Update 13 the end of the Ooh Tour

Waves in the sands of Waikiki

Jet travel is amazing. We zip through the air at 600 mph, flying over vast oceans, over horrible weather, all while watching movies and eating our TV-dinners. Of course the downside of any long flight is: it is long. Sitting in cramped conditions for more than 10 hours at a time is all I can take these days. That is why I recommend stopping in Hawaii when making trans Pacific flights. Yes, you could upgrade to business or first class, but for much less than the cost of these over-priced upgrades you could be lying on a beach and drinking a Mai Tai in Hawaii. Besides from this obvious advantage you will also give your body time to adjust its circadian clock. I find I need two things to help me recover from jet-lag. The first is sunshine and the second is fresh air, Hawaii has copious amounts of both, so it is the perfect place to stopover.

Sunset over Ala Moana Beach

Every Friday night at twilight’s last gleaming, on Waikiki Beach the dark star-filled sky bursts into light with breathtaking fireworks. Part of the idyllic beach is usurped for the sparkling launchpad. Loud booms are followed by the rockets’ red glare and bombs bursting in air. Glittering balls of lights and multiple colored fireballs have locals and tourists spill onto the famous beach to gasp, ooh, and aah in unison. Oh it is good to be back in the land of the free and the home of the brave!

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Update 12 from the Ooh Tour

Highly sculptured rocks at the whirlpool in Katherine Gorge

We drove for three hours from Katherine, north to Darwin, on a lovely sunny Northern Territory morning. This drive was the first part of our all day journey from Katherine, way up north, to Melbourne, way down south. We were both feeling very tired after just the first leg of the trip and a whole day of travel lay before us. Next we flew from Darwin to Adelaide, which is located in south-central Australia. This took three hours zooming through the air at 600 miles per hour. The final leg of the journey was a flight from Adelaide to Melbourne in the east. We arrived very well travelled and ready for bed.

A street in Melbourne from my past

We spent the night in a hotel at the airport. This enabled us to make the long drive to Pearcedale in daylight. Having been raised in Melbourne, there once was a time when I could navigate by memory its complicated streets, but alas, my internal street map has long since faded into that bucket of lost memories we accumulate as we get older. Along the way, we stopped at a street I lived in when I was eight years old. It was good to see the place again and it had not changed beyond my recognition, even after 44 years. Finally we left the buzzing metropolis of Melbourne behind us and drove into the very green lands of the Mornington Peninsula, and arrived safely at my brother’s home.

Two old brothers playing chess

Julia and I spent the week visiting with my relatives and friends. It rained, and even hailed at times, so much so that we did not have the opportunity to enjoy the lovely countryside around my brother’s home. We did manage to walk on the beach at Frankston, and it was as invigorating as ever. We also walked out onto a freezing cold headland in Mornington one frosty evening, but that was the full extent of our hiking. It was illuminating to catch up with everyone, to share our stories, and hear theirs. Some were new, most were old and well worn, but all were welcome. Thank you everyone for allowing Julia and I to be part of your worlds for a brief moment, we both enjoyed ourselves.

Frankston Beach

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Update 11 from the Ooh Tour

The high majestic plateaus and lowlands of Kakadu

Kakadu is very old geologically. Its rocks pushed upward towards the endless sky even before the Earth had an oxygen atmosphere. They were covered several times in oceans and prehistoric seas. They became part of lush forests, desert wastelands, and isolated islands. Eventually the waters receded and left the rocks behind as facades and tall escarpments, craggy edges to high majestic plateaus. In time the highlands were washed clean of their topsoil and the fertile low lands of Kakadu were formed. These ancient rocks are with us today, painted on by aboriginal peoples and forever lost to the remoteness of this place.

Fields of termite mounds are common in the Australian Bush

Julia and I drove for three hours through the isolated Australian Northern Territory from Jabiru to Katherine. The famous gorge is to be found in Katherine and we plan to take a boat ride on it. However, all we could experience today of Katherine was its river walk, its hot springs, and its main street. We also visited the Katherine Museum where a lovely old female caretaker explained to us the layout of the place by saying, “That’s where the the Tiger Moth is. That’s the barn with old farming gear. And that’s Walley’s shed, but there’s nothing in there.”

Australia’s most notable character at the Katherine Gorge information center

We were up early and headed down a lonely outback road to Katherine Gorge. We made a quick visit to the information center before we began our cruise down the river. We found a really well presented display of the gorge, its animals, and its geology. The display has a focus on the geology of the place. This is unlike many of the displays we encountered in Kakadu, there the emphasis is on the mythology of the native people. Mythologies are fine, but I prefer to know the facts about a site such as its geology, rather than imaginary creation stories, we have enough of those in our own societies.

One of the 13 attractive gorges at Katherine

The cruise into the Katherine Gorge was more than I had expected. It is an extremely attractive place made up of multicolored sandstone canyons, fast flowing waters, and exquisite flora. Of course no passage on a Northern Territory waterway would be complete without spotting a crocodile, which we did. The trip we took had us visit three of the 13 gorges that form the total Katherine Gorge complex. Each of the gorges are separated by rocks protruding up out of the river forming a natural whitewater barrier. At these junctures we had to moor our watercraft and walk to another boat moored in the next gorge to continue our wonderful journey. The trip ended with a swim in a crystal clear waterhole which was a basin for a tall waterfall. This was a welcome end to a most joyous journey.

A natural crystal clear swimming pool

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Homo Cosmiens, a new beginning to the final ending

Science fiction at its best


Update 10 from the Ooh Tour

A Kakadu dingo

We were up bright and early to try and beat the heat for our next hike at Gungurul. This walk had two parts. One took us up 800 feet to a lookout that gave us spectacular views of the Kakadu landscape. The second part of the hike dropped down to a crocodile infested river. We found ourselves spooked by spiders, scared by snakes, in dread of dingos, and creeped out by crocodiles on this trail.

Getting ready to take on the crocodiles

Next we hiked at Mardugal, on the Gun-gardun bush walk. This trail is very representative of the bush here in Kakadu. It contains much of the fauna and flora of the region. The best part was its flatness as it was late morning by the time we started and getting very hot.

The very unusual flora of the park

Later in the afternoon we drove to the Coolinda Lodge and the Yellow Water Wetlands, to cruise on the South Alligator River. It was still very hot, but being out on the river gave us some relief from the stifling humidity and temperature. The wetlands are teaming with life this time of year and we saw most of it on this wonderful trip. We spotted: crocodiles, kingfishers, jabirus, snakes, whistling kites, cat fish, and of course more crocodiles. This place is how I had imagined Kakadu.

The most famous inhabitant of the area

The next day we headed to the local airport and took a helicopter flight to have a different and amazing perspective of this vast place. The aircraft soon had us flying over the Ranger Uranium Mine, which is the true human power in the area. Then we flew past the escarpments and inaccessible high ground of Arnhem Land. We encountered many waterfalls along our route, the most notable were Twin Falls and Jim Jim Falls. The helicopter enabled us to truly grasp where we were and how immense and incredibly beautiful Kakadu is.

One of the many stupendous waterfalls of Kakadu

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Wellness and happiness: the facts you need to know


Homo Cosmiens, a new beginning to the final ending

Science fiction at its best


Update nine from the Ooh Tour

Australia is a big place. From east coast to west it is about the same width as the United States. Uluru is just about smack-bang in the center of Australia, and a three hour flight from Sydney. It is a two and a half hour flight from Uluru to Darwin, which is on the far and steamy north end of this vast continent. Julia and I bid Uluru goodbye and gladly made the long journey with great anticipation for our next destination, Kakadu National Park.

The amazingly green red-center

On our journey we were amazed to see the normally dry, stark, and deep red center flourishing with green flora. There has been so much rain lately it has transformed the place. On landing at Darwin we made the three hour drive on to Kakadu. We arrived at dusk. I asked the receptionist if she thought it okay for Julia and I to make a two kilometer walk through the bush to the information station. She warned me that it was at just this time of night the creatures of Kakadu stirred, and advised against making the walk. Not wanting to be eaten by a crocodile, we took her advice, and were soon tucked safely away in bed and dreaming of electric sheep.

They were dancing, dancing in the caves

Our first stop next morning was to drive to the information station to find out where the park was open and where it was closed. Early May is after the rainy season, and this year there was lots of rain at Kakadu. A few areas and some roads were still closed. Given our options, we put our day’s plan together, with the ranger’s help, and drove to our first destination: Nourlangie. Just a few kilometers down the road we took our first glimpse of the immense Arnhem Land escarpment, which dominates Kakadu. The walk at Nourlangie also contains aboriginal rock art and it is amazing. The native Australians have lived in this area for over 20,000 years and so have had a lot of time to create and develop their art. How and why would hunter gatherers waste time creating art? We supposed that there was so much food in the area that they had plenty of time on their hands, so boredom drove their creativity. Or maybe they were inspired by the sheer beauty of Kakadu.

Kakadu streching on to infinity

Next we drove on to the Mirrai Lookout. By this time, 10:30, Kakadu had become hotter than hell. However, Julia and I climbed up the thirty minute walk to the lookout. It was worth our sweat as the views of Kakadu were astounding.

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Homo Cosmiens, a new beginning to the final ending

Science fiction at its best


Update eight from the Ooh Tour

The labyrinth of Kata Tjuta

After experiencing Uluru you might think you have seen every kind of rock formation, amazing rock colors, and geology, but then you visit Kata Tjuta and you are once again astounded by the rock. Kata Tjuta (or the Olgas as they were once known) is the giant sister rock structure not too far from Uluru. Unlike the monolithic nature of Uluru, Kata Tjuta is more nodal. It is cris-crossed with valleys, canyons, and fissures. This gives the walker access to the interior of the natural wonder. The place is a sacred site for native Australians that have lived in the area for tens of thousands of years, so walkers are restricted to certain trails.

The stupendous colors of Kata Tjuta

Julia and I hiked with a tour guide into the labyrinth and spent the afternoon taking in the stupendous geology and cathedral like ambiance. After the walk we drove a short distance from the rock to watch it change colors in the light from the setting sun. I have never seen such kaleidoscopic variation in any mountains before, amazing!

Splendid wildflowers surround Uluru

On our last day at this magnificent place we got up early and made the 12 kilometer walk around the base of Uluru and on to the Cultural Center. The walk enabled us to get up close and personal to the monolith. There is so much iron in the rock that it is literally rusting. Eons of erosion have carved it in places into red frozen-waves of rock. In other places erosion has chipped off large chunks and left Salvador Dali like impressions.

Salvador Dali like impressions in the rock

It took us three and a half hours to make the beautiful walk. It got very hot as the day wore on and thick swarms of flies followed us wherever we went. However, armed with our insect proof head-nets and our insatiable curiosity we completed our walk and fell deeply in love with the Uluru and Kata Tjuta National Park. If you are seeking to experience reverence in nature’s unlimited creations, come to Uluru you will not be disappointed.

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Wellness and happiness: the facts you need to know


Homo Cosmiens, a new beginning to the final ending

Science fiction at its best


Update seven from the Ooh Tour

The blooming Central Australian Desert

Our three hour flight from Sydney to Uluru went by quickly, even though the iPad movie we planned to watch was corrupted and caused our infallible Apple device to crash. So much for the supposed perfection of Apple software.

The ever changing colors of the Big Red Rock

We spent our first night at the Big Red Rock on a remote sand dune watching the sunset and the changing colors of the magnificent monolith, spectacular! When the fiery sky darkened we were escorted to our dinner table, the wide and starry Australian night as our canopy. After consuming much wine and great food we were given a guided tour of the sparkling sky by our hosts, with the aid of their very powerful laser pointer and two wonderful telescopes.

The fiery skies over Uluru

Julia and I got up before sunrise the next morning and were driven to another remote sand dune, in the unusually green central Australian desert, to watch the magnificent sunrise and experience once again the changing colors of Uluru. The sky slowly filled with deep blood reds and oranges and seemed to catch fire before our eyes. This had the effect of awakening the sleeping dark monolith and bringing it to life in a cloak of flaming hues. It was simply breathtaking.

Update six from the Ooh Tour

The lovely Sydney coves

Today we took the ferry from Circular Quay and weaved our way through the many and beautiful coves and bays of Sydney habor to land at Manly. Manly is famous for its surf beaches. Today it is a very quaint little village filled with restaurants, bars, friendly people, surfers, lifeguards, and sun worshipers. Perched on the high sandstone cliffs surrounding the town, very classy and expensive designer homes look out over their million dollar views.

The very manly Manly Beach

Manly is a peninsula with an almost round bulbous end. Julia and I walked the from the ferry pier all the way around the end of the Manly peninsula and back to the ferry. It took two and half hours to complete the walk, but it was well worth our effort. We got to see the sandy beaches, sheltered coves, towering sandstone cliffs, the raging surf of the blue Pacific, million dollar homes, and the tropical bushland of Manly.

The horrible arachnid

Julia was horrified when she discovered a large orb spider sitting quietly in its web. However, as we progressed on our hike we came to a heavily overgrown part of the trail. Julia happened to look up and was terrified to see a massive network of spider webs, with hundreds of orb spiders dangling dangerously close. Suffice to say that we left the area in some haste.

The stupendous Sydney Opera House

When we returned to Sydney town we met up with our friends Mark and Colleen and headed for the Sydney Opera House to see Mr. Shakespeare’s Much ado about nothing. It was very good and so odd for me to hear every character deliver the timeless prose in full Ozzy accents.

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Wellness and happiness: the facts you need to know


Homo Cosmiens, a new beginning to the final ending

Science fiction at its best


Update five from the Ooh Tour

Super underwater Alex

Our evil plan began as we boarded the flight from Honolulu to Sydney. The flight time is only 10 hours from Hawaii to Australia, instead of 16 hours from San Francisco, this makes the trip much more bearable. Also, if you subtract the day in time zone difference, Hawaii is only four hours out of sync with Australia.

What can I say about the flight, other than it was long, cramped, and boring; like all flights. We arrived at the decent hour of 7:30 pm and were soon tucked away in bed at our hotel in downtown Sydney.

A young Digger handing out Rosemary, lest we forget

On Monday morning we woke to one of Australia’s most celebrated days: Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) day. We were greeted by thousands of people lining Sydney’s main street cheering-on marching bands, current military forces marching, and the dwindling remnants of the old Diggers (veterans of WWII).

Lunch at the Oyster Bay

We ate lunch at the Sydney Oyster Bar, my favorite place to eat in Sydney. We walked around the glorious Opera House and picked up tickets for a show there.

A cocky Cocky

Then we walked to the Sydney Botanical Gardens taking in the many plants and animals. We were surprised to find the place filled with Fruit Bats all hanging asleep with their wings wrapped around them. The white Cockatoos were endless fun to watch as they squawked and flew about getting into mischief. This park is a real treasure and so accessible to downtown Sydney.

We ended the day with Sue and John at a superb dinner in a restaurant that has a spectacular view of the Sydney Opera House.

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Flying the Edge of America, the trip of a lifetime

A non-fiction account of a three-month flight around the edges of the USA


Your Care Plan, a nurse’s guide to healthy living

Wellness and happiness: the facts you need to know


Homo Cosmiens, a new beginning to the final ending

Science fiction at its best