The Big Trip- Month Four Round UpMonth Four saw me back on the road for the first two and a bit weeks before returning home to Sydney for the rest of the month.

The first night of month four was my last night in Field. After spending the day cleaning and packing I was off on a night bus to Vancouver, definitely not my favourite form of transport!

My two days in Vancouver were all about the food but I also managed to fit in visits to my favourite Vancouver haunts – Kitsilano, Mount Pleasant, the seawall and Granville Island – as well as catch ups with friends. And then just like that my two months in Canada were over as I caught the bus down to Seattle.

Inukshuk in Vancouver

Seattle put on the sun for me and I made the most of it, visiting Fremont Sunday market, Discovery Park, Pike Place Market, Green Lake and the Waterfront, as well as finally doing the famous Underground Tour and spending time with my wonderful friends Sam and Lyndsay who kindly put me up again.

From Seattle I flew to Waikiki for a night then took an early morning flight to my fourth Hawaiian Island: Kauai.

Poipu beach

I had eight glorious days driving, hiking, swimming and eating my way around the garden island with a bunch of fantastic ladies that I met on the first night at my hostel in Kapa’a. It may not have turned out to be my favourite island like I thought it might but I loved my time there nonetheless.

Back in Waikiki for an evening, I rushed around trying to find Trav some awesome Hawaii T-shirts as well as eating at the delicious Five Star Shrimp at the Pau Hana Food Truck Market before a beach side wander under the moon. I was wishing for more time back in Waikiki. And then my wish came true!

My flight was cancelled so I ended up with an extra night and day in Waikiki which gave me the chance to explore more of the local haunts as well as finally hiking Diamond Head. It was a great finale to my time in North America.

Views over Waikiki from Diamond Head

And then I flew back to Sydney, and my old life, after three and a half months away.

I have been back for nearly two weeks now and I have alternated between loving it, and finding it all a bit too surreal.

What I do love about being back in getting out hiking on some of my favourite trails, swimming at Sydney’s gorgeous beaches and catching up with Trav and my friends. Oh, and having all my stuff around me with numerous clothing options instead of a few worn pieces in my 40L backpack.

But it does feel weird to be slotting back into a life that I left behind. Almost like my epic solo journey didn’t happen at all.

Here’s the Stats:

Countries visited: Canada (British Columbia, Alberta), USA (Hawaii and Washington State), Australia (Sydney)

Places visited:

  • Canada: Yoho National Park, Banff National Park, Vancouver
  • Washington State: Seattle
  • Hawaii: Waikiki, Kapa’a, Hanalei Bay, Kilauea, Princeville, Poipu, Hanapepe, Koloa, Wailua
  • Australia: Sydney

Islands visited: Oahu and Kauai in Hawaii

Best meal: Too hard this month! After having a generally boring (but healthy) month three when I mainly cooked all my meals, month four was all about pigging out once I got back to civilisation. I am going to say it’s a three way tie: A coconut cream donut from Cartems in Vancouver because it was one of the best donuts I have EVER had, The Creole Sampler plate from Marcela’s Creole Cookery in Seattle which included authentic Shrimp Gumbo, Andouille and Shrimp Jambalaya and Crawfish pie because it was the best southern style food I have ever had by a long shot, and to round it off: Avocado Poke from Koloa Fish Market in Koloa, Kauai. My poke was raw ahi tuna smothered in sesame oil and a creamy avocado sauce and the reason is is a contender for best meal of the month is because I didn’t expect to like it and I found it just incredible. Who knew I liked raw tuna? Certainly not me.

Creole food in Seattle

Worst meal: I didn’t have many bad meals at all this month but one that was particularly disappointing was the ahi tropical tacos from Mermaids Café in Kapa’a. After loving the avocado poke, I thought I would give cooked tuna another try. Yep, definitely still do not like it. Also, there was so much rice and it was all a bit bland. Very disappointing as Mermaids is a very highly regarded Café.

Best craft beer: Probably the Lost Coast Tangerine Wheat Ale that I had at Portland Craft, a bar in Vancouver that only serves craft beer from Portland (the name of the venue is pretty self-explanatory).

Hikes:

  • Discovery Park Loop and South Beach Trails in Seattle 5km loop
  • Kealia Beach Trail to Pineapple Dump in Kapa’a, Kauai 9km return
  • Hanakapi’ai Falls Trail from Ke’e beach, Kauai 13km return
  • Wai Koa Loop Trail in Kilauea, Kauai 8km
  • Kuilau Ridge Trail near Wailua, Kauai 6km return
  • Waimea Canyon Trail and Black Pipe Trail in Kauai 8km loop
  • Diamond Head Trail in Waikiki, Oahu 2.6km return
  • Shelly Beach and North Head Loop in Manly, Sydney 6km loop
  • Manly to Spit Bridge Trail from Manly, Sydney 10km one way
  • Dee Why to Manly Coastal Trail from Dee Why, Sydney 8km one way
  • Balmoral Beach to Taronga Zoo Wharf from Mosman, Sydney 8km one way

Hiking the Na Pali Coast

Interesting person of the month: Interesting person of the month goes to my new friend Amelie, who I met and travelled with for a week in Kauai. This girl is awesome and is so full of positive energy that it was infectious. We hit it off straight away and she ended up coming and staying with me at the Sanctuary/Guesthouse I had booked in Kilauea for three nights and I am so glad she did. Amelie is also travelling for about a year by herself and we have very similar views on life. We are planning to meet up again in Thailand and I am looking forward to it!

Reading: Gap Creek by Robert Morgan. I haven’t read a lot the past month but I did quite enjoy this story about the hardships of life in a small rural community at the end of the 19th century in Gap Creek, South Carolina. I love 19th century history so this book really gave me an insight into the hardships of life during that time period in North America.

Highlights

All the amazing food!

Leaving Field and travelling onward to Vancouver and Seattle meant that I had a world of food and drink at my feet again and I went nuts: multiple donuts per day, stacks of dumplings, sushi, burgers, Pho, pies, authentic Creole dishes, Graham Cracker and Pumpkin Spice lattes – yep, I had them all and in only four days. One evening I ate so many tater tots that I nearly threw up. True story. I have no regrets. And then I got to Hawaii and the good times continued with amazing fish and shrimp tacos, plate lunches, poke, tropical fruits, passionfruit wheat beer and a massive pile of honey toast with macadamia ice-cream.

Honey Toast in Poipu

Meeting an awesome group of new friends in Hawaii

I really didn’t know what to expect from my time in Hawaii. During my four days in Waikiki and on the North Shore of Oahu on the way over I didn’t really meet anyone that I clicked with and I kinda assumed that my ten days on the way home, mostly spent in Kauai, would be similar with a lot of alone time and catching up with the blog. Not so much. I met a great group of ladies in my dorm room on my first night on the island and we explored, hiked, ate and beach bummed together. One of the group, Amelie, and I spent 24/7 together for much of the week and we had so much fun. Turned out that I didn’t have much time for my blog after all (I’m now over three months behind!).

Catching up with friends in Vancouver and Seattle

As well as meeting awesome new friends, I also got to catch up with my older friends in both Vancouver and Seattle. In Vancouver I caught up over coffee with my blogger friend Gemma that runs the site Two Scots Abroad and her friend Madeleine in Kitsilano, and went for dinner and drinks in Mount Pleasant with my old school friend Shaun and his lovely fiancé Brittany. In Seattle I stayed with my friends Sam and Lyndsay again and as usual had a blast, eating pies, trying to get a good view of the super moon, watching a movie, visiting the Fremont Market and sharing beers and goats cheese. These two are hopefully going to come and stay with me and Trav in November next year and I can’t wait! I definitely feel very lucky to have such fabulous friends all over the world.

Trying new fruits in Hawaii

As I am yet to get to Asia, there is a whole world of tropical fruit that I am yet to try but I didn’t even need to wait for Asia as there is so much growing wild on Kauai. I was able to try star fruit, sugar apple, all different types of guavas, and longans – my favourite and very similar to a lychee. My fruit education began early!

Collecting guavas on Kauai's North Shore                                   Picking Guavas along the Na Pali Coast

Falling in love with a kitty on Kauai

As well as lazing around, eating longans and admiring the view from our Guesthouse on the north shore of Kauai, Amelie and I fell in love with the cutest kitty that lives at the Guesthouse. Unfortunately his name is Isis but don’t hold that against him. He is one of the best natured and loving little kitties I have ever had the pleasure of getting to know. He slept with us and was always up for a cuddle. It was hard saying goodbye.

Cute Mr KItty

Sunset and swimming at the iconic Hanalei Bay

After watching the movie ‘The Descendants’ and it quickly becoming one of my favourite movies, I knew that I had to get to Hanalei Bay where the Kauai scenes in the movie were shot. And it turned out to be even more beautiful in person that on the silver screen. There were scattered clouds hovering when Amelie and I arrived in the late afternoon with rays of sunshine lighting up the ocean and making it look like shimmering gold. We swam as the sun finally properly broke through then waited for the sunset which was my favourite of all my Hawaii sunsets, and I have watched a few. It was one of those magical travel moments when you almost have to pinch yourself.

Hanalei Bay in Kauai

Visiting and hiking around Waimea Canyon

Perhaps the most famous spot on the island of Kauai is Waimea Canyon and my two visits there did not disappoint. The mix of red earth, black rock and lush green vegetation covering it all was breathtaking and the hike Amelie and I did to a waterfall and canyon viewpoint was my favourite on the island. A truly amazing place.

Waimea Canyon

Finally hiking Diamond Head

I had wanted to hike Diamond Head in Waikiki when I was passing through back in June but it was so incredibly hot and humid that I honestly thought I might pass out if I attempted it so I had to give it a miss. I was a bit gutted that I wasn’t going to get a chance on the way back too as I only had a short period either side of my time on Kauai in Waikiki, so I was resigned to the fact that it would have to wait for next time. But then my flight was cancelled and rescheduled for the next day, giving me a bonus full day in Waikiki! So I finally got to do it and with the weather so much cooler, it was a beautiful hike with incredible views.

Discovering a different side to Honolulu

My flight being cancelled also gave me a bit more time to discover another local’s spot near the tourist centre in Waikiki on my forty minute walk to reach the Diamond Head hike. Monsarrat Avenue is lined with cool little cafes and a few boutiques and has a decidedly local feel, very different than a few blocks away on the Waikiki beach front. I had a delicious organic banana based soft serve with crispy quinoa and fresh pineapple and strawberries while I talked to a local guy and his daughter at the Banan Food Truck. Along with visiting vibrant Kaka’ako with it’s cool cafes and street murals, and the quiet streets behind Waikiki that is home to the world famous Leonard’s Bakery, I am really starting to get a feel for the real Honolulu. And I am looking forward to discovering more on my next visit.

The local Banan Food Truck

Seeing Trav again after three and a half months

It’s pretty exciting to see the one you love after so long away and seeing his face as I scanned the crowd in the arrivals hall in Sydney Airport was a fantastic feeling. I have found it difficult to be back (see lowlights below) but it is so great to be back with Trav.

Swimming in Sydney in SPRING!

I only had my first swim in the sea last year at the end of November, the water and the weather was just too cold for me to get in before that, so I never expected to be swimming in mid-October. But the weather has been unseasonably hot so I went swimming twice last week and the water was beautiful. It is glorious to be able to hike along the stunning Sydney coastlines followed by a dip at a quiet little cove or in one of the iconic rock pools.

Sydney National Park beach

Making money instead of spending it and catching up with old work mates

A couple of weeks before I got back I put the feelers out to my old work and my temping agency to see if they could find me anything for the week or two that I am back. I heard back from my old boss that they had a one week casual role working on the handbooks, which was my old job before I left Sydney to travel in June. I came back into the office to my old desk (which still had my name badge on it!), with my old team and doing my old job – pretty surreal but so awesome to catch up with all my old work mates and to be making some money before I take off again on the next leg of my trip.

Lowlights

Saying goodbye to Field

Despite my struggles with boredom and loneliness while living in the tiny town of Field, I was actually quite upset when it came time to leave. With friends dropping by to say goodbye on my last day, it was hard to hold back the tears and I ended up balling my eyes out when I was on the night bus to Vancouver. Despite the bad times I had there, I will miss the good times so much: the incredible scenery, the hiking, my little blue house, the lovely kitties and the wonderful friends I made there. It has been a month since I left now and I still think of it often, and fondly. Sometimes you don’t know how good you got it until it’s gone.

Beautiful Field

Night bus ride from hell

The night bus that whisked me away from my home in Field was a piece of crap full of all sorts of weirdos – pretty much the norm for Greyhound. The overnight service to Vancouver that begins in Calgary is always a busy service and the bus was already about 70% full when I boarded at Lake Louise, meaning I had to take an aisle seat where I had virtually no chance of sleep as the chairs don’t even recline. The guy next to me stunk of weed and the stupid bus stopped every hour or so, turning on the lights and announcing the stop loudly over the speaker. They also made us get out of the bus and collect all our stuff at 3am, wait in the skanky bus station at Kamloops for 30 minutes then lug all our stuff back on again. Awesome. Every time I did doze off, I awoke shortly after with the worst crick in my neck. God I hate Greyhound but it’s a necessary evil when you want to travel across Canada on the cheap.

Being a bit underwhelmed by Kauai

I really did love my time on the island of Kauai but I can’t help but feel a bit underwhelmed in general. I had heard Kauai so talked up by people, saying it’s the most beautiful island in Hawaii, but even though I will not deny its beauty, it is not my favourite. I actually prefer the Big Island and Maui which both just dazzled me more. It is definitely the most vegetated island but I didn’t think it had the diversity that Maui and the Big Island have and although I found most people really friendly, there were also quite a few people that were brusque and a bit rude. The overall vibe of the island didn’t personify the aloha spirit for me.

Kealia Beach in Kauai

Struggling with being back in my old life

This is a hard one to write about because my feelings about being back home in Sydney are very mixed and change on a frequent basis. I will say that it’s all a bit overwhelming to step back into your old life when you feel like you have changed after an epic solo travel adventure. I came back to my apartment with all my stuff exactly where I left it, my fiancé exactly where I left him and I even went back to my old job where all the crap that I left in my office draws is still there, as are about 95% of the people. It makes me feel like my trip didn’t even happen and that it was all a dream. It’s a confusing feeling and not one that I have experienced before.

Spending:

Total: USD$1899.50

Ouch. Think I may have gone a bit crazy after almost six weeks of being largely cut off from the world in Field. It definitely didn’t help being back in the US for two weeks where my Australian dollars did not convert well. And although I wasn’t spending money on accommodation in Sydney, I was spending large on food and drinks, trying to catch up with everyone before I am off again. And Australia is damn expensive.

Accommodation $509.50

A LOT higher than last month and in fact the highest total for accommodation for my trip so far. Despite having free accommodation back at home in Sydney the past two weeks (thanks Trav!), I splurged on three nights at a gorgeous Sanctuary/Guesthouse on the North Shore of Kauai and that cost me almost half of this total. The rest of the time I was staying with friends and staying in hostel dorms.

Food and Drink $641.50

Geez, my love of food and craft beer is driving me to bankruptcy. Worth every penny. As I said above, it doesn’t help when you are trying to catch up with all your friends with dinners and drinks in Sydney – soooo expensive. Being in Asia should hopefully drop the inflated food and drink totals of the last few months dramatically.

Clothing $24

It was tempting to go nuts and buy lots of new clothes when I got back to Sydney but all I really needed is a bikini top for Asia and I found a great deal online for one that I liked. I am planning to get a couple of long skirts and dresses once I get to Thailand where it’s cheap.

Transport $436

  • $144 Return flight from Oahu to Kauai
  • $28 Petrol in Hawaii
  • $65 Public transport in Vancouver, Seattle, Waikiki, Kauai and Sydney
  • $84 Car hire for two days in Kauai
  • $59 Overnight bus from Lake Louise to Vancouver
  • $19.50 Bus from Vancouver to Seattle
  • $29.50 Airport Shuttles from Waikiki to Airport
  • $7 Parking in Seattle for my friend’s car

Yep, transport is also high this month with the biggest expenses being my return flight from Oahu to Kauai, two days car hire in Kauai and my 12 hour bus ride from Lake Louise to Vancouver.

Activities $38.50

  • Seattle Underground Tour $19
  • Coconut Festival Entrance $5
  • Independent movie in Paddington $14.50

I mostly did free activities this month including a lot of hiking so at least one total is low!

Discovery Park in Seattle

Other $250

  • $45 Hawaii T-Shirts for Trav’s Birthday
  • $25 Bag fee for flight from Seattle to Oahu
  • $13 Canadian First Nations Art Travel Mug
  • $6 Turquoise bracelet
  • $4 Small body moisturiser gift for a friend
  • $29 Toiletries
  • $24 Phone Plan in Australia
  • $91 Travel Gear
  • $13 Gemstone encrusted hair pin

All those little things add up! Things like Trav’s birthday present, travel gear for the next leg of my trip, a phone plan and the bag fee were necessities. The decorative travel mug, gemstone hair pin and the bracelet: not so much.

Earning

This is a new section for this month because as well as spending a crap load, I actually earnt some money too by doing some temping back in Sydney.

Total: USD$775

I temped back in my old job for a week as well as working a day helping to set up events for the College, so six days work in total. It definitely feels good to have some incoming funds for a change even though it barely covered my food costs for the month.

What’s in store for next month:

The next month will include a few more days back at home in Sydney before I fly to the South Island of New Zealand for an outdoors adventure with my best friend and my Dad.I will be doing the three day Kepler Trail as well as exploring Wanaka, Queenstown, Mount Cook and Lake Tekapo.

After hiking, star gazing and eating Ferg burgers I will be back in Sydney for a night before starting the second phase of my Big Trip: South East Asia. For the rest of the month I will be based in Thailand, travelling with a friend, a country that I have been looking forward to for so long.

Month four was a varied month of work and play across two continents, full of good times and adventures but also the comforts of home.

To read additional Monthly Round Ups, you can find them here

2 comments on “The Big Trip: Month Four Round Up”

  1. As always, love the detail you give in your roundups. I love the feeling of just going crazy on food and drink after a long stretch of less exciting things. It’s what i enjoyed most during my trip home to the States over the summer…and why I gained 5lbs in the process!

    • Thanks Julie! I definitely went a bit crazy, food and drink is something I am happy to splurge on occasionally. I will be doing the same thing when I get back home to New Zealand next week, eating all the stuff I missed

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