Day 15, 01/05/15 – Port Douglas 

Our vacation was coming to an end and it was time for a road trip. After breakfast at a cafe nearby the hostel, we rented 2 cars and started the drive to Port Douglas, our last destination. The trip there was long and until this day I hadn’t seen any giant spiders (or any spiders at all, actually) that everyone kept warning me about. (Not) lucky for me, this was about to change. During the drive we stopped at a rest area to use the bathrooms. Some important background information: today I wear glasses because my eye sight is terribly bad; when we were in Australia I hadn’t been to the eye doctor in almost 10 years. I just kind of lived life in a blur… (Another reason to go back down under, to actually see the country clearly!) Anyways, there I was, minding my own business, just trying to pee, when I looked up and – remember, now, I have terrible eye sight – I saw a giantHUGEscaryBIG spider on the ceiling above me. And for me to see it? That thing really was giantHUGEscaryBIG, ok?

The fact that I made it out of there dry is a wonder…

Later on, when we were about 45 minutes away from  our house in Port Douglas, we were rerouted due to an accident. This meant we had to turn around and do a 2 hour loop to get to the house instead. We were tired and hungry but – to put things in perspective -safe! So, the detour really wasn’t such a big deal. It was getting late though and we wanted to find a place to eat. We stopped at a small cafe off the road in the hopes of getting dinner. Unfortunately they were closing up. Fortunately they said we could still order tea and french fries. So there we were, eating an unconventional dinner, to say the least, when the second spider sighting happened. This guy was smaller than my bathroom buddy but fatter. He was so fat I wanted to cry.

Andy was brave enough to capture the following picture:

Makes me shiver every time I see it…

Day 16, 01/06/15

This was one of our lazier days during the trip. We ended up arriving around 11pm the night before so everyone slept in. This was my favorite place we stayed during our trip. Similarly to the other places we stayed in, the house had 3 bedrooms, a full kitchen, a living room, and a huge patio, but, unlike anywhere else, this place had a pool!

After everyone was up, we made brunch and had a few coffees and Bailey’s. The rest of the day consisted of some shopping for souvenirs (the only kind of shopping I like, aside from grocery shopping), swimming, lounging, and reading.

For dinner we found a place on the downtown strip and had really good pizza and beer.

A perfect, relaxing day!

So burnt though…
Day 17, 01/07/15 – Great Barrier Reef

It was time to snorkel at the famous Great Barrier Reef! Remember how I’ve mentioned I’m not the biggest fan of the ocean? Well, I was kind of overcoming it… I was ready for the long boat ride out to the reef (it was actually such a massive boat you didn’t really feel like you’re on one; which is my favorite kind!). I was prepared to lunge my body into the MIDDLE of the ocean and snorkel again. Everything was going to be fine. I wasn’t going to cry that day. Have an anxiety attack? Nope, no way. I had just been sailing for like, 1.75 days. I was practically a mermaid.

…If mermaids hyperventilate and cry and bail on scuba diving.

On the way out to the Great Barrier Reef, Mike and his parents decided they wanted to try scuba diving. (Wendy was pregnant and Andy wasn’t feeling well so they couldn’t go.)

“Hey, Ashley, do you want to go scuba diving too?” They asked.

“Uh, sure.” I agreed, slightly hesitant but not all too worried.

How bad could it actually be? I thought as we sat through our Scuba Diving Lesson.

Well, it turns out, the middle of the ocean is freezing and you actually sound like Darth Vader breathing under water and it’s a lot to just hear the sound of your own breath when your emerged (literally) in one of your biggest fears and the equipment is really heavy (before you get in the water) and the little fish you see swimming around you aren’t cute or colorful or beautiful, they only serve as reminders that you are in the ocean – in the middle of the ocean – where the sharks and the whales and the sunken Titanic lives and, and, and … everyone else was fine with all of these things…

Mike, Barb, and Dan were whizzing through the 3 tests we had to pass to go under while I just sat there – first on the verge of tears – and then full blown crying, circa 2007 crazy Britney Spears meltdown style. I would not be going scuba diving.

Instead I sat and cried alone while Mike, Barb and Dan where below the Great Barrier Reef and Wendy and Andy were above it on a helicopter ride. Luckily things move fast on the Reef and everyone was rejoined in half hour. THEN it was time to snorkel.

Mike fully submerged snorkeling (I wasn’t brave enough)
Snorkel selfie (please note my  purple noodle – that, yes, only small children and the elder were also using)
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GBR coral
Mike’s fish selfie (I’m in the background with the orange fin)
The coral was beautiful at the Great Barrier Reef (of course it was!) but the water was a little choppy and hard to swim in. Snorkeling here is a once in a lifetime opportunity though and I am so thankful I was able to do it (even if I thought the coral at the Whitsundays was better…… shhhh).

When we got back from snorkeling it was raining hard in Port Douglas. Perfect for nighttime swimming!

Day 18, 01/08/15 

This was our last day in Australia before me, Mike, Barb and Dan flew back to North America. We pretty much just swam, read, and packed this day before our final dinner. We specifically went to a place that served crocodile but disappointingly they were sold out. We still ate there and reminisced about our trip, drinking wine and beer before saying goodbye.

After dinner we got gelato (which they Do Not let you sample before buying) and went back to the house to pack the rest of our things. Our flight wasn’t until 1am which gave us the full day and most of the night to soak up the last of Australia.

This trip was a once (maybe twice, since Wendy and Andy still live there!) in a lifetime adventure. I am so happy I was able to go and explore the land down under with my  boyfriend and his family.

The only picture of all 6 of us!


Day 19, 01/08/15 (again) – Hawaii 

We technically left  Australia on the 9th since our flight was at  1am  and since we were flying back to the Northern hemisphere, we got to re-live the 8th. In Hawaii!

The view from our hotel
Mike and I were able to book a 2 night, 1 day layover in Honolulu and it was a great end to a great vacation! We arrived around 7pm, went to the hotel to drop off our stuff,  and then looked for a place to eat dinner.

When Mike and I first started dating, I went to visit some family on the big island. I had also just turned 21 and became obsessed with Mai Tais. I would order a Mai Tai everywhere Mike and I went in the beginning our our relationship and we now joke that I was an expensive date because they aren’t cheap drinks! I was excited to experience a Hawaiian Mai Tai with honey and, because of it, probably ordered a few too many rounds! The rest of the night was a blur of island music, live dancing, and a tipsy walk back to the hotel.

Day 20, 01/09/15

The next morning around 4am I woke up feeling terrible. I wish it was only a hang over that could have been cured with a greasy breakfast and a ton of water but… instead…  it was… the… MAN FLU!

Andy had been sick the last couple days of our trip in Australia with the “man flu” and I’m positive I got it too. To make it worse, we were on the 20th floor or something in our hotel and I remember feeling the whole building swaying in the morning winds. So nauseating!

I eventually drifted back to sleep and then woke up again feeling slightly better. The hotel were we stayed in (which, coincidentally, was the same hotel I had stayed at with my mom years before when I was a little girl) offered free breakfast and gave you a To Go lunchbox (that we still have) so you could eat breakfast on the beach. I loved this idea and we happily enjoyed our tea and pastries with a side of sea breeze that morning.

After breakfast we walked around a bit and then went for a swim in the ocean. Mermaid Status, Right!? Well, not technically… the beach we went to had a little cement wall about 20 yards out so you could enjoy the ocean without having to worry about riptides or sharks. I guess I’m not the only one scared of that big, bad ocean!

Wading water with Mike in that tiny, walled off part of the Pacific Ocean is one of my favorite memories. We spent the afternoon talking and splashing and it was so, so lovely.

Having worked up our appetites we ordered giant salads and iced teas from a little beach front hut. I was feeling mostly better by this point (probably all of that vitamin D) so it was time for happy hour! Mai Tais round two. We ended up back at our hotel, sitting outdoors at the bar, enjoying the last  few hours of daylight.

For dinner we really wanted to go somewhere authentic but that’s hard to find when you’re staying in the most touristy area in Honolulu. We walked the strip for a while (saw a Cheesecake Factory and were actually baffled at the amount of people in there – I’ll never understand going to a chain restaurant while on vacation) and finally settled in at a rooftop Cal Mex restaurant. By this time my (wo)man flu was on it’s way back with a vengeance. I remember ordering a jalapeno margarita, thinking the spice (and tequila, maybe?) would help me feel better. What a mistake! After 2 sips, I realized I was $12 out and still feeling terrible.

Sadly, my sick-self cut our last night short. We went back to the room, Mike poured a drink, I made tea, and we watched TV …hearing the waves crashing in the background (jk).

Last dinner in HI
Day 21, 01/10/15

Our official LAST  day of vacation. I woke up still not feeling great but what can’t the beach cure, right? Mike swam in the closed off section from the day before while I sat on the beach, toes in the sand, tea nearby, talking on the phone with my mom and then my grandma and then my grandpa and probably my dad too. I had only emailed and texted my family while I was out of the country so it was nice to hear their voices and fill them in on all of the adventures!

A cup of tea and the beach. I’ll take it. Any day.
After Mike got out of the water, we ate breakfast on the beach again and then went back to the hotel to pack. We took a shuttle to the airport, had lunch and a Kona Brewing Company beer, and were on our way home again. Three weeks later, with a ton of stories, a lot of pictures, and probably a few more wrinkles (from both the laughing and the sunburns).



♡ Ashley


You can check out a video of our trip here