Party in Sydney

Wednesday, December 31st, 2008

I really should know better than to drink seven glasses of champagne in a row–even if it’s good champagne. I should, but I don’t. So for all you people out there killing time ’til you go to the party or hanging out and getting drunk this very instant, consider your ways people. Tomorrow is a headache.

Since I can’t think very clearly, I thought I’d upload some more Sydney pictures. New Years here was a blast. We were at a friend’s apartment with a lovely balcony overlooking the harbor, the bridge and downtown. People partied on all sides and the apartment high rises were filled with revelers hooting and hollering. Sydney has two fireworks showings: one at 9 p.m. for the families and then one at midnight for the n’er do wells–which would be everyone. We watched both. The 9 p.m. was merely a teaser. The midnight blasts were far cooler with incredible fireworks coming off the sides of the Sydney Harbor Bridge. The theme was creativity (last year was love) and there were fireworks that looked like flowers blooming. It was all synchronized. Plus, there were launchers off the top of four or five Sydney sky scrapers that added to the display. Impressive.

The day before we were at the beach. It was gorgeous. It’s beautiful today, but no one is out and about. If they’re like me, they’re trying to not move too much or look at bright lights, either. I have an urge to take a nap and just might do that. I’m still in my p.j.s and it’s the afternoon, so why not?

Most of these pictures are taken with a very old Sony Cybershot 7.2 MP. I still like the camera even though the newer ones have better control. My camera ran out of batteries halfway through the New Years party and so I used the iPhone Night Camera app. It works remarkably well. I’d highly recommend downloading it for your iPhone.

Road to Cairn

Cliff

McDonalds Is Everywhere
There is no sense of being far away in Australia. McDonald’s and Burger Kings are everywhere. Since I ate at both, the food is remarkable–it tastes exactly as nasty as it does in America. Their standards are amazing. They even hire the same pimply kids here.
Burger King

Path

Parasurfing?

91

Flags

Burquini

Round House in Hill

Picnickers Waiting For Sunset

Disembark

Golden

Almost Twilight

Sydney at Dusk

Creator

Sydney is a notoriously agnostic city by all accounts. So some enterprising Christian decided to take the fireworks theme and remind everyone about who the Creator really is. It was fun guessing what the sky-writer was trying to say. The phrase was “The Creator Is Jesus”.

Jesus

Finale

It’s not a night of fireworks without sparklers! Taken with the iPhone.
Sparkler



Back From Tribulation Point

Tuesday, December 30th, 2008

I’ve been through Hell, Michigan. Now, I can say I went to Tribulation Point. It was a lot more beautiful than one would imagine. Lush forests, the ocean, sandy beach and a coral reef out there somewhere combines to make a fairly lovely trial, if one must have one.

That was two days ago. Today, after getting some LED light therapy (more about that in another post some time), we drove an hour to Long Beach, NSW, Australia. I’ve been struggling to decide which American city Sydney most reminds me of and have finally concluded that Sydney is most like San Diego, California. It has the city and the harbor, but it also has these steep foothills and mountains with homes built up the sides. There are relaxed little border beach towns and then big skyscrapers representing the biggest businesses you can think of downtown in the city. Where San Diego has the perfect weather–warm during the day, dry, and cool at night. Sydney has humidity and a cold, dreary winter. Otherwise, Sydney is a lot like San Diego and San Diego is one of my favorite American cities.

The weather turned out perfect today. We’ve felt a bit Eeyorish–with clouds seemingly following us wherever we go. The same thing happened today, momentarily, and I looked at the gathering clouds with suspicion, thinking that maybe the Sydney landscape viewed us much like the White Mountain viewed Gandalf. Alas, no. The clouds passed and a breezy, lovely beach day ensued.

I saw a real, live burquini today. Yes. I. Did. I took a picture of the woman who swam in a carefree manner even if she labored under layers of clothing in the surf. The menfolk arrived later, surrounded by Western, sinful women in real, live bikinis. Very difficult to be a strict Muslim and do something as simple as going swimming in the ocean. For that reason alone, Islam could not be my religion nor Amishness.

Speaking of conservative religions… I have never gone on the record about this before, but I will now: I’m glad for my Puritanical heritage. Puritans and their whole “cleanliness is next to godliness” obsession were sooooo right. One great thing about Americans is their nearly universal compulsion to be clean. Personal hygiene is imperative. Most days, while walking through my American life, I take clean people for granted. Not anymore. Sharing public transportation–like say tour buses and say, plane cabins–with people from Europe, Asia, and Australia has taught me to have an attitude of gratitude for my American compatriots. It is a problem, fellow world travelers, when you stink at 9:00 a.m. while getting ON the bus before hiking the jungle. If you’re not going to shower, at least wear some deodorant.

Stinky people would not dissuade me from loving this part of the world, though. Port Douglas and Cairn, Australia are a couple of my favorite places. I’m reminded of Key West and Florida in general there. The vibe is laid back and optimistic and friendly. I really wish we had longer in the area. It was so beautiful. I’ll put up some pictures tomorrow.

Yes, I know about Israel and the war. No, I don’t want to think about it. That’s wrong, I know. The whole Middle East is suffering. Here’s my nutshell opinion: Israel needs to deal, once and for all, with the Palestinians. A decisive winner and loser needs to be named. The winner should be Israel. They should stop pulling punches and utterly defeat their enemies. That means it will be messy because the Palestinians fight among families, put rocket launchers in neighborhoods, and don’t care if their own children die–except to use as propaganda. They are cowards and tools of the greater Arab world and they are too stupid to realize that the only way the rest of the Muslim world loves them is as a way to torment Israel. Nothing more. It needs to stop. I hope a decisive Israeli victory will end this. The chronic misery produced by the terrorism and pot shots makes life a perpetual trauma.

Okay, gotta get to bed. I’ll work on more pictures tomorrow. Tomorrow night, we’ll be watching the fireworks ringing in the New Year over Sydney. From what I’ve been told, they are the best in the world. We’ll just see about that. America knows her some fireworks. Fourth of July has always been my spectacle to judge all other spectacles. The Chinese did their over-the-top Olympics ceremony deal, but that was more than a little creepy–what with the million robots I mean people working together as the Borg. I’m all for teamwork, but it’s a fine line before you’re the collective. But I digress. The Sydney fireworks will be something to behold, no doubt, and no tribulation at that.



Adventures In Travel: Part Deux

Friday, December 19th, 2008

Here’s what I’ve learned today, just now: Oriental people are early birds. Like this very Anglo-Saxon gal, these people are way too early for their flights because they aren’t going to be left behind. No siree. The rapture folks ain’t got nothin’ on these always prepared Buddhists. They are ready. Like now. They are also hogging every single outlet in the Tom Bradley International Terminal. I’m wigging out. I need power, baby, and no aggressive Chinaman is going to put me off. Oh, hell no. You have your Sun Tzu? I raise you a General Patton, sucka.

I’m juicing up for the long flight. One outlet is mine. All mine, precious. An upside of Continental Airlines being run by a bunch of apathetic boobs is that we got upgraded today, plane-wise. We are now on the Airbus A-380. Yes, it’s a plane made by the French and that worries me. Italians are troublesome, too. (Whew, I’m being all kinds of politically incorrect tonight. Let’s just go for another continent and say right here, right now that Robert Mugabe is a despicable human being and the rest of Africa needs to stop covering for leaders who work over their own people.) The upside of this glorious plane is that 1) it’s quiet and 2) it’s quiet. Oh, and I hear the seats are wide–a benefit for wide-assed corn-fed Americans. (I’m on my way to a politically incorrect ringer.)

Anyway, today was a good day. Gorgeous, if brisk, and the kids got to see the Pacific, a lack of experience that has excessively bothered them for some time. I don’t get why. One theory: they know too much. The downside of home schooling is that they now know world geography and feel deprived because they haven’t been to say, Singapore. They figure everyone goes to Singapore (the oil industry means that lots of kids have lived lots of places) or Europe or Russia or the UAE. It’s a different, more connected world, that’s for sure.

Google Earth freaked us out today. My daughter was fooling with my iPhone, found the street we were on, looked at street view and hello, there’s a car. There’s a couple layers of scary. She knows how to use the technology, no problem. And Google knows how to find us, no problem.

Anyway, in 17 hours or so, I should be in another hemisphere, on another continent. I’ve decided to not disparage the Australians because they seem like really nice people and plus, I’m going to be there for a couple weeks and I want to make it back home alive. Because you know what? Now that Kevin (I’m sorry) Rudd is in charge, Australia isn’t as America friendly and I might be dropped in the “outback” to be eaten by “dingos”. That is just scary.

Oh! And this is the strangeness of the universe. We met a guy suffering our same plight. He was Australian, didn’t know the area and frankly looked a wee bit terrified of finding his way in LA. So, I suggested he come with us even though, at 1 a.m. we didn’t know where we were going. He came along. We ended up at the Hilton which gave us nice hotel at a very good price and very late check out. Today, we saw him on the streets of Santa Monica. He’ll probably be next to us on the plane. This is where people’s beliefs about coincidence and fiat come into play. I tend to start thinking there is something I should pay attention to when I trip over the same person or idea multiple times. Others would say that I give chance too much credit.

More adventures coming forth with.

P.S. Is this travel blogging boring you? Rush Limbaugh’s readers always give him crud when he talks about football, but I’m like, get a life, football is fine. And so, today, I haven’t blogged about the UAW Bailout or Ann Romney’s breast cancer or Sarah Palin for Senate or Democratic corruption or Congress’ pay raise (even though they suck and are the reason the economy is imploding) or Princess Caroline (wow, even Kos is talking about her lack of voting, snort). I haven’t talked about any of that stuff because well, I’m sick of politicians and politics. By this time last year, I was so fed up that I “quit” for two whole weeks. And then, like a big sucker, I came back during the most hideous election year ever. I didn’t think it could get worse and then, it did.

I want to go on the record here about something important. Yes, it’s Friday night and no one’s reading this anyway, but I’m saying it:

I’m glad John McCain lost.

There. I said it. And I voted for him, by the way. The next four years are going to stink in ways only B.O. can stink and and it’s a relief that it’s him and not McCain. It is bad being worked over by your opponent. I’ve been on a losing team before and it’s no fun. But there is nothing worse than being on the winning team only to have the “star” not live up to one shred of his potential. What is worse, is to find out that the star of your team is throwing the game because he’s in on some gambling scheme. I’m not saying that John McCain would be a cheater. I’m just saying he would completely disrespect his voters every, single day of our existence. The Left would hate him, but that wouldn’t stop McCain from trying to curry their favor. It would be a tortured experience.

Watching the Left endure their version of voter colic has been nothing if not entertaining. Seeing Obama stumble through a press conference and chastise his sycophants makes me giggle. Reading the far left’s bloggers try to explain their savior’s betrayals makes me all warm inside. Oh, I feel their pain. I know what it’s like to actually believe something and to be rolled by the guy you voted for. It’s not fun. I’d rather it be them than me.

We’re all going to suffer the next four years. It’s going to be awful. It would be awful with McCain. It would be awful with anyone. The environment is just bad right now. Way back, I wondered what kind of lunatic would want to be president during such a difficult time. Well, we’ve got one, Barack Obama. May the force be with him. In the mean time, it’s been a lot more fun than I expected…..so far.