married life, day 81


people have asked, more times than i would have imagined in the last 81 days, what it's like to be married and if it feels any different than before.  this question has come from married and non-married people and most of them have either felt themselves or heard somewhere that it doesn't really feel too different than being engaged.  then why do so many people ask?

i've thought about it a lot in the past almost three months and slowly but surely something does start to feel different.  there are the obvious things like it lasts forever, you took serious vows, you can fully merge your lives and plan a long future, but those things aren't really very different than what you'd been planning since getting engaged.  and i think i have finally put my finger on that deep down feeling that is different than before: eric and i are now family.  i loved him and wanted him to be my family before, but you're not family until you're family, you know?  "blood is thicker than water" as everyone i'm related to likes to say.

ok, yes, so i knew that getting married immediately makes you family :)  that's great! you get babies, you stay together forever, in sickness and health, it's a fairytale!  and it's a wonderful fairytale that is a gift that keeps on giving every single day!

but what about the other side of the fairy tale?  what about annoying the shit out of each other?  what about getting drunk and embarrassing each other? or what about in the future when someone loses a job, or gets depressed, or any number of things that can suck about being human?

well these things happen in any relationship, right?  and at some point in all the other relationships, you or the other person became not fun enough that you called it quits.  you still think they are great and want them to be happy, just with someone else.  but with marriage you say "i don't care how screwed up you are, or i am, you don't get to choose your family and life isn't long enough for you to ever get enough time with them, so you better just love your brother mom dad husband because there is nothing you can do to change it".

i. love. this.

this loyalty to a fault that is reserved only for those with whom i share blood or a lifetime of friendship.  this deep compassion and empathy and defense for someone even when they are wrong.  this is familial love.  this is marriage.  i loved him before, but this familial love is what has decided to develop and root inside of me. 

everyone is a little bit weird, in good ways and in bad, and luckily at some point you get to be a with a person that has seen you at every point on the spectrum of mental health and loves you anyway.  because he has to :) and i have to, too.

and that's what feels different about being married.

escape to gero


eric and i were tasked with driving 5 hours down to geraldton to pick up our other boat, maziwa, and run some other errands.  we were really excited about this because it meant a few days in an actual town with restaurants, grocery stores and a movie theater.  at 5 hours away, gero is the closest real town to us!

maziwa has been down there for a while getting an overhaul so she can get back out on the water after a number of years.  along with picking her up and making sure she was indeed ready to go, we had many things other items on our list such as groceries, kitchen supplies, personal lists to fill for people, hardware items, outdoor furniture, and a number of other random things to find, plus eric had to complete a first aid refresher course.

the long drive and all of the running around were more than worth it for the following reasons:
1. hot, fresh water, clean showers
2. a movie in a theater with popcorn (despicable me 2 was awesome)
3. nail polish
4. unlimited internet access
5. salad

my friend janey and i like to joke about the need to find salad.  this happens when you travel somewhere like the deep south, rural virginia, etc. and the only food options you have are fried, cured, or covered in gravy.  you get such a strong craving for salad that you go on a mission to every store you can find in search of something green.

we do have salad here (basically ice-burg lettuce) but it's pretty expensive so we mostly get other veggies instead.  eric and i love our salads, so it's been a bit of a withdrawal. therefore, while we were in gero, we completed our mission and ate enormous amounts of arugula salads covered in fresh veggies and goat cheese.  how sad is it that i'm writing two paragraphs about salad???  :)

but salad was not the only excitement we had on this trip...

after testing maziwa out on the water, we were pulling her in and the wench belt snapped.  that was a minor (though a little scary to have that snap in your face) setback, but we got her fixed up and got on the road the next morning with maziwa wenched to the trailer with two ratchet straps holding her down.  about 1 kilometer before stopping for gas (a gas station is every 2 hours or so), we saw a strap break.  then the second one broke.  we pulled into the station, stopped and got out and the boat was halfway down the trailer!  her eye-bolt has come off and the boat wasn't being held on by anything.  so i'm thinking if it had happened any earlier maziwa would be somewhere in the middle of the road.  now that would have been exciting.

long story short the 5 hour trip turned into 8.5 hours.  but everyone and everything arrived safe and sound and we didn't hit any roos.  i would call that a pretty successful trip.
^^don't know why i didn't take any pics on our trip, except these from testing out maziwa^^

bushwalk therapy


sometimes you just need to get your wine and your music and go for a long walk in the bush.
^^a one man dance party with my friend outkast^^
shark bay
there are 7 of us living in two small caravans and while i'm getting to know and love every person here, sometimes it's just a lot of people in a small space.  poor eric is alone with 6 women!

  there's a guy outside our main van who sneezes a lot, so eric has been named snow white and the six of us plus sneezy are his 7 dwarves.  eric probably needs a bushwalk more than i do.

it's so remote out here you can walk deep into the bush and experience total silence, solitude, and if you wait long enough, darkness.  with no light pollution you can see every single star and the entire galaxy cloud.  i saw two shooting stars on my walk!  does that happen every night and we just can't see it at home?

you can also see animal tracks and hear every bird (chiming wedgebills have the best song) and rustle in the bushes.  walking around out there just kind of brings you back from whatever bad mood you were in.  so i'm now calling it bushwalk therapy and will try to keep weekly appointments.

lunch on a tall ship


tall ships are what we usually think of when we think of pirates on boats with huge sails making people walk the plank.  they are beautiful ships that i think every kid probably dreams of sailing on.

the leeuwin is a learning vessel that teaches kids sailing while instilling values like responsibility and teamwork and uses challenges to inspire self-growth.  it's kind of like camp but on an awesome sailboat.

they have just finished a trip up here in the bay and invited us over for a lunch party before heading back down to perth.  we got to check out the boat up close and meet the crew.  it was a lot of fun!
tall ship
 ^^the main room where everyone eats, meets, and hangs out when not on the deck^^
 ^^6 kids to a room^^
 ^^this tiny kitchen feeds 50 people 3 meals a day^^
tall ship
tall ship
^^i think the rigging is beautiful^^

dolphin penis



that's right.  i said dolphin penis.

dolphins are very social and live in fission-fusion societies like humans.  this means that they hang out with some dolphins more regularly (like we do with close friends and family) but also have other friends they are seen with less regularly (like our acquaintances).  and those group compositions change throughout the day (just like we move throughout our day with different groups of people).

females and babies hang out with other females and babies, usually those related to them or close friends.  males, on the other hand, leave their families and form alliances with other males who they usually are not related to.  they will stay with this alliance their whole life and spend much of that time searching for and consorting with females.

our research team focuses on females (there is another team that focuses on males), but when collecting data we sometimes come up on groups of males.  the dolphin below was in a group of males that were socializing.  when they socialize they kind of wrestle or play, they practice having sex, or just mount each other to show dominance.  it's funny to watch these behaviors because it's like a ball of dolphins moving around and you can't tell who is who but you can see a pec fin, or a tail, or a belly, or an eye and beak.... or a penis.

with so much movement in the water, taking a decent photo of a dolphin penis is no easy task.  i was even challenged to win an ice cream if i could get a good shot.  so without further ado, behold my ice cream winning photo.  i am so proud!


shark bay australia
shark bay australia

a couple of interesting facts about the dolphin penis:
1. dolphins have genital slits so all genitalia is kept on the inside when not in use.
2. dolphins have prehensile penises.  this means they have control over them and can move them anywhere they would like to.  like a finger.

not gonna lie, after seeing this close up zoomed in picture i kind of feel bad for the females.  very interesting, but also pretty gross looking!



while on faure island, we had the great luck of running into this beautiful sand goanna.  these monitors are found throughout most of australia so they're not too hard to see, but i still got really excited once we spotted him.  and he just posed for me, like a beautiful lizard should, to let me take as many pics as i wanted!
western australia
sand monitor australia
isn't he beautiful?!

faure island


janet, eric and i decided to take a day trip over to faure island.  we had heard that a sponger had been spotted over there and were skeptical, but went to check it out anyway.  there are huge flats surrounding the island where the depth stayed between 1 and 2 meters with no sign of dolphins.  but it was glass calm so we could see lots of shovel nosed rays and bluebone fish.

faure was only named in 1801 and stayed uninhabited until it was used as a sheep and goat station in the late 1800s.  in 1999 the lease was sold to the australian wildlife conservancy which removed most of the goat and sheep and the AWC has tried to reintroduce some of the native mammals that didn't survive once the sheep and goats were introduced.

anyway, at this point there are no humans on the island except the occasional ranger at the station.  we went on shore to look around and saw no one, kind of like a creepy ghost town.  there were bones everywhere, snake tracks in the sand, broken glass, and abandoned buildings.  it was like an adventure field trip.  the rainbow water and the mysterious overall vibe are calling me from across the water to come back and explore some more...
faure island australia

that's a wrap


the film crew got some final shore shots and decided the had what they needed/could get.  we celebrated by going into town and having a fancy dinner at the old pearler.  you know it's a big thing when we go all the way to town just for dinner :)  i learned a lot from these guys.  some about making documentaries (i have such a hard time not looking at the camera) and lots about german history and geography.  mostly i learned about andreas and his interesting life and adventures and was jealous of all of the crazy stuff he's seen.  so now eric and i have added lots of new places to our travel bucket list :)

can't wait to see how the film turns out!

dolphins leaping


seeing dolphins leap can really make your day.  we mostly get to see fins and some body, always in or through the water, so when a dolphin decides to leap 2 or 3 meters into the air, we get to see it all!  

this particular dolphin is named eden.  she is 9 years old and has not had her first calf yet, but loves to hang out with baby dolphins (she will probably have her first calf pretty soon).  she was leaping like crazy, so i was lucky enough to get a couple of shots.

one reason a dolphin will leap is to forage, like eden in the pics below.  she was chasing around schools of fish, but still needed to come up for air, so the fastest way to do this and get back under water while maintaing speed is to leap.  a lot of times when we see dolphins leaping (while foraging, being social, when they are startled, or for other reasons), they only do it two or three times.  eden leaped for us about 10 times!  and this was about 8 in the morning.  that's a good start to your day :)
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