Friday, June 21, 2013

En Route

My parents are currently somewhere over the middle of the Pacific Ocean on their way to Australia!!!! This will be the first time I will see them in almost a year, and they will be the first family members to visit us. Can't wait to see them and take them on lots of Aussie adventures!  Until then, I'll continue obsessively stalking their flight progress. And hopefully sleeping some, too. Wahoo! 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Big Skies

Recently, I've noticed how extremely beautiful the skies here in Australia can be.  And now, I'm a little obsessed with trying to capture it with photos.  I don't know what it is, but I feel like in other places I've lived, I've never really noticed the sky like I seem to be noticing (and appreciating!) it here lately.  Maybe it's just that this is the smallest town I've even lived in, so the skies are definitely a lot clearer and less smoggy (although smog/sand in the sky does actually make for some incredible sunsets).  Not really sure what it is, but I just now seem to be a lot more aware of the beautiful sunrises, sunsets, blue skies, and amazing clouds. 

Looking at the skies also seems to make me get all reflective.  At times, it makes me feel so tiny and so truly far away from my home and my loved ones.  But other times, it can be comforting when I think about how it really is the same big sky.  It's fun to watch the sunset here and think about that same sun rising (and beginning the very day that I just ended) just a couple hours later in the US.  It's fun to live in the"future." :-)
*All photos un-edited and taken with my i-Phone.

This is actually a sunrise. I was particularly grumpy one morning, until I opened the shade above our bed and saw this.  I guess being up early enough to watch the sunrise isn't that bad.
Loved the two lines of wispy clouds this day.
Can't get over how BLUE the skies always are!
This is my favorite! 
This is the same sky as the photo above, just a couple hours later.
A particularly fiery sunset.  I loved that I could see the moon above Mt. Larcom at the same time. 


Word on the street is that Google Reader will disappear for some unknown reason at the end of this month.  I've known this for a while just like everyone else, but I was dragging my heels to actually make the change to another site.  As usual, leaving things until the last minute :-) 

It seems like Bloglovin' is the site that most of the blogs I follow are using, so it made sense for me to do the same.  So, on that note, if you also use Bloglovin, please find and follow me there!

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Expat to Expat Q & A - Travel

I guess after blogging everyday (minus two) in May, I needed a half month off!  So much for the blogging momentum I thought I had built :-)  Hopefully I can get back into the swing of things now by joining the "Expat to Expat Q&A" linkup.  This month's topic is about travel.   

Found Love.  Now What?

1. Which airport would you like to never see again?
I haven't really had a terrible airport experience (knock on wood), but I can think of a train station I would never like to see again- the Venice train station!  While studying abroad in Spain during college, I traveled to Italy with a group of girls from my program.  We planned to stop through Venice for one day and night on our way to Florence.  Well, our plane to Venice was extremely late... so much so that we had lost the entire day to explore Venice, and the hostel we had made a booking at was already closed by the time we got there.  We didn't know what else to do until our train left the next morning, so we ended up having to spend the night in the Venice train station.  It was sketchy as hell- to put it lightly.  Not to mention that it was fuh-reezing cold.  Needless to stay, not one of us slept a wink. 

These smiles didn't last long.
2. What is your travel nightmare?
I'm always paranoid about forgetting my passport.  I check about a million times before leaving to make sure that I have it.  Also, I don't really mind getting stuck in an airport, BUT my idea of a nightmare is getting in one of those situations where you're stuck on the plane on the tarmac for hours on end.  I hope I never find myself in that situation!

3. Would your rather stay in a fancy hotel and do less activities or stay in a hostel and do more activities?
Somewhere in between.  I definitely prioritize activities/sights/events while traveling, but as I get older (and further away from my student traveling days), I am a little more particular about where we stay.  It's hard to really enjoy and get the most out of a place when you are uncomfortable and not well-rested. 

4. Do you have any pre-travel rituals?
I always have to have a magazine to read during flight- preferably of the gossip magazine genre.  I also almost always have to have a diet soda for the flight... even though I know I should drink water. 

5. What is your favorite airline to fly with?
In the U.S., I love love LOVE flying Southwest.  You can't beat their prices, and the employees and crew members are always so friendly (and sometimes even entertaining while on board).  In Australia, I love to fly Qantas.  They're a little more on the pricey side, but unfortunately there aren't really many other options... especially when flying in/out of our town's little airport.  I love that they serve free booze even in economy, and they have great in-flight entertainment options on the longer flights. 

6. If you could take a trip anywhere in the world, where would you go?
For some reason, ever since I can remember, I have always dreamed about going to Bora Bora.  Or anywhere where I can stay in a hut over water, really.  I'd also really love to go to Greece someday. 

7.  How do survive long haul flights?
Tylenol PM.  Seriously.  There is no way I could have survived my 16 hour flight from Dallas to Brisbane, AUS without it. 

8. What is your favorite stamp in your passport and why?
Well, my Spanish Visa was my favorite for a long time.  It was this really fancy, and actually quite pretty, sticker that got its very own page in my old passport.  Now that I have a new passport, my favorite stamp is the one I got when I first arrived in Australia.  I remember that feeling very momentous and exciting!

Saturday, June 01, 2013

Closing the Door One Last Time

Day 31, Friday: A vivid memory

First of all- wahoo!  The last day of the challenge!  I am pretty proud of myself for sticking with it for an entire month.  Sure, I missed two days, but I still consider my run with this challenge pretty darn successful.  While this was a lot more difficult than I thought it would be when I first began, it was also more enjoyable than I thought it would be.  As a fairly new blogger, I think this was a good exercise for me to get into more of a writing/blogging groove here.  I will definitely need a bit of a break, but in general, I think I've gained a lot of momentum and motivation to keep on with this little blog baby of mine. 

Now... for a vivid memory...

When I first began thinking about my response, I immediately shuffled through childhood memories.  But since I kind of already did that here, I thought I would do a more recent memory.  Does it count if this memory is even less than a year old?  The moment that I'm thinking of is something that is still very fresh in my memory, but it is a something that I always want to remember.  In fact, during the time this event was actually happening, I remember thinking how important this time and this memory would be.  The memory I'm referring to is the memory of my last day in Houston before my big move to Australia. 

It was August 29, 2012.  David had already made the move to Australia mid-July.  We had decided that I would stay behind for a while to take care of some things with selling our house and cars and also to have some time to visit my family and friends before the move.  My amazing mom had been in town since August 25 helping me manage packing the house, packing my bags, dealing with movers, helping keep me sane, and just being the best company I could ask for during this very stressful and emotional time.  However, my mom had left the day before (at my request).  For some reason, I felt like I would be a lot sadder to have my mom there on the day that I was actually leaving.  So I spent my last night alone in a hotel, since our house had been packed the day before and was now completely empty. 

It was a strange feeling to wake up that morning knowing how momentous (at least in my mind) the day ahead would be.  At that point, part of me was just ready to stop thinking about moving to the other side of the world and just go already and be done with the anticipation and nerves.  I was also more than ready to be reunited with my husband and begin this next chapter of our lives.  But the other part of me, of course, was scared, sad, nervous, and sentimental.  For some reason, I thought my time that morning would be well spent getting a manicure and a pedicure, but after I did that I really was beginning the countdown of my last few hours in Houston. 

I returned the rental car, since Hans, my VW Passat had been sold a few weeks prior. 
I rode in silence as the rental company representative drove me back to our house where I had left my luggage earlier that morning. 
I opened the little black gate to our front yard. 
I walked through the front door of our very first home for the very last time.
And that's where I sat for the next 2 hours.
My view from my seat on the floor. 
I probably could have made this whole "last day experience" a lot less emotional for myself by avoiding this whole part, but for some reason I made myself do this. 
I walked slowly through our home, stopping in each room to take a few last photos and to think about all the memories made in each space during our short 1.5 years there. 
I finally settled onto the floor (every last piece of furniture was gone), sitting in the sun in the bay window at the front of our house. 
Alone.  With just my thoughts. 
This was the time I was referring to before.  The time when I thought to myself that this would probably be one of those moments that would always be a really important memory for me.
Time passed quickly and before I knew it, my taxi was honking from outside, waiting to take me to the airport. 
I quickly lugged my bags outside the door, waved to the taxi driver, and signaled to him that I would be just a moment more. 
I turned and went back in the house... one... last... time. 
I could feel my eyes starting to burn with tears, so I said a little goodbye, took a deep breath, stepped outside, then finally shut and locked the door one last time. 

I was supposed to have the taxi driver stop by my aunt's house to drop the key in her mailbox so she could give it to our realtor.  But I changed my mind and had him just head straight to the airport.  By that point, I was just done with goodbyes.  And aside from that, I had decided that I wanted to keep that key as a memory of that moment and of our first home. 
I took one last look back at the house, then turned around as I could physically feel a very distinct time of my life ending and another new, scary, but exciting part of my life beginning. 

I don't think I've ever had a moment so symbolic of the end of one chapter and the beginning of another.

Catch up with my "Blog Every Day in May" challenge here:
Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4
Day 5 (Oops! :-/ I did blog on day 5, just not following the prompt...)
Day 6
Day 20 (I broke my streak- I missed this day...)
Day 27 (So mad that I missed another one... and SO close to the end)