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guest update from "J" - Rounding up the Usual Suspects
Steve's Livejournal
guest update from "J"

Date: Wed, 7 Nov 2012 09:56:33 +1100
Date: Tue, 6 Nov 2012 14:56:34 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Hello From Australia!
To: [a few relatives]

Hi Guys,

We are the Four Seasons Hotel in Sydney right now, about to embark the Oosterdam in an hour. I popped down to the bakery café two blocks away and landed to large fresh fruit salads to fill up on, with a mocha since an americano (very short shot of espresso) is rather bitter to my taste.

We had a blast in Cairns, and Steve is wrestling with the upload of photos because they are worth a thousand words.

First day in Cairns we took the Kuranda Scenic Railway, an unforgettable 1 hour and 45 minute journey up the tropically clad mountainous range from Cairns city to the eclectic Rainforest Village of Kuranda. We wound through Barron Gorge to see steep ravines and cascading waterfalls and rivers. The train stopped twice for photos. The marketing materials describe the train as boasting, "a tantalizing restaurant that provides guests with a mouth watering breakfast and hot coffee for those early morning departures whilst sitting back and dining in an authentic historic 85 year old railway carriage which takes you back in time to the good old days and gets you in the mood for some good old fashioned adventure." The rail car had a tin ceiling and was paneled in a rich red brown wood, with space to stash the tea, orange juice and coffee.

We went through the marketplace, eyed shorts for Steve, and hit the butterfly museum. It has 1500 magnificent tropical butterflies that are hand reared on the premises. My favourite was the electric blue Ulysses Butterfly, which flies so fast it is hard to get a picture in focus. This is the butterfly that is on Mom's tote bag, and the one printed on the note card I sent with a haiku in December, 2009. That was one thing that was on my "to do" list in Australia. We got Steve's shorts on the way back to the gondola ride going back down.

Behind the main row of shops, tucked away, were the 1960s market which has a very hippie flavour. ["A", J's late sister] would have loved all the jewelry there. One thing that I think Tyler would have wanted to see (Steve wanted to see it but it was $18 admission) is the Australian Venom Zoo. They focus is on captive breeding and displaying venomous animals, purportedly one day be responsible for producing some of the most advanced medicines in the world. I don't know if ["T", age 10, nephew] has grown fascinated to see Tarantula behind glass, but I just thought it was too creepy.

Steve's "to do" is (besides the eclipse) was to see the Great Barrier Reef. A couple on the train had suggested a tour that only takes 35 people on a fast boat to the reef. We got home and the concierge said it was fully booked. Our next choice was great, it had 40 people on a very fast boat, and got us to one reef in an hour and a half. Steve admitted that he has allergies when filling out his medical checklist to go on a scuba dive. The fellow on the boat tried to call a doctor to get clearance but he was not allowed to go on a scuba dive, it seems it is a liability issue. That did not matter on bit, he saw two turtles. The fluorescence and vibrancy of the fish three feet away from us were unbelievable. I think I saw Nemo and several of his cousins. We had snorkel gear and wet suits, just a tiny bit of my wrist had a sun burn. When we upload the pictures you can see ones that were taken from underwater from below, and one right before we got on the boat.

I think the fifteen hour plane ride was worth being able to see those fish. One of the guides mentioned that the reefs have a unique blend evolved on each one. They can't get from one continent like reef through open waters, to another reef.

I am trying desperately to convince Steve to not down-sample our images from the camera to upload to Facebook. We had a conversation last night about how data chips are trivial and insignificant compared to people losing their houses in New Jersey. I wonder what people will do for Thanksgiving, and how many people will not have a home to go back to for Christmas.

Mom mentioned that that ["T", age 5, niece] and [T, nephew] just wanted things to go back to normal. At first it might be an adventure, no school, but then no tricker treating, no power at home, and a frenetic pace of trying to help so many people all at once. ["C", J's sister], I hope you are having a few minutes of quiet to regroup and take care of yourself.

With brightest blessing for healing energy in the storm struck areas


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