East Coast Australia – Adventure in the Mighty Quinn

I began writing this sitting on the patio of a “Caravan Park” just north of Newcastle, New South Wales (Australia) – Myall Lakes National Park. The night before we were hit with a huge storm that was apparently the tail of Cyclone Debbie that hit the Australian coast north of Brisbane (Bowen to be exact). We were almost 2000 km south of where the cyclone hit and I have never experienced such winds and rain. Over the next 12 days, we were travelling from Sydney to Townsville (2200 km) in a campervan (that Bruce has named the Mighty Quinn – I understand its a song from the 70s 🙂 – quite the adventure!!!

I will come back to a Sydney post, but with the cyclone in the news, I thought this might be more interesting. Since everywhere we stayed had very limited or no internet, it was difficult to keep up and especially to post pictures. I am now finishing this as we sit on the balcony of a lovely condo in Townsville. We survived 🙂 Here is the story.

If you haven’t seen it already, Bruce’s video version is at the link below. He has played rather loosely with the names of places and the order of events but its a good story. 

Grabbing Cyclone Debbie by the Tail

Day 1: March 28th (Sydney to Bouddi National Park)

We took the bus in Sydney to the Mighty location to pick up the campervan. It is a very simple van (bed and fridge) but that is what was affordable since we have it rented for the 10 weeks that we are in Australia. After doing all the paperwork and getting an overview of how things worked, we headed out with our GPS on a hair raising trip (standard and driving on the left) back to our apartment in downtown Sydney to pick up our luggage.

All good, we headed north out of town to Bouddi National Park, just an hour north of Sydney. It was awesome – the kind of set up that we had hoped for – simple sites, not busy, beautiful beach. We went to sleep to the sound of the waves and all was good.

Day 2: March 29th (Bouddi National Park)

We woke up to a beautiful sunny day and after a leisurely breakfast we went on a coastal walk. It was stunning with really interesting rock formations called “Tessellated Pavement”. We met a group of retired people that called themselves the “Frigid Digits” They swam the length of the beach in the ocean every day of the year. Several had done extensive camping in Australia. One lady owned a van just like the one we were travelling in. An inspiring group!

We sat on the beach, read, went swimming in a lovely calm cove (after Annique consulting several locals about safety – no jellyfish, stingers in the sand, rip tides). As the day went on, the temperature climbed and by 2pm it was 36 degrees – too hot for the beach and a stinker for sleeping. Oh dear! And in Australia it is suppose to get hotter as you go north – not good.

We drove to a mall for air conditioning, to stock up on camping supplies, and to hopefully get some internet ( 2 out of 3 – not bad).

Day 3/4: March 30th/ 31st (Bouddi to Myall Lakes National Park) 

It was raining when we woke up so we got up early (well early for Annique 🙂 and made our way to Myall Lakes National Park – about 3 hours drive north. The last stretch (15 km) was on gravel roads that had been quite washed out by rain – quite nerve wracking in our little camper. We arrived in the rain to a lovely spot with nice facilities and very few people. We cooked our dinner in a great “camping kitchen” with kangaroos and kookaburras all around.

It gets dark around 7 pm so we did some reading in the van. Around 9 pm, the wind picked up and so did the rain. For the next four hours we experienced the worst wind and rain that I have ever seen. Apparently it was the tail end of the cyclone. Oh my! Now roads were closed between here and Brisbane and no one knew what was going to happen in the next few days. 

Everyone in the campground was a bit shell shocked the next morning. Not a lot of damage anywhere but lots of water and everyone was talking about the wind. We met a couple (Sam and Reiner) over “breakfast” that were our age, from Brisbane and had been travelling in their camper for a month. We had a lovely chat and decided to have drinks together after dinner. It was so fun! We had so much in common (except that they have pythons living in their roof to keep mice and other critters in check – Oh my!!! Apparently, they don’t bother humans. Hmmm! We learned alot about camping in Australia. We drank too much wine and stayed up too late but it was great! They have invited us to visit when we pass through Brisbane on the way home – not sure about sleeping in a house with pythons.

Day 4: April 1st (Myall Lakes to Coffs Harbour/Emerald Beach)

We woke up a little foggy but headed off to try and get some kilometres behind us. We headed for Coffs Harbour and stayed at a little campground just north of there (Emerald Beach). It was a long day of driving and we hadn’t booked anything ahead – not my preferred method but highly recommended by our new friends. 

Large expanses of beach with lots of wind and big waves was something we saw right up the coast. Apparently the stingers and crocodiles are not really an issue until a couple hours north of Brisbane so we had fun playing the waves and watching surfers at the various beaches. 

Halfway through the day, I realized it was Bruce’s birthday – Oh my! That is terrible. It is really hard to keep track of the days and times when travelling this much. Poor guy – long drive with a bit of a hangover. We stopped for a nice dinner but were not impressed at all by Coffs Harbour. We ended up choosing Mexican – nice but not exactly special. We’ll have to make that up at some point.

Day 5: April 2nd (Emerald Beach to Bundjalung) 

We couldn’t face another 5 hour day with unknowns at the end so we drove about 2 hours to Bundjalung National Park and got a camping site. We were wondering why there were so many families camping on a school day and found out that it was the beginning of the Queensland school break. Hmmm. We headed into the little town and found a great little cafe “The Laneway Cafe”. There was great internet, great wine (and an owner who loved to share about Australian wines), a server who was headed to the jazz festival in New Orleans as a jazz singer (Cieorgina Chorley). Hung there until the 4 pm closing and then back to our campsite overlooking the ocean – a good day!

Day 6/7 April 3rd/4th (Bundjalung to Noosa Heads)

We drove from Bundjalung to Noosa Heads. Noosa Heads had been highly recommended by several people. The main beach in Noosa was very busy but we made our way to the National Park campground on the North Shore. It was spectacular and probably our most idyllic spot on the whole trip so far. We got a site right next to the dunes with hardly anyone else around and although the wind on the beach was quite strong (i.e. The sand hurt on your skin as it was blowing when you walked) we had a great time swimming in the waves. Not exactly suntanning whether but very memorable!
We drove 300 km from Noosa to here since several people had told us what a lovely place it was to camp. Unfortunately again, becuase of the school holiday, the main campground was jammed – not at all our cup of tea. We had really begun to relish our quiet camp spots. We looked for another place in the area and found something. It had a 20 minute walk to the beach but we preferred that. Another beautiful open beach where we played in the waves. Unfortunately, we both got some kind of bites that showed up the next day and lasted for almost a week. Someone said sea lice. Who knows. It seems there is a lot here that can bite you. 

Day 10: April 7th (Seventeen Seventy to MacKay)

Big driving day (600 km). Started out with the hope of making it through Rockhampton which was completely flooded out. Luckily, they had enough roads that had been built at a higher elevation and they were able to reroute people through the city. It was quite unbelievable how much water there was everywhere. I guess the people of that town were not only having water issues, but lots of snakes and crocodiles were “floating in”. Oh my!!!

We stayed at Black’s beach just north of MacKay. Lovely tropical beach but beware – we are in crocodile and jellyfish territory now! No one swims outside the stinger nets.

Day 11: April 8th (MacKay to Townsville)

Last stretch (400 km) to Townsville. Drove through the areas where the eye of the cyclone hit. Lots of houses without roofs and structural damage, especially in the Proserpine area which is near a big tourist area – Airlie Beach and Whitsunday Islands. Apparently lots of tourists got stranded whiteout water or hydro and much of the area was still without power a week later. 

We arrived in Townsville and, although we had a great adventure and really got to see the east coast of Australia, we are happy to be in a nice condo for the next 4 weeks and just enjoy being in one place, having our own bathroom and cooking meals in a kitchen 🙂

Cheers from Bundjalung National Park and the windy surf on Australia’s East coast!

Last week I started my 6 week stint at James Cook University (4 weeks in Townsville; 2 weeks in Cairns). The next post will be about that. 


NZ South Island Part 2 – In Search of the Ultimate Adventure

I started writing this on the patio in Sydney – having moved from coffee to wine.  It was a great spot with good wifi (which is very hard to find). I am now finishing it in Illuca, Australia – a little town outside Bundjalung National Park (south of Byron Bay). The worst of the cyclone weather has passed – now just intermittent rain and lots of wind more on the cyclone in the next post.

Sorry – pictures are wonky on this post but with so little good internet, I just wanted to get it posted.

The Story of our Search for the Ultimate Adventure

Adventure 1: Swim with the Seals

We left the beach at Hokitika marking that as a place we would happily return to.  We wanted to “Swim with the Seals” in Kaikoura, which meant a 6 hour drive (plus stops) through the mountains (via the Lewis Pass). When we were planning this trip, we had discussed whether this was worth it but had decided it was. We had never heard of this adventure opportunity elsewhere. Bruce was getting his driving legs and was up for it. 

We arrived in Kaikoura, excited for our adventure the next day but got an e-mail that it was cancelled because the seas were too rough and the visibility was too low. Argh!!! We were told that the weather was turning and that we should go out immediately for a walk on the point where we could see seals on the rocks.

If you haven’t seen it, here is Bruce’s video on our search for the seals. Despite our disappointment, he had some fun with it. 


This is what we were hoping for – https://www.sealswimkaikoura.co.nz/

Living with Earthquakes: The next day was terrible weather so we explored the town that had been devastated by the earthquake in December 2015. We experienced a small tremor (4.5) in our motel unit and evidence of the damage was everywhere.  It was good to talk to some of the local business owners. Every building had a posted sign indicating whether it was safe to be in or not. There were hardly any tourists since the highway north to Picton had been closed since the quake and wasn’t due to open for a year. The highway south to Christchurch was opened the day we arrived but closed now becuase of a slide. The only route in and out of this town was through the mountains. On the upside, several of the craft breweries in the area had organized a Craft Beer Festival in an effort to re-energize the community. Kegkoura – fun event!  

Adventure 2: Abel Tasman National Park
Because of the closed roads, it was another 7 hour drive (back through the mountains) to get to the Nelson area where we wanted to hike the trails of Abel Tasman National Park. We were thrilled when we arrived at our airbandb to have a private hot tub to enjoy. Just as an aside, our hosts were two retired teachers with a great story – Kiwi meets Alaskan online, they fall in love, live in Alaska for 7 years, then move to NZ. They invited us for wine and we had a lovely evening. She has published three books on their story – http://www.walkingonice.co.nz/

The weather had turned and we set out on a boat ride up the coast in huge waves and rain. We could hardly see the coast and within 30 minutes people started getting sick. Oh dear! We opted to go ashore early which was a great call. We had more time to enjoy the hike and even in the rain, the beaches and trails were beautiful. 

When the boat picked us up, the seas had calmed down a bit and the shoreline views were awesome. When we had to disembark, the boat couldn’t land at its regular spot becuase of the waves and tides. 100 tourists were dropped off about 1/2 km down the beach and had to cross over rocks and streams to get back to their cars. I was quite impressed by the number of elderly people who just made the best of what was not an easy walk.

Adventure 3: Crossing the Cook Strait

The ferry crossing from Picton (South Island) to Wellington (North Island) is billed as quite spectacular. When we arrived at the gate, they asked us if we were sure we wanted to cross since the seas were “rough”. We said, no problem. When we got on board, a kiwi said we were in for quite a ride – swells of 6-8 metres in the strait. We naively said – “Cool!”

For the first hour, the ferry went through stunning channels. It was windy on the outside deck but we loved it. Slowly, people disappeared from the decks and it was only Bruce, I, our local friend, and two crew members. The one young crew member said he had been on the boat for six months and had never seen this kind of weather. 

Well, if you haven’t seen it, Bruce’s video tells the story best. I sat in a quiet room listening to classical music with my earbuds and worked on a blog post. I had taken ginger tablets and felt fine. However, when I tried to walk around once, I realized how bad it really was.


Bruce’s version of the seas – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aUWascqCBe0 (Warning – contains “alternative facts”)
Anniques version – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=coWfvO_SMJk

What is your best travel adventure story?

Learning and Growth

  • I loved the Motueka area (west of Nelson) and would love to come back and spend a week. I think staying  in Mapua would be great. Great mix of nature and foodie stuff in this area
  • Sometimes, when things don’t go as planned, you have other experiences that our rich in a different way. Talking to the local people in each place we visited was great. 
  • I want to find a way to frame our travel experiences so that it goes beyond “been here, did this”. I want to have a different conversation about travelling. Not sure what that looks like or sounds like yet. I think it involves more of the things ou learn about how people live, what they love about the places they live, and what are the challenges

When you read about people’s travels, what is it that interests you the most? What would you like to know about our adventure?


The next post will be about our first week in the campervan driving from Sydney to Brisbane while a cyclone hit Australia north of Brisbane, causing flooding a road closures all up the coast.

NZ South Island – The West Coast: A Step Back in Time

I am writing this blog post in Sydney, Australia. I am obviously behind but I am having trouble finding the time and energy. I am sitting on a patio just down the street from our very small apartment in Potts Point and drinking a long black coffee. A Sydney post will come later.

The South Island Story

From Queenstown, Bruce and I rented a car and set off on our own up the West Coast of the South Island. Bruce’s driving on the left hand side of the road is getting better and the South Island is a good place to practice becuase there are no busy cities. I have fallen in love with Google Maps and it now gets us everywhere we need to go – stress free 🙂

We chose the West Coast because the scenery is spectacular and because it isn’t as busy  with tourists – both things we love. What we didn’t anticipate was the things that go with rather remote, rural areas:

  • Very limited access to the internet, and mostly dial-up. Oh my! This is an issue because I am still trying to get a book chapter done and finalize things for my time at the Australian university
  • Limited interesting eating options – we don’t eat dinner out that much but we love fun happy hour snacks. 

Can’t have it all! The nature was spectacular. Here was our route and some highlights:

1. Haast Pass – This spectacular drive through the mountains that goes along Lake Hawea and Lake Wanaka. Our first night was at the top of the pass in Makarora, just outside Mount Aspiring National Park. A very simple cabin with an amazing view of the mountains all around. Access to wifi cost $10 for 500 MB (which I used up in about 10 minutes becuase I hadn’t closed the apps running in the background). Definitely a big step back in technology time.

2. Frank Josef (town and glacier) – Even though this was billed as very touristy, it wasn’t at all by North American standards. Walking up to the glacier was an incredible walk through the ages. The glacier is quickly receding and local businesses predict that the tourist business here will be in trouble in the next 20 years. In Frank Josef we actually stayed in a motel unit in a backpackers lodge (that was all that was in our price range). I was quite worried but it was a positive experience (for one night :). There was a nice feel amongst all the young backpackers, it was quiet at a reasonable hour, and there was wifi (shared but reasonable for e-mail).

3. Hokitika – The beach here is know for its driftwood art and was amazing – not busy, beautiful sunsets (my favorite), great for walking, beautiful rocks (collected a few). Our unit was steps from the beach and I enjoyed some great down time (except when a creepy guy bothered me when I was reading and no one else was around so I had to pack up and leave). Too bad.

Learning and Growth

  • The World is Spectacular – The South Island of New Zealand is absolutely spectacular. There are so many corners of it that I would still love to explore. We are blessed to be able to experience it.
  • Progress – Yes or No! Although we often wish for simpler times, I realize that I really like my high speed internet and my wine bars. Nature is awesome! But so are some of our urban pleasures. 
  • In Hokitika, we talked to some local business people and they don’t really want progress – they like it just the way it is.

What are the urban pleasures and conveniences that you would have trouble doing without for more than a week?


The next post will be about our “pursuit of the ultimate adventure” in our last stretch on the South Island. 

Queenstown NZ – Nature’s Majesty – Oh My!

IMG_20170304_093838He holds in his hands the depths of the earth and the mightiest mountains.
(Psalm 95:4 )

The Story

My niece’s Kiwi husband had never IMG_20170302_192009been to Queenstown and Milford Sound so
we decide to do this trip with the four of us. Oh My!

Many reviews of the Milford Sound excursions describe it as bucket list material and it certainly is. The views everywhere are absolutely amazing.

We flew down from Auckland and started our five day tour of the Queenstown area, which is surrounded by mountains. A view from the top of the  gondola on the first night was spectacular enough. The next day we drove to Te Anau (2 hours) and went to Milford Sound from there. Milford Sound (Piopiotahi) is another 2 hours drive from Te Anau and is one of many fjords (the most 20160620_045842accessible) on the southwestern coast. Our morning drive from Te Anau into Milford Sound had unbelievable views of mountains all around, probably some of the most spectacular scenery I have ever seen.

After much deliberation as to  which tour (of many) to book,  we had chosen a smaller boat and an excursion that included kayaking. It was a good choice. – no tour bus, friendly personal staff, kayaking in small groups, great views, and extra time in the sound with the kayaking. As. you will see in Bruce’s video,  it was spectacular.

Bruce’s video of Piopiotahi – https://youtu.be/JIEtYBsoAmM

On our final day in the Queenstown area we did a bike ride along the Queenstown Trail inIMG_20170305_131841 the Gibbstown area which had 6 wineries on route. Needless to say our group was a little light headed on the return ride – uphill and against the wind – cruel. Another spectacular afternoon.

Learning and Growth

  • The incredible majesty of nature, not just its immensity but also its existence for thousands/millions of years reminds us of how our human existence is temporary and rather small in the big scheme of things. I feel very blessed to be able to experience the grandeur in this part of the world.
  • Re accommodations: Booking accommodations for me is quite a stressful part of travelling since I need to sleep well if I am going to enjoy the days’ activities. Things I have learned about  booking accommodations in NZ are:

1) Booking.com (recommended by my 30 something step children)) was very good because most places give you the option of cancelling up to a few days ahead in case you find something better or change your plans. This worked quite well since I could book things from home knowing we had something and could spend more time looking if I had a chance.
2) Book a Bach. (Recommended by my 20 something niece) is an airbandb type site for New Zealand.  The accommodations are really like cottages though so quite basic. I think I prefer the airbandb standards.
3) Accommodation is expensive in NZ so with a budget of $150 a night and wanting the option of being able to cook our own food – and if possible a separate sleeping area –  we are staying mostly in one-bedroom motel style units with a kitchenette. Everywhere we have stayed has had comfortable beds with nice bedding. Everything else about the units has been fairly basic but has met our needs.

What are your strategies and tips for booking decent and reasonable accommodation in places you have never been to before?

  • Re Travel planning: I suffer from FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). This was a label my niece gave to the state that I experience when I am travelling and get quite uptight about “the plan” and what we are going to do. It’s true. I tend to overplan and over think things with the goal of maximizing every moment and experience. Seems to be a bit exhausting for my travel mates 🙂 Some of you with whom I have traveled in the past may have had the pleasure of this experience with me 🙂 IMG_20170303_194458
  • Re New Zealand’s South Island. In the South Island of NZ in March, anything  that is not on the tour bus trail is not busy at all. In Te Anau,  we watched a beautiful sunset on the beach and there wasn’t another person around. img_1001
  • When the sun isn’t out, it is chilly. I had left my down coat at home at the last minute but I needed it. I ended up buying another one and have worn it a lot.  Layers are the key.

Cheers from the Queenstown area!

The next post will be about our travels up the West Coast of the South Island.

Auckland – City of Harmonius Contrasts

The Story 
Arriving in. Auckland. The flight from LA to Auckland went quite smoothly after good advice from my niece who lives in Auckland:

  • Take a late evening flight (We left LA at 9:30 pm)
  • Treat the flight like a long night(watch a movie, have dinner, take a sleeping pill and sleep as long as you can, wake up, read, have breakfast) and before you know it, you’re in Auckland with almost no jet lag and a whole day ahead of you. Very cool! 

We spent our first week in NZ in Auckland with my niece and her Kiwi husband. As well, I met another cousin (of Dutch heritage) for the first time who grew up in NZ.  They all have travelled quite a bit and describe Auckland as the best place in the world to live. It is an amazing place with so many harmonious contrasts.

Pakeha (NZ European) and Maori. New Zealand has done a better job than most countries of co-habitating with its indigineous population (or maybe vice versa). Maori is a second official language; many towns are named in Maori and it is common to see both languages on signs. My niece works in a social service organization where she is 1 of 6 white people in a staff of 100. Both her and her husband have spent lots of time with Maori and Pacifika (people from Pacific Islands. They are teaching us to pronounce the Maori language. The first lesson was the alphabet song, which is quite catchy. The story on One Tree Hill in Auckland is a good example of the tensions

Maori Alphabet Song – https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=9081U86Ylf4

Story of One Tree Hill in Auckland (also inspired a U2 song)- http://stuff.co.nz/auckland/72814077/new-one-tree-hill-grove-safe-from-chainsaw-attacker

Tasman Sea (West Coast – Rugged) and Pacific Ocean (East Coast – Tropical). Auckland is surrounded by water and at one spot in the city, the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean are less than 5 km apart. On our second day, we got to go on a friend’s sailing yacht to a lovely tropical beach island (Motuihe) just outside the Auckland harbour. What an amazing way to start our visit! A couple days later we drove to an awesome beach on the west coast (Te Henga / Bethells). Every time you head out in the car, there are amazing ocean views.

Bruce’s videos of Motuihe and Te Henga. 

Motuihe (East Coast)
Te Henga  (West Coast)

Socialism and Capitalism. Just like Canada, there are many tensions in this country as they try to upload socialist principles in a world that is capitalist. Real estate prices have gone through the roof. Social programs and education budgets are being cut or under incredible scrutiny for “effectiveness and efficiency”. The gap between the rich and everyone else continues to grow. In this country of only 4 million, food costs are almost double of that in Canada yet they have a “living wage” standard that is much better than our minimum wage. We are finding it very expensive but are happy to spend our dollars on local wines and craft beer. Cheers from Hallertau brewery.

Learning and Growing

  • Re Technology:
  • Taking decent selfies is hard. Those of us over 30 need some lessons on how to look good in a selfie.
  • The under 30s have a grasp on using  technology  that we need to learn from.  My niece helped us get a NZ SIM card set  up on an  old  phone.  It is now loaded. with data and phone capability for NZ. Very cool. My cousin showed us an app called Navigator which is a GPS that runs from satellite so you can use it without data
  • Re Culture
  • My husband is learning to drive on the left hand side of the road. It is hard on his brain and scary for the passenger. 
  • Crazy house prices in cities all over the world are making it very difficult for our young people to get started
  • Re Self and Others
  • It is so wonderful to have friends or family to “show you the ropes” in a new country. 
  • The more you push yourself out  of your comfort zone,  the easier it becomes.

What technology tools and apps have you found helpful/useful for travelling?


    Next stop: Queenstown – NZ South Island

    La La Land – Land of Dreams and Possibilities

    “Everyone has ocean’s to fly, if they have the heart to do it. Is it reckless? Maybe. But what do dreams know of boundaries?” ( Amelia Earhart)

    The Story

    This was our first visit to Los Angeles and we stayed for five days with my nephew and his wife. It is hard not to think about the fun and popular movie LaLa Land when visiting this city and even for a person who doesn’t watch many movies or much TV, it is amazing how this city catches you up in a story of big dreams and endless possibilities.

    We arrived in LA the day before the huge storm that went through. The news showed flooding and sinkholes with cars but we just experienced big winds and lots of rain. Everyone talked about how they hadn’t seen so much rain in years and everything in the city kind of came to a halt – Internet was unstable and no one wanted to drive or go out. From our view, it was nothing more than a good rain storm – something we get several times every spring and fall. So, we didn’t get sunny days on the beach but we still had a great experience in the city.

    Power of Dreams: My nephew is pursuing his dream of being a comic book artist and illustrator. His Armenian wife is completing a degree in creative writing and Armenian culture at UCLA pursuing her dream of becoming a writer. Her Armenian family welcomed us and shared hopes and dreams for their lives. Everyone seems inspired to be and become. It’s contagious. 

    I visited the UCLA campus for a few hours. I have always loved walking around post secondary campuses, a place where the dreams of students are cultivated and celebrated. I dropped in on their teaching centre and was fortunate to get to talk to one of their directors about their work and vision for teaching and learning. 

    The Magic of Movies: We did the Warner Brothers Studio Tour and you couldn’t help but get caught up in the magic of films. From the enthusiasm of our guide, to the experience of being on sets (Big Bang Theory, Two Broke Girls, Ellen), to the fabulous displays of movie props and costumes (Batman, Harry Potter), to the interactive exhibits about all aspects of movie creation (screenwriting, costumes, set creation). Although the stars get all the glory, all the talent and patience that goes into a movie is amazing.

    The Endless Horizon of Possibility: We drove up the Pacific Coast highway to Santa Barbara and the coastal views and ocean waves were amazing. The endless horizon that stretches out before you, the powerful waves that roll in constantly always remind me of the divine and universal energy that exists around us and is more. Always inspirational!

    Learning and Growth

    • Even “stars” work hard at their craft – A scene in a TV show is shot 5-10 times to get different camera angles and the actors have to redo the scene exactly the same way every time for consistency; Even famous screenwriters are doing 10-20 drafts of scenes before it is 
    • Teaching Centres at a large universities like UCLA have similar challenges and visions to those we have tried to pursue at CTLAE – promoting pedagogies that involve active learning and critical thinking, using assessment as a tool to promote higher quality learning, using educational technology to enhance engagement and accountability in larger classes, using Course design processes to engage faculty in being more intentional about learning and using a variety of tools and strategies to achieve learning goals
    • My twenty something relatives are a wonderful group to hang out with. They accept you for who you are, help you catch up with the technologies and perspectives of today’s culture, and are so welcoming and hospitable. What a pleasure to spend time with them.
    • Blogging with just an ipad is challenging 🙂

    What inspires you to dream and explore new possibilities?

    This summer, my husband and I took a course on creating and editing videos. He is creating short videos for different parts of our trip and having fun developing his skills. As you will see, they are still quite amateur but even these take hours to pull together. The sound is the biggest challenge and we don’t really have proper editing software. This first one won’t work on an iPhone because of the song he included. Lesson learned for next time 🙂

    For what it’s worth, here is his creation for Santa Monica pier.

    Route 66


    Reading, Reading

    Lonely Planet versus Bill Bryson


    What we see depends, to a great degree, on how and where we look.
    (John Lubbock)

    As is my style, I like to read a lot about something before trying something new – probably not the best “adventure” personality but that’s what I got. If you read some things, you would never go anywhere – certainly not Australia (unfortunate). If you read other things, you think that people only have good experiences when they travel (I wish that were true). So, what has been on the reading list as we prepare for this adventure?

    Blogs and Websites

    Many thanks to Ruth for her blogs on travels in New Zealand and Kim’s family for their blog about their adventure around the world. These blogs gave a nice mix of the good and challenging aspects of travelling. Not all rosy, but magical in so many ways!

    Ruth in New Zealand – 2005

    Ruth In New Zealand – 2011

    Kim’s Family Adventure Around the World

    Trip Advisor of course is awesome for its extensive reviews of everything related to travelling. 

    Booking.com (Thanks to the 30 something adults in my life) for easy access to booking accommodations that gives you flexibility for cancellation and Airbandb.com which offers wonderful alternatives to hotels when travelling.

    If you have a favorite or particularly useful web tool for planning travel, please share it in the comments.


    1. Bill Bryson’s Sunburned Country

    Bill does not exactly describe Australia as the
    place everyone would want to visit. Here is what he says on p. 6

    “[img_0931Australia] is the home of the largest living thing on earth, the Great Barrier Reef, and of the largest monolith, Ayers Rock (or Uluru to use its now-official, more respectful Aboriginal name). It has more things that will kill you than anywhere else. Of the world’s ten most poisonous snakes, all are Australian. Five of its creatures – the funnel web spider, box jellyfish, blue-ringed octopus, paralysis tick, and stonefish – are the most lethal of their type in the world. This is a country where even the fluffiest of caterpillars can lay you out with a toxic nip, where seashells will not just sting you but actually sometimes go for you. … If you are not stung or pronged to death in some unexpected manner, you may be fatally chomped by sharks or crocodiles, or carried helplessly out to sea by irresistible currents, or left to stagger to an unhappy death in the baking outback. It’s a tough place.”

    2. Lonely Planet – Really. That perfect?

    So, when you read Lonely Planet, you imagine only wonderful things. In lonely plaent books, no one ever gets sick, looses luggage, gets things stolen, stays in a bug-invested hotel. Why is that? maybe it truly is how they choose to see it.

    lonelyplanet_queensland A quote from p. 7….

    Growing up in chilly southern Australian towns, the very notion of Queensland – with its beaches, islands, sunshine and swaying palms – was irresistible in our imaginations. Towns like Mission Beach, Noosa and Port Douglas assumed near-mythical status, demanding to be investigated at the first opportunity. Then, when the time came to actually explore the Sunshine State, the reality didn’t disappoint. And we haven’t stopped exploring since. From the tropical north to the booming southeast. Queensland is an essential Australian destination.”

    Learning and Growth

    Enough reading – time to live it, embrace the great and the not so great, trust your gut, push the edges of your comfort zone.

    I hope we have the “Lonely Planet” experience but I am prepared for some “Bill Bryson” moments. I suspect, learning and growth will come from some of each.



    A comfort zone can be a beautiful place, but not much grows there.