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Archive for October, 2012

Have you ever wondered why a midlife woman would choose a photograph of herself in a bathing suit, with windblown hair and a face without makeup to grace the masthead of her blog? Let me tell you why…

I don’t generally go hiking in my bathing suit, but there I was –scrambling up the hill on a dirt path in the rain forest, trying to keep sight of the group ahead of me. We kept climbing up, up.  Every so often, I had to stop and catch my breath. We were almost to the summit of the highest point of the island.

Whitehaven Beach

The vista opened before me and the sudden sight of pure white sand swirled against the aqua blue water of the Coral Sea far below us nearly took my breath away.  The group my husband and I were traveling with, fellow passengers on a two-day sailing and motoring trip through Australia’s WhitsundayIslands, stopped at the overlook and took photos. I wasn’t sure of our next step – did we now have to turn around and return to the catamaran that was waiting for us?  No, our guide started leading us forward – down towards paradise.

Our guide pointed at the area far to our right and told us that is where the sharks and manta rays were to be found.  I looked over and was tempted to head in that direction, but realized the water ahead of us was much closer, and walked forward. My husband was photographing the panorama. Others from our group were spreading along the beach.  I could hear their laughter. 

The air temperature must have been about eighty degrees – warm, but not too hot. The ocean was calm. There wasn’t much of a breeze, but I could sense the mist of salt water on my bare skin, dried by the sun’s rays.  Everything was infused by light, like the world was overexposed. 

I turned slowly around in a circle, a full 360 degrees. From the ocean ahead of me, to the rest of the group in the water and on the beach further to the right of me, I kept turning.  Now I saw the twisted trees, and the steps leading up the hill from which we had come.  Continuing around the circle, I saw rugged pines and rocky coastline, and then back to the brilliant blue water.  The view was spectacular in all directions.

This is photo Cliff took of me at Whitehaven Beach.

I stopped to savor the moment of complete joy.  “Cliff!” I called to my husband, “Take my picture.  This is what happiness looks like.”  He readily complied.

One of the joys of travel is that a journey can last as long as the memory it created.  Back home in Minnesota, I close my eyes and remember the details of my perfect day on WhitsundayIsland.  This is what happiness looks like. Indeed.

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I appreciate all of you! Thanks for your encouragement and support of my writing.  The one-day promotion of my travel memoir, Traveling Together: Cliff and Me and the Motorcycle Makes Three  is over, but the ebook is still available at Amazon at its regular price of $2.99. Here is a link to it.

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My travel memoir eBook, Traveling Together: Cliff and Me and the Motorcycle Makes Three, is FREE TODAY, Sunday October 14, 2012! I hope you will take advantage of this one-day promotion to download the book for your Kindle or other electronic device. Just click on this link to the book at Amazon.

Please feel free to share this information with others today.

It’s …not necessary to have a Kindle to read it. With a free app from Amazon it is available for reading on computers, iPads, iPhones and other devices. Here is a link to get that app: http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html/ref=kcp_ipad_mkt_lnd?docId=1000493771

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I interrupt writing about my Australian Saga to bring you the following announcement:

My ebook, Cliff and Me and the Motorcycle Makes Three will be available FREE through Amazon on Sunday October 14, 2012.

I met Cliff in 1981 and we married a year later.  We took several motorcycle trips together — to Jackson Hole, Yellowstone, the Black Hills, Door County, and Colorado.  Our adventures during those journeys are the basis for this book. At 20,000 words it is a quick read.  

I hope you will consider taking a “look inside” to read the first several pages at the link to the book’s Amazon page (book title above). Please  take advantage of this one-day free promotion to download the book for your Kindle or other electronic device.

It’s not necessary to have a Kindle to read it. With a free app from Amazon it is available for reading on computers, iPads, iPhones and other devices. Here is a link  to get that app.

If you choose to read the book, I sincerely thank you for your interest in my story. An honest review would be welcome and appreciated.

I will return to telling the story of our Australian journey. Here is a cute picture we took of a Mama Kangaroo and Joey at the Cairns Zoo to tide you over.

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“Where the rain forest meets the reef” was a phrase we heard often when we were on the north-eastern coast of Australia. We devoted one day to each – the rain forest and the reef.

A snorkeler’s perspective : underwater with the ocean’s surface above and the coral below.

The day after we arrived in Port Douglas we boarded the Silversonic, bound for the Outer Barrier Reef.  Cliff and I were among the snorkeling group (there were divers too) setting out to explore the coral formed just before the ocean shelf drops off into the deep. It was spectacular – with clean water, endless fish and sea creatures, and so many huge coral outcrops and boulders that we felt dwarfed in our surroundings.  It was The Great Barrier Reef  indeed. The experience was incomparable.

The next day (one year ago today) we joined a day tour heading to Daintree National Park, another World Heritage site,

A breathtaking view of Cape Tribulation.

with a full day of sightseeing ahead.  We were picked up in a small bus packed full of people with scarce room to move, on a day that was getting hotter as we headed north into the rainforest. The excursion had been booked for us in Sydney. As we hadn’t seen a brochure we weren’t sure what to expect, so Cliff and I had a day of delightful surprises.

We stopped at Mossman Gorge for a hike and later walked to a stunning view overlooking Cape Tribulation. We stopped at a nice privately owned property where our driver/guide proved he could also cook: he grilled steaks and served it along with fresh salad at a picnic area. In the afternoon we took a boat ride in crocodile country (a wild river, not a zoo – keep your arms inside the boat!) then hiked in another area of the rainforest, unsuccessfully trying to spot the huge, flightless, endangered Cassowary birds. There were other stops too. It was a very full, extraordinary, magical day.

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One year ago today I woke up early and ventured out into the town of Port Douglas. We had flown from the outback to the northeastern coast of Australia the evening before. As I drank my cappuccino in this sidewalk café I reflected on my inner journey, reading “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron and writing in my journal. Luckily Cliff was able to find me so we could eat breakfast and explore the town.

Every mindful journey cultivates new perspectives. The obvious one is how we look at the world around us – taking in the sights, sounds, foods, and so on – gaining a physical and cultural awareness of a place we have not seen or a situation we have not been in before. This is the world we photograph and show to our family and friends when we get back home. 

At the same time, there is a journey within. Getting away from everyday obligations creates a kind of relaxation and true being of self that is sometimes hard to access during days at home with its inherent responsibilities. When we travel, we can free our mind to pay attention to the voice within and reflect on our life.

At dusk that evening we had the lovely Four Mile Beach at Port Douglas nearly to ourselves under a moonlit sky. This is the kind of dreamy scenario that inspires couples who travel together to connect their inner journeys together.

Perhaps this is our best opportunity to discover what we are satisfied with in our life and what we want to change.

 
 

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The phrase “Australian Saga” reminds me of Colleen McCullough’s 1977 book and the subsequent 1983 mini-series The Thorn Birds which spoke to the young romantic in me. (Anybody else with me here?) Perhaps more than anything else I can point to, this dramatic fictional story brought the Australian Outback to my attention and contributed to my dream to visit the country someday. Last year, along with my husband Cliff, I realized that dream.

Uluru at sunrise – a mesmerizing sight.

The saga I am recounting here, about our travels, includes a visit to the Red Centre of Australia. However my husband and I had a completely different experience in the Outback than what I read about in The Thorn Birds.  We never drove a jeep on long, dusty red roads or visited a sheep ranch. Instead we chose to visit a national park that is endowed in amazing natural beauty and cultural significance.

Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park is home to both the 2.2 mile long monolith Uluru, previously known as Ayers Rock, and a cluster of huge rock domes known as Kata Tjuta, 22 miles away. It is a World Heritage site – home to the Anangu people, the traditional and current owners of the area. The national park is co-managed by Anangu and the Australian Government. Visitors are welcome within

Living in the moment and experiencing the beautiful intensity of the desert at Kata Tjuta.

certain parameters – some areas of the park are restricted for religious and cultural purposes – but I never felt limited.

In the few days Cliff and I were in the Red Centre, we lived the kind of travel experiences I could only dream of. We took part in the Sounds of Silence dinner – a pricey but very cool experience where we were seated at candlelit tables under the desert skies with people from around the world, eating the food and hearing the didgeridoo music of the outback, under the night sky of the southern hemisphere.

We visited Uluru at sunrise, midday and sunset. The rock is fascinating on so many levels.  Its color changed from rosy sandstone to a ruddy brown to a deep burgundy depending on daylight and perspective. Up close you can see the texture and crevices on the surface that looks smooth from a distance.

We hiked though the rocks at Kata Tjuta on a hot day. We were fortunate to be there during a fertile spring bloom that followed earlier rainfalls.  The contrast of vivid red dirt and lush green foliage with flowering plants in the desert painted an enduring image in my memory. 

 This part of our Australian journey was an intense experience that will live forever in my heart.

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