Koalafied To Leech

March 29.2014

Woah. Today was AWESOME!! Remember ‘the list from yesterday’? All the signs that pointed to this weekend being awesome and things working out in our favor. Well that list continued and continued in ways we couldn’t have ever asked for.

We woke up at our hostel ( which turned out to be a great classy hostel with our own bathroom! Score!) All of us from Villa 2 are toasters, we pop right out of bed and are talking coherently  minutes of the alarm going off. So today being an abnormally exciting day we popped up even faster. After a quick shower and sharing of the communal toiletries we brought (toothpaste, shampoo, lotion, deodorant…. The essentials… Except we forgot a brush. Lol hello el natural 😉 ) we went down to Brekkie in the kitchen, used some free wifi and headed the 2 blocks to our pick up spot. Us being teachers and on our excited game we were there too early and were concerned but in reality the bus hadn’t even arrive yet.

We were going with True Blue Tours and we were looking for a blue bus. Maybe we’ve grown too trusting of humanity, but the next white bus pulled up to the curb, the driver introduced himself as Paul and that was enough for us to get on. Sketchy? Maybe. But he had our name on a list soooo, that’s pretty legit 😉 When we got on we checked out the crowed and learned very quickly we were the youngest… By quite a few years. That turned out to work in our favor. The others in our group wanted to know all about what we were doing and just …I guess ‘took care’ of us in a parent-ly sort of way.

Paul, that funny guy, came over the speakers to tell us about the day and where we were headed. He informed us of exactly what we didn’t want to happen… The weather forecast was not good. He was very honest, but told us it was his job to be sure we’d have a good time. He also had a plan. Instead of going first to the Wildlife Park, we’d head up to the mountains to try to catch the small window of good weather. 1 hour of excitement and ear popping later we were at our first stop! 🙂

We got out at Scenic World; surrounded by pure outdoor goodness. The first thing was the Sky Carrier. Which is a yellow cab with glass floor suspended in the air and travels over the Blue Mountain Valley. I don’t even know if I can put words to what I saw next. To our left were The Three Sisters, three huge rock formations prominently sticking out from the mountains that have special spiritual significance to the Aboriginal women. To our right was the Kootumba Falls, a gigantic freshwater waterfall that feel gracefully between spurts of lush rainforest trees. Below us was the Blue Mountain Rainforest, so far below us it was nauseating to look down, but so beautiful you couldn’t look away. The cherry on top was the background of beautiful Blue Mountains. It’s said that the mountains are blue because of the evaporating oil of the eucalyptus trees. We later learned that this fact isn’t true… But I still like the story. 😉 The mountains were sprinkled with beautiful talk shoots of layered sandstone. The science nerd in me was loving the stratification and color distinction between layers. If this is all we saw all day I might have been just as happy!

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Also, the skies were nearly with just enough clouds to make the mountains even more spectacular!! That also means No Rain!!!!! Yay!!! 🙂

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When we got off there, good ol’ Paul was on the other side ready with our wristbands for the rest of the Scenic World tours and National Park hiking. He led us to the next attraction, the Guinness Book of World Records steepest railway. Through. The. Mountains. Because of Paul’s quick thinking we were some of the only people in the park and didn’t wait in a single line to get the front row seats. The railway attendant told us that people have waited hours for what we just walked up to. Score again! When our descent began I understood why people would wait hours for it. The steep 64 degree slope is something else. As we plummeted downward we Went right through a rock tunnel and were ejected into a breath-taking view of the mountains. Gah, I was loving this.

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From there we were set free to hike one of three trails. A short, medium or long trail. … So, at this point the four of us were so excited we may not have been listening to the directions quite as well as we should have … You’ll see the consequence of that soon.
The adventure side in us took over and we opted for the longest trail and knew if we hulled we could still make it back by 11:10am, when Paul instructed us to be back.

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Pumped to be on the trails we pushed ahead of the pack to set our own pace and have some freedom in hiking. Giddy with fresh air we took pictures of us everywhere and marveled at the sheet beauty around us. Daddy, you’ll laugh when you read this, but all I could think was ” Now this is what I love. This type of hiking is what I’ve been wanting to do.” Feeling my tushie working hard, the cool morning air, the fresh smell and the powerful waterfall sounds in the distance. Just perfect.

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The beginning was very rocky and we had to climb quite a few boulders. We started off taking pictures of every bolder we climbed, and the photos steadily decreased as the kilometers ticked by. Before we knew it, it was 11:00am and out internal alarms were flashing red and screaming ‘You’re not going the right way!’ Unsure of what else to do we picked up the pace and kept on truckin’. Well, the rocks turned into rainforest and waterfalls. I was loving it, but also knew we were probably and hour away from where we needed to be, with no way of contacting the group and completely unsure of where we were in the mountains of Australia. Cool.

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Notice the slow progression of excitement to exhaustion
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Some parts were really rocky, and others were lush and dense

 

I was starting to regret my Chaco decision with all this hiking. It’s not that they aren’t comfortable, cause they so are, but the rocks were a bit much for the bare sides of my feed and the gravel that snuck its way in was starting to hurt. Annoyed I bent down to clean them out and was unpleasantly surprised by something that was definitely not gravel. Two tiny stripped leeches had made a little home on the arch of my foot. The little stinkers! Sure that the other girls would freak if I made a scene and grossed out myself I grabbed the little boogers and pulled hard. They clung to my foot but thankfully I got them off. Stupid leeches probably got a full meal from my exposed foot! Holy cow though, the after math… My whole shoe was bloody with no signs of stopping. It stings a little but I was too focused on our ‘lost’ situation and reassuring the other girls that we would find our way to pay too much attention to it.

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Somewhere in this time we came across another group if backpackers and asked them for directions. Haha good news: they were helpful and we got to see a whole lot of the mountains. Bad news: we were nearly 6km away from where we needed to be 20 minutes ago. Shoot.

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In a half panic we busted butt to get back. I felt something between my littlest toes on my right foot and sure enough. I was a third time victim to Mr. mountain leech. Booo. He came off just fine but this one must’ve been on longer cuz the hole was not small and the blood pool was evidence.
Aside from knowing we were keeping a whole tour group from doing other things or that we’d be left in the park to fend for ourselves, I was quite enjoying the whole thing. We got to hike almost 3 times as much because of this and that means we got to see 3 times as much mountain, trail and wildlife.

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Luckily we had our villa phone with us and the number for Scenic World. I talked to the reception desk who had been notified by Paul that we were missing. Thank goodness for Paul! They said he took the group somewhere else and he’d be back soon. Now… To make it back.

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At 12:45pm we finally arrived back at the entrance! I was so thankful to have made it back mostly safe. but no Paul to be found. We called again and they said he’d be a bit longer. I took that opportunity to ask for a bandage, since they still hadn’t stopped bleeding. :/ I asked the right person because she led me into a fully functional first aid room and fixed me right up. The bandage looked a lot worse that it really was but because of its size, location and how long it’d been bleeding she wanted to be sure it was clean and had plenty of pressure. She was super nice and I was relieved to know that the leeches are harmless. They just inject and anti-clotting agent when they latch on so that blood flows freely. Which is why my new Chacos now have a little red hint. Thanks stupid leech face!

Man, I was never so happy to see a tour guide in my life!! Paul was very understanding and concerned about us on our unplanned adventure. From there we got lunch and another great view of the mountains. After that we were off to a few little shops and then to a scenic outlook. This was so cool. There is no fence or barriers and it’s just a pure sheet of sandstone that drops off to an incredible cliff. I was told its comparable to the Grand Canyon. We got to take pictures and soak up our last views of the mountains. I couldn’t get enough of it. Some day Id like to come back and finish the hike we accidentally started.

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This guy was just hanging out at a café. A poor unexpecting guest is now out a muffin

 

So remember how Paul mad the decision to head up to the mountains first hopping we’d miss the forecasted rain. Well that worked like a charm! It was clear skies for a while when we were hiking, but cool enough that we were completely doused in sweat. Then as we were taking pictures at this last outlook we had the incredible and unique chance to see the rain come across the mountains and valley before sprinkling on us. Pure bliss. The rain came in sheets across the valley like a symphony orchestra slowly adding in different instruments. Beautiful. Then just as it began to rain we jumped back into the shelter of our bus, sweet bus.

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The last stop of the day was Featherdale Wildlife Park. It was about an hours drive there. I took that opportunity to rest my eyes for a bit and before I could say Here I Come Mr Koala we were there.

Determined to make the most of our time there we bust into that park on a mission. The very first gate had a bunch of Billibies just roaming about! I was in heaven 🙂 I had just eaten trail mix on the bus and their little noses knew that. They came right up and put their itty bitty cute paws on my hand and smelled my face. 🙂 Right before the next hate there was a place to purchase kangaroo food in an ice cream cone.

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Sarah and I bought one each and then wandered into Kanga land. Gosh if I thought I was in heaven before the Kangas were even cooler. They were so friendly/greedy that they would just hang our right next to you.

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Their tiny mouths pack a punch. They’ll ripe that cone out of your hand so fast and send the ‘food’ flying. But you know whose really bad!?

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The emu’s! Haha they have huge beady eyes and a snake-like neck that hunts food like its, its job. Haha they don’t hurt but they will wrap their neck around you to grab the cone and then just stare at you like ‘ yes I took that. Sorry I’m not sorry’ and then stare some more. Funny eye level things they are.

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We also got to have our picture next to a koala! 🙂 He was catching some zzz’s hard-core when we saw him but a few of his friends are eating. They wont let you pick him up cause they’ve found it him healthy for the animals.

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I saw this adorable Joey fall out of the pouch, look up at Mama and then crawl back to safety.
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Cute but dangerous Dingo

We checked out the shop and then back to the bus. A bus ride and a ferry trip later and we were back in Sydney, looking like washed up tourists. Man am I going to sleep well tonight!
We grabbed sandwiches at the bus station and waited for our bus. Haha they have free wifi at the station which has become quite the special thing. The four of us powered out 30 silent minutes of technology catch up. Impressive really!

I’m writing this aboard the bus, fighting tired eyelids and sure I’m going to sleep well tonight.

Today was worlds different from a classroom. I that is exactly what we needed. A break to refresh for to get back out there and teach some kiddos!

In so many ways someone was looking out for us. I couldn’t be happier despite the adventure. Today was a wonderful, wonderful day off 🙂

 

 

 

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