Trip of a Lifetime, Fiji and Australia

Cairns, Australia
Cairns, Australia

For my daughter Kaylee’s graduation from high school I promised her (and my son next year) a trip anywhere in the world for the two of us. She started to say she wanted to visit Australia. I was all for the idea, as it has also been on my bucket list for my entire life. Then my adult self spoke up and began to think the longest plane ride ever would be coming up. I tried to persuade Kaylee to choose somewhere else. As she began to see other possibilities I finally decided we just had to go for it, and booked our tickets on a journey that would take us from Detroit, MI to LA to Fiji, Sydney and Cairns in Australia. I began to dread the plane ride, and just hoped I’d find a way to live in the moment enough to survive what I perceived as my biggest hurdle to enjoying the trip, all those hours on an airplane.

It’s hard to believe now that I’ve been to Fiji & Australia and back. I missed February 20th this year, as we left the states on the 19th and landed in Australia on the 21st after flying for 13 hours. I spent 23 hours in flight on our journey home which took a total of 42 and really had a “do over” day of March 2nd as we re-crossed the international date line. I enjoyed every moment of my travels, including each and every one of the minutes I spent on the airplane.

Setting my intention to have a great time and be “in the moment” made the difference for me energetically. I was able to just perceive exactly what was in front of me, and it flowed effortlessly throughout the trip. I didn’t have access to the internet right away in Fiji until we realized the resort had wifi in two locations. I began to post pictures of me along with the absolutely serenely beautiful scenery which prompted comments from close friends about how they didn’t know if I was coming back. I was completely in love with my moments, myself, and my life in Fiji. There was nothing more expected of me than to enjoy myself. Whether I was alone, or with people, or walking, or lying by the pool, it was all about me. Was I hungry? Time to head to for dinner. Was I bored? Time to head to explore. Was I content just to sit and people watch? Just sit. It was an entire experience wrapped around just “being” and it was beautiful.

Sydney Cairns (9) Culture shock hit after several of the most amazing days of my life. When we landed in Sydney (after Kaylee was sick on the airplane ride on the way over, perhaps it was the Kava we had the night before, or just too much sun, as she is pretty stubborn about sunblock and drinking enough water), we landed in the midst of the busiest metropolitan area in the entire land of Australia. I’m pretty sure that Kaylee’s dreams of lines of studly Australian Crocodile Dundee types waiting for us as we got off the plane vanished as we entered the longest que I’ve ever seen to catch a taxi in my life. As we headed to the hotel in the heart of downtown Sydney and pulled up at the hi-rise hotel, I felt my spirits sink. We got settled in, and that was the last Kaylee was awake for a good 18 hours.

I wasn’t going to explore on my own, I had my own culture shock to deal with. Being thrust into the busy metropolitan city and the abrupt end to serenity I had going was a bit much to handle. I spent much of the day thinking, pondering, reading, and just relaxing. I also spent quite a bit of time on my phone at 3am figuring out what a plane ticket back to Fiji would take, and if the resort had availability. We did every sight-seeing activity in Sydney we could come up with over the next few days. We visited the zoo, and got up close with the Koalas. We took a spin through Sydney Harbor and looked upon the Opera House from the boat. (It’s much smaller than it seems in photos, and just like any other building – I’d skip it next time). We visited the typical “tourist” attractions on the water front, and wandered to and fro.

Cairns, Australia
Cairns, Australia

Having been talked into continuing our journey to Cairns, we headed to the “tropical north” and re-entered our serene vacation. The Sandi I enjoyed in Fiji began to rejoin me. It was a much more relaxed area, our resort was close to town. Town of course was filled with tourist shops and restaurants, though with a view of the ocean and the mountains from our room there was hope for a peaceful and enjoyable stay. We took the train to Kuranda, held a Koala, pet the Kangaroos, road the skyrail back and opted for a scenic helicopter ride of the area. I was up early and in bed well after Kaylee retired for the (a’hem evening, typically at 6 or 7pm) with my camera ready to capture the sunrise and sunset. I had to remind myself just to watch it happen, and only get a few shots, as experiencing it in person was the most vibrant it would ever be, and photos could try, but hardly come close to the perfection I was experiencing.

Kaylee and I had a great amount of mother-daughter bonding on the trip. She’s been with me her entire life, though at 18 she’s gained her independence and the dynamics of our relationship continue to stretch and grow. I got to know the “adult” version of her in a way I probably haven’t been paying as much attention to at home. She also began to meet me, her “peer” as so many people we encountered thought we were friends on our spring break holiday, or sisters. As I’m smiling from the inside hearing the comments I can imagine Kaylee’s thinking, “but that’s my mom ;o(” One day, if not already, I know she’ll have a new appreciation for what it means to have a grown up child and still feel like a child inside herself.

Thank you Kaylee for heading out with me on the adventure of a lifetime! For giving me special mother-daughter memories I will treasure forever, and for being awesomely, unapologetically, especially you!




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