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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Australia Day 7 - Katoomba

Our second day in Katoomba, we had a short road trip planned over to the Jenolan Caves (also within the Blue Mountains). It was tough leaving our lovely cottage, especially after the slightly more rustic apartment we had in Sydney. The cottage was the perfect combination of old and new, immaculate/well kept, generously well appointed (it had every necessity you could imagine) and just charming beyond words. You could tell the owner poured his love into the place.

Ryan and I bunked in this bedroom so Rich could enjoy two nights of a kick-free slumber.
I had to wait until I was 40 to chop firewood for the first time...Ryan beat me by a few years.
This proud little boy restocked the fireplace everyday with Grandpa.
One of the many historic touches in the house- the original door knobs on all the doors. I'm not sure why 'back then' door knobs were always so high.  Maybe this is why my Asian ancestors chose to have sliding doors.
These were the original light switches (which still worked). Unaesthetic? Yes. But as Rich commented repeatedly, it was like staying in a historic home, and we loved it.
We ate like kings there for each meal. We always take turns cooking meals with my parents. :-)
On our 90 minute drive out to the caves, we quickly spotted (thanks to Ryan) our first kangaroo in the wild. I think we saw a total of four on the way out there- three alive...one that was more or less roadside jerky.

If you haven't been to the Jenolan Caves, they are probably one of the more fascinating places on Earth.  I had thought we might be a little less than excited since we've done a few extensive cave tours,

They're really not up for mingling, these guys.
We were greeted at the cave parking lot by a friendly (wild) parrot that Ry was able to hand feed. :-)
I have never, ever driven into a park through a cave. It was awesome!!! (The only thing not so much? How the light managed to make me look like I have a little old man receding hairline! Ba ha ha ha! The Jenolan Caves kinda put the Carlsbad Caverns to shame.
Waiting for our 90-minute tour through the Lucas Cave).
The Grand Arch
The Blue Lake outside the caves...the bright blue color is surprisingly natural, someting to do with the natural limestone underneath. It's also home to three platypus. Platypusses? Platypussi? I'm not sure. Anyhow, we saw only their bubbles, and a giant lizard (too quick for a photo) that I swear, was a definitely 1-billion year old dinosaur.
A wallaby, just hanging out...watching us watch him.
You can see 7 steps in this picture...but the Lucas Cave had 903 more! The height and depth of the cave chambers was stunning at times.
NO matter how many times I'm taught about various cave formations...I struggle to understand the diversity of them in such a small area. I'm fall into the category of a 'visual person who would only comprehend the process if a time lapse video (of hundreds of thousands of years) were sped up so I can see how each type of formation occurred. (Yes, this = not very bright person.)
The original ladders/entry ways from the initial discovery/exploration of the cave (from a little over 100 years ago) are still firmly rooted into place. This one was well over a 100+ feet tall.





After our day at the caves, we rushed back to Katoomba in hopes of making one of the last aboriginal dance performances of the day at the Waradah Aboriginal Center near our cottage.

Baaad lighting obviously, but the friendliest group, ever.
The obligatory boomerang photo
The obligatory didgeridoo photo 
I don't think most of these people, but especially the guy on the right is a native aboriginal. Just a gut feeling.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Australia Days 5 & 6 - Sydney

Our fifth day in Sydney wasn't the most active. I think we were all tired from the non stop walking, so we just cruised to nearby Chinatown. And on that note- sorry Sydney, that was the tiniest, most anti-climactic Chinatown ever. Granted the variety of Asian foods was good, and very reasonably priced, but not worth a special trip.


 
Chinatown abuts Darling Harbor, so we took Ryan back to his beloved park there for a second romp.
Rich rented a car nearby for our side trip up to the Blue Mountains. Our first stop though, was another fun place for Ryan- a trampoline park. :-) It was my parent's first time to one, so we got them tickets to try it out too (verdict- dad loved it, mom nearly puked after 10 minutes). You know...about what we expected.

A quick stop for some snacks/energy before our bouncing adventure...best Long Johns in the universe.
Married 41 years, and still falling for each other...ha ha ha.
My dad struggling to climb out. It was INCREDIBLY difficult for all of us to climb out. MUCH harder than SkyZone (the foam was cheaper, softer, and broke apart so it stuck ALL over you). One upside for our American litigious society. ;-)

Look! I can still do a perfect Chinese splits! So, soooo fit.
His favorite part of a trampoline park
Never any mercy from Grandpa at dodge ball!
Show off. The only one of us can flip. 
This is technically a no-no (all being on the same trampoline). But that's how we roll. Special thanks to my dad for nailing it after only four or five takes.
I tried a panoramic while he bounced all the way down...it worked...sort of.
Ageless, this man. Lucky to have his genes. Except for the man calves part.
Just joy. Pure joy.
My lunch after the workout at Sumo Salad (a chain, but man! I'm in love)! Edamame and brown rice salad, and pumpkin couscous (I had it twice). ;-) The bowl is the size of rice bowl, and $9.95 though. I wanted the $13.95 but was too shame to get it in front of all the other skinny vegans in line wearing their baggy XS sweaters.
After lunch we drove up to Katoomba to check in to our beautiful rented cottage. It had 3/2, was newly renovated (but with dozens of original, historic pieces/touches throughout) and walking distance from the heart of town/The Three Sisters Monument.

Rich's facial expression does not accurately show how much we all love this amazing house.
          
The Three Sisters! (It was a 5-10 min. walk to the monument and the Waradah Aborginal Center).

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Australia Day 4 (Sydney)

The one thing I regret not being able to do with Karen in New Zealand or throughout the city in Sydney? Run. But after my little fainting episode and recent breathing issues, I figured it probably wouldn't be wise to run without a cell phone in a foreign country. I still tried to do little spurts here and there with Ryan just to remind my ticker that I was still alive. :-) Here we are running through Hyde Park on our way to the Hyde Park Barrack Museums (if you're not already aware...Australia started off as a place where the Brits shipped off their convicts). 


Hyde Park Barrack Museum...former housing for the convicts and their families.
A convict's child. He was sorta cute, but I don't consort with little vermin.
Turns out, I'm great at flogging prisoners (not the political/innocent ones, the kinds that question their wives authority).
I really hope he forgets how comfortable and warm those prison beds were.
I was clearly born in the wrong era.
The convict bedding on the top floor...couldn't imagine sleeping in them all night, they were so tiny. I've never been called skinny or tall once in my life, but I barely fit the height or length.
We also spent two days at the main bay in Circular Quay, and another two days chilling out in the Darling Harbor area.

This panoramic pic doesn't show how gorgeous Darling Harbor was- it seemed a lot more 'commercial' in a sense, but it has an incredibly long boardwalk that wraps around the harbor, filled w/ attractions, restaurants and shops.
Our first koala encounter
We spent two hours, two days in a row at this playground (Tumbalong in Darling Harbor), touted as one of the country's best...and we have to admit it was the best we've ever seen in our lives.
Feeding the seagulls (bread is mid air). A thrill for Big Island kids...since we have none.

On our first visit to the park, we had no idea about the water features. So we gladly gave Ryan permission to get wet, but he wasn't into it. About thirty minutes later, even he couldn't resist. He suddenly plopped to the ground with a huge smile on his face.
The water park was amazing...it had a series of canals that you could float things down and manipulate the strength/direction of the water.



So...not the most sanitary thing I've ever done (lifting up the barrier to let the water gush all over my son's head), but that's what he asked for! :-)