Sunday, November 13, 2016


About 6 months ago, a friend of mine approached me with a proposition.  Carli is native Tasmanian and lover of all things in nature.  Due to her passion, she wanted to go on a bush walk (hike) that explored the southern Tasmanian coastline - her homeland.  The Australian National Parks Service had just finished building this path called the 3 Capes Track through the extreme bushland and rugged coastline as you discover Cape Raoul, Cape Pillar, and Cape Hauy --  It was 46 Kilometres in length, 4 days/3 nights, a 10 Kg pack filled with necessities like clothes and food, and elevations starting at sea level to 450 Metres at the peak.  Everything you packed in, you MUST pack out.  Carli was looking for 3 friends to take on this adventure and felt that I would be a great addition to the group!

I initially thought she was nuts and had me mixed up with some other tree-hugging friend.  I love the outdoors... if I am sitting beach or pool side with a cool drink in my hand but, I don't exactly love bush walking through forests in all sorts of weather conditions with all of my belongings strapped to my back.  I went home and chatted with my sweet hubby and children.  To my surprise, they thought I should go because whether it was good or bad, I would have stories to tell, it was character building and it would test my limits.

So I began preparing for the trip.  I bought all of the gear (hiking boots, a pack, a 700g sleeping bag, rain/wind pants, thermal underwear, etc.).  If you are going to enjoy something that is completely out of your comfort zone it is best to prepare yourself with everything that could make it more comfortable....or that is at least what I think.  I lived in my hiking boots.  I cooked in them, walked in them from sun up to sun down.  They became the perfect pairing with all my wardrobe - NOT.  But, I was determined that I would be ready.  I went out a few times with a full pack testing myself.  As our day of departure approach, I wondered why in the world I had decided to do this.  My family kept up the positive encouragement but, I was dying inside.  

The 3rd of November arrived and I was off to the airport.  I was nervous and excited. Mentally and physically, I can honestly say that it was the highs of highs and the lows of lows.  There were times when I was laughing my head off about some crazy conversation I was having with Carli, Maryanne and Rachel as we walked along. However, there were just as many times when I was overwhelmed from walking up what seemed like 1000's of steps to get to the peak of Mount Fortescue, The Blade or Arthur's Peak. 

I would pile on the clothes in the morning to deal with the cold temperatures and then shed them throughout the day because I was sweating to death from walking my day away.  I ate freeze dried food and drank many many hot cocos.  I took an ICE COLD shower and almost passed out from the brain freeze I was experiencing.  I learned so much about the flora, fauna and myself.  I learned that I can do really hard things.  There were times when I wanted to jump off the cliff because my pack was heavy and I wanted to have a rest but, I kept going.  I will always remember those days in the bush and the loving encouragement of my teammates/friends.  I could not have asked for more from these three ladies.  They were kind, insightful and pushed me.  They knew when I needed to rest and times when I needed to just push through the pain.  They shared with me how I can be a better mother, wife, woman and friend through their experiences.  

We started our adventure at Port Arthur and as we thought about the hardships that those early convicts endured at this historic site.  We were all smiles and looking forward to what was coming our way.  

We jumped on a boat that was taking us across the port to Denman's Cove.  As we left the pier, I asked the director of the track if all hikers had made it out alive.  She said that most do but, just last week two ladies had a few issues - LIFE FLIGHT TO THE RESCUE for heavy packs and being struck by lightening in the foot. YIKES!

The Adventure begins......

This is where we camped....huts like this along the route.

Rachel and Maryanne sporting their awesome looking gear!  

10,000 Humpback whales pass this point twice a year as they migrate to warmer waters to give birth.

Freezing blue waters below!

Last day and I was thrilled that I had made it this FAR!

The home stretch....yummy dinner and a hot shower were calling my name.

Our ending spot.
On a side note, Maryanne's hubby (lady above in the YELLOW pants) has wanted to be featured our blog for years.  He asks about every time we see him.  So this is Tim Baker....he is a Manning Family favorite and makes us laugh all of the time.  
Cameo DONE!

Saturday, October 29, 2016


Part 3 of 3 South East Asia Adventure

We have been to Phuket, Thailand before however, my girls had a great desire to visit Bangkok.  Since we were flying through there, I thought it would be easy-peesy to just extend our layover on the way back and stay a few extra days.  I had an uncle and aunt who were expats there for a number of years and I thought we should check it out.  It did not disappoint.  It is a HUGE city with unbelievable car traffic but it was vibrant and exciting.  We had a fantastic few days shopping, eating and soaking up this bustling city.  We were surprised to see so many American foods, brands and influences.  We went on a delectable Midnight Tuk Tuk Food Tour through the streets of Bangkok and bathed 5 female elephants in the River Kwai.  These memories will surely last a life-time!  I can honestly say that we ate on the streets of this city and no one got SICK!  It was truly an experience! 

Jane's dream is to become the first female mahout (elephant trainer) and own an elephant.  She loves those animals and feels completely at ease in their presence.  Claire has a Bernese Mahout who was smitten by her.  He was serenading her with Justin Bieber songs the entire time we were swimming with the elephants however, he did not understand the lyrics nor her limited conversation with him.  Love at first sight clearly cannot conquer all!

I can safely say that Southeast Asia is a marvelous place filled with warm, loving people.  Their traditions and cultures are so different from each other and yet they are so interesting to the outsider.  We were thrilled to have had the opportunities to visit and adsorb the glimpse that we have had over those 13 days.  

We hope that our girls will look back fondly upon this wild ride and know that although their childhood may have been unique it was filled with happy, smile provoking moments. CHEERS!
Street Food on our Foodie Tour!

Washing our dishes in the street!

Mango Sticky Rice - YUMMO!

All Night Flower Market - Unbelievable and so CHEAP!

30 Thai Bat for a bunch of roses, just $1.10 for me -- Beautiful!
Right as I took this photo....a huge RAT ran up my foot - GROSS!

More Markets and lots of shopping. 

We love public easy!