A common thread throughout the telling of our travels has been to highlight the relationships that we have been building along the way. It has been our primary goal to dive into friendships even if it is only in passing. These past two weeks are a beautiful example of how these seemingly brief interactions can change the course of a story and open up experiences that would not otherwise be possible.
Before Christmas Paula invited us to a Christmas party with everyone who is on the board or involved with Rescue Mission for Children located in the Melong Highlands of Northern Thailand. This is the same mission that Paula was in Thailand to visit when we met her and Toni. We gladly accepted the invitation to the Christmas party and enjoyed the company of a group of wonderful people. Two of the people we met were James and Lenore Dickson. We had a great time together at the Christmas Party and when it was time to leave they told us that they would love to have us stay with them for a few days. We gave them a warning to be careful what they offered because we have a habit of taking people up on their offers. Not long after Christmas we were heading out into the country to spend the weekend with Lenore and James.
After winding down their long driveway into the woods we rolled up to their home. A beautiful home which James and Lenore had built themselves over the years.
Our time spent there was wonderfully relaxing with good company, beautiful country sights and sounds, and what I would claim to be a truly authentic “Aussie moment” when James caught a python in the chicken coup and brought it out to show us before putting it in a pillowcase to take to a nearby property. We also met James’ and Lenore’s son (Micah) and daughter (Jess) along with their families. We told them of our plans for the Mt. Warning Climb and Micah and Jess’ husband, Ken, were both on board! (Our team was coming together!) These few days were a pleasure getting to know and spending quality time with the Dickson family who are yet another example of the beautiful hospitality that we have experienced since arriving.
After leaving the Dickson’s home, we had approximately a week and a half until we would leave Brisbane to fly down to Melbourne (pronounced “Mel-bin” to save some of you the embarrassment of getting strange looks from an Aussie). Our final days in Brisbane were spent checking off some final items that had been on our list of things to do. Fist on the list was to spend some time with a mate of mine and his wife, Dan and Alex Collins.
I had met Dan during his semester studying abroad at Purdue University where we both lived at Fairway House together. It was great to get to join them and their friends for a relaxing evening of dinner out and a game night along with church the next evening. An all around enjoyable time getting to catch up and reminisce about those good ‘ol days at University. Thanks Dan and Alex for the great time with you all!
The Brisbane “to do list” also included getting out onto the water with Leo and Josh in Leo’s boat that he has been working on where we got to hang out with some dolphins, eating some foot long fries at Harajuku Gyoza, taking a 3 hour ferry ride down the Brisbane River on the City Cat, a last rock climb with our climbing mates (which is unofficially now known as the Outback Slackers), did some hitchhiking and some back country road trekking through the Glasshouse Mountains, and lounged around with koalas, kangaroos and crocodile’s at the Australian Zoo (original home to Steve Irwin’s Crocodile Park). In all, it was a great last week in Brisbane.
To top it all off Carl’s 30th birthday was on Sat, Jan 20th, So Paula, Lenore and I planned a surprise party for Carl when we arrived in the Gold Coast Sat evening. It was a great birthday celebration with friends only to be made better with an amazing cake from Chanel!
With all of the fun out of the way, we went to bed early ready to get up early the next morning to start our trek up Mt. Warning.
The night before the hike we had several people who weren’t sure if they were going to be able to make it, along with a few others who had been sick the previous week and wouldn’t be able to come. We decided to go anyway with the hope that we would get a few more people. On our way the next morning we learned that several extra people were joining us (friends of friends). When we arrived at the parking lot at the base of the mountain we were joined by an energetic group of awesome people ready to help us make Carl’s and my goal a reality!
The start of the hike was great. We were all feeling good and ready to do whatever it took to get Carl to the top. Although the terrain got steeper and more rugged as we continued to climb, the energy and optimism of the group kept us moving up the mountain, slowly, methodically, but continually moving forward. At the halfway mark we were joined with our reinforcements who had started a bit after us but who had hiked quickly enough to catch up and join in the effort. It was an amazing sight. A group of 17 people, approximately half of them who had never met Carl or myself, and most of them who only knew a few others on the trip, all came together and became a team with the common goal of getting Carl to the top. It was incredible to be able to stand back and watch these strangers, sweating, pushing, and struggling, for no reason other than to be a part of something that Carl and I cared about. And as these strangers and friends struggled along side one another we became a team of friends and a community who were there for one another! After several hours of strenuous hiking we made it to the top! A tremendous experience and one joined in by more strangers who were climbing the mountain as well. A few of them had heard of our group from some other hikers along the trail and took pictures with Carl. We spent some time celebrating, sang happy birthday to Carl, enjoyed the scenery and then started the equally grueling hike down the mountain. In the end, after approximately 7.5 hours of hiking we made it to the end. Tired, sore, but feeling the joy that comes from facing a challenge and being surrounded by people passionate and determined to finish the goal.
One of our friends on the hike, Jon, was awesome enough to put together a video of the trip. You should absolutely check it out through the link below.
This climb finished a chapter in our travels. Although we will certainly be back to Brisbane and the Gold Coast, the next few months will be spent on the road traveling the south side of Australia, up through the East Coast, a month long stint in New Zealand, and then some more traveling. We are currently in Melbourne purchasing a van. Stay tuned for our next post which will hopefully be an introduction to this newest member of our team!