Sunday, December 18, 2011

Day 14: Goodbye Mossman...

Sad Day...

My trip to Mossman and visiting Phoebe was at an end. I will say that saying goodbye was easier this time around than saying goodbye in England was. At least this time we knew for certain that when we said we would see each other again, we weren't lying.

My flight didn't leave until the evening, so we spent the morning walking around Mossman Gorge again. Phoebe and I had been working on our Australian edition of a dance video and we needed a few more shots to complete it.

After our filming session (and yes people stared at us while we danced in a public place), we met Liam, Karla, and their other roommate Tara for lunch at Junction.

We then had little photo shoot by the ambulance. I had spent most of the time in Mossman hanging out with paramedics (Liam, Karla, and Tara) so it was only fitting that we commemorate our time with some pictures:

After lunch Phoebe and I headed to the airport. It was awesome that in Australia they don't have as heightened of a security protocol as in the U.S.A. so Phoebe was able to go through security and wait with me at the gate. So nice to be able to sit with her until the very last moment. We talked the whole time about planning her visit to the States and all the things we would do when she came - Disneyland, Grand Canyon, Las Vegas... everything. Then they started calling for boarding for my flight and the crying started. Every step to the gateway was so sad. When I finally was in my seat on the plane, I cried even harder (sunglasses in place to hide the red eyes from the strangers on the plane next to me).

Then I was on my way to Sydney for 4 days in the big city all by myself. The flight was short and the view down along the coast were stunning.

My shuttle transfer picked me up at baggage claim to take me directly to my hotel and luckily I had the van all to myself... unluckily my driver talked A LOT and had the thickest eastern European accent I had ever heard and I only understood every few words... our conversation was difficult at best. Finally I got to my hotel.
Note: I love hotels! I love having a fresh bed to sleep on all to myself. I love having a private room all to myself. This particular hotel had shared bathrooms though, and although they were clean, it was still weird showering in a stall. Upside, The Proposal was on TV! I had an early night ready for my morning tour to the Blue Mountains...

Friday, December 16, 2011

Day 13: Last full day in Queensland

For my last full day in Queensland, Phoebe and I decided to relax and just spend as much time together as we could. Liam was at work, so it was just Phoebe and I on our own. We spent the morning on the beach enjoying the sun and Australian beach one last time.
Remembering what the water and sand felt like on the other side of the Pacific Ocean


Best friends!!
I loved how on this vacation I had the perfect balance of action and relaxation. After the true adventure of the day before, it was the perfect ending to my trip in northern Australia to get a day of wandering and relaxation.
We had lunch in Port Douglas and then headed home to wait for Liam. When he got home from work, the 3 of us headed to On the Inlet, a restaurant in the harbor at Port Douglas. On the Inlet is home to George the Groper, who is a large groper fish who they feed for an audience and it is a rather violet and thrashing process.
true love

The best Australian Host and Hostess a girl could ask for.

These were not all mine...

Oysters! super yummy :)

I actually still have dreams about this tuna steak

mmm.... prawns...
It was truly a feast fir for my last night! I will say that Phoebe and Liam really did wine and dine me the entire trip! They took me to the most delicious restaurants and I took the opportunity to order the best dishes. I have never eaten so well, or for so much money... but it was amazing!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Day 12: Bungee Jumping & Day in Cairns

This was the day I was looking forward to since I arrived on Australian shores. When Phoebe and I began discussing my visit, she asked if there was anything I HAD to do while I was there. I told her of course I wanted to visit the Great Barrier Reef and then I REALLY wanted to do something like Bungee Jump. I know Phoebe is not into stuff like that at all, so I wasn't sure I was going to be able to do it. But when I mentioned it to her again, Liam said he would definitely go with me.
In the planning process I decided I wouldn't tell my parents I was going to do it until I had actually done it. I know my mom would freak out and be so nervous for me, but if I waited till after the fact she would be so excited for me.

We booked with AJ Hacketts and decided to do it earlier in the day because I didn't want to be waiting around all morning to finally go and do it. I knew I would have an amazing experience and absolutely LOVE bungee jumping, but I couldn't help but feel that nervous turning of my stomach the whole drive to Cairns. I kept saying over and over in my head that it would be just like the Haunted Mansion in Disneyland or any other free fall ride... it is NOTHING like that and SO MUCH BETTER!

We approached the jump site with incredible butterflies in the stomach. Karla came with us and jumped too. When we parked the car and started the walk up to the tower, we were greeted by this "Caution" sign. Loved it.

The infamous tower!! It is actually much higher than it appears

We signed in and then waited until they were ready for us at the top. In order to let off some of the nervous energy, Liam and I spent our waiting time dancing to the music in the bar area. Good times!
They gave us the go ahead to make our way up the tower and we began our ascent. I have to say that walking up the stairs was the worst part. I literally couldn't remember why I decided to do this as I took every step... but I was determined to follow through cause I knew I would regret it if I didn't. I got to the top and my knees were shaking horribly!

Phoebe of course didn't actually jump, but she cheered us on from the ground and told me later that she had a mini heart attack every time one of us jumped.
At the top, Karla went first while Liam and I had mini freak outs on the sidelines. After getting her all strapped in, she stood on the ledge of the platform for seriously an entire 2 minutes after they gave her a countdown before she jumped. By that time I myself was getting strapped in and the blood curdling scream she let out as she jumped nearly took a year off my life. As they were putting on all my gear, the guy strapping me in was rather lovely and kept me preoccupied asking me about Arizona and going to ASU. In my head I was reciting the Lord's prayer to calm my nerves... "the Lord is my shepherd, the Lord is my shepherd."
I actually was rather calm as I felt the sturdiness of the belts and straps. Then he stood me up and had me waddle to the edge. As I reached the end of the platform and looked down I couldn't not believe I was so high and that in a mere moment I would be diving the height of the platform into thin air. They told me they would count down from 5 and then I could jump when I was ready. I nodded and waited for them to start the counted... a few moments later the guy kindly told me that they wouldn't start  until I actually let go of the railing... whoops! I let go and they counted down from 5 and I dove. I knew that if I didn't just go for it I would continue to get more and more freaked out... so in an instant I was airborn and plunging into oblivion.
waving to the camera man who caught it all on digital and film.

the perfect swan dive
 It was so much easier than any free fall ride I had ever been on... I didn't have that rushing feeling in my stomach because it happened so fast. I kept my eyes open most of the time and remember seeing the ground get dangerously close and almost touching the water and then being gracefully pulled back up. I didn't feel whipped around and kept myself limp as possible to avoid being sore later. The only thing that felt off was the amount of blood rushing to my face as I dangled upside down at the bottom. Once I was steadied at the end of the bungee cord, a man on a raft paddled out to help pull me down. I gave a wave to the camera at the top and then was released from the cord and rode to the edge of the pond.
waving to the film crew at the top

waving to Phoebe

relaxing with the boat master

I can't believe I actually did it.

As I inched to the edge of the boat to step on solid ground I completely expected to have jelly legs, but no. I was as steady as ever. My heart was pounding like crazy though.
Seriously it was the most amazing thing I have ever done in my life and the most fun I have ever had in a moment. I would do it again in a heartbeat and actually plan to in the future.

Liam jumped next. There was a question as to whether he would actually do it because his nerves were starting to get the better of him at the top. But he finally did it and he felt like a champ!
The victors!!
Liam, Karla and I feeling like we could conquer the world
After the jump one of the staff members informed me he could hear my scream all the way from the parking lot. I apparently have incredible mile spanning lungs. Haha!

After the jump I was feeling so exhilirated from all the adrenalin. I was also very hungry. We headed into Cairns for some serious shopping at the mall and the outlet stores and then dinner along the harbor.
Australia really puts more limits on itself than America does... we have Bed Bath and Beyond, while their store ends at the table.

 We had cocktails at The Salt House on the harbor. Each of us would order a cocktail and try each others and then all have to order the other person's cocktail. My favorite was a Kiwi cocktail.
 As the sun set on the harbor over the boats and out into the ocean, thus ended another one of my favorite days of the trip. We drove home playing eye spy and laughing hysterically.

Day 11: Shopping in Kuranda

Liam, Phoebe and I took a day trip to Kuranda. Known as the village in the Rain Forest, it is known for its shopping and shops filled with Australian gifts and souvenirs. I had been searching all week for the perfect Australian opal ring, and this was where I was sure I would find it.

We spent most of the day just wandering the streets looking at all the stuff the shops offered to the visiting tourist.
stuffed crocodile

Viagra shaped rock candies

I do love a man with a beard... my Australian boyfriend

Large Koala

Some of the more charming souvenirs you can purchase are a lucky kangaroo foot or a change purse made from the scrotum of a kangaroo

these change purses are made of real Australian toads

Australia sure loves their manikin displays
I kept seeing these creepy black dolls everywhere and didn't understand why they were everywhere. They are called Golliwogs and are supposed to be Aboriginal dolls or something. I think they looked borderline offensive...
golliwogs hanging in a shop window
There was a shop that had an underground geological rock display. It also had a huge Dinosaur skeleton in the entry way

the dinosaur mural is attacking Liam

For lunch we had a German braut from the braut stand. It reminded Phoebe and I of the delicious braut she and I had while in England one time. We sat outside on the deck (which is where the large stuffed Koala was located). I got a Lemon Lime and Bitters and it was gloriously delicious. Gosh, I wish they had Lemon Lime and Bitters in the US. While we dined on our German food and Australian soda, we were serenaded by David Hasselhoff in true German fashion.

I found my opal ring at last!

Kuranda is also home to a crashed US Airplane. It is now completely destroyed after being used in a few films and crashed in the last one. It reminded me of the TV show lost a little bit. Ah there is a little piece of the US everywhere I go.

Before heading home we drove up to Barron Falls in Barron Gorge.
Since it was the dry season, the normally impressive falls were pretty meager. I could imagine how rushing and huge the falls normally is based on the size of the gorge. Although we decided to drive up to Kuranda, there is also the option of taking the Skyrail up from Cairns, which travels through the gorge and drops you off at Kuranda for the day. I liked the drive better because it was much less expensive and we weren't on a timeline.
Phoebe, just hanging around

I love when you ask people to take a picture of you and a landmark of any kind and you walk away with a picture of you covering up the said landmark...

Day 10: Camping (part 2)

The night of camping was absolutely gorgeous. We didn't even have to zip up the tent, it was the exact perfect temperature! The only strange thing was the wild turkeys that would walk by the tent and rustle to bushes. There also was the matter of our campsite neighbors whose children ran around naked... "crazy Victorians" as Phoebe would call them - any Australian tourists she claims are Victorians (as in being from the province of Victoria in southern Australia.

When all of us were ready to go, we headed for breakfast at the Beach House, which was reputed as the best restaurant near by. It was apart of a cabin campsite up the road. The food was delicious but the dining experience was not without its problems. The cash register was broken, when our orders were brought out (after a super long wait) they were wrong (luckily we were served more expensive meals than we ordered, but still charged for the cheaper meal), then the waitress spilled my drink all over the table and floor... poor girl was flustered.
After breakfast we began the journey home to Mossman. Along the way we came upon a Thompson Creek sign. YAY! Thompsons are represented in Australia! Below the Thompson sign was a Horse crossing sign that had been turned into a Unicorn... awesome!

Along our journey we took a walk through the rain forest yet again. I seriously feel like every rain forest preserve I walked through was a completely different world. Even through it is all the Daintree Rain Forest, I still feel like each section holds its own character and uniqueness that your can't find anywhere else.
This vine was once wrapped around a tree, but the power of the vine sucked the life out of the tree until it became dust. Not the vine is hollow... beautiful nature

Liam, Phoebe, and I

Liam and Phoebe kept telling me how I needed to have the most delicious tropical ice cream! We stopped at a stand one the way up to Cape Tribulation, but the plantation we stopped at on the way home was supposed to have the best ice cream. We ordered the seasonal sample bowl, which had Mango, Wattleseed, and Jackfruit. It was actually super delicious. Phoebe had been serving me Wattleseed tea throughout my visit and in ice cream form it is just as yummy.

the banana crop was wiped out by a cyclone that hit this area of Australia just months before my visit. So any banana trees are considered VERY precious.

Another quirky Australian roadside attraction was a memorial to a WWII bomb that was dropped near a tiny house. It is the site of the only civilian casualty in this area of World War II. It was dropped by a Japanese aircraft.


A lady always rides side saddle

The story
And on that note, our camping adventure was over...