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Category Archives: Exploring

Travel and nice spots

  1. For the Locals

    Sublime, Photography & Coffeehouse: One Saturday we were traveling from the Rocklea markets to the Moggill Markets and passed this place in Graceville. They just opened a little coffee stand out behind their studio. It’s a really lovely place, good coffee, and relaxing spot to read the paper.

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  2. UrbanMAX

    We’re off to do UrbanMAX this year. (I heard about it from Kris last year.) It’s sort of like doing The Amazing Race except just in our city. We have recruited a couple of people after our glowing tales from the last time. Hopefully we don’t get too sunburned. This is a little photo of us kayaking in shark-infested waters (aka the Brisbane River) last year.

    Urban Max 2008

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  3. We’re the Kids in America… Woah

    The roadtrip was great fun. Since then we’ve been taking it easy in NW Iowa. The sweet corn season is just starting, and let me tell you, you haven’t had sweet corn until you’ve had it fresh-picked that morning from an Iowa cornfield. It’s like candy.

    But now my friends from Des Moines have come up to see us, so we must go drink some more coffee.

    With the Woolly Mammoth in Indianapolis

    **Get the “Kids In America” by Kim Wilde MP3 at Amazon.

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  4. Music City

    We made it to Nashville after a week-long roadtrip via Des Moines, Iowa City, and Indianapolis. It has been weird making it a leisurely drive. Normally, I would have been on a mission to get from one home to the other and would only stop for gas. Now we have the liberty to pull over and see anything that piques our interest. It’s good.

    I’ve got so many photos to upload, but I don’t think that will happen until we get back to AU. Eeep. I should have brought my own laptop along.

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  5. So Much To Do, So Little Time

    We’re in Florida hanging with friends who are more like family… if our family was a bit dysfunctional. (I know she’ll object to that statement, but all I’m going to do is mention “frogs”… and I rest my case.)

    A year and a half of multiple longings have been quenched since we got here. We’ve had Chick’n Minis for breakfast two days in a row. We’ve had numerous Starbucks coffees. (Not the greatest coffee in the world, no. But it’s like a comfort beverage to me.)

    Another highlight was going to Anthropologie, a favourite of mine since forever. I got a frame, a little bird thingie, and an apron.

    Tomorrow we might even get to see NASA’s rocket launch depending what’s happening. Cool, eh?

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  6. Things I Have Done in America

    ♥ Seen my family.
    ♥ Eaten at Baja Fresh, McDonald’s (the new Southern chicken sandwich is their answer to Chik-fil-A, yum!) and Pizza Ranch.
    ♥ Seen Up… twice. (It comes out in AU in September.)
    ♥ Shopped at Super Target, and super it was. Overwhelmed by all the selections. We may have jumpstarted the economy with all our purchases.
    ♥ Bought Advil by the hundreds. (They only come in packets up to 20 in AU, not in bottles of 150.)
    ♥ Plugged in appliances without having to check if the outlet was on.
    ♥ Drank Dr. Pepper and root beer!
    ♥ Walked home from the movies at 9:30pm while the sun was still setting.

    The Trip
    We left our house at 8:30 on Friday morning. We flew via Auckland to LA with a fair amount of turbulence. It was nice to know that when you’re sleeping, you just sort of rock with it. It’s much less alarming than when you’re awake and gripping the armrests with white knuckles.

    We were delayed in LA due to thunderstorms in Denver. And then we were delayed again there, because our plane had a mechanical problem they wanted to double-check. Yes, please go ahead and take your time quadruple-checking that, thanks. By the time we got to the hotel in Omaha, I believe we had been gone for 36 hours. Blergh!

    I’ve had jetlag worse than ever before. I’m not sleeping at night and feel like poo all day. Tonight I’m taking a sleeping pill if I’m not down in an hour.

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  7. Queens Park on Queen’s Birthday

    After reading about all the get-togethers of the Sydney American Expats, I thought I should mention that we’ve got a few in Brisbane, and we know how to have fun too! So today we had three Americans and a Kiwi celebrating the Queen’s Birthday at Queens Park.

    We joined Brisbane-newcomers Nat & Chrissi at the Nature Centre to have a stroll through the animal enclosures. I must say that the more times I visit, the more I’m starting to love those ugly emus.

    We had afternoon tea at the cafe and saw the resident cockatoo Cocky. He can dance and say “scratch my head”, and he made a friend in Chrissi when she did just that. I believe I snapped this photo just before he attacked my camera and gave me a fright.

    It was a beautiful day and lots of fun hanging with some American peeps who share a lot in common with us. We leave Friday on a mission to partake in white cheese dip in remembrance of them.

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  8. Through the Looking Glass

    This past weekend after launching a new CD on Thursday night, we took off for a little anniversary getaway. We headed up the coast on Friday and spent three nights at Glass on Glasshouse. I found that place when looking for accommodation over Easter break and thought it would make a good romantic destination. It really was perfect.

    The place is ultra-modern and two full walls are glass. (Do not worry, there are blinds.) Polished wood floors, leather lounge, huge spa bath, king-size bed, media system, and views to blow your mind.

    There was a covered porch with a dining table and electric grill. Below is the view coming down the path towards the “pod”.


    Just inside is the living room. We watched both “Bridget Jones” movies and then the Lord of the Rings trilogy — director’s cuts. Eeeep! The couch had a fold out bed, which we pulled out a couple of the nights when it was getting hard to sit and keep watching.

    Living Room

    There was a small desk where Hanslset up for a while. He was doing music, and I was on the couch backing up all my photos. Aren’t we the geeky couple? But I don’t know how he got any work done with a view like that. (And yes, Manda, those are my Spongebob slippers in the bag.)

    Next to the television was the ethanol fireplace which was double-sided and could also be seen through a glass panel from the spa.

    The giant spa bath filled from the ceiling. It seemed like a really cool and romantic idea, but to prevent it from splashing all over the whole room, it couldn’t be on much more than a dribble until it was half-full.

    Also modern and cool was the bathroom sink with water coming out of the mirror. It looked so zen, but as I’ve mentioned elsewhere, it was a bit gross while brushing teeth. I don’t particularly enjoy watching my spittle traveling across the porcelain square into the moat at the front and floating around to the drain in back.

    Comfortable bed and more great views. Several kangaroos would tend to hang out outside the windows on this side. The last night we slept with the blinds open and woke up to the glorious sunshine.

    I drew a quick, not-exactly-do-scale floorplan one afternoon while we were there. You can click through to flickr to see the notes explaining what each area is.

    I took along my anniversary flower that I got on Wednesday, because I wanted to enjoy it while it was still in its prime. I had it setting on the edge of the spa so that I could see it from the sofa. One morning we had the blinds down while we watched movies, but the sunlight came through one crack and made the flower glow. I didn’t even notice the reflection until after I looked back at the photos.

    Other highlights from the trip:
    ♥ Italian pasta lunch on Saturday at the fabulous discovery Cappriccio’s in Maleny. (We even tried to go back to try the pizza on Monday before we left the area, but unfortunately they were closed. We’ll be back!)

    ♥ Going for a Sunday bushwalk on the Glass House Mountain Lookout Track.

    ♥ Spending several hours strolling through Maleny on Monday before we came back home. My souvenir was a silk pillowcase from Maleny Additions. (Three days later my skin and hair are instant perfection… well, maybe not yet.)

    ** Check out cool ethanol fireplaces at Amazon.

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  9. Hometown Tourist

    Recently my brother-in-law asked if we were going to do any sight-seeing while we’re in the States. My immediate response could have been perceived as abruptly in the negative.

    He seemed a little offended that we didn’t intend to do so. And I felt a little offended that he would even suggest that the point of our trip be anything but to catch up with family and friends.

    I mean, my younger nephew just graduated from PRESCHOOL. He was barely walking when I moved here. I have serious catching up to do. I want to sleep in my old room. I want to eat my grandma’s cooking. I want to keep my best friend company on her drive home from work every day. THAT, my dear brother-in-law, was the point of the trip.

    But… that was until I saw this article about Captain Kirk’s future birthplace being in Iowa. I wouldn’t begin to consider myself a Trekkie, but how awesome would it be to say we’d been there, done that, and bought the keychain.

    This got me thinking about the other campy roadside attractions around northwest Iowa where I could drag my dear husband. has been a goldmine of places I’ve been or heard of plus a bunch that are completely new to me. So we may need to work these into our itinerary:
    * The Grotto of the Redemption: West Bend, IA
    * The National Music Museum: Vermillion, SD
    * 1880 Town: Murdo, SD
    * The Buddy Holly Crash Site: Clear Lake, IA
    * The Alpine Inn: Omaha, NE (eat with the raccoons)
    * The Corn Palace: Mitchell, SD
    * The Amana Colonies: Amana, IA

    Another little joy I discovered? The Western Iowa Wine Trail. Wine! In Iowa! Growing up in a teetotaler household, I had no idea. I’m definitely anxious to find out what the great corn state is doing for vinoculture.

    We might have a little more to fit in during this trip than I originally thought!

    ** Check out Roadside Attractions: Cool Cafes, Souvenir Stands, Route 66 Relics, & Other Road Trip Fun at Amazon.

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  10. Breakfast & Bushwalk

    We had talked about going out for a picnic today. I found the Anstead Bushland Reserve online but couldn’t find out too much about it exactly except that there was a picnic area and walking track. Good enough for me.

    We decided to make it a breakfast picnic to save ourselves from the heat of mid-day. And it turned out to be absolutely lovely. There are three covered picnic table areas. Once we had finished eating, we set out down the walking track. I didn’t have a watch to see how long it took us, but it was a good distance for us, not being exactly in top form these days.

    There isn’t much overhead cover though, so be sure to cover up if you go. We keep sunscreen in the car, but a hat would have been good.

    It was gorgeous with lantana thickets covering most of the area. It was neat to see the old quarry spot. The breezes were cool off the river from the lookout. (There’s also a drinking fountain there, thankfully!) Walking through the eucalypts was my favourite part though, because it just SMELLS Australian. We only saw one snake, and I don’t think he would have killed us.

    Posted in Creative, Exploring, Photographing.

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  11. Camera Bag Tips, Anyone?

    I’m already thinking about packing for America and trying to decide how many of our gadgets need to come with us. I’m obviously bringing my camera, but the thing I don’t love about it is that the bag is big and bulky. It seems ridiculous to pack the whole bag inside my carry-on… but I’m going to need more than a camera bag to carry on with me.

    I need a camera bag that can double as a purse. No. What I really want is a purse that can double as a camera bag. Can anybody help me out?

    Must hold camera body, medium size lens (preferably attached), small external flash, cords for charging & connecting, extra disks and lens cleaner, etc. Must also fit make-up bag, wallet, travel papers, and other purse-like items.

    I’ve been looking at Crumpler, because I’ve wanted one for a while, but the only one that seems like it’s along the line is the Brazillion Dollar Home. But is that too honking big to lug around? I don’t know.

    Other cute bags…
    Acme Bowler Bag… adorable, but no spare room.

    Jill-E… well I don’t super love this one. It’s a bit “nashville soccer mom” to me, but I like the polka-dot inside. But again… where do I put the rest of my stuff?

    ♥ Or maybe I should just make my own, like this person.

    Posted in Exploring, Inspired.

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  12. February Photos

    I got partway through one of the days that we were in Albany last year with my aunt & uncle and parents.

    Posted in Creative, Exploring, Photographing.

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  13. Refreshed

    If anyone missed my tweets, since I didn’t really update here, we went on a bit of a retreat last weekend. We spent three nights up at this really great spot a couple hours from here. No internet. No television. Just us in a little chalet with the rain and an air conditioner. Oh, and they had a cute little pond with a rowboat.

    row boat on the lake

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  14. Out and About

    The in-laws have a Dutch backpacker staying with them at the moment. She’s cutting her trip short and is going back to Europe soon. So we told her we’d take her out to somewhere that she still wanted to visit on the weekend. Looks like we’re off to Byron Bay. My first time! Should be lovely if the thunderstorms stay away.

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  15. Australian Icon

    Our flight path to Perth went right past Uluru. It was pretty amazing to see, even from that distance. I am hoping that we get there someday.


    ** Check out Seeking the Centre: The Australian Desert in Literature, Art and Film at Amazon.

    Posted in Creative, Exploring, Photographing.

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  16. West Coast and Back

    With sunrises like this, can you see why I didn’t want to leave?

    Harbour Sunrise

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  17. Back from the Bunyas

    We’ve been busy.
    We’re tired.
    But we are having a great time.

    Australian flower


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  18. Day One: Survived

    We got up before dawn and managed to get the parents from the airport. We had an easy day with hanging around the house and a light lunch. Then we took them to Queen’s Park in Ipswich. Their nature centre is really quite good. It’s not quite Australia Zoo, but it IS free. No koalas or crocs, but it has wombats, goannas, wallabies, emus, kangaroos, lizards and birds of all sorts.

    We also had a walk around the Nerima Japanese Garden. While you can tell it has been affected by the drought, it still is the greenest place I’ve seen in quite a while. It really is so peaceful and beautiful. I reckon we’ll be having a picnic there one day soon.

    Then tonight we cooked dinner for both sets of parents. No culinary catastrophes to speak of. No embarrassing childhood stories. No lack of conversation. It was quite impressive for a first-time meeting.

    Now we sleep.

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  19. Roadtrip!

    In an effort to raise my comfort level behind the wheel, we decided to take a little roadtrip today to a few more miles (kilometers) under my belt. We headed West and ended up in Laidley. I’m too tired to write about our adventures at the moment, but after today, I have a renewed love for Australian scenery.

    Cunningham's Lookout

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  20. Ocean Moonrises

    Then last night we went down to the Gold Coast for dinner. Someone had recommended Matsuzaka to us for the Teppanyaki (where the table is around a chef who cooks for you), and I’m recommending it to you. Be sure to request Chef Phil. He is personable and really made the experience enjoyable.

    So enjoyable that I completely over-ate and was miserable well into the night. But it was so delicious. We had chicken and beef and fried rice and scallops, prawns & I tried morton bay bugs for the first time. I’m not a huge seafood fan, but the sauce they put on the bugs was incredible. We nearly licked our plates.

    Another special moment for the night was when we were walking to the restaurant along the shore. The huge orange moon was just coming up and reflecting over the ocean. There have not been many opportunities for this Iowa girl to see such a magnificent sight, and I almost didn’t want to go inside just to savour a few extra moments.

    Posted in Exploring, Inspired.

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  21. It’s Going to be Amazing

    I first read about UrbanMAX over at Kris’s site. Being an Amazing Race fan myself, I was immediately obsessed with the event coming to Brisbane in October.

    The Urban Max is part adventure race, part scavenger hunt with a mix of the amazing race. It is a completely new format of racing that will take teams of two through the heart of the host city. Competitors will get to visit some of the cities [sic] most famous landmarks, as well as suburban areas, while completing a variety of activities along the way.This event is for all skill and fitness levels, with a number of the activities needing more brainpower than muscle. Speed alone will not get you over the line first!

    Hello! Awesome! Registration is open, and we are officially entered. It’s a bit pricey at $90/person, but I figure it’s a great way to see the city in a way I probably otherwise never would. We’re in the Mixed Couple / Social category. Not being in the competitive category will probably prevent our marriage from suffering. (See my previous declaration.)

    ** Check out My Ox Is Broken!: Roadblocks, Detours, Fast Forwards and Other Great Moments from Tv’s ‘the Amazing Race’ at Amazon.

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  22. The Mountains Win Again

    Good Friday and “Easter Monday” are both public holidays here. So we took off for a little place I found on the internet with Dan & Lisa. The destination was a surprise for them, so I wanted to be creative with how to guide them up there. Because it looked like the place had an Eastern feel to it, I put each stage of the directions on a little slip of paper with a quote about relaxation on the back. And then I put each paper into a fortune cookie that I made myself. I made fortune cookies, people. It was pretty darn easy too; I highly recommend giving that recipe a try. They were tasty as well.

    The house we stayed in was just perfect. Lots of verandah space to look out over the view. We played cards and watched movies and cooked tons of food. I even took a swim in the saltwater pool yesterday… unheard of!

    On Saturday, we went up to Montville for lunch. We also had to look in all the cute shops, and we couldn’t go away without buying some fudge.

    Then we made a quick stopover at the Little Morgue Winery. It may not have met expectations from a decor standpoint, but the owner is such a delightful character. It was worth a visit just to meet him. We took home bottles of Eternal Flame, Rest in Peace, Supreme After Life, & Redomortis.

    Since we were in the area, I finally got to experience the legendary Big Pineapple. It seems everyone in Brisbane visited the Big Pineapple at some point in their youth. Sadly, it seems to be better left in hazy memory and faded photo albums, as today it is just a stinky (seriously smelled like urine), fiberglass pineapple with dusty displays of how the pineapple plantation works.

    We did get parfaits at the restaurant. (Even they didn’t stand up to Hans’s memory.) But I had a pineapple parfait, as I felt any other fruit just wouldn’t be appropriate. The pineapple was really nice, but I could have given or taken the rest.

    And now we’re home. The cat seems relieved. The chicken has doubled in size. The laundry is overflowing. And Erin is STILL with child. (Though one could argue that they’ll be “with child” for another 18ish years, but I meant that in the “overly pregnant” sort of way.) Now I’ve got some LOTRO to do.

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  23. Speaking of Good Food

    I know not many of you dear readers are Brisbanites, but may I recommend Tongue & Groove in West End. Hans had a show there on Wednesday, so we grabbed a bite to eat between set-up and show. Granted, they did lose our order so we were good and hungry by the time food came, but while others might have been perturbed, we weren’t in a hurry. Plus they gave us some risotto balls when they realized the error.

    I have seriously been thinking about the pumpkin & risotto tortellini for the past two days. (And I only swiped a couple off of Hans’s plate.) I had the chicken salad, which was AMAZING with its sundried tomatoes, pinenuts, brie & dijon thyme dressing. I haven’t craved going back to a restaurant this much since Mama Carolla’s. (And y’all know how much I miss my Mama’s!)

    It’s good. Can’t wait to go back. The potato wedge-like things were great too. Yum.

    Posted in Exploring.

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  24. On Holiday

    I’ve been busy enjoying my holidays.
    (Photos from Australia Zoo.)
    I’ll be back in love with the internet again soon.

    Posted in Creative, Exploring, Photographing.

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  25. Updates: In List Form

    • We had a lovely time in Sydney… for the most part. The hotel and service (or lack thereof rather) were pretty sucky and will be the subject of a strongly worded letter to the Powers That Be. But beyond that, it was a great time. I’m in love with a little French patisserie and would go back just for it.
    • I didn’t know that Bono knows Tash, but it has to be true. At least I’m pretty sure that “Sweetest Thing” song refers to her and her abundance of sweetness.
    • I now have Red Hots and Excedrin and a whole bag of other treatsies. (see above)
    • We were on a plane with some of the crew and potentially some band members on The Killers tour. I would have no idea what the band members look like though.
    • And speaking of killers, as of Monday, I no longer believe that we could survive The Amazing Race without killing each other. (OMG, how awesome are Kynt & Vyxsin??)
    • Tommy hasn’t posted a word count in a while. GO TOMMY, GO!
    • I have a Neutral American Accent. “You’re not Northern, Southern, or Western, you’re just plain -American-. Your national identity is more important than your local identity, because you don’t really have a local identity. You might be from the region in that map, which is defined by this kind of accent, but you could easily not be. Or maybe you just moved around a lot growing up.” I find that my Southern accent comes out more now than when I lived there though.
    • More when I’ve had additional coffee.

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