Highway to Hoeftland

Adventures with Kristin & Mike

Tara, left, and Kristin, right, in Australia, 1999.

Tara, left, and Kristin, right, in Australia, 1999.

My wanderlust kicked into full gear fifteen years ago, when I was twenty years old. My friend’s family invited me on a month-long trip to Australia. It was the first time I ever flew on a plane and the first time I left North America.

To this day, Australia is one of my all-time favorite travel experiences. In my mind’s eye, I can still picture the dazzling beauty of the Great Ocean Road. I can almost taste the delicious Flake we ate, and I’ll never forget the kindness, friendliness, and hospitality of the Australians we spent time with. The tropical, laid back, beach-y, and yet urban vibe of big gorgeous sunny cities like Melbourne, and smaller areas of Warrnambool, solidified and further ignited my love of travel.

The Funny Little Memories That Stick Out

I remember how the Australians fondly called us “Yankees,” and teased us about our American accents. Before that visit, I did not realize that I spoke with an accent (that was other people, I naïvely assumed); another reason traveling is important. It made me think about myself in a new light.

I also recall being invited to a large Australian farm in the outback. A group of us was sitting on some hay in the back of a pickup truck as the farmer was taking us on a tour of his beautiful land. I was enjoying the tour very much, until I looked down and saw several disturbingly large brown furry spiders about the size of my hand crawling around in the hay we were sitting on. I couldn’t believe my eyes. My friend Tara and I started yelling that there were spiders, but the farmer just laughed it off. Looking back on it, even that experience was such a fond memory. When will I ever be on an Australian farm again? Probably never.

One more memory that sticks out in my mind is the time I was sitting in the back seat of the car and looking up to notice that my friend Bud was driving on the wrong side of the road in the middle of the crowded city of Melbourne.

I gently, almost in a singing tone informed him that, “Bud, you’re driving on the wrong side of the road.” He hastily moved the car to the proper lane. Then everyone in the car laughed crazily because I was so polite about the predicament. Luckily, there were no accidents, just a scare and lots of laughter.

Fun Times Forever Etched in My Mind

Those were just a few of the precious memories from a very extraordinary time in my life. I had such a blast in Australia. It was something special. It opened my eyes and my heart to a bright new world. I wanted to experience what else was out there. Australia was just the beginning.

What Else is Out There?

Wondering ‘what else, and who else is out there’ has been on my mind ever since the journey to Australia. I hope exciting and enriching journeys are in my future. The wanderlust that was ignited in me from that first international trip across the world is still alive and strong.

I miss you Australia. Thanks for the memories.


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