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402 days. 402 (plus or minus… mostly minus) posts.

Category: Travel

Day 73: Get Yourself Some Tim Tams

Before I left for Australia, my dentist and I had a little conversation while he filled my new cavity:

Dentist: So, you quit your job, eh? Any big plans?
Me: Huh. (“Yes, but I can’t say much because my mouth is busy.”)
Dentist: I bet you’ve got some big plans.
Me: Uh huh. (“Seriously, how am I supposed to answer you?”)
Dentist: Like what?
Me: Unh… Au-ha-ia. (“Australia.”)
Dentist: What?
Me: Au-haaa-ia. (“Australia.”)
Dentist: Australia! Wonderful! You know, I went there once. I came back with an extra 15 pounds and a bad rash.
Me: …Uh… (“…I am both sorry to hear that and afraid you’re going to tell me more.”)
Dentist: You know what you have to get while you’re there, right?
Me: Eeeh a hahh! (“Hopefully not a rash!”)
Dentist: What?
Me: …Uhh. (“…Nothing. I’m sorry I said that.”)
Dentist: Tim Tams! Get yourself some Tim Tams. They are delightful little cookies!
Me: Ah hoo ahiee, iigh? (“As soon as you fill my cavity, right?”)
Dentist: What?
Me: Ehh. (“Never mind. Also, my mouth is tired.”)
Dentist: Just don’t ruin this new filling. I’d feel pretty badly if I encouraged you to eat a bunch of cookies and then you came back here with more cavities. And try not to get a rash. It was awful.

Well, Dentist, I’m happy to report I continue to be rashless. And you were right; Tim Tams are delightful. I anticipate my “1 biscuit” = “5 cookies” translation might be slightly off, but I promise I will floss sometime between now and the next time I see you.

Tim Tams

Day 65: Five Types of Airplane Travelers

I’m no expert (I don’t even use the “expert traveler” lane at security), but my recent experiences with international travel confirmed the following traveler types.

The Social Drinker
You become fast friends with all the flight attendants before the plane even takes off. If you haven’t finagled your way into first class, you’re either upgraded to business class or you have an exit row seat. During the flight, your charm, wit and amiable attitude affords you a couple of free Bloody Marys and a slew of new Facebook friends who would be happy to put you up the next time you are visiting (insert exotic land here). When the plane lands, you barely notice how much time has passed because you’ve been having such a great time with your new besties.

The Sleeper
Something about travel lulls you. You’re nearly REM cycling at the waiting gate, so it’s a miracle you even make it to your seat. You always request the window, because it’s hard for you to wake up and let your seatmates in once you’ve already gotten comfortable. You don’t read any of the magazines you brought, since you only wake up twice—once when you intuitively sense the beverage cart is passing and again when the wheels hit the ground at your destination. You have a constant crick in your neck, but you’re too sleepy to buy a neck pillow before takeoff.

The Suit-Wearer
You reminisce for the good old days (most likely before you were born), when people dressed up to travel. No matter how long the flight, you wear pressed pants or a skirt, a jacket and uncomfortable shoes. You gingerly lay your jacket on top of everyone’s overhead luggage only after takeoff to ensure no one else disturbs it. Sometimes, you opt for the luxury of reclining your seat, but for the most part, you sit straight up and type quietly on your laptop or watch the in-flight movies. You do not sleep on planes.

The At-Home-Anywhere
You have no qualms about wearing pajamas to the airport. And if you didn’t think the TSA agents would find you strangely suspicious, you would wear your bunny slippers, too. You come fully equipped with a giant pillow, blanket, headphones and pre-packed meal, plus 18 different magazines, the latest New York Times bestseller and an iPad. If there is an open seat next to you on the plane, you spread out into it and nap (Why not?). You tried to paint your nails once, but the fumes bothered your seatmates.

The Package Deal
Whether there are two of you or twelve of you, you arrive together, check in together, sit together, go to the bathroom together (unless one of you is watching everyone’s stuff), eat together and board together, differing boarding zones aside. You do whatever it takes to make sure you’re seated next to each other, even if it means giving away your window seats and the m&ms you bought in the gift shop. You socialize with others only when necessary, armed with the knowledge that everything you need is right next to you (probably attached to your arm).

Package Deal

Day 63: One of Those Days

You know how sometimes you wake up inexplicably crabby in the morning? You didn’t get enough sleep, you had a weird dream you can’t shake, you think you have a cold, etc.

I woke up early this morning to an outside temperature of -1 F and an iPhone stuck to my face (which is weird, because I swear I wasn’t talking on it last night). I peeled it off, frowned and made myself a pillow nest. But then I smiled. A week ago today I was in one of the prettiest places in the world—Whitehaven Beach.

Renowned for pure white beaches, Whitehaven is almost entirely made of silica sand, a chemical compound that swirled its way onto Australia’s coast through sea currents over millions of years. I’ve never seen anything like it. The sands shift every minute, so it’s a little bit different each time you look at it or photograph it (and it’s nearly impossible to take a bad picture—see below).

Thinking about Whitehaven was a day-brightener for me. Maybe it can be a day-brightener for you, too. (Focus on the positives. It exists! And you can go see it!)





Day 61: Airport Haiku

I arrived at LAX yesterday with a little over 24 straight hours of awake-time under my belt. With only three hours of sleep the night before, I was pretty much toast. In an effort to stay awake long enough to catch my final flight, I sat down with a soy chai and did some haiku-writing. Believe it or not, below are the most coherent fruits of my labor. (I realize these aren’t real haiku by Japanese standards; I just stuck with a 5-7-5 system.)

Advice from The Tow Truck Driver
Endangered species
should never be hit with cars.
Hit people instead.

Cassowary warning

The Couple
How can you sleep like
that, he asked. It’s easy when
you’re quiet, she said.

Necessary Evil
Underwater brain;
stay awake or miss the flight.
Where is the Starbucks?

Gate 52A
Ladies with grey hair
discuss the nearest restroom.
This way. No, that way.

Sleek white computer
lies silent on the blue floor.
Charger is lost.

Floating, spinning room.
At sea in the terminal.
Falling slowly down.

Sure Way to Get The Flu
Chapped lips. May I use
your chapstick? Yes, says pilot.
Germs make you stronger.

Hair Treatment
Sweet miso dressing
flies off the plastic lid. It’s
in my hair again.

Airport Golf Cart
Blue-shirted man says,
Can I give you a ride? No,
I say and regret.

The Long Time
Haiku writing can
only keep a girl awake
for a little while.

Bad Timing
Warm and spicy chai.
Caffeine kicked in on the plane,
which wasn’t the plan.

How much wood could a
woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck
could chuck wood? Don’t know.

Day 60: The Best Laid Plans

Our car broke down on Tuesday. It was a trusty machine that carted us all over the coast of north Queensland, but it just couldn’t make the last few hundred kilometers back to Cairns.

We woke up early Tuesday morning in Mission Beach with plans for a packed day of travel throughout the Atherton Tablelands. After a hearty breakfast of a delicious local mango, leftover pasta primavera and potato chips, we piled ourselves back into Ciara’s ’95 Toyota Camry only to find it “sort of unwell,” as the local mechanic put it. It wasn’t going anywhere.

So after seven hours, a tow truck ride, an exciting Cassowary sighting, a thorough tour of the small town of Tully, pounding rain, a couple of good sandwiches and the sad realization that the Camry’s computer was fried, we were back in Mission Beach, car-less for the foreseeable future.

Happily, neither of us panicked, even with my 5 a.m. flight out of Cairns still a few driving hours away. We’d also received some extreme doomsday warnings about the water levels on the roads heading out of Mission Beach (“Oh you’ll float away, no question. Don’t even bother.”).

The combination of Ciara’s extremely thorough questions and rockin’ Aussie roadside assistance afforded us a cute yellow rental car, a free stay in a fancy hotel and a firm understanding that some of the locals tend to exaggerate the poor driving conditions.

I’m proud to say that even after our unexpected delay, we crammed at least one day’s worth of Tableland-ing into the last three hours of my final day in Australia. I even managed to get a land leech stuck to my leg during a hike through the rainforest. Badass.

Here’s a taste of what’s up in the Tablelands:

yellow submarine

Our new car!


Wallicher Falls, one of many gorgeous rushing waterfalls in the Tablelands.


Lush dairy farmland, which appears only moments after exiting the rainforest.


Easy-going cows, who calmly meander around and in front of driving vehicles.