Archives for posts with tag: travel

opera house at night
year of the tiger
circular quay

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Got up earlier than necessary so I could go across the street to the Wildlife Dome and have my photo taken holding a koala! She was so little (but heavier than she looked) and soft and sleepy. And her claws were very sharp too! she really latched on when the keeper put her on me.

We met up with the group and went to Kuranda. We drove through the rainforest and our guide, Roderic, pointed out a lot of plants and animals. In Kuranda, Mom, Dad and I went to the Australian Butterfly Sanctuary and saw all kinds of gorgeous and huge butterflies and moths. One butterfly wouldn’t stop landing on me – Mom had to pry it off of me and then I ran out so it couldn’t follow me again.

We went to the market area and to the honey shop then grabbed delicious German sausages for our walk to the Skyway terminal. The Skyway Rainforest Cableway is a giant gondola over the rainforest and you can see all kinds of plants and birds up there. We stopped partway down and saw Barron Falls, which was huge due to all of the recent rain. It was mostly shrouded in the huge amounts of mist it was spraying up.

At the bottom of the Skyway we went to the Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park and saw dances and explanations about food and hunting.

Dinner that night at Rattle & Hum, gelato (of course!), then retired for the night and watched the Olympics and some ‘Bones’.

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Woke up to rain (tropics!) on Great Barrier Reef day. It took over an hour to motor out to the floating platform but once we were there, Mom, Dad, Uncle Denny and I had the first scheduled marine biologist-guided snorkel.

Eric was a great guide and eased us into snorkeling and pointed out a lot of cool things. A humphead Maori wrasse named Roxie follows Eric around whenever he’s on the reef and will actually seek him out (the other guides say she’s in love with him. Later we found out she’s going through a lot of hormonal changes due to changing sexes, so I guess we can forgive her for being a little obsessive). We saw a lot of Roxie, and got to pet her and give her mouth a rub, which is her favorite. She was very smooth and soft and her mouth was sort of squashy. Roxie was probably the best part of the Reef; I wish I’d had an underwater housing for my camera so I could’ve taking a photo of her.

I didn’t take this, and this isn’t Roxie, but you can see the size of these fish!

We got to hold a sea cucumber and a free-living coral as well. Once the guided part of our snorkel was over, I stayed out and watched the fish and listened to the parrotfish eating (scrape scrape scrape!). It was fantastic and I wouldve been out all day, but I got stung by a jellyfish on my hand, ankle, and face (my lip and cheek), and more started drifting into our area so I didn’t go back in. The sting hurt a lot and took a few hours to go away, despite getting sprayed down with vinegar relatively soon after it happened (I was pretty far away from the base when I got stung).

We had a buffet lunch and went on a little trip in a semi-submersible so we could see more of the reef. We had a nice talk with Ken and Shirley, a couple we’d first met on our Taieri Gorge Railway trip and got some ice cream.

Back ashore, we cleaned up and relaxed then went to dinner on the Esplanade. My dinner at Barnacle Bill’s was so good i’m still fantasizing about it. We watched the fruit bats migrate out of town and got gelato.

my stalker

Australian Butterfly Sanctuary, Kuranda

This butterfly wouldn’t stop landing on me! Eventually my mom had to shoo it away as I ran out the door.

I held a koala!!

Her name was Pelita, she was 4.5 years old, and she was surprisingly heavy. Her info card listed her characteristics as “curious, independent, restless”. She latched on and slowly squeezed tighter and tighter with her very long and sharp claws. It was painful, but worth it to cuddle a little fuzzy koala, even if it was just for a few minutes.

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We got up at 4:40 am to disembark and fly to Cairns. Once there, we met up with our Cairns tour guide and checked into the hotel. We had free time in the afternoon, so Mom, Aunt Pat and I walked down the Esplanade, got gelato (it’s ungodly hot and humid up here in the tropics), checked out the Lagoon (big outdoor public pool and entertainment area) and picked up a few souvenirs.

We reunited with the smaller Cairns tour group and went to Hartley’s crocodile farm via a highway through the Barron River’s flood plain and acres of sugar cane (sugar cane is the #1 industry in the area aside from tourism). We cruised around the marsh and saw a lot of crocodiless and saw the up-close feeding of three or four. We had yummy canapés and I held an olive python and a baby estuarine crocodile. We saw a croc show and learned more about them, then had a great bbq complete with a ton of desserts.

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Saturday morning, Elaine, Tammy and Jula met up at my place. We packed up Elaine’s car and drove up to Big Bear. We walked around the village and got some old fashioned candy, then had lunch at a great little italian place with a big outdoor seating area. We checked into the hotel and spent awhile sitting in the sun on the patio by the lake, eating Swiss and German chocolate and relaxing. We all took naps then got ready and, after a no-show taxi, went to Oktoberfest.

We ate a lot of the good sauerkraut, drank a mini keg, and had apple strudel. Jula made friends with the band and requested some German songs – the band was loving that she knew all the words – and danced for hours.

Sunday we checked out of the hotel then had a nice picnic brunch by the lake. We loaded the car then went on a nice two-hour hike through the boulder-strewn woods. We saw some great views of the lake and the town. A good relaxing weekend.

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I had a month off between semesters, Eric had a whole week off for a Japanese holiday (he works for a Japanese company). So – last-minute camping trip! Eric found an available campsite at Patrick’s Point State Park, just south of Redwood National Park, and it was a done deal.

I drove up to San Francisco on Sunday, and fought terrible traffic the whole way. The light at the end of the tunnel was the promise delicious pizza and lasagne at Piccino. Afterwards, Eric and I got supplies at Whole Foods to make dessert – gourmet pearl sugar waffles, ice cream, fresh berries. INSANELY good. Watched some anime and made shopping lists.

Monday we packed up my car and got supplies at REI and the grocery store. Had lunch at the Counter, then drove up to Sonoma. Checked into our cabin, named ‘Make’, at the Andiron seaside inn. The cabin was adorable – filled with old craft kits, patterns, a paint-by-numbers wall, paint and crayons. We drove up to Fort Bragg and explored the glass beach – the remains of a bottle factory and had dinner at a really good little Thai place.

Tuesday we hiked a bit at Russian Gulch, then had lunch at the North Coast Brewing Co. restaurant. Dessert was Cowlicks ice cream, a much-celebrated local brand – and for good reason! Probably the best ice cream I’ve ever had. Drove to Eureka for groceries, continued on to Humboldt County, and got our first look at California’s giant prehistoric trees. They. Are. Huge.

Made camp at Patrick’s Point and cooked dinner and made s’mores. As we were cleaning up we found a little slug on our picnic table; s/he was after some hot chocolate that had spilled and soaked into the boards. Read in my sleeping bag for awhile and finally got to sleep after having some quiet mini-freak-outs about some suspicious noises that sounded like someone being bludgeoned to death.

Wednesday morning – no police, no suspicious activity, so I assumed no one had actually been murdered. Had breakfast at camp, then drove up to Redwood National Park. Got some maps and guide books then hiked a few hours through old-growth redwood forests. Hiked around another campground too, tried to view the Klamath River from an overlook, but the pervasive fog was too thick.

We returned to Patrick’s Point in time to hike down to the tide pools at Palmer’s point, at the south end of the park. Eric and I spent hours exploring the tide pools – a vast expanse of flat, rocky beach, shrouded in fog. Even with a family exploring nearby, it was eerily quiet and bleak – like an alien landscape. We saw a lot of kelp, snails and anemone, some barnacles and several starfish. After the tide pools we made dinner at camp (fajitas!) then had some s’mores and retired to our tent.

Broke camp on Thursday morning, drove down the coast to Humboldt Redwood State Park, and did some more hiking. Made it back to SF without incident, and arrived just in time to see the fog roll in.


more photos over at furfin.

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Breakfast in the International Dining Room with Aunt Linnea, then the cooking demo and galley tour, which were really interesting!

Spent most of the day on the Sun Deck – watched the cocktail competition, the ice-carving demonstration, and had the Asian buffet and a big bloody mary for lunch. Ice cream later on, then went to the live taping of ‘The Wake Show’, the ship’s morning show. Spent some time in the sun, then hung out in the hot tub with Dad.

Watched the replay of the international crew talent show on TV while we got ready for dinner. We went back to Vivaldi, and saw our waiter from the first night, Chicken, and talked with Shirley and Ken, some new friends from the cruise.