Sunday, December 27, 2009

Stolen Car, what a bummer

Well, we woke up this morning and our frickin car was stolen! Can you believe it? Right out from under the carport underneath Ian and Mae’s apartment. We filed a police report and are hoping that it will show up. It’s really frustrating cause we don’t really have much and we can’t do anything but wait and hope. Fortunately we pulled a few things out of the car for the evening like Mal’s computer and camera, our toiletries, journals, her purse, my wallet. The real bummer was losing all the cool things Mal has picked up throughout the course of her trip, Christmas presents given to us by family, those really cool mugs Robert gave us, my favourite set of bowls I brought over, things like that with a lot of personal value. Everything else can be replaced, although we were going to sell the car for a good portion of our travel money. But that’s alright, we’ll manage.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas from the Olmsteads!

Merry Christmas from everyone at the Olmsteads! I’ve had a really great time getting to know this side of Mallory’s family. Our Christmas stay included all kinds of fun things like playing horse shoes, watching cricket, playing cranium, opening presents, walking around the lake, playing Frisbee and eating entirely too much food. They all made me feel very welcome. When I offered to help out in the kitchen, Dennis replied with a hearty laugh “don’t worry about any of that, just relax. Tonight you’re a guest, but tomorrow you’re family and we’ll put you to work.” The Christmas lunch and dinner were great. Everyone pitched in and made some great food. I helped Mallory make a frozen peanut butter pie with an Oreo crust and a key lime pie with a crust made of the Australian version of Teddy Grahams. You would have a hard time finding either one of those here. Not too many people seem to like peanut butter all that much here, but I think they enjoyed the pie. Tomorrow we’ll head back to Melbourne for a day or two before picking our next adventure.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Josh's Birthday

This has been about the best birthday I could ask for down here, thanks to being around awesome people. After our trip to Wilson’s Prom, we got in touch with Robert Barron, a well know potter who lives the small town of Korumburra in the Gipsland area, halfway between Wilson’s Prom and Melbourne. He is a friend of Judy Duff’s back in North Carolina and agreed to let Mal and I stop by for a couple days to check out his pottery and help him out some in exchange. When I called him he said he wasn’t at the pottery but we could come crash at his beach house in Inverloch, half an hour’s drive from Gooseneck Pottery. He is a really cool dude and I could tell right away that we were going to get a long pretty well. We cooked a really good dinner on the bar-b-que, walked around on the beach before hitting the sack. The next day, the 22nd, we drove up to the pottery where Mal and I helped Robert clean out a section of his incredible kiln that had suffered an unfortunate shelf collapse during the last firing. It’s a mess in a wood-fired kiln when something like that happens because everything is covered in a viscous molten glass that fuses anything together that touches with pretty impressive strength.

Robert seemed to enjoy teaching Mal and I about the process he uses to make pots. We both learned a lot from him. His kiln is based on ancient Korean models that he studied in his younger years from potters in Korea. It was really cool seeing how his kiln compares to the few wood-fired kilns I’ve seen in North Carolina that are based more on ancient Japanese and European styles. His kiln has four chambers and a firebox. Each chamber is plenty big enough for a large person to walk around in comfortably. The fourth chamber he introduces salt to the atmosphere, which reacts with the flux element in the clay to create beautiful alkaline glazes. It’s really inspiring to see potters who do lots of amazing work and do so without the aid of electric kilns. It made me really excited to get back and make some pots.

We stayed in the loft space of his studio that night. His studio is really simple, and he makes some very large sculptural forms with simple means, which is pretty cool. The next day we did a bit of yard work around his guest cottage near at the pottery that he rents out for days or weeks or months at a time. He has a really cool set up there, with lots of fruit trees and herbs growing around the house. Then we went back to his beach house to celebrate my birthday. Robert took us out surfing until the sun went down. That was awesome. I’d never thought of playing around in the ocean much on my birthday because it’s usually cold. Robert is a great surfer and teacher. He let Mal get out on a board and taught her some of the basics. She did really well Mallory and Robert refused to let me help out with dinner and desert and cooked up a really good meal with a caramel covered banana bread for desert.

When we left, Robert let us pick out some mugs to take with us. That was really exciting, there were so many great things to choose from. We ended up picking out a really beautiful pair of mugs that were fired in the salt chamber of his kiln. They are a really nice dark and navy blue on the outside speckled with white in a way that just looks salty and a really sombre, translucent green glaze on the inside that he used on a lot of his pots. We had a great stay with him and I told him I would come back sometime to help out with a firing

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Josh's Arrival

At this point I’ve been in Australia a few days and loving every minute of it. It seems as though Mallory has seen a lot more harsh and dry climates than I have seen so far. I was surprised to find that the southeast corner is a very mild, green climate. The first day I arrived it was pretty hot, around 40 degrees Celsius, which translates to somewhere close to 100 degrees Fahrenheit. But by the next day it had dropped down to around 20 degrees Celsius, a record-breaking temperature drop for Melbourne. The last few days it has been pretty cool. We have both had some really good time to catch up since I’ve been here. It’s been great. We spent some time walking around St. Kilda, ate at a nice Italian Pizza place and had a couple beers back at her cousin’s, Ian and Mae’s apartment. I was surprised I didn’t seem to be slowed down too much by jet lag; I guess I was just too excited to get here.

We are exploring one of the more remote areas of Wilson’s Promontory, in the very southeast tip of continental Australia in Victoria. This National Park offers (or at least what Victorians will tell you) the best beach walks in the world. We would both agree that they are pretty spectacular. We ended up in this part of the park by chance rather than going to more popular areas like the lighthouse and squeaky beach. In the process of trying to figure out how to use the GPS in the car for the first time, I put my finger on a random point in the Park and got directions to there from Melbourne. It ended up directing us to the trailhead for the Five Mile Beach walk, which ended up being a really cool hike.

It is an 18 km walk from the parking lot to the beach, during which time we ran into only one other couple hiking the other way. They gave us some useful information on the area and informed us that there was no one else out there. We walked across some beautiful rolling hills, part of which boasted some a really incredible granite boulder field. I discovered the non-biting “hitch hiker” flies common to this area that hung around us by the hundreds on the hike, but apparently wanted nothing more to do with us than catch a ride on our packs. Although they were a bit annoying and would occasionally make it towards your eye sockets, obscuring your vision, Mallory helped me get used to them by explaining that, by comparison to the blood-sucking mosquitoes, or “mozzies” as they are known here, the hitch hikers are certainly friendly.

Our stay at the beach was great. The weather ended up being a bit cool for Mallory’s taste since she’s gotten used to the oppressively blazing hot sun that dominates the barren landscape of central Australia, but it was a welcome transition for me, coming from the beginning of winter back home. Five Mile Beach was exactly what you’d imagine it, five miles of uninterrupted white sand beach bordered on either side by rough, rocky coastline where the mountains run right down into the ocean, as if to isolate and protect this little paradise from the rest of the world.. It was a beautiful spot and in the 3 days we were there we only ran into two other people who camped for a night on the beach and left the next morning. There is a loop that some people hike that visits several nice beaches similar to this one, but we decided to make base camp at this beach and explore the surrounding area for a couple days instead.

There was a really cool stream on the north end of the beach that feeds a really dark brown water, filled with tannic acid leached out from the swamps it was filtered through on the way out, into the bright, blue-green ocean water. The surf there was one of my favourite places to sit and watch the surf. You could watch a wave come in that would on one end crash into the rocky shore where seals liked to hang out. The rest of the wave would end in a beautiful shore break that had a distinct dividing line down the middle that separated brown and blue water. It seemed a bit weird at first drinking dark brown water form the stream, but that kind of water, that appears black in deeper areas is supposedly some of the cleanest drinking water you can find naturally. The acidity prevents harmful bacteria from hanging around in it.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Trip from Alice Springs to Melbourne

I made it all the way to Melbourne and picked up Josh from the airport Yesterday!! Wahoo!! It is funny how time apart can make relationships better. You realize how much you love being together. We are about to head down to Wilson's Promontory, which is on the beach on the south east peninsula of Australia. It will be nice to share all my experiences with Josh. He loves and appreciates all the same things I do.

I had a adventure packed trip from Alice Springs to Melbourne. First I stopped in Coober Pedy, the opal mining town of the world. It is the first real ‘town’ on the Stuart Highway when heading south from Alice Springs. I went to some underground opal shops and got some advice that 'The Breakaways' were a good place to see the sun set and camp. I drove out to The Breakaways that afternoon taking this dirt/muddy track that I had to be careful on not to get stuck or hit a big rock. This was challenging because the sun was going down right in from of me so I was blinded. I made it to the lookouts just in time for sunset. The Breakaways look like you are on Mars or some foreign planet. Some movies have been filmed there that were set on extra terrestrial planets. I ran around the big mounds for a while then found a good place to camp that would allow me to see the glow on the ‘rocks’ from the sunrise. I made dinner and fell asleep counting shooting stars.

The morning sunrise wasn’t as pretty as the sunset but it was still nice. That day got to be pretty hot but I still hiked around for a while and looked at the dirt specimen under my hand lens. I started to make my way back to Coober Peddy, stopping at interesting looking places along the way. One place there was a hill and the color of the dirt changed from reddish to greenish. I got out of my car and walked around or this ‘green’ colored earth. The cracked ground was sparkling. It was covered with slivers of this clear rock similar to mica. As I walked my feet left deep imprints on the ground because under the cracked layer of dirt and shimmering rock the ground was moist from the rain two weeks prior. I got out my hand lens and looked at the rocks and dirt. Then dug up some of the top layer of dirt to find this moldable greenish clay. If felt really nice in my hands and I imagined Josh sculpting something from it. After playing in the dirt for a while I gathered a large chunk of the clay for Josh to experiment with then headed back to Coober Pedy. I drove around the town. Snooped through the neighbourhoods of underground houses, and went in a few shops. This Chinese man strongly urged that I come in and check out his opal shop when I drove into his driveway. I was just checking out the the old film props he had around his yard from a movie filmed in The Breakaways. But he seemed friendly so I came in. I told him I was not going to buy anything but he kept saying ‘do you like this?’ I finally said I had to have something to eat and was in my car when he insisted that I sit with him and have a cup of tea. I thought, well this spot was better than any other spot to eat my cheese and crackers. He had a great view overlooking the town and tea from Chinese is hard to turn down. I made cheese and crackers and drank tea at a table outside his shop. He had lived in Coober Pedy for over 30 years but still spoke very poor English. He got out some of his English books and I started helping him with his English. He was an interesting Character. I had a nice time there but thought I should probably hit the road soon, it was getting late. When I tried to leave he tried offering me to stay for dinner but I said sorry I had to hit the road. After leaving the Chinese man I stoped at that same art gallery/opal shop I had the day before to thank the man for his help the other day, and that I enjoyed the Breakaways. His name was Andy. He was really helpful before so I thought he would be helpful again in guiding me to another cool place to go. I asked him about this road called the Oodenadatta Track which I was thinking about taking to get to The Flinders Ranges. Andy was helpful again. I asked him lots of questions about opal. He could since my strong interest in Rocks and Art so he taught me how to cut opal and then started giving me opal. I was like really that's OK but he gave it to me anyways. I ended up eating pizza with him and he offered me a place to stay in his underground house. It was cool being underground!! I felt like the Flintstones. He showed me this old documentary on Coober Pedy. And then we went to bed.

The next morning we had Weet Bix (Aussy Cereal) then I hit the road. I decided to take the 'outback' track to the Flinder's Ranges. It’s called "The Oodenadatta Track". It follows where the old Ghan railway was. You can see the old trail tracks and bridges that go across creeks. There was actually tons of water along the track since it rained two weeks before. They purposely made the old railroad follow all the water holes so they had good access to water all along the way. Anyways, the first "town" I hit, population three, was called William Creek and I stopped for gas and checked out the pub because I was told it was a sight to see. It is full of random articles hanging all over the walls and ceilings. I decided I would stay for a Cooper's beer. It was around noon, still early in the day and I was planning on driving much further before stopping to camp. But I don’t call my car 'Wait" for nothin’. I met this nice young fellow, only a year older than me. He is the Pilot of William Creek. The main reason people stop in William Creek is for tour plane rides over the famous salt lake "Lake Erye". During the tourist season there are like 10 pilots and lots of people coming through but right now it is pretty dead around there and Rick is the only pilot. After talking with him a while at the bar and then him showing me around the "town" he offered to take me on a "free flight" in the morning. They had plenty of extra space in the pilot’s house. It was surrounded by all sorts of trees and grass, like a little oasis in the middle of the dessert. Rick taught me how to shoot a 222 rifle. We practiced shooting a target and I got the bull’s eye on my third and fourth try! I have never shot a gun before, besides a BB gun once. After shooting for a lil’ while we drove the quad bike to the nearby creek where there was an old railroad bridge and WATER!! So of course we went swimming! Then we drove to the dam where there is a wind mill and more water! We sat and watched the sunset and the full moon rise at the same time. Then ate dinner with the bar man and cook. It was an amazing evening. The next day we hopped on the small plane (a cessna210). And flew around searching for ferrel cats with this Scientist girl who was really cool as well and around my age as well.
Then I got to take the wheel and learned how to do some arobatics, including the negative ‘g’ where you fly up real fast and the swoop down like you are falling!! Suppa cool!

Oh my gosh I have done so much I don’t I have time right now to write it all!! Me and Josh are about to hit the road. But I will tell you that I ended up staying in William Creek for five days and now I am a professional pilot and rabbit hunter! I learned what it is like to live in the "outback". I did make it to the Flinders Ranges as well and it was well worth it! Did some hikes and camped. I made it to Adelaide and played volleyball almost non stop!! It was great!! I drove all day Tuesday to Melbourne. I made it just in time to go to a concert with my cousins and to pick up Josh in the morning. I love him so much, it is so great to touch him and see him and hear him and 'taste' him!! really all the senses!! Even smell him!! Well gotta go spend time with my man as I am talking about him!!

Friday, November 20, 2009

October Already


Wow, I can’t believe it is October already! Right now I am sitting next to a bunch of piles of dirt and rock mounds. Everything is orange, including me! I have learned a lot about gold mining, especially about panning! I have become an ‘expert’ panner! I am sitting watching Gordon’s plant in action. Lot’s of red dust is in the air. I am watching the big escavader as Gordon maneuvers it to shovel dirt into the plant. In action it looks like a giant dinosaur; a robotic dinosaur. It’s like the ‘creature’ drops it’s head down to eat some dirt and then lifts it’s head back up to ‘spit’ it out. The dirt that is shoveled up is emptied onto a grate with a pig funnel under it. The grate keeps the very large rocks out and allows the rest to go through the funnel and onto the belt. The dirt is taken upwards on a belt and through a grate, which spits out the medium sized rocks (the oversize) and the rest of the dirt goes down a ‘staircase’ thing. Each ‘step’ is a little compartment that traps the dirt. Under the staircase there are two tires that act as a pump. Air is pumped into the tires, making the staircase gently shake. This allows the heavy pieces (hopefully gold) to get stuck in the compartments on the staircase and the light pieces (hopefully not gold) bounce down the staircase. The dirt that goes down the staircase is taken up on a belt and dropped down onto a big pile (the discards). The oversize will get metal detected eventually, but the discards of course will not be.

Meanwhile I have been panning dirt/rocks from the old gully. After clearing off the top layer of rocks, we used a pick to loosen the hard dirt. Then shovel it into a bucket. We only dig until we get to this grey dirt which it granite that has turned to dirt. There won’t be gold in the ‘soft’ granite because when the gold was flowing through the once flowing stream the soft granite would have been hard rock. I have only found a small amount of gold from the gully but it has been good practice panning. It takes a lot of patience. We have found a lot of gold on the plant though!

Boof is so cute; he is taking a nap right next to the plant. With all the racket it makes you would think he would go further away under a tree somewhere to take a nap. I am trying to call him to come over, but it is too loud he can’t hear me. We gave him an old sandwich Gordon didn’t eat from yesterday. We broke off little pieces of the sandwich and fed it too him. We would hold up each piece above him and he would spin around on his hind legs like a little ballerina keeping his eyes on the treat, then we would feed it to him. After a few pieces he started to get full so he started taking the pieces somewhere where we couldn’t see him and buried them. He is not very good at burying the pieces but he remembers where he puts them. I went over to where he buried a piece and found the piece of sandwich. Boof was acting like, ‘you stole my food’. I gave it back to him and he found a better hiding place. Anytime we went near it Boof would go and protect it.

I am still feeling very fatigue and light headed. We are going to Charter’s Towers tomorrow and I am going to get checked out. Hopefully they can tell me what is wrong and what I need to do to get better. I don’t like not having energy to do things. Leah thinks it might e a virus but I don’t have a headache or a fever or any other symptoms.

I have had a nice time in Pentland. I am glad I stopped here. I had a feeling there was a reason for me to come here. Almost time to hit the road again though. Well looks like Gordon is taking a break. Maybe we will check the plant for gold.

Still In Pentland

4-10- 09

I am still hanging out in Pentland!! We have found lots of gold! I am developing a good eye for spotting gold., even when it is covered in dirt. If I am not sure I put it in my mouth and then if you feel a cold hard rock in your mouth you know it is gold. It has been nice hanging out with a family. I enjoy being with the girls. It reminds me of home when I was a kid.

I just finished learning to use the ‘back hoe’. I sat in the drivers set and steered the tractor with one hand and controlled the ‘lifter’ with the other hand. I used the lifter to smooth out the ground so that we could metal detect the area Gordon just finished digging. I go forward while the lifter is on the ground, scooping up the dirt, and then stop and ‘lift the lifter’ up and dump the dirt onto a pile. Hopefully we will find a BIG piece of gold! Yesterday I found a 1.5 gram piece with the metal detector. Not bad for me! Although, Gordon has found a 5 ounce piece before. That is the biggest he has ever found though. I saw it and held it; it is stunning and really heavy. We are going to detect the oversize piles as well.

We went to Emma and Kate’s grandma Bonnie’s house. They were staying there for their school break. It is like an animal farm over there. There are 7 dogs, 20 cats (plus all the wild ones that come by), 2 chucks, 2 ponies, a horse, a goat that just had a baby the day before we came there, and a Joey (baby kangaroo)!

Continuing The Blog

Since I ‘discontinued’ my blog I have still kept up a journal. So…since everyone wanted me to continue my blog, I decided it would not be that bad of an idea to just copy down what I have written in my journal. It will be a good way to reflect about what I have done. I like reading my journal anyways so now I will type and read at the same time and maybe add bits and pieces here and there.

29-9-09 First Day On The Road!

I started my ‘solo’ road trip yesterday. I left Airlie Beach around 11:00 am. I made it to Pentland just after dark. I parked near a public bathroom on a side neighborhood street away from the streetlights. I am glad to be gone from Airlie beach. I spent to long there, but that’s ok, I have plenty of time. I have a strange head ‘ache’ It doesn’t feel like a ‘headache’. I feel dizzy. I can feel my heart beat on my head; it pulsates. Originally, I thought it was due to being on the Internet for such a long period of time two days in a row catching up on my blog. But it has now been a couple of days and I can still feel it. I hope it goes away soon, and that it is nothing serious. Mason thinks I am growing a third eye!!

Today has been spontaneous. I woke up and had a mission to find the family that I met on ‘help-x’. I remembered that they lived in Pentland but I lost their name and address. I stopped at the gas station and asked the people there if they knew a Toni that owned a farm with a wife and a few kids. Pentland is such a tiny town I thought they might know who they were, but I wasn’t sure about the name Toni. There was a friendly man in a navy blue ‘working uniform’ that I thought worked at the gas station. But he was just helping an elderly couple check their oil. He didn’t know anyone named Toni in town, so I thought I probably have the name wrong. I asked if there was any Internet I could use in town to find out what their names were. The town is very small, so there aren’t any ‘internet caf├ęs’! He said I could probably use the Internet at the gas station. Gordon asked Bill, the man that owns the gas station if I could use the Internet to find these people. It only took a second. I found the family on help-x. Their names were Bill and Yvonne Schaefer!! I can’t believe I would have forgot their last name; it is basically the same as Schaffert!! They have 4 kids and own a BIG cattle farm. Gordon, ironically, happened to be on his way to their property. He has a lease on their land to mine for gold. However he said he was pretty sure Bill and Yvonne had left yesterday evening to ‘go fencing’ for a week. They put up fences for people as a side job to make more money. He had their phone number in his phone and gave them a ring. No answer. Gordon asked me if I wanted to come along with him to his lease and see what gold mining is like and they could stop and see if Bill and Yvonne had left yet as well. Well I couldn’t say no to gold mining!! Especially because where ever I have gone with Josh he say’s ‘we are going to get rich mining for gold here!’ So I hoped in his ‘yute’ with his little dog, Boof. It was nice to be around a dog. I miss Lucy.

We drove past Bill and Yvonne’s house; no one was home. Then continued on a dirt road, through a few cattle gates, past a lot of Wallabies and Wallaroos (small kangaroos with Big arms, i.o.w. a kangaroo on steroids). We almost ran over a big black snake. We eventually made it to a very orange dirt area. Gordon had just finished building a Gold Mine Plant. It’s is quite a sight to see. He made it all from scrap metal and parts. He ran the plant the past two days for the first time. Loading dirt into it nonstop. He was anxious to see if there was any gold in it. So we climbed up on the plant and started searching for gold that the plant had ‘sifted through’. We found gold right away! Considering I have never seen gold in my life, this was a lot of gold!! We vacuumed up the dirt off the plant slowly while looking for gold. Then emptied the dirt from the vacuum in to a couple bucket’s. Filled up a big bucket full of water and ‘panned’ the rest. I don’t think I have ever been taught how to pan for gold, but it is quite an art. Gordon taught me how to do it and we found a bit more gold.

After we panned all the gold we sat and heated up some water in a ‘Billy’ on a fire and had tea and ‘sang-as’, Sandwiches. We talked about global warming. Gordon seems to think it may not all be due to carbon emissions and is part of the earth’s natural course. He just would like to see that the scientists consider other possibilities. He doesn’t like how the only thing he ever hears about is how carbon is causing global warming like it is a fact and not a theory. I didn’t really know what to say to all that, because I don’t really know all that much about how the scientists have come to the conclusion that too much carbon in the atmosphere causes global warming. Anyways, we talked about other things too, I can’t remember.

Then Gordon dug big amounts of dirt with an excavator and loaded them into the plant. The belt broke after a while and we had to stop. We then metal detected the area where Gordon was digging. We didn’t find any gold but quite a few steel slivers that had come off the plant. I learned how to listen to the signal to locate metal and how gold makes a slightly different sound then steal or other metal.

After we were done we packed up and started to drive back but stopped at an old dry trench where at some point people had mined for gold. We took off a small layer of rocks in the trench and shoveled up some dirt and put it in a bucket for me to pan later. Not expecting to find anything, but just for the experience of panning dirt that hasn’t gone through a plant. We drove all the way back to Bill and Yvonne’s and back to the road and to Gordon’s block of land where he had cattle and a bunch of “junk”. It is where he built his plant. There we sat and panned the dirt in some water. I learned how to shake the pan in order to allow the water to push off the rocks on top, then letting the water pull the sand out leaving the gold at the bottom. I found one tiny piece of gold in three pans! But it was all mine!! Maybe I should try and mine some more tomorrow!! I can’t wait to tell Josh! Well now I have taken a shower at Gordon’s. I was completely orange! We will eat dinner shortly; Gordon is fixing pork chops and eggs. I should go ask if he needs a hand. I am staying in Emma, his daughter’s room tonight.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Discontinuing My Blog

I am way behind in writing in my blog and it is boring for me to try and catch up and I don't have time. I don't think I will continue it. I will keep posting pictures on my Picasa web album, with comments, and keep up on my journal.

Here is a summary of what I have done since:

24th Rented a car and drove to Mackay to look for a car to buy, went to see Harry Potter, drove out to Eugella National Park, camped in hammock.
25th Hiked around Finch Hatton Gorge in Eugella National Park, looked at more cars in Mackay
26th Went back to Airlie Beach, Trevor kicked me off Tattoo, Tony and Dee's last night in Airlie, Ate Dinner with Tony and Dee at the barbecue, played cribbage with Tony (he beat me), hung my hammock on their porch to sleep for the night.
27th Sent some of my extra things to Melbourne so I didn't have to lug around so much crap, Ate ice cream, Started 'The Whitsunday Great Walk'.
28th Hiking the 'Great Walk".
29th Finished "The Great Walk", met Erin on the trail, she gave us a ride back to town, ate pizza, had drinks with Erin, slept at Magnums Caravan Park in hammock.
30th Did laundry, started drawing of palm tree while laying in hammock between two palm trees on the beach, met up with Erin, thought about buying her car, talked to Josh, slept at Magnums again.
31st Put bag in storage at Magnums, took bus out to Shoot Harbor, hiked out on the Swamp Bay Trail, skipped rocks and made dinner, Paul left for Mackay to go on a sail trip heading south, slept in hammock on beach between two Pandanas trees, LOTS of mosquito's!!

1st Wrote in Journal, Walked to Mt Rooper on trail, Did Yoga at the top, took bus back to Airlie beach and to grocery store, made dinner at Magnum's Hostel's kitchen, slept in hammock at their campground.
2nd Woke up in a great mood, sat under Gum (Eucalyptus) trees. Started a plant journal, wrote about and drew parts of the gum trees, walked around Airlie with a new light, sat in a shop called 'Amazing Place' reading books on Shamanism eath magic, used internet, went with Erin to Proserpine, walked around shops in Proserpine. Power went out in Airlie, traffic jam getting back in, got a call from people hanging out on their porch drinking beer, they offered us beer, ended up hanging out with them for a couple hours
3rd Worked on art book for josh on beach, went for a swim in lagoon, wrote on blog, using magnums kitchen and campground and storage (still for free), hung out with 'Guy' from Israel, his name really was Guy.
4th Worked on Art Book, Hung out by lagoon with Erin, won the wet T shirt contest at Morocco's!!
5th Walked around Saturday market, talked on the phone to Josh, played Israel card game with Guy, made friends with a a German, Indian and Australian, who helped me sell my 100 dollar drinking voucher at Morocco's, we danced to some great trance music, hung out with Sean from London
6th went for a swim with Erin, met up with Mason at Barracuda's, drove his van up the hill to the great walk trail head, made dinner, and camped out under a full moon
7th Went rock climbing at 'Honey Eaters Lookout', Drank rum drinks at 'The Rum Bar' and ate at 'Fish Divine' and ate 'prawns' which are just shrimp, and calamari. Took showers and had an early night.
8th Mason picked up his sister, I made some phone calls, planned to get picked up by Allen and head to Cairns to meet Andrew who had a van and need a travel partner, hung out on The Ron with Mason, his sister Eliza, and her boyfriend, Gary.
9th Decided NOT to travel with Andrew, stayed in Airlie Beach, hung out with this girl on the beach in my hammock, finished my drawing of the palm tree, met Erin at sailing club, went on 'Run Racer' a catamaran, for the Wednesday afternoon race, had a barbecue at Erin's, bought her car!! slept in car.
10th Drove car out to Shoot Harbor, hiked the 'Coral Beach' trail, did drawings, and writings about plants, made dinner while in bug net.
11th Went on a hike up to lookout, sang songs, sat buy trees trying to absorb their energies, wrote about and drew lots of plants, went back to Airlie, met up with Mason, Eliza, and Gary at food Court, had Indian food
12th FUN RACE!! Won Miss Figurehead!!
13th Left for Eugella in my car with Mason, Gary, and Eliza, hiked on Broken River Trail, very good day!!! Camped out in hammock
14th Drove to Finch Hatton George, hiked up the George, lots of swimming and beauty, great energies, ate dinner and slept in picnic area.
15th Drove back towards Airlie, went to Conway beach and drank coconut milk, went to Cedar Creek Falls, rock climbed naked up the falls, had barbecue, and cooper's stout, went to Cactus Jacks, had Margaretta's, sang talking heads songs on walk back to car.
16th Made yummy egg breakfast on barbecue, got rock climbing stuff organized for trip in my car, talked on phone to Josh and Mom and Dad for a while, ate Pizza, used internet, took Eliza and Gary to airport, left with Mason for Townsville for rock climbing trip
17th-23rd Rock Climbing Trip
24th woke up at cedar creek falls, went back to Airlie, used internet.
25th sold sailing trip for $200 dollars, played volleyball, used internet, hung out with Erin at Jamie's birthday dinner party
26th Spent most of the day talking to Josh on phone and on Skype, talked to Kim on phone for over an hour too! Then watched AFL finals, St Kilda vs. Geelong with Mason, his friend and Erin, Went on his friends tug boat, played slide guitar.
27th Today is my last Mother F'in day in Airlie Beach, I am heading up North/West To Darwin tomorrow. Going to Erin's Going away Barbecue, she is leaving for South America in a few days.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Airlie Beach and Surrounds

After Race Week was over I didn't know what I would be doing next. Polly and Jason were heading back to Sydney. But Paul would be sticking around on holiday for the next week or so. He also didn't have any plans either so we were a good team. We had plenty of food and wine leftover from race week, but nowhere to really put it. So I took it over to 'Tattoo' and offered it to Trevor and Tom. I was welcome to stay on 'Tattoo' while I sorted out what I was going to be doing next. I offered to help organize there 400 DVDs!! This required putting them all in alphabetical order and then putting them each in there own individual sleeve. Meanwhile, Paul asked Trevor if he could also help out on Tattoo for a place to stay, but got turned down. He went looking for a place to set up his tent while I looked around notice boards for cars for sale. The hostels try and charge you $20 to set up a tiny two person tent on a tiny square of dirt, next to a bunch of other tents. After no real luck finding cars for sale at a reasonable price or a place for Paul to pitch his tent we went back to the apartment. Paul had left his bag on the patio of the bottom flat, so he needed to get it before it got to late. The people staying there were really sweet older people, Toni and Dee. Tony was English and Dee was Scottish. They lived in Adelaide, and drove up to Airlie beach for a holiday to get out of the cold weather. They had a little cute lap doggy named Sootie. Dee loved to talk. They had been living in Australia for 20 years or more but she still had a very strong Scottish accent. They offered Paul to set up his sleeping bag on the patio. They even put out their couch cushions for him to sleep on. They were so sweet they said they would let him sleep inside if they had room, but it was a tiny one room flat.

We walked to tattoo and Trevor and Tom were watching a movie and I had the feeling of intruding. I did not feel very welcome in their home. Anyways, I just wanted to stop in and say hi and tell them my plans for the night. Me and Paul were going to go eat and then watch a football game at one of the bars. We only stayed a few seconds then left. Then Paul and I realized the gate to the marina would be locked when I got back that night and I didn't know how I would get in. So I ran back to asked Trevor how I should get in. When I came by the movie was shut off and Trevor was trying to fix the DVD player. I asked him if everything was still cool and told him I felt awkward. He said everything was cool and they were just doing their thing and I was doing mine. The awkwardness went away and I felt more welcome. I asked how I was supposed to get passed the gate. They said they only had one key so they couldn't give it to me but that it was really easy to jump over the fence. Tom came out to show me how to get around it. It really wasn't as hard as it looked after you learned the trick.

That night was fun we went to eat dinner at the food court. We both got Indian food. I really enjoyed it! Then we watched a few different 'football' games. I learned all about all of the footballs in Australia. There is AFL (Aussie Rules), Rugby League (League), Rugby, and Soccer (which can also be called football). They are all very different.

My favorite I think is AFL. 18 players play on an oval shaped field. The primary aim of the game is to score goals by kicking the ball between the middle two posts of the opposing goal. The majority of the game is spent trying to advance the ball down the field close enough to kick a goal. Players may use any part of their body to advance the ball, but they may not throw it. The players usually kick or 'punch' the ball to each other, they can run with the ball but only if they bounce or touch the ball to the ground every 15 meters. Unlike most similar sports, there is no offside rule, and players can roam the field freely. The only person that can be tackled is the person in possession of the ball. If they are tackled and they had prior opportunity to legally dispose of the ball then the tackler is rewarded a free kick. It he is tackled and he did not have prior opportunity to legally get rid of the ball then he has 1/2 a second after being tackled to legally get rid of the ball, otherwise the tackler is rewarded a free kick. If the ball is held to the player by the tackler such that he cannot dispose of it, a ball-up will result. These rules help the game be non-stop. A player that catches a ball that has been kicked and travelled over 15 meters is awarded a free kick. Therefore the strategy of the game is to get the ball far enough down the field and then kick the ball to someone that is open, who will then get a free kick, meaning no one can tackle then behind where they caught the ball. And then they score a goal. A goal is scored when the football is propelled through the goal posts at any height (including above the height of the posts) by way of a kick from the attacking team. It may fly through on the full or bounce through, but must not have been touched, on the way, by any player from either team. A goal cannot be scored from the foot of a defending player. A 'behind' is scored when the ball passes between a goal post and a behind post at any height, or if the ball hits a goal post, or if an attacking player sends the ball between the goal posts by touching it with any part of the body other than a foot. A behind is also awarded to the attacking team if the ball touches any part of an opposition player, including his foot, before passing between the goal posts. A goal is worth 6 points whereas a behind is worth 1 point. The umpire signals a goal with two hands raised at elbow height and a behind with one hand.

Rugby league is frequently cited as the toughest and most physically demanding of any team sport in the world. You can tell this buy the way that the men that play it look. The are very tough looking, very different from AFL players who are strong, but lean. Try to imagine American football players that down where any pads and have a whole lot more endurance, that is what rugby league players are like. It is played by thirteen players on a rectangular grass field. The point of the game it to get the ball towards the opposing side in order to score a try (a touch down), or a goal. In order to advance the ball the players throw the ball to each other without getting tackled by the other team. A tackle forces a halt in play for as long as it takes the tackled player to return to his feet, and play the ball. In that time, the defending team, with the exception of two markers, must move back a minimum of 10 metres towards their end of the field. The attacking team restarts play and continues trying to advance down the field. The team advancing the ball can be tackled 6 times before it becomes the other teams ball. Usually after the 5th tackle they will kick the ball unless they think they can score a try. If the opposing team gets possession of the ball but then loses it again the tackle count starts at zero. It is a very fast game. No one likes to hold on to the ball for very long, otherwise they will get tackled so the ball is constantly in the air and can easily be taken by the opposing team. There are lots of scrambles too. If the ball hits the ground it may be kicked or punched to try and get it into the hands of your team mate. Once someone has control over the ball, that team has the chance to advance down the field. If a try is scored the team is rewarded 4 points. Then They get a chance to get two more points by kicking a field goal. The kick is taken at any point on the field of play in line with the point that the ball was grounded for the try. Therefore it is a good strategy to score the try in the middle of the end line to have a better chance of getting the extra 2 points. A goal is only worth 1 point so it is not usually a good strategy to score a goal. If you are really close to scoring a try, because it takes so long to advance the ball down that far down the field it is more worth your while to just kick the ball out of bounds and hope to get the ball back from the opposing team to get 6 more chances to score a try, then getting 1 measly point.

After watching footy games we went to KC's where there was a guy playing blues. It was really nice. I hadn't heard any really 'good' live music in a while. After the blues was over we walked back to the marina and I had to crawl around the gate. I made it just fine, but I was caught on camera and a security guard came and hassled Paul. I just kept walking and didn't turn around. He didn't try and yell out at me or anything. I went straight in Tatoo and talked to trevor for a bit then we both went to bed.

The next day I got up I had a mission to look for a car. I spent the morning on the boat organizing DVDs and then looking online for cars and travel partners. I met up with a guy to look at his car he was selling. Paul met him with me and we test drove the car. I didn't really like it, it smelled like smoke and the inside was a nit torn up, it seemed to run alright. I also didn't like the guy that was selling it. It was worth a try though. The rest of the day was spent by the Lagoon swimming. Then a short trip back to Tatoo where we ran into Mason, who I met when I was on Hooke Island. His boat was docked on the same dock as tattoo. He told me getting over that fence was hard and that is saying a lot coming from a rock climber. I was like "rewind, what's that about being a rock climber?" I told him I had been looking for people that climbed rocks since I had been in Australia and found nobody! He said there was rock climbing right here in Airlie Beach and that he would take me climbing. Unfortunately he was leaving to go to Brisbane to teach kids about rock climbing, kayaking and hiking. But when he got back he could take me climbing. We walked down to his boat and he took my phone number down and we hung out for twenty minutes talking.

Then I reheated my Indian food on one of the free barbecues at the lagoon for dinner. Paul heated up some beef stew and we drank wine and played cribbage. Then went watched more football and danced to the Blues guy. We made sure to get to the show on time to see the whole thing. I as usual was the only one dancing at first and then everyone started dancing until there was no more room to dance. I got Paul to dance with me some too. It was a real good time. I felt like I was back in Asheville!! That night when I got back to the Marina I called Trevor and he came out and opened the gate for me so I didn't have to jump the fence again.

The next day I did the same sort of thing. I finished organizing all of the DVDs in alphabetical order and putting them each in sleeves an hung out at the lagoon swimming and playing cribbage, looked for cars, made dinner at the barbeques. I had an early night. Me and Paul decided we would get up early and go to Mackay to see if I can find a good car for sale there and if we have time go camping.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Airlie Beach Race Week

I caught a ride to Airlie Beach from some of the employees at Hook Island. It took about an hour to get to the marina. There were tons of sail boats all around us. It was the first day of race week and just as we were coming towards the marina the race was just ending. It was beautiful to see all the colorful spinikers full of wind. When I got off the boat I had no idea what I was going to get into. It was the first time I had been somewhere with no immediate plan at all. The only people I knew in Airlie Beach were the two Canadians on the big green tug boat. So I headed there. I walked up to there boat and Trevor was there. He offered me to come in and have a coffee. After chatting a bit he offered me a place to stay on the boat. They had plenty of room on the boat, it is HUGE! Trevor showed me to my room. To get to it you had to go out of the main section of the boat and through a door at the back of the boat that lead to the engine room. You had to go down a ladder through a vertical tunnel. The room was next to the engine room. It was supper nice! I had a full bathroom, couch, refrigerator, full size bed, with a tv with surround sound speakers! Woohoo! Trevor showed me how to watch a movie if I wanted to.

Trevor said I could probably find a sailboat that needed crew for race week. So I walked around where the tug boat was docked. As it turned out almost all the race boats were docked on the same dock as Trevor's boat! The race was just finishing, some boats were still coming in but most of the boats were back and all the crew were just hanging out in their cock pits drinking and having a great time! I walked down the dock amazed at all of the boats and excited to think I might get to sail on one of them. Everyone was very friendly as I walked past their boat. I didn't really know if I should just start asking people if they needed crew or what. Then I passed Speedy's boat. He was a really friendly bloak with a big smile. He offered me to join them for a rum and coke. I asked if they knew anyone that needed another crew member and sure enough they new just the boat! Speedy took me over to the boat that needed crew. It was a 45 ft Swan, the name of it was Tulip. It had the biggest steering wheel I had ever seen! All the people that crewed on tulip that day were hanging out under the tarp on the boat. We chatted for a bit. Everyone kept making jokes and its hard for me to understand them especially with their accents. They asked me about my sailing experience and I told them what I had done. Then asked if I would be hung over in the morning. When I said no they said well that's too bad it was the one qualification you needed in order to be crew on the boat! Of course they were joking and the skipper said I could definitely join them. They were racing in the cruising non-spiniker division. Which is a real relaxed division. They were taking it easy in this race but planning to be more serious in Hamilton Island Race Week, which was the following week. The skipper said to meet at the boat at 8:00 the next morning. I promised Speedy I would come back and hang out on their boat, so I went back to Speedy's boat and finished my drink.

Around 6:00 I went back to 'Tattoo', Trevor's boat to have dinner. We ate some fresh fish they caught that day at the table outside on the back of the boat. It was delicious. I washed the dishes and we all chatted some more. Trevor said if needed to use their internet phone to call back home I was welcome to, it was free. They have what is called a 'magic box', which you purchase for 50 bucks and then get to use it as much as you like to call any phone in the states for no extra cost. It lasts for five years. It is a pretty sweet deal. So I called my mom. She was in Michigan in the UP at Drew and Linda's cabin. It was morning there, and she was just waking up, still lying in the tent with Dad. I talked to her about everything. Leah, and Korah were there too. They all went to Eddie and Megan's wedding and now were enjoying some vacation time in this tiny town. They put me on speaker phone so everyone could hear me. I could even here my Aunt Virginia. I can just imagine everyone huddled in or around mom and dads tent all listening to me go on about my adventures in Australia!! It was neat to hear about what they were doing to. The night before there was a meteor shower, that only the northern hemisphere could see. As I recall they watched the meteor shower from canoes on a river. It seemed like they were having a great time, wish I could apparate over there for a few hours! Funny enough I started to watch a movie that night called 'Jumper' about a guy that cam apparate anywhere in the world! After talking to my family I called Josh and talked to him for another hour! Oh technology, what would we do with out it! I slept well that night in a nice comfy bed, excited to go sailing in the morning!

I woke up early and ate some cereal and had a coffee. I didn't have anything to make to bring for a lunch and I didn't feel comfortable asking Trevor so I went without a lunch. When I got there there were only two other people there and Berny, the skipper was not there yet. We started putting on the jib sheets. They take them off every night so they don't get stolen. Berny and a couple more people showed up that I had met the day before. Then a couple from North Carolina showed up asking if we needed anymore crew! They looked professional, with all their sailing gear. Their names are Jason and Polly and they have been living in Sydney for three years. They came up to Airlie beach for race week, but the boat they were suppose to be racing on had not made it up from Sydney yet. It was suppose to arrive in a few days though, and they would race on it when it got here. Jason is from Raleigh and Polly's parents live in Charlotte! What a coincidence. They both play volleyball too!! Polly played for UNC Greensboro, she was the setter. And Jason is supposedly really good, and got MVP at the high neighbor tournament one time. They are both in there forty's, but don't have any kids. They were really really nice, polite, and helpful. I really liked them, if you cant tell! Another couple showed up to help out too. They were locals to Airlie beach. The girls name was Jo, she was just there for the ride and her husband didn't know much about sailing but could help out a bit. They were both real nice. We ended up with a full crew of 11 people!

Well we motored out with all the rest of the boats around 9:30. Before the race there is 'pre-race'. During pre-race all the boats cruise around each other waiting to hear what course we will be doing that day. Then they announce it on the radio and each division goes one at a time with 6 minutes in between each start. Each division gets a five minute warning where everyone gets in the right position to time it so when the race begins they are at the start line. When the race begins there is a horn and that divisions flag goes down. Then there is a one minute interval with no flags up. Then the next division's color flag goes up, signaling that it has five minutes. Someone on the boat is in charge of watching these flags go up and down and has a timer ready to start a five minute count down. This is the best part of the race. All the boats are really close together fighting for a good spot. And someone is calling out the time left every thirty seconds. then on the last minute every ten seconds, and then the last ten seconds it is 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, RACING!! And the flag goes down and the horn blows! There is always at least one boat that comes close to hitting you but there are rules to who has the right away, so one of the boats has to get out of the way. If the wind is coming from your starboard side then I think you have the right away. There is some yelling between the boats and then they spread out a bit and you can relax a bit. Everyone that is not doing anything has to get on the high side and sit with there legs hanging off the boat. If there is a lot of wind then you have to hang off with your head and arms hanging off and your body hanging on the cord, which conveniently has a cushion around it, so it doesn't jam into your stomach.

The first day I mostly stayed out of the way and watched. I did pull the jib halyard to bring the head sail up. Poly and Jason were really helpful, any questions I had I would ask them. They were very good at explaining things. I learned a lot from them. They both spoke very softly when on the boat as to not disturb what anyone else might be doing. Everyone kept making jokes about how at the end of the race I had to go the the bow and flash everyone. Acting like the figurehead! Supposedly it was not uncommon for girls to do this. But I was not going to do it. It seems like everyone was picking on me about it. half the time I couldn't understand the jokes they were making, but it was all in fun. They only picked on me because they liked me. I did get a little frustrated by the end of the race. Once the race was done I had a headache because I didn't bring sunglasses or a hat and did not have lunch. I hung out for a little bit on the boat with them and had a couple drinks. But felt exhausted so went back to the Tattoo to take a nap. No one was on tattoo when I got there but the door down to my room was open so I went down and had a nice long nap. When I woke up they were fixing spaghetti upstairs and I made it just in time for dinner. Then me and Trevor watched a movie called K-PAX. It had Kevin Spacey plays a patient at a mental hospital who claims to be from a far away planet. His psychiatrist tries to help him, only to begin to doubt his own explanations, and Spacey's character ends up helping him as well. It was a good movie. I enjoyed it. After the movie I went to bed to rest up for the next day.

The next day of racing I was more prepared. My big white sunglasses glasses that Brent gave me with a naked Indian girl on them broke. I went to a shop before the race and got a new pair of sunglasses(not as cool as the other ones) and a sandwich. I had my hat too, so I felt much more prepared. The race started a bit later. Jo and her husband were not there but there was a new girl. She new absolutely nothing about sailing and didn't pretend to want to. She was overweight and loud. She was nice enough to bring a big cheese and fruit platter. She started drinking right when she got on the boat, and was drunk before the race even started. The one good thing about having her on board was I was no longer the one being picked on. She was the new girl on boat and it was easy to crack jokes about her. There was not much wind at all this day. At one point the boat speed and wind speed were both at 0.00!! This lasted long enough for someone to go get there camera, take a few shots, look at them, and put there camera back! Yea, were were going SLOW! Meanwhile the new girl was always in the way and kept talking to the 'wind fairy' asking it to bring wind. We still had do work. We kept adjusting things trying to get the sails just right to capture the little wind there was.

I asked Berny before the race started if I could do more work today, so I was in charge of the starboard jib sheet. They call it the head sail and Berny says things like ease the heady or tighten the heady. You have to pay attention to the little strings on the sail. If the strings on the 'in'side are flapping to much you pull the sheet 'in' more, if the strings on the 'out'side are flapping to much you release the sheet 'out' more. When it is time to come about Berny says ready about. That means get in your positions to come about. So I get to the starboard jib sheet. If the sail is on the port side then I pull the sheet and David who was in charge of the port sheet, uses the winch handle and grind until it is tight, while I hold the sheet and tail him. If the sail is on the starboard side then I reales the sheet and then I use the winch handle to grind until the sail is the right tightness. This was fun to do. I got pretty efficient at it. My knees did get a little abused but it was OK. Just before the wind picked up the drunk girl went below and took a nap. We had a fair bit of wind the second half of the race. I got to stear the boat after we passed the finishline and were heading back to the marina!

When we got back to the marina the drunk girl dissapeared without saying goodbye to anyone. No one saw here leave. The rest of us hung out and had chips and drank the rum that we were awarded for winning the race the day before. I liked the 'Dark and Stormy' drink. That's what they call rum mixed with ginger beer. I felt much better after this race. Wearing glasses and a hat really paid off.

After the race I went with Polly and Jason to the tent where all the crew from the race boats gathered. There was music and cheap alcohol. They announced the winners and runner ups. Because we got first place the day before they gave us a huge handicap this day. I think it was 2. something. The day before it was like 1.5. This number gets multiplied by the final race time and is your 'handicap time'. It keeps the really well made boats from always winning. So the race measures the crews skill instead of the quality of the boat. Because of this huge handicap and the lack of wind we got DFL, dead fucking last! When there is not much wind the bigger boats like tulip have a disadvantage. We did pass the finish line first in our division, so that was good!

Polly and Jason invited me to stay with them at the apartment they were renting. They had plenty of room because there crew had not arrived yet. So I got the stuff I needed from off tattoo and walked with them up to their apartment. It had a lovely view of the marina. We dropped our stuff off and changed then met up with Jo and her husband for dinner at 'Mangrove Jacks'. Me and Polly split a pizza. It was good, but it made us tired. Me and Polly went back to the apartment and went to bed while Jason hung out longer.

The next day was Sunday, it was a lay day, so there were no races that day. I did some stretches in the morning and then took a shower. The rest of their crew got there that morning and we made breakfast and ate at the table on the balcony. It was a lovely breakfast. Eggs, toast, bacon, and fruit. I was happy to see peanut butter on the breakfast table. It seems like Australians don't eat peanut butter much. But Polly and Jason aren't Australian, they are from NC!! Me and Polly think alike. Independent of each other we put peanut butter, honey, and banana on some toast! I was sitting next to Paul, who I just met, is from Australia. I got him to try p.b, honey, and banana on toast too and he Really liked it! We talked a bunch, and I knew we would be friends. He had lots of family in the states and had lived in Northern CA for a while and loved it.

After breakfast the boys went to fix something on their boat, and me and Polly went to the grocery store. I had a good time talking to her while shopping. I asked her why she didn't have kids. And she said she just never wanted to. She has god children and lots of nieces and nephews. We discussed this a bit. I told her I couldn't imagine myself not having kids in the future. I remember a few years ago I was thinking I might not want to have kids but I soon realized that life wouldn't be right without a family to share it with. If I don't have kids of my own I would have to adopt. I got a few things for myself at the grocery store. Stuff to make sandwiches for lunch and dinner for Trevor and Tom, his brother. After shopping I went back to Tattoo and dropped off the food I bought. Then I went to the lagoon for a swim. When I got to the lagoon I realize I forgot the top to my bathing suit. It was already getting close to sunset and if I walked all the way back to the boat and all the way back it would be to late and it would be time for me to start dinner. I considered swimming topless, but there were a lot of people there. I realized later that it wouldn't have mattered. I went to the bathing suit shop just to see if there was anything I liked that wasn't too pricey. I couldn't find anything so I just sat in the grass and stretched while listening to my ipod.

I made a stir fry with onion, bell pepper, carrots, cashews, beans, and rice. Mixed with honey, ginger, sesame seeds, and a few other seasonings. It was nice having a well equipped kitchen to cook in. Trevor, Tom, and Tom's girlfriend Toni all really liked it. Then Tom and Toni went out and me and Trevor played cribbage. He is the first person I have met in Australia that knows how to play! It was nice playing someone that new the rules. The games went by much smother and faster. Although he was knew what he was doing, I kept getting awesome hands! I won all three games we played!! It was really fun. We drank wine and chocolate that I bought from the store. I called Josh in between one of the games, it was nice to talk to him. We talked for a good while, but it seemed like we just brushed over all the things we had been doing and didn't really get a chance to "talk". After cribbage I was tired and went to bed. Oh yea, of course I had a coffee, they always have coffee's before bed on Tattoo!

The next day I raced on Tulip again. When we started there was not a lot of wind. There were three new people on the boat. There was a guy that I cant remember much about, an older bloke, with a bald head, and a woman from Scotland. She definately had a scottish accent. She was a true 'blonde' if you know what I mean. She was nice, but she wasn't very good at taking instuctions. Jo was back on the boat too. Jason and Polly were on their boat now, 'The Chancelor'. When the race started the wind picked up a little. Me and David were in charge of the jib sheets again. I had fun asking questions. The new older guy answered some of them for me. I leared about the 'backstay' and the 'outhaul'. The backstay holds the mast back. It is a a wire that is attached to the top of the mast and the stern of the boat. You can tighten the backstay when there is a lot of wind, it helps catch more wind in the main sail. If you are jiving then you would ease the backstay. The outhaul runs from the clew (the back corner of the sail) to the end of the boom. Pulling the outhaul flattens the foot and lower section of the mail sail. You would tighten it if you were in heavy wind when you are tacking to reduce drag and heel.

We thought we did alright in the race but as it turns out we didn't do so great. I think we got eighth place. After the race I hang out for a little bit on Tulip but when I saw Chancelor coming in I went to say hi to them.

I didn't really want to stay on Tattoo again because Trevor had mentioned somthing about not staying more than three days so I didn't want to impose. There wasn't room at Jason and Polly's appartment with all the crew, but Polly said I could sleep on Chancelor, so that was my plan. I went to the Lagoon for a swim and then went to Tattoo to say hi to Trevor and pick up my stuff. It was dark by the time I got there and Trevor was watching Star Wars. He invited me to eat dinner with them, they were just having leftovers, so I stayed for dinner. I did the dishes and Tom and Toni left. I asked Trevor if I could check my email. He said it was OK, so I did. Then he came over to the table and sat down next to me. He started talking to me about letting people know your intentions and being out right with people about what you want. He said something about me showing up and staying on their boat and sort of sticking around without talking about plans with him. It hurt my feelings and my emotions started crying. I was offended by what he was saying because I thought we had developed a friendship, and that my company was enjoyed. I told him I wasn't planning on staying there that night, that I had a place to stay on Chancelor. I didn't plan on sticking around any longer. He could tell he hurt my feelings and said he was wasn't trying to hurt my feelings and he just wanted me to know for future reference that it is good to tell people what your intentions are and keep your thoughts out in the open. I thought I had been doing that. I didn't have any "plans" so it was hard for me to tell him what my plans were. Anyways I got all emotional, tears started falling and my nasal passages were clogging up. I was definately emotionaly insecure. I had not been setting enough time to myself to write in my journal or meditate. I also was in a town where I had no real plans a didn't know anyone. We talked about how it is hard to travel alone. It can be a really good way to meet people, and learn about yourself. But it can be very dificult and lonely too, but thats why I am doing it, I like the challenge. He said I was welcome to stay there longer, until I figured out what I was going to be doing next. I summerized this conversation quite a bit, it must have lasted a few hours. I was emotionally exhasted by the end of it but felt much better. I went down to my room and got ready for bed then wrote in my journal and went to sleep.

The next day I raced on Polly and Jason's boat. Two of their crew members had to go back so they were short crew. I had such a blast sailing on Chancelor!! There was a lot of wind and only six people on the boat. So everyone was needed all the time. That is how I like it! I had a job all the time. Me and Paul were in charge of the jib sheets and I was an extra hand in the cockpit all the time. This boat was also more fun because they put up the spinicker. There is quite an art to putting up and taking down the spinicker. You leave the jib sheet up while you pull the spinicker up. I was incharge of pulling up the spinicker pole and then running to tighten the brace. Which holds the pole back. If you tighten the brace you have to release the kicker. The kicker holds the pole down. You cant tighten one without releasing the other, or else somthing might snap! Then I got to be in charge of the spinicker sheet. This involves looking up at the edge of the sail where the wind is coming in and making sure it is flaping but not to much. If if flaps to much the wind might go behind the sail and forcing the sail to pop and we would loose our wind. It is a huge resonsibility! You keep adjusting it to make sure you are getting the most from your spinicker. That was really fun, I felt like I was in control of the boat!

After the race I got Paul to come for a swim with me in the lagoon. I swam five laps. Paul swam two with me and we raced. I won both of them! Then we met the others at the tent. We were all kind of wiped out and hungy so we went to the apartment. I took a shower and a nap and then we ate spagetti. Morgan the skipper complemented me for my work on the boat, and said I was a big help, and they couldn't have done it without me. Everyone else agreed. It was nice to be appreciated. We were planning on going out, but everyone was tired so we just chilled out on the patio and drank wine. Then me and Paul stayed up listening to music. We each had our ipods and were sharing our favorite tunes. We chatted about life until we were both falling asleep then went to bed.

The next day was fun but not as much fun as the day before. There was still alot of wind but not as much. And there were two new guys that came on the boat as crew. One of the guys was going to be the skipper for 'The Chancelor' durning Hamilton Island Race Week, which was the following week. So he wanted to check out the boat. He got a little carried away being bossy and a know it all. It was like he was trying to be the skipper, but we already had a skipper. I liked my jobs from the day before and was fine without him. He was trying to do my jobs and I finally got fed up and just let him. He apologized later and let me back in. I got to work the jib sheet again which was fun.

After the race Paul and I went for a swim again and then went to the house and showered. Then went to meet the others at the tent they set up each night of the race. It was a great time! There was a live band and all the crew from the race boats were there having a good time. I convinced Paul to dance with me and it was so much fun! Speedy, the guy from 'Hans On' who introduced me to 'Tulip', danced with me for one song as well, he was a bit crazy, but it was fun! Then everyone kind of got seperated and me and Paul just went back to the appartment. We were going to order pizza but there wasn't any good dilivery pizza places. So we just ate left overs. I really wasn't that hungry anyways. Then we tried to dance salsa and I taught him how contra dance works and showed him a few moves. The best was when he showed me his Croasian dances. He was born in Croasia and grew up in a Croasian community in Australia. They were really fun. Lots of spinning. It was quite a workout. When the others finally got back we showed them the dances we had taught eachother. Then finially went to bed.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Cruising with the Robinsons

We started the trip the morning of Friday the 7th. We motored to 'Whitsunday Island' That is I believe the biggest of the hundreds of Whitsunday Islands. It took us most of the day to get there, me a Claire sat getting wet from the waves crashing on us talking about music, boys, and life. She is mature for her age but a little sassy once you get to know her. We had a great time chatting the whole way laying out in the sun. We anchored at Cid Harbor. We all got in the tender and motored over to a beach, and went for a bush walk on a trail to another beach. We sat on the beach relaxing for a bit then went back to the boat and made dinner. We went to bed pretty early.

The next day we motored to White Haven beach. Which is the most popular attraction in the Whitsunday Islands. It is a sight to see, that is for sure! When we got close to White Haven beach, the sand was almost to bright to look at! That is how WHITE this beach is!! We anchored right next to the beach. After eating lunch we went to the beach. We spent the rest of the day laying out in the sun and making a Sand Castle Estate. We made a road with lots of small houses that lead up to the main castle, and garden. Of course we went swimming and I took the surf-ski out for a bit. Before going back the kids stomped all over the sandcastle. We had a quiet evening and went to bed. We spent the next day on the beach as well. I layed out reading a book on Aero- and Hydrodynamics and boat knots. I learned that when the pressure in air drops the air streams speed up. A sail creates low pressure on the convex side. The airstream over the convex side has to speeds up because it has to travel further to join up with the air traveling on the concave side. When the wind is coming from behind the boat, the sail is sucked along by the airstream rather that being pushed.

After getting blown away by aerodynamics I practiced tying knots. Two guys paddling on a kayak went across the water in front of where we were sitting. We saw them the first day we were on the boat and they had already caught up with us! They must be paddling all day and camping out on the islands at night. What a neat way to see the Whitsundays! It inspired me to take the surf-ski out for a long paddle. There were a lot of waves that day so I got a pretty good workout. I found it was nice also to take a rest and layout on the surf-ski while floating on the water. I closed my eyes and relaxed for a few minutes and when I opened then only 10 feet away there was a ginormous sea turtle!! It had to be over a hundred years old by the looks of its size! Its head was bigger than mine sticking out of the water. When I got back to the beach we dung holes and buried the kids. We made Claire into a mermaid and Nate into a race car driver. Then they buried me and made me into a turtle like the one I saw!

The next day we motored to 'Tongue Bay' which is on 'Whitsunday Island'. On the way I say on the bow practicing tying knots. I can now tie the bowline, sheet bend, rolling hitch, clove hitch, Tugman's hitch, and the Truckee's hitch. After being under way for not too long, we arrived at Tongue Bay. We walked on a walking track to a look out point. It was a great view of White Haven beach and other islands. Then we walked on another trail down to a great beach. It was a cloudy day but it was still gorgeous. It was a big sandy peninsula called 'Dugane beach'. After spending some time on the beach we went back to the boat and motored a little ways to 'Butterfly Bay' on the north part of 'Hook Island'. We attached to a morine for the night. Me and Claire watched he movie Twilight. It is based on the first book in a series that Claire is reading. Its a fantasy with vampires and warewolfs. The main character Bella falls in love with a vampire.

The next day we did lots of snorkeling in Butterfly Bay. There was tons of beautiful coral and fishes! I felt very peaceful in the water listening to my breath and the fish chomping down on coral. My favorite fish had a big circular narrow body. It was black with little crescent yellow moon stripes. and a blue tail. My favorite coral was a peachy color with little star shaped tentacles. We snorkeled twice. My ankle started hurting a little bit but it was worth it. I layed out in the sun on the boat and dried and wrote in my journal and practiced the knots I learned again. Then the boat next to us offered us to come over and drink and eat nibbles. They were nice people but the conversations weren't very deep. We got back to the boat around 7:00 and I was trying to offer to make dinner, Clair was being a sassy know it all and Neil and Deb had something planned that they wanted to make. They had a bit too much to drink maybe and were arguing about something. I decided to just go to my bed and lay down. I fell asleep real early without eating dinner.

I woke up nice and early in the morning and watched the sunrise and did some yoga and meditation. It felt nice but I had a hard time loosing my thoughts in meditation. That day we went to 'Langford Island' and snorkeled for a few hours. I saw this big green fish with a blue border and bright neon yellow fins There was also one with an orange nose with a crazy blue design on it. There was also one with all different colors, ti had an orange smudge near its mouth. I wish I could remember more details. After snorkeling we motored a little ways to 'Stone Haven' anchorage on Hook Island. We got internet connection and cell phone signal here. I tried texting Josh but his phone was off. I went snorkeling again. The coral was not a pretty as the other places but it was still nice. Me and Claire jumped of the boat and I swam around the boat and floated on my back. It felt nice to swim without a wet suit. I taught Claire how to climb the ladder on he back of the boat. You had to wrap your legs around the bar to pull yourself up. I pulled myself up just using my arms. My arms have definitely gotten stronger. I used the computer, checked my email and posted pictures online. Then watched Blade Runner. I enjoyed it.

The next morning, I sat with Claire and read with her a bit, she is on the third book right now. I enjoyed reading it. It is easy to get sucked in to the story. Then we motored to Hook Island Resort. Where they would be dropping me off. We rented a Morine for the day and night. We hung out by the pool at the Resort. I liked the resort because it wasn't fancy, it was kind of run down. We mostly layed out in the sun and swam all day. I taught Claire how to play cribbage and she picked it up pretty good. I played cards with Nate, getting him to tell me what the number on the card was. He is still learning his numbers. Once he knew 1 through 8 alright we played go fish. Then we all played Uno. We walked down to the under water observatory which was nothing special but still interesting. Right outside of the observatory there was a really big fish just sitting there still a couple feet under the water.

We went back to the boat and made dinner and then hung out at the bar. The bar tender was from California. It's the first person from the states that I have met! It was weird hearing that accent! I played a few games of Australian billiards. Instead of solids and stripes they have yellow and red balls. The eight ball is still black with an eight on it, but none of the others are numbered. The only difference in the rules is you get an extra shot if the other person scratches or doesn't hit their color ball. I only won one game. There was also "The Hook" that was fun to play. There was a small hook on a post and a string attached to the ceiling with a washer on it. The goal is to swing the string from a distance and hook the washer onto the hook. I got it on my second try and soon could get it hooked two times in a row pretty easily. The challenge was to get it hooked three times in a row. I never did get it, but came very close! I also played this drinking game with a group of girls from England it was similar to Ass Hole but called Shit Head or something like that. After a long night on the island we went back to the boat around 12 AM.

Today I said goodbye to the Robinsons and they left me on the Island. They have a friend coming on the boat in a few day and need some family time. I am scheduled to catch a ride on a boat at 2:30 back to Airlie beach. I have no idea what I will be doing next! For now I will go for a walk.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Cairns and Ride Down to Airlie Beach

I caught a ride with Jane to Cairns on august 2nd. Jane dropped me off at the Bohemian Hostel. I tried to find people to "couch surf" with but had no luck. It was 20 dollars a night, which is about average, but too expensive for me to do very often. I stayed there two nights in a room with 6 bunks. There were three Swedish boys all about 19, just out of high school. Stephen, Mattian, and Ponotus. They were fun to hang out with. The fist night we hung out at the bar a the hostel. It was an outside bar, nicely lit, with not too many loud people. I ordered a rum and coke using my free drink voucher. And we hung out just talking about whatever. I sang the song "whiskey before breakfast" when one of them ordered whiskey. They enjoyed it.

The next day I didn't do much. I talked on the phone to mom in the morning for a long time, it was nice to hear from her. She called me using Skype. She gave me the news that Kimi and James had separated. I wish I could hear from Kimi how she is taking it but she is hard to get a hold of. Mom says she wont tell her much either but she seems happy. She is with a new guy named Travis, whom I don't think I have ever met. I don't think it is that healthy to get into a new relationship so soon after leaving James, but who am I to talk. I am sure she has thought about this but she must really like him. For the rest of the day I had this on my mind, wishing I could talk to Kim about it in person. She is really bad about sharing her feelings with me and as I can tell other people to. I sent her an email and then went to the grocery store.

I ate breakfast or lunch whatever you want to call it, it was afternoon. Then I went to the mall and bought a new camera. I got the same kind I had before, a Nikon 'cool pics', except the newer version. It is very small, blue, and takes great pictures. The only thing I don't like about it is that it doesn't have a view hole, just a screen. When it is really bright outside it is hard to seen what you are taking a picture of. It was a good deal though, I got the last one, so they took off 30 dollars. I played around with my camera for most of the day, and chilled out near the pool.

That night I didn't do much, I talked to josh on face book for a couple hours. It was really fun to instant message him back and forth, I was all giddy inside, like a little middle schooler on AOL instant messaging! Before we all went to sleep that night I sang the song 'hard times come again no more', which put the boys to sleep. It was great! In the morning I had breakfast and took the necklaces to the post office to send home. It was only 10 dollars to send them by sea so I did that. Its funny thinking that they may not get to the states for up to 4 months!

I took a cab to meet up with Allen, the truck driver, to where his trucks air conditioning was getting fixed. We left around noon. We were in a new truck, which was an automatic. Allen didn't like it being Automatic because it was easier to get bored while driving. It was nice for me because it was much less bumpy so I could read. I read almost the whole trip. We stopped in Atherton Tablelands to load his truck with peanuts. It was near where I traveled around with Ben. They are really stingy with how clean the truck has to be and last time Allen stopped there they wouldn't load them. So this time he made sure it was extra clean and sprayed this kitchen cleaner all over the whole thing. We were crossing our fingers hoping they would load the peanuts because if they didn't we would have to go out of the way to load it somewhere else and it would put us behind. They loaded the truck with something like thirty tons of peanuts! Then we continued south. We ate dinner at a truck stop and had ice cream bars. I finished the book, Seduction of Silence just as we pulled into the truck stop in Townsville to sleep for the evening. This truck had two bunks so we each had a bed. I slept up top. Then Allen woke up early and drove he rest of the was to Airlie Beach while I still slept.

Neil met me at the truck at 7:30 AM and helped me carry my things to their boat. I spent the morning on their boat chatting with the Robinbsons: Neil, Deb, Claire, and Nate. Then used my strong muscles to grind the winch, belaying Neil up the mast so he could replace a light bulb. Then we went to the lagoon. It is a big swimming pool wight on the water. Neil, the kids, and I hit a ball around in the water. It reminded me of when my dad and I would try and see how many times we could hit the ball back and forth with out it dropping in our swimming pool at home. I tried with Claire, but she always hit it too hard, so we could only get up to 6. I remember dad and I would get up in the hundreds, until eventually we would have to challenge our self by doing it one handed.

After playing ball for a while I swam five laps, with my goggles on and then went on a long swim around the whole pool. There is even a bridge that goes over the lagoon, I swam under it and all around. It was nice to relax my thoughts. The lagoon looked 100 times bigger under water, it was really neat! When I got out Deb and Claire had left to go to the grocery store. Neil, Nate, and I went to the beer store and carried two cases all the way back to the boat. It is quite a walk when carrying that much weight. I carried the case on my head for most of the way!

That night we made dinner and hung out with two guys that were staying on the big green tug boat across from where we were docked. The one I was talking to most name was Trevor. He and his brother working on the big green boat. Replacing old things and building new things on the boat. Trevor asked me where I was headed after Australia. I said I was planning on going to New Zealand in December. He said they were taking the boat to New Zealand in December and Neil suggested I go with them! We didn't talk much about it stayed in the back of my head. At the end of the night we went over and checked out their boat and had some coffee. The whole inside of the boat is made curly maple. And everything in the boat is top notch quality. I was thinking Dad would really appreciate the woodwork in the boat. Maybe he would be interested in doing some installations in a boat. Just an idea. Anyways I was very tied by the end of the night and fell right to sleep.