Sunday, September 30, 2007

Back in Cairns, AU

Yesterday morning we left Port Campbell and drove inland to Melbourne. This was a beautiful drive with lots of lush green pastures, lots of sheep and cattle as well.
We were in Melbourne at an exciting time as their AFL (Australian Football league) was playing their grand final game there. One team was from the town where we stayed on Wednesday evening….Geelong. There were GO CATS GO signs everywhere and this is the team that won…the score was 163-44…..we have no idea of the rules, how you score or anything but it was the largest winning margin in the history of the finals, and it had been 44 years since Geelong had won it. So you can imagine how excited everyone was!!
After getting to Melbourne we found our way to the zoo…I had read that it was the oldest zoo in the world and had won numerous prizes through the years…sorry to say it was a bit disappointing. We saw no Koalas there …….I’m so glad we had seen them in the wild on Friday.
We stayed near the airport Saturday night as we had a very early flight this morning. Our flight was not the most pleasant as we sat behind a couple with two screaming kids. The 3 y/o was especially wild and had parents who essentially did nothing! It really made us appreciate our grandchildren, and although they have their moments this behavior would never have been tolerated by their parents and certainly not by us! I now have my first headache since leaving home!
We are now back in Cairns at TreeTops Lodge where we stayed last w/e. They had stored our large duffle bags this week for us …. Nice not to have to deal with that extra luggage! It is a great deal warmer here than it was in Melbourne or even Sydney for that matter. We have to think upside down as we are use to it being cooler when we go north….but in the southern hemisphere it is quite opposite!
Next time we write it will be from our home (for the next month) in Papua New Guinea. Continue to keep us in your prayers and especially tomorrow as we travel into Port Moresby and then transfer planes to fly to the Western Highlands where the Halls live. Pray that the flight does not get cancelled, as is occasionally the case.
Another prayer request….for Max Beck in Atlanta who will soon be on hospice. This young man and his wife have 2 small children and he is the son-in-law of my business partner, Joanne Onken. Please, whoever reads this, keep Max and all of his family in your prayers as they enter this phase of his illness.
Jim and Mary

Friday, September 28, 2007

Port Campbell, Australia

Greetings from Port Campbell, Australia (rainy and cold!)

I had been looking for an excuse to buy a sweatshirt with Australia on it. Well it is soooo chilly here that in one of the towns they had a sale on hoodies and I was able to get one. :)
We have experienced our first really nasty weather today with rain, wind and even some hail. However, we continued along the Great Ocean Road stopping along the way to see the beautiful scenery, first the powerful ocean with lots of white caps and huge waves breaking, contrasted with incredibly serene green pastures. Then we would drive through rain forests, with lots of Eucalypts trees. We saw sheep with baby lambs…. We saw wild parrots eating out of peoples hands (that was on the porch of the B&B this morning in Lorne.) We saw Koala bears in the wild (4 different times!)….managing to get a really neat video of a Mama with her baby. We saw lots of signs to watch for Kangaroos crossing the road, however we did not see any.
The big attraction of the Great Ocean Road is The Twelve Apostles. This is hard for me to describe but it is described in the literature as a wave tossed wilderness. A colossal natural sculpture park, where soaring rock stacks and tall cliffs redefine your sense of scale.
Today when we walked out to see these rocks we were almost blown away. The wind was so strong that we had to hang on to the railings and each other to keep from falling down.
Tonight we are staying in Port Campbell and after checking in at the motel we enjoyed a visit with a couple from Brisbane who gave us some hints regarding our anticipated time in New Zealand.
We ate this evening at a Bistro at the local hotel. Very good beef pie with Baileys Chocolate cheesecake and a coffee for dessert.
Oh, I found out why they always say a ‘long black’ when I order coffee………that is opposed to a small espresso cup … at home it would just be a black coffee.
Tonight when we had time on our computer we discovered that many of you had left comments on our blog….sorry we had not noticed before. It was still fun to read them and now we will take note.
Tomorrow we drive back to Melbourne and hope to make it to the zoo. This is the oldest zoo in the world and suppose to be one of the best. Early Sunday we fly back to Cairns and we will for sure write from there.
Take care…we will sign off now …going to sleep shortly as we listen to the howling wind and the rain spattering against the windows.
The Duffies

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Lorne, Australia along The Great Ocean Road

We will catch you up on our activities since leaving Sydney.
A close friend of mine said I was giving too many details on this blog so I will just use a favorite method of mine and bullet our activities since Sydney.
  • Wednesday in Sydney we toured the Maritime museum...Duff was able to go aboard a submarine much like the one he was first on in 1962. The weather was beautiful...about 21 degrees and sunny
  • Flew Jetstar to Avalon airport (small airport) south west of Melborne arriving after reservations for tonight....interesting.
  • Drove to Geelong and once there drove around and around and around looking for a room. The weather was quite cool... I believe about 11 degrees.
  • Finally we took a room which was also quite cold! Once warmed up we were able to sleep.
  • Yesterday (Thursday) We started out on the Great Ocean Road drive. The scenery is spectacular and today we will enjoy more of the same.
  • Last night we stayed in an interesting B&B with a big b'fast this morning (first since leaving home).
  • We are on our way and will send pictures when we can.

Our Best to all................Mary & Jim

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Great Ocean Road....Lorne, Australia

This is Thursday evening about 5 pm. We only have a couple of minutes to drop this note. We are staying tonight in Lorne Australia, in a B&B. We have lots to tell you but will have to catch up when we have enough time. This area is beautiful and we have made many stops along the way today, including a picnic overlooking the know, our favorite type of thing to do.
We are well, hope everyone there is as well!
Catch you soon!
Mary & Jim

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Sydney, Australia

Good Morning again....since we could not hook up at the hotel easily we have found an Internet Shop......after visiting our pastry shop again and enjoying some incredible coffee.......too bad they don't do refills here, we again come to the Internet spot to send our blog and check email.
We are on our way into the city to go to the Maritime Museum. But first let me tell you about yesterday!
We started out by arriving (by train) at Circular Quay where all the ferries arrive and all the Harbor Cruises come and go. We walked over to the Sydney Opera house and took a tour. It lasted about an hour and was very informative! We checked out shows for yesterday evening at the same time.
We walked about and grabbed a sandwich for lunch. After which we hopped aboard the Manly ferry. We rode this round trip and this gave us a very good look at the opera house and Sydney Harbor Bridge and sights. By now it was time for ice cream (it's everywhere!)....we people watched and soaked up the sun and breeze from the water. We then decided to hop a ferry to see the Maritime museum and possibly the Aquarium. What we did not know was that it was the 'milk run' stopping at several locations before getting to the spot we needed to go. This left us without enough time to see the museum. So again we rode round trip.
We walked back to the Opera house and bought tickets for a play and then grabbed dinner before walking (need I say we walked a lot?) back for the play. We saw 'Don's Party' which was a comedy......occasionally missing lines either d/t HOH or d/t accents.
At the end of the evening we caught the train and then walked back to our hotel arriving at 11:30! A long day but we could not have asked for prettier weather.
Hope all at home are doing well.....we are missing you already and we have 6 weeks to go! The next 4 will be very busy I am sure!! The Halls promised us they would keep us busy!
Love to All! The Duffies
P.S. Emails welcome!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Sydney, Australia

Good Morning,
We did not blog yesterday. However we will catch you up on our activities now.....
We flew Jetstar from Cairns to Sydney, arriving around 2 pm. We caught a shuttle to our hotel and quickly dropped our stuff and headed to the train stations several blocks away. We took the train to city center and found our way to the Sydney Tower. The Sydney Tower is the tallest building in the Southern Hemisphere. (Duff read that somewhere) Quite a view from the top and we got some good pics.
We then found our way to a food court (sorta like Peachtree Center I guess) and ate end of the day Japanese food, :):):) (I called it leftovers and Duff says it was 'close outs'.
We found the train stations and made our way back to our hotel!
This morning we stopped in a pastry shop for b'fast and had our first really good cup of coffee.
Now we are headed to see the sights of Sydney. Did I say that it is a beautiful day 'down under'? Well it is!!
By the way if you wish to contact us by phone our number for the time we are here (cell) is:
0424691256. Feel free to pass this number is free for INCOMING calls in Australia....that is until we head to PNG on the 1st of Oct. Hopefully there will be no emergencies!
Until our next blog...........
Love to all........Mary and Jim (aka Mom and Dad)

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Aboriginal Culture Park and Port Douglas

Another day in Australia............on the Coral Sea!

Have I mentioned Duff is doing well driving on the wrong side of the road? Once he quit turning on the windshield wipers instead of the turn signal....:):)

After breakfast in our room this morning we headed out to the Aboriginal Culture Park for about 3 hours of education by the Tjapukai tribe who are dedicated to preserving and presenting authentic Aboriginal culture with the aid of modern technology. They have three theatres, a museum, an art gallery and demonstrations of spear throwing, digeradoo, boomerang throwing and food and medicines used by the Aboriginies.

After this we drove up the coast to Palm Cove where there are a number of resorts. The beach is beautiful. This drive is along the Coral Sea and the water is an incredible turquoise. Along the way we stopped and watched some fellows hang gliding. The breeze was nice and it seemed easy for them to catch the wind to take off. What a wonderful place to do what a view.

We drove on to Port Douglas, again more resorts right on the Coral Sea. We had an iced coffee (which was like a coffee float with vanilla ice cream) and then on back to our abode here at Tree Tops. After washing clothes this evening, we'll finish packing and be ready to leave for Sydney in the morning.

We'll catch you tomorrow from our hotel in Sydney!
Jim and Mary

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Cairns, Australia

Well, our first full day in Australia......playing tourist..well that is what we are I guess!

After having a cup of coffee (instant----but hot) and an English muffin in our room we headed out to check on taking the Skylift to the rainforest and Kuranda village. We took the skylift up and making 2 stops on the way we took a few walks through the rainforest. One with a guide and heard a brief lecture about local plants. Interesting! The scenery was beautiful and we took a good number of pictures...can't always do it justice however! The Barron waterfalls and river were beautiful as we looked down into the gorge. We returned on the train which took 1 1/2 hours and then a bus shuttled back to the parking at the skylift.

We are going out now to find dinner. We are repacking tonight so we can leave a couple of bags here while we go to Sydney and Melbourne Monday. Tomorrow we will probalby go to Tjapukai an Aboriginal culture park.

More later.........hope all is well with you.
Jim and Mary

Friday, September 21, 2007

Cairns, Australia

Well it has been a very long day.....or was it 2 days? It took us 12 hours to get from LA to Auckland. That's in economy class. :):) We were on a 747 ... man that's a big plane. I really wanted to go upstairs to see how the other half were living (or sleeping I should say) but I settled in to my middle seat and tried to be comfortable. We did sleep off and on.
We had talked about it and decided we would probably lose weight on this trip as we would be running into new foods and might not eat as much but let me tell you Air New Zealand fed us every two hours it seemed like. We landed in Auckland very early in the morning and changed planes to come to Cairns, which was another 5 + hours in the air. They fed us again....twice!

Cairns is a tourist town and I guess because of the reef. It is tropical just as reported by Jan and Patrick. The weather today was 26 C when we landed. Tonight we are in our room with the windows open and no air on. As soon as the sun went down it got cool.

We are staying at Tree Top Lodge and it is basic but nice. The room is large and because they cater to missionaries and their families it is a suite with one queen, set of bunk beds, a single bed and a pull out couch. Also a coffee pot, fridge and toaster. We can go to a larger kitchen and cook if we want....don't think so this trip. English muffins with coffee in the room will do. We really did not even try to 'do' anything today...we will play tourist the next few days. Right now we are just trying to stay awake to get our bodies on this time difference. By the way we are 14 hours ahead of Atlanta time.

I'll try to write again tomorrow..........hope all is well with all of you.
Jim and Mary

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

As far as L.A....

Greeting from California..........
Our good friends Jon and Gail came out early in the Atlanta traffic this morning to drive us to the airport. Thanks again Colcords!!
We left Atlanta at 1100 a.m. and flew through Phoenix arriving L.A. hours ago. After picking up our bags we rechecked them with Air New Zealand (Whew...passed the weight limit for bags)
Spotting the Bob Hope Hollywood USO we walked across the street and toured their (free standing) facility. (Many of you know that Duff works with the USO at the Atlanta airport) The retired general who runs the LA USO was good friends with Bob Hope. Needless to say since it is funded in part by the Bob Hope foundation it is top of the line!
Well we have now had dinner, Duff has forwarded his phone (?? no calls for 7 weeks...??) and we are having our last Starbucks coffee in the states.........we board the plane in about an hour.
Next time we write will be the 21st since we skip a day as we cross the date line.
I'll sign off now as we need to walk around some ..... 14 hours in the air will be quite a lot of sitting. (Maybe longer than that's hard to figure...let you know later)
Love and our best to all..........
Jim and Mary

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Making final preparations for our trip.....

Sunday September 16, 2007

Today was a wonderful day at church. Ken and Michelle and Joel came to church this morning. The choir sang "His Eye is on the Sparrow", a beautiful song and one of my favorites! At the end of the service Clay had a prayer for us and many people wished us well and said they would remember us in their prayers. There are still many things to complete before leaving on the 19th to go to the South Pacific.

Our first stop will be Australia before going to Papua New Guinea (hereafter PNG) on October 1st.
We will keep you posted!