Monthly Archives: May 2015

Trip complete, Journey still unfolding

5/17/15

focus on the journey

I am sitting on the deck and it is a beautiful morning.  The stream below us can be heard with its temporary  small rapids from all of the rain that happened while I was gone.

stream behind the house

The jet lag is gone or at least I can no longer use it as an excuse. It is time to put some words to this last post on the Raw Challenge page.

full circle

I think that this experience from beginning to end will continue to stay with me and reveal more treasures that would not have been found without it.  I find the entirety of this adventure to be nothing short of a miracle.

miracle of starting

Well for me, I don’t think it was so much courage to start as it was the abandonment of rationale that would normally have kept me in the mode where I knew it was not good timing, reminded me there was no way to write a daily blog (especially since I’m not a born writer), and that I’m not in the kind of shape to attempt an obstacle race.  Clearly this was something that pulled at my heart so strongly that I could not ignore it and just had to approach it as a possibility.

think you can

I have had the good fortune to experience so many aspects in these past few months that would not normally have come about otherwise.  I have connected with friends and family that I haven’t necessarily been in touch with.  I have worked some muscles that I haven’t necessarily been in touch with either.  I have been to another continent, hemisphere and seen sites truly amazing.  I have written more in a two month span than I probably ever have prior and found that I truly enjoyed it.

one one sees the world they way you do

I have had several comments on how adventurous I was to set off alone each day and explore. I can say that I never once felt that I was alone.  You see, with all of the postings, comments – written and verbally expressed- over the past two months, knowing I was to be sharing my days with all of you, I sincerely felt accompanied at all times.

I would often type up some of the post on my phone while riding the train into the city or back to the burbs. I could take advantage of that down time to jot some thoughts if I didn’t get too distracted with watching the different areas stream past my window or get caught up watching fellow passengers.  People watching is pretty entertaining at times.

I was totally unencumbered by having to comply with anything someone else wanted to do and just let my days flow with a general idea of where I might be headed and mostly let each day evolve knowing that I was sharing it not with someone riding or walking next to me, but with the friends and family that would read about it the next day. I had Wilma, Pebbles and Poppy to share with in the evenings.  The few days that Wilma could be with me enhanced those days with laughter that I would mostly keep to myself when alone. I then too had that extra person that could laugh and make fun of the silly things that I tend to do.

Had I thought to write up what a perfect trip would be, I daresay I could not have done better.  Okay, I could have been lighter so that my feet didn’t scream of all the walking.
Best Journey's

 

My Fitbit was always on Mountain Standard Time, so the daily walks were not recorded in full, but my report from the last week that included the last two days of mostly riding on a plane with no walking/standing/moving at all was:

Fitbit report

It is obviously my new high water mark and a goal to see how it can be beat. So I have that to look forward to.

As for my blogging, I have decided that for now I will continue to share my thoughts and experiences.  I will keep this page separate and a available and start a new page as I feel there are stories to tell and stories to hear from you as well.  The posting regularity is sure to change, but I am not ready to give it up.

My only real question at this point is do I stay Betty for the blog or go back to my given name?  No last name – ever – as I need to keep it so my crazy customers over the years don’t find me.

Thank you to everyone who took the time to read and support the endeavor of the past few months.  It was a trip worth taking.

live, travel, bless

I’m not sorry.

Love Betty

 

 

 

 

 

Afterthoughts and a few days needed

05/12/15

impossible

 

This was one of the very first quote photos I downloaded when I started this not so little adventure.  It served to remind me that the outlandish things I was attempting with a blog, workouts and a trip to Australia on little notice was akin to the impossible. Yet it was only impossible if I believed it to be and thanks to the support of everyone, it was not only possible but has been to fruition.

I want to wrap up the trip in a proper post but am struggling with the emotion of it coupled with jet lag (at least I will blame it on that) and  feel that I need a couple of days to get to a state of balance before a proper final chapter.

So I’ll ask for a couple of days to process and put together a proper post.

Love Betty

Guest Post: Spreading Seeds

 

As everyone says, one advantage to teaching is having unscheduled time away from school in the summer; another less publicly discussed but more personally satisfying benefit is the relationships forged during those days in the classroom. These two perks of my (past) profession came together for a most memorable road trip in 1997.

 
Betty was once my student–a bit of good fortune; it was, however, unfortunately in her senior year, the year her mother suffered a life-altering stroke. Somehow from that sad circumstance, a bond was formed that has held through Betty’s years at OSU and her move to Colorado and deepened in meeting for drinks, visiting the farm, sharing marriages, births, and, inevitably, deaths.  It was her father’s death, in fact, that led to our travelling together.
 
It was time to transform the family home into the next generation’s–and, therefore, time for Betty to move out the lovely antiques that were her legacy. The rental truck was in the yard, the furniture was being packed, and we were saying good-bye, when–Wait a minute!–a suggestion was made (by which one of us I honestly do not recall) that since it was summer and I was not working . . . And almost overnight, we were settling into the cab of a big yellow vehicle and setting off for Evergreen. Once again, somehow, from this difficult process of separation came a wonderful few days of connection.
 moving truck
In spite of the ten years’ difference in our ages (I tend to run a bit late in some life events, Betty a bit ahead), we were both at that time recent orphans, mothers to single young sons, and, apparently, much in need of intimate conversation.  The miles ran by and the talk ran on (even through Nebraska) and that truck became a time machine, an attic where we pried open a treasure chest of stories.
 
Along the way I shared a poem (I was her English lit teacher after all) that captured the feeling we had as we passed by people and places outside our windowed but isolated world. Lisel Mueller’s “Into Space” ends
 
                         Think of the sac of memory
                         as the last resort,
                         the bundle the refugees tie to a stick
                         when they cross the frozen river
 
                         Think of the contents, volatile
                         as dandelion fluff
                         when we finally scatter it
                         into the atmosphere we are leaving
 
                          Think of it falling on someone
                          who suspects nothing,
                          who is suddenly moved to recall
                          a forgotten childhood scene
                          and finds himself stunned by its gravity.
 
Always the farm girl at heart, Betty later wrote in a note to me, “I now have this mental picture of our truck having a seed spreader attached to the side. I tell a friend it was filled with dandelion seed. She says, ‘Oh,’ not realizing that one day a bit of fluff will float her way and she will smile and nod.”
 
Consider this another bit of that fluff.
dandelion fluff
 
 
N.
Side note from me:
I don’t normally comment on someone’s guest post but being that it is Mother’s Day and Mine will have lasted 42 hours – being that I left Sydney at noon on Mother’s day there and arrived in San Francisco 4 hours prior to when I left Sydney also on Mother’s day. Which is why I need the guest post.  But I do want to say a wonderful day for all you mothers out there who take the time to read the posts.
N, I don’t know whether to be more touched by the act of you saving a card for 18 years or by the fact that you were able to remember where you could lay hands on it for reference.  I had forgotten about the card – the trip will never be forgotten.
Love Betty
 
                         
 
      
                         

Last Day in Sydney

Saturday

Wilma is pestering me to get the blog written before I leave.  I don’t want to as it requires that I acknowledge that this short chapter is concluding.

Today, Wilma and I headed into the city and went to “The Rocks” area where artisans and vendors set up their stands to sell their wares.

We had so much fun. We took our time and perused the booths purchasing a few items and then stopped for lunch.  

We were in front of a German restaurant where Wilma said she always wanted to try their pork knuckle.  

 

We sat at one of the tables outside and ordered the knuckle and a couple of beers.

 

The knuckle was tender and they had gotten the skin to the crackle form.  Served with a little kraut, mash, beers and good friend – in a great city on a perfect fall day, well, it doesn’t get much better than that.

We were walking by an alley and Wilma noticed it had things hanging in between the buildings.  On closer inspection we saw that it was bird cages.

  

 

We took  the bus back to pick up Pebbles at Sabre Fencing and then to “Poppy’s” (father in law) for one last family dinner. The Turners were determined that I have a proper and decent meat pie before I left since my first try with one in the city was less than satisfactory.  We had a good meat pie, peas, gravy and chips for a complete and great final Aussie meal.

Thank you Wilma and Pebbles for putting up with me and schlepping me to and from the train station every day.  Thank you Wilma for your direction and advice and for signing up for the Raw Challenge that got me over here.  That somehow feels forever ago and part of a whole different trip somehow.  The entire trip has been very rewarding.

  

This adventure has my feet dirty and achy, my hair is what it is, and my eyes are sparkling from the wonderful sites, times and the tears of having to say goodbye to it all so quickly.

What a great time.

Love Betty

The Majestic Blue Mountains

Friday

We had gone up to the Blue Mountains last Sunday but it was so socked in with clouds and rain that we couldn’t see anything.  Today was just the opposite.  It was a perfect fall day with plenty of sunshine and just a nip of chill in the air.

The blue mountains are a massive expanse of National Park space filled with hiking trails, waterfalls, cliffs. buttes and escarpments. It is a eucalyptus forest and jungle-like when you are in it.

We first stopped at the Hydro Majestic Hotel that has a long and storied history and has just gone through renovations.  It would be a beautiful place to stay or go have high tea in the dining area overlooking the mountains and valley below.

 

We the went through the town of Katoomba to the viewing area of the rock formation that is called “The Three Sisters”. Since I walk every week at our park of the same name, I knew I had to come here.

 

 

We popped into the visitor center to ask which waterfalls would be best to visit on our limited time schedule and she recommended two.  Off to Govetts Leap we went.

 

 

 

 

We took a trail that said it provided another view of the falls.  It actually took us over it so we could see the water feeding the falls.

 

It was a beautiful hike and the pathway and stairs along the route we well kept.

 

We then headed over to Wentworth falls. The lookout point there.

 

Then a hike down to the viewing area of the falls. The lighting for photos was not the best, but hopefully you can grasp its wonder.


The length of the falls that could be viewed were not even the totality of it’s drop but we did not have the time to hike further.   This area had stairs cut into the cliff  on the other side of the falls dating from the early 1900’s that you could take.  I will put it onto the list of things to do next time I get to Australia.

Awesome day. Thank you Wilma for taking me and for our fun times.  We had some good laughs while on the trails today.

Love Betty

Fish Market and Cockatoo Island

Thursday

Same train into the city but I changed it up by getting off at town hall as I will be near Darling Harbor and can walk around to the Maritime Museum.  Below is the church across from the Town Hall.  It wasn’t open yet to have a “look see” inside.

  

As I get to the Darling park I check for wireless signal as I hadn’t checked in with the family yesterday as I couldn’t find good service during common waking hours.

  

I get wifi and spend a little time texting the boys and post Wednesday’s blog while I can. It’s a comfy wooden seat in the morning sun and I am grateful for it.  

I head over to the Maritime ships in the exhibit and find that several are not open for viewing. I decide to bypass and walk over to the fish market as Wilma says I should try the fish at one of the shops there for lunch.

  

I get a bit turned around once, but find it without incident.  It is the harbor where the fishing boats are stationed and inside you can purchase fresh seafood of all varieties to take home or there are restaurants to purchase the wares cooked in various methods.

  

I get a half lobster (these are spiney and do not have claws) a spicy prawn on a stick and two oysters each prepared differently.  

 

It was good and I am happy to not have it battered and fried.

While here I have walked the market several times taking in all the shops and fish varieties.  My feet are starting to hurt from the walking most of the morning and now early afternoon.  I see a sign for the light rail across the street and decide to give that mode of transport a try.

The Opal card which is a refillable bus/train/rail/ferry ticket pass is what I have been using to gain access to the modes of transport.  One of the benefits of the card beyond not having to worry about how to calculate fees for each mode and stops is that it has a weekly limit and once you hit that, your trips are free.  You still have to scan your card when you gat on and off of said transport but your balance doesn’t decrease.  I notice when I scan onto the light rail that I am now a free rider.

So it is the light rail back to central station and catch the train to Circular Quay and  see there is a Ferry leaving for Cockatoo island so decide to give that a try.  

I haven’t been in that direction on the water past Darling Harbor and this will allow me to see five new areas as the ferry has 4 stops before Cockatoo Island.  

 

The island has an audio tour that you can take but it will take longer than I have time for so I take my own self guided your and check it out.

  

They now also have tents and you can camp on the island overnight.

 

I catch the ferry and then the next train back to the burbs in time to take Pebbles to swim lessons with Wilma. We drop off the girls and go have a quick pint, get some McDonalds for the father in law – it is a treat for him, and we head out to find a restaurant close by that I want to try.  It is a Vietnamese Pho place that is rated the best in Sydney.  It is in the burn that “Pops” is in, so why not?

Problem was, it was closed by the time we got there,  Many shops over here close between 5 and 7 in the evening and the pho place is one of them.  We try a spot that is open across the street and have a noodle bowl of another style and it is very good.

A good ending for another great day for me.

Love Betty

A Manly Morning and Chinatown Afternoon

Wednesday

My morning began with the now familiar train into downtown Sydney and a ferry ride to a new destination.  Today I was off to Manly Beach.  It is the largest beach available to the Sydney area. Today I sit on the correct side of the ferry to photograph the opera house from out in the harbor.

  

    Manly beach is on the other side of the point where the wharf is.  It is cool enough that I am wearing my jacket today but there  are surfers all over in the water and two instructional surfer classes taking  place. 

  

  

As I walk the length of the beach I notice some folks playing a lawn game with blocks and dowels.  It looks like the kind of game that our camping group could build a trophy for.  I ask the players what the game is and they say it is Kubb (rhymes  with tube) They say it is a Viking chess game – that description will peak the interest in my family.

 

The view below is less than half of the length of the entire beach.

 

 

After the beach walk and peruse the shops and markets, I ferry back to the Circular Quay harbor spot and grab another ferry to Darling harbor. I am hoping to try a shop said to have the best ramen bowls in the Haymarket area in Chinatown.

 

 

The ramen bowl was not what I was expecting as it was a thick brown brothed soup with pork and an egg. Left just as served, it was flavored a bit strongly in a way I’m left unable to describe.  They did have many of my favorite condements of pickled ginger. Spices, and sauces that I applied and got the flavors right to where I wanted and was well fed and satisfied.

I was wishing I had just a little something sweet for a dessert afterward and just a block away I  noticed a small window that people were queued up to.  It was part of the bakery next door where fresh cream puffs are made and you can get them hot off the press – literally.

I purchased 3 for $1 and noticed how warm they were in the bag.  One bite later and I knew the warmth was radiating from the scalding hot filling inside. Yeow!

 

 I made my way through several streets and found myself at Paddy Market.  Kinda like a flea market with all kinds of wares.   Nothing I couldn’t live without.

  I decide to navigate to central station to catch the train back to the burbs.  Being accustom to loading/unloading at stations with 2, 4 or maybe 6 tracks I am amazed to find my train on platform 19.  Central station indeed.

I text Wilma I am on my way back as I purchased a SIMM card and some minutes to use on an old iPhone she still has and is letting me use. Handy to have.

We have dinner over at her father in laws as her purpose in being over here is to watch over his care and dinner is shared there most nights.  I’ve missed a few due to my own travels but Wilma stops most every day if only just to update his white board on what and who he can expect the following day.  He is blessed to have her here.

It was another great day.

Love Betty

Cliff and Coastal hikes

Today was the cliff and coastal walks.  I took the train into Sydney getting off at the harbor stop.  Then I took the ferry to Watson’s Bay.  I got a great seat up top only to realize the opera house will be on the other side for proper viewing. I also soon realized this isn’t a slow ferry but more of a speed boat ride and my position has no shelter from the wind.  I consider taking a selfie so I can see my hair straight out but I resist.

We are in Watson’s Bay in 17 minutes. I walk a bit to cross the narrow land mass of the point and soon am on the beginning of the cliff walk.  The cliff walk as you might imagine goes along the edge and provides dramatic views of the coastline.

   

It is a series of parks strung together with neighborhoods to sometimes be navigated until you pick up the next access point.  Nearly five miles into this portion and seeing a bus stop ahead and not an access point to the cliffs that I had been detoured from a while back, I decide to grab the next bus to Bondi Beach and pick up their Coastal walk.

  

Bondi is a large public beach and pretty crowded for a midweek fall day. It is the warmest and first fully sunny day of my visit so a prime beach day to be sure.  

  

I had started the cool morning in jeans and somewhere along the cliff walk I changed into shorts. (A building under construction but not currently being worked on or inhabited served as my changing area.)

Wondering the temperature of the water that had a good many surfers and frolickers in its waves and shore, I tied my shoes to my pack and tested for myself.

  

Chilly but not bone chilling. Granted, I was only in to my shins at best but I could see how you could adjust.

Holding true throughout the city thus far, I find the beach to be clean and full of fit and active people.  Buff bodies were not on my list of “must see”, but I’m happy to take in the views.

I take to the side streets to find a spot to have lunch that doesn’t have prices as high as the beach eateries.  One of the owners from my work back home had recommended a place called Fish Mongers and I was to go to the one at Manly Beach, but there was one here as well, so I seized the opportunity.  

  

Sydney is big on their fish and chips.  Personally, I feel that if you have really fresh fish just off the boat, I would rather skip the batter and oil flavors and just have clean tasting fillets.  Obviously I am in the minority here.

I order the Monger box which has fish (mine grilled instead of battered), calamari rings, chips (fries) and some sweet potato chips (chips) on top – and lemon and their own version of a tarter sauce.  It was very good but not excellent.

I perused a few more streets and shops and with my feet starting to ache, I decided I would take the bus to my last point of interest – the Waverly Cemetary.

I asked the driver upon boarding if his bus would go near the cemetery.  He said it would take me to Bondi Junction and I would need another bus from there.  He suggested the quicker way would be to continue to take the coastal walk.  If I was brisk, I could possibly make it in a bit more than 30 minutes – his words.

   

Back off the bus and back down the stairs to catch the paved path. The thing about the beaches on this side is that they are surrounded (beautifully) by cliffs and to trek along the coast, you are constantly going down stairs to the beach area and then up the next side to continue down the coast.

  

Had I jogged for portions, not been tired from the previous 8 miles logged on my Fitbit already and never stopped to take a photo or enjoy the views, I might, maybe, possibly made it in the time the bus driver said. I doubt it though. It takes me more than an hour.

  

The Cemetary has the feeling that these were sailors and fishermen that belonged to the sea but families needed a place to be buried together ashore and this was at the cliffs edge and allowed for the living, souls and sea all to connect.

  

I just wish I had more gas in the tank to look at more of the graves and writings on the stones but the day is getting long and I want to be back to Sydney before dark.

Nature calls so I find the ladies facilities. If it didn’t have a toilet in it, I might think it was a gardeners shed.  I contemplate the odds of a deadly spider coming out of just about anywhere and making this my last resting spot.  As it turns out, I get to write the story and not be it.

  

A bus, a train, a beer at a proper pub and two more bus rides and I meet up with Wilma and Pebbles at the Sabre fencing academy.  Wilma, another mom and I walk a couple blocks and share stories and a beer,  it caps off a good, long and exhausting day.

Tomorrow will not be so much walking.

Love Betty




Royal Botanical Gardens

Today I took the train from Wilma’s suburb into Sydney.  The trains are quiet, clean and on time.  I took it all the way to Sydney harbor and from there walked over to the Royal Botanical Gardens.

  

  

The gardens are vast and beautiful. 

  

They provide another angle for viewing the opera house and bridge.  There is a governors mansion on the property and the large white macaws can be seen and heard everywhere.

 

 

 

 

  

There were some plants and herbs that were familiar but mostly it was a day of learning and appreciating the botanicals unfamiliar until now.

 

 

  

I saw a huge spider and while trying to get closer for a photo opportunity, I got myself caught in another web.  I immediately had a flash of everyone telling me how many deadly spiders there are in this country and jumped out of that vicinity while brushing off my arms and shoulder of any possible passengers that might have landed on me.  No external screaming was involved.  

  

After completing the gardens, I headed toward the Darling Harbor area on foot.  I stopped in a building with a food court that I could see masses of people eating a hot noodle bowl.  There were many places, but the line for the bowls was the longest but moving very fast.  

I tapped into the Wi-Fi and googled to find the foodies of Sydney love the place for the Laksa soup.

  

It is a full flavored, spicy noodle soup with meat of choice.  I had beef and loved it.

I took the ferry back to Circular Quay where I grabbed the train back to the burbs.

  

Great day.  Love Betty

Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree…Part Two

Sure, sure, Betty. I know what you’re thinking after Part One: “Wow. That Beth sure knows a lot of amazing true facts about Australia.” Well, thank you for the acknowledgement – because I sure do. This Sheila’s no ocker, and she’s got no kangaroos loose in the upper paddock, either. Part two of my ridgy-didge ripper commences right now. This corker’s for you, Betty.

 

7)  There seems to be a severe gas shortage in some of the more remote sections of the country.  Do not be alarmed if you encounter roving bands of highly aggressive, hockey-masked bodybuilders willing to murder you for a few drops of what they call petrol.  Wear lots of leather and carry a sawed-off shotgun and everything should be just fine.

 

8) While Qantas has never had a fatal CRASH, they conveniently fail to mention two little incidents during WW2 where two of their planes were shot down between Queensland and New Guinea. Suck-it Rainman, you don’t know everything.

 

8) You should definitely drive on the left side of the road. While I cannot actually confirm that Australians do this, it seems like as good a place to try it as any – and effectively defensible given the similarity of the accent to England. (Oh, and you are an American.)

 

9) Although the official state language of Australia is indeed English, you may notice some slight differences  – Hope this helps:

 

·        A Frisbee is called a Boomerang.

·        A puddle in American has a funny Australian name – Billabong. Krikey!

·        What we may refer to as a Machete or Sword, an Australian would refer to as a Spoon.

·        Winter is Summer.

·        Cats are called K-O-A-L-A-S.

·        Malonga Gilderchuck, however, is just a made up word like Chazwazzers. Or Kangaroo.

·        If you want to see a Cockie: a. go to the country, b. look up in a tree, or c. check under your bed in a bad hotel.

·        On the other hand, if a guy wants you to have a Naughty with the Old Fella ‘cause he Cracked a Fat in his Daks, then you are likely reliving the malecon scene from Isla Mujeres. Show him your wedding ring and move on.

·        Bastard is a term of endearment. Excellent in all situations.

·        When you clear the HARDEST OBSTACLE ON THE COURSE, shout “FIGJAM” at the top of your lungs. You won’t regret it.*

·        Americans on surfboards are referred to as Shark Biscuits.

·        Oh, and Coffee is Beer.

 

This should probably wrap up your trip in a nice little bundle. Keep these tips handy, and use them wisely.  Hooroo, Mate!

 

*F*** I’m Good. Just Ask Me!