Friday, June 25, 2010

2 More Months

So it has been a few weeks since our vacation with my parents and we are getting back into the daily routine of work and practice. Ryan is still working three days a week with Market Creations and 1-2 days going to schools doing clinics for elementary school kids.

I am still staying pretty busy at the surf shop as well. Because it is the middle of winter my hours have been cut a bit due to the fact that no one wants to buy surf clothes in the winter. But other than that Ryan and I stay very busy leaving the house at 8:30 in the morning and not returning till around 8:00 at night most days of the week.  So we really enjoy our weekends and days off together to just relax and run errands. 

Ryan only has five more games of regular season until playoffs start. The Buccs are still playing great and staying in first place. They have two big games against top teams this weekend in Perth and in Kalgoorlie. Friday night they play the Perth Redbacks and Saturday morning they fly to Kalgoorlie to play the Goldfield Giants. His Saturday game plays online on the SBL website at 7:30 pm so come check it out! Even if its an early morning for you!!

Ryan personally is tearing it up:) Shooting over 50% from the field and 47% from 3-point land for the season and averaging 31 points per game. God has truly blessed his overseas career thus far and we look forward to where He will lead us next. It is that time of year where we start the process of contacting teams, agents and players all over again. 

Going through this process the second time around gives us a whole different perspective. We have learned the need to be in constant prayer and give our future into the Lord's hands. He is in control of where we go next whether its home or overseas somewhere. It doesn't become any easier with all the waiting but we can go into it with more joy, excitement and patience because we have truly seen God's faithfulness and guidance in our lives this last year. 

We will be sure to keep you updated on the last two months of our stay in Geraldton and where the Lord takes us next.

Miss and love you guys!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Australia Bound Part 2

In the last blog I ended with making our way up to Gero (It's what the locals call Geraldton :D).

After the four hour drive we arrived at our home. For the first time we were able to share with my parents OUR home since we've been married.  LIke I've mentioned before we share the house with four other people and it may not always seem to be exclusively mine and Ryan's place, but we were still so proud to show it off; not only our house, but our little town as well. We are proud because God has placed us here and this is where He wants us. He has given us abundantly more than we could ask for. We may not have the luxuries that we sometimes wish for, but we get reminded daily of God's faithfulness and providence in our lives. I look forward to the day we can share these same things with Ryan's parents when they come to visit in the middle of July.

The third week we spent most of our time in Gero. While Ryan and I spent a few days of the week working my parents went off to explore the streets and towns surrounding Geraldton. They were able to spend time on the beach, become amused at the museums and sip a cuppa at DOME (Our new coffee shop in town; much like a Starbucks). I really enjoyed the time my mom and I were able to cook dinners together. There is something about being a new wife and wanting your first home-cooked meal in your own house to be perfect for your guests, especially if its your own family. You want them to know that you really do know how to cook and your not starving your husband at home:) (Some of you may understand what I am talking about).....unfortunately, mine didn't turn out that way. I burnt the meat. To a crisp. Nevertheless, we started over and it turned out the second time around. I must say regardless of the burnt meat we had some pretty good meals otherwise, with the help of my mom of course. Our most delicious meal was Surf 'N' Turf; steak, potatoes and yummy little prawns. 

That Saturday we attended the event of the week, Ryan's basketball game. This is an event I look forward to EVERY week. I love watching Ryan play and the stress of close games is such a rush! This game happened to be one of those games, at least towards the beginning. The Buccs played the Mandurah Magic. The Magic were up only by a few points for the majority of the game but the Buccs came back to win with a lead of about 10-15 points. Ryan ended the game with about 36 points.  My parents and I were given Box Seats for the game which made the experience much more thrilling. Each Box receives a platter of wings, veggies, crackers and dip. They also receive a large esky (Americans call these "coolers")  full of ice cold drinks. 

The following day my parents, Ryan and I set off heading north for a 4-day trip to MONKEY MIA and EXMOUTH. There isn't much along the way but we made a few stops, one of which was BILLABONG. Most likely the place that the surf brand "Billabong" is named after. We continued our journey upward through the outback to DENHAM. Here we spent the night. The place we stayed at was a like a little dutch village. The owner came from the Netherlands and started his business here. Once we found this out the Dutch Bingo began with my parents, but no winner this time. After we booked our stay we walked along the pier searching the water to see if we could find any fish. To our amazement, we spotted a large sting ray gliding along the ocean floor. I have only seen sting rays in exhibits such as SeaWorld, but this creature was even more beautiful in the wild as it was calmly skimming the bottom of the ocean. 

Bright and early the next morning we drove to see the dolphins at Monkey Mia. Besides its beautiful beaches, Monkey Mia doesn't have much going for it. But there is one attraction that can bring hundreds of people and that is to see the wild dolphins. Each morning there are wild dolphins that come the the shores of the Monkey Mia Resort. All four of us were able to stand in the water and have the dolphins swim right up to us. It was quite an experience. 

After Monkey Mia we drove several more hours north to a town called Exmouth. The land here was much drier than I had anticipated, but the beaches were a brilliant blue.  The next day in Exmouth we went snorkling in the middle of a coral reef. The tour bus picked us up from our hotel, gave us a few tour stops along the way before we reached our glass bottom boat. That day was a bit windy and both Ryan and I were not excited about having our feet dangling in the middle of the cold ocean. We boated out to sea spotting many fish through the bottom of our boat. Moments later we parked our boat right over the coral reef. Shivering already from the wind and the splashes of water from the waves made it less enticing to drop down into the ocean, especially after the tour guide told us to not get too close to the 40 ft.- long tiger sharks if we see any. But seeing my dad hop effortlessly into the water made both Ryan and I realize we are not coming all the way to Australia and miss out on this chance to snorkle.  Suctioning our goggles to our faces, we SLOWLY made our way into the water. Boy, am I glad we did it! I saw the most colorful fish I've seen in my life and the most unique looking coral. I could hardly breath (besides continuously getting water in my snorkle) with the adrenaline of being in the middle of the ocean and seeing such beauty under the water, a world we hardly ever experience. 
Before we finished our trip back home to Geraldton we stopped at Kalbarri, the place Ryan and I spent our 23rd Bdays, to show my parents the beautiful sights of coastline and deep gorges. 

The last weekend that my parent were in Australia we made another short trip in the opposite direction down to Margaret River; a 6-7 hour drive from Geraldton (Ryan wasn't able to come along because of his bball practices). We stopped at several different points along the Southwest coast, but Margaret River was my favorite. It was filled with green pastures and exquisite wineries. The downtown was quaint with little shops. While we were there the town was hosting a "Cow Parade." There were hundreds of cows painted in different themes or dressed up as different characters. As we toured the town and the surrounding towns we tried spotting as many cows as we could and took pictures of them. We continued driving south towards Cape Leeuwen. This Cape was unique because on one side stood the Southern Ocean and on the other side stood the Indian Ocean. 
We tried to cram in as much as we could see that weekend before Ryan's triple-header and before my parent's flight home. So we headed back up to Perth, to stay about 3 more days. We cheered on Ryan in each of his games and again he played great. The team came away with 2 victories out of the 3 games. 

The time came to say goodbye to my parents. It was very tough for both Ryan and I. We admit it felt like we were left alone on a strange island again like it did the first time we arrived. But we were both very thankful for the time we could spend and the places we could experience together. We are once again reminded of how thankful we are for our families. Now we look forward to the few weeks we can spend with Ryan's parents when they come in July! 

I hope you enjoyed reading what we experienced! It sure was a blast!!

Look for another blog update this friday!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Australia Bound Part 1

Hey Everyone! 

(Sorry this is a very very long entry, I don't blame you for not finishing it, but I encourage you to read the whole thing so you get an understanding of the pictures. )

I'm back from my amazing trip across down under! As some of you may have heard my parents came out to visit us in Australia for a month. Their plan was to start in Brisbane and make their way down the East coast and across the Southern coast of the country to Western Australia. Ryan surprised me with a ticket to meet them in Brisbane and experience the drive with my parents. It was such a blessing to experience most of Australia with my parents and one of the best tour guides in the world, my dad. We probably saw more of Australia than most Australians and everywhere we went he knew all the facts! This trip was one of my greatest memories not only because we were left with seeing some of the most beautiful sights in the world, but it also brought us home with a much bigger view of God. 

Let me just start off giving you a bit of structure of where we went on our trip.... (If you can see a map of Australia while your reading it might give you a better understanding of our trip.)

My parents and I landed in BRISBANE only a few hours apart. Brisbane is located in the southern corner of Queensland on the east coast of Australia. I didn't have much time in the city of Brisbane but its surroundings were different from what I expected. It was much more tropical with palm trees and humidity. We drove several hours north of Brisbane to NOOSA HEAD, and here we saw only the beginning of beautiful coastlines. 

As we made our way back down the coastline through Brisbane we stayed the night in SURFER'S PARADISE. It resembles very much Miami, Florida. 

The next morning we continued on down the GOLD COAST to TWEED HEADS and BYRON BAY. Byron Bay is near the top of my list of most beautiful places in the world. It was just breathtaking standing at the top of the hill overlooking the valley and onto the South Pacific Ocean. It was a valley of green pastures filled with grazing cows and farmland.

Our next stop was COFF'S HARBOUR. Here we saw the Big Banana. Australia is filled with tourist attractions of what they call "The Bigs." Many towns all along Australia have a "Big" - a huge structure that often represents something that is special to that particular town. In this case it was bananas. 

After several more hours of driving we landed in a little town called HARRINGTON. That night we stayed in an old saloon. Quite an experience! I felt like Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman. Although it was a bit run-down I must say it did have its own charm.  The seas were raging the next morning as we woke up and started our trek down to SYDNEY. 

We spent a couple days on the outskirts of Sydney in a town called MANLY. Sydney reminded me very much of San Francisco the way it was crowded with houses on the green hills amongst a large bay covered in fog. It is located on the eastern coast of New South Wales. We took a ferry from Manly to Downtown Sydney. The night was beautiful as the sun was beginning to set as our boat landed adjacent to the Opera House. We walked along the harbour, toured the opera house and had a nice italian dinner while being serenaded by two men with a guitar and harp.  The next morning we took a bus tour to see all that we could of Sydney from the ground. To see all of Sydney from an ariel view we took a tour to the top of the Sydney Tower. Here we saw a 360 degree view of the whole city. We even spotted a rainbow across the bay.

Before we made our way to the Capital we spent the night in GOULBURN. We had dinner at a wonderful little diner called the Paragon.  My dad had the best meal of his life here. An omelette with scalloped cheesy potatoes. Unfortunately I  didn't have the same meal but it sure looked tasty!

CANBERRA, the Country's Capital, was our next stop. This wasn't my favorite city although the colors of fall were quite vibrant. In each capital city of the states it was our goal to visit the parliament buildings. Canberra's parliament building was a bit boring compared to the rest. It felt similar to being in a hospital with not much character or detail. Fortunately, I was able to snap some great shots of the beautiful fall trees.

My mom and I were finally able to do some shopping at the Markets in MELBOURNE, the country's "fashion capital." Walking along the streets and shops felt like walking in Europe; especially with the toilets in the middle of large intersections. Melbourne is the capital of Victoria and is near the southern most point of Australia. Melbourne is one of the more industrialized  cities in Australia. Each building was modern in architecture; except for the the Melbourne's Parliament Building. It was filled with detail and character. 

Driving just outside of Melbourne we stopped for the night in GEELONG. We had seen Thai Restaurants all throughout our trip and my parents and I really wanted to try it since we hadn't before. Our hotel that night happened to be connected to a little Thai Restaurant. So we hopped in and took a seat ordering a peanut and curry chicken dish with coconut rice and a prawn, beef and curry dish. Delicious!

After Geelong we began our journey along the GREAT OCEAN ROAD. This is one of the most beautiful drives in the world. It stretches  250 km from the surfing mecca of TORQUAY to WARRNAMBOOL. We stopped along the road to spot any surfers and sure enough there they were with their wet suits and Kombis (A painted, "hippie"-type van that surfers live and travel in). We saw these vans everywhere we went.

We made another stop along the Southern-most point in Australia, CAPE OTWAY. As we were driving along the side ride I spotted a koala up in one of the Eucalyptus trees. This was the first koala we saw unless you count the stuffed koala my mom spotted in a tree a few hours earlier:) Yes, we really saw a stuffed koala in a eucalyptus tree out in the middle of nowhere; several in fact. Some one was playing a joke and we were all fooled. Nevertheless, we saw a real one a few hours later. We had difficulty taking pictures at first because the koala was sleeping and it's head was facing down, hiding behind a tree branch. But who would have thought that my mom could speak koala! Every time she made a screeching sound the koala's head popped up giving us the perfect opportunity to take pictures.

Continuing further along the Great Ocean Road, we arrived at the TWELVE APOSTLES. These were 12 rock formations that are continuously being eroded by the ocean. They make a spectacular coastline view. You become marveled at the view and reminded of the vastness of God and His creativity and beauty. You CANNOT ignore the fact that there is a God after seeing beauty and you CAN'T help but praise Him after seeing this beauty.

Onward toward a little town called MT. GAMBIER where we stayed for the night before we made our way towards ADELAIDE. The next morning was extremely foggy making it very difficult to drive but I was able to get really cool photos of the fog creeping over the landscape as the sun was rising. 

We saw several "Bigs" during our trip but one of the favorites was "Larry the Lobster" in KINGSTON SE, South Australia. He sure was big! 

Adelaide is located in the lower right corner of South Australia. My Parents and I didn't see much of Adelaide because we needed to stay on time, but it might have been one of my favorites of the big cities. The whole downtown was surrounded by a park with big beautiful trees and walking paths making it such a unique city. The streets were very spacious and the buildings were old and filled with beautiful architecture. It was also much smaller than the other big cities making it less crowded. It is also called the city of churches for its vast amounts of different churches on every corner in the city.

I told many people that we were going to drive across Australia and most reactions were "You're crazy!" "You're driving across the Nullarbor?!" Yes, we did! It is wasn't as bad as people told us it would be. It was actually quite a pretty drive. The scenery seemed to change nearly every mile with its different Eucalyptus trees and bush. Nothing like what you would expect the outback to look like. 
The last town we stayed in before we drove through the Nullarbor was PORT AUGUSTA, and there was pretty much nothing after that except for little towns of like 5 people maybe. 

You'll see in some of the pictures that we stopped at the Great Australian Bight. It's a coastline that looks like someone took a big bite out of it. The water was amazingly blue and the high cliffs literally took your breath away. 

Before we hit the longest straight stretch of road in Australia(146km), we spent the night in EUCLA, an itty bitty town on the border of South Australia and Western Australia. 

As the NULLARBOR ended we drove down south to a small town called ESPERANCE. It was a fascinating beach town because it  had an archipelago of nearly 100 small islands off the coast. The water was as blue as could be rimmed with pure white sands. Although we caught it on a rainy day this town is still near the top of my list of most beautiful places. 

Ten hours later we made it to Perth where we had dinner with a wonderful Christian family Ryan and I know and a nights sleep before we headed onto Geraldton. 

The rest of the description of the trip will be continued....I figured that if anyone actually did make it this far in reading I would give them a break and a chance to look at the pictures before explaining our next journey around Western Australia!

Thanks so much for reading, I hope you got a little glimpse of what Australia is like and left with a little bigger view of God as well. I hope you began to see the splendor of His handiwork and creation that echos the truth that He is truly Glorious!

"The Heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world."
--- Psalm 19:1-4