Saturday, February 26, 2011

Aussie Lunch

The chaplency on campus, in coordination with the International Office, had a Aussie lunch for new international students today.  I wasn't sure what I expected at first - but it turned out to be awesome!  About 20 students were paired off then sent to have lunch with a local family.  I was paired up with Julia, who I didn't know before today, and we went to have lunch with Lynne and Bruce.

Lynne picked us up and we drove about 25 minutes outside of Lismore to Alstonville. Her house is amazing.  Built in the 1920s with 14 foot ceilings.  Their counter is made out of old growth rainforest (that they salvaged from another part of their house during the addition process)... so cool!

We had lunch on the veranda and it was a fantastic meal.  Chicken from the barbie, corn on the cob, potato casserole, and watermelon.  Not to mention that we had the best dessert ever.  Pavlova. Seriously. I am getting the recipe and sharing it with you all.  So good. So yummy.  I highly recommend you eat this one day in your life.

After lunch we got to feed lemons to their "pet" bull. I believe he is a Brahma Bull.  Massive? I think yes.  But look I got pictures!

And he loves fruit, especially lemons. I don't think I ever realized that bulls like fruit.  Haha.

Then Bruce took us on a Sunday drive to see a local waterfall (can't think of the name right now) and we watched kids dive off the cliff into the water. It was so cool!

The water must be really deep because you can't see the bottom and when kids swing off the rope from tree branches they never come close to the bottom. Or so they say...

Also we saw a Aussie parking job. Haha. The rear wheel of the car is about 3 feet off the ground - so funny!

I can't even imagine parking like this. Do you think they even realized it?

After walking around the falls we went to the Victoria Park Nature Reserve.  Victoria Park is a 17.5 hectare chunk of rainforest completely untouched by man. There is a small trail through the rainforest so we go to walk around and check out all of the interesting and unique plants.

Today was a fantastic day and I am so excited that I got to travel outside and Lismore to see and do different things!

Bruce just sent me the recipe for Pavalo, so be brave and make it if you want to eat something amazing!
Marshmello Pavlova:

4 egg whites 1 dessert spoon cornflour
1 cup castor sugar

Electric — preheat to moderate (180 Celsius).
Gas — preheat to moderate.
(I think this part really means preheat your oven to 360 Fahrenheit)

Draw about an 8 inch circle on baking paper & turn paper over so that mixture doesn’t get ink/pencil on it.

1 teaspoon white vinegar

Beat egg whites until stiff, add 5 cup castor sugar, and beat thoroughly until sugar dissolves. Add remaining sugar, a tablespoon at a time, beating well. Mixture should be reasonably stiff & “shiny”. Lightly fold in sifted cornflour, then vinegar.

Put baking paper on flat tray, dust with cornflour. Put mixture in circle shape onto the paper, level off mixture, don’t make a shell. This mixture will make one deep 9” pav.

REDUCE oven temp to SLOW (150... or 300 degrees F) and bake for about 1 hour. Check to see if it is not burning—it should be just slightly brown. Don’t worry if there are cracks in the shell. Cook a bit more (1/4 hour maximum) if it has no colour. Turn oven off & cool in oven. Top with whipped cream and your favourite fruits. Enjoy.  (We enjoyed it topped with strawberries, blueberries, kiwi, and passionfruit!)
I think I will for sure be making this (or attempting to) when I get back.  Well here is a short video from the rainforest adventure.  I cannot figure out how to rotate it, but it's a clip of a tree. Just to show you how tall they are here in the rainforest.

Friday, February 25, 2011


To start things off I had a fantastic day today!  My friends Marianne, Brittany, Krista, and I walked down to Lismore today.  We walked in some really neat shops, ate some delicious food, and planned some great adventures for this semester.

During the end of April the Lismore Turf (Horse Race) Club hosts the "SCU Race Day."  Walking around town my friends and I found a cool little antique shop and I found a perfect race day hat.  It would do well if it made it to the Kentucky Derby.

After that adventure, we ate the famous Lismore meat pies.  I got a plain steak pie and mashed potatoes.  So yummy!  I love that they give you real plates, forks, and knives to eat.  I want to eat here again soon!  Only 3.80 for a meat pie and a dollar for potatoes... best deal ever!

And the meat pies where so delicious. Home made amazingness.

I also managed to plan a lot of trips and field trips.  Hopefully next weekend I can go snorkeling with sea turtles at Byron Bay then kayak the Evans River the following day.  Then the following weekend is a field trip to Meebunn-bia for Outdoor Ed.  The weekend after that is a hike to Minyon Falls.  Weekend after that hopefully Surfing at Byron Bay... Can you imagine all of that is just the month of March?!  I'm so stoked!

Finally to end things my friend Jill tagged me in her blog post. Now I am supposed to write 15 "unique" things about my self. Or something to that effect.  So here it goes:

1. Currently I live in Lismore, Australia. Land down under.  Oh yeah!
2. I crave adventure. Anything new and different. Adventure is out there.  Adventure is everywhere. I love Adventure.
3. I love to ride horses. If I could ride my horse everyday I would. If you think I am joking, I'm not. I love horses.
4.  I also love my family and love to talk about how awesome they are!
5.  Sun.  I simply love the sun. I love to be out in the sun, feel it's warmth on my back, and soak up the rays.  When it is sunny I am happy.  Sometimes this makes me hate winter, but thankfully skiing solves that problem.
6. I love to travel.
7. I love to explore.
8. I love Oregon.  I mean Utah... wait. Oregon will always be my home and I love it there.  I have to admit that as much as I rag on Utah I do think it's beautiful and I am grateful that I get to go to school there.
9. Go Aggies!
10. I constantly say I hate school because I don't like tests or quizzes.  But honestly, I love it.  What am I going to do when I graduate college??
11. I am not a late-night-party girl.  Never have been.  Sorry to all my Aussie friends, but I'll leave the drinking and staying out past midnight to you.
12.  I love a cold glass of orange juice with some ice.  It's perhaps one of the best drinks out there besides milk - which I equally love.
13. I use the word "love" a lot.  I love my friends, my family, and life itself.
14. Although I love cities and their culture... I am a country girl.  Ranches. Cattle. Horses. Hay. Fields. Wide open spaces. Mountains. Wilderness.  That's where I love to be.
15. My favorite meal (could I eat it all at once) would be: Prime Rib, twice baked potatoes, corn on the cob, bbq asparagus, watermelon, a sweet roll, and chocolate ice cream!!  Honestly I am not sure I could eat all of that if it was placed in front of me at once, but it sure sounds good!

I am not sure I want to tag anyone, but feel free to leave a comment and also a unique thing about yourself!

A Real Meal

Buying food in Australia is expensive.  Perhaps it is just Lismore. So each day for dinner I eat rice or pasta.  But tonight I had a feast.  Corn on the cob. Steak. And poppyseed bread. And to finish it off chocolate icecream. Now that is a feast!

I also got a welcome backpack from the SCU Housing Department  It's not very sturdy, but hey - it's a free backpack!

Hopefully I get around to studying some more tonight so that I can spend tomorrow and Sunday playing in Lismore and still be ready for class on Monday.  Life is great!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The First Week

I managed to survive the first week of classes. I think I am really excited about all of my classes.  Requiring field trips... BEST idea ever!

 I also think joining the SCU Outdoor Adventure Club is a fantastic idea.  Anything that allows me to go outside is awesome!  If I can join today then I might go to Byron Bay tomorrow.

If you are wondering what classes I am taking they are:  Plant Identification and Conservation. Perspectives on Australia. Outdoor Education. And Tourism Principals and Theories.  I think the only class that will give me some trouble is plant id.  I am not familiar with plants so it will be a little tough, but well worth it in the end.

All in all, this week has been great.  I get to go on a lot of field trips this semester, join an outdoors club, hopefully go to Sydney with my friends, attend a race day event (similar to the Kentucky Derby), and hopefully go to the outback during study week!  This is going to be one amazing semester!

Oh, this is a picture of my friend Marianne and I.  Sitting in the plaza.  Enjoying the hot hot sun.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


Yesterday I managed to survive my biology lab and I already know more about a flower than I ever want to.  We got to dissect Australian flowers using razor blades and tweezers, then had a identify all of the different parts and write out floral formulas. (I really need to do my reading and make sure that keep up in class because this might be a little challenging but exciting too!)  Although I generally dislike biology I'm attempting to go into this class - plant identification and conservation - with some enthusiasm.  After all, we get to go to a field trip into the rainforest near Lismore!

I also got to attend my first outdoor education lecture and tutorial. I have to admit that I am pretty happy with that class because I love anything that has to do with being in the great outdoors!  It also has two field trips that will involve camping, hiking, and living in the bush. I am so excited to get out and camp in the outdoors!!

Today I have tourism class. Not really sure what it will be like.  Not even really sure what we cover. But I hope it will be good!  I'm sure I'll blog all about it after class is over.  For now it's time to shower and get ready for the day!

Oh, before I forget, I looked at an Aboriginal map of Australia.  Check it out! There is a mass of land they called "Eyre." Oh yeah!

Sunday, February 20, 2011


"Those who don't believe in magic will never find it..."  - Roald Dahl

Today was the first day of school. Plant identification and conservation is going to be a really interesting class and it will be hard because I'm not very good at biology. But we get to go on a field trip to the rainforest so that's really exciting!

I also went to Perspectives on Australia.  Although the lecturer is really boring I am excited to see what the class holds.  We also get to go on a field trip to Nimbin in that class so I'm excited!

More class tomorrow, but I'll keep you posted if anything exciting happens.  Also, be sure to drink lots of water cause it's hot here!  (Honestly I just need a picture for this blog post so I took this while I was skyping with mom. Haha.  Love you mom!)

Sunday Drive

Yesterday was a really neat day because I was able to go to church and meet some of the locals.  Everyone was really sweet and nice; I even got invited to someone's house after church for lunch and a Sunday drive!

On the drive we stopped at Lake Ainsworth in Lennox Head which is perhaps the oddest lake I have ever seen in my life! Lake Ainsworth (nicknamed Coca Cola lake) is near Ballina and is really close to Seven Mile Beach (yes, the beach is really seven miles long!).

 The lake is a warm freshwater lake that is permanently discolored by ti-treas, or tea trees as we call them, and is said to have good health benefits. The locals call it Coca Cola because when you swim in the lake it looks like you are swimming in Coke!

I also saw a couple other beaches that are popular with people who live in Lismore or Ballina.  Everyone says Byron Bay is one of the best beaches, but that is where all of the tourist go because it is Australia most easterly point.  If you want to really experience a fantastic beach go to Lennox Head. It's the same type of beach, but with far less people!

Today I am off to class.  Ready to experience Southern Cross Uni!  I've got biology and cultural perspectives on Australia today... so excited!

Edit:  Look at the video from the beach! (Sorry about the sound quality, but it was really really windy!)

Edit #2 - Check out the Currumbin post to see another video!

Friday, February 18, 2011


Today is Saturday.  A perfect day to relax and do some grocery shopping.  That's really all I did besides lounge by the pool this morning.  Tonight I'm not sure what I am going to do. Some friends are going out to eat, but that's expensive so I'm not if I am going to go with them.  I might just go swimming again before school starts!

I thought you might want to see the view from my window.  Pretty isn't it?  Campus sits down in the Valley and you can't really see it in this picture, but it's there. I promise!

And as if it wasn't a tropical paradise outside, the library also has tropical plants growing inside it!


If you haven't looked at my Currumbin post yet be sure to check it out.


When most people think of the Gold Coast in Australia they think of beaches and the ocean. Well... how about the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary!  Talk about amazing!  Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary was founded in 1947 by Alex Griffiths and today has over 1,400 birds, reptile and mammals.  The also have the world's largest collection of fauna and also have many rare and endangered species.

Besides that Currumbin offers a chance for visitors to get up close and personal.

One of the first things I saw was a worker playing with the wild dingos!  They are so cute, like dogs... only not.

At Currumbin they also have kangaroos that you can walk up to so I decided to get a little friendly with this guy.  He was just relaxing under a tree because it was very hot outside!  Isn't he awesome?!  Not to mention the fact that I took this picture myself and I have to say it's pretty darn good!

Then I went over to the muddier part of the pasture (if that's what you want to call it) and found this guy!  He was so curious he came right up to me and started licking my cheek. So I got a kangaroo kiss on the cheek!  (Must have liked the taste of my makeup or sunscreen! Haha)

If kangaroos weren't cool enough I saw a lot of fuzzy koala bears hanging in the trees.  Look at this one - he loves to have his picture taken!

To finish the day out I got to hold a baby koala and have my picture taken with her!  She is so tiny compared to regular koalas but so cute!!

You had to pay money to have your picture taken but it was the best money spent the entire day!  And not only a few people got to hold her because she is so young - awesome!!!!

Today was really exciting and I got to learn about the animals of Australia.  I put together a little video to show you some snakes, lizards, birds, and kangaroos but the internet is too slow and it won't let me upload it. So keep a look out for it in the future!


Edit:  Video!!!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


Just thought I would show everyone my amazing class schedule!

At this Uni you only have class once a week, or sometimes two if you have a lecture and tutorial.  So here is my amazing schedule!  Can we say four day weekend?!  Four whole days I can play, travel, have fun... oh wait, and study!

Oh and it's going to be 93 on Saturday!  :)

Switching It Up

I was in flat (aka apartment) number 13D.  Not a lucky number.  Not a very good flat.

So today I popped into the international office and asked Karen (study abroad advisor) if there was anyway I could switch flats. And she made magic happen!  Thanks to her I am living in flat 16 which is so nice compared to 13D.  The furniture is nicer, the appliances newer, my closest is bigger, my desk is bigger, and it is quite!

Plus, this flat is over the laundry room so it never gets too loud and there are no neighbors, only a storage room.  Below next to the laundry is the recreation room (which has a pool table, T.V., and ping pong table), so if I want to watch T.V. I just pop downstairs and flip it on.  WOnderful!

Here are some new pictures of my flat for the semester.

 Here is the kitchen.  The table is so nice and there are actually six chairs to seat all the flatmates.  This fact was not true in 13D. Also, the stove has numbers so you can figure out what temperature to cook things at!

Nice and clean sitting room.  The couches actually look like they aren't going to give you a disease.

Here is my little bed and stuffed animal from mom! =)  I also bought an Aussie flag - so cool!

My desk is very long and wide - but it makes for good study area!

And below is a picture of my closet and door into the room.  I also have a handy place to hang purses, towels and my hand towel.

Monday, February 14, 2011


Today is has rained.  Alot. Apparently it is the norm to come into building soaking wet.

But on the plus said I bought a cool Australian postcard.  By the way, if you don't receive a postcard from me I apologize. Stamps are 2.40 and that's a lot to spend for each international postcard.

Anyways, today we learned about the classes and registration. I already registered to make sure I got the spots I wanted so I'm ahead of the game. Free Pizza for lunch was fantastic (thanks study abroad office!) and shopping was expensive.  As usual.

Here are some pictures of campus.  Very awesome if you ask me!

 This is the sidewalk to the plaza and the picture below is the sidewalk to the international office.

And then I saw this....


O Week

Today was the official start of O Week at uni.  We learned a ton of information but thankfully is it all written down so I don't have to try and remember it all. After the session we [the international students] participated in a traditional aboriginal smoking ceremony.  To the native people of this land, the earth is their mother and they have a spiritual connection to the land.  Green leaves from plants are placed by the group on a small fire. The smoke is used to cover the participants’ bodies, ridding them of what is not needed - cleansing both them and the area around them.  (It was really cool!!)

And I got to eat Kangaroo!  Depending on how you cook the meat, it can be really good or rather interesting.  

Later in the day I took a bus ride around Lismore to see the town.  So green and gorgeous!  They have a huge river in the middle of town and apparently it can cause a lot of flooding at times so buildings in North and South Lismore are built up off the ground five or six feet.

In the picture you can't really see the town but I swear it's there. Just hidden in the bush.

Once that commenced I got to have my Southern Cross Uni ID made.  It isn't the best photo - but hey, after being out in the heat and humidity all day it isn't too bad!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Byron Bay

Went to Byron Bay.  The water was so warm and fantastic to swim in! Except for the fact that I got a little burnt.  I always forget to put sunscreen on the top of my head, where my hair is parted, and the tops of my feet.  So my feet are red and so is my scalp.  But it was so worth it!

And I bought a boomerang. Booyeah.  Sadly I don't have a picture of it.  I guess I could take a picture and put it on here.  I might do that later. For now another Katlin pic.


Today I went exploring.  Since orientation doesn't start until Monday I had all day Saturday to explore.  A group of flat-mates and I went down and looked around campus.

It is very tropical here, so when you think "green campus" you should think Southern Cross.  Every building is covered in plants, has plants around it, or plants in it!  So awesome!  (Although the fact that campus is built on the side of a hill is a pain... it makes Old Main Hill in Logan, Utah look like a piece of cake.)

The building in this picture -> is the Environmental Science building I believe.  But I could be wrong.  Maybe it is the Law and Justice Building. Hm. Guess I should figure out which building is which pretty soon.

After walking up and down campus we came upon the local Koala Bear Rehabilitation Centre. It is where the injured Koala's from the town and surrounding areas are rehabilitated so they can be released back into the wild.  Isn't this little guy cute?

 But I have to admit the best part of the day was walking back when I saw a wild Koala just chilling in a tree by the road.  It amazes me that they don't just fall right out of the tree!

Not so cute are the massive spiders.  You have to be really careful walking to campus because they spin huge webs that you could walk through.  Most of the big ones are not poisonous according to the locals, it's the little black pool spiders you have to watch out for.  But really. Poisonous spiders are too bad.  It's the snakes you have to avoid!

Here is the last picture from the day.  Classy Katlin standing by a tree.  I have a lot of tree-Katlin related pictures.  I guess I really like trees. But this tree is special. Because it is in Australia. (And not to mention the size of it!)

Friday, February 11, 2011

Not in Oregon Anymore

It's hot.   Like really hot.  But awesome.  I'm going to go explore Lismore today or maybe go swimming in the pool.  Or maybe do something else - I'm not sure what yet though.  

When I woke up this morning I heard some really interesting noises.  Something I'm not used to hearing in Oregon.  Take a listen. It's cool!

Note: This shouldn't suprise me because the college I am at is next to a rainforest preserve!

Down Under

I made it.  Officially.  I am in Lismore, Australia - sitting in my apartment (actually in my room) eating a muffin because my system is still a little wacky from the jet-lag.

What I've seen of Australia so far is beautiful!  It's so lush and green!  The critters outside are chirping away and the party at the barbie I went to is still going on in the background. It's nearly 9:30 here and still very humid outside, not to mention warm!  Oh warmth. I love you!

Today I explored a shopping center; bought some food supplies and some living supplies.  I felt cool spending Aussie money.  I like Orion College, such a fun community to live in!  The apartments flats here are co-ed which is actually really nice!  I thought it was going to be weird, but so far I really like it!

I've learned the Aussies love to drink. And make fun of American's who can't holder their liquor.  They think I'm odd when I say I don't drink, so from now on I might as well bring a can of 7-up or Sprite with me so they stop asking. Haha. Do you think it will fool them if I put it in a plastic cup?  I doubt it. Haha.

Well, I believe that it's time for me to finish my muffin and get ready for bed.  I am surely tired and my flat-mate playing the guitar is lulling me to sleep.  So I'll talk to mates later!


Aussie Tidbit:  Southern Cross University was named after the constellation Southern Cross. This group of stars is best seen only in night skies of the Southern Hemisphere and has been used by generations of explorers to help them find their way on countless voyages of discovery.

It is composed of five star shaped like a cross tilted to one side. The Southern Cross has long played a significant role in Australian history - from Aboriginal legend to a symbol of freedom as it appeared on the flag that defiantly fluttered over the Eureka Stockade more than a century ago as Australia struggled to achieve its identity.

To this day, the Southern Cross remains a potent symbol appearing on both Australia's flag and Coat of Arms. Southern Cross University proudly continues the traditional of this iconic constellation by helping future generations - both nationally and internationally - to find their way on their own voyages of discovery in an increasingly complex world.

Sunday, February 6, 2011


So it's Superbowl Sunday.

There are three days till I leave.

And all I really want is Voodoo Doughnuts.  If I was a wizard I would apparate to Portland and buy a box full.   They have crazy doughnuts like the Bacon Maple Bar.  Or The Loop (which is covered in fruit loops).  How about the Texas Challenge (which is HUGE).  I love the No Name.  It's a plain doughnut with chocolate frosting, rice krispies and peanut butter! 

Thank you to Smash for introducing me to this delicious little beauties!  

Friday, February 4, 2011


Tonight I was watching "Who do you think you are?" The show that traces family history for the famous.  It's actually a really great show and I love learning about history through stories.

Anyways - this whole process got me thinking about my roots.  Which are in the south. Perhaps it's not that odd I say ya'll.

 Do I have famous roots? You bet.

I'm related to Davy Crockett. Yes. That Davy Crockett.  Therefore my love for the outdoors is not without foundation.

Backcountry Katlin

So I came across a website with a 30 day challenge for bloggers. Except I don't want to do it in 30 days; I want to pick and choose my favorites and blog 'em right now. Cause that's what I do... bend the rules. So here we go:

1. The meaning behind your Blogger name.  I guess the name "Backcountry Katlin" stems from my love of the backcountry... the wild lands... the wilderness. 

2. A picture of somewhere you’ve been to.  This is a picture of me in front of the Matterhorn in Switzerland.  

3. Favorite super hero and why.  Hm. I'm not sure that I have a favorite super hero. 

4. Nicknames you have; why do you have them. Midge-Kid-Katie-Did. That's from my sister.  Or you can call me K-Tizzle.  Haha.

5. What makes you happy?  Good food.  Horses. Warm Weather. Sun.

6.  What is something you crave for a lot?  Sun. And popcorn.

7.  What's in your purse?  My wallet, checkbook, a Flaming Gorge pen, a mirror, makeup, and my keys.  I know that it's not all the interesting, but if you knew my purse was zebra colored then it becomes awesome.

8. Why are you writing all this down?  I think this would be fun to look at in future years. 

9. Your favorite movie.  Oh dear.  You are asking me to pick just one??  Well, Disney movies rock!  (Case in point: 101 Dalmatians, Pinocchio, Fantasia, Aladdin, Jungle Book, Finding Nemo, Wall E, Bolt, Princess and the Frog, Up, Tangled, Ratatouille, Toy Story... all so good!)  Then all horse related movies are generally awesome!  (Case in point:  National Velvet, Seabiscuit, Spirit, Phar Lap,  Man from Snowy River, Hildalgo, and so on.)  Then the westerns (Tombstone, True Grit, Quiggly Down Under, Dances with Wolves and anything with John Wayne goin' on!).  Then the everything else category. (Harry Potter, Iron Man, Inception, and the list could go on forever...) Wow.  That did not narrow down my favorite movie at all.

10.  Favorite TV show.  Oh dear. Not again.  Here are some my favorites (in no particular order); Bones, NCIS, NCIS: LA,  Castle, The Mentalist, CSI, Big Bang Theory, Cake Boss, and Doctor Who!

11. Favorite Recipe?  Love to make Argentine Flank Steak. Yummy!

12.  Ice-cream flavor? Chocolate. Vanilla with chocolate syrup. Cookies and Cream. Cookie Dough. Sherbet. 

13. Book you are reading right now.  Alexandria Link by Steve Berry.  Love him.  And James Rollins. And C.J. Box. Oh and Clive Cussler. 

14. First five songs to come up on shuffle on iTunes/iPod.   1) Old Home Place by JD Crowe & New South.  It's bluegrass.  Mountain Style.  Oh yeah.  2) The Devil Went Down to Georgia by Charlie Daniels.  I used to pretend I could play the fiddle like him, then realized I should stick with the woodwinds.  3)  Now We Are Free by Hans Zimmer off the soundtrack for the Gladiator.  I just love this song.  It's so moving and it just flows.  Another favorite of mine would have to be Elysium off the same album.  4) Symphony No. 4 in F Minor, Op. 36: IV. Final (Allegro Con Fuoco) by Berliner Philharmoniker from Tchaikovsky Symponies Nos. 4, 5, and 6.  5) Don't go for the One by Gaelic Storm.    Haha... I'm not entirely sure what this means about me. 

15.  Currently listening to:  Mumford & Sons - Roll Away Your Stone.  Up next: Snow Patrol  - Shut your Eyes.

That's half of them.  I consider this time well spent.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Explore. Dream. Discover.


I've been doing a lot of that lately.  Oregon.  Idaho. Alabama. Georgia. Tennessee.  Granted that's only five states; but now I'm getting ready to travel half way around the world.  I've been to Europe and I love the caf├ęs in Paris, the rain in London, and the chocolate in Switzerland - but I'm so excited to go to Australia! 

Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu said "a journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step..."

It's one of my favorite quotes about travel.  Here are some others:

“Adventure is a path. Real adventure – self-determined, self-motivated, often risky – forces you to have firsthand encounters with the world. The world the way it is, not the way you imagine it. Your body will collide with the earth and you will bear witness. In this way you will be compelled to grapple with the limitless kindness and bottomless cruelty of humankind – and perhaps realize that you yourself are capable of both. This will change you. Nothing will ever again be black-and-white.” – Mark Jenkins

“Wandering re-establishes the original harmony which once existed between man and the universe" - Anatole France

“Like all great travelers, I have seen more than I remember, and remember more than I have seen.” – Benjamin Disraeli

“Not all those who wander are lost.” –J. R. R. Tolkien

“Two roads diverged in a wood and I – I took the one less traveled by.” – Robert Frost

“Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail” Ralph Waldo Emerson  (Metaphorically speaking.  I'm not suggesting we all go into the wilderness and leave a trail.)

“We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.” –Jawaharial Nehru

“Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” – Miriam Beard

″A traveler without observation is a bird without wings.” – Moslih Eddin Saadi

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain

Birthday Bash in the South

Before I left for Alabama I celebrated my birthday with my mom and dad.  

Then I went to my sister's house in Alabama. Here's her hubby, David. 

Heidi & I all dressed up for the day.  =)

Opening presents at Outback Steakhouse.  (Get it? Outback... in prep for Australia.)

And this is Erin. 

And this is Daniel... 

Butterfly at the Tennessee Aquarium. So pretty!

And another butterfly on my arm.  So big!

And a shark... ack!