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On October 14, 2009, on my way back from a trip back East for a family reunion, I stopped in to see [ profile] lowen_kind. In addition to the excellent company and the obligatory stop at Joseph's Original Cap'n Cat's clam bar urp - excuse me, I got a tour of the CMSL. The train was chartered so I couldn't ride it, but saw it in operation in a number of places, and got to explore it a bit at the terminus.

A wonderful day... all praise to LionKing's hospitality.

theoldwolf: (Default)
My last day in Australia was a delightful romp through Sydney, escorted by the competent and gracious [ profile] thefoxaroo. As he has described our day in detail, I'll save the effort of retyping it all, but since his LJ is friends-only I have taken the liberty of quoting and redacting copiously here.
Logorrhea and many pictures under the cut )
It's good to be back.
theoldwolf: (Default)
Happy Australia Day!

Yesterday was laid back and enjoyable - while Steam Wolf worked on his Land Rover, I took the Wolfmobile into Newcastle, found a commemorative silver coin that my son wanted, ate a pizza roll at a shopping center, explored Christ Church cathedral overlooking the harbor, and generally enjoyed myself on the dénouement of my Australian sojourn.

In the evening Steam Wolf escorted me to a former military club/casino where we feasted on barramundi, chips (i.e. fries) and salad. Afterwards we sat on the deck chatting for about an hour while lightning raged all above us and around us, eliciting less-than-printable comments from this easily-startled old wolf. But what a light show!

After more sharing of internet movies and other goodies, we retired. It was substantially cooler thanks to the rain.

This morning Steam Wolf took me to the train station, where I (most reluctantly - I hate to leave this most pleasant base camp!) caught the proper trains to Artarmon, and now look forward to a day exploring Sydney with the Foxaroo.

More later.
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Arose early and spent a part of the morning reading "Paladin of Souls" on Batty's back porch, while a cute lop-eared bunny with a dark nose came lippety-lipping around my feet to see what this strange creature was. It was a pleasant morning, but I could tell it was going to be hot.

When Batty awoke, I got ready to head East, and we parted ways with many compliments passing between us. He is a most delightful chap, and I hope to be able to visit him again in the near future. Stephan will have the pleasure of his company for the week-end.

Drove to Parkes and by the time I got to the observatory it was scorching. It must have been over 40, but fortunately the humidity out here is quite low, so it wasn't unbearable. Batty recommended I have a meat pie in the cafe there, and I took his advice, to my credit. The experience surpassed the expectation. The pie was divine, and eating it with this huge radio antenna just outside the window, with air conditioning to boot, was as pleasant a brunch as ever I have had elsewhere.

The Dish itself is very impressive. While not quite as large as the one we saw during PonyCon III at the NRAO, it seems bigger just because you can get so close to it. When I got there it was doing quite a bit of moving, which was interesting to see. In the visitor's center there are three little 3D movie clips which I watched, one about Mars, another about the telescope itself, and the third about relative scales in the universe - "Bigger than Big". All very interesting.

Left Parkes and drove back to Newcastle via Sydney, and over the Blue Mountain range, where the climate and the landscape changed from arid plains to bush-laden mountains and hills. Arrived at SteamWolf's place around 9:30, and after spending some time catching up, headed for bed.

The next morning we spent visiting while a workman put some stairs in SteamWolf's backyard down to his lower level, and then his girlfriend came over and I was feted with a fantabulous kangaroo steak lunch with roasted veggies and fried mushrooms, followed by homemade bread for dessert. After lunch, SteamWolf took me out to some amazing sand dunes at Stockton Beach for some 4X4 fun, during which we rescued some poor yob who had gotten stuck in the sand with his trailer. He was lucky that SteamWolf had a snatch strap in his 4X4, and that we were able to get him out without his trailer rolling. We had borrowed his dad's vehicle - I got to meet his parents and his sister, lovely people and I can see where he gets his odd sense of humor - but the vehicle was having a bit of trouble overheating so we didn't do a lot of dune running. But it was great to be there, and spent a bit of time on the seashore gathering the cutest little whelk shells.

It was a blistering hot day, and his parents' thermometer was registering 43 in the shade - not to mention the fact that a brush fire had come very, very close to their home yesterday and there was a hot, dry wind blowing. We got to watch helicopters shuttling water to the hillside behind the folks' house for a while - they have this great 5-acre spread surrounded by bush, and they're very fortunate the fire didn't come closer.

By the time we left the beach, a cool front had moved through, with some concomitant cloudiness, and the temperature dropped at least 15 degrees making it much more bearable. Got back to SteamWolf's place and spent the rest of the evening exploring stuff on the internet. He introduced me to The Dresden Files - show and books - which I had never heard of. Sigh - another series to read, but it will have to wait until I'm done with Chalion. Got some laundry done, and now it's time to climb the wooden hill. It's been a great day!
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Tired wolf.

Spent yesterday driving from the Gold Cost to Coonabarabran, and apparently I was a bit too anxious to get there. I had a conversation with one of New South Wales' finest along the way. A very expensive conversation. Spent the next two hours in Resistance, Resentment and Revenge, and said a lot more than "hqiz". Yarg These people are insanely anal about their speed laws.

Well, that's over - I parked the car at a truck stop just outside of Coona and was able to get some acceptable shots of the Southern Cross, even with my dinky little camera. The Magellanic clouds are spectacular to contemplate, but too faint to photograph. Still, it was the first time I had seen them clearly.

Drove into Coona and from thence to Warrumbungles National Monument, where I camped in the car until 6:00 AM. Walked up the White Gum overlook for some sunrise shots of the volcanic valley, and then found the trailhead and started off at 7:00. It was still cool and I was glad I had begun early. At 9:10 I found myself at 910 meters above Sea Level, overlooking the Breadknife and with a magnificent 360-degree panorama of some incredible volcanic remnangs. Many pictures and videos taken. Got back down via a back route at 11:00, so the 16-odd kilometers and very steep rise took me just 4 hours. I was glad I had been in training, because it was quite a strenuous hike to the top - but the views were so worth it.

From there I drove to visit the Anglo-Autralian Telescope ( which also provided beautiful views of the valley. Amazing instrument... I had never been in an observatory before. I was interested to know that they remove the mirror, and strip and re-aluminize it each year. What an undertaking that must be...

Drove the 158 Km to Dubbo, where I met [ profile] dewhitton and was treated to a sumptuous banquet at a chinese all-you-can-eat buffet/private club. And we did... oh, yes, we did. *urp* It was interesting that we had to sign in as "temporary members" to get in, and they were quite insistent that I remove my hat. Odd dress code...

Afterward he took me to see some aboriginal grinding grooves, where the natives would grind grains, and sharpen axes or spear points in the rock. He also showed me some interesting pylons under a bridge which were decorated beautifully in the aboriginal style. Apparently when they catch a tagger, they take him to one of the local artists and teach him how to do wall art properly, and then turh him loose on ugly pylons or other surfaces that need decorating. If he's intractable and won't learn, he gets turned over to the constable. The work they do is impressive, and the program is quite imaginitive.

Dubbo is less humid than the Gold Coast, but today was 38C and tomorrow is slated to be warmer yet. Uff!

Tomorrow I want to drive to Parkes to see "The Dish", and then head back for Newcastle to return the Wolfmobile to its rightful owner. Slowly.
theoldwolf: (Default)

Ran out last night to get the Australian equivalent of Solarcaine and Tylenol, by the grace of which I was able to sleep well last night, but I'm sore today.

This is my second trip to the merry old land of Oz, but the first one in which I've really been able to experience the country. This is just a few thoughts in no particular order that occurred to me this morning.

  • The people are friendly to a fault.
  • Driving on the left is weird, no matter how you look at it. 45 years of driving has trained my subconscious to know where the steering wheel should be with reference to the left edge of the road, which means if I lose focus for even a split second I'm either straddling the lane or off into the ditch. Fortunately, both I and the car are still in one piece. It's getting easier.
  • It's odd that roundabouts, which were designed to create an orderly flow of traffic, are being removed at many intersections. (I know, because the GPS with 2006-based maps gives me instructions for roundabouts that are no longer there.) It may be due to an increase in population which necessitates standard semaphore-based control. Perhaps a roundabout doesn't work well when there are too many people trying to get through at once.
  • Things can be expensive here. A pastry that would be a buck in Smith's at home costs around $3.00 at a kiosk in the mall. A can of the Australian version of Tinactin was $14.00. In addition to a higher base pay here, much of what is sold must be imported, which affects prices. Candy is expensive - they must have to bring in all their sugar.
  • It's humid, at least here on the East side. Like average 65% humidity. Australia is coal-fired, homes heated where necessary by means other than forced air. Hence central air is a rarity. It costs about $3,000 to put in a single wall-mounted cooling unit that would handle one average-sized room. I'm always feeling like I've had a swim in a molasses pool.
  • North NSW and South Queensland has some of the most beautiful, fertile, lush and abundant land I've ever seen over such a large area.
  • I think the whip bird has the most delightful call of any bird in the world.
  • Pastry shops that sell meat and veggie pies are a gift from Heaven.
  • I could spend years exploring this country.

More as I think of it.
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I am told that there are places on earth where the scenery is heartstoppingly beautiful, abounding in rainforests, waterfalls, blue lagoons, exotic flora and fauna - places like Hawaiʻi, certain islands of the South Pacific, the Maldives, just to name a few. To these places I have never been.

But mine eyes have seen paradise.

Much verbiage under the cut )
What a huge adventure!
theoldwolf: (Default)
♬ We get up at twelve and start to work at one,
Take an hour for lunch and then at two we're done!
Jolly good fun! ♬

♬ Ha Ha Ha, Ho Ho Ho and a couple of tra la la's.
That's how we laugh the day away in the Merry Ole Land of Oz! ♬

Well, all I can say is, if I get down there and find out that's not how it is, I'm gonna be powerful disappointed. I've been looking all my life for a job like that...

Delta Air Lines Flight 17
Arrive: Fri, Jan 8, 2010, 08:40 AM

Depart: 11:25 AM, Wed, Jan 27, 2010
Northwest Airlines Flight 9306

So the die is cast, and there's no turning back. Now all I have to do is arrange transportation to LAX from SLC and back, and put together the scratch to hold body and soul together while I'm down under. Oh, and petrol. Or propane, or whatever the Wolfmobile drinks.

For those of you who worry about my being able to deal with the heat and humidity, come to Salt Lake and spend a winter here... It's not like what [ profile] alaskawolf has to put up with, but we get plenty ice and snow and arctic blasts. So believe me, by January I'll be ready for a change.

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Now that I have all my photos transferred over to my desktop, I can record a few more thoughts and impressions.

Memory Lane behind the cut )
The day was off-again on-again rainy, a continuation of the storm that I caught up with in Washington, DC, but nothing I couldn't work with. It was just so awesome to be there...
theoldwolf: (Default)
Just spent very pleasant hours with the best people in Wyandotte, Michigan - The Most Reverend Mark Stanley and her Grand High Panda-ness. They put me up, fed me, let me run some laundry and sent me away refreshed and happy. Got to meet some of Angela's nice neighbors and friends this time too.

Headed West this afternoon, and I'll park when I get tired. What beautiful weather I've been blessed with today, it's like 70 degrees in Michigan. The calm before the wintry blasts...

Head 'em up, and move 'em out!
theoldwolf: (Default)
Journeying behind the cut )
theoldwolf: (Default)
The weekend seminar was a huge boost for me. I have seen Personal Mastery seminars before, in addition to the one I did myself, but I had never seen Brian Miller lead one. He's both powerful and entertaining at the same time. As usual, came away from the experience with some wonderful new friends.

Monday morning I didn't get checked out of my motel until noon - I had stayed up until 2:30 talking with the friend who attended the seminar, and actually didn't get to bed until 5 - so I lay slugabed until 10:30.

Headed out at 12:30 and stopped at an IHOP for brunch. I remember eating at an International House of Pancakes right after the first ones opened in 1958, and recall thinking all the varieties of syrup were so cool... They've been able to stay consistently good for over 50 years.

I hought I would have clear sailing through the DC area since it was Columbus Day and the feds were off. Hah... what with construction and traffic from hell anyway, I didn't make it through Washington until about 5:30 - but I did stop for an hour's nap around 4 because I was getting dozy.

Continued North and parked Molly at the Lion's Den in Malaga, New Jersey around 8:20, and was hospitably received by [ profile] lowen_kind, here seen with his good friend Shere Conrad.

Tuesday was absolutely spectacular - beautiful weather, a seafood feast and a trip to Cape May with much exploration of CMSL facilities. A further report with many pictures forthcoming.
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Today was awesome. Good driving weather again, and more good friends seen. I'll post the details as opportunity permits.
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I don't know which is worse... no connectivity, or connectivity that's supposed to be good and is so slow that I merely want to rip my fingernails out with a pliers.


Sitting in an Arby's connected to a Pilot truck stop. Full of a free cheese roast beef that I scored for filling out a survey. Thus, with my limited connectivity, I feed you:

The Old Wolf Express - Day Two

The day's driving was uneventful and I was blessed once again with good weather – El Shaddai is great, my prayers are being answered. Nebraska is long and flat – Just west of Omaha is what must be the straightest section of interstate in the nation. God bless our farmers.

As the freeway south of Omaha took me within 3 miles of Selden, a Freefall forumite whom I have visited in the past, I took the opportunity to pay him a brief call – paying $1.25 each way to cross a teeny tiny bridge across the Platte river, and have pleasant words with the ancient of days who guarded the tollbooth. Selden's family has a beautiful homestead in the hills outside of Plattsburgh – and two adorable Corgis. Haha! This time I was able to get through town without the evil officer Sloat giving me a ticket.

Made it to Kansas City at about 6:10 after navigating construction delays and stalled cars, where I met [ profile] dragonet2 at Chubby's diner for dinner – it was a delightful meeting, and I enjoyed meeting another virtual friend in RL. She is very knowledgeable about science fiction conventions, and I learned much. Dinner was your typical diner fare, but I had breakfast – french toast, scrambled eggs, bacon, and a huge biscuit with gravy that would have made a whole meal… *belch*.

After dinner I drove south to Olathe, where I had a brief but wonderful meeting with a cousin whom I have not seen for years and years. Also met her two pleasant sons, aged 12 and 15, who must be God's testosterone kings – these boys both look about 8 years older than they really are. By the hoary head of Mogg's grandfather, I have seen hyperpilosity, and it is frightening!

Found a Petro truck stop at N 39º 0'58", W 94º 7'57" – a huge affair with very nice facilities for truckers – showered up and then around midnight scooted down the road to a truck parking area with a dark corner. Slept like a stone and awoke the next morning at 9:00 to a beautiful, sunny fall morning. Who knows what the day will bring?


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April 2017



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