Monday, July 06, 2009

THERE AND BACK AGAIN

I am a naughty, Naughty, NAUGHTY Blogger! Sorry for the delay. Spank me... I dare ya!
Last you all heard from me, I was working the streets of Perth convincing strangers to fork over monthly donations to charity. I ended up spending nearly five months in Perth, my longest stretch anywhere in Australia. To be sure, it’s a nice place - great beaches and lots of fun young people. My job worked out well and I made some great friends, but I needed to hit the road back home as my visa was running out. After several farewell shindigs, I hopped on the Nullarbor Traveller. It was a terrific 9-day bus tour that took me all the way from Perth to Adelaide, a distance of about 2,400 miles. The bus was populated by myself, three German girls, a Scottish lass, and Lachy (rhymes with “hockey,” short for Lachlan) our Aussie driver. Not a bad ratio there! We camped almost every night and saw lots of awesome stuff as we made our way eastward. Cape Le Grand National Park was particularly cool. We did some nice hikes, the best being Frenchman’s Peak. There was also the gorgeous white sand of Lucky Bay. It was already a bit too late in the season to go swimming, but it was stunning, nonetheless. Along the way, we also saw Wave Rock (It’s a rock that looks like a wave), lots of stunning coastline, fantastic caves, and many, many miles of flat treeless land along the Nullarbor Plain. One of the best spots was the area around Coodlie Park on the Eyre Peninsula. We stayed there for two nights and did all kinds of cool stuff. There was a moonlight 4X4 tour of the farm where we saw kangaroos and wombats, side trips out to spectacular caves and rock formations, and sandboarding down massive dunes. From there we departed to Baird Bay where we went snorkeling with dolphins and sea lions – probably the best thing we did on the tour. Our group went out on a little pontoon boat, donned wetsuits, and jumped right into the water with those crazy critters! Being wild animals, the dolphins didn’t really do much but swim by us very quickly. The sea lions were much more fun! They are like friendly, playful dogs that can swim. One was repeatedly putting his nose right up to my facemask. I stayed in as long as I could, despite the freezing water. So much fun!

Over the next few days we did some more hikes and tours. In Port Lincoln we went out to a tuna farm where I did some more snorkeling. There were massive tuna nets with dozens of big, fast tuna swimming around. I would feed them by hand and they swam with incredible speed right by my face. On the boat we got free samples of their sashimi-grade tuna steak. MMMMMmmmmm… fun and tasty!

One of the last things we did was a quick little surfing trip. I hadn’t surfed since I had left Gisbourne, New Zealand more than two years earlier, and it was great to do it again. One of these days, I gotta get a board of my own.

Oh yeah, we also killed a kangaroo. It was an accident. For all their cuteness and physical dexterity, kangaroos are pretty stupid animals. One evening crossing the Nullarbor, Lachy spied two roos a few hundred yards down the road. He honked the horn and flashed the lights repeatedly, but to no avail. One of the roos jumped right in front of the van and took one for the team. This is not an uncommon occurrence Down Under. The sides of any country road are littered with carcasses. Roos are far from an endangered species, so it was really just Darwinism at work. We were merely thinning out the herd. The surviving roo hopefully hopped back home and told his friends that Steve (as I called him) unfortunately got plowed down by a van, and that maybe in the future he and is friends should jump AWAY from oncoming vehicles, rather than towards them. I’m just sayin’…After disembarking in Adelaide (more like Ade-LAME!), and taking a few showers, I went on yet another tour around Kangaroo Island. It’s a huge island, more than 100 miles across. Because of its isolation from the mainland, it has been spared many of the environmental invasions that Australia has suffered since the Europeans showed up. Its name is no coincidence – there are all kinds of kangaroos all over the island, along with koalas (so cute and dopey!), penguins, snakes, seals, seal lions, and other unique species. Thankfully, none were killed by our tour group. The highlight of this trip was probably the Remarkable Rocks – huge & fantastic rock formations looking out on the Southern Ocean. Millions of years of wind & rain have carved these rocks into bizarre shapes. One can easily conjure up visions of pagan rituals being performed on these things. Very cool.Once that trip was done I returned back to Adelaide and hung out with my buddy Matt from Leeds before flying to Sydney for the long trip back to America. Whilst back in Sydney, my friends from “Wolverine” informed me that there was going to be a cast & crew screening of the movie at Fox Studios Australia on April 26th. Unfortunately, my flight was booked for the 23rd, so I couldn’t make it. Damn! I’m still pissed that I missed that. It would have been a great way to finish up my wacky Australian adventure. But, whaddya gonna do? At the very least, I got to spend my last three days in Australia at Noah’s Bondi Beach, one of my favorite hostels anywhere. Flying home was, well, it was flying home. I fell asleep somewhere over the Pacific and woke up in Los Angeles. I spent a week with friends & family around LA. Lots of Mexican food was consumed and I had a great time catching up with people whom I hadn’t seen in years. It was bizarre to be back in America to have “Wolverine” billboards and posters on every bus & street corner. Sadly, Fox decided that they didn’t need to credit the PAs from the New Zealand crew, so my name is nowhere to be found in the end titles. Still, it was nice to go see the movie on opening night in my hometown, at the very movie theater that I worked at all through high school, and being able to point at the screen and say “I was there for that!”

Anyway, I have had to adjust many things since I got home (chiefly my belt, as home cooking, car travel, and the most consistently bad weather in more than a century have contributed to my rapidly expanding waistline). I’ve had to make up for lost time by going to weddings, birthdays and other events that I didn’t have the luxury of attending over the last 2½ years (they’ve been great, by the way). Some things have changed since I left – Obama is president, Michael Jackson is dead, Massachusetts seems to have a viable film industry, the Natick Mall has metamorphosed into an up-market monstrosity dubbed The Natick Collection, Mom & Dad did some remodeling – and some things haven’t – war in Iraq & Afghanistan, debate over gay marriage, Kim Jong Il acting crazy, Mom & Dad’s busted skylight, etc.

There is no way for me be able to process all the things I’ve done, places I’ve seen and people I’ve met over the last couple years and come up with some grand conclusion, so don’t expect one. All I can say is that it has been a fantastic time in my life. Travel is extremely addictive, and I don’t see myself stopping anytime soon. I’ve had wonderful and horrible days. Though traveling has its hardships, expenses and unexpected speed bumps, it’s just too good to pass up. I may have to stay home for a while, but I know that I will be getting back out there someday. If you really want to do it, save up some cash and just go for it. You won’t regret it. So, dear readers, Moranadu will be reverting (temporarily, anyway) to its roots as a place for me to rant and rave over whatever I damn well please, rather than my international shenanigans. Expect the unexpected. Or don’t. I’ll write what I want, so there.

1 comment:

JudgeHolden said...

Nice work on the blog man. It was always fun catching up with what you were doing.