Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Our Homecoming is Imminent

Well, we've set a date!

Homecoming is Jan. 17th. My my how time does fly. I can't believe we have been here for 5 months already and we have just shy of 2 months left. But looking back through my photo albums we've managed to squeeze in an awful lot over the last 5 months and have 2 more short trips planned over the coming 7 weeks. Somehow we've managed to make 2 trips back home to the US, go to Jamaica and Singapore and see more of Australia than I ever imagined and we still have New Zealand coming up.

We've been busy.

When we return to the good ole US of A we will unfortunately be living in our Oregon house for a month or two while we wait for our renters to move out of our San Francisco house. I say unfortunately, not because I don't want to stay in Oregon for a few months but because this puts everything we have planned on hold AGAIN!

Our renters informed us about 2 months ago that they had just bought a house and were remodeling and they thought they would be out of our house by the end of the year or January at the latest. So, we planned accordingly and made arrangements to be back in San Francisco towards the end of January, figuring if we had to stay in Oregon for a week or two if there was overlap in the dates that wouldn't be a big deal, at least we had the house to stay in and wouldn't be forced to stay with friends or live in a hotel.

Now, they have informed us that March 1 is the EARLIEST that they will be out and that they don't even know if they'll be out by then!

In our ideal world we planned on living in the house for Feb-March and having our final remodel plans sent in for permitting by March-April so that building could begin June-July. Sigh. Now everything will be pushed back by 2-3 months. Our timeline of having the house finished by Christmas next year is slowly becoming a pipe dream.

Another unfortunate side effect of living in Oregon is Dom's work. He can work remotely for the most part, but I'm sure he'll be forced to travel and it's not like there are international flights coming in and out of Eugene, Oregon, which means no matter what he's going to have to travel down to San Fran to get anywhere in the world, which adds on hours to traveling.


It is also cold in Oregon this winter, already snowed once, THAT IS NOT NORMAL OREGON WEATHER. I can only imagine how cold it's going to be come January! I am not looking forward to going from 35 degress C (that is 95 degrees F) to 35 degrees F. Brrrrr!

Anyone else feel like life keeps getting put on hold?

Caves Part 2

After Day 1 of cave adventuring we stopped along the road to take some photos in the picturesque setting. Every time we leave Sydney I am amazed at how the scenery changes, here in the Blue Mountains it looks like Tuscany.

This is Australia.

And for comparison sake, this one is Tuscany.

Similar, no?

For Day 2 of our cave adventure we vowed to make it to the caves for the 10am River tour since we'd missed it the day before. Along the way as we're driving through the fog (yes, foggy again in Katoomba!) the fog cleared for a few minutes just in time to see 2 kangaroos....BOXING! Yes, I actually saw kangaroos boxing in the wild. I'll just go ahead and mark that one down as a life experience one rarely gets the opportunity to...well to experience.

Moving on.

We got going early and made it there about 9:40am and while I was waiting in the ticket office for Dom to park the car (like the retard that I am I forgot my money in the car and thus couldn't even be useful by buying tickets, so I waited) a couple came in inquiring about the Ribbon tour and wanting to know if it was suitable for their 3 year old. I had no idea what the Ribbon tour was and honestly didn't care but the lady had such an annoying voice that I couldn't help but overhear. APPARENTLY THERE WAS A SPECIAL TOUR! One that gets booked out months in advance and only 8 people can participate in and they only do it once a week. And just because I was eavesdropping I found out that there were exactly 2 spots open still!

See, there was a reason I forgot my money in the car, it was so i could eavesdrop!

Anyway, we managed to snag the last 2 spots for the special Ribbon tour and once again put off River tour until later in the day. We eventually managed to do the elusive River tour that we'd traveled all this way for and honestly it was my favorite, but Ribbon tour was very cool too.

The reason Ribbon is "special", it's very small and as you will see, very up close and personal with the cave.

This was one of the most amazing things EVER. This is a tin can that was put there 74 years ago, as drinking water when they were rooting through the caves with candlelight, 74 years is all it took to look like that, it is now one with the caves as water continues to drop into it and minerals build up around it. So crazy to actually watch the cave grow and change before your eyes.

Ribbon tour again so special because you get so close to everything.

And for me, the highlight, finally, the river!

If you're ever in Sydney for an extended period of time I highly recommend going to the Jenolan Caves. They blew my mind. I had only seen such things on the Travel Channel and feel blessed to have been able to experience something like this in person.

Anyone know of any other Caves around the world? This was such a good experience for me I think I would go out of my way to find other caves to visit.

Monday, November 22, 2010


While Sydney is amazing and I love it, it's nice to get out of the city on weekends. I mentioned that we had plans to go to the Jenolan Caves and a few weekends ago we finally managed to get ourselves over there.

To describe it in 3 words.

It was amazing.

I had been to caves before in the US...or so I thought I had. Unbeknownst to me, the lava tubes I've been to in Oregon and Hawaii are NOT the same as these caves. These caves were not created by lava but by limestone and water and a whole hell of a lot of time.

And they win hands down on the awesome meter.

But before I show you the pictures, let me tell you a little story about the trip up there (or over, down? I'm geographically challenged, to be honest I don't know what direction we drove...though I'm fairly confident it wasn't south, so not down).


So, there are about 10 different caves at the Jenolan Caves, ranging from easy to hard, as well as adventure spelunking tours and children's tours. After doing a bit of research we decided the River tour sounded the best and that we would strive to make it for the 2:15pm River tour and we would figure out the other caves we wanted to do once there, because honestly we had no idea how strenuous a "difficult" tour would be and thus we had no idea how many tours we would be up for.

Off we went, leaving gorgeous sunny Sydney behind heading for our favorite little Blue Mountains town of Katoomba (caves are close to Blue Mountains so we decided to kill 2 birds with one stone because we wanted to stay in the Blue Mountains overnight at least once while in Oz) You may remember the last time we were in the Blue Mountains it rained on us and we rushed through all the sites. Since the weather was getting nicer here in Sydney we assumed the same would be true for the Blue Mountains.

We were wrong.

Unfortunately we didn't know we were wrong until the last 20km of the drive or so. The whole drive the weather was fantastic, beautiful bright sunny skies and then suddenly we round a hill into the mountains and we're stuck in a drizzly foggy mess of disgusting weather.


Because of the nice weather on the way up we had altered our plan of 2:15 River cave tour and had big plans to revisit all the sites from our last Blue Mountains trip and do the caves on Sunday. Thus we failed to stay on schedule and were a bit behind for 2:15 River cave tour. But the rain drove us onward and we hit Katoomba at 1:00 and it takes just over an hour to get to the caves from Katoomba.

Quick pause in my story.

Katoomba is my favorite Blue Mountains town because of Mr. Pickwicks. Mr. Pickwicks is an awesome antique book store that I could literally spend hours upon hours in just looking at all the old books. We discovered it on our last trip to the Blue Mountains and were specifically staying in Katoomba just so we could go there again. Last year on our Honeymoon I discovered a book on the Left Bank from 1709, it's in French so I have no idea what it's about, but my old book collection began in that moment and I have strived to find books from the 1700-1800's from all the countries I visit. So far I have French, German, English and Australian books. I have big plans to have a whole bookshelf of old books one day to go in our fancy new library/study that is part of the San Fran remodel.

My Paris book

Also, how awesome are some of the Australian names for shit? They're from Aboriginal languages and seem to have to have an affinity for double letters. Here are a few of my favorites: Katoomba, Woolloomooloo, Bullaburra, Warimoo, Kurri Kurri, Turramurra.

Back to the drive. So, weather in Katoomba is crappy and even if we wanted to we wouldn't be able to see the sights through the fog, so we decide to book it to the caves and see if we could make the 2:15 River tour.

To say the trip was treacherous is an understatement. The last 30 km or so are a crazy winding skinny road in which one side is a cliff...literally on the precipice of a cliff. It's nervewracking under the best of circumstances, in the fog in a rush, SCARY SHIT!

Anyway, we made it.

Only to discover upon our arrival that FOR ABSOLUTELY NO REASON they were not doing the River tour that lovely Saturday afternoon.


So, after all of that we didn't even get to do the River tour...at least not on Saturday. Ultimately we did some other tour that I can't remember the name of and then managed to squeeze in the River tour on Sunday, because Katoomba was STILL raining and foggy come Sunday morning and we had no other option, it was either do the caves some more or go home. So we went to the caves again.

I'm ashamed to say I was in charge of the camera for all of 20 minutes, in which time I managed to somehow turn the AF (that's automatic focus) to MF (that's MANUAL focus) on the lens and took an embarrassing amount of pictures in the dark out of focus. Usually we alternate who's the photographer, but I got banned from the camera after my blurry picture debacle in the caves. Anyone reading this from my youth knows I was a bit of photographer back in the day, so I'm hanging my head in shame as I tell you this, and even worse as I display some of my crap photos.

Broken column, proof of the cave still moves and changes, this used to be a solid column.

A bishop.

Looks like curtains, no? Up close and personal it actually looks like fabric.

The old staircase that was used to get out of this cave back in the 1800's.

There's a Part 2 to my story. This was just the first cave that we went into.

To be continued...

Sunday, November 21, 2010

A Distraction from Oz

As I've mentioned before, Oz is fantastic, Sydney is fantastic, the Aussies are fantastic...

But it's not home.

We have 2 months left and we definitely have itchy feet.

The most exciting thing about our homecoming will be our house remodel. It's going to be a long drawn out process I fear, but nevertheless we are sooo excited to get started!

I've never lived in this house so it's been tough for me to visualize all the changes we want to make, so my main focus has been the kitchen.

Here's some thoughts I have about our new kitchen:

I'm definitely drawn to a french country kitchen and I think I'd really like to have it all white. Though I also really love that traditional black and white kitchen floor on the pic 3 from the bottom.

What style of kitchen are you drawn to? Anyone ever done a full kitchen remodel? Tips?

(None of these piccies are mine, sorry if they are yours and I didn't source them, I've had them saved on my computer forever)

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Jetlag's Evil Plan

I am not a morning person. I don't like the morning. Mornings are evil. Especially since I kicked my coffee habit and no longer have the joy of drinking coffee in the morning. Ok, that might be a tad overexaggerating because I'm drinking coffee right now, but I have officially kicked it down to one cup in the morning and sometimes I don't have any coffee at all, GASP! Sorry, I digress. Back to the sleeping/jetlag evilness thing. Even if I get plenty of sleep I just don't like to be up in the morning. I would much prefer to be up late and sleep in.

That being said I think jetlag has other plans for me. You see, jetlag thinks I should be a morning person. She sends me to bed before 10pm and wakes me up bright eyed and bushy tailed before 6am. I hate to see 6am...unless I'm coming at if from the other side, ie. going to bed at 6am I don't mind, because it usually means you were doing something fun.

I do however enjoy the wide awake feeling, where you know you can't sleep anymore and it's because you've had plenty of sleep not because you had a terrible nights sleep and you've just given up. Do some people feel like this all the time?

I am jetlagged so often these days that it's becoming the norm to go to sleep early and get up early rather than fight the jetlag. But that means I can't even stay up and watch an entire movie these days. It doesn't get dark until about 8pm now (summer, here we come!) which means you can't start a movie until 8pm, and if the movie you're watching is Harry Potter, well then you'll be asleep about halfway through! It also means that I am writing this at 7am. I like 7am only slightly more than 6am.


Friday, November 19, 2010

Crazies in LA

This is sick and wrong my friends, sick and wrong:

I am Pro-Choice I have no problem with a woman/couple making the decision to abort an unwanted pregnancy, that's a personal choice, none of my business. But I do have a problem with this woman being 16 weeks pregnant, (that's 2nd trimester!), and using a poll to help her decide if abortion is the way to go. There is a limit to what the internet should be used for and this woman just found it.

What does everyone else think about this?

Thanksgiving Abroad

I'm having trouble wrapping my brain around the fact that next week is Thanksgiving.

Of course since I'm in Oz there is no Thanksgiving, which is probably the part I'm having trouble with. I've never been in another country during this uber American holiday that entails nothing but gorging oneself.

Thanksgiving is awesome.

We entertained the idea of having our own Thanksgiving next Friday, since our Friday is the US Thursday we would be "celebrating" at the same time. But in all honesty part of the fun of Thanksgiving is getting together with family and friends, not just the eating, and let's face it, it's not easy cooking up a Thanksgiving meal.

So, instead of slaving over a hot stove we planned our "Ayres Rock" trip, which means we will finally get to see the red center of Oz.

This is not the first Thanksgiving I've been away from home, but it is my first Thanksgiving that will be no Thanksgiving at all.

Anyone else spending Thanksgiving abroad and feeling a bit nostalgic about it?

And by the way, it's Saturday and I got up at 5:45am. Jetlag is awesome. And yes, that's sarcasm, which I'm clarifying because apparently my sarcasm...um, meter? let's call it a meter, my sarcasm meter has been off lately, meaning everyone is having trouble sensing when I'm being sarcastic, so I'm clarifying, that is a sarcastic statement about jetlag. Jetlag is not awesome.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Quick Hello

For the, wait let me count...4th time now I am on my way back to Sydney. I can hardly put into words how horrible this 12-14 hour flight is. It just plain sucks, pure and simple. Luckily this is THE VERY LAST TIME that I will ever be doing it. Bold statement I know, but we have no plans to ever return to Sydney after we leave in January. No, it's not because I have any animosity towards Sydney or Australia, I in fact have quite enjoyed my whole Australian experience, it's because of this hellaciously long flight. I will avoid it at all costs.

On a lighter note I just got back from 6 days in Negril, Jamaica, I will post some piccies soon.


Prince William finally proposed to Kate Middleton, let the rejoicing ensue! What? You're not completely ecstatic that there's finally going to be another royal wedding that will rival the Di and Charles wedding back in the 80's? And that she got Princess Diana's gorgeous sapphire engagement ring? Well, I am, that lucky bitch. Perhaps we'll have to make a trip over the pond next year...about time to visit the in-laws anyway ;-)