This blog is going to be pretty long so I am going to have to apologize to everyone for that, but I can guarantee that it will be filled with many different fun and exciting stories! I had my Spring Break last week so a group of 10 of us went to Cairns, AU. Cairns is most widely known for the Great Barrier Reef, or if you are a mountain bike enthusiast then you would know Cairns for the 1996 Mountain Bike World Championship and the 2004 Australian Championship. Besides those to things Cairns is know to be a Spring Break party destination for college students and Europeans. It is like our version of South Padre Island, but it closely reminded me of something like Myrtle Beach of Florida. (I have never been to Florida but if I could imagine how it looks it would be like Cairns.) While I was there I did not write anything down, I just made bullet points of all the highlights on my iPhone and just categorized everything by days. So I will do the same with this post. I would suggest putting on your seatbelts if you have them because this turns into a pretty wild ride!
Friday March 2nd:
Everyone from our group flew out of Sydney at different times and Cale, Tom, Annie, Arielle, and I flew out at 7:20. We live pretty close to the airport so that was nice because we did not have to pay too much for the cab ride to the airport. Once we got to the airport it took 5 minutes to get to our gate. By far the best/easiest/friendliest/nicest airports I have ever been in. We went to the self-check in, checked in, walk
ed through security and that’s it. There were no lines anywhere, I did not have to show my ID or passport to anyone, that was kind of sketchy, and the security line went super quick. One down fall was that I got chosen for the random bomb security testing. Not a surprise though I have been rocking a mustache and kind of looked sketchy! By the way all the guys in my group did mustaches the entire trip so don’t get scared if you see my pictures. Now going back to the airport convo. Sydney airport has free wifi, which is fantastic. We flew Virgin Australia and the plane was really nice and comfortable. We flew into Cairns pretty late so we just went to our hostile and all decided not to go out and meet our other group because they have been partying for a while now and we just
wanted to crash and go to bed.
Saturday March 3rd:
Saturday morning we woke up at 7 to get some continental breakfast at our hostile. Australians love nutella so they have it everywhere and I love my nutella & pb sandwiches. After we ate we got picked up to go get ready to go on our two-day live-aboard on the Great Barrier Reef. For those who don’t know a live-aboard is a ship that you live on and go snorkeling and scuba diving off of. First we got on a smaller boat that took us out tothe reef. It was about a 1.5-hour speedboat style out to the reef. Once we got there we went for our
first scuba/snorkel dive. I just went snorkeling the entire time because I am not a big fan of being underwater for long periods of time. Seeing the Great Barrier Reef was mind blowing. It is just gorgeous!
So many different colors, tons of fish wherever you look, and all of the plants and sea life combine for breathe taking views. We went diving twice on that boat and then got transferred on to our ship where we were going to stay the night. We got awesome little cabins where there were two beds a little table and a bathroom with a shower. The ship had 3 decks, a dining area, a kitchen, and lounge/bar. It was fantastic. We dove two more times on Saturday, and at night the scuba divers went for a night dive and all of us that did not go got put on the diving deck which was low
ered about a foot into water and they through bait right in front of us. All of a sudden there were like 6 or 7 sand sharks swimming in front of our faces and feeding on the bait. We literary were touching the sharks. Because they are sand sharks they didn’t attack us or anything like that but it was crazy being that close to sharks in open water. Its one thing seeing one in an aquarium but it’s another lying down next to one in open water. After all the excitement we had dinner and all of us were so tired that we all went to bed at 9pm.
Sunday March 4th:
We got woken up at 5:45am to do our morning dive! It is amazing how warm the water is in the Reef. There were so many fish out in the morning because all the night fish go home to sleep and all the day fish wake up so there is a transfer of fish and you see all of them. On our way back to the boat Kyle, Jordan, and I saw a huge shark! First we saw the shadow of the shark and then we actually saw the shark. It was pretty freaky but super sweet! That day we had 3 dives, ton of free time, and a little ship jumping! We got to jump into the water from the ship, which was like a 10 or 15-foot drop. It was pretty exciting because all of the guys were showing off their flipping abilities, or the lack of. Pretty much after a full day of diving, chilling, and jumping we got picked up and were on our way back to Cairns. We got back to our hostile, which for us were two rooms with bunk beds. We had a huge communal kitchen and we decided that every night we would just have huge family dinners. This night we made burgers and grilled potatoes. I became one of the main chefs for the week because I love to cook. I quickly realized that it is very hard to cook for 10 people though. After dinner we got ready to go out. Best part about backpacker bars and clubs is that there is usually no dress code so wearing shorts a sleeveless and flip flops to Gilligan’s is amazing! Gilligan’s is the main place to be in Cairns. They have different contests every night and pretty good drink specials. They also have a giant dance floor with a bomb DJ every night. It was the place to be. Also there were like 4 other groups of people from my program so we were always meeting up with people that we knew. Best part it was usually free or they let me in for free because of my sweet mustache.
Monday March 5th:
On Monday we were finally able to sleep in a little because we had a mountain bike trip that was later on in the day. Sam, Bobby, Cale, Sean, and I got picked up at 2 to go biking. We were given really nice bikes and there were two guides that went with us. We went up on the Australian Champion Ship course and the World Championship course back from 1996. They were both expert courses that worked us really good but it was so much fun! We went over rocks, throughboulders, over trees, up and down hills, jumped gaps, and went through creeks. All of us were drenched in sweat because the tracks go through the rainforest and we were all covered in mud because it rained the night before so it was super muddy everywhere! I got a ton of videos on my GoPro Hero so I will have to throw those up on my YouTube channel. After nearly 3 hours in the rainforest we made our way back to the car and went back to the hostel. That night we made pasta. We made like 6 bags of pasta. I have never seen so much food in one giant pot! That night was a little more laid back because we had skydiving bright and early the next day so we didn’t want feel like crap for that.
Tuesday March 6th:
So this was by far the craziest thing I have ever done and now I am addicted! On this day we got picked up at 7 and were driven 2 hours to Mission Beach. Through out the entire ride we were listening to a radio station from Melbourne and the entire broadcast they were talking about how Putin won the election in Russia and how there was a massive party in Melbourne because of it. It was really nice to catch up on my Russian news while I’m here in Aussie. Once we got to Mission Beach we were split into groups because we had so many people. I was I the second group so Sean, Jordan, Tom, Annie, and I went and got lunch at one of the cafes there. I got a bomb tasting tuna sandwich! Then we walked to the beach to watch the first group land. It was crazy all of a sudden we saw one parachute open, then bomb another followed by another. It was really cool seeing all of them land. After they all got back I got strapped up. We all got into a small bus and were driven 10 minutes to the “airport.” This was the point were I got a little sketched out. The plane was no bigger then our bus and the airport consisted of one strip of pavement and a fuel tank. The door on the plane was even worse. It was a plastic garage door looking thing that was propped up by one of the skydiver’s foot. When it was taking off I was almost positive it was not going to be able to lift off. But it took off and we were on our way! At that point I was not even attached to my “dive master” aka the pro that was jumping with me. They told us that the parachute is pointless when you are less than 2000 feet. Once we took off the view became incredible! We could see the ocean, the reef, the beach, and a few islands. After a steady 5-minute incline I turned to my pro and asked him if we were anywhere near the 14,000 mark, he shows me his elevation watch and it showed 5000 feet. I could not believe it. I thought we were so high in the air but we were nowhere near our jumping point. All of a sudden the green light in the back of the plane turned on and they ripped the door open! At that point I am pretty sure everyone’s heart skipped a beat! Emily was first and I was second. Right after she jumped out I was told to sit on the edge of the plane and let my legs hang out of the plane. I am pretty sure I was freaking out but I had so much adrenaline pumping through my body that all I could feel is being JACKED!!! All of a sudden he pushed us forward and all I remember is seeing the plane while we flipped through the air! We leveled out and had a 60 second free-fall! He was spinning us like crazy and I was just enjoying the scenery and posing for pictures. After the free-fall he pulled the chute. This was the scariest moment for me actually. We were in the air and all that was holding me was a strap that was attached to the guy. I looked down and all of a sudden he loosened me so that I would hang down even more. I could see everything around me and it was just gorgeous. We were in the air for about 3 more minutes and then landed down on the beach. I was so jacked the entire rest of the day! After we went to a bar right on the beach and had a few coronas and exchanged stories about our craziness. Once we got back to Cairns we made tons of tacos for dinner and then went to an Irish Bar. After PJ O’Brian’s we went to Giligan’s. Then my friend and I entered this couples competition, which was comparable to what, happened at the competition when we were in Dominican Republic. Parents you should remember the competition since we were all watching it. We ended up getting 3rd in the competition.
Wednesday March 7th:
We went white water rafting. It was a 2-hour drive up to the rain forest through which the river that we were going down was in. Once we got there we were shown a video on how to be “safe” in the and on the raft. We got geared up and met our guide. His name was Ben and he was fantastic! He was an awesome bro and he just made the entire day that much better. We got on the raft and he went through a little safety course. He pretty much said if you fall just float! This was a full day thing and we got lunch in the middle of the day. The rapids were not huge or anything like that but they were still fun. What really made the entire day awesome were the different activities that we did along the way. Our group was split on 3 different rafts because there were so many of us and with that we were able to have battles and mess around with each other. I felt like we need to hoist a black pirate flag up because we would jump on each other’s rafts, push people off, steal paddles, and flip rafts. Our guides were really cool so they let us do all of those things. Along the way we were able to swim do flips of the rafts, that was mostly me, and we got to do a little cliff jumping off this giant rock! Back flip 360 baby! Once we finished we jumped back on the bus and headed back to Cairns. That night we made tacos as a “family”. That night we went to an Irish Bar and then Gilligans like usual. It was not a very exciting night so no stories there.
Thursday March 8th:
Finally got to sleep in! This day and Friday were our back up days where we could reschedule skydiving too if the weather was not cooperating with us. So since we already did skydiving we had two free days, which was the cherry on a perfect week. We went out to a place called the Lagoon. Essentially it was a giant pool that was kind of an infinity pool leading up to the beach. It had sand and grass all around it so you could lie out on the beach or just chillax! It was Jordan’s 21 birthdays so after the Lagoon we went to “The Pier”, which was a bar/restaurant on the water. They had $3.50 Coronas so Jordan began his partying early. When dinnertime came around we decided to make break fast for dinner. It was fantastic. Kyle and I cooked bacon and potatoes on the grill, Arielle made pancakes, and everyone else enjoyed the food. After dinner we enjoyed a swim in the pool that was at our hostile. When we went out we went to a few bars that Jordan was supposedly at, he wasn’t there, and then we went and met up with everyone else from our CAPA group at Gilligans and just danced and enjoyed watching everyone taking turns buying Jordan shots. That night we stayed out until the club closed which was the first but no one wanted to go home because the DJ was ripping some really good songs. All in all I think Jordan had a great birthday and we all sure enjoyed his drunkenness.
Friday March 9th:
This was also a relaxing day. We went to Gilligans Pool and enjoyed the day in the sun. We all passed out facing the sun so we all got a little burnt. If you notice in the pictures all the guys are tanning their thighs. It actually worked for me got some good color on those things. While we were tanning we had a group of the guys go fishing for the day. They came back with 4 huge fish! We spent a good 3 hours cleaning and preparing the fish. We had so much fish and it was delicious. We fried the fish on the skillet and cooked enough pasta to feed 20 people. He had a ton of fish left over for the next day. After the dinner it was our last night in Cairns so we all got nice and “dressed up” which for me was shorts and v-neck and flip flops, and went out. That night we all go split up from each other so Sean and I had an adventure walking around and trying to find everyone. Good night all in all, Great week!
Saturday March 10th:
This week was unreal! I did so many things that I would have never imagined that I would be able to do. It was fantastic and the group of people that we went with was perfect. There was no conflict, everyone was friends, and we all enjoyed each other. Amazing is a word that doesn’t begin to describe it. Six more weeks until I will be on my way back home. Sorry mom and dad I am not ready to come home yet. Good thing I still have New Zealand to look forward to!