Deep in the urban outskirts of the north east coast of OZ (Australia) lives a man with an ‘emerald kingdom’ – one he rules with a time worn and weary thumb.
His patience is long for his thousands of beautiful budding subjects but short with humans and their tomfoolery. Shy of the camera, he is not one for small talk or waffle possessing a direct and brutal honesty that is the very essence of a genuine Aussie ‘bushie’. A thick sun-toughened skin shares a thousand tales of hard work through times of abundance and disaster. Growing orchids is an art. But growing thousands of them over a lifetime in an unforgiving land is sheer grit and perseverance like none of us understand.
Five years ago, when this second dam was initially dug out and filled by the summer monsoon downpours, disaster struck. There has been no clear answer as to what went wrong but Sheddy theorized the water salinity was not checked. After the first waterings, most of his plants were totally wiped out. He scoffed at and quickly shot down my theories of water contamination from the nearby Nickel Refinery that had been reported around the same time. But as no official tests were made this will always remain a mystery.
One of the many enemies that fills Sheddy’s day with frustration, weeds, has simply become routine.
A sea of green and purple, suspended from a series of connected wire mazes, drips in the humidity. Only a few years ago this lay dead and in ruin. To see this recovery in all its glory was such a satisfying view. Nature always prevails!
Sheddy shares his life with his funny and sharp-witted wife who also happens to make the best afternoon tea cakes.
In his time new species have been created in that greenhouse and formalized on paper. However a sense of humour prevails in that many were not his creations at all. Some were propagated and later discovered as unrecorded. The opportunity was grabbed and he claimed them as his own.
A small section of wall is lined with a versatile display fed by an inventive built-in watering system. In years past it flourished, filled to the brim with flowering orchids, and was quite a spectacle. There was even a cover charge for those who came to take in the beauty. But alas, like many old world marvels reminiscent of “Ripley’s Believe It or Not” ventures this display was soon laid to waste by the charms of modern technology.
With no-one to carry on his abundance of wisdom and continue his irrepressible passion to create some of the most beautiful flora on this planet, Sheddy and his hidden little paradise in the back waters of North Queensland may one day be lost forever.
Feel the Bern 
North of the Wall 
North of the Wall
Finally, I got the chance to live out my life's dream to learn how to do dogsledding at Paws for Adventure in the wild region of Alaska, near the city of Fairbanks. Extra blessing of the beautiful weather and stunning colors of the day painted on the magical winter white canvas. Truly beautiful.
The bonding with your dogs, your team - was by far the most rewarding part of the adventure. The dogs were smaller than I expected, however do not underestimate their strength and willingness to run! They seemed annoyed when I stopped them, one of the young guns would protest by yanking forward, not taking no for an answer.
Even with my full weight on the brake I was having a hard time from stopping him dragging us forward.
The weather was the coldest I have officially been in, even though it was very mild to the locals who were used it going 40 below. The five layers of warmth kept me super cosy, however I have never had ice form on my eyes and eyelashes before, that was a very strange experience.
In the morning I walked down to the frozen river that passed in front of our cosy little riverbend cabin, and with my sister and her family on skype camera I lived out another life's must do - walk on a frozen lake/river. Was very thrilling and mind bending, not just for me but for my young nieces and nephew whom has never seen snow let alone grasp the concept of walking on a body of frozen water.
Later that night we were lucky to have a small window of clear sky in the week of crappy weather for our entire stay. The aurora borealis forecast was not good at best but we tried our luck anyway. Caught the last snow coach from Chena Hot Springs just minutes before departure and headed up to a nearby 2600 ft mountain top. The first wave appeared and we literally jumped out at the top camp and setup in a flash - and then blessed with a few waves of stunning auroras. Even took the staff by surprise. I have luck I tells ya.
A second visit to Chena Hot Springs to a welcomed thaw in their famous outdoor hot springs was well timed for these aching muscles. The mist from the cold snow surrounds transported you to a very magical place indeed. If reincarnation is real - then I formally request to come back as a Japanese Snow Monkey, one could get used to such a life quite easily.
Lastly we checked out the ice museum and wandered around in awe of the craftsmanship that carve out these stunning pieces of work including the martini glass made for my cocktail. If only it was a bar I could call my local back home, would be my hangout during the hottest days of summer for sure.
The wild north was everything I expected and more, and could really call this place home at some point. Having my own dog sled to get around was the ultimate selling point. HIKE!