Tuesday, January 6

winter here, summer Down Undah

I saw my breath today, for the first time this winter. Today's high was 34F (much colder than Friday) but nothing like the weather in Chicago where it barely reached 9F. Just the opposite of Sydney (Australia) where summer has begun: I spoke with a co-worker today who said it's 90F there.

When I traveled Down Under (September 1993 ?) I came back with an Australian calendar. While it's true they speak English (well, kinda) I loved having a calendar where people are laying on the beach in February and skiing the slopes in August.

Deep Thought #21: I wonder if I can get one of those Aussie calendars via the web?
Deep Thought #22: single-use card numbers (like Discover®'s Deskshop) are the only way to shop on the web.

I came back from my trip with some great photos; Linda, Brooke and myself saw herds of kangaroo, like Texans see herds of cattle. Even spotted a mother and her joey at a rest stop along one of the highways (they were resting in the tall grass). On a day trip to a national park (near the capital, Canberra), I saw koalas in the wild (hint: you need a great set of binoculars to see all the way to the tops of the eucalyptus tree). We also saw wallabies, kookaburras and other fascinating wildlife (although I don't recall seeing any platypus). While in one of Melbourne's parks, I sensed that something was very odd, but couldn't put my finger on it until I realized: no squirrels! There were wild (and loud!) cockatoos. I also remember the deep space tracking antenna at Tidbinbilla: very cool.

Sydney (Australia, not Sydney, Canada) was the 3rd city I visited (even got to stay in a hotel under the Harbour Bridge) .. the one-way streets were disconcerting: the pedestrians were in all the wrong places, and numerous Aussies were lucky to have survived my driving. It was at the QVB (shopping mall) and The Rocks where I found trinkets for the folks back home in The States. I was tempted to buy a didgeridoo but decided it wouldn't fit in my checked baggage, so I just bought a CD instead.

Aussie accents took a bit getting used to. One day we were getting boarding passes at an airport when the ticket agent asked "Will you be traveling to die?" (versus traveling today). Fair dinkum! And oh yes .. vegemite is an acquired taste (hint: apply it in a very thin coating)

See my 28 October 2003 posting for a story about my return to Texas.

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