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12
Jun

So it’s been a while…

   Posted by: Rhona   in Australia, Austria, Czech Republic

So it’s been a while between posts, but I have a good reason! The last couple of posts were written while trying to hide the fact that I was pregnant from people who I wanted to tell in person. Since then we’ve made the move to Munich, set up our first home, had a son (born April 2011) and done our best to balance our new found settled status with our love of travel. In his first 14 months Jake has been on quite a few trips, though most of them have been relatively short jaunts to nearby places in Europe. We went to Lake Constance when he was 10 weeks old, the Czech Republic soon after, Salzburg for a couple of days, Nurnberg for the Christmas market, a couple of trips to the Austrian Alps and a quite few trips to the mountains south of Munich. And then there have been the more serious trips, like 3 weeks in Australia and 2 weeks in Morocco, where we currently are. We also recently spent 2 weeks in northern Italy, mostly in the Dolomites doing some amazing hikes.

I think a lot of the parents we know think we’re crazy for doing some of the trips we do with him, and sometimes they’re probably right. The logistics of travelling with a child, especially without a car, can be a little overwhelming at times. The nappies, the food, the clothes, the pram/baby carrier/travel bed… It all adds up to a heck of a lot more gear than we’re used to taking. But we’re getting the hang of it, and it’s so nice to see him explore new places and have new experiences. We’re also lucky that he travels relatively well and is quite relaxed (for a baby). I’d like to think that he travels well because that’s how we raised him but realistically I think we’re probably just lucky.

There’s not enough space for a description of every trip we’ve been on (and I can’t remember the details to be honest) so we’ll leave it as a bit of a wash over post and maybe I’ll get motivated and write a post every now and again when we go somewhere interesting. It won’t be anything much compared to our travels pre-baby but hopefully we’ll still get to see some cool places with him in tow.

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5
Oct

Weeks 79&80: Driving and Packing

   Posted by: Rhona   in USA

The title pretty much says it all… After another night in Lafayette, Louisiana, we started the long drive back to Montana. On the first day we drove for 13 hours and ended up in Wichita, Kansas, having crossed 4 states. That was our longest day, at around 750 miles (1200km). We wanted to get as close to Denver as we could so we could spend the evening of the next day hanging out with Brett’s sister and her family again. From there it was up to Billings to spend another night with at Brett’s mum’s and then a short day in to Helena. In total, driving from Helena to Lafayette to Helena, we drove around 5,200 miles  (8,370km) in 18 days. Seeing as some days we didn’t drive at all the average of 290 miles (465km) per day is pretty impressive.

Going through Brett’s stuff has pretty much been what’s taken up the rest of the time until today. Actually, it’s not finished yet, though Brett flew out this afternoon. He’s off to work in the Black Sea for about 4-5 weeks, which unfortunately means I’m packing up my stuff in Australia on my own. Still, it’s cool that he got some work; a little inflow to the bank account never goes astray. I’ve been trying to fit in some of those last minute things that we didn’t think were going to make it (like you know, a massive carpet and a collection of coffee table books).

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24
Sep

Week 78: Heading South

   Posted by: Rhona   in Uncategorized

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photos to come…

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In Denver we hung out with Brett’s sisters and their partners/husbands/kids, did far too much shopping at the local outlet mall, met up with some of Brett’s friends and watched Brett’s niece’s first ever basketball game. That last one was really fun, imagine a team of 6 year olds who have never played basketball before, apart from the two practices they’ve managed to squeeze in. put two teams of equally clueless cuties on the court, add a ball and blow the whistle. There were kids going in every direction, urged on by on-court coaches who pointed them in the right direction and an umpire who was as much rule coach as rule enforcer. It was the cutest thing ever, and I have to say that even though officially nobody was keeping score, Megan’s team kicked butt. Mostly thanks to Megan’s multiple goals. Nice!

It was also really cool to hang out with Josh and Zach, for me it was my first time to meet Zach as last time I was here in 2007 he was just a big lump in Janell’s belly. Now he’s a charming little rascal who took quite a liking to Erica, complaining with wide eyes and frustrated hand gestures “but I never see you!” It was good to see Josh again too, at the moment he’s into Star Wars and anything that comes in series or episodes. He was keen to read some of his books to Brett, when Megan and Zach gave them a bit of quiet time. I also met Scoobie the dog again, a member of the house that I’d forgotten about. He’s a little black mutt who, when they got him as a puppy was apparently meant to be a black Labrador. Instead he didn’t grow much past puppy size, oops!

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16
Sep

Week 77: Yellowstone

   Posted by: Rhona   in USA

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photos to come

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Leaving Helena, we first stopped in Bozeman, about an hour away, to meet up with an old college friend of Brett’s. From there we headed further east to Billings, Montana’s largest city with a population of about 106,000. We spent an evening hanging out with Brett’s mum and stepdad, chatting and, (in Brett’s case) eating the biggest steak I’ve ever seen! It was nice to catch up as we haven’t seen them since the wedding. The next morning we headed on to Yellowstone National Park, where we spent two nights near the west entrance. It was an animal spotting safari, with elk, bison, bears, antelope, foxes and chipmunks!

Unfortunately we didn’t see any moose but a few close encounters with other animals made up for that. A bear sow and two cubs were wandering alongside the road at one point, unfazed by the slow moving line of cars that eased past. The closest you can get to a wild bear while still in the safety of your car! And the same with a bison, though I have to say that when he turned to look at us, I enthusiastically encouraged Brett to go go go! They’re big animals, weighing anywhere between 400 to 1,000kg for a fully grown adult. Not something you want ramming your car, especially if you happen to have your window down trying to max out your wide angle lens to get a full body shot!

We drove all over the park in our time there, enjoying the geothermal attractions as well as the wildlife. The park is centred on the Yellowstone caldera, North America’s largest super volcano and still an active hotspot. The last eruption was around 640,000 years ago but the caldera is being closely monitored for rising of the land, indicative of the pressure within the magma chamber underneath. There are also 1,000-2,000 earthquakes a year, though most of them are minor.

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10
Sep

Week 76: Helena

   Posted by: Rhona   in USA

It’s been a busy week and a half since Brett and Erica arrived – so busy that I’ve let myself be a bit late on the blog updating – tsk tsk! Anyway, we’ve been showing Erica some of the sights of hopping Helena, done some shopping, caught up with the extended Voegele clan, visited Glacier National Park and visited the town where Brett went to college.

For the record, in case someone doesn’t know enough about Helena to read the sarcasm in my description of Helena, it’s a relatively small city (pop. 30,000). At least to a couple of gals from Sydney. But it has its own charms; it’s been nice to show Erica around and for me to have a bit more time to explore. We checked out the old fire tower, the museum and the beautiful old church which makes you realise how important Helena was during the era when gold was plentiful here. Back in the day Helena had more millionaires per capita than anywhere else in the US. The church was funded by a couple of them and the materials were appropriately luxurious, with the stunning stained glass windows being ordered from Munich. To this day the Zettler firm claims that the windows created for the church are the most impressive they’ve ever made, and today’s craftsmen can no longer replicate their quality or depth of colour.

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