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

Tag: Cairns

Day 56: What We’ve Done

In only a few short days, here’s a smattering of things Ciara and I have done in Australia so far:

  • Gone through two full bottles of SPF 70 sunscreen
  • Gotten minor sunburns
  • Met wonderful, funny, smart and welcoming people who laughed with us and made us feel right at home (especially the lovely folks on Maggie Island)
  • Taken part in the first-ever dance party at the Marlin Bay restaurant
  • Gotten lost and made our way out of the bush and back into Australian civilization
  • Hiked until our hearts were happy and our calves were useless
  • Swam in the prettiest water in the world
  • Worn stinger suits in order to not get stung by deadly jellyfish in the prettiest water in the world
  • Washed what I’m convinced was a tiny animal out of a cut on my toe (apparently it may have been seaweed)
  • Awoke at 3 a.m. to the screams of the Curlew birds
  • Quietly stalked a very easygoing Echidna outside his home in a large, knotted tree
  • Tried to smash coconuts (impossible) while yelling, “WILSON!”
  • Tripped (four times each) on that one funky stair at the Airlie Beach YHA hostel
  • Eaten lots of pizza
  • Consumed at least 60 liters of water between the two of us
  • Referenced “rubbish” instead of “trash”
  • Sweat (we continue to sweat)
  • Planned a sailing trip, which we’ve been on for the last two days (more on that later!)
  • Driven over 600 kilometers and seen landscapes from this (note the stinger suits drying in the tree):

Stinger suits

To this:


And this: 

Airlie Beach

More to come.

Day 51: Stuff To Know About Flying

After 20 hours of flying time (and an unexpected 14 hours of airport time), this first post from down under is actually about the up and over. I promise that prettier pictures will follow.

I learned a lot of good airport/flying stuff, so I chronicled what I think you should know based on each leg of the trip.

A note: I’m operating on a really old computer with really spotty internet, so apologies if the formatting is a bit messy this week. 

Minneapolis International Airport

  • Try not to get salad dressing in your hair before you’ve even left the country. Even when you rinse it out, your locks will still smell like dressing 30+ hours later.

Flight 1: MSP to LAX

  • If you’re seated next to someone with a cold, periodically holding your breath is not a good germ-avoidance maneuver. It mostly results in lots of gasping for air, usually right after your seatmate sneezes.
  • If you think you discovered a secret military/UFO observation base while flying over the mountains, you probably didn’t (or did you?).
  • When offered peanuts, pretzels or cookies, go for the pretzels. They’re adorable and delicious.

tiny pretzel

Los Angeles International Airport

  • Get to your international flight ridiculously early. You never know when your airline will be “transitioning to a new boarding system” and you may have to stand in multiple lines for multiple hours.
  • If you do end up standing in a line longer than the one you ever stood in for Space Mountain, make some quick friends. It will be fun to chat with them and you’ll appreciate their willingness to watch your stuff while you run to Starbucks and get lost on your way back to the gate.

Flight 2: LAX to SYD

  • Sleep when everyone else is sleeping and take full advantage of all the blankets, pillows and free eye-masks available.
  • Adjusting your feet-to-butt-to-head angles will enable you to plan for the direction your head will loll when you’re out cold. For example, squeezing your feet to the left of your backpack and moving your butt slightly forward and to the right on your seat will direct your head back and to the left. Then, you won’t risk lolling forward and drooling all over your lap.

Sydney Airport

  • The free wifi will work for a magical five minutes and then you might be out of luck. Don’t send any emails requiring immediate attention (i.e. “I’m not on that flight! Pick me up at 5!”)
  • If you’re going to wash your face in the airport bathroom, you might have to dry your face using a super powerful hand dryer. Be prepared to experience 400 mph (approximation) air rushing into your nose and mouth. And if you accidentally get any water on your neck, just plan on having a wet neck.

Flight 3: SYD to CNS

  • This is a good time to look yourself over and see if there’s anything you can do to hide the fact that you’ve been wearing the same clothing for 36 hours. Scrape off the chocolate stuck to your shirt, double-check your hair for that salad dressing smell, etc.


And then you’ve made it!

Day 50: On the Road

Thanks very much to my mother, who is guest blogging for me today while I incoherently drool on a 14-hour flight (no medication necessary; any sort of air pressure change and I’m out). And yes, the Joie referenced below is the very same Joie who gave me a much-needed heads-up about what “fanny” means in Aussie slang on my “Getting Ready” post.


When Ashleigh called and asked if I (her mom) thought she was nuts to use the money she didn’t have to accept an invitation to visit a college friend in Cairns, Australia, I said, “Why not? Now is the time in your life to do it!” I actually think ANY time in life is the time to accept such incredible invitations, but that’s another blog for another day.

One of my very, VERY favorite artists lives in Australia. Curious, I did an Apple Maps (I know.) search to get directions so Ashleigh could meet Joie Villeneuve. Joie and her partner, Ilana, live in Perth.

Here’s what I found:

Cairns to Perth

Using my mad math skills, I think that means FIFTY-SEVEN hours of driving. New York to Los Angeles would take, according to Apple Maps (Again, I know.) forty-four hours. Ooof.

Here’s to a great adventure that doesn’t include a mother’s suggestion for a cross-continental get-together for soy chai lattes.

Joie and Ashleigh will meet another time.