Thursday, April 17, 2014

{Throw Back Thursday} Island Style

I found this letter to family and friends in my files and thought I would share on my blog. Remember while reading this that I was only 25, I had been living on Guam for almost three years, and it was pre-Facebook!

If I get a chance, I'll scan more pictures, but the koala will have to do for now.

April, 2001

G’Day Mate!

This is kind of a long narrative of my Australia trip, so I won’t be offended if you skim it!

The Harvest Christian Academy senior class, five chaperons, three children, and myself, all landed in Cairns, Australia at 10:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 5.  After exchanging some money, we headed for the hotel to unpack.  We were very glad the American dollar was doing well in Australia—our exchange rate was almost two Australian dollars for one American dollar!  It was the best shopping sale ever…everything half off! J

Horseback riding was on the agenda for 8:15 a.m. on Friday, so we needed some sleep after our 4-½ hour flight.  It had been almost 15 years since I had been on a horse, so I was a little hesitant about our morning ride.  I relied on my mom’s good riding genes to get me through the day.  As we entered the corral and the horses were being assigned to each of us, I realized I was not the only one who was nervous.  Most of the senior girls had never been on a horse before, so this ride through the rain forest was going to be quite the exciting activity.  My nerves were calmed as I saddled up with Eor, a quiet looking mount.  Our two-hour rain forest ride did not go without mishap, as one of the girls was thrown from her horse as we headed into a slight trot.  Because the horse had picked up speed, slight as it was, the girl, not being familiar with horses at all, was caught off guard and lost her balance.

After our horseback riding and lunch, we went to an Australian zoo, called Wild World.  Holding the Koala bear was a definite highlight.  In order to hold the Koala, you had to pay $12.00 for a picture.  It was worth it, though!  We also got to feed and pet the kangaroos.  Throughout the afternoon several animal shows/demonstrations took place: crocodiles, snakes, and tropical birds.  Charle’, my co-worker, and her three children loved the zoo so much that they came back the next day!

Friday evening I went out to dinner with two of the group’s chaperons, Rebekah and Wanda, at Hog’s Breath.  We had heard this restaurant was a local favorite.  The steak was excellent!

Saturday, while the rest of the group went white water rafting and ATV driving, I spent the day shopping.  I went to two malls.  One of the malls was within walking distance, and the other I had to take a bus to get there.  After I shopped until I dropped, I went out to Dundee’s Restaurant to try some kangaroo and crocodile, but chickened out and went with Macadamia Chicken.

On Sunday, we got up early to catch a boat to the Great Barrier Reef.  Even though I am not a salt-water or snorkeling fan, I figured I couldn't miss this chance to see the Great Barrier Reef, right?  As we headed out to sea, we enjoyed the view and the choppy ride.  After a while, the crew of the large boat instructed us to go inside on the lower deck to listen to a safety lecture.  We all went down and listened, and listened, and listened.  The guy kept talking, and talking, and talking.  Soon, however, I was not feeling so great anymore.  He finally finished his safety talk and I headed for the outer deck.  I did not get very far, though.  I saw several other passengers with complimentary bags in their hands, and I knew that it was time that I get one of those…but it was too late for me.  After a while I felt much better, but not 100%.  Soon I knew I would need another complimentary bag from the helpful crew.  The crew was standing by with glasses of water and encouraging words, but I just needed to be left a lone.  The boat finally dropped anchor; it was time to snorkel!  Everyone kept saying that if you just get in the water you should feel much better.  So finally I geared up with a wet suit and all, and jumped in!  Saw a few fish, but did not go far from the boat because the waves were too rough with my inexperience in snorkeling. 

That evening we dressed up to have a small church service before heading to Tim’s Surf ‘n Turf for dinner.  At the restaurant, many ordered the Surf ‘n Turf meal, but we could barely chisel through the steak (turf) and the meal only came with a few shrimp (surf).  Our table had about three orders of chips (Australian name for French fries) for everyone to share.  The menu did not say that the meal came with chips, so to our surprise, when the food arrived we had chips coming out our ears!

Monday morning: our last day in Australia.  I woke up early, but not as early as those that went hot air ballooning (4:15 a.m!).  Not having planned anything to do, I decided to rent a car and drive up the coast to see what I could see.  Now, normally renting a car would not be a problem for me, but I was a little hesitant about driving on the left side of the road, and on the right sided of the vehicle!  I finally convinced myself that I could do it and went to rent the car.  Driving away in the very small car, I knew I was in for an exciting journey.

As I drove up Captain Cook Highway, I knew this scenic coastal drive was worth it!  My drive took me about an hour north to Port Douglas, Queensland, a beautiful little tourist town, and then up a little farther to Mossman.  On my return trip, I drove on an inland road that wound me through a mountainous area that was also very picturesque.

After returning the rental car, I went to pack as we were flying out that evening.  After packing, we headed to a seafood buffet restaurant, called Charlie’s.  Charlie’s was also a local favorite for seafood, and we agreed with their choice!

Australia was great! We arrived back on Guam on Tuesday, April 10 at 4:00 a.m.  Thankfully, I had a week of Spring Break left to recover from our outback adventures.


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