Meet my friend Shelley Ridgley, tucked away Down Under in Australia. I like to think of her as my Friend From the Future because she’s in a time zone 18 hours ahead of me, which means just as I’m starting my Monday morning, she’s already moved on to Tuesday.
It’s probably as close to time travel as I’m going to get, even though I know it doesn’t really work that way. It’s one of the many cool things about the Internet that I can become friends with someone living in the future while never getting up from the safety of my couch in the present. Did you know Australia boasts a robust and lavish array of poisonous snakes, spiders and jellyfish? Or that those lovely and charming kangaroos can kill you with a swift kick to the face? The Internet protects me from these things by allowing me to read every terrifying detail without risking life and limb, but it also allows me to make some wonderful friends who can walk those lands and tell me all about it.
1) Who are you and what’s your deal?
G’day! My name is Shelley Ridgley, I am 58 years old and I come from Queensland, Australia. My two sisters and I grew up in Brisbane, which is where I met my husband David, to whom I’ve been married for 37 years. We started going out when we were 16, and planned our life way back then. We both knew exactly what we wanted out of life, and have achieved everything we set out to do. Our list was: get married, buy a house, have two children, work hard, retire early and travel around Australia. These goals and all been achieved. We moved from Brisbane to The Gold Coast about 10 years ago, and retired six years ago at age 52. We’ve been travelling in our 4 wheel drive and s0ft caravan around Australia most of time since then. We’ve also been blessed with our first grandchild.
2) What’s your view right now?
Sitting in my lounge room, looking past the Christmas tree to a favorite spot in the back yard…spa (Jacuzzi?) to the right.
3) Who would play you in a movie about your life?
Sandra Bullock, because except that she’s a lot taller than me, quite a bit slimmer, American instead of Australian, we look identical. Well, we both have dark hair.
4) Everyone has a superpower. What’s yours?
Sitting around a campfire at night, I know when an animal is close-by without actually seeing it. I am talking about small animals like possums and bandicoots. Usually Dave and I are chatting and we have some music playing, and I will sense the animal before either of us actually sees it. We have been lucky that we haven’t been surprised by a crocodile – yet.
5) I know you’ve circumnavigated Australia more than once. What were your most favorite and least favorite places?
We don’t have a least favorite spot, but we aren’t that excited about the large cities. We love smaller interesting towns. Our favorite spot is an area called Cape Range National Park which includes Ningaloo Reef. It’s on the west coast, in Western Australia. We’ve stayed there twice for the maximum stay of four weeks each time. The reef is stunning, with the most amazing snorkeling.
6) What’s something you’ve always got in your refrigerator?
Chilies. We grow them and we only have a few bushes but there are always fresh chilies in the fridge and bags of them in the freezer. There are always jars of pickled chilies and my chili jam.
7) Where’s a place you always take visitors?
Stradbroke Island. It’s where we had most of our holidays before we retired. It’s about a one hour car ferry drive from the mainland. Most of the island is National Park. We used to camp in the sand dunes – firstly in a tent, then we used to drag a small caravan down the beach and camp. The beaches on Stradbroke, or Straddie as it’s usually called, are gorgeous – as are most of our beaches in Australia.
8) You just found $100 on the sidewalk. How do you spend it?
I found it hard to answer this one. My Immediate response was that I’d donate it to charity, and there’s a good chance that this is what I would do. However, I if decided to keep it I’d probably share a meal with someone.
9) Would you rather travel to the past or the future?
Definitely the future. I’m always looking for new places to visit, new friends to meet and new experiences.
10) What’s the question you wish I had asked?
What’s the best thing that’s ever happened to you?
The best thing that ever happened to me was meeting my husband David. I came from a fairly poor area, and had very low self esteem. As children my sisters and I weren’t really encouraged to aim high. My father’s advice to us was “work hard at school and you MIGHT get a job in an office. If you don’t work hard you will end up putting labels on jam tins or plucking the guts from chooks.” From the day I met Dave he made me believe I could do anything. We realized we had the same dreams, put our heads together, and worked out the best way to achieve them. I won’t lie, like everyone else we’ve had our ups and downs, however we’re an awesome team, and life is brilliant.
Matt Grigsby was born and raised in Redding but has often felt he should have been born in Italy. By day he’s a computer analyst toiling for the public good and by night he searches airline websites for great travel deals. His interests include books, movies, prowling thrift shops for treasure and tricking his friends into cooking for him. One day he hopes to complete his quest in finding the best gelato shop in Italy.