Friday, May 3, 2013

Aussie Road Trip Day Five

April 12th Last of the Great Ocean Road and Drive Into Melbourne

As we got up early to say good bye to Apollo Bay and head out towards Melbourne, we stopped at the beach for a few last pictures of the gorgeous surf and sunshine. It was only a 2 1/2 hour drive and we had some options for getting into the city. We considered taking the suggestion of others and catching a ferry to cross a bay and come into the city from below, but we realized cost and timing were not on our side so we kept to the freeway, heading through Torquay, Geelong and Werribee. 

We stopped in Torquay in use the internet at McDonalds, but it wouldn't log on, so we searched for a library and were able to get our normal life stuff done aka check the bank and Facebook. 

Melbourne was our first big city and we had to find out hotel in the downtown of South Yarra. Little did we know this area was a major player in the traffic of Melbourne and we found ourselves in massive city traffic, thankful for Nancy the GPS to tell us when to turn and such. I couldn't imagine what it would have been like if all we had was print off Google Maps. 

As we were driving through the city keeping an eye out for the hotel, the car started to give us some trouble, not idling well and kinda coughing, making Siyani and I very nervous. We finally had to pull over, on a massively congested street in a no parking zone because the car died. Thankfully we were on the same street as the hotel, we just weren't sure how far from it we were. Siyani figured out that some cords had fallen on the fan which prevented it from cooling the engine and this is why the car died. So while he moved the cords and let the engine cool down, I walked up the street the find the hotel. Turns out we were only 3 blocks away. After checking in and finding out where the parking was, Siyani braved merging into the craziest traffic I have ever seen (even Vancouver has nothing on this place) and we finally got parked and into out hotel room. Due to the wonderfulness that was this adventure, there are sadly no pictures from this particular day, as the craziness was yet to continue. 

That evening we had reservations for drinks and appies at a club in the downtown. We got tickets for the train and I asked the lady at the booth which way we would need to go once we exited to get to our street for our reservations. Basically things did not go according to plan. We walked in the complete wrong direction, got turned around, ended up back at the train station at the time we should have been at the club, Siyani figured out which way  we needed to go and it was like 8 blocks down three blocks up, 30 minutes of more walking and when we finally got to the club they informed us that we should have received a call as the evenings entertainment that we had paid for was rescheduled to the next week and would we mind coming back then. This is where we finally caught a break. The manager for the night was a backpacker turned Melbourneite who understood everything we had just gone through and understood why we couldn't comeback (as in we would be in Brisbane by then) felt terrible for all the confusion and comped us 4 drinks and a full dinner. Turned out it wold be one of the best meals we would eat on our whole trip and one I would try and re create from time to time.  Creamy Pumpkin Risotto for me and a perfectly cooked steak for Siyani. After the days events we walked back to the train station, crawled to the hotel and got a well deserved nights sleep in preparation for the rest of Melbourne.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Aussie Road Trip Day Four

April 11th Driving the Great Ocean Road

The plan this beautiful morning was to get up early, drive to Warrnambool, enjoy breakfast and then head out towards Apollo Bay enjoying the sights as we drove. Unfroutunatly our morning got off to a rough start as Siyani realized we had lost the oil cap to the car. He spent the better part of an hour running the few streets we had driven to try and find it. What he did find was a mechanic shop with some helpful guys who called an auto wrecker for us who had one. With the mornings drama sorted we headed out of Stawell and off to Warrnambool.

This part of our trip was what I had been personally looking forward to more then anything. It has been a really big goal of mine to see the Twelve Apostles and to travel the Great Ocean Road. To make sure we didn't miss to much we stopped at the Warrnambool Visitors Center to get a more detailed map and the lady there told us we had to stop at Cheese World just outside of town.

Outside the Warrnambool Visitors Center

Are we ever so glad we heard about Cheese World. Of course with a place like this they make all the cheese in house and the flavors, who such yummy flavors. Siyani and I indulged and bought three different flavors, two mini bottles of champagne and strawberry schnapps, crackers and two of the worlds best milkshakes to go. Cheese world labeled their milkshakes this but we weren't to far off from disagreeing. 

Next we plugged in the stops we wanted into Nancy (the GPS) and headed off on the Great Ocean Road. Words cannot describe the beauty of the rock masses and the surf and the smell of the ocean. We stopped off at quite a few places but one favorite was the Grotto. The tide was out, so Siyani jumped the retaining wall to build an Inukshuck out of rocks, a bit of Canada in Australia.  The twelve apostles was of course the busiest stop along the road, but so worth it. To finally be standing there, seeing them with Siyani was a wonderful moment. We also headed down to the beach to sit on the sand and dip our toes in the ocean. Good thing we are used to cold water, because being so far south it definitely wasn't a tropical surf.

With daylight running out we drove through the The Great Otway National Park. This is where the road goes inland, through dense green forest as far as the eye can see. We tried to take pictures but you just couldn't grasp the expanse or beauty of this place nor the transition of coastal road to inland forest. Take our word for it, the drive was breath taking. 

Once we got to Apollo Bay we found our hostel, grabbed a pizza and once again appreciated having a bed to sleep in. The next day we would see the final part of the Great Ocean Road and hit our first major city, Melbourne.

Morning in Apollo Bay, hitting up the visitors center and enjoying some awesome gelato at a local cafe.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Aussie Road Trip Day Three

April 10th Driving to Stawell,Victoria

After sleeping in the Griffith Info Center parking lot, we headed to Maccas for breakfast and internet. We also had to choose our route, as there were a few options for getting to Stawell. Gaye and Peter had suggested going to Echuca if we could fit it in, as it had some wonderful tourist things to do. As we were ahead of schedule and supposedly on more then just a driving trip we choose to take the tourist way and headed for Echuca. 

Our first stop of the day would be Deniliquin, famous for the 1999 Ute Muster. This was when 2,839 utes paraded through town and wrote the town into the Guinness Book of World Records. This yearly festival has become such a hit that in 2010 a new record was set with 10,152 utes participating. In honor of this the town erected a one of a kind "Ute on a Pole". 

We enjoyed a nice picnic lunch in one of the parks, choosing to Aussie it up. To us this meant packing a cooler bag with food and carrying hot water and instant chai so we could enjoy a nice cuppa when we stopped. At this time I was also thankful for being smart enough to have packed an emergency bag, as I cut my thumb with the knife while making sandwiches. In the park were some fun info stations with which to take pictures of CC the Bear and next to the info center was a mosaic ute. 
1. Siyani with CC at the Ute on a Pole 2. CC with a Cockatoo 3. CC on a large heritage wood cutter 4. CC and Siyani at the Mosaic Ute
We continued onto Echuca, where we were excited to find the Port of Echuca, a heritage icon. The port is set up like Barkerville, with the heritage buildings still in tact and the employees dressed in period costume and the paddle streamers still running up and down the Murray River. We bought our tickets and enjoyed a ride on the PS Pevensey. It was during this ride that we also learned we were pronouncing our destination wrong. While we had been saying it phonetically (Sta-Well) we were told it was pronounced Stall. It was very cool to learn of the heritage of Echuca, the formation of this river port opened up inland Australia to settlement and was Australia's largest inland port. Echuca was also the nations main ship building area for river transport and today with its restoration gives a beautiful glimpse into the past. Of course when we boarded the paddle steamer we had CC the bear with us and one of the attendants said we could get a picture of him at the helm and afterwards he was also given an honorary first mates certificate. 

After our paddle steamer ride we explored the town and to my absolute delight found out that Echuca also boasts a wonderful chocolate/candy heritage. We stopped in at the Echuca Chocolate Company, where we experienced chocolate liquors and walked away with a white chocolate port. Then we hit up the candy store where I got a tin to add to my collection and we picked up some road trip candy. There were so many amazing shops and looking at the visitors guide so many more attractions but we didn't have time to see them all. Echuca will definitely be on our list for next time. 

We also did a bit of shopping at a sports outlet store, where Siyani got a complete re-stocking of Fox apparel, and once that was complete we headed out of town for a straight drive to Stawell. After two nights of sleeping in a car lets just say words can't describe the beauty and wonderfulness of a hot shower, some Chinese food and a big comfy bed. A wonder nights sleep in Stawell to get us rested for the next days adventure of the Great Ocean Road. 

The Sunset on our drive through Bendigo and into Stawell
Siyani really enjoying the bed.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Aussie Road Trip Day One and Two

April 8th and 9th Traveling from Mackay QLD to Griffith NSW

The day had finally arrived, the car was packed and we were ready to go. Thanks to Gaye and Peter we were also pretty sure we wouldn't get lost as they lent us their GPS which we of course had to name and in the end the name was Nancy. So we left Mackay and headed towards Rockhampton. This was a destination for two reasons. 1) It would be the first fuel stop and 2) it is where we would head inland instead of continuing down the coast. Let's just say its not a joke when people talk about how horrible the drive from Mackay to Rocky is. Nothing between the towns, so it was a relief when we finally hit Rocky and could take a much needed break. 

And so we kept driving, the first day was set aside for this, just putting a dent into the 2,500 km we would be driving until we got to our first hotel. The plan was to stop in Condamine and sleep in the car, but once we got there we realized we weren't very tired so we kept going until we hit the border of QLD and NSW, the town of Goondiwindi. There we pulled into a truck stop, pulled out our sleeping bags and caught some Z's. 
One of our coffee stops before Goondiwindi
One of the many shires we would drive through
The next day we were up and gone by 5 am with the goal in mind of getting to Griffith. 
The Sunrise as we crossed from QLD to NSW

Along the way we saw Coonabarabran.
And one of the many Australian Big Things, this one of course being the big racket and ball.
Finally we made it to Griffith and with it still being a bit early as we had gotten more driving done then expected we decided to hit a movie. It was perfect timing as we got there only 5 min before the movie started and it was awesome. We saw The Croods, which was a great movie and it felt like watching a movie at home with the exception of the big screen as there were only 4 other people in the whole theater, so we stretched out over the seats all comfy like and enjoyed the flick. 
That evening we again slept in our car, this time though was a bit more un-nerving as we couldn't find a truck stop to pull into. So we found the local Info Center and parked in the back corner hoping we wouldn't get in trouble from anyone. The night passed without a hitch and again we woke up early to get a move on towards Stawell. 

Here a few extra pics from those first two days of driving, driving, and more driving. 
Our awesome M&M car freshener

Driving along 

Practicing the good ol selfie, not easy with a bigger camera

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

BBQ - Assembly - BBQ...Oh My

Ok, so yes as of this moment we are on our road trip, but we will fill you in on all that once the big 3 day drive is complete. Until then, this is a quick catch up blog as a lot happened just before we left. I know, we should have done this post last week, but with so much going on we waited so we could do one big post.

First, at the beginning of March as many of you know, we moved from staying with Emma and Andrew to staying with Gaye and Peter Downing. This was awesome as they are an older but awesome couple. They really made us feel like family, I cooked tea (dinner) every night and we all ate together which was really nice and we played Wii and went in service together and it really just made for a great month.

So, before we left, these awesome people let us have about 22 from the congregation over for a BBQ. This is one of two, and since pictures speak louder then words, I will let them do the talking.

Then we had our two day Assembly, which both Siyani and I thoroughly enjoyed. I loved the 9 questions, it helped me to look for more in the talks and to have those specific points at the end to reflect on are great for our family study time. Siyani found the District Overseer very interesting as a person as he put  personal stories into his talks and had some fun things to say about his dog and prize tomato plants. It was also great to see so many from Bowen as I have not yet seen them on this trip and many of them had not yet met Siyani. Lets just say there was lots of hand shaking, hugging and cheek kissing.

This leads to the following pictures of an art project I attempted. It was a gift for a brother and good friend who got baptized at the assembly. The inspiration comes from Shaina and a gift she once gave me. It is a wall hanging with the love never fails scripture on it.

The first night of the assembly we had a second BBQ, complete with torrential rains (thankfully it was a covered patio). This time was mostly Bowen ites, Dale and Cheryl Williams and their boys and Reece and his sister Ashley and of course as always Taija and Rowen.

Now we will finish up with my favorite new things, which include the coolest pair of flats ever, they have spikes and the new camera which thankfully arrived before we left.

Hope you all enjoyed the pictures and keep tuning in as the Road Trip will be uploaded soon. The first big feature will of course be the drive but that drive takes us to something I have been so excited about, The Great Ocean Road. Until then, love to everyone.

Megan and Siyani

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

CC's Crazy Hair

The (short) Story of Siyani and his desire to have Hair

Siyani has been working at Avis now for 4 months now and every now and then he works quite a few days in a row due to a need for extra workers on his days off. When this happens Siyani decides not shave because it irritates his skin if he shaves to often. Not to long ago Siyani ended up doing 12 days in row, combine that with not having had a hair cut before we left and you get Siyani the bushman. He was really enjoying having facial for the simple fact that he just didn't have to shave. It was actually looking really good for a while, it gave him a mature look to his face but before to long the combination of long hair and facial hair was just to much. So I asked Emma for the clippers and buzzed CC's head then made him shave the beard. Wow what a difference that made, he looked so young and baby faced. It was fun while it lasted but the bushman look really only stays in style for a short period of time. I have a feeling though the beard will make a regular appearance. Check out the before and after pictures below. 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Rain, Shoes and Yummy Stuff

Rain, Rain go away come again........once we leave!

So what happens In February/March in Australia? I can tell you it has nothing to do with hot sunny days at the beach, no it is the opposite in fact. RAIN!!! Lots of rain, so much rain the drainage system outside the house looks more like a geyser and the back retaining wall looks like a really cool fountain. The kids across the street seem to love it as they set up what appears to be a permanent slip and slide on their front lawn. To be honest I am a little jealous, as I have fond memories of large black plastic soaked in water and dish soap at Grandma Fricke's in Smithers.  Now we had real fun on that thing as the trick was to stop before the end for two reasons, a) if you were going to fast you got grass burned cause the plastic ended but you kept going and b) there was a barbed wire fence at the end, so after grass burns was a potential for a little more hurt. So the rain continues and we soldier on, yes it is a fight to enjoy being in a whole different country when all it does is rain for weeks on end. (As a side point, that last statement was drenched in sarcasm in my head).

Rain isn't such a bad thing, it makes stuff green and all that other positive stuff. What I really love about the rain is it gives me even more of a reason to be in the kitchen. Now I must apologize as I made one of the best tasting things ever but I did not take a picture of it. I have the recipe to share but alas nothing to actually show you. Mostly cause I forgot and also kinda because CC loved them so much he ate them before I could think to get a picture. So what is this awesomeness you ask? Cookie Dough Truffles. Now there are two recipes one for Chocolate Chip and one for Oreo. Personally I loved the Oreo ones the most and they are the easiest but the Chocolate Chip one is nice to have when you just feel like eating cooking dough. I found these on StumbleUpon, my favorite button to push. 

Now I did remember to get a picture of the oh so yummy Apple Cinnamon Rolls I made. These were made on a whim due to having bought a bunch of apples then getting sick for two weeks that they weren't crunchy enough for me to just straight up eat but not bad enough to condone chucking.  Oh they were good, like really very awesomely good. So you have that recipe to, so easy for a base roll that you really can add any fruit combo you like. It comes with a cream cheese frosting, but this time around they were so sweet it just didn't need it. 

Finally to my new shoes. This is important, just saying everyone, a shoe update is always news. Especially when they are the cutest orange wedges. I'm not gonna talk to much about these, I will let the pictures do the talking, aren't they just the best though. 

To everyone I apologize once again for not having more regular updates, this time though is due to both Siyani and I being horribly ill with whatever disease all you jealous people sent our way. Ok we don't really blame you but it was curious that so many back home were sick right around the same time we were as well. Just saying, (Trina I know it was you) we forgive WHOEVER made us ill. Now that things are back to fairly normal, we should have more regular updates, that and some exciting stuff is coming up. Love you all. 

Meg and CC


Apple Cinnamon Rolls

3 teaspoons dry yeast
1 cup warm milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup melted butter
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
4 cups flour

Mix all ingredients until a smooth ball forms. Leave in warm place until double in size then roll it out to 1/2 cm thick. Fill with cinnamon mixture

1 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1/2 cup melted butter

Once the filling is spread on place chopped and peeled apple in the center leaving space around the edges. Roll, cut and place in greased pan. Sprinkle leftover filling on top and place a small butter chunk on each roll. bake for 10 to 15 min. at 375. 

Original recipe found at