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Theme Songs of the Day:

Within You – Ray LaMontagne, from the album Till The Sun Turns Black
Lesson No. 1 – Viva Voce, from the album The Heat Can Melt Your Brain

Cook Strait

Cook Strait

As I write this, I’m enjoying my last solo night in New Zealand before meeting up with friends for one final adventurous week abroad.  Tonight I’ve decided to camp next to a little out-of-the-way geothermal hot spring.  I wanted to avoid the crowds and commercialism of some of the bigger, more established areas further north in Rotorua.  I made the right decision.  I feel I have my own private nook – a little piece of cold paradise (apparently it’s the coldest winter they’ve had here in quite a while).  It’s peaceful and natural and smelly (like eggs). I have spent hours in the water and when I’m done writing, I will hop right back in….ahhhh….

What an incredible country!  The people I have been fortunate enough to meet are fantastic!  I have belly-danced and learned the basics of medieval sword fighting.  In Christchurch I met a fascinating couple who took me in and were so hospitable – we ate too much seafood and made a break for the mountains.  I received insider information on the best powder in the area (not to mention the use of full gear! – thank you M. Lucas).  I met a friend of a friend and not only had a tour of the village and a hike through the surrounding hills of Lyttleton, but also had the pleasure of partaking if some great conversation (she’s walked thousands of kms all over the world and she makes the idea of biking from Melbourne to Sydney out like it’s not a big deal).  I was made to feel right at home in their lovely little cabin (thank you Joan & Bryon).  I was invited to accompany a beautiful family up to some thermal pools on the South Island. We chatted amongst the steam while looking up at the surrounding mountains – their three little boys keeping me entertained the entire time (thank you Angel family).

Hamner Springs

Hamner Springs

The people here are fabulous and the scenery isn’t bad either.  My drive over the last few days has been incredible!  First, I have my own music because of the ingenuity of an iPod adaptor.  Second, the campervan is free as it’s a ‘relocation’ which means I have five days to get from Christchurch (on the South Island) to Auckland (on the North Island) and I simply pay for petrol.  Third, most of the 1800km+ that I’ve covered in this beautiful country have been magnificent.

I have witnessed vast horizons, towering cliffs, the rugged snow-covered peaks of the Southern Alps, inlets and sail-filled harbours, black sand beaches, white sand beaches, and sprawling volcanic plateau.  I’ve seen more sheep in the last few days than I’ve seen in my entire life prior to this.   Wooly cows, lamas, pigs, ostrich, deer, porpoise, baby seals,  mama seals, hawks and a large variety of birds… lakes, hills, valleys and rivers – this lone exploration has been a time of beauty and reflection.

So what to think, or to do, as this chapter of my travels winds down?

I’m not sure how I feel right now.

I guess I’m caught up in trying to be in the present moment; enjoying my last few days in New Zealand with good friends…

All the while I feel as though my brain and my heart are being pulled in opposite directions – a conflicting feeling of numbness and painful sensitivity.  Actually “pulled” isn’t even the right verb…it’s more like my brain and heart are contained in that rare state we learnt about in science: homogeneity.  Everything is dispersed evenly – neither floating nor sinking (thanks high-school, for these random references).  I am not fully present in this moment – or really any particular moment; ‘not 100% in the room’.  I feel I am suspended.  I don’t even feel caught or stuck…I just am – just hanging out in that beaker back in science class.

What are the thoughts and feelings I see suspended beside me in this beaker – these particles that all take on the same weight – the same gravity?

A View of Picton from the ferry

A View of Picton from the ferry

I am thinking of home…of a home that is different now.  I am thinking of the logistics of travel and getting back to the island.  I am thinking about how I will spend my time back in Canada; seven weeks will fly by.  I am thinking about my journey up to this point: where I’ve been, what I’ve seen, who I’ve met, how I’ve felt, how some experiences have affected me more than others- and the reasons for this.  I am thinking of Kevin.  I am thinking of family, and friends that are family– many of whom I haven’t seen since the wake.  I am thinking about summer on the beautiful West Coast. I am thinking about my cat.

I am thinking of continuing forward, like we all must do

through all these incredibly hard things that punch us in the gut

they crosscheck us from behind

tear us apart

strip us down to the basics

and give us a chance to rebuild

to find strength from hidden sources

delve deep to locate power-buried

and rekindle our faith in the human spirit.

*A huge thank you to everyone who has taken the time to travel with me in real life and also via this website – your support is invaluable.

*My plan is to continue writing and sharing during my trip back to Canada – the journey continues…

Can’t wait to see you all.
Love and many hugs,

The Successful Traveler
~just a girl who has somehow managed to find a way to gear down to first~

Helmets!

Helmets!

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Whale Watching in Byron Bay

Whale Watching in Byron Bay

Theme Songs of the Day:

Remember Me – Blue Boy (this song is for you, Alice)
Go It Alone – Beck, from the Album Guero

After spending many months with friends travelling through the vast and varying country of Australia, I find myself craving some ‘me’ time.  I’m ready to venture out on my own for a bit. 

On a contradictory note: this entire journey has been an individual one – there’s no denying that.

I am choosing my direction as I go and I’m making decisions on a daily basis that point me towards the light at the end of the tunnel; whatever trail my intuition deems best at the time.  With a few exceptions this had lead me to meet up with people I have known previously: the luxury of a large network of friends – I’m very grateful.  I have been able to get to know these special people so much better because of the time we’ve shared…the places we’ve ventured to together.   I wouldn’t trade that for anything.

Now it’s time for me to do some exploring without the harness.  It wasn’t long ago that the idea of venturing out on my own created some anxiety.  Although I do feel strong and independent, I have low moments.  It’s at these times when I have really relied on the support and understanding of friends – new and old – I’ve needed that support.

I have now reached a point where I trust myself to get through the rough patches without a safety net.  The lone traveler makes decisions on a whim without consulting anyone.  They are alone – but only as alone as they want to be.  Another potential friend is never too far away; it never takes long to meet good people, if you’re open to it.  Saying this, there’s no substitution for long-term friends that know you inside and out.  Confiding in strangers is easy and you may get some interesting and poignant perspective, but it doesn’t hold the weight of a hug from a good friend when you need it.

The most Eastern Point in OZ - Byron Bay

The most Eastern Point in OZ - Byron Bay

My last week in Australia was bitter-sweet.  I had some quality time with my buddies in Brisbane and had a blast down in Byron Bay with the girls.  We saw some kick@ss live music (True Live) and when we weren’t chillin’ on the beach and wandering the town’s haunts, we were out on the water, watching humpbacks do their thing – a great last hurrah before my departure.

When we got home I realized how I have really come to associate Brisbane with ‘home’.   I will miss it, but I will be back.

New Zealand: land of the long white cloud.… I sensed an adventure when I made the booking, and I haven’t been disappointed so far.   Trying new things, meeting locals – this is excellent.   I have made some new friends and I have fallen for NZ in a big way.  Life is good….great, actually.

 

Looking up at Mt. Hutt, Canterbury

Looking up at Mt. Hutt, Canterbury

 

THE DAINTREE FOREST

THE DAINTREE FOREST

The Daintree Forest is the oldest rain forest in the world: 175 million years – that’s pretty old!  This is incredible and humbling.  As I write, I’m sitting in the shade of trees and vines similar to the ones dinosaurs walked under! How ultimately inspiring…

I find myself in Wet Tropical North Queensland in a place called Tribulation Bay and I have more-or-less spanned the entire East Coast in two weeks.  This in no small feat! We are staying in a beautiful hostel consisting of A-frames and huts that follow a windy path down to the beach.  It’s a tropical paradise.

Upon arrival we are told not to feed the wild cassowaries – cool!  These are such prehistoric-looking birds; it’s not hard to imagine them as late-edition dinosaurs….sort of like crocodiles…turtles….Mick Jagger….

Cape Tribulation

Cape Tribulation

Originally the plan to head north was going to be an individual adventure, but due to beautiful timing, an intriguing acquaintance from the past would take up residence as my next travel companion.   Aisha and I met briefly (and unremarkably – we don’t remember each other much at all) in Edinburgh years ago.  We were reunited in Brisbane through our mutual friend Alice.  Alice is amazing, and therefore her friends are amazing too!  This was bound to be fun!

Ahh, fun.

Some of our highlights:

  • Cairns: Arriving at 1am in the morning to a nightclub that posed as a hostel, and meeting our roommates who had been in the city for nine days yet hadn’t been to the esplanade (the waterfront – four blocks form said hostel)….keep in mind: we’re smack-dab on the great barrier reef…
    After one of them told us his entire life story he proceeded to kiss a small jade Buddha while whispering softly:  “I LOVE you.”  He then passed out…
    …we switched hostels early the next morning.

    The Great Barrier Reef

    The Great Barrier Reef

  • Sailing on the boat out to the Great Barrier Reef we were deafened by Enya’s ‘Orinoco Flow’… not only as we left port, but also on our return….sail away, sail away… we figure they were trying to create atmosphere?
    …As I climbed aboard the catamaran after scuba diving, I was greeted by loud and frantic jazz; this was  surely a bonus.
  • White wine on the white sand beaches that surround Cape Tribulation… played a game of pool amongst the leafy rainforest.
  • Looking for crocodiles on the Daintree River as the old-school pulley boat brought us over to the world heritage site.  We held conflicting feelings of relief and disappointment when we didn’t spot any.

    Magnetic Sunset

    Magnetic Sunset

  • Townsville locals showed us amazing hospitality.  We had some great laughs, and they shared with us their idea of a good time (a story to be shared over beer).
  • Magnetic Island proved, once again, that it is truly magnetic.  Sunny beaches and tramping through the national park land that makes up ¾ of the island was complemented by blatant  and unwavering sunshine.
  • We found ourselves looking forward to arriving “home” after only two weeks.  This was a pleasant surprise….we had had enough time away to appreciate Brisbane and all of its comforts.
  • The two of us filled our two weeks so full of good times that I have found inspiration enough to write page upon page about the adventures.… for practical purposes I must limit myself; posting only a bulleted list – cool!!
Jill and Aisha

Jill and Aisha

There is absolutely nothing unremarkable about the experiences Aisha and I shared on this adventure into the tropics.  We met some interesting people and saw some unforgettable sights.   Aisha and I had so much to talk about; the awesome scenery was simply a backdrop.

Good conversation makes the world go ‘round!

I had the pleasure of bonding with another friend who has been through huge change recently.  Geez, there are a lot of us out there!?  Life is truly jam-packed with change…maybe we can look at it as transformation instead?

The old forest we visited holds a beautiful history.  Amongst a landscape that has existed for 175 million years there is the deception of a sense of permanence – but we all know that the notion of permanence is simply that: a notion.

Theme Songs of the Day:

Ageless Beauty – The Stars, from the album Set Yourself on Fire (the acoustic version is my favourite, but I couldn’t find a good copy of it)

Creature Fear – Bon Iver, from the album For Emma, Forever Ago

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