Our Next Chapter: Australia, New Zealand, and Minnesota

Whoever said, “Life’s what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans,” was really onto something.  After three days at home in Minnesota followed by just shy of thirty hours of travel, Chris and I made it to the land down under. We’re a big messy bowl of emotions — as well as jet lagged and sleep deprived.

When Your Plans Don’t Go As Planned

As many of you know, our trip to Australia was supposed to be the start of a new adventure for us. Chris and I made plans to relocate to Sydney and received notice of our permanent residency in Australia this past November. We quit our jobs in January and headed off to South America for nearly two months of travel. While exploring Chile, we received some very sad news. My Mom, who is a ten year breast cancer survivor, has been diagnosed with a new, more aggressive form of breast cancer.

Our family and our friends are our entire world. We’re blessed to have both on multiple continents. The outpouring of love and support Chris and I’ve received following my Mom’s diagnosis has been overwhelming. But, at least for now, we’re postponing our move to Australia. Where we need to be is in Minnesota while my Mom undergoes treatment.

The start of this trip has been a little weird. We’re happy to celebrate two good friends get married tomorrow. We’re grateful to have the means to spend a quarter of 2017 traveling. But, we’re also uncertain about what life will bring us next. The bottom line? Breast cancer really sucks and my Mom should not have to endure another battle with this horrendous disease. It’s bullshit.

Catching Up With Australia

In the short term, Chris and I are taking the next month to catch up with friends and visit some places I’ve been wanting to see in both Australia and New Zealand. We return to Minnesota in late April.

We’re spending our first week in Australia. Tomorrow, we get to celebrate the wedding of our friends James and Krissy in the stunning Royal Botanical Garden. These two wonderful people were Chris’s first friends when he picked up everything and moved to New Zealand in 2005. Ten years later, they became some of my first friends in this part of the world. How awesome is that?!? After the wedding, we have a few days in Sydney and might try to squeeze in a day trip to hike in the Blue Mountains. Then we’ll fly to Lennox Head to meet two of Chris’s good mates who he hasn’t seen since 2014 and who I haven’t yet met. Chris might get in a surf and I’ll get more of one of my favorite things – lazy beach time!

Exploring More Of New Zealand

Next, we’ll head to the South Island of New Zealand for three weeks. For those that know Chris, the South Island is where he got his start in New Zealand. Chris is excited to show me the sights and I’m pretty stoked to hit the hiking trails in this dramatic landscape. Our tentative plan has us landing in Christchurch, and then heading over to the West Coast. We plan to drive south to check out Franz Joseph and Fox Glaciers.  From there, we will head southeast, and visit Queenstown and Wanaka in Central Otago. We’ll also make the trip to see the stunning Milford Sound. And we have to take in the Caitlins, before heading to Chris’s old stomping ground of Balclutha.  Then over to Dunedin, and up the East Coast, stopping in Timaru and back to Christchurch. 

We’re kind of winging it, so we might end up at Mount Cook. There is so much to do in this part of New Zealand, from penguins and seals, to petrified forest, waterfalls, and of course, meeting more of Chris’s friends.  New Zealand has such an important place in Chris’s heart and so I’m really looking forward to seeing more of this country that he loves so much.

Stay tuned for updates on our travels and some belated posts about our time in Peru and Ecuador. (I’m done with my meltdown about politics. Instead, I’m taking my mother’s advice to spread beauty and joy on this blog and on social media).

Thanks so much to everyone for your kind words and your support. If you’re interested in pitching in, consider making a tax deductible donation to the Susan G. Komen Foundation or the University of Minnesota’s Center for Breast Cancer Research. My Mom is one strong lady, but we’re still grateful for the outpouring of love we and she has received since her diagnosis.