I have wanted to see whales from land for a long time. I’m always looking, but hadn’t had any luck so I looked up the best places to see them in the world and one of those places happens to be from an island just off the coast from Brisbane. How convenient.

Humpback whales migrate up and down the East coast of Australia every year and pass by very close to the the Eastern point of North Stradbroke Island on the “whale highway”. So I booked an Airbnb right in Point Lookout for a couple nights to maximize our chances of seeing them.

It was a bit of an epic journey to get from Surfers Paradise to Point Lookout by light rail/train/train/taxi/ferry/bus, but it was relatively pleasant.

The first thing we did after dropping our bags off was head out to do the Gorge Walk. We saw whales almost right away! A few blowholes and we even saw a whale swim REALLY close to shore right below us. Another person said that whale had a calf with her but we missed that.

Life goal complete! I was already satisfied.

We walked down to Cylinder Beach to go to what I thought was a pizza restaurant but was actually a food truck in a parking lot. Everyone else was just driving up and getting takeaway but we didn’t have that luxury so instead we ate in the dark on a concrete bollard. The prawn and chorizo pizza was delicious and I didn’t mind the ambience tbh.

Whale!!

We bought some oysters and salmon to eat by the seashore while watching for more whales. We saw SO MANY. Like 25+!! Whales everywhere!! Some of them breached so nicely that we could see the white parts under their mouths. We saw turtles and dolphins too.

Check out those maniacs! They were jumping off the end of the rocks and then swimming back to the beach. Bonkers!

Eventually we decided we saw enough whales and walked down to the RSL for a cheap drink. We still saw even more whales while sitting on the balcony!

We bought some fresh Spanish mackerel and veg on the way back to grill for dinner. So nice. I love seafood so much.

Brunch at the Blue Room to cap off a very relaxing and satisfying couple of days on Straddie. I had avocado toast and Scott had a maple bacon dutch baby. Both were very tasty with a lovely view from the patio. Yes, we even saw a couple more whale spouts while eating.

The Blue Room Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

About a month ago I had a very bad case of analysis paralysis. As I often do, I frantically messaged Rosemarie.

She helped me solve all my little problems, and also figure out that in general I need to:

  1. Do more new and scary things.
  2. Meet some more people.
  3. Take more advantage of only working part time while it lasts.

Isn’t she wise.

So I did! I’ve got a few new things on the go at the moment.

First I signed up for a picture framing short course through Scott’s mum’s work. I thought it might be useful because all my cross stitch projects come out in random non-standard sizes, and as a result almost all of my finished stitches are rolled up in a box under my bed instead of displayed.

The first class we learned about materials and cut mat boards, second class we cut more mat board bevels, and foam core and mounted things together. This week we cut the wood for our frames and glued them together, and the last week we cut the glass and put everything together. It was fun! I finished two frames. The instructor is very knowledgeable and gave us a lot of info. The tools to do it on my own would be a bit of an investment though.

Have you ever seen 2.5 kg plates before?? Lol.

Second I joined an Olympic weightlifting club. It is very intense and scary there. Everyone is extremely strong. There are people training for the Commonwealth Games and stuff. The first night I went, THIS GUY was there!! He is so awesome. Anyway so now I have a coach who is teaching me snatch and clean and jerk from scratch. It’s very cheap and I can go as much as I want, which is pretty cool. And everyone I’ve met so far has been very friendly. I think it will be good for me to have some goals again, now that I don’t have skeleton in my life. Hopefully I can do some local competitions at some point.

I also thought maybe I could try and cook more elaborate meals? These were homemade pork and shrimp siu mai. They were yum. I got a library card too so I could get a bunch of fancy cookbooks for some new ideas. Any ideas for labour intensive but not cost intensive meals would be very welcomed! (Just typing that out makes me realize that I should make perogies v soon, especially since they don’t really exist here.) (brb crying)

So life is very busy these days. This is good.

Next weekend I’m going to Adelaide for Cassia’s baby shower. I don’t think they actually expected me to accept the invitation but flights were only $33!!! So… YOLO, I’m going.

And then a couple days after that we go to Ottawa!!! We are very excited to escape the cold here and get some quality family/friends/cottage/Canada time in.

PS fish and chip shop deep fried Mars bars are amazing. We shared a few at work the other day. :D

May 2nd – May 9th, 2016

Our flight from Vancouver to Glasgow was super cheap. I think it’s because it had a very long stopover in Halifax, which was actually perfect for us because I’d always wanted to take Scott to my old university town. We had enough time to take the bus into town, walk around the waterfront, have lunch with my old thesis supervisors (Kazue and Chris), get candy at the Freak Lunchbox, eat Economy Shoe Shop nachos, climb citadel hill, have a few drinks, and bus back to the airport. Perfect.

We went to Glasgow to visit Scott’s bff Jono and his wife Kirsten. They were awesome hosts. They took us into the Scottish highlands, where we had a wee dram at the Glenturret distillery, haggis neeps and tatties at King’s House Hotel, and took in the scenery in Loch Lomond National Park. It was lovely. Jono also took us around Glasgow itself, where we went into a few museums, ate some really delicious foods, and had a few drinks.

Scott and I went to Edinburgh for a day on our own. The castle was a bit out of our budget so we mostly just walked around looking at stuff and tried to find a restaurant that served homemade Scotch eggs (did not succeed).

Scottish food was something special. Jono made sure I tried everything. Highlights included: the most enormous plate of haggis anyone has ever seen, deep fried halloumi (delicious), macaroni pie (delicious), blood sausage, square sausage (salty!), cold grocery store Scotch eggs. They really do deep fry everything. Nom.

After Scotland we flew to London Stansted, and then took the train for 2 hours for the sole purpose of going to the Jorna Indian Restaurant. If you have not had the pleasure of listening to their amazing theme song, I have uploaded it HERE.

We ordered our food based on the song. Tasty saag aloo, creamy korma, and Peshwari naan. It was OK. TBH the best part of the meal was telling our waiter that we came all the way from Vancouver specifically to go to their restaurant. I think we blew his mind.

The next morning we took the train back to Stansted to fly to France to start our camino!

This is going to be long.

Whistler North America Cup official training started on November 17th.

November 4th I asked Ivo if I could possibly be in the races since Janelle couldn’t get the time off [SCARY]. November 6th he said I would be on ‘stand by’ and should fill out all the paperwork in case I did get to race [COOL]. November 12th I was told that they had picked the team and I would not get to race [SAD]. November 14th I was told that they had made a mistake and that I would get to race [PARTY]. It was a roller coaster of emotions.

The first week of OT was okay. I was nervous to slide with such a big group of athletes that I didn’t know, but everyone was really friendly. There were a lot of really experienced sliders this year, including Olympians, World Cup, and ICC athletes. The ice was only medium fast, and I had some good runs. I even got a new PB downtime and speed (57.98 seconds, and 131.54 km/hr). Corner 16 was giving me serious trouble though.

Second week of OT was a different story. The ice was speeding up. The problem with corner 16 was getting worse instead of better. I kept slamming down out of 16 and hitting the same spot of my jaw against my sled, which was extremely painful. Disfiguring face wounds are not fun. My start times were embarrassing. I wasn’t getting any feedback from our NAC coach. I questioned why I was even there.

I cried at practice one day after a terrible out of control painful run. Embarrassing.

After much consolation from Matt and Mimi and Snowy and Nick and Diana (:’) thanks guys) I decided to not take a second run that day and take the next day (the day before the race) off. I just needed some time away from everything.

I relaxed the whole day before the race and was nice and calm. In the evening Matt and I met up to polish our runners and chat. As I was putting my sled on the ground to get ready to polish I realized that my sled was actually really quite broken. A weld had snapped and my saddle was completely unattached on one end. AHH!! I was so nervous to call Scott (Ballard) to tell him that I had broken my sled (AGAIN) and hadn’t realized until the evening before the race, after I had wasted away the whole day doing nothing. Thankfully he wasn’t mad and we were able to fix it later that evening. How convenient that our BCBSA coach knows how to weld and stuff.

Anyway I got back to my room, tried to remind myself of all the good runs I’ve had before, all the people that are so supportive of me, and that I did belong there. And sleep.

Race day. I put my rock down a mm to try and get a bit more control (sacrificing speed, but I would rather not break my jaw). Warmed up. Tried to block out everything else that was happening in the start house.

There were a lot of people watching at the start which was nerve-wracking, but also motivating. I tried to run a little quicker and farther than usual and managed to have an ok run. I did NOT smash my face on the end of 16 so I was happy. When I got back to the top I found out that I was in last place (expected) but had pushed a tenth faster than usual (5.64)!! (By the way that is a TERRIBLE start time, but for me it is an enormous victory). I was first off for the second run and again tried to run faster and farther. Run 2 was a little crazier at the bottom, a bit face-smashy at the bottom, but only 0.10 seconds off my PR downtime, and I had pushed another personal record (5.61).

All in all I was VERY happy with how the race went. Sure I came in 12th place out of 12, but I had pushed TWO PR push times, not destroyed my face, and had completed my first ever international race!! (Which happened to be my goal for this year of sliding).

That afternoon I went to the Scandinave spa (Scott told me to treat myself) to relax. It was lovely and did the trick. I polished my runners again, hung out with friends, went to bed early.

Second race: perfect weather and ice conditions again so the track was quick. Both my runs were sloppy and hard to control but I made it down. I pushed another PR time at the top (5.57) on the first run, and despite getting a little off balance, matched it on my second run. COOL.

I came in 11th place, out of 11. The three time Olympian (seriously) won, quelle suprise. But anyway, I did it. Another race. I was so happy that it was all over.

Anyway, I haven’t felt that much stress since like… exams or something. It was really really hard, but I’m glad I got to be part of it. I met some really great new people. It also made me realize that I have some really amazing support from a lot of people up in Whistler, and I’m so happy that my first race experience was with all of them around. At least I got that comfort from being in a place I knew, with familiar faces all around. A big thank you to Scott and Rosemarie too who were only a text message away when I needed it, and everyone else who sent me encouraging messages throughout the week. It really did help. <3

Another kind of neat thing is that I have an IBSF athletes page now, and I’m ranked! At the moment it says I am #42 in the world!! Kinda cool.

1. FAMJAM/#jornapalooza2015

April helping Uncle Scotty use the computer.


An extremely cute Easter bunny.

I love that the whole family likes games. Simultaneous Wits & Wagers and My First Carcassonne.


Cutest dinosaur ever (Seth).

Jemma and April.

The entire Jorna family together! This hasn’t happened in a long time. It made Pat (Scott’s dad) so happy. :’)

2. SPORTS

We went to a rugby union game. I learned all about weird things like BORING IN THE SCRUM.

Scott’s cousin hooked us up with ultra cheap tickets to the footy. The Hawks demolished the Cats. It’s one of my life goals to go to a full house AFL game at the MCG (100,000 people) (happens about a dozen times a season according to Scott), and this was close, but not quite. There were 72,000 people there, for a FIRST ROUND GAME! Melbournites love their sports.

Hawthorne cheer squad.

We even caught a Canada vs. Fiji Rugby Sevens game on TV, which made me laugh, and made Scott run to his room to put his jersey on. Canada was even winning for most of the game! But then Fiji smashed us. They seemed like they could run twice as fast as the Canadians.

3. AUSSIE FOODS

I ate 5 meat pies in 2 weeks. :D

We went out for dumplings, but they weren’t great. Should have researched a bit more about where is good these days.

At one of the spots on our impromptu pub crawl. We also went to a bar that was a little house right in the middle of the CBD, and Transport, and possibly somewhere else. Hmm.

Really expensive fancy margarita and really expensive piece of pork something. Too tipsy to remember the name of the restaurant. The pork was mega delicious though.

– we also ate lots of lamb, vanilla slices, parmas, flathead, Freddo Frogs, etc etc. And brought back an entire suitcase filled with Savoys, Tim Tams and BBQ Shapes.