Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Basin, Ku Ring Gai National Park

Where do you take an outdoors man to show off the best of Sydney? There are too many places to choose from! We debated driving all day to several places, the blue mountains, Jarvis bay, royal national park, and in the end chose a hike at the Basin in Ku Ring Gai. It is a 3km decent from the main West Head Road down to the little lake and marina. Along the way we spotted several Goanna lizards, a small kangaroo, and while snorkeling a few small Hallers stingrays.

The hiking trail was virtually empty, wide, and sandy. Once down at the basin there were a multitude of campers and a ferry making stops every hour. That was disappointing to Paul as he prefers seclusion, but it didn't stop me from diving into the tiny sandy lake netted off from the main pitwater reserve. There are so many places to explore at Ku Ring Gai I could go back every week and find something exciting. I found it refreshing to see so many other families in the outdoors enjoying their national parks. Spits are popular places with Australians and seeing all the children covered in sand put a big smile on my face.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Bare Island, Botany Bay National Park

We had a dual purpose weekend outing today: to explore a new part of town and pick up Ana's birthday desk. I was pleased to find the perfect one for $50 on Ebay, a vintage 1950's solid wood retro style and sized kids desk with a world map on the top. It was calling our name! We drove down to Chifley to pick it up and decided to stop at Bare Island. We made a previous visit to Captain Cook's landing spot on the other side of Botany Bay and found it rather hum-drum. Bare Island was a much much better choice. It offered a nice boardwalk bridge, cliff walks around Bare island, a small museum, playground, sandy and shallow Frenchmans beach, and an ideal spot for snorkeling or scuba diving. If only I had brought my gear!

There really was something for everyone at Botany Bay National park. The kids loved the playground. I enjoyed reading exhibits in the Laperouse museum, including the aboriginal map of Australia above. Paul enjoyed scaling the ocean cliffs around bare island. I would have stayed longer if there wasn't a Purdue game to catch back home after lunch. Nolan could see cargo ships and airplanes coming and going from the airport and shipyard nearby. Hopefully this is my last post using my four year old sony ericsson and pixelated photos.

One hour later...

Friday, February 17, 2012

Echo Point and Garigal National Park by Kayak

Echo Point Park

Previous trip to Willoughby Bay
On Australia day Paul and I set course for Castle Cove Explosives reserve via Kayak. It was a 6-7km trip per person, and I was to be the first victim. Our rendezvous point was to be Echo Point Park. I made a pit stop at Flack Rock beach and climbed the slippery steps up to the falls. The trail around the falls are part of Garigal national park, and you can easily hear them up to 100m echoing off the water. The rain made for a larger than usual flow down the falls, but also thwarted any snorkeling efforts for the trip. I was a little dismayed at how much debris and dirt is churned up by the rain.

Ana in full Kayak gear
I hopped back in my orange vessel and made way for the only visible marina, Echo marina. I was excited to pass several wake boarders, determined not to let bad weather ruin their holiday. As I passed several floating bottles, tennis balls, plastic bags, and other debris I did my good Samaritan deed for the day and threw them on the back of the yak. By the time I reached Paul I'm sure I reeked of rain, salt water, trash, and sweat. I booked it the last Kilometer since I had been lollygagging on the beach for half an hour and was well out of breath.  Nevertheless, he was pleased to see me and his precious kayak. Unfortunately I forgot about my cell phone tucked away in the front pocket of our lone life vest. On his return trip, Paul took several dunks in the mud-drenched bay leaving my Focus phone and well-documented trip for the grave yard. In an attempt to recreate pictures from the trip I discovered other adventure blogs posting pictures of the exact same journey. Few are done by Kayak which could give me a niche if I were thoughtful enough to ensure better protection for my electronics.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Happy Valentines Day!

I have been slacking on the blog posts this month, mostly due to being sick all week. February is also a slow travel month for us. I noticed this trend while picking through our photo archive. It has been my ongoing lifelong  project  and while some would find it boring to tears, I love digging in the past. Our collection consists of 28,000 photos (down from 31,000 last month) spanning seven decades. Tagging them has been a monstrous undertaking. It is fun finding the rare occasional shot, or old video of someone meaning to snap a picture. Here is a quick breakdown of how many photos I have tagged:

29,765 Total Photos
550 Unique person tags
4 Celebrity sightings caught on camera
350 Pet Dog Photos (Bogie & Benson)
55 Photos with Santa
3656 tags of Myself
3042 tags of Ana
1950 tags of Paul
800 tags of Nolan

Paul and I contemplated the true number of photos someone has had taken of themselves in their lifetime and I put that number around 6,000. I'm hoping future versions of windows give you a world map view of all your Geotags. Nearly 10,000 photos in our collection contain no people at all! It would be impossible for future generations to pinpoint where everything was taken. We have taken many precautions to back-up and even protect our digital photos in our will. If nothing it will assure our children they came from a set of mildly obsessive compulsive narcissistic parents. :)

Celebs: Anchor John Roland & Wife; Bono in straw hat; The parents with Arnold Palmer;

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Confessions of a Mom G33k

Remember the old days when video games were just for kids? Those days are long gone. With generations of gamers reaching their 40s, you can still enjoy all the classics on your ipad, computer, or pull out that dusty cartridge. I could hardly call myself a true techie if I didn't enjoy a good RPG fantasy or sniper masacar. Having children in our home makes my selection much more 'G' rated, but I am still a dungeon dweller at heart.  Here is a rough list of some of my favorites over the ages.

First IBM Computer: Gertrudes SecretsLogo, Madmaze, Oregon Trail, Snake, Carmen Sandiego, The Incredible Machine, Wheel of Fortune
NES: Joust, Legend of Zelda, Mario, Mario 3, TMNT2, Tetris, Startropics, Maniac Mansion
Playstation: Final Fantasy 8 & 10, N2O, Metal Gear Solid, Silent Hill,
Thinkpad A-Series: Diablo II, Sims, SimCity 2000, Morrowind, Snood, Myst, The 7th Guest
N64: Mario, James Bond, Zelda, Mario Kart, Super Smash Bros, Banjo-Kazooie, Starfox
Wii: Supermario Galaxy 1&2, Wii Play, Super Mario Bros, Mario Kart, Twilight Princess
Dell Inspiron Zino: Oblivion, Skyrim, Sims3, Halo 2, WWF

Most recently I finished Skyrim in 60 hours at level 22 (the game creators beat it in 5 or less).  While the graphics were impressive, I didn't find the main quest extremely challenging like oblivion. The guide book is $50 in Sydney and this is the first time through an Elders Scroll series I opted not to purchase it. The ipad and smartphones have plenty of games to waste time on, and putting words with friends down can be tough. Honestly, I can't wait for the first time Ana or Nolan kicks my butt on the Wii.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Collins Beach by Kayak

A tragedy occurred two weeks ago on Australia Day. While Kayaking, my cell phone took a dive for the worse. A normal person would have said, "Shit, there goes $200 dollars down the drain."  My reaction was more along the lines of, "Man, I hope my screw drivers are small enough to take it apart. I wonder if there is a system board replacement on ebay."  Guess i've seen my fair share of 'expensive' electronics come and go.  As a result, we are now relying on an old Sony Ericson 3mpx camera for blog photos, and a high def Canon camcorder. I spared you the awful pixelation in this entry. The video above is Ana making her first dash across Collins Beach in Manly.

A 4km kayak trip from our home, the trip to Collins beach is mostly open ocean. I didn't expect the trip to be so daunting from a Kayak. I had, after all, been on a boat in the open ocean swells a number of times. After 40 minutes in I remember holding back my pancakes several times as I crossed the 6ft swells off Balgowlah head. Fishermen cast their hooded gaze nonchalantly 30m from shore as if to taunt my seasickness. Fortunately Paul let me kayak second, making the toughest part of my trip at the very beginning.  As I grew infinitely closer to Balmoral beach, giant ferries approached me from the North and South. You've never seen a white girl paddle so hard and with so little progress. Every giant wave spun my little kayak 30 degrees or more off course. In the end the calluses and exhaustion were worth the fight, but I missed getting that great near-ferry miss picture with my on-board camera. Total distance paddled: 7km

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

O H Reid Memorial Park

Just before the holidays a friend of mine held her son's birthday party at a dino-dig playground. I was intrigued to have a self-discovery visit. With our friends Nancy, Jacob, & Mary we made our way to O H Reid Park in Chatswood West. Two previous attempts had been rained out, and the anticipation had reached fever pitch. Shovel and pail in hand, we made our way to the excavation site and unearthed what looked and felt like real dino bones. The excitement lasted for all of five minutes before both children were onto something new. Ciest la vie ;-)

In addition to sand excavating, I've begun the tedious process of backdating my blog to include some earlier adventures in Georgia, Ohio, New York, Germany, and whatever else fits. Party to motivate me further to dig into our HD video archives and render them more useful with the software I purchased for Christmas. Hopefully by the end of 2012, I will have fifty 2010 and 2009 posts accounted for.