In looking for our next home, it must be a place that inspires stories. These are some of the stories from our life’s adventures that have inspired us. They are why we travel. As you learned of my father in Mike's post about our Australia adventure, Dan Smith is a man of action. He is also a man of the world, and his travels began at an early age. So did mine, thanks to his annual training with the U.S. Navy. He is why I first began to travel, and this is his story of a life of adventure. High school just could not hold my attention. I was born in San Diego, California, but I was raised in Chattanooga, Tennessee. When I was in high school, I was always daydreaming of traveling to exotic locations. I dropped out of high school to join the U.S. Navy, and my navy boot camp (basic training) was in San Diego. After boot camp, I completed specialized training at Treasure Island in San Francisco. I was transferred to a small ship homeported in Newport, Rhode Island. That ship, the U.S.S. Courtney (DE-1021), was set to circumnavigate South America along with four other ships. Our mission was to conduct naval exercises with most South American navies.
Our Australian adventure took us all up and down the eastern coast of the country, beginning with beautiful Brisbane, heading to Cairns for our liveaboard dive excursion along the Great Barrier Reef, then to Sydney and Melbourne for some cosmopolitan dining, museums, and parks. Before we headed back to the States, my brother and sister-in-law surprised us all with a day trip to Mornington Peninsula, the heart of Australian wine country.
In Aboriginal culture, a walkabout historically referred to a boy's rite of passage into manhood. Today it refers to a nomadic lifestyle, and after walking all over Brisbane, Cairns, and Sydney, it felt pretty spot-on for the way we'd been seeing the sights of Australia's east coast. Our walkabout continued in Melbourne, where we stayed at the Radisson in the city's central business district. It was across the street from Flagstaff Gardens, which is the city's oldest park, and next door to Melbourne's famous Queen Victoria Market. Locals call it the Queen Vic, and at 17 acres, it is the largest open-air market in the Southern Hemisphere.
After wrapping up our Great Barrier Reef dive adventure, we met my parents, brother, and sister-in-law for a few days in Sydney. Mike and I tend to prefer staying in Airbnbs where we can meet locals and get a feel for what it's like to live in a city, but my parents enjoy a bit more luxury on their vacations. And since Dan and Betty were footing the hotel bill for everyone, we spent our nights at the Sydney Four Seasons. The Four Seasons is located in the city's central business district, which is also home to the famous Sydney Opera House. We walked in and around the iconic building, taking in the views of the surrounding harbor along the way.
I learned how to dive in 1984 from a salty Australian dive master named Murray Hill. There were several Aussies who lived on the Bouygues-Blount Joint Venture compound in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and they always talked about diving the Great Barrier Reef as a source of immense national pride. So, even though I was treated to some truly amazing diving in the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea during those early years, I always placed diving the Great Barrier Reef at the pinnacle of my Adventure Travel list.
After a few wonderful days in Brisbane, we took a short flight north to Cairns, where we would spend a night before setting sail for a week on a liveaboard to dive the Great Barrier Reef. We booked an Airbnb apartment at the home of Kaj and Nicky, who left us a friendly welcome in our cute kitchen.
We've experienced some long flights on our travels, but Los Angeles to Brisbane is a whopper. It's a good thing that Angela packs a plethora of snacks in her carry-on bag. Just one of her many travel tricks. The length of the flight is exacerbated by moving east to west across the International Date Line, so we decided to spend several nights in Brisbane to recover from jet lag and adjust our internal calendars. As it turns out, we couldn't have picked a better city for our introduction to Australia.
In a marriage that has been purposefully built on and around adventure, Angela and I promised each other that Australia would be our tenth anniversary trip. We started planning and saving years in advance, wanting to make our Australian journey the epic experience that the island continent so rightfully deserves. With the planned trip still a few years away at the time, Angela's parents began toying with the idea of making the journey with us. We had already traveled with family and friends on numerous occasions, including multiple dive trips, quick jaunts to Florida, and even our honeymoon cruise to Mexico and Belize. We enthusiastically welcomed the company and began expanding our original plans to meet a wider variety of Australian interests. We also reminded them that we were then only on year seven of our marriage, that Australia was still three years away on our original timeline, and that we were nowhere near our savings goal to be able to afford the trip. But Angela's father, Dan, is a man of action. When he decides to do something, it gets done. And with alacrity.
If you're an avid traveler, it can be difficult to keep up with details on everywhere you've been. You know you went to the United Kingdom, but was the great little pub with the live music in Glasgow or Dublin? Did you take the hike to the tide pools on St. Croix or Bonaire? And what year did you ride the train through Spain? Was it Spain? The more we travel (and the older we get), the more we want to chronicle all of the terrific little details that make each trip so special. To do this, we use Travellerspoint. According to the website, "The goal of Travellerspoint is to create an international meeting point for travellers worldwide, whether they are planning their travels, currently travelling or have returned from their travels and want to stay in touch with (or find) those travel friends they met while travelling in the past." Here's a look at Mike's Travellerspoint map.