Sooo my updates have been pretty backed up due to trips/training for the half marathon/school work/putting off school work until it became an unmanageable mountain. As a result, I have a marathon of trip updating to do so get ready for the posts and pictures.
To begin at the beginning: The Great Ocean Road.
(In case you can't read, it says "And speak english" in, fine print we'll call it, between the real writing on the sign. See, America and Australia aren't that different after all, even if they do drive on the wrong side of the road).
We weren't sure what to expect with this trip because no matter how hard we tried, we couldn't get an itinerary, or anyone really, to explain what we were in for. At the last minute a sketch of the activities circulated and we scrambled to pack for the mysterious venture - one with a much shorter bus ride than the last, so despite the unknowns, it was already looking up.
We had a bit of a bumpy start at our 8 am departure with two missing girls, one of whom didn't make it on the trip, some difficulty maneuvering the bus out of the parking lot, and a squeaky PA system that the tour guide Campbell kept trying to make jokes over. The trip wasn't long, however, and we arrived at the surf museum a little early, which gave us time to buy coffee and cookies and browse the surf shops before heading in.
The museum was filled with pictures, boards, and various displays that embodied the 70s surf culture where it all began.
We headed into the theatre room and got a little taste of home with the movie "Surfing the 50 States," hung out with the silver surfer, and practiced our boarding on a demo surfboard to prep for our own surf adventure, which we headed to right after the museum.
I was more than a little dubious about the surfing lessons, after too many humbling encounters with giant waves in my past. I am a small person. The ocean is big and scary. I usually get owned. Add in a giant foam board (which was too big for me to carry under my tiny t-rex arms by the way) and I wasn't sure what would result. We learned to paddle, where to stand on the board, and how to "pop up." It didn't take us long to get out in the water and they shoved us right on our boards in front of the waves, with no time to worry or think, just the rush of being propelled towards shore, teetering on top of our rocketing boards. Although it was one of the most physical activities I have done in a long time, and one of the most embarrassing (I wiped out so much that I didn't think I would ever be able to shake all of the water out of my ears), it was also one of the most satisfying. I had so much fun that as we walked away, I couldn't help but look at all of the locals surfing nearby with jealousy: I wanted to live close enough to do this as my hobby. I wanted to go back the next day, and the day after that.
Sadly our hour of surfing ended and we dried off and grabbed some tea and cookies before hopping back on the bus and continuing on our drive along the winding curves of the great ocean road coastline. The road sits on walls of jagged rock, dropping off into breathtaking blues and white caps, the ocean stretching off into the horizon as we cruised by listening to the perfect play list for long drives in the sunshine. We stopped in a bit to take a picture by the iconic "Great Ocean Road Sign" that marks the official start of the tourist attraction that connects various campsites and small shore towns. We stopped to look for Koalas on the side of the road and finally made it to our hostel where we had a barbecue and settled in for the evening.
The next day began bright and early with a walk through the rainforest, then we continued our sight seeing, catching a glimpse of such iconic sites as the Apostles, and the London Bridge. The giant rock formations, stacked high and towering above the crashing waves, loomed up more impressively than any picture could capture. We even stopped into a grotto, where some of the boys were crazy enough to swim in the freezing water. The weather was beautiful and the scenery was stunning - with this, the laid back vibes of the cruising from attraction to attraction, and the windows down and leisurely music flowing, it was right up my alley.
It doesn't seem like the most extravagant trip, and it wasn't the most jam packed of the ones that we have been on so far. However, there was something about the amazing scenery, the beach towns, and that laid back Australian attitude that reminded me of what I came here to see. It clicked, and it was by far my favorite trip that we went on.