Tag: Friends

We had a wonderful invite for a scrumptious dinner with the Cross family and a few neighbors. Great conversation, fantastic food, and new friends…. these are the ‘sweet things’ in life!
Our last day here we took a break from packing and decided to do a little paddle boarding with Surf Connect on Sandgate Beach. Why not? This was so much fun we wondered why we had waited so long! It would be great as a daily arm work out and with my ‘over 40 arms’ that could really be good.


Marissa is loving it!
The Cross’s cute little dog ‘Patch’ always greeted us with some sort of ball or toy in his mouth, hoping we would play for a bit. Marissa couldn’t handle how sad he looked after playing … almost as if he was saying, “One more time … Please!” 


Our farewell sunset.




We had to get one game in with Finn and Taj before leaving… guess who won????
The Beach House we rented in Brighton, QLD came with   incredibly wonderful and entertaining neighbors (at NO extra charge). Even the dog came to say Good-Bye.
We have met so many wonderful people along our travels in Australia, in some ways it is hard to say to leave but we feel blessed that we shared a moment in our lives together that we will never forget. And we hope that many friends will come and visit or that we can see them again on our travels back ‘Down Under’. Thank you to all those that made our experience magical by sharing your lives with us!
Dale found this kookaburra sitting outside our apartment. This quiet moment didn’t last too long as the birds LOVE to fight loudly…. very often in the middle of the night. We feel like we live in a bird sanctuary between all the different kinds of birds (and at night the bats are loud also).
Close to Manly Beach you will find this little gem called ‘Shelly Beach’ which is a wonder for scuba diving and snorkeling. We decided to take a few hours to snorkel and soak up the sun.
Dale and Keaton hiked back into the bush and up over the top of the rocks to reach their perch.


Marissa enjoys catching up with Debbie while drying off from a short snorkel swim.


What do girls love more then getting our photos taken in our swim suits…. the dentist? 


Of course Dale had to climb the tree. Why you ask? He never needs a reason. Maybe because he never climbed one with buggy boards before.


We enjoyed a dinner on the beach overlooking this incredible view. Maybe we should have brought our sleeping bags.
We love the FREE Walking Tours that are offered in Melbourne and Sydney. In the 3 hours that you tour those cities you come away with a rich understanding of it’s upbringings, secrets, history and interesting stories. If you think the wild west only takes place in America, you are sadly mistaken. You may want to read up on Ned Kelly (or watch the movie but be forewarned there is lots of wild west shooting).
Selfie sticks can be a lifesaver…. and sometimes they are just too much fun.


There is a very interesting story behind this pig and because of it people rub it in two prominent places for good luck. Marissa only would touch one spot, smart girl!


The Martin’s found their ‘Australian’ Place.


Debbie and Keaton were in search of ‘Bugs’ for dinner.  They are quite famous in Sydney and not at all what you think. We know what you are thinking because we thought the same thing. What kind of ‘Bug’ would they eat in Australia. We’ve been to countries where ‘bugs’ were definitely on the menu and you wanted nothing to do with them. We were glad to find out that ‘Bugs’ here in Australia mean small lobster type creatures which are very tasty. The ones in Sydney are called Moreton Bay Bugs. 
We ended our day enjoying the time with the missionaries, Summer and Cherry.


Our great friends from Chicago came to visit. We started our vacations together in China when they joined a tour we were hosting. The next year we met in Island Park, Idaho for some great snowmobiling with a few families. Now they came to visit us in Australia. We can now say we have vacationed on 3 continents together. We couldn’t wait to see what the next week together would hold.
Keaton and Debbie had arrived early that morning… how do they look so awake and rested after such a long flight? They do have their own secret for that but we will let them share it:) We knew that they needed to stay awake as long as they could and then they would acclimate better to the new time. With that said we planned moving activities, so why not walk to downtown Sydney with the outdoor market, street performers, and lots of fresh air.
Dale and Debbie to see if they could take on a new look…. they opted to not keep these for good. Thank goodness!
This contortionist was not only nibble but she was hilarious. We stood for over 15 min. watching her on the pier by the Sydney Opera House in the distance. 




We ended our long day by taking them for a traditional New Zealand meal. The local LDS ward in Sydney was having a family dinner with the big NZ meal cooked underground as it is traditonally done.




This delicious traditional New Zealand meal is called the ‘Hangi’ which means Earth Oven. Historically the Maori’s used this method of cooking meat and vegetables in the ground which gives it a smokey taste. We were lucky enough to experience the full meal cooked just as it was traditionally done. Everything had a wonderfully smokey taste. As they say, “Kaore te kumara e korero motona ake reka”.
Travel Saving Tips:
1- We planned the day of activities with our friends that would not cost anything (while trying to keep them awake and moving all day because they had just flown in that morning – the best way to beat jet lag is to get on the same sleeping schedule of the country you are in). We walked around downtown to some outdoor markets, watched the entertainment on the pier by the Sydney Opera House, & a ‘Hangi’ dinner at our local church. FREE.
2- Keaton is quite the sailor (Yep, at 16) and because ‘Sailing on Sydney Harbor’ was on his bucket list we were able to join. Debbie looked for different offers on various sites such as Groupon, etc… to find the best price to hire out a boat. You can also just google discounts and see what comes up.
The Martin’s were off early in the morning for Keaton to do a little scuba diving off of Shelly Beach. While they enjoyed the morning in the sun, we decided we wanted to attend church but Michelle didn’t feel too great as she had just finished with a cold a few days before which now was aggravating her asthma and sinuses. After church we did a little Clinic shopping but could not find anything open so we opted for a few things from the pharmacy and a long nap.
Sunday evening’s weather was so perfect for our ‘Once in a lifetime boating in Sydney Harbor’ experience. The Martin’s treated us to this as Keaton is a sailor and it was on his bucket list to command a boat here… we had a great captain that let him do just that (while keeping good taps on everything). Keaton did a such phenomenal job that Marissa (and I) who both get deathly seasick unless we have our trusted friends (Dramamine or Bonine) LOVED every minute of it. Marissa was a bit timid about the idea at first but afterwards we are pretty sure she would go for a few more hours, if she could!
Look at that… Keaton at the wheel with the Sydney Opera House and Bridge in the background! Beautiful!



Debbie relaxing while taking in the view.


Marissa having her Titanic moment.


Dale was happy to learn a few tricks about sailing while Keaton was still at the helm.


The City was starting to come alive just behind us, everything a glow.


Keaton finally took just a few minutes to sit and enjoy some dinner served by some culinary wizards, Michelle and Costco (mostly the latter)!


Apparently Marissa didn’t think Dale was carrying enough. 
A beautiful night with incredible memories!
This afternoon found us meeting up with Summer and Cherry for lunch. Summer insisted that we try this wonderful and authentic Chinese Restaurant. We are always up for trying something new so we let them choose dishes that were traditional Chinese. Marissa and I usually will pass on the seafood but we will try almost anything else.  You will be shocked when you see what is served for dessert in the video below! 

Our fun Chinese host brought us a few ‘special’ desserts that he himself created. Watch closely as he cracks the egg in front of us but wait until you see what is inside.


This egg look alike has a yellow mellon ball with some sort of white jello-ish food surrounding the mellon ball. When he cracks the egg… you really think you are going to be eating some sort of interesting Chinese fermented egg but your taste buds sing a different tune. Yummy! But not too sweet.


In the next egg he cracks, a rainbow colored Jello egg falls out. Such a fun meal and conversation out with the girls. WE will be going there again.


Business friends who have quickly been added to our list of friends invited us to dinner. This was Marissa’s first time meeting them…. she was soon drawn in with Helen’s stories and delightful talk along with Peter and his quick humor. Helen and Peter might want to watch out as Marissa could easily ‘adopt’ them!
As we were just getting ready to leave the table next to us was served this Gigantic Goliath plate of seafood. As I was talking with them in taking the photo, I told them I would come back next week to see if they had finally finished (notice that all their phones were out taking photos of this onsite delight) or stomachache hangover.
Brunch with our new friends, Summer and Cherry was delightful. Of course, I am always thrilled to receive beautiful flowers which adorned our apartment for days along with some yummy juice to accompany our Brunch Spread. Breakfast is one of my favorite meals of the day, although most of the time now I do a green smoothie as no one at my house really eats breakfast, so it is nice to have others over so I have an excuse to cook and EAT a big breakfast.
That evening we walked down to Coogee Beach for a little father daughter swim and snorkel, I was just getting over a bit of a cold so I bravely volunteered to take the photos…
…while Dale checked out the available fish.
Marissa braving the semi-cold water to check out the underwater wonders with her Dad. 
Gladly she did not see any sharks which can sometimes be seen here but they are the more calm and docile type but you definitely do not want to touch the Blue-Ringed Octopus which often hide in the rocks as their bite can be fatal. Who knew you might need to worry more about an octopus then a shark?
Marissa has cooked for a few times each week for us. Tonight she chose to make ‘Kung Pao Chicken’.
We are not just bragging because we can but this was much more flavorful and delicious the the Chinese restaurant we ate at (SHHH… don’t let them know). We tried to see if we could pass on the recipe, and she was happy to as she found it on Pinterest. You can check Marissa’s Pinterest or TravelingU Pinterest:
Servings: makes 4 servings

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

  • 1 pound chicken breast, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Chinkiang (Chinese black vinegar) or balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons chicken broth or water
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 10 dried red chilies
  • 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon Sichuan peppercorns, toasted*
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, grated
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, grated
  • 4 green onions, sliced
  • 1/4 cup peanuts
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  1. Mix the soy sauces, Chinkiang, broth, sugar and corn starch and set aside.
  2. Heat one tablespoon of the oil in a pan over medium-high heat, add the chicken and saute until just about cooked and set aside.
  3. Heat the remaining oil in a pan over medium-high heat, add the chilies and peppercorns and saute until fragrant, about a minute.
  4. Add the garlic and ginger and saute until fragrant, about a minute.
  5. Add the sauce mixture, bring to a boil, add the chicken, green onions and peanuts, remove from heat and stir in the sesame oil.

* If you are new to Sichuan peppercorns you might want to start with 1 teaspoon and build up to the full tablespoon that I go with.

Travel Saving Tips:
1- Cooking at home can save you a tremendous amount of money. Marissa made this Kung Pao Chicken which was delicious and cost much less then going out for dinner (although it is nice having someone else to do the dishes).
2- We often try to find activities that won’t cost us anything… or maybe a small amount, if needed. We brought our snorkel gear with us to Australia because we knew that we would have many opportunities to use them, and we have. Marissa and Dale took the evening to snorkel around a little cove off the beach by our home in Sydney. Cost? $0 – This is our favorite word – FREE!

We just returned on Sunday and had visitors coming the next day….. we could hardly stand waiting to see them! Axelle was our first exchange student over the 16+ years we have hosted (check out: Nacelopendoor.org). 

Our family has also been to France to see her and Bri stayed there a few times on subsequent summers. She brought her friend Is Ma En which we enjoyed getting to know…..we hope Axelle warned her about the crazy Bartlett’s!

Michelle, Marissa, Bri and Nate, Is Ma En, Axelle
Nate really loves Marissa… who wouldn’t?
We ventured out to see a few sites in downtown Salt Lake City… but mostly have time to spend together.
Park City here we come! The Olympic venues are always interesting to see and perhaps we will participate in a few. You will have to wait and see…….






Do you think they won? It is a good thing they don’t look scared!


Where were these two when Marissa called the police while we were in Australia because she thought someone was in our house. So brave! 




A close family friend, Lizzy Lambert, who has been studying French and LOVES to cook … did we mention that she loves to cook, was invited to come practice her French and cook with these two lovely French ladies. There was definitely some cooking magic going on in the kitchen and lots of laughs.
On the weekend we headed up to Cache Valley which is where we lived the two summers Axelle spent with us. On the way we stopped for some ‘wholesome’ American food from “Wingers”. Fried chicken wings and fries – no calories there!
We ended up with a fantastic waiter (with a mullet) who talked a lot with us that evening.  The ‘girls’ had never heard the term for mullets as:    Business in the Front, Party in the Back
They could not stop laughing, even for this photo. Although it didn’t help that he took his mullet and flipped it over his shoulder just to take the photo with them.




If you want to get up-close and personal with a few hundred elk, Hardware Ranch in Hyrum, Utah is a great place to explore. They take you out in their sleighs for a small fee. We were hoping to do a lot of snow sledding but unfortunately this year has been too warm. There was a bit of snow mixed with lots of rocks….not a fabulous combination for sledding. 

After sledding our family and many guests came over for some treats and hot cocoa (for the ‘suppose to be COLD day’). Michelle is showing off the French pastries made by Axelle and Is Ma En.
We know…. you wish you could try them…. delectable!


For their last night at our home they planned a French Fondue dinner. Before heading off on their world wind USA tour (they were in NYC for a week, a week in Utah, then a week in LA) they sent us the Raclette machine with some french cheese for the gourmet meal. We actually received it the day they arrived at our home. 
They worked all day (after attending church together) cooking for us, including an apple tart for dinner.  Everyone left feeling happily full from their delicious French dishes. We wished that they would stay longer so that we could get fed like this all the time! Actually we really would have loved to have them stay longer because we had such a wonderful time visiting with them!!
Check out Axelle and Is Ma En’s blog… which tells the real story of their visit with us:)


Assisi Cathedral seen on our walk from our Hotel ‘Assisi Gardens’ (converted convent)


Day 18 

We finally had to say goodbye not only to Sorrento! Having the opportunity to stay with friends not only saved us hundreds of dollars, but renewed wonderful friendships, which will last a lifetime. We were very fortunate to have this opportunity and it was sad to say goodbye!! 
7493112As we wound our way through the narrow roads, tunnels and cliff sides we thought how wonderful it would be to live here – despite the traffic. It is amazing how easily we have gotten use to the near misses and facade of scooters being dropped out of the sky at you as you try to maneuver these seemingly impossible roadways. 
We hadn’t made plans ahead of time for this day or night, only that we wanted to make our way about halfway back to Milan where we were to fly out Monday morning. We thought about heading up along the coast, but opted instead to stay in the delightful town of Assisi. We had traveled through Assisi on our last visit to Italy, but only could afford a few hours, as we were our way to Rome. This time we skipped Rome all together and opted for the quiet beauty of the hill towns of Umbria. 
In Amalfi the buildings have bright colors and vivid white, the hill towns of Umbria are less colorful but no less impressive. A quick look online found the perfect spot for our stay. Nestled in the shadow of Assisi, a mere 15 minute walk to the center of town we found what once was an convent now converted into the beautiful hotel, ‘Assisi Gardens’. Not only perfect in location and ambiance, it was extremely reasonable at only $78 for a triple room and less than $50 if you only need a double and includes breakfast.  
Assisi is a city set on a hill with an ancient castle looming over from the very top. It is also the home of St. Francis of Assisi and is where he is buried. The town is magnificent to view as you drive up the road from the freeway and delightful to walk through. Tomorrow the owners of the ‘Assisi Gardens’ will take us on a personal tour and show us the chapel still in use and will hopefully tell us the story of our unique accommodations. As for the evening, it will be spent exploring this beautiful town, enjoying a nighttime summer festival while meandering the booths and streets as we soaked in the music…….. and gelato, one more time before we leave this incredible country.


*Originally posted 7/2011
The intricate beautiful Caserta Palace, Italy


We find it fascinating how connected the royal and ruling families of Europe were. At Schonbrunn we were reminded that Marie Antoinette’s mother was Empress Maria Theresia of Austria and today at the Caserta Palace we see how each ruler tried to outdo each other in their palaces.
We came with friends who trekked the expansive gardens with us
The Caserta Palace was created by the Bourbon king Charles III in the mid-18th century. His goal was to rival the Palace at Versailles and the Royal Palace in Madrid. As for the inside of the palace we believe he succeeded. This is a magnificent very stately palace and is very tastefully built with 1200 rooms (think of the parties you could host!).
Marissa and McKenna racing up the steps

We think the most impressive part of the palace is the entryway of 116 steps all carved from one giant block of stone.  The gardens however, though immense are not as beautiful as Versailles but are still magnificent with a huge waterfall about 2 miles from the main palace feeding into a fountain of Diana and Acteaon. It then flows into the dolphin fountain, down through the “fish pond”, which is where mock sea battles were performed for the royal court. The Bosco Vecchio is where it all ends up and was built as the “little castle” and a playhouse for the Bourbon princes.

We made it!  We walked the entire way…. it took us well over an hour. Here are Rick enjoying a moment with McKenna, Abby, and Marissa.
We drove to Caserta although you could take a 45-minute train ride from Naples central station. It is mostly visited by Italian tourists and isn’t on most Americans list, but it is a must see if you are in the Naples area. Make sure you visit however during the week, as the weekend gets very busy. They offer special pricing for students who are from the European Union countries only but when asked -they gave us the discount as well. Make sure you have your walking shoes on if you are going to walk the gardens, but for those of you who are unable to travel the distance by foot they have shuttle busses that only cost 1 Euro per person. We recommend walking up and riding back as you will gain a greater appreciation of how expansive these gardens are.



Underneath the Princes had a secret play area

*Originally posted 6/2011