October meant we were nearing the end of hurricane season and it had been one of the worst in the last ten years, Hurricane Irma luckily didn’t hit us but we had the rough weather..
It was then time for my next whirlwind trip, this time including a visit home for the first time in a couple of years.
After months of training, the USA touch nationals was, for the first time, was held in Oceanside, California (just north of San Diego). This time we had a men’s, women’s and a mixed team that was competing.
Myself and a few others flew into Los Angeles and drove the few hours down south to Oceanside. Oceanside was an interesting place. We went for a drive to an Italian dinner to load up on carbs ready for our first big day (there were three days of touch in total this year).
Our ladies team had the first game of the day and it was freeeeeeeeeezing!!! I was pretty unwell before arriving and this did not help with my lungs in the cold air (worst flu I have had in years!). Over the course of the day the weather warmed up and we cheered on the mixed and men’s teams who did really well and played the rest of our games for the day.
The Friday was similar to the previous day but we ended this day by going for a dip in the ocean – now that was super cold but after getting used to the numbing feeling, great for the aches and pains, followed by the hot tub back at the hotel.
The ladies team did ok in our pool but our men’s got all the way to the final and had everyone at the tournament cheering for them. Unfortunately they narrowly lost to the defending champions of LA Royals.. Was a great game to watch!
The next day we started our exploring by driving to an awesome café for brekky on the beach as a place called Buccaneer Café – yum! We then started on our day trip to San Diego – it was less than an hour drive away!
Stopping first at Seaport Village for a wander around and some ice cream and then a slow (that’s all our bodies could manage) wander to the Gaslamp Quarter where we came across an awesome bar called Rustic Root.
We enjoyed a couple of drinks before cruising through the city to Mission Beach where we chilled out on the rooftop bar of Cannonball. A drink and some sushi whilst we had a great time people watching the numerous characters along the beach for our little perch.
Back in Oceanside and straight out for dinner at Hello Betty Fish House for our last meal together – yum!
The next day was a super early start to drive back to LA to drop the others off at the airport and then I had a full day to explore LA!! My first stop being Griffith Observatory to check the ‘Hollywood sign’ and also the great expanse of the actual city of LA – it was huge!
From there I drove through all the main touristy areas including Hollywood Boulevard, Beverly Hills, Rodeo Drive, Century City and eventually through to Santa Monica.
I dropped the hire car off and met up with one of my mates (from the New York touch rugby team who happened to be on the same flight to Australia with me that evening!).
We wandered down Santa Monica Pier and all the way down the boardwalk to Venice Beach (again, a slow walk because we were both hurting from all the touch rugby games). Stopping at Muscle Beach and then into Larry’s for a yummy lunch.
We hung out at the skate park watching some little kids rip it up and show everyone how it was done – they were awesome!!
Another slow wander back to Santa Monica Beach for an incredible sunset (there were people everywhere) and have a bite to eat with a yummy cocktail before making our way to the airport for our late night flights.
A long flight to Sydney and then a much shorter flight to Adelaide where my Mum met me and we went to Glenelg Beach for an ice cream and then onto The Float Room for my first experience in a ‘float tank’. It was exactly what I needed after my long flight and I easily fell asleep floating in the salt water. Such a bizarre feeling but I felt amazing afterwards.
We popped into to see my grandparents on the way home and I got to check out my Dad’s new place before Mum cooked for me for the first time in a few years. It was good to be home.
The following day we had an awesome breakfast in my favourite café in Port Noarlunga, Agatha’s Café – now this place has been around since I was a baby!! We caught up with some old family friends and I got to say hi to their little ones – so cute! Man I had missed the Australian brekky’s – so so good and the coffee is most definitely the best in the world (my vote).
We visited my grandparents again and then to my Auntie’s house for a catch up and onto Mega Adventure Adelaide which is a suspended obstacle course – so so much fun and a great time with my cousins!!
I had a super busy Friday planned which started off by driving into the city to catch up with two long-time mates, Alice and Lexi, for an awesome breakfast! We chatted for ages and before I wandered around Rundle Mall for a spot of shopping and into the amazing Adelaide Central Food Markets for a yummy lunch with another friend before catching up with more family on the way home (which included taking the dogs for a walk).
Back to Dad’s place for another great family catch up – this time on the balcony as the sun was setting with some incredible platters of food that my Dad puts together – YUM!
The next day was a Saturday which meant my bro wasn’t working so him and my Dad, with the pooch, went for a drive to Second Valley for a bit of exploring. We clambered up and down hills for some stunning views – all slipping over at least once on the way back down and having a good laugh at each other. The views were incredible and enjoyed even more by a slow drive back home picking up some local fish and chips on the way – yum!
The following day was a beach walk and brekky with Mum and crew before a big family day at my grandparents new home – was great to catch up with everyone! Amazing how much the younger cousins had grown – it had been too long..
Another road trip day with my sis and Dad to my Grandpa in the country to meet him for lunch at the local pub – delish.
We took the longer scenic route on the way home stopping for some awesome views which brought up a lot of childhood memories – the countryside was truly amazing.
Quick stop to say hi to my other grandparents before myself and my sis went for a pilates class – my first one and it was great fun! Followed by an awesome homemade curry on the balcony at Dad’s place.
Beach walk and brekky once again with Mum and the sis at an awesome café in Port Noarlunga, Coffee Factory Club. We spent the arvo driving into the city to stock up on yummy foods for dinner at the Central Markets which we all enjoyed after chilling in the hot tub for a while.
Again, a beach walk and brekky at Back’s Bakehouse, where my sis works, with the old man and then to finish up packing my bags. Stop in to spend some time with my grandparents on the way to the airport where my Mum and Dad both saw me off..
What a week!! I was sad that I didn’t get to catch up with most of my mates but instead had amazing, quality time with the family.
I had an extended stop-over in Sydney to catch up with two of my very good mates. First up with Hannah in Wollongong! I had not seen Hannah in years and it was amazing to finally catch up and have a few days together.
I woke up early the first day so went for a wander around the town of Thirroul (just North of Wollongong) and we loaded the van up and went for a drive to Kiama for a longer walk together. This coastline was stunning!!
We walked for a few hours before jumping in the van once more and finding a spot to chill for a cuppa and some choc – bliss.
We met up with some of Hannah’s friends for dinner at a delightful little restaurant in Kiama and afterwards drove to Bombo Beach where we parked the vans and called it a night.
We woke to the most incredible views – pure happiness!
A slow drive back to Thirroul stopping off at numerous beaches along the way to check the surf. Once back, we chilled for a bit before heading on another hike to Sublime. Now this was pretty steep and intense but so so worth it as the views were stunning up and down the coast..!
Wandered around the city of Wollongong and then dinner at the local Bowls club – snitty!! A drive along the coastline that night but we found nowhere to park the van up so headed back into Thirroul ready for my early morning train back into Sydney.
Quick coffee stop and then it was goodbyes to Hannah but hellos to my islander friend, Kia!
I arrived in Manly (after a cool ferry ride with the biggest pod of dolphins I have ever seen!) and made my way to Kia and Beggle’s house where we shortly made our way back to the ferry to Sydney and onto Clovelly Bowls Club (close to Bondi) for one of their friend’s birthday. Stunning location, literally on the edge of the cliff..
There was a big group of us getting into the games and cooking some delish food on the bbq as we played. I had missed this type of thing. And to top it off we spotted numerous whales breaching in the distance!
We hung here for most of the afternoon and then made our way to The Clovelly Hotel which had an awesome beer garden. We settled in.
Making our way back to Manly we cooked the rest of the bbq food and had a few drinks on the balcony topped off by a delicious Golden Gaytime ice cream – they had cottoned on well to the Aussie lifestyle – I was well-impressed!!
The next day was a little struggle but we cooked brekky before Kia and myself grabbed the bikes and went for a ride through Manly and onto North Head – the views were absolutely amazing over Sydney!
We slowly made our way back into Manly and picked up Beggs to go for a walk along the coast and clambered over the rocks to Freshwater Beach. On the way back I even jumped in the ocean for a quick dip at Manly Beach. So refreshing….
We went for a few drinks outside at the Manly Wharf Hotel which was full of Sunday drinkers and awesome vibes!! Relocated to get a great view of the sunset before a delicious dinner and calling it a night.
Kia and myself woke early and walked to Queenscliff Head for sunrise – absolute bliss and the best way to enjoy my last couple of hours in my home country.
It was then goodbyes and the ferry and train to the airport – what a whirlwind of three weeks!!