1 Week ‘Til America

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I knew the hour was early when I opened my eyes and was greeted by a feeble grey light filtering through my window. I stumbled blearily into the kitchen and the clock showed six oh five. But a sudden realisation woke me right up. This time next week, I’ll be sitting on a plane, about to depart my home for six weeks, and ready to see what there is to see in the USA.

Despite my love of travelling, it’s been a long time since I’ve been so cognizant of an upcoming holiday. It doesn’t usually hit me until the day before, and then it usually feels like a huge inconvenience because of all the effort involved.

This time, it’s different. For the first time in a long time, I feel really excited. Almost like a newbie traveller again. Perhaps it’s because my trip to America has been in the pipeline for so long now- practically a year- that it’s surreal to think that a countdown of 365 days has dwindled down to seven. I’ve waited a long time for this trip and now it’s almost upon me.

***

In the hour of transformation between silver dawn and golden day, time seems to take on another dimension. It stretches out before me, like a piece of elastic. I see the 29 years of my life that have led to this moment, and they seem like nothing at all.

And yet six weeks stretches out of sight, and trying to decipher what it encompasses feels like looking into eternity. It’s vague and grey, like the early morning, appearing unpredictable yet feeling like fate.

Let’s just wander through the hours, undecided about directions but confident we will get to where we need to go. And when it all eventually falls into place, something will have shifted and life will be different. I will appear the same but feel changed.

***

Let America slumber in her final dreams. The silver dawn approaches, and with it, a golden horizon of opportunities.

It’s Adventure Time!

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I can hardly believe that in about three hours, I’ll be on a plane bound for Adelaide, considering that I still have to finish work, drive home, get changed, and be dropped off at the airport. Life has been so busy recently that I can’t wait to just sit down on the plane and breathe.

My friend and I are off to hike the Wilderness Trail on Kangaroo Island. We’ll stay the night in Adelaide tonight, and then fly over to Kangaroo Island tomorrow morning to commence the five day walk. The weather is looking lovely, which will be perfect for appreciating the scenic views that the island is famous for. By Wednesday, we’ll have (hopefully!) completed the 61km trail. We have an additional night on the island to relax, before heading home to Perth on Thursday.

I finished packing my backpack last night, and was amazed that I managed to squeeze in my sleeping bag and tent. Despite hiking for six weeks straight on the Bibbulmun Track last year, I have a feeling the weight of the pack is going to come as a complete shock. It never feels too bad when you first put it on, but after a couple of hills, a few kilometres, and several hours of walking, that sentiment definitely changes!

Nevertheless, I can’t wait to be out on a trail again. I love the simplicity of hiking life, and ever since I got back from Sri Lanka, I’ve been in a bit of a funk. For the first half of March, I felt that I wasn’t being productive enough with my time, while for the second half, life has been so hectic that I’ve felt like an idiot for ever complaining about having too much time on my hands, as I’ve often wished I could grab my hands on a Time-Turner from Harry Potter.

Today also marks exactly one month until I start my storm chasing tour in America. Now that I think about it, I reckon the next few months are going to be crazy busy- so I better relish this hike!

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.

2 Months Until America

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Today is the 1st of March, which means the start of autumn for those of us in the Southern Hemisphere. Not that you’d know it here in Perth, with temperatures reaching a sweltering 38 degrees today. I am feeling absolutely drained, and the air is still very hot and sticky at 7.30pm. Ugh. Looks like I’ll be holding off from pulling out my jumpers and making hearty soups for a while yet.

The thing I’m most excited about which is coming up this autumn, though, is my six week trip to America. In exactly two months from now, I’ll be on a plane, flying to San Francisco. (Well, actually, first I’ll be flying to Singapore. And then, Hong Kong. And THEN, San Francisco.) There are many things I’m looking forward to on my first ever visit to the mainland States, but, without a doubt, the one experience I absolutely can’t wait for is my storm chasing tour, on which I will also celebrate my 30th birthday.

When I tell people about my reason for going to America and how I’ve chosen to spend my 30th, many people look at me with incredulity, wondering what on earth is the appeal of such a tour. Isn’t chasing tornadoes akin to a death wish and risking the prospect of living to see another birthday? It’s true that I’ve signed a waiver that I accept I could die- but, in truth, is this not the very nature of life itself? Certainly, there is no waiver we can sign to guarantee that, when we wake up in the morning, we will live to see out the day.

All we can do is hope that there is still plenty of sand in our hourglass, and make the most of the time that is given to us.