30 August 2010
There are those “things” that people associate with Australia:
The Great Barrier Reef
What if I told you there is a place where you can see ALL of them at once? I know, right? It’s called Northern Queensland, where the Great Barrier Reef runs into the mighty Daintree Rainforest which trickles into bush and outback just over the mountain ridges. Once there, kangaroos abound and koalas munch intensely on the native Eucalyptus leaves. It’s pretty darn perfect.
Nothing quite compares to the tranquil wonder of the Great Barrier Reef. There you are, 30 miles from shore, finning around in crystal clear water with the likes of fish, sea turtles, and sting rays zipping by in every direction.
One fin, two fin, goggles on, wetsuit zipped, snorkel placed in mouth and kerplunk! You join the other world that lives below the sea. I felt like I was simultaneously living through Finding Nemo and The Little Mermaid with a tinge of Jaws in the back of my mind.
One minute the boat is zipping along at Mach 3 and the next minute you’re apparently “there,” though “there” looks a lot like that scene in Open Water when the two people mysteriously disappear.
Paddle paddle here, paddle paddle there. “Look over there,” I shout and point. “It’s amazing!” A few seconds later a new “most amazing thing ever” appears and I point once again. Paddle paddle here, paddle paddle there. I hold my breath and duck dive to get a fully submerged look, spinning 360 degrees to find myself completely enveloped by a school of brightly colored fish.
The whistle blows and it’s time to go, the fastest hour of my life having zoomed by without fair warning. It’s back on the boat and onward to our next dive site. Two hour-long dives later and we’re zooming back to shore to re-enter our World, which suddenly doesn’t seem quite as vibrant, lively, and social as the one I just left behind.
Fortunately, global warming means I might have the opportunity to call the fish “neighbor” a whole lot sooner that I would have liked.
You can find more pictures of the Great Barrier Reef on my flickr site.
27 August 2010
26 August 2010
The work/unemployment mismatch is really a pain. When you’re working you’ve got the money but not the time. When you’re not working you’ve got the time but not the money. Thankfully, I’ve got some amazing friends who - save my ability to “get there” have wonderful family and [other] friends that kindly subsidize the habits of those in need.
Bernadette Blenkiron is one of those great friends! With all this time on my hands, she suggested a big jaunt to her parent’s vineyard in the Barossa Valley, South Australia. It’s Australia’s Napa Valley and my goodness, it is fabulous!
Sleepy but charming Adelaide was explored rather thoroughly in an afternoon, which left more time for Peter Lehmann, Yalumba, Bethlehem, and all the other ten million fabulous winemakers that inherit this gorgeous piece of Earth.
We shut down Angaston’s main hot spot (at 8:30pm on a Saturday), ate what was named the World’s Best Pizza (for real), caught up on our show - Being Erica, wandered the farm, played with the youngin’s, cooked a pot roast, and avoided the internet at all costs. It was a brilliant escape from a less-brilliant escape (unemployment).
There are heaps more pictures on my flickr. Enjoy!
21 August 2010
Oh my, what a hiatus! I had 4 consecutive weeks of visitors and every moment was filled to the gills with entertaining, guiding, and picture-taking. That said, it's time to report on all the adventures! That will all be coming soon. I start with this. My favorite email forward of all time. I don't care whether it's true or not, this darn thing is funny! Enjoy!
After every flight, Qantas pilots fill out a form, called a 'Gripe Sheet', which tells mechanics about problems with the aircraft.
The mechanics correct the problems; document their repairs on the form, and then pilots review the Gripe Sheets before the next flight.
Never let it be said that ground crews lack a sense of humour. Here are some actual maintenance complaints submitted by Qantas' pilots (marked with a P) and the solutions recorded (marked with an S) by maintenance engineers.
By the way, Qantas is the only major airline that has never, ever, had an accident.
P: Left inside main tire almost needs replacement.
S: Almost replaced left inside main tire.
P: Test flight OK, except auto-land very rough.
S: Auto-land not installed on this aircraft.
P: Something loose in cockpit.
S: Something tightened in cockpit.
P: Dead bugs on windshield.
S: Live bugs on back-order.
P: Evidence of leak on right main landing gear.
S: Evidence removed.
P: DME volume unbelievably loud.
S: DME volume set to more believable level.
P: Friction locks cause throttle levers to stick.
S: That's what friction locks are for.
P: IFF inoperative in OFF mode.
S: IFF always inoperative in OFF mode.
P: Suspected crack in windshield.
S: Suspect you're right.
P: Number 3 engine missing.
S: Engine found on right wing after brief search.
P: Aircraft handles funny...........
S: Aircraft warned to straighten up, fly right, and be serious.
P: Target radar hums.
S: Reprogrammed target radar with lyrics.
P: Mouse in cockpit.
S: Cat installed.
And the best one for last..................
P: Noise coming from under instrument panel. Sounds like a midget pounding on something with a hammer.
S: Took hammer away from midget