Pick Up Where I Left Off?

Not a day goes by that I don’t think about Life on the Bike and getting back into my blogging groove.  I’m 6 months behind on posting photos from various adventures.

Las Vegas, Nevada

Cape Charles, Virginia

Tallahassee, Florida

Knoxville, Tennessee

various Virginia State Parks

and Cincinnati, Ohio

I’ve worked alot, and volunteered alot.

Thankfully, I’ve played, alot, too.  I’ve traveled for fun and I’ve traveled for work.

I’ve worked on political campaigns and hosted non-political fundraisers.

I’ve riden the bike (not enough!) and managed to keep up with photography (again, not enough!).

And finally, I’ve missed WP and my blogging friends.

Slowly but surely, I’m finding my way back to my WordPress home!

#MySawyerBracelet

A friend’s 10 year old son Sawyer (nicknamed SOY) died unexpectedly in October 2016.  Sawyer’s loving and devastated family had bracelets made for their friends & family to wear and to remember Sawyer by.

To remember the joy of his life not the sadness of his death.

Sawyer’s mother, Jaime, created a blogspot so that folks can post pictures of the places they take the bracelets.  Having friends wear the bracelets helps the family connect with Sawyer’s memory and reminds them that he has not been forgotten.   As friends, we know that we are carrying the memory of Sawyer on the adventures we have and the places that we visit.

In addition to wearing #mysawyerbracelet throughout New Zealand and Australia, I wore a bracelet in honor of my friend David, who died in 2010.

The bracelets never left my wrist and accompanied me while I sat in the Chair for Contemplation at Rippon Winery in Wanaka New Zealand.

Through the pine forest along the Queenstown Hill Time Walk and when adding a rock to the pile

From the summit of Queenstown Hill

Overlooking Lake Wakatipu

From the top of Bob’s Peak

On the train to Sydney …

… and on the train back to Melbourne

While driving on the left side of the Great Ocean Road (and on the left side of the car)

While talking with another bracelet wearing bar patron about the friends and loved ones we carried along with us

Outside this tiny little house and over this tiny little door

and while enduring three rounds of incredibly “intimate” security checks.

#mysawyerbracelet was along with me while riding a gondola, a jetboat, a kayak, a 5 person trike, 3 summits, and 11 different planes.

It was an honor to bring the spirits of Sawyer and David along with me on this journey.

The Great Ocean Road to the Grampians

 

At the end of Day 1 on the Great Ocean Road, and after a yummy dinner of Fish and Chips in Apollo Bay, I took a short walk along the water to end an incredibly satisfying day.

Thankfully, I still had several hours and many miles to travel along this spectacular road, so I was up and on the road early the next day.  Frankly, I’m really not sure how I ever completed the drive because I stopped … and stopped … and stopped.

What magnificent scenery, and a super fun road to drive.  My little rental car, with me on the right side of the car, on the left side of the road, drove the entire 243 km (151 mi).

Sometimes I was able to see the ocean and sometimes I wasn’t, but at all times I saw stunning natural beauty.

 I pulled over at almost every single stop, this one the London Bridge and I simply could not stop shooting!

I also made sure to take the time to be still.  I would just stand there, breathing deeply, and enjoying the sites, sounds, and smells of the ocean, the sand, and the air.

The power of the waves crashing against the rock formations had me spell bound.

I just never knew quite what to expect as I rounded the next corner of the boardwalk,

and I was never disappointed.

Arguably one of the most famous places along the Great Ocean Road is the Twelve Apostles.

“Situated in the Port Campbell National Park, the massive limestone structures that tower 45 metres above the tempestuous Southern Ocean, leave its visitors awe-struck in wonder at their size and beauty.  Behind the eight remaining stacks (five have fallen since their discovery) are majestic cliffs, around 70 metres high” (https://www.visitgreatoceanroad.org).

Absolutely stunning!

Before I knew it, I had arrived in Warrnambool. I left the Great Ocean Road and headed for Grampians National Park.  More on that next!

Let Me Re-introduce Myself

Along the Great Ocean Road

Victoria, Australia

Hello my friends!  You may be wondering if I’m still driving the Great Ocean Road, since that’s where I was when I last posted.  Actually, I left Australia two and a half months ago, and I’m still seeking time to share images from the last few days of the trip.  The last 9 months have been full, even more than normal, with organizing, chairing, co-chairing, and facilitating.  The next couple months, while scheduled with a good deal of travel, are not so full of leadership work, and I hope to soon post about the last few days of a once in a lifetime trip.

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!

Hiking and Jetboating in Queenstown

It was with mixed emotions that the Wanaka Crew began to disperse Thursday morning, with all of us checked out of our gorgeous temporary home on Friday.  What an incredible journey blogging has been for all of us!  Who knew that when we all published our first posts, for me back  in June of 2012, we would meet and make such great friends.  The benefits to blogging are many and without a doubt, the best part is the worldwide connections that are made.

This image nipped from Alys’ FB page: Boomdee, Alys, Danella (daughter of Pauline), Pauline, Steve (partner of Joanna), me, Joanna (daughter of Pauline), and Mike (Alys’ husband).

After one last lunch with Pauline, Danella, Boomdee, and Siddy, with this view as the backdrop, I was dropped at my Queenstown Hotel.  It was time to start my solo adventure.

Queenstown is known as the adventure capital of the world, and with just one and a half days to spend there, I had many choices.  Ultimately, I decided to hike Queenstown Hill and, on the advice of Danella, to take a jet boat ride on Lake Wakatipu.

After walking by this gorgeous tree, I began my morning with the now customary Flat White.  I was thrilled to see this Giant Sequoia since I’ve not seen them in California yet.

They Call it a “Hill”

Queenstown Hill is a popular hike for locals and visitors alike despite the moderate to difficult rating.  While only 3k from the trail head and back, it was another 3k on foot to get to the trailhead.  It’s 500m to the summit, straight up hill all the way.  Click on each image in the gallery to get an idea of the steep climb, both on the street and the trail.

Soon enough I entered a magical area of stacked rocks.  I was capitavated and spent a good 15 minutes in peace and quiet, and then added my own rock.  The photography is poor as it was quite dark and I just didn’t capture the stacks well.

I knew that I was near the summit when I arrived at the Basket of Dreams.  Sculptor Caroline Robinson created this piece in 2000 for the Queenstown Millenium project which has  transformed the existing walk into a heritage and art trail.  The ‘Basket’ is near the top of the hill and “is built to lie inside of, eat your sandwich, and imagine. It provides a meeting place, a resting place, a dreaming spaceIts a place to be with others and with the magic of the Wakatipu landscape”.

I began what I thought were the final steps (the basket is right in the middle of this next image).  It is so tiny as seen here.  Then I turned around and saw that I had several more steps to go (see the second image).  Can you see the people on the summit?

Finally! I arrived on the summit and the view is indescribable, at least for me.  I mean, how many more times can a person say “incredible, gorgeous, stunning”?

I sat in complete contentment for a long while.  A woman came up and asked if she could take my photo as I looked so quiet and peaceful.  What a thoughtful gesture as I would not have been able to manage a selfie.

It was difficult to leave this place.  Thankfully, a celebratory beverage and a jetboat ride awaited me.  I enjoyed my Monteith’s Black as I looked back up to the summit.  Can you see it, peaking through the trees?

And then I looked towards the lake.

It was a specatacular day for a jetboat ride!

What a thrill, and even though 60 minutes, not long enough!  My time in New Zealand came to an end all too quickly, despite being there almost 2 weeks.   What a remarkable country!

Now though, it was almost time to get on that plane, and fly to Melbourne.