Thursday, December 29, 2011

Three cheers for Dragon Boating!!

Team Puff in Tampa race in May... nice guns :)  Want some?
ohhhh Dragon Boating, how AWESOME are you!?!??! Sooo very awesome :)

Lets recap 2011: 

February 13th:  1st dragon boat practice ever! Woohoo!
March/April/May/June:  Races w/ Puff, Team USA Time Trials
July:  Team USA trips to Philadelphia, PA and Ithaca, NY to race
August: World Championships of Dragon boating, brought home two golds, 3 silvers, a bronze and the Nations Cup for Team USA!!!!
Sept/Oct:  More racing with my awesome team PUFF... plus bed racing/ contra dancing/ camping outings/ wall casts/ birthday parties/fantasy fest/ concerts/ trivia nights/ social super fun-ness :)

Which bring us to just this last month of December:

Paddling in Portland, OR w/ fellow Team USA’er Aimee on her team Burn.
Touring around Newport Beach/Costa Mesa with another fellow Team USA’er Ross.
Staying in Bondi Beach, Sydney, Australia at former Team USA’er Radley’s place (who I’d not even met, just cuz of the DB connection!) on Christmas Eve and Day
....and today, Paddling with Australian local Sydney Team DBS, with pal Monica who I’d met at World’s in August!

Practice in Sydney, AUS

Monica and Murray- met her at Worlds!
Holy awesome right?  I think I’ve got to give some credit here to DB... and do some promoting!!! This sport is so so so uber duber fantastic people! If you haven’t tried it, just do yourself a favor and google it in your local area and get out there!! What a great way to get out on the water, have a great workout, and meet tons of awesome people!!

So so very true.  "Replace the fear of the unknown with Curiosity"
For me, it was a huge pivotal point this last year.  I had my core group of friends already, not much spare time, and wasn’t really interested in a big commitment to a new thing.  BUT, how do you refuse such awesomenesss??? Simply... you don’t! and now... I think half the people at my last going away party were my dragonboater friends! I’m quite proud to be part of PUFF and part of the National and International DB community that is so willing to teach and share!  Spread the word!

Today was awesome.  When I first arrived, without knowing I was coming, a guy named Brett says, “Hey, I have a picture of you.”  He recognized me! How good is that?!  Then my World’s pal Monica (who I had traded jerseys with) shows up!  It was a very small world coincidence, because of all the teams in Sydney (20 plus...yep, it’s a big deal) I contacted a few, and happened to heard back from the coach of the team where I know people!  A sign?! Yesss you know it! :)

We paddled in the Parramatta River which comes from the Sydney Harbour.  They had 23 people show up for a practice on Dec 29th??!?! When the whole city is on vacation!  Impressive! Then they all round up and go out for food/drinks after... which they welcomely invited me along for. LOVE!!!!!

Dinner and drinks w/ the team!
So, seriously people.... what other sport can you travel around the world and just go hop in to practice with a great team?  Most teams have beginner intros for locals so you can get your feet wet (literally and figuratively)... Are you googling yet??  Anddd.. its for all ages, my team had from 21 to 69! If you’re in Miami, go check out PUFF! Here’s the site where they list the beginner practices or contact Sam, who is in charge of membership and totally awesome to boot! 

Team PUFF in Orlando!!  Love you guys :)

I know one thing for sure... I'm soooo googling the local DB team wherever I go :)

Miss you Puffers.  Thanks for, well, changing my life!  :) 

Monday, December 26, 2011

Lazy day in Albury

(written on the 23rd)

Wheeeewwwww!  Feeling accomplished but exhausted, I ended up driving w/ Dazza back to Albury as a plan B after we left Kosciuzko.  He dropped me at the YHA for my first hostel night, and luckily I had the room to myself.  I was told there were no busses until Dec. 24, but I found one for the 23rd.  Phewww! Albury is not the most happening town ;)  I took a dip i the pool, a nice hot shower, ate some pumpkin soup and rolls for dinner, and passeddd out like a light! 
Woke up totally refreshed from another completely knocked-out sleep. Not even a twitch- guess i needed to catch up!   I had 18 hrs until my bus and was completely happy to spend it leisurely. Thank goodness for the hostel room to myself -I had my stuff everywhere, needing to repack my bag... wonder how long it will take me till I get it just right?  It still takes more or less a hour now! Figuring out where to put stuff, what stuff I’ll want easiest access too. What should go in a bag, what should go in my pockets.  Holy moly Im such a girl at times ;) 
Went down to the kitchen and made breakfast... pumpkin soup and dinner rolls..delish :)  I checked my emails and tried to find a better photo share system. I’ve got Picasa but I takes 30 minutes to load 10 pictures! accckk... anybody got a suggestion?? I ended up just making a new Facebook page for them... guess that will work. Snagged some free fruit cake (cuz no one would buy it!) and went to explore Albury. 
Took the bus to Dean Street, where I met up w/ Roland, the only other person staying at the hostel.  He’s French and is cycling across Australia then NZ for 8 months. At around 90km per day, he’s got some pretty sweet tan lines going;)  We toured the art gallery, the library exhibits and a pretty sweet little church called St. Michaels.  They’ve got a sort of barn-of-bethleham thing going so there were all sorts of little animals.. including a cow inside the church. Yep. ;)  The architecture here is super mixed,  even art deco going on... interesting :) 

Next, on to the botanical gardens.  I loooooove being in these places.  This one, albeit much smaller than the Melbourne one, is just as well maintained and beautiful.  There are picnic-ers all over... that makes me sooo happy.  Being outside!  I discovered my new favorite tree, a Lebanese Cedar.  It’s got perfect branches that make climbing basically like climbing up a spiral stair. I need one of these in my yard- FOR SURE! And as if you don’t already know, yes I climbed it. :)  Here we ate lunch. Tuna on dinner rolls, mm mm good. Lucky for me I’m far from picky:)  hahah. 

ahhhhhhh just wonderful :)

Best climbing tree EVER!!

Don't you just love this?? I do!

Next to the river... which, to be honest, was pretty ugly! haha.  We walked along the path for 20 minutes with not much but blah to see. We came across quite a few hills which is always surprising when just looking on a standard map. When we got to the Monument Hill nature trail, listed as steep, Roland and I split up. He needed to rest up for his ride tomorrow, did i mention he averages 90km a day? whoa. I walked on up... what seemed like it could possibly be a let down as I was ascending, but I was pleasantly surprised.  Not necessarily by the monument (it was nice), but by the perfectly awesome axis all thru the city it had on the other side.   I walked perfectly straight down and found myself back at the botanical garden, where I laid under the tree line. I LOVE tree lines.  I know I say I love a lot of things, (okay I do love a lot of things) but I especially love tree lines :).  I know, I just need my backyard to be a botanical garden! Yessss, I love epiphanies!!! ;) 

Nice Axis!!! Good job Albury!

It was a good day :)

My leisurely day turned hectic as I discovered the last bus to the train station was at 5:30! acckkk. I ran to the grocery store, picked up my bag, and rushed to the bus only to arrive 5.5 hours prior to my bus departure at 11:30pm! Oucchhh.  It ended up being nice though, I wrote all three of these last blogs!!! 
So, it’s off to Sydney tonight, Woohoo!!!! Bus leaves at 11:30pm and I arrive at 9am Christmas Eve. I am sending out grateful vibes to Greyhound for my being able to get some good sleep :)  Off to go have some tuna for dinner.. maybe I’ll  even spice it up tonight with some baked beans!! :) 

I make myself comfy:)
(written on the 23rd!) 
(full pics here)

Sunday, December 25, 2011

On top of Australia!!!!

I love having goals, especially that moment when you achieve it.  Standing on the top of a continent is a pretty good one :)  I really wanted to do Australia’s highest peak and although it was proving to be difficult to make it happen, I was going to find a way.  Even with all the internet has to offer I was having bad luck finding out how to get there, where to start, etc.  Its a big ski destination in winter, but in summer it seems like no public transportation goes there. One woman told me if I could get to Canberra, I could take a bus to Cooma, then a bus to Jindabyn, and then have to walk/find a way from there to base.  If no other way was readily available, I was prepared to walk... it’s 35km to the starting point.  That distance (21.7miles) doesn’t scare me in general... but I was pretty apprehensive about doing it with my big pack. I was allowing two days to do so. Thankfully, Dazza caught a lucky break and just minutes before I was going to buy my bus ticket to Canberra, I get a text that said, “Want a hiking buddy?”  Hellllllsss yes! 

Me and Dazza, about to set off!

He picked me up Tuesday night at 7:30 pm, after P&G and I had Champagne :).   We had a 700km drive in front of us. I barely made it to 11 before I passed out (have I mentioned Im a terrible road trip buddy?? :(   He drove another hour or so before we stopped at the rest area and slept in the car.   His car has this wonderful quirk in that the passenger door doesn’t open, so every time we stop, I have to climb out his side.;) Well, that was pretty suckola when sleeping since I didnt want to wake him to get my stuff from the trunk, so I just frooozzeee my butt off instead. It was good practice I suppose;). About 5am we hit the road again. Saw 2 live kangaroos crossing the road (yay!) and 6 roadkill ones. boo :(  Not really liking that ratio :(   We also came across a huge flock of sheep being herded in the road!!!  It was awweeesomeee! We finally made it to Jindabyne around 11am, got some food for the trek, and headed off! 

Yaaaayyy kangaroo in the wild!

Off we go!!

Originally I thought, oh I'll climb the seven summits!!!  These are the seven highest mountains on each continent.  After some research though, it seems you pretty much need to be massively loaded to do all these. Ummmm goals are good but not if they cost you $170k! haha. I am going to do Mt. Kilimanjaro later this year (Africa’s highest) and who knows, maybe I will be loaded one day and will put it on the bucket list :) !!   Australia’s tallest mountain, at 2228 meters (7,310 feet) is by far the smallest.  The whole climb from base to summit took 5 hrs and 45 minutes. We were soooo not in a hurry, I think we both took around 300 pics ;)  We went up on what’s called the Main Range trek, which has many many ups and downs, and is 15.3 km, including a side trail to see Blue Lake (a beautiful glacial lake) for a lunch spot (tuna again! surprise!).   The most interesting things about the views were the lack of trees (like zero), the scattered boulders everywhere, and the patches of snow on a hot summer day that looked like optical illusions.  Also interesting to me, we didn’t see one animal (only birds and bugs).  My fav parts were crossing the Snowy River over the boulders, and this one section which was next to the dropoff with tricky footing.  Classic :)  It had lots of ups and downs to keep in interesting.  Overall it was a very nice hike, doable by all, that I would highly recommend to anyone. Go! 

Lunch view. Blue lake awesomeness

My fav part of the trail...every step made the view different

Around the time we were “thinking” we were getting close to summit, I was feeeeeeling it!  Whoaaaa... reality check.  Hiking with a ginormous backpack is sssoooo not the same as hiking w/ a day pack.  I could possibly have gone another hour, but I did do a little happy dance (internally, no energy for physically!) when we saw the “summit- 800m away” sign!  The backpack is not too bad, its a good one that rests the weight on the lower back... but it's still 40 lbs!  It seriously takes a toll on the amount of time you can travel.  As is typical for me, before anything else my feet where like ouccchh!  As we were approaching the summit, some kid comes running by us in nothing but little nike shorts and tennies! Then another! We were like wwwhhhaaattt???  hahha. Turns out they ran up the road, but still.... 9km at an incline is pretty impressive!  It was 100% fog cover at the top, but lucky for us we were camping out, so got another shot for clear view in the morn.  We set up camp on as flat of ground we could find... which turns out to be pretty far from flat ;)  We got in the tent at 6:30, and as the cold set in we only got out to pee and check the small glimpses of sunset we could see thru the fog. 

We drank box wine, played cards and 20 questions, ate spaghetti-o’s on pita bread, and rotated the talking between our awesome day’s triumph and our recent heartbreaks, which caused more wine drinking and soppy song listening.  We had to rotate who got more blanket- Im def a warm weather type person..another reason Mt. Vinson (Antarctica's) might not be a good idea! ;) Nothing like friendship bonding in the freeeezzzzing cold over wine and lost love! 

Our first summit... 100% fog!

Freeeeezing in the tent!

Morning came at about 6am, still freezing but at least the sun was up!  We climbed back to the summit and rejoiced in our second triumph... this one with a rewarding 360 view!  After shouting out our awesomeness cheers of being the highest people in the continent,  be headed back and broke down camp, shivering.  The hike down was on the 9km summit track.  We were soooo thankful to not have taken that route the day before because in reality it was just a road with a consistent decline.  Pretty views yes, but not nearly as gratifying as a real trail (and even the Main Range one had lots of portions that were path). You can find all the pics here!  Days 9 and 10 :)  

Highest person in the whole continent right there!


Coming back down... I love rocks!

A cairn (or is it inukshuk?) on the snowy river. Yes, I added a rock- had to!

Back down to Jindabyne, I was going to take the original bus plan backwards to Cooma, Canberra and eventually Sydney.  As it turns out, there are NO busses to Cooma, and the only option from Cooma to Canberra is a $120 luxury bus! OUccchh!  What luck then that Dazza was able to come!! Otherwise I would have gotten to Canberra and realized it would have cost me a shit ton!!!! ...and not to mention that 21.7 mile walk would have taken forever knowing now about my pack! YAY for small miracles!!!!

This was just the first of many plans I have on this trip!  Checkkkkk!!!!  There’s something sooo awesome about achieving a goal/ dream/ idea. Especially for me a physical one! Crossing the finish line in a 5k, 10k, a marathon, a triathlon, summiting the mountain..... just makes me want more of that feeling!!!!  That feeling of pain yet joy!  You always have just a littttle more in the tank than what you’d thought. We were sooo tired but when we saw that "800 meter to summit" sign we both had quite a bit more energy.  Just even simple things like getting out when you’re tired and doing a run.  I love that moment when you finish and you’re soooo glad you went.  I’ve never regretted doing it, just when I bailied on myself.  Dazza and I were sooo ridiculously euphoric about being at the top... especially for him being an Australia.  He stripped down to zilch and I took a pic of him on the top.... he's not sharing that pic thought! hahah
ps... Merry Christmas!!!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

I love Melbourne!!

Hellllllllllllllo Melbourne, Australia!!!  (pronounced Mel-bin here ;) 

As you probably could have guessed, the culture here is very similar to America.  This was one of the reasons I started here- a gradual transition to traveling in a country that at least speaks the same language!  Aside from the obvious accents (so great!), they like purple cars, the boys wear short (er) shorts, the police stop you for random breathalyzers whenever, they drive on the opposite side of the road... even the steering wheel is on the other side of the car. Their street signs say “give way” instead of “yield” and things are measured in kilometers and kilos instead of miles and pounds.  The also write the date backwards.... but in this case, I like it better.  Means that I arrived on 13/12/11!! I looove cool dates/number/signs!!! I think it’s a sign of good things to come... and if my first week is any indicator,  I’m off to a smashingly great start! 
13-12-11.  My first day!  The actual day was kindof sad cuz I couldnt stay awake for the life of me! My 5pm “power nap” turned into me waking up at 5:30am the next morn! whooopsss;)  BUT, the date is still awesome :) 
Here's the top ten highlights from my first week!


10. Eureka Tower- most touristy thing I did.  The highest building in Melbourne at 88 stories.  The whole top floor is floor to ceiling glass so you get a pretty sweeeeet 360 view of the city.   I also went out on... da da da.. the Edge!!! A glass box that protrudes out of the building and has a glass floor.  That intro was totally fake... it was slightly lame! hahah! unless you’re afraid of heights it’s basically just like looking out the window ;)  

They made us wear those booties.. I was not happy about it ;)
And.. the entry guy told me I could take this pic of a pic, so not stealing!  

9.  Mt. Dandenong- killer view over Melbourne at night.  Went up there w/ Dazza and we had hot cocoa to even out the crazy cold breeze.   He’s my awesome friend who picked me up from the airport, toured me around, took me to Healsville (#3!), let me stay at his place, and fed me vegemite!  I know him thru Jill-do-ram, one of my besties (who just got engageddddddddddddd wahhhooo and I’m the MOH!!!).  She did a semester here in college and didn’t stop talking about it forrrrever.  You were right though Jillyhoo-- LOVE IT!

The sign I made him when he came to USA in 2004!

8.  Queen Victoria Market-  This is like most markets in big cities... anything and everything you want in small dirty booths and tons of people- fun! ;)  I think the reason it was special though is I rode bikes there w/ Pete Saturday morning.  He toured me around and we ate yummy borek (turkish) snacks while listening to street performers.  Pete (and Gail) are the people I stayed with from Thur-Tue. I found them through this AMAZING website called  (which i highly recommend for traveling).  Basically, you link up with people who will house and feed you in exchange for 4 hours of work per day.  Pretty sweet deal... especially when it lands you with people like Pete and Gail. More on them to come ;0)

7.  Drinks with new friends:  My Miami friend BreeAnna was born and raised here in Melbourne.  She not only sat w/ me before I left to go over ideas/suggestions, but spent plenty of time also setting me up w/ her friends here.  The day I met them (Simon, Lachlan and Jane) I was getting home from a 14hr bus tour (#2!) and was soooo tired. I had a fleeting moment of almost wanting to cancel.. glad I didn't!  We started out at a roofdeck bar and got to know each other, then moved to a Crreeeeeepppy bar in a dark scary alley called Croft Institute, hospital decor! Whoaa... totally straight out of a medical horror movie!  We sat and talked there and I really enjoyed it.  Noteworthy to say they bought both my drinks which was sooo unnecessary but sooo nice! Thanksss guys and thanks Bree!  (ALSO, BreeAnna is my friend that made my awesome application video! )

Specially done photo for the queen of jumping pics herself, Ms. BreeAnna Obst!

6. Bike touring and city Tour Melbourne:   Pretty much every day I rode Gail’s bike around.  One day I rode waaaaaay across town, got lost and barely made it home in time for dinner! What I love about this city is how its used.  Yes tourists everywhere, but the residents really seem to use and get the most out of the city.  There are a zillion parks, free events and things to do, and lots of people using them. You could see tons of activity at all times of all days. Biking is such a great way to see more of a city... pretty cool.  They other great way to tour a city? With locals :)  P&G took me into town one day, walked me alllll over and showed me some really great streets/architecture/hidden gems.  We ate out that night and then watched an Australian movie (Rabbit-proof Fence, good stuff)  at home. I love this day. Success:)

Exhibition Hall... love these columns

One of the pass thru block galleries

5. Painting the railing-- This is the “job” I had to do for Pete and Gail in their late 1890’s two-story super-cute terrace house real close to the city center.   They are in the middle of a renovation so the kitchen was the laundry was the bathroom type situation. Perfect :).  I say “job” because they barely made me work and Gail and I had this fun banter where I would feel guilty if I didn’t do enough and she would feel guilty if she thought to was too late or too much :) aww, like a good momma!  So, did this really make my top ten?  Travel 1/2 way around the world to paint a railing?  Totally! hahha... I know it sounds strange- BUT,  I’m a busy body. I like to have things to do AND I love to be productive.  It has always been work hard= reward for me.  Soooo, yes, I actually enjoyed laying all over that stairway to paint those pickets... it made the relaxing/touristy/lazy things much more enjoyable!   Plus I loved being able to help out Pete and Gail... ohhhhh they were SO great!!! 

Gotta get the bottom too!  
4. Kangaroo encounter and the Healsville Sanctuary- YESSSS I petted a kangaroo!!! But it was sooo much more than just a petting... it was a cat-like approach/ rub leg/ scratch head/ then move on type of thing!!! Sooo soo sooo cool! I’ve posted the video here so you can see it for yourselffff :)  The sanctuary (like a zoo) had koalas, platypus, emu, dingos.... all the typical aussie stuff and I soaked it up with glee!!  Also a big jumpy thing for children...and Becky :) Totallyyyy cool day!  (thanks Daz)


3.  Botanical Gardens:  My first day of workaway,  Gail took to the botanical gardens.  Love at first sight :)   It’s this ginormo park, totally free to the public, everything in full bloom and perfectly maintained!  All sorts of different landscapes, picture-perfect green lawns and plenty of happy-go-lucky park dwellers.  It’s also a great run around the perimeter. Tons of people exercising.  Dazza met me one day and we ran, and then I went again on my last day.  Took me 19:07 minutes to do the 3.87km. Not too shabby for a freshly healed broken toe ;) 

2.  Great Ocean Road- okay, seriously.. this place is AMAZING.  I could go on and on and onnnnn about this. The 14 hr bus tour was totally worth the 45 minutes we got at each site: 12 Apostles, Loch Ard Gorge were my two favorites.  It’s these truly amazing limestone rock stacks out in the water that we formed from erosion.  I’ve realized that even though I’m an architect, natural landscapes are totally my numbero uno when it comes to visual orgasmo :)  I really think I should look into tree house design- best of both worlds!!!   This day was pretty stinking great.   Happened to be sitting next to another solo traveler on the bus.  We were chatty cathys, and we became unspoken partners for the day. YAY!  It is nice to share the awesomeness :)  We stopped probably 10-12 times, with honorable mentions going to the parrot encounter and rainforest walk. Look at the full album for awesommmee pictures!!!

Erosion. Originally started with making caves, eventually eroded to arches, and now to just the stacks left.  Still some of the stacks fall nowadays (last in  2005) so there are not really 12 ;) 

Crazy arctic wind going on here!

How awesome is that?

 1.  Family Christmas-  This is what Im talking about!  One of the things this trip is about for me -is to really get to know people, to learn about the culture, to join in the fun.  Im doing tourist stuff, yes, but I want to do more of this!  Partying isn't even on the radar.  This, being part of this Christmas, was someethingggg very very very special for me! Pete and Gail were having their family Christmas at the house and said they’d love me to be there!  All the family came, we drank champagne, listened to Australia comedy, ate pavlova (traditional aussie dessert, yum), and opened presents-- of which I got THREE!!! How cool is that??  Getting me any present was so unnecessary.  I totally didn’t expect it but it was suuuuuch a sweet surprise!   How truly thoughtful and kind is it for them to not only take in a stranger, but to do just about everything possible to make me feel welcome.  Their family is as eclectic and varied as any, but incredibly welcoming.  Not-a-one of the 14 people gave me the “who are you again?” look ;)   I, classically, made great friends with the grandkids, and by the end of the night the little girl Charlie had said I was her best friend- awwww:). I think Im going to be spoiled by this workaway experience. Thank you thank you Pete and Gail (and Pete jr. and Emily), you’ve given me waaay more than just room and board!! ;)

Gail loooooves to have her picture taken ;) 

The Bells :)  Welcome at my (future!) home anyday!

I prefer the self description of childlike, not childish :)
So there’s my highlights folks! I really couldn’t have asked for a better week here in Melbourne, or even a better first week to my new trip!  Be nice to a stranger... it's reallllllly appreciated :)  
See full albums here! 

Friday, December 16, 2011

Adios America!!

I can see already I'm going to have to make a bigger effort to keep up with this blog! Soooo much too do!!! I want to write about my Aussie experience already, but...not just yet ;).  Life is about the Journey, not the destination, and I just caaaan't skip over my fabulous WA/OR/CA departure trip... so I'll do it quick-like in photos :)  


Born and raised in: Kelso, WA

Okay, so technically this is Longview, WA... but they are sister cities, close enough ;) 

Me and Pops.. pretty much twinerrsss!

Walking Lake Sacajawea w/ Tim and Cind :)
Isn't it great? Pacific NW is the bessst!
Family excursion: Sister Sandy, Dad Timbo, Nephew Cole!

For our Christmas tree!!! Cut it down ourselves -- much prefer this way over buying it at the grocery store :)  They had reindeer, llamas, goats... and a santa. We all sat w/ him :)

Spent lots of time w/ family, almost all of it actually. Had some great lunches/ bike rides/ games nights/ wrestling sessions/ dinners/ walks/ talks/ movies/ and some squirrel chasing... and totally slacked on the pics :(    Loved every bit of it though.  Thankssss guysss :)

Paddled with the Portland Dragon Boat team 'Burn', thanks to my fellow Team USA'er Aimee Edwards! It was full-on darkness and 30 degrees... but surprisingly not miserable! Yay 
Stayed w/ the Westervelt family: Evan, Mandy, Madisen, Lacie, and Blake.  We watched old videos of our gymnastics days, drank wine, and reminisced: Awesome :)  I got to sleep in Lacie's princess bed, and then it was off to the airport.

Welcome to LA!  Another fellow Team USA'er,  Ross Flemer, gave me the BEST TOUR EVER!! We rode bikes all over!! We went to the beach, up the piers, played pool at Blackies (famous place) took a ferry to Balboa Island,  saw awesome christmas lights, and capped off w/ yummy food and a hot drink to warm up!  THANK YOU!!!!
Hello Newport Beach amazing sunset!

Then one of bestest, and oldest friends, Sereen Bean, picked me up and we headed to Big Bear Lake, CA.   IT WAS AMAZING! I looooved it.  Snowy but nice weather, with a million outdoorsy things to do in any season... Huge rocks/ big ol' lake, Mountains... pretty much amazing.

We bundled up and went for a hike in the snow (proceeded to ditch more than 1/2 our layers),  went down this cool toboggan ride, sat by the lake and talked life. Can't get much better than that.

 Back to LA, we took it easy. Watched a movie, repacked my bag, decorated her Christmas tree... and then, it happened.  My very first moment of real nervousness.  Just a few hours before leaving to the airport, out of the complete blue- I just started cryyyying!  Like a good friend she came and cried w/ me. Aww :)  Thanks Bean!  I just thought, why am I leaving Miami? My fab life and my fabulous friends?  Why couldn't I just be happy where I wassss??  

It was pretty fleeting though.  Phewww! I came to my senses and remembered these things: my true friends will always be my friends, just like the ones I've been visiting with. Best thought ever :). I'll make wherever I live a nice home (being an architect helps there ;), and if I can't find an equivalently awesome job- that's okay cuz I prefer camping anyways ;) ha.  So so so so soooo many things in Miami to make me want to stay... but my whole being telling me to get gooooone!! 

(I know I used this quote before... but it's double post worthy)

You should always listen to yourself.  Deciding to leave anyplace/ anything/ any person that's 'pretty-awesome-but-something-significant-missing'  because you're comfortable or scared or unsure is hard hard hard.   Change can be so many different things: good/bad, hard/easy, fun/scary. One constant though, that it's  inevitable- so you might as well be the one to decide what that change is!  No risk no return!!

How awesome is this? Growwww always!

Thank you to everybody who made my life in Miami awesome, and my last few months there absolutely irreplaceable.  Thanks to my family and friends for welcoming and supporting me in my transition.  Everyday is a gift, thats why they call it the 'present'!  I'm soooo grateful for the life I've had so far, and soooo grateful for the one I'm living right now, and soooo grateful for the one I'm going to start when I get back!  Australia is awesome.... posts coming soon, I promise!!! xoxo

Sooo wow... how did this end up being such a long post anyways?? Whoopppss!!!