Melbourne, Part Two

Okay, I’ll admit it, I felt really, really guilty, when I learned that while I was having a grand old time on the Great Ocean Road, my beloved husband was suffering in a Melbourne hospital, as I confessed in my last blog post.

After seven days in a town that is hotter than hell ( well, maybe not hell, but definitely purgatory), I feel my penance has been completed and I am free to share the rest of the photos from our glorious time in Melbourne.

Originally called The Sow and the Piglets, these rock formations were wisely renamed The Twelve Apostles, despite their originally being only nine of them. One has since crumbled, so now there are only eight. I spent most of my career in marketing, so hey, I get it. Nine was close enough, if you just round up.

Not surprisingly, the gambit worked, and the rest is history. The Apostles are definitely a beloved Australian tourist attraction.

The beach is lovely too, and if you are willing to walk down (and climb back up) eighty steps, you too can get your picture taken on this gorgeous beach.


I was definitely game. My favorite photographer was otherwise occupied, but one of our fellow travelers offered to take my picture. Foolishly, I neglected to check my phone until I got all the way back to the top, only to discover a technical glitch. No photo. Andy, who you will soon meet, wearing a bird for a hat, offered to go back down with me, so he and I got to climb down (and UP) 160 steps!


Given that I’m looking a bit chunky, that extra exercise was probably a GOOD thing!

Our stop at the bird hangout was great fun, although I will admit it’s a bit of a jolt when one of these guys unexpectedly lands on you, but Andy took it all in stride.

Paul, our tour guide, (shown instructing Jenny, a member of our OAT group) , kept us enlightened and entertained during our entire day together.

He told us The Great Ocean Road was built to employ returning war veterans. (Sorta like FDR’s CCC during the Great Depression).

About 3,000 former soldiers labored to build the road for almost thirteen years. Because of what we now call PTSD, dynamite couldn’t be used to break through rock; construction was done with pick and shovel.

This war memorial was built to honor the thousands who never came back from the war.

Other highlights from our time in Melbourne included a visit to the Mornington Peninsula, where we visited the Moonlit Sanctuary.

Unlike the Tasmanian Koala, this guy was awake. These animals sleep twenty hours per day, so somehow we managed to time it just right.

We didn’t have as much luck with the wallabies and kangaroos. They clearly were used to being fed frequently, and weren’t motivated to hop over for a snack. But the ducks and birds were quite happy to take a handout.

And this wombat? All we could see were his feet and hands! I think he had a “Do Not Disturb” tag hanging on his barrel!


Another notable visit was to the Abbotsford Convent. Now art studios and an educational center, it was once a “Magdalen Asylum” where up to 400 women and girls were sheltered. They were either orphans,”fallen women” or had no where else to go. They were also a source of free labor.

For “three hots and a cot”, they worked doing laundry for hotels and the weathy of Melbourne. As you might expect of a Catholic institution, prayer and chapel attendance were mandatory, as was penitence. This went on until 1975.

Today, the convent is beautified by art. I was particularly intrigued by these hand painted fabrics, which were very creatively displayed. I leave it to your imagination as to what this artwork symbolizes. It certainly has meaning for ME.

Here’s a close up of one of the fabrics. They were all different and were all exquisite.

Tomorrow we head for Sydney, our final destination on this slightly modified tour of our seventh continent, so I’ll leave you with one last example of what my new iPhone 11 camera can do.

Heavenly Himalayas

It’s a 17 minute flight from Kathmandu to Pokara if the planes are able to take off.  Otherwise, it is a 5 hour drive on bumpy mountain roads.  We were in luck.  After a 45 minute delay, it was clear enough to fly.

We stopped at the Pokhara office to load what we would need for the next three days into the OAT supplied duffels, leaving our big bags behind.  After lunch atop a mountain, we drove for about an hour, then hit the trail, to walk the last three miles to our lodge.

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Could this be what the OAT description means by “uneven steps”?

As I was walking up and down the mountain trail, I was thinking about my gym buddies at Somerset Hills Y.  Knowing that they would all be in class was the extra motivation that got me to Zumba, AOA, Yoga and Barre— and boy oh boy, were those classes necessary.  Our treks were far more enjoyable because I’d been “training” for the past 6 months.   It also helped that the heavy lifting was done by village women, who carried our bags in baskets on their backs, attached to a strap across their foreheads.

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That’s our luggage inside those baskets!

After the chaos of Kathmandu, we were so very ready for the beautiful and peacefully remote Gurung Lodge in Annapurna.  And what a fantastic lodge it was.  Our clean, comfortable rooms were stocked with umbrellas, warm hats and gloves, a north face parka, flashlight, and crocs.   The lounge chairs on our front porches were perfect for naps after our hikes through the villages, to the school, the mother’s cooperative, the museum  and the two room health center.

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Okay, no comments about the white legs.  In some parts of the world, pasty white skin is considered quite beautiful.  So there, Sue and Sandy.

During our stay, smoke from wildfires in India caused the sky to cloud up, so we only occasionally got a glimpse of the Annapurna Mountains.  Despite the clouds and mist, the view was still jaw dropping.   It was impossible to capture the magnificence of this mountain range in a photo, although we all tried. As with so much in life, you just had to be there.

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The view from our cabins

Our lodge had electricity for a few hours every day, just long enough to charge our camera batteries.  Solar power heated the water, so we took our showers in the afternoon.  As for our hair, the only blow dryer in the camp comes courtesy of the afternoon breeze.
Despite a complete lack of so many of the modern conveniences that we take for granted, we had tasty and healthy meals.  I so appreciated how hard the villagers and the lodge staff had to work to ensure that we were well fed and comfortable.

We got a little surprise on our village trek.  When we arrived, we were greeted by this group of women.  It took us a while to realize that ONE of them looked VERY familiar.

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Can you identify the nurse from San Francisco?

 

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Here’s a clue

Marilynn, our power walker, had arrived far in advance of the rest of our group, so the village ladies decided to dress her up and make her part of the welcoming committee.

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A flower garland and “Namaste”

It made me feel good to see how our contributions to the OAT Foundation are making life easier forthe communities we visit.   Before OAT donated the machinery, grain was ground by hand.  Not an easy task, as Marie is demonstrating.

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If my iPhone counted  accurately, the walk to the village is the equivalent of 103 flights of stairs ONE WAY!  And we couldn’t get the ladies to carry us in their baskets for the return trip.

But it was worth it, because the scenery was spectacular!

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Just what exactly does a Lifestyle Manager DO?

On December 1, 2015 I started my fifth year as the CEO of Destination Now, a Lifestyle Management company.  In honor of this milestone, I thought I’d create what in the business world might be known as an annual report.  Except in THIS case, there are qualifiers: I didn’t do one for the past four years –so much for annual–I and don’t expect to do another one ever again. Plus it is REALLY, really short.  You ready?

Mission statement: To make the most of every day, occasionally to enjoy both walking down memory lane, and peering into the future, but to stay fully focused on and present in the PRESENT.
Number of Employees: ONE (that would be me)
Customers:  One MAIN customer (my loving husband), plus a very select group comprised of family and friends (who are willing to let a control freak take charge)
Revenue:   Cash: $0.00;
In Kind: Caboodles of wine, dinners, memories and friendship (all tax free!)

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Okay, so that’s a long winded way to say that I’ve been retired for 4 years, and am having a fantastic time planning and executing fun, food, and travel for my husband, my family and friends.  It’s just that occasionally, when asked the inevitable question “what do you do”,  I feel compelled to get creative.  Be honest–which version did YOU prefer?

More free time has allowed me to become more self aware, and I have to acknowledge that I do better with goals and objectives.   Before I retired, I took to cyberspace to see what I could learn from those that had trod that path ahead of me, and I benefitted greatly from their words of wisdom.  So, over the coming weeks, as a way to ‘pay it forward’,  I have set a goal to post more regularly, sharing what I have experienced/learned over the past 4 years, in the hope that doing so will help others more easily transition to this new life stage. As a bonus— we will ALL learn whether I can emulate the discipline shown by some of my favorite bloggers who post regularly.