Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Like A Rolling Stone

How does it feel
To be Without a home
Like a complete unknown
like a rolling stone?
~Bob Dylan

I can relate to Bob Dylan's lyrics because in the last month I have been living out of a backpack and have spent approximately 20 nights in either a hostel, hotel or bach. We have been traveling quite a bit over the last month both in New Zealand and Australia. In the beginning of March, Laura's friends Heidi and Aaron came to visit so we booked a bach in Whangamata in the Coromandel. Because we had company in town, Lindsay and I had to rent a car for the weekend. Our little economy rental car didn't have AC or a radio. However that didn't stop us from having a great roadtrip. We rolled down the windows and used my ipod speakers to rock to everything from Bon Jovi to Otis Redding. The trip to Whangamata took a little longer than expected because we kept stopping at all the tourist attractions, including the giant L&P bottle in Paeroa. When we arrived at the beach, Lindsay and I went straight to the beach. I just took in the sites, while she combed the beach for treasures.

The next day we headed to Cathedral Cove (Te Whanganui-A-Hei), the marine reserve which is located on the Coromandel peninsula. It is named after the cave located there linking Mare's Leg Cove to Cathedral Cove. When we arrived at the cove there was a giant fence and danger sign warning hikers to not enter because there had been a landslide. Like typical Crazanks (Crazy Yanks), we hopped over the fence and headed to the cove. We hiked 45 minutes to the cove and had to crawl over several piles left by the slide. When we got to Cathedral Cove we had to shimmy ourselves down a slope where the slide had taken out the staircase. It was a tad chilly, so we just relaxed and enjoyed a nice little picnic at the beach. When we got home, a few of us decided to go for a nice run along the beach…it was amazing! Later that night we went back to the bach and enjoyed a nice kiwi dinner, which consisted of lamb & rosemary sausage, salad and red wine. On Sunday, we went for another run and then headed to downtown to treat ourselves to a latte and some lovely conversation. Later that day we headed to Whitianga for a day at the thermal pools called The Lost Springs. I felt like we were at a tropical resort because of the foliage, native birds and waterfalls. After the pools, Lindsay and I parted ways with the group and headed to the Mount to crash at Richard's. We got a call earlier in the week from Seeka saying that we both got jobs packing kiwi fruit, so we needed to head to the packhorse to fill out our tax forms. We also drove around and scoped out the hostel that we will be staying at while we pack fruit. We will truly be living the life of a migrant worker!

Lindsay and I went basically straight from our Coromandel trip to Australia. We hopped on the Naked Bus to Auckland and flew New Zealand Air to Sydney. We arrived in Sydney on Tuesday night, just in time to check into the hostel, grab a nice Mexican dinner and take in the amazing Sydney skyline at night. We walked down to the nearest harbor and each enjoyed some American candy. We called it an early night and headed back to the hostel for a "good night sleep" (which is never possible in a hostel. We decided to stay at the Original Backpackers Hostel in Potts Point near Kings Cross. It was a cute little neighborhood. The streets were lined with trees, hostels, quaint cafes and quite a few dodgy strip clubs.

On our first morning in Sydney we spotted the Coco Cafe on Victoria Street and headed there for brekky (breakfast) and a latte. I enjoyed the most amazing fresh tomato, avocado, olive oil open-faced sammy on artisan bread. While we sipped our lattes (local roast Campos), we discussed the GFC with Grant, the cafe owner and then exchanged travel stories with a lovely, young couple from Ireland. They told us about their recent travels to Thailand…and it made me want to go even more! (So if anyone wants to come visit & go to Thailand with me, I am looking for a travel buddy.) After brekky, we headed to the train station and made our way to Bondi Beach, which is located about 7 km from the Sydney CBD. While looking at a map at the bus station, a man stopped us and asked if we wanted help. The minute he heard our accent he instantly started to rave about Napa Valley wine and how much he loved wine country. It was rather cute (but he's right, Napa is amazing.) When we finally arrived at the beach, I was in awe. The beach was amazing! The sand was like nothing I have ever seen before and the water was filled with surfers. While we chilled on the beach, we met a nice girl from Chicago who was living in Sydney for about six months. She told us her story and also gave us a list of places to visit. That night we headed out on the town and went to a bar called O'Mallys. We sat next to a Southern Irish man and a guy from Scotland. I swore the Irish guy wasn't speaking English because his accent was thick and I believe he was extremely intoxicated. The sun had wiped us out, so we called it an early night and went back to the hostel. Our German roommates, were fast asleep so we had to creep around in the dark in order to get ready for bed. (Traveler's note: always bring your head lamp!)

The next morning we went back to the cafe and enjoyed a latte to go as we made our way downtown. We took the path along the harbor and that cuts through the Botanical Garden. There are amazing views of the Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House from the garden. We made our way to the Opera House and for kicks decided to see if there were any tickets available for that evening. Belle & Sebastian and Carmen were sold out, but they had a special going…a tour of the SOH and a ticket to the opera, The Barber of Seville for $85. Tickets for that show were usually $280, so it was quite the deal…and come on, you can't go all the way to Sydney, Australia and not see a performance at the Sydney Opera House. The tour was worth every penny. It is a phenomenal building and it was so interesting to learn the struggles they went through for it to become the icon it is today.

Later than night we took the train back downtown and I saw my first opera. I remember sitting there thinking, "Wow, I am in Australia while my sister is at home giving birth. It is amazing how different our lives are right now." At about 2:30 a.m. (which is exactly when Shelley was scheduled for the c-section) I was awaken by rowdy people in the hostel and I couldn't fall back to sleep because I just had this weird feeling. I kept thinking about Baby Mason and had this feeling that something wasn't quite right. At first light, I got up and ran to the communal area to use the computer. I had 3 emails from my mom - the first telling me that they were headed to the hospital, the second telling me that Mason Phillip Guptil had arrived and then a third email that said that they were taking him to the NICU in the cities because he was turning blue and his oxygen levels were low. I instantly broke into tears and I didn't care what all the other travelers thought of me. At that movement I wanted nothing more than to be back in Minnesota with my family. I was literally on the other side of the world and there was nothing I could do. I was able to gchat with my Mom and get an update, but they didn't have any answers. I didn't want to ruin Lindsay's vacation, so we decided to walk downtown and go to the Sydney Wildlife World. On our way we stopped at a little cafe to get our morning latte. After I ordered my latte, I made my way to the bathroom and saw a quote on the wall that changed my frown upside down. It said, "Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined." In that moment, I knew I had to stay the course and not fly home. I came here to find something for myself and I need to stay true to that and do my best to be a support for my family from afar.

So after my latte and revelation, we stopped at a shop and got a free boomerang throwing lesson. We eventually made it to Wildlife World and saw kangaroos, koala bears and a giant crocodile. For our last night in Sydney, we went to the Rocks, which is the hotspot in Sydney. It is located right under the Harbour Bridge and is lined with so many cute bars and restaurants. Lindsay and I made our way to a couple different spots and did our version of a progressive dinner. Our time in Sydney was amazing! It is one of my most favorite cities in the entire world and I definitely want to go back there again.

So there it is…I will continue to be a rolling stone…without a home and into the unknown.

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