Posts Tagged ‘Anniversary’

Ever read a book or see a movie or have a conversation in which you have so many  ‘A HA’ moments that your worldview has changed forever?  It’s happened to us a lot lately…chalk it up to nearing our (gulp) thirties.  Whatever the experience is, I know I could never go on pretending that I didn’t know what I know now.  These experiences make us face our lives in a whole new light; either armed with more information or more questions and often times both at the same time.  Game Changers.  Know what I mean?

This is the perhaps the best way to describe our 4-hour long adventure with Neil from Cooper Creek Wilderness tours in the Daintree Rainforest.  Neil and his family have lived in the Cooper Valley part of the rainforest for over 20 years.  He knows his stuff and (I imagine) blows the pants off of those guys giving scripted tours at some of the cheaper places doing day trips from Port Douglas or Cairns.

There were too many things that we learned and experienced to capture them all here.  In fact, we spent several hours after the tour frantically writing everything we could remember in my little notebook and I’m still fretting about things we may have forgotten.  The pictures from below aren’t all from the tour but were taken during our time in the Daintree.  Nevertheless, here are a few general highlights:

  • The Daintree or Gondwanan rainforest is the oldest-surviving rainforest in the world having survived over 135 million years.  Neil usually does 2 hour, eco-friendly, tours but we were unique in choosing the Greater Wilderness Tour which lasts half a day.  I think Neil said 20 couples/year choose the longer tour so summarizing his words, we were two of twenty people in the world to trek that deep into the longest surviving rainforest that year!

Fan palms and strangler vines

  • The Daintree is also a World Heritage Area meaning that this place in far North Queensland is one of the only places in the world where two World Heritage Areas meet.  “Where the rainforest meets the reef…”

Noah’s Beach – Daintree

  • EVERYTHING IS CONNECTED.  EVERYTHING HAS A PURPOSE.  Rain to plants to insects to animals to humans.

Canopy of Fan Palms

  • Half of what Neil sees on his tours he’ll never see again.  Neil has found wildlife that had not been previously found and as of yet remains unnamed by the scientific community.  Our wildlife pictures will follow in an upcoming post.
  • The rainforest needs our help.  For reasons still unclear to me, the government has done everything in its power to squeeze tourism out of the Daintree and before you think there might be some noble cause behind it, I assure you it has loads to do with money.  But without going to far into negative town, let me just say, VISIT the Daintree.  If you’re going to Australia, make it a priority.  It should be on the top list of places to visit in Australia alongside the the Reef and Red Centre/Uluru (which we’ve yet to visit).

Ryan and I were both so deeply affected by the rainforest that he’s written his own reflection HERE.

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Confession Time…

Sometimes we get so busy chasing happiness that we forget to just be happy.

Sometimes we plan for the next three (or five or ten) years and we don’t cherish the present.

Sometimes we get stuck in a rut complaining about things in life that aren’t perfect instead of focusing on the things that are.

And then…THEN there are the other times; like the portion of our Anniversary trip where we spent three days and two nights at Frangipani B&B in beautiful Port Douglas.

We walked into a beautiful B&B in Port Douglas and our cheeks hurt from smiling because the place is every bit of beautiful and peaceful as we had hoped.

One afternoon we did nothing but play cards for hours, listen to the birds, and occasionally look over the balcony at the beautiful pool retreat.

We played table tennis/ping pong one morning (who makes time to play anymore?!) and then biked along Four Mile Beach on the vintage bikes that Leona and Bob provided.

We had gorgeous brekkies full of fresh and tropical fruit.

We were relieved to find that great ol’ fashioned customer service is not dead.  Leona and Bob made every effort to ensure our stay was perfect.  They allowed us to do a load of our salty laundry from our snorkeling and boat trip and had left a bottle of sparkling wine in our room to help celebrate our anniversary.

We can’t say enough about the beautiful accommodation and service but more importantly, our restful and relaxing stay there reminded us that…sometimes WE can just BE.

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To kick off our Anniversary extravaganza we spent two days and one night on a sailboat (yes, sailboat, you heard right) at the Great Barrier Reef.  We booked with Vagabond Dive ‘n Sail per a recommendation from a fellow ex-pat blogger who had done the same during her family’s visit to Australia.

The Great Barrier Reef is one of over 900 places in the world to be deemed a World Heritage Site, in other words, “part of the cultural and natural heritage which the World Heritage Committee considers as having outstanding universal value.”  We were beyond excited for this stop on the trip.

We ran into a few hiccups and without dwelling here let me just say that a torn sail, rough waters, a bit of seasickness, and sunburned feet did not get in the way of this amazing adventure.  That attitude is the only way to approach trips of this nature.  They are once in a lifetime for a reason and we chose to focus on everything incredible and inspiring from the journey.  After all, we were two of only a million people who get to snorkel the reef each year…that’s out of the over 7 billion people in the world.  WOW.

We left Cairns on the Vagabond early in the morning and departed for Fitzroy Island (due to the poor weather).  We snorkeled for a bit, took a nap on a nearby beach, had a lovely conversation with other guests and the crew — Skipper Paul, Bel, and dive instructor Jannick — ate dinner, watched the sunset, and then headed to bed.

On another major positive note, my dear husband has changed his mind about the necessity of buying a sailboat upon our return to the US.  Let’s just say that sleeping on a boat is not our thing and the smile is still on my face for dodging that bullet.

Snorkeling was, of course, awesome.  I laughed at myself several times thinking that we were swimming with the fishies, in a non-mafia-movie-sort-of-way. *Sorry about the poor photo quality.  Our underwater cover for our little digi-camera worked okay but those darn fish move around making it really hard to capture the awesomeness.

The tropical fish were expected but I was not at all prepared for the other incredible marine life, aka the reef.  Some of the reef looked like things you’d see under a microscope in a biology class but with more vibrant colors.

Each time I popped my head out of the water I couldn’t fathom that all of that life was just under my toes.  It’s a little unsettling but in a good way.  The next morning we woke up for brekkie, did another round of snorkeling, and then headed back to Cairns.  Because the Reef is a World Heritage Area no one is allowed to take pieces of the reef home for souvenirs even though there are tons of pieces and shells on the shore.  We as law abiding citizens left the reef intact for the many future generations and who knows, maybe we’ll be back for our 25th anniversary.

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One year ago (give or take a few days) Ryan and I got a bit dressed up…

Stood up in front of God and our family and friends…

and committed our lives to each other.  Magical.  And then we celebrated.  And danced…

Three short days afterwards we headed to make our merry home in Australia, which meant our wedding reception felt like a going away party too.  Read our very first post about our adventure to Australia.

We marvel at all our life’s blessings in this first year of marriage.  It has been wonderful and amazing, full of conversations and learning more about each other, non-stop laughter, home-cooked meals, never-ending games of Rummy (most of which I win), nights out with friends, and traveling together around this half of the world.

Speaking of travel, to celebrate our very first anniversary we are currently at the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland!  Here’s to avoiding being eaten by sharks and poisoned by jelly fish so we make it to year two.  Happy Anniversary to Us!

*Amazing wedding photos were taken by Wendi Riggens

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