Just One

Along the Great Ocean Road

We are 6 days away from Local Elections here in Radford, and I am working hard to help the candidates that I support win the day!  Since I’ve not really got the time right now to share the story of the last 4 days of my trip, I’m leaving this teaser here for you to enjoy.  As I look at it, I can still hear the waves and feel the breeze.  Just incredible!

I’ll be back soon!

Making Friends and Riding the Rails: Sydney to Melbourne

When last I posted, I’d told you about my amazing day in Sydney.  I then took a pause in the storytelling in order to visit all of you.  Somehow, almost a month has passed since I arrived back in the States, after enduring lots of up close and personal attention at the security checks along the way.  Now it’s time to resume the tale!

You may remember that I took the overnight train from Melbourne to Sydney.  Even though the day time train was taking the same route back to Melbourne, for this trip I’d be awake and able to see the countryside.

Some might consider an 11 hour train ride far too long, but I enjoyed the whole trip!  I chatted with those around me and learned a lot from the train Conductor, who after learning of my interest, would come tell me when something interesting was coming up.   I kept my camera on the scenery flying by and while none of these images will win awards, I liked the movement they convey.

I could have taken a plane but I really wanted to see the rural part of Australia.

You really can’t get a feel for the country from a plane, but the train opens the world to your eyes.

We stopped several times and when there was enough time, I’d jump off to look around.  My favorite story from the day was when we were pulling up to Albury .  The Conductor had let me know that the Albury Train Platform, at 455-metre-long (1,493 ft), was the longest in Australia.  As I walked to the door, a woman jumped up and asked me if I was going to get off at the stop, and after indicating that I was, she said she wanted to come, too.

It turns out that Lorraine (nick named Laurie – what a coincidence!) was traveling for the first time out of her home state of New South Wales.  She and her sister were headed for Melbourne and other parts of Victoria, and she was as excited to be traveling as I was.

Laurie asked me if I’d send her the photos that I took and I happily agreed, of course asking if I could take her photo as well.  What a joyful part of the ride!

The ride continued and the other passengers got used to seeing the happy American walking up and down the aisle, camera in hand.

Before I knew it, we were back in Melbourne.  After a slight challenge getting my luggage out of the locker in the station, I walked to my hotel, which while a 1/2 mile away, was all down hill.  Thank goodness for wheels on suitcases! As I crossed over the Yarra river, I was rewarded by this beautiful view.

I checked into my hotel, enjoyed a cold beer and dinner at the Belgian Beer Cafe that Boomdee had recommended, and prepared for the next day: driving the Great Ocean Road!

A Pause in the Story

Some of you have been able to follow along as the Blogger Babes have shared happy stories from New Zealand and Australia.

Photo Credit: Alys’ camera on timer 🙂

Pauline (and her oh so much fun daughters Danella and Joanna, and Joanna’s partner Steve), Alys (and her husband Mike), Boomdee, and I had the most amazing time! Its hard to believe that after all the anticipation and planning, we are back home and blogging about it. I urge you to visit the blogs of these remarkable women and read their posts about the Blogger Babes Trip of a Lifetime. In case you are checking in for the first time, we:

All too soon our holiday came to an end, and some of our group journeyed back home. As for me, and for Alys and Mike, further adventures awaited. While Alys and Mike toured more of New Zealand, I prepared to fly off to Australia to begin my solo adventure. Before that though, I enjoyed hiking and jetboating in Queenstown.

Once in Australia, I spent two days touring Melbourne and one fabulous day in Sydney.

The trip was incredible and after a couple years of anticipation and planning, it is hard to believe that the trip is over, and that we are all back home. Of course, being back home means that the world intrudes and the fullness of life gets in the way of blogging, and visiting blogger friends. So while I have so much more to share from the trip, I’m going to take a short break from writing new posts to visit all of you.

I’ll be back soon to share stories and images from The Great Ocean Road and Grampians National Park.

Cheers!

12 Hours in Sydney

At the end of my second full day of walking around Melbourne, I boarded the train for Sydney.

Even though I knew my time there would be short, I just couldn’t imagine being in Australia and not visiting the capital city of New South Wales.  The train would be a perfect way to accomplish the goal.  I’d sleep on the overnight train, spend a full day exploring, and then head back to Melbourne via the daytime train.  I walked from the hotel to the Southern Cross station and stored most of my luggage in a locker.  With my camera in hand I boarded the XTP for the 960 K (600 mile) ride to Sydney.

Before closing my eyes, I pondered how to spend the few hours that I had.  Friends offered wonderful suggestions and I knew I’d have trouble choosing the best options.  Should I:

Take a tour of the Opera House or do the Bridge Climb?

Go shopping at The Rocks?

Take the ferry to Manly Beach?

Enjoy the Botanical Gardens?

Or just walk around Darling Harbour.

Ultimately, I chose a 5 mile walking tour.  I’d miss the interior details of the Opera House and the thrill of the Bridge Climb, but I’d experience the big picture and get an overall taste of this vibrant city.  After leaving my overnight luggage at my hotel, I walked by the Queen Victoria Building, completed in 1898, and through Hyde Park, Sydney’s Central Park.  Aren’t those trees stunning?

The Sydney Harbour Walk officially starts at the Art Gallery of New South Wales and when I stopped by, a ceremony celebrating the 21st Biennale of Sydney was in process.  An aboriginal native walked through the crowd with a smudge stick, which I learned was used to promote healing and clear energy fields.

I walked through the Royal Botanic Gardens and along the harbour pathway towards Mrs. Macquarie’s Point.  Lady Macquarie’s Chair is an exposed standstone rock cut into the shape of a bench which was hand carved by convicts in 1810 for Governor Macquarie’s wife Elizabeth.  Folklore has it that she used to sit on the rock and watch for ships from Great Britain sailing into the harbour.

As I turned from viewing Elizabeth’s chair, I caught my first views of the Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge.  My breath caught at the site of these iconic images, and I couldn’t believe I was there!

Can you see the folks doing the bridge climb in these next images?  I have to admit to feeling some regret about missing it.

I continued my walk to Circular Quay and found an outside cafe for a cold beer and some calamari.

I watched a variety of ferries coming and going and made the decision to take the Fast Ferry to Manley Beach.

The Fast Ferry was really fast, taking just 18 minutes to get from Sydney Harbour to Manley Beach, and I had great difficulty holding the camera steady to get these views of the cliffs.  Even still, the ride was so much fun and I loved feeling the wind in my face.  I almost like I was riding the motorcycle!

After the ferry docked, I walked around to Dawes Point, passed Observatory Hill and towards the area known as The Rocks, the historic district of Sydney.  Established in 1788, and once under threat of demolition, the area now hosts open air markets, boutique shops, and pubs and restaurants.  Of course, I was forced to enjoy another australian beer. Poor me!

After hours of exploring, and thoroughly enjoying myself, I walked back to the hotel to get cleaned up for dinner.  My final walk for the evening was to the King Street Wharf where I devoured a delicious meal and lovely glass of wine (or two).  Then it was time for sleep.  The train back to Melbourne would pull out of the Sydney Central Station at 7am the next morning.

What would you do if you only had 12 hours in Sydney?

Melbourne in 2 Days: The Solo Adventure Continues

With not even two full days to spend in Melbourne, I was up and out early, ready to explore.

The first thing that I did was find new accomodations.  Since my Air BnB experience proved to be less than satisfactory, I walked right next door to the Holiday Inn and booked a room.  Perhaps my assumptions were too high and I expected a bit more of a welcome rather than 3 changes in my contact person prior to arrival.  Perhaps as a newbie to the city, I needed a bit more guidance and information.  Perhaps I just needed a bit more cleanliness. Whatever the reason, my instincts had me moving on.  After booking a room and feeling much better about the situation, I eagerly set out to learn a bit about Melbourne.  I truly have no idea how many miles I walked (more than 5, less than 10), but I do know that I walked the city for hours.

What better way to start my tour than by taking a view of the city from the 88th floor of the Skydeck.

Next up was a walk through the National Gallery of Victoria,

and by the Victoria Barracks.

From the Skydeck I had seen the Shrine of Remembrance and knew that I needed to visit this solumn place.

During my two days of exploring this great city, I was so pleased to see all the green!  Melbourne boasts many parks full of gorgeous, mature trees, and the streets are adorned similarly.

Initially I wondered why so many of the abundant sidewalk cafes were not full (I never waited long for a table!).  Then I realized that the parks were full of people enjoying a picnic lunch.

The public art and celebration of the aboriginal culture were quite evident, as were the signs of activism and efforts to protect the environment. Aren’t you glad I didn’t take a photo of one of the many, many recycling bins?  Well, to be honest, I did! I just didn’t share it 🙂

The city of Melbourne has an annual cultural festival called Moomba, an Aboriginal term which means ‘lets get together and have fun.’
What a crowd!

I thoroughly enjoyed this street performer while drinking a cold, local  beer at a nearby pub.

Both old and new architecture, often right next to the other, were eye catching.

My friends who enjoy searching for the good deal would have loved the Queen Victoria Market.

This city accomodates and all are welcome.  I loved seeing and took advantage of the free and easy Public Transportation, the easy walkability, the recycling bins, the Free WiFi, and YES, the clean toilets everywhere!

Melbourne is such an easy place to be a tourist, and I could not have been happier with my two days there.

Thanks to Boomdee and Alys for teaching me, after 6 years of blogging, how to use a photo gallery.

Thanks for reaching the end of this very full post.  Next Post:  Sydney!

Cruising: Food and Drink

Are you ready to be done seeing photos from the cruise that I took with friends in April?  I promise, this is the last one!  If you’ve followed along so far, you’ve seen a recap of the whole experience, the birds and flowers, the ship, and the windows and doors.  You’ve read that I had my reservations about cruising, that I’m not sure I’d do it again, AND that I had a great time with friends and with my camera.

I also enjoyed great food and drink! There were 13 bars on that ship, and Kerry, from Love Those Hands at Home, asked if we managed to visit every one.  I’m proud to say that over the course of one week, we did!  In fact, I carried around the “List of 13” and we would check them off one at a time.  Several of the bartenders got into the spirit with us.

And of course, I couldn’t help but turn my drinks into photography.

Beer

Wine

Cocktails

Frozen Drinks

The best part?  No need for a designated driver!

Thanks for hanging with me through all of these posts about the cruise.  Someday, I’ll be able to look back and remember the fun.

*****

It’s been almost 2 months since I’ve been back from the cruise and I’ve been on the road, working, and taking care of civic duties.  It’s my goal to visit all of you over the next week or so.  I’m looking forward to seeing what you’ve been up to!

Stormy Weather

When I pulled out of the driveway that Saturday morning almost two weeks ago, the skies were slightly overcast and the temperature was 70 degrees F.  It was a lovely day to ride.

As I rode down through the mountains, heading towards the Outer Banks of North Carolina, I was filled with excitement about a week at the beach with the GOAs.  The Girls Of August have been taking a vacation together for over 20 years, and it is one of the highlights of the year for all of us.

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After riding 200 miles, I met up with Jan and we began the second half of the trip.  WIth 180 miles to go, and the skies beginning to darken, I was glad to have a friend to share the journey with.  As it became clear that rain was in our path, we transferred my gear from bike to car.

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It was such a relief to know that all my gear, including my camera, would stay dry in the car because before we knew it, the skies opened up.  It was a deluge!

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For over 100 miles we rode in driving wind and rain, and thunder and lightning.  Headed toward the coast, the road was flat with few opportunities for shelter in this rural part of the state.  At one point, we pulled off the road to seek shelter under an overpass.  I put my feet down at the stop sign, and the water was over the top of my boots!

Several cars and trucks were already idling under the overpass, and I had to laugh at the fact that I had stayed on the road longer than they had.  By the time Jan took these photos, the rain had calmed down a bit and most of the cars had continued on.

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You just have to keep smiling and ride safe.

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From this point onward, the weather became even worse.  It took all my energy to stay focused on the road, and I’m thankful that I wasn’t a newbie rider.  Imagine going up and over the bridge across the Pamlico Sound. In the dark. In the rain.  When we finally arrived, the only part of me that was dry was my head, thankfully protected by the helmet.  I’m so grateful that Jan had been with me.

How wonderful to have friends to greet us, drinks in hand.

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Our time in Nags Head was incredible, and we could not have asked for a better vacation.  We did however, experience one more huge storm.  While enjoying the beach one day, we watched the clouds roll in.

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The GOAs started to pack up beach bags and chairs, but being the lover of storms that I am, I decided that I’d stick it out on the beach.  Janet, too, decided to ride it out, and oh what a wild ride it was!

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Rain, thunder, lightning, hail.  Our beach towels offered meager protection! I kept my camera covered up inside a bag, and these cell phone images do not do justice to the weather that Mother Nature treated us to that day.  I’m so glad that Janet was there to witness it with me.

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When the storm finally settled down, we sent a text up to the house that all was well, and Jan and Becky sooned rejoined us on the beach.  Later that evening, we enjoyed the post storm beauty.

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What a gift.