Drivin free and feelin great

I feel like every soul in the world must love the feeling of a full tank of gas, windows down, sunglasses on and shoes off, favorite tunes blaring as you cruise toward the beach. Every soul that I’d want to know, anyway. It’s just one of those feelings that screams freedom. Yall know how I feel about freedom.

We picked up our cross-over on the south side of Melbourne on a Friday morning and took off on what I’d soon realize was one of the most beautiful, awe-inspiring drives of my life. The Great Ocean Road’s name is as appropriate as they come.

DSC_0076

Not two hours outside of this sprawling metropolis we turned right [[but kept to the left side of the double lines]] and just kept driving.

At every bend in the road was another ‘holy *#^%, look at that view’…Great Ocean Road

Another sleepy beach town with organic cafes and sleek surf shops…

Great Ocean Road

Another hair-pin-turned jaunt through the rain forest; another canopy of gum trees that send eucalyptus aroma swirling through the car; another scenic overlook that you can’t pass up, cause it very well may be better than the last…

Great Ocean Road

Another surfer’s paradise where you could sit and watch the salty blondes paddle out and hitch a wave on repeat…

DSC_0005Another traffic jam of Asian tourist pulled over on the side of the road, cameras out to capture a momma and baby Koala hangin out in the tree across the road [[ok fine, that only happened once, but it was pretty cool]]…

Great Ocean Road Another flock of cockatoos that make their living by stealing food from unsuspecting tourists [[that only happened once too, but it was no doubt, a highlight of my trip..I’m still giggling…Unsuspecting tourist, Kara, is not..she says the cockatoo bites hard]].

DSC_0098We just spent an entire day with our jaws in our laps as we leisurely made our way toward the grand finale.

After a quick hostel workout and a cribbage match over our Thai dinner, we woke up ready to hit the open ocean road again. Destination:  The 12 Apostles.

Because a picture’s worth a thousand words, this:

Two days, 1 tank of gas and a whole lot of pretty later, we made it back to our Melbourne pad feelin pretty free and pretty great.

Great Ocean Road

Generosity abounds in Brisbane

While I’m intent on being mindfully present during this journey—not living in the past or the future—just sitting here and being here in the now, it’s painfully clear that I cannot wait to ‘pay it forward.’

It always amazes me how no time and no distance can distance those who really matter in life—you know, those friends and family who you can just slide right back into giggles and easy conversation. Those kinds are special. It’s probably one of my favorite life treasures—those kinds of people. They’re gems. And I’m swimming in those gems here in Oz.

We arrived in Brisbane on a sunny morning, where Jodi and Liz greeted us with those giggles and easy convos I find so simple and lovely. We sipped coffee on the top of Mount Kootha.

Mt Kootha

We catamaraned around the Brisbane River, walked around South Bank and caught up on the ins and outs of the Aussie / American rellies.

Then more rellie gems showed up at Rowan and Lynda’s for one of those ‘we only get together for a big family BBQ when an American Temme is in town.’ That people will just drop their plans, pitch in on a feast and spend a Friday night sipping Cab and swapping stories with two backpacking gals on the patio just warms my heart.

The parrots woke us bright and early, inspiring a quick 5k to the local Target—sounds so normal, so American, yeah? Except that flying foxes draped our pathway, our Target run was to collect various electronic adapters and breakfast was accompanied by one of those fancy flat whites that only a Truss home can whip up like it’s a simple brew. That, and our afternoon was filled with snapping selfies with old grey kangaroos and snuggling the eucalyptus-dazed koalas.

Lone Pine Sanctuary

Lone Pine Sanctuary

Lone Pine Sanctuary

We trekked out again the next day [no idea what day of the week that actually would have been…not a clue] to see the Natural Bridge where we likely could have spent the rest of the morning just sitting and watching that pretty waterfall crash into the cave below.

Cave

Lucky we didn’t though, as we also sauntered around the markets, snagged a few pies and watched surfers on the Gold Coast for the rest of the afternoon. Ohh, thank you for that indulgence—yall know I love sitting on the water. Just so ‘ahhh.’

As if that wasn’t enough, Jodi and Liz drove us up [or over or down??] to the lovely Hervey Bay where Kara and I spent a lavishly relaxing few days at Lyn and Warren’s sleek condo on the beach. Hot-tubbing on the deck overlooking the coast, riding our bikes along the windy boardwalk through town, getting caught in several pre-Cyclone Marcia storms, soaking up a different type of villa life, thanks to the Deputy PM and lots of home cooking could only be topped by a visit to Fraser Island.

Fraser Island was and remains one of my favorite places on the planet. As the largest island in the world made entirely of sand [with a lush rain forest populating the inner island]…

rainforest …a recognized beach highway [slash airport—yes, tiny prop planes, but planes nonetheless take tourists up for the birds-eye view of this World Heritage Site, using the packed sand as their runway]…it just is one of those places that you know God spent a little extra time with.

Fraser Island

Steve, our jolly tour-guide navigated us through the island in a big 4WD truck. Kara lucked out with the front seat, otherwise her birthday trip would have been a lot less glamorous and lot more vomit-y.

Fraser Island

I think these pics speak for themselves…not even a need to caption…this is just Fraser Island. And it makes me happy. I loved that we could celebrate a great 28 for my sweet Kare in this beautiful place.

Lots of pictures, lots of beach-time and relaxation, lots of beautiful.

The most beautiful was the generosity though…yes, I loved the real-time moments. But oh I cannot wait to pay it back to these precious, generous gems.