Time to pack up the 5,000 foot extension cord :o)
Trip Start May 26, 2010
14Trip End Jul 07, 2010
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Well we're back home safe and sound and it is good to be home! It’s been a grand adventure but I’m ready to be done living out of suitcases for awhile :o)
So my last entry for our travel journey… After our blissful stay at Heron Island we had a couple "to dos" left before heading back to the states. The first was accomplished the day after we got back from the island. When I lived here for about a year back in 1999-2000 I met some absolutely wonderful and friendly folks and thanks to the magic of the internet I’ve been able to touch base with a few over the years. One lovely lady who I’ve enjoyed keeping in touch with is a friend I made while working in Canberra, Helga. When I discovered I’d be heading back to this wonderful country I sent her an email hoping we could get together and catch up. Thankfully it worked out and I was able to meet her husband Greg and she met Jason and the four of us had a fun time going out for some fabulous Thai food and talking talking talking. We laughed a lot and also exchanged a lot of stories about photography as we found out Helga has started a career in the field and of course you know Jason and I we also love taking pictures :o)
We caught up with Helga in an area known as the Sunshine Coast. Unfortunately the weather had taken a turn and while there may have been some sunshine it was pretty chilly. After our visit with Helga, we traveled further down the coast to Surfer’s Paradise/Gold Coast. Jason had been hoping for an opportunity to learn to surf. Part of his childhood was spent in California and he has some great memories of boogie boarding there. But when we checked out the beach the waves were pretty tame and with the low temps it just didn’t work out.
Our last big “must do” came next: a visit to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary in Brisbane. We were both excited to see some of Australia’s animals up close and personal. They have so many unique species here that aren’t found naturally anywhere else. And they’re so cute! (Ok, yes they have a ton of snakes, lizards and spiders too, but I prefer the fuzzy things that make you go “awwwww”)
Lone Pine didn’t disappoint. Within minutes of entering the park Jason and I were caught up with all the adorable koalas. I think it’s one of the largest sanctuaries in Australia for koalas – something like 130 from babies to adults. We lucked out and caught many of them during feeding time when they give them fresh branches/leaves so they were more active than I was used to. Koalas tend to sleep up to 20 hours a day and you’ll see in the photos there was still plenty of that. Round grey bumps is often what they look like :o) But with the food being changed out we were enthralled by the antics – a couple of the young ones were pretty silly and feisty, and there was a mom and little baby that enjoyed climbing around on the fence – within inches of us!
We also had a blast checking out the wombats. Jason had asked me to describe them before we went and I had a hard time coming up with a great description… um, kind of like a pig. But cuter… kind of like a dog but stockier…. But really, how can you not like animals with such fun names like wombats?
One of the highlights was the kangaroo enclosure – tons of wallabies and kangaroos roam freely amongst people. It was a blast watching Jason feed and interact with these guys – it’s one of those “I can’t believe I’m doing this” moments :o)
You’re also allowed to touch the koalas but it’s much more restricted because it can cause them stress. So they rotate them, and it’s something like each koala is held for a maximum of 30 minutes a day with days off in between for. We got our picture taken with one and got to stroke their unique fur – it’s soft but spongy, very cool!
The last event for the day was the lorikeet feeding. These are the birds we’d seen up in Cairns – the bright orange, green and blue ones. They feed them twice a day and wow is it entertaining. The birds know it’s coming and start gathering, the noise is unbelievable and you think there’s so many of them everywhere you look. But that’s nothing compared to when the lady comes out and starts to mix up the special food they give them, she mixes it up and pours it into these holders and you can pick up the holders so the birds can feed out of it while you hold it – and while they fly all around you – or land on your head! Ha! We had a great time, it was awesome to see these vibrantly colored birds up close and personal. An added benefit was the hilarity of watching some of the other people react to the birds landing on their heads – one young woman started screaming like she was in a horror flick. Didn’t faze the birds at all (you really can’t imagine how LOUD they are!) You’d think she was in the Hitchcock movie or something, couldn’t help but laugh.
After a long day at Lone Pine, we stopped off at Coffs Harbor and went on a whale watch cruise. It was fun although not quite as exciting as we’d hoped. We did see a few whales but none of the coming up out of the water stuff we’d seen in postcards, was a nice day on the water though. We then spent our last few days in Australia driving down the coast to Sydney, breaking up the drive over a few days.
We snapped a final bunny pic at the Sydney airport – figured had to have one more good laugh before saying goodbye :o) Our trip back home was another long day (24+ hours) of travel. We once again got lucky with our seats. One the way out they’d put us in the exit row for the long flight which was fantastic. This time we asked about the exit row but they were all taken… but you could tell the lady WANTED to help us… she told us to wait a few minutes and she’d see what she could do and call us back up. When she did she told us she’d moved us to the “Economy Plus” section which gives 5 extra inches of legroom! We were actually given that option when we checked in but it was something like $200 per person for the upgrade… so nice of her to do that and oh boy did it make a difference! Was especially nice of her considering how full the flight was this time. It went pretty quickly, 13 hours and it seemed to pass by in no time. Unfortunately we really didn’t get much sleep. Coming from the states you get on at 11pm so it’s kind of easy to sleep right away but coming back you get onto the plane at 2pm so you’re not really ready for bed and by the time you should be… it’s just difficult for some reason. So then we got into LA and had an 8 hour layover (ugh) and that’s when the lack of sleep caught up with us. Ended up finding some long comfy benches and sacking out for a couple hours. Not very good quality/quantity of sleep though so we were feeling a bit like drunken zombies, ha. The flight into Denver went smoothly also and we arrived just a few minutes ahead of schedule. I had a lovely surprise at the airport – my mom and Jason had conspired to hide from me that she would pick us up at the airport. So we come out of the terminal and are heading to baggage claim when I hear my name being called and am quickly enveloped in a big strong hug from a very teary and happy mother. Guess being out of the country for 40 days is a big deal to a mom! ;o) Sure made me feel special and loved! My brother Dan also came to get us so I had a nice chat with them both on the ride back from the airport. Definitely good to be home.
So we’ve had a couple days to try and conquer the jet lag and now it’s time to pack the bags again! No long or extended journey, though – just a bit of a mini-break. Jason and I celebrate one year together today so we’re heading up into the mountains to mark the occasion. The day after we met we did an 11 mile hike near Grand Lake and we’re going to do the same hike tomorrow, one year later. (I love that my man is just as sentimental as me!) Hard to believe it’s been a year together already, and yet in some ways it feels like I’ve known him forever. I feel so grateful to have found such an amazing person to share my life with. It’s fun to look back over the past year and realize just how many memories we have together – certainly the last 40 days has increased the number quite a bit! Whether it’s cuddling a koala or just cuddling up on the couch to watch a Star Trek, each moment has been such a treasure. (Yes, I have been inducted into the Star Trek family, I resisted but apparently resistance is futile. So my geekiness continues to grow!)
Thanks so much to everyone who came along with us on this trip by reading the entries and checking out the photos. My aunt told me it’s felt like she was here with us on the trip and I thought that was such a lovely sentiment. It’s felt like that for me also and continues to touch me that each of you would be so interested and keep reading these long diatribes I post! So thank you again and hopefully someday we’ll have another grand adventure to share with you.