2013 by the numbers

Sending 2013 on it's merry way. What a year.

50 hours logged in Las Vegas

23 concerts

12 months watching my niece battle beat cancer

8 Sundays spent tailgating

4 ER visits

1 new niece



C and J Down Under: Cairns

Cairns was city 2 of 4. Cairns was a must. Hello, Great Barrier Reef! 

Tuesday afternoon we hopped on a flight two hours north to Cairns. Their north is our south, north means hotter. 60s in Sydney turned into 80s-90s in Cairns. You're so backwards, Oz!

We went from staying in someones home where they made us coffee every morning and drove us to and from the train stations, to staying in a hostel. Total 180 there as well!

We really only had one full day in Cairns, so the girl running the desk at the hostel scheduled our snorkeling excursion for us as soon as we got into town. We had to be at the pier bright and early the next morning. We ventured to the mall and the grocery that first night. Imagine our delight when we stumbled upon an Australian Target!

Australia also left me with a deep-running love for Cotton On! We laid low and lounged around by the pool at the hostel that night. Snacking on grapes and chatting about life. There's always plenty to fill the silence when you're two best friends who live on opposite ends of the country!

The next morning we boarded the Big Cat and headed out to snorkel the good ol' Great Barrier Reef.  I'll be honest. Snorkeling isn't my favorite. The mask gives you goofy indents on your face, I hate tasting salt water for hours on end, and in general I just get bored snorkeling and end up floating around soaking up the sun.

That being said, the water was gorgeous and the fish were bigger than any I had ever seen snorkeling. I'm glad that we went. It was an added bonus that there was a gorgeous beach nearby with equally as gorgeous Australian life guards (what? Just being honest... Australia has GREAT scenery. And that's before they even opened their mouths!)

We spent that night exploring Cairns, stopping for a drink or two and dinner. We had acquired some pretty gnarly sun burns and were facing another flight the next morning and kept it pretty tame though!



C and J Down Under: Sydney

Sydney, Sydney.

I know what you're thinking.

P.Sherman 42 Wallaby Way. And don't act like you don't recite that in your head every time someone mentions Sydney. We all do. 

Sydney was city 1 of 4. Sydney's job was to flirt feverishly and make us fall in love with Oz. And that it did.

Hook, line and sinker. 

We landed Saturday morning and immediately began dreading customs before even stepping out of row 59 on our A380 jumbo jet. When you watch 3 other jumbo jets pull up to gates as you're sitting there, you start calculating the hundreds of people being corralled through customs with you.

Well, guess what. It's Australia. So everything is friendly, even customs. No lines, no grumpy TSA workers, just a room full of nifty computers that scanned your passport and sent you on your way.

And because we are the queens of spontaneity, we set off to find the lovely woman who would soon become our Aussie mama. (Long story short, a friend of Jenns had originally offered to host us while we were in town... she ended up being in Africa while we were in Australia, so her parents graciously took us two American immigrants in. Australia. Super nice. Who does that?!)

A few middle-aged blondes later, we finally stumbled upon her with huge hugs and kisses on the cheek we exchanged introductions and headed out into the sunny, Sydney Saturday.

Before even dropping our luggage off at their home, they took us out to have a coffee, and picked up a quiche to serve for lunch later. Coffee and quiche. God I miss them. They just aren't the same in the States

After finally showering up and fighting off jet-lag-induced naps, while watching the rain clouds roll in we decided to chance it, and go explore the city.


First impressions of Sydney: City markets are awesome, pubs are awesome, colorful Australian money is awesome, the way the fellas actually have style is awesome, the opera house is... well, dirty, to be honest. It needs a good pressure washing maybe. And the accent. Oh my lord, just TALK to me. I don't even care what you are saying. I melt. 

One of our favorite quirks about Sydney was that a popular road was called George Street, with lots of shopping and eateries located on it. And when you add in an Australia accent, everyone is telling you George Strait. Which sent us into a fit of giggles time and time again. (And left a lot of Aussies standing there confused as to why we're laughing at their directions) 

Over the span of three days in Sydney we did a lot of exploring, some public transit-conquering, a little bit of pub-hopping, some shopping, and a whole lotta coffee drinking. Those Aussies love to stop and "have a coffee"!



Two girls, ten days, four cities.

The thing about going to Australia is... FOURTEEN HOUR FLIGHT.

Which is bad enough to complain about, but that's actually 14 hour flight out of LAX so if you want to tally up the total hours I logged getting from Indy to Sydney you're looking somewhere south of 18 hours in a window seat.

So when you are planning on spending an entire day getting somewhere (factor in the time travel phenomenon and you're actually killing two days getting there) you want to make sure you don't waste any time while you're there.

Hence why we tackled 4 cities in that 10 day span between November 14-24th.

I don't have any special formula as to why we picked the cities we did. In all honesty I think when we booked the flights back in February and Jenn laid out the four places I just smiled and handed over my first born child, I mean my credit card.

Our itinerary went a little something like this:
Days 1&2 (Thurs/Fri): In time travel/transit. Because Sydney is 16 hours ahead of Indy time, Friday never existed for me)
Day 3 (Sat): Arrive in
Sydney around 8am
Day 4 (Sun): Sydney
Day 5 (Mon): Sydney
Day 6 (Tues): Fly to Cairns
Day 7 (Wed): Cairns
Day 8 (Thurs): Fly to Brisbane, train to Surfers Paradise
Day 9 (Fri): Surfer's Paradise
Day 10 (Sat): Take train back to Brisbane
Day 11 (Sun): In time travel/transit back to LAX. And because of the time change again, we left Brisbane at 11am Sunday and arrived in LAX at 6am Sunday. Thank goodness for iPhones that automatically change times!

We booked everything in one fell swoop through Qantas, using the "Mult-City" option and struck a pretty great deal, with the total for all airfare somewhere $1500/person.

Flying into one major city and out of the other helped prevent us from backtracking too, so we were able to see more.  (Surfer's was an afterthought, in retrospect we could have flown directly into the Gold Coast and avoided the train, but it was only an hour ride and not bad at all!)

My reflections: ten days was nowhere near enough. We were warned of this, and didn't have much of a choice though so we made due! And the flights aren't as terrible as they seem. Sleeping pills, halfway decent airplane food, traveling with your best friend and unlimited movies and TV shows made them pretty easy in all actuality!




What am I thankful for?
The wanderlust that my grandparents and parents instilled in me, the job that affords me to do so, and the people who accompany me along the way. I've been sang happy birthday to by a Virgin Islander taxi driver, snorkeled the great barrier reef, rode horses along the beaches of the Dominican, snowboarded in Park City, cliff dove in Jamaica, swam with the dolphins in Mexico, snuggled a koala in Australia, shared bubble gum with an ape in Cancun, para-sailed a handful of the prettiest coastlines across the Caribbean, and met some of the most awesome people, hands down.

I can’t wait to see what adventures my passport and I stumble upon next!



Good ol' Southern (hemisphere) Hospitality

One of the first, and most enduring, things I noticed about Australia was the genuine kindness everyone seemed to possess.

From the moment we stepped foot onto our Qantas flight in LAX until those last lingering moments as we hit US soil ten days later it was true Southern Hospitality. Southern Hemisphere that is!

We continuously laughed about one of the flights, in which the "please stow away all electronics and prepare for landing" recording was played, and the flight attendant walked by smiling to us, with a "oh finish your page love, no hurry!"

There was never any annoyance as we fumbled through their coins trying to distinguish between the two dollar coin and the ten cent coin, every ticket station worker smiled and directed us to the correct platform, random people would chime in as we stared blankly at a bus map telling us where to hop off and even offering suggestions for places to visit, waitresses kindly explained the steered us from ordering "entrees" which are more like 'small plates' so we wouldn't be disappointed in tiny portions, random cafe owners would give us the wifi passwords so we could communicate with everyone back home.

Everyone loved to hear where we were from, why we came there, where we were headed, what we thought so far.

There was never a favor too big, a question too dumb, or an unworthy comment. And believe me, this says a lot! I've traveled a handful of places where you just felt like an annoyance.

Being from the midwest we often get praised from visitors as being so kind, for once I finally understood what they meant. The impact it had on is was resounding. I've never felt more welcomed into any place in my life!



My clock says it's 8:30 Monday morning... my body says it's 11:30 Monday night.

Against all speculation, I actually did return from Australia. Believe me, it took a lot of talking into to not accidentally miss my flight home.

My mind is on auto-pilot today as I stare blankly at my computer screen at work. I'm here... what more do you want from me?!


At least I didn't bring my waffle iron.

Hi, my name is Chelsea and I am a recovering overpacker addict.

Not exaggerating, I would take a different swimsuit for every day we would be on the beach. Every day.

Half of my shoes closet? PACK IT!

Three varieties of perfume? PACK THEM!

Ping pong balls, Catch Phrase, snorkeling masks, football? Yes. Yes. Yes. All of the above!

In my defense, my mother is the woman who took a waffle iron to Florida. I get it honestly people.

Until I realized, lugging around that 60lb suitcase is a pain, paying the Overweight Luggage fee every trip is frustrating, and waiting for the very last bag to drop onto the baggage claim (I swear the unloaders do it on purpose, to punish me for giving them hernias) was annoying.

I present to you, my friends, eleven days worth of vacationy goodness, IN. A. CARRY ON.

Go ahead and bow down to my greatness.


How to afford to eat in Australia.

From the moment we booked our flights back in January, everyone felt it imperative to tell me HOW. FREAKIN. EXPENSIVE. EVERYTHING. IS. IN. AUSTRALIA.


So I threw $60 into a mason jar and stuck it on top of my fridge where I wouldn't see it (and spend it).

Atleast I'd be able to buy a few McDonalds cheeseburgers to tide me over for ten days down under.

And then someone paid me in cash for a concert ticket, so I stuck that in the jar.

And then I found $4 in the dryer so I stuck that in the jar too.

And the best part was that it wasn't in my bank account, so I never got to see how much was there, and I never got that 'well if I just transfer this hundred dollars to buy some clothes I will be fine' urge. Out of sight and out of mind, I never took from the jar, just added to it.

Ten months of throwing any cash I happened upon into a jar, and it actually began to look substantial.

Last week I dumped it all out on my living room floor to count it.

And kept counting. And kept counting. And I had about three times what I anticipated would be shoved into that jar.

Heck, I might even be able to value size my fries now!



Oh how things change.

It was our first semester as freshman in college, one of my best girlfriends and I logged a LOT of hours at the local Barnes & Noble. Counltess nights were spent sitting in the Starbucks with our triple grande white mocha, sub 2 pumps raz (see... I can throw down at 'bux if I HAVE to)- it was our chance to catch up on magazines, girl talk, and just hang out somewhere that wasn't our parents houses. (Woe is us, little 18 year old babies).

One night, sitting crosslegged and giggling over that months list in Glamour's "Hey, It's Ok..." section I spied someone approaching our table from the corner of my eye. I fidgeted, picking at my brown & pink vans as he introduced himself and apologized for interrupting. Rattled something off about how he studies there often, was attending the same college as us for pre-med, and then how we had caught his eye, and he proceeded to ask if he could give me his number, in hopes of taking me to dinner sometime.

Time out. 

I remember thinking to myself "IS THIS WHAT COLLEGE IS LIKE!?" 
You mean boys don't send their friends to ask your friends if you want to go out sometime (ahhem, I'm lookin at you high school)... they actually APPROACH you, shake your hand, carry on a conversation? WEIRD. SIGN ME UP.

(Because I know you will ask.... we went on a few dates and had a good time, but our schedules never quite meshed up, and newly collegiate Chelsea had minimal interest in committing to anyone in particular that early in the game.) 
The whole scenario came back to mind a few months ago, when I was approached, again, by a guy who's eye I had caught.

We were at a bar one evening, a whole mashup of random friends and strangers, he at one end of the table, me at the far other.

And my phone lit up.

Oh how things have changed.

It was a Twitter DM saying I was hot or something equally as charming. (sarcasm).

A twitter message. From the other. end. of. the. table.

Chivalry is dead.