Number 3: Cuddle a Koala

This one did not quite happen as planned, but I would argue that a Kangaroo is close enough and so am calling it done.

More Heidi

When we began the (small) amount of planning we did for out trip to Melbourne, I thought it was important that we hit at the very least a zoo, but preferably some kind of sanctuary for native animals so that Pete could get a good look at all the wacky marsupials that Australia has to offer. Including my absolute favorite, wombats! My research led me to the Healesville Animal Sanctuary. I thought it might be fun to do the whole “get your picture taken with a koala!” thing, so you can imagine my delight when I saw that they offer “Magic Moments”, where you pay ten dollars and get to spend ten minutes feeding and petting and loving the Aussie animal of your choice – koala, kangaroo, echidna (maybe not so much petting on that one?), dingo (I’ll just pet my friend’s dog, thanks), etc… Now, if you multiply whatever you just imagined by delight to be times ONE HUNDRED, that’s approximately how I felt when I saw a note on their page about how they currently had juvenile WOMBATS that were available for a Magic Moment.

Basically, I DIED. Imagine this guy, but smaller:

WOMBAT

When I lived in Perth, I went to the zoo with my friend Rob one day. Rob loves Wombats as much as I do, and there happened to be baby wombats there at the time. They were completely INSANE, and for such a short and stout animal, they sure can run fast when they want to! We thoroughly enjoyed watching them flying around their enclosure. I was dying of excitement to pet baby wombats and shower them with lots of love, so it’s a little shocking that I was tolerant of the “scenic” route that we took to get to Healesville. You’re welcome for that, Ros. (It was actually very interesting to see the damage from the massive bushfires back in 2009 and learn about life with bushfires…blizzards and hurricanes we know, tornadoes Pete knows, but wildfires are not disasters that we are familiar with.)

We had a delicious lunch at Hargreaves Hill Brewing Compnay, and when we finally got to Healesville Animal Sanctuary I’m pretty sure that I bounded out of the car. Then I quickly stopped bounding, because it turns out that when baby wombats grow up they turn “mental” and are no longer allowed to play with the public. The woman started to describe their behavior and said that they basically think they are rhinos, running around headbutting everyone. I didn’t think that sounded so bad – they’re little, right? Then she told me after they headbutt you, they bite you. So I told her that making friends with some kangaroos was totally cool. That’s when this happened:

Number 3 on the Spring To Do List? Big fat check.

Melbourne

I will spare you all an onslaught of photos…you can find a lot (almost 200) of the photos I took on our trip over at Flickr….the ones here are a few of my favorites. We spent two weeks in Melbourne in April (it already feels like it was ages ago), and it was awesome. I could probably go on for hours about our trip, but I’ll spare you that, too. Here are the things I don’t want to forget:

Baby-size Coffee– Pete’s first experience with the smaller portion sizes: In the Sydney airport, Pete went to McDonald’s to get a coffee (we had just deplaned after a 19 hour flight from LAX and were on hour 27 of our trip. Coffee was in order). We proceeded to the gate to reboard our plane and were chatting about how Pete had survived his first trans-Pacific flight, how the quick layover at LAX was the furthest west he’s ever been in the US, and how he was starting his first visit to Australia – “so many firsts!” I said. He replied “and it’s my first time getting a baby-sized coffee!” I laughed, knowing that it would take a day or two to get used to how everything in Oz is smaller – the cars, the houses, the portion sizes. What I didn’t realize was how hung up Pete would be on his first experience with it. Thirty minutes into our flight (the last, and shortest, of 4 legs), Pete shows me the screen of his phone and says “that’s how much I paid for my baby-sized coffee!” and I see that he’s got the currency exchange app open and is shocked to learn that he’s paid something like 2.85 USD for a coffee the size of your average sippy cup.

– The heartache when we heard about the Boston Marathon bombing, and the frantic tracking down of all our friends. The worry when we learned that our friend Ryan had been injured (but was “okay”) and waited to learn more details about her condition. The gratitude for the technology which meant that we were able to keep in touch, live, with friends at home while we all tried to digest what had happened and ensure that our loved ones were safe. The comfort of being with friends who could understand our shock and sadness because they have also called Boston home. The shock of walking into Fed Square and looking up to see video of the explosions on the jumbotron. The tears I fought every time it came up in conversation with strangers over the next two weeks.

Boston Posse!

– Feeling so at home in a city so far away. From the comfort of having the same standard conversation openers (weather, sports) to having somewhere to get coffee on every corner (although far more independent businesses than we have in Boston), to the luck of having a number of friends who live in Melbourne…I never once felt like I was in a foreign city. It was so hard to leave – partly because I didn’t want to say goodbye to all the friends who we get to see so rarely, partly because I feel very much in tune with the Aussie mindset, and partly because I fell in love with the city of Melbourne itself.

Mr & Mrs– Ros and Chris’ wedding: The look on Chris’ face when he saw her coming down the aisle. Ros’ inability to look Chris in the eye during the ceremony because she refused to start crying. The cat that wandered behind them mid-ceremony. Watching two people so perfect for each other bring together their families and friends for an amazingly fun party. The reappearance of Pedro, a máquina de bailando!

– Cider cider everywhere! Not that I was worried about finding a beer alternative to drink while we were there, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that cider is all over the place in Australia these days. I would happily have managed with champers and wine for two weeks, but I loved having a new-to-me cider almost every time we were out. Pete certainly outdid me with his multitude of beer paddles, but I may have managed to try as many ciders makers (are they also brewers? I don’t know the lingo) as he tried different brewers!

More Heidi
– You guys! Kangaroos are SO SOFT. More on that in another post.

– You guys! Koalas are SO UGLY. And not particularly nice. On the day that we drove the Great Ocean Road, we were directed to a specific spot: take the turn to the Cape Otway Light, drive until you go over the cattle grate, then pull over and look up. We were skeptical, but we saw ten wild koalas hanging out in the trees! And they really are ugly! The one that was on the ground was hunting for tourists to attack, but luckily koalas are slow and the tourists were smart enough to get out of the way. An actual koala attack would have made a great story, but we were happy that we didn’t have to figure out how to get emergency medical help for an innocent tourist.

Ready Freddy!

– We spent about half a day in Bendigo (I really enjoyed annoying Pete by repeatedly saying “let’s a-go to Bendigo!” all day), mainly for the purpose of going on a tour of a working gold mine. It was pretty rad, but my favorite part was when Dale, our tour guide, was referring to how the miners were paid when it first opened. As contractors, they were paid “per foot – or in more modern terms, per meter”. Because imperial units is so antiquated, who would use those measurements these days?!

There is so much more that happened on our vacation, but these the bigger things that stick out, and a few of the little things that make me smile and I don’t ever want to forget. Check out the rest of my photos on Flickr if you want to see and read more about what we did with our two weeks!

Space

I’ve been wanting to post more often (again) here for months, but then when I make the time to sit down I have little to say or show you. Today I decided I just needed to do it: to share the recent stuff without thinking too much about it and talking myself out of it because the pictures aren’t my best work, or I don’t have anything particularly interesting to say. I never thought about those things when I started this blog (1,000+ posts and seven years ago – what?!), and somewhere along the line I became overly concerned about whether my pictures were perfect or not…which led to posting fewer photos…which led to taking fewer photos…which led to a complete hiatus. I miss this blog, and it’s time to get over my need for perfection and just post, so here we go!

Jamaica Pond

One of my running peeps, Ed, emailed me recently after hearing that I was into photography. He proposed that we try to get out on some photography play dates. This was especially appealing not just because I think Ed is pretty rad, but because he runs much faster than me so when we “run together” there is actually no “together” about the experience and I was pretty sure we might actually get to chat while we take photos. When I saw that the Boston Parks Department does a series of events periodically called Pics in the Parks, I thought that sounded like a very nice photo play date. Lucky for me, Ed was very agreeable! Unlucky for both of us, the weather wasn’t very agreeable. I can’t remember exactly what the forecast was, but it was something like temps in the teens and windchill in the low single digits, light snow, and a heavy wind warning.

You didn’t think that would stop us, did you? We donned our snow pants and jackets and hats and gloves, and off we went! It was COLD. The wind was insane. Snow wasn’t falling so much as it was flying into our faces so hard that it felt like it was cutting our cheeks. But we weren’t the only crazies out there! A handful of other folks showed up for the Pics in the Park event, there were at least a dozen runners out (some in shorts!), and there were a few folks out walking their very happy dogs.

Happiest dog in the world!

Despite the weather (maybe even a little bit because of the weather), it was a good morning. I say so often how much I hate the cold and the winter and blah blah blah…but I absolutely love the snow. It’s what makes suffering through the cold, windy winters here worth it – waking up on a weekend morning, bundling up and going out for an adventure in the snow (preferably with a hot beverage in hand). It’s even more worth it when it gives me the chance to spend a snowy morning with someone fun while rediscovering a hobby I love.

You can check out the rest of my photos from the day on Flickr.

Happiest Pup In The World

6.19.11 Vacation 12

We took a short, family hike this morning in Step Falls Preserve. Willow was pretty much the happiest dog in the world – running off leash along the trails, romping through the water trickling down the “cascading falls”, and then rolling around in the dirt. What’s not to love about that?!

Pups For A Day

Today was the first day of PAX East, and my friend Norm was spending the day there before we met a friend of ours who was flying in for dinner. I had taken the day off of work, so Norm asked if I would dog sit so he didn’t have to leave the pups home all alone for extra long. Doggies for a day?! Yes, please!

The pups and I had a very relaxing morning watching movies before we did some cleaning in the afternoon. :)