Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Finding Nemo Trip

After an early flight, we had to leave our house’s in Auckland by 4:10 AM, we stepped onto Australia grounds after a 3 ½ hour flight.  With all of our luggage in hand we headed off to try and figure out the public transportation to get us to the home we were going to stay at.  To paint a little picture, I’ve named my suitcase Hippo.  It is the greatest luggage ever, big and spacious perfect for fitting in clothes to last me for the past three months of my journey.  I get to thank Mama and Papa for this wonderful suitcase I was given for a graduation gift.  But it is a very large suitcase, and when it’s fully packed it is heavy.  I also was carrying my smaller rolling suitcase, a stuffed backpack, and a black duffle bag.  I get to thank my Grandma Patti for the smart idea of bringing an extra duffle just in case I needed more room to bring things home.   As we made our way down the airport and stopped to ask for directions I got teased a little bit about how much stuff I had with me.  After talking to some very helpful people we figured out a transportation pass that we could buy that would cover all the transportation costs.  So we headed out on our public transportation adventure.  Now that you know how many things I was carrying imagine Anna and Heidi, both with similar amounts of luggage.  We are all together walking through the airport, on the two trains, and a bus that we needed to take home.  We were quite the sight, three girls trying to get their luggage on and off the public transportation.  And I must admit, it was difficult trying to make our way but eventually we made it.

 That afternoon we decided we needed a very Australian activity so we headed to Featherdale.   This is an Australian animal park.  It was so awesome because the kangoos and emus are just wandering around the park.  You can pet them and be right up with them.  We also got to pet a koala bear and a wombat.  During feeding time we got to learn about and watch the dingoes and flying foxes eat and interact with the people who worked there.  It was such a blast!  It was the perfect way to kick off our week in Australia.
The kangaroos were just hopping freely all over the entire park!  They were very friendly, letting me pet them!
The koala bear was one of the softest animals I have ever felt!  He was just like an adorable stuffed animal!  I didn't get to actually hold him because he has very sharp claws that might hurt.  So instead I got to pet him and take pictures with the little fluffy guy.
There were also giant Emu's running around the park as well.  I was a little bit scared of them.

The picture above was probably the most traumatizing part of the Feather dale experience.   I had no clue about what a kangaroo's pouch looked like.  I was picturing a cute little pocket that the baby sits in with it's head popping out, like the stuffed animals.  But no, the pouch was very different than I had expected.  Yuck ha.

They had the funniest, fluffiest looking chickens that I have ever seen in my life.  I laugh every time I look at them.
The flying foxes were a very fun thing to watch.  They are these giant furry bats that eat fruit but are very venomous if they were to bite you.
The other animal that I ended up loving during my visit was this chubby little wombat guy!  He just trudged around his area and greeted us nonchalantly.  He reminded me of an Yeyore kind of character.
There were also tons of different kinds of birds!

That evening we had the opportunity to visit the Sydney Temple!  We joined a youth group and participated in  baptisms.  The temple we beautiful and the workers were as sweet as ever helping us through.

Saturday we woke up early and went to a big flower market with Tamara, the girl our age that we are staying with.  It was fun because we got to see all different beautiful types of flowers and some that are specifically native to Australia.  The market is great because people can come here and buy them for way cheaper than at a normal store.

Next we headed off into town.    Downtown Sydney was wonderful.  We walked through the china town and down to Darling Harbor.  While we were leaning over looking into the water we saw a group of at least 50 jelly fish right up near the surface.

Next we grabbed lunch and rode the ferry twice, getting a great view of Sydney Opera House!! 

This is definitely an exciting landmark that we got to see!  I kept thinking (this is super lame) but of the movie Finding Nemo when they swim through the jelly fish and then come up and see the opera house!  Except seeing everything live was much better than the cartoon movie.  The ferry was really relaxing though and it was a great way to see more of Sydney!  At the beginning of the our trip we bought a pass that lets us ride all buses, trains, and ferries for 60 bucks so we are trying to make the most of our passes J

After the first ferry ride we decided to take another one to show us another part of the city.  As we started heading towards the other warf we, unexpectedly, ran into some of our girls from New Zealand.  There were five other girls that came to Sydney as well as us, but they booked a hotel closer in to the city central.  Without cell phones and limited internet access we weren’t planning on trying to get in contact with each other because we felt it would be too difficult.  But by some random chance we were walking right in path to see them in this random part of the city.  We stopped and talked and decided to meet up for dinner later that evening!

After our next ferry ride we had a little bit more time before dinner.  We decided to explore parts of the botanical gardens.  They were beautiful greenery and winding paths that we followed.  There were parts that had colorful flowers and other parts with old, large trees towering over us.  There was only one negative aspect of this garden, the creepy spiders we saw everywhere.  There were at least ten of these large guys on their massive webs all around us on the walk. 

After we finally accepted the fact that we needed to keep an eye out for the webs so that we didn’t walk right into one and get up nice and close with the intimidating insect.  Along the walk there were also lots of noise flying foxes a certain type of bat.  We had seen these bats at feeding time at feather dale and now we got to observe them in the wild.   There were at least a hundred in the different trees with in the gardens. 

For dinner we went to a place called Pancakes on the rocks with Hannah, Nancy, and Neely.  This place is known for their fabulous crapes and pancakes!  Nancy and I split a Mexican crape for our salty part of dinner and hot’n troppo pancakes for dessert.  Let me describe this heavenly dessert that we devoured.  It was two pancakes topped with one scoop of vanilla and one scoop of chocolate ice cream.  Then it had walnuts, bananas, and hot fudge topping this master piece.  It was a tiny piece of heaven on earth.  It was a good choice to split this dessert because the amount of sugar that was in taken would have been overwhelming to take on alone.

After dinner we decided to stay together and take an evening walked along the Harbor Bridge, looking out into the city lights.  It was spectacular. 

This city is wonderful.  The bridge was a lot longer than expected to walk across.  It probably took us a half hour to make it across and back.  It was so fun to spend time with the girls, take pictures, and talk about memories and upcoming events.  We were also luck enough to randomly run into Emily and Nicole!   We were finally, all eight of us, together in Sydney, Australia.  We have to keep reminding our selves where we are, and each time we say it I still can’t quite believe it.  It started to get a bit late so we didn’t get to spend too much time with everyone all together but it was so fun to run into people that we knew in this large foreign city!

Heidi’s roommate from Provo, Mckenna lived in Sydney for three years.  She set us up with some of her friends to stay with.  I wasn’t sure if we were going to be around the family much and just head off to do our own thing, but they have all made us feel so welcome. 

Brother and sister Campbell have been so sweet to provide us with food, a room to stay, rides to places we need, and always talking to us.  Lachlan, the 14 year old brother, was very generous to share his cell phone with us a few times when we went out a couple days.  It is never easy to give us your cell phone for amounts of time to make sure we didn't get stranded anywhere while we were in the city, he was so gracious about it.   He was also so sweet to play games with us on Sunday afternoon.  Laura is so cute!  She is very easy to talk to and has blessed us with the wonderful opportunity to use a nice blow dryer and straightener, which we have not had for the past three months.  Tamera has been so wonderful to really help us make sure that we are getting to do and see some of the best things about Sydney!  We have really been able to feel like family, so welcome and accepted here.  I couldn’t have asked for a better experience of people to stay with.

We came home by bus, getting to our home by 9:30 to a birthday party for one of the girls that we are staying with.   There were at least thirty people there to celebrate Laura’s 18th birthday.  Cheryl, Laura’s mom, went all out with a fabulous spread of desserts.  It was quite the presentation of treats for the guests.  We met some of the people there and surprisingly one of the boys has a cousin at BYU that is and Elementary Education major and was in my drama class winter semester of 2010.  It is such a small world.

On Sunday we got to watch general conference with the family we are staying with.  The made a big pancake breakfast and are taking care of us so well.  We really are lucky to have this opportunity to stay with such great people!

Monday we woke up early and headed to one of Tamara’s favorite places for breakfast called, CafĂ© 5.  It is this cute, little place along one of the beaches.   They had some amazing scrambled eggs with different breads, vegetables, meats, and other toppings.  It has been fun to get to know the Cambell family better and spend time talking with them.  It is never perfectly easy to come to someone’s home that you have never met before and totally feel comfortable.  In fact I was really nervous the first day or two.  But the more time I have spent with them the more grateful I feel to have been hooked up with this wonderful family. 

We also got the chance to do a little bit of hiking.  We went on the Manly beach hike along the coast and in the bush.  We saw lizards, spiders, and beautiful views of Australia!  It took us a few hours to make it from Spit Bridge (which we did spit off of because of its name) to the main part of the beach area.

That night the girls that we were staying with did something very nice for us.  They let us use their blow dryer straightener.  We also busted out my hair spray that I have treasured on this trip so valuably, only wanting to use it for special occasions, when in reality I never ended up using it at all because I was so afraid of running out.  With the triple combination of blow dyer, straightener, and hair spray the three of us got the chance to get ready in a way that we have not been able to do for over three  months now.  It was a glorious feeling!

Monday night we went to a famous chocolate restaurant called, Max Brenner.  It was to die for.  They have tons of different chocolate choices from hot chocolate, chocolate pastries, waffles covered in chocolate, and chocolate licks.  Anna, Heidi, and I got a chocolate soufflĂ© , hot chocolate, and a chocolate lick (which is a small shot cup full of pure melted chocolate).  It was AMAZING!!!  It was the best chocolate I have ever tasted in my life!

Our last day we decided to spend a lot of time at the beach!  We went to a famous beach called Bondi! 
Another reason why this day was one of the best ever, Ben and Jerry's was giving out free ice cream to everyone!  Of couse we got in line to partake of such great news!

 The last evening in Australia we decided to get hot chocolate and take the ferry in the evening time with all the lights out.  The city was magical all lit up.  The weather is starting to set into fall with cool breezes but we still sat outside on the front of  the boat!
Australia has been such a fun holiday.  All my bags are packed now to start the 30 hour journey back home.  We calculated the travel time with lay overs and have a long trip back.  But it will be worth it to see my family again :)  I will never forget the once in a life time experiences of these past three months but it sure feels good to be heading home to my favorite people in the whole world!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The End of the Road

Today was my last day in Auckland.  I can't believe how fast time has flown on this study abroad journey.  It will be an experience that I truly will never forget.  I have learned so much in the past three months that I couldn't have learned any other way.  I have developed friendships that will last forever.  It has helped me become more independent (it was really hard not to talk to my mom every day).

Probably the thing that I will miss the most are the nights that I spent with Christine, Anna, Heidi, and our home stay families.  The Lords were so fun to be with!  Sheryl always had fun stories for us!  Kerry took us fishing and for rides in the company convertible!  Kodie and Alexis were always so smiley and happy to play with us.

One of the best nights with them was marshmallow roasting!  We even put m&ms in the middle of the marshmallow to get a melty chocolaty middle!

And I will forever be grateful for Phyllis.  She was so sweet to take to young, giggly girls in for three months. I am a better person for getting to spend time and learn from her!
I wish I could write more but I have a plane to catch early tomorrow.  The taxi is picking me up at 4 AM and I am off to Australia!  I will probably have limited internet access so this may be my concluding blog post while I am away from America!  I am going to miss this beautiful country and the friendships that I have made here!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


I just returned from my last vacation in New Zealand.  This week has been a lot of bitter sweet emotions with lots of tears and laughter. 

We started our trip with a three hour trip to the Bay of Islands.   This is a beautiful town that is built a long a curvy coast line, with lots of Island that you can see off into the distance.  Our sleep arrangements consisted of staying in a bright yellow motel that was a step up from our Base X hostile experience but a step down from our Christchurch Gothic Heights Motel.  I stayed in a motel house area with Heidi, Christine, Anna, Becca, and Katie. 

Our first day there we visited the place where the Treaty of Waitangi was signed.  We had time to walk around and read about the event that brought together the pakeha (white European people) and the Maori people to become a united people in New Zealand.  It was very interesting to learn about the struggles and conflicts that took place with creating this treaty and bringing peace to this land.  And yet there are still struggles today with interpretations and understandings of the direct meaning.

The second day we got up early and headed out another three hours to make it to Cape Reinga.  The country side that we drive here in NZ is unreal.  I never understood why people complained about making the drive from Provo to Boise but now I understand how much more enjoyable car trips can be.  As we spend hours in the car I am constantly enthralled by the beautiful hills, plants, greenery, ocean, animals, and other things that make this land truly majestic.  This is the very most northern tip of New Zealand.  

We got to stand up on this amazing cliff looking out to a never ending view of ocean.  There were beautiful coast lines we could see on either side, but out into the distance we could only see the Pacific Ocean and the Tasman Sea.  It was a very great experience to watch the exact point where these two oceans come together.  I never knew if there was any really rhyme or reason for where one ocean started and another began, but at this most northern type I could visually understand why.  The waves from the Sea and the Ocean literally collided together.

I also took lots of pictures for my little sister Becca.  We were talking the other night and she expressed her desire to see real blue water.  The water that I sat and enjoyed today was true blue water! 
We also took some time to drive along 90 mile beach.  These beach stretches so long and with such a high tide and strong current you have to time your visit to this beach very carefully.  There were no swimmers or people laying out.  Instead we basically had the majority of the coast to ourselves as we drove along.   In order to really see enough of the coast you have to drive to make it from one end to the other in time, before the high tide sets in.

At one point one of the vans got stuck in the sand and the girls all had to get out and help push the van free!

We also took some time to play at the sand dunes!  I'm up at the top with Anna and Nancy ready to be the first ones to take the boogie boards down the hill!

The next day we took a fairy across the ocean to visit another Island named Russel.  Here we explore the shops and view parts of the city!

Then headed to our science teacher Ian Milne’s home for the afternoon.  He invited us over to have lunch at his beach house and hang out at the beach.  We couldn’t turn down such a gracious offer.  The house was beautiful, right up next to the water with large windows overlooking the scenic view.  The water was literally glistening in the sun.  Since this was a more secluded beach there were hardly any other people there with us.

There were some rock pools nearby as well.  Some fish had gotten stuck in there with the tide.  Some of the girls and our friend James started trying to save them.  There were so many fish in this little area that we could literally reach in the water and pull out fish with our bare hands.  Then we threw them back out into the ocean.  While we were looking at the rock pools we also saw a baby octopus.  It was amazing how swift and smoothly this creature made its way along the ocean floor.

During this trip I finally had my first real sickness.  I was so amazing that this whole journey I hadn’t gotten sick yet.  But I can no longer say that.  The last few days of the trip, especially at night and in the mornings, I had a horrible sore throat, head ache, stuffy nose, and scratchy cough.  I tried to not complain but it made it hard to sleep and really enjoy everything that we were doing.  But I made it through and now I’m on the upswing.  I’m starting to feel better.

On our last full day we decided to hike to Hu ruru falls.  It was about an hour hike in and an hour hike out.  About 9 miles total.  The hike was beautiful with the bush all around us.  The waterfalls I have to say was just mediocre.  But as I was making this judgment on this waterfall I realized that I have become a bit spoiled.  Normally I would have loved any waterfall but because I have seen so many majestic waterfall scenes across New Zealand this one was just not as impressive.  But I still enjoyed the overall experience very well. 

I also found out some very exciting news this week.  Early this semester I had applied for an internship to teach in a classroom for the next year.  On this trip I found out that I have gotten accepted for an internship to teach second grade at Spring Creek Elementary, where I did my first practicum experience!  I am so excited about it.  I am constantly thinking of ideas on how I want to decorate my classroom and how I can teach different lessons.  This is such a huge responsibility I have been given but I am up for the challenge.   And this fall I will be living with two other intern teachers.  Caitlin will be teaching a 3rd grade class and Heidi will be teaching a 2nd grade class as well!

We realized that this was going to be the last time that our whole group was going to be all together in New Zealand.  Katie gave a touching family night lesson and really brought this trip full circle for us.  The theme that we have all had for this trip has been faith.  We can not fear only have faith in the Lord, faith that we can do hard things and faith that the Lord knows what our futures hold even if we are unsure.  It was a great final night being together.  We gave our friend James (who had helped drive and take care of us on all of our trips) a present and a thank you song the morning before we left for Auckland.  As we sang our Maori song and Lean On Me, each one of us was in tears.  It was such a touching moment to be all together with so much love for each other and for all that we have been through together.  And although all 16 girls will be going to school and working in the Utah area this next August it will never truly be the same again.