About Me

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I am a new traveling fool. I've been a corporate travel junkie for one too many sales quarters and am ready to spend my hard earned cash... I'm taking a "sabbatical" for a while and hitting the road to travel. The trip should take me to six out of the seven continents if I don't run out of cash early.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Whitsunday Island Recap

By far the best three days of my trip thus far have to have been the Whitsunday Island Catamaran Trip. I first heard about the Whitsunday islands back when I was studying in Christchurch New Zealand in college. A buddy of mine (Andrew Atkins plug) met up with Paul and I in Australia in Byron Bay back in 2004 (wow…). Anyway, while Paul and I were tramping around Frasier Island he was diving in the Whitsunday Islands. He did a sailing / diving trip and had some sick pictures! When Paul and I talked it over to prep for this trip to Oz we both agreed that would be a nice addition but very pricey.

After spending a few days in a crappy hostel in Coogee beach we were both ready to spend some cash to have an experience worth remembering. Thank god we did.

We were able to make some great friends on the trip! Its interesting but thus far the scenery has been cool but the people have been what is most enjoyable. Having conversations that you wouldn't normally have back home has been really refreshing. Common themes that always come up and for some reason are always hilarious to talk about include: what do you call this? How do you pronounce this? etc etc etc….

New Friends:

Christian & Elena from Germany

Dawn & Chris from UK

Tim & Alex from France

Angela "Swiss-miss" from Switzerland

James & Anne-Marie from Ireland

The crew: Ian (UK), Steph (UK), Jake (Aus) & Cookie (NZ)

The three days were full of good food and of course tea & biscuits in the afternoon. The conversations about their home country and our home country were really interesting. Most of them hadn't met an American on their trip. In fact we seem to be the only american backpackers out here in the south pacific right now.*

So our days were pretty full on the trip. We would watch the sunrise around 5;30am and wait until 7ish for breezy (breakfast). Immediately following brekky we'd hop in the water and explore. Paul and I dove four times and after diving we'd always snorkel around and see what was chillin'. The dives were pretty decent.** After snorkeling we'd head back onto the boat and the boat would travel to our next dive or beach site. They'd have instant coffee or tea w/ biscuits waiting for us. This was usually social time when we'd get to know the other people on the boat. We'd have lunch in a picturesque place (i.e. named "lunch bay") and then hop back in the water for more diving and snorkeling. Come back out around mid-afternoon for more snacks. We'd then start our journey to the next location for sunset snacking and dinner. If you can't tell they kept us really well fed on the trip. They even joked that for most backpackers this was the largest amount of fruits and veggies they'd see for the next month or two. (turns out thats pretty true as we eat a lot of noodles and pb&j to save cash).

After dinner is when the action started. The boat was BYOB but as it turns out every one took that message quite seriously. For two nights and three days Paul and I brought 30 cans of XXXX beer. XXXX is a local brand to the north coast and tastes a bit like Bud Diesel. Each can is 1.4 drinks so its a bit stronger than the beer we drink back state-side. At night we'd all sit out on the decks and watch dolphins chasing squid off the back of the boat while conversing over drinks. It was very surreal to sit on the boat surrounded by people who grew up in such different places and enjoy the same jokes. As it turns out american comedy makes it around the world because everyone seemed to love Tenacious D, "the Dear Penis Song" (country?) and so much else popular comedy from comedy central in the US. As it turns out none of them seem interested in Jersey Shore (a pity) but we were still able to joke around about just about every popular comedian and everyone knew them.

The following day we'd repeat the exact schedule I outlined above. And the following day? Yup, you guessed it. repeat. EXECPT we came back to port and all went out to dinner and drinks as a group. Needless to say many shenanigans ensued. This was also when Paul and I bonded with Chris & Dawn and mapped out our next five days together in Magnetic Island and Ciarns.

*side note: since we got to NZ we met three american backpackers. They were all in one car and met each other at a hostel. One from Boston, one from Oklahoma and one from Sacramento. Strange that I traveled to all three places in my last month before I left on this trip. Who goes to Oklahoma, Sacramento and Boston in three weeks prior to leaving home for a year? Wow, this guy!

** we both agree that the diving and wildlife in Cairns at the Great Barrier Reef was a bit more exciting but it was still great for us midwesterners!

random thoughts about my pack

As it turns out I don't have as much time as I thought to piece my thoughts together than I thought I would. When you want to journal or blog its time to figure out where you're going next, how to get there, when to eat, how to save money on all of the above along with laundry and the god forsaken game of getting all of my crap back into my backpack!! I posted a picture on Facebook a week ago and my friend Mindy commented about how I'll lose half of what I'm carrying before I leave my first country. I think she might be right. I'm realizing now what is and isn't essential for this type of travel. I spent so much time online and in REI before I left trying to piece together the perfect mix of gadgets, travel clothes and necessary items…. after all of that hard work I had a moment of clarity last week while on my catamaran scuba trip. I had my camera, toiletries, board shorts & a towel. That amount of stuff was perfect for me. I didn't want anything else and more importantly I didn't require anything extra.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

NZ update

fun with coke cans!

Our group on the boat!

we found nemo!!

Fryman will appreciate this from our days of scuba certification!! I'm OKAY!!

Huge RASEE fish!

Hello all! Paul and I have settled into our sweet Jucy Camper Van for the next 14 days (I guess 12 days now b/c we've been here for a few). I'm way behind on posting and uploading pictures. As it turns out we've been quite busy traveling from campsite to campsite. We landed in Auckland at 5am on Wednesday morning from our overnight flight from Cairns. It was a bitter sweet goodbye to our new friends Chris and Dawn from Manchester, UK. We spent about five days with them and was able to have a lot of fun. It was great to have our itineraries match for a few days and have travel companions. (paul and I are getting along fine but we're running out of stories to tell!)

Paul and I out after the dive trip!

Paul with Dawn showing off his sixpack!

Dawn and Chris

I'll throw up some more pictures b/c my internet counter is counting down. I'm paying $7.50 for 30 mins at this cafe!!!