Diary of the Traveling Marshalls

Australian Sabbatical 2017



Back in the U.S.of A.

I decided to write

I actually have a few unfinished ones, too. But when I got back home I almost forgot about this blog. Real life took over immediately. Then the other day I fell down the rabbit hole reading old posts. First of all, I am so grateful I did this blog because the whole experience feels like a blur and like it happened a million years ago.

Secondly, I have no idea why I decided to write again today. Something popped in my head that sent me here to write…and now I can’t remember what that was. Funny.

We have been home 3 months. It truly feels like years. Coming home has been the hardest part of this whole adventure…for me. Okay. Maybe packing up my whole house was harder. I’ll never forget that last night before we left. Holy crap. THAT was so hard. But coming home hasn’t been easy. Why? That’s what I wanted to write about because it’s part of the journey, so I can’t leave it out. As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t plan to share the deep stuff like how this sabbatical changed our lives. We are still figuring that out and it will take a while. We will feel the lasting effects forever, actually. And it is personal for each of us. Not really for the public. However, I do want to document the challenge of coming home and my perspective on what we did…in hindsight.

I have a whole new perspective of our sabbatical now that we are back to our normal life. I wanted major change when we got back…I felt so changed. But everything was the same. We owned less stuff, but we fell right back into our old habits. And they were not bad habits. I just hoped for some major life changing difference. Nope. Same same same. So that was a disappointment right away.

The pace of life became very intense for me when we got back. That was, without a doubt, the biggest difference between sabbatical life and normal life. As I sit here with piles of laundry and a jam packed calendar, I can’t help but think back to how different life was in Oz. It wasn’t just that we lived half a world away. We were not living real life. We owned such a small amount of things and had a small living space and it was a rental. So our “to do” list around the house was very small. Back in Denver, this list is endless. And the calendar. We have to be places all the time. The juggle is real. We had nothing like that in Australia. We were on our own time and we hardly ever had to be anywhere. The best part is that I realized these benefits when we were there, so I fully appreciated it. I miss it. Now that we are back, I am so grateful we didn’t send the kids to school or set an alarm clock. I’m so glad we had a break from the madness.

I miss so many things. I miss our friends, the Mings and Fittlers. We are so fortunate to have these Sydneysiders as our friends. I miss reading. I miss the sunrises. I miss not having a car and the short walk to get everything we needed. I miss the surf life and the accents. I miss the 5 of us being together. I miss my dates with Wes getting jucies and sitting at the beach wondering if we were doing things right. I miss nights filled with swimming and games (and no homework.) But most of all…it’s no surprise…I miss the coffee and the beach most of all. I cry thinking about my costal walks. It was heaven for me. I am not sad. I knew it was temporary…okay, I’m a little sad. But also grateful. It was a dream.

Aside from the pace of life, the other difficult part of coming back is the current political culture of our country. We left a few short days after 45’s inauguration. Now that I’m back, it has all hit me like a ton of bricks and a lot of terrible things have happened since we’ve been back. And it isn’t just the political culture…it’s the whole damn country that feels like a disaster. It has put me in a funk. I really thought the impeachment process would be under way by the time we got back. I can’t believe the hurricanes, terrorist attacks, mass shootings, white supremacists?!?!? I mean, it really is all weighing on my heart. It has nothing to do with my sabbatical, but we escaped the reality of a Trump presidency for 6 months and coming back to all this is just bananas. It feels like a scary time and I’m not handling it well on the inside.

Meanwhile, life is going on. Mae is enjoying the heck out of first grade. Luke is having a good school year and spent 3 days away from home (first time!) on a school trip. He is busy touring middle schools. Elle went to Washington DC for 3 nights with her school and she is looking at high schools. All 3 kids are in plays, which has kept us busy and is also very fun. Wes and I are back working, even though he’s technically still on sabbatical. Moving back into our own house was amazing. Less stuff. A fresh start. So good. We are happy.

The big change is actually coming. And just in time. After 8 years of living way out here in the west, we are getting a permanent visitor and we couldn’t be more excited. This may be the big change I needed. We can’t wait to welcome my twin brother to the 5280. It’s beyond exciting. Our new adventure….

*This was written October 2017 and never published….oops!!!


Last Blog Post…Traveling Marshalls are going home 

I lied. I have a couple more blog posts that are being edited.  This is not the end. However, it kind of is. We are one plane ride away from this journey coming to an end.

I need to pack (what else is new) and get these excited kids to bed here on Cape Cod, so I’ll be short.

Wes left on Sunday. He flew to Minneapolis, picked up our new car, and drove home to Denver. 25 hours of traveling and no sleep. But he’s home. He is busy getting the car registered and beginning to take things out of storage. Mattresses and kitchen boxes are my main priority. We are having floors refinished, so not doing a big move-in right away.

The kids and I leave from Boston tomorrow afternoon. One final pack. Then weeks and weeks of unpacking. I can’t remember exactly what I donated and tossed, but I’m sure I also need to do some shopping.

I am not ready to think about school and work. Focused on reconnecting and catching up with friends and setting up the house. Big plans! Lots of rearranging! Wes reports that our house and new car are both in good shape. Big relief.

We arrive home 6 months to the day we left. When we left Denver on January 25, Wes was sick and we had both pulled an all nighter. Kids were excited for Disney and a break from school. Elle was sad to leave her friends. Little did I know, that I was also about to get the plague. We had no idea what the next 6 months would be like. We somehow got out of our house and made it to Cali and then Oz. We’ve done so much since then. We’ve seen so much. We’ve experienced so much. We’ve laughed hard and cried plenty. We lost stuff and got some boo boos. We had emotional breakdowns and celebrated accomplishments. I taught my own kids! We learned so much about each other and have strengthened our bond and relationships. We surfed and snorkeled and cuddled koalas. We lived in another country. It went by so fast and I’m so happy to have my blog and Instagram as a souvenir because it already feels a million miles ago.

I’ve been asked if I will continue to blog. It was just for the purpose of documenting our travels. So no more blogging for me. Unless it relates to our sabbatical. I also have a new perspective on social media since I’ve been away. I felt like I had 6 months of oversharing, but I needed my Dad to see our trip, so no regrets. Moving forward, I am going to make some changes with my sharing goals and social media. After sharing this big adventure, it changed my feelings about many things and that’s one of them.

I feel sort of obligated to share more about what we’ve learned and how we’ve changed and what we’ve gained. But I’m not going to blog all that. It’s too heavy and enormous for a blog entry. It’s also not ready for print…we are slowly realizing the effect this trip has had on us. We’ve actually just begun to feel the effects…just scraping the surface and there’s way more to come. I’m sure. And it’s personal. Maybe you’ll notice some things different about us. Or maybe it’ll be subtle and internal. Who knows. But it won’t be a blog post. That I know. I may write about adjusting back to reality…maybe.

I am so grateful you’ve read this blog post or any of the others. I felt connected to those who read it. It’s been fun.

We have a lot of work ahead of us. I need to find my pool passes. Needle in a haystack. I’m excited to set up my house from scratch. And also overwhelmed by the task. It’ll be great. Oh, and I really want to go back to Australia. I miss it so much.

Now…back to packing. Home sweet home tomorrow.

Back to the USA; Jet Lag is Real

Whoa. I always thought people kind of exaggerated jet lag. Prior to this trip, the biggest time zone change I had ever experienced was 3 hours from east coast to west coast. Flying to Oz was different because we left LAX late at bedtime and arrived in the morning. Even though we skipped an entire day, that timing makes sense to the brain and body. Coming back to the US was rough. I had heard coming this way was harder, but I wasn’t expecting it to be this bad. 

In retrospect, it took just a few days to bounce back. We arrived on Tuesday (we had 2 Tuesdays…both were spent traveling) and we felt human again by Saturday. That’s not terrible, except we felt pretty terrible those few days. 

Here’s how things went down:

We left Sydney at 9:30am Tuesday July 11th. We got all our bags checked and borded nice and easy. I got the pleasure of sitting with Lukie. Since it was 9:30am flight time, we were not sleepy. This first flight was 13.5hours. The flight began with dinner service. Yup. Dinner at about 10am. Weird. Then they dim the cabin lights hoping you will sleep. Mid flight they gave us lunch. And 2 hours before we landed we got breakfast. So weird. Getting us on LAX time, I guess. Virgin Australia is awesome. Very comfy flight. Nice flight attendants. Coffee was good. We had decent food, and the kids got pretty good kids meals. Free drinks. It really wasn’t bad. Luke dozed at the end of the flight. The girls stayed awake the entire time. Mae kept saying over and over “The number one rule is to never go to sleep.” She watched Boss Baby 3 times and Trolls twice. She also didn’t even get up to use the bathroom. I watched Hidden Figures and a season of Weeds. 
When we landed in LAX, it was 5:30am local time, but for us it felt like 11pm so that was definitely confusing. We had to show our passports, get all our bags (9 checked plus a car seat), go through customs and then drop all our bags off again and get to our connection. It felt hot and humid in LA and we were all ready to sleep. 

We were happy to be safe and sound in America, but we had a 5 hour 40 min flight ahead of us. 8:10am was our flight time and everyone on board was chippy and chatty. The Marshalls needed to go to bed.  It seemed so bright and loud. We all slept…a little. This flight was a blur. I sat with Elle. We arrived to Boston at 4:50pm local time. It was nice to arrive in the daylight. Grandma picked us up. Unfortunately, our car seat and golf clubs didn’t make it and Mae thew up a little while waiting for bags.  Thankfully, I had wet wipes and a change of clothes ready and she was good to go. She did it again in the car, but she really was okay. Got a Dunkin iced coffee and a loaner car seat from the airline.  Next, we had to drive 2 hours to Cape Cod. PS. We got our missing bags back the next day. 

Door to door we traveled 28 hours. But we made it. And I wasn’t thinking about jet lag or getting on the right time zone. We just needed to survive the long haul and we did it. Phew. The adrenaline was about to wear off and the honeymoon ended. 

We got settled in to my dad’s house on Cape Cod just before 9pm. We visited and ate and unpacked the car. Bedtime came around midnight and Elle fell asleep. Mae, Wes and I fell asleep around 1am. Luke couldn’t fall asleep until 4am. That was Tuesday night. Wednesday came. OMG…I woke up at 3:30pm!!!!!! I wish you could’ve seen my face when I came downstairs and saw those numbers on the oven clock. I could NOT believe it. Mae and Luke were still asleep. Elle had woken up at 2pm and Wes got up at 11am. I was mad at Wes for not waking us. The rule of thumb is you sleep/lie down at night and stay awake during the day….in order to get on the right time zone. We didn’t have a conversation about this, but I assumed that was the plan..I never expected to sleep that long and that deep that I had no idea what time it was when I woke up. I quickly woke up Mae and Luke, but the day was a bust and so was our adjustment. Poor Wes took all the blame, but he was going by the other rule of thumb to never wake a sleeping baby…or Debbie. He kept thinking we needed the sleep. And the room we slept in is like a cave. Dark blackout blinds and a window a/c unit with a nice noise canceling hum. I was mad, but it was a really good sleep. 

I was having my morning coffee while they were prepping dinner. My brother, my niece and nephew arrived at 6pm for our annual cousin visit. We had a great dinner and made smores. We weren’t on the right time zone, but we were rested. Bedtime came and we were not CLOSE to ready for sleep. Wednesday night was missssseeerrrable. So bad. Nobody could fall asleep. Mae slept 1-3am. Wes and Elle slept 5-10am. Luke and I didn’t sleep. I could have slept…but I was busy trying to help everyone else get some sleep. By 6am, I let the kids “get up” and I had some coffee. It was a sleepless night.

Now it’s Thursday and we are having our cousin fun day. The goal was to NOT sleep during the day, which was easy because we had fun plans with cousins, but hard because we hadn’t slept. Around 2pm…Mae and Luke passed out on the couch. We let them nap for 1 hour and then came the crazy attempts to wake them up. They did NOT want to wake up. We were desperate for them to wake up because we were desperate for a normal nights sleep. So desperate. Wes dragged Luke to an arcade…that worked. I was spoon feeding ice cream to Mae…also worked. I know…I should write a parenting book. It was hilariously miserable. Luke doesn’t remember this nap. 

I hadn’t slept and didn’t care. My goal was to get the kids on track so I could do the same. We had a great time with the cousins…go karts, bumper boats, Sundae School and lots of hugs. They left and we made it til 8:30pm. Everyone went to bed  and we almost did it!  4/5 of us slept through the night. Wes! He woke up at 11pm and couldn’t fall back asleep. So close. 

Friday and Saturday night were normal nights sleep. Finally.  No longer nocternal! We did it. The biggest challenge was getting all 5 of us on track. We didn’t each get the same amount of sleep on the plane or the first night and our bodies all adjusted at a different pace. It was time to visit East Coast friends and family as we do every summer, but it definitely feels different this year. We are a little different. 

Feels great to back in the USA physically and mentally.  Sleep training the Marshalls was just another part of the adventure. 

Goodbye Australia

I absolutely miss all our people back home. And I can’t wait to see everyone! BUT I am not quite ready to go. I thought I’d be so ready to go. I’m not. I think I’m the only Marshall feeling this way. Kids are hard to read. Well, Elle and Wes are ready to get back to our lives in Denver. Back to normal. Not sure about Mae and Luke. They don’t say much either way. But as for me…I feel good about going home, but I’m not dying to go. I’m surprised I feel this way.  We have 24 hours left in Australia, and I wasn’t expecting to feel like this.

 I truly thought after gypsy living, all I’d want is my own house. My own bed. I was sure I’d be sick of my family and tired of living out of a suitcase. I thought I’d be exhausted and ready for the comforts of home…and Amazon & Target. Nope. Not how I’m feeling. Who knew? 

I have given it some thought and I think I know what’s going on. A few things, actually (and it is good news!) And it’s really about me…personally and not the whole family. I can’t speak for them. Debbie doesn’t want to leave Australia. And that’s actually a good thing. Here’s why.

The Power of Positive Pants:  One reason that I’m not dying for this journey to end is because it has been so damn good. It hasn’t been super difficult, and therefore I’m not anxious for it to be done and over. It’s been a positive experience. We have made it good, so I don’t want it to end. Sabbatical life and Australia both suit me. We’ve made the best of our time here so I don’t have an urge to make it stop. On the contrary, I could keep going. Ending on a positive note feels really good. What a great way to leave. Not burnt out. No “get me outta here” feelings. Hating to leave is a tribute to what an amazing journey it’s been.  

So far away:  I freaking love Australia.  Australia, as it turns out, is very far away from America. Therefore, this goodbye, may not be forever, but it feels like a really big goodbye. When we left Denver, I knew we’d be right back. I don’t know when I’ll be back to Australia and I don’t like that feeling. I’m actually getting misty eyes as I type this. Every summer we leave Cape Cod…I know we will be back next year and that’s a great feeling. I know in my heart I will return to Australia, but it won’t be soon and I don’t know when. I fell in love with this country. I knew I would. I just knew it. I don’t want to stay forever. I just wish  I could stay longer or visit often. I don’t know about the rest of the Marshalls….you’ll have to ask them. But I fell in love. I feel so lucky I got to spend this much time in this gorgeous country. So lucky. For the record, I also love America. Promise. This isn’t about comparing the 2 countries or liking Oz better (although if you want to compare… the coffee and beaches are wayyyyyy better here.) 

Sabbatical Life: After summer break, we are all usually ready to get back to the routine and structure of the school year. However,after 6 months, I have really gotten used to this pace of life and it’s been good for me. I’m not excited to get back to the reality and intensity of normal life.  I do think once we return to the US, all that will change and I’ll slowly return to real life. For now, I’m dreading big grocery shopping trips and driving and school choice…blah blah blah. I love living with a small amount of possessions. We really escaped life, and I know in my heart that can’t last forever. It been really, really good for my soul and part of the reason I feel changed. 

Family time: The “togetherness” been the hardest part and the absolute biggest blessing. The greatest gift. 

The Ocean: I have enjoyed living near the ocean more than I can explain. There is a previous blog post about it. It’s my happy place. Literally, it makes me a happier person.  I will miss this so much. Landlocked does NOT suit me. 

Now: I may actually be really excited about coming home and I don’t know it. Because I’m truly living in the moment. Not in some awesome/zen way, but out of necessity. I’m laser focused on our travel and packing and making sure we are where we need to be and our stuff is all organized. I truly can’t think too many steps ahead. That may be a big part of it. 

With 24 hours left here, that’s where my head is at. I have a strong suspicion, I will feel differently once we get on the plane and once we land in America. I bet I will feel very differently when we head back to Denver and walk into our house. To be honest, I occasionally have some worries about the transition and adjustment to life back home. For now…I am leaving in 24 hours kicking and screaming (totally exaggerating.) Knowing me, I’ll be very happy to arrive on Cape Cod and Connecticut and thrilled to be back in Denver. I bloom where I’m planted. 




We are not backpacking. We are not campervanning. We are not camping. We are not staying at 5 star luxury accomodations and we are not roughing it. We are basically Airbnbing our way around Australia. Aside from staying with friends, we stayed in 7 different places over the last 6 weeks.  

First off, let me talk about the places we stayed other than Airbnbs.  These accomodations were all still more like apartments than a traditional hotel room. Everywhere we went had a kitchen and laundry.  We were only in Canberra for 2 nights, so we stayed in a hotel. It was great. They left me a bottle of bubbles for my birthday and we had 2 adjoining rooms so the kids had their own space. They set up the kids’ room with candy and coloring books and an XBox. They gave us a bag of water when we left and the lobby had apples and candy at all times. There was a delcious cafe in the lobby and a nice espresso machine in our kitchen. Canberra is not an exciting place to go, so it was fun to have a good hotel. In Byron Bay, we stayed at a treehouse, which was part of a rental condo/house type of deal. I was not as comfortable here for a few reasons. First of all, they had signs all over telling us what to do and not to do and threatening fines if we don’t follow these rules. I am exaggerating with the word “threat”, but that’s how it felt. There was also a sign about “nocturnal visitors’ which I assumed meant mice and they suggested we keep all food in refrigerator. We didn’t see anything. Not even a bug, but it put me on edge the whole time. I never unpacked or felt relaxed. Finally, we had a hotel in Brisbane. This was a work thing for Wes, so it was booked through his travel people. It was right in the heart of the city and was a 2 bedroom apartment. We were on the 71st floor and had everything we needed. This was the only place we stayed where people came and cleaned. That was a treat! 

The other 4 places we stayed were through Airbnb. We also found our Coogee place on Airbnb. We learned that our Coogee house is rented about 360 nights a year. The landlords live on the lower level, and plan to eventually take over the entire 2 houses for themselves. We got in touch with the owners through Airbnb last summer and told them we were interested in renting it long term (4 months.) It was not easy to get off of Airbnb to rent through them directly because Airbnb blocks you from sharing phone numbers or email addresses. The owner sent me his phone number in code (“tree” for three and “too”for two.) It worked. We got in touch and negotiated rent, etc… Luckily, it ended up being the perfect house for us. We chose it because of the location to public transport, shops and beach. It was also hard to find 3 bedrooms in that kind of a location. We were very happy and the landlords were great to work with. 

When we started to plan our travels, it made sense to check out Airbnb again for the different locations we had chosen to visit. We first picked locations and planes and rental cars. Once we knew the specific dates we would be in each area, we went to Airbnb. Wes and I would each look and send each other houses that looked good. We usually sent each other the same ones. We had the same priorities. Enough beds, kitchen, laundry, location, clean, linens included. Things like that. The places where we were visiting are much cheaper than Sydney and it is not really a peak travel season either, so we found some good deals. 3 of the 4 places (in the warm weather spots) had pools which was a treat. Before this trip, I would have thought a hotel would be nicer. People clean up after you and usually there are some amenities. Turns out, I liked Airbnb much better. Having our own “house’ made us feel more settled and comfortable. It was nice to check in ourselves and not have to talk to anyone. The main thing we used to help us be successful in finding the right places was to read the reviews. It tells a lot and I think it paid off. All the houses were clean and the hosts were very friendly to answer any questions over text or email. 

Airbnb houses are nice because they get professionally cleaned before you arrive. I liked when houses left a written book/guide that explains how to use everything or where to find things and suggestions for restaurants, etc…  A couple hosts left a few rations to get us started like milk, a loaf of bread, bottle of wine, tea, etc… That was nice to walk in to after a long day of travels. I also liked the houses that had puzzles and board games. 

I used to think Airbnb was weird. Staying at people’s houses. But it’s the same as if you rent a house on the Cape or a ski cabin. It is someone’s house and they are renting it out themselves. I liked dealing with the owners versus a reception desk worker. Owners take pride in their houses and seem to genuinely want you to enjoy their homes. That felt nice for a traveling family of 5. One house even had fruit trees we could pick from. The pools were fun since we will never own a house with our own pool…a treat for the kids and something to do on days we felt like staying home. In Coogee, we didn’t have a BBQ or outside space, so we particularly enjoyed homes with grills and yards.  In Port Douglas, we definitely spent more time outside than we did in. Noosa was my personal fav because it was the closest one to shops and the water for me to  get in a nice walk and a coffee.  When you are choosing a house, you are taking a chance. Anyone can post beautiful pictures of their house. I think our research of the location and our priorities helped us find good ones. 

Move in day was fun for the kids. They loved getting a new bedroom and checking out the houses. I always walked in skeptical. I was looking for dirt or mice or spiders.  By the 2nd day, I was usually able to unpack and get comfortable. Then I wouldn’t want to leave. Speaking of bugs…not too bad. I mean, we were in the tropics and some of our houses were really IN the trees and such. In Port Douglas, we did call Wes the exterminator. Although, we let him have the day off on Father’s Day and I took over the bug killing that one day. As I mentioned, we spent almost all our time in PD outside. INSIDE, there were some tiny little ants and a few spiders. Well, there were also 2 lizards and 2 cockroaches. I ended up holding a cockroach in my hand for a moment when I was carrying some towels. In Coogee, we probably had 4 cockroaches total in the 4 months. Maybe 5.  So we were used to them and somehow, the kids never saw them. The lizards are cute and welcome in our house anytime. 

I feel lucky with our accomodations and will remember them all for different reasons. 

Katoomba: Record Player

Canberra: Kids fun room 

Carins: The Poisoning 

Port Douglas: The pool/verandah

Byron Bay: Treehouse

Noosa: Location, Location, Location

Brisbane: Highrise in the city 


Advice if you ever plan to use Airbnb for traveling in an unknown place: Read the reviews!

Advice if you ever put your own house on Airbnb: Don’t put insect spray in the pantry next to the cooking oils! 


6. Noosa   June 23 – July 1

Sunshine Coast! This was our longest car trip to date. Byron Bay to Noosa. And this was the longest leg of our gypsy journey (8 nights.)  Since it was so long, I am not going to do my usual daily journal type of blog. It was a long trip, but it seriously flew by.  I absolutely loved Noosa and I was finally allergy free. PS. You can’t buy Noosa yogurt here, but it is named after this place and made in Colorado! There is some yummy and similar yogurt here in Queensland. 


We arrived pretty late on Friday night. It was too late to even get groceries. Luckily, we brought a little food from Byron Bay. We unpacked the car and headed to bed.  We were staying at another Airbnb, but it was more of an aparment/condo type of place. It was in a resort type of complex, but our unit was indpendently owned and managed.  There were 2 pools and a hot tub and a grill in the middle and then all the units around it. We were in a bottom unit that faced the pool. It was pretty quiet (except the birds.) The floor plan here actually reminded me of our house in Denver. Mae and Luke shared a bedroom and Elle had her own.  There were 3 bathrooms and laundry. It was very clean and I felt very comfortable in this house. The pool was super warm and we were almost always the only ones using it. The kids swam a lot.  The bush turkeys were everywhere and we finally saw them fly. More on the birds later… 

House 📸

Woke up the next morning and I had no idea where we were. It is so funny when we arrive in the dark and wake up to a whole new world. Luckily, we woke up to sunshine and a happy surprise at what a great location our place was in. I walked across the street and there was a long stretch of water. Noosa River. Along the river was a little bit of beach, walking paths, restaurants, parks, docks and boat rental places. It was so cute. I headed to a place called the Boathouse for a coffee. I had to cross a little bridge/dock to get to it. The Boathouse was like a barge. While I was crossing the bridge, I noticed big fish swimming on either side of me. There were a few people gathered at the shore looking at something. It was a sting ray! And a sea snake! AHHH! It was 7am. Too early for deadly sea creatures. Guess swimming in the river was ruled out. The locals seemed excited to see these guys. I was still trying to get my head wrapped around where I was. Got a coffee and some baked goods to bring home. On our side of the road there were more shops and restaurants. Woolies (grocery store) was around the corner, so I was able to walk. Nope…still not driving yet. At this point, I can’t drive in any country or on either side of the road. 

On the first night, Wes was grilling by the pool while the kids swam. I ran across the street to see the sunset. By the way, it is still winter so the sun sets sooooooo early.  Like 5pm! In June. So weird. The days are going to feel so long when we get back to USA. The sunset over the river was stunning. But that wasn’t the main event of the night. THE BIRDS! I can’t even describe it. I brought Elle back to see it the next night. I tried to video it, but it didn’t really capture the craziness. Hundreds and hundreds of birds came flying by and sat in trees and were so loud. I couldn’t hear Elle talk next to me that’s how loud they were. And they just kept swooping over us. Lorikeets and cockatoos were the main attractions. It was a bird party. The first night I had to stop and ask someone what was happening. Everyone was acting like this was normal. The lady I asked told me this happens every night at sunset and every morning. We could hear it a bit from our house, but nothing too disturbing.  Bush turkeys are everywhere. At the pool, on the sidewalks, on the beach….they are funny birds. 

On our 2nd or 3rd day, we took a drive exploring the different beaches and national park in Noosa. We ended up at the Noosa Spit down at the end of one of the main beaches. This was an unleash dog beach and there was a wild current and sandbars that made us sink. The kids didn’t have swimsuits on, but Luke and Mae stripped to their unders and jumped in. They couldn’t help themselves. In Sydney, our beach had big waves. This was more like a pool. It got deep right off the shore and the current pulled you to shallow waters. They had so much fun. The water was a gorgeous color. The next day, Mae and I did a nature walk through the park along the coast while Wes and big kids went back to the beach. The weather was beautiful and we were enjoying nature. 

TUESDAY! AUSTRALIA ZOO DAY!  Koalas, Kangaroos, and Wombats…..Oh My!  We drove about an hour south to THE zoo. This is the famous zoo of Steve Irwin, The Crocodile Hunter. My kids don’t know him at all. BUT they do know Bindi. She hosts a show we watched where kids compete at the zoo in challenges. They were excited to see the zoo for THAT reason. Ha! We had a membership (thanks, Daddy!) to the zoo in Sydney and that was super fun. We love seeing Aussie animals the best. We had heard great things about the Australia Zoo.  So, we did it and I am so glad we did. Unfortunately, Wes began to get sick as soon as we arrived and continued to go down hill during our time in Noosa. So while I loved, loved, loved Noosa…our trip was not as fun with one of our teammmates down for the count. We were able to pet and feed kangaroos. That was an amazing experience. Once in a lifetime. We spent quite a bit of time with the roos because it was so fun. We also liked lemur island where 10 lemurs were just running around. They were so playful and adorable. We saw a wombat and a cassowary and of course, crocs. We saw some that Steve had caught himself.  We did see one animal show that was very fun. 

Now for the best part…koalas!!! When in Australia…we hold koalas. Before I talk about the koala cuddles, I have to give a little background. At the zoo in Sydney, we learned that koalas are not social animals and they like to be alone. We also learned that just because something looks cuddly, doesn’t mean they like to be cuddled. It is actually not legal to hold a koala in New South Whales, but it is in Queensland. Because of this, Wes had no interest in holding one. The age limit was 8, so Mae couldn’t do it.  Luke said no because of the claws (good call on his part….OUCH) and Elle was all in. So before we went to the zoo, I signed us both up for the “koala encounter.”  This encounter was for 4 people to spend some time with a koala…..cuddling and taking pics. The good news is that there are koalas all over the zoo. Mae and Luke and Wes were able to pet one. We saw all the mommy koalas hanging out together and even saw a little joey pop his/her head out of a pouch. We saw many workers walk by holding the little guys. They were a big part of the zoo, so we all got to know the koalas better. Elle and I went out back to a field area where they hold the animal encounters. It was quiet and we were with a nice, young couple from the UK. 

There were two ladies working with us and the koala. There was someone there, also, to take pictures. We got to hold him twice. His name was Nitro. 3 years old. First thing I noticed was his smell. The makes have a strong scent for marking trees. They get smellier the older they get. We smelled like eucyltups for the rest of the day. Elle held him first and then me. After the “formal pictures” were taken by the zoo (we didn’t buy any of them but we have the proofs), we all got a 2nd hold for a little longer and we could then take our own photos. Wes and the kids were not far away. We decided to steal Wes’ jacket because Elle and I had on tank tops and OUCH. His claws just dug into us. It was much better with the jacket for our second hold. He was heavier than I expected. They look like little fluffy balls when you see them in a tree. But Nitro was solid. And we loved him. He seemed to actually have a personality. I read on the website that he became a father recently. I’m so glad we did it. I still have koala scratches 4 days later. We will never forget Nitro. For Elle, this was a dream come true and a mic drop for our Oz travels. She came. She saw. She held a koala. 

Thursday! Great Beach Drive. We got a 4wd rental car with the hopes we’d be able to check out this highway ON the beach. Literally on the beach. I’ve never driven on a beach before. Wes had been to a beach in Florida where you pull on to the beach to park. But we were both curious about this. We got a permit, packed a lunch, and took off. About 15 minutes from our house was a car ferry to get across the river. Then we drove about 10 min and saw the turn to get ON to the beach. It was incredible. 2 lanes of cars down by the water and you could pull over and stop anywhere. There were speed limit signs. People were also camping in some parts of this beach. We stopped along the way and had a picnic lunch. We had planned to cut over and see Rainbow Beach, but Wes was still very sick and the sand was really deep on the way toward Rainbow. We got stuck once and didn’t want to take any chances, so we headed back home. On the way back home we made a few stops. First, we let each kid drive. They sat on Wes’ lap and the big kids did the pedals. Their frist time driving will be memorable. They discovered red sand and played with that for a while. Then we spotted whales and watched them play. 

We ended our trip with some paddle boarding and shopping on Hastings Street. 

There was even more we could have done on the Sunshine Coast, but the zoo and beach driving were the highlights. This trip also included a doctor visit. First one since we have been here, so not too bad. Wes probably won’t have great memories of Noosa, but I fell in love. The wifi was limited, so it was a great trip for Elle to catch up on summer reading and Mae & Luke made a ton of super cute videos together. 
This was the last of our touristing. Next up we have Brisbane. City. Only going because Wes has a work conference. 6 nights. Hotel. 

Can’t believe in 10 days we leave Australia. 


Travel Conditions; Check in with the Gypsies 

I keep singing “On the Road Again” and “Leaving On a Jet Plane” on a loop in my head. We have been on the road for 23 days now. 18 more until we are back in the USA. We are more than half way done with gypsy life, so I decided to take a break from my diary/journal type posts and reflect a bit about this traveling life. It’s different. It truly is a different experience from what we did the first 4 months. 2 months of moving around is different than I expected. I’ve learned a lot. We all keep getting tougher. The road hasn’t broken us yet. Still going (relatively) strong. Knock on wood. 

As a teacher and mom of 3, I have built up a good amount of patience over the years. This trip has made me patient on a whole new level. I saw a quote recently about how we, as the adults, need to be the calm when our kids are feeling chaos. Or something like that. I suppose I could look it up, but you know what I mean. My dear, wise friend back home refers to it as not getting on their roller coaster. These are the words of wisdom helping me be successful on this journey. The grown ups have (mostly) remained calm and OFF the roller coaster. We are setting the tone for our travels. 

I know I mentioned this in a different blog post, but for me it’s about positive energy. If someone is having a bad day or a bad hour or a bad moment, we just let them. Then we try not to let it bring us all down. That’s the goal. Collectively, we are only as happy as our happiest teammate! Can’t be the other way around. This has been a valuable life lesson. 

Traveling with 3 young people is wild. So many emotions and needs and everything. Everything. It’s a lot. I said this is another blog post once about when parents on Facebook were complaining about being stuck home for ONE snow day with their kids. I LOL and LOL about that. The five of us are “stuck” together for 6 months. We aren’t just living in another country or traveling abroad. It’s more than that. We are in it. Together. Like always together. I can’t stress this enough. We don’t separate. No need to send help….we are finding our groove. Adpating and wearing our positive pants (most days.) I won’t say it’s easy, but it’s now our new normal, so we have worked out many of the kinks and are making the best of it. But it’s wild. 

We definitely miss being with humans other than each other. For sure. But I also know that before we know it, we will be back In Denver all going our separate ways again. I hope not in the same way as we did before. I hope this trip gives us some connections that will continue long after we get home. It’s a hope I have and something I will also actively work on when we get home. But we are generally social people, so this is one hard part about traveling.

Nonstop this:

Accommodations: We’ve been lucky. We picked places to stay back in May and we’ve been happy everywhere.  Most are Airbnbs and just a couple hotels. Hotels here are more like apartments. Every place we’ve stayed has had a kitchen and laundry. That was a priority. Eating out isn’t something we do on a regular basis, so a kitchen was a priority. I prefer to eat meals at home and go out for a coffee or a treat. It’s too $$$$ for 5 of us to eat out, so we do it sparingly when necessary. 

Planning. I was talking to a Sydney friend about how I used to be a planner before this trip. Which sounded funny because this trip takes constant planning. She explained it as “flexible planning” and that seems about right. We plan the big stuff and let the small stuff happen. Both are great.

There are 3 levels of activities during our time at all these different places.

Level 1: The BIG ticket items, like the Great Barrier Reef or Australia Zoo. These outings take some pre planning/booking/organizing. These are big days out where we spend money on experiences, leave early, and pack a lunch.                                                                                           

Level 2: These are my favorite. The rainforest or driving on the beach are examples. These days don’t cost much money ($7 for a car ferry) and aren’t subject to any particular schedule. We just take off and explore…enjoy the day with no specific expectations. These are the days where we, Marshalls, tend to thrive. No pressure. On our own time.         

Level 3:  Days when we all need to chill. A swim in the pool if we have one. A walk. Movies and books and Legos and magic tricks. Sometimes a sick day. 

So we balance our trips with a mix of these activity levels. We got into a groove where we would show up at a new place. Kids would run around fighting over beds and declare it the nicest place ever. They loved “move in” days. They would check out the important things: pool and wifi. I would check about the coffee situation in the kitchen. Next, we would load up on groceries.  Then we would crash from a day of travel. The next day we usually leave free to get our bearings. I would start with a master list of all the “must dos” in that particular part of Oz. Then I’d check the weather and loosely plan which days would be best for which activity. I’d research nature walks, beaches, wildlife and the best coffee. I’d set up a meeting with Wes to discuss and then we did the best we could each day to make it happen. We had to pace ourselves and I think we’ve done a good job at that. Of course, Wes is super sick as I say this, but it’s true. We are not touristing 24/7. We would burn out and be miserable. It’s working. What we are doing is working. We are seeing amazing parts of the country, having cool experiences, having fun and haven’t killed each other. Success. 

Recently, my Shelly asked me how the “mood” was and that gave me the idea for this post. Traveling is fun. We are in relatively good spirits. It’s going fast. So fast. The kids are definitely getting excited for Cape Cod! 

Mood:  Mae lost her 4th tooth and is silly as ever. Luke needs a haircut and is currently obsessed with claw machines. Elle has been perfecting card tricks, has been very helpful, and is excited to see her friends back home. Wes is busy getting work done for his Brisbane conference and constantly pulling over to take pictures of streets. Debbie has hit professional level of packing/unpacking. She’s also reading, exercising and trying to eat less sandwiches. 

All things considered, I’d say the mood is pretty darn good. 

5. Byron Bay June 19-23

This felt like a quick one! It was hard to come down from the high of paradise in Port Douglas. This trip will be happily remembered for Luke’s 10 Birthday! Byron Bay is great. A chill vibe…surf and funky. I am not sure we got the full experience, though. We had rain, a sick mommy and a birthday. I have been suffering terrible allergies since we have been traveling. My Denver allergist told me to never ever live in a humid climate due to my severe dust mites allergy. I guess he was right! I tried so hard to suck it up, but these allergies have been sucking the life out of me. Getting outside is the best medicine.  We ate some yummy meals and the coffee was delish. Very impressed with the beautiful beaches. I do wish we could have stayed longer… I’d stay closer to the action (or learn to drive!) and come when it’s a little bit warmer. 

MONDAY  Our travel day was LONG. We drove from PD to Cairns. Flew 2 hours to Brisbane and then drove 2 hours to Byron. It wasn’t our smoothest trip (bags too heavy, couldn’t find food, rental car took forever, etc…) But any trip that ends safely is a win in my book. We arrived late to our new place in Byron. It was dark and pouring rain. We were all in good spirits and happy to get a good night sleep. We didn’t do air bnb here. We rented in a complex of sorts. It was a treetop house. Very cool! Our house was literally in the trees! We could see then ocean from our back deck and the birthday boy got to choose his bed. He picked the top floor loft pull out couch. Gave him some privacy….and the TV. There was a gym and pool and tennis courts and we could walk through the woods along a path to get to the beach. It was a short drive to the action. 

TUESDAY Rain! Didn’t really know where we were or what to do. We ventured out when the rain let up. We checked out some shops and a beach and a park. We kept getting caught in downpours. Ended up having lunch at a yummy Mexican restaurant and headed to a movie. I didn’t join them…instead, I shopped around the mall for some birthday supplies. This was the first time I drove! Just from one shopping plaza to another. Pretty straight. Only one roundabout and I was the only car around. 

WEDNESDAY Weather improved so we went on a walk to the lighthouse. It wasn’t perfect weather, but we managed to spend a few hours outside. Our friend recommended this walk from Wategos Beach up to the lighthouse and it was perfect. Beautiful views and lots of stairs (my favorite!) And different than other costal walks we have done. Just the right length. Unfortunately, it wasn’t clear enough to see the whales.  Had some yummy sushi and called it a day. Ended with a swim at the pool and some tennis. 

THURSDAY LUKE’S BIRTHDAY! We let Luke plan this day. I got up extra early to decorate. He wanted to go to a movie and play Minecraft with his sisters. We went out for pizza and had gelato back at the house. Luke opened presents and enjoyed video messages from friends back home. I wish you could’ve seen him smile when he saw his friends wishing him a happy day. We ended the day with a swim and hot tub. The highlight for Luke was winning the claw machine at the movies. He’s been studying how to win by watching YouTube, but I never say yes. Since it was his birthday, I gave him a dollar coin. And he won. He was so happy. Great day for my sweet 10 year old.

Last photo as a 9 year old. 


FRIDAY Another travel day! We weren’t quite ready to leave Byron Bay and the sun was shining, so we visited the beach near our house. Then we had a surprise for Luke. He wanted to go to an arcade, so unknown to the kids, we found one on the way to our new house. It was one of those HUGE places kind of like Dave and Buster’s. It was on the Gold Cost in Surfer’s Paradise. I would have preferred to be surfing, but he’s 10 and this is fun for him. All 3 kids were so excited. We spend so much of our time at the beach or taking nature walks. They got to take a break from being a tourist and just play!  They had a blast. 

Morning at Tallows Beach

Arcade Surprise!

Quick peek at the beach in Surfer’s Paradise! 

On to Noosa….


4. Port Douglas June 14-19

It’s funny this trip is called Port Douglas because we didn’t spend too much time actually IN Port Douglas. We had zero plans when we arrived here on Wednesday, June 14th. Good thing. It turned out we needed a rest and this ended up being the perfect spot for some much needed r&r. Our half way point. 

 WEDNESDAY We arrived and settled in. The house is so beautiful…the verandah and pool and gardens are nice. We could pick fruit from the trees. It is a very comfortable house which we needed since 3 of us were sick. The kids enjoyed the pool. We got some groceries and relaxed. 
THURSDAY Total chill day. Luke got sick. I was already down for the count. We didn’t do anything. Kids swam. Wes got some work done. I napped. Easy day. We needed it. 

FRIDAY It appeared we needed another day of rest. We did go get more groceries in Port Douglas, so we walked around the main street a little. Great town. Unfortunately, Elle started to get sick too, so we didn’t stay out too long. More rest. Pool. Movies. BBQ. Easy.  

House pics! All outside photos because that’s where we spent all our time. The kids enjoyed the heck out of the pool…day and night. I had to holler at them Sunday night for splashing too loud while I tried to watch The Voice. 

This house has such a great set up. We were outside all of the time.  Eat, swim, TV…everything OUTSIDE. You even have to go outside to get to 2 of the bedrooms. Felt amazing. Temperature is very pleasant. Mid 70-80s. I decided to unpack every bag and start over. Try and lighten our load a little. The laundry here is also out on the verandah, so I am all caught up on that. Able to assess what we need for the remainder of our time in Australia. I still don’t drive here and our house is pretty remote. So we have truly hunkered down. Thank goodness the house has a tea kettle and Nespresso machine. 

SATURDAY 3/5 of us were still recovering, but it was time to get out. Mascara and Motrin and I was good to go. I planned a low key adventure day…nothing too strenuous. About 30 min north of us is a car ferry over a river that brings you to the Daintree Rainforest. So off we went. What a day! It was beautiful. The ferry was fun. First, we drove to national park where there were boardwalks through the rainforest. It was so quiet and peaceful and we all enjoyed being so close to the Rainforest. It’s massive. The light peeking in from the canopy was gorgeous. It was just the right length/time for a walk. Elle started to feel better in the fresh air. This Rainforest is home to the cassowary, but sadly we didn’t see one. It’s also home to crocodiles and , thankfully, we didn’t see any of those either. 

Next, we continued north. The roads were narrow, windy and surrounded by the rainforest. We stopped at Daintree Ice Cream Co. This was the most beautiful place I have ever eaten ice cream. It’s a fruit orchard and they make the ice cream with their own fruit. You don’t order a flavor. You just get a cup with 4 scoops. Whatever flavors they have. Our 4 flavors were: banana, passion fruit, sour sop and wattleseed. My favorite was wattleseed. We spent some time just walking around the property because it had pretty plants and trees. The kids took some photos. It started to get hot and sunny. I can’t believe this is winter. 

Our last stop, was up in Cape Tibulation. A beach! This gorgeous rainforest has beaches! It was beauty overload. Sydney is “where the city meets the sea.” This area  is referred to as “where the rainforest meets the reef.” Wow. All I can say is wow. The Great Barrier Reef was difficult to photograph, but the rainforest was very cooperative! 

SUNDAY Father’s Day! Father’s Day is actually celebrated in September here in Australia. We gave Wes his gifts before we left Coogee and today we tried to treat Wes to a nice day. As I mentioned, I haven’t driven yet. So I wasn’t able to do much preparation. We made cards and let him take it easy and watch golf. We went for a very nice lunch at the marina in Port Douglas and then went to the beach. Four Mile Beach is a beautiful beach. The water was so warm! Home in the afternoon for swimming and packing. 

Monday Travel day. Sad to say goodbye to our beautiful PD home. We will all miss it. It felt like a vacation in paradise. Even the drive to the airport was pretty.  Although we had some team members feeling sick during this leg of our journey…it was heaven. Time to head south (back to NSW) for Luke’s Birthday Week in Byron Bay! 

Mind on a permanent vacation
The ocean is my only medication
Wishing my condition ain’t ever gonna go away -ZBB


Blog at

Up ↑