After arriving back on U.S soil our original plan was a going to be quick one week stop to say hi to our family and friends, eat some home cooked meals and rest up in our own bed but our plans changed once we got home. Kristine's grand mom, better known as poopsy was fighting cancer for the last year and her health was quickly deteriorating throughout the winter. We knew that she wasn't doing well and when we got home we were lucky enough to spend a couple days with her while she seemed to still have her wits about her and we could tell her all about our trip. Even through all of the pain she was still smiling as we showed her some of our pictures. Unfortunately Poopsy could not hold on any longer and passed with her family by her side. It was a very emotional time for everyone and we believe that she held on so that we could see her one last time. Poopsy was an inspiration to any one that knew her and having lived a couple days shy of her 99th birthday is a testament to her love of life and her family.
Saying goodbye to our families was a little harder the second time. It was amazing how quickly you can fall back into the flow of your normal life even after being gone for 6 months. But we were ready to head back out, much to the dismay of our parents, and we knew this opportunity is a once in a lifetime and needed to be completed. So we said our goodbyes, again, and headed out to the west coast to visit our friends Mike and Kate who live in Venice Beach. The warm California sun kissed our pale faces us as soon as we stepped out of the airport, a drastic but welcomed change from the damp February weather back home in Pennsylvania. It didn't take long to find out Poopsy was looking out for us because when we checked in for our rental car we were surprised to find out we had a free upgrade from a compact turd mobile to a real American made muscle car....a mustang convertible. We were ready to cruise in style and burn some rubber but that just doesn't happen in California, or at least the burning rubber part. The traffic is insane
and maybe the only drawback of the city of angels. We made the most of our time in Southern California by cruising up route 1 and taking in the coastline. A little bit of surfing, hiking and trail running helped us burn off some of the great Mexican food and IPAs that were taken in during our time there. As much as we would've loved to stay longer and spend more time with Mike and Kate, Australia was calling....or was it? We couldn't get on our first flight so we ended up back at our friends house for one more day but luckily we caught our flight on our second try.
Touching down in Sydney after 15 hours, the longest flight either Kristine or myself has ever had we were surprisingly energetic....thank you ambien. Whatever fogginess was leftover from the flight quickly diminished when I opened the driver side door and wondered where the wheel was. Oops, wrong side. It was time to learn how to drive on the opposite side of the road. It took some getting used to but after a day or two you adapt pretty quickly. The hardest part was picking the correct side depending on
whether you were the driver or the passenger. Every time Kristine and I walked up to the car it looked like a Chinese fire drill when we both realized we were each on the wrong side. Our timeline was short and we had 6 days to drive from Sydney to Brisbane, about the distance from Philadelphia to Raleigh, North Carolina. It may not seem far but we wanted to see as much as we could while we were there and 6 days is a drop in the bucket when you're visiting a country half a world away. Sydney was our first taste of Australia and it was great. The city was incredibly clean for a major city and its location is second to none. With a harbor, tons of green space and a beach within only minutes drive it's easy to see why it's a top city in Australia. Driving northwards, our next stop was Port Macquarie which was situated right off the coast with beautiful views from all the small restaraunts and cafes. We explored the town on foot and found out that it was the birthplace and capital of bodyboarding. Unfortunately the waves weren't all that great so
we just watched the few bodyboarders in the water try to dazzle the onlookers with their skills. From Port Macquarie we made a quick pit stop at a "must do" in Australia. We pulled into the parking lot and looked at eachother and burst out in laughter at an enormous banana that says Coffs Harbour. That's it....a giant banana and not much else. So we wiped the tears from our eyes and carried on. Not wanting to waste the day we cruised towards the coast and found a secluded beach where we took a swim and relaxed on the beach for a little while, pretending like we were the only ones who knew about this place. It was a nice way to waste the day away. The next day, we woke up and drove to Byron Bay. This place was one of the highlights of our quick journey through Australia. Small quirky cafes and surf shops dotted the cramped streets. You could feel that this was once the place to be in the 70's if you were a hippie or surfer, or most likely both. There was a typhoon just off the coast and it was sending some serious swell
towards the Gold Coast that weekend and we were lucky to see it in all its glory. Sets were rolling in double overhead and sometimes triple. It'd be like standing next to a fifteen foot building and that's the size of the moving wave you'd be riding. A little out of my league so we just sat and watched guys get spit out of barrel after barrel after barrel. What we thought was a great day in the sun was quickly spoiled when we learned we got a parking ticket for 106 dollars. Apparently you can't keep feeding the meter in Australia. Your car needs to be moved to the opposite side of the street or a completely different street. So while calling in to see if we can fight the ticket we found out that we had another ticket for speeding to go along with our parking ticket. This one was to the tune of 260 dollars and they caught us through a recording at a speed trap. So it was a shitty way to end a great day but we chalked it up to being in a different country and things going wrong at some point. Our last
stop was Brisbane for the night. Another city that we couldn't spend enough time in to get a feel for it. Kristine went for a run a saw a man made beach in the middle of the city which she said looked awesome but other than that it was a place to sleep before our flight to New Zealand early the next morning. All in all 6 days wasn't nearly enough but it leaves us with a desire to return...so long as we pay our tickets and are allowed back into the country.
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