Saturday, January 12, 2013

Friends make traveling even better!

The world is a small place.  No matter where you find yourself, it seems that someone you know has been there, or knows someone who has.  Traveling opens your eyes to new ways of living, new ways of life, introduces you to new people, and makes you thankful for everything you have.

After Alex left, and I watched him rise to the second floor on the escalator to make his final boarding call, I was picked up at the airport by a girl I feel I’ve known for years.  A girlfriend of mine that I have known for my whole life, Erin Anweiler, is a figure skater.  She has skated nationally, and at world competitions.  A few years ago, she was in Australia and met and lived with a girl named Anne.  They became insta-friends, and are still in communication almost daily, regardless of the distance!  As soon as Erin knew I was going to be in Australia, she connected Anne and I and we have been in touch for a few weeks now!  Anne lives in the Brisbane area, and this worked perfectly for us to meet up and hang out after Alex had left.

Anne picked me up shortly after 5pm at the Brisbane Domestic Airport, in a Mazda identical to the one I sold before my trip!  It’s an Aussie Luda! (That’s what I named my car!)  Exact same colour, tinted windows and everything.  It felt strange sitting on what was the driver’s side in my Luda, while Anne escorted me around via the “passenger side!”  We got lost in conversation immediately!  It’s so great to feel like you just walk in to a natural friendship!

We went down to South Bank, where we parked the car and walked along the boardwalk there, that was swarming with people walking, running, biking, skateboarding and using the public picnic and barbecue facilities.  The evening was perfect! Light breeze and a lovely sunset over the hinterlands! We walked to a chocolate house called Max Brenners that wasn’t aaactually made of chocolate, but was close enough!  There was every type of chocolate dessert imaginable.  We each got an ice cream brownie sundae, with whipped cream, chocolate beads and chocolate sauce – YUM!  

After putting ourselves into food comas, we did our best to waddle back down where we’d come from, passing Kangaroo Point and worked off some of our chocolate feast, since we had to make room for dinner! Dessert before dinner?  Why not?  We walked along a huge rock face, where there were heaps of people climbing and watching.  The rocks were all lit up for the evening adventurists!  We had to sprint quickly for a ways to catch a free city hopper boat that took us across the river, and into Eagle Street Pier, where we walked to Queen Street Mall to grabs some eats at an Italian restaurant called Vapiano!  This restaurant was unlike any restaurant I’ve ever been to.  When you walk in, you’re handed a small two sided menu, with all different types of pizzas and pastas and salads and drinks available.  You’re also handed a card, like a hotel room key, but this is your bill!  You find a lineup for your desired meal, and when it’s your turn to order, you tell the chef and then swipe your card!  The balance will carry for the evening, and you pay upon exit!  All food is made at the restaurant, and is all so fresh!  Each table even has planted herbs for your usage if you so wish.  Anne and I split Rucola Raviolis, (ravioli with rocket at ricotta, cherry tomatoes and pine nuts), and con espinache pizza! (oils and spinach and garlic, tomatoes, basil, pesto, feta and prawns!)  

After dinner, we walked back and caught the hopper back across the river.  We walked back to the car, and headed to Anne’s apartment.  I must add that the conversation hasn’t even paused until this point!  We both have the gift of the gab, and enjoyed each other’s company!  Anne’s little kitten Tilly was thrilled for us to be home.  She was a rescue kitten, and was Anne’s birthday present in mid-December.  Tilly is a gorgeous little kitten, with the most unique colouring I’ve ever seen.  She’s got a light brown coat, with little stripes here and there of black, with a rusty brown that zigzags all over her body, and consumes her back left leg.  She’s beautiful, and is quite the little lioness!  Sleep was much needed for both of us, and was eventually needed for Tilly after playing in the shoes and clothes, and after hunting a few bugs.

In the morning, Anne and I went out for breakfast together at a restaurant called Vagelis, where Anne had some eggs benedict, and I had some French toast with fresh fruit and loads of syrup, of course!  Anne dropped me at the Central train station so I was able to catch my train to Noosa, and headed to work.  Anne is a Personal Trainer Manager at a gym in Brisbane, and is so happy and motivated!  Such a happy soul, and I understand why she and Erin clicked so well.  I had definitely met another gem along my journey, and will undoubtedly be keeping in touch with her.

The train up to the Sunshine Coast isn’t as direct as getting on in Brisbane and getting off in Noosa.  Transfers are required, but are pretty straightforward… until you think you’ll be wise to look up a “better” system.  I figured I’d go a little further on the train than what the “journey planner” had outlined for me, and get on the bus I would have caught anyways, further along it’s route, saving me from some too-windy roads on a coach bus.  Luckily, after sitting on a sidewalk under the protection of a big leafy tree for a little over thirty minutes, the bus came!  Matt was the lucky random recipient of a verbal diarrhea phone chat, which he’s used to!  It was around 40 degrees, so by the time the bus arrived, I was pretty enthused to get onto an air-conditioned bus.  

Finally arriving at the Noosa Junction stop, I pulled my bags up the steepest hill ever.  No exaggerating, it’s a 45 degree angle, so pulling a wheely bag up the hill backwards had my knuckles sore from holding on so tightly, in fear I’d let go and it would end up back at the terminal.  But I made it!  I found my sleepy friend Lindsey having a nap!  We caught up for a bit, before her boyfriend Mitch got home.  We accompanied Mitch to a local tattoo shop here, where he got some new ink dedicated to his grandparents.  It’s a really beautifully done Bonsai tree, with anniversaries of their passing.  Lindsey and Mitch both eventually had to go to work that evening, so I spent part of the evening relaxing and reading, and
Ended up passing out around 10:30pm.

On Thursday morning, Mitch was up and out the door for an early shift, leaving Linds and I to sleep in a bit!  When we got up, we had some breakfast together on the deck then got ourselves together for a fantastic hike through Noosa National Park.  It was breathtaking!  The paths rim the sea, and we stopped along the way to snap some pictures and take in the scenery.  The sky was cloudless, and the breeze kept us cool while we walked.  We walked the blue trail you can see on the map, stopping at Tea Tree Bay, Dolphin Point, and turning around at Hell’s Gate, which gave us a perfect view of Alexandria Bay.  Around where it says Picnic Cove, there are the neatest Fairy Pools that you can climb down to and swim in when the tide is out.  When the tide is in, the wide and deep cuts in the rocks are covered by the surface of the water, and are full, but exposed when the tide is out.  I explained it to Mama like this: it would be like filling a bowl with water, then setting it on the bottom of the sink, then filling the sink.  When you pull the plug in the sink, the bowl will still be full of water. :) Since the pools are always full of water, algae and some ocean vegetation exists, and clings to the rocks.  The wind was a little strong, rippling the water, which prevented us from a clear view down into the pool through a calm water’s surface.  Regardless, I went for a swim, and the water level hugged my shoulders and earlobes.  It was a slippery climb out, but I managed!  We were joined by a friend of Mitch and Lindsey’s named Mic, who visited with us for a while before continuing his run back to the parking lot. 

We ended up meeting back up with him once we’d made our way back, and he brought our attention to a huge Guana that was being fed by a picnic table where we had parked the car!  This beast was huge, and isn’t someone you snuggle with.  Mitch got pictures of one that was similar in size devouring a possum just over a week ago near the house.  Mic treated Lindsey and I to lunch and a few drinks at the Noosa Surf Club (which you can also see on my little cute map!)  The food was incredible, and the company was great.  Lots of laughs.  We had to get back to the house so Linds could get ready for work, and I headed to Big W (Aussie Walmart) for a few things, and to print the lovely pictures of “Allison’s Trip to the Zoo!”  When I got back, the boys offered me a Corona, which I obviously accepted, and we got into a game of Uno and had a few drinks together.  Lindsey brought home some pizza, and we called it a night! 

Like myself, Lindsey loves to write.  On Friday morning, we met up on the balcony, had a tea, and caught up on our writing.  Unlike myself, Lindsey keeps the most amazing journals!  They have everything pasted into them from receipts and old tickets to pictures and even shells!  Amazing.  I finished organizing the pictures I was mailing home amongst a few other things, and we had some breakfast before getting ourselves beach-ready and made our way down to Sunshine Beach for a few hours, stopping in at the Post Office quickly.  The beach was great!  The breeze kept us cool, and was such a nice relief from the humidity in town and in the house.  We did a grocery shop, then headed home.  I made one of my favourite dishes: One Dish Taco!  Lindsey approved, but Mitch was at work, so he definitely missed out.  Lindsey and I watched The Fighter, killed a bag of popcorn, and went to bed shortly after Mitch got home.  

The times I find myself sitting alone on a balcony, listening to the choir of birds, cicadas, and breezes blowing through the leaves of the surrounding trees are the nights I enjoy the most.  They allow me time to think, reflect, remember and most importantly, organize my mind.  It’s a machine in motion at all times, and that makes me who I am.  Always thinking, processing my days had and days to come.  Today, Lindsey and I were down at Sunshine Beach for a few hours together.  She’s definitely a friend that understands conversation, and the simplicity and beauty of silence.  She is an extremely admirable person, who volunteers while she travels the world – something many backpackers can’t factor into their travels either based on time, or money.  But Lindsey has got time management down to an art, and through her travels, really changes lives, whether directly or indirectly.  I should take a few leafs out of her life notebook of values and morals.  Even though she and I think very similarly, and share several personality traits, I truly admire and respect the amount of volunteering she does while she travels.  She spent eight weeks in South Africa volunteering and teaching kids to surf!  She has helped at a women’s shelter. She’s currently volunteering weekly at a second hand store that raises money for a suicide hotline.  Those examples only scratch the surface.  Her heart is huge, and I’m really fortunate to know such a determined, ambitious person, with such a love of life and desire to learn. 

Next chapter for me starts now!  The family that I met through Alex, the Girlder family, has invited me to live with them and live with them while I find some work in Toowoomba!  Talk about a blessing!  They are the sweetest family, and the kids are so well raised and polite.  Dave and Rachel are lovely, and are such a dynamic and lovely couple.  I’m really excited for their company!  I will find some work in Toowoomba, likely regional work of some sort.  I will have some updates by next week!


A shout out to my little martian! I LOVE YOU AND MISS YOU! 

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