Showing posts from September, 2015

Flinders - 38° 16' 55"S 145° 9' 49" E

Flinders at its springtime best. Sparkling ocean, blossoms in the orchards, vines and flowers budding and the paddocks green. The local shops and cafes are starting to buzz with tourists and weekenders ... even a koala has taken up residence in a gum tree on the main drag of the town to add to the attractions. For Kate, this is back home.  For me, this is a place where curtains of normality shroud the occasional surprise.  Looking carefully at a pastoral scene of horses and cows grazing reveals a kangaroo.  While watching traffic whiz by, I'm sometimes startled by their seemingly driverless state, with a passenger sitting in the car holding a steering wheel.  Chopping wood reveals a small, innocuous-looking spider that I pay next-to-no attention to.  My twelve-year-old nephew says in his thick aussie accent, " Careful - that's a Redback !" (which, it turns out, is one of the more deadly native spiders). Gabby and Graham's home Yet I, too, have history

Canberra - 35° 18' 26" S 149° 7' 27" E

Graham and Gabby have met us in Canberra.  We are staying with them in their caravan on the edge of town and using it as a base to explore Australia's capital city.  All is neat and orderly here.  The streets are well laid out and signed.  A man-made lake is at the center of the city and provides a view to many of the major institutes in town.  We've come at a good time, too.  Floriade is an annual floral display and festival that happens on the lake.  We've decided to take it in and pick the nicest of the days to wander around.  Lots of colour, lots of prams, lots of grey hair, lots of school uniforms are wandering around the showgrounds. Graham at the National Museum We take in the War Memorial (which builds up our knowledge after visiting Gallipoli) and spend all day wandering around the displays.  The next day we go to the Parliament Buildings and find more than a few hours of interesting displays.  Australia owns a hand-transcribed copy of the Magna Carta (dat

Wentworth Falls - 33° 41' 56" S 150° 23' 26" E

The perfect place to recuperate from the long flight and the dull, drizzly weather made lazing in front of the fire a valid pastime. In the stunning Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area, the  scenery is gorgeous, despite the mist and rain. We hiked the National Pass Trail which zig zags down a waterfall, edges around the cliff face and climbs back up to the top of the escarpment. And standing at Echo Point, the sun shone on the Three Sisters just long enough for the perfect snap. Foggy day in Katoomba A bit of sun on the Three Sisters

Gladstone Road - 51° 03' 15" N 114° 05' 32" W

Phew. We did it. We are now homeless ... homeless, but with resources! All our properties are rented, including one with all our furniture. A supersized Tetris game saw all our toys stacked into our storage locker. The tandem is snugly housed with a BMW and a couple of Mercs as garage mates and our road bikes are feeling quite at home in a garage on Broadview Road. Our pantry Tupperware is off to enjoy a season at Fernie while our clothes and Sean's guitars are living it up in Cochrane.   And we have stashed a couple of overnight bags along with the "OMG how did we forget this cupboard" boxes.  Huge thanks to Adrienne, Karen and Jeff and The Pettigrews for agreeing to allow us to clutter your homes. A thanks to everyone who offered beds, box storage, offers of dinner and fed us wine before we skipped town. So here we are on our last evening in Calgary. To become a fully fledged Canadian, I still need to swear allegiance to The Queen (yeah, yeah, I know) but have not y

Edmonton - 53° 32' 30" N 113° 29' 20" W

The end of the tour, and wasn't it fun.  We had all kinds of weather - mud, snow, rain, cold, glorious sun (for the Jasper stage), wind and now a moderate, almost-autumn day in Edmonton. The Tour of Alberta finishes with an eleven-lap circuit that climbs into and out of the river valley, winds through downtown and past the Greyhound bus station, where I am marshaling and have my backpack handcuffed to a safety rail (courtesy the policeman stationed here with me).  Kate is at the other end of the block at a corner, within whistling distance.  It's very handy for me, as she has a better sightline for the oncoming entourage. Sean's bag will be safe while he marshals, courtesy of the city cop he is working with The cyclists do their thing, Kate and I direct the peloton through and keep the dumb-dumb spectators and random street people from accidentally wandering onto the course, then retire back to the festival at the city centre.  The Tour has housed us at the downt

Edson - 53° 34' 36" N 116° 26' 46" W

An early start today to get into Grande Cache and out to our drops. We had over 70km of the course - no corners, all just logging roads and camp grounds. But it did mean long drop times, in the cold and snow! My drop was of a small forestry road in a research area. The area of research is lichen and how it is affected by different logging densities.  This is important because the woodland caribou eat lichen though the winter - that on the ground until it is covered by snow, then that on the trees.  I know all this because there was a sign, a little weathered and worn, but obviously, still most informative. I had plenty of time to read and make a snowman marshal. Otherwise, it was silent, nothing but nature. Just the honking of the Canada geese flying overhead (disconcertingly flying north!), the plonking of the snow off the trees and caribou crossing the road. As the peloton passed, several water bottles landed at my feet. I called out thank you and a rider called back 'n

Grande Prairie - 55° 11' 13" N 118° 48' 13" W

Adventures can sometimes mean going places you never intended to go.  Last year, we discovered a new source for adventure - The Tour of Alberta .  On a whim, I decided that seeing a cycing race close up would be entertaining and knew from my swimming days that being behind the scenes at major sporting events is a large amount of fun.  The Tour of Alberta is a major cycling event that draws teams from the international circuit to come to Alberta and race for hundreds of thousands in prize money.  Riders that have raced in the Tour de France, Giro de Italia and other world-class grand tours will come to our little corner of the world and entertain the locals. Two years ago, the Tour came within 100 metres of our house and so Kate and I looked into volunteering for the event.  Last year, we signed up to volunteer as course marshals, which meant giving direction to the cyclists, support vehicles and media entourage as they make their way along the course.  We were there the day befor