Sunday, January 19, 2014

Tahune Forest

The Tahune Forest is just amazing. I was pretty worried about the lack of civilization and had made up my  mind the first night that I could not explore these woods alone. It was too quite and lonely. That night at the hostel as I layed in my room alone (outside down a cold hallway was my room- not attached to the common room like everyone else) I downloaded a nightlight app. It stayed on all night.

But then the sun came up and there was new hope for the day. After having coffee any day starts to look good. And then at the visitors center, people began showing up. It didnt seem so lonely anymore. I booked a couple different tours for later in the day then proceeded to probably lay my Tasmania map on the dining room table and research routes and where I wanted to drive in 2 days time. I posted my Selfies from these walks later that day. I did end up wandering off on my own and enjoyed it immensely. 

A family from Perth arrives on my first full day. Young parents with a 4, 9, and 13 year old. They teach me the ways of a childhood card game called Spoons and we play deep into the night. I somehow misjudged this forest and its lack of supplies, like alcohol. So the next day when the family comes in saturated and cold while I sit cozily in front of a roaring fire I built in the den, and they ask me or TELL me I'm going with them into town and cave diving, I say I will, because I need alcohol for tonights Spoons match.

I buy an amazing jacket that I will never wear when I leave this damp rainy cold summer climate- all my future vacations will need to include my jacket. The theme of my future vacations will be cold and wet, perhaps snowy.

I discover I like caves. I will perhaps research where they are in America and visit there.

The dad in this family I'm with goes with me in search of beer. One town is so small we cant find any. We ask someone who lives and works there where we can buy alcohol. She has to ask someone. We wonder if the town is dry or perhaps they brew their own at home. We'll never know, but we find out they sell it at an RSL (hmmm... equivalent to a Moose Lodge here in America).

The family has lots of food and they cook it all that night since its their last just like mine. They feed me haloumi cheese and now I'm sad I have no idea how to find this cheese in America. 

After a riveting Spoons game and several drinks, its dark and late and cold and we think thats the perfect time to go for a walk in the forest to the end of the cantilever. We grab flashlights and spend an hour wandering around 30 meters above the treetops looking for velociraptors.

Swing bridges quickly become my favorite

Boardwalks leave less of a carbon footprint I'm told
meandering down long boardwalk pathways through the woods

I think the family took me here to kill me and leave me in this cave behind me
A family adopts me at the hostel and takes me cave diving. I buy a new warm jacket. I do not care for this picture, but the background was super cool. I discover I like caves.

To Hobart and Tahune

I was on the road today. I stopped at cool antique stores on the journey, slammed on brakes ---safely, since I was basically alone out there today--- to pull over and get a picture that's imperative to the trip, and I didn't get lost though my anxiety ran high sometimes that maybe I was. I bought a map. I followed it and freaking rocked Tasmania! I'm cozy in my room at Tahune Airwalk Lodge now. I was high on life leaving Hobart, having just accomplished a perfect touristy day. Navigated a city, didn't get any parking fines, listened to boys with guitars playing all along the street at the Salamanca Markets. I even had the Mt Wellington Descent prebooked but thought it would be mediocre at best. It was actually siiiiiick!! These 2 chill Aussie guys ran it, the one called Alistair was my fav and the navigator of the bike crew for general pics under "gallery"------ We were driven up the mountain and for good gd reason, it's far and steep and this was supposed to be a fun activity. Now... it was so ridiculously cold and unusually windy that we couldn't even start from the top. We walked around the top of the mountain, where I took pics, then drove back down a smidge to get on the bikes. As we layered up, rain fell, thatswirled around. And sometimes bounced off the ground. Even a Florida girl knows that's snow and hail and mixed together its possible called sleet. IT WAS NUMBINGLY FRIGID. We cycled down as a group. Riding the brakes hard lest you'd fly off the edge. And even in gloves, my hands were struggling to grasp the grips. I was reminded of the scene in Dumb & Dumber where they're driving that little moped to Aspen....! Frozen to the bike.

So after minimal back wheel wobbles, I descended that mountain and cruised through the city to the end with my crew. It was great.

Fast forward to a pleasurable drive along the Huon River, then through small valley towns, passing fields of dirty little sheep, and finally into the Tahune Forest. The sun started to set, there weren't anymore cars or humanity. Winding through mountains. IT WENT ON AND ON AND ON. At one point, this is where the anxiety set in, I passed a happy troup of campers perhaps my age, with a roaring bonfire, and I flirted with the idea of stopping just so I wasn't glaringly alone. But I kept going, keeping this image of Tahune Lodge in my mind, obviously from the pictures online when I booked this foresty oasis, of a sprawling light pine lodge with a front porch running its length, floor to ceiling windows facing the front, warmly lit from within... with people enjoying it all. Now, I will HAVE TO go check why in the hell thought the lodge would be this way. It's not. Driving up, I didn't see anything and I panicked thinking there was nothing at all, quite shocking. So it's funny how relieved I was to at least see "the lodge". A place to sleep. Keys were in a box next to my room, with an after hours note saying that room 2 is for acook.

I will post pics after I get some sleep. Thank christ for the internet. It's quite unbelievable this part of Australia even knows what the internet is...

Launceston, Tasmania

Some Dutch girls last night were impersonating fellow travelers' countries: when they got to Americans, "just drink a lot, and be very rowdy"... nailed it.

This town is kind of cute. Has character. From what I've seen, which isn't much. I arrived around 8p last night to this hostel. Feeling lonely honestly... I cannot get my SIM card to work, meaning I can't call my kids :( But it's a new day, I'm out of bed before 7 because some chicks iPhone alarm went off... I was fine with leaving our room since what I could only imagine was a massive dude had snuck into the room and slept under my bunk based on the snoring that woke me all night. When I hopped down from the top bunk and saw a girl there, well, I wanted to inform her to always sleep alone.

So, new day. Going to get into my rental car and take a cruise south, because getting colder is obviously what I want to do... You know how it's summer on this side of the equator? Officially, it is. Unofficially they need to talk to Florida about what it means to be hot and summery.... I've stopped checking the weather. Basically it's in the 50s. And if there's sunshine they call that a warm day. Even if it's 50. Guess I can be hot when I come home (although I see you Floridians are having cooler weather right now).

Good Bye 2013

As most of you could tell, and perhaps heard me complain about, our beach houses in Phillip Island didnt have WiFi. I will not go into spoiled-girl details about how this inconvenienced me. I will just say it was inconvenient. I may or may not have ran up a few peoples cell phone costs. Oops. Bill me.

Besides not bumming around on Facebook, I did manage to have a good time. Lots of cool playgrounds, one very nice beach (luckily that was the one at our place, walking distance), good food and especially good friends. And alcohol!

New Years Eve was the best night. I have included one terrible photo below. There are more, but I dont know if I can post them- they really are pretty bad. Did we all look that bad? I thought we were rockin' it. After 2 drinks we all deluded ourselves that we were toasted enough to make the living room the dance floor and proceeded to dance until 2a. Of course we actually got toasted within those hours.

One highlight was before the dance off (at one point we held an imaginary jump rope and everyone did a little awkward jig, danced in then out of the rope lol) was at the round table. We went through all 10ish or so of us and we each said what our resolutions were. Lame, right, but no, it never is. In the moment it feels intense and REAL. These resolutions for 2014 will come true! Because we said them aloud! Mine was to graduate and sort my life out. Vague, but compartmentalized neatly in my mind.

Had sneaky fun that night ;)

No WiFi

Sneaking omas data minutes off her iPhone. Yes I said minutes. Time warp. And no wifi at our beach house. Some holiday house this is, this &()(//& wouldn't fly in America lol... Not a big deal I guess

We are beaching, checking out the wildlife, and personally I am reading and sleeping a lot. I know you can sleep and read anywhere. But I'm not anywhere. I'm sleeping and reading in Australia. Opa said I can do that for I am a "holiday maker".

Our beach house is amazing and a few steps from the roaring ocean. The kids love playing in the rock pools, but the water is frigid. We aren't in Florida anymore. I am enjoying some of the alone time I get with these 2 kids, on our adventures. Yesterday Opa didn't think I could handle a little penguin expedition down the street. I reminded him I flew the kids out here alone didn't I?

Post Christmas

We are leaving for Phillip Island today. Google it. There are 2 beach houses there with our names on it. I cannot wait to replicate Sunny's first Phillip Island experience with Lachlan & Sunny both. I was also told there isnt WiFi @ the houses, so blogging is perhaps over? Maybe not.

Here are a few happy snaps from our 3 day Christmas festival. Happy New Year!!!! -----We will celebrate the new year before youuuuuuu America!  ;)

Ho Ho

Santa came Christmas Eve to the Gligorov house. It was during dinner that we decided Uncle Steve just could not dress up as Santa because Sunny would recognize him. We had a houseguest and his family over for dinner so naturally we asked him to entertain my children. He is German, lives in Switzerland, and it was perfect. He began ringing this small bell outside the house. Calling out "ho ho ho!" Then rang the doorbell and came inside. My kids arms were wrapped around me tight and their eyes were big. When Santa asked if they'd been good, they each nodded their heads vigorously. When he asked if they've been eating healthy, only Sunny was clever enough to lie and nod her head.

There were presents from his sack, and then he left. Present opening continued into the night.

Fast forward to last night. We're hopping around the yard, Christmas day, playing with all the toys Australia has ever produced. Lachlan finds.... Santa's bell. Aw shit. Then he proceeds to make every sound he knows, lots of "me me ho ho ho more more more ho ho!!" I, being his mother who hears this babbling incessantly, knew he was saying, "I want Santa to bring me more presents." I told him sure, next year. He cried. Then he told me again while ringing his bell. I said we had too many presents as it was. He cried again with the bell. Then his Opa came, Jason's dad Spasco, and then this happened:

Spasco took the bell and said he'd fix this as he went to the garage. I knew Santa's costume was in there and had anxiety about whether or not he was going to put the costume on... Steve, Meghan, and the kids and I sat in the yard and forgot about Opa. But then we heard that bell ringing. And someone gruffly shouting "hoy! Hoy hoy hoy! " We looked to see what was going on, the loud bell and HOYs were confusing. Steve shouted, "It's HO! Ho ho ho!" A man appeared in the yard. He was bent over, wearing dark sunglasses and a towel covering the top of his head and shoulders. As he slouched and hobbled across the porch like the hunch back of Notre Dame, we could see he had a grubby sack he drug along. We were essentially looking at Opa's version of Santa, but our version of a bum, perhaps the black sheep in Santa's family. The children were scared. No, scratch that. Sunny was nonplussed. Lachlan was terrified and clung to me. Santa Bum hobbled closer, this time yelling HO HO HO, and reached into the sack. Now remember, Opa did this because Lachlan was upset about no more Santa, no more presents. So he reached into the sack and pulled out 2 coke bottles filled halfway with yellow liquid. Sunny greedily takes the "juice" and drinks it.

This point, Meghan and I are crying we're laughing so hard. We cant even speak. I think Steve is shaking his head, mentions the coke bottles are filled with the bums pee, and I can't even look at Opa I'm laughing so hard. Lachlan does not want the drink.... The story fizzles there. We are just laughing, Opa takes off his getup to show Lachlan it's just him. Sunny gives me the bottle and says it's gross. I tell her we need to talk about taking weird drinks from strangers...

Almost Christmas

Too busy to write! Actually I've just been napping when the kids nap and falling asleep reading books at bedtime with them. The life of a bored person! Love it! I read "The Book Thief" & started on "Where'd you go, Bernadette?"

We've been doing a lot of Christmas shopping. The mall is way too close to the house. I just finished up getting everyone's gifts and we're still in the middle of Christmas projects including more garland making, Santa letter sending, wrapping with a million ribbons, and baking cookies with different "hundreds and thousands"... Know what those are? Its so cute- that's what they call sprinkles!

Michaela made an amazing dinner last night that I had to stop myself from eating because we girls were headed to "the cinema" immediately afterwards. We saw American Hustlers and loved it (ok, Michaela hated it). I made the girl behind the counter put 5 extra scoops of ice into my coke. Which only made the ice fill the cup halfway. Apparently they're doing me a favor with less ice since that equals more coke. But more warm coke doesnt do it for me..... #americangirlproblems

Left on Red

Everyone left me at the house today for boring things like work. I decided it was time to start driving again. I've done this both times I was in Australia before... & I safely got us to the park. The only problem I had was the speed limit. There are speed cameras everywhere, you can just get a ticket in the mail 3 days from now and not even realize you were speeding. Kilometers per hour vary quicker than MPH, I could see as I watched the odometer constantly.

The park was quiet and breezy. We had a little picnic and explored. There were some good sticks Lachlan collected- we are going to do a project with them.

Then we saw the ducks. We fed them the rest of our crackers. It entertained the kids for at least 20 minutes. Sunny was pleading to take home the "tiny baby one" and said she'd put it in the wading pool out back in the Gligs yard.

Edit: After I wrote this post I learned you actually cant always turn left on red. 

3rd Note

1000 steps in the Dandenong Mountains. 1000 muscles are hurting on my body. Meghan lied to me, she said it would take 20 minutes. Before dinner we rush down there to "do it real quick". 20 minutes later I wasnt even halfway up. I was on the side of the trail with my heart beating out of my chest in agony. The steep path even leading UP TO the 1000 steps was already out of my league. I'm a Florida girl! The only elevation we have are speed bumps in the road. This was tough. I retract my "I've been running so I'm kind of in shape" I said to her prior to the workout.

But it was gorgeous. And I think I will do it again tonight (I did).

The kids take a trip into town. The carseats came from the airport Sunday, but they were so filthy, from me not cleaning them- not from the flight, Spasco & Michaela pressure washed them. Then the covers had to dry in the sun for days and days... I asked her what she thought of the carseats dirty condition, she said she didnt want to talk about it. Lol. It was something I was supposed to do before leaving but didnt have the time.

Back to the trip into town, we are going to Bunnings, Australias version of Home Depot. But Spasco says the kids will not be happy there so we'll need to stop at the toy store first. I said fine, you can spoil them however you want to, as long as there's no more chocolate. They're to pick out 1 toy. They didnt. There were many, many toys that left the store with us. Ánd Bunnings was super exciting anyways- check out these little shopping carts!

The kids helped plant flowers. Sunny was way into it before she saw all the worms and rolly pollys. A friend of the family is staying here named Julia. She has been a nanny in the past and she said it was so nice to be around such "lovely children". She was talking about my kids! Can you believe it? So sweet ;)

We've been doing normal family things- shopping, swimming at the neighborhood pool, etc etc. Julia helps me with the kids. She's amazing, talks to Sunny about pretty things & pink stuff, great with those 2 kids. They sleep hard during their daytime nap, which i attribute partially to jetleg, partially to being flat worn out by 1p.

Mom says "You're talking like them again" and I know what she means. Its a way of talking to make sure everyone is understanding you while you're in their county. I cant tell you what I do, but I think it has something to do with enunciating different syllables and especially there is some end-of-sentence stuff going on.

My brother Matt went and had his baby while I was gone. He's freaking cute as hell and doenst have a name that I know of. I'm buying him lots of cute Aussie things.

First Days

Jason's mom Michaela feeds us the moment we walk through the door. Every meal is a feast! Their house is like a hotel, there are obscure family members coming and going, flying into town and back out again. Its never empty and there is always someone to talk to, to have a coffee with, etc.

Meghan has a pet bunny who runs loose in the backyard. The kids chase it around and I wonder one day if it will just be gone... escaped from the madness. Yesterday Lachlan woke up sick. I went into town and spent 20 minutes deciphering their children's meds section for something remotely targeting his symptoms. Obviously they had what I was looking for, but with different names, different labels and brands and laws for kids' meds, it just took time to sift through it all... I refrained from buying all the children's clothing for this season at a couple shops. Their style is perfect! I will take photos of what I had to walk passed for fear of spending all my vacation money on clothes... I will be back their soon. Ready to buy, haha

Meghan and I went to St Kilda yesterday. We had a blast drinking $9 draft beers and catching up with friends. Apparently, the old Noosa crew of 2008 meet up often and plan an American trip including hitting up Okeechobee. This cracks me up. They then begin Googling Okeechobee and all its wonder. We compare alligators to their crocodiles. They say they want to live in "Kiss-i-me" and I am laughing.

We made plans to do more things later on in the week. I am just content to not be studying any longer.
PS- I got B's in both nursing classes.

The Flights

How to take 2 toddlers on a 24 hour flight, alone. Summary: snacks, entertainment, and a carefree attitude. Oh, and Dramamine. I took an annoyingly large carry on bag just for pillows and blankets. Sunny slept on the floor on the way to LA, and they both curled up on their seats like kittens for the rest of their naps. I was worried I wouldnt sleep but I did. The awkward positions become painful after awhile, but it was more sleep than I've gotten on this very same flight in the past so I knew I was lucky. We even had "medium turbulence" that I tried to sleep through so I wouldnt have a panic attack. We got our exercise up and down the aisles a few times, but the kids were content to stay in our row. We washed up, changed clothes, brushed our teeth, got in pajamas, just like a home in the sky.... Lachlan and I are still kind of stuffy from the dry air on the plane. And he's drinking water like I've never seen him before. Dehydrated I guess.

LAX was ridiculous. I had to take the kids in the stroller down a dodgy flight of steps, into the night on the tarmac where we hopped on a bus. At this point it was going on 2a Florida time and we were slightly delirious but strangely enough quiet and going through the motions. We were meeting Aussies by now though, who are also in LA hopping onto the same flight. Plenty of moms helped me and the kids on and off this bus, twice, plus pulled along my carry on bag probably more than I'd dragged it behind me. I was fully capable of doing this myself. Sunny was riding on my back in our Ergo carrier I borrowed from Jenalee, and Lachlan was in the umbrela stroller. I let people help me if they wanted to.

I am proud to say I didnt shed a tear until the 25th hour- thousands of people, Melbourne Airport, Sunny cried for over an hour through a mile long immigration line (where they stamp your passport), and I couldnt find our baggage. And when I did find it, I couldnt transport it around by myself. Luckily for me, I was in Australia. EVERYONE wants to help you. An employee grabbed me, or actually grabbed my cart of luggage and I took over the children, and we were expedited out of that place without another wait in another line (bypassed customs altogether, where you declare you havent brought anything illegal into the country). The lines to EXIT the airport (to walk outside) were even longer ... I was in tears because I could not find the kids' car seats. Turns out thats because they were still in LAX... So I pretended it was 1970 and strapped those kids in the backseat all the way home to the Glig's house. What are the options at this point? Get us out of there!

We slept SO MUCH on the planes that we were good to go all day. We arrived at 10a and it was as if we slept an entire Aussie night. No jetlag, no naps, nothing. Sure, by 8p we've passed out the last 2 nights, but we transitioned smoothly into this timezone (16 hours in the future for you Americans).

At the Glig house awaited all the family. Jasons parents, his brother Steven and fiance Meghan, and cousins Sascha, Christine, and baby Maja whom we already met in Munich a couple years ago. The table was set for breakie and we all ate and caught up. Jasons father, Spasco, spent no time pulling out all the kids Christmas gifts. The backyard was full of toys and my kids running around having the best time ever. No whining, no crying, no "mommy! mommy!" thats how I know they're happy. We survived the flight easily enough. Now its all fun and games from here on out.