to say goodbye

Like all good things, my time with the red beast must come to an end. I’m sad, of course, but I’m also grateful for the opportunity to get out and see more of the world around me. It has reminded me of the awesomeness of this big, beautiful state.

Taking part in this challenge, and actively participating in life outside my front door, has been so very, very rewarding. I can’t say thank you to Ford and Kidspot enough for making this challenge happen. Thank you, thank you, thank you x infinity.

Dear Reader, I hope you’ve enjoyed the posts too. I hope they inspire you to get out and amongst the magic that surrounds you, wherever you may be.

Until our next adventure.


^ The red beast overlooking Pot Alley, Kalbarri, on our final night

(All photographs of our Kalbarri trip are © Tony Sharp. Please don’t use without permission.)

Roadtrip – pretty paper things style

1. Beach photography – My Camera and Eye.
2. My Travel Notes – kikki.k.
3. 12 Roadtrip series pencils – Ear Mark.

Choose Your Own Adventure Challenge – Commute

Yep, the theme of today’s post might seem a little weird, considering I work from home most of the time, but I’ve had a taste of freedom thanks to the red beast. Instead of working from home I’ve been travelling to different places to snatch up some location specific inspiration. I’ve been commuting!

In the book that I’m writing, one of the pivotal scenes takes place at a beach. While writing that scene I pictured a particular beach – one that I have visited a thousand times before. I described it, from memory, right down to the little tin roof covered picnic table that sits perched on the cliff above the sea.

I edited that scene last week and being able to head back and visit the actual beach – my take on commuting – was such a blessing. It’s just nice to be able to get out and experience life outside my office during office hours. Anyone who works from home, in a one car family, knows what I mean. Sometimes all you need to feel creative again is to go for a drive. For me, inspiration is always conjured on a trip to the beach.

8 reasons why the Ford Focus Titanium (a.k.a. the red beast) is the ultimate car to commute in:

  1. It is so incredibly easy to drive. It feels light as a feather to control, which is very, very different to our other car.
  2. It is fuel-efficient. The last time I had to fill up the car was before our road trip down south. That’s over 600km ago and it’s still got quarter of a tank!
  3. The leather seats are super comfortable. It feels like the seat is giving you a hug.
  4. The auto folding side mirrors mean you can park in a tight space without worrying that someone will take your mirror off (yep, it’s happened to me before)
  5. The parking aid is really handy. It lets you know if you’re close to hitting walls, curbs and cars by emitting an intermittent beep that becomes more frequent the closer you get.
  6. I love that the steering wheel is fitted with all the buttons I need to control everything from incoming phone calls to the back window wiper.
  7. And while we’re talking about wipers – I also love the rain sensing auto wipers. Whoever thought of that is a genius.
  8. The duel zone climate control means I can control how hot (or cold) I want to be. And your passenger can choose their own settings. This feature alone will save a lot of arguments!

Handy paper things for your next commute

If you’re going to be a passenger here are some things to take along for the ride.

1. Moleskine reading light – Notemaker.
2. Breaking Bad inspired word find puzzle – Woodland Faerie Girl.
3. Colour it in, colouring book zine – The Side Project Shop.
4. Moleskine back pack – Notemaker.
5. A Sentence A Day Journal – Kikki K.

Choose Your Own Adventure Challenge #1 Playlist

^the red beast at Canal Rocks, Yallingup.

Happy Sunday everyone! I’m breaking with tradition and publishing a post on a Sunday because I wanted to share our weekend adventure with you! As I mentioned the other day I’m taking part in Ford’s Choose Your Own Adventure Challenge as a part of Kidspot’s Voices of 2013. To make the most of our time with our candy red Ford Focus Titanium we decided to leave the city behind and head to W.A.’s beautiful south-west wine region.

^Beautiful Canal Rocks, Yallingup on a stormy day.

Bunker Bay is just over 3 hours drive from Perth. It’s a beautiful drive, through picturesque green pastures, small towns and larger cities. But it’s still three hours in a car. There are very few things that make a three hour trip interesting. Eye spy is good for about fifteen minutes. Punch buggy is not advisable if there are only two people in the car and one of those people is driving. So the entertainment falls to music. Glorious music.

^Bunker Bay was stunning.

Some people pick a new car based on performance, fuel economy or size. Some people even base their decision on colour. Not me. I’m a music person. I have two essential requirements – Bluetooth connectivity and quality speakers. I know that sounds weird but music – as you can tell by this week’s posts – is super important to me.

I must admit, the first thing I did when I picked up the car was set up Bluetooth streaming. The process was easy and it took less than a minute to pair my iPhone. I’m able to play from iTunes or steaming services like Spotify (which is good because I use Spotify a lot). I can skip tracks and adjust volume straight from the steering wheel which is also a bonus.

^iPhone connected via Bluetooth streaming.

And then there are the speakers. I’ve been doing a bit of research and have found the Ford Focus Titanium has 9 Sony speakers installed and you can definitely hear the quality. Every single song that we played on our adventure sounded great. There was no tinniness or muffled bass. From the low-fi confessionals of Elliott Smith to the rockingest (I know, not a word) riffs of The Who every note sounded perfect.

You’d be surprised how quickly a 250km journey can go when you have excellent tunes. Thankfully every trip I take in the red beast will be that much better with my playlists.

^The red beast overlooking Smith’s Beach.

Listen to the playlist now

Thanks to everyone who has commented, Facebooked or Tweeted their submission for my Choose Your Own Adventure playlist! I’ve put together an awesome collection of 111 songs that you can listen to right now.

Remember you have until 11:59 PM (Perth time) Tuesday 13th August to tell me your favourite road trip songs.

I haven’t forgotten about you, paper lovers!

If you want to get in on the playlist action, paper-style, here are two super sweet playlist themed goodies.

1. I made you a mixtape print by Pink Paper Circus
2. Playlist Zine by Debilitating