Waikiki wipe out

America

I had been in Hawaii all of 12 hours and I had the itch that only ocean lovers know. The pool is great but a beach is better.

After burning off some excess energy in the gym I needed to get on a board and in the surf. 

The Modern is around a 20 minute walk to the main part of Waikiki beach along the boardwalk so towards the crowds we wandered on Thursday morning. Bringing surfing gear would not have been practical on this trip given 80% of the time we’ve been in remote deserts so I had to hire a surfboard in Hawaii. As the waves were small, I went for a fun mini mal and paddled out to one of the less crowded reefs to try my luck. 

I managed to get a few sweet little waves and avoid face planting into the reef until my last wave when I snagged my leg rope, went flying over the top of my board and crash landed on a sandbank. 

The issue wasn’t physical injury but rather my skimpy bikini. I had been too cheap to hire a rash vest or wetsuit. It took a while to sort out with some slightly too eager help from some of the lads. #stillgotit.

We wandered through Waikiki after my surf and then in the afternoon, I was let loose in the Ala Moana shopping centre… Bye money. 

Spending dome quality time with the Duke.

Aloha Hawaii

America

If I had been starting to feel any end of adventure blues, it was soon stamped out of me when I stepped off the plane in Hawaii into 30 degree sunshine and air that was wet to breathe. 

By the time I saw the hotel room at the Modern Honolulu, I was basically starting a whole new type of holiday. One that involved long and lazy days by the pool drinking pina coladas and playing candy crush saga. 

Uninspired to do much other than bask in this lifestyle for a while, Kristy and I headed strait to the supermarket for nibbles and tequila ($20 a bottle unfortunately for my liver)before sitting by the room window overlooking the ocean and debriefing all the things we had done in the past month. 

Here we stayed until the nibbles had been polished off when we migrated to the pool to finish off the first afternoon in Hawaii. 

Sometimes I second guess my life choices, especially when I am travelling and become removed from my everday situations. Here is a snap of me not questioning the choice to order a frozen lime and coconut mojito.

Hey Hollywood! 

America, Uncategorized

What better way to end the trek than a day in Hollywood. A new movie starring Ryan gosling was premiering tonight and I was basically just wandering the boulevard hoping I might spot him, catch his eye and he would fall in love with me immediately.Then we would run away together and he would build me a house and row me down the river every afternoon at sunset.

Anyway, that obviously didn’t happen, so I compensated by spending money in forever 21 on new clothes because the ones I was wearing felt horribly unflattering and were obviously the reason Ryan and I aren’t eloping right now.

Hollywood is an interesting place though. I dislike it as much now as I did when I was here in 2001 and yet it is still oddly fascinating. 

I managed to find the Harry Potter hand prints outside the Chinese theatre and get lost in the tackiest souvineer shop I’ve seen all trip. 

We finished at our LA hotel and not quite ready to leave, those of us staying an extra night went out for pizza together. 

I am finding it difficult to even sum up the last three weeks. I’ve made so many new friends, seen so many incredible things and basically rediscovered life on the road as I do on every trip. 

There is something exciting about not having concrete plans and living simple out of a suitcase. Having the freedom to meet people from all over the world in hostels and on the road is such a privilege. I love watching the countryside change from day to day and the beauty nature hides around the world never stops being amazing. 

These kind of trips always leave me inspired to see more, do more and be more.

Next stop, Hawaii. 

Surf sighting in San Diego 

America

Our little trek family from front: Leanne, Shona, Clare, myself and Emma

Back to sea level in San Diego for the final full day of the trip! 

This was one of those places where I had no idea what to expect, but it turned out to be a favourite.  

Most of the crew I am travelling with wanted to go to the zoo, however I have seen many zoos and after Africa, I didn’t feel like I needed to spend the money going in to see caged animals so I ended up at the beach. I was so desperate for a swim after being out of the water for almost a month that I was willing to brave the chilly Spring water and go in alone. 

It was perfect. 

There were a few of us at the beach so we played a round of mini golf (which Kristy and I tied over but I’m claiming victory for because I got two hole in ones).

We ate lunch overlooking the Pacific Ocean in a pub with some of the best food on the trip. 

Later in the afternoon I wandered down to the harbour and sat reminiscing about the past three weeks over cheap beers.

I think the reason I loved San Diego is because it had a fun Uni vibe. Loads of young, educated people who share a love of the beach. For me, it was the kind of place I could live and the vibe I miss every day. You can’t go back, but sometimes I wish I could. 

We stayed in the Gaslamp district which was packed with bars and late night shopping stops and our last meal altogether was at the Cheesecake Factory. In addition to the most amazing cheesecake of my life, their meals were also delicious. 

The Grand Canyon, Arizona

America


At 277 miles long, 18 miles wide and a backdrop to one of the world most spectacular sunsets, it was easy to see why the Grand Canyon is known as one of the world’s greatest treasures. 

Our group was blindfolded as we walked to the edge of the canyon’s southern rim, and we all took them off tougher so we could take it in at the same time. This is what we all saw in a shared moment of breathlessness:


I was still feeling absolutely awful but in a place like this there is no time for that. I couldn’t not be in awe or be enjoying myself here. It was just so beautiful. 

I decided to fork out for the helicopter flight to get a better perspective on the scope of the canyon. 

If you ever visit the canyon I couldn’t recommend flying over it highly enough. Yes it’s expensive, but yes it’s worth every minute. Pictures do not do it justice but coming over the edge of the trees and into the Grand Canyon was a next level experience. 


Later, safely back on the ground, I ate pizza ( my first meal in two days) and watched the sunset with Kristy and my newfound friends. 


My one disappointment is that I was not up to a hike on our second day at the Canyon. As much as I wanted to push through, there were many scary signs about how going down into the canyon was optional but coming back up wasn’t, complete with pictures of vomiting children. There were also a few missing person signs so in the end, I decided to hike the rim instead which gave me the option of bailing at any stage if I started feeling sick again. 

As it turned out, despite a little breathlessness from the altitude, I was feeling good and made it from rim to rim easily, and managed to fit in a fossil walk and a talk about condors too. I don’t think anyone should miss out on a visit to the Grand Canyon if they are in the vicinity. 

It’s a bucket list tick that requires a little more exploration and adventure. I’m definitely coming back here one day soon.

I don’t think there are any words that could do Monument Valley justice.

America

Monument Valley was a definite highlight of my American adventures.

Monument Valley was undoubtably the highlight of my American adventures so far despite being ill with some sort of stabbing stomach pain that made me want to throw myself off a monument.
As we cruised through this untouched desert that belongs to the Navajo nation I quickly forgot about feeling sick. 

 There was something incredibly special about being in the open air four wheel drive and rolling through dunes, dangling my feet off the edge of sandstone that’s millions of years old and eating traditional food under a blanket of stars so vast there is no end or beginning. 
Time sort of just stops and you can imagine the people living here at the very beginning of time would have been looking basically at what we were looking at. I feel like in this world, that is such a rare sight to see. Original perspectives are hard to come by and in the western world I think this is one of the few places where it is possible to have that experience. 
I could have stayed here forever and in so many ways I wanted to. A life without complications sounds amazing. 

I wish we had been camping here rather than being back in a motel. It was the one night of the trip where I would have enjoyed being out under the stars all night. I would take eating Navajo tacos and dancing around a fire over everything any day and every day.
Perfection. 

Exploring the nooks and crannies of the valley.

On top of the world in Santa Fe

America


I felt on top of the world in Santa Fe. Literally. As in, we were so high up I struggled to get enough oxygen into my body and ended up with a cracking headache and nosebleeds. I didn’t mind though to be honest, and it didn’t take long to get used to the feeling and start enjoying the lighter mountain air. 

New Mexico is great and it almost felt like we were actually in Mexico. Everything is sunny and colourful. I loved it. 

We wandered around the old part of the city and pottered through the street stalls of Native American goods. 

Dinner was at an authentic Mexican restaurant and after half a litre of margarita, it was safe to assume I had overcome my mountain sickness. 

A bit of craziness in New Orleans

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Alligator hunting was not the fearsome experience I had hoped for, but still loads of fun.

Like many travellers before me, I had big expectations of New Orleans. I heard so much about how quirky and fun it was to hang out there and I imagined myself decked in beads wandering the colour filled streets in the evening and alligator hunting through the day.
As we pulled up out the front of our properly lush hotel, a delightful man appeared by our group. We didn’t realise what was happening until he tried to follow us into the lifts from the hotel lobby. 
I think he was on something illegal but a few of us notified staff and hung around waiting for someone to deal with the situation. In true Aussie style, we cracked a beer and just hoped he had left.
Our first night out involved trying authentic Cajun food. Due to my seafood allergy I had to settle for chicken gumbo. Frankly I was disappointed.

 Firstly, my landlord made me a much better gumbo a few days before I left Australia. Secondly, they didn’t offer us dessert despite the fact pecan pie was clearly on the menu.
I mean can you believe the nerve? I got the impression we were considered “just tourists” so it didn’t really matter if we enjoyed the food or not.
Out on bourbon street, it was far less seedy at night. Well, either that or it was just too dark to see. The music wasn’t as good as Memphis and I felt the vibe was lacking (possibly because, as I later found out, it was a Tuesday). 
In defence of New Orleans however, both the hurricane and the hand grenade were delicious cocktails and most of the group couldn’t feel their faces by the time we got back to the hotel. 
Sensibly, I managed to palm off most of my hand grenade to others in the group.

Delicious cocktails made for a fun night and a rough morning.


We did also take a tour of a swamp to spot snakes, turtles and alligators. 

Again, I really enjoyed this but I have done something similar in the Daintree rainforest at home and seen crocodiles that could happily eat a human in one gulp. I also recently had a funnel web spider infestation in my house and just before I left for the trip, my brothers best mate was attacked by a shark.
So when I saw a non-venomous tree snake sleeping on a branch I wasn’t overly impressed and I definitely wasn’t concerned despite the gasps of horror from the other Americans on the boat with us.

The scariest thing was having an ice addict chase our car down the road trying to get in and wading bare foot through knee deep floods to get back to the hotel entrance. 
It poured with rain throughout the second afternoon and we stayed put in the hotel for a nap before venturing out for a wander to get coffee and beignets.
Did the sensible thing for dinner and shared a cheese platter with some red wine in a slightly off the the beaten track pub. Much more pleasant.
Night time was spent on a ghost and voodoo tour of the French quarter. Our guide was definitely a bit of a nut bag but she was great, and super knowledgeable on the history of the city. Surprise surprise, I didn’t see, hear, feel or get photos of any ghosts, but I did learn a lot about New Orleans and its debauchery. I fell a little bit more in love with it after that. With more time I would have made the trip to Frenchmens street for some proper music. I think the city was starting to grow on me and perhaps if I’d done this it would have made the New Orleans experience a little more enjoyable. Luckily the company was good and we still had fine despite the crazies and rain.

 

Boot scootin’ in Nashville

America, Music, travel


We pulled up in Nashville and not for the first time in my life, I was seduced by a pair of shoes. 

It is quintessential country everything, everywhere you look in Nashville including people’s footwear. I know immediately I needed to invest in a pair of these boots and so the search began for the perfect match. 

In a turn of events that is unprecedented for me, the first shop I walked into, I saw the ones. Perfect fit, perfect style and perfect for every night out between now and Los Angeles. 

I put those new shoes on and suddenly everything was right and off to the country music hall of fame I strolled. 

The Country Music Hall of Fame is a shrine to some of the greatest musicians to grace the stages. Elvis, Chet Atkins, Keith Urban and even Taylor Swift. 

Country music really is the dreams of working people.

Later we went to a rooftop bar for dinner and drinks. Night times in Nashville are overflowing with amazing tunes on every strip and street corner. 

We had to make the most of the country vibe as we only had one night here. 

I’m a much better dancer in cowboy boots.

“Freedom is not free”

America, Uncategorized

After a day wandering through Washington DC, it became unequivocally clear that there was plenty of truth in the quote used at the Korean War memorial, “freedom is not free”.

The capital is an incredible place. Clean, grand buildings and an auora of professionalism and sophistication at every compass point.

A lot of it however, has been made possible by extreme sacrifices. This applies to every aspect of American life. 

We wandered through the monuments and I particularly enjoyed the Lincoln memorial. The reflection pool is brilliant, though given the ovcat day there was little reflection from it. 
  

Once the monuments had been ticked off, we moved onwards to the museums. I split from the group to go to the newseum. It was the best museum I’ve ever been in. 

Partly because it was specifically interesting to me as a journalist to see the history of media and how it has developed over time, and the way things are represented in the media now.

It was eye opening in so many ways but especially how many are willing to die for their story. To get the truth into the world. 

Journalists during 9/11 were among the only people in New York not fleeing the city. Instead they were running towards danger. 

Overseas, journalists congrats the conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Iran are being killed for no valid reason. Some have been taken hostage for two years before being beheaded by Isis. 

Others wrote something a government didn’t like and were killed for it. 

It really put Australian media into perspective. 

these are the faces of journalists who have e been killed on the job. There are hundreds, and space to add more.

  

Unfortunately the capitol is being done up so there is scaffolding all the way around the dome.