Tuesday, October 14, 2014

I'm Back

Wow, I left Brisbane and flew to Darwin (4 hours) and then to Manila (4 1/2 hours) and then to LAX (13 1/2 hours)!!  Brutal trip but made it home and they didn't lose my luggage!!  Yea, I had to start all over again, buy a car (insurance, borrowing money etc.) and work on my condo. I bought an IPhone and a mini cooper!! Love them both... In my condo I needed to replace the carpets, and decided to remodel the bathroom completely (since there was a leak in toilet), so a new jet tub, tile and new toilet, cabinet, tile floor sink and mirror.  I decide to pull down all the popcorn ceilings and paint the whole place.  I have these beautiful wall hangings from Israel and I am working the colors around them.  So lots of work and more travel.  While the remodeling was moving forward I went to family up to Northern California, and then to my friends wedding in Florida and I am now visiting my friend in North Carolina...

Final thoughts on my service and travel.  Hmmm...  It is important to get out of your comfort zone in order to appreciate what we do have.  I feel blessed every day and I thank God that I live in such a great country with so much privilege, freedoms and opportunities. I believe I made a different in Azerbaijan and I am proud of my accomplishments there (at least I made it through my service plus extension).  I pray some day, that country will truly allow the opportunities it has been given by so many organizations and use them to become progressive instead of abusing it to the few that are so greedy.  The students and teachers of Azerbaijan deserve those opportunities and should have the rights but there are those in positions that will not allow it and the students and teachers are the ones that suffer. Peace Corps filled a need in Azerbaijan and I feel we did it with pride, and honor.

About my travels, I had an awesome time, and each country was so unique I can't compare them.  I loved Israel and the Jesus trail and the Sea of Galilee was unbelievable.  The wailing wall and the quarters were amazing and I feel that God was truly with me when I was there in a time when there wasn't any trouble.  Petra in Jordan another beautiful place that God allowed me to see when there was no conflict. Japan was such a humble country and so beautifully taken care of.  People took pride and it showed.  They recycle EVERYTHING and nothing went to waste.  We should all take notes and live more like the Japanese!! Mt Fuji was awesome and even though I didn't make it to the top, it was still all inspiring!!  I loved China's Great Wall and the Forbidden City. The Terra Cotta Warriors are amazing. Imagining during the time of the Emperor who commission these craftsman to build these warriors and all the hard work to make each one unique.  The detail was amazing. The bund in Shanghai or also known as the Paris of China.  Walking around at night was a broadway show in itself.  Lights and beauty everywhere.  Hong Kong, I did not know it was so many islands together and going to Macau and finding a church of Paul's was a miracle.  That apostle sure got around!! I loved Thailand for its Tiger Temple and the love they have for the tigers and Elephants, even though it was extremely hot and humid!!  And lastly Australia, what a beautiful and vast country if I wasn't so tired of traveling I would have stayed another month to go to the desert and the North to the Great Barrier Reef..  I loved the animal reserves, the Koalas, the Kangaroos, the birds, and the penguins.It was all good!!

I don't know if I will be blogging anymore as my adventures have subsided.  I just want to spend some time with my family and figure out what I will do next, I'm not homeless anymore but still jobless!!!  I want to go to Canada across all the Provinces and I hope to do that in April or May of next year when the weather gets warmer. So until then, here are some great pictures of my friends wedding in Florida and my trip to North Carolina:

My Mini Cooper

This Beautiful tree at the Park where the wedding was

Kaylee and Eder under the Tree

As Husband and Wife

What a Beautiful Wedding

Add caption

North Carolina - my friend's back yard

Bear in the back yard AWESOME dog

Another view of my friend's yard Autumn is here!!!

Here is Miss Lily and Bear

Life Challenge:  It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see!!!  Henry Dave Thoreau

Friday, August 29, 2014

Cuddling a Koala

I want to take this guy home with me!!!
OMG, I had the best time time ever at the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary in Brisbane. This is the World's first and largest sanctuary and it has been opened since 1927.  It was necessary to open this sanctuary as the Australians hunted these little guys for their pelt almost to extinction in the early 1920's. It started with two koalas name Jack and Jill and today they have over 130 koalas.  I got to take a picture cuddling one and I asked about them.  I know they are loners and they sleep most of the day so how can you take pictures with them and some even share the same "tree"?  I was told that each koala they use for pictures are actually trained for this and they only worked for 30 minutes a day.  They have 40 of the koalas they use for taking pictures so it is an easy job for them. The sanctuary has about 11 acres of land and is spread out.  It is clean and very natural.  It is self funded and all proceeds go back into taking care of the animals and improving the grounds. Except for the young ones born there most of the animals have been hurt and brought to the sanctuary. The biggest problem for them is being hit by cars and urban building taking away their natural habitat.  They talk about planting the different variety of eucalyptus trees in the back yard if you are a resident so the koala have more places to roam. Very interesting program.  They also have wombats, Tasmanian devils (which are given that name because they can eat 40% of their weight in minutes!!), Lorikeets, (a kind of parrot), sheepdogs (Rex and Hunter they put on an awesome show), birds of prey, platypus, kangaroos and wallabies and of course barn animals. I really had a great time, I wished my family was here as I know they would have loved it!!  Here are my pictures:
Lorikeet (parrots) feeding

Rex the sheep dog with his sheep

Another koala

A dingo

A barn owl

Sea Eagle

Young koalas playing!!!

A wombat

A mama kangaroo see her pouch !!

Yea, he stuck his head out!!!

A selfie with a Roo

Life Challenge: Once you replace negative thoughts with positive ones, you'll start having positive results...  Willie Nelson

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Brisbane - My Last Stop

Elephant statue on his head near a rat by the library???????
The train was on time and I got into Brisbane at 5 am in the morning so I went to the coffee shop inside the station and drank coffee until 7 am before walking to the hostel. The train was tiring and I didn't get much sleep as two young talkative boys were right in front of me, so when I got to the hostel (only 15 minutes from the train station BUT ALL UP HILL), I was tired to say the least.  I had to wait for a couple of hours until the room was ready but I sat on a comfortable couch and read which was nice.  Once I got into my room, I showered and did wash.  I didn't want to take a nap because I would have been up all night so I finish washing and then went grocery shopping.  They have a very large kitchen facility here with about 10 areas for cooking and 3 rows of refrigerators and about 100 dry cabinets.  You just have to fill out a card with name, room number and check out date.  Food is very expensive here but eating out is even more.  So, most of us at the hostel just cook. I walked around the city and found the weather here is beautiful (a lot warmer than Sydney and Melbourne) probably in the high 60's low 70's. Today I went on the city tour and they took me to the same places that I explored yesterday. Brisbane is the capital of Queensland and the 3rd most populous city in Australia.  Whereas Sydney and Melbourne is in New South Wales. Tomorrow I plan to go to the Koala Sanctuary, it is suppose to be the best one in Australia....  I will let you know. Here are my pictures of Brisbane:

At the Bridge

Another Bridge

View from the walking Path

One of many mosaic on the path

Pagoda given to Brisbane by Nepal

View from my hostel another Bridge but look at that beautiful sky

Roof of the hostel...

Still another bridge

Saw this on the walking path

View from the bridge

Epicurus garden (Kale) I got Oregano and  Basil

Life Challenge:  Do not go where the path may lead, instead go to where there is no path and make a trail... Ralph Waldo Emerson

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Sydney - Roaming around the City

Sydney is a beautiful city with lots of variety, so I just been wonder around and walked to the park, then to harbor to see the Opera house (up close) and to the rocks to see the bridge and then to Powerhouse museum.  This museum is amazing, it is really a hands on museum, great for kids, you could easily spend a whole day roaming around this place.  Each area has a different video with interesting information and places where you can experiment.  I saw lots of children all ages and their parents interacting with them and the different exhibits.  How great it is to see parents doing this kind of interaction with their children instead of at home and parents watching TV and kids playing video!! My daughter-in-law takes my grandchildren all the time to these types of attractions, I am so lucky!!! There is hope for this generation. Today I am going to Brisbane on the train...  18 hours and no bed.. oh well...  I can sleep when I get to the hostel!!   Here are pictures of my roaming day!!!
Playing Chess in Hyde Park

Harbor at the Opera House

Bridge where you can walk across No Thank You!!!

Salzberg Clock at the museum

Children at craft table

Car Exhibit

Rolls Royce

Space Exhibit

First Bicyle

Life Challenge: We do not remember days, we remember moments.....Cesare Pavese

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

City and Blue Mountain Tour - Sydney

Aboriginal Program

I took a night train to Sydney and got in at 6 am.  I bought a Discovery card which was “suppose” give me unlimited trains rides for a month.  It was the premiere card so I was excited about using it. But like all things, it was not quite what it was suppose to be or advertised.  My hostel in Melbourne helped me reserve a place but you can’t do it online like it advertised (you can only buy the card and pay for it online).  And not having a local phone it is pretty difficult to reserve.  So I was very happy that the hostel helped and called for me.  It took some time as they had to find me in their system and whew they did.  I got 1st class and was happy but realized that 1st is not a sleeper, if I want a sleeper it is an additional $88, but I did get a reclining seat but it was still uncomfortable, oh well, it was the experience right?  Arriving early, the directions that were given to me by the hostel were very easy to follow and I was there in 15 minutes.  Yea and the hostel was so good that they let me check in early and they even gave me a lower bunk that I requested.  I put my stuff away but didn't take a nap (I would have not woken up until late and then not sleep at night), so I took a free city tour which was interesting and gave me my bearings.  I am in the center of Sydney and walking to most places is within 30 minutes.  It is still very cold and off and on it rained.  The tour was about 2 ½ hours long and I walked a lot, but I saw a lot and took pictures, so now I will go back and see the art museum, library and the “the rocks” on another day. Today I took the Blue Mountain tour as the hostel said it would not rain today but is predicted to rain the rest of the week (oh joy).  The ride to Blue Mountains was about 1 ½ hours and there was a cable car and vertical tram that you could take inside the park.  The mountains were beautiful and I hike down to the bottom where they had a rain forest. Optional was an Aboriginal program which I attended and it was extremely interesting.  The Blue Mountains is the home to six different Aboriginals groups: the Darkinung, Darug, Gundungarra, Dharawal, Wiradjuri and Wonarua clans.  There are 250 clans and languages that make up the Aboriginals of Australia with different culture and customs but one thing they have in common is the love and respect of the land.  They have not changed in over 20,000 years.  This is not a primitive society; there is no slavery, no armies, prisons, empires or kings.  There is no homelessness and no distinction between rich and poor.  People owned what they could carry and had rights to the resources provided by the clan country they were born into. When the English arrived 200 years ago, the country was still in pristine condition, wildlife abound, the bush intact, and the water running their natural course. Captain Cook describes these people as the happiest people he had ever met. Here are my pictures of the city tour and Blue Mountain:

St Augustine Church

Kangaroo and Emu are Australia State Symbols

Ibis at the park

Opera house

Sydney's Harbor Bridge

Harbor and another view of the Opera House

A stop going to Blue Mountain

Blue Mountain

Another view Absolutely Beautiful

Three Sisters Rock

In the Mountain to the Rain Forest

The tram is the steepest tram in Australia

In the Rain Forest

2000 Olympic Center

Cable car to the Blue Mtn. Park

Life Challenge:  Things are beautiful if you love them...  Jean Anouilh