Slice Of Life

Slice Of Life, is a Weblog (BLOG) that I write, in which I try to tell some sort of story about something, or someone in my life. Sometimes it's happy, sometimes not, sometimes informative, sometimes...... HA, gotcha, did ya think that I was going to say not? Don't know me very well, do ya? :=) I will try to update the BLOG from time to time, whenever I can.

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Location: Chandler, Arizona, United States

My personality is outgoing, I use to be a wallflower, until I realized that it was all the outgoing people that were having the most fun. It was a tough conversion, but nobody I know today would even remotely consider me to be a wallflower. Basically, when I was young, my parents taught me that if you work hard, you can accomplish anything. I haven't quite found the "anything" part to be always true, but it has inspired me to always try to do, and be, my best.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Australia Day 3 - Melbourne

Day 3 in Melbourne was a free day, so since I had seen most of the city on day 2, I signed up for another optional tour of The Great Ocean Road. Near Melbourne, they have something similar to California’s Pacific Coast Highway, which is a roadway cut into the cliffs along the coast, which gives spectacular views of the Ocean, and scenery near the coastline.

We started off down to the town of Torquay, which apparently Australia’s Surfing capital. We had late morning tea time, and then went down to Bells Beach, which is the Surfer hang out, and watched the surfers wipe out in the water.

We traveled along the road for most of the day, stopping at sandy beaches, and shear cliffs, visiting the coastal towns of Anglesea, Lorne, and Wye River. We stopped at Cape Patton Lookout, and it is amazing to see how the power of ocean water can carve into solid rock over decades. We stopped for lunch at the town of Apollo Bay, and since I wasn’t hungry, I wandered around the town, and bumped into friends and we went down to walk around on the beach.

The next stop, was a place they call The Twelve Apostles. It is an area, where the water has carved into the cliffs, and eventually has worn away portions of the cliffs, so that towers of rock are standing alone on the beaches after being worn away, and surrounded by the water.

We also visited a place they call “London Bridge”, and natural bridge created by the pounding surf. The story goes, that part of the bridge fell down, creating an island outcropping, and when it happened a man and women were out on the tip and stranded there. They had to be rescued by helicopter, and the story made all the local newspapers, when it was discovered that the couple were married….. to other people! We had a great tour guide, and he knew quite a bit about the area, and similar stories, so it was great tour. I took a bunch of pictures, which I’ll post on my photo web page once I get back to the US.

Tomorrow, we fly off to the Alice Springs, in the Outback. Stay Tuned!

Australia Day 2 – Melbourne

So, dinner on the first night was uneventful, since I was so tired after that long flight, that after the welcome cocktail party, I had dinner with a nice couple John and Peggy, in the Hotel’s restaurant. It was an excellent steak, and potato dish. I went to bed shortly after dinner, after I wrote my Flight to Melbourne BLOG.

Monday October 30, there was a free Buffet breakfast in the Hotel restaurant, that was excellent. After breakfast, there was a prearranged tour of Melbourne, where they loaded us up on a bus, and we went around the city touring the sights, and stopping at locations including Saint Paul’s Cathedral, Parliament House, The Shrine Of Remembrance to Australia’s Soldiers who died in wars, as well as The Botanical gardens, and Fitzroy Gardens where we walked around the Conservatory and just hung out in the Park, so to speak.

The great thing, was that they gave us a city map, so I was able to get my bearings for later free time on my own. During the City Tour, they showed us the Financial district, as well as Melbourne’s China Town, and the Shopping District. One thing that they have well developed, is the mass Transit System. They have street level Light Rail, which most people call “Trams”, and they go all over the city, so there’s no need to have a car. Parking would be difficult and expensive anyway.

The tour was ½ day, so I had several hours of free time. It turns out the shopping district was only ~ a 10 minute walk from the Hotel, so I went down there, and had a nice café lunch at tables set up on the sidewalk, and I spent awhile people watching the lunchtime crowd. I purchased a couple of souvenirs, and did the typical picture taking tourist thing. I made my way back to the Hotel to clean up before Monday night’s main even…… The Parade Of The Penguins.

This was an optional side trip I signed up for. It turns out, that the Southern side of Australia is the mating grounds for the worlds smallest Penguins, and this is their mating season. Early in the morning, they leave their boroughs dug in the sand around Phillip Island, and head out to sea to feed. Well just after sundown, they come back to shore in groups, and march up the beach all laden with partially digested fish, which they regurgitate for their young. The Government has set up a Park ranger station, and built viewing platforms on the beach, and so you can sit on the edge of the beach, and watch hundreds of penguins come out of the water and march up the beach to their “homes”.

They showed us a DVD video on the way to the island, so we would have some pre-information. The average “Small Penguin” (that’s actually their official name) is ~ 33cm tall, and weighs 1 Kilo. By the way, do you notice how I’m becoming acclimated to Australian metric measurements? No Inches and Pounds for me while I’m here :-) Anyway, the penguins also march along the boardwalk that I walked down to get to the beach, and while I was standing on the rail, this one penguin stopped, stared into the bushes, then he folded his flippers back and started calling out. How did I know it was a “he” and not a “she”? I’m glad you asked. A minute later, a slightly smaller penguin came out of the bushes and started calling back! Oh, but there’s more….. Just then another slightly smaller penguin came around the corner, and started yelling at the first penguin. I figured it was yelling, because that penguin and the first one suddenly rushed at each other and they started fighting with each other!!!

The first penguin was a little larger, and very shortly chased the second penguin away, then HE, and the SHE who came out of the bushes…… Ummmmm….. Well, there’s no other way to put it….. they mated….. right in front of me. How did I know? Did I mention they showed us Penguin video on the way to the island? Now, I’m no Penguin expert, but it sure looked like it did on the video. Then they sat there for a minute, walked a little way, and did it again! There were a few people standing near me, and I don’t know what it is, but I seem to attract comedians, because one of the people said “Damn, at least he could get a private room or something”, and I couldn’t help myself, and so I said….. “Yeah, or at least he could have given her some fish first” HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA, everyone burst out laughing, and it was a great moment. I’ll never forget it. They don’t allow picture taking, even without flash, because it stresses out the birds, but I purchased 3 professionally taken pictures they had for sale at the visitors center, which I’ll scan into digital when I get home.

Great first day in Australia, Eh Mate?

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Australia – Day 1 Liftoff

As many of you may know, I’m on my 2 month paid sabbatical from work, and that one of the things I’ve been fond of is spending my vacations traveling. This sabbatical trip, is to someplace I’ve always wanted to go. Australia. I’m going to be visiting4 cities in 14 days, Melbourne, Alice Springs, Cairns, and finishing up in Sydney. This first report, is the trip from Phoenix Az, USA to Los Angeles, then on to Melbourne. Total Flight Time; PHX to LAX: 52 Minutes, LAX to MEL: 15.5 Hours.

The Super shuttle showed up on time, at 4:00pm for the 6:10pm flight to LAX, unfortunately, the flight was delayed until 6:50pm. Good thing I got here early. I spent my wait in the Chili’s Restaurant bar, and a quesadilla and 2 Corona’s later, I wasn’t bothered by the wait at all.

Guess who was on my PHX to LAX flight? MIKE TYSON! Yup, the boxer, and get this….. He was flying COACH! I guess the old boxing game doesn’t pay like it use to (hehehehe). I didn’t notice it was him when I boarded, but the guy in the window seat whispered it to me, so naturally, I “faked” having to go to the bathroom in the first class section, and sure enough, on the way back, that face, and that tattoo around the left eye was unmistakable.

The wait for the 747 flight from LAX to MEL was a bit longer (3.5 hours), but with the additional International customs inspections, I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t rushed. Plus, it turns out, that the LAX International Terminal has free wireless internet access, so it wasn’t so bad a wait.

The flight was pretty full, and although the aircraft had individual screens for each seat, with lots of movies, and television shows that you can call up, there’s NO WAY a 15.5 Hours flight is going to be comfortable. Plus, I don’t sleep well on airplanes. Even taking a couple of non-prescription melatonin tablets (sleep inducers) didn’t help at all. By the way, melatonin is the chemical your brain secretes to induce sleep.

Because of crossing the International dateline, and the 16 hour time difference between PHX and MEL, we landed at 9:15am on Sunday, MEL time, even though I took off the previous Friday at 6:50pm PHX time. The Sofitel Hotel is really nice, even though we were a bit early to get our rooms, so we went and had a late morning snack at a local authentic Australian restaurant….. McDonalds. Hey, there wasn’t much choice, since for some reason, many of the cafes in MEL are closed on Sunday Morning. Don’t know why, since in PHX everything is open during that time.

Anyway, like I figured, the Sofitel Hotel is 4 star, on the level of the Hilton, so it’s pretty much what I expected. I just finished my first shower in ~36 hours, and I’m sitting here in a genuine “Sofitel Hotel” thick cotton robe (classy, huh?) it is 4:50pm, and we have our Welcome To The Tour, and meet the Tour Director, and the other tourists Cocktail Party at 6:00pm, so I better get dressed. Dinner afterwards is on our own, and I’ve already met several of the other tour participants, so, I would say “so far, so good”. I’ll write more after we tour Melbourne tomorrow. So, for now, all I can say is.....

G-Day Mate :-)

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