Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Travel Bug

Two weeks from today, we'll head out of Wollongong for the last time.  I'm trying to temper my sadness of leaving Australia with thoughts of Colorado: there's nothing like the promise of fresh snow, a fire burning in our woodstove, and Denver's eye candy of those majestic mountains draped across the city's backdrop to get me excited about going home.

Sam and I wonder how we'll feel when we get home--do travelers look forward to their next adventure, or do they revel in nesting for a period of time?  I am already dreaming about a summer-long road trip across the States...but also yearn to be settled in something that's ours again.  Once the springtime fruit tree blossoms give way to summertime heat, I can see planting a full-fledged garden, meeting friends at City Park Jazz, hiking, and experimenting with my ice cream maker.  Denver summers--all its seasons, really--are glorious.

The ice cream maker in my head was heartily churning but disappeared in a poof when I saw that Africa Adventure Consultants recently launched a contest to win a South African family safari.  We immediately started some family brainstorming and a couple of weeks later, we had an absolute ball filming, editing and submitting a video you can see if you click here and go to 'View and Vote'--ours is titled 'Australian Safari'.  As you'll see, we are far from professional web/graphic/film/nameyourtechnology designers--but it was great fun to plan and execute our faux wildlife documentary.*

After this year in Australia with my kids tracking goannas, quietly observing kangaroos, crawling into wombat holes, and platypus-spotting, their bred-in-Colorado love for the natural world has increased exponentially.  A South African family safari would be an incredible experience that I don't foresee us affording on our own, and the kids would soak up every minute of the wildlife, from the beetles to the Cape buffalo.

Our video doesn't need to receive the highest number of votes; we just need enough to get us into the top 25--all of the finalists are judged on quality, creativity and humor.  So, if you are so inclined--check out our video (as well as the others), and make a vote!  You can vote once a day if you are so inclined, but likely only my mom, at best, would be so devoted.

If we don't win the safari, you are all invited to our house to hover around the ice cream maker next summer and test out some experimental flavors--heirloom tomato ice cream, anyone?

*and a big shout-out to Riley, our favorite 13-year old Aussie and semi-adopted son who helped us scout locations, film sequences, and edit the piece into a somewhat cohesive concoction! 

Monday, November 12, 2012

The End is Nigh

Yesterday marked a month until our departure...and the pit in my stomach is growing.  Wollongong feels like home now, so much so that I was actually surprised when a waitress recently asked us if we were from the States.  Who, us, with an accent?  I don't even notice it anymore, especially since Jackson has picked up all kinds of Aussie phrasing.
"Oi mate, let's play some footy.  It'll be fun as, bot!"
Driving on the left side of the road doesn't give me the slightest pause, although I still regularly (cough cough *today*) walk up to the wrong side of the car to drive.  I tried to make it look casual, like I needed something out of the passenger side, but it was a little conspicuous.  Maybe because I was wearing my red white and blue 'Proud to be an American" shirt.


My stomach muscles have now adjusted to the Herculean strength necessary for steering the grocery carts without careening into the aisles.  When people ask me "How ya going?" I know to answer them with a 'fine' instead of having an inner debate about what the hell that means (by car? by foot? ummm...).  When friends tell me they'll see me this arvo (pronounced ah-vo) I know I'll see them in the afternoon, not at the Salvos (the local thrift store).  I can even tell by the squawk whether it's a galah or a sulphur-crested cockatoo flying overhead.

We know that an outing at low tide means always keeping an eye out for sea urchin skeletons--there's nothing quite as appealing to me as the orderly, nubby rows on those round gifts from the sea.

We know that a calm sea makes it easier to catch the spout of water from a whale; the tail usually follows a few seconds later.  Early evening is a great time to spot squid, and dozens of hermit crabs make great playmates at Little Beach.  The best coffee is found at Lee & Me, Swell, or His Boy Elroy (where the cocktails look incredible--mental note to test my hypothesis in the very near future).

Just when I have this all figured out, we're putting our car on the market, starting to clean out closets, and our goodbye party is on the calendar.  My light posting here is a function of still not having an adequate camera (I think Hurricane Sandy must have slowed the shipping out of Long Island) and the fact that we are spending much of our non-school hours at the beach.  North Beach, Little Beach, City Beach, tidepools, continental pools, rock pool...soaking it all in, literally.

I love Denver.  But part of my family's hearts will always remain in Australia for sure.