Once we returned from New Zealand we had a quick two weeks at home in American Samoa and were off to Australia. Dad participated in an organizational meeting of water and wastewater professionals from 27 island nations in the Pacific... Mom and Noah tagged along for the ride. We had a two day layover in Sydney and did some exploring, we made sure to visit the opera house....
Sydney is a busy City and we were quick to realize that the rushing and stressing of "non-island" life is something that we DO NOT miss. We could literally feel the anxiety of the people all around us rushing to where ever it is they couldn't wait to get.
I think that once you live on a little island for more than a year your perception of "normal" life or even the American way changes a lot. That first year is definitely key, during my first year in American Samoa I thought I would be gone the second my contract ended. The slow pace and difficulties in accomplishing many tasks were very frustrating to someone who feels the need to constantly be moving and working. I now realize that, even with all the rushing and e-mails until midnight, my work back home wasn't getting me anywhere fast and I certainly had less of an impact than I do here. Being able to bring technical skills and professionalism to such a small community has given me the ability to see major changes and improvements that are a direct result of my work. I am still one of the most highly strung employees at my place of business, but a stop in Sydney was a big reminder of how much calmer life and myseld are now.
OK... digression over. We may not have enjoyed the city anxiety level, but we do love having so many more choices of food than on our little island! Knowing very little about Sydney prior to this trip, I was suprised at the mix of old and new. Sydney has some very cool historic features.
After our stop in Sydney were went to Canberra, the Australian capital, which has the feel of a deserted Washington D.C. as it is design for a larger population than is currently sustains. Dad didn't see much more than the inside of a conference room, but Mom and Noah did a lot of exploring. Below is a picture of the Parliament House at sunset.
Our trip home afforded us a layover in Samoa where Noah got some serious pool time. He was able to better master his swimming skills without dealing with ocean waves.
Noah has also mastered snorkeling and it's awesome to hear him yell from his snorkel tube when he sees a cool fish.
So, I have been a bad blogger again, but in my defense things have been crazy lately. After returning from three weeks in NZ we had under three weeks before a trip to Australia, that's not much time to catch up on things and get ready to go again.
As I left it, we were still in Auckland, NZ... from there we rented a car and headed south of the city to a rather rural area called Cambridge. The first few hours of driving on the opposite side of the road was intense, but I only almost killed us once.... I did however turn the windsheild wipers on ever single time I turned the car, and then did the same for a week when we got home!
In Cambridge, we stayed with friends for two nights and enjoyed the amazing scenic and animal filled home they have. Not only did they have two horses and a dog, they were fostering two goats as well. Goats are certainly charismatic creatures, these buggers tried to do everything you wouldn't want them to.
From Cambridge we went to Rotorua, this area is geothermic and includes a redwood forest. On the drive over we also stopped a the "Blue Spring", a pristine spring-water stream where many people get there drinking water supply from. Rotorua has thermal vents EVERYWHERE with many parks and geysers to check out, be warned though... the whole place does smell like sulfur.
After dinner you get to take a brief stroll through Hobbiton once more and see it lit up at night. Every was give lantern style flash lights to add to the ambiance.
After Hobbiton we drove back to Auckland and flew to Queenstown on the South Island. We spent nearly two weeks driving to nearby towns and taking in the amazing scenery. I felt a bit like Clark Griswold as I enthusiastically drove all over the place and always wanted to drive just over that next ridge.... Mom and Noah didn't share the enthusiasm for long car rides :(
The Jaskowiak Family
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