December 1, 2018

Practicing to be an Aussie

Well we have spent 40 days in Sydney practicing to be Aussie’s. Sydney is a great place to live. There is a lot to do everywhere from sightseeing like the Sydney Harbour and Bridge, the many cultural museums around the city and of course the beaches. There we days when we did nothing but go to a museum and have lunch. Some of our favorites were the Australian Maritime Museum on Darling Harbour and the Australian Museum near Hyde Park. 



The Maritime Museum in my opinion is a must see. The exhibits were very interesting and you definitely learn a lot about Capt. Cook and the discovery of all of the Pacific Islands. He is a very important figure in Australia the same as our Christopher Columbus as he discovered the south east coast near Sydney called Botany Bay. He then claimed all of it for the British Crown. There are also special exhibits that pay homage to the Aboriginal People of Australia. Outside of the museum there are several ships from all eras in maritime history including a submarine. You can even go on a cruise on a tall ship.



The Australian Museum is comparable to the Smithsonian with both natural history and anthropology exhibits. It is the oldest museum in Australia. The exhibits here range from taxidermy animals, rocks and minerals, dinosaurs and various artifacts that have been collected from the Pacific Islands. There is also a permanent gallery of Indigenous art that is pretty comprehensive. From didgeridoos, boomerangs, spears and even mask’s from the various Australian tribes. There is even a gallery with stuffed birds from all over Australia.


Room of Australian taxidermy animals 
Burial Poles







        








We visited both Bondi and Manly beach. Bondi was pretty commercialized and noisy and Manly was our favorite mainly because of the small town of Manly that is right next to the beach. We spent the entire Sunday afternoon at the beach watching the surfing and life guard classes as well as walking the esplanade. There are several cafes along the beach to enjoy a cool drink or lunch. The views are amazing since the water is such a beautiful color. On Sunday there is a market in town that you can shop for arts and crafts, jewelry and other cool stuff. On the other side of town by the ferry docks there is a walkway that takes you around the bay or you can just sit and enjoy watching all the boats coming and going from the Harbour. Best way to spend a Sunday afternoon. 

Manly Beach

Delwood Beach
Do you know what Aussie fast food is? You can’t find a restaurant in Australia that doesn’t serve the old standard Fish & Chips. You would have thought you were living in England. Although I love F & C’s and we have some very good fish & chips, I think I would get really tired of eating it that often if I lived here permanently. It’s as bad as seeing McDonalds everywhere in the US. The alternate we found was to visit the Sydney Fish Market near our apartment and buy fresh fish that we baked or put on the barbie. We tried some new varieties that we never had before from Specked Emperor, Barramundi and Egyptian Perch. It’s amazing how different the fish tasted compared to what we were used to buying in the states.  


Sydney Fish Market
Barramundi
The selection was huge!
Australian also love their coffee. But not just any coffee and especially not Starbucks. They are into the little coffee cafes that serve fresh pressed. We couldn’t walk down the street from our apartment without walking by several in a few blocks. Of course morning is a busy time for coffee but so is afternoon tea time. From around 3pm until 4:30 the coffee shops are packed with Aussie’s having coffee and cakes. OMG you should see all the different kinds of cakes and pastries they have to go with your coffee. Good thing I don’t drink coffee in the afternoon since I would have to have cake with it too!

What should I choose?

It’s funny some of the comparisons I made while we were visiting some of the museums in Sydney. The gold rushes of the 1850’s were not unique to the US. I hadn’t realized this fact until I noticed an exhibit that had large gold nuggets that were found in Australia and then saw the time period and thought this can’t be true. While the US was having a gold rush in California during 1850’s so was Australia in New South Wales.

Another comparison that disturbs me is the plight of the aboriginals and their rights in Australia. It is pretty much the same as the American Indian in the US back in the mid to late 1800’s. Many of their lands were taken from them and exploited while their people suffered. The only difference is that the American Indians have reclaimed some of their lands and were given the same rights as American citizens some time ago. However, in Australia the aboriginals are still fighting about the same issues as of today. As late as the year 2000 were they granted some basic rights by the government. I still cannot believe this is happening in this country at this place in time.

Aboriginal street art

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November 10, 2018

A funny thing happened in the Loo

Funny, I had no idea I didn’t know how to use a public restroom. Normally I would avoid a public restroom like the plague especially one on the street in the middle of the city. But nature called and I was forced to go forward.

I sized up the booth by looking at it from the outside since I thought you had to put coins in to operate. It didn’t have a door handle so I had to stand there and read the instructions on the wall. By waving your hand in front of a sensor it opened sesame. Once inside it looked like the Starship Enterprise and I was going to be beamed up. As soon as the door closed the lights dimmed and elevator music started playing through the speakers in the ceiling. I thought this is going to be a really cool new experience in a public restroom until I saw “the warning”.

On the wall in front of the commode was a digital screen that warned you only have 10 minutes to do your business otherwise the main door would open and the sprinklers would be activated. Thinking to myself, what if I was sick in there, would I be a victim of the sprinklers and then come out soaking wet? So needless to say I didn’t waste any time.

Once finished, I reached for the toilet paper. You must be kidding! I couldn’t find any rolls anywhere in sight as I frantically looked around the room. So again I looked at the screen in front of me. There it gave me directions on how to retrieve the 8 tiny squares of toilet paper by waving my hand in front of yet another sensor on the wall.

Now to flush. As I looked everywhere and my time was slowly ticking away I kept thinking please don’t let the sprinkler go off! Again, I had to read the directions on the screen. The toilet automatically flushed ONLY after you used the soap and water dispensers to your left. I guess this is a fail safe or is it. Then comes the task of drying off your hands. Now by this time I knew to look for directions from the display. Here they told you to hold your hands under a random bar that then had air blowing down to dry them.

With my business done within the allotted 10 minutes I proceeded to exit the door by waving my hand across the sensor relieved that the door opened automatically. I stood in front of the restroom thinking “You must be kidding me, was that a joke?” When on earth has something you have done most of your life become so difficult. Just remember this if you happen to see a giant stainless steel restroom on the street - Obey the Commands or Else!
😂🚽🧻🧼😂
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October 6, 2018

Tahiti (Pape’ete & Moorea) and American Samoa (Pago Pago)

Well after 5 days from Hawaii we finally arrived in Pepe’ete Tahiti. Both islands we visited were former French colonies. This is definitely a disadvantage for us since most people speak French. guess we’ll have to use the Google translator. On Pepe’ete we did not take any tours and decided to tour the downtown area. I was in search of a famous Tahitian Pearl. They are rated by the body color and sheen of the pearl. The most expensive tend to be more dark green in color with a purple overtone. Of course I dragged my husband all over the town but by the end of the day we found the perfect one. We stopped at the local market to see all the various things they had for sale from beautiful flowers, unusual fruits to souvenirs. While we were out shopping we decided to stop at a café on the wharf for a quick bite to eat. We split a large salad and had 2 beers apiece. The bill came to $56 and we about fell out of our chairs. Be prepared if you plan on vacationing in French Polynesian make sure you take lots of money since everything there was expensive by our standards. 






Overnight we sailed to Moorea. When I think of Tahiti this is it. As I looked out our balcony this morning it was the most magical green across the mountains. We took of tour of the entire island with a stop at a pineapple farm to see how they actually grew. They almost look like an artichoke when they first flower. Then we went up to the Belvedere look-out point and from there you could see all the way to the Cook’s Bay, fantastic views of Mount Mouaroa and the lush vegetation of Opunohu Valley. We both enjoyed the entire day since the scenery was so beautiful.


Out to sea again for 2 days and then arrived at Pago Pago. It is actually pronounce Pango Pango by the natives. Every since I worked for NOAA I knew we had offices there and thought wouldn’t that be something if I could ever visit there. Well my wish came true. I found out where the NOAA offices were in town and went there to visit the staff. They were very surprised to have someone visit that worked at Headquarters, but of course I told I had just retired that’s how I could visit. Most of them were from Hawaii originally and said they absolutely loved living there. We also visited the Papahanaumokuakea Marine Sanctuary Monument visitor center. There we watched a NOAA movie about the sanctuary and the mission to preserve the ocean environment. It was awesome!



Well not half way through the cruise and we are in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. It is over 18,000 feet deep. Had a discussion today at lunch about whether  there  were any pirates out here. First of all where in the hell would they come from when we are miles from any land and secondly there are over 2600 hundred people on this cruise. I would hope at least a few of them could overpower the Pirates argghh.



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September 28, 2018

Hawaii (Honolulu & Nawiliwili)

Trip has been pretty smooth sailing so far (forgive the pun). First stop in Honolulu and we did some errands and visited Waikiki Beach. For a minute I thought I saw Don Johnson but it was just some wanabe reminiscing about the 80’s. Very beautiful beach but we did not have anytime to enjoy it. We did stop to have some traditional coconut and pineapple shaved ice which was better than ice cream on a hot humid day in the city. Not necessarily thrilled about Oahu but after being on the ship for 4 days straight it was a chance to get off.






Our next stop was in Kauai. Much more laid back island and we loved it there. Spent the day touring the island. Along the way we stopped at a place called the Spouting Horn. It’s a natural lava tube that the ocean water rushes through an creates a geyser. It makes a sound just like a whale when the spout water through their blowhole. Then on to Waimea Canyon that’s called the Grand Canyon of the Pacific but a lot more greener. Of course Robb said “it’s just another hole in the ground”. No matter what he says, I thought it was beautiful. Although had to get pictures really quick since it clouds up really fast. The drive back to the ship was along the coast past some beautiful beaches. I know that many of my friends may have watched Fantasy Island back in the 70’s. The opening seen where Tattoo says “The plane Boss, the plane” was filmed here at Wailua Falls. Also, many movies were also filmed on this island such as South Pacific, Blue Hawaii, Jurassic Park and Raiders of the Lost Ark.  I can see why anyone that visits here loves Hawaii.





Learned some interesting facts about Hawaii on this visit. Pineapples and sugar cane have not been grown here since the mid 80’s. The labor became too expense to harvest them and there was also a hurricane that destroyed many of the fields. So now instead many of the islands all produce coffee. It only takes a couple of years for the coffee plants to grow and the volcanic soil adds to the flavor. Yes, more coffee for me.





Today I was pondering the color of Blue. Our creator must have loved the color blue as I look out over the sea today. The ocean is the color of the most bluest eyes you have ever seen. The sky is the color of a robin’s egg as it sits in the nest. As the ship chugs along and the propellers churn up the ocean, there is another color of blue. This time it is mixed with the white foam it creates and looks like a wonderful relaxing bubble bath. It is hard to describe the many shades of the colors I am seeing. Think about all of the things you come in contact with each day and all the colors you see. It is very overwhelming but gratify to think that this world is full of wonderful color. 



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August 1, 2018

And so the story begins...

We have been planning this for years and now it will come to fruition. We had to decided to live overseas ever since I can remember. We actually planned to buy a home somewhere overseas and just move there and live. We actually bought some property in Panama a several years ago and thought we would build our retirement home there. Instead we decided to be gypsies of the world for a few years first. You never know, we might find someplace we like better to live. 
            

Now comes the hard part after we made this decision. You don't realize how much “stuff” you really own until you get ready to live out of 4 suitcases and 2 backpacks. My husband and I have lived around the US in various 3000sq foot homes for the last 15 years and of course we had a 3 car garage too. That is a lot of crap to get rid of. The first move of our journey was in 2014 from Albuquerque, NM to Kansas City, MO when I accepted a job with the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Before moving we gave away, sold and donated a lot of stuff especially a bunch of furniture.



Once we got to KC, of course we bought more stuff, it’s the American way. We were only there for 2 1/2 years when we found out my job was moving us to Fort Worth, TX the summer of 2017. This time we had 2 garage sales to get rid of as much as we could. My husband actually sold all of his tools and yard equipment. You don’t know how hard that was for him to get rid of his man items. I purged more things too such as a bunch of craft projects and supplies I had been carrying around for years. By this time we both knew things were getting really serious. Of course there was another huge decision, what to keep and what we were going to store for the next 4-5 years. We went through the entire house picking out what was most important to us before moving to Texas. 

We moved into a 2 bedroom apartment since we knew we would have company and I was planning on retiring the end of 2017. When we moved to TX, we were down to 2 bedroom sets, a sectional (we bought in KC) and of course my husband’s precious 65” HDTV. As the old saying goes, things don’t always turn out the way you plan. Well you know what, they offered me a bonus to stay until June 1, 2018 which was 6 more months. However at the end of December we would be homeless since we already gave notice on our apartment. So I offered for us to move to Headquarters in Washington, DC until the beginning of June when I would retire. Moving to Washington, DC for the last six months of my career gave us another opportunity to do some more purging. Again, we had to decide what to take from Ft. Worth and move to DC. All of the furniture ended up staying in TX along with a few things we sold on OfferUp. 



This time we moved into a 1 bedroom apartment. We slept on a queen size air mattress, purchased a small sectional from Craig's list and only brought a few kitchen items with us to use while we were there. Everything else that was going in storage when we got back to Michigan was left packed in boxes stacked around the apartment. After I finished my assignment there in June I donated all of my work clothes to Dress for Success and we moved back to Michigan where we were originally from. We hauled back the remaining things that would go in storage in Michigan. We rented a room that was actually a small suite in a house near our daughters for a few months to visit with family and friends before our big adventure would begin. Before I officially retired I had also found out I was eligible for an early retirement but would have to stay yet another 2 months. So I ended up not retiring until the beginning of August 2018 with a nice bonus to start our new life.

During our last “transition” is when we decided to start our journey by taking a repositioning cruise for 30 days from Los Angeles to Sydney, Australia. 
We had about 7 weeks before we had to be in LA so we decided to drive across the US and visited places out west we have never been to such as Mesa Verde, Arches NP and Joshua Tree NP just to name a few. Of course we made a stop in Vegas for the last time in a while. Once we reached California we went and got an appraisal on our car at Carmax and we sold it the day before we left. 

The ship will be leaving on Sept 23 and will arrive in Sydney Oct 22. We have rented an apartment about 2 miles from downtown Sydney in an area called Glebe for a month to start out. It’s both exciting as well as sad. We will miss our families and friends but we will be thinking about everyone all along the way. Please follow us on our adventure around the world as we live and eat like the locals.

P.S. Don’t be jealous of us since it’s not as easy as we may have made it seem. See you soon from wherever we may be!
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