Saturday, May 10, 2008

*sings* They say it's your Birthday!

Happy Birthday to ME! Dundundundundun!

I got the best present ever!! My sister decided to show up in Hawaii!!! Apparently this has been planned for quite sometime and I want to thank everyone involved or that kept the secret. It was a fantastic surprise. 25 is gonna be GREAT!
Things have been going great here. My tanlines have reemerged from a 10month hibernation, my hair has its ever present flower pinned in it (just the way I like it), and my body has taken a type of relaxation only Maui can give me. Tonight we are going to my favorite restaurant tonight, Mama's Fish House. Mmmm....Mahi Mahi stuffed with lobster rolled in a macadamia nut crust! Can't wait!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

My Dearest Love....

...oh, how I have missed you, mexican food.


:)!

Ahhhhhhh....

It's been so nice to be in Hawaii. I'm really glad Dad suggested that we come here because it's familiar without being bombarded. I know that I can go home and do what I need to do without having to "adjust" as well.
Hawaii has been great. We don't have to live out of a suitcase and we can eat homemade food (like pineapple!! Jk). Yesterday rained most of the day, but honestly it was still great. It smelled wonderful and it gave me an excuse to curl up on our balcony and dig into one of my 10 books I'm going to read while I'm here

My favorite things so far:
Getting to talk on my 714 cell phone to anyone I want, when I want. I don't have to dial 30+ numbers of a phone card and then a number to reach someone only to hang up before the voicemail answers so I don't get charged a connection fee.
Also, I'm totally stoked to be watching BASEBALL!! Cricket was just not doing it for me. Can you really call cricket a sport when they take tea breaks in the middle of the game? GO ANGELS!

Some things I've noticed since being in the US:
-We went to Costco right after we got the rental car. No wonder we are so fat!!! Have you seen the crap we eat?
-I feel very small in our vehicle, and if it was in NZ I would feel like King of the Road. Trucks have really gotten out of control in size. I know, I'm an owner of a truck but its a SMALL truck. No raised suspension. No huge tires.
-We, as a whole community, talk really loud. I couldn't believe the noise level the other night at Kimo's.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Bondi makes me homesick...

Dad and I arrived in Bondi on Wednesday after 11 hours of driving, two McDonalds pit stops, and 45 minutes of being lost in the city. Immediately, Bondi reminded me of Huntington Beach. The coast is dotted with surf shops, bikini stores (I found myself a $20 steal of a bikini), and hole-in-the-wall caf├ęs and breakfast joints. The surf is awesome with HUGE 8+ surf.
Dad and I have spent the last 2 days just mellowing out, eating, and going shopping. The highlight of Bondi came tonight. One of the local surf shops hosted a “meet and greet” with my all-time favourite surfer, Robert “Wingnut” Weaver, the star of Endless Summer II. I couldn’t believe it! I have been trying to meet him for YEARS! Dad and I walked in and instantly Wingnut came over to us and said “CA locals!” (I guess wearing my CSUF sweatshirt helped). We then proceed to have a beer and talk for about 20 minutes. He signed my DVD, told me a few things about filming the movie, and even told me to look up a few people in the biz once I get home for future job prospects. We talked about my time in Wellington, how cool my Dad was for taking me on this amazing trip, and told us to “piss off” when we told him we were heading to Hawaii for two weeks. It was AMAZING!!
Tomorrow, May 2nd, will be the longest day of my life….literally. Dad and I have a 6pm flight out of Sydney arriving 7am in Honolulu, where it will be May 2nd again. Dad and I are both sick of eating out every single meal and living out of a suitcase. I guess that the price to pay for being a nomad. We can’t wait to actually sit out on the balcony, not drive for days on end, and actually use a hanger!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

A stands for AWESOME!

LINK TO PICTURES: http://cfinnegan.shutterfly.com/action

On Friday, Dad and I boarded an early morning flight out of Sydney (almost made late by our insane shuttle driver) to Brisbane. We jumped in our rental car and away we went. Six hours of beautiful country side, mountains, farmland later we arrived at St. Agnes Waters and the Town of 1770. Our hotel looked like it had jumped out of 1950’s Palm Springs but with a lot more BUGS! It was a 5-minute walk to the beach so neither Dad or I were complaining.

Saturday, we woke up bright and early and with 100 other people boarded Captain Cook Great Barrier Reef Cruises and hit the open sea. I fell asleep (what is it about the rocking of a boat?!?) and woke up to CRYSTAL clear water with Lady Musgave Island at a distance. I cannot describe how clear the water is on the reef. It is cleaner and clearer then the pool I spent the last year working at. Dad and I were the first people to jump in the water for a snorkel (“Yes, we know how a snorkel is suppose to fit. Yes, we know how to spit in the mask. Can we just go?”) Overall, the coral was amazing but due to our years spent snorkel in Hawaii we were slightly disappointed by the types of fish and the amount. When we took the tour of the island, we did see some small rays and a 4 foot reef shark.
The best part about the tour was getting back to the dock. The tide had gone out so the crew had to take the tourists off the boat onto a platoon in groups of 40. Dad and I were one of the last people to go so we got to really talk to the crew and enjoy the AMAZING view of the stars. Everything from the Southern Cross to the Milky Way to the Big Dipper…you could see EVERYTHING!! I kept saying “So, that’s what stars look like!” and wondering what they must look like in the middle of the ocean. It was awesome.

Sunday, Dad and I got back in the rental car and drove the 7 hours south to Surfers Paradise, the “Vegas of Australia”. The coastline is covered in huge skyscraper hotels, shops, restaurants, pubs, clubs, and cheap gift stores. (“This is PARADISE?”) The beach, however, is stunning. Perfectly white sand (the softest, fine sand I’ve ever felt) and the water is a crystal blue. You can’t tell were water ends and sky begins. The weather is really warm, around 80 and the water is a nice 74.

Today (Monday), we headed off to a Wildlife Sanctuary just outside Surfers Paradise. It was AWESOME!! We were the first ones to walk into the park and into a feeding frenzy. The Sanctuary is known for its wild Lorikeet parrots and you can hold a plate of food and hundreds of them fly around landing on any available surface to feed. It was hysterical. At one point I looked at Dad and he had 4 on his head, 2 on each shoulder, 4 hanging from his shirt on his chest, and about 20 lined down each arm. The birds hurt though. They fight on your arms for space, all the while screaming and singing in your ear. We spent about 30minutes feeding them and my arms look like I got into a fight with a cat. I should also have enough luck stored up for the rest of my life because I got pooped on about ten times. It was worth it though!
We then headed off to the Kangaroo area where 80 are free to roam. This was one of the things I wanted to do while I was here. Dad and I were the only ones in the area and we purchased some food and they came up to us to cuddle, nuzzle, and be fed. It was a highlight of the trip. Kangaroos are so friendly and sweet. Even after we ran out of food they would stay at our feet wanting a scratch behind the ears or a pet on the nose. The bound around effortlessly and they are truly beautiful animals. We wondered around the sanctuary for another 3 hours, getting familiar with Australian flora, Koalas, Crocodiles, Dingos, Wombats, and a large assortment of birds.

We are currently relaxing in the room, just hanging out because tomorrow is a LONG 10 hour drive back to Sydney, where we will be staying at the infamous Bondi Beach.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

G'day Mate!

LINK TO PICTURES: http://cfinnegan.shutterfly.com/action

Sydney is so awesome!! I keep looking at my Dad and jumping up down, screaming “WE’RE IN AUSSIE!!” or quoting Finding Nemo. I just can’t take in that I’m staring at all the sights I’ve only been able to dream about.

Day One:
The day started with a REALLY early flight out of Wellington but landing in Sydney Airport around 8am. It was POURING rain. Not something you really want to deal with when in a new city. We took a cab ride to our hotel in Old Sydney, “The Rocks”. Our room has a view of the Sydney Harbor Bridge and The Rocks is really cool. This area was the first settlement of Australia. 14 ships dropped off 800 criminals and that started the settlement. The buildings are very cool and the streets are lined with cobblestone.
Dad and I literally dropped our bags off at the hotel and away we went. We walked out to the closest point of water and into the harbor, with our first sighting of the Opera House (SOH). We then walked the water front for about 2 miles to the base of the SOH. It is truly an amazing piece of art.
It was pouring rain so Dad decided it was a good time to take the SOH tour and I’m so glad we did. The story of its birth is full of twists and drama. It was really interesting to see how they made each of the sails and the way the building was built so far ahead of his time. I took pictures at every turn and I was actually surprised to find out the outer part of the sails are made of individual cream and white tiles, over 1.2 billion to be exact.
Dad and I then walked back to the hotel where I took an accidental nap for 2 hours and then it was off to do the Sydney Harbor Bridge Climb (SHB).
By far this was one of the highlights of my LIFE!! We got all geared up in our climb suits, microphones, lights, fleece jackets, and beanies and set off on a 3 hour adventure. The weather broke about 20 minutes before we took off, the clouds cleared and we had blue sky. It was such an amazing view (SOH, the skyline, Darling Harbor, South Sydney, Bondi Beach, Blue Mountains) that Dad and I just kept looking at each other and smiling. Our tour guide, Vic, was awesome. He told us great stories, jokes, and interesting facts. Our group was pretty cool too. 7 out of 9 of us were from California. I’m so glad we did the Climb and I recommend it for anyone even remotely close to Sydney. DO IT!! (By the way, the weather closed out just as we stepped out the building. God was definitely controlling the weather for us tonight).
Dad then I went to a local pub where we shared a Crocodile meat pizza and a local brew.

Day Two:
We walked through the heart of the city to get to the Famous Darling Harbor. It was pretty cool. One side of Darling has the Zoo and Aquarium and the other side is surrounded by cafes, shops, and restaurants. It started to rain again so Dad and I caught “Whales and Dolphins” at the IMAX 3-D theater. After the flick, we went SHOPPING!! Ohhhh, it felt so good. We pretty much got all the souvenirs a tourist could want and then some. Dad and I then randomly decide to hop on a Harbor boat cruise, propped ourselves on the back of the boat away from the Japanese, photo happy tourists and just enjoyed the surroundings. I got some GREAT pictures myself and we saw parts of the Harbor you can only see from a boat.
After the boat trip Dad and I went for some food but before that we did a walking marathon through the city in the pouring rain (quite the accomplishment in sandles!) We got dinner and then came back to the room to relax, re-pack, and update my blog.
Tomorrow we leave at 5:25am for the airport to fly up to the warm and toasty (80+ degrees) city of Brisbane and drive 6 hours north up to Agnes Waters for our Barrier Reef trip on Saturday.

The probability of having an internet connection over the next week is very slim but I will continue to write daily and update when I can.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The time...

....has come to say goodbye.

I seriously can't believe that 10 months has gone by since I left American soil. Tonight was amazing. I was surrounded by everyone that mattered to me in this experience (Former flatmates Haydn, Katrin, Frazer. Current flatmates Tia, Courtney, Cathy, and Bailey. Friends Seka, Simon, Jo, Ali, Henry). We ate, laughed, and told stories. It was really mellow but a great way to say goodbye to everyone.

I'm so grateful for this experience. I have grown so much as an adult. I am now stronger then I have ever been in my life. I came to NZ only knowing one person and I left with lifelong friendships. I have lived on my own, seven thousand miles away from anyone that loved me. I did this! I am so proud of myself for the fact that I simply survived, let alone did it so well. I now know I can do anything I put my mind, soul, and drive too. 10 months ago I had no idea. How many people pick up and move a world away? Not a whole lot. 40 years from now I get to tell my grandkids of the amazing adventure I had when "Grandma was a cool chick that taught swimming lessons in a great country." I have no regrets and will be eternally grateful to my family for being so supportive and pushing me to have this experience (I can't believe I had doubts).

I'm walking away with so many great memories, photos, and friends. I would do this all over again in a heartbeat. Good and Bad!

Time for bed. A wake up call from my cell phones alarm at 3:30am is NOT fun. I'll update when I can when we are in Aussie.