Under the Influence of Gravity. Hanging with the Clouds. Soaring in the Wind.

22 Jun

Seriously, I can’t get over this trip. I had another fantastic week! I think the coolest thing about this trip is its ability to always surprise and inspire me. The sun is always shining over here, and the silver lining of any tragedy is not a lining. It seems to dominate my entire visual field. 

 Tuesday I went into the lab to run behavioral tests and to celebrate my post-docs’ birthday. The behavioral tests were super easy and mostly computerized, so I learned how to play Minesweep haha! It was hilariousJ. We had a special lunch for my post doc and I ate this DELCIOUS salad. It was a mix between a typical Thai salad and a lovely selection of protein. The dressing was Thai, and there was some chicken and peanuts smothered around it. It’s hard to describe, but it was so good haha! We also had zucchini bread, chicken legs, pizza and heaps more (and no, I didn’t eat ALL of it haha)! I think she should turn 29 every day, to be honest! After lunch, I jetted over to the ACU (Australian Catholic University, which is where we have class) to get to class on time, writing the essay I forgot was due on my way over haha! I made it just in time and pretty much was on autopilot throughout the entire four hours. That evening, I relaxed and did absolutely nothing to compliment my otherwise ambitious day (haha kidding, obviously!). I strongly hope I recover some ambition (being in Australia it’s hard to get away with being a Type A personality, especially when I WANT to relax) before my next semester begins: 23 credit hours isn’t looking any less daunting this way haha! I reckon something will have to change :P. On a higher notes, I finally fixed my dilemma with Chase and I booked my Uluru trip, which I’m sooo excited about (it’s going to be GREAT! I’m taking this fantastic bus tour, and I did it all for around 700 AUD!) Yay for the best summer EVAAAR! Screw the hole in my pocket :P. haha!

  Day 28 – June 16 Wednesday I went into the lab and rat behavioral tests the entire day, basically. It’s not the most exciting part of research, but I find it’s really good insight into a typical “slow” day in the lab, so I thought it was a really good way to spend time here. I didn’t find it boring at all, really, because I could talk to my labmates and play freecell til my wit’s end. That night, I went home and basically did nothing. I actually had a bit of an internal crisis because I realized that I haven’t had much ambition or drive this summer. I suspect it’s due to the fact that I’m super detoxing from the stress of last semester, but even still, I have quite a bit to worry about this summer, and I feel like I’m totally slacking it off! I have an internship I could be reading up on, a communications class with lots of papers, and to top it off, I’ve got an online class starting on the 26th of June, and I haven’t heard absolutely anything from the teacher. To calm my growing ulcer, I skipped off to the grocery store and splurged on a 6 dollar tub of ice cream (haha). It was sooo worth it. Double chocolatey creamy goodness It’s all a girl needs, really ;-DDD. But the good news is afterwards, I started reading some of my online class’s textbook and I felt better all over again. Haha!

 Day 29 – June 17 Thursday I went to class in the AM and then headed over to the lab afterwards to do some behavioral tests and some Neu-N staining on some rat brains. I’m starting to pick up my swagger (yes I totally just said that :P) when it comes to my ambition, because I feel my type A personality starting to kick in again and I’m slowly starting to kick any work I have in the face. I did say slowly, though haha. That night, my lovely Australian friend came down again and we went to see Shrek 3 in 3D at a local IMAX. It was a stellar theatre (psst.. they even have an entire stand devoted to ice cream here!), and their 3D glasses were GINORMOUS! Like seriously, think Sally Somebody with the big pink glasses, except they were black, and cool, and they had this huge rubber thing on one side haha.  Day 30 – June 18 GUESS WHAT? It’s Friday which means I leave for Cairns (pronounced Cans here) today! I’m sooooooooooooooo ridiculouslyyyyyyyy excitedddddddd! Haha I tried to find an underwater camera before I got to work today, but to no avail, so I’ll have to spend an inexorable amount when I get there (so buy one in the States before leaving for ANY Aussie trip, just in case you are sane enough to go to the GBR)BUT! I’m sooo excited that I literally skipped off the bus this morning (I recovered my mojo later, don’t worry ;-DDD haha). Before I left for Cairns, howevs, I had another faculty talk that afternoon (which are literally the highlights of my weeks, pretty much). This guy was from the University of New South Wales, and he was presenting data my post-doc actually worked on as well, so it was kind of exciting from the beginning. I had to leave midway so I wouldn’t miss my bus to the airport, and I was pretty distracted from the excitement of my trip that I only made out the topic of the talk, which was instrumental learning. Bahaha. How vague of me! Sorryz, vacation called and I totally answered, drooled and stared some moreJ. So yes. We flew with Quantas (which to me was not an efficient way to use our money, since it’s the most expensive flights in AU), which means delicious food for dinner. Seriously? It was like a gourmet meal (well to me at least). We had battered chicken with rice and peas, a dinner roll, a piece of chocolate. AND they gave us kitkat ice cream bars for dessert! Like seriously? I was in economy class, and felt like a first class passenger. It was so coolJ. We arrived in Cairns around 10pm, settled into our hostel, called Gilligans and went out for the night. Now, I don’t “go out”. Like ever. I don’t dance and I don’t drink. But this is called Australia, and I totally saw it as an opportunity to learn more about a different “culture”. I went to observe and have conversation, and what I got was so much more. The first club we dropped in at was full of older – and in my opinion quite sad – people who seemed to be drinking their sorrows away more than having a good time. One guy tried to kiss one of my roommates. Yeah, we left within 5 minutes. Then we get to this pub called “Mad Cow” bahaha. First of all? It reminds me of the disease. Second of all. It LOOKED like a disease, and it was infested with 18 year olds. In Australia, 18 is the 21, so 18 year olds go crazy here, and they totally did go crazy. It was like a dramatic horror film of a sad prom gone even sadder. One girl blacked out and instead of trying to see if she was okay, they kicked her out haha. Not sure how I feel about that/who I’m more mad at haha. Anyway, despite the tween invasion, the music was excellent and my data collection was more than fantastic. I can understand why some people would find it fun to go out, but I can never imagine myself being one of those. I’ll go for good conversation, but once the average functioning IQ lands itself lower than my threshold, I’ll take my leave and not regret it (assuming everyone was in good health, etc). Anyway, that is the extent of my conclusions of said humanoid behavior. haha. After “going out”, it was way too late, so I collapsed into bed only to wake up 5 hours later. Ah, the hilarities of life!

 Day 31 – June 19 Saturday was FREAKING amazing. FREAKING amazing haha. I got a grand total of 5 hours of sleep and it was STILL FREAKING AMAZING haha. It was the GBR day, and after some breakfast, we headed over to board the Ocean Spirit. After two hours of relatively calm sailing, we landed at our first dive site, and we headed out to explore the coolest most gorgeous coral reef in the world. I found several Nemos and I even got to touch sea anemone (say that ten times fast haha). We kneeled on the ocean floor and I am a master goggle wearing not inhaling water scubabeast haha. The dive lasted about 30 minutes total, and it was pretty much the coolest thing ever. We didn’t dive more than 30 feet deep, but that was enough, because the ocean floor wasn’t deeper than 30 feet deep haha. We saw rainbow fish, clown fish, and the most beautiful pools of these super small fish, among a ridiculous amounts of other, “too diverse to name” fish. So gorgeous! I gotta say, though. Scuba diving is so much easier to do than snorkeling. I inhaled a good galloon of seawater (ew, gross.. it made me nauscious on the way back) while snorkeling, but didn’t even get a pinch of salt near my eyes or mouth while scuba diving. Furthermore, the coral is filled with so many poisonous or malicious creatures, so I was super scared about potentially scraping part of it. Like suriously, I saw a sea urchin and was sprinting in the other direction (ahem, yes I‘m that good :P). But here’s the big dilemma: the beauty truly IS in the shallow parts of the reef. So my advice? Suck it in (and up) and swim over the plateaus! They are the best opportunity to see what life exists among the coral reef! As for what to do with your legs, spread ‘em wide and act like a frog. It’s worth it, and you may even gain a new perspective haha. After our dive, everyone had eaten all the food, so we got the scraps, but there was still enough to satisfy my hunger pangs, so no regrets! haha I did come across a bucket full of shrimp, however, that DIDN’T have their heads chopped off, and it was super cool slash super frightening. So in order to solve this cognitive incongruency, I named him Larry and took a picture with him before devouring himJ. I know, I know. I’m so sweet. 😛 After lunch, we snorkeled for about an hour and a half and then we switched sites. The second site was still pretty cool, but I will say the heart of the day definitely belonged to the first site, the site of my first scuba dive. I touched what I’ll call an underwater Venus flytrap and got my picture taken behind a sea anemone and some clownfish. Ah, it was such a life changing experience! The only sad news is that my credit card was declined because Chase STILL manages to suck things up even when I told them I’d be in Australia twice already! So I got the lovely opportunity of having an underwater camera DENIED. It was sad. I couldn’t take any pictures of the reef, so I had to buy overpriced single pictures with the only remaining cash I had (which was supposed to pay for meals the trip doesn’t cover :/ ruhroh my stomach will murder me for this some day soon haha). But the good news is that will the pictures I purchased I was given a CD with pictures of the reef in a greater quantity and quality than what I could have gotten with the camera anyway. So yay! haha After the trip I realized I burned the crap out of the back of my legs, so after I ate way too much pizza and signed up for skydiving, I retired to Gilligan’s (our hostel) for the rest of the night. It was such a day! And the weekend just got started! I’m so excited!

 Day 32 – June 20 Sunday we had another early morning (730am is the magic number this weekend apparently), and after breakfast, we and our really talkative and adorable Aboriginally-descented tour guide headed out in the direction of Port Douglas, about 56 km north of Cairns. First, we stopped at this really cool local market where they were selling Opals, local original fashion, and duck callers (I so wanted to buy one just to be ridiculous, but had no cash due to the lovely competency of Chase), and many more. I got some stellar pictures by the harbor as well. Afterwards, we went to Mossman Gorge, which was this *gorgeous* lookout point near the mouth of the Daintree Rainforest which overlooked some delicious rapids and was surrounded by a plethora of trees. I’ve never seen so much green in my life! God was so good to my retina this weekend! After Mossman Gorge, we headed over to the Daintree Rainforest Zoo for some morning tea/coffee/biscuits and to look around at their animals. Featherdale was a ton better in terms of getting to truly experience the animals up close (even touch them and interact with them void of fences, etc), but the Daintree Rainforest had crocs, and they had a ton of them. It was like a crocfest all up in there. And when they fed them OH SNAP. Back upppp, because they turned vicious. They are totally retarded and color blind and their sense of smell sucks, though. Because the food was totally right under one’s jaws, and he totally bit the arm of his neighbor instead. Mmm yum. After the zoo, we headed into the heart of the Daintree Rainforest and hiked through it! We had lunch (this awesome pasta salad with chicken), spent some time walking around on the beach (we found this awesome lookout point overlooking it all as well) and just mucked around I suppose until it was time to head over to the Crocodile Cruise company, where we all piled into a boat a took a ride down the massive Daintree River. We saw a croc in its natural habitat and this super rare bird, which is apparently called the Crocodile Bird, unless that was a joke? Haha, it was ugly, regardless. Like a super skinny brown pelican who needs more nutrients in their diet. And a TON of Mangroves (our guide was obsessed with Mangroves, and made sure to show us each type and how they differed, when they pretty much all looked the same). Haha, but no, it was cool and SO neat to see such a wonderful view of the rainforest. I gotta say, though. It was my first time in a rainforest EVER, and it so wasn’t what I expected it to be. It had just rained in Cairnes the night before, so there’s no excuse for the fact that it just WASN’T as wet as I suspected it would be! The only sign of creatures that dwelled in the forest were the degraded/eaten leaves and this REALLY cool stick big (it was SUPER green). Like, I was totally expecting to see all of these tropical birds and snakes and hear tons of chirping and just a bunch of LIFE! We saw a lot of (apparently poisonous) fruits on the ground, but no direct life and not much noises over the norm. I guess I need to stop watching survivor, huh? haha It looked like a normal forest to me, like Turkey Run or something :P. But it was still gorgeous, of courseJ. Anyway, after the cruise, we headed home and we ate dinner at PJ O Briens and got gelato afterwards (ahh soo good! loved it! I got chocolate, of courseJ). Then we pretty much retired for the night to our hostels, but spent all night people watching from our balcony and just chatting the night away. Before we knew it, it was 11pm and scared for the morning pains of sleep deprivation, we tucked in quick to prepare for the next big day ahead.

 Day 33 – June 21 Holy cow! Look, over there! *points and waves* (No really, I saw him on my way today.. He was wearing a lovely halo and had perfectly circular black spots ;-DDD). << >> GUESS WHAT, YOS? I JUST WENT SKYDIVING AND IM STILL NOT DOWN TO EARTH ABOUT IT ALL! Seriously, I can’t believe how ridiculously spoiled I must be that I just got to do two of my bucket list items all in one weekend! At the age of nineteen AND in the COOLEST country on earth, Australia! Seriously, did this really just happen? Fo RIL? I’m going to watch my video again BEE ARR BEE. Okay, I’m back. No wait. One more time. Ahem, okay. Right :P. So the beginningJ. 6:30am, alarm rings and headache returns from being at 90 degrees once again. I get ready and skip out the door (just because I’m such a coolcat and all :P), devour breakfast and head over to the skydiving company’s headquarters (ahem, across the street, nothing too fancy). MY CREDIT CARD WORKED WHOOP! And then I met my tandem guy. He was super old and hairy, so whatever. At first he kinda creeped me out, but he grew on me eventually. So anyway, he starts video taping me. And I had this very dramatic sort of speech planned out about how I was gonna be all like “IF I DIE JOHN (ahem brother :P) CAN HAVE ALL OF MY BASEBALL CARDS AND DADDY CAN HAVE MY KAZOO” haha or something silly like that 😛 But he didn’t even let me fit it in! haha boo! ;-D So we get in the plane, all strapped up in wedgie-inducing gear and strapped way too close to this guy’s crotch, and we head up on top of the beautiful Daintree forest as our view, right over Cairns. What a perfect place to skydive! We start gaining altitude, and I’m thinking: cool, this is as high as airplanes get! Yeah, that was only at 7000 feet:P. I was jumping at 14000 feet. It was so lovely! Sooo high. Three gals went before me at 11000 feet, and when they fell out of the plane THAT is when I started freaking out. It looked super intimidating, as if the air sucked them out without their consent. My rational brain clicked on for JUST a second, and then before I knew it we reached 14000 feet and it was MY turn. As soon as I fell out, all of my intimidation turned to pure bliss. I totally couldn’t breathe at ALL, and I spent a good deal of concentration on my next breath, but HOLY DUDE, it was so amazink! haha I so wanna do it again (in the States, though.. it’s supposed to be ¼ the price at home), and I’m talking like every year do it again kind of a thing. haha! The weird thing is I didn’t have this adrenaline rush. It felt cool, but it wasn’t more than an awesome roller coaster gives me. The view from the tippy top WAS stellar and when I hit the ground again, I have never felt so calm, relaxed and satisfied with my life and where I am/what I’m doing! It was like.. therapeutic to me? haha Either that or I’m a sociopath haha (so not true, I like BLEED tears when I’m upset). I talked to my post doc about it, and she said shock can inhibit memory, so there’s a chance I don’t even REMEMBER my adrenaline surge. My theory is the whole “I can’t breathe” was enough trauma to inhibit my ability to truly feel the adrenaline. It was windy that day, so the wind was breaking part of the feeling of freefall. My shirt kept flapping up too and I was totally embarrassed haha. What a lovely time! I even scored a DVD of my experience that I’m trying really hard to rip to a .mp4 file to post on Facebook. Coming soon, hopefully! So I started out my day on TOP OF THE WORLD (quite literally, actually), and I never really came down. Afterwards, we walked around Cairns, looked around at some shops (no I’m not one of those gals who blows hundreds of dollars on clothes they could get in the US anyway.. I just look around and help find cute things for friendsJ. I’m more interested in finding new food to eat and spending my money on life changing experiences like what I did ALL weekend. Having said that: I need a job. Haha! Sorry, mom and dad, for spending basically all of the money I earned last year in one summer! Promise I’ll pay you back when I get my first job! Anyway, exeunt long parenthetical pause!) Afterwards, we grabbed our skydiving DVDs, got some lunch and waited until it was time to go to head back to Sydney. I’ve got three words for you: Avocado chicken sandwich. Aaaand again. Avocado. Chicken. Sandwich. Oh man. Who was the genius who thought of this? I want to give this individual a dollar and a hug just for kicks! Suriously. Avocado is as wonderful on a sandwich as mayonnaise, and if you go all out, you can even have both! I’m so in love with this new concept! Haha! Nearing the conclusion of my time in Cairns, I noticed something very peculiar. It’s really cool, actually. Areyareadyforthis? The only thing separating the soles of my feet to Aussie territory is a receipt from the grocery store. That’s right: either my fashion sense just doesn’t cut it here in AU and Mother Earth has unleashed its fury specifically on the exact same spot at the bottom of my shoe or I need to learn the value of quality over quantity. That’s right, yos. I have a ginormous hole for a sole of my right shoe. I’m so sexy rocking the hobo look and all ;-DD. Man it seems my trip to Cairns put a hole in more than just my pocket. Ah.. sooo worth it though! The plane home was filled with great fatigue, an awful Aussie film called “I Love You Too” and this DELICIOUS lamb curry I’ll never forget (man Quantas really knows how to cater! Almost good enough to forget how overpriced their seating is! haha). When I got home, I threw my laundry in the wash and didn’t even wait to put it in the drier before I was out for the next ten hours.

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