"I went to the Great Barrier Reef this weekend" is never something that I thought I would ever be able to say. But this past weekend, I did exactly that. I spent a whole day out on a boat enjoying the ocean, snorkelling with the tropical fish and seeing the amazing coral on the reef. I even got the opportunity to experience the terrifying task of scuba diving for the very first time. We dove to a depth of about 10 meters (3 stories under the water!) and touched the ocean floor, all while breathing normally. It was the strangest and most scary thing I've ever experienced. It all just felt so unnatural. Still, this was a highlight of my trip. Unfortunately, due to the whole water part of the ocean and such, I was unable to take any photos of the reef. So here is a photo of what I saw, taken by a professional with an underwater camera. It honestly is just as breathtaking as it is in the photo.
The other major activity while in Cairns this weekend was white water rafting on the Tully River. We were on the "Xtreme" tour of the rapids, which meant that we always took the road less travelled, the more dangerous and wet part of the rapids. An upside to this extremeness: I now know how to flip a raft if it flips over! This also gave up the opportunity to stop along the river and jump off of some rocks and cliffs and giant logs sticking out of the river. This made for heaps of fun and successfully exhausted us by the end of the day.
Our trip to Cairns was amazing. The sights and activities were great of course, but the people we met while staying and traveling there also made it even more worthwhile. Our British friends that we made during our rafting adventure kept the day light and laughable; another friend from England who was our roommate in our hostel joined us on our trip out to the reef. The nightlife brought us yet another new friend, this one was a guy taking some time off from work in Melbourne to travel to Cairns. These new friends made the whole trip better!
On a different note, I have become aware that back home it has snowed (or at least frosted over). This is the first time in my life that the mercury's rising instead of dropping in November. This is weird for me and I seem to be finding myself cranking on the air-conditioning in my dorm room to simulate the harsh Wisconsin fall. I know. I'm weird.