Monday, May 31, 2010

The end of an era...the start of a new chapter

As my first day back of work brings me crashing back to reality, I have some very exciting news to share with our Blogging friends and the wonderful people we met along the way in Arizona - I am GETTING MARRIED!

I returned to Australia on Friday after a week spent relaxing in Laguna Beach and Long Beach doing as little as possible to be greeted with open arms by my long-term boyfriend and parents at Canberra Airport (after missing my connection from Sydney mind you). Michael proposed Friday afternoon and of course I said YES!

What a way to end an amazing 7 weeks. Of course, the first people I wanted to share it with were my very own Charlie's Angels...I hear they are already fighting eachother for the role of head bridesmaid.

Thanks again everyone for sharing the journey with us, and I look forward to sharing the next chapter of my life with many of you, although not so publicly this time round.

See you sometime soon (I hope).


Saturday, May 22, 2010


I am not sure anyone will check our blog now the 'stars' have 'left the building' but Sally, Caroline, Peter and I are all home and back in the arms of our families. Sarah met her friend and was heading to Lagoona Beach from the sms that hit Sally's phone at LAX. All safe and accounted for.
I certainly can say my family were happy to see me (although there were tears!).
Driving on the other side of the road was very strange but comforting.
Nothing had changed...only me I would say and that is because I have just experienced the most amazing six weeks in the most amazing place.
Poor Jamie could not shut me up as I continued to tell him everything that came to mind. He did have a respite last night because I was falling asleep at dinner...
So today is a new day. Guess what! washing and the garden await!
Catching up with special people will make the weekend go fast and then life hits me in the face again! in a good way.
But please know there is a part of my heart in Arizona and I will treasure this experience . What a way to remember turning forty! Thank you.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

What happens in Vegas...

Stays in Vegas!!

Just kidding, we managed to tick off many "must do" Vegas sights-

Eiffel tower lookout - we stayed in the Paris hotel
new York new York rollercoaster ( not recommended!)
Bellagio fountains
Caesars palace - (not the real one)
zumanity - a cirque de soliel prodution - amazing!!
Many many casinos... Did we Ever walk the strip!!
house of blues
the Venetian
put $20 on black and lost!

We are now waiting at Vegas airport, surrounded by tired girls and poker machines! Only in Vegas right?

See some of you very soon.. And to our American friends.. See you sometime soon :-)

Monday, May 17, 2010

Tearful Goodbyes

Caroline again, sorry - this time from 'back home' in Phoenix, where it is Rather Hot compared to the Canyon! I can't believe it has been five weeks since I was last at the lovely home of Charles and Wilma, but it is like home and it's wonderful being here.

Our afternoon on the rim of the Canyon was wonderful. We had shade and water, and even ambience when Don Schiller serenaded us all on flute (a man of many talents), but it was hot and we did end up getting a bit more imaginative than usual:
The cheeky neighbourhood squirrel was given the name Garreth and climbed onto my lap (rabies be damned, he was cute and left darling tiny dusty footprints on my trousers);
Sally and I played "Mr Squiggle" (they didn't have him, over here, by the way) - I feel Sally's depiction of "a very angry man who is scared of air" is deserving of a place on the fridge, Al and Jo.

At last night's Conference dinner the company was treated to a performance by members of the Arizona Broadway Theatre. They were amazing and, to all US Rotarians, if you haven't yet seen "Rotary, the Musical", you must - it is very clever and very funny!

This morning's farewells were emotional as we said goodbye (but only goodbye FOR NOW) to some of our wonderful, kind, generous and fun new friends. I want to name some of you but it wouldn't be fair - there are too many. But we include among our new loved ones Uppi, Raj, Nami, Sushma and Umesh from the Indian team; and I must make mention of Mike King who wrote us a truly excellent poem - thank you!!!!!!!!!!

Can I just take the opportunity to thank our Blog Followers? We understand not all our (myriad) fans have not necessarily been able to join as Followers and we understand not everybody has been in a position to make comments. But, those who have, you have no idea how much we've appreciated knowing you're there, and that you're reading.

Enough, Caroline! I need to go and figure out how to get 300 lb to weigh 50 lb in preparation for tomorrow's flight. [I mean my luggage, not me.]

Sunday, May 16, 2010

It's nearly over! Oh my gosh!

Greetings from lunchtime during the Rotary District Conference in Tusayan, the newest town in Arizona, having only been incorporated months ago. We are all staying at the Grand Canyon Squire Inn, just outside the Grand Canyon National Park.

We have been so happy to reunite with so many of our friends that we have met during the past few weeks. Also, last night we were treated to a dance performance by the gorgeous Sushma, GSE Team Member from India.

This morning we made our very last presentation, to District Conference. Thank you to the kind people who said we did a good job; we meant everything we said.

Now we are off to the rim of the Canyon once more, this time to meet and greet Rotarians on an afternoon excursion.

Tomorrow we head back to Phoenix to finish off our GSE journey. (Although, our own adventure is not quite at an end - two nights in Vegas to follow!)

What will we do without our blog to maintain? What will we do without one another???? Must it really end????

Friday, May 14, 2010

Another one bites the dust!

So much to say since our last Blog, but so much of it cannot be put into words and pictures do not come close to providing any sort of an explanation either...but more of that later.

Tuesday morning started with a trip to South Mountain (sadly not Camelback :P) with the lovely Lisa and always smiling Craig as our guides for the morning. Maury, our wonderful driver scaled the mountain in our fabulous tour bus like a pro. Thanks Maury for keeping us at ease - they were some sheer drops on those bends.

After our many photo opportunities we headed off to meet Bruce and Tina at 360 Adventures ( for an afternoon of FUN! Bruce and Tina offer team building as part of their operations, and we were very fortunate to be hosted at their own private residence where we had an opportunity to mingle with the dogs, cats, chickens and donkey, all before we participated in the 'Salsa Challenge'. We were split into 2 groups of 4 (my group was Sal, Caroline, Lisa and I) where we were required to create a salsa recipe, make the salsa, create a logo and a 30 second commercial promoting our product. Both teams made each other roar with laughter because we were all a bit cheeky, but due to good judgement, we WON! Woot!

To help with the salsa challenge, Bruce made some very tasty margaritas which I think helped get us over the line. Chef extraordinaire Bruce cooked up a feast of Fajitas, beans and Mexican rice for lunch, with our own home made salsas to top the fajitas off nicely. If ever you are in Arizona and seeking some adventure, I suggest you look up 360 adventures. Thanks Lisa, Tina, Bruce and Craig for a fantastic day!

On Wednesday we hit the road to Camp Verde where we were met by Lee and Elsa, Caroline's hosts for the next two nights, who then drove us up to the Grand Canyon. Another sad farewell was had as we sad goodbye to the very hospitable and always smiling Maury. Thanks Maury - you really are a true gentleman.

The drive to the Grand Canyon took most of the day and we arrived at the Canyon mid afternoon. My new host 'mum' Clarinda took me for a brief walking tour around the Southern Rim of the canyon, where the hotels are before John picked us back up. To my absolute delight and complete unexpected surprise, Clarinda was able to organise an impromptu chopper flight for me of the Grand Canyon. It was an absolute highlight of the trip and I strongly suggest doing it if you are ever at the Canyon. It doesn't even begin to show the sheer magnitude of the Canyon, but it's a good start. There was still plenty of snow on the North Rim which was pretty to see from the air.

After coming back down to earth, it was a quiet night in, in preparation for today's adventure - HIKING THE GRAND CANYON!!!!!

The team met at 8.30 this morning to start our hike into the Canyon on the Kaibab Trail. The hike in was relatively easy, but it was extremely steep and there were lots of stairs and loose ground. At one point I lost my footing and landed hard on the side of my foot, spraining my ankle quite severely and ripping a decent chunk off the top of my finger. Thanks to John's walking poles saving me from a much greater fall, I can be grateful that I didn't break my ankle. Thanks Elaine for patching me up. I soldiered on regardless, as we were 3/4 of the way down the trail...but coming back up was going to be interesting.

No words can describe how awe struck I was today. The Grand Canyon is without a doubt the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. Every part of the Canyon is so different, and as the day and the light changes, so does the Canyon. It was great to have Clarinda and Elaine on the hike with us, as they were both so knowledgeable about the Canyon and everything in it, so there was plenty of information to take in.

The hike back up to the starting point was slow and steady (for me anyway). Peter was kind enough to stay with me and take the slow walk back up the trail. I tell you what, those girls are a fit bunch - they were up the top in no time. Just as the top of the trail was in sight, we had to move out of the way of the Mules which were coming back up the trail from the base of the Canyon. It was great to see them in action, and they were absolutely beautiful Mules - for some reason I expected them to be a bit unfortunate looking, but that wasn't the case.

After the hike we met up with Lee and Elsa for some lunch and then took a wander down to the Watch Tower. Unfortunately due to my ankle I didn't climb to the top, but the others did, so I will have to rely on them for photos.

I am not sitting at home, with my ankle iced and in the air, looking at my photos from today and trying to take in today. It was an amazing experience and very grounding (literally haha). The last day and a half have provided me with two wonderful memories that I will never forget. Thanks Clarinda for giving me the opportunity to make these memories - I am forever indebted to you.

Enough of the for the pictures...

Grand Canyon from the sky

Very excited!

Sal at the Grand Canyon

Sal and I at 'ooh-ahh' (sp?) Point

Kirsty at Cedar Ridge - our turnaround point.

Me partaking in my first ever piece of Beef Jerky - interesting...a little like overcooked kangaroo, but tastier!

The team at Cedar Ridge, paying homage to Kingman :p

The mules doing their thing

More mules

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Photos capturing yesterdays shenanigans

At the Phoenix Convention Centre

Chef Jesus cooking up a breakfast storm in his wonderful purpose built kitchen that he cooked for us in

Caroline and Jesus - two people very passionate about food!

The team after we completely stuffed ourselves on our 'continental' breakfast!

Scorpions in high heels - yes please!

Coopertown - Alice Cooper's bar! Woot!

Tourists? Indeed!

Charlie's Angels strike again...