or a trip to build a life time on? The 2009/10 Adventure ends!
So many people have asked us what was the best bit? – how on earth can we decide?
• Having the courage to go in the first place?
• Following our hearts and making the most of every opportunity that presented itself?
• Having the wonderful opportunity to spend a whole year, 24 hours a day with our kids – discovering so much about them that we don’t see day in day out and enjoying their company, giggling together, experiencing so much together?
• Making new friends, renewing old ones and meeting our very special friends from the UK along the way…..
Add to that mix all the wonderful unique experiences we have enjoyed:
• Watching whales swim right underneath us at Kalbari.
• Swimming with Hectar Dolphins in the wild.
• Watching pods of 100s of Dolphins first thing in the morning.
• Snorkelling Ningaloo Reef and seeing thousands of beautiful beach just steps from the beach.
• Camping at Cape Range National Park with its primitive facilities and no water.
• Skiing – Sun Peaks, Jasper, Banff, Kimberly, Kicking Horse, Whistler.
• Cycling – Ayers Rock, Golden Gate Bridge, Slick Rock and Otago Railway Trail.
• Climbing – Ayers Rock, Dave Evans Centenial Tree, Angels Landing – Zion.
• Wineries at Margaret River – Clairault being the favourite!
• Feeding fish by hand at full tide in Darwin.
• Feeding wild dolphins at Tin Can Bay.
• The wonderfully sandy Fraser Island.
• Star Gazing at Huenden, Bryce Canyon, Cape Range NP and Big Island Hawaii.
• Dressing up for the Emporers Banquet at Hue, Vietnam.
• Riding camels at sunset in Broome.
• Diving the Great Barrier Reef – not once but twice – 6 dives in total.
• Watching a performance at Sidney Opera House.
• Climbing the Sydney Bridge.
• Riding the Cable Cars in San Francisco.
• Spotting the deadly blue octopus in rock pools at Port Samson.
• The Wangaratta Blues Festival.
• Hire van breaking down in the Yarra Valley with the Phelans.
• Christmas in Napier with the Wrights.
• New Year in Rotorua with the Browns.
• Cycling the Queen Charlotte Track – despite the broken ribs and finger!
• Kayaking in the Abel Tasman.
• Climbing the Franz Joseph Glacier.
• Spotting kiwis followed by dinner with Beth.
• Meeting Gary and Rosie in Noosa.
• Having lots of wonderful days with the Curryers in Penang and Kuala Lumpur.
• Ed gaining his ski teaching qualification.
• Seeing baby Sophia, our granddaughter within 24 hours of her birth!
• Riding elephants in Lao and swimming in waterfalls.
• The Junk Boats at Halong Bay.
• Crazy motor bike antics in Vietnam.
• Designing our own clothes in Hoi An.
• Meeting the Wrights, Phelans and Browers and keeping the friendship going.
• Cyclo tour of Hanoi.
• Kayaking with Job in Halong Bay into the Paradise lagoon through the cave.
• Train journey from Hanoi to Hue.
• Evening walk through Phnom Penn Central Park.
• The Golden Palace – Phnom Penn.
• Bus ride to Siem Reap.
• The very moving Tuol Sleng genoside museum and killing fields.
• Temples of Angkor Thom and Wat.
• Eclipse over Siem Reap.
• Fire flies at Kuala Selangor.
• The Evening in KL Airport.
• A bucket of beer at Sunset over Penang with the Curryers.
• Orangutan babies at Bukit Meran.
• Petronas Towers.
• Colonial buildings of Singapore.
• Spotting kangaroos for the first time in the Glass House Mountains.
• Camping at the Charlie Morland – Kenilworth.
• Waking up to the sound of the Cuckaburahs.
• The beautiful Rainbow Lorikeets massed in the trees at sun set.
• .Walking Rainbow Beach.
• Platypus in Eungella National Park.
• Feeding wild rock wallabies on Magnetic.
• Spotting sharks when snorkeling.
• Bulls fighting on the road up to the highest waterfall.
• Cairns sky rail over the Rain Forest.
• Bush fires near Undara.
• Sharing a bottle of wine with Alex and Rob – Undara Lava Tubes.
• Avoiding Road Trains.
• Wycliffe Wells Caravan Park and meeting Domi Dave.
• The beautiful Alura and The Olgas.
• Walking Kings Canyon.
• The Daley Waters Pub.
• Kathryn Gorge.
• Retrieving our stolen bags.
• Driving the North West Territories.
• Microbrewery at Broome.
• Watching whales from the light house cliff at Exmouth.
• Snorkelling Oyster stacks and Turquoise Bay.
• Night Tour of Freemantle Prison.
• Little Creatures Brewery.
• Horse Riding along the Murchisson River.
• The dolphins surfing at Kalbarri.
• Sea Horses.
• Natures Window.
• Pinnacles at Cevantees.
• Koalas in Yanchep National Park and Ottway National Park.
• Going on board the submarine at Freemantle.
• Eagle Bay Olive Farm.
• Cape Lewin Lighthouse tour.
• The Tree Tops Walk.
• Decending into a real working gold mine at Kalgoorlie.
• The Highest Revolving buffet with Margaret, Ian, Billy and Jack.
• The Wave Rock at Hyden.
• Skiing the steep black race runs at Jasper.
• Whale factory at Albany.
• Kalgoorlie Super Pit.
• The Nullabor Plain.
• Oysters and white wine at Streaky Bay.
• Ned Kelly Museum.
• Wangaratta Races.
• The apostles on the Great Ocean Road.
• Meeting up with Pete and family in St. Kits.
• Meeting up with Tori in Sydney.
• Cycling the Blue Mountains.
• The Powerhouse Museum.
• Cessnock Winery Cottage – Lobsters and Deer!
• Staying with Bruce and Kayleen at Port Macquarie.
• Meeting up with the Browns again – Wellington.
• Bikes episode at Brisbane followed by the flight losing them!
• Waitano Caves glow worms.
• Te Matua – King of the Forest.
• Keri Keri Kaleidescopes.
• Rotorua Bike Park with the Brownies.
• Green lipped muscles in Havelock.
• Milford and Doubtful Sounds.
• Milly feeding alpacas at Clyde.
• Sea Lions and yellow eye penguins at Sandfly Bay, Dunedin.
• Hundreds of Kangaroos at dusk – W.A.
• Christchurch art gallery and the Buskers Festival.
• Chased by monkeys at KL Bird Park.
• Cross country skiing at Kamloops.
• Watching the beautiful Ice Dance Competition.
• Ice Hockey.
• Molly playing Bach’s Minuet 1 so beautifully.
• The Canadian Rockies and the Ice Fields Parkway.
• The Aurora Boureilis – Whitehouse, Yukon.
• Spotting Orcas off Vancouver Island.
• Dog Sledding in the Yukon.
• Skiing with the Grahams.
• The Peak to Peak gondola.
• Highway 1 through Washington, Oregan to the Big Sur, California.
• Depoe Bay, Whales.
• Oysters and Clam lunch watching seals at the Point.
• Redwood State Park – Bear and Elk
• Hitchcock’s The Birds – Bodega Bay.
• Meeting up with Karen and Ian in Carmel.
• Ian surfing with his old school mate – Mick Adams.
• Ed’s face when he was presented with his suprise birthday cake!
• Ian’s birthday supper with Mick, Lizzie and Mi mi.
• Milly’s cycling accident and her courage to get through.
• Stairway to the moon – Capitola.
• San Francisco – Painted Ladies, Mark Hotel, Pier 39, Boats and Nob Hill.
• Mono Lake and Craters.
• Lake Tahoe.
• Lone Pine – movie road and realistic rocks also snakes, wildflowers and John Wayne.
• Mount Whitney.
• Death Valley – 80 m below sea level – creating the humerous photo with so many viewers!
• Red Rock National Park, scenic drive.
• Zion National Park – Hidden Canyon, Angels, Observation Point and Emerald Pools.
• Hoodoos at Bryce National Park.
• Ed’s Bungey Jump.
• Milly diving to 16m.
• Bear watching at Tofino.
• Ian and Ed getting up early to surf in Hawaii.
• Climbing Cradle Mountain.
• Petting Tassy Devils.
• Bandacoot nibbling Milly’s toes.
• Joining the Adams’ Family at the amazing beach house.
• Ian nearly cycling over a huge snake.
• Ed sleeping on the balcony in Brisbane.
• Connor and cricket mates dressing up as ballerinas.
• Rugby 7s welcome ceremony at Wellington.
• Fuel incident at Wellington.
• Ian – Losing important items!
• Catching up with Mick and Chris after 20 years and going down the pub again!
• Ed driving Lotti on the air strip.
• Whale watching boat – Scarborough.
• Surfing amongst Sea Otters.
• Horse on Porch in New Zealand.
• Coming face to face with a turtles on the barrier reef.
• Huge turtles coming up on the beach – Oahu.
• Twin Falls amazing water fall.
• Live Volcanos spitting our red hot fire.
• Snow boarding down the whole mountain – Jasper.
• Ian enjoying his childhood dream of seeing the Bonneville salt flats.
• Veg tali on a banana leaf for $1.
• Spotting President Obama at the White House.
• 33 downhill ski days and 2 cross country ski days, 42 cycling days, 8 snorkelling days, 2 diving days, 1 football game (Pauline – does this count?) 15 hiking days, 1 horse riding day, 10 surfing days and 9 kayaking days making 123 full on active days in all.
• Our wonderful leaving party and amazing returning home surprise!
• We have traveled some 26,000 miles in Lotti and another 9,000 or more in hire cars. A further 34,000 (Helen did nearly 50,000) or so miles by plane and 100s of miles on our bikes! Plus all those miles on coaches, boat trips, ferries and trains – oh dear, our carbon footprint needs reconsidering!!!
• Writing our blogg which has received over 30,000 hits – goodness!
• Analysing what we got right!:
o Taking Lotti with us.
o Buying the National Parks memberships – W.A., Canada, USA.
o Purchasing thermals in New Zealand!
o Our stainless steel coffee pot.
o New CD play, Tom Tom and Skype.
o Travelling the WHOLE circumference of Australia.
o Pre-Booking our around the world flights and trips throughout Asia.
o Making the decision to ONLY see animals in the wild – no Zoos.
o Individual cameras and journals to gain each persons perspective.
o Blog – as they say in school – its value added!
o Keeping in touch with friends along the way – looking up old ones and building on new ones.
o Choosing proper campsites and not free camping!
o H – not going to hospital with broken ribs and finger as it would have compromised all those amazing activities in N.Z – South Island.
o Being friendly to neighbours on camp sites.
o Using our instincts and being flexible with the plan.
o Reading between the lines of guide books.
o Having a policy of heading for the Tourist Information whenever we arrived in a new area.
o Money – forfeited the opportunity to pay off mortgages early in favour of an amazing adventure!
o Being able to view the USA much more positively as a result of going to Australia first.
o Going to the Third World first.
o Bringing our own bikes – cost us nothing! At times it was a bit of a drag taking them around the place but we have cycled so many wonderful places that this would have been a great loss and couldn’t have happened if we didn’t have our own kit.
o Great planning at the outset, especially around the seasons which has enabled us to maximize the activities and opportunities available.
o Injections and Malaria tablets – not nice BUT definitely worth it.
o Car Bra! And Roof rack cover – invaluable for the preservation of Lotti’s paintwork!
o Hand Gell in Asia – great idea Granny…
o Buying a cheapie gas burner and not using the van to cook.
o Good balance of time in places, although in so many places we could ideally have had more time but hey, we left some room to go back!
o No Theme Parks!
o Ed’s medical for diving!
o Investing in an Australian toaster and kettle! You simply cant beat tea and toast and marmite!
o Reading books and listening to our wonderful music – an absolute luxury!
The list is endless and John, you were right, we do look smug in the photos – no wonder eh!
We have had the most amazing time and have learned so much along the way – we are confident that the kids have learned so much more than a formal education this year and have developed into two very confident, talented, caring individuals who have a real passion for adventure. This has been an invaluable experience for them both and has certainly broadened their perceptions of people. We know that they will take with them, all their experiences into an amazing future.
We have read lots of quotes and signs along the way which have had so much meaning at the time and will inspire us always and have included these in the blog but some others that I kept for last were;
A lack of preparation is a prescription for mishaps!!!” - ferry to Orcas.
If Mother Nature don't get you, Father Time will." - Evel Kenievel
“If you have friends, you have a full life, you can’t buy friends” - Larry King CNN.
“Love Life and it will love you back!” And “Life is good!” - t.shirts.
To all our friends and family who have supported us throughout this adventure, for the loving words, the amazing emails, the telephone calls, the letters, cards and presents, we thank you – you have kept us going when we have felt homesick and encouraged us when our energies were low but more importantly, you have been there for us to share our wonderful stories with – we will value those relationships for ever. Some people thought we were crazy leaving all we have worked so hard for behind and others have told us they wish they could do it! All we will say is; in life, there are no boundaries, anyone can follow their dreams – big or small – hopefully others will be inspired by what we have done.
So; “was this a trip of a life time or a trip to build a life time on”? – What do you think…..