Sunday, 20 October 2013

New Blog


We have returned to Canada and I have started a new food related blog. Check it out:

The Food On My Shirt



Sunday, 19 May 2013

Return Home: a Visit to Vancouver Island

With our return to Canada after 18 months abroad we will be winding down the Blog and moving on to other adventures. After 24 straight hours of airplanes and airports we touched down in Nanaimo on Vancouver Island to acclimate to Canada with a visit with my family. There were a few misty eyes as we walked off the tarmac and were very happy to see my parents in person.

Me and my mom having a loving moment.

Being the super hosts that they are we had 10 days of feasting and mostly beautiful weather. We had a bit of a family reunion at my uncles and visited with my Grandma.
An adorable miniature pony we named Archie. From a distance we thought he was a misguided puppy, but were pleasantly surprised when he galloped up to the fence.
We hiked around Qualicum and set a new course record on the golf course for the highest scoring family to set foot on the greens, bushes, and sand traps.

We got wet on mothers day but made up for it with Jess' (now famous) homemade strawberry and rhubarb pie. It was great times but we eventually had to move on back to Calgary.

Friday, 10 May 2013

Final Stay in Melbourne

Our final visit to Neal and Laura in Melbourne was bitter sweet. We were visiting good friends for the last time, and we were ready to head home and see our families and friends on Canadian soil.
We arrived on a weekend so Neal and Laura took us out to the Yarra Valley. It was only a short drive outside of Melbourne and we were surrounded by beautiful fall coloured hills. The fresh country air must have gotten to the guys because they were enamoured with the apples of our first cider stop… and each other.

We made a few vineyard stops as well as a dairy stop for some delicious cheese. The large bottle of wine Laura and I are sitting with was the exact wine that Prince Harry gifted to Will and Kate for their wedding after party – 60 bottles to be exact!
After a great day of wine tasting we went for wood burning oven made pizza.

The sunset view from Neal and Laura’s apartment.

 Jeff and I went out for lunch on our last day and enjoyed some great food before emptying out our Australian bank account…the final task of our travelling days. We sure are going to miss this amazing country.

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Fitzroy Island

Our last booked tour of the trip was maybe the best. We took a ferry to Fitzroy Island 40 min off the coast of Cairns and then went for a guided kayak snorkel trip. The kayaking part of the tour was an entertaining disaster. We were issued some sexy stinger suits and snorkel gear then jumped in the kayaks and started to paddle towards Little Fitzroy.

The “entertaining disaster” was another couple on the tour that couldn’t follow instructions, paddle or think about what they were doing. In some of the photos you can see them drifting around in the background. They eventually flipped their kayak on flat water losing their camera in the process. They were so useless they only made it half way and the guide ended up towing them back while we continued on.

The exciting part of the trip was when we hit the water for some self guided snorkelling. On the kayak I had seen a Green Turtle surface for air and figured it would be a good place to start if we were hoping to see some turtles in the water. Visibility was mixed but got better as we stretched a little further from shore. After cruising along for 20 min Jess looked to the side and found that a turtle was cruising along with us. We found four different turtles and they kept to themselves and would only swim away if you tried to get in front of it for a photo. We also found some beautiful reef coral and fish to entertain us.

It was a surreal experience that we will never forget. To celebrate our successful touring we stayed in a real hotel with a rooftop pool on our last night.   

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Cape Tribulation

After a couple days in Cairns we headed even further north to the tropical Cape Tribulation. It was hard to leave but we knew we would be back in Cairns after a couple days so we were excited to see what we could find in the Daintree Rain Forest. This region is famous in Australia for its Daintree Tea… tastes no different than regular tea according to Jess.

Our tour started with a river cruise looking for salt water crocodiles. We came across three but only close enough to get decent pictures of two. The first was a two meter croc that was known to the guide. The second was a juvenile that was on the shore and surprised us by charging towards the boat and jumping in the water. Crocs are pretty cool creatures but they are not very exciting as they lay on the shore basking in the sun. I wish we had some food to get it jumping like at the Australia Zoo. 

 We stayed right in the heart of the rainforest in a quiet little cabin. It was surrounded by giant spiders and was only a short walk to the beach.

On our last day we went to Mossman Gorge and had an “Aboriginal Experience” to learn about some of the culture and weapons used by the native people. Although didgeridoos were not an instrument used by rainforest aboriginals our host had one and demonstrated its sound.
We would have preferred a day trip overall, but it was a great little overnight trip through the lush and humid far north.

Friday, 3 May 2013

Cairns & the Great Barrier Reef

As our trip was coming to an end we made our way to Cairns (pronounced “cans” by Aussies), and our last major destination. We had over a week to enjoy Cairns and we really liked the food, nightlife and, of course, the proximity to the Great Barrier Reef (GBR).

Our first tour to the GBR was through Down Under Dive on the Osprey V. The boat was perfectly setup for the trips to the reef and the crew was genuinely excited to take us out and let people explore. There was a huge mix of people on the tour, ranging from trained divers to seniors. We had booked a deal that included a helicopter flight over the reef. We visited two outer reef locations at Saxon Reef and Hastings Reef.

Pictures really do not capture how beautiful and full of life the reef is. It seemed that every time we turned around we discovered a new creature or saw a breathtaking view of the coral. We were the first in the water and last out. The highlight creatures for us were the clown fish, tuna, Maori Wrasse, giant clams, hump headed parrot fish, squid and a white tipped reef shark (not pictured).  

The Giant Clams were fun to dive down and touch – they closed right up every time I did this. 

The Tuna appeared out of nowhere stopped for a photo then blasted away. It was the fasted moving creature that we came across.
After the novelty of seeing the clown fish as the stars of “Finding Nemo” wears off we found them to be totally captivating because they are very photogenic and fiercely protect their homes. They would race out and challenge you then retreat back and do it all over again – unfortunately they do not realize how adorable they are and they think they are tough.

The hump headed parrot fish were probably the ugliest fish we saw. The school that passed us could be heard chomping on the coral and stone, then they would crap a dusting of white powder – this is where white sand beaches come from.

Jess had been dreaming of coming across a Maori wrasse after we heard about them as we moved up the coast. They are massive fish that are fairly friendly with people. Being the first off the boat was advantageous because the wrasse came right up to me and let me pet it. Jess was so shocked at the sight of it she froze and didn’t get a picture. The detail on the fish and colors are really pretty if you can get over the initial ugliness.

The squid were even more alien looking than the rest of the creatures and just hovered in a pack until they were startled and rocketed off. The shark was maybe a meter long and just cruised by without paying any attention us. We starting chasing it to get a photo and then came to our senses and decided maybe chasing a shark isn’t the best use of our time or lives.

By the time we were loaded on the helicopter our camera was on the last bars of battery so we could only snap a couple photos. From the chopper we saw 6 dugongs/sea cows and got to see how huge the reef actually is. If we could have we would have done this tour every day!