Aussie Stop 1: Cairns and the Coral Sea

#Cairns #Adventure #Vacation 
After 28 hours of travel, long days and early mornings here is what we’ve done so far: 

Watched the sunrise over the Coral Sea


Hartley’s Crocodile Adventure


Great Adventures Green Island day trip


Kuranda’s Skyrail Rainforest Cableway and scenic railway


More to come later as the Internet becomes available! 

Crikey – We leave tomorrow

#weregoingonanadventure #Australia #ImsoexcitedImsoexcitedImsoscared   #travel

 

Be patient.  Some things take time.

 

The countdown is on!   We are a little over 24 hours away from starting our LONG haul to the Land Down Under.  Over the next few days, Jason and I will have traveled over 28 hours to get to our first destination of Cairns, Australia.   This is about the time in our travel prep where I start freaking out, and Jason remains composed and tries his best to keep me calm.   I’ve never been a great traveler and usually don’t relax until we get through security.  As much as we’ve traveled in the past, some things never change.

 

We are in the midst of tying up loose ends at work and home before leaving, and the bigger challenge of trying to pack 18 days worth of warm and cool weather clothing into 2 carry-ons.  This is a big challenge for me since I’m a huge over packer but will be a good test for future trips.  Luckily for us, 3 of the places we are staying at have washer/dryers so this should definitely help us out.

 

Jason is definitely the better writer in our family (Editors Note: Steph does not give herself enough credit), but I wanted to post a note about a few things I’m really looking forward to seeing and doing on our trip.  We’ve only booked 2 tours before getting over there and will take care of the rest once we arrive and see how the days shake out.  The first of our pre-booked activities is a Field of Light Star tour in Uluru.  During this trip we will be perched atop a dune and will watch 50,000 glass spheres begin to light up as the sun begins to set.  Below is a picture to show this experience with Uluru in the background.    Besides lots of hiking, some of the other possible activities to do here are camel tours of the outback dinner under the stars with the sounds of a didgeridoo playing the background, and even Segway tours.  We’ll keep you posted on what we take part in.

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The 2nd activity that we booked ahead of time due to limited availability, is a sunset guided tour at the Kangaroo Sanctuary in Alice Springs.  The sanctuary sits on 188 acres and is home to rescued orphaned baby and adult kangaroos.  We’ll get to walk through the sanctuary with the kangaroos and get the opportunity to feed and hold the baby joeys.  Here are just a few photos from their website of “Kangaroo Dundee” Brolga himself and a one of the joeys.  I am most excited about this experience!

 

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#MNStateFair Mini Adventure

We now interrupt this regularly scheduled pre-vacation diet to visit the Minnesota State Fair. This is no ordinary state fair though; this one is full of vendors that petition for years to have a booth for only 12 days, but to be seen by nearly 2 million people in just that short time.

 

Less talk, more food.

First up/New Food: Chocolate Popover with Peanut Butter Spread at Lulus. Grade: B

Comment: Light in substance but also on flavor. Good, but not great.

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Second/Old Faithful: Fried Pickles. Grade: A

Comment: We get them every year, so we must like. Tip: wait a couple of minutes if you can otherwise you will burn your tongue.

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Third/Old Faithful: Pronto Papa Pup. Grade: A

Comment: It’s a huge hot dog fried with corn batter on a stick, how cool is that?

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Fourth/New Food: Maple Cream Nitro Cold Press Coffee. Grade: B

Comment: Longest wait for a food/drink considering we went at a light time in the day. Would have been better had it come with ice to keep it colder longer.

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Fifth/Old Faithful: French Fries. Grade: B+

Comment: Another we have to get every year. The wait normally is much longer, but the payoff is well worth it. Love me some carbs with ketchup.

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Sixth/New Food: Bacon Fluffernutter. Grade: A+

Comment: My favorite thing of the day. It’s a grilled cinnamon bun sandwich with bacon, peanut butter and marshmallow cream filling and maple syrup dipping sauce. Steph was feeling sick by this point and didn’t want to try it because of the next food we would be having….

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Seventh/Old Faithful: Chocolate Banana and Marshmallow Sandwich. Grade: A

Comment: Steph’s perennial favorite. Always gets messy as the middle gets soggy and you end up with powdered sugar on your shirt.

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Eighth/Old Faithful: Sweet Martha’s Cookies. Grade: A-

Comment: I ate them all and don’t regret a damn thing.

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Check out this link for all the new State Fair food we missed. Did you try any of these we should try next year? Leave a comment to tell us.

http://www.mnstatefair.org/find/new-food/

C.R.E.A.M (Cash Rules Everything Around Me)

#travel #vacation #Australia #Fiji #money #credit #blog #dumbhashtag #seriouslystop

Raise your hand if you’ve traveled anywhere and either lost your credit card, had it declined, or gotten home and not realized there was an even bigger fee for using it where you did. Most credit cards or bank cards have hidden fees that you’d only know about if you’ve experienced the above or actually read the terms and agreements (which they know you haven’t).

OK, you can put your hand down now.

When we travel, one of the most important things we do is exchange money for the local currency before we leave. This can save the problems above and avoid the times where you’re antiquing on a back road in the Outback and the podunk merchant’s square reader doesn’t scan your card or only takes cash. Don’t judge.

You could take your American cash and exchange it at the airport, but like everything else there its up-charged about 30% more than it needs to be.

Travel tip: many banks have popular travel destination currency on hand, and if they don’t they can order it and have it within a reasonable amount of time, likely less than two weeks.  If you do it online, for instance at US Bank, they sometimes even do it for free. And remember, on a budget, free is good.

There are also some credit cards with perks that include no international up-charges or fees, but they likely have a yearly fee associated. These cards are great if you travel a lot or use other perks to offset the fees. If you’re looking for that, check out NerdWallet.Com.

Alright, enough talk, how about some photos?

az money

Holy shit, is that Edith Cowan? The first Australian woman to serve as a member of Parliament? Why yes it is. Not only is she on the Australian fifty, but has a college named after her. What are you doing with your life?

fiji money

What does a Fijian twenty have on it you ask? Well birds of course, but they also have another version with Queen Elizabeth on it as Fiji was once a Commonwealth of the British Empire. That ended in 1987 though with a military coup, and now they don’t talk about the past as some breakups are harder than others.

If you’ve made it this far, thanks for taking this history lesson with me. Until the next time, I leave you with the immortal words of Randy Moss, “Straight Cash, Homie”

 

Product Testing Vol. 2 (When Nature Calls)

With the next adventure only a few weeks away, we have begun taking the time to break in our new equipment bought for this trip (other than the damn bug nets). Last Saturday we hiked Lebanon Hills Regional Park for about 1 1/2 hours to test both our stamina and our equipment.

Bug Bite Counter – Steph: 1, Jason: 0

First up was hiking boots – We have cold-weather boots we’ve used locally and on our trip to Ireland last fall, but with the next trip’s weather being much warmer we decided to spend money to be more comfortable and better prepared. The goal was to shop around and not spend more than $100 for something we might use less often. After multiple stops, and as per usual multiple returns for one of us, we were able to find the below. One of us is more modern while the other prefers traditional styles.

For other warm weather hiking trips I reviewed this article: https://modernhiker.com/9-rules-for-hiking-in-hot-weather

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You can guess whose leg is whose.

Also taken with us was our new insulated canteen and day pack. In the past we’ve lugged around my old Under Armour backpack, which works great, but in the conditions we anticipate may cause unnecessary exhaustion due to poor ventilation. It is a school/work backpack after all and I’ve used it for years (and I love buying backpacks for some odd reason). It’s a good size for short trips that only need some snacks and other peripheral items like tissue, sunscreen or rain ponchos.

The canteen is also new and in testing has kept ice cubes whole for multiple hours even with opening and closing the lid often. Previously we’ve had a plastic, filtered bottle but were afraid it could melt in the hot dry air in the middle of Australia’s Great Sandy Desert.

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Interested in seeing more or learning something else? Leave a comment.

Tired of these posts? Too Bad.

Obligatory hiking selfie:

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Product Testing

One of the most important parts of traveling to new places is being prepared for the environment ahead. 

During our few days in central Australia we will be visiting iconic Ayer’s Rock. Some of the things Ayer’s Rock is known for is hiking, great views and annoying knats or flies.

Hopefully we have that last part covered. 

We’re back! (Australia & Fiji 2017)

Its been a while since our last trip, September to be exact, and my wife and I are gearing up for our biggest trip to date. To celebrate our 10 year wedding anniversary we decided to go back to Australia for 2 weeks, then follow-up with a vacation from the vacation with 4 days in Fiji.

Over the coming weeks we will be detailing our preparation and sharing bits we’re excited to talk about, but for now here’s a little something my wife Steph wrote up to update us all on how much she’s been working on this trip. (Note: the only work I’ve done to date is give her my credit card number)

We are less than 1 month out from our vacation to Australia and Fiji and things are starting to get real. This is by far the biggest trip and most time I’ve ever spent planning one of our trips and I’m looking forward to wrapping up the final details.  We are heading out for a 2.5 week self-planned trip to Cairns (pronounced Cans) in Queensland to take in the sights of the rain forest and snorkeling at the Great Barrier Reef, our second time visiting here.

Next we will be traveling to the outback for some hiking and sunset views at Ayer’s Rock and then driving to Alice Springs to visit The Kangaroo Sanctuary for a guided walking tour with kangaroos.  To say I’m excited about this would be a HUGE understatement.

Our final stop in Australia will be in Melbourne where we will be driving the Great Ocean Road route for a few days, and spending some time checking out the city sites.  The last leg of our trip will be in Fiji where we will spend a few days relaxing on the beach before the long trip home.

The past few months have been spent researching and reading tons of blogs (thanks Pinterest!).  We’ve also booked all our flights, hotels and car rentals, and a just a few time sensitive activities.  This week’s travel purchases have included better hiking boots for the terrain, insulated water bottle to combat the heat,  and insect repellent wipes and bug nets, apparently a must for visiting in the outback and near the rocks.   We’ve also spent the past 2 weeks getting vaccines and medication for this vacation.  Better safe than sorry. prep