- Friday, August 23, 2002

Timeline for the past several days:
Friday: Last day in Seattle, Heimo misses the mechanic and requires a visit as we are running one of our many errands in the early am, last night of good home-cooked meals (flank steak)

Saturday: Trek down to Portland to drop off Chuy (very difficult for M), fantastic last Mexican meal with Jon & Jen

Sunday: Fly to Dallas at the crack of dawn, Barb & Dad drive down from Shreveport for a last goodbye (thanks!), paint E.J. & Gideon's Master bedroom in their newly renovated home (it looks great!!)

Monday: Fly to LA to stay with Margot & David (even though they have had NO BREAK from visitors!), hike ~ 5miles in Topanga Canyon, have wine over lunch while everyone we know is working

Tuesday: Rest, Relax, hang with Margot & David, Catch our flight to Australia in PM

Thursday: We lose 1 day, Arrive early AM in Brisbane, stay with friends of Margot & David's for the night & explore Brisbane in the pourning rain as we suffer from extreme jet lag

Friday: Fly to Cairnes....

We arrived in Brisbane, Australia following merely 18 hours flying. I can't complain b/c Dave is a full foot taller than me and was completely stuffed into his seat. Two good things about flying Qantas: 1) the food was pretty good as well as healthy (really!), and 2) they'd showed the movie Grease just as I thought I was going to fall asleep!!! Little factoid: John Travolta is a Qantas Ambassador-at-Large and is apparently flying their 747's around the world promoting the airline as noted in the in-flight magazine and mentioned a million times during our flight!! ( check out the following link to see a promotional bit on this - John Travolta - Qantas Promo ) It was pretty surreal hanging out in the airport before our flight awaiting departure. We'd been waiting to leave for so long that it didn't seem quite real until the flight actually left the ground. WOO HOO!!!

Our itinerary took us to Auckland where we arrived @ 4:30AM, too early to see the beautiful countryside everyone talks about. Since it was "beer-o'clock" somewhere in the world, we were only mildy suprised to see a fellow traveler gulping a beer before dawn. After arriving in Brisbane at around 8:30AM, we headed to Laurie and Richard Marsden's home (Margot & David's friend) for one night prior to our trip up to Cairns. We were really tired at first, but powered through to head out and see some of Brisbane. After Laurie dropped us off at the water bus station by the U of Queensland, we proceeded down river to see the South Park Expo area and the Riverside development. We then walked through downtown and caught a bus back to our hosts house for dinner and a relaxing evening.

Did I forget to mention the crappy weather we encountered on our arrival? Evidently, it hadn't rained at all over the past 90+ days in Brisbane and we timed our arrival just to catch the tail end of 5 straight days of grey rainy Seattle style weather. So we were forced to take our rain gear that we hoped wouldn't be put to use until we reached South Australia. Marisa and I fought through the rain and cool weather to see some of downtown Brisbane and got some trip planning done at a local cafe. It was actually pretty fun. Our traveling got the best of us and we were completely wiped out by 10pm and didn't wake up until after 10am the next day (today - Friday). (FYI - Australia is 7 hours and one day ahead).

Today we awoke to a picture perfect day - blue skies and about 75 degrees. After a quick breakfast, we were wisked off to the airport by Laurie to catch our flight to Cairns. At the airport we sorted through some of our stuff and locked some items in a locker so we didn't have to carry so much. After our 2 hr flight to Cairns, we hopped on a shuttle to our hostel accomodations where we unpacked and took a walk downtown. Cairns is pretty commercial as it's a gateway city to the Great Barrier Reef. So lots of touristy stuff and pretty developed downtown and restaurants, etc. Our hostel provided free dinner (yup, spaghetti or slop & rice) at a local pub and then we hit the internet cafe.

We joined an organization called WWOOF (willing workers on organic farms) this week to enhance our holiday here down under. It's a pretty sweet deal!! WWOOFers (travelers/us) trade 3-5 hrs a day of work on a farm for room and board at a WWOOF hosts home. WWOOF hosts own all types of farms or businesses - cattle, organic crops/fruit, B & B's and small businesses. Typically it's a 2 person operation that just needs additional help. Marisa and I are hoping to save money, do something different than the normal tourist activities which are in abundance, and have good conversations with people who are over 25. BTW - almost all the travelers we see are under the age of 25. Makes us feel pretty old.

Over the next two or three days we hope to have figured out where we may be able to do some WWOOF'ing, which path we want to follow down the coast back to Brisbane, and which fun activities we'd like to participate in (snorkeling, scuba, white water rafting, kayaking, etc..). Life is rough, we know....

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