Wednesday, December 19, 2007

An economic update

We are in the process of refinancing our mortgage. This will be our 5th (I think) new mortgage (including the condo), so we are really old pros at the process. My favorite part about refinancing is that we get to take a month off from payments. Yippee! Ethan always pays a month ahead, so we are already feeling the love. No more payments until February!

We were in an interest only loan, which is not a very good idea unless you can commit yourself to paying extra each month. Ethan being the stickler he is, we have paid an extra $1000 each month since we got the house. We did interest only because with the massive price for this house, that was the easiest loan for us to get into when we bought, and gave us the lowest required payments (even though we ended up paying extra). So.

We are now getting into a 15 year loan, at more than a whole point lower than our previous rate (thanks, Greenspan, for cutting that interest rate!!). Ethan has scoured the net for mortgage calculators and determined that if we add a couple hundred bucks on each month to the payment, we will have the whole shebang paid off in October, 2020. If we stay here that long.....

Now our focus is cleaning up the credit cards. We should not have any balances on our CC's. Really. Not a good thing. What does it matter if I buy things when they are on sale, if I am going to end up paying finance charges on them?? We are adopting a new strategy of pre-paying (overpaying) our credit cards so they have a credit on them ,and just staying within that amount. We make enough money not to have this debt--just gotta pay attention and buy things when we have the money for them--wait a week if I need to add some moolah to the card before making a purchase. Yes, this is all Ethan's idea. I am much more on the line of everyone-else-has-credit-card-debt-so-it-isn't-bad-if-we-do-too, but I realize the wisdom of Ethan's I will stick with the new system.

So, once the credit cards are cleared out, we are hoping to get some sort of tax refund. I am going to head over to Home Depot to get some quotes for remodeling our kitchen and replacing our sliding glass door downstairs. We want to tile the kitchen floor, replace the cabinets with something that isn't ORANGE, tile the kitchen counters (or slab granite, if it is not too terribly expensive, but I fear it will be.....but there is a slab place like 100 yards from our house so I MUST check it out), tear out the 6 food wide wall that blocks the kitchen from the rest of the upstairs and leave the bottom 4 feet or so intact so it forms the base of an island where our current tall coffee counter is (can't rip the whole thing out because the wood flooring ends where it is and it would be a serious pain in the butt to redo that). Somehow make a hidey hole for the garbage, recycling and yard waste cans under there, and voila!! New kitchen! Might also replace our stupid stove with F2 warnings and a stupid white top. Why would you get a stove with a black front and a white top in a kitchen with all black appliances???

Anyway. Our goals for the new year.

Oh, but also still working on our new years resolution from LAST year==to watch every episode of Star Trek. We have watched every episode of the Original series (3 seasons), and all the original series movies (multiple times--we own those). We had to wait about 2 months to get the first season of The Next Generation, since there was such a high demand for those, but we have now completed the first three seasons (out of I think 7 total), and are well into the 4th season. Still have Deep Space Nine (I think 6 seasons??), Voyager (7 seasons), and Enterprise (5, I think). Maybe we will finish next year?? More likely in 2009, but we WILL finish eventually!! And go to Vegas and stay at the Hilton to celebrate!!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Our cable box died the other day, and we had to have the cable guy out to replace it. He was not fully stocked in his van, so........

We got a new cable box with DVR! This is TiVo, for all of the uninitiated. We would never pay for something like that, but it is pretty cool to have! We just tell it what shows we like, and it will tape every episode of them. And, we can watch live TV and pause it if we need to take a potty break or get a snack. So cool!

Friday, November 30, 2007


Nothing going on here, just thought I would give you something new to look at. Well,typing is not so fun to look at but at least you will think I have a witty new post here for a second when you first surf over here. Sorry to let you down....

Friday, November 16, 2007

My new friend

I won this awesome photo printer off of eBay a couple days ago. It prints 4x6 and 5x7 and can also do panoramic pics--basically I can print anything up to 5 inches wide. I can also use cardstock in it if it is cut to the correct size. I have been using Mom's printer (4x6 only) to do some scrappiness--mostly I type out text for my layouts and print it onto cardstock. I don't like the look of my handwriting, so this is a total upgrade!! Now I just have to figure out where to buy 5x7 photo paper!!!

AND...I only paid $40 for it (including shipping). It looks like a little boombox when it is not in use. The sides pop open when you turn it on. It even has a remote control. Which is dumb. But it has one!! And I can get refill ink on eBay for only $8.99!!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Years ago, when I knew I was home alone and no one would hear me, I would sing in the shower. I sang patriotic songs. The Star Spangled Banner, America the Beautiful, My Country 'tis of Thee. After 9/11 I added in God Bless America as a new favorite.

I have always liked those songs.

I remember once at a Sonics game, the singer was singing the national anthem and the microphone died. It totally brought tears to my eyes when, without missing a beat, the entire stadium joined in and sang the rest of the anthem with the singer we could no longer hear.

Shortly after 9/11, things started to change. Patriotism took on a new meaning. A meaning now associated with exclusion and mistrust; with a holier than though attitude, a 'might is right' philosophy. The wave of violence and fear and stereotyping and racial profiling that spread through this country was appalling. Patriotism and love for country was no longer the pure, 'clean' thing it seemed in the past. It changed.

Patriotism no longer works for me, and that really irks me. In Sydney for the IDBF world championships with mom, the Canadians won about two thirds of the gold medals. Which means we heard their anthem played numerous times. Once, the speakers cut out. Without missing a beat, the Canadians in attendance, along with people from other countries who by now knew that anthem, started singing the song. It was beautiful. It brought tears to my eyes. But when the US supporters started chanting U-S-A later on to cheer on a paddling team during a race, I couldn't join in. It is totally against what I stand for, what I believe. I wanted to support the team and Mom, but I just couldn't yell out that chant without feeling just wrong. And that totally pisses me off.

I didn't wear any USA clothing during the races, don't OWN any USA clothing, wouldn't wear the jacket that mom got for me. I felt bad, but not as bad as I would have felt by actually wearing it. Wearing that stuff no longer is just showing pride for your country, it is being smug and discriminatory and looking down on people and feeling superior.

During Sonics and Seahawks games and other places where they sing the national anthem, I turn my back towards the flag, or at least turn myself sideways away from it. I don't applaud, I don't yell out when the singer inevitably holds out that long note on 'free' at the end of the song. I respectfully stand and listen, but I think about what this stands for and what this country is doing in my name and against my will.

I look forward to the day when a new face is in power in this country. I look forward to the rebuilding of international relations that have all but been destroyed these past 7 years. I look forward to the day when I can once again feel respect and pride for this country, and not just shame for what we do around the world. I look forward to vacationing around the world and not hoping that people assume I am Canadian. I want to be proud to be an American again.

I look forward to singing in the shower again.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

I concede

I went bra shopping this weekend at Victoria's Secret (they sent me a coupon AND a voucher for free panties. Who can resist free panties??), and the bra I purchased was not the size I thought I was. I tried on two different cup sizes and two different band sizes. Lets just say the band size did not need to be increased, but the cup size did. I think the old bra I was wearing was just so stretched out that it still worked for me.
Fancy fruity drink with a heart shaped watermelon. So pretty!!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Does Alyca have big boobs??

Here is a question that has come up today. I have always thought of myself of having sort of average size boobs. I make sure to wear nice, 'cleavage' sort of bras with good support which I suppose makes them look a bit bigger than they are. But I still see so many bigger boobs I think I am average. At work, I am told that I am a big boobed person. Am I?? Yes, compared to some family members (Poor Aunt Bobbi Jo....), I am larger, but I still think I am average.

Am I??

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Seeing how I was vacationing on an island that was hit by a tropical storm that killed over 150 people, it is nice to see that my friends and family are so concerned for my welfare.

Ethan and I had messages all on our phones and email from concerned coworkers who were convinced that we had been killed. It was kinda funny--we had to call in to work and notify the engineering department that Ethan wasn't dead.

Tropical storm Noel was not particularly big or violent, it just decided that it liked Hispaniola and sat there for 7 days swirling. Imagine sitting beneath a giant toilet that is flushing for a solid week! We were on the north part of the island so we just got a ton of rain, minor flooding and some wind. The southern part of the island was hard hit and had massive flooding and mudslides and damage and destruction. The worst thing that happened for us was that our snorkelling trip was cancelled and we never got to go. Other than that, it was a good trip.

THe one tour we were able to do despite the rain was the city tour--we got to go to the Brugal rum factory and watch the bottling process. Pretty cool! It is the third largest rum factory in the world, and a cool experience. We also went to the Amber museum where they have the chunk of amber from Jurassic Park with a mosquito trapped in it (you know, the amber on the staff of the kooky guy who made the park??). Pretty neat. We learned a bit about the history of the DR and Puerto Plata, toured around town a bit, had a nice lunch and headed back to our hotel.

Most of our time was spent in and around the pool nearest our room--the one with a swim up bar. If you are in a pool, does it matter when it is raining?? The rain wasn't all nonstop, and often was pretty light so we toughed it out. After all, we ARE from Seattle.......

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Try this for a laugh

Monday, October 22, 2007

I just got an email telling me that after a long wait (seriously--over 6 months), our timeshare exchange has gone through!! Next September we will be spending a week at the Westin Ka'anapali Ocean Resort Villas on Maui. Woohoo! It is a very fancy resort that is totally no comparison to our very nice but teeny resorts in Puerto Vallarta. We would never be able to afford to stay here

Our website: Their website:

Fancy, no????

We were SOOO thinking that our timeshare purchase was a waste of money and perhaps a very bad financial decision. Time will tell, but at least we have one great vacation coming up!!

We are trying to get together with Justin and Kim in February/March to go to Mexico for our timeshare, so that is two fairly free vacations next year! I love having them all planned out ahead of time so I can look forward to them and think abou thow much fun I am going to have. We have two buy-one, get-one for $50 tickets through Alaskan airlines, and since they now fly directly to Maui and Honolulu, we have two more fancy vacations on cheapo prices. I swear, getting those Alaskan airlines visa cards were our absolute best ideas. We always use the free ticket, and we are using the miles for our trip to DR and I used them on a last second flight to Redmond earlier this year. Easy to book, so convenient, and we just use the cards on things we are already going to buy--groceries, etc just so we get the miles as a bonus.

Anyway. Travel!!!!

Things you did not know about Jobie

Jobie and his partner at work, Matt Adams (tee hee, I know), won the Red Bull soapbox derby here in Seattle a couple weeks ago. They fabricated the car and had some other buddies who provided the driving skillz. Pretty cool!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Fire up your snapfish!! I am going to bring my laptop to work with me tomorrow so I can upload my gazzillion Australia pictures for the viewing public. I only have the first week-worth edited, but that is about 600 pictures to peruse so I am sure it will keep y'all busy. I will make one folder for the "all star" pictures if you just want to see the ones that are actually in focus and everyone has their eyes open....

I will use, unless anyone knows of a better site....I am not purchasing from here so I don't really care about the prices so much (I use, but a site with a good uploading system and a good viewing system would be nice. So....lemme know if you know of one???

Thursday, October 04, 2007

On returning home

Where did I leave off??? Okay, we snorkelled, we SCUBAd, we went to the Aboriginal show.......

Thursday, we headed back to Sydney. Our flight was delayed around an hour because the reverse thrusters were not working on our plane. Kinda important. We ended up getting to Sydney around 4pm and checked into our hotel around 4:45. Mom and I were upgraded to a Queen balcony suite because they were all out of cheap crappy economy rooms. We had a nice view over the water, but did not stop to enjoy it...

We all headed out (me as trail guide), and walked across the harbour bridge to the Rocks area. Did some souvenir shopping (well, Mom and Lynne did), then caught a ferry to Darling Harbour. We walked around there, did some serious shopping (more Mom and Lynne.....)then headed to a fancy Italian restaurant overlooking the harbor.

Actually, I did a teeny bit of shopping--I bought a didgeridoo to add to my travel collection. Ethan and I are decorating our living room with things from our travels together--we have a fancy hand carved cane from Jamaica with our wedding date and names engraved on it, sand from Lake Tahoe, a set of glasses with a hand painted juice jug from Puerto Vallarta, etc, etc, etc. We always try to bring something back with us, even if it is just a cool shot glass (which I also bought in Sydney). So. I got a cool didgeridoo with an aboriginal design on it and handpainted birds. Pretty, and I like the colors.

Back to that Italian restaurant. Very fancy with wonderful food. We shared a bottle of wine and enjoyed our last evening together. Afterwards, we walked across the pedestrian bridge crossing the harbor and caught a ferry over to Luna Park, which is just next to the north side of the Harbour Bridge. From there, we walked back to our hotel.

The next morning, we had a leisurely breakfast at our bed-and-breakfast, then caught our shuttle to the airport. Mom and Lynne did MORE shopping, then separated for our flights home.

Vacation is fun, but coming home sucks.

I had the worlds most irritating woman sit next to me on the plane home. She didn't speak English, so she kept trying to give me her customs declaration form to fill out, saying 'no english, no english'. Since I don't know if she has had contact with farm animals or her home address or how much cash she is carrying, I declined. Then she was leaning over me to open and close the window shade. I am in the window seat. That is MY window! Then she was sleeping on me and crowding me and being very irritating.


I landed and all was well. I flew from Sydney with Pat, mom's friend's husband. He is an executive VP of a company in Portland and has boardroom passes for United Airlines. Mom and Lynne were on Qantas, so Pat and I ditched them in the Sydney airport for the comforts of the boardroom. Very nice. Sandwich fixings, juices, fruits, snacks, a full self-serve bar and laptop area. I did some photo editing on my laptop while waiting and passed the time nicely.

Once home, I got my bags and Ethan drove me home. I was feeling fine, so we went out for dinner and drinks at McCoy's, our favorite hangout.

I cannot sleep. I am now on "normal" time, but I lie in bed and do not sleep. It sucks. I am buying Benadryl tonight......

I took over 1200 pictures on this trip. I am in the very slow process of editing them all. All. ALL. I will start putting some up for view once I get them prettied up. Stay tuned...

Friday, September 28, 2007

updating my header

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Mom is goofy

Sun rising over the Pacific and the Great Barrier reef. I have a whole slew of these that I am going to make into a .gif because when am I ever going back to do it again??

More pics and videos. Nothing edited because I am on vacation.

underwater pictures and videos

Yes, of course I have underwater pics. I bought a housing for my small camera. Too bad the batteries died and I had to rely on Mom's camera which was not meant for it. Hence the porthole pictures. I can't find my cord for the pics I took on MY camera, so those are yet to be published...

Cairns Day 2---Tuesday

We were picked up at 8am by Deep Sea Divers Den, who took us to their headquarters then out to their boat. We spent an hour or so travelling out to the reef, then had a chance to snorkel twice. Well, *I* snorkelled twice. Mom decided to try SCUBA diving. She did an intro lesson with her friend, Lynne and LOVED it. Seriously. There were tears. Apparently this was a longtime dream of hers that she never thought she would get to do. Anyway. Have you ever been snorkelling?? Yes, yes, I know you think you have. But you haven't. Seriously. I thought I had snorkelled in Jamaica and in Puerto Vallarta and Cabo San Lucas, but I so had not. There is nothing like the Great Barrier Reef. NOthing. THe colors, the variety of sealife, the sheer SIZE of the teeny part of the reef we saw. Absolutely amazing.

Surprise!!! Cairns Day 1 (Monday)

We arrived in Cairns right on time. It was not too hot, just very humid. We jumped into a Scooby Doo sort of van and drove over to the Traveller's Oasis, a sort of hippie, flowery, cutesy drawings and signs everywhere backpackers hostel. I like it. I will stay here next time I come. You have to share a bathroom, but the ambiance is cool.

After checking in, we headed up to the rainforest. We did the SkyRail to Kurunda, a cable car that is suspended over the tops of the trees and goes 7.5 kilometers into the rainforest. Very cool. There are stops along the way to sightsee and learn about the rainforest. Lots of waterfalls. A friend with us saw a kangaroo at the very beginning of the trip, but the rest of us missed it.

On the way back from Kurunda, we took the scenic train that was built back in the 1800s. A slow meandering trip back to Cairns.

That evening, we went to a BBQ put on by our hostel. For $10 we got kangaroo, crocadile, emu and sausage, along with a didgeridoo demonstration and hilarious contest. Money well spent! I tried everything except the fish (come on--you KNOW me!!). Kangaroo tastes JUST like beef, Crocodile is just like chicken--maybe a bit dry. ANd the emu was a little undercooked so I just had a taste--beefy to me!

All in all, a wonderful day.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Okay. Paddling is done. Mom finished up with the Senior women in the 500m today. THey mixed up the two american teams (one from Portland mostly, one from Pennsylvania), and tried to get some new sparks in the lineup. They did improve their times and it was a nice experience for the two different teams to actually paddle together.

After the races, the coaches brought out some champagne for all and they celebrated and relaxed. We headed back to the hotel where mom and I packed our luggage, then out to dinner at the steakhouse next door.

We leave at 5:15 tomorrow morning for the airport. We are flying to Cairns at 7am, then hopefully catching a rainforest tour.
Tuesday will be spent on a snorkelling trip--we get picked up at 8am and will spend the night out on the reef. Wednesday afternoon, we head back to Cairns and relax for the evening, then fly back to Sydney Thursday morning. The rest of Thursday will be spent wandering Sydney, and we fly home Friday.

I will not have internet access (I am pretty sure) in Cairns, so this will be my last update until probably Thursday in Sydney. I will endeavor to take a million pictures of all things tropical in Cairns and on the reef and share them once I have a connection.

Until then.......
Final race with the Senior Women

Interesting fashions by the Aussies

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Well, blogger is not allowing me to upload pictures at the moment. I click on the browse button to tell it what picture I want uploaded, and that window just closes out. Tried it several times.

It is too bad, because I don't really have much to say today, and pictures are just so interesting.

Lots of paddling today. Mom raced the 200m for both the Senior women and the Grand Masters mixed. Neither medaled today, but they had a lot of fun and looked good out there. Tomorrow is the final day of competition, and she is racing with the Senior women in the 500m races. Afterwards, we may head into Sydney for some entertainment--plans are still up in the air at the moment.

The most difficult thing so far in Australia?? Remembering what side of the sidewalk to walk on! This is a drive-on-the-left-side-of-the-street country. Which means they also WALK on the left side. I keep running people over. Especially when I am leading Mom--we make a sort of two woman wrecking crew. And then, once I DO remember to walk on the correct side, some Canadian comes along and messes me up by walking towards me on my left side so I am forced right. Seriously--it is a problem.

The cars look so funny with steering wheels on the right side. I keep seeing little kids in the front left seats and it is a little freaky as we drive down the freeway.

Still no kangaroo spottings. I suppose we will have to wait to see them in the animal park at Darling Harbour next to the Aquarium.

Sorry about the subpar update. More exciting things to come, I am sure, so keep looking back for updates.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Mom asked for a THIRD kiss from the official (usually you get one per cheek)!

Needless to say, they were excited about their medal. The way they were screaming and hollering, you would think they won gold! This was the first ever medal in a world championship for the Grandmasters team, and they were enjoying every minute of it. After a break for some rest and food, they held the medal ceremony in front of the grandstand.

Mom was so proud! The only "disabled"/blind athlete present--there was a group of school kids from a special needs school--most in wheelchairs for a variety of reasons, others with mental disabilities. I sat opposite the grandstands to photograph one race and these kids were racing around in their wheelchairs pretending to be paddlers. What a good example mom is setting!!

Sydney, Day 6

Another long day of paddling. We got a late start--didn't need to be on the bus until 11am, so mom and I headed out for some breakfast and errand running.

Once we were at the regatta center, it was on. Today mom was racing with the Grandmaster mixed team in the 500m. They race all teams three times, then take their top two times and add them together. The team with the lowest times after that win the medals.

USA finished third in the first race (Australia 4th), fourth in the second race (Australia third), and needed to be within .3 of Australia to win a bronze medal after the third race. They paddled hard, and when all was said and done, they posted their best time of the day and narrowly held of the Aussies for that bronze medal.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

For Ethan

I saw this today and I totally thought of you!!! I made mom stop and look at it. I have some other lock/funny doorknob pictures, but this is my most favorite, because somewhere out there, you are probably working on a BiLock right now!

Sydney, Day 5

Today was all about dragonboat racing. We got up at the crack of dawn and headed to the race site, the place where the 2000 Olympic water sports were held. Mom raced with the Senior women and the Grand Masters mixed in the 1000m and 2000m. In the 1000m, the Senior women placed 6th overall, and in the GM mixed in the 2000m, they were fourth overall, just 3 seconds out of the medal race. A good day. Especially when you think about the fact that they never practice for anything longer than a 500m race--their speciality. Tomorrow starts the 500m and 200m racing, and should be a medal contending day! These events final on Sunday, so keep your fingers crossed!!

We both were tired and worn out at the end of the day. It rained off and on and was sorta cold and windy. Seattle weather, really. We got back to our room around 630pm and ordered room service and putzed the evening away.

Plan for tomorrow--more of the same. But, we get to sleep in, since the bus doesn't leave until 11am (left at 7am this morning). Our continuing goal is to spot a kangaroo along the highway. So many people have told us they hang out there, but so far no luck.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Bonus Skyrail video

Just cause it's sorta cool

Sydney, Day 4

This evening, we went to the opening ceremony for the championship. THere are 18 countries competing. Apparently there are 60 countries worldwide with dragonboat federations, and once there are 73 they can petition to be included in the Olympics as a sport. Pretty cool! They are already going to be included in the 2010 Asian games, which is a sorta regional Olympics for that part of the world.

We left early, since Mom fell asleep during the festivities. We stopped of at 7-11 on our way home to get some bottled water for tomorrow, then up to bed. The bus leaves tomorrow at 0645, so we have a long day ahead of us.

Wish mom luck!!

I got up early and headed out for the train station. After purchasing my Chai, I got an explorer ticket that included an all day pass on the hop on, hop off bus in Katoomba.

The train took about 1.5 hours to get to Katoomba. I brought along a book (which I finished) to pass the time.

For some reason, I am compelled to wave when videoing myself. Seems like the right thing to do at the time, but a bit dorky on playback.....

Katoomba was a teeny tourist trap sort of town. Located right next to the Grand Canyon, it is dominated by hotels and tour shops.
I jumped onto the double decker Explorer bus, and headed out. I got off on stop 10, which gave me access to a bunch of trails for some hiking (or bushwalking, as they call it). All in all, I walked up and down at least 5 miles. A billion stairs and walkway areas and some muddy areas to boot. I have to say, this was a very well maintained trail system. Nice wide trails, steps hewn into rocks or built in out of wood or metal to make steep areas traversable. Very nice.

I saw numerus waterfalls, viewpoints, trees and some wildlife. A couple exotic looking birds, then the skyrail roaming overhead. Lots of mud and foliage and a minimum of bugs. Did not see a single spider other than a teeny red and black daddy long legs. For some reason, daddy long legs bugs do not freak me out the way all other bugs do. Anyway.....

After finding my way to the bottom of the canyon, I was pooped. I took the Scenic Railway back up to the top. This is the steepest railroad on earth--over %54 slope at it's peak!! Here is a long and boring video of my ride...

At the top, I purchased tickets for the Scenic Skyrail and flew 244 meters over the canyon floor. After my return ride, I had a quick lunch in the cafe, then realized that I was running really late so I caught the Explorer bus to the train station and headed for Parramatta (home).

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

After the Japanese garden, I headed over through Darling harbour. I browsed the tourist shops and ended up at a restaurant with seating right on the harbour edge. I had a wonderful meal. It was pumpkin soup and chicken saay. I had a beer. I LIKED THE BEER!!! It had absolutely no aftertaste, no bitter finish to it. I will attempt to procure one to sneak home for Ethan to share with me. I don't remember the name, but since I am saving all my receipts I know the name is on there.

After lunch, I did some more browsing and window shopping and walking around and eventually went to a ferry wharf where I caught the ferry to Circular Quay, where I spent most of Sunday. The ferry went under the Harbour Bridge, and I could see people doing the BridgeClimb (for $180 a head!!) From there, I caught the rush hour train back to Parramatta.

Mom and I went out with a few paddling buddies to an Italian restaurant for dinner, but I was still so full from lunch I just got an appetizer.

Tomorrow's plan?? Get up early and catch a train to Katoomba and the Blue mountains for some hiking and picture taking. We have the opening ceremonies for the paddlers in the evening, then competition starte Thursday.

Pictures taken today:152 (mostly at the Japanese Garden)
Lesson learned: Puma is the biggest sporting company ever. Seriously. EVERYONE is wearing puma shoes, shirts, bags, etc, etc, etc. Not a hint of nike or adidas. All Puma.

Sydney, Day 3 summary

Darling harbour is cool. I stopped first at the Japanese Friendship garden, which is supposed to be one of only a very few Japanese gardens not actually located in Japan. $6 to get in, but well worth it. There are paths all around, with signs telling you the meaning of the placement of trees and plants and stones around you. Buildings and pagodas are positioned just so. Very calm, relaxing place. I saw a bird (I think it is a Cassawary),and go all excited, taking all sorts of pictures. It was not until later that I realized that these birds are sorta the Australian version of the pigeon. Everywhere and annoying. Oh, well. He really fit in nicely in the Japanese garden.

I also saw a monitor lizard. Extra cool!! Not everywhere, not planned. They do stock the water with huge gold and white koi, but the lizard was there on his own.
So this morning....what did we do.

Mom and I wandered outside aroud 0730 looking for a place to eat breakfast. Mom had very specific requirements, but after, searching high and low we found no cafes that had oatmeal.

We ended up in a small cafe where mom got a bowl of fruit with yogurt over it and a cherry danish and I had a ham and cheese croisant with a cup of chai. Really nice stuff. We headed over to the mall afterwards, because Mom needed a beach towel that said Australia on it, a boat hat with a string tie, soy milk, fruit and water. We found all of that, and after mom tried on a million things in the Billabong store we left. The grocery store was actually located on the fifth floor of the mall. How weird is that??

Once the shopping was compete, I set mom up with the laptop so she could check her email, then headed out. I caught a train headed for Sydney and got off at Central station, the closest station to Darling Harbour.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Just for Ethan

Look who came to Australia with me!!! Red guy and Green guy!!!!

Did yours make weird beeping noises???

For Steve

Is this not the stupidest, most pointless thing you have ever seen??? How exactly is THIS supposed to work??

Sydney, Day 2 summary

Pictures taken:44 (I know, I suck)
Subjects in pictures :1. I will let you guess which....

Some stress and irritation (and no, I DON'T mean mom), and a pretty relaxing day once all was said and done. This afternoon while mom was at practice, I headed over to the local mall. There is a grocery store on the 5th floor,and I really wanted to get my hands on some Vegemite. See what all the hoopla is about. I wandered the aisles and saw lots of wierd foods, or at least foods that don't look like they do in the US.

The rest of my afternoon was spent fixing the internet on the computer (seriously took over an hour), unpacking clothes, since we are in this room for nearly a week, and just relaxing. A little scrapping of my tickets and receipts (thanks for the idea, Davinie), and just overall restfullness.
We went to the steakhouse next door for dinner (where mom was asking them if they had any pasta dishes or cooked vegetables.......Hello??? This is a steakhouse?? She settled on a big salad. I had a baked potato, and they looked at me funny when I asked if anything more than just butter and sour cream could be put onto it. Oops. Stupid American tourists........

Sydney, Day 2

My morning started early. Very early. I set my alarm clock for 5am, but I woke up at 4 and was up for the day. I putzed around my teeny room and packed up my things, finding homes for my purchases and redistributing things I did and did not need in my camera bag/purse/take with me everywhere bag.

At around 0515, I headed out. I walked the half mile or so to the Harbour bridge and took pictures all the way across (same as yesterday) of the Opera house as the sun came up. When will I ever get to do that again???

On my way back to the hotel, I stopped a payphone to call Ethan. I still have over 3500 minutes left. They give you these cards with a billion minutes on them, but still get you in the end because you have to insert a 50cent piece into the phone before it will work--calling card or not. They are telling me it is 90 cents to call from my room, so I think I will be cheap and continue my calls from the payphone in the lobby.

Back in the hotel, I showered, finished packing and head up to the lobby to check out. My shuttle was scheduled to pick me up beween 0745 and 0800, for an arrival at the airport no later than 0830. At least that is what we had agreed upon.

After long minutes of me stressing and pacing and eventually even calling for a taxi, my shuttle finally showed up. At 0830. Knowing it was a 25-30 minute ride to the airport, I was less than thrilled. We got there about 5 after. Mom and her team were nowhere to be found. After some asking, I found a GoWay representative who actually had a sign with my name on it. I didn't see the sign until I had already spoken with her and she had ascertained who I was-I just picked he right person to go up to and ask if they had seen a large group of Americans wandering about together. Anyway, the team was gone already, but she gave me a map of where they would be picked up by the bus after the walking portion of their tour.

I took the train downtown, then found a sidewalk cafe and ordered a Chai and settled in to wait. The group came around about 30 minutes after I arrived. It seems that their tour had been changed, unbeknownst to them, to leave at 0730 instead of 0900. So I would have missed it no matter what. But I WAS still irritated at the shuttle driver....

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Day one in Sydney

Lots of pics and stories. I would put up more pictures but it is taking over 5 minutes to get each of them loaded in. To tide you over, here I am atop the Pylon museum. Jealous yet??

After crossing the bridge, I went to the Pylon museum, located appropriately enough on the south east pylon of the Harbour brigde. Cool views, great stories. And cheap.

After the pylon, I walked through the Rocks area, going to the sunday market. Very cool. Bought myself a freshwater pearl bracelet for $45 AUD (about 38USD). So pretty! I also got a very cool scrapbook albut, I think it is about 8x12. It has thick chipboard for a cover with the shape of Australia laser cut out of it so a red paper shows through. I guess I know where all these pictures are going to end up!!

I wandered around, had a chicken wrap at the Opera House bar located right on the water, then went inside to hear the Australian National Orchestra in concert. It is really nice inside, with hardwood floors, but the chairs are covered in a bright bubblegum pink fabric that kinda takes away from the majesty of it all.

After the concert, I was TIRED, so I headed back to the hotel by ferry, rather than walking through town and across the bridge again. I checked into my room, attempted to get onto the internet and failed. So I put in the Lord of the Rings movie I brought with me, and fell asleep at 7pm, shortly after it stopped. I woke up, stopped the movie, put the laptop away and finally got some good sleep.
The joy of the bridge?? The view of the Opera house, of course!! I took a million pictures of it. Here are a couple (unedited)