November 7, 2013 at 1:07am
Great Barrier Reef, Australia
Thursday, November 7th 2013
I spent a wonderful week up in the Whitsunday Islands in Queensland, Australia. I stayed at the Magnum Beach Backpacker’s Hostel in a private room. It really was a great location! It was right in the middle of the small town of Airlie Beach, so it was very convenient, yet the sleeping area was tucked back away from the noisy bar area in the front of the resort. The room was a tiny plywood box with a bathroom down the hall, shared with two other rooms. The bathroom DID want for cleaning, but you know… the experience didn’t kill me! And the price was right! Virtually all the other “resort” rooms in town would have required a car to get around (and I wasn’t willing to try my hand at driving on the “wrong” side of the road!) and cost a LOT more. As it was, it was a very short walk to the town “lagoon”, which was a very large pool landscaped to look very natural. There were sandy areas, grassy areas and covered picnic areas. I spent a lot of time just “hanging out” around the pool and relaxing, reading a book.
In addition, I took two snorkeling day-trips out to various coral reefs around the Whitsunday Islands and also took a flight out to see the Great Barrier Reef by air. All the trips were great and well worth the price. I took a TON of photos and had a BLAST!
About a week ago I landed in Auckland, New Zealand. In 2011, when I did the pilgrimage to Sanitago de Compostela, Spain, I met a priest named Stuart. We didn’t walk together, but our evening paths crossed several times along the way. We shared a few dinners and attended a mass in the monastery town of Samos. I thoroughly enjoyed our conversations then and had promised (threatened?) that some day I would come visit him in Auckland. I’ve made good on that promise.
Fr. Stuart teaches at a local seminary. He had generously taken me on a car tour of the surrounding area a few days ago and we had lunch. Last night I was invited for dinner at the seminary and met many of his students and colleagues. What a wonderful experience! The group is a really beautiful “made family”. We’ll have lunch again on Saturday and then he is off to teach a retreat in the south. I am very glad to have caught up with him again!
My “home” in Auckland is delightful. It is in a separate building from the main house, which is shared by my hosts Tanah and Sarah Jane. Both the main house and my guest house are delightfully “private”. You are in your own little “island” in the suburbs. My guest house is two rooms (with a deliciously comfy bed) and a bathroom. I have a fridge, micro and tea kettle. When I asked if there might be a electric fry pan to whip up my morning eggs, Tanah invited me to cook my breakfast each morning in the main house. I have been doing that and have enjoyed my conversations with Tanah each morning. Downtown Auckland is just a short bus ride away. I’ve had fun visiting museums, taking ferries to outlying areas and just walking around. I am enjoying the city. Today is rainy and I have decided to stay “home”, relax and catch up a little on the internet.
In about a week, I’ll be off to Melbourne, Australia for a week… then home! I get home TWO days before Thanksgiving this year… plenty of time to get ready to have a bunch of people over for Turkey-day! Last year I only had ONE day!
Hey! Life’s a TRIP!
Here’s some links to my photo albumsL