Push

6 years
ago

 

Hannah and the Chocolate Factory

As I mentioned before, my wife planned this entire trip, and I did nothing but show up. If you’ve got a spouse who likes to take the reins, and you’re lazy like me, I highly recommend such an arrangement. Every day is like a surprise party. Today, Sarah drove us to the northern suburbs of Hobart, Tasmania, for a tour of a massive Cadbury Chocolate factory. Hannah and I were delighted…

6 years
ago

 

Oi, Oi, Oysters

The best thing about traveling with a baby is that every stranger who passes us says hello and smiles. You start thinking the world is full of nice people.

The worst thing about traveling with a baby is that a high percentage of these strangers want to stop and chat. And then you just want those nice people to go away…

6 years
ago

 

Tasmanian Super Bowl

Here’s how terrified we are of our waking our child: Rather than open the creaky door to our youth hostel room, Sarah and I both peed in a sink in the corner. It was dark and our aim was suspect, at best. But it got the job done. I can’t wait till Hannah is older and I can tell her that her mother stripped from the waist down, climbed on a chair, and let loose in a sink two feet away from where she (Hannah) was sleeping. Somehow, I can’t see my mom doing that.

Apart from the sleep thing, the kid’s an ideal travel mate so far. She’s always smiling. She hasn’t begun crawling…

6 years
ago

 

Melons and Felons

When you’re living in a youth hostel with a toddler, even the smallest things become complicated operations. Take bathing, for example. We’re currently sharing bathrooms with the rest of our floor, and you kind of need your own bathroom with a little one, so we’re forced to get creative.

After much deliberation, we decided the most effective course of action was for Hannah to go in the shower with Sarah, who got her clean while I waited outside the women’s bathroom door with a towel. After my ten minutes of playing the Creepy American Guy…

6 years
ago

 

The Coolest Island on Earth

Take a look at a map of Australia. The country is big and solid and resembles some kind of tubby beast, grunting and straining and drawn into itself. Tasmania is the reason it is grunting. It looks like a very small dropping out the back end of the beast—the sad, unsatisfactory result of much intestinal exertion.

Though it appears you could get a running start at Victoria and jump there, Tasmania is actually 150 miles from the mainland…

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6 years
ago

 

A Game of Footy

This morning I was awakened by a kick in the nose from my daughter. On the continuum of Ways I Don’t Want to Wake Up, this falls somewhere between uncontrollable bed-wetting and involuntary abscess removal. Hannah is obviously no longer sleeping in the tent on the floor; that experiment ended quickly. And even though she’s only two feet tall, she has managed to take over our bed with a fury seen before only by Australian Rules Football—a game which the Australians, in their typical quaintness, refer to as “Footy.” Footy would be a nice way of describing the dropkick beatdown wake-up call my kid gave me…

6 years
ago

 

Waves of Fear

Right up there with Waikiki, Copacabana, and Venice, Bondi Beach is one of the most famous beaches in the world. Pronounced “BOND-Eye", this less-than-a-mile expanse in Sydney’s eastern suburbs has a rich history as a hardbody hangout and a surfer’s paradise. Though we are neither hardbodies nor surfers, for some reason we felt it necessary to check out Bondi…

6 years
ago

 

Slime and Punishment

I tried Vegemite with my toast and tea this morning. Guess I never really knew what it was, but I assumed since it was a national tradition and a cultural icon that it would be, I don’t know, edible. Turns out it’s a bilious thick brown spread made of leftover brewer’s yeast extract. The Australian girl in the youth hostel kitchen snickered when she saw me spread it on my bread nice and thick, because she’s seen a million Dumb Americans do this for the first time. They usually spit it out. I swallowed, because I knew she was watching, and because I told Sarah I would eat anything once, but…

6 years
ago

 

Kangaroos Hate Tourists

Today in Australia, I ate a wood-fired kangaroo pizza, and the guilt was overwhelming. The kangaroo is a national symbol, for pete’s sake; it appears on the Australian coat of arms and on various currency—which made my lunch the equivalent of eating braised bald eagle in the States. I felt like Ted Nugent. And the pizza kind of sucked: a bland, soggy mess full of chewy ‘roo meat and pumpkin squash. Even Hannah rejected it, tossing scraps onto the floor from her high chair…

6 years
ago

 

Walkabout

In the months leading up to this trip, Sarah planned everything we would bring, down to the last item: toys in Ziploc bags, books, various small stuffed beast, seven weeks of travel-sized formula packets, clothes for a child that would be growing at an alarming rate, et cetera. She was meticulous. But the morning we left for O’Hare, she decided at the last minute that we would not need the stroller.

We need it.

There are a zillion things to see and do in Sydney right now, and instead of doing any of them…

6 years
ago

 

Rock Opera

Further proof that we are, in fact, in Australia: This morning, while taking a shower in the bathroom across the hall, I was mesmerized by the water going down the drain clockwise. Took my brain a moment to register that this was abnormal, and once I did, I got a little dizzy. It felt like the whole world was upside-down.

Apparently, the Clockwise In The Southern Hemisphere Thing is not always the case, as we have been taught to believe. But it was certainly true in the icky fourth-floor bathroom in the Footprints Youth Hostel Sydney. I suspect had something to do with all the backpacker fungus…

6 years
ago

 

Didgeridoo-Over

I wish I could say it was a conscious choice to stay at a grungy youth hostel like the one we picked in Sydney (“Yeah, man, we’re keeping it real on this trip"), but the truth was we didn’t have the money for anything better. Australia is ridiculously expensive, and this is a long trip, and I’m a journalist, and Sarah’s a teacher. That’s how we ended up at the Footprints Youth Hostel right downtown.

It honestly hadn’t occurred to me that we were too old for youth hostels until we checked in. Techno music blasted in the lobby, and the heavily pierced girl behind the desk took one look at us with our baby and our masses of Stuff, and tried not to smile…

6 years
ago

 

Flight Test

The only thing worse than a baby on a plane is a sick baby on a plane, and that’s what we had. Hannah wailed and flailed and hacked like a septuagenarian on the first flight, basically all the way from Chicago to San Francisco. We thought maybe she had the croup, which involves a cough that sounds like a dog barking. Not a yippy dog, a Weimaraner or something; a big dog. A German shepherd. The thought of a 7,600-mile fight to Australia with a grumpy German shepherd seemed really stupid.

I tried to convince Sarah we should get a room in San Francisco for the night and start fresh in the morning. Was already thinking room service, maybe mozzarella sticks or Caesar salad, but then I got overruled…

6 years
ago

 

The Idea

The two of us were sitting in Pho Something or Other on Argyle Street when the idea popped into our heads. We’d been invited to Melbourne, Australia for Rhain’s wedding in a few months, and I wanted to go.

“Seems like an awful long way to go for just a wedding,” Sarah said.

“Come on. He’s my oldest friend.”

“Well, if we’re going all the way there, maybe we should turn it into a longer trip.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean you take your paternity leave and we blow it out.” She smiled. “If you could go anywhere in the world…”

7 years
ago

 

Coming Soon …

Push: one couple’s brave attempt to travel abroad for two months with a baby.

When my friends and family heard that I planned to spend my paternity leave traveling 10,000 miles with my wife and 11-month-old, some called me crazy. Some called me stupid. Others just stopped calling. But away we went—and now, you’re coming with us.

Catch up with Sarah, Hannah (aka the kid born on the floor), and me as the three of us fumble our way across…