Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Oz: Part 7329. Okay, really the part about the Great Barrier Reef.

So we woke up CRAZY early and headed to the airport Saturday morning. We flew to Cairns, Australia. (Pronounced CANs. Like a tin can). Once here we found a shuttle bus to take us to our hostel for free.

Once checked in to our hostel we wandered the town and did some shopping, which is what Jennie and Missy are known for. You know, their extensive endurance when it comes to shopping. We picked up a few things while out, some souvenirs, beach towels, and a shirt for Camden. We stopped by a festival they were having and looked at some of the local crafts that were up for sale. There was some pretty amazing stuff.

Made of wire!!

{This was made of stained glass. So cool!}

{Jennie showing off her strong muscles}

Our hostel was called Gilligan's Island. It is known as the party spot in Cairns. They had a free dinner or you could spend a few bucks for an upgrade. They had plenty of drinks at the bar and live music that was surprisingly good. We sat outside for a while and met some other travelers and talked. It was nice! We called it a night semi early and we got up at 6ish to find our pier to catch our boat.

{the bar area}

{where there was live music}

We took the Reef Experience to the main boat out on the reef called the Reef Encounter. At the reef encounter we got settled in our rooms and then the five of us decided to try to scuba dive. None of us had EVER done anything like that and we were game to try it. We had a crash course in how to breathe using the regulator and were sent on our way. Did I mention that I have an irrational fear of depths? No? I hate it. But Chris went first and then I followed. And as long as I watched him and didn't look up I did okay. So, I scuba dove! It was awesome, like everyone said it would be. They said there is no other feeling like that other than going to the moon. So that was cool but I don't think I will do it again. But, now I can check that off my bucket list! The other two girls didn't make it all the way down but Preston did. It was definitely intimidating and there was no practice to it - just a five minute lesson and "here you go!" kinda thing!

{sunrise on the boat}

{Do I look freaked out? Cause I'm sure I was. But we bought this picture because we had to have documentation! Scuba Diving! The Great Barrier Reef!!}

We had a total of like 4 opportunities that day to scuba or snorkel while on the boat. They fed us our gourmet meals and I slept AMAZING in that bed. The next day we had 3 more snorkel/scuba options and then it was time to get back on the boat to take us back to land.

{Preston being a beast and getting some awesome shots}

While snorkeling we saw some AMAZING wildlife. We saw Nemo, turtles and even reef sharks! It was just gorgeous out there and such an amazing opportunity - to say we have seen one of the wonders of the world.

{the boat}

{reef injuries}

{headed back on the Reef Experience}

On the way back to the pier, we saw whales. They were so gorgeous!

{gorgeous, huh?}

Then it was time to head back to our plane, Missy to Sydney and the other four of us to Melbourne. We were at the airport JUST about to go through security when I freaked out. We were missing a bag! What bag? MY PUMP! Nooooo!! (haha...but seriously.)

We began the process of attempting to find it. We called the people using Missy's phone and asked them to look. No one had seen it. I continued to reiterate the importance of the bag. They didn't seem too concerned (because they kept saying they could ship it to me) until I mentioned it was a breastpump. You know, kinda like I need it IN A FEW HOURS, not a few days. They told us over the phone to head back to the pier. So Chris and I got another cab, gave Missy back her cell and hoped that we were going to be able to find someone with the bag when we arrived.

The whole way back in the taxi, all I could do what shake my head. All the what-ifs were going through my head. If we don't find it, then what? I don't want to buy an Australian pump because it won't work at home! How uncomfortable would I be? Thoughts also ranged from "I can't believe we are having to spend the cab fare to go back for something like this". Ridiculous. Finally we arrived at the pier. We walked all the way down to the Reef Experience's slip and there was a nice gentleman standing with pump in hand. Sweet sigh of relief! Turns out he was the Operations Manager. He mentioned his wife was pregnant and that he knew how she was with the first kid they had and not having a pump. He went on to actually offer us a FREE RIDE to the airport. How nice!! He didn't have to do that. He took us back to headquarters in the company car and then he switched us to his own personal vehicle and gave us a lift back to the airport. So nice!! I can't say enough about the hospitality of the company and what a fun experience we had.

We arrived back at the airport just in time to breathlessly explain our story to the other three before Missy caught her flight back home. Jennie, Preston, Chris, and I had a little bit to kick back and cool our sunburns before we flew to our next (much chillier) leg, Melbourne.

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