Categories
Travel

Australia and New Zealand

OZ Begins

May 20th, 2003

Australia-New-Zealand-394_1

AHOY MATES!

Alas I have arrived on the other side of the planet. It was a long time coming and an even longer plane ride! But the wait was worth it…as now I am living leisurely in tropical weather with LAra. I arrived about 4 days ago…and have done a few cool things so far. First off though, I guess I will kind of explain the setup. I am staying with LAra in here campus dorms. She is going to James Cook University nearby. She has been in class for awhile and is fast approaching finals. The tricky part is that I am technically not allowed to stay in here room. The management is very tight with the budget and such..so they would much prefer me to shell out some dough. Of course being the cheapo i am, we are trying our best to keep me under wraps. I have spoken to a few other boyfriends who have come before me, all who have been caught, and have learned from their mistakes. So we have a sly network of food transport and hidden passage ways to keep me secret and alive.

 

Anywho…so lara has tons of friends here. Upon arriving I met truckloads of them and am having troubles remembering names. We went on an extensive bike ride to a nice secluded lake area. The next day we rode up to “Trinity Beach”. It is supposedly a crappy beach, but it was quite beautiful for a newbie like myself. The main bad part is that it is still jellyfish season…so with all this huge ocean, we could only swim in a netted off area. I suppose we could defy the warning(other people were) but Lara said one touch of these jellies and it is fatal. So I think i will just avoid death for now. Anyway, mountains and beautiful landscapes of green and orange all over the place. The next day I took the bus into the city of Cairns itself. by the by, Cairns is in whats called the tropical far north of Queensland…which is on the west coast. It is the sort of launching point for lots of high adventure beach type activity. but yes….it is a sort of typical resort kinda town. I got all my hair chopped off(way too hot for my big mop), got a cheap guitar to serenade Lara with, and looked into getting certified to Dive. It looks pretty cool. It starts with some theory and pool training days…and then you do 9 dives on the Great barrier reef…including some night dives. Everyone i talk to says this is totally amazing and i have to do it. So i will likely be doing that with one of lara’s friends…and then lara will join us a bit later…as she is already certified.
Speaking of lara, she has been great. we have had a pretty smooth transition. There was definitely some adjustments to be made, as she just spent 4 months becoming close to a whole group of friends…and then suddenly i show up and i dont know anybody and am living with her and sharing our spaces…not to mention she is buried in stress and schoolwork. But we are doing an effective job of arranging ourselves to keep all important life elements in check. I went to one of her chemistry classes yesterday. Good God! It felt like another language. quite humbling, i sorta felt like a dodo. All and all though, things are great..and they will only get better as lara gets out of school.

it is great to read your posts…I definitely miss yall. This will be the longest we have all been separated…as we are normally such a tight nit group. Tom, way to rock the JC so hard. You should get Janna to take a pic of you working.( i am taking pics, and will eventually find a way to get them up, i may try to post them to my web-page in Boston.) if you can get any hoochy mama or mullet pics, that would be hot too. Liza, did you get that Job-e-job? if not, are you going to bomb them?(i read that you US fools are under high security threat again…punks!) Ryan, it definitely must suck to be schoolin yo-self during the fine and dandy spring/summer months. Glad chi-town is treating you so right though. and yes! study A.I.! how freakin cool.

ok. time for me to vanish back into my anti-digital life. kisses and rock signs to you alll. CHeers!
-bRAD

Footie

May 25th, 2003

Greetings from the land down undah

I 2nd Liza’s joy in response to all the new participants in Blog-Life. What a digital happiness it creates in my cyber heart. It is also quite hip that we are representin all over this fine planet. YO Eric, i think we are in the same time zone now, so we should celebrate somehow. but it sounds as though things are mighty fine for most of you(except Liza who is either dead or ditching us). Glad to hear it(not Liza’s potential death but the goodness of y’all).

as for me, a few more days have passed…and i have been here over a week now.I have been playing lots of spots…as the guys around here are pretty competitive. So far it has primarily been basketball and volleyball…and this odd variation on basketball called netball. strange game for sure. Later we are supposed to get into all the different variations on rugby and some Gaelic football….all of which can be referred to as a bit of a game of ‘Footie’. These sports are huge over here. nobody really gives 2 shits about American football, basketball, baseball, hockey etc. Its all about Footie.

The weekend has brought some interesting events. Me and Lara went to a sort of fancy restaurant/bar on the beach…fitted with tiki torches and fancy skirts. The occasion was birthday party of one of her chem mates(who i co-incidentally met earlier in the week during my class visit). It was lovely fun and a very tropical thing to do. Saturday we went into town and did various townie things..but the real excitement came later when we prepared for the evening. First we did a critical viewing of Xmen 1….and then went directly to theatre for Xmen 2. Quite thrilling indeed. Although I am not sure if I would say its better than matrix 2. people are doggin matrix over here…but i still represent for it. how about we take a vote…..matrix 2 or xmen 2? my vote is for matrix….as it has better long term value.
Yesterday(Sunday) we rode our bikes to a botanical gardens. Bikes here are a big deal….a 7 mile ride is considered normal. so i am having to huff along like its nothing…when in reality my legs burn like bacon. The gardens where nice. but on the way back…PLOOP…my tire popped. So here we are 7 miles out and i am walking my bike. yippe. we were able to finagle a ride and things were ok.

 

All in all, things are nice…but my new mission is to find an activity that is repeating and will last for a month. This could be a job(although it is illegal for me to work(unless i pay for a 600 dollar work visa) but some people pay cash in hand…so it may be an option), intern studio type thing(one studio already said they have more interns than clients), club, sport, class or anything to keep me active and out of Lara’s intellectual hours.

it has been lovely hearing from ya. keep it up. RAWK
-BRAD

Get to Work

May 27th, 2003

so my days as an Australia slacker may soon come to an end. I may do 1 of 3 things. 1) There is an offer to work as a crew type member on a boat, which would include full days of painting, sanding and general repair. At the conclusion of this 5 day work period…they would dive certify me for free. So that may be an excellent opportunity to save some dough and acquire madd skills. 2) run a local radio show. this would be extra cool because of the opportunity to use my ipod to provide the music. I could cue up the playlist beforehand….then just click play…and pause as needed. How freakin slick is that. 3) Help a guy with platypus research. I am not really sure what this entails..but it would likely be me going with him into the rain forest and assisting him with various sorts of viewing and detecting. Anyway, these all sound interesting…and maybe i will try and do them all.
TOOT
Brad

Costumes and Crocs

June 1st, 2003

yip yip yippEEE

SO i have had a splendiferous weekend. It started at a campus bar called Stingers….where all the hot college co-eds hang to get drunk. That night was a special “Rocky horror picture show” evening…with live band and an end of school year crowd. Being the transvestite wanna-be that i am, i decked myself out in one of Lara’s hot black skirts, tight black tops, and yummy stuffed bra…and all the proper goth makeup as well. I was lookin fine. Lara also dressed similar, one could even say, lesbian-like similar. fortunately there were plenty of others also decked out in full spooky garb. The night brought some interesting encounters for me. First, a sort of butch like lesbian who was dancing next to me and lara took it upon herself to sort of start groping my temporary chest…she seemed quite serious about it….but i soon became too tame and she moved on to the more greasy wild man next to me. Later that night…that same greasy wild man approached me at the bar, and said i was quite brave. He said this in my ear as he gently caressed my bum….and that us fellows need to stick together. I gave him a neutralizing smile and walked away. Later that evening i won a Russian dance competition and received a nice beer logo t-shirt and hat…..later these were stolen and i cried publicly. The climax of this hot event came when they called all rocky horror participants forward to do a fashion show. i did well, and ended up in the top 5. i did not however make final cuts and did not get a prize….the winner was this bloke in a g-string that got ripped off and was naked. can never beat a naked guy.

The next morning me, Lara, Sarah (laras roommate), and Erin(a university friend) rented a car to drive to some sights. We saw lovely waterfalls and wetlands….some of the first more beautiful stuff i have seen. We stayed at sarahs grandparents house…as she grew up nearby. They were very nice and told all sorts of stories…and served yummy food. Today we went to a beach town called port Douglas…and enjoyed some of the more traditional tropical atmosphere(sorry Ryan). We then went to a Croc farm. This place was great. They had all sorts of dangerous animals…deadly snakes, huge deadly birds called a cassowary, cute koala’s and of course huge CROCS. They took us out on a boat and dangled dead chickens from the side…and had them jump and gnash…very exciting. They also did a demo with a man running around a lake area and having the croc chase him and show us the death roll. Very nice!SO all in all a splendid weekend. This week i should finally start Diving certification. YipppE!

enjoy the blessings of tom, and if you are tom…enjoy yourself! DTPeace out.
brad

Fitzroy Island

June 6th 2003

holler!

welcome to the blog Chris! good to hear from ya. so i have had some fun in the last few days. Lara and i, with some newly made Aussie friends went to Fitzroy island…which is a sort of beautiful luxury island off the coast of Cairns. We went snorkeling around the reef and saw lots of colorful exotic fish and coral. Then we hiked up to the summit of the island a dandy 360 view of surrounding islands. to finish off the day we relaxed on Nudey beach. Yes, this was a nude beach. no i didn’t strip down. by the time we got there, most people were chilled out and no longer nude. apparently that sort of things happens earlier in the day. anywho, it truly was a tropical paradise.

The next day was a more official day. I have been trying to finagle free stuff and doing further planning for diving. I found out that quite a few people actually fail the Diving medical exam here. They have some sort of lung volume tester that many of the more fit people here failed. So, i went to the test prepared to beat this machine. You basically just blow into this tube..and they tell you to blow as long and as hard as you can. these are 2 very different things. so i asked the nurse which produced the best results…she wasn’t sure. you get 3 go’s at it. i tried several techniques. apparently they weren’t the right ones…as the printout said i have massive lung blockage and all sorts of badness. the nurse and i thought this to be quite wrong…so she gave me another 3 go’s. this time around, i won! i played it like a trumpet with 1 massive burst. Hell yeah. so i will be diving.

Diving and diving certification however, is quite expensive. so i have followed up with 2 companies to finagle this. The first one is going to let me paint there boat for 5 days, 10 hours a day…in exchange for a 4-day dive certification. most excellent. The 2nd company will allow me to be a kitchen assistant on board a normal live-aboard dive trip with paying customers. So i will be their waiter for 3 days on a boat at sea…and between meals i can dive for free. most excellent again.  also, the platypus research guy emailed me. in a few weeks, i will be sort of assisting him monitoring platpus on 2-3 day excursions to the middle of the wet tropics. this should be quite interesting as well.

Finally, today me and lara went white water rafting on the Tully river. this was most thrilling. it was a full day of grade 3 and 4 rapids. The tour operators where a great hoot…and we got plenty wet…nearly being launched out of the raft several times. We have a nice video showing all of this.

all in all, i have to say i am massively happy…and i wish ya’ll could be here with me. If we ever collectively get rich…we should go on a world tour of fun and craziness together. then there will be no need for a message board as we will all be together. anywho…i hope all is sane and hopeful for you all. this is B bloggin off.
-bRAD

Hell Blocks

June 11th, 2003

elo

So the blogg is really blastin hot this week….i am responding to myself! Anywho, i am 3 days deep into my boat work experience and it is bruising hard. i know you must be thinking…o shut up brad…living in Australia…but i aint kiddin. This is seriously the hardest work i have ever done.

It is a bit difficult to describe what i have been doing….the basic scrubbing and painting is constantly happening all around in awkward places…but the real stinker is putting what are called ballast in what is called a bilge. A ballast is a gold bar looking stone that weighs about 50 lbs. A bilge is a tiny sweaty stinky wet hard metal chamber that must hold these things….about 50 of them. The reason being they must counter-balance a large heavy staircase on the other side of the boat so its even. I don’t think you can imagine how difficult this is….but i was full-body sweating for about 8 hours….and constantly getting minor pains/cuts/bruises etc. The worst of this came early on when i smashed my finger between 2 of these evil hell blocks. It hurt terribly. When this happened…somehow or another i could suddenly taste blood in my mouth..and lo and behold…my finger is full of blood. what they call a blood blister. Should hurt for quite a while..until my fingernail falls off. They said i could try to put a needle through it to drain the blood. I had Lara try this….which hurt an indescribable amount…and it didn’t get but a few drops. so the result is my left forefinger is swollen and it hurts to move it or touch anything….making typing this posting quite a task….and also going back to work refitting a boat in harsh marine industrial conditions for 12 hours a day less than appealing. but i push-on, because even if the body is weak…the mind is Strong! 2 more days of this….then i get dive certified for the next 4.

I have made some effort to get a website up with some pictures. it is crap..and you actually have to go to the page, then click the link to the page….but then it should work. http://users.rcn.com/b.fotsch
the pictures at the end are kite-surfers. We went to the Australian championship for it. looks like heaps of fun.
please don’t let me post to myself again. i feel so alone!
tootlie-doo
BRad

Dive Class in Session

hey stl blog team(i.e. Liza)

So i have completed my labor on the boat and now i am on my way to being dive certified. Today I learned the basic of the gear, buoyancy and such in a pool. This was supplemented with classes, lecture, and videos. All very nice and informative. There really is quite a lot to know before even thinking about jumping out to see. It looks as though i will be able to have an underwater camera so perhaps some hip pictures may result. That is all for now. talk to you later (Liza).

 

A Love Affair Begins

June 17th, 2003

 

ahoy me mates!

Kent! splendid to hear from ya. sounds like you are knee-deep in computer insanity. All i know is that i am using an acer computer to write emails. can you top these madd computer skills? welcome to the future baby!!

Anywho, i just finished my dive course. The last 4 dives were in the Great Barrier Reef. It truly is amazing. Just like you see on NAture/discovery television and such. I saw sharks, stingrays,huge sea turtles, eels, lion-fish, clown-fish, kettle fish and a ba-zillion others within about a meter of my face. Really exciting and a tiny bit scary. Breathing and moving underwater is also very unique. It feels like being in space….360 flips or just hovering in mid ocean is quite possible. The best part of being down there though is being in this totally different world. The corals form these huge mountains and caves that form underwater cities…and we were the explorers. Many of the fish were very inquisitive and would just swim right up to your mask and stare at you….sometimes whole schools of fish would enclose my body. This is an amazing experience…being surrounded by 1000’s of intense colors darting in time to each other.

now that me and Lara are both certified, we are going to live on a boat and do a ton of diving together. We are going to be doing an advanced diving course on the boat…which includes night diving. deep diving and underwater photography. All very promising. so i guess that is it for now. hip hop hurray.
tootles
brad

The Underwater Journey Continues

June 21st, 2003

elo elo.

So i have just recently returned from 3 days on the GBR (great barrier reef). My head is still slowly rocking as i have not gotten accustom to being on solid ground. The trip out there was somewhat rough…and being aware of my sickness, i downed some yummy motion sickness pills. LAra, knowing she was a toughie, and making fun of me for being a wimpy…took none. Sadly, Lara did the technicolor yawn over the side of the boat, feeding all the fishes her half-digested breakfast. She thought the main reason for her upchuck was karma…so she will no longer give me sass about my weenie stomach. And fortunately no more vomit for the rest of the trip for either of us.

The boat we were on was very nice….it was just recently built in 2002, so everything was very new and modern. The crew and instructors were nice enough..more professional than anything. We did 11 dives in total over 3 days… which is a lot. We did a few technical dives using a compass and using kicks to estimate distance and such. We each did an underwater photography dive…were we hired a a nice camera from the boat(pictures yet undeveloped). We did a deep dive to 30m(normal depth max for normal divers is 18m). There is something called Nitrogen NArcosis once you get around 30m. It is a little like feeling drunk or euphoric….but it is completely harmless…because as soon as you move up it goes away. But the instructor had us answer a question while we were down there. he handed us a writing slate with a silly question….and we each had a line next to our name to write our answers. We all came up with some silly answer and wrote it where it belonged….Lara, however, wrote her answer in this tiny portion of the slate, totally missing the blatant spot to write hers in. She didn’t even realize it until the end. so she felt the effects. LightWeight!

We also did 2 night dives. These are quite spooky. you are given a torch(that is Australian for flashlight), and a glow-stick attached to everyone’s back. The moonlight only gives a small amount of light underwater….so basically you can only see where you shine your light. The first one was guided, so there wasn’t much to worry about. The 2nd one they sent me and Lara on our own way. This was a great dive….as he gave us some compass headings to find Bryan…the biggest loggerhead sea-turtle in the GBR. Fortunately, we did a good job night-navigating and found him sleeping in a little cave. It was ridiculous. This turtle was about as big as the hood of a car. I am not joking…..by far the biggest turtle i have ever seen. so we lowered ourselves behind him and watched him sleep. very cute. All other dives were just for fun…and we saw a endless amazing things. Reef sharks, stingrays, puffer-fish, parrot fish, angel fish, bat fish, barracuda, unicorn-fish, clown-fish, lots of sea turtles, moray eels, shrimp, worms, urchins and massive mountains of beautiful coral, whips, fans etc. One of my favorite things were the schools of buffalo parrot fish. They told us if we see what looks like a moving coral reef, move closer and you will see this herd. They were right. We came across a dark section and realized that this herd of buffalo parrot fish were blocking all the sun, There must of been about 100 of them and they are huge. Truly amazing. The GBR in general is a totally different world. Each reef and coral has its own unique feel to it, like a neighborhood and houses with different rooms and owners….all of which we were the guests. Overall all i am very stoked about diving and would love to continue.
okdoke. That is all for me. happy day!
-brad

Whitsundays Adventure

June 30th, 2003

yowza!

Greetings all. I have just returned from a splendid adventure. I will describe as skillfully as i can: Lara finished exams with apparent success…and moments later….blammo!…we disappeared on to our trip. We took a bus to Townsville…and picked up her friend Ashley. This bus went on to a place called Airlie Beach. This is your standard tropical paradise town…lots of nice little shops…perfect weather….beautiful boats,water, harbor etc. What makes this town special is that it has 75 beautiful islands connected to it. They are called the WhitSunday islands. We did a little research and found out that some of them are national parks and you can actually rent one for yourself. So we did the appropriate bookings…and the next morning a boat took the 3 of us to our very own island with a tent, some kayaks food etc. Our particular island is called Denman. The float out there was absolutely beautiful. Hard to imagine a more tropical paradise look. Perfect blue cloudless sky, deep blue water…and lush green islands with lots of dramatic crags and mountains shooting about. We arrived at ours, set up camp and thus began our adventure.

We took a quick peek around our own, but soon decided to be adventurous and paddle on over to the much bigger island with a huge mountain on it. We wanted to walk along the ridge. Me and LAra hope into the 2person kayak and Ashley has the single. It takes us a good effort and some current battling, but we finally arrive. Most everything around is mostly undisturbed. No signs or paths or anything. The lack of a path is a bit disconcerting, but being young and dumb, we venture into the bush. This is no ordinary grassy thickness. It is is wall-like thickness with grass, twiggie type things trees etc up to our heads. It took extreme effort to go short distances and it was very tiring. Lara mentioned the fact that this is a perfect place for snakes to hideout and eat our feet. Luckily we are lucky. We keep trudging through this massive brush and are starting to get quite discouraged. We are full of yucky brush and little cuts here and there are very sweaty and tired…not to mention we are wearing nearly nothing because we were intending to snorkel….which means bikini and sandals. ick. but my ignorant macho denial of failure payed off…as eventually we came to the trail. This was a beautiful thing to see…and we cheered accordingly. We trekked up the final bits to the the tip top and reveled in our glorious achievement. We don’t need no stinking trail!

We followed the trial to the bottom this time. It just so happened this island was also the location for a large beach resort. So we thought we might take a peek at that before we left. On the way to that, we are merrily strolling along until i hear a very large sound to my left, which quickly surrounds in stereo. It was a Beehive. EEEK! Ashley and Lara start running in the opposite direction and tell me to do the same. Turns out Ashley is allergic. So we run away and give up on our resort destination. At this point we just want to get back to our kayaks…which are stored at some random coastal area which likely has no easy access(and we weren’t about to retrace our horrible steps through the bush). So we estimate, and take a path to a place called oyster bay. This was a lovely wooded shady path….and much to our delight, we stumbled upon a wonderful butterfly-land. This was amazing. There were hundreds of beautiful butterflies in every directions…all different colors. When we stopped moving…they would land on leaves and if you weren’t looking it would seem they all left…..but upon closer inspection they were merely just sort of flapping in the wind like leaves. We started walking, and they would flutter all the way down and around our journey. It is a wonderful feeling to be surrounded and followed by butterflies. It seems like we are more important somehow. So eventually this treat comes to an end. All the while our ears are being treated to the maniacal call of the Kookaburra. This sounds like a blend of a baby crying, insane laughter and and some other unidentifiable secret ingredient.

We come out of the path onto a strange little mud flat. It is lined with the odd mangrove tree’s…whose roots grow up from the ground. Walking around we begin to notice all the new wildlife of this region. Quite large crabs are doing their sideways saunter to escape our path. Other much smaller crabs are being swept away in the mini streams in between rocks. Other creatures are hiding away in holes that we never get to see. We pass this area and have to traverse some larger rocks to get towards our kayaks. As we move along…these rocks gradually start to become covered in snail like shells. They eventually become so dense it is very difficult to avoid stepping on them. At this point a strange little marble sound tinkles all around us. Its the snails choosing to descend below the rocks rather than be stepped on. Every now and then we stop at a little mini water habitat to see what life resides inside. At first it would seem like nothing was happening…..but a little patience would reveal a slowly awakening pool of fancy creatures. Some of the snails and crabs had wonderfully colored shells and strange little tentacles. The Christmas tree coral is a colorful Christmas tree looking thing about the size of a thumb…that when you put you hand near it….it would dart back inside the rock….and then slowly come back out It reminded me of something from Dr. Suess. Other strange wormy centipede looking things would just stick fast to the rock and not move. If this sounds a bit over-descriptive and excessive….its because i was really over-whelmed by the amount of beauty and life that could surround us in such a short distance. Each little section has its own totally unique way of surviving to that particular habitat. Truly extraordinary and indescribable beautiful.

Finally we arrive at our kayaks….and they are very very far from the shore…as the shore had gone down. These kayaks are very heavy and this was an unwelcome site. But we bucked up and heaved them on our heads, walked the wobbly walk to the water and paddled back home. We cooked up a few yummy meals and then night was upon us. We had a few scary sounds of maybe possums as we cooked. Always giving us a bit of a fright. But the real scare came later. We were laying on our backs star-gazing( i have never seen so many stars….and there are different constellations here….southern cross instead of the north star big dipper) when a very bright…search type light flashed on us. It was quite far away and was moving. It was scanning the area, but would frequently stop on us…but then move on. Lara wanted to go hide…but we decided we had been spotted so just stay put. Eventually this creepy boat light disappeared….but not before we could conjure a dozen or so possible ideas of what and why they were they. A bit of uncomfortable sleeping and some guitar lessons in the morning concluded the adventure. All in all…it seemed like a week or so…but it was only 1 day! crazy. but totally amazing. Next we are off on a 3 day 4WD adventure on the worlds biggest sand island. YEEHAW!

Dingo!

July 5th, 2003

welcome Friends!

it is a feather in my nose to see so many happy bloggs. Maintaining our digital bond will surely help us to meet up in flesh more frequently and with greater zest.
LIzz….WAM-BAM-SLAM, you are one step closer to writing American beauty 2. I have never met a REal Screenwriter who writes REal screenplays for REal 2 hour movies. I cant wait to see/read it. And I welcome you back to Boston-land with open arms.(i have a hot roommate now). Tom, way to go on attaining the new Godsmack album. I think it would behoove us all for you to give us a Critical Analysis of the artistic cohesion of the album.And of course WAM-SLam on the the apt. Indeed we need pics. Liza, welcome to eBay…may your stay be long and intense. Are you still stalking Ricky Fitz? Emily, i am glad your job-ejob is still on the path of success…and furniture making is still part of your life. all in all…..i give my other side of the world welcome with Aussie cheer.

in my life, i had another amazing, but quite different island experience. This is a bit further south on the worlds biggest sand called Fraser. The only mode of transport on the island is a large powerful 4WD vehicles. We were put into a group of 5 other English friends and given a brief tutorial…and then we were given complete control of our lives. It started with horrible rain and thunder….but then eventually it turned beautiful for most of the trip. Some of the driving was in lush rain forest and other parts of the driving were along the what they call 75 mile beach. This is considered a national highway….and it is completely determined by the tide.

It was really amazing to be driving next to huge waves. It is also whale migrating season…so we some some humpback waves pulse in and out…and periodically blast some water out their blow holes. We camped on top of a giant beautiful sand dune and watched the sunset and rise. During the night while we cooked up dinner we were visited by dingo’s. Dingo’s are kinda like wild dogs or wolves. These are some of the only pure breed dingo;s in the world as they are on an island. They are also overly friendly due to tourism and came within a foot or so of us. A bit scary. Later we climbed up onto a cliff that hung over the ocean….and were able to see manta rays, tiger sharks, and giant schools of fish. Obviously the ocean around the island is unsuitable for swimming because of the sea life and riptides. Finally, we went to an area were the waves crashed over these rocks and formed what they call champagne pools. It is hard to describe…but we got some great pictures. Hopefully these will be posted while i am in Sydney.

We are in Brisbane right now…which is Australia’s 3rd largest city. We went to a jazz and blues festival last night. Very strange to see this music here…as i associate it with America. Anyway…it was a lovely way to celebrate 4th of July so far from home. Tomorrow we are off to the hippie town of Byron Bay. Continue to be of cheer and blog.
tootles
brad

Surfs Up

July 8th, 2003

Greetings friends

today we are finishing up our time in the hippie alternative lifestyle town of Byron Bay. It is a very small town centered around relaxation and surfing….but mostly surfing. Lots of strange dirty people wandering around the beaches and hemp shops and plenty of hot bods hitting the waves. We are staying at a hostel called The ARts Factory. Very strange….it was created by 2 American Vietnam draft dodgers who came to Australia and started a dance club. Now it is a very hippie place with all sorts of zany sleeping, eating, living options: you can sleep in a double decker bus, or a giant teepee, get free didgeridoo lessons etc. Last night we saw a neat aboriginal culture show where some natives danced and played the didge. His playing was really great. At first i thought i was just hearing things…but i swore i heard some beat boxing and electronic type noises coming out of his instrument. later i asked him if he ever got involved with electronic music. turns out he recently released an album that got on the top 10 dance in the UK. So that was great….modern dance culture and aboriginal culture meet and it isn’t cheesy thud-thud music!

Today was most excellent as we went surfing! you wont believe how cheap it was. 20 bucks for a 4 hour trip with wetsuits, boards, instructor, transportation to a great area and a kabob to eat afterwords! surfing in California is way more expensive for way less. anyway…it was also perfect conditions. The ground was shallow enough to stand, yet the waves were huge…so we were all able to get up on big waves and ride them in with no real problems. Tom, tell nick that our conditions were shit in Huntington…and that he shouldn’t be discouraged. A strange little side note was that my wetsuit was the old suit of the 2000 Australian surf champion. yee haw. Tonight we are off to Sydney.
Kent…if you can find a movie call ‘Whale Rider’, it is quite good. it is from new zealand. o yeah. i saw charlies angels 2. girl power.
rawk.
-brad

Blue Mountains and Biftek

July 12th, 2003

elo friends

strange the lull and surge of the blog. i thought for sure there would be mounds of backblog for me to sludge through. tis OK though. i blog on. It was a long over-night bus journey on a bus and then onto a train which took us into the beautiful blue mountains. These are the main mountain ranges and cliffs of Australia. Very dramatic and the home of the famous rock formation ‘The 3 Sisters”. We stayed in a very quaint mountain town called katoomba in a cozy bed and breakfast. We filled our time by going on lovely hikes though the odd rain forest. The climax of this nature adventure was a full day of rock-climbing and repelling(they call it abseiling). This was extraordinary…at times it could be literally breathtaking as you looked down 100+ feet into the crags and boulders below. It was a most excellent workout and a great time. Our guide just took the 3 of us out so we got to know each other quite well.

We then took a train into Australia’s mega town Sydney. This is a fast paced very large and beautiful city. The opera house in the middle of the harbor and the bridge make for a unique skyline. We met up with one of Lara’s friends fiance. It was a bit of a strange day getting to know each other, but nothing unbearable. Last night we saw the Australian chamber orchestra in the opera house for about 10 bucks. A well made acoustical space indeed. being the technical geek always on the prowl…i found my way to some technical looking fellows in a booth nearby. I asked if they were recording the concert…but they instead are doing an experiment. They are measuring the average background noise in concert halls around the world. The goal is to find out whether it is worth it to purchase really expensive super quiet air conditioning units….if the people are louder than it anyway. FUN!

We are seeing a funky electronic band tonight called biftek. They are supposed to be in the style of kraftwerk. I hope the girls don’t hate it! hope things are well with all. Tootles for now
brad

 

Kangaroo Splat

July 19th, 2003

g’day blokes and sheila’s

So the journey continues. We have left the cosmopolitan-life of Sydney and arrived in the Red Center, otherwise known as the Outback. This is a truly a vast and desolate area. Almost no water or life for thousands of kilometers in all directions from the center. I don’t know how much y’all know about Australia…but the super short history lesson is Australia was a prison for England…but aboriginals(dark skinned people who have been around for 65,000 years and haven’t changed their lifestyle) were in the way….so they just massacred everyone they saw and stole all their land. As of the last 30 years, a bit of justice has creeped back…some lands were given back, and killing natives is not a good deed anymore. SO, center and northern australia is the main area to get into this culture. The icon for this adventure is something called Ayers Rock(or Uluru). It is a massive(900meters) red rock in the middle of absolutely nothing. A very strange sight. So we have elected to do a bit of a tour of all of this with another 4wd company.

The day started off early at 4am. As we are driving to the first sight we are all discussing what wildlife we will see. I hadn’t seen a wild kangaroo yet(only seen them in captivity) so i was pretty excited. Suddenly…i hear a gasp…i look to the front just in time to see a majestic and very cute kangaroo bounce directly in front of our massive beast vehicle and see the horrible look on its face before it splattered under the car. So the first kangaroo i saw died 1 second later. Worry not though…as kangaroo’s are in far excess right now….i am sure this puts a content smile on animal lovers everywhere.

Anyway…we experienced all the rock formations and rock paintings in all their glory. This was made all the more intense as we were truly in the absolute middle of nowhere. Nothing anywhere….no sound, or change or movement anywhere. On our drive…we saw wild camels(did you know Australia is the only place that wild camel exist?…and in fact their are 700,000 just roaming around!!), wild horses and donkeys, wedge-tailed eagles, emus and of course more wild kangaroo( besides the splattered one). All in all a very different and perhaps more quintessential vision of Australia. Next we are off to see more of this section but we are heading north into the hot northern territory.

glad to hear from you all…wish i had time to write more, but its expensive to type out here. Much love to yall.byebye

 

The Outback

July 22nd, 2003

elo all

The more days of adventure have passed in the outback. This segment was mainly a transport type trip from the middle of Australia to the top end. Being that it was a long trip we were put into a big comfortable bus with lots of people from all over the world. The most interesting combination of people we had were some Israeli soldiers and some u.s. navy and air force men. At one point in the trip the USA boys were cleaning dishes and the Israeli soldiers were drying….meanwhile swapping stories and war talk. very interesting ease-dropping. our tour guide was also quite interesting, his name was chief. he is a massive man that very closely resembles shrek. He plays blues, so we jammed. Quite a little hoot…if only i rocked more at blues.

anywho, the trip had some pretty interesting stops. We saw some giant boulders called the devils marbles…and did a bit of a gold mine tour. The most fun and beautiful part of the trip was canoeing down Katherine gorge. The gorge is a nice river in the middle of sheer cliffs on either side…and lots of tropical plants and animals. The river also contains freshwater crocs known as ‘freshies’. They are harmless and will just swim away if you see them. Saltwater crocs or ‘salties’ are the ones to worry about. But parents fret not, to our dismay, we saw none.

In general, the trip gave me a sense of the hearty personalities of the people of the outback. We stopped in lots of super small kooky places along the way…and they were full of silly signs and rules, and just a general slow and comfortable pace. so now we embark on one of the highlights of the trip…the top end national parks…kakadu and litchfield. Supposed to have some of the most spectacular waterfalls and cliffs etc. yum. oh, also…my fingernail has finally mostly fallen off. There is just a small silver left on one side. It is very disgusting to look at. so i took a picture.

anywho….that is all for me now.
p.s. go to radiohead in a different city! you know you need to see 2+2=5 rocked live in your face!

Kakadu inspiration

Jul7 25th, 2003

ah shucks…i truly wish i could be in several places at once. Cause there is no question i would love to attend the float trip even though i am surrounded by deep sea diving and outback safari’s. If another one happens towards the end of august i am game. Anywho, i am back from yet another outback adventure. This time we were in the tropical Top End of Australia in some of the largest national parks called kakadu and litchfield. These are full of wildlife and climate change. Some of the main features of the trip were relaxing in some waterfalls and various rock pools. We also went on a crocodile cruise. These are extremely popular up here as this area is one of the main sections were saltwater crocs slip into the bogs and billabongs of the inland. It was a very beautiful area to see crocs in their natural environment. wild flowers and giant birds zipping around with the chance wallaby(small kangaroo) bouncing along in the distance. At one of our camps, I had been slowly creeping up on wallaby to try and snap a brilliant photo…when one just walked straight up to me. Very Nice! This one apparently has been hand feed for awhile so is not at all afraid of us. Needless to say this was massively cute and fun to feed this guy a nice apple.

We also saw some aboriginal rock art. This is quite similar to the ancient caveman art. Stick figures and animals representing various tasks they did in their lives. The most impressive part was that some of them are up to 60,000 years old. wowzers.
The hard part about this region it seems, is that it is quite hard to appreciate its best quality. We watched a video about the 6 seasons of the top end…which basically include a massive and complete flooding of everything…with massive heat and humidity, then a sudden stop of rain…so the water gradually evaporates to nothing…turning everything into a horrible dry land…then the electrical storms come and torch all of this dry scrub, burning nearly 2/3rds of it away until the giant floods come again. Pretty amazing, and nearly impossible to grasp just being here for a few days.

A personal sort of revelation happened as well. Just being around all of this amazing landscape and adventure I have gradually started to decide that I want to do as much natural adventure as i can. This has evolved even further just recently. After watching that Top end Australia video…which showed all the amazing climate changes of the area…they eventually showed some of the behind the scenes of how the captured such amazing footage. This has happened at several of the omnimax-type nature shows we have scene..most of which have had really good music. So all of this has persuaded me to think that I might want to explore a career like this. going out with the video guys and trying to capture the sounds and then take it home and do the music. This may not be quite as glorious as recording rock bands or whatever…but it gets me excited. Combining all sorts of things i love. ok. that is enough for me today. I am almost certain I will be home around aug16-17 time…so hopefully i will see some of yall. ROCK!

“Free” beach

July 27th, 2003

Yes its true. My days in this giant landmass are finally ending. We had a few extra days in the city of darwin…which for the joe’s should maybe ring a bell….as it was an important city in WW2. It was bombed several times trying to fend off the Asian menace…. But anyway…we have made the best of this time. For the first time in my tender life…I have partaken in a Free Beach….which you may know as a nude beach. Lara had done this in Brazil and I needed to even the scales, so we went. The name free beach is actually a nicer name for it…because thats how it feels to be gallivanting around in the buff…..Free. The beach was pretty empty…so it wasn’t too weird either. The best part is that I didn’t burn any important bits in the process. Excellent!

AFterwards we went to see the immaculate Arnold S. in the eagerly anticipated T3: Rise of the Machines. I had low expectations as the previews seemed pretty lame-o…i.e. Arnold carrying a coffin. But I was genuinely entertained. They made some dandy connections to the movies of old..and the effects were pretty good…and NOT a matrix copy…which i cant say for many action movies now-a-days in terms of video effects.

In a few days we will be shifting climates from 90s-100s of the tropics to the absolutely frigid New Zealand in the dead of their winter. For those geographically uninterested…we will be in the city of Christchurch on the south island…which is the main city to catch a giant cold ship to Antarctica.brrrrr.

and yes, i truly would like to cruise with y’all on an unknown river. Australia is amazing of course…but summer without all the gang has a bit of bittersweet in it. ah well. Big sloppy kisses to all.
-brad

New Zealand begins

July 31, 2003

hello friends,

me and Lara have arrived in new zealand. As anticipated, the coldness factor is great. We flew into the social hub of Auckland in the north island(new zealand is made up of 2 islands) and then flew into the very English city of Christchurch. Strangely enough we ran into some people we surfed with a month ago. Small world (after all). Yesterday we converged upon new zealands largest Thermal Reserve. These are a collection of naturally hot springs collected in a friendly resort atmosphere in the snowy mountains. One section of pools was heated from sulfur and was about 110 degrees. Eek. but this was lovely in the chill of the timberland.

Last night we stayed in what we thought was a nice quaint hostel. But after ignoring a warning about the loudness of the street…we were stirred quite abruptly in the middle of the night by some wild screaming and crashing. After trying to sleep through it for 10-20 min…we rose to spy on our disturbance. Two, shall we say elaborately dressed vixens, were screaming and cursing about something…though we could not discern the subject matter. Eventually they fell on the ground near an antique store and decided that kicking and punching in the front window would solve their miseries. So that was lovely.

 

Today we took a beautiful TranzAlpine Train across the mountains. This is said to be in the Top Ten train rides in the world. Very stunning and impossible to capture with a camera. Tomorrow we are off to walk on some giant glaciers on the sides of mountains. brrrr.

….also…i have booked my ticket to good ol saint louie on aug 18th. So to all that are there….save a hug for me.
tootles for now
-=brad

ICE

August 3rd, 2003

howdy hey,

So we have shuffled down the coast a bit to a city called Franz Josef. This is a very tiny town sitting at the edge of a glacier…with the primary function of getting people up there and hiking around…so that’s just what we did today. We all geared up and did a walk to what they call the Terminal Face of the glacier. This is where the ground meets the ice. Our guide explained a few interesting things along the way…2 of the most interesting being: the glacier moves 3-4 meters a day….and Franz Josef is the steepest commercially climbed glacier in the world. EXcellent! So this is where we put on our special ice climbing gear….ice talons on our boots and a nice tasty ice pick.this made us all feel very official and great. We also had to decide to join the slow, medium of fast group. Being the adventure seekers we are…we chose fast. As we began our ascent we discovered some nicely cut ice steps. Turns out some poor guys had been chopping away steps for us all morning. This may sound wimpy…but it would have been impossible otherwise…at least for a group of people with no experience. Our guide also had to do some chopping along the way as the step melt away as the day goes on.

The scenery was just stunning. Waterfalls on all sides, giant cascading lush green mountains with snow-caps that have avalanched down in certain places, icy blue glacial structures poking up in strange beautiful formations, crystal clear ice cold water cascading beside our feet through naturally carved curves(which is how we fill our water bottles…mmmmm), even the sounds of creaking ice beneath us added to the experience. Truly amazing.

Some of the highlights included squeezing through naturally formed ice caves and tunnels. This was a wet and slidy sloppy mess…but heaps of fun. Our guide would purposely take us into tiny chasms to add challenge. At one of these chasms a girl got her foot stuck. At first it seemed fine..but then she couldn’t move…and she started crying. it didn’t seem like a real big deal…but she still couldn’t move, so the guide had to come back to help her. He was having some troubles so he asked if i could hold onto him as he tugged on her. In the process of trying to shimmy her loose, he grabbed the hips of her pants and ripped them. Quite funny after the fact. But in any case, you all can consider me as an Official Ice Rescue Ranger. Excellent.
hope all is still well, and i look forward to coming home. tata.
-brad

Skeee

August 7th, 2003

so we have arrived in the adventure capital of the world: Queenstown, New Zealand. This town has more insane activities than i have even heard of all gathered together in one tremendous “Lifes short-play hard” sorta town. For starters, this is where A.J. Hackett invented bungee…so we went to this sacred birthplace and watched a few blokes tumble off a bridge. Did we do it? no. we both have told ourselves it is too expensive and we have no money…which is true…but also part of me is weeny of course. It also has some variations of this like bungee from a helicopter 500m up, a swinging gondola in the middle of a canyon or from a descending para-glider. eek.

This only grazes the surface of the ba-zillion amazing and highly expensive life-flashing-before-your-eyes activities. So being on an extreme budget at this point…we chose good ol skiing. It was highly beautiful…and definitely the best skiing i have done. Fortunately we got a bit of powder snow to cover the ice pre-made of the previous days…so the conditions were not so bad….despite the warmth of the day. Another coolness factor of this was that we skied very near some of the places where they shot lord of the rings. The mountains next to us…”The Remarkables” was the location for Mount Doom among other places…as well as the Shotover river was the place for many river scenes.

Some not so good features of skiing were…we tried snow-boarding at first. I thought that my reasonable skiing experience would translate..not to mention my gnarly skateboarding chops…but alas i was massively wrong. We both crashed and burned on the baby slopes. so bad in fact we gave up…with the mind that we would have no fun and not enjoy any of the Real New Zealand slopes. So we slapped on the trusty skis and rocked. I did my first Black Diamond(2nd hardest slope rating) and did not fall.Yipeee! Also…a silly thing happened. On the way up a very long ski lift, my ski got caught in a patch of snow at the bottom and clicked offf. eekk! we tried shouting at others to pick it up…but to no avail. so about 30 min later somebody kindly brought it up to me. silliness. overall a wonderful time. rock.
=brad

Sea Lion Sneezes

August 10th, 2003

hi. my name is brad. i am in new zealand. and we have seen yet even more cool stuff. Yesterday we finished up the adventure city of Queenstown with the famous Gondola. This is the launching spot for several hot activities. Bungee, para sail etc. It is essentially a modern indoor ski lift sort of thing to the top of a very large hill. Of course it cost way too much, and being the ultra-fit people we are…me and Lara hiked our way up. It made us stinky and hot on a cold day…but we felt o-so in-tune with nature. At the top they have arranged some good times to be had on downhill luge karts. They have the scenic and the fast routes. Heaps of fun with just enough danger to make it thrilling. That night me and Lara went out for our 1st and only fancy dinner in 3 months. This was in celebration of us existing as ”us” for 1 whole year. YIPPEEE! This was a traditional Maori dinner and dance show. Maori are the native inhabitants of new zealand. Very Pacific sort of people…wearing very little, dark skin, large clubs, huge muscles…and they stick out their tongue and open their eyes wide to intimidate opponents. You may associate this look to places like Fiji or maybe even Hawaii. The food was pretty good and the dancers were excellent. They sang loud and the men were very violent with their steps and pounding of their chest. I even got to join in a bit to learn the grunting and pounding.

 

Today was an event Lara has been fondly looking forward to…a wildlife tour. and it was most excellent. We are in the city of Dunedin, which is located on a peninsula. This has the only family of Royal Albatross on mainland (rather than on an island) in the world. An albatross is the worlds largest bird. It spends most of its life on sea…many years at a time and never touch land…and can fly up to 1000km a day. It has a wingspan of 3meters. WOW. it was a very impressive bird to see fly overhead. very majestic. Then we were taken to a coastal area where their were all sorts of great creatures for us to gaze upon in their natural wild environment.

First we came to a rocky area just where the waves broke…and saw many many fur seals lying about. As you can imagine…these are very cute. All fat and jiggly with a lovely fur coat. At this point the sun was starting to set…so he takes us to a special wildlife hide they have set up so we can watch a very special event yellow-eyed penguins come strolling out of the ocean into their little coastal homes! another super cute site to see. But the excitement level rose because of the very large sea lions nearby. They like to intercept the penguins and eat em up for a nice supper. They made a run for a few, but the penguins were too good. We also got to get quite close to the sea lions…and watch them sort of fight and sneeze on each other. All very impressive. Each of these animals are also a threatened species and endemic to new zealand. All in all, a very great experience. Welp. That is all for now. The trip is nearly over! geebs!
-brad

Oceania End

August 17th, 2003

phew!
We finished up our grand ol trip with a trip to the cadbury chocolate factory and the steepest street in the world. The factory provided a nice insight into the choco-world not to mention some free sweats. yum. The steepest street gave me an opportunity to run off those extra calories. We also ran into some English friends from over a month ago at the beginning of our traveling in Australia. It was great to catch up with them.

So drained of energy and money our pacific extravaganza had to come to and end. The flight was a whopping 13 hours home and we were picked up by the blogmaster himself tom…and it is his apartment where i type this message now….and so ends the tales from abroad. I hope at least some of you found it interesting…cause it was fun to share. It sorta made me feel closer to home. anywho. i will be in stl tomorrow as per gregs party post. hope to see y’all soon!rawk
-usa brad