Monday, October 29, 2012

Welcome to Oz- First Aussie Update

(Originally Written: September 27, 2012)
*This post is actually a repeat of an email I sent about a month ago, before I had this blog. Sorry for a repeat for many of you- just want to get everything all in one place.


Now that I’ve been in Australia almost 4 weeks, I figured it’s time (overdue even?) for an update. Now, if you’ve ever received a card, letter, text message, voicemail, etc. from me, you will know that I am nothing if not long-winded. SO- prepare for an overly-detailed description of a so far mostly un-eventful time in Australia. Yes- it is 9 pages, but HEY, there are lots of pictures! Don’t judge. But DO, consider yourself warned. However, if you want the short version, here you go:

High: Being reunited with David of course (a very close 2nd would be seeing a kangaroo)

Low: Bugs, Spiders, SNAKES!
Coming Soon: Me holding a koala in Brisbane.

**Oh and follow me on Instagram if you have it (Meggers315) to see more frequent pictures of day to day events!


Ok, for those of you attempting the long version… where to begin… oh yes- back in Houston.
**Final days in Houston

My last few days in Houston (gosh that seems like so long ago) were CRAZY. It was a stressful, emotional time, but lucky for me, my mom was able to come and help. Thanks, mom! It was nice to have extra hands, but also so nice to have some company during the craziness of the move. We had some drama with the move/packing- like when the movers came to tell me after less than 2 hours of packing that I was at 837 of my 1000 allowed pounds that could be shipped to Australia. Instant panic mode, and a very quick lesson in want vs. need, but it all turned out fine in the end. Everything on the "to do" list got done eventually. It was definitely an unforgettable feeling when the cab came to pick me up from our (empty) house, and I had to lock the door and say goodbye (alone) to our first house for the last time. But at the same time, by that point, I was just so ready to be done with everything already and just be on my way.

                  Mom and I at lunch in Houston.                               Last photo with my first house.
                               My life in a truck.                Locking up the door to our casa for the last time. 

 **Relocation: Country, Continent, Hemisphere

The actual flight (all 18 or so hours of it) was something I had been dreading, but it was surprisingly painless. (No really, I swear- I’m not just saying that to encourage visitors.) After a short flight from Houston to Dallas, I had a couple hours to kill- so obviously I took that time to eat pizza and drink wine. Duh. Before I knew it, I was on the plane (around 10:30 PM). The flight attendants basically try to keep everyone up for the first 3-4 hours- they keep you busy with a meal (yes, I had just eaten, but I knew I was about to burn a ton of calories sitting on my booty for the next 18 hours, so I knew I better eat as much as possible), announcements, customs forms, distribution of a cute little "night time bag," etc.

Then they shut the lights off and encourage everyone to sleep. At this point I watched a movie, then popped a couple Advil PM and slept a good 8 hours or so! By the time I woke up, lights were on, breakfast was being served, and there were only about 3-4 hours left in the flight. Totally painless, right?! Ok good- I’ll see you here in Australia then! The last step of the trip was a layover in Brisbane and then a short one hour flight to Gladstone. Here are some pictures from that flight:

The second picture shows how RED the soil is here. I liked the 3rd photo because you can see the shadow of the plane as I got close to landing in Gladstone.

A new stamp for my passport! Waiting in Brisbane for my short flight to Gladstone.

Getting ready to touch down in my new home.
My welcome gift from David: Flowers, Australian wine, chocolate, and my new car keys!

**1 st Days in My New Home:

David picked me up from the airport (!!!!!!) and took me on a brief tour of Gladstone. The goal that day was to stay up all day so I could hopefully get back on a normal schedule and avoid jet-lag. It worked. I was super tired the whole day, but so glad I did it. Here are some pictures of our house. These were all taken before David even moved in, but you get the idea.


*Glad STIN/"Aussie-isms"
Here are some things I learned about my new home/Australia/Aussies within my first few days here:

-It’s GladSTIN, not Gladstone (I still like to say GladSTONE just to get people all riled up)

-Shoes (and shirts) are optional- even in places like oh, you know, the grocery store or restaurants. Don’t even get my started on this. Barf.

-"How you going?" = "How are you?" Um, ok.

-Expect to pay about twice what you pay in the US for just about everything (see Dr. Pepper photo below)

-No tipping. While nice not to have to worry about it, it makes for some seriously sub-par service.

-"No worries, no dramas" is a common phrase used pretty much in any situation or after you ask anyone a question. David insists that this translates to "I have no idea what I’m doing or how to answer your question, but does this help you feel better about the situation?"

-Aussies like to call everyone "doll" or "love." This is fine with me because it makes me feel like a Kardashian.

-Aussies love them some abbreviations. Here are some of the ones I hear most: "Maccas" = McDonald’s; "brekky" = breakfast; "exy" = expensive; "avo" = avocado; "bizzo" = business, as in none of your bizzo; "polly" = politician

-People get offended when you say "excuse me" to get by them, etc. To them it is like saying "ExCUUUUSE me?!" They say either "sorry" or "excusemesorry" OR my personal favorite- nothing as they push past you.

-Any spider/bug/other pest you find in your house will be at least 5x the size you’re used to seeing. And probably furry and venomous.

Here are a few pictures to illustrate a few of the above items:

*Gladstone Region Tour

During my first full week here, I was able to go on a Bechtel-given tour (Bechtel is David’s company) of the Gladstone Region. Now let me backtrack briefly. Gladstone is the actual city we are in. It is a small (for me) town of about 30,000. This little city has grown quickly in the past few years due to the LNG projects they have going on here- Gladstone’s port is one of the few on this side of Australia that can accommodate the large ships needed to bring in all the materials, etc. needed for these big construction projects. Because of the quick growth in the city- the whole place is basically one big construction site, and you can definitely feel "growing pains" as major infrastructures have not been able to keep up with the growth. The Gladstone REGION includes a much larger area of Queensland (lakes, coastal areas, beaches, etc.).

At any rate, this tour started with a tour of the city itself and then moved on to some of the surrounding areas. In the city of Gladstone itself, we briefly drove past the following areas I want to see, but have yet to go back to yet: small winery, botanical gardens, Mt. Larcom, multiple parks/fitness trails. Here are some of the places/things I saw outside of the city itself (these areas are all within 15-30 minutes of Gladstone city)



This area is called Yeppoon Dam. It is one of the largest dams in Australia. It has beautiful park grounds and lake areas. This is also where I had my first wallaby siting! Yes, a wallaby is different than a kangaroo I learned. It mostly has to do with size and teeth, but if you’re interested, here is a link that explains it:

We also toured Tanuum Sands. Tannum sands is a little beach town. It’s on my list of places to go to for a quick day or weekend trip, but I haven’t made it back there yet. When you come to visit me and David, this is probably a place you will want to see/stay. Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures of it.

The last place where we stopped was Radar Hill. This is a hill in Gladstone that has a nice view of the city, the marina, and on a clear day, you can see the island where the construction sites for the LNG plants are. This is where I saw my first Kukaburra. I have seen a couple more since then, but I have HEARD tons! There is a big tree on our street where a ton of them live. Every morning you can hear them. Their bird call seriously sounds like monkeys laughing. It’s pretty hilarious.



*Our ‘hood

The weather here has been great (it’s Spring here now), and I’ve been taking walks around our neighborhood a few mornings a week. Here are some pictures from our neighborhood:


 Mt. Larcom in thebackground (that pointy area)
Cute little playground in our neighborhood (in case you were wondering, I DID ride that cricket, and yes it is as fun as it looks) 
 View looking back on our side of the neighborhood from the other side of the development.

Pretty Australian clouds on my walk.

*Curtis Island

Curtis Island is the island just off the coast of Gladstone where three LNG plants are being built. As of next week, this will be where David goes every day for work. Last week, I was able to go on a short tour of the area by ferry. Unfortunately, non-employees are not able to access the actual island, so this was as close as I will probably ever get. It was neat to see it though, even from afar. Once these projects are completed, they will (hopefully) be a huge source of revenue for the Australian government.



OK- I think that is enough from me.  For now. :-)  I also have some fun stories about snakes, but I will save those for another time.. or maybe just spare you.  Haven't decided yet.  

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Hello, Internets!

Here goes nothing...

I've been thinking about, debating, and meaning to start blog for quite a while now.  Even before I came to Australia.  I just, well, procrastinated (surprise), and decided it was more fun (and less work) to just creep and lurk on other people's blogs :-)  That's normal, right? 

Well, I finally committed, and here it is! 

Finn the Koala and I would like to welcome you to "Neither Here Nor There!"

I chose "Neither Here Nor There" for my blog name, because it hints a bit at the fact that we are living abroad, travelling, and in general all over the place for the next few years.  I also liked the name, because it kind of describes my writing style- which can probably be described as all. over. the. place... and let's be honest, usually about mostly unimportant topics.  On "Neither Here Nor There," you will probably find a range of topics ranging from: daily life, to travel recaps, to general ramblings, etc.  I wanted to pick a title that wasn't too specific to Australia, because I HOPE that if this blogging thing goes well, I will continue this blog even after we've returned to the U.S. 

I hope that this blog will be a place for my friends and family back in the US to stay in touch and updated our life and adventures in Australia, even though we are far away- and maybe even a way to build connections with other bloggers out there.  And of course, I look forward to having a place to store my memories of our experiences- both exciting and not so much.