Rita, Allan and I met my pops at the airport in Christchurch and it was great to see him, and catch up with more family stuff. We only had a two weeks to see two countries, so it was a bit quick, but we had a blast. Allan and Rita took us south a bit for day one where we saw some of the beautiful New Zealand countryside and had some awesome fish and chips. The next day we were off and runnin in the little white 89' honda, with yours truly at the helm. It was over Arthur's pass the the west coast from the east coast in one day. We even managed to dodge the snow on the way over the pass. We landed in Gray mouth where we went out before making our way further south the next day. Day 2 of our road trip around the southern Island was a good 300 miles, and stopped along the way to see our first glacier. We made it just shy of queens town before we had to stop due to fatigue, but the next day we were in beautiful Queens Town. The town itself was named after the Queen of England who wanted to commemorate it as her town, hence the name Queens' Town, the Queens implying the ownership of said town. Anyway it was rugged snow covered mountains climbing out of one of the largest lakes in New Zealand. Dad and I caught a gondola up to the top of one of the mountains to see the view, grab some lunch, and try our hand at the luge. Man those things are cool, they are like some kind of green friendly down hill go carts, that can stop and turn on a dime. We had a few good races before callin it a day. Day three we had to start our journey back to Christchurch, and stooped at the little road side town of Twizzel, which had the coolest name for a town so we figured, what the hell right? It was here we had met a few good old New Zealand boys at the bar. One of these guys new more about base ball than almost anyone I have ever met, and has never seen a live game, he said my beard made me look like Brian Wilson, some pitcher for the Giants, to which I assured him that that was why I grew the beard in the first place, I said all Giants fans are required to have them. We had a good night with these rather red neckie fellows.
One more night and it was back in Christchurch with our fam and their dog Mac. We had a great New Zealand meal of Sausages potatoes and veg, it was brilliant. We also got to see the New Zealand All Blacks kick some Ausi butt in rugby, and now I know who I will be rooting for in the World Cup, pretty exciting stuff. The next morning at 4 am we bid Allan and Rita adue at the airport and it was off, back to the land of Oz, only this time it was out of the snow and to the tropics of Cairns.
Stepping off the flight in Cairns, which is pronounced cans, was like going from the mountains to Hawaii. There were palm trees blowing in the wind, people in beach ware, crocodile warning signs, it was sweet. We had a taxi driver take us to a place close to town / the beach and he found us the perfect place. We were two blocks from the ocean, and about three from down town, and this was a cool city. It is a population of only about 140,000 so not to huge but plenty to see. Dad rented us a car and it was off and exploring.
Cairns itself doesn't have a beach because of some marshlands and an endangered mud skipper fish thing, I think it was the fish from Ren and Stimpy, muddy the mud skipper, so that was cool. We headed north to Port Douglas, where we saw one of their magnificent beaches, complete with all the warning signs you would expect from Australia. They have Crocks here that can get up to around 24 feet, gnarly!! There are also jelly fish as big as the tip of your finger that can kill you, but most of these things just get eaten by the great white sharks, so all in all your pretty safe.
This night there was a huge concert in Cairns, and somehow in true O'Bannon fashion we ended up in the Vip section of the after party, chillin with the bands. It was a rather wild night that started with a chat with a fellow bearded fellow, who somehow had connections, and once you have had a certain amount of drinks, things just seem to happen yea know. Anyway dad and I tied one on and had a blast, and I managed to keep from getting my ass kicked somehow.
The next morning we had promised to go see the peoples place up in the forrest, and though we felt like we had been kicked in the head by a kangaroo a few hundred times, we attempted to find it, but weather or not they made it out there that morning was information we were not privy to, and despite our greatest efforts, we could not find them. They sure were a cool crew though, and the drive was well worth it. Other sites we saw were a huge waterfall up in the rainforest and we made it by a killer little zoo. It was more of a wildlife rehabilitation center, where they were trying to raise the numbers of some endangered animals from Australia and other tropical regions of the world. We got to see a baby koala in the pouch, and feed a kangaroo, both very important to do on a trip to OZ.
A trip to the northern tip of Australia would not be complete without a venture into the dangerous waters to see one of the natural wonders of the world; the great barrier reef. We threw caution to the wind, and were actually the first two off the boat in the first reef location. I must admit it was a bit erie swimming out there in the deep waters, looking hard for something huge lurking in the shadows, while still understanding that that fleck in the fore view could be the jellyfish that kills with pain, but that being said, once there were a few more bodies in the water you realized that the best thing you can do is just enjoy the beauty of the reef. It was really something to be seen, like an under water grand canyon, though that is still something on my list of things to see. We had a blast and used one of those under water cameras to catch some classic reef life, like chillin with Nemo. Don't miss this if you can.
Well, with just one day left, we used it to chill by the Cairns lagoon in the sun and kick back, it really was a great few weeks. From the snowy, glacier filled mountains of New Zealand, to Snorkeling in the tropical reefs of Australia, can't have a more vast vacation than that. It was a great book end on the shelf of Nima and Is' adventure, a little vaca before it's back to work. It has been 1 year, 3 months, and 9 days since Nima and I set out to England, we've been through 20 countries, seen waterfalls, monuments, temples, churches, a few wonders of the world, and eaten just about everything, edible and not, we've slept in places most wouldn't allow their dogs, been hassled, bearly made it out of countries, and have had some sicknesses I probably shouldn't mention. We have also seen some of the most beautiful sites known to man. I really like that line, 'it was the best of times, it was the worst of times' and when it comes to traveling, that rings true, but another line that rings true is 'in the sunset of disillusion everything is aluminater by an aura of nostalgia' which I think means you remember the good stuff. So in a nut shell, it was just the best of times. Now it is off to the next adventure, and I look forward to seeing all of you very soon, thank you so much for reading, and if you hadn't, maybe we never would have written this journal. Much love to everyone out there and remember, the world isn't so much your oyster, alot of people think those stink, but you are writing the story of your life, so make a cool one. Matt O'Bannon, out.