Life is short; eat dessert first!

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July 10th 2007
Published: July 10th 2007
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This will be the last blog for this adventure and my head is swimming with all kinds of thoughts and emotions, so if you are not into that kind of musings you may want to click the X'd red box. I'm also going to write reversing the chronology, as the time in Sydney was just too memorable.

Did I need this trip or what?...real food for the soul. We have more than documented our amazement at the natural wonders of our earth, the facinating people of our world community, and today stunning architecture, a delightful musical performance in the Sydney Opera House, and the realization that after six weeks of constant companionship, Ruth is still my best friend, (I'm lucky she puts up with me, and, yes, I can hear your collective, "you got that right"). She got me a T-shirt a couple of years ago that read: "Life is short; eat dessert first." Some of you are aware I have been know to just order a big desert rather than a typical meal when out and about, but somehow it seems appropriate for this trip.

Today the we got up to an over cast day, but had our breakfast in this historic neighborhood and headed down to return the car before we head to the harbor for a harbor cruise. It started drizzling so we decided to catch a later cruise and walk down the main City streets dropping into various shops, etc. I found some things I had been looking for..among other things a CD of an AUS artist Erica played on our safari and Al Gore's book on "The Assault on Reason" for the long plane ride home. The cruise was to leave at noon so there was time to get my first views of the Opera House and see if they had any tickets left for the evening.

The Sydney Opera house is simply an inspiring piece of architecture, one which is the pride of the City and appreciated by the lay person in general. We architects are a little critical of the way it hits the ground, but that's details and I'm frankly not sure what got changed when the architect resigned from his contract, because of various political ranglings.

We hopped on the cruise boat and got a look back at the City ...the contemporary high-rises are wonderful. If they don't get an architect's juices flowing nothing will. The photogragh almost does not look real, but like someones scaled model of what you'd like a city to look like. The remainder of the cruise pointed out various aspects of the Sydney harbor and some of the residential condos going for $3.5M. We stopped at Watsons Bay for a lunch at the historic Doyle Restaurant and a hike to the pacific ocean and the mouth to the Sydney Harbor.

We got back mid-afternoon and headed to the Royal Botanical Garden. We again saw how their BGs are large parks as well as bird sanctuary. Makes me want to see a movement to have the ATL BG incorporate Piedmont Park. We have seen a lot of gardens this trip and ATL can be assured they are "world class" with their orchids, pitcher plants and conservatory.

It was getting dark, so we stopped at a McCafe' for coffee and pastries...yep McDonalds serves expresso, lattas, pastries, etc here and the facilities really are quite nice. Headed down to the Opera House and tried to take some pictures, but there literally were no flat spots to set my camera for timed exposures, but this gives you an idea.

Ruth and I were not prepared for the intimate feeling you get inside the venue. It was beautiful and the sound was great. Burt put on an amazing concert with the Sydney Symphony. It reminded us how many great songs he has written. He has also got a new CD out that sounds great and has a lot of political commentary. Can't stop the rain by complaining, what's it all about, Alfie, Where did it go?(one of his new ones), and the varied musings on his life ...all seemed to speak to the life style we living, whether by choice or not. It was fun to have him encourage us to sing along some of the old familiar songs.

Well to back up a couple of days...

Pictures pretty much says it all. Started seeing lots of clouds and then water on the planes window as we decended into Sydney on our flight from Bisbane. There was a ray of hope in that a rainbow developed so there must have been sun somewhere. We grabbed our bags and settled with the rental car people and headed for the Blue mountains an hour or two north of town.

You can see from the "scenic overlook" that we were completely socked in...couldn't see anything for the fog, so we headed for the villages as there are several quaint little towns along the Great Western Scenic road. All the towns were crowded with people avoiding the cold and rain, so we decided to head for the Katoomba YHA and just chill by the fireplace, have dinner and hope for better tomorrow.

Our wishes were granted. Tuesday morning was bright and beautiful. A stop at a little cafe in town provided the best granola and yogart I've ever had..with my favorite...rhubarb as a topping. The first stop was a lookout near town and it was stunning. The Three Sisters is the iconic photo of the Blue Mtns and has a strange similarity to the Twelve Apostles we saw on our first week of the trip.

The trip through the Blue Mtns is essentially a big circular route stopping and various overlooks, bush walks and small towns. It reminds me a lot of a trip through our Blue Ridge parkway, with the name giving a good indication of the similarity...low, old mountain range looking blue in a distant view. It was interesting to see a lot of the vegetation we saw on Fraser Island and particularly understand the impact of fire. A forest fire had taken place late 2006 and the effests were quite striking. You could see a lot of dead trees where new life was coming from the base of the trees. And the Grass Trees had sent out there flower stalk, indicating the beginning of a new life cycle brought on by fire. The Basksia Trees also showed signs of the fire by the fact that their seed pods had popped open.

A highlight for me was stumbling across a tiny community of Mt. Wilson where gardening is obviously a common passion for people living there. After a short trek through a cathedrel of tree ferns, we stopped at a couple of personal gardens. The town is know for "open gardens." People leave little cash boxes at the entry gate to their gardens and allow anyone to stroll their garden...what a neat tradition. The Merry Garth garden was particularly amazing as it is approx. 2 hectres (5 acres) of paths and plantings...and all the plants are labeled. The guy had a large area of potted plants for purchase, and I guess you also put the money in the cash box as we never saw anyone. We heard to flight of, but missed the Superb Lyre bird as we strolled the wooded portion of the garden...still one we've missed seeing. The drive thru this little community just read "rest and relaxation" all over it.

Our next stop wa the "cold weather" section of the Sydney Botanical Garden. It was amazing how familar it looked to us..lot of azaleas and rhoderdendrons. It's like we experiencing spring again with the camelias blooming and daffodils popping up all over the place. It is a much newer botanical garden and didn't compare to the Melburne and Adelaide gardens, but it was well done and will only get better with time. I know we will never get the chance, but November must be amazing here when all the plants are in bloom.

On the liesurely ride home I wanted to swing though the Olympic Village. There is a small remnent of a visitor's center and I looked in. A graphics on the wall had sustainability included as one of their primary goals, so I looked for some literature. Couldn't find any so I asked someone who just went into a total brain dump of information. She said some of it is on their website, but they have essentially started a program to retrofit all the old buildings and construct all new buildings under a program which we would associate with LEED. Lots of solar power and water management systems.

Got back to our place at dusk, got settled in and walked down to a local pub for dinner..T-bone steak, Dogbuster Black Ale, fries & salad for $15...been a good day.

Additional photos below
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13th July 2007

Amazing Race
This all reads like you two are now ready to take on the next adventure of the "Amazing Race".....great journal read through all this and look forward to hearing about the other side of the story after your return....all except the Al Gore part.

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