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Week 42: The Hedonism Plan

Am I the only one who felt like the last week was about a month long?! Didn't think so.

The U.S. election was big news here. Media coverage was extensive (more than usual, I'm told) and everyone was asking me about it. Justin remarked that I seemed surprisingly placid about it all. I think it's because I was mentally prepared for going home without a clear outcome, so was actually pleasantly surprised. Plus, I've had the immediate need to focus on getting two small children across the world. Thankfully Zadie's again been a big help with packing ...
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Meanwhile Justin and I have kept ourselves fortified while preparing for the trip...
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...Vegemite and one of our favorite beers, which uses a blend of US and Aussie hops

We're now tremendously relieved about the election outcome. But we're anxious about the rising COVID counts across the U.S. and especially in Illinois. In light of the latter, we'll be quarantining upon our return, and hunkered down after that. By contrast, Australia has had only a trickle of cases across the whole country. We've therefore decided to seize the day while we can, and have been executing what I've dubbed "the hedomism plan" (to be swiftly followed by the "austerity plan").

The hedonism plan takes into consideration making the most of lots of "lasts" (for a while): last playgroup, last music lesson, last date night, last pub lunch, last beach outings, last rounds of golf (though I'm not *too* bummed about a break from those...) and perhaps most regrettably: last sunny Friday afternoon wines at the playground...
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Park, playgroup, and pubs...farewell!

The farewells have been a bit draining, but I am appreciating the many positive and supportive vibes we're getting from teachers, neighbors, publicans*, etc.

*a pub owner

In addition to our commitment to the hedonism plan, we've ticked off some remaining bucket list items, including a few more ocean pools - more below!

Highlights from our last full week in Sydney, 2020:

Date night at Barangaroo and the Rocks: we had a lovely dinner in the Barangaroo area, a more recent development with a strip of great restaurants which are all outdoor but protected against the elements (thankfully because it was pouring rain). Given the hedonism plan, the night carried on to the Rocks. We caught fireworks over the Opera House and Circular Key, so yeah...truly going out with a bang - heh heh.
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Van Gogh Live: I joined Joan and a friend at this immersive art installation on Van Gogh's work. Last art exhibit (for a while) - Check!
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Burnt Orange - Joanie generously treated us to breakfast at Burnt Orange, a lovely and historic spot on the water surrounded by Bushland. As you can see below, Oscar stuck faithfully to the hedonism plan.
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Blue Mountains "grand canyon" bushwalk: I hadn't done a hike in the Blue Mountains yet, so I was so excited when Joan proposed this beautiful one. There are several canyons in the Blue Mountains, but this is the only one that's accessible via a walking track. There were spectacular views at the top, lovely rainforest, and striking rock formations. The hike was of course followed by a last post-hike lunch / local cider at a restaurant (for a while).
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Farewell sausage sizzle with neighbor "mates": one of our neighbors had all the kids over for a little farewell gathering. Adhering to our plan, I brought champagne. Our hostess had the brilliant idea to have us bring the kids' pajamas, and after dinner she had a bath and story ready so all I had to do was get them home and into bed. It was particularly awesome because Justin was out for work farewell drinks.
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Bondi Icebergs - We went back to to the Bondi icebergs restaurant for lunch with Joan on the day the election results were announced. It all aligned well with the objectives of the hedonism plan...
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Little Bay and Shelley Beach outings: we made our way back to two of our favorite beaches. Zadie loved floating in the swimming ring - at one point I swear I caught her leaning back with her arms behind her head going, "ahhh." After we got out, she grabbed the floatie and was trying to drag it back to the water. Girlfriend has definitely lived the majority of her life Down Under!

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Low moments:

Cockroach encounter - I found a massive cockroach scurrying across our bathroom vanity the other night. Gross and a little startling, but nothing a thong (flip flop) couldn't handle. I actually appreciate these insect encounters, as they keep things real despite the pristine veneer of this apartment complex.

**Special Feature - Sydney's Top 10 Ocean Pools**

I am pleased to report that I have swam in 9 out of 10 of Sydney's top rock pools, as ranked by this list (Note: I may have chosen this list based on the number I'd already been to...)

I was planning to get to the 10th this week, and was a bit bummed it fell through. But I have decided it's good to leave one out of the mix so I have an important and concrete reason to return to Sydney ;)

My love and fascination for rock pools started when I first cracked open "Lonely Planet Australia" and found some stunning photos; it has only been deepened by my little tour.

In recognition of this amazing accomplishment, I got an official photo taken with Australia's top life guards:
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(ok actually Joan just asked these two volunteer dudes if they would take a pic with me, but still, my boy Jacob gave an official "surf's up" so I feel pretty honored)

Note - some of these photos below have been previously featured, but I love seeing them all together!

1. BRONTE BATHS - I swam here at sunrise in mid-winter with my neighbour Emma just as COVID restrictions lifted
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2. FAIRY BOWER POOL, MANLY - Oscar and I swam here on an early fall day right before we went into lock down
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3. MAHON POOL, MAROUBRA - I went here on a random weekday afternoon when I just needed a moment to myself. It is by far the most "wild" of the rock pools I went in, as it is very exposed to the surf. I got tossed around a bit and it was a little frightening but also exhilarating. And cold.
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4. BONDI ICEBERGS - probably the most famous rock pool and rightfully so! Such stunning scenery and a nice facility.
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5. BILGOLA ROCKPOOL - other than the surf a the Mahon pool, this felt like most intrepid rock pool entry, as there were blue bottles visible in the water (and warned by the life guards, see below). I assumed that these were lethal (because it's Australia!). But my mates Jake and Jacob assured me they would just sting a bit. A lady getting out of the pool showed me where they were and warned me to steer clear because they hurt A LOT. Erring on the side of caution, I swam behind a dude for a lap there and back and was relieved to get out unscathed.
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6. MCIVER'S BATHS, COOGEE - failed to get a photo here! But this is a really special one for ladies only. Very close to Wylie's baths (below) and views just as amazing.

7. WYLIE'S BATHS, COOGEE - have actually been here a few times including with the kids. It's featured in one of Oscar's kids books so he was particularly excited.
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8. NORTH CURL CURL ROCKPOOL - Joanie and I had done a walk near here months ago but had to rush through due to COVID restrictions. It was wonderful to go back and do this spectacular track followed by the rock pool, which was actually Joan's first! Being a Queenslander, she was a little intimated by the less-than-balmy temps, but admitted it was quite lovely.
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9. MALABAR OCEAN POOL - the other winter sunrise swim that neighbour Emma and I did.
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As for Cronulla rock pool, see you next time :)

Posted by Bredwardz 04:37 Archived in Australia

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Hope y'all made it back safely! It's gotten a little crazy since you left. Welcome to the thunderdome.....

by Ciara

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