Aud vs. Australia: the Blue Mountains

You guys – after nearly 3 years, I got to see the Blue Mountains.

FINALLY!

There has always been something stopping me from getting there – mostly because I wanted to go with Joel the first time I went, and our schedules, the weather, money, and someone with a car just never lined up. But last weekend, the stars aligned. I bought some active wear (active wear!), we woke up before dawn, and set out with our friend Rob, his flatmate Eloise and her pal Oxanna to see Empress Falls in the Blue Mountains National Park.

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6:00AM. SO cold. SO sleepy. But the early bird beats the tour busses.
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We reached the trail around 8:30AM. It was a brisk 7*C. 

After a traffic free, two and half hour drive, we reached the mountains. It felt cold. It felt like actual winter cold, with real frost in the air. So that was exciting. It was less exciting that I was wearing super thin, stretchy active wear pants and that didn’t do a thing to keep me warm unless I was moving in them (clever girl, active wear).

We parked the car and set out to begin our 3.5 km trail. I was too excited to get to the first look out to take many pictures, but I did see some killer rocks, and a pair of underpants in a tree (nature!).

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rocks!

Eloise and Oxanna and I had never been to the mountains, so when we reached the first look out, there were collective OOooOooOOo’s and AAAaaaAAAhhHhHhhs. It was incredible. All the photos I’ve seen, all the movies they’ve been featured in, nothing does them justice. And seeing the bright white cockatoo’s flying against the green trees was beautiful. It’s like looking down at a masterpiece.

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OOoOoOooo
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AhhHHhHhHhhh
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AAAaaAaaHhhHhhh
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camera frenz
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I love how spindly the gum trees look against the greenery
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fence/schmence
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so majestic

We continued down, down the trail, down the trail steps, down the rickety wooden stairs, down the slick, narrow, metal stairs, and we finally got to a valley that looked straight out of Ferngully. Or even Jurrassic Park. All rock walls and hanging plants and waterfalls and boulders.

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staring up at the rock wall above us was almost dizzying

And there we got our first look at Empress Falls.

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don’t let those little stairs fool you – walking up them is no treat.

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It was absolutely beautiful down in the valley. We were down far enough for the sun to barely touch us, and we were surrounded by so many trees and water falls that it felt like walking in a rain forest. I felt like I couldn’t take enough videos or pictures, like I was trying to memorise the entire scene with my camera. It’s just beautiful. Also I kept waiting for a dinosaur to jump out at me.

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People ab-sail these falls. People die. People are ballsy for no reason.

 

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So Ferngully
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I imagine this would be a cool place to swim in summer. If I wasn’t terrified of everything living inside it. And if this place weren’t crawling with tourists in warm weather.

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It was so still and quiet. Since we made it there so early, there weren’t many people around besides us. All you could hear was the waterfall and the birds. No planes, no cars, no people, no phones buzzing. Everything smelled wet and Earthy. I felt the cold air settling in my lungs. It was phenomenal.

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poignant photos of pheet
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this is a playground that 9 year old Audrey would’ve died for
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RAPIDZ
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Jabba the Rock
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Joel taught me how to use my long exposure setting (i.e. the one good photo taken all day)
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An artist prepares. Also disobeys the perimeter markers. #rebel

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the tiniest spider in all Australia
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I love finding love locks

Joel and Rob spent a lot of time getting photos of the waterfall.

Like, A LOT of time.

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so there was a lot of time for reflection and chill

At one point I took out my book, sat on a rock and read a couple of chapters. Totes felt one with the world and nature — sitting outside in the almost sun, listening to the waterfall, breathing in the pure mountain air, wearing my active wear— and I was nearly overwhelmed by how lucky I was to experience all this splendour and solitude and how I should do this more often, when I realised my butt was frozen to the cold rock and I almost pulled a muscle when I extricated myself from it. And then I slipped on the moss when I got down and nearly fell in the water.

Maybe I’m not 100% ready for nature.

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More poignant photos of pheet (also, slippery moss)

Eventually the photographers packed up and we all continued down the trail the next waterfall, Sylvia Falls.

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great rock walls
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and more greenery
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and this gorgeous stack of waterfall

I could have stared at this waterfall all day. It was beautiful. We got there right as the afternoon sun was hitting the rocks perfectly — it was hazy and glittery and very much dreamy.

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dat sun
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my favourite

The sun was also casting amazing light on the trees above us. At this point the tip of my nose and my finger tips were insanely cold (yassss winter cold) and all I wanted to do was take a nap in that sun. But I liked the look of the highlighted gum trees and the dark shadows where the light didn’t touch. Yeah, I had Mufasa’s voice in my head the whole time.

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Love
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Love more

After spending some more time with Sylvia, the moment I had been dreading since we made plans to go to the mountains finally came. It was time… to hike back up to the car.

I’m woefully out of shape. Like, I have the cardiovascular endurance of a 700lb diabetic smoker who’s been bed-ridden for years. It’s baffling to the doctors I work with, who think I must be asthmatic to get excruciatingly, painfully winded with even moderate exertion, but really, I’m just horrifically unfit. Climbing stairs makes me winded, and the slightest incline makes my thighs hurt. And with every step I took going down on the initial journey, I knew that would be one more step going up on the return. So I said a little prayer to the active wear Gods and started followed the rest of my team up the first set of stairs.

I quickly realised Eloise was behind me. I let her pass in front of me, saying “I’m going to be really slow, you won’t want to get caught behind me.”

“Oh that’s ok, I’m really slow too!”

“Nope, you have no idea how slow I’ll be.”

And it was true. Just climbing the short bit of rock stairs between Sylvia Falls and Empress Falls left me gasping and pretending to video the guys ab-sailing so I could catch my breath. Joel hung back with me and pushed me up parts of the stairs, and stopped with me whenever I started seeing stars and needed to stop. I was trying to be positive, trying to feel the inspiration of my active wear and JUST PUSH THROUGH IT! NO PAIN NO GAIN! HUSTLE GETS MUSCLE! INSPIRATIONAL PHRASE but all that kept running through my head was Sam telling Frodo that they needed to save the elfish bread for the return trip home and Frodo looking at him and being all “yeah, we aren’t making it home.” I was quite certain I would die, even as people twice my age were bounding up the stairs and that asshole fitness jock passed us jogging — again.

It took me about 20, maybe 30 hours mins longer to make the walk back to the car. I couldn’t breathe deep enough. My heart was straining from beating so fast, my lungs felt like steel wool, my ribs all felt cracked, my throat and nose were killing me, my head was splitting, and my arms and legs were spaghetti. My face was beet red and I was ready to collapse. At one point I tasted blood (I swear!). It was actually pretty scary. My chest and throat hurts just thinking about it.

But, I survived. And we made our way to the Conservatory Hut to have breakfast. And milkshakes. Because after facing death in the face, you get a milkshake.

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Hello pal (did you come to signal my death? Contrary to popular belief, I survived)
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Milkshake frenz
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Breakfast of Champions. We all ordered simple breakfasts, but the waitress brought us all GIANT BREAKFAST PLATTER. I ate almost all of it, and killed that milkshake. #yolo

We picked up some take away coffees and made our way to the car. I was warm, happy, and snug in the backseat, but too full of caffeine and adrenaline to sleep. When we got home, though, I was instantly so tired I couldn’t keep my eyes open. I slept for 2.5 hours and woke up feeling like I got hit by a truck.

I’ve been sick all week as a result of my cold-weather-over-exertion and resulting sinus/chest infection, but shit. It was absolutely gorgeous and I would do all again next weekend.

Except this time, I’d hire a helicopter to save me from the hike back.

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Goodbye Mountains. Thank you for not killing me.

Verdict: +10, will mountain again. Must get in shape, or I will die.

Onwards to the next adventure!

My bed, my choice

Last September — no, it goes farther back than that.

Back in October 2015, I got a slightly better paying job, which meant I finally had the extra scratch to re-do our bed linens: new sheets, new pillows, new mattress pad, new duvet cover, and it was basically the best day of my life.

I should probably preface this whole post with one very important truth about me: I love bedding. Like, love love love it. Back in the states, I had at least 6 bed sets, and I switched out the duvet cover and shams whenever the mood struck me. I could re-decorate my bedroom daily. If I had my way, our wardrobe would be stocked with hella sheets and blankets. I love walking through homewares stores, and I get lost in interior design pages. It’s not surprising in the least that I have lost hours standing in the aisle of Target contemplating two slightly different colour yellow sheets (twice). Bed linen shopping is my favourite.

SO, back to The Best Day of My Life 2015. I found a great pair of bright yellow sheets that were high quality and ridiculously expensive but also 75% off. But I also saw this pair of gold printed sheets that were of sightly lesser quality and were ridiculously expensive and not on sale. I sent a picture of them to Joel, who said they were “too busy.” But they were gorgeous. And I kept thinking about them. After debating whether or not it was worth it to spend over $100 on a single sheet set that Joel would hate but I would love, I decided they weren’t worth it. Maybe later, when they’re on sale.

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Fare thee well, gold beauties.

Flash forward One Year. The sheets still haven’t left my mind. Every time I passed the bedding store over the course of that year, I would be haunted by the gorgeous gold print sheets that could have been. But they were never on sale, and it was never the right time to buy them. And then one day, we decided we needed a summer blanket. And I was charged with finding “something that feels like sheets” that also satisfied my need for “colour” while at the same time satisfying Joel’s need for “nothing busy.” I mean, shopping for bedding is fun, but shopping for bedding for two opinionated people who don’t have the same taste in bedding is sometimes the worst thing ever.

It took 4.5 hours of back and forth between 5 different stores on 3 different levels of the shopping centre, muttering about “printed sheets or solid doona or printed doona and solid sheets.” Nothing exactly fit or blew my skirt up, except for this one green, vintage floral print blanket — that just SO happened to be modelled with my dream gold printed sheets, and that I just SO happened to be lusting over as long as I had been lusting over the sheets, and that just SO happened to be on sale. So, after lots of deliberation on whether to just get the dream sheets and the dream doona cover, and deliberating if I could afford both of them (because separately it could be a splurge but together was way too much), I threw my hands up and said “Fuck it” and bought the doona cover, and the affordable white sheets as a compromise to my pattern hating Joel. I left the store, dying that I didn’t buy the dream sheets when I had the chance.

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However, the bedding Gods smiled upon me, and Joel was stoked for the new blanket. Well, as stoked as he can be, or at least pretended to be for me. And the blanket looked nice against the stark white sheets. So it wasn’t a total loss.

But still.

I really wanted those damn sheets. And after a week of obsessively thinking about them, I once again threw my hands in the air and said FUCK IT, and bought them. I brought them home, washed them, made the bed with its matching blanket, and fell in love. And even Joel thought they looked nice.

 

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The sheets glowed in the sun, and they were so comfortable. I felt triumphant.

A few months later, I noticed there were huge discoloured areas where our bodies touched the sheets. Very odd, considering we didn’t use any bath products or lotions with peroxide or bleach, and I washed and dried according to the care instructions. But the tops of the pillows, and the top of the fitted sheet were pale yellow compared to the rest of the fabric, which was still gold.

I sent pictures to the customer service of the store where I bought the sheets, and they said I could replace them, no problem, they had never heard of this happening before. When I took the sheets back to the store, they were sold out of my size. OF COURSE THEY WERE. They said it would take 2-3 weeks to get the sheets back in stock, if I wanted to wait. Of course I didn’t want to wait, I had spent 3 months on my dream bed and I didn’t want it to end. So after an eternity of considering other sheets to exchange them for, and talking at length with the cashier about which sheets were best, I settled on another pattern that I hated but hated less than the other ones. I’d only have to wait two days for our size to come in. Which sucked, but a few days was better than a few weeks.

Two days later, the new sheets came in. I went to pick them up, and LO AND BEHOLD, there were my gold sheets of glory, in our size. I brought them up the counter, and the same cashier that had been really helpful was there. I told her I how excited I was, and she said they got an unexpected shipment. I asked if I could just take these instead, since they were what I really wanted, and she said no. She had already done the exchange, and she couldn’t do an exchange on top of an exchange since it was an exchange on a faulty product. I tried my best to beg her, but she wouldn’t budge. I took the shitty sheets home, wondering how fucked that was. I didn’t think it was so big an ask, and it was a simple issue (not one cent in price difference) and something I would have (and did, when I worked in customer service) worked out for a customer. I wrote another email to corporate, asking if there was anything that could be done. Corporate basically wrote “nope, sorry, you had your chance, suck it loser.” So I wrote off that store forever. It was dead to me.

The shitty sheets never became un-shitty, and after a few weeks went into the donate pile. And I sneered every time I walked past the store.

But still.

They put those beautiful gold sheets in the window, and I’ve had to pass them weekly as I leave the grocery store. It’s a strange thing to be haunted by bed sheets, but there I was. I haven’t been able to find a pair of sheets that I like as much, and it killed me to see them drop lower and lower in price, knowing that they were dead to me.

So, a couple weekends ago, I let myself do the unthinkable: I went inside the dead store and went to the clearance section and checked, just checked, if they had our size. OF COURSE THEY DID. They may have my size, and they might be 50% off, but this place is dead to me. I put the sheets back and left quickly. I felt dirty.

As I was walking home, I thought to myself, “why did I think it was ok to give ex-boyfriends and bad jobs and McDonald’s infinity billion chances after fucking me over, but I wrote off this one store after one bad jib? What’s the point, if I love the sheets so much, can’t I just let it go?” “Yeah, but you left those boy friends and jobs for a reason and you don’t eat McDonald’s because it’s terrible for you. You don’t have the money to spend on those sheets. So stop it.” Shut up, brain.

And so, the arguing between my good brain and my bad brain continued arguing all through the week.

good brain bad brain

right up to the point where I threw my hands in the air and said FUCK IT, and brought the sheets to the register, and more so when I tapped my debit card on the machine, and even still when I brought them home. And even MORE arguing when Joel came home and didn’t hate them. And yet MORE arguing when I impulsively threw them in the washer and dryer, because it was 9* and dark outside and they wouldn’t have dried in time even though the care instructions said to line dry only SHUT UP GOOD BRAIN — and finally, when I made the bed with the glorious new sheets, and got into bed and felt the inevitable scratchiness of karma, and Joel said “wow these sheets feel rough,” my brain all at once came together in unison to say “Yeah you really shouldn’t have bought these.”

SO yes, I was in a foul mood all night, as the scratchy fabric ruined my dream bed, and I felt more guilty for spending the money. That sucked. It seems, through  like these sheets and I are not meant to exist in a perfect union. I’ve been Googling “how to soften sheets that you put in the dryer because you can’t control your impulses and now you’re stuck with shit sheets,” (apparently the trick is washing them with baking soda, and rinsing them with white vinegar) and I’m holding onto hope that they’ll continue to soften over time.

And that I’ll be able to curb my bedding habit.

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Doubtful. But hey, we live in hope.

xo

Catchup.com

 

So here we are, at the near-end of another month, with another catch-up post. But there’s actually not a lot to catch up on, because I’ve spent most of this month brain dead and trapped inside a leaky apartment.  Continue reading “Catchup.com”

Affirmations

I’ve been dying for a rainy day during my time off. Why? Because there are few things better than waking up to a torrential downpour and feeling that warm, slow, smug realisation of “Hey – I don’t have to go anywhere or do shit today.” Continue reading “Affirmations”

Surgery and Recovery

I went in for surgery on Thursday, for my (hopefully one and only) laparoscopy (and hysteroscopy, excision of endometrial tissue and pap smear – I had to confirm my procedures and allergies with 8 different nurses – Aussies are nothing but careful). Continue reading “Surgery and Recovery”

Catchup.com

Once upon a more productive time, I used to do a catch up blog every month. Ah, the days when life was simple, unencumbered by the wild throws of admiration and attention that sudden success and fame brings. Continue reading “Catchup.com”