Thursday, May 19, 2011

Blog Archive

If you are interested in archived entries about the cross-country biking portion of our year-long adventure, we began the bike trip on July 20, 2009 and finished cycling on December 1, 2009.

I hope you enjoy the blog.  I love to hear your comments!


Chico News & Review Article

Check out this great article written by Stacey Kennelly of the Chico News & Review.

We will be presenting at the RAYRAY Gallery in Downtown Chico on Friday, May 20th at 6:30P.M.

We hope to see you there!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

"School on the go" article about our 2009-2010 Adventure

School on the go | trip, through, year - Willows Journal
Hello friends! Above is a link to an article about our trip that ran on the front page of the Orland Press Register today, March 2, 2011.  Rick Longley of Tri-County Newspapers interviewed us in our Orland home shortly after Gregory won 2 first place ribbons for his writing that was entered in the Glenn County Young Writers Festival.  His award-winning New Zealand poem is also posted on this link.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Australia Zoo and Mum's Day

Crikey! It's the Australia Zoo! What a ripper!

Two Giant Aldabran Land Tortoises

Patting kangaroos and koalas was ripper ace!

Feeding the Asian Elephants a bit of rock melon (cantaloupe). The three elephants at the zoo were formerly circus elephants and now they are spoiled at the zoo where they are hand-fed melon and squash by the many visitors each day.

The spiky echidna is a monotreme, an egg-laying mammal. The only other is the platypus who also lives in Australia.

On Day 1 at the zoo, I twisted my ankle stepping off of the bitumen (asphalt) where it had broken away on the edge.

Charlie the Magpie Goose was very worried about me when I hurt my ankle. I was wailing pretty good for quite some time before I could calm down.

Bev and Terry, our special hosts, gave us a tour of Caloundra, beautiful meals and were wonderful company. They told us that their daughter went to school with Steve Irwin and is friends with his sister Joy who apparently manages the tucker (food venues) at the zoo. They said the personality that you saw when Steve was on the tele, in movies, etc. was just as he was. He was full of enthusiasm, kindness and had an incredible heart and was dedicated to wildlife conservation.

Our family photo from Day 2 at the zoo, with a repeat try after spraining my ankle on Day 1.

Lamington (sponge cake covered in chocolate with coconut), coffee and hunky men for Mum's Day morning tea at the Australia Zoo!

The reason I can celebrate Mum's Day, my little miracle, Gregory Thomas.

Patting a Wallaby

The Brolga

Double click below to read more about this large flightless bird who has a "horny helmet".

The Red Panda

The Australia Zoo believes that getting up close and personal with the wildlife will give people an opportunity to make a connection and understand the importance of preserving these creatures and their habitats. They allowed each of us to give this little koala a gentle pat on his bottom. The many koalas take turns "on duty".

Gregory pats this large red kangaroo.

Mike says hello to a little joey and her mum.

My husband knows I love hearts in nature and he found this one for me on Mum's Day.

Glossy Ibis

A Pair of Carpet Pythons

Monty the Croc at the Crocoseum Wildlife Warriors SHOW

Now that is one big snake! This guy takes to the water for two shows a day.

Two of the three species of wombat live at the Australia Zoo, the Common Wombat and the Southern Hairy-nosed Wombat. The other species is the Northern Hairy-nosed Wombat. As you can see these were one of my favorite animals.

Common Wombat

Buzzy the Common Wombat

Grotty the Southern Hairy-nosed Wombat wears a coat because he recently had an operation and his hair is growing back.

Grotty in his dashing coat.

Just another cute wombat picture I had to include.

"Help! Croc attack!"

Asian small-clawed otters by Gregory

The Perentie, Australia's Largest Lizard

The Komodo Dragon is part of the Endangered Species Breeding Program

Watching Acco the 16ft. Saltwater Croc eat his chicken (whole feathers and all) dinner. Photo by Gregory

My Budding Photographer

Acco gets another little snack after finishing off the whole chicken in one gulp.

This little guy seems to be saying, "When is it my turn in the jumpy house?" These lizards were scurrying all about the park and would startle people left and right. This little guy got two ladies off a bench in a hurry!

Mum's Day dinner at Noosa Marina including seafood and live music.

May 8, 2010

Our trip to the zoo was meant to be an early Mother’s Day present and it turned out to be quite the memorable Mother’s Day, not only because of all of the amazing animals and acts that we saw during the morning but also because I twisted my ankle at around 1:00 P.M. and that put me out of commission for the day! (We did return the next day, which was actually Mum’s Day and my boys drove me around in a wheelchair all day. That was a bit tough to relinquish full control! Four hunky fellows, from the Aussie Revue, also served me a complimentary morning tea!)

I must say that I was impressed with the park, which is very tidy and beautifully manicured (employees are always busy scrubbing bird droppings off the walkways and trees and raking up the kangaroo droppings). There are also professional presenters who do a great job conveying the conservation message to the public. The Wildlife Warriors SHOW at the Crocoseum was terrific and included birds soaring right over our heads, various snakes and feeding time for Monty the crocodile (Saturday) and Murray (Sunday). With a bit of humor, and a message to accompany each act, I was quite delighted by the entire show.

I must say that when Steve Irwin came up on the big screen with his message to preserve the earth and its creatures I was really moved. (If you don’t already know, a stingray killed Steve Irwin.) Steve’s wife Terri (who I just learned is American) and his children Bindi and Robert “Bobby” continue to carry on Steve’s legacy as well as the many people who work at the Australia Zoo and the Australian Wildlife Hospital (which is dedicated to the memory of Steve Irwin’s mother, Lyn Irwin.)

We enjoyed feeding elephants; patting kangaroos and wallabies, patting koalas and watching the crocs have a feed. The Aviary and The Wetlands were so very peaceful and it was such a joy to see the many species of birds that call Australia home. We also enjoyed seeing a couple of dingoes, a komodo dragon and the Perentie, Australia’s largest lizard. The wombats were one of my personal favorites as well as the and the spiky little echidna.

We saw a Tasmanian devil named Jinky, who is about to have a birthday, and we learned that the Tasmanian devils are in danger of extinction due to a facial tumour disease that is caused when they bite each other while fighting over food. There currently is no cure for this terrible disease. We bought a little packet to make a donation to the cause. If you are interested in learning more visit the above website.

Here is what Gregory had to say about the Australia Zoo:

May 8th, 2010

Crikey Mate! That’s what I say to the Australia Zoo! Home to the Crocodile Hunter! Steve Irwin! When we first entered the zoo we saw a Komodo Dragon, 2 Perentie Australian Lizards and Tortoises Live! There were 2 giant Aldabran Land Tortoises. Then we went and got to feed Asian Elephants squash. I got snot all over my hand! After we did that we went to the Crocoseum for the Wildlife Warriors Show and saw Monty the croc, water snakes and free flight birds including black cockatoos, lorikeets and a Jabiru. It was AWESOME!!!! Then we saw one of the 2 egg-laying mammals, the echidna! Next (it was off) to The Wetlands! We got to see the Jabiru again and the Brolga. Then mom fell and twisted her ankle!!! Charlie the Magpie Goose was worried about Mom! Dad had to run across the whole park to get a wheel chair for Mom! At the end we got to see Asian small-clawed otters swimming! I learned that they have fingernails instead of claws and that they are going extinct. I had a fun time.



March 10th, 2010

Our second day at the supersonic Australia Zoo was Mother’s Day. We went back a second day because the first day Mom hurt her ankle at noon and we didn’t get to finish the day. I had to push her around in a wheelchair almost all day. Dad only had to help me on the steep hills. One of the really fun things I got to do was pat a koala. They are really soft! I also got to pat wallabies and a kangaroo joey. Then, we went and saw venomous and nonvenomous snakes! We also saw the red panda again. The Tiger Temple was awesome with all of the tigers with it! We also got to see Acco the 16ft. croc that ate a whole chicken in one CHOMP! I HAD AN AWESOME TIME!



Whitewater World and Dreamworld

Yippee! We finally made it! Whitewater World on the Gold Coast.

B.R.O. ~ Blue-ringed Octopus with 8 slides was a blast.

On the right is The Green Room. This was our favorite family ride.

Thumbs up for Whitewater World now on to Dreamworld!

This is the Giant Drop in the background. Mike and Gregory later did this 120m (394ft.) free-fall ride.

After a morning at Whitewater World we hit Dreamworld for the last couple of hours of the day.

Tiger Island ~ Bengal and Sumatran Tigers

Rocket Power Bumper Beach

This is a bit blurry but I had to put it in. This was a great ride, Mick Doohan's Motocoaster. Below is a picture of Mick who won 5 consecutive 500cc Championships.

Gregory shows us his moves on the Flowrider wave machine.

Freshwater Crocs

Note the little joey foot hanging out of her pouch. This is a bit startling and very exciting when you first see it. Another flyer had just the joey's tail hanging out and that looked a bit strange!

Black Cockatoo

Feeding the Kangaroos

Double Click below to read more about the Emu.

Red Kangaroo

I just thought this sign was so clever. This is how I was feeling when I finally found the toilet and I had to chuckle.

Koalas Belinda and Kenny ~ The Dreamworld Mascots

Gregory's new friend Simon is teaching him how to play Scrum. Simon and his girlfriend Katie were over from Essex in England. (Gold Coast Holiday Park, Helensvale, QLD ~ That's Queensland!)

Yes, it does rain in Australia. Here I am carrying the breakfast dishes back from the kitchen. We had a river running around the entire camper so had to wear our thongs to and from the camper. Tennis shoes were out of the question! Nice umbrella eh?

Gregory is in the front seat of the Runaway Reptar Rollercoaster.


Sheep Shearing at the Oakley Creek Farm Show, Dreamworld

Patrick, Gregory and SpongeBob Squarepants

Patting the Roos in the Rain

Nick Central's SlimeBowl ~ Gregory is the middle red team player. He was the first left holding the cream pie when the music stopped and he had to "let the pie fly" right into his face. He was a good sport and had loads of fun too! We watched the video over and over and it is hysterical!

Getting cleaned up after letting the pie fly into his face.

Alien vs. Predator vs. You laser combat game was perfect entertainment for our rainy day at Dreamworld.

May 3, 2010 ~ The Best of Both Worlds

Gregory finally got his theme park(s)! We purchased an unlimited entry World Pass for White Water World/Dream World for AU$69/each (US$62) which allows us into this two adjacent parks as many times as we like until June 30th. We hit the water first, spending the bulk of the day flying down various water structures on single, double and cloverleaf tubes, floating in the Cave of Waves and soaking in the sun. Our favorite ride was The Green Room that, “accelerates riders from a 75m (246ft.) tunnel to a 15m(49ft.) funnel” (brochure) while sitting on top of a cloverleaf tube. Gregory and Mike also favored The Rip, “12m (39ft.) of pitch black terror before blasting into a massive bowl.” This you could choose to ride on a single of double tube. My least favorite was the newest ride in the park called The Wedgie. Of course I was elected to go first. I was locked in an upright tube (like a space capsule) with my hands clasped behind my neck and a drop out bottom under my crossed over feet. My heart is racing just writing about it! 3-2-1 and the bottom went out and I was dropped straight down and through a loop before being spit back out about 5 seconds later. I think what was so scary for me was that the tube was so small and water was flying in my face. I felt claustrophobic and I couldn’t see. Thank goodness it was over in a flash. I was the test case and if I gave Greg the thumbs up he would go. I waved my arms back and forth indicating to him that I wouldn’t go again, so he opted out, but Mike went. That was the only ride Gregory didn’t do and Mike kept giving him a hard time about it. This morning Gregory informed me that he was going to do it today. We’ll see!

With a couple of hours left before the 5 P.M. close of Dreamworld we went back to the campervan in the parking lot, changed our clothes, had a snack and a cuppa (coffee) and headed out for more thrills. The park was amazingly quiet for a holiday weekend and we were happy to do several rides in such a short time. We also went to Tiger Island for the tiger presentation where we got to watch Sumatran and Bengal tigers just metres away. Gregory and Mike enjoyed the bumper cars, Gregory weaved around on the Sponge Bob Flypants where he was flat on his stomach going round and round, we all took a wild ride on the Runaway Reptar Rollercoaster (Greg with a repeat performance) and a family favorite was Mick Doohan’s Motocoaster motorbike rollercoaster where you are sitting on side by side motorbikes leaning over the “gas tanks” and propelled along a rollercoaster track. If you didn’t already know Mick Doohan is the winner of 5 consecutive 500cc championships. It was so quiet that we dismounted our bikes and ran through the “cattle gates” (moooooo) and were right back up front for the next ride! Usually the queue for this ride is hours long! It was awesome (as Gregory would say).

We were exhausted (in a good way) and I was starving and craving Mexican so we went to the bottle shop for Coronas and then to Coles (grocery) where we spent over $100 on food. Rule #1: Never shop when you are hungry! Tomorrow is a holiday and stores are closed for Labor Day so we had to stock up. Anyhow, back at the camp kitchen while I was whipping up tacos we got to chatting with some Aussies who were in the area for a rugby tournament their kids were in. We both had Corona so we had a lime vs. lemon debate and then they told us all about Bundaberg rum (located about 4 hours north) and said Aussie’s don’t drink Bacardi (the #1 world seller).

Earlier I’d mentioned we were from California so as the evening progressed one on the guys came up to me and said, “So you’re a California Girl?” And, I promptly started to sing, “I wish they all could be California girlssssss.” They got a kick out of that. I had to leave the party to attend to my son who crashed riding his scooter in the dark and thought he had broken his wrist but Mike stand on well into the night and had a grand time with his new mates. He even got an invitation to stay at a place “in the bush” outside of Brisbane (Aussies call it Brisi ­—pronounced Briz-ee).

Gregory was pretty upset last night thinking he would need a cast and miss out on Dreamworld but after some ice, an Advil and a good nights sleep (between Mom and Dad) he is up this morning riding his scooter again! Off we go to Dreamworld. Cheers!

P.S. New sayings I heard are: “That ride is quality” and “That is a sterling idea!”

May 4, 2010

The past couple of days at Dreamworld have been tons of fun. I think we originally thought we’d only spend a day (with another day at White Waterworld) but we just couldn’t do it all, so we took advantage of our unlimited entry. Sunday it was warm, dry brilliant weather but today was gray, rainy and cool and the rain didn’t let up until about an hour before the 5 o’clock closing time. It actually worked to our advantage in that the park was dead and there was no waiting however, we wore shorts, thongs, rain jackets and hats and our toes did get a bit chilly!

On our first day at Dreamworld we started with the Wipeout, an extreme thrill ride which was plenty wild for Mum, but it was the round and round and round of the moderately rated kids ride called the Reef Diver, that did me in. I couldn’t wait for it to end and when I stumbled off I immediately put my head down on a table to recover. Mike was wise enough to opt out of that one! Next up was the Flowrider for Gregory. He “surfed” these high-speed waves on a boogie board with his new friend TJ and his sister Haidee.

Here is what Gregory had to say about his time at Dreamworld:

May 4th, 2010

Yesterday we came into Dreamworld and headed straight for the Wipeout! While we were waiting in line we started talking with TJ, Haidee and their dad. They said they were going to do Flowrider at 11:30. They said it was only $5 so I did it too. Then, we went to see kangaroos and I actually got to feed them!!! Then we saw salt and fresh water crocs! Then we did the log ride and got wet. Then we went and did the Giant Drop, a 120m (340ft.) free-fall.

One of the really fun things I did on Tuesday was going on the Nickelodeon stage for Slime Time. I had to pass a cream pie to other players and when the music stopped I was the first to get stuck with the pie and I had to make the pie fly straight into my face!!! It felt all creamy and I got it in my hair so I had crusty pie in my hair all day but it was still fun!

Another interesting show that we got to see was the Oakley Creek Farm Show. A sheep dog rounded up some sheep, a sheep was shorn and at the end we got to taste damper, which is a bread, cooked over a fire in the outback. It was tasty!

The Gold Coast has an average of 300 days of sunshine every year but it rained our whole second day at Dreamworld. But, that was okay because we got to do laser combat called Alien vs. Predator vs. You! You would have to wear a vest with flashing targets on your front and on your back and shoulders. You also get a laser gun. You can earn points by hitting eggs with flashing targets on them and by hitting other people and the queen alien and the predators! It was dark and smoky in the room. We did it about 8 times and the last time it was only me, Mom, Dad and the leader Mark! It was one of my favorite things at Dreamworld!