Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Trolley

Nope, not the trolley car you might be thinking you rode when you visited San Francisco. I'm referring to a shopping cart, which is commonly known as a "trolley" in Oz. When we first arrived, we discovered that in order to use a trolley for your grocery shopping, you had to insert a $1 or $2 coin. Of course we never seemed to have any coins, and when we did, I was embarrassed taking so long figuring out how to properly insert the coin into the trolley in order to obtain the cart. Since then, I've learned to carry $1 and $2 coins and I found a sign explaining the directions of "renting" the trolley, so if we are intending to purchase a large amount of groceries, I use a trolley.
Aldi is a fantastic place to shop for groceries. They also sell random things like clothes dryers, tools, office furniture, and bike shorts. It's always fun to see what the "specials" are in their circulars.
You might wonder why it costs money to use a shopping cart, and we are still wondering the same thing ourselves. We assume that the purpose is to cut down on people stealing trolleys, but Erik and I frequently see abandoned trolleys in parking lots and sometimes even in our neighborhood. We tend to believe that if someone wants to steal a shopping cart, a $1 or $2 coin being returned is not going to stop them from running away with the trolley. Nevertheless, nearly every grocery store and other stores like Target, Big W (similar to WalMart), Bunnings (like a Home Depot/Lowes), require you to deposit money in order to use their trolleys.
Trolleys on lockdown
The term trolley is also used to refer to a basket-type rolling device that many people take to the market in order to collect fruits and veggies. The concept actually has great merit, as carrying produce on your back or in bags gets heavy quickly. If we did more shopping without a car, I would have already purchased a shopping trolley for myself!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

5 Years

This weekend we celebrated 5 years of marriage. Our wedding day still stands as the most amazing day in our lives, spent celebrating with family and friends, some of whom are sadly no longer with us. 

Erik and I had no idea where life would take us when we said "I do", and I don't think either of us would have guessed we’d be living in Australia on our 5 year anniversary!! Here’s to many more years of many more adventures for us!

We do plan on taking a short anniversary trip, but given our recent holiday, we are delaying that trip a few weeks. Instead of a big celebration, we spent our weekend enjoying being "home" together, making homemade pizza last night while enjoying some cheap champagne. We did head out on Friday night to meet some friends in the CBD, where we enjoyed a fireworks show with the Bolte Bridge in the background. 

Friday, July 20, 2012

Holiday in our Home Country

A few months ago, Erik was awarded a grant to complete research at a university in Canada for four weeks. In addition, he was selected to present at a conference in San Francisco. With these two events combined, he would be gone from Australia for over 7 weeks. Since part of this time fell over the Victorian School Holidays, we decided that I should head to the States to escape the winter weather during part of the time he was in Canada, then we would rendezvous in his hometown so that he could have a few days of vacation before heading back to Oz.

It’s a bit strange to be “vacationing” in your home country that you are not currently a resident of, and even though I spent my time in places where I’ve vacationed many times before, it felt like more of a holiday for some reason. I spent the first full day home hiking with my sister in Patapsco State Park, followed by visits to Trader Joe’s and Wegmans (if you have not been to Wegmans, you should get there ASAP!), and ended the day with a Maryland crab cake from Timbuktu. The next few days were spent in my hometown, catching up with high school friends and spending time hanging out with my parents. I soon headed to the beach with my family and enjoyed more quality time with them, along with my best friend from undergrad, Mo. Following nearly a week at the beach, I flew to Minnesota to be reunited with my husband after almost 6 weeks of being apart. We spent the first few days at his family’s cabin, where we played our traditional summer softball game, swam across the lake, waterskied, and had an impromptu triathlon. We spent the rest of our time in the Midwest in Erik’s hometown, spending time with family and friends. Erik’s godmother was kind enough to allow us to host a get together at her house, where we had an excellent turn out of friends and family that we were able to catch up with all at once. At the end of our week in MN, Erik headed back to Oz and back to work, while I got the chance to keep playing in LA with my best friend from grad school, Tandi. Tandi is the queen of planning activities when I am in town, so we literally went non-stop for 4 days and it was an amazing trip. I learned to surf (still need lots of practice though and hoping my Aussie friends can help me out with this one!), saw Tim McGraw and Kenny Chesney in concert at Angels Stadium, hiked to Sandstone Peak (the highest point in the Santa Monica Mountains), spent a night in Palm Springs, visited Salvation Mountain and Slab City (from the movie “Into the Wild”), went whale and dolphin watching, and had my first go at stand-up paddle boarding.

We are so incredibly thankful for our family and friends who put so much time and effort into making our visit such a fulfilling one. I truly feel as if I am returning from an incredible holiday and I couldn’t have asked for anything more on my trip. I think Erik could have used a few more days of vacation, but I know he is extremely grateful for the short time that he did get to spend with people in Minnesota. According to our friends and family, we should have many potential visitors over the course of the next six months, so we are looking forward to showing them a good time in our new “home” country. For now, we are just adjusting to going from 90 degree F temperatures to winter weather. And as our summer tans quickly fade away, we will still be holding on to the memories of our 2012 vacation to the US of A!

Highlights of our trip in photos...

The Airbus 380 is a massive plane!
View from the "tail cam" just before landing at LAX
At Wegmans, the carts get their own escalator!
Sunset at a bar on the water in Ocean City, Maryland
My mom and I on a night where we were celebrating my parent's 40th anniversary!
My favorite cover band, Mr. Greengenes!
Mo and I at Greengenes
Summer is not complete without a daytime trip to Seacrets
Life is good!
A typical day on the beach in OCMD
Maryland Blue Crabs for dinner on the 4th of July
Fireworks on the 4th!
The Boardwalk in OC
The Chesapeake Bay Bridge
A glimpse of the Washington Monument on my way to the airport
Life at the cabin in Northern Minnesota
Lots of toys to choose from!
The ducks are always entertaining... are the sunsets.

Awesome signpost in my in-law's yard!
Erik's pride and joy, "Slurp". She is still guzzling gasoline like a champ.
Downtown Minneapolis
The Mighty Mississippi. That bridge replaced the one that collapsed in 2007.
On the Wisconsin border, Taylors Falls.
Erik and his new BFF!
Angel's Stadium in Anaheim, CA
Tim McGraw!
At the top of Sandstone Peak
The clouds you see are the marine layer over Malibu, CA.

View from our hotel room in Palm Springs
Palm Springs from the car window!
Salvation Mountain. If you've seen the movie "Into the Wild", you might recognize this.
Windmills on I-10
We saw several pods of over 100 dolphins, check out the video below to see how cool that was!
Gorgeous houses along the California coastline
Sea lions
I really want to live in that large house built on the rocks!
Massive pelicans spotted all over the place in Newport, CA!
Yes, there are stairs on the airplane!
View from the "tail cam" just before landing in Sydney