So, I have some sad news regarding my Australian travels. They will no longer be happening.
When I flew into Sydney Australia, both Rob and I were stopped regarding our visa's. There were issues regarding our visa, paperwork issues, stuff that should have been dealt with before we were even issued the visa's. Basically, we should have not been given the visa's without more paperwork, so when we tried to get back into the country, we were not allowed. It's a long story, and to get to the point, we could have spent up to a month in an immigration detention center while it got sorted out, or be sent home. I think you can guess what we decided.
Rob and I had to spend one night in an immigration detention center to wait for our flights home the next day and I can tell you, I think I made the right decision. We were the only white people, and it was basically like a prison.
SO, I am home now and Rob is back in England. We have the option to try and re-apply but we have spent so much money as it is, its not really worth it. And quite frankly, I will be happy to not step into an airport or on a plane in a long time!! I am so sad that I won't be able to travel with my mom and dad when they go to Brisbane, and super sad that I missed out on the East coast. But who knows, maybe in 5 or 10 years, we will make it back to finish our travels!
The next plan:
-get a new blog as the url name no longer applies for what's next in my future! I will post it when I set it up.
-get a job
-get a car
-and get on with the next phase of my life, whatever that may be........
More photo's from the trip! It was great as so much of the stuff I did with him, I hadn't done in years. This includes drumheller, Heritage park, going up the Calgary tower, and even taking the Gondola up to Sulphur mountain, which I don't think I have ever done!!
When I first got home my sister Laura had a BBQ, and we got to meet her new puppy, a puggle, pug/beagle, named hercules!
I took Rob downtown to show him some of the highlights, we of course had to go up the tower
We also made a day trip to Heritage park, here I am on one of the old train cars
And also our day trip to Drumheller where we stopped at the Royal Tyrrell Museum
Once Rob and I returned from Nova Scotia, we had a day just to chill out and relax as both of us were not feeling the best. Then Thursday morning, my kind sister rented Rob and I a car so we could go to Banff for the night. We headed out as early as we could to get as many sights in as possible. When we arrived in Banff the weather wasn't the greatest, but we took a chance and hiked up Tunnel Mountain. There were beautiful views the entire way up, in fact, my favorite view wasn't even half way up to the top. We saw rock climbers on the north side of the mountain, and the trail was busy with all different types of people, young, old, kids and even the odd runner bringing their dog along for the run! Of course, once we got to the summit, the weather didn't look great, so we grab a quick bite to eat and headed back down. Not even a quarter of the way down, it started to rain. Of course! We didn't get hammered with rain, and we did hide under a tree for a bit to wait out some of the rain. But we ended up sucking it up and got a little wet on our way down. It didn't rain for too long, but our jackets were somewhat wet when we got to the car! We had dinner at Tony Roma's - mmmmm, onion loaf and ribs! and chilled out at the hotel that evening as the weather was still pretty crap! We went in the pool for a bit back at the hotel where we met another young couple from Sexsmith, right close to where we had our family reunion! What were the chances!
When we woke up the next day the weather was crap, as was the way Rob and I felt. We both had bad colds and as much as I wanted to hike up to the summit of Sulphur mountain, it was just a bad idea. So we started off by going to the hot springs, spent as much time as we could handle in the pool, then spent the ridiculous $30 per person to take the 8 minute gondola to the top of Sulphur mountain. I was hoping to enjoy the scenery on the way up, but an older couple jumped in the gondola with us at the last minute, and talked the entire way up! I did get some of the views in and was able to snap a couple photos, but not what I would have liked! It was misty and rainy on the way up, and of course very windy at the summit, but the views are amazing so it was well worth the money! Rob was even more adventurous and walked to kilometer hike to the next highest summit. I didn't go as I didn't think my cold would have liked the freezing wind and rain! It was even more misty and rainy on the way down in the gondola, so we couldn't see as far in the distance, but it was still great, and this time, it was just the two of us!
We headed home after the gondola, not much else to do as it was raining pretty good when we got to the bottom. Plus, we were going out for dinner with family at the Cattlebaron so we had to be home early so we could get ready. We had a very nice dinner and of course had an awesome meal - when have I ever had a bad meal at the Cattlebaron? After dinner we headed home and Laura and Dan came over and we played cards till nearly 2 in the morning! I love playing cards and we had an absolute blast! I drank a whole bottle of wine to myself, and while I had fun drinking it, I wasn't feeling the best the next day! And course with my holidays nearing to an end, I didn't want to spend it in bed sleeping, so I was up the minute I heard mom and dad up.
That morning Rob, mom and myself went up to visit my grandma. She was in great spirits, as she always is, and we had a great visit! I think she enjoyed Rob's visit as well as when she gave him a hug goodbye, she asked for 2!
Saturday night was Laura's friend Rachel's BD BBQ at one of their co-workers houses. We all went for the fun, but it was a pretty mellow party, which I think we were all somewhat happy about as we were all pretty tired and I was planning a BBQ for all my friends on Sunday and didn't want to be hungover!
Sunday was a busy day as well, cleaning and preparing for my BBQ. We were planning about 16 people over, and everyone showed up! It was so nice to see my friends and it was a great chance to hang out with them before leaving them once again! It was also a very 'entertaining' party as the burgers my dad was barbecuing decided to spew grease all at the same time, and he had to use the fire extinguisher to put the flames out! Good thing the bbq wasn't close to the house, and that we had a fire extinguisher! We ended up ordering in pizza for everyone - so much for the bbq idea - oh well, we all went home with a story. (sorry dad, someone had to tell the story!)
Being home has made me realize how much I have missed it, my family, friends, and of course my dog! I have realized that I am missing out on so much as well, 3 of my friends are pregnant, 2 of them with their first, and with my sister just buying a house I miss being there and helping out! Even though I hate the winters, it's something I am willing to deal with to be close to family and friends. I've been away from home now for over 4 years, and to be honest, I'm sick of living out of a suitcase lately! Time to move back into my house (which I have only lived in for 6 months!) and somewhat (not totally) 'settle down'.
This holiday has been so much fun, even though I have been sick the last week and a half, and I am still looking forward to heading back to Australia to finish what I have started. I haven't seen very little north of Melbourne, and that is the part most people go to see! Plus, I have mom and dad's visit in October to look forward too and can't wait!
Well I managed to keep a secret with a friend of mine and surprised all of my 'northern' friends who were all visiting in Nova Scotia!!!! Rob and I left Friday at noon, and landed in Nova Scotia just after 8pm. We picked up our rental car, grabbed some booze and McDonalds and headed towards Blomidon where Donna, Roger and Mitch live. We managed to find the place ok, only having to turn around once, and when we pulled up, they were all having a bon fire outside. Gina, who knew we were coming, saw us pull up - it was very dark at this point, and she came over and gave us a big hug. We all walked over to the bon fire, were it was very quiet, and I surprised them all by saying "Hey guys, lets get this party started!!" It was dark out, and it took a few seconds for everyone to realize who I was, and then they all got up and gave me a big hug, asking me what the hell I was doing there! Kevin, Mitch, Konrad and Michelle were all at the fire, and then we headed in to where Donna and Roger were. Kevin had gone ahead and woke up Donna, and when I walked in, she walked and was so shocked that I was there! Roger was also shocked, and I think he even had a bit of a tear in his eye! We hung out by the fire that night and talked, had our usual laughs and good times! The next day was pretty slack, we walked by the beach, walked the tide role out - they have one of the fastest moving tides in the world, about 30 seconds a foot it roles out. That afternoon Rob and I went for a drive and watched Mitch play softball for a bit. I wasn't feeling the greatest, and it was very windy out, so we ditched early as I had no jacket. We decided to take the scenic root home, which took us right to the water's edge, a cute little town, with houses on the water. We took the back roads home and enjoyed some Nova Scotia country side. We feasted on lasagna, to prepare us for a long night of poker. And long it was. I didn't do well, unlike beginner Rob, who did very well! We played till 5am, and when we saw the day approaching, we figured it was time to go to bed.
Sunday was a bit of a dodgy day, you can imagine. But we got ourselves in order and headed to a place not to far away, and went on a short walk to "3 pools". Its an unmarked trail and was actually had to trespass to get to the trail down. There were quite a few people there already, so we weren't the only ones to trespass! And guess what, when we arrived there was a waterfall with 3 pools. It was so pretty and kinda reminded me of some of the places I've been to in Australia. Rob and Kevin jumped into the water off a rope. I wouldn't dare try. I'd probably not have the upper body strength to hold myself up, slid down the rope, and hit the rocks, not what I call exciting!
Today was an awesome day of hiking. We hiked the "Cape Split", a world famous hike that is about 6 km's one way. We were up early, and hit trail by 9:15. The first part of it was very muddy, and I was being super careful with my foot. Luckily Gina has joint issues, so she stayed behind with me. We were close to the end, but decided to take a detour and headed down the side of the hill. We ended up getting to some steep parts that actually had ropes to assist you when going down, and the last part was actually a stream that we followed down. At the bottom, was a small, very rocky secluded beach. This is where we stopped for lunch and enjoyed the quiet serenity of Nova Scotia! We hiked back up and took a chance taking another path, which ended up taking us right to the split. The view was spectacular, and you could see the tide and the current fighting each other which was causing waves in the middle of the ocean. So cool.
We arrived back home at 4:30, and walked a total of 16.8 km's! Gina had a few blisters on her feet from some MEC hiking sandals she bought, and I got a blood blister/blister on my right 4th toe. I could feel it forming just when we started our hike back, but there was nothing I could do. So Rob went and got salt water for Gina and I to soak our feet. Thanks Rob!
Tomorrow we head back to Calgary, and look forward to a busy week ahead!
Just in front of the Rand's house, they also have some of the highest tides in the world
Wow, has it been a busy and fun filled visit home! The first week was busy visiting with family and friends here in Calgary. Rob was off having fun in BC, so I took advantage of this time to see family and friends one on one. My uncle from Qatar was also visiting with his wife and 2 kids, so I spent lots of time with them. As well it was Dad's birthday the day after I arrived, so we had a nice meal with all our family at the Cattlebaron. I also had a chance to go see my grandmother in the assisted living home, as well as some good friends who I hadn't seen in ages!
Rob arrived in Calgary on the Sunday, and we took advantage of being up north by visiting Peter's Drive-In, man I love their milkshakes! We had one day together, which involved a lot of packing the van, as the next day we headed out to Grand Prairie, stopping in Leduc for the night. I have an 'arctic' friend that now lives in Leduc, so we stopped for the night and had a great visit. The next day, Wednesday, we left early in the morning and headed to La Glace, which is just north of Grand Prairie. The next 5 days were spent camping where our family reunion on my mom's side was being hosted. It was a blast, with lots of drinking, lots of family visiting, a lots of games! We went in the gold tournament, which we came in last place, played horseshoes, played in the cribbage tournament, as well as a poker tournament, which I won the 2nd tourny, winning $60! Woohoo! On the Thursday, before everyone arrived on the Friday, I had another 'arctic' friend, who was just on the other side of the BC border, come over and visit us with their 2 kids! What where the chances that we were so close at the same time! It was a great visit and so nice to see people that I hadn't seen in over 2 years :)
There were about 70 people that showed up for the reunion, which is small for the family, but we still had a great time. We had awesome campfire chats, I brought out my didgeridoo for people to try and play, as well as there where those that had their guitars, which is always a good time. The big day, Saturday, we had a pig roast. The family that hosted the reunion, had access to a home made pig roaster, and it cooked slowly all day. It was stuffed with seasoning, as well as injected with seasonings, yes, I said injected! There where also 2 turkeys cooked, well, should I say deep fried. And if you ever get the chance to eat deep fried turkey, it is SO tender and tastes amazing. As did the pork! I've never tasted pork like what we had, and it was fantastic!! All that hard work was well worth it! Thanks Duane :)
I haven't downloaded any photos yet, but I'll try and get a few of the good ones up after I have a second to breathe :) Now we're off to the English store in McKenzie town to get some English treats for Rob, then we're off to Kananaskis to visit some of my Dad's family!
Visiting my Grandma with my mom
At the family reunion, Sarah had a blast chasing squirrels
Well its nearly 2am in Los Angeles, and I am wide awake, typical.
Lets go back to Sunday, Australia time. I flew with Qantas to Sydney, then VAustralia, AKA, Virgin Blue from Sydney to LA. When I got to the Qantas check in counter in Melbourne, he tried to check my bags all the way through to LA, however after some phone calls, he was informed that they where not affiliated, so I would have to collect my bags in Sydney. Great. My flight was a short hour and a half, and before I new it, I was collecting my bags in Sydney. I asked where I was able to catch a bus to the international terminal, but was informed that I would have to take the train, and pay $5. I was not impressed by this. Just because airlines can not connect bags, I would have to pay extra to get to the damn terminal. Oh, and these are the Sydney trains, so no luck bringing a trolley, I had to walk and carry all my stuff. Once I got to the international terminal, of course I was early, and couldn't check in. Had to wait just under an hour, so I found a place to sit and wait and read my book. Then a young guy approach me and ask if I would participate in a short 3 minute survey, I was like, yeah sure, got nothing better to do, and I would get $5 for helping out. Cool, makes up for the train ticket! And in fact, in the survey, it asked about transportation, ect, and I nicely voiced my concerns about having to take the train!
I checked in at 6pm, and my flight was at 8:30pm. We started boarding, and I had a seat right in front of the bathrooms, meaning I had no one behind me, and of course I had a window seat. Unfortunately, I had someone sitting next to me, but all was good. It was a long 13 hr 30 min flight. I had 2 meals, neither of which were the best - when is airplane food good? I watched 3 movies, Date Night, It's complicated- which I missed the end as I feel asleep, and The Runaways. I slept for about 5 or 6 hours in total, but it wasn't the best sleep. I can never get comfortable, my tailbone hurts after a few hours of sitting so I am constantly repositioning, I've hurt my hand somehow, just from the strange sleeping positions I come up with. This includes sleeping on my meal tray with a couple of pillows :) I was disappointed with VAustralia as we only got one alcoholic drink with our meal. I was kind of looking forward to a few glasses of wine with dinner to help me sleep, but no, it was $7 thereafter for a glass, no thanks. They were also very slow. After our first meal, I had my empty tray in front of me for about an hour. And the poor girl next to me who ordered a special meal, had hers for closer to 2 hours before they were picked up. We did have a good selection of movies and TV shows, all of which we got to watch during take off and landing, which is new to me.
Of course we had to wait on the tarmac in LA for ages as our gate was occupied, but once we arrived, it was great to be on North American soil, and one step closer to home. There was no place on my declaration form to check my didgeridoo, and I double checked with the immigration officer and he said it was no problem, even the guy taking our cards said "I see you've got your didgeridoo", so it was all good. I was a little concerned however as my didg took forever to arrive. It didn't arrive on the first batch of over sized goods, and after all the luggage came off the carousal, and no didg, I was not impressed. However there were a few people that were missing things, and the lovely VAustralia agent found our things still in the elevator.
Finally I made it out of the airport and took the 'free' airport shuttle to the Raddisson. I was feeling exhausted, and after skyping Rob, then mom and dad, I was finally able to get something to eat. Subway it was as I was not paying $25 for a big meal at 9 o'clock at night! I was so tired and thought I'd sleep right through till my 5am wake up call, but no, at 1am I woke up wide awake. I tried to get back to sleep, but no luck. Lets hope a wave of exhaustion will come over me so I can get some more sleep. Gotta love jet-leg!