Saturday, May 9, 2009

We're Back Home

Well after a very long flight and a couple of days trying to get back in the grove of Mountain Standard Time, we're still trying to adjust. I've been going to bed at 3pm and waking up at 9pm and when I do wake up it's still light outside. I'm surprising trying to readjust to driving the America way. I find myself turning onto my street into the left hand lane...don't worry, traffic is very limited and I keep on thinking the turn signals are on the right. Yeah, my windows keep clean with this mistake.

Even though I hated leaving the lands Down Under, it's always good to come home to familiar faces and surrounds. Plus, I don't have to worry anymore about my "accent".

This will be my last entry for this blog, but you can follow me on my regular blog:

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Day 21 - Auckland 2nd Time Around

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Today we tried out Auckland for the 2nd time, but this time we let someone else do the driving. We took a bus and cruise tour around the city and this time it was much, much, much better! I got to see many wonderful sites this city has. We got to cruise up to Mt. Eden where we got a full 360 degree view of Auckland.

Next stop was the Auckland War Museum, which had a lot more than war memorabilia. Three full floors of wonderful artifacts of the Maori people, the Victorian era and of course the war memorials and me being the sentimental softy couldn't come out of there without a few tears.

Then the fun and fluffy part of the trip. We got to go to Kelly Tarlton's Underwater World to interact with penguins. I honestly couldn't believe how big those guys can get! If I could I'd stay there all day to watch them play and swim. We also go to see and experience what it would be like to be an adventure down in Antarctica. I think I'd like to try that out one time...but only one time, just so I could say I lived through it.

We then got to hope on a large ferry and cruise around the harbor. What a ride it was! A major storm was coming in so the waves got a bit rough, so unfortunately we weren't able to go to the island because we couldn't get out that far, but of course once we got almost back to our port the sun came out. Lucky the captain was feeling generous and took us under the harbor bridge and out to the open water. Again, I had hair and clothes saturated in salt water, but I love that feeling. I tell you I was made to be on the water.

Another day has passed on our trip and sad to say it was our last full day on this wild adventure. Tomorrow we depart in the afternoon to make the long trek back home. I'll be very sad to say goodbye to this area of this magnificent world, but I'm so happy will all the memories I get to take back with me. So next time you see me blog, I'll be back home in the good ol' U.S.A.!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Just a little note -
Because of my extremely slow connection here at the hotel, I can not post pictures on my blog, but once I get home I'll add them as well as links to all my pictures I've taken on this trip. That is if you can to see.

Day 20 - Bay of Islands

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

I thought I could never see such beautiful scenery and landscapes as I did today! The parents and I got to take a tour bus four hours North to the Bay of Islands, which is the Northern most part of New Zealand and here we got to see the Pacific Ocean and the Tasmanian Sea come together as well as for some of you movie geeks, some of the places where they filmed Lord of the Rings.

The tour's first stop was actually at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds where we learned a lot of history about how New Zealand and the British came together to build this great land. Here we also got to see the largest war canoe, which was carved out of two enormous trees. Our guide for this part of our tour, Wil, actually was born and raised on the Treaty Grounds, so he was extremely knowledgeable out the place, plus we got some inside information on what it was like growing up in the area.

Next stop was our 2 1/2 hour cruise across all the islands that lay out in this part of the ocean. I could explain the amazing colors and layout of these islands. I took over 400 pictures of these islands because I didn't want to miss out on anything the land was showing. The highlight of the tour was to cruise to "The Hole in the Rock", a formation of land that has been carved out by years of water erosion. We were lucky that we had great weather so we were able to cruise under it and extremely lucky that our Captain was a great cruiser as he only had about 3 feet on each of the ferry to get us through.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Day 19 - Road to Rotorua

Monday, May 4, 2009

After experience what the night life and driving was like of Auckland, we decided to get the hell out Dodge and go on a relaxing road trip down South. This road lead to many small towns and wonderful scenery that I would image New Zealand to be like.

Our main goal was going to Rotorua, but we made a little side trip to Hamilton. This is a fairly large farming and cattle area, but the reason why we made this side trip was to visit the LDS New Zealand Temple. If you are LDS you know the wonder of these buildings. If you are not LDS (common name is Mormon), that shouldn't stop you from viewing the beauty of the temples. The grounds were wonderful and the temple missionaries that serve there don't live to far from us. Actually, they used to be neighbors to a friend of mine. So to Kristin Barber, you're old neighbors the Hitchins say "Hi".

We then set back on the road to Rotorua where we'd have our Maori experience. Here we took a tour bus to a small village where we got to see and learn about the native Polynesian culture of the Maoris. We had an excellent tour guide, even though she made everyone from different countries to get up and sing a song in their language that is significant to their country. Unlucky us, we were the only Americans on the bus. BTW - we ended up singing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" and thank goodness many more joined in on the singing. We had so many different representative of countries on the bus... I loved it! We had British, Irish, Aussie, Dutch, Indian, Scottish, Canadians and of course some mainlanders from New Zealand. My only upset was that the British boys didn't sing a Beatles song.

Three hours later on a long drive, we're back to our hotel, but it was a great road trip. The Maori people are beyond remarkable! I highly suggest looking up their history and traditions or better yet make a trip down here to New Zealand to experience it yourself ;-)

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Day 18 - Auckland...ARGHHH!

Sunday, May 3, 2009
After a long day of sleeping in, I finally got out to see the city of Auckland. Walking was great! We're right by the city's main attraction, the Sky Tower. This huge tower became my beckon of hope later on at night when I had to drive. There's tons of shops and cafes here, more than any other city I've seen. We spent most of the day at Sky City where the Sky Tower is at as well as planned what we'll be doing for the few days we have here. Again, I know we're not going to have enough time to do everything we want, but whatever we do end up doing is going to be fabulous!

As for the driving, I never thought I'd say this but GIVE ME UTAH DRIVING ANYDAY COMPARED TO THIS! Oh Mylanta, these people are utterly insane when you get them behind the wheel. They double park (and never straight), they U-turn whenever they feel like, even on a major roads with loaded traffic, and they'll stop wherever they want. And don't get me started with the taxi drivers...I even got road rage with one of them. I don't think I have ever been so stressed driving, even in L.A. and Las Vegas the driving is better.

Anyway, besides the driving this place is great. Cold...but great. I didn't know there was going to be such a temperature change from Australia to New Zealand, but did we get a surprise when we got off the plane. I have a friend here who's been a doll helping me out through I.M.s, if it wasn't for him we'd be totally confused.

Off to bed again, to head out early to drive down south. Pray that I make it back home to the hotel tomorrow!

Day 17 - Airports

Saturday, May 2, 2009
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What a day of hurry up and rush! We had a few hours between our hotel check-out time and our flight so we went back to see the Tondoon Botanic Gardens, because it was on the way to the airport and this time my dad was able to join us. It's such a beautiful and relaxing place I could hung up a hammock and stay there all day. We also took a few fun pictures around the area again and this time we even got a "Kangaroo Crossing" sign to show everyone at home that this is a real thing around here.

Traveling from Australia to New Zealand with the out break of swine flu made it an interesting and long process. We had to fill out more forms and answer more questions than another time traveling. Coming through customs, there was a huge area set aside for quarantine and most of it was filled. I was very happy to know that we made it through.

Well, it's 1:30 AM and we're finally here in New Zealand. I think I'm going to go celebrate by sleeping in as late as possible.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Day 16 - Last Day in Gladstone

Friday, May 1, 2009
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Today is the last full day we have here in Gladstone, so how did we celebrate...went back out to Tannum Sands. I love that beach! Today was a bit colder and we had some wind, but that didn't stop the enjoyment of the place. I just played in the sand and surf for hours and for about two hours I sat on the beach and watched parachute surfers. They were so fun to see how fast they could go and all the tricks they could do! I so wanted to go out and join them. It still amazes me how much the Aussies play, they don't worry about staying at all hours at work. Most places here shut down 1/2 day early on Friday so they'd have more relaxtion time. This is something that the U.S. should adapt!

Another thing I did today was take pictures of some random stuff that I wanted for my album when I get back home. Pictures of the hotel, the roads, some of the houses built on stilts here and of the Australian money. My mom and I learned a lesson in how to burn money...literally. The money we have is bent and curled and we wanted to make it look nice and straight, so we thought we'd put some paper on top of it and iron the wrinkles out. Oops! The Australian bills are made of plastic and is very durable, but not when it comes to hot irons. It shriveled up and burned in no time! Yeah, it sucks we lost a small bill in the damage, but we've had a great laugh about it.

The rest of the day has been spent doing laundry, packing and studying up on activities to do while in New Zealand the next few days. It's sad to think that I'm on the tail end of this trip. I don't want to go back home to reality, life as an Aussie is the life to have!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Day 15 – Barney Point Beach

Thursday, April 30, 2009
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Another day at the beach…yeah it’s a hard life these past few days. The beach we choice today to go to was the beach that we wake up to each morning. It’s not a sandy beach, but it’s filled with lots of small shells and rocks, but that doesn’t matter, what does is that it’s a beach. It’s very nice that the town have blocked off a portion of the water just for swimming, this is because of all the creatures that could cause harm; jellyfish and sharks mostly. I can’t believe how warm the water was again. Perfect for long swims!

After getting too hot from the sun and sand, we thought we’d take a long ride around the town. It’s sad that we only have a couple more days in this small but enjoyable town, so we took a final tour, including going to our favorite restaurant. There so many fun things about this place, especially the little things. For example, the town lies on the Tropic of Capricorn, so you see the Capricorn symbol a lot and of course there’s all the great smelling flowers and the people are so wonderful, even though we’re complete strangers they make you feel at home here.

Day 14 – Tondoon Botanic Gardens

Wednesday, April 29, 2009
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Tondoon Botanic Gardens is yet another amazing place, where there’s several different kinds of gardens and forests found throughout Australia. Our first greeters were not friendly ones as we were attacked by a swarm of mosquitoes, but that’s the only negative thing I could find about this place. The gardens were very quiet, since it’s the off season for tourists and there was a lot of construction going on, but that didn’t stop us from enjoying the scenery. We basically had the place to ourselves. For the 2 ½ hours we were there we only ran into one other couple.

The main pond area was filled with several types of water fowl and a few hundred turtles. Those turtles were slow to come to the feeding place, but once they got there they knew how to beg just as well as the ducks. Too many cute faces to say “No” to. We got to walk through different types of rainforests, eco-forests, even some desert land. The best part of our lengthy walk was when we came across a small flock of kookaburras. I got so close to a couple of them if I wanted to, I could have touched them, but those birds have the look of “I’ll play your game, but don’t come any closer”. I got a lot of wonderful pictures just of this place alone, I’m not sure where I’m going to put them all!

One interesting thing that kept on happening was throughout the day, people kept on guess where our accent was from, but no one guessed American. We got Irish, South African and Canadian several times. Anyone that knows me will get a kick out of this: One retailer said that we must be Canadian because we weren’t loud enough to be Americans. I know I’m loud, so I wonder how loud those other Americans are?!?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Day 13 – Tannum Sands

Tuesday, April 28, 2009
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Today’s adventure was to Tannum Sands, a small town with a remarkable beach that is 25km (15 miles) away from Gladstone. Here we got to see the most southern part of the Great Barrier Reef. I know I sound like a record but again this was a beautiful place! The sands where soft, the waters relaxing and the water was warm. Not bad for autumn time here. My mom and I also had the chance to have about the freshest fish you could have. We got to have sweet-lips fish that was caught only 2 hours before hand. Yum, yum! We also spent a good portion of the afternoon seashell hunting. Of all the beaches we’ve been to since we’ve been here, we haven’t seen many seashells, but we found a gold mine here. We’ve got some good ones to add to our already massive collection at home.

We did have to go back into Gladstone to get some groceries and pick up my father, but we headed back to the beach. The sun had set really quick so my dad wasn’t able to enjoy the beach as much as us girls. But just like a few nights ago we had a great surprise when we were getting ready to head out. We were visited by some flying foxes a.k.a. really big bats! Man to see those animals up close and to see them sore in the sky was so much fun! We tried to get some pictures of and video of them, but it was just too dark. I guess I’ll have to keep the pictures from the zoo that I have of them.

I have to go back to that beach one more time before we leave Saturday morning, it was just that great!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Day 12 - Damage Done

Monday, April 27, 2009

Today was quite uneventful. First off, I woke up with a lot of pain in my hands. Yesterday I forgot to mention that after a long day of playing, I drove for 5 hours to get back to our hotel. The roads here are nothing like what I’m used to. The highway is very narrow and of course being an American I’m trying to adjust driving on the other side of the road. Also here in Australia, it gets dark very quick. And when I mean dark, it’s almost deathly dark on the roads. I’ve never seen such blackness while driving! Even darker than the road from Kemmerer to Evanston (if you’ve drove this road you know what I mean). The good thing about it being so dark is that you can see some great star constellations, even ones you can’t see in the Northern Hemisphere. To go with the almost pitch blackness there was dense fog, so my headlights were only working about 15 feet in front of me. Of course to go along with these two elements comes having to look out for wildlife on the side of the road. There are many Kangaroo and Koala Crossing signs here and most of the animals are nocturnal…lucky me. Being on the lookout, we were in some fog and turned a big corner only to be face to face with none other than a cow. Yes, you’re everyday beef cow almost took us out. So that takes me back to why my hands are so sore. I must have been gripping that steering wheel so tight that I stressed my hands out to no end.

We decided to make the day to go souvenir shopping and boy did my credit card take some damage. Here in Australia they’re known for their opal and with me being the gem and jewelry nut that I am, I wasn’t going to leave here without an opal. So I picked myself a wonderful opal necklace, along with some Aussie clothes. I’m going to look like such a tourist when I get back home.

The rest of the day was spent finishing up writing postcards, even though my hands hurt so badly. See what I do for you people :-P I finally found some stamps so look for them in your mail shortly. There’s so many fun postcards here, I hope y’all enjoy them as much as I had finding and writing them.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Day 11 – Fraser Island

Sunday, April 26, 2009
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What a wonderful day again in this amazing land called Australia! We woke up extra early so we could head out to a full day trip over to Frazer Island, the largest sand island in the world. This place is remarkable how everything that grows here grows in sand. There’s no soil whatsoever, just sand. The island is 123km (76 miles) in length and is home to 8 different eco systems; rainforests, deserts, woodlands etc. It’s also the only place in the world where the freeway totally made of sand and is used by vehicle and airplanes together. Yeah, imagine to my surprise when we were in the bus and a plane was coming down on the highway right behind us. It was a great site!

The bus goes throughout the island and shows us these amazing sites, and what a bumpy ride it was. Not a ride for people with major back problems. Unfortunately, because of a major cyclone that came through the island last month, most of the major attractions were unreachable because of all the damage done to the shore and road, so the coach tour had made other plans for us. Our first stop was to the rainforest. Again, just an amazing site to see. The hard part was how humid and thick the air was. Being from Wyoming/Utah it made breathing very difficult, not to mention sweaty. Gross I know, sorry. We did get to see some odd plants and a huge iguana here. Others on the tour saw a snake attack a bird, but we missed that, which is probably good since my mother is deathly terrified of snakes and probably won’t go on the rest of the tour.

Next we went into the resort area to relax after our long bus ride and lengthy hike. Finally, some place to get some water! Then we headed out to the shore where we could see the extensive damage that the cyclone caused. 18 meters (approx. 40 feet) of shore washed away. Remember, this shore is always their highway. It was still a beautiful site as we learned about coffee rocks; they look black and hard but crumble in your hand and looks like ground coffee. The sand is very, very fine and you sink right into it, almost like quicksand. It was so relaxing I could have stayed hours down there. No swimming though as there are massive rip tides and sharks about.

Our journey then took us for another long bus ride up the mountain where we got to spend some time swimming here at Lake McKenzie. A gorgeous fresh water lake where the only water that gets in is from the rainfall, the only water that gets out is through evaporation and only one type of small fish live in it. Absolutely perfect for swimming! But the highlight of this spot came at the very end when everyone was packing up to leave. We had some wild visitors…dingoes! They did warn us about these wild dogs and that kids need to stay away from them. One came up so close to me I could have reached out and petted him (see video), but I decided to play it safe.

This island is filled with so many wonderful sites, I could write on and on about it and here alone I took over 200 photos. It’s a once in a lifetime adventure and I’m so glad I was able to experience it.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Day 10 – Road Trip!

Saturday, April 25, 2009
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The weekend is here and we got out Gladstone to go site seeing to the South. We first stopped off at Agnes Waters, which is a very quaint little town with great beaches. We didn’t spend too much time there, just enough to grab lunch and walk around to see the site. We also drove through a town called 1770. That’s correct; it’s a number not a name. Apparently it was named after the time when Australia was being settled.

We headed South some more headed towards Frazer Island. This was quite the interesting drive, since this was my time to try driving. I picked up most of it watching my dad drive around, but watching and doing are very different! I have to admit I did very well for myself, driving on the other side of the road on the wrong side of the vehicle. I think the worst part is trying to figure out the turn signals. Due to this confusion, our windshield never looked so clean. While driving, we did get to see some “Roos” in the wild, a big group on someone’s farm. It was a great site to see!

After a four hour drive we made it to Hervey Bay where we’ll set off tomorrow morning at 7am to go to Frazer Island. We have a great place to stay here. It’s a two bedroom apartment that looks to the ocean, beach and very long pier. We did get to walk the beach before the sun had set. Not much to do once the sun sets here. Most of the shops here in Australia close after 6pm and many are not opened on Sundays. I have to admit, that’s quite nice, that is as long as you’re not a tourist.

We’re still not too used to the time scheduled. We spent the last two hours forcing ourselves to stay up by playing card games, one of the family’s favorite past times. I’m sure I’ll be getting a lot of great photos tomorrow; I can’t wait to set sail on the reef!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Day 9 – Road to Rockhampton

Friday, April 24, 2009
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Another day mostly spent poolside. I mean, I have to make my back look like lobster-like my front right?!? Well, my dad did get off of work early, so we decided to take a road trip a bit up north to Rockhampton, which is cattle country. The trip there was quite a learning adventure. One of the main roads in this county is Hwy 1 and it was only two lanes, very small two lanes. No room for drifting off.

So after about an hour drive we made it to the town, where we had some local Blue Heeler steak and headed back to Gladstone. Nothing to exciting to report, but I’m sure we’ll have some good stuff ahead of us.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Day 8 – Lessons From the Locals

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Out of all the days on this trip, today has been the laziest. I think all the walking we did yesterday, just wore us out completely. Today was spent poolside, until the sun settled behind the hotel. I finally got some color! Except not the color I wanted. Let’s see if you can guess..for the past 3 years I have spent the majority of my days indoors, very rarely seeing the sun. Then I go “Down Under” were it’s the end of summer here and the ozone layer is thin. Yep! I’m red like a lobster now!

Something very interesting did happen to us. For dinner, we went to KFC…yes, the Colonel’s place of chicken. We placed our order but the girl looked at funny. She couldn’t understand us because of our accents. It’s funny to think that we’re the one with the accents! While having our small meal, my dad told us of the funny antics from work. First off, he was told to watch out for the “Roos” because they’re the dumbest animals God created. The jump in front of your car then if you blow the horn they come towards you. Kinda sounds like the deer in Wyoming to me. Next my dad asked them which football (soccer) teams the route for. Everyone started to laugh till it hurt. Apparently “route” means a very naughty word here. The mother of all words if you get my drift. As for the word “fanny”, I take it as your butt, but here is considered another part of the anatomy, particularly the woman’s. Yes, fanny here means boobs.

We’ve had a great time learning the slang words and ways of this country! I can’t wait to see what other “Dumb American” things we’re going to end up doing.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Day 7 – Walking the City

Wednesday, April 22, 2009
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Today we walked more than we planned to. A quick walk do to the central park turned out to be a major walk around the city. We saw many of the homes of the area, as well as some small businesses. Walking by one feed store, they were selling puppies. Me being the sucker for anything doggie, I had to stop and play with them. Twelve little dingo-mix pups looking as cute as can be, I’m so surprised I didn’t end up getting one. While I was busy playing with the pooches, my mom got bitten by a fire ant around the sidewalk. She said she wouldn’t like to be covered in those! She’s lucky she only got the one bite. Turning back around to make the big walk back to the hotel we went through a small walk way, which Eve was convinced was “Crocky Water” but we go out safe. A few blocks away we went into a local’s pottery shop where we spent a good amount of time looking at all the creations. Stuff from small pottery bowls to fun creations like sea anemones. The owner was very delightful and had many more ideas to come. We finally made it back, but not until we went back to see the puppies. I just had to go and pet them again.

Later that night, my dad went out to dinner with some of the men from work at the local Yacht club, leaving us poor gal to fend for ourselves…we made it ok. We went out for another little walk and noticed a cute place right around the theater district. Once we went in we told the hostess and waitress that this place was so fun! It was its opening night we learned. It’s right by the library so the menus were set up like a book. So the appetizers were the “Preface” the bread was “Chapter 1” the entrees “Chapter 2”…well you get the idea. I have to say the food here in Gladstone’s, beats anything we found in Sydney.

Well, we sore and stuffed. It’s been quite the day.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Day 6 – Just Plain Lazy

Tuesday, April 21, 2009
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Today was about as lazy as I could get. I woke up for a short time to see the sunrise outside my window, but then headed back to bed where I didn’t wake back up for another 3 hours. Afterward, my mother and I walked down to one of the local shopping places where we hung out for a few then went to Woolworth’s (grocery store) and then we headed back to the hotel where we spent the rest of the afternoon reading.

One interesting thing I did try was an Aussie burger, which is made of beef, egg, ham, beets and the usual fixings. Good stuff! I recommend trying it. Again, it was a lazy day and I don’t have much to report, but I still enjoyed every minute of it!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Day 5 – Getting Sloppy

Monday, April 20, 2009
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Today was a very laid back one. I didn’t get out of bed until 9am and I very much enjoyed that. After getting ready, my mother and I wanted to go on a small walk through the town, while my father was out working away, so we went out the doors and decided on which turn in the road to take, so we headed down to the marina. After about ½ hour of strolling down the roads we came across a small but nice restaurant and we were greeted by the owner. He said they didn’t open for another ½ hour but if we wanted to take a small hike up a memorial stairway and enjoy the lookout, he’d be ready for us shortly after. So we took his advice and had a great walk up a memorial stairway of 111 steps and there I got some great pictures.

So after chillin’ for a bit at the top, we headed back down and towards the restaurant. Here is the best meal we’ve had all trip! I highly recommend Hinder’s if you’re ever in the Gladstone area. That is the only complaint Australia is the food. There’s not much flavor and it’s very, very high priced. I know for a fact with the limited food and all the walking I’m doing, that I’ll be losing weight here, but hey…I’m not complaining on that! Just to let you know an average bottle of water or coke will run $4 here (at the convenience store), where in Salt Lake City I can get one of $1.25.

After the wonderful meal and walk back to the hotel, I decided to start writing my postcards to everyone. I’ve currently got 30 done and only 90 more to go. Needless to say my hand started to hurt there at the end of them, so sorry to anyone who gets one with extremely bad handwriting. Oh, and if you still want one, let me know.

Well, that was basically my day. Nothing to thrilling, but maybe tomorrow I’ll have something juicy to report.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Day 4 – Flight to Gladstone

Sunday, April 19, 2009
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Waking up at 3:00AM to go to work on Saturdays is bad enough, but to have to do it on vacation is just a sin! Our flight was at 6:30AM where we left from Sydney to Gladstone where my father will be working for two weeks. Funny, just a few days ago we were flying on a huge jumbo jet and today we were in a twin engine plane. Loud little plane!

While flying I got to met a great Aussie, Jim, who grew up in Victoria, lived in Perth for 20 years and is currently working in Gladstone, so he knows the country very well. He gave me some great inside about the country, how the Aussie’s feel about Crocodile Dundee, Nicole Kidman and the Croc Hunter. He also told me some great stuff about the Aboriginals and some of Australia’s laws. He was a great guy and I
hope to meet up with him again while here.

Today has been interesting learning how to drive on the other side of the road and learning the gears of the cars. My dad had one incident of turning the wrong way on a round-a-bout. Thank goodness it’s Sunday and hardly anyone was out.

Gladstone is almost the exact opposite of Sydney. It has about 40,000 residences, it’s more tropical and humid and most things shut down after 6pm where Sydney was a 24 hour place. I’m sure I’ll enjoy it here once I get to know the area. One thing that amazes me is the hundreds of larkakeets (colorful birds similar to parakeets) that fill the trees. The sound they make is remarkably loud.

Well, it’s only 8pm here and I’m already tired. I hope to get used to this time change soon so I can enjoy more of the town.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Day 3 – Walk and Walk and Walk Some More

Saturday, April 18, 2009
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First stop was Paddy’s Market, which is very similar to the International Marketplace in Waikiki. Just a bunch o little booths selling souvenirs and junk for cheap. We then had to walk back to the hotel to drop off all our little findings.

Next we hoped the rail and went to Darling Harbor where we went to the Sydney Aquarium and the Sydney Wildlife Park where we saw some more great animals. I could spend all day sitting and watching the sharks and rays swim about. My mom got a great encounter with the butterflies as they were all attracted to her shirt. Between these two attractions alone we walked for 4.5 hours and I took TONS of pictures. I’m sure there’s a picture of two of kangaroos for Kathryn to use for her credit card and for my sister Tiff, I have many aquatic photos and videos to make you feel better. What amazes me that no matter where a family is from whether it be Australia, Japan, India or USA all kids know Nemo and man do the Aussies love to use him for any type of advertising.

From there we took a small water taxi where we went from Darling Harbor to Sydney Harbor. The taxi went right under the famous Harbor Bridge and to the Opera House. One of my life long dreams to visit this area has come true. Yes, it was just as amazing as I thought t would be! This area is wonderful. Filled with historic buildings, art galleries and street performers, I couldn’t be happier. One of the street performers was an Aborigine playing his didgeridoo. Lucky for me he has CDs and I got one. Overall I think we walked about 15 miles (no joke) today.

It was great to see people all dressed up and having fun no matter where they went. I really love this town, too bad we have to leave it in the morning. This is a must to return here!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Day 2 – The Bus Tour

Friday, April 17, 2009
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Today we woke up at 4am, just because we’re still not used to the time change but that gave us time to get ready for an exciting day around the outskirts or Sydney. We took the Greyline Bus tour and our tour guide, Greg was awesome! He was very knowledgeable, friendly and funny making the tour even more enjoyable. Plus, I couldn’t have ordered a more perfect day! Perfect temperature, perfect cloud coverage and even a perfect breeze.

First off, we drove by the harbor and through the suburbs to a Featherdale Wildlife Park where we got to see the friendly faces of Australia’s wonderful animals. Here at Fetherdale they have a wonderful set up where you can interact with many of the animals who just roam the grounds. Plus, many of the animals here have been rescued and nursed back to health, but can not be sent out into the wild. Koalas were everywhere and they are just so darn cute! I would take one home if I could get away with it. Along with holding the koalas, playing with the wallabies, I got to hold a children’s python. Needless to say, my mother wouldn’t even go near me at this point as she is beyond terrified of snakes. It was also amazing to see how many types of birds Australia has and today I got to see my first wild Cockatoo and to see them fly was great.

After a couple of hours playing with the animals we took another hour long drive up to the Blue Mountains. Here we got to see my mom let loose a bit. We had to take a tram over to get into the park. Jam packed inside we were above the valley floor 600 feet and after we stepped off we ate at the buffet first off where we tried kangaroo meat. Not a bad bit a beef but I did feel guilty having eaten something that I may have just pet their relative just a few hours before.

Getting the tummies full we thought we try to see if we could keep it down by going on a railway ride down the steepest rail incline in the world. It felt so weird getting into the railway cart and you’re practically laying down, but you soon find out why this is as your descend into a deep coal mine tunnel and you’re practically standing up!

After the thrill ride, we got to take a very pleasant walk through the bush. The trees were very thick. How any of the explorers in this land made it out alive, I don’t know. I now know the meaning of “You can’t see the forest through the trees”.

The main highlight of this tour was a rock formation called “The Three Sisters”. Legend has it that three sisters were turned into rock when their father was protecting them against the Bunyip by using his magic bone and to protect himself he turned into a Lyre bird. But trying to escape the Bunyip, he lost the bone and to this day the three sisters remain imbedded in the rock and if you see a Lyre bird scratching at the ground it is supposable him trying to find the bone. I love legends like this and this land is filled with them.

I’ve only been here two days and I love it! It has just about everything I could want in a city. Who knows, maybe in the far off future this could be my new home. I could actually see it.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Day 1 - We've Landed

Thursday, April 16, 2009
(click on pictures to enlarge)
From the time we left our house to the time we landed in Sydney Airport, it was almost 24 hour exactly and what a very uncomfortable 24 hours it was. The longest flight of my life (15 hours from LAX to Sydney) and we had the worst seats on the plane. I’m 5’6” so that gives you a measurement of my arm span, I could fit four seats within my arm span and we had a bit more than a hand lengths apart from the seats in front of us. We also couldn’t lean too far back because we had the lavatory’s wall right behind us. And having our first meal was quite entertaining since we could bend our elbows without hitting each other. I’m sure it was highly entertaining for the crew. This was not flight for claustrophobics, which by the way I am and just about had a blow out.

After the long flight we went to our hotel, but couldn’t check in for 5 more hours because it was so early here. Being exhausted and suffering from jet lag, we didn’t want to do much but get some rest. Well, we walked around a portion of Downtown Sydney, ate a very small breakfast and walked to Belmore Park were we spent an hour just sitting on a park bench and watched the birds. We then walked back to the hotel where we got to check in a bit earlier than we though and crashed for few hours. Not too exciting of a first day, but I know I’m going to love it here…..that is once I get used to the time change.

BTW – it’s a 16 hour difference from Salt Lake City to Sydney.

Here are some pictures from the Belmlore Park - click on images to enlarge

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Leaving on a Jet Plane

Well, I’m sitting here waiting for our ride to come and pick us up. I’m so excited and nervous at the same time. Do I have everything ready? What did I forget? Is the house OK? What about my fish…are they going to be ok, especially since it’s crane migrating season? Did I make all the calls I need to?...etc.

OH, SO MANY QUESTIONS! I figure, whatever happens… happens and I can’t do anything about it for a few weeks, so I might as well enjoy my time down there while I can. I just want to leave everyone a quick thank you. Thanks for encouraging me to do this and thanks for all your love and support. I love y’all and the next time you read something from me, I’ll be on the other side of the world!

STILL...If anyone would like a postcard from Australia or New Zealand, send me an email with your full name and mailing address.

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Night Before

It’s finally here! My first vacation in five years and I couldn’t be more ecstatic! Many people enjoyed the blog that was set up for the time my father went to Tanzania for work, so I thought I’d share you my day to day activities from the land Down Under.

I leave tomorrow night at 8:00PM and will arrive on Thursday at 7:30AM. Since we hit the International Date Line, we lose a complete day of our lives and that totally freaks me out! I mean some days it feels like you’ve lost a day, but this way we really do lose it. So does this make me younger than I really am?!?

Anyway, I hope you’ll enjoy this blog as my family and I enjoy this time together. I better head off, I have less than 24 hours to get ready and I’m nowhere near ready!