Thursday, April 30, 2009

Australia by the numbers

full days spent Down Under

kilometers hiked around Uluru

time we had to stop and ask for directions

pounds backpack weighed by the end of the trip

items lost during the trip (towel, which I was going to ditch anyway, and neck pillow, right before my Sydney to LA flight dang it!)

24 (that I can remember)
times I pulled out my wallet to buy souvineers, for myself or others (I was out of control)

giant spider encounters

spiders I killed!  (not the giant ones)

embarrassing falls

bug bits on feet and ankles

steps taken to climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge

curse word slipped while almost pulling onto the wrong side of the road


approximate hours spent flying

times I heard "no worries" and "how're you going?"

crush developed

times I said "that is gorgeous!" and "I canNOT get over how nice the people are!"

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Australia: Day 1, Brisbane

How do you even being to summarize two weeks of vacation Down Under and 750 photos?  Not to mention I haven't even gotten Karen's photos yet.  I guess I have a lot of long posts to look forward to.  Sorry if they're too long...I'm going to do my best to get all the important details down (you know the drill, for my own record keeping) and hopefully I won't bore you too much.

Waiting to board at LAX.  I had a whole row to myself, and between that, the Ambien, and the midnight takeoff I slept all but two hours.  Amazing.

First view of Australia.  Can you see the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House?

After arriving in Sydney Karen and I met up to fly to Brisbane.  Upon arrival we picked up our rental car.  On day one I had to drive in the right side of the car on the left side of the road.  Surprisingly, it wasn't as crazy as I'd anticipated.  The most complicated thing to remember was the windshield wipers and blinker were switched, so I kept turning on the wipers when I turned.  Pulling out into traffic and turning was also intimidating.  Luckily I had Karen to remind me, Keep left!

We went straight to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary.  This was the only day it rained, but as you can see by our faces, we didn't care.  We were so excited just to be in Australia!

The koalas were SO CUTE, even cuter than they look in the pictures.  (By the way, pictures do not even come CLOSE to doing justice to any of the beauty that is Australia.)

This is how they sleep!  How cute!!

If only it were so easy...

Me and Axel.  FYI, I look pretty nasty in pretty much every photo taken.  90% of the time I didn't wear makeup, and when I did it was just mascara.

This guy was so cute and cuddly.  His fur was so soft, and he was actually much heavier than I'd anticipated!  Not to mention his claws were digging into my shoulders!

These kangas were just hanging out in this field.  You could just walk right up to them and pet them!

We decided they look like overgrown rats.

A Tasmanian Devil.  Not the greatest photo, but it was the best I could get in the rain.

Another koala sleeping.  (All they do is eat eucalyptus and get stoned, and sleep.)  So many were sleeping between branches like this-doesn't look very comfortable.

Freya and Nathan!!  I was beyond ecstatic to see Freya and meet Nathan.  Freya and I lived together for three semesters at BYU-I and she was one of my favorite roommates.  She and Nathan got married about six weeks ago, however after meeting them it seemed like they'd been together forever.
They were beyond hospitable, letting us stay with them our first night and another night halfway through our trip, cooking for us, letting us do laundry, etc.  And by cooking for us, I don't mean throwing a frozen meal in the oven.  Freya made pancakes (from scratch!) at 10pm!  Most of all, it was just great to sit around the table and chat.  I was loving the diversity at the table, with Karen being Canadian, Freya being Australian, Nathan being South African, and of course me being American.


This morning I walked out of my apartment at 7:30am to a beautiful 70 degree morning.  I was in capris and short sleeves and no jacket.  As I got off the subway and walked towards Bryant Park I was listening to Coldplay and just feeling happy to be back to my life and routine, and beyond thrilled to have such gorgeous weather.  When I reached the park I was greeted by one of my favorite things about spring in New York-the tulips!
I've missed you New York.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Sunset in the Outback

More to come.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

I'm back.

Well the trip has come and gone, and I'm now wide awake at 7:12am in California. I sort of thought I might be lucky and not be jetlag when I was watching SVU last night and could hardly keep my eyes open for the ending at 1am. When I woke up around 5am I realized I was sadly mistaken.
The trip was incredible, and incredibly exhausting. By the time we reached Sydney I hardly had motivation to see much. I don't know what we could have done differently, however, as we only had two weeks and I don't know what I would have cut out of the trip regrets and I'd do it again.
Now I'm left feeling sleep deprived, dreading going back to work, and nursing a few injuries. I think I have a sliver in my finger, but can't be sure. I also have a bruised heel, from when I jumped off a ledge on the sail boat and landed on this weird corner on the floor (only to twist my ankle and fall in front of everyone.) My ego was bruised but has since recovered, however my heel hasn't. That was a week ago and I'm still limping.
What's most painful, however, is my neck. I actually slept really well pretty much every night over there, however after my last night I woke up with a pretty stiff neck. I didn't think much of it, that happens, you know? As the day wore on it loosened up a bit. However, that night I hopped on my plane to head back to the States and slept most of the way (thank you Ambien) but woke up with a lot of pain. After last night's sleep the pain is unreal. I would say I've got about 25% of my side to side movement. Owie. It sort of feels like something a little more serious that just a stiff neck but we'll see. I just popped three Advil and I'm hoping a hot shower might loosen it up.
All it all the trip was amazing and I highly recommend everyone see Australia at some point. I have a bazillion photos, so when I get back to New York and have time to sort through them expect some lengthy posts.
Until then, g'day!!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

I take it back...

Lake McKenzie is the second most beautiful place I've seen. The first is Whitehaven Beach. Un-freakin-real. Sailing was awesome. Hit up the Outback for 24 hours. So gorgeous but way too many flies.
I'm in Melbourne till Friday and then it's off to Sydney to finish the trip. Can't believe I only have three more days. It's flown by, but I also feel like I haven't been in NY in ages. On one hand I don't want to leave, but on the other hand, I've missed New York since I left. Funny how that happens.
Melbourne seems like an amazing city, I'm excited to check it out tomorrow (just arrived tonight.)
Yes, I've taken a MILLION pictures, so expect to see a LOT of posts with a LOT of pictures. Maybe my favorite (okay I have a million favorites) part of the trip so far was scuba diving the Great Barrier Reef. Amazing. Honestly amazing. I even saw a little Nemo peeking out of his little home. They're very shy fish so he was a little scared. I got to touch the little plant he lives in which is a little freaky. It immediately suctions to your fingers.
Anyway, I'm rambling. Gotta go to bed, so tired.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

From a hostel in Airlie Beach

Real quick....Australia is amazing. So beautiful and everyone is SO NICE it's unreal. I've met a lot of cool people and have been running pretty nonstop. I've got a little time to kill before hopping on a sail boat for the next three days in the Whitsundays, which includes the Great Barrier Reef. I'm pretty stoked.
Just finished a two day tour on Fraser Island. Awesome. Wikipedia Lake McKenzie, it's maybe the most beautiful place I've ever been.
Love you all!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Leavin on a jet plane...

...don't know when I'll be back again! Okay, I do. April 27, but still, I'd like to think I won't be back for longer.
I can't believe today is the big day!! I've wanted to blog all week but haven't because I've been super busy trying to get ready for the trip, and also my internet was even less dependable than usual.
I got into LA last night after some drama at JFK. Ugh. Have I mentioned I hate flying? I've got 10 flights left before I'm back in New York so hopefully there's nothing too crazy along the way.
Anyway, my friend Melissa was a doll and picked me up after some last minute changes this week. My parents were out of town and my other plans fell through.
It was great to catch up with M&M and eat at one of my favorite places, BJ's. Mmmmmm. Maybe the best part was the skateboarding competition that had on tv that was taking place in Sydney. The guys were in shorts and no shirts. Can't WAIT for that weather!!
I got to my parents' and passed out pretty quickly. I'd been up till 3:30am the night before doing the last minute packing.
This morning I'm running for a quick haircut and then my sister's coming up with the kids. Yay!! My parents will be back some time this afternoon and then tonight it's back to LAX to head to Sydney. Woooohooo!!! Sort of dreading the flight but oh well, it will be worth it!
Anyway, gotta run. Enjoy Easter for me! I'll miss it completely as I'll be crossing the international date line (is that what it's called?) and basically skipping over Sunday completely. Weird.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

3 Nephi 14

Yes, I fell off the wagon for a little while, but I got back on a little bit ago.  I just haven't blogged about reading because I hated admitting that I fell so far from my goal to finish the Book of Mormon by the end of the year.  But, we all do it right?  The good news is I'm back on.  Who's with me?
I'm really loving 3 Nephi, and tonight I read a great chapter.  I was getting ready for bed thinking, I could really use some inspiration tonight.  And inspiration I got.  I knew I was in for a treat when I saw that I have the entire chapter highlighted.  So much of what I read stuck out to me.
In verse 6 when Christ tells us:

Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.

I added the bold.  How great are those words?  I'm pretty sure this definitely was not meant to be taken in the way I read it tonight, however after some great discussions with one of my favorite girls today it reminded me to not date below my standards.  I've dated some pretty awesome guys, and some pretty awesome guys who for whatever reason behave in some pretty not so awesome ways.  Looking back I noticed a pattern of something very important that every guy I've dated in the last few years has lacked.  I am really focusing on keeping what I need most in a relationship, and keeping my priorities in tact.

In verses 7 and 8 we're told:

Ask, and it shall be given unto you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.
For every one that asketh, receiveth; and he that seeketh, findeth; and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened.

It's unreal how simple some things are that I hope and wish for, but never seem to take to the Lord.  I'm always thinking of the bigger things-job, health, family, etc.  I really need to remember to take other things to the Lord.  How amazing is it that He never tires of hearing from us?  How truly wonderful that He wants to hear all our daily problems and thoughts, even if it's something as simple as "I feel like I need more friends."

Again, in verses 15-18, 20:

Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
Ye shall know them by their fruits.  Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.
A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
Wherefore, by their fruits ye shall know them.

I'm not calling guys I know false prophets.  Not at all.  This just reminded me of an email Jason sent to me while he was on his mission.  I was a very young 18 year old freshman in college and he warned me to look out for the "wolves in sheep's clothing" who might want to date me.  I had no idea how many of them there were.  (Disclaimer.....I'm not man-hating, and don't think all guys are jerks.  SWEAR!  I've just had my eyes opened over the last few years.  I'm not holding them entirely accountable.  I'm responsible as well.  We teach people how to treat us, therefore I'm working on becoming a better teacher.)  I'm reminding myself about a conversation I had with a good friend Russ in college, who taught me about the ways to be able to feel out guys.  I was so worried of being deceived, but there really are red flags that are sometimes ignored.  On that same thought, I'm also working on becoming a person that doesn't have those red flags as well.  

Finally, in 24-27:

Therefore, whoso heareth these sayings of mine and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, who built his house upon a rock-
And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not, for it was founded upon a rock.
And every one that heareth these sayings of mine and doeth them not shall be likened unto a foolish man, who built his house upon the sand-
And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell, and great was the fall of it.

Such powerful words here.  I want to build upon the Rock that is the Savior Jesus Christ, because the winds and rain do come.  Sometimes they don't stop for days, and it's so difficult to keep my house up when it's built on the sand.  I can still hear the scripture mastery in my head from high school, "Build upon the Rock or fail."  So true.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Wifey's trip to NYC

I can't believe how long it's been since Shantay came out to visit.  It was the end of February and so cold, but of course we still had so much fun, like we alway do, no matter what we're doing.
Shantay flew out on a Thursday, and that night we went to dinner and got some cupcakes from Magnolia's.  

After enjoying our cupcakes.  One of the sickest photos ever, but I had to include it because we hardly took any.

Friday included sleeping in, facials at TriBeCa Beauty Spa, dinner at Max Brenner, the ballet with Ashley, Heidi, Karli, and Maria, and then the UWS Shake Shack.

At Max Brenner before the ballet.

At the New York City Ballet.  We saw different scenes from four different ballets including Swan Lake, and three others I now can't remember the names of.  They were all so good!

Saturday was (freezing!) and filled with a walk through Central Park, shopping, and going to a comedy club.

Shantay was very excited about one of my favorite shoe stores.  They really do have great shoes!!

One of the best subway acts I've ever seen.  A guy on the drums, another on the piano, and two girls who took turns clogging.  They were really good.  I rarely give donations but I had to with this group.  Not to mention, how the heck do you get a piano down to the subway??

Sunday we went to church, headed to Times Square to check out what shows were at TKTS, had lunch at John's Pizzeria (one of the only restaurants I've been to that doesn't make you claustrophobic,) headed home for a nap, and then saw Shopaholic.  (I could write a whole blog post on my feelings on that movie.  I had my suspicions before I saw it, and then they were confirmed.)

In Times Square on another collllld day.

On Monday poor Shantay had the traveling day from hell.  New York had a "snow" day (it really didn't seem that bad to me but some of my friends had the day off work) so she ended up going back and forth to JFK three times, due to flights being canceled, and then not, etc etc.  It's a long story.  She ended up getting as far as Salt Lake by late Monday night and then home to Boise on Tuesday, poor thing.
Shantay's been to New York twice before, so she'd done all the touristy things, so it was really nice and fun to just be able to hang out pressure free.  Every night we stayed up talking until the wee hours, laughing until our sides hurt, gossiping, and also having deep and serious conversations.  The best of all worlds.
I had so so much fun!!  Thanks for coming Shantay!!!