Wednesday, July 28, 2010

New Zealand

Alright, my goal was to have this blog all caught up by here I am on 3 days away! I’m truly the queen of procrastination.
The Reedy Family South Island of New Zealand Experience:
Tuesday the 29th of June: We boarded the Tranzscenic Railway that would take us from Christchurch (the east coast) to Greymouth (west coast). The train passed through the Southern Alps, over crystal blue rivers/ glacial runoff, and past green fields. Truly beautiful scenery! We had breaky on the train and walked out to the observation deck to take in the views and mountainy fresh air. Once in Greymouth we picked up the rental car and headed for Franz Josef glacier. On the drive we passed over countless one lane bridges that were a bit scary—especially one of them that had a train track going down the middle as well. We made a few stops at beaches along the way and got to the glacier right before sunset. The glacier was wedged between two mountains and we probably should have listened to the do not trespass signs because when we got close for a picture we could hear parts of it breaking off.

Wednesday the 30th of June: We drove down the west coast, stopping at Fox Glacier, miscellaneous beaches, and taking in some more gorgeous mountain/river scenery that the winding road had to offer us. We would drive a bit and my family would say..”we could be in Alaska right now”..“we could be in Colorado right now..”, “we could be in Washington right now”, or various other spots in the U.S. and we decided New Zealand has the best of American scenery packed into one little Island. By the end of the day we made it to our destination, Queenstown—a really neat ski resort town and one of the South Islands biggest cities that is nestled in the middle of a mountain range on a big lake.

Thursday the 1st of July: We were originally scheduled to go on a small plane ride to Milford Sound, where we would board a ferry, but because of the weather conditions our tour was canceled. So instead..Billy and I decided to go sky diving! We had to wait until the afternoon, so to kill time we had lunch at the famous to Queenstown burger spot- “Fergburger”, and I can see why they’re famous..delicious! Then Dad and I hiked on the Queenstown walking trail to the top of town. When it was time to go sky diving, Billy and I were surprisingly calm. I was more excited then nervous! We got into a little air plane that only had enough passenger room for Me, Billy, two other skydivers, our instructors, and a camera guy. We jumped from 12,000 feet, we free felled for 45 seconds at 125 mph, and they pulled the shoots at 4000 ft. IT WAS AWESOME! My tandem guy and I did a barrel roll out of the plane and then the camera guy came over and made us spin around. Everything went smoothly and I landed on my feet. The scenery we fell over was beautiful..mountains and a crystal blue lake that I could see to the bottom of from 12000 ft above. The rest of the day Billy and I had a natural high from the adrenaline and I think Mom and Dad were just happy we made it out alive.

Friday the 2nd of July: Since the Milford Sound tour was cancelled for a second time we decided to hit the road early and drove out to Mt. Cook where we decided to take a scenic helicopter ride (my first helicopter ride!). The helicopter took us to the top of a mountain for a snow landing. From the top we could see a glacier and we played in the snow a bit (Larry our family vacation mascot—a little bear in an OSU sweatshirt, and I made snow angels) before re-boarding.
Saturday the 3rd of July: Our final day in New Zealand. We drove a grit switchback road to the top or Mt. Hut to a ski resort. Billy had been looking forward to this day all trip. Dad and I were a bit nervous having not skied for a while by the looks of the mountain, and Mom decided to spend the day by the fire reading her book. From the very top of the mountain in one direction you could see the ocean and in the other the snow capped Southern Alps mountain range. It took us a run or two but we were finally getting the hang of it, and then the run before Dad and I had planned to go in for lunch Dad wiped out. He had to be sled down to the med center, where the doctors believed he had sprained his knee. Unable to put pressure on it to walk I had to assist him up to the lodge where he hung out with Mom for the rest of the day in pain. Billy and I finished out the day and I traded in my skies for a snow board part way through the day. Great day of skiing, other then my Dad’s injuryL! We spent the rest of the evening heading back to Christchurch and touring around the city.
Sunday the 4th of July: The day of my return to the United States. My journey started at the Christchurch airport at 5 am. I had a long black and meat pie for breakfast—two of my favourite foods from the southern hemisphere before boarding my 6:40  am flight to Auckland (On the North Island), I had a 5 hour lay over there and met up with my family (Dad in a wheelchair because of his accident) for our flight from Auckland to LA. We had had to arrange separate domestic flights because I had scheduled mine back in February. It was a 12 hour flight which Qantas spoiled us with tons of food and movies. I slept a bit and arrived in LA at 6 am still July 4th. It was back to crazy USA airport security and summer heat (It had been winter in NZ and Australia). Ironically a girl I had lived near in Sydney was on my flight from LA to Chicago and we were in the same terminal as we had been in February for our group flight to Brisbane. Memories flooded back from the beginning of our trip and I was glad to have someone to talk to, still feeling a bit sad to leave Oz. I arrived in Cleveland by 7 pm after a total of 28 hours of traveling all on the 4th! A bit tired I spent my first evening at home catching up with my best friend Lisa and enjoying a mint Oreo blizzard from DQ –fulfilling one of my American food cravings.
Up next: American Observations

Cheers, Betsy

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Part 2: The Blue Mountains, Melbourne, The Outback, and Goodbyes..

Monday, 21 of June: We picked up our rental car and drove out to the Blue Mountains. I took them on a hike that I had done with my outdoor education class. We started at Echoes point overlooking the three sisters. This time instead of walking up the 990 “Giant stairway” we choose to walk down and take the world’s steepest railway up. My parents stayed the night out in the mountains while Billy and I took a train back to Sydney.

Tuesday, 22 of June: Billy and I got up bright and early to catch a flight down to Melbourne. Once we arrived we checked into Billy’s first youth hostel experience downtown. We had lunch at a Mexican chain restaurant called Taco Bill’s then walked all around the city. In the afternoon we took the tram out to St. Kilda because I wanted to ride the Luna Park roller coaster with Billy, but when we got there we discovered that the Park was only open on the weekends in the winter. So instead we went to a little cake shop and got some cake and coffee. That evening we met up with my friend Liam and his friend Russ(my friends and I had hung out with last time we were in Melbourne) at the Rooftop bar then went for as he would call it, Tea (dinner) at a hidden little Chinese restaurant that’s known for their dumplings. We foolishly choose the all you can eat deal…delicious but I was uncomfortably full!

Wednesday, 23 of June: We wandered up and down the alley’s to find a little café to have breakfast at. Which is one of my favorite things about Melbourne all of its hidden charm in the alley’s! Next we checked out the Melbourne ACMI- Australian Centre for the Moving Image at Federation Square. It was a museum that had really neat exhibits and interactive sites dealing with movies, video games, and computers. Afterwards we wandered along the Yarra River over to the MCG- Melbourne Cricket Grounds to look around to kill time before my parents arrived in town. We met up with them and did part of the Golden Mile---a mapped out walk of Melbourne’s historical buildings and attractions. We showed my parents the rooftop bar then met up with my Dad’s friend Catherine and her fiancé Paul (who live in Melbourne) for dinner. They took us to a strip of restaurants along the river called, Southbank. During dinner, outside of the restaurants there were giant towers that on the hour spit fire and lip up the whole walk way. We stayed at Catherine and Paul’s beautiful home that evening and they treated us to Haigh’s hot chocolate and Tim tam slams for dessert.

Thursday, 24 of June: Paul kindly drove Billy and me to the airport at 5 am to catch a flight out to Alice Springs for our outback adventure! Once in Alice Springs we retrieved our rental car, stocked up on water, peanut butter and jelly supplies, and had lunch before hitting the long flat road leading us to Ayer’s Rock. The drive took around 5 hours including our stop at a gas station/emu farm and to play on red sand dunes. We arrived at the big rock an hour before sunset so we drove the perimeter of it and checked out the cultural center before driving out to the car lot that was specifically for viewing the sun set. The dessert sky turned a purplish color as the sun sank lower and the rock was illuminated burnt orange. That night we stayed out at the Ayers Rock resort in a hostel dorm.

Friday, 25 of June: We watched the sunrise over Uluru (aboriginal name for Ayers Rock) before starting a full day of hiking. The first hike of the day was around the base of Uluru which was 6 miles. Next up: Climbing Ayers Rock. I was apprehensive at first because there are issues about climbing it being disrespectful. However, once I saw that they had a walking track marked out and realized there was no way my brother would be leaving there without concurring that rock- we began the climb. The first half of the climb up was lined with a chain, because the rock face was so steep. The climbing track was one mile to the highest point which was 1141 ft. From the top we could see the Olga’s and Mt Connor in the distance. Racing the sunlight and on a limited time schedule I made pb&j’s while Billy drove the 45 min out to the Olga’s (aboriginal name= Kata Tjuta: 36 red mounds). Once there we didn’t waist any time hiking at a speedy pace to complete both hikes at the park, the Valley of the winds (4.6 miles) and Walpa Gorge (1.6 miles). By the end of the day we had hiked a total of 14.2 miles up and down and all around! On the car ride out to Kings Canyon, the next day’s hiking destination, we passed two packs of camels in the wild. This surprised Billy because he did not know there were camels in Australia.

Saturday, 26 of June: We got up with the sun again to get hiking in time to return to Alice Springs for our flight back to Melbourne. Today’s hike was 4 miles total, up the side of a canyon, along the rocky canyon rim, and back down. In the middle of the canyon, surrounded by dry red rock was a lush green garden with a river flowing through it, called the Garden of Eden. I think this may have been Billy’s favorite hike, because every time I turned around he was climbing all over the rocks. Having time to spare back in Alice Springs before our flight we decided to drive just right out of town to Macdonnell Ranges. There we did a short hike out to Simpson’s Gorge.

Sunday, 27 of June: The whole family reunited after going our separate ways for the past three days, Billy and I to the outback and my parents to Melbourne and the Great Ocean Road, flew back to Sydney. Billy and Dad spent their last day in Sydney walking across the Harbor Bridge, while Mom stayed back to help me pack and then meet Emma and her Mom for afternoon tea at a little café in Newtown. That evening, my last night in Sydney, Emma, her Mom, and my family went for drinks at the sky tower’s (Sydney’s tallest building—similar to the Seattle Space Needle) revolving bar: The 360 lounge. After a drink there we all met up with Michelle’s family at the Lowen Brau (German Restaurant down in the Rocks) for dinner. It was so nice being there with all of our families! From there we went over to the Observer Hotel, which we were drawn to when we heard the live music from outside. I snuck over to the guy on the guitar and asked if he would let my Dad play one song. He announced for Billy Reedy from Ohio to please come to the stage. My Dad acted reluctant—but he loved it! He played a song called Annie Be Fair and a group of Irish man busted into a jig mid performance. We spent the rest of the evening singing along and dancing. A perfect last night spent in Sydney!

Monday, 28 of June: The day I had been dreading since I fell in love with Sydney and Australia! I kicked off the day with my last hoochie mama’s long black coffee and blueberry banana bread, and then spent the rest of the morning pack and cleaning. In the afternoon, Emma, Scotty, Luke, and I walked down to Janet’s Meat Pies for lunch, I said goodbye to my friend Shona, and then just all hung out until the dreaded time of 4:30 rolled around. They drove me out to the airport…I tried to keep it together the whole car ride but lost it when I had to say goodbye. Throughout my time in Australia I had people I met along the way right me a little message in a notebook that I had. My only rule was that I couldn’t read the messages until I left the people. So once I was on the air plane I read all of the messages from my Sydney friends. The people sitting next to me probably thought I was nuts by the way I would laugh one min and then by crying the next. My parents had had a flight earlier that day to Christchurch, New Zealand, so my Mom picked me up from the airport and I met back up with them at the hotel late when I got in. Leaving Sydney was really hard. I just kept telling myself…you’ll be back sometime don’t worry and instead of saying was I’ll see you later! It was nice to have a whole week of fun planned in NZ to look forward to and distract me.

Next up: Part 3 our New Zealand Adventure!

Cheers, Betsy

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Part 1: Sydney

Hello all!
I have now returned to beautiful sunny (hot and humid) Ohio! Although my time abroad has come to an end, I want to update you all on my travels with my family. We did a lot so I’m going to split it up into the places we visited. I also plan to write another post in a week or so to update you on my transition back into life in America.
Family’s Arrival to Sydney (they had already spent a week in Cairns at the Great Barrier Reef)
Thursday, 17th of June: I turned the corner to enter the Hotel where my parents were staying and right away see my Mom. Before even seeing me she was in tears…I didn’t expect any different and probably would have assumed something was wrong if she wasn’t crying ha. After welcoming them to Sydney with lots of hugs and smiles we headed back to my place so that I could show them around my new home. I had set up gifts on my desk, one for each holiday I had missed spending with them as their welcome souvenirs. After showing them around my apartment, I took them to my favourite café, Hoochie Mama’s! The rest of the day consisted of a tour of… Sydney Uni campus, Hyde Park, Botanical Gardens, Opera House, Circular Quay, and the Rocks. After all of the walking I think my family was relieved when the tour ended at Lord Nelson’s Pub (The oldest pub in Sydney located in the Rocks) after about 5 miles of walking. They were amazed at how pretty the University of Sydney’s campus was and impressed by how well I knew how to get around the city.
Oh yes and how can I forget….this was also the day that I met Larry. My dad has started the tradition of bringing along a mascot on family vacations. In Ireland it was a tennis ball named Wilson, this time a little stuffed bear with an Ohio State hoodie named Larry made the trip.
Friday, 18th of June: We went and got breaky at the “Waterfront Restaurant” in Darling Harbour and then walked around the area afterwards. They loved it and watching them take it all in reminded me of how I felt the first time I was down there. I had a re-appreciation for Darling Harbour and how alive it is. We stopped by Paddy’s markets so I could show them where I went every week to buy fruit and vegetables, then I took them up to Janet’s Meat Pies in Newtown, so they could experience a proper meat pie and to meet my friend Emma. We were in luck and Janet herself was at the store!   Of course Larry got a picture with Janet. Two train rides later and we were at Sydney Olympic Park. My dad was like a little kid hurrying to take a look at every venue and really lit up when he saw the blue marathon guide line. After my family’s first Newtown Thai experience my parents headed back to the hotel while my friends and I took Billy down to Darling Harbour’s Fifa Fan Fest to watch the USA vs. Slovenia world cup match.
Saturday, 19th of June: I took my family to two of my favourite beaches, Bondi and Coogee. Although it was a beautiful 18 degrees C (65 F), it was still too cool to swim so we did the scenic coastal walk that runs between the two beaches. By the end of the 6 km walk up, down, and along the cliffs my Mom asked me if I was trying to kill her. She was right…I had been making them walk quite a bit in their visit to Sydney! They were fascinated by the cliffs that surrounded the beaches, because they had no idea Sydney had that sort of landscape. That night we had ice cream at cold rock (where I worked) and then Michelle and Emma joined us for dinner down at Darling Harbour. After dinner we met my Dad back at Paddy McGuires an Irish pub to watch the Australian world cup match, and then we took Billy to my favorite spot in Newtown, the Marly Bar.
Sunday, 20th of June: Since we had been on our feet for the past three days, this day I decided to give them a bit of a break and we spent a lot of time cruising around the Harbour on Ferry’s. We went to Balmain (where my Dad’s friend Catherine used to live) for lunch, then to Circular Quay to catch another ferry to Whatsons Bay. Once at Whatsons Bay we walked up to the “Gap” a lookout with the ocean on one side and the city on the other. We ended the day at Doyle’s, a place in Whatson’s Bay famous for their fish and chips.
My picture uploads aren’t working—so once I figure it out I’ll put some up. Next up: Melbourne and Billy and I’s outback adventure!
Cheers, Betsy