Wednesday, July 29, 2009

And we're off!

The last week or so has been quiet with just the two of us. After my mom left I worked at the Red Dog every night and Adam worked on the floors in the master bedroom. They are finally grouted! Our living room has been transformed into a storage area, bedroom, and multiple other things that I try not to think about. It'll be nice when this little project is finished!
Tomorrow Adam, Rosco and myself are headed to Anchorage! We're going to spend a few days with my brother and his family in Wasilla before our little road trip. On the morning of the 4th we're going to drive to Homer and catch the ferry to Seldovia where we will meet up with our friends, Matt & Danielle.
Matt & Danielle are getting married in Seldovia and I am so lucky to be the one they've asked to do the wedding ceremony. I'm not sure how I got to be this lucky but I will count my blessings and enjoy every minute of it. They are truely a wonderful couple and Adam and I think the world of them.
After the wedding we're taking a little commuter plane back to Homer and driving back to Wasilla for a couple more days with my wonderful little nephew. I can't wait to love on the boy!!! Oh, and take a million pictures of him, too!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Bye Bye Love...

For the last two weeks we've had family in town and it has been wonderful. There were times when it was stressful to have 6 people crammed into a two bedroom condo but it was fun to have family around. There's something about spending time with people who've known you forever that we miss out on living here in Juneau.
Tonight my mom left on the ferry. It's back to just the two of us and the animals and it feels WAY too quiet around here. I had a wonderful time with my mom and wish we all lived closer.
Over the next few days we're going to busy ourselves with the floors and then we're off to Anchorage & Seldovia. We can't wait to see Josh and the family and our friends in Anchorage and Seldovia.
~Mrs. daily dose of gratitude today: how lucky I am to be able to spend time with my friends and family this summer. Love it...

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Family in town

We've been busy with visitors this last week. Mom, Grandma, Jessica and Michael are here visiting us. They were lucky and were able to enjoy some of the amazing weather we had.
The day after they arrived we took them up to Skagway on the ferry. We spent two days exploring the town and enjoying the beautiful scenery.
While they were here in Juneau they stayed busy touring the capitol building, shopping downtown, ziplining, touring glacier gardens, fishing and hiking. It was fun playing tourist with them. My favorite story of theirs is when they went on the zipline tour and a man asked if there were bears on Douglas.."Nope", says the tour guide with an air importance, "Douglas is an Island and bears don't walk across the bridge".

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Home Sweet Home

Ahhh, it's nice to be home. I hope you all enjoyed reading the Australia blog while we were gone. We had such a great time and the only thing missing were our friends and family.
We are both suffering from jetlag right now. Adam hasn't slept in 3 days and I haven't gotten a full 6 hrs in about 3 days. I'm hoping that tonight we'll both get our schedules back on track.
We've only been back a day but already things are busy busy busy! Today we spent the day working on the floors, getting groceries, working on Adam's van and unpacking. Tomorrow my mom comes to town and on Sunday my Cousins and Grandma will be here to visit. It will be a full house but we can't wait to see them!
The pets survived while we were gone. Rosco LOVED being with Aunt Molly & Uncle Bob. Molly took him all over the place...he even got to hang out at the Red Dog with the stockers who fed him ice cubes (his favorite treat thanks to Grandma Pam). I think he misses his adventures and is bored with us, he's been moping around the house all day.
Linus has been outside since we got home..he's loving his freedom and could care less that his parents are back in town.
The weather has been wonderful and I"m hoping it'll hold out while the family is here!

We {heart} Australia

And We're Off!
15 hrs is a LOOOONG time to fly!
We flew into Sydney on Quantas Airlines. Somehow, we went from confirmed tickets with seats together to flying stand-by and not sitting next to each other. We're still not sure how that happened but life goes on.
Since we weren't able to sit together we both spent a lot of time playing with Quantas's in-flight computers. They are pretty amazing. There are a a ton of movies, music, games and city info that you can use while you're flying. Adam and I discovered that there is also a "chat" feature so we spent some time "chatting" with each other from across the plane.
After arriving in Sydney we passed through customs without any problems. Our flight into Brisbane was changed and there was a little chaos in the airport. We were able to go through the "express" check-in line and were rushed through security. With all the rushing I accidentally left our rolling bag at the end of the x-ray machine. It wasn't until we were getting ready to get on the bus that I realized we were missing some luggage! Luckily, it was still there and the bus hadn't left yet. We would've been going shopping tonight had we (I) forgotten that!
It was a short flight from Sydney to Brisbane and when we landed we headed to AVIS for our car. The traffic wasn't too bad but it was quite an adventure as Adam was trying to adjust to driving on the other side of the road and using blinkers that are the opposite from ours AND using his left hand to shift gears. He did great though and we made it to our hostel-thank goodness for GPS! I love technology!
We spent the day walking around downtown Brisbane. There were a bunch of street bands and vendors. Adam made a new friend at Chicken Fillet-Her name was Selina and she was from Nepal. She used to be a 7th grade teacher but is now living in Brisbane on a work visa. He also made a new friend at Happy High Herbs. Her name was Christine and she was very interested in us "Alaskan's". I made a new friend at the Sydney Airport. He was the flight attendant who was scanning our tickets. Mine kept beeping and wouldn't work. Adam asked if I would have to stay here and he said that I probably would but it was ok because he had an extra bed at his place. Apparently, Adam and I will both be ok if we get stuck in this country.

Things we learned today:
Fig muffins are wonderful!
"Pokies" are bars with gambling machines....
Cream soda is called "creaming soda" and tastes weird...
Driving on the opposite side is a nerve racking experience for the novice...
Sometimes toilets have two buttons but you don't really know what they're for...
After 14 hrs of flying people really really stink...
Australian airlines actually admit when something has gone wrong with the plane.
And finally, the world continues to prove that humans are generally kind and welcoming creatures

Brisbane Day 2
Whatever weather channel I was looking at was soooo wrong! It is NOT 87.4 degrees and it was pouring down rain today. Fortunately, us Alaskan's are used to this kind of weather and didn't let it ruin any adventures.
We woke up nice and early in hopes of finding the casino. We ended up finding it pretty easily but had to go to Target (yup, they have Target here...along w/McDonalds, and KFC) to get Adam some proper foot attire. This casino didn't allow people with flip-flops inside. They also didn't allow backpacks so we ended up paying 5 dollars to rent a locker for my backpack! After all that work we headed on in to see what an Australian casino was all about.
Unfortunately, we were quite disappointed in the gambling scene. Adam spent about 50 bucks on a few machines and then we ended up leaving. We still had a whole day ahead of us so we decided to head out to the Steve Irwin Zoo.
When we got out there it was still raining so we picked up a few ponchos at the gift shop. I find this quite hilarious since I work at the Red Dog and could've grabbed a handful of ponchos for free!!!!
We spent the rest of the day at the zoo where, despite the rain, we had an amazing time! We saw koalas, kangaroos, elephants, red pandas, snakes, wambats, Tasmanian Devils, crocodiles, parrots, camels, tigers, turtles, lizards, dingos and a bunch of birds. We were able to pet the koalas and feed the kangaroos. We took lots of pictures and picked up a few souvenirs for people back home. Once again, Adam did a great job driving us there even in the downpour!

Things we learned today:
Gambling in Australia-not that great...
There is NO chewing tobacco anywhere in Australia..
Tram means baby stroller...
A lift is an elevator...
Overtaking means passing...
Rubbish is garbage...
A chemist is a pharmacist....
Children are children no matter what country you're in (there was a class at the zoo and I think their teacher was exhausted..)

Brisbane Day 3
Today we drove out to Nimbin and Byron Bay. We'd read about Nimbin in a magazine back home and decided it would be fun to go check it out. It was described as a little hippy town that is still very much stuck in the 60's.
It was about a two hour drive out to Nimbin and it was a beautiful drive through farm country. It was nice to get out of the city for a bit. Once we got to Nimbin we discovered that the article we'd read was correct. Nimbin is indeed a little hippy town where people live together as a community, grow their own crops and believe in peace, love and happiness. We had a great time walking around the town, taking pictures, eating lunch and making new friends.
Next we were off to Byron Bay. We'd heard that Byron Bay was a modern version of Nimbin-still a bit hippy-ish and laid back but filled with a younger crowd. When we got there we discovered a ton of shops and surfers. We walked around for a little but were a bit disappointed at how commercialized it was.
We stopped at a restaurant for dinner where we had amazing food and great service. Adam had a BLT with handcut wedges with sourcream and sweet sauce for dipping. I had pumpkin and tofu yellow curry that tasted like heaven! After that we headed back home. It was a full day filled with adventure!
Tomorrow is our last day in Brisbane. We're going to spend it walking around the city and taking pictures.

Things we learned today:
A motorway is a highway
Waitresses look at you funny when you ask for Ranch dressing
Fresh fruit and vegetables are sooooo yummy
Sometimes it's really hard to understand people with an Australian accent
When you are in Australia your American accent is very obvious

Brisbane Day 4
Today was our last day in Brisbane. We've enjoyed staying here. It's a big city with plenty to do but still has a "small" town feeling.
We decided that we'd spend our last day walking around the city and just doing whatever came up. We found Roma St. Parkway which is a huge garden. We spent a few hours walking around there and taking lots of pictures. After that we went through the Brisbane Museum. The tile on the floor was breath taking and of course Adam was obsessed with it.
We had lunch at an outdoor cafe and then walked the Brisbane River floating dock.
Tonight we're doing laundry and watching movies. Tomorrow we're off to Cairns!

Things we learned today:
Cairns is pronounced: CANZ
Hawkers are solicitors
Crackers and chips are called flatbread

Cairns Day 1
Today was our last day in Brisbane. We've enjoyed staying here. It's a big city with plenty to do but still has a "small" town feeling.
We decided that we'd spend our last day walking around the city and just doing whatever came up. We found Roma St. Parkway which is a huge garden. We spent a few hours walking around there and taking lots of pictures. After that we went through the Brisbane Museum. The tile on the floor was breath taking and of course Adam was obsessed with it.
We had lunch at an outdoor cafe and then walked the Brisbane River floating dock.
Tonight we're doing laundry and watching movies. Tomorrow we're off to Cairns!

Things we learned today:
Cairns is pronounced: CANZ
Hawkers are solicitors
Crackers and chips are called flatbread

Cairns Day 2
We slept in a lot this morning! This is definitely the place to be LAZY! Once we finally got moving we walked down to the botanical gardens and spent the day reading and taking photos. It was a beautiful and relaxing day. Tomorrow we are headed to one of the islands on the great barrier reef!

Cairns Day 3
We decided not to go to the reef today. Instead, we spent the day at the Dome Zoo. Adam got to HOLD a koala bear and he is super happy! We're spending the day getting ready for our Reef snorkling trip tomorrow. We need to pick up bathing suits, underwater cameras and food.
It's hot and sunny again. Our time here is flying by!
I forgot to mention in my last post that we decided to try the casino here. This casino is better than Brisbane's. Adam put a bit of money in one of the machines and ended up winning 400 bucks! Yippee! We took our money and ran!

Cairns Day 4
We are in love with the Great Barrier Reef! Today we took a boat out to Paradise Reef and Michaelmas Cay to see the great Barrier Reef. It was amazing....each area was completely different and filled with a different type of coral and fish. We snorkeled through the reef but decided that next time we'd definitely try scooba diving.

Cairns Day 5
I think we caught a cold from our snorkeling adventure. We spent the day sleeping and trying to recover. They have pharmacies all over here and you can talk with a pharmacist for advice. We've loaded up on drugs and kleenex and we're hoping that'll kick it.
Tomorrow we are headed to Yungaburra where we will stay at On the Wallaby. We've rented a car to get out there and plan on exploring the Atherton Tablelands.
I think it's probably a good time for us to head out of Cairns....It's Queensland's Independence Day on the 2nd and there are a lot of troops headed into town. Things are getting busy and hotels are filling up.
Sorry the posts are getting shorter. We've been using free wifi and internet cafe's. The internet might be more reliable in Sydney.

Things we learned today:
ONO = Or Next Offer (similar to OBO)

Yungaburra Day 1
WOW! What a cute little town Yungaburra is! We checked out of our hostel in Cairns early this morning, picked up our rental car and headed out into the country. It was a beautiful drive up through the mountains and we arrived in Yungaburra around noon.
Unfortunately, Adam is still fighting this nasty cold that he picked up so he spent the day sleeping in the hostel while I went out and explored the town.
Later in the evening Adam was able to drag himself out of bed so we went to the Platypus viewing area and saw a Platypus. Then we went to Atherton for dinner. On our way back home we drove out to Tinaroo Dam and saw frogs and geckos on the road. Of course, Adam had to stop the car in the middle of the road and try to catch the frogs and geckos. He was successfull in his mission and was even able to hold the gecko. Luckily, there were no cars driving by at the time.
Once it got dark we borrowed a flashlight from our hostel and went to the Curtain Fig Tree to spotlight tree kangaroos. We weren't successful but it sure was fun!
The hostel we're staying at is called On the Wallaby and it is adorable! The staff are wonderful and we've really enjoyed our day out here.

Yungaburra Day 2
Today was another amazing day. We spent the day with an Aboriginal man named Phil. He taught us how to make a Didgeridoo. It was an amazing cultural experience to spend the day with him talking and learning about his history. We are coming home with a beautiful didgeridoo that Adam made. He is excited to bring it into the classroom and tell the kids all about Australia and the Aboriginees.
Unfortunately, we had to leave Yungaburra today. We had a great time being away from the "touristy" part of Australia. We headed back into Cairns for our last night where we're splurging and staying in a 4 Star hotel. It's called Inn Cairns and the owner is so nice. He upgraded us to a better apartment with a view of the pool just because he thought we were nice ;-)
We spent the night buying souveniers for people back home and eating at our favorite Chinese buffet place. I think I've had more Chinese food here in Cairns than I have in my whole life! It's sooo yummy though!
Tomorrow we're headed for Sydney. We can't believe we're on the last leg of our trip! We're having a great time but it'll be nice to get home to our pets, friends and REAL coffee!

Sydney~Day 1
We flew out of Cairns this afternoon. It’s crazy to think that this was the longest part of our trip and it’s over now.
We arrived in Sydney around 4:30-just as the sun was beginning to set and the city employees were heading home from a long day of work. We took the airport shuttle to our hotel. We’re staying at the Marriot and it is such a treat after staying in hostels for 2 weeks. We probably looked a bit out of place as we walked through the front doors of this 4 star hotel with our backpacks and didgeridoo.
After getting settled we walked down to a small supermarket and bought some sandwiches for dinner tonight. After eating out for 2 weeks we were in the mood for something simple.
Our hotel is right across the street from Hyde park so after dinner we strolled through to check it out. We saw a girl petting and feeding a possum. As we looked around we realized there were possums in almost every tree and they were quite curious about us. I think we’ll try to go back down tomorrow night with some bread crumbs and my camera. They act like they’re pretty used to people petting and feeding them.

Sydney~Day 2
We spent today wandering around the city near our hotel. We’re still trying to get to know the areas and were happy to discover that our hotel is only about 5 minutes away from the botanical gardens. The gardens are huge and we could’ve spent all day there. The most interesting things in the gardens were the flying fox bats. The bats are seasonal visitors to the park and there are a TON of them. It was crazy to see a bunch of bats flying around and hanging from trees during middle of the afternoon.
We finished walking through the park and ended up right at the Opera House. The Opera House is such an amazing structure! We’ll definitely be going back there before we leave Sydney. It’s only about 10 minutes away from our hotel!
After visiting the Opera House we had lunch in the gardens before heading towards Darlinghurst in search of a long sleeved shirt for Adam. Darlinghurst is filled with used clothing boutiques and it was fun to look around at some of the old clothing. Adam found a bright red shirt and I found a long scarf to keep me warm.
The weather in Sydney hasn’t been too bad. The week we were in Brisbane we heard that it had been raining here for the last 5 weeks. Right now it’s a little windy but during the day when the sun is out the temperature feels a lot like Juneau. Adam likes not feeling like he’s melting but I sure am missing the heat!
Sydney Days 3-6
The rest of our days in Sydney were spent relaxing and walking around the city. There was so much to see in the city and everywhere we turned there was a new sight to see.
We took a day and went to the Toranga Zoo in Sydney. We were so impressed with the Australia Zoo in Brisbane that we figured the Sydney Zoo would be amazing. Unfortunately, we were very disapointed. A lot of the exhibits were closed and all of the animals were enclosed, whereas in Brisbane you were able to be out among some of the animals.
The highlight of our evenings were walking across the street to Hyde Park and feeding the Possums. They are used to people feeding them and are very friendly. We're not sure if we were supposed to feed them but we did and figured we'd play the "dumb Alaskans" card if we were caught.

The Journey Home
Our flight back to the US was long but problem free. We both watched a lot of movies and played games together. Once we got to LA we flew first class to Juneau so we were quite comfortable. We were greeted at the airport by Molly and Rosco. Molly was sweet enough to come prepared with water for me and the largest cup of coffee BreezeIn sells. Talk about a good friend!
We had an amazing time in Australia and will definitely be heading back again.
~Enjoy the pictures and "G'Day Mate"!