Friday, August 15, 2014

The Farewells

We bid farewell to our lovely neighborhood with a few last hikes and bike rides. Des finally hit the flying squirrel solo, Sum mastered her bike, we all hiked Mt. Taylor and were granted a few last epic sunsets.

We bid farewell to our beloved school with one last Catholic holiday to celebrate.

And some sad and tearful farewells to our cute, cute friends.

Annie was lucky enough to squeeze in one last sleepover party for her birthday.

And Kenna's friends surprised her with a huge goodbye bash at a nearby gymnasium. I even got a fun girls night out with my buds at the new chocolate restaurant with a late night chick flick afterwards.

We have been so blessed with friendships here.

A fond farewell to our house.

And many beautiful church/neighborhood friends we will cherish forever.

Kenna got to accompany a song the last day of Primary
some of our fun Faith in God group
our awesome Sister Missionaries
I'll tell ya what, that week held some of the hardest goodbyes I've had the misfortune of ever having to experience. But hallelujah for the internet and Skype to keep us semi-in-touch from afar.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Family Pictures

I've already posted my feelings about family pictures. But it had to happen before we left that glorious country. We had our trusty trade-off agreement with the Sorensons and decided what better place than the heart of the capital city? Up on a hill, at the top of the National Arboretum one randomly spontaneous evening, we raced the sun and tried to capture our family dynamic.

 It was a bit overcast and windy, but we got a few shots with us all looking at the camera - huzzah!

 I love that we got one with Lake Burley-Griffin in the background. Lotta memories there.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

The Last Trips

Before we ditched town, we each indulged in a little trip. A Last Hoorah sort of thing. Darren and some work buddies spent a week in Queenstown, New Zealand. And boy did it look gorgeous. They had some good, manly adventures (and injuries) biking, hiking, zip-lining and boating in that other-worldly beautiful land.

(I'd let him fill in the details, but this post isn't high up on his to-do list at the moment, so I'll let the pictures do the talking.)

The Three Amigos

                                                                                    Not a bad view for breakfast on the balcony, eh?

A week later, Sara and I took a 3 day camping/canoeing weekend down the beautiful river that cuts through Kangaroo Valley. It was with a little trepidation that we embarked seeing as we had just switched the destination the night before (as opposed to a backpackers trail through the Blue Mountains) and neither of us had ever taken a canoeing trip, let alone one so long or isolated. But we shoved our backpacks full with the appropriate backpacker food and fuel and said some good prayers on the way down. It turned out AWESOME - an unforgettable, adventurous weekend with one of my best friends.

The first day was a bit rainy, but we found some cool dead trees to canoodle through and trucked our way up a leach infested forest to reach a pretty nifty cave we had our eye on. We felt like warriors.

admiring our totally impressive boat knotting skills (not)

It was kind of a risk of life and limb as the climb was slippery, then the floor kept breaking away from underneath us, and we each acquired a few little hitchhikers that kept us bleeding a while (the leaches were as long as my finger and EVERYWHERE!) But my was it pretty.

never has food tasted so good
It didn't stay rainy forever. We got some gorgeous blue skies, some good climbs, some good swims and a whole lotta stories in. Even listened to a bit of LDS General Conference as it was broadcasted that weekend, too. Listening to inspiring leaders while gliding through the water, without another boat/swimmer/house/soul in sight for days at a time was seriously kind of amazing.

our campsite
Up a small inlet and around a few corners later, we pulled up to our very private campsite - a little secret the boat owner had let us in on - with its own little lagoon. I've never felt so removed from civilization.

This is where we got to really test our skills. Tired and hungry, we set up camp and were ready for some grub. Unfortunately, with the light waning we quickly realized neither of us brought matches. Oi! With all the wood being wet, my cheap lighter broke within minutes so we were getting a bit desperate. Luckily our little emergency kit had some flint and steel. Voila! About a half hour and 20 pages of Sara's book later (the only dry kindling we had~) we got our stove working and a small fire to boot. It was HEAVEN I tell ya. We lounged and read and drank cocoa and talked into the dark until the rain picked up again.
Look at us hard-core campers - purifying our own water and everything! We had a visit from quite a few snuffling wombats rooting around our tent (at least they weren't dingos) but slept pretty well.

The next day we enjoyed ample sunshine, lunched on a green little island where a ginourmous goana welcomed us, and set up camp on a gorgeous property with friendly horses and beautiful morning views.

Sore arms but feeling awesome.

Our final day we traded in our canoe for some kayaks to take down the small rapids. As luck would have it, the GoPro didn't charge properly so we didn't get any shots of the active wombats, "white water" rapids (good to get the heart pumping but nothing too crazy), and gorgeous wonderland we happened into on a hunch that that little waterfall held more promise. Hiking up through the stream that fed it was honestly, so breathtaking. We kept shouting "HOW ON EARTH DO WE NOT HAVE A CAMERA TO CAPTURE THIS?!" It will remain our special spot forever.
where we carried the kayaks down to start out
I'm not one who does "Girls Trips" very often, but this was the ultimate goodbye. Adventure, challenge, alone time, no concern for anything but survival and communication. Nature is good and trips with friends are an incredible way to get out there and enjoy it!