worth the wait

Sometimes you go to the expected place to find what you’re looking for. At other times, the place where you find it is much better than expected. My first platypus sighting was just that. The Platypus Viewing Platform outside of Yungaburra is a reliable spot to view these unique little mammals. Or so my friends Jenn and Ronnie had thought. They had seen them there numerous times in the past, but after three visits there, our sightings equaled our sightings for polar bears that day. Zero.

The platypus viewing area is a convenient way to see the platypus, when they are active.  No such luck when we were there!

The platypus viewing area is a convenient way to see the platypus, when they are active. No such luck when we were there!

On a whim, and in hindsight, the wise intuition of Ronnie, we drove down a small road outside of town and found an unmarked trail head in the rainforest. The scenery alone made the detour well worth it. We saw three small waterfalls underneath the canopy of green. A group ahead of us had seen a platypus that morning so we waited eagerly by one pool for ½ an hour or so before Jenn spotted one at the next pool downstream.

We were never sure what part of the pool this small platypus would pop up in, but the stream of bubbles breaking the surface gave us just enough of a signal to anticipate it's arrival.

We were never sure what part of the pool this small platypus would pop up in, but the stream of bubbles breaking the surface gave us just enough of a signal to anticipate it’s arrival.

What a sight these quirky little animals are! This one was only about a foot long.  The small size was a surprise to me, as were the facts that they close their eyes when diving so use electroreceptors on their bills to detect prey underwater and the males have a venomous spur on their hind limbs. The platypus we were watching would surface and quickly disappear around the pool at the base of a fall. We spent about 20 minutes watching it come and go. It was well worth the wait to have this private moment with the platypus in such a beautiful setting. Those sitting at the viewing area in town didn’t know what they were missing!

A beautiful scene at what is now known to a small circle of friends as Platypus Pool.

A beautiful scene at what is now known to a small circle of friends as Platypus Pool.

a wrinkle in time

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A beautiful day at Crater Lake, Oregon.

High above the snow covered expansive landscape of southern Oregon, I skied along the ridge of Crater Lake, in awe of all that was around me. From the moment of my first encounter with this place, it quickly rose to the top of the list of most incredible places I’ve ever seen. Coming here had not in my plans, and I had come to the conclusion that skiing this year would not be happening.  However, a visit with some friends in the Ashland area opened these opportunities up to me, which also included a bonus day of skiing at Mount Shasta.

(Photo by Emily Mount)

Cross country skiing at Mount Shasta, California. (Photo by Emily Mount)

During the climb to the viewpoint of Crater Lake, I began to think about the last few weeks and what lay ahead. Looking out over the glassy lake with its perfect reflections of the crater ridge, I found it hard to believe that just two weeks before I had been standing on a beach in the Galapagos. And now, less than two weeks after that magical experience in Oregon, I am in Australia, a place I have wanted to visit for as long as I can remember. And a place that just four weeks ago, I did not know I would be coming to.

Land iguana on Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos.

Land iguana on Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos.

I recently re-read A Wrinkle in Time and was reminded of this book during my Crater Lake experience. These places I have seen may as well be completely different planets. With the exception of my time in the Galapagos, many of the places I’ve recently visited and are visiting have been opportunities that arose quickly enough to leave my head spinning. Don’t picture a stressed out, multi-tasking, spinning mind here. Think back to your own childhood, where you would spin in circles, arms spread wide, over and over again. Or where you screamed “do it again, do it again!” to an adult who held onto your arms and whirled you around, legs flying through the air. It is that kind of head spinning that I am talking about, one that leaves you laughing uncontrollably and utterly exhausted. It is not uncommon for me to stop in wonder and think, “How did I get here?” While I have an inkling of an idea of what is coming after this trip ends, it is only a glimpse. I have learned in the last year that those plans are not only subject to change, they are very likely to do so without much notice. And so it can feel like I am traveling through dimensions to different planets, from volcanoes and boobies, to mountains and snow, to coral reefs and wallabies.

Frigatebirds on Genovesa Island, Galapagos.

Frigatebirds on Genovesa Island, Galapagos.

Agile wallabies near Alligator Creek, Queensland.

Agile wallabies near Alligator Creek, Queensland.

I don’t have the luxury of bending time, as was evident during the 15 hour plane flight from LA to Sydney. But considering how people traveled the world 100 years ago, air travel does act as a modern day tesseract. The Dark Thing that I am combating is the collection of preconceived ideas I have had about how life should look. It has been a time where I have begun to see the world differently. The idea of what is possible has been stretched, expanded, and the patterns of what I have expected for myself have begun to dissolve. It does not come without questioning or fear at times but those momentary dips do not last long as excitement and amazement inevitably come as I see new places, meet new people. The adventure through space and time in A Wrinkle in Time was one of self-discovery, vulnerability, confidence and growth…as is mine.

Watch out for wallabies!

Watch out for wallabies!