Tuesday, June 29, 2010

June Running

We haven't posted much about running lately. We are not training for anything, we are maintaining! Well, more like just trying to make it through the heat of the summer. It's definitely much tougher to run during the summer. We have to wait until 6:30 or 7 at night or get up at 5 in the morning to even have a chance of having a decent run. Of course on the weekends, we suck it up and bare the heat because we don't want to get up early! Temps in the morning are running in the 70s with a few days in the 80s and afternoon/evenings are in the mid 90s, but that lovely heat index makes it feel over 100. Slower running, sunscreen, and shade searching are the norm right now.

June started off slowly because we were gone the first week. Even though we did run on our trip, we only racked up 13 miles the first week. We had better things to do...hello! seeing Australia! The next week, we were still gone for part of the week, but managed to run 5 days for 27 miles. Then we had the crackdown...I decided that we weren't going to let our streak of 100+ mile months go. Actually from the 10th through the end of the month, Tony has only taken off two days, and I have taken off three days. Which gave us 32 miles (Tony) and 27 miles (me) for the next week and 32 miles last week. This week (Mon-Wed) we'll put in about 13 miles...bringing the grand totals to 112 miles (Tony) and 107 miles (me). We didn't take the easy route, but we're pretty happy with ourselves that we were able to make it to 100 miles even with going on vacation. That makes 6 months in a row. July and August will be the real test though. That's the when real heat hits, and I have to go back to school which is always hard getting back into that routine after summertime. We are looking foward to that lovely Oklahoma fall weather in September, October, and November...the BEST running weather!

For now, the goal will be to keep the streak going and sweat it out running in the heat! The best is when you finish and your clothes are completely soaked through with sweat...if you run in the south, you know what I'm talking about(sports bra and underwear like you just pulled it out of the washer, stuck to you!) On that note, I'll leave you with a pic from the finish of our marathon. We just got a CD with them, so I'll have to put more on later. This one cracks me up because we have the same look on our face and this is literally 1/10 of a mile from the finish. We just look like we're ready to collapse and be done with it, but at the same time concentrated and focused (trying to ignore the pain!).

Monday, June 28, 2010

Dave & Alyssa's Wedding





The week before last was spent for me in The Woodlands at my parents' house. I wanted to have some time with the family and already be there for one of my best friend's wedding. Tony came into town on Friday for the rehearsal & dinner and was there through the weekend with me. Alyssa and Dave finally fit it into Alyssa's crazy schedule (she just finished her intern year of residency) to get married! I'm kidding, but we had been expecting the engagement for awhile, so we were so thrilled to be there for their wedding. I was a bridesmaid, as she was for me. The wedding was beautiful, not over the top, and very Alyssa. The ceremony was at the big Presbyterian church in Houston and the reception was at The Downtown club, on the 50-something floor of the Shell building in downtown Houston. The views were awesome and the sun was setting when we got up there...beautiful! We had a great time hanging out with my bf's, Sarah & Kristina, my parents, and Sarah's parents. Sarah and her husband brought their little girl and she was the life of the party, wanting to dance before we even ate. I didn't get any pics with her, but trust me, she's stinking cute!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Sydney (Days 5 & 9)


We had a couple partial days in Sydney thrown in. We were in Sydney for one night when we came back from the Blue Mountains before we left for Port Douglas. On our drive back we stopped at the 2000 Olympic Village just outside of Sydney. Of course we remember some of theses Olympics, but it was 10 years ago! The campus is huge, but it is kind of weird to see all these huge venues built and it to not be very crowded. We wondered if things were just empty or what. Some businesses had offices there, people were swimming at the pool, and they use the stadium for football or rugby games, but the rest seemed pretty deserted but still well kept. We decided to stop and check out the Olympic stadium and took a tour of it. We ended up being the only ones on the tour but we got to see some footage from the Opening Ceremonies, learned how they scaled down the stadium to make it more usable, saw the locker rooms, and got to go on the field. We even got to stand on a real medal podium from the Olympics. I thought that was pretty cool.

Next, we drove to our hotel which was in one of the beach areas of Sydney called Coogee, which is close to Bondi which I guess is more popular. We didn't think we'd be able to get in the water because it was kind of cool, but we did want to do this cliff walk between Coogee and Bondi. The weather had other plans. It rained off and on all day and it was super windy. The beaches definitely did not look like we pictured. So we spent the afternoon either inside or walking just a little bit and hoping not to get poured on. We did make it to Bondi just to check it out. We had a good lunch though at a cafe that had organic/natural sandwiches, soups, etc. Dinner was also interesting because we ate at a burrito place. We've tried Mexican in some places where we probably shouldn't have, but this was actually pretty good. Plus it was a nice break from Italian food. We had chips and salsa, and Tony had a burrito and I had a quesadilla. We called it an early night after we had one drink an a bar down the street because there wasn't much else to do. Plus we got up early to go to the airport for our flight to Cairns.

We were also in Sydney for a night when we came back from Port Douglas before we left for to come back home. We got in around 5 in the afternoon and decided to try the train to our hotel. We stayed in the same Westin we did the week before. It was great to already know our way around the area and to know what to expect. The train worked out great though! A little cheaper than a cab and a short ride. Of course we dragged our heavy bags up some stairs, but we found the elevator near by the next time. Once we checked in, we did some souvenir shopping and had a pre-dinner drink at the Opera House Bar which had great view of the harbor. It was still raining off and on and a little chilly, but we managed to stay places long enough to not have to deal with getting rained on. We stayed by the Opera House until the lights came on, watched for a little bit, then went back to the hotel to add some layers before we went to dinner. We had been excited about our last dinner in Sydney because we found out the had a Meat Company. We had been to one of these for Tony's Mom's birthday in Dubai and thought it was great. So we saved this for our last night as a last vacation treat. The food there is so good! We had a calamari appetizer, wine, and meat skewers (chicken for me, beef for Tony) with mashed potatoes. It has a cool, relaxed, but upscale atmosphere. Plus it was in Darling Harbor which was close to our hotel. We were stuffed but had to get some dessert, so we stopped at a McDonalds for a McFlurry and a sundae. It was a nice and relaxing last night in Sydney.

In the morning, before we left for the airport, we wanted to go for a run because we'd be sitting on an airplane for 14 hours. We joined all the local runners down at the Royal Botanical Gardens, around the Opera House, and through downtown to and from our hotel. We ran about 6 miles with some pretty cool views. We loved running there! We also somehow got breakfast with our hotel reservation, so we had this really great buffet and stuffed ourselves then got ready to leave for the airport.

That wraps up our days spent in Australia! We had a fantastic time and would defnitely go back, especially to Port Douglas!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Port Douglas (Days 6-9)


Ah, our favorite part of the trip! Beach time! We were in Sydney, but I put those pictures with our last night in Sydney, so I'll get back to that. We got up for an early flight from Sydney to Cairns (pronounced "cans") which took us 3 hours. Cairns is in Queensland on the north east coast of Australia. Once we get to Cairns and finally saw some sunshine, we got our rental car and drove about an hour north to Port Douglas. Cairns is a really popular place, so it's a bigger city with more to do there, but Port Douglas was perfect for us! There's a beach and a main strip of restaurants and shops that we could walk to from our condo. Everything was really nice and seemed new or well kept. We didn't know this at the time, but found out that a lot of famous people vacation in Port Douglas because it's so quaint and private. Lady Gaga had been there like two weeks before us. Haha.

While here we walked around a bit and visited the Daintree Rainforest (which is a World Heritage Sight - the Blue Mountains are too) on our first day. The rainforest didn't really have much to offer, but it was cool to see. It was really easy to find places with good food for lunch and dinners. Since we had a condo we went to the grocery store and got some things for breakfast and snacks. I'm a big cereal fan, so I wanted to get cereal for breakfast. There weren't many normal seeming options, but I did find Multi-grain Cheerios which I like. Well, they did NOT taste the same at all! Tony thought they were so gross he didn't even eat them. I still did, but they weren't my favorite! Anyways, Saturday we spent the day at the beach and pool, went running, and just relaxed. It was kind of disappointing at the beach because they had a jellyfish net up where you could only swim in a certain area. We did find out that there is a species of jellyfish there than can kill you, so we didn't complain much after that. I guess we were there at the end of jellyfish season and a few had still been spotted in the area, so they had to keep the net up. We also found a gelato place that was awesome! Tony was addicted! We even went twice in one day. The lady working remembered us...embarrassing!

The big highlight of this part of the trip was Sunday when we went to the Great Barrier Reef and snorkeled! We were picked up on Sunday morning and taken to the marina to board the catamaran that would take us out. The boat holds 12 people, but we got lucky and there were only 4 of us on this trip! The other couple that we were with was really friendly and we chatted with them a lot. They were from Sydney. We even ran into them that night on our way to dinner! It's a small town! Anyways, we were on the boat for several hours. We were kind of worried that the weather was going to stay cloudy all day, but it didn't. We were able to ride on the front of the boat on the "trampoline", but we got soaked a few times and took a break from that. Once we got to the reef, the clouds were gone and we were ready to snorkel. It really seemed like we were in the middle of nowhere. You couldn't see any land, there were waves and patches of the most blue water. We wore wet suits because the water was a little cold and it was windy. It also keeps you from getting stung by jellyfish if they happen to be around. We didn't see any though. We jumped in the water and it was the most unbelievable coral reef I have ever seen, and I feel like I've snorkeled in quite a few places (Cayman, Hawaii, Cozumel, Oman). It was just coral on top of more coral with all different colors and shapes. There were giant clams, tons of different kinds of fish, and everything was just living, no dead coral or anything like that. We floated around for a few hours out there, but I could have stayed all day! We saw Nemo fish too! They were so cute and tiny. We took a lot of pictures with an underwater camera, but they don't do it justice at all. We are trying to photoshop them to make the colors brighter, and then we'll post those. We also had lunch and snacks on the boat during the snorkeling part and got to go back in the water after that. Then we had a relaxing boat right back to shore. The wind was pretty strong that day, and we were able to sail rather than use the motor on the boat which I guess is pretty cool. It's just crazy to think that there are tons of places just like that all along the Great Barrier Reef. It's just huge and not close to shore like other places. It was a once in a lifetime experience even though I would go back in a second!

After we got back to shore, we got a gelato snack, relaxed a bit, and had some dinner and more gelato for dessert. That was our last night in Port Douglas. We had to drive back to Cairns in the morning to catch a flight back to Sydney. We joked on the drive that they should have a marathon here on the Australian Hwy 1 on the Pacific Ocean just like we did in California. It went right along the ocean with gorgeous views and hills just like at the marathon. Haha. I absolutely loved our time in Port Douglas. It's the just so relaxing, easy, and pretty there.

Blue Mountains (Days 4-5)


Tony already posted some of these pictures, but the next two days of our trip were spent in the Blue Mountains. We left from Sydney on Wednesday morning, got a rental car, and made the drive to the mountains. This was Tony's first adventure in driving in Australia on the other side of the road. It took us about an hour and a half to get to our first hiking spot. The temperature here was in the 40s/50s, a little bit colder. Our first hike took us a couple of hours. We left from a "Conservation Hut" and hiked to Wentworth Falls. There were tons of different trails to choose from. The views were awesome. The path was kind of wet and muddy though so we had to be a little careful on the hike. It was nice to be somewhere quite and peaceful after spending a few days in busy Sydney.

Next we had a little bit more to drive to our hotel for the night in a town called Katoomba. We checked into the hotel called the 3 Sisters Motel. Definitely no frills, but had a free breakfast, hot water, and it did the job. The main part of the town is on one street with a few restaurants and shops. A friend of mine had just been to Australia and recommended a place called Fresh for lunch. so we went there and it was the BEST food we had on our trip! It was all fresh, organic, natural foods. We had sandwiches/wraps that came with a salad and fresh juices.

We went back to the hotel and walked to check out the Three Sisters, a famous landmark in the mountains of these three rock formations sticking out by themselves. It was only about a 5 minute walk from our hotel. There was a viewing area plus these really steep steps that you could take to walk out to the Three Sisters. So we slowly made our way down the steps. The view was scary because it was like straight down the steps and then off the side of the mountain.

We didn't do much after that, just went to the hotel, rested and went out to dinner. In the morning we were going to drive back to Sydney, but weren't sure when we would leave. We woke up in the morning to an intense fog which made our decision to go ahead and leave and drive back to Sydney.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Syndey (Days 1-3)


Here are some pictures from our first three days in Australia. We flew from Tulsa to Los Angeles, to Sydney. A total of about 17 flying hours, not counting all the waiting in between. With the time change and crossing the international date line, we lost Saturday and arrived in Sydney on Sunday morning at 7 am. We did the whole customs/visa thing and even though we applied for a visa online before we left, they said our names didn't match our passports exactly because we didn't put our middle names on it. So we had to wait a little extra for them to fix that, but then we took our bags and got a cab to the Westin hotel in Sydney. We walked around our hotel area, got breakfast, and waited to check into our room. We spent the afternoon seeing the Harbor Bridge and Opera House and walking around The Rocks area. The Rocks was one of our favorite areas. It has the old architecture, hilly, tree lined streets, shops, and restaurants. We visited the Lord Nelson Pub which is supposed to be the oldest in Sydney. We ended up having to take a nap in the afternoon for a few hours. We woke up dead tired still and decided instead of walking to find a place to eat, we ordered Pizza Hut. There was one about a block away from our hotel. It was good too! We didn't make it up much longer after that and went to bed.

We had some trouble adjusting to the time difference. We'd go to bed early like 8 or 9 and Tony would wake up at 6 or 7. I managed to sleep until 8 most days though. Naps were also necessary for the first few days. Our hotel had a gym attached to it, so we ran a few of the days here too. The weather was ok in Sydney. The temps were in the 60s, but it was pretty overcast and even rained some. The rain came and went and we really only got caught having to wait for a shower to pass once.

In general we did a lot of walking in Sydney. We also went to the Royal Botanical Gardens which goes right along the harbor and gives you great views of the Opera House and Harbor Bridge as well as downtown. There were tons of runners in Sydney! Everywhere we walked there were people running. So we liked that! We also went to Darling Harbor where we went to the Maritime Museum and got to tour an Australian Navy destroyer and submarine and a replica of Captain Cook's 1700s ship he used to sail around the world. It was really neat because it was set up for a voyage and there were people on there to tell you stories and how they lived on the ship. Everything had a purpose and a story. Captain Cook is credited for discovering/mapping the eastern coast of Australia and his ship ran aground on the Great Barrier Reef where the crew had go ashore for some time for the ship to get fixed before they could return home. We saw signs for "Cooktown" when we went to Port Douglas. The museum part was less than impressive, but we really enjoyed the ships.

One afternoon we also took a ferry across Sydney harbor to Manly Beach. It was about a 30 minute ferry ride where we got to see the harbor better. Manly was a little town, not too crowded this time of year since it's winter, but we walked around a bit and got a drink at a bar close to the beach. The bartender had us tasting all kinds of Australian beers and gave us an education on them all. So we at least got to try something new.

Our next part of the trip was to the Blue Mountains. We left for there on Wednesday morning. That post will be coming soon!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Plants are Growing

We did some planting in the spring a few months ago, and we're finally starting to see some progress in our plants. The warm weather has really helped them to start growing. You can actually see the plants and some color from the street. Plus, Tony has the grass looking really good...green and full with not very many weeds. He's worked hard at it with fertilizers, sprays, you name it, so we're glad it's looking good!



Friday, June 11, 2010

A Week Ago.....

we were here:


Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Update

Right now it is 8:58 a.m. in Katoomba, Australia. We just got done eating breakfast and are now getting ready to pack up and head back to Sydney. Things have been going great so far. We came out to Katoomba yesterday to do some hiking in the Blue Mountains. It was a lot of fun and the views were pretty nice. Yesterday was our first day without taking a nap in the middle of the day. The jet lag has been a little tough. A 15 hour time difference is pretty significant and has worn on us more than I thought it would.

Tomorrow we fly up to Cairns where we will rent a car and drive to Port Douglas. The weather up there is completely different than Sydney. This time of year Sydney is about 60 degrees during the day. Out here in the Blue Mountains the temperature is about 50 degrees. In Port Douglas, it is humid and highs are in the mid 80s which will be nice. Anyway, here's a few pics of what we've been up to.





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