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Reunited, and It Feels So Good

Please indulge me as I begin this blog with a letter to the bike thief.


Dear Thief,

Hey there. First, let me start by saying thanks for ditching Balto at Trinity Park. You didn’t rip his pedals off, or hack through the lock I had wrapped between the handlebars and the seat. In fact, he was in pretty good condition, except his front tire was deflated. Only the front, not the back. I’m guessing that’s the reason you ditched him, since buying a pump and filling it back up would be far too much effort for you. You probably just went off and stole another bike.

Well, Balto deflated his tire on purpose. That’s because he hates you.

But it’s okay now. Balto’s back with me, I brought him to a cool guy at the mechanic across the street who filled up his tires, and we took a lovely reunion bike ride down to Lake Placid. Feel free to stop by my apartment if you want to see him again. I’ll be the one sitting on the steps with a baseball bat and tranquilizer gun.




Ok. Now that I’ve gotten that out of my system, you’ve probably guessed that I’m excited about the return of Balto. It’s been a long two weeks without him, and I’m very happy the police found him and I have him back for my last month in Australia. Then I’ll sell him back to my neighbor who works at the Smithfield Secondhand shop, and he’ll go to a nice person who needs a bike. A person who will actually buy him.

Now for everything that’s gone on in the past two weeks. I realized that I haven’t said much about my classes, and I feel like I should fix that. My archaeology class in-particular is one I should talk about.

Tutorials in that class are almost always fun. One week we had a table full of bones, and reassembled them back into a mama kangaroo and a joey. Apparently, they were roadkill from some of Professor Ulm’s old students. Another week, we did a campus-wide scavenger hunt for all the memorial plaques for former students, and had to draw maps to how we got there. Most recently, we dug through his trash from the past two weeks, and had to form conjectures about where the people/person lived, their income, their lifestyle, and how old each food thing was. One group decided their pile of trash was from a college student. It was from Professor Ulm’s mother.

My last Myth and Ritual class was Monday, and after the final exam we spent most of the lecture talking about the end of the world, since the Rapture was supposed to be on Saturday. I’m wicked glad I only have two finals left. But that also means I only have two finals left. Only one month left in Australia.

Last Thursday was an Around the World party between the Lodge and the Beaches. There were about five or six rooms that had a different country attached to them, and the hosts of each room had to make drinks for everyone that represented that country. I was Mexico with my two neighbors. We’d been planning this for a couple weeks, getting money from everyone, and, despite the fact that it rained, it was a definite success. We got a little too rowdy at Amsterdam, and Rob came and booted us all out of the Beaches. I kept my head down, hoping he wouldn’t recognize me. But when you think about it, getting kicked out is a sure sign that the party is awesome.

Also, during the two weeks when Balto was MIA, I discovered walking/mountain biking paths behind the library. I’d seen the entrance to them once before, but never checked them out because the big sign said “STAY OUT” and various other warnings about being prosecuted. But I was in a bitter mood about losing Balto, and by god I was going to walk if I wanted to. Turns out everyone ignores those signs.

Considering the paths I walk at school and home, where there are only a few diverging paths to explore, this is paradise. There’s no way I’ll be able to explore all of them in a month. The best part is they’re right at the base of the mountains, so you get a spectacular view as you walk the paths in the grassy area. The grass is about six feet high, so it’s a little like walking in a maze. During my second walk I found the entrance to the conservation park I’d heard about, and during my third walk I actually walked one of the paths all the way through back to the grassy area.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great hike, but there’s something constricting knowing most of the plants around you are dangerous. Back home I can walk off the paths and only worry about poison ivy (it doesn’t affect me anyway). Entering the conservation park, the first sign I saw was “DO NOT TOUCH THE STINGING TREES.” In tropical Australia, you have to assume every plant will kill you.

This past weekend, I went to Cape Tribulation on my last Toe-Knee trip (Tony’s the guy who runs the Walkabout Trips). Cape Trib is a lot like a tropical, oversized summer camp. It’s got a very relaxed vibe, and at the bar Saturday night I met a girl from England and we just chatted about all the places in Australia she’s been. A very chill trip, compared to the others I’ve been on. Sunday morning, Katie and I went Jungle Surfing, which I was really looking forward too. Unfortunately, I considered it to be a huge let down–definitely not worth ninety bucks.

Most of the time we had to wait in the tree-loft things for other people to surf over, though it wasn’t really “surfing.” They controlled our speed the whole time, and the only time we went fast was on the last two surfs. They were very short, and I was expecting more. Luckily, on the last one we got to swing upside down, and that was way more fun. If the whole experience had been upside down, I would’ve enjoyed it a lot more. Otherwise, I got no adrenaline rush.

Saying goodbye to Tony was sad. He’s wicked cool, and always made fun of the Europeans on the trips in subtle ways that only the Americans and Australians could pick up on. He also did a ton of cooking for us. After a hug goodbye, his last words to me were “Stay young and alive.” I told him I’d do my best.

Getting Balto back is the highlight for today. Now I’m just enjoying my last week of classes, and stubbornly refusing to think about going home in a month, back to reality…


Check It Out! (You Get the Drift)

1. The Tim-Tam Slam (Brings eating tim-tams to a whole new level of awesomeness. You bite off one corner, then the corner diagonal to that, and drink milk through the tim-tam. I recommend doing this with the double-layer tims-tams.)

2. Mangroves (I’m not sure I’d ever seen a mangrove before Cape Tribulation, but the roots are awesome. I’ve posted a picture of the grove we came across.)

3. Cassowaries (By “check them out” I mean check them out from a very safe distance far away, preferably in a vehicle with all the doors and windows closed. I mean, I’m pretty sure they’re decedent from velociraptors, for cryin’ out loud. Their talons will rip you apart.)


Find more photos like this on Institute for Study Abroad – Butler University


2 Responses to “Reunited, and It Feels So Good”

  1. Mom Says:

    Yay for finding Balto!!!! Great pics!

  2. Jen Jen Says:

    Welcome back Balto! On an even HAPPIER note, we won our first lacrosse game today, woohoo! On a sadder note, Bun Bun died. On another happier note, I graduate this weekend. WOO!

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