Friday, January 15, 2010

Catching up on the Blog

Greetings from down under! Hope you all had a great holiday season. This is Josh writing. Since we’re travelling together and I don’t have a blog or anything we decided to collaborate a little bit. We have a lot to fill you in on…whew. We’re really happy to be together after the last 6 months of sending emails and talking on the phone at odd hours of the morning. It’s been a crazy and wonderful adventure so far. I’ll start with my arrival. To read from the beginning you will have to go to the post from Dec 17th and work your way up.

"Dope", we missed our flight to NZ

We missed our flight to New Zealand yesterday…grrr. After paying some fines and extra bus fare to and from the airport we are scheduled on another flight, same time today, making sure to get there plenty ahead of time. Sucks learning expensive lessons, especially when you don’t have much money to begin with, but we’ll manage, maybe we’ll spend some time picking fruit in New Zealand or something. We’re meeting up with Casey and Lucy this evening in Christchurch, wahoo! Sounds like they’ve had a little bit of trouble of their own here and there, so it’ll be fun meeting up with them and sharing stories. Until next time! Thanks for reading, we’re thinking of everyone back home and wish you all the best!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Hitch Hiking to Melbourne

We just spent 3 days hitch hiking down the coast form Sydney to Melbourne. That was the coolest hitch hiking trip I’ve ever done. It was surprisingly easy to get rides here. We never had to wait more than ten minutes or so before someone would pull over. And everyone was so nice too. Just about everyone who picked us up at least invited us over for a cup of tea, or would drive us around a little extra and show us cool places to camp, or stop by really cool beaches to go for a dip along the way. One fellow, Dennis even let us spend the night on his moored Yaught! It was a much better way to get between the two cities than driving strait through the night, not being able to see anything, not making any stops. We cooked up a bunch of rice before our trip and made sushi every evening on the ocean somewhere. Some of the beaches had such clear water and sparkling white sand, it was incredible. We were wishing we had goggles or something, but even with out them you could still open your eyes underwater and see pretty far. I think the longest I’ve ever stayed underwater was when we stopped by Jervis Bay. They claim to have the whitest sand beach in the world, which if it wasn’t, it was pretty close. I remember being underwater for a while thinking, I could live underwater here, this would be pretty nice.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

New Passport!

Got a new passport for Mal! It was surprisingly easy after all the worrying we were doing about it possibly not working out. New Zealand here we come!

Monday, January 4, 2010

On the train back to Sydney

We are on the train back from the Blue Mountains. We ended up camping at our little paradise site at the base of the falls for three nights, hiking around a bunch each day. Yesterday we explored around the valley of the waters and hiked a couple trails connecting that watershed to the one we were camping on. There were many equally beautiful waterfalls cascading down this impressively steep valley. It rained and misted pretty much the whole day, but it was still beautiful. The trail we followed to get there went along the top of the cliff connecting the two. Although the fog was really thick, some of my favourite views were where all you could see was a portion of another cliff peeking out through the fog. It looked something like the floating mountains from the movie Avatar, for those of you who have seen it.

This morning on our way out we hiked out again to the valley of the waters and swam around and bathed in some really nice swimming holes we found in the gorge, we ran into a team of three guys rappelling off some of the waterfalls. It sounded like the valley turned into a canyon and continued a further km or two past where the trail left it. I bet there is lots of great canyoneering in the blue mountains if you know where to look. I thought it was Ironic that here on the other side of the world, these mountains were named almost the exact name as the Blue Ridge Mountains back home for exactly the same reason. The way the mountains hold a striking blue hue to them, particularly after a rain. It reminded me that we are still on the same planet.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Blue Mountains

The Blue Mountains are a pretty cool place to be. Mal and I are having a great time hiking around and camping at the base of the HUGE falls just outside the town of Wentworth Falls. It’s a really fascinating and beautiful place. The Blue Mountains remind me in a way of the New River Gorge in West Virginia in a way. The town is not far from the rim of huge sandstone wall rim of the canyon, so there are a few trails around the top of the falls that are a bit touristy and crowded. But the further down you get, the less people you find. Building the trails to the bottom must have been quite a project. The whole way down I was admiring the engineering of the ridiculously steep trails carved right into the cliff that precariously meandered their way down the side of the cliff, wandering from ledge to ledge with nothing more than a bit of railing on the side to keep hikers from tumbling hundreds of feet to their death. It would be the coolest job to get paid to design a project like that. The initiative it would take to look at a cliff face and imagine putting a trail from bottom to top that would accommodate hikers who may have little to no experience scaling sheer rock walls.

Tonight we are camping the same spot we camped last night, at the base of lower Wentworth Falls. From this point you can’t even see upper Wentworth Falls and the crowds of people who gather at the top to watch the sun go down. During the day, a fair amount of hikers make their way down to the bottom of the falls, but by the time the sun begins to get lower in the sky, everyone is busy clambering their way back up towards the top of the falls in fear of being forced to navigate their way up the cliff trail in the dark. This was nice for us, because it was a great spot to sit by the pool at the bottom and build a campfire on the beach while watching the sun sink down. We discovered some rather large eels that inhabited the pool and would swim around, particularly at night. They are eerie to watch by the light of headlamp, slowly and gracefully navigating their way through small pools in between boulders where they would practically tie themselves in knots in order to fit in. Then just as easily as they would tangle themselves up, they would unwind into a single strand and slither into the next pool.

We’ve seen all kinds of interesting creatures here. It seems as though there is a climate change or something not 2 km down the trail from our campsite. From another falls that we hiked to today we saw lots of fantastic birds that do not seem to inhabit the area around our campsite. They are stark white with a yellow-green headdress that they flare up as a means of communication. We found evidence of their feeding frenzies high in the canopy when they would litter the ground with a layer of shredded leaf and twig debris. One of the most alarming discoveries to us were leeches. We were going to camp further down until we began to find the squirmy little buggers attached all over our feet and ankles. At first we thought they must just be in the calm pools in the creek, but then we were appalled to discover that they were all over the ground as well. Particularly on the trails, they would hang out, reaching around with their sucker as far as they can, waiting for something to walk by to grab on to. When they found something they would grab on with surprising ferocity and if given enough time would begin sucking blood. We decided to head back up to the same campsite, away from these pesticides. On the trail we got used to having regular leech checks every hundred feet or so. One of our theories for them not being around the upper camp was that the eels may eat them all, preventing them from living there. Before, we were thinking about spearing one to give eel a try, but after that thought, we decided that the eels may be a good thing to have around.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year

Happy New Year! After waiting around a few days to see if the car showed up we were tired of feeling like we were in purgatory, found a ride share through gum tree to Sydney and booked it up here to spend new years. We found the ride while we were in the process of cooking pizza that was leaving in a couple hours, which gave us just enough time to jump in the ocean while the dough was rising, some back, cook the pizza and go. Pretty spur of the moment, it was exciting. We decided that having everything stolen wasn’t going to put too much of a damper on our travels, we’re still going to make the best of it. We drove all night packed into a tiny car with three other people and arrived in double bay around lunchtime. Mallory has some friends around there that she met sailing in Airlie Beach. We Met up with Paul who was nice enough to let us crash his apartment for a couple days. We spent new years eve with him and some of his mates at a private sailing club right on the harbour. They didn’t feel like going out on a sailboat, so after hanging out drinking with them for a couple hours Mal and I took out one of the clubs little row boats to watch the fireworks at midnight. It was really peaceful being on the water, away from the noisy crowds that lined the banks. We anchored to a lit buoy so as not to be run over by all the bigger boats cruising around that may not see us in our tiny craft. The fireworks show was fantastic. The city organized a synchronized show that sent off fireworks from four different places on the water, off the main bridge, as well as several of the main high-rise buildings downtown. Pretty cool.

We are now on a train from Sydney to the Blue Mountains. It’s about time we got out of the city. Neither of us can handle it for too long. We are going to explore around for the weekend until we can come back and meet with the US embassy to try and get Mal a passport to replace the one that was in the car. It’s really cool that it’s so easy and cheap to hop on a train out of Sydney and get to some beautiful wide open spaces in a matter of a couple hours. That’s a pretty short trip by Australian standards. As usual, we’re not really sure what we’ll be doing or where we’ll be going once we get to the town of Wentworth Falls, but we’ll figure it out from there.