Monday Trip to Caloundra (again) but this time with letterboxing!

I love Mondays.

Mondays in the past involved getting up early and heading to work. When I lived in Minnesota and worked at the university, I would have meetings to look forward to (ha! who in their right mind looks forward to meetings?), student advising appointments scheduled, presentations to plan, and class prep to work on. When I moved to Iowa, I would wake up very early and drive to teach classes at 7am or 8am at area high schools or at Hawkeye or at Wartburg. And I would have spent most of my weekend grading papers, reading drafts, and doing class prep. I don’t think I enjoyed Mondays that much.

This past week, I spent Thursday through Sunday grading journals, commenting on 40 rough drafts, and prepping my classes for this week. I went to sleep on Sunday night with a headache from staring at my computer screen the day before for 10 hours straight, but then Monday was here. I was up early to do my online office hours, record my weekly video for my classes, reply to a couple emails, and grade one last draft that had come in late, but by 10:45am I had my swimsuit on under my shorts and t-shirt, towels and a book in a beach bag, some snacks and water packed, and hopped in the car to head up toward the Sunshine Coast for some quality time on the beach.

We’ve been to Caloundra before, and we loved Dicky Beach with the S.S. Dicky in ruins on the shoreline, but this time was different.

First: school holidays
This week marks the beginning of the two week school holiday. Schools go year round here, and at the end of each term students (and teachers, I imagine) are rewarded with a two week holiday. I figured that the beach would be a bit busier than it was the last time we had visited. And it was, but it really wasn’t that packed. Families were camped out on the beach with their pails and shovels, umbrellas, snacks, and surfboards. Teens were taking lifeguarding classes on the beach and were running into the water with their surfboards tucked under their arms ready to “rescue” their partner who was flailing about pretending to be in distress. But with all those people, it was quiet. The surf was loud and muffled any noises that might have been coming from the people around us. I put down by towel, lay down on my stomach, closed my eyes, and it was like I was the only one on the beach. After a while, I decided that the best thing to do would be to get in the water, get good and wet, and then come back and lay down. This involved some maneuvering.

To be completely honest, I was not wearing my full swim suit as I said I was earlier in this post. I was only wearing my swim suit top. This meant that I had to do what Aussies all over the country do: I had to somehow put my swimsuit bottoms on without letting the surf instructors next to me or the teen girls on blankets about 10 yards behind me notice. Not that they would have batted an eye at all since this is what everyone seems to do.

So I wrapped my towel around my waist, stood up, and proceeded to put on my bottoms without letting the breeze catch the towel and give, as Dan loves to refer to it, a “FREE SHOW! FREE SHOW!” to the rest of the beach.  5 second later, I was fully dressed and ready to hop in the ocean.

Dan had been in for about a half an hour already, so when I walked down to the water, he was just coming up for air after diving into yet another fantastic wave. So we let the waves crash into us for a while before I headed back to my towel and my book. I didn’t make it very far though because I was sound asleep after attempting to read the first 5 pages of the chapter. I can’t remember the last time I’ve fallen asleep on the beach.

I absolutely love Mondays.

Second: letterboxing*.
Last week while driving around Toowoomba, I found myself explaining what letterboxing is to the couple we were traveling with. They asked if there were any letterboxes near us because they were curious about what kind of clues are provided. So I opened up the app on my phone and checked. I had done this long before I even arrived in Australia, but I hadn’t gone back after we arrived. And I was shocked. There were at least 6 letterboxes in places we had already visited including Caloundra. I remembered reading the list of Australian letterboxes, but that was before I really knew the names of places near Brisbane.

So this trip to Caloundra involved hitting two letterboxes. One was located in a park at the start of Steve Irwin Way (he’s the Crocodile Hunter and he has an entire scenic highway named in his memory – that highway also has the Australia Zoo on it, which is a fantastic zoo but also costs an arm and a leg – something like $75 per person. We’re saving that for when we have family visit), and the second was in a park in the city of Caloundra. We did one box before the beach and one box after the beach.  One thing I will say about letterboxing in Australia is that it’s a little creepy to be walking through the woods/rainforest or digging around in underbrush to find a box. We had a 3-4 foot long lizard cross our path at the first letterbox (we did take a picture, but the lizard is too hard to see in it), and we had to avoid it as we kept walking down the path. 

Today as Dan and I were drinking coffee and making plans for this week, I said, “I feel so refreshed and happy. Mondays away make all the difference.” And they do. We all need at least one day off to rest and explore our surroundings. I’m so glad we take Mondays for ourselves.

Don’t get me wrong – I was sad to leave my friends and family, sad to leave my full-time job, sad to leave the familiar – but these Mondays and this move around the world has really shown me that I needed a break. After a year of teaching overload and overcommitting myself, I’m happy for this break. I think back to the move we made 8 years ago from Minnesota to Iowa, and I realise that I was in the same boat. I had been teaching on top of working a full-time job, and I was overcommitted professionally. Quitting my job and moving helped me refocus. And here I am again, loving Mondays.

-C

*Letterboxing – if you don’t know what letterboxing entails, check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Letterboxing_(hobby) and http://www.letterboxing.org/ and http://www.atlasquest.com/. Also check out your phone’s app store if you want to see the apps available to help you find boxes while away from your computer.

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