August 30, 2018

Stargazing at Warrumbungle National Park

Growing up my mom would take my sister and me to the local Augustana College observatory for an annual Christmas show, as well as random telescope viewings they would put on during the year. I have a clear memory of seeing Saturn’s rings through a telescope (which is amazing). At the time, I’m sure my sister and I complained relentlessly about being dragged to the observatory, and now, I hit up any observatory I come across during my travels. I absolutely love telescope viewings and unfortunately, they seem harder and harder to come by.

View from our camping spot in Warrumbungle National Park
So when Bean came to visit, I planned a little excursion to Coonabarabran for some epic stargazing. Coonabarabran is the astronomy capital of Australia! Due to the altitude and the fact that it’s in the middle of nowhere, the area has prime conditions for star nerds. The national park outside of Coonabarabran, Warrumbungle National Park, has been declared a dark sky park which regulates the outdoor lighting in and around the park, making the stargazing conditions even better. Because of these factors, there are numerous observatories in the area offering nightly tours.  

On our last day in Sydney, Bean and I picked up our Britz campervan to take us from Sydney to Melbourne. My pit stop in Coonabarabran, six hours northwest of Sydney was 100% out of the way. After picking up Glenn (our trusty van) we headed out on what would end up being a 7+ hour drive, all for a ninety-minute telescope session… only to turn around the next morning and drive right back. So there was a lot riding on this tour. If it wasn’t spectacular Bean was probably going to smother me in my sleep in the back of Glenn.

August 18, 2018

Twelve Months In: Sabbatical Recap “Was it Worth it?”

Throughout June and July of 2017, I quit my job. I sold a lot of my possessions. And then I essentially ran away, relocating thousands of miles from my friends and family. Looking back a year later, was it worth it? The answer is a very loud, "God, yes!" Even though my expectation of what I would accomplish in my Australian year was a complete and total bust, I would without hesitation start the year over again if I had the funds.

I had three main goals for my self-imposed sabbatical. I hoped to figure out what I’m supposed to do with my life. I expected to travel the entire circumference of the country’s coastline. And I had hoped to birth a baby cow during one of my WWOOF experiences. Of those three goals, I completed none of them. And this, my friends, is abnormal for me. I’m someone who obsesses over goals or tasks I have set for myself, and I get very worked up when things don’t go as planned. However, I am completely at ease about not completing any of my sabbatical goals – sure it would have been great to tick them off the list but I’m not losing sleep about it. Here’s a recap of what went wrong:

August 8, 2018

Twelve Months In: Sabbatical Recap “What Did I Learn?”

My yearlong self-imposed sabbatical has come and gone. Before starting the adventure, I had visions of answering all of life’s mysteries regarding the who, what, when, and where of my life. A few months of solitude in Australia with nothing but farm animals, beaches and myself seemed like the right environment to figure out what I want and more importantly what I need out of life.

Twelve months later I’ve got a notebook filled with, well nothing. In all honesty, I mailed my blank journal back to my mom in January because it was just useless weight in my bag. I have answered no insightful questions about the universe or the more important question, what do I want to be when I grow up? That was the big question. That was the question I traveled around the world to answer. And while I don’t have any solid answers about the universal key to happiness (if there is one) or what career path I want to follow, I have definitely become more self-aware about the things I want or don’t want in life to remain happy, sane and most importantly fulfilled.
I also learned to scuba dive!
When I first started typing this out, I didn’t think I would be able to get anything down. Turns out I spent more time trying to whittle down a novella into something coherent. To try and keep it shortish, I summed up the most important realizations I’ve had during my Australian isolation. These are the three points I’m going to try and focus on while I continue to navigate life. I don’t expect these points to direct me to that sought after, perfect career path, but I at least know they won’t lead me astray.

August 3, 2018

Twelve Months In: Sabbatical Recap "What Now?"

Well, it’s now August. A full eight months have passed since I’ve taken the time to post an update. I started typing a few posts out, and started loads more in my head… but clearly, none of them went anywhere. So I think it is safe to say I have no future as a travel blogger. I’m going to have to come up with another way to work remotely and on the road. Any suggestions are welcome.

Yep, I'm still alive! And appropriately dressed for Mt. Kosciuszko.
Didn't expect to encounter snow in Australia...
So my 365 days in Australia have come and gone, and I’m still here 😁. I know I promised quite a few people back home that I would be back in Chicago after exactly 365 days, but if I’m totally honest I never believed that. And I think the people who really know me didn’t expect it either. At this point, I’m not ready to come back to my former reality.