Monday, January 26, 2015

Christmas and Spring Stuff

We met up with my fam after we got home from Australia and saw the lights. We shopped for a minute got dinner and then saw the lights.
Averi had an old phone case that she was pretending was a real phone and she took hundreds of fake photos and I posed for every one. We accidentally went on the the night of the Mo-Tab concert and it was crazy (in a bad way).
We want a fire place so bad, but we don't have one, so we turned on this fake one all the time so we could read by the fire, it has crackling noises and everything. 

Nate and I had our own little Christmas together on Christmas Eve before we left to go down to Highland. He got me an awesome rain jacket and I cried (just a little) because I have been needing a good rain jacket my whole life. He is the best gift giver. Also, please appreciate the awesome print he got me (quote from Bob's Burger's. If you don't watch that show, just do it). 
 Nate's loot. Hat, shoes, ammo.

 That night we celebrated Christmas Eve with Nate's family. They do a "Bethlehem Dinner" and then all these chillins did the Nativity and it was crazy. This isn't even all the kids, there are like 10 still missing. But they are pretty cute little people.

 On Christmas morning we woke up and opened presents with my parents and then hung out with Nate's family until it was Lasagna time with the LaCogs. Nothing better the Christmas lasagna.

 After we got home from Christmas times, Nate got freaking sick and would not get better. It was seriously like a week and half of him just dying. He tried everything. We even went and got these ear candles which I could not handle. I was in charge of making sure the flame was under control, etc. I took this picture (Nate tried to look really miserable, but it's actually not that far off of how he looked all week) and then smelled burning and realized a piece had fallen off onto our rug and was burning real good. Oops.  Somehow, I didn't get sick. If you know me at all, you know that is a literal miracle. I think my immune system is coming around. That's the second sickness I've fought off this year, I'm very proud.

 

  
I've been dancing a lot this month as we start getting ready for performances and such. It's been like 3 times a week and before every practice I complain about how I don't want to go and how I should just quit and then I come home so happy and raving about how fun it was. Poor Nate. We meet in the top of the Ellen Eccles Theater at night and I have to climb these freaky dark stairs and I always picture ghosts and stuff, because it's old. 

  
This chalkboard had "Merry Christmas ya filthy animals" on it until yesterday and I guess Nate got sick of it, because this is what it says now. Sadly, that will probably be on there for a long time too. I don't know why I don't change it. I'm so lazy about the stupidest things. I took down all the Christmas decorations in one day all by myself, but was too lazy to just erase that and write something new. But it does feel like Spring outside today! So, here's to Spring Stuff.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Down Under.

I don't even know how to write about Australia. I thought about doing a super detailed post about everything we did and saw, or one with just the highlights and dump some pics, and I still don't know what would be best, so it will probably be a combination-meaning it will start out detailed and then get less and less detailed the lazier I get.

Packing and leaving to Australia was nervous. I had never traveled so far and I had to do it alone, so I was kinda worried, and I accidentally made myself sick the night before I left, but I got better really quick. It's amazing what a little sunshine and ocean water can do for ya.

The plane ride was just under 14 hours long and I was prepared for death, but it wasn't even that bad. I rode on Virgin and they seriously know what they are doing. The seats reclined way more than regular planes and luckily I didn't have anyone sitting in the seat next to me, so I was able to sleep about 3 or 4 hours, which doesn't sound like much, but compared to the way home, it was A LOT! I had an Australian one seat away who was very chatty, but I didn't even mind because of the accent. There were also 3 children behind me who liked to yell, but again I didn't mind because the accent! I decided that children with accents are the cutest things ever and I need my kids to have accents, but I don't want to live in another country for that long, so I don't know how to make it happen.
 
 Time to destination: 13 hours. I freaked out way too much about how much time I had to kill and I had 1 million things to do and about half way through, I was like, omg! I have so much to do before this plane lands!

I was so excited to watch the sunrise and then the flight attendant came over and said I had to put my shade down. Lame. 
 I finally made it to Australia and after a little scare with the drug sniffing dog at customs, I was on my way. Nate picked me up for the airport and as soon as we hugged I started crying uncontrollably and it was weird and unexpected. It wasn't uncontrollable in the way of like sobbing, it was just like tears kept popping out of my eyes and they wouldn't stop. It was a little embarrassing and annoying because I had SO much to tell Nate and the constant tears made it difficult. (That's all the crying I will talk about in this whole post, so if you're only here for the tears, you can stop reading now.)

Fresh off the plane, but I was so so happy to be with this guy again. 3 weeks is way too long to be apart.

The first couple days, we were in Toowoomba. Nate was just wrapping up work so I just hung out at the hotel, read by the pool, ate mangoes every morning and watched movies. It was seriously the best way to start a vacation. Usually I start by jumping straight into one million activities and get super exhausted. The mangoes in that place were out of this world. I can't believe how good they were. Seriously as I was finishing the first one, I got so sad because I knew it was the best one I would ever eat and it was. We ate mangoes every day and they were all SO good.
These purple trees were everywhere, I think I had just barely missed their peak, but they were still so beautiful. A lot of the streets were lined with them and it was just a purple paradise.
I borrowed this pic from the internet so you could see what I'm talking about.

After they finished with the race on Sunday we drove out to Brisbane, picked up our own car and drove to the Gold Coast. We pretty much only had time to eat and go to bed because the race clean up had taken WAY too long. The next morning we got up and went straight to the beach. It was so nice there. It was easily the most beautiful beach I have ever been to. It was clean and the sand was luxurious. I couldn't stop caressing it. I didn't even mind getting it on me because it was so soft. The sand was so fine that it squeaked when you walked on it. You guys, the sand!
We played in the water, the waves were so fun, and the water was warm. I saw a jelly fish pretty dang close to and it freaked me out for about 5 minutes, but the water was too fun to stay out of for long. We stayed until lunch and then we headed back to Brisbane. We both wished we would have spent more time on the Gold Coast, the water was so much warmer there than in Sydney. Since it's the southern hemisphere, the further south you go, the cooler it gets. And the waves were 50x better on the Gold Coast. I guess that's why it's called Surfer's Paradise.
 
Blue Blue Waters. 
On our way to Brisbane, we took the scenic route through the Tamborine Mountains. It was beautiful and tropical and lush. 
  
Yield Signs=Give Ways


We found this sign on the way to Brisbane, What the. 

  
We stopped at a cafe and got the most delicious treats and pastries. 
 I love the word "rubbish" way more than a person should.
When we got to Brisbane, we went straight to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. This was probably my favorite thing we did all week. We got to hold Koalas, pet and feed kangaroos and wallaby's and see all the unique Australian animals. Tasmanian devils are ugly little things and dingos are just really good looking dogs. We also saw a famous guy here, Alan Tudyk, I didn't know he was famous and didn't really recognize him.

There were these swings just outside the sanctuary and we sat and swinged (swang?) and talked for a long time and a spilled a popsicle all over my only shorts.  

  
  
This guy had some serious muscles. It was freaking me out. 

Kangaroo Selfies!
 
These two were seriously little bestos. He kept putting his little hands on Nate's and I thought it was the cutest thing ever, so I tried to feed him and he was all, "Look, no hands!" and I was ticked. 
Look at that. I just wanted him to love me the way he loved Nate, but after feeding him almost all my food, I thought I better move on. The most surprising thing about kangaroos is that they are SO soft! I was not expecting them to be soft at all, but I could have stroked them all day it was like a fluffy blanket.
The Dingo. I kinda want one to be my dog. They look so tough.

   
Koala Time! These guys were cute, but after learning that they poo 300+ a day, their "cuteness factor" was a little diminished. 

These two are our twins. We have the same lives. Kara and Nate. Nate and Nate-same name, they also have the same job and the same calling. We live in the same ward and Kara and I also have the same calling, and we're both went to Australia and we ran into each other here. We are meant to be best friends, but it hasn't happened yet.

After the sanctuary we drove to Brisbane and explored a little.  
Brisbane Skyline. 

We stayed in a sweet hotel that night,  It looked so spooooky at night. I'm sure it's been on ghost hunters before.
  
  
  
 We had to leave our room to go to the bathroom, but I didn't even mind because I was so sure I would see a ghost and it would be awesome. The next morning we got up and explored a little and then went to the airport and flew into Sydney.
View from the plane.

When we got into Sydney, we went to our hotel which was a backpacker's hostel, which translates into "if you have a car, you are screwed". So Nate drove around for like 30 minutes trying to find a place to park that wasn't $50/hr -- Oh yeah, the day before this we had parked in a parking garage for 1.25 hours and got charge $54, so that's where that fear came from. Finally he found a place and we went out on the town and explored. We were in the 'Thai Town' portion of the city, so there were a lot of delicious Thai restaurants and we ate some real good food, it's made me want so much more, but unfortunately Logan=no thai. 

One of the weirdest things about being Australia was that they still celebrate Christmas even though it's summer and a million degrees. It was pretty tough to get into the Christmas spirit. It was nice to walk around and see lights in shorts though.
Biggest Lego Christmas Tree.
Memorial at Hyde Park. Hyde Park is the cutest little park/promenade. It's so romantic. There were couples all over that place, just being in love.

 
 Here it is during the day.  

An awesome cathedral. 
This clock was insane! I wish you could see all the detail and how it all worked. Nate and I sat and looked at it for a good while trying to figure out all the workings of it. 
This might be my favorite picture of the whole trip. For the month of December Sydney does these light projections on alot of their city buildings. It changes every few seconds. One of them makes the building into a huge Christmas Tree, another makes it look like a gingerbread house. It is such an awesome idea. I loved it! 

  
Giant Christmas trees were all over the place. Probably to remind people that it's Christmas, I kept forgetting until I would see one of these babies. The Christmas window displays for the stores were the cutest things ever. I could have stared at them ALL day. I tried to load a video of them, but it's too hard and this post is taking forever!


  The next morning we had to leave early because if we stayed in a parking spot a minute past 6 AM we would have had to pay an extra $18 or something. We got up and and drove to the Opera House and had a picnic breakfast on the steps. It was a pretty good view.


After that we drove out to the Blue Mountains and Katoomba, where we stayed for the next couple days. It was so nice be in the mountains. We did a bunch of bush walking (aussie for hiking) and a lot of relaxing. It was the perfect break from the fast paced city the night before.

This is why they call 'em the Blue Mountains. The eucalyptus trees emit a gas (or something) that makes the mountains appear blue. 

The Three Sisters. These mountains were once sacred to the aboriginals.

We rode this glass bottom tram to the other side of the valley and then hiked down The Giant Stairway to the valley floor. The stairs were steeep, and we only saw about two other groups on the staircase which either meant that we were way more adventurous than the other tourists or that we were just stupid. I think it was the first one though.  

We hiked down to meet one of the three sisters. It was so windy right where Nate is standing. 
The wind dried up my smile real quick and made it really hard to smile normal.

This is Katoomba Falls. It is even more beautiful in real life. It goes on and on.
We hiked around for what felt like days! And then found this railway to take us up, but after going up we decided we wanted to ride it down again and be in the front. It's the steepest railway in the world and it is crazy steep. When we first went off the edge it was pretty much a straight vertical drop.




You can make it a little steeper if you'd like.

 After that we were exhausted so we went back to the hotel and changed and went and explored around Katoomba. It was a such a cute little city. It reminded me a lot of park city but instead of rich people lots of hippies and backpackers.
The next day we went and saw Wentworth Falls, this waterfall is insanely awesome, it's so big it's impossible to get the whole thing in one picture and without a helicopter, you can't even ever see the entire thing.

This hike was about 100 times cooler than the hikes we had done the day before. We wish we would have spent our first day here and not as much time at our first location.
  
Just a tiny portion of the waterfall. 
 
 My phone made this picture black and white without even asking, but I guess it looks cool, so whatever.

 I stole this pic from the Internet, so you could see it a little better. It still goes on and on below this pic, it's crazy.
 

 That night we ate at the cutest little place called the Yellow Deli.

  
It had a super fun set up. I loved it. And the food was great! 

  
Fun Fact: In Australia, instead of pitchers of water they bring out a glass bottle. Trying to this open glass bottle for the first time is challenging.There was a big summer thunderstorm that night, it was so fun to listen to the thunder and rain all night. I love thunderstorms. 

The next morning we got up and went back to the Sydney area, we stayed in another backpacker hostel right next to Bondi Beach. This place was definitely my least favorite. It was dirty and smelly and there were huge roaches. The shared bathrooms were disgusto and made me never want to go to the bathroom. Bondi is a fun area, it's super crowded with beach bums and tons of things to do.

 
Our sunglasses look whack, but it was a nice view and one of the few pictures we didn't take ourselves.

So there we were just minding our own business when all of a sudden hundreds of Japanese students in uniform start swarming the beach. At first Nate and I were like, "oh great!" (in a sarcastic way) But the amount of energy those kids brought was insane. They were doing cheers, taking pictures, giggling, screaming and just freaking out. It was the most entertaining thing I have ever watched. And we watched and and watched and didn't even try to pretend like we weren't watching. At one point one boy came and tapped Nate on the shoulder (even though Nate was already staring at him and wondering why he was getting so close to him) and said picture? So Nate tried to grab the camera to take a picture for them and he said, "No, you", he wanted Nate to be in a picture with them, I was just watching a laughing and then they pointed at me and said "you too" and so I got in the picture. This happened a couple more times and we were honored. Those suckers still don't even know we weren't Australians!

 

Nate isn't naked. But there were a surprising amount of topless ladies on that beach. It was shocking and it took me a minute to realize that they were doing it on purpose and they hadn't just fallen out of their tops.

We got a kangaroo burger and it was....interesting. I didn't really want to finish it because it kinda made me gaggy, not because it was disgusting, but because I had just become friends with the kangas. They put beets on all their burgers, that's what that pink stuff is. (not kangaroo blood, sickos!)
  
 We did a walk from Bondi to Bronte, which is just a beach walk from one beach to another, it's a really pretty walk. We stopped and watch the pool at Bondi Icebergs for so long. This pool is awesome. When the tide come in the waves come over the edge and sometimes they take people out. It was so fun to watch. It made me wish I had brought my cap and goggles SO bad, I wanted to be in the Bondi club so bad.

We could never get the timing quite right to get pictures, but there were a couple of big ones like this below. (stolen from internet) There was a lady sitting on the edge of the pool who got pushed into the pool and after the wave settled she was not too happy about it.
 
Graffiti on Bondi beach board walk.

 The next day we went to the beach for while and then went back to Sydney to try and get a better view of the Opera House. We took a Ferry across the bay and it was so great. I was all smiles the whole time. A huge storm rolled in as we were heading back into Sydney and it was crazy.

Ferry Time. 
The Opera House is so awesome in real life. I was excited to see it, but it completed exceeded my expectations. It's a little breathtaking.



I cannot even explain how difficult it was for us to get a picture in front of the Opera House. People would not get the Opera House in our picture! We probably took 15 pictures on the ferry, trying to get one of us AND the opera house, but people could not get it.

This was close, but you can barely see the opera house and it doesn't even look that cool.

Turn the camera the other way silly! This is when the storm rolled in and there was rain pelting us in the face, so I guess I can't blame the photographer too much.




By the time someone actually got the house in the picture we had passed it a little and we were head on, it still looks cool, but not as cool as a side view. We decided we would go back the next day and try to get a better one. When we got there, there were 1000 Santa's sitting on the steps of the house. And at that moment we decided we weren't meant to have a good picture in front of that place. 



First try of the day. Photographer cuts off the top of the house, c'mon people!
We finally got this one, still not a winner but at least you can see us AND the opera house. 


So we gave up on the Opera House and decided to go for one of the bridge. We found an Asian and he shocked us with this picture. We were so pleased with the picture we might have freaked him out a little, but if he knew what we had been through the past couple days, he would understand. Lesson learned. Always get an Asian photographer. The next day we packed up and flew home. Our flight left Australia at 1:15 pm on Sunday, we flew for 17 hours and got into Salt Lake at the exact same time. It was the longest Sunday of my life. On our layover in L.A. we got to stay in the Delta Lounge (for really important business men) and it was so nice. It made me want to be a fancy business man someday. 

Some other little tidbits about Australia:
-Driving on the right side of the car and the left side of the road was so trippy. Thankfully Nate had been there for 3 weeks already and was kinda used to it. If I had been driving I think we would have died for sure. I walked toward the driver seat thinking it was the passenger seat SO many times.



-Since you drive on the left side you should also walk on the left side. I can't tell you how difficult this was for me. When you are walking right toward someone you usually quickly get over to the right, so I did this and I would run right into people. They must have thought I was special needs. It was really hard for me. 
-Mackey's (McDonald's) is way better in Australia, it's like they care about the food they serve or something.
-Everything is in shopping malls there, even grocery stores. And instead of escalators, they have travelators which are moving ramps. Weird stuff. 
-Everything was super super expensive. Nate and I shared most of our meals and they were still around $20 or $30, it was really hard to silence the cheapskate in me. 
-Two words. Sausage sizzle.