One week from today, we’re off to Sydney, then Fiji…Final preparations…A mixed bag of emotions and activities…

Walkway along the pond in Trinity Beach area. There doesn’t appear to be as many vacation homes in this particular area as we’ve seen in other beach areas.

The final week before departing for a new location is a mixed bag of emotions and activities. Excitement over the upcoming new environment, a bit of apprehension over the quality of our seen-online-only-accommodations, and the hope and expectation that travel day will be seamless.

In the upcoming travel to the second largest island in the Fiji archipelago, we decided to break up the travel into two days when we were unable to arrange flights at reasonable hours. 

As it is, we’ll have to be up at 4 am next Tuesday morning, September 8th, to board the 6:30 am flight from Sydney to Savusavu, Vanua Levu. The alternative would have been to spend the night at the airport, simply not our style in our efforts to avoid stress and exhaustion when possible.

A manmade pond at a condo complex in Trinity Beach.

Today, we’re off to the Trinity Beach post office to purchase a large box in order to pack necessary food supplies to ship to Fiji where they do not carry these particular items. Once we bring the box back home to be packed and weighed, we’ll bring it back to the same post office for shipping.

We’re sending another box to ourselves to remain at our mailing service in Las Vegas, Nevada filled with tax receipts we must save, paper copies of our medical reports, and my Africa boots. When the time comes that we’ll need the boots, we’ll ask the mailing service to ship them to us wherever we may be at the time. 

We haven’t determined a “typical” style of houses in this area. Some are gated, such as in this photo but most are not.

Sending this box to the mailing service saves us around 3.6 kilos, 8 pounds, in excess baggage weight over these upcoming many flights. Sure, there will be an expense to ship this box but with five upcoming flights between now and January, we’d have paid over and over again for the same items.

I must admit, I failed to scan every receipt we needed to save, as I’d originally planned. At the beginning of our travels, I was all over this. But, as time marched on I began making a pile of receipts to be scanned never getting around to the time-consuming task. 

View or Yorkey’s Knob Beach and area.

Our portable scanner, which works well, requires multiple receipts to be placed inside a clear double sheet of plastic scanning numerous receipts at once. This became time consuming and bothersome.  Failing to stay on top of this task occasionally nagged at me. Normally, I’m all over this stuff. And the receipts piled up.

Finally, I let go of it nagging me and decided in the realm of things, it’s no big deal. All of the receipts, not organized by year, would only be necessary if, God forbid, we were audited. 

If not, we have all the records of purchases on our spreadsheet with copies on multiple clouds and on our external hard drive. Over these past years, I became tired of hauling around three years of receipts in our luggage. It looks like I either have to get on the ball and start scanning new receipts or accumulating them once again. We shall see. I haven’t decided yet.

The view of Double Island and Scout Island is a pleasant beginning to any day in Trinity Beach. 

After accessing the food we have left for meals for the next week, one more trip to the grocery store is necessary. We wanted to make easy meals as we always do during the last week before departing for a new location. We always plan to prepare easy meals for which there will be leftovers for two nights for a total of three nights.

For this upcoming week, we decided on pizza with a green salad for Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday and tuna salad, mushroom, onion, bacon burger patties with a green salad on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. We often make meals to last for two or three nights. It not only saves money but also saves considerable time in the kitchen. 

Often, when making meals for leftovers with all the chopping and dicing done in advance, we do the cooking separately each night to ensure it’s most fresh. In the case of pizza and the above tuna salad, we’ll make these all at once, cooking the mushrooms, onions, and bacon burgers and salads fresh each night.

Large house on the shore of the pond in Trinity Beach. 

Many vacation rentals have tiny kitchens and the less time spent in the kitchen the better as in this house which has minimal counter space in a relatively large kitchen. 

The same scenario will be the case in Fiji, a tiny galley kitchen. It was only in the fabulous house in Madeira, Portugal that we had a lot of counter space, making cooking enjoyable and easy.

The almost 90 days we’ve spent in Trinity Beach has been pleasant and in part task-related in getting our medical and dental exams and tests completed with good results. 

A car rental shop is located in the heart of Trinity Beach which may not be busy with the car rental shops at the nearby airport in Cairns, a 25-minute drive from this location.  Should a visitor rent a car from here, they’d have to arrange transportation back to the airport. However, if a tourist is staying in a nearby hotel on the beach, a few day rental may be perfect from this location.

We’ve found this amount of time (under 90 days) are perfect for familiarizing ourselves with an area, its people, and its culture. We’ve seen considerable sites and have literally visited every beach in the area. 

We’ve been to the closest bigger city, Cairns, many times, visiting many of its most popular tourist attractions.  We visited the popular Port Douglas and meandered many of its tourist attractions.

We’ve come to know the people at Woolie’s, the pharmacy, the farm stand, and the butcher on a first name basis. We’ve frequently seen interesting birds and learned to tune out the noisy curlews at night, now able to leave the narrow window with a screen open for fresh air while we sleep.

Red Cross Road leads to the hospital and medical facilities in Cairns with many restaurants nearby including this Flying Monkey located on Highway 1 which travels through the city.

Now, we’re on a fast path of becoming organized with careful packing to keep the baggage costs under control and packing a separate carry on bag for the overnight in Sydney to avoid opening the three larger checked bags.

It’s all good. We’re content, not anxious. That’s not to say that Tom won’t become “overly grumpy” on travel day as I continue in my annoying “overly bubbly” state of mind.

Happy Sunday or Monday to all of you!

                                                  Photo from one year ago today, August 31, 2014:

No photos were posted on this date one year ago as we made our way via a private car to the port in Harwich, England to the pier to board our ship to Boston, Royal Caribbean’s Brilliance of the Seas for a 14-day cruise.  Instead, we posted the ship’s itinerary which is shown below. We’d intended to post later in the day but time got away from us not posting again until the next morning. For details from the day of departure, please click here.

Sun Aug 31 London (Harwich), England 5:00 pm
Mon Sep 1 Paris (Le Havre), France 7:00 am 9:00 pm
Tue Sep 2 Portland, England 7:00 am 4:00 pm
Wed Sep 3 Cork (Cobh), Ireland 10:00 am 4:30 pm
Thu Sep 4 At Sea
Fri Sep 5 Klaksvik, Faroe Islands 9:00 am 6:00 pm
Sat Sep 6 At Sea
Sun Sep 7 Reykjavik, Iceland Noon
Mon Sep 8 Reykjavik, Iceland 5:00 pm
Tue Sep 9 At Sea
Wed Sep 10 At Sea
Thu Sep 11 At Sea
Fri Sep 12 At Sea
Sat Sep 13 At Sea
Sun Sep 14 Boston, MA 6:00 am

What we love about the Australia people…Friends we’ve made throughout the world…Year ago link to expenses for 15 nights in London…

We’re always fascinated with these puffy flowers, often found in tropical climates.

There are so many aspects to living in Australia that we find endearing, humorous, and pleasantly surprised that it would take days to write about them all.

Instead, today, we’re sharing some of those thoughts and perspectives. Sure, our opinions are tainted with our long-established Americanized views (some of which are wafting away as we travel the world) but, after traveling to countless countries we’re beginning to feel we’re acquiring an ability to make a fair observation.

This creature was in the living room with us.  We scooped it up in the dustpan putting it outside on the grass. Immediately, it ran back toward the open door to the house. Picking it up a second time, Tom took it out to the rainforest in the back yard. We’d expected to see more insects in the house in Australia and although we’ve seen quite a few, there hasn’t been nearly as many as there were in Kenya and South Africa. As we were warned, flies are rampantly preventing us from keeping the doors open. There are no screens in the house other than two small windows, one in the living room and another in the bedroom.

And for those of you out there that always hover on the side of being “politically correct,” which we strive to accomplish in a subtle manner, we may seem to be generalizing and stereotyping an entire continent and culture.

We can’t help it. Australians are simply unique in many wonderful ways! To say everyone falls into the wonderfulness category would be foolhardy since every country has some less than desirable types. Thus, we don’t include them in this category. 

Sunrise, this morning, which ultimately brought a sunny day.

However, there is a common thread that appears to run through the Australian people that we’ve observed over and over again, everywhere we go, in literally everything we do. 

Australians are fun, friendly, generous, and considerate people. Their manners are impeccable. They laugh easily and find a way to bring humor into many situations and yet remain sensitive, often easily showing emotions in times of worry, compassion, and sorrow.

When we spent 18 days on the cruise on our way to Australia with over 1400 Australians on board, we had the most fun we’d ever had on a cruise, day after day, night after night. 

Limes grow in the yard ready for picking.  Guacamole, here we come, using pork rinds for dipping.

Early on in that cruise, Tom and I both noticed our feet were swollen, a condition neither of us normally experienced. It was due to sitting with people all day long, drinking our iced tea (and other beverages for Tom) while engaged in lively conversations, often laughing our butts off, hardly moving from our seats. 

After a few days, we made a point of getting up and walking around a bit while the other of us held our seats and the ongoing delightful banter. The swelling dissipated in a few days while we continued having such an extraordinary time.

Tom, reaching up to pick a lime.

Living in Trinity Beach we didn’t have an opportunity to make new friends. The privacy of the house and the fact that we hadn’t gone out to meet people at social functions and various establishments was entirely our own fault.

By perusing menus at dozens of local restaurants, we realized it was too risky to dine in restaurants while here.  Although the options sounded tasty, many included sauces with ingredients I can’t have. 

Also, when foods are cooked in pans with gluten, sugar, or starch, my food could easily be contaminated if cooked in the same pans. Few restaurants throughout the world make this accommodation, although, we’ve been lucky on cruise ships and dining in some restaurants.

On a walk in the area on this narrow road.

Had we gone out to the pubs and casual dining, most assuredly, we’d have made new friends. I practically made friends while grocery shopping at Woolie’s (Woolworth’s) or the pharmacy where even the other shoppers often started up conversations, let alone the friendly staff.

Whether we were walking on the beach running into others doing the same, sitting on a bench in a park, or walking down the street, friendliness is the expected norm in Australia.

In our old lives, I walked almost every day, often in cold weather. Living in the same neighborhood for 26 years, I’d often encountered the same people on a regular walk. 

It’s hard to avoid taking more photos of these Flintstone’s character statues in a nearby yard.

A friendly nod or hello may have been in order, but a conversation was seldom to be had. The busy nature and fast pace of life in the US, often attributed to keeping people constantly on the move, seldom with time for idle chatter. We were no different. The pace of that life contributed to our desire to travel the world.

But, that life was our norm. We never questioned it. We had our own little neighborhood and circle of friends, rarely stepping outside that safe cocoon of people we knew and loved, still staying in touch with many of them today.

This is not to say that people haven’t been friendly in other countries. We had a phenomenal time we’ll always treasure with many new friends we made in South Africa, hopefully, to return someday to see them all; Okee Dokee, Louise and Dani, Dawn and Leon, Linda and Ken, Hettie and Piet, and Kathy and Donald. The list could easily continue on and on.

Most yards are left relatively wild in order to embrace the local vegetation. However, this neighboring home has a more manicured yard.

Also, as any of the readers who followed us through Kauai, Hawaii will recall, we made more friends than we can count, particularly our dear friends Richard and Elaine.

Richard proved to be the best social director in the world by virtue of a kind and loving nature that made him revel in bringing good people together. We easily recall countless great social events and ongoing connections with Pat and Brenda, Vicki and Jerry, Cathy and Rick, Bev and Sam, Alice and Trevor, Louise and Steve and Cheryl and Paul (who are from Minnesota). Here again, the list could easily continue on and on.

We miss Richard, frequently touching base by email, as we do with many of the other friends we’ve made in various countries and of course, those we’ve met and come to love, having met them here online; Liz and Dave, Staci and Glenn, Pat and Dan, Joanette, Jodi and countless more, too many to list.

(We apologize for not mentioning everyone’s name).

A funny-looking tree with a type of fuzz wrapped around the branches.

Of course, the closest to our hearts on the most recent Australian cruise from Honolulu, Hawaii to  Sydney, Australia was Reene and Geoff, a couple we hope to see again in our many future travels in Australia. We couldn’t have had a better time with them.

We could go nuts listing all the new friends we made on cruises and even some we’ve met online and will meet in person on an upcoming cruise next year, Staci and Glenn. Much to our delight, Laura and Michael, a fabulous couple we met on the cruise from London to Boston, one year ago, were considering visiting us in Bali in 2016.

As a result of all of our past experiences in making new friends, we never felt lonely not making many new friends in Australia. We’ve enjoyed countless conversations and banter with our landlords Sylvie and Andy, who, although aren’t native Australians, (Sylvie’s from France, Andy’s from the UK), they too possess that warm, friendly and considerate demeanor we’ve witnessed everywhere we go.

Although most homes in the area are well kept and maintained, occasionally we spot a house that could use a little fixing up.

When we shop in the stores, saying “Thank you” to the salesperson for their thoughtful assistance, they always respond, “No worries.” Each time we hear this adorable response (as opposed to “you’re welcome”), we chuckle over its endearing quality. 

Another of the expressions we’ve loved in Australia is “good on you” which indicates “good for you” when we’ve been asked where we’re from and we mention we’re traveling the world. They look into our eyes with an enormous smile on their faces saying, “Good on you.”

In eight days we’ll be flying to Sydney, staying overnight to head to Fiji early the next morning on September 8th. From what we hear the people of Fiji are equally friendly as are those in New Zealand, where we’ll be living in a little over four and a half months. 

The world is a big place and we’re often bombarded with all the bad news, the bad people, and the horrifying events. Amid all of the horror in the world, there are more loving people willing to make new friends, willing to extend their kindness, and willing to make an effort to make the world a better place. 

We continue to be in awe of having had the privilege of spending time in the friendly continent of Australia and similar locations all over the world.

                                            Photo from one year ago today, August 30, 2014:

Tom got a kick out of this car which appeared to be the “shortest” car we’d yet to see in Europe. We were quickly winding down our time in London and had listed all our expenses for 15 nights in South Kensington, dining out for all meals. Click here to see the total expenses.

Aging while living a life on the move…Check out these final Green Island photos…

There were many seagulls in the area surrounding Green Island especially when the fish were fed by the staff.

Providing we take care to avoid injuries and happen to be fortunate enough to avoid natural disasters and risks in public or at our home at the time, our biggest enemy is aging. Of course, we’re all aging from the moment we’re born and in reality, aging appears to progress at a regular and consistent pace once we become adults. 

The green cast from the coral below created the water’s pretty color.

Recalling our own differences between ages 30 and 40, 50 and 60 and now that we’re both in the ’60s to ’70s decade, it all seems to have progressed similarly, unfortunately, all downhill.

All the exercise, healthy diets, and lifestyle changes can’t stop the progression, although it may slow it to a degree. Although, if one is lucky, the progression may not be as evident on them as on others for the sake of appearances. However, what’s going inside the body is another matter.

Although there were a number of boats conducting tourist activities around the island, it wasn’t as crowded as we’d expected.

For most of us, as we age, our appearance becomes less and less important. Being alive and well becomes of the ultimate significance. We do our best to show the world a pleasant appearance, through whatever means suits us whether its’ a mustache, haircut, or close shave for men or makeup (or not) and certain hairstyles for women.

To a degree, most of us make some sort of effort whether it’s wearing a clean tee-shirt and pair of jeans or an entire put-together outfit that makes one appear to have stepped out of a magazine advertisement. 

The seagulls went wild when the fish were fed by the staff in order to give the visitors a show.  They explained they monitored the amounts they fed the fish to avoid them becoming complacent in their search for food. However, with these multiple daily feedings, complacency may have been unavoidable.

It’s all a matter of personal choice and who has a right to comment or complain about the decisions of others in this area? As we live in a world desperately attempting to love and accept each person, regardless of their appearance, we find we still have a long way to go.

Will the future bring “designer babies” with perfect features or will we all meld into a level of total acceptance finding beauty in all of our differences? When we lived amid wildlife in Africa, we observed even the most peculiar of animals with admiration regardless of their snarly looking faces, unwieldy tusks, and unkempt sprouts of coarse and wild hair. 

Few tourists spent time at the beaches at Green Island from what we observed during our half-day visit.

I speak of the ungainly warthog, which some may consider as one of the ugliest creatures in the wild.  And yet, when we saw those unruly faces, we felt admiration and warmth in our hearts, not over their looks but over their playful demeanor. Would that we could feel such admiration and attraction for one another regardless of our appearance.

As it relates to aging, the inevitability of it all becomes more evident to me as I approach 70 years old.  It was only yesterday I was in my 30’s and yet, here I am, happier than I’ve ever been wondering how long this amazing life will be able to continue with aging knocking at my door, the same aging knocking at your door.

A few of the beaches had lifeguards on duty and yet few visitors hung out at the beach.

This all came to my mind on Thursday as I completed three loads of laundry, spent hours in the kitchen making various foods for our way of eating, cleaning and dusting the house, never asking Tom for help while he sat outside on the veranda. 

He was happily content researching his family tree, never aware as to what was going on inside, other than when I asked him to put the freshly washed tight bottom sheet back on the mattress and walk the garbage down the steep hill to the bins. He’d have easily helped me with anything else on the agenda, had I asked.

Tom walking on the pier checking the sea for signs of life, carrying our huge unnecessary bag loaded with towels, ice tea, extra camera batteries, etc. We could easily have gotten by without the bag and its contents, putting everything we needed in our pockets. Since I no longer own a handbag, Tom usually carries my few items in his roomy pockets.

But, like him, I was happily content busying myself inside doing household tasks I’ve always seemed to find rewarding for some odd reason. 

As I did the work, periodically I checked my Fitbit device hooked to my shorts, wondering how many steps I was taking in my frenzy of activity. It was less than I’d anticipated in this relatively small house at a total of 5800 steps for the day, a far cry from my goal of 10,000 steps hardly reached most days in this life unless we’re out for a long walk.

There were hundreds of these birds in the visitor’s shopping area where there are scraps of food offered by tourists, not a good idea when “people food” can be harmful to birds.

For the first time, as I whizzed through my day, I began to wonder if I will be able to keep up this pace in 10 years. Will I still have the energy and ability to move relatively freely from one task after another? Will the bit of exercise I get and walks we take be enough to see me through these upcoming years to allow me to continue to perform these tasks.

Seagull amid flight in the breeze.

One could say since I’m five years older than Tom, that eventually he can do it all. As much as I’d like to think he could and would, it’s not likely he’ll be motivated to make the low carb, grain, starch, and sugar-free muffins or the delicious mushroom casserole we’ve been enjoying as a side dish recently.

Yesterday, with the house clean and laundry done (except for the daily one load of bath and kitchen towels), I found myself on a new reign of activity while I prepared two free-range chickens with vegetables (great leftovers for tonight) to begin to roast at 4:00 pm, baked a batch of our favorite macaroons, made a salad, cleaned fresh green beans and folded the one load of wash.

As we waited for the Rocket Reef (boat) to arrive at the pier to return us to Cairns, the seagulls gathered around us.

(We can’t purchase “take away” meals when none of the options are suitable for my way of eating. Dining out is challenging at best. Instead, we cook all of our meals, many simple meals prepared in short periods and others requiring more time and effort).

All of this type of activity is commenced after typically spending my entire morning preparing the daily post, often not finishing until close to noon. Don’t get me wrong…I love doing posts. 

This scene reminded us of the many ports we’ve visited over these past years.

To date, our daily post never feels as if it’s a chore. Then again, neither do the household tasks as long as good health continues and I’m able to continue to perform these daily tasks. Is it inevitable that one slows down in their 80s or even 90s?

We left friends behind 10 years older than I, still able to keep a pace comparable to mine. They remain an inspiration. Aging is not an illness or condition. It is a fact of life that faces every single one of us. How we choose to live through that process whether we have limitations or not, is truly our choice.

We couldn’t imagine what an eskie is when we read this sign.  Once home, we looked online to discover it’s a cooler or “chill box.”

Putting negative thoughts behind me after allowing them to fester for two days, today I awoke with a fresh perspective. No more worrying about my ability to be as active in 10 years as I am today. Instead, I choose to embrace the moment and the imminent future. 

Good grief, we’re on our way to Fiji in nine days! 

                                            Photo from one year ago today, August 29, 2014:

It was one year ago today that we posted this taxidermy kangaroo photo from our visit to the Natural History Museum in South Kensington, UK. Now, we can drive down the road to see live kangaroos. How ironic. For more museum photos as we wound down the time in the UK, please click here.

The Great Barrier Reef tours…Glass bottomed boat…Semi-submersible interior photo…Cost for the day…

A semi-submersible boat with passengers in the lower deck checking out the underwater world of the Great Barrier Reef.

Once we arrived at the pier in Green Island, it was almost time to board the first of the two boating events, we’d booked, a tour in the glass-bottom boat. We’d both wondered what a tour in this type of boat would be like.  Our expectations were in check.

There was a support post down the center of the boat that sorely impeded viewing and photo-taking opportunities. I’d expected a single flat window running along the bottom of the boat over which we’d learn, watch and take photos.

The glass bottom boat wasn’t as conducive for watching and taking photos of marine life and coral.

With the equivalent of window panes trimmed in metal frames as shown in the above photo, when a fish swam within the frame of our window, it was lost in a second when it reached the “windowpane” of the person sitting next to us. Also, there were vertical posts supporting the structure between every two people further impeding the view.

Photos of the coral reef appear monotone.

As a result of this design, it was nearly impossible to take any decent photos. Of the group of possibly 40 tourists, a few were taking photos struggling for good shots, not unlike me. The glass appeared to be tinted a light green making everything in view a monotone color. This proved to also be the case on the semi-submersible submarine.

More coral reef from the glass bottom boat.

As for the semi-submersible aspect, it had an appearance comparared to an aluminum pontoon, such as an old fishing boat. Once on the deck of the boat, we walked down a short staircase, broken up with a landing, turning and then maneuvering a steeper almost ladder-like structure in the full interior.

The variety of life in the coral reef is beyond anything we’d seen.

Two tourists sit side by side on a pull-down aluminum seat until all 20 were in place. Tight quarters. The interior was no more than 1.22 meters, 4 feet wide. Very tight quarters. 

Marine life in the coral reef is unlike anything else in nature.

With babies crying, passengers trying to find seats where there were none, I felt like offering up my seat and getting out. Tom looked at me reassuringly that staying put was for the best. There was no way I could crawl out anyway. 

Although there were a few moments of passing massive schools of fish swimming, here again, it was nearly impossible to get good photos through the green tinted glass as the semi-submersible vehicle moved along the water.

This tiny space in the semi-submersible had seats for 20. As shown, it’s packed as tight as sardines.

The reason the boat is referred to as semi-submersible is due to the fact that the top deck of the aluminum boat is not underwater. A door is left open during the tour while a tour guide sits on the steps describing some of the fish passing by below.

If one suffers from claustrophobia, this boat may not be an ideal scenario, not as much from the submersion, as from the tight person-to-person contact of a total of 20 people jammed into very tight quarters. From what we’d read online at the company’s site, no more than 10 passengers would board the boat.

The fish have learned that these boats provide a government approved “feeding” of a marine based pellet to allow the visitors in the boats to see more fish.  As a result when they see the boats coming, they gather around for food.

We saw a number of fish, a few sea turtles, and a small section of the coral reef. Although photos taking wasn’t ideal, we were glad we had the experience and sighed a breath of fresh air when it was over. I doubt we’ll care to partake in either of these two types of boat tours again in our future travels.

Surely, snorkeling would have been a better alternative but, much to our surprise we only spotted a handful of snorkelers in the designated areas, although many tourists were swimming at the sandy beach, most without wetsuits.

Mostly, tourists used smartphones for photo taking.

After the back-to-back boat tours ended we wandered down the long pier to Green Island stopping frequently to peak over the edge of the pier to check for any signs of life. 

With no tinted glass to impede our view, we still weren’t able to get good photos being high above the water’s surface while standing on the pier. Also, as much as a sunny day was preferable, the brightness of the sun created a glare on the water.

With only a small amount of food offered to the fish from the boat, in an attempt to keep them interested in seeking their own sustenance, the fish quickly swam away.

At Green Island, we were surprised to find a beautiful visitor’s area shaded by trees, including a variety of shops, dining establishments, and scuba and snorkeling rental shops. Tables, chairs, and park benches lined the area creating comfortable seating for tourists to stop to relax. 

After taking our time walking through the tourist area, it was fast approaching time to return to the pier to board the departing 4:15 pm Rocket Reef boat to make our way back to the port in Cairn The return boat ride included a distant whale breaching sighting, here again too distant for any good photos. 

The boat to the left is the semi-submersible “submarine” we boarded to see the coral reef.

Including the two boat tours, the glass bottomed and semi-submersible, our total cost for the half day visit to Green Island was AUD $219, USD $157 plus AUD $12, USD $8.61 for parking. The parking area was approximately 10 minutes from the boat tour check-in building that had restrooms, seating, and beverages. 

Only credit cards with a chip are accepted in the pay machines in the car park at various points in the outdoor lot. Luckily, a few of our newer cards actually have chips and this worked well.

A boat, the Big Cat, remained docked at the pier in Green Island for visitors to use as a rest station and meeting point for other tours and events their company hosts.

Finding the Reef Fleet Terminal at Pier Point Road, for check-in was tricky if unfamiliar with the area as we were. With less than ideal directions from the website of the tour company, we easily spent extra time searching for the building. We’d suggest allowing no less than an extra 30 minutes before the required check-in time to find the terminal. 

In essence, we were smart to have booked the half day tour as opposed to the full day. We had the perfect amount of time at the site. If we’d booked the full day, we’d have an extra four hours. 

A view from the pier at the reef.  As the coral ends, there often a pristine sandy bottom.

I’d have enjoyed lounging on the sandy beach for a few hours but, Tom would have been sunburned.  In all of our travels, our first consideration is one another’s comfort and well being.

Had we known more about the experience we still would have booked the tour. There was no way we wouldn’t have gone to see a portion of the Great Barrier Reef when we were so close living in this area. Overall, it was a fine experience.

Another view of a small portion of the reef from the pier.

We’re fast losing interest in booking any large group tours if other options are available such as small groups we’ve joined with other cruise passengers we’ve met on cruises or at

However, in our upcoming Mekong River cruise, there are days and days of land group tours with other passengers. These types of tours are unavoidable and there’s no doubt we’ll have a good time as we tour Cambodia and Vietnam.

As the boat left Green Island in the Great Barrier Reef.

With only 10 days remaining until we depart Australia, we now feel satisfied that we’ve experienced the area as much if not more than we intended. During this remaining period, we’ll visit a few parks and beaches, walking for exercise, and to further revel in the beauty of this nature-rich continent until we return again in the future on many upcoming cruises.

Tomorrow, we’ll post a new story and wrap up a few more Great Barrier Reef photos. Have a wonderful day!

                                               Photo from one year ago, August 28, 2014:

As we wound down the time in London with only three days remaining, we had dinner after a visit to the Natural History Museum in South Kensington. For many museum photos, please click here.

The Great Barrier Reef…Green Island history and tour…

The Great Barrier Reef covers 344,400 square kilometers (132,972 square miles) in area.
The Great Barrier Reef is considered one of the world’s greatest treasures and is a vital aspect to the world’s eco system. Yesterday, having an opportunity to see a portion of this vast natural icon that can be seen from outer space, was rewarding and memorable.
We waitied on a curb for the boat to arrive at the pier for our 45-minute ride to Green Island.

For reasons we posted two days ago, we choose not to snorkel. However, I can’t say that had we been able to snorkel, our experience would have been a lot different.

We weren’t able to get a spot in the bow for photo-taking during the ride to Green Island.  We remained inside in air-conditioned comfort, although I was anxious to take photos of outdoor photos. Our boat, Big Cat’s Reef Rocket, was modern with free wifi, restrooms, beverages, and snacks.

What lies beneath the sea is undoubtedly awe-inspiring. It appeared that scuba diving would be more rewarding, as opposed to snorkeling, being able to maneuver more freely over the endless coral reefs. Actually, we saw few people snorkeling and less scuba diving.

Snorkelers were able to purchase their snorkel gear and wetsuits from this bar inside the boat.

In all, there are 3000 coral reefs, 600 continental islands, 300 coral cays, and approximately 150 inshore mangrove islands. We visited Green Island, only one of those many islands that have been built into a tourist ready environment, enabling visitors from around the world to see this natural phenomenon.

With ocean spray on the windows, I shot this photo of the massive pier at Green Island which accommodates several companies providing a variety of activities including windsurfing, scuba diving, and tours on semi-submersible and glass-bottom boats. 

Australia, from what we’ve seen thus far, is a continent highly in tune with its rich natural resources. When a venue is created, it’s done so with respect for those resources with the intent of ensuring as natural an experience as possible when sharing those resources with the public.

Another of the charter boats heading to the Great Barrier Reef. Not all boats go to Green Island with numerous other charters available for different prices and arrival times.

Green Island is no exception. Every consideration was made over the years to develop a significant space where the visitor would feel in-one with the environment. In doing so, a little of the magic is taken away, but what is left is a fair representation of what explorers may have discovered centuries ago.

The colorful views around us were only a small section of the Great Barrier Reef.

Nothing was spared in providing safety and convenience and in allowing visitors the optimum experience, savoring the beauty of the island while respectfully representing the significance of the surrounding treasures only a short distance below the water’s surface. 

Green Island, as we approached (through the glass).

Over and again, visitors are reminded to treat the coral reef with reverence and respect to avoid upsetting the ecosystem and habitats for thousands of creatures.

This parasailing equipment included a chair for two at a cost of  AUD $280, USD $200 per couple. Although some of these types of activities may appeal to us, we have to pick and choose what is most important to us for the long term

Green Island has a rich history dating back to the 1770s as shown in this chart below:

Significant Historical Dates for Green Island

Green Island has an amazing history! Even though Green Island is a very small island, it has played an important role in the history of Tropical North Queensland and the Great Barrier Reef region.

When on Green Island, take some time to visit the colorful Interpretive Boardwalk. Designed in 6 languages, it showcases the island’s European and Aboriginal histories as well as its outstanding natural values.

Pre 1770 Local Aboriginal tribes (Gungandji and Mandingalbay) used Green Island and its reef for fishing, hunting, and manhood initiation ceremonies.
1770 Captain Cook first marked Green Island on the navigational charts and named it after the astronomer onboard, Charles Green.
1857 A bech-de-mer (sea cucumber) smoking station was established on Green Island. It was operated by a fisherman called JSV Mein, and operated for several decades before closing down.
1863 A ship called the ‘Antagonist’ shipwrecked on Green Island reef while carrying horses to India (14 May 1863).
  • Coconuts were planted to provide shelter, food and drink for shipwrecked sailors.
  • Grass hut accommodation was constructed for fishing and hunting parties.
1890 The first organised pleasure cruises to Green Island commenced on a local coaster called ‘Zeus’.
  • Green Island was declared a Recreational Reserve under the Cairns Council.
  • The first public jetty was constructed.
1924 Hayles commenced fortnightly passenger service from Cairns to Green Island.
1930 Kitty & Noel Monkman, pioneers in underwater photography and videography, moved to Green Island. During WW II they acted as volunteer air observers.
1931 The replacement jetty was constructed by Cairns Town Council.
1932 Cairns Town Council was granted a license to remove coral from the Green Island reef flat to make lime for mainland cane fields (operated until 1945).
1934 Green Island declared a Fauna Sanctuary
1936 Management control of Green Island changed from Cairns Town Council to the Queensland State.
  • Green Island was declared a National Park.
  • World’s first glassbottom boat launched.
  • Research facility built (now Dept. of Primary Industry Research Laboratory).
  • Hayles was granted the first 20-year lease to develop a hotel with tourism activities
1939 First groyne was built to protect the foreshore.
1942 The first hotel, Coral Cay Hotel, was constructed by Hayles.
1946 Jetty was reconstructed after being destroyed by cyclone.
1954 World’s first underwater observatory opened.
1958 Island camping permits no longer issued.
1960 Present jetty constructed.
1961 Great Barrier Reef Theatre constructed.
1963 Redeveloped hotel, the Green Island Reef Resort, opens.
1964 Crocodile Farm opens – the first ever on an island. Renamed Marineland Melanesia in 1972
  • Queen Elizabeth II visits Green Island on her 44th birthday – as part of her tour that followed in Captain Cook’s footsteps.
  • Sandbag retaining wall built near jetty to protect resort land from erosion.
1974 Green Island Reef declared a Marine National Park by the Queensland Government.
1978 Seaplane access to Green Island permitted.
1981 Green Island Reef zoned a Marine National Park ‘B’ with a Buffer Zone under the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act (extending 500m out from edge of reef).
1982 Daily fast catamaran service from Cairns commenced by Hayles Pty Ltd.
1988 Dreamworld Corporation purchased Green Island Reef Resort and ferry services from Hayles Pty Ltd and renamed the company Great Adventures.
1989 Green Island Reef Resort closed due to disrepair.
1991 Daikyo Pty Ltd purchased the resort and ferry service on Green Island from Dreamworld Corporation
1992 Redevelopment of Green Island Resort and day facilities commenced.
1993 Redeveloped day facilities opened to the public.
1994 The Green Island Resort luxury accommodation opened.
2001 Green Island Resort desalination plant operational – producing over 55,000 litres of freshwater daily.
2005 Quicksilver Connections acquires Great Adventures and Green Island Resort from Daikyo Pty Ltd
As shown in the above chart, Green Island has grown as a popular tourist attraction over the years. From this perspective, we accept the commercialism required to make Green Island a viable location to which visitors will flock after writing good reviews all over the web. 
After disembarking the Reef Rocket, we walked along the pier heading to the boat at the end of the pier, the Big Cat, where tourists are to wait to gain access to the semi-submersible submarine and the glass-bottom boat. The pier was high above the water but we did our best to take a few photos of the colorful fish.
Blue fish!  Wow!

Did we have a great time at the Great Barrier Reef? We had a good time, very grateful for the experience. Who visits Queensland and doesn’t see the Great Barrier Reef? 

It’s never easy to take photos from above water. We did our best, hoping to capture these colorful blue fish. There are hundreds of identifyable specific species.

Back home by 5:30 pm, with everything for dinner chopped, diced, and relatively ready to cook, by 6:45 we sat down to dine, smiles on our faces for having taken the time and expense to visit the Great Barrier Reef.

The walk down the long pier to the Big Cat, a huge air-conditioned boat that stays anchored for most of the day used as a lounge and rest area and loading area for glass-bottomed boats and semi-submersibles.

Tomorrow and over the next several days, we’ll share our photos both underwater and above water, describing the tours on both the glass bottom boat and the semi-submersible submarine and, how we spent our remaining time on Green Island

                                            Photo from one year ago today, August 27, 2014:
It was one year ago today that our dear new friend Liz from Bristol, England took the train to South Kensington to visit us for the day. It couldn’t have been a more wonderful day the two of us sharing girl talk at lunch and later the three of us at dinner. At the end of the evening, we walked Liz to the train station, said our goodbyes, and have stayed in touch since. We miss and love you, Liz! For details from that date, please click here.

We’re off to the Great Barrier Reef on a perfectly sunny day…

We were shocked to see the reasonable price on this exquisite arrangement at only AUD $20, USD $14.20. Our daughter and family had sent us a similar bouquet sent to us in Hawaii, most likely at 10 times this price.

With bad weather heading to Queensland, we were concerned we’d go on yet another long boat ride only to be sitting drenched in our rain jackets. To date, we’ve had numerous less-than-successful boating excursions throughout the world.

On whale watching expeditions, we’d yet to see a whale within photo taking distance. On sunset cruises, its rained such as was the case one year ago on the Seine River in Paris.

There is a wide array of both common and less common fruits and vegetables at Rusty’s Market.

On other boat tours we’ve been disappointed with rough seas so bad we could easily have booked a ride on a roller coaster for an equal amount of rattling and commotion. Also, we seldom sighted the marine life we’ve anticipated during a boat tour, unable to take good photos as the boat rocked to and fro.

Hopefully, today’s excursion to Green Island in the Great Barrier Reef will prove to be more fulfilling and less about a crazy boat ride and more about the scenery that awaiting us. 

The sign is marked, “spray free, custard apples” priced at AUD $4.50, USD $3.19 per kilo (2.2 pounds)

With all the cruises we’ve taken with many more to come, it’s obvious we enjoy being on (as opposed to in) the ocean. In our past lives, we both were avid boaters owning boats for a majority of our adult lives.

As a single mom at 29 years old I purchased my first boat which I kept docked in St. Albans Bay on Lake Minnetonka in Minnesota USA. It was called the Tootsie Roll Boat due to it brown, orange and white colors. 

More traditional fruits and vegetables including corn, oranges, tomatoes, zucchini and cucumbers.

Tom purchased his first boat at 29, an Alumacraft fishing boat and later purchased a ski and fishing boat, a Fisher Sweet 16, when he was around 30 years old. 

Some of the vendor’s displays occupied huge areas in the market while others are as tiny as a card table.

As a result of our past experiences, we both generally have enjoyed being on the water and thus have booked some type of boating tour in most countries where we’ve been close to water.

What? Chocolate pudding fruit? Sounds interesting. Priced at AUD $3.50, USD $2.48 per kilo.

As a result of the past boat tours in our world travels, our expectations are in check, hoping for a good experience. Realizing that most of our upcoming photos of marine life in the Great Barrier Reef will be taken through glass we don’t expect perfect representations of what lies below. We’ll definitely do our best to take good photos.

Another equally affordable bouquet of locally grown flowers.

This morning we awakened to a bright sunny day adding to our mutual enthusiasm to finally see one of the world’s greatest treasures. In posts over the next few days, we’ll be included historic and geographical information on the Great Barrier Reef with facts nature lovers may find interesting.

Fresh flowers are scattered throughout the market, adding to a colorful visual.

Our beach bag is packed and we’re set to go other than a necessary stop along the way to the pier in Cairns to purchase bottled water. Much to our delight, we’ve been able to drink tap water in Trinity Beach without any intestinal problems. 

At only AUD $3, USD $2.31 each, a gorgeous bouquet could be put together for a reasonable price.

Its the container for our iced tea that we’re lacking that a large bottle of plain water will provide. Once in hand, we’ll add the packets of iced tea we’ve been hauling around the world with us and be set for beverages for the entire trip.

Today, we’re posting the final photos of our visit to Rusty’s Market and look forward to posting our photos and stories of our tour to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. 

                                            Photo from one year ago today, August 26, 2014:

The Regency Hotel, Queen’s Gate, where we stayed for two weeks while in South Kensington, London, UK was under construction. Noise with a cluttered entrance at times didn’t bother us at all. What we found most inconvenient was their wifi policy charging huge daily fees for a poor connection. Later in our stay, we were able to get the hotel manager to waive all of our wifi fees for the 16 nights. For more details, please click here.

Exciting tour tomorrow…A must do in this area of Australia…Why we don’t snorkel…

For those shoppers interested in having their fortune told, Rusty’s Markets has it all.

As our long term readers are well aware, we try to avoid some of the typical activities that drives floods of tourists to a particular area, often waiting in long queues  (“lines” is US speak) for hours at a time.

Orchids and other flowers are for sale at reasonable prices throughout Rusty’s Markets.

At times, visitors are scrambling for tickets to book dates and times that fit their short-stay schedules with the intent of getting one more attraction they’ve longed to see knocked off their endless “must do” list during a relatively short holiday. For most, this is the highlight of their trip.

Fresh greens appear to be a little higher priced than the grocery stores but mostly are organic.

We’ve observed there are many types of tourists which often include; those who are constantly busy seeing the sites, filling each day with a constant stream of activities and; others who perceive a holiday as a time to relax, unwind, read a book while occasionally visiting a point of interest.

These are the biggest fennel bulbs we’ve seen.

We fall somewhere in the middle of these two generalities.  Throw in the fact that we often stay in a location for months at a time, on certain days we’re in the middle and on other days, totally zoned out of our surroundings living in the comfortable familiar routine we enthusiastically embrace as a part of our daily lives.

Locally grown chestnuts and walnuts.  See photo below for prices.

Over these past few months while living in Australia writing each day, on numerous occasions we’ve mentioned a need to tighten our belts while here to play a little “catch up” for recent huge outlays of cash for future travels.  In doing so, we’ve accomplished two things. 

When figuring that a kilogram is 2.2 pounds, these prices for walnuts and chestnuts is a bargain at USD $9.33 (per kilo).

One, we’ve been able to comfortably “catch up” and two, we haven’t felt an sense of self imposed pressure to go sightseeing more than we’ve done thus far, visiting the equally enriching multitude of “free” things to see in this lovely area.  We haven’t been disappointed at all, thoroughly relishing in all that we’ve seen to date.

However, one thing we’ve yet to do has gently nagged at us day after day knowing in our hearts and minds at some point, we’d sign up to visit…the Great Barrier Reef.

A shopper at Rusty’s Markets can stop for a Thai massage while shopping.

From Cairns,  a short 25 minute drive from our house to the port, followed by a 45 minute boat ride and we’ll arrive at the world’s largest coral reef.  How could we not?  For tomorrow, Wednesday, we booked a half day tour of the Great Barrier Reef consisting of several activities that fully meet our preferred types of activities.

These red peppers, called Capsicums in Australia are only USD $1.08 each, a fair price.

Bear with us, dear readers, once again we’ll reiterate…we don’t snorkel, never plan to snorkel and spend little if any time, swimming in the ocean.  Its not our “thing.” 

A few of our Facebook friends have nagged us to “give it a try.” Even our grown kids, most of whom snorkel have given us a certain amount of heat that we don’t engage in this activity, especially based on our world travel and exposure to some of the best coral reefs and beaches in the world.

We didn’t recognize these cassava.  From online research we discovered these can be dangerous to one’s health since some imported varieties contain dangerous levels of cyanide.  Read here for details.

Why don’t we snorkel?  There are several reasons, important to us, that deters us from interest in this activity which include:

1.  Tom sunburns easily. Since beginning our travels, neither of us has) had a single sunburn when we’ve exercised great caution.  We seldom spend more than 20 minutes on each side to ensure an adequate safe dose of Vitamin D.  He can’t stand the feel of sunscreen on his skin.  It makes him cringe.  Sure, he could wear a wetsuit, available for rental for reasonable fees.  He doesn’t want to. 

Tom pointed out this sign. 

2.  We both have vision correction.  Tom’s has a complicated correction making rental goggles unlikely to provide him with a good view without his glasses.  I have mono vision, different correction in each eye wearing contacts to see. They can’t be worn in water. Neither of us would have a good experience based on this fact alone.

An whole fried fish.

3.  Photo taking:  We don’t want to purchase an underwater camera at this point. As picky as I am over equipment, I’d require many accessories to have a good experience with a camera such as a “Go Pro.” We haven’t an inch of space for one more piece of equipment in our carry on bags.  When we noticed our kids huge bag of “Go Pro” equipment, we knew it wasn’t for us.  Bottom line:  If we can’t take photos its just not as much fun for us.  Plain and simple. 

When we visited Highclere Castle (Downton Abbey) in the UK last year, I was  disappointed to be unable to take interior photos although we decided to visit anyway taking many photos of the exterior.  We always check every venue before booking to ensure we’ll be allowed to take photos. 

We found one store that carries grass fed meat.  If we’d had room in the freezer, we’d have purchased a few items.  Instead, we buy our grass fed meat at a great little shop, Smithfield Choice Cuts

Our journey revolves around our ability to document our experiences in photos.  Although I’m certainly not a professional, I see myself as more of a photographer than any other skills I may possess. 

It would have been fun to purchase these truffles for sale at Fetish for Food but based on our remaining short period in Australia, we had to pass.

Sure, I have a lot to learn about photography and eventually will purchase and learn to use a higher quality professional camera when technology advances to make them lighter in weight.  Would a photographer visit a site where she/he wasn’t allowed to take photos?  Hardly. 

These sarongs looked appealing but not room in bags and I’ve never been good at making these work.

4.  Health reasons:  We both have difficulty with our right shoulders.  Most people would have had surgery by now to correct them.  Instead, we’ve found ways with our diet and utilizing caution to keep the pain at bay. 

Kiffler potatoes, so says the sign when its actually “Kipfler.”

Currently, neither of us are experiencing any pain.  This could easily change by a sudden motion.  In addition, although I no longer have back pain due to a strict anti-inflammation way of eating, my spine remains comparable to a house of cards.  Any sudden or startled motion could result in a disaster, putting a fast end to our travels.  Our insurance plan excluded any injury to my spine in our health insurance policy.  Why would we take the risk? 

Clothing racks are scattered about Rusty’s Markets.

It’s for these reasons we don’t zip lines or participate in certain activities potentially putting our current good health at risk.  Snorkeling which I’d done years ago, can easily result in being startled and requires an amount of jumping in and out of boats, at times in countries with less precautionary measures, we opted out of snorkeling.

Rows of handmade jewelry lines a wall.

Why visit the Great Barrier Reef if we don’t snorkel?  Here again, because we want to.  We’ll be able to tour the Great Barrier Reef in a glass bottom boat and we hope to go on the mini submarine that will give us another perspective, all the while taking photos. 

We’ll also enjoy the boat ride each way meeting people and listening to the marine biologist on board the boat.  With many more activities in the Green Island in the Great Barrier Reef area, we’ll surely have a good time.  We always do.

Various vegetables for cooking Asian food.

We chose to live our lives with a sense of reality.  Who are we kidding?  We have some issues we carefully protect. Who doesn’t? Ultimately, continuing on in our travels, having all of the extraordinary experiences we’ve had and will continue to have is more important to us than a few activities we choose not to do from time to time. 

Now, I have to get back to searching for a cruise to Antarctica to fulfill our dream of standing on an ice floe with Emperor Penguins.  Life is good whether we snorkel or not.

(Tomorrow, a new post will be uploaded with photos before we depart for the Great Barrier Reef).


Photo from one year ago today, August 25, 2014:

Tom was smiling while we relaxed while we dined in London, a restaurant we found on foot.  For more details of our lengthy walks in South Kensington, please click here.

Two weeks and counting…Preparations have begun…Another unusual item in photos…Pandan aka Fragrant Screw Pine…

Pandan leaves from the Pandan Plant are used to make these beautiful fragrant bouquets. As quoted from the owner’s written material: “The leaves are used in Southeast Asian cooking as well in making the “flowers” which act a repellent to roaches. In addition, Pandan leaves are said to possess medicinal benefits containing tannin, glycosides, and alkaloids. The scents emitting from the flowers last a week and may be used as a freshener in cars, homes, or washrooms.”

Next week, we’ll return to the travel agency, Flight Centre, at the Smithfield Mall where we’ve booked several upcoming flights with rep Helen in and out of Australia and Fiji. At that point, we’ll prepay for our baggage for these flights with both Qantas Airlines and Fiji Airways.

In order to prepay our baggage fees with tougher restrictions with Fiji Airways than Qantas, it’s important we don’t overestimate the weight of our bags. With our handy travel scale that also doubles for weighing ourselves, Tom first weighs himself while I note the readout and then he weighs himself again, holding the bag.

These handmade Pandan Plant bouquets were being made as we watched the gifted crafts woman, proud of her handiwork. The smell was exquisite.

Generally, each of our checked bags weighs under 23 kilograms, 50.7 pounds, we weren’t charged an additional fee. However, we’ll have to pay for our third bag carrying our shoes, my boots, and a wide variety of supplies which often weighs another 23 kilos.  For that extra bag, we’re often charged an outrageous fee, varies by the airline.

An instruction sheet at the Pandan table.  Interesting.

In reviewing the items in that third bag, we don’t see how we can reduce its weight. If we’d be able to replace the items elsewhere, we would. But, many can’t be found on tropical islands or at remote locations. 

What a gorgeous orchid, one amongst many offered for sale at Rusty’s Markets.

This third bag contains various power cords, power adapters suitable for many countries, power strips, a portable scanner, emergency medical and dental supplies, a few month’s supply of toiletries, a few bottles of vitamins, probiotics, business cards, and shoes, all of our shoes, with five pairs for each of us. 

We stopped to sniff the wide array of organic soaps scented with essential oils.  The smells were intoxicating and I was tempted to buy a few.  Tom reminded me that we’ll easily spot items such as this in the open markets in Fiji.  I agreed.

Recently, I rummaged through that bag, removing every last unnecessary items, any we may be able to find at a local store. While here in abundant Australia we’ve been able to restock a few items we won’t be able to find until we return to Australia next year.

A diner made from an older caravan/travel trailer selling Thai foods. Tom scoured the menus wondering what-the-heck he’s going to eat when we get to Thailand in about a year.

Feeling concerned about the weight of my one large bag, especially when I’d purchased a few items both here and which arrived in a shipped box from the US a few weeks, it was time to pack and weigh my bag.

Hot food must be popular when these bunches of chilies (note spelling above) are offered for sale.

Last week, I took all my clothes out of the cupboard, neatly folding them, tossing no less than 3.6 kilos, 8 pounds of old and worn items none of which are in good enough condition to donate. This pile easily compensates for the new items. 

Yesterday, I did a “trial run” on the weight of my bag, packing every single item except what I was wearing, later removing what I’d need over the next few weeks. Tom weighed my bag and it came in at almost 20 kilos, 44 pounds. When the time comes, I won’t have any trouble rounding it out up to the allowance.

A refrigerator case of vegetarian-only baked goods and meal.

Tom has yet to do his bag, but he will before we head back to the travel agency at the end of next week to prepay the baggage fees.  Sure, we could do this ourselves online, but Helen, the rep, has a better wifi connection and can do it more quickly. We expect the fees to run at least AUD $800, USD $584, an amount we’re prepared to pay for the five upcoming flights.

Many readers still prefer to read a “real book.”

We always recall the excess weight baggage fees we paid when we had zillions of bags at the airports in Dubai, Venice and Istanbul. Having since greatly reduced the load, we’ve been able to get by with only paying for the third checked bag, usually running at about AUD $343, USD $250.

Screen printed tee shirts or night shirts in longer lengths.

As we often say, “It’s the nature of the beast,” a reality we faced long ago. From time to time, we hear stories of world travelers managing with carry-on bags only. We admire their ability to do so. But, most of those travelers are eventually return to a home base where they can repack in order to continue on.

After we’d toured the main area of the under-cover market, we wandered the perimeters finding more products for sale.

Our needs aren’t quite as sparse as those of most travelers. When checking out my relatively small amount of clothing, all that I own, I’m pleased for having reduced it to this level. Tom has an equal amount of clothing in his bag.

The shops continued on the street side of Rusty’s Markets.

We have less clothing and bags than the average traveler on a two week holiday/vacation from what we’ve seen of other travelers on cruises, at hotels and at airports. We willingly pay the extra fees understanding that it’s our choice to remain well equipped, spending little time shopping in each locale for items we’d have difficulty finding.

Gerbera Daisies, a favorite from the old life.  We don’t purchase flowers these days.

In the next few days we’ll head to the mall to grocery shop for the second to last time and to search for a cardboard box to use for the food items we’re accumulating to ship a few days before departing for Fiji. In many cases, as we travel the world we don’t need to ship food items with health food grocers readily available in most countries. 

Although we don’t eat fruit, we’d never seen this champagne honeydew melon in our travels.

In contacting Mario, the manager of the property we’re renting, he explained that there are no health food stores in Savusavu, Vanua Levu which we further confirmed researching online. We sent him a list of the items we use and he explained what is available and what is not. 

Mario explained that organic unrefined coconut oil is available at every shop, but ground flax meal is not. We’ll be lucky to be able to replace a bottle of vitamin C while on this remote island.

We could smell the sweet scent of these tangelos as we walked by this display.

My health club membership expired yesterday making no sense to sign up for another month. I’ll do some resistance exercises at home in the interim also planning a few walks in local parks and reserves. Walking down and back up the long and steep driveway to the trash bins is a high intensity interval training (HIIT) exercise in itself which we do every few days.

There are tons of bananas and other fruit available at Rusty’s Markets in Cairns.

Today, we’re sharing another batch of some of the remaining photos from Rusty’s Markets. We’re still reeling over the fulfilling experience while I continue to savor appetizer plates of the products we purchased from Fetish for Food. Tom? Not so much with his picky taste buds.

We plan to do a little more exploring this week as we wind down our time in Trinity Beach, sharing more photos over the next few weeks. As always, on the day of our departure on September 7th, we’ll be posting the total expenses for our three-month stay in the Cairns area.

                                             Photo from one year ago today, August 24, 2014:

Our last shot of Oxford, England as we prepared to leave the area. For more Oxford photos, please click here.

Part 2…A popular tourist attraction in Cairns…Beyond expectations…Wish we’d visited sooner….

Not the most flattering photo of us. But, we couldn’t resist including a photo of us tasting the Mimolette cheese we’ve written about today, know for its “mites’ that live on the outside of the cheese as it ferments. The US has concerns over “bugs” on cheese.  See story below.

We love the unusual, the peculiar or anything that deviates from the mundane and the expected. Whether it be an animal, a plant, a sunrise or sunset that varies from that which we’ve seen in the past.

This 190 gram chunk of Mimolette Cheese was priced at AUD $13.30, USD $9.73, certainly no more expensive than a chunk of quality Parmesan.

Perhaps, that’s one of the many reasons why we decided to travel the world, a reason we’ve discovered has escalated as our journey continues. What tidbit can we discover along the way that finds us in awe of the world around us? It all boils down to the concept of “what is unique to us?”

We purchased these items at Fetish for Food at Rusty’s Markets. The total cost was AUD $77.65, USD $58.83.  In the center is a container with fresh mozzarella balls which we’ll use soon to make stuffed Italian meatballs with sugar free pasta sauce and Parmesan. After tasting the Mimolette, if we grate it, it may work perfectly to finish off the dish.

Those who know us may laugh when it comes to admiring each other. What’s so unique about each other maintaining our interest and enthusiasm in being together, day after day, year and year in such tight quarters?  It’s all a matter of perception in one’s own eyes. I find this man with an inordinate amount of willingness to adapt, of openness and of generosity of spirit at my side each day.

He may find similar types of qualities in me. But mostly, I perceive he likes that I don’t complain and I don’t do drama. Collectively, the humor, the teasing and the playful banter contribute to the ongoing pleasure of one another’s companionship. That’s unique, maybe not so much in the realm of the world, but it is to us.

Foie Gras is one of my favorite food items. This tiny piece, of which I savored half yesterday afternoon was AUD $14.30, USD $10.47, was delicious, even without crackers or bread.

Whether its in looking for and finding vacation homes, places to explore and people we meet, we naturally gravitate toward that which varies from the “norm” even if only to a miniature degree in the eyes of others.

As we wandered through Rusty’s Markets our eyes, trained to scan for unique items we stopped to investigate, inquire and take photos when possible. We’ve learned over these past years certain vendors don’t want photos taken of their products. This has been especially true in Muslim countries based on religious beliefs we respectfully honored without question.

This taste of this delightful Chicken and Black Peppercorn Pate stayed with me for hours as I often thought of going back for more, instead saving the balance to enjoy for a few days. This was priced at AUD $9.35, USD $6.84.

Many of the most unique fruits and vegetables were for sale in such owned displays causing us to proceed with our photo taking with caution. Although, without taking photos we were able to enjoy our perusal of the most unusual items. 

In our search for the most unique item we were enthralled when visiting with Nick Down at Fetish for Food. We couldn’t resist but load the counter with what appeared to be delectable choices to take home when he noticed me staring at a unique item in a display case, Mimolette Cheese.

This Brie Cheese with Truffles is a rare treat.

Nick chuckled when he saw me admiring the “unusual” color, a bright orange, when all the other cheese were varying in shades from bright whites to yellow. At first I thought it may be a type of cheese made with a pumpkin flavoring contributing to its odd color.  

Nick proceeded to explain Mimolette’s unusual story which definitely caught our attention. There was no way we were walking out of his shop without buying that chunk of Mimolette Cheese and we looked forward to conducting a bit of research on this unusual product when we returned home.

(I should mention a phenomenon here in Australia at this point; cheddar cheese here is not orange. It’s a natural off white color. They don’t use dye in their cheese to color it. When looking for grated cheddar cheese for our grain-free taco salad, I have to read labels, unable to easily spot the orange-tinged cheddar cheese).

After considerable research I found this wonderful article, although dated, from NPR detailing exactly what we wanted to learn about Mimolette Cheese:
“Tiny Mites Spike Big Battle Over Imports of French Cheese
May 11, 2013

by Deena Prechep

The Food and Drug Administration is currently embroiled in a surprisingly heated culinary standoff — pitting French cheese-makers (and American cheese-lovers) against regulators, all because of one very small problem: cheese mites. Cheese mites are microscopic little bugs that live on the surfaces of aged cheeses, munching the microscopic molds that grow there. For many aged cheeses, they’re something of an industry nuisance, gently brushed off the cheeses. But for Mimolette, a bright orange French cheese, they’re actually encouraged.

The mites munch on the rind for a few years and then are removed — usually with a blast of compressed air and a bit of hand-brushing — before Mimolette is sold. But there are always a few hiding behind. And now the FDA is cracking down.

According to the FDA’s Patricia El-Hinnawy, there’s no official limit, but the target is no more than six mites per square inch. For Mimolette, that’s a near-impossible standard.

Benoit de Vitton is the North American representative for Isigny, one of the largest producers of Mimolette. In March, de Vitton began receiving letters from each of the dozen importers he works with, saying that their Mimolette shipments had been detained.

De Vitton estimates that he now has about a ton of cheese sitting in FDA warehouses in New Jersey. “They say the product, because of the mites, it is not proper for human consumption,” de Vitton sighs.

Ironically, de Vitton notes that Mimolette itself is rumored to have been created because of import issues in the 17th century. “The French were at war with Holland, and the king didn’t want any more Dutch Gouda coming to France. So he asked to create kind of the same cheese.”

But in the 21st century, do we need a cheese ban? Microbiologist Rachel Dutton runs a cheese lab at Harvard University, and we checked in with her about the dangers of mites. Dutton notes that there have been some reports of mite allergies, but they seem to be restricted to people who have come into contact with large numbers of mites.And Dutton says that while we may not like to think about bugs, they’re a part of what makes cheese so delicious.

“Cheese is absolutely alive,” Dutton laughs. And all of that life — the molds, bacteria, yeasts and mites — help make cheese what it is. Dutton says that the mites on Mimolette can contribute flavors of their own (they have a somewhat earthy smell), and by eating into the rind, they can also increase aeration — and the surface area in which the other microbes can do their work.

Dutton understands that this doesn’t sound appealing, but implores people to realize the good work of these bugs. “There definitely are microbes that can spoil food and make either it bad for you to eat or just sort of gross. But any time you eat a piece of cheese or a bite of yogurt, have a piece of bread or a glass of wine — these are all examples of foods fermented by different types of microbes.”

Throughout France, cheese lovers have been rallying in support of Mimolette. There are radio stories, YouTube videos — there’s even an ex-pat Save the Mimolette Facebook campaign (of course).

In America, the response is a bit more subdued. Some cheesemongers are buying up the limited supply, but most are content to shrug it off. Sasha Davies, of Cyril’s cheese/wine bar in Portland, is nervous about what the mite crackdown could mean for other aged cheeses, but in general is fine reaching for an aged Gouda instead of Mimolette.

“I find I can scratch the itch I feel for Mimolette with a lot of other cheeses,” she admits.

Davies says that the fervor for Mimolette isn’t just about its caramel notes or lactic tang or bright orange color.

“There are cheeses that — even though I think they taste delicious, they tug at my heartstrings, either because I love the person that makes them, or I have this great memory of being in a special place,” she says. “Food is never really just food.”

And for many French people, Mimolette brings a taste of memory, family and home — as well as mites.”

By no means are we cheese experts and, we were aware that mites may hang out on fine cheeses based on the education we received on long ago tour of the Cheese Factory in Belize.  However, we never realized the significance of mites as described in the Mimolette Cheese.

We’ve yet to unwrap and try this Spanish Goat Cheese with Rosemary saving it for another day.  It was priced at AUD $11.02, USD $8.06, another fair price.

It was irresistible. We purchased a good-sized chunk of Mimolette Cheese and this morning we tasted it for the first time. As described above, we loved its “caramel notes and lactic tang” or I should say, I loved it. Tom was less impressed when his tastes for cheese leans toward Kraft’s Individually Wrapped Slices or Velveeta.

When Tom and I first dated and on occasion I visited his home, I cringed when I noticed he kept a huge bucket of nacho dipping cheese on his kitchen counter, readily available double-dipping a tortilla  chip. On the other hand, back in 1991, I was shopping the gourmet deli counter at Byerly’s Market for fine import cheeses.

This morning Tom had a chunk of this non sugared smoked salmon with scrambled eggs, onions with his favorite local sliced cheese, Tasty brand with a side of nitrate-free “streaky”  bacon.  This price at AUD $8.95 was only USD $6.55.

As for the unusual, Mimolette Cheese was an interesting tidbit teaching us something new which ultimately is the benefit of seeking and finding those special morsels in our travels having an impact on our senses, whether its a taste, a smell, a touch, a sound or a sight. It all adds to the experience. 

Lots more new photos tomorrow!

Photos from one year ago today, August 23, 2014:

One year ago, we visited Oxford, England, the famous college town filled with one historic building after another. This is the Radcliffe Camera Building, “camera” referring to a “room” not a camera. For more Oxford photos, please click here.

Part 1…A popular tourist attraction in Cairns…Beyond expectations…Wish we’d visited sooner….

The sign outside the huge permanent farmer’s market in downtown Cairns, Rusty’s Markets, a popular tourist attraction as well as a favorite shopping site for locals.

Hindsight is 20/20. Had we visited the popular tourist attraction, Rusty’s Markets in Cairns earlier in our stay in Trinity Beach, we’d easily have returned on many occasions. (Click here for the map).

As soon as we entered Rusty’s Markets we knew we were in for a treat.

With easy to find and navigate free two-hour parking in a nearby ramp, we barely made it back to the car in time to avoid the overtime AUD $10, USD $7.73 additional hourly fee. Had we missed the two-hour window, the experience would certainly have been worth the fee.

Tropical flowers are on display in multiple locations.

Rusty’s Markets is a cacophony of mind-blowing shopping from a wide array of products including pretty summer dresses, handmade jewelry and crafts, and exquisite flower arrangements, to organic fruits and vegetables, meats, breads and desserts.

Having already purchased avos a few days ago when we grocery shopped I had to pass on these.

Countless casual restaurants with foods from around the world lined the perimeter including a makeshift food court where hungry tourists and locals gathered about sitting on uneven chairs and benches happily munching away on their favorites.

A mixed variety of goods are presented at some tables with specific items at others.

It was evident that most vendors are offering products as a result of ongoing hard work and creativity in developing their wares to perfection. With Rusty’s Markets only opened from 5:00 am to 6:00 pm on Fridays and Saturdays and 5:00 am to 3:00 pm on Sundays, it’s a full-time job for the vendors, managing their inventory and presentation of their products to ensure a seamless three days open to the public.

Fresh greens are for sale at many displays.

For the avid local shopper, leave room in your fridge and freezer and bring a small wheeling shopping cart in order to leave hands free for gathering the multitude of treasures. For the tourist, bring durable over-sized bags for other wares you may be unable to resist to bring home with lovely memories of the shopping experience.  Cloth shopping bags are available for sale.

Tom stopped and looked at the bread display. Nothing appealed to him. He hasn’t had a bite of bread in almost three months but continues to mention how much he missed toast and jelly.

Few times in our world travels have we found a market of this size and variety. Under cover of an enormous building, it’s a year-round, regardless-of-weather venue with permanent stations for its vendors. It’s clean, well lit, and relatively easy to maneuver.

Tropical fruits, roots, and greens.  Prices are reasonable for most items.

Luckily, we visited on a Friday as opposed to the most likely busier Saturdays and Sundays. We discussed how crazy it must be when cruise ships dock in the port of Cairns with 1000 or more cruisers arriving by bus to Rusty’s Markets. Cruisers notoriously are avid shoppers and Rusty’s would be pure paradise for most.

As we approached the counter at Fetish for Food we knew we were in for a treat.

Having grocery shopped only two days earlier and with our tiny fridge and freezer packed to the gills, buying vegetables were out of the question. I was so disappointed when I couldn’t purchase grass-fed meat or organic veg as I drooled over the free-range meat, free-range chicken, and organic produce lining row after row in the vast market.

Every refrigerated case is filled with food befitting our way of eating including smoked fish, sausages, nitrate-free streaky bacon, and delectable cheeses.

However, when we spotted a meticulously presented cheese and exotics foods display, aptly named, Fetish for Food, I felt like a kid in a candy store. When the owner, Nick Down, was free to spend time with us, we were delighted with not only his knowledge of every item in his inventory but his pleasant demeanor and surprisingly reasonable prices.

Nick explained interesting facts about the various cheeses one of which we’ll expound upon tomorrow with a shocking story. Who knew?

Finally, being in a shop where I could almost eat anything offered sent me to the moon. It reminded both of us of when in March 2013 we visited the Cave Branch Jungle Lodge as guests of the owner Ian’s fabulous on site Cheese Factory. Click here for the link from that day with many great photos of our memorable experience.

There are multiple cases all filled with local and imported cheeses.

At Fetish for Food, we couldn’t help but make a fair sized pile of products I couldn’t resist. Even Tom, unlikely to do more than taste these items, got into the selection process encouraging me to grab more and more.  With only a little over two weeks, until we leave Australia, it made no sense to purchase too much, a little of which I’ll have each day.

Once we arrived home, it was fun to review our purchases.  In total, we spent AUD $77.65, USD $58.83 which was less than we’d expected for these several items. Today, we’ll prepare an appetizer plate for a pre-dinner treat.

Tomorrow, we’ll be back with a story on a very unusual product we purchased at Fetish for Food regarding a type of cheese and bugs, an unlikely combination we found fascinating. The foodies out there will love this. The non-foodies…please humor me. But, even you may find it entertaining if not cringe-worthy.

Much of the cheese is imported from France, as we know, the cheese capital of the world.

Another vendor that caught our eye was Wild Nature Cairns, presented by the owner, Nicola whose gentle demeanor was surely befitting the natural skin and hair care products, natural makeup, and pure essential oil products, all organic and environmentally friendly.

In addition to meats and cheeses, Nick has a display of fancy condiments and oils.
In my old life, I’d surely have walked away with a bag of girlie treasures. In this life, I can’t purchase any of these items with a lack of space in my bag and the inability to replace the preferred items when they’re gone. 
Nicola, the owner of Wild Nature is dedicated and committed to the highest quality product she can produce, mostly made utilizing the healing and therapeutic Australian Aloe Vera plant.
These days, I purchase cosmetics in grocery stores and pharmacies. I have one drugstore night cream in my possession which I’ll replace with another when it runs out. If I need body lotion, I use coconut oil. 
Nicola’s products may be used for a variety of skin conditions. Visit her site at this link.

Finding these two wonderful vendors in the busy market among the produce, grass-fed meats, exotic pastries, and endless eateries only added to our extraordinary experience…slightly under two hours of pure delight for both of us.

Back at you soon with the unusual products, we found at Rusty’s Markets.

Photo from one year ago today, August 22, 2014:

This is the church where Matthew’s funeral was held in Bampton, England where Downton Abbey has been filmed over the years. For details on how this quaint village has been prepared for filming please click here. It was quite a story.