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Star Robes (With Halcyon)

stories by Kaya:

Survival of The Fittest

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"Having a Blast"

Buy Me Some Peanuts,
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Older Men Scratching in Tight Pants


Real Audio:
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brother love




Happy Holidays! While we missed our families and friends a ton over
Christmas, we had a great time celebrating our "White Sand Christmas"
among the amazing creatures of the Great Barrier Reef. We thought
about our families and their traditions and sent lots of love to California
and Ohio. We hope everyone is enjoying the holiday season and
are 'receiving' the hugs we're sending across the globe. :)

Onto the latest...

Recommended music: "It's starting to look NOTHING like Christmas", "I'm
dreaming of a hot and humid Christmas" and "Frosty the SANDman".

--We have a bit more of our schedule cleared up. We leave from
Brisbane to Bali, Indonesia on 12/30. We leave for Kuala Lumpur,
Malaysia on 1/8 and we'll arrive in Thailand on 1/18. We're about a
month "behind" our original travel plan.

--It's been 3 months (13 weeks) of traveling! Somehow we're still enjoying
each other's company and Jen seems to have adjusted to Jim's relaxed
shower schedule. It's been a great adventure together.

--Our 3 day trip to Fraser Island was quite interesting. It's the largest sand
island in the world and is incredibly lush. While the surrounding ocean
has intense rip currents and sharks, the fresh water lakes on the island
are glorious. The water has the same pH as our skin, which leaves our
skin and hair soft. We also saw many dingos (wild dogs) that were
brought to the island many years ago. Tragically, last year a 10 year old
boy was killed by dingos and they had to remove and kill many of the
overpopulated animals. After we returned from the island, we both got
fairly sick and made for a tricky few days.

--We spent time at our last farm through the WWOOF program. We spent
over a week in Gin Gin (Before you ask: Yes, they get together with
nearby towns Vermouth Vermouth and Green Olive Green Olive for the
annual 'Martini Festival') at Kookaburra Eco-Village. This is a shared
community of 350 group acreage and 100 1 acre land plots. There are
about 40 families currently living there and there is a variety of homes
(traditional homes to permaculture geodesic domes). The area had tons
of kangaroos and wallabies that would rest in shade during the day.

--While we didn't do much 'farming' in Gin Gin, we really enjoyed staying
with Jim & May and being a part of the community. We joined a community
lunch with a surprise visit from Santa and water games in the 'swimmin'
hole'. We took on a project of having a "Kids Paint Day". We cut a bunch
of fallen trees up to make stump seats for the kids to paint. About 16 kids
participated and created wonderfully colorful seats for themselves. Jen
was quite a paint wizard/teacher and Jim used a chainsaw for the first
time (now needs a few more to begin juggling). It was a fantastic event
and Jen baked 'ANZAC Bikkies' (Australian Cookies) for everyone.

--At our farm stays, our hosts always ask what foods we eat at home. It's
always funny to tell them that the food we eat the most is Mexican food.
Jen made some great meals, including another great round of burritos.
We're like the Johnny Appleseed (Jenny Tortilla?) of Mexican food in

--Twice, on a bus we were on they showed the movie "13 Days". While on
a bus in Australia, watching a movie about a conflict between the US and
Soviet Union/Cuba? Very bizarre. Ironically, we had to get off the bus at
the same time, missing the last 30 minutes both times. But if we remember
history class correctly, we're pretty sure that either Superman or Mighty
Mouse saves the day.

-We got our bill for Puggy's dent (campervan). It was $400 US. Poor, poor

--Our X-mas trip was wonderful! We had a great group (31 people) on a
beautiful boat. We spent time on amazing beaches and spent a huge
amount of time underwater. We both scuba dived (Jim twice) and
snorkeled for hours. The marine life was indescribable. SO FUN! The
intricate and varied coral reef, brightly colored fish and endless
underwater world was breathtaking. Some highlights included watching a
turtle cruise amongst the fish, listening to the fish crunch on the coral
when eating and watching the coral sway like we were living in our own
lava lamp. Spending Christmas with our families is our first choice, but
snorkeling and scuba diving was a nice way to make up for it. A great trip
and a great group from around the world.

Sending you all love. Thanks for your support as we head to Asia. We'll
do our best to be safe.

-J & J


to email Jim or Jen, use Jstyn AT Yahoo.com or jstacklin AT hotmail.com


[new pictures on Ofoto. Must log in to view}

Happy belated Thanksgiving! We had a wonderful Thanksgiving in Australia (in a hotel in the thriving city of Lismore) complete with a roasted chicken (no turkey), potato wedges (tough to find mashed), wine and some apple pie. We ate too much, gave thanks and sent love to our friends back at home -- it was perfect. Speaking of being thankful, we feel incredibly fortunate to be able to take this trip and have the time to explore other countries while learning about ourselves. It's been a wonderful journey.

We are now remaining in Australia until Dec. 30th when we will head to Bali, Indonesia. We've been keeping an eye on the news and we've decided to go ahead with the Southeast Asia portion of our trip.
We'll be in Bali for about a week, Malaysia for around a week as well, then off to Thailand. We will probably be back in the US in early February...but nothing is ever certain. ;)

Okay -- time for more highlights. Recommended music: "Imagine" by John Lennon and "Hot, hot, hot" by whoever sings that annoying song.

--We stayed for a full week on our first farm with Fran and Till (possibly the greatest farmer name ever, Farmer Till). It was an eye-opening experience to be around such positive, open people. Eating food that we'd picked, caring for animals and focusing on how to live better proved to be a magical experience. Most of all, we'll miss the calf we bottle-fed, Patch Mary (and the other cows, White Socks and Rosebud).

--We (well, Jen...although Jim did make some fine guacamole) cooked for Fran and Till one night and we made burritos. Not only did this satisfy our own intense longing for burritos, but using their fresh, organic vegetables made a delicious way to share the type of food we often eat at home (we know it's Mexican food...but what were we going to cook? Corndogs?)

--Living among the creatures has been an interesting experience.
Termites and ants in our food, rats getting into bags and possums seeking out treats helped us see how they're all just trying to find something to eat, too. I guess we can't blame 'em. (Although it was impossible to write under our mosquito net at night due to the noise of all the bugs - some as loud as incoming planes - who saw our lamp light as an invitation to some sort of a "flying bug keg party".)

--After our day off/Thanksgiving break, we spent a week on a farm (near Tabulam, east of Lismore/Casino for those of you keeping track on the 'J&J Travels Board Game') with Kevin and Jude and their two kids Chloe (10) and Courtney (6). They have 180 avocado trees (mmmmm) and many mango trees. This farm experience was MUCH different. This was a 'meat and potatoes' family with strong family roots and less interest in discussing the meaning of life. We learned some very valuable lessons from the experience and it provided a fascinating comparison to our previous WWOOFing stay.

--We stayed in a shed about 1 mile from their house in the bush (every forest area is called 'bush'). This was TRULY out there...we were given a walkie-talkie to call them in an emergency as we had no electricity (no phone, TV, etc.) but two solar lights. It was wonderful! We were near a dam and everyday TONS of kangaroos would hop on by to get a drink. We'd hear them hopping around at night and regularly see them during the day. When we'd drive the "ute" (beat-up truck) home at night we'd have to be cautious not to hit all the nocturnal critters. Remarkable.

--It's HOT. So very, very hot. Summer is here and it's horribly dry.
Many farms simply don't need any help since the drought has caused such problems. Bush fires are already doing tons of damage and we had a bus delay due to closed roads from bush fires.

--Jude cares for two orphaned Joeys (baby 'roos) that she's hoping to get back into the wild. We helped care for these adorable babes and hugged them when they'd bury their face into our chests when a car or loud noise would go by (they feel that if they can't see the danger it can't see them. Normally, they'd put their face back in their mom's pouch). They slept in backpacks as a surrogate pouch. Oh so soft and cuddly.

--Jim found a tick! Oh goodie. Where? Well, it was in a place that you'd only find when using the bathroom. Ah, the elusive Australian Crotch Tick. Jim can make friends anywhere!

--We saw many snakes -- most impressive was the python that had just eaten a bow bird (the size of a small pigeon) and had a HUGE bulge in its body. Also eerily beautiful was the venomous black snake that we saw going after a mouse. Snakes are just a part of living in the bush.

--Seeing kids on the farm deal with the death of animals was another good lesson. While we think it's important for kids to understand the cycle of life, we'll only have giant tortoises, redwood trees and other life that outlives humans in our house. Seriously, it was great to see how comfortable these children were with the life and death of animals.

--One night we saw a big spider in the corner of the room. When we say "big", we mean tarantula big. The body was about the size of an avocado seed and it's furry body and arms were as big as a man's hand. I guess he was there first...so we learned to live together. (He mostly kept to himself).

--In one day the four adults picked, sorted and packaged 750 kilos of avocados. It was wild, climbing trees picking out the "sprung" (ripe) ones and sorting by size. We'd never seen so much 'green gold' before in our lives. Yes, we came away with a few pocket fulls of complimentary avocados (they're being sold on the black/green market to fund the rest of our trip.

--We're now in Byron Bay (a groovy surf town) in the north end of New South Wales and will be heading to Fraser Island (the largest sand island in the world) in a day. After that we'll be heading to another farm (or two?) and then we're planning on a sailing trip in the Whitsundays out in the Great Barrier Reef over X-mas. Wow. We are incredibly fortunate people.

Thanks again for taking the time to read through these notes -- it's nice to be able to feel that we're in touch with our friends.

Sending everyone a big ol' hug,

J i m & J e n

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Kaya photos by Julian