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Australia

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3 Cats, 3 Dogs, 3 Chickens, 1 boy who turned 10 and a Volcano Watch.

Sol 42: We are in our last week in OZ! I didn’t know was the nick name for this wonderful country as every time I hear that I think of a prison drama on HBO but, never you mind.

Last week, we went a different direction by splurging on passes to the amusement park of Dream World and White Water World .  This is out of the ordinary for us but, one turning 10 is a pretty big deal too.

We have never been to Disneyland but, this may count as a good alternative. Kelvin and I have not been to any Disney park since the 1980s so, we don’t have a lot to compare it to.

It was fun, some crazy rides and loads of old school favorites. Also, not so crowded so all introverts in the family adjusted well. We packed our lunches and easily headed to the car to eat or carried what we needed with us.
For an eight year old and newly minted ten-year old it was the ‘bees knees’. My words, not theirs. Theirs included ‘This is sick!’ and ‘What the ‘bleep’ (yes, they say actual word bleep).

These sound bites don’t sound so good in print. It felt good to be in a place with a bunch of other kids too.

There are few amusement parks where you can see Kangaroos, Dingoes, Bilbys, and lizards that are all over the place. They might even visit your picnic lunch (the lizards, not the Dingoes!).

Oakley’s favorite place was the Lego Store as you walked in. This sounds like the ‘liquor store’ when spoken by a native Aussie so, my confusion was apparent. And disappointed to having no wine with the Legos. But, alas.

Canyon starting his Chauffeur career.

Canyon, our ever-present water hound, was pleased with all the water slides and joyous drops from up high. He even learned to drive a little.

Kelvin took a lot of photos (you should check out his blog at Degrees of Kelvin to see some of his perspective on this trip.

He always shows us sides of the trip we hadn’t seen and close-ups with all the birds and animals. All of us had a great time, we had a couple of day pass that we felt was very affordable.

Which was good as Oakley had a fever the first day and he and I hung out at the house with the dogs for the day while Kelvin and Canyon adventured.

Canyon bringing Mossimo back as Oakley looks down from the bedroom.

The dog and chicken sit is going well. There are three dogs with varying personalities and one is blind so, we carry him down the stairs to wee/poo. The house is called a Queenslander so, it basically built on stilts.

It is a single level for living but, the bottom is like an open spaced garage/washroom/storage room. Fresh eggs every morning is a plus as well.

We also have been getting in our last swims in the Australian seas as well as trips to the pharmacies, book stores and other supply places we might not so easily access on our next leg.

We have been finding our way with the world-schooling. It is a rhythm that we are all trying to balance. Kelvin and I take turns ‘teaching’ or ‘guiding’ as in the Montessori way.

We did Skype with the classroom and that was helpful for the boys to see some of their friends and realize that they are far behind or missing big events.

Yes, there are doing cool things in school but, it’s not like the boys are left out. As they check in with their reporting of their adventures. This helps with the home/friend-sickness that comes up from time to time.

Did I mention that volcano? The last couple weeks there is has been a lot in the news about Mt.Agung’s volcano activity.

List to report to the class.

We have talked with ex-pats that are there and contacted several places and we are getting the go ahead to proceed.

Even the Balinese Tourism Chief asked folks to not change their plans and to still come to Bali. We are not planning on being in place near the Mt.Agung so we are going.

We don’t currently have flight plans to leave which is for the best as we can pick and choose when and where we go next.

We have accommodations for nearly three weeks and will keep a keen eye on what is happening.

The last couple days are connections with long time friends. Staying in their wonderfully comfy, clean house warm with lively conversation, tasty meals and, as Oakley ferreted out, more Legos.

We did tip our hat to OZ at Sky Point , one of the tallest buildings in the Southern Hemisphere. It was a great way to get some perspective when getting ready to leave an area.

The views were unsurprising and there were many, many pods of Humpback Whales breaching, slapping and altogether frolicking out in the ocean. Oz is truly friendly, beautiful and ginormous. We will have to come back.

I think this just might be Kelvin and I in Lego form.

Kody helping Kelvin even though he is blind and deaf he knows good food when he smells it. So do the Geckos that climbed in the window to peek at the activity.

On the job, walking the dogs.

Canyon is trying three new things in each country and it was Sushi for his birthday. A new love for him (and a delight for me!).

Dinner with Deb, our first Trusted Housesitter host and a friend for life now. She has also offered Canyon an opportunity to come back when older to sit again.

 

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Camper Van Beethoven up the East Coast

Sol 29 – Starting our fifth week. The last 10 days have been filled with vast views outside and some tight living quarters inside. After our first pet sit we ambled into the world in a camper van affectionately named ‘Beethoven’. Any lover of indie rock from the 90s might know what I am taking about.

We drove up the East Coast and boy, it is a BIG country. This seem longer because it is written in kilometers but, also they list cities that are 1700 kilometers away! It makes you feel that you are really on the long haul. Then there are the serious but, somehow seemly cute signs warning you of Kangaroos and Koala bear crossings.

We spent a lot of time checking out different beach fronts and finding the magic of Rainbow Beach where the colors of the sands are a painters dream. So many hues.

We camped at 1770 Holiday Park, in 1770, the town with the historical significance of  the only town to be named a number and after when Captain Cook landed in….you guessed it 1770.

Then to Hervey Bay where the tide rolls in and out for 100s of yards (or meters!) and the sea life is majestic. We stayed at a place called Scarness which Kelvin kept saying was ‘scariness’ which made us giggle as it would be an odd name for such a beautiful place.

We made some great connections in the holiday parks and the boys made some friends learning some ‘footie’ i.e. rugby, a smattering of cricket and taking part in delightful discussions of favorite candy bars and breakfast foods while swimming and diving for Australian coins. We were kindly and generously served Australian wines and given some great insights of places to go and very kind inquiries of our travels. Thanks Fiona and Tony!!

Oakley seems to be having the toughest transition. Every time we have ‘world school’ he melts as if he’s lost his bone structure into a small puddle. He has some sniffles about missing his friends. We soothe with Legos, familiar songs and hugs but, it is hard for him at times. It is hard to see him sad and we work to help.

Canyon seems to be a bit more resilient but, is up and down lately especially the closer we get to his 10th birthday (on the 24th) which he is simultaneously excited for and worried that no one will remember.

Since we are on a pretty tight budget we have to be really thoughtful about where we spend our money especially when it comes to experiences. We decided we needed to have some experience out on the water since we were at the Southern end of the Great Barrier Reef and when would that happen again? Also, we so wanted to go to Fraser Island but, it was just too cost prohibitive for us.

But, we did find a gem in our experience on the Pacific Whale Foundation . They are not profit putting their earnings back into research which they were conducting while we where onboard. We saw an amazing array of whales, mommas, escorts and babies, who seemed to be just flirting with our boat all afternoon doing all the activity described on the phamplet.  Even our guides seemed to be impressed with the activity.

We also saw jumping tuna (our cat back home would have been out of her mind!) and sea turtles. The captain even took us close to Fraser Island to see white sand coast line and search for dingo sightings.

We have been frequenting the grocery stores to plan our meals. I think we have only eaten out as family three times since arriving in Australia. One was a fish and chips delight, another a pub dinner that was okay and another the first day at the shopping center food court in our jet lagging weariness.

Being married to a chef has its perks. We did take advantage of one of the countless free BBQs all over in nearly every park. It is such a great idea to be able to cook up whatever you want nearly wherever. We have seen people laying out high teas complete with champagne and several tiered cake trays, hot plates with kettles and a ‘civilized’ spread that would challenge most high-end dinners out. These folks know how to enjoy the out-of-doors!

We start our second pet sit with three dogs in North Brisbane while completing our second stay with the kitties near the Gold Coast. It was a sight for sore eyes to have hot water, wifi, a couch and rooms that one could shut by themselves and be alone for at least a bit. Again, loving our connection with Trusted Housesitters.

Keep tuned as we head into the last third of our time in Australia and prepare for Bali. We hope to create a birthday to remember for Canyon. He’ll be a decade old!

Kelvin bravely feeding the Lorakeets in Forest Glen

Boys playing dream chess ala Harry Potter?

Our humble home in the woods.

Room with view at Hervey Bay

Boys enjoying the sunset at 1770

Actually finding a Koala in a tree on the side of the road.

Dinner time at Rainbow Beach!

The introverts in the quiet carriage in Brisbane.

Cosy sleeping arrangements or claustrophobic. You decide.

Sunrise at Rainbow Beach

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Roos, Koalas and other Dreamy Aussie animals.

Week two in Australia and we are moving on to camping after a luxurious stay at Deb’s home with three fuzzy roommates named Patrick, Marley and Gracie. We have been enjoying the personalities of each as we navigate their home and their human’s house.

We have loved having a kitchen, washer, dryer, two bedrooms  and even the use of a car. Albeit our trials of driving a manual shift were fraught with tense laughter and Oakley occasionally covering his eyes! We found this gem of a connection on Trusted Housesitters which allows us to connect with folks who want their house and pets cared for while they are on vacation.

While at this house, we made friends with nearby kids big and small. The boys playing footie with Joseph and his family who are West African immigrants to Australia.

James using his amazing grill sheet for the Kabobs

Meat, meat and meat.

We also enjoyed being invited to a real Aussie BBQ. Kelvin’s search for a butcher

work with ended up at Arundel Meats which serendipitously connected us to another neighbor. The butcher he worked with just happened to live across the street. Small, friendly Australian connection.

The Menu: Pre-course of sausages, then kabobs, then steak then salads and of course beer and wine. We did have some strawberries too! All for good measure to balance out our fruit and veggies was we are not currently lacking for protein.

Then Kangaroo and Koala Bear encounters. A dream to experience and a 50 before 50 bucket list item for me. The Roos were so close and just in the neighborhood. It seems like what running into deer is like for us in the NW. These Kangaroos are smart, sweet and strong.

They are so much bigger than I imagined. Just as the Koala bears are so compact like a favorite teddy bear and all curled up like a new-born human baby, but with so much more fur. It was sweet. 

So, so sweet. There are not many animals you wish to immediately cuddle upon the first time seeing them. These wondrous creatures meet the bill. I was transformed into a place of wonder and amazement. Feeling a bit voyeuristic watching them as they graze and nap. But, they are good teachers of helping us slow down and take it in.

The Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary was recommended to us by our Aussie connections and it was a great place to see Koala, Kangaroos, Salt-water crocodiles, Wallabies, Wombats, Dingos, Echidna, birds of prey, Emus, many snakes, and water rats (which was NOT my favorite encounter).

The non-profit place protects the animals and uses the funds for entry to support further care for animals. It felt good and worthwhile. Even getting to make silly photos for grandma at home! Canyon is our ham!

We also returned again and again to the parks along the water to the Bouncy Pillow, time one the beach and riding bikes along the water front for a couple of miles enjoying the giant Pelicans seeking snakes and brown snakes waking up after a long winter and sunning themselves on the beach.

It is never a dull moment. We couldn’t have spent many more days here and the boys connection with local kids playing make it a winner on many fronts.

We are settling into our regime of world schooling in the morning and it is hard transition some mornings but, enthusiasm builds with new animals to discover and research. Canyon wholeheartedly wrote up a report on the Red Kangaroo and was over the moon to see them at the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary. He felt so proud to know his work had taught us more information than we might have learned on our own.

So, we are doing our laundry, watching an educational program on Australian ABC telly, repacking our bags to get ready for the train, bus rides to get us to our camper van rental. It will be one of the first longer treks with our gear on our bodies.

We can do it! Stay tuned and we will let you know how it all turns out. Wifi will be limited but, we are talking with friends via What’sApp as we can call, text and video on the encrypted platform pretty seamlessly.

I am on Instagram with tid bits from time to time at audsjoy_simple_expectations a bit more frequently so, please do follow me there too.

Loving sharing this adventure with you. Please stay tuned and toss us some questions. We love to hear from you all!

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The Golden Coast of Australia is Magical.

Sol 14 for the Gurrs currently on the Gold Coast in Australia. We have gone through some ups and downs over the last days. All good in the life of adjusting to being location independent and living our dream of round the world travel/living. 

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Canyon staring down the pesky birds at Surfer’s Paradise

The time travel time warp of travel from Hawaii was a doozy. The journey to the airport was a mess of traffic at 4:45am. At one point, we even had chickens that were strutting by us faster than we were moving. But, we made it and our host the rented us their car from Turo was a complete angel by meeting us at location near the airport and dropping us off. We couldn’t have done it without him.

He and his family was amazing to us in Hawaii. Meeting us on his day off and hosting a wonderful afternoon at the beach. Never undermine the binding power of families loving travel. We have already been helped out a couple of times that is amazing and I count that in my gratitude list every night!

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Pretty good for a 4am wake up and harrowing trek to the airport!

Australia is 20 hours ahead in time so, we lost a whole day but, I thought we might be okay with the time of day being only four hours different from Hawaii. However, it took a bit of an adjustment for all of us. We are still ironing out the sleeping and eating. Little Oakley had such a hard time of it he got sick the first night and vomited all over without even knowing it, waking only when he had a bloody nose. Poor lad. Whew!

On Sunday, Kelvin got to have his second Father’s Day this year and we celebrated by wandering around the local mall to get first day supplies….sim cards, groceries, adapters, notebooks for schooling and a tasty lunch.

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Kangaroo Patties anyone?

The children helped us shop in the local grocery store as we searched for staples while eyeing some unique options, like Kangaroo patties (we passed this time).

We have been sorting out our world-schooling schedule with the boys. We touch on: Math, Writing, Journaling, Free-Draw, Research on a Local Subject and, what’s that? Lego building? Well, some things need to have special billing in order to stave off homesickness.
Canyon researched the Red Kangaroo and now we are all hoping to find one hopping nearby. However, they don’t really live near here due to their penchant for drier climates which we learned from the research. All is good in a day’s work!

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Oakley during Free Draw in Hawaii

Both boys have talked a lot about what they miss now that they know their friends are back in school. We had one FaceTime with a couple of dear friends and that helped. We are currently planning the Skype with the class. I sprung out the secret stash of Legos I had for such a homesick occasion and now furrowed brows are relaxed. At least for this moment.

House and Pet sitting is going wonderfully. I can’t say enough about the magic connector of Trusted Housesitters . We are currently on a house/pet sit taking care of three furry kitties of various temperaments. One lets us love him all day, the second on occasion and the third has come out only at night and being jet black makes for a ghostly encounter. We love being able to be in a home, cooking our meals, bathing when we need, feeling relaxed and having space to write, study and rest.

Today, Kelvin had is first stage at a local butchery. He worked alongside some local folks breaking down lamb and beef. You can follow his own process on his blog at Degrees of Kelvin. It is a great way for chefs to make friends and contacts. Also, he got paid in meat product so, that is a great bonus as well!

We are figuring out our schedule as we not just traveling around. We are trying to ‘live’ each place we are at. We go out to explore but, also setting time for learning, living in house and playing. We realize that finding playgrounds is an important part of our plan. IMG_4064Yesterday, we found the giant bouncy pillow and it rocked! Also, made quick friends with  a local lad on the zip-line. These are playground toys that would likely be inaccessible in the US due to our litigious culture. It was fun to watch the boys bouncing all over the place.

The surprise of everything thing feeling ‘normal’ for familiar then trying to drive a manual transmission on the ‘other’ or left side of the road, drinking some tea outside and then hearing the most amazing bird calls. It’s early days for us here and so far. Magic.

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Surfer’s Paradise

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Oakley having lost the plot at the airport as we sort transportation.

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Loco Moco in Oahu!

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