1 Month Until Kangaroo Island

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March is my ‘stay put in Perth’ month but I’m finding that although I’m here, I’m not really here. My time is consumed with planning future adventures, or sorting through the stories and photos of past adventures. I feel like I’m just temporarily stopping over at home, before the world carries me away again. I do wonder, sometimes, what my life would be like if I didn’t live with my head in the clouds, but at the end of the day, I can’t imagine living life any other way.

Today marks exactly one month until my friend and I fly to Adelaide. From here, we will fly to Kangaroo Island to do the 61km Wilderness Trail, which opened on the island at the end of last year. Everything is now officially sorted, with the final ‘to-do’ items- transfers on the island and overnight accommodation in Adelaide- being booked earlier today.

I’m really looking forward to the hike, and getting back on a trail again. By the time April rolls around, it will have been six months since my trek in Nepal, which was my last ‘big walk’. It will be great to get out the backpack and hiking boots- for me, they symbolise a return to the simplest state of living: eat, walk, sleep, repeat. What’s more, I hope it will be an opportunity for my mind to experience something that is currently eluding it- a chance to switch off and live in the moment.

When Stars Align

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So, I’m feeling mega excited right now. I have just booked tickets to see Billy Joel when I am in America. His ‘Turnstiles’ album has always made me dream about the big American cities, and I just thought, how cool would it be to see him in concert when I finally visit the USA for the first time. My dream would be to see him at Madison Square Garden, his iconic performance arena.

When I finally figured out my plan for America a few weeks back, I decided I would visit New York in mid-May, between my storm chasing tour and my G Adventures tour. But when I checked Billy’s tour dates, his May performance was scheduled for the 25th- a week too late. I was so bummed that the stars hadn’t aligned.

The other night, I was lying in bed, listening to ‘Turnstiles’, and still wishing I could attend one of his concerts. It just seemed like one of those once-in-a-lifetime opportunities, and I just really, really wanted to go. It was 2am, and I’d settled into bed an hour and a half ago, but instead of sleeping, I couldn’t stop thinking, there’s got to be a way.

I checked the next concert date. June 6th. By that time, I’d be on the other side of the country, in San Francisco. Maybe I could just fly over for the concert? It was a half-hearted idea, as I knew it would be bloody expensive, and, sure enough, when I saw the price of the flights, the idea was quickly dismissed.

It wasn’t all in vain, though, because it got me thinking of an alternative idea. Aside from my two tours, nothing else is actually booked yet. Yes, there’s a proposed itinerary of where I want to go and when, but nothing is actually set in stone. So, why not change the itinerary? Why not visit New York after my two tours? That way, I’d be in the Big Apple on June 6th.

Once the penny dropped, the answer seemed so obvious, and I felt as thick as a brick that it had taken me so long to have this epiphany. My mind’s been racing ever since, though, and I’ve been organising my cross-country travel at such a rate that it’s surprised even me. It’s like some part of me already knew I was meant to go to this concert, and kept persisting with little clues, waiting patiently for my slow brain to catch up. Everything is falling into place now like a chain of dominoes. Being absorbed in this holiday planning has been so consuming the last couple of days that it almost feels like I’m already there.

I have a feeling, though, exactly three months from now, when I’m entering Madison Square Garden to watch the Piano Man, it will feel as though I’m in a dream.

Forward Planning

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It’s been exactly a week since I returned home from my travels around Sri Lanka. A country of friendly people, delicious food, beautiful landscapes, and amazing experiences. Funnily enough, I just came across a blog post I wrote at the start of January when I finally booked my flights after weeks of indecision about what I actually wanted to do and see in Sri Lanka. What was then a blank book is now a finished story.

On my tour, I shared a room with a girl from the UK who has been to some pretty amazing destinations. Her favourite country that she’s visited is Jordan, and I was keen to hear about her experiences, as it’s a country high on the list of places I want to visit myself. In fact, Jordan is the first country I ever put on my ‘places to visit one day’ list.

And so, with my first adventure for the year over, I got home and thought I’d just have a look to see what tours are available for Jordan. Yep, instead of going to bed after a 40 hour day travelling between continents, I sat at my computer doing research for another holiday instead.

At the start of the year, I pencilled in mid-October as my preferred time to visit, and considering that’s still eight months away, my main aim was just to browse through the itineraries offered by different tour companies. I enjoyed travelling with G Adventures in Sri Lanka, but for Jordan, I was feeling more inclined to choose Intrepid, as they seem to offer a bit more time in Petra, which is the main reason I want to visit Jordan.

You can imagine my surprise when I scrolled down to the dates and availability section and saw that there was only one spot left for the mid-October tour. And I’m sure you can guess who got that last spot! Yep, I don’t waste any time. Although I did not have the slightest intention of booking anything when I first started browsing, there was no way I was missing out on this tour because if all goes well, Jordan will be the first stop of a wider adventure I have planned for the end of the year. And if things don’t quite work out, then I’m still going to Jordan and doing the ‘Explore Jordan’ tour, starting the 14th of October. I’m so glad I was inspired to look at the tour when I did, as I doubt that one available spot would’ve lasted for much longer.

Before I go, I would dearly love to find the book that first piqued my interest in Petra as a seven-year-old. It’s an old book, simply called ‘Petra’, and is written by Iain Browning. I have searched for it at home for the last 18 months, to no avail. I just really want to flip through the pages of this book before I go and realise a lifelong dream. I have eight months left to find it- fingers crossed!

Canyon Country Awaits

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This year will be the first time I visit mainland America. It’s been difficult deciding how I’m going to spend my six weeks while over there because, as I’ve come to realise while doing my holiday research, the United States is such a vast country with so much to see and do. My storm chasing tour which I booked last year is obviously a given- it’s my whole reason for going to the States in the first place. But it’s only a week long tour, which still left me with five weeks to plan for.

When I got back from Nepal at the end of October 2016, I had no more travel plans for the year so organising my America trip became my focus. Originally, I was thinking of doing a two month circle tour with Trek America after my storm chasing tour finished up, in order to see as much of the US as possible. However, my youngest brother is turning 18 this year and I want to be home for his birthday so I decided against it, as going on such a long tour would’ve meant missing his 18th. I was also conscious of the financial cost of such a long tour. Considering I don’t work full time and I still have lots of travel plans for the latter half of the year, spending an additional ten grand on top of my storm chasing tour seemed excessive.

While I was pondering these money matters in early November, some very cheap flights to the US opened up- $922 return from Perth to San Francisco, flying Singapore Airlines. It was an amazing deal, too good to pass up, and I wanted those flights! It was just the motivation I needed to at least figure out a time frame for my trip, even if I didn’t quite know the details of what I’d be doing yet.

I accepted the reality that I wouldn’t be able to ‘see it all’ this time around and decided I’d focus on exploring the southern states of America. I contemplated just doing my own thing but realised I still wanted to do some sort of tour so I could meet new people. There were a couple of shorter tours that still fit within the six week stint I’d now settled upon and my interest was piqued by the Southern Cross Country tour offered by G Adventures, a 23 day road trip from New York to San Fran.

It wasn’t until Christmas time, when the mum of a student I’d taught a couple of years ago posted a spectacular photo of the Lower Antelope Canyon in Arizona which she was visiting with her family, that I realised why I kept umm’ing and ahh’ing about booking the Southern Cross Country tour.

There’s no doubt the United States has some amazing cities and there’s certainly a few I want to visit. But I’d allowed myself to get blindsided by the typical touristy experiences that are recommended for a first time visitor to the States. Deep down, it’s America’s wildernesses that I most want to see: the rugged plains, the grand national parks, the wide open spaces.

Once I’d had this epiphany, my itinerary seemed to write itself. I would visit the cities I was interested in for a couple of days on my own, in between tours. But my main focus would be exploring and wandering through the natural landscapes that speak to my heart.

Now my second tour is finally booked! On the 19th of May, I’ll be starting the Canyon Country and Coasts tour, a 16 day adventure in America’s south-west run by G Adventures. I’ve gone from a tour encompassing 30 states around America to one that will only venture to four of them but I know that my experiences will be no less richer for it.

The Countdown Begins

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It’s taken me ages to sort out my itinerary for Sri Lanka. I booked an eight day group tour with G Adventures on Christmas Day, which will take me to some of the popular touristy areas such as Kandy, Yala, Galle, etc.

I couldn’t make up my mind how long I needed for all the other places I want to see on my own though- namely Adam’s Peak, Horton Plains, Ella, Sigiriya and the elephant sanctuary at Kegalle.

Usually I’m right on to travel research but there’s nothing like indecisiveness to bring out the procrastinator in me. Increasing flight costs finally motivated me to make up my mind this afternoon.

Now that flights are booked, my first holiday for the year finally feels real. I’ll be in Sri Lanka from the 30th of January to the 15th of February. I even scored a good deal with the flights. Everything’s coming up Milhouse!

By the time I take off for Colombo, it will have been three months since my last holiday and I think I’ll practically be running onto the plane. 26 days to go!