Posts from February, 2008
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My favourite (notice the “cheeky” Anglo spelling) was a place called The Granites (above, top). We tripped on it purely by accident (we saw a small brown sign with a distance, but no description) and went on a lark. We got a set of exquisite pink granite boulders in an amazing blue-green sea.
The lady sparkler’s favourite was Cape Dombey (above, bottom) which is part of a “recreational reserve” in the port town of Robe where we are spending the night. Also an accident, we had set off for the town’s lighthouse (modernist, hideous) when we tripped on the Dombey obelisk that sat on a set of breathtaking cliffs.
We have had such incredible luck this trip off recommendations, but even better luck with serendipity.
Now, leaving Tasmania, we were more than a little concerned that the mainland would be just as beautiful, and it turns out that’s the case (how much beauty can a couple stand?!?) The views through wine country were really unbelievable, and some of the beaches on the way back into town were as spectacular as they were empty. (Near as we can figure, school started back up this week.)
In other news … Adelaide has taken our time confusion and kicked it up another notch — BAM! — as it turns out the town elders decided that adhering to time zones was a silly notion. Apparently being a half hour off sounded like a laugh, so we are now (temporarily) 16 hours and 30 minutes ahead of D.C. time. Oh, and we haven’t figured out how to adjust the clock in our car, so we have just stopped even trying to care what time it is.
Tomorrow, we start our four day drive along the Southern Ocean into Melbourne, in what is supposed to be the prettiest portion of our trip. My “shutter” finger is just aching in anticipation …
Still no word on her bag though, other than the knowledge that it never made it through LAX. Interestingly, when we were talking to one of the Qantas baggage service people about what happened, she rolled her eyes and said, ‘LAX happened.’ Not that we needed another reason to dislike Californians, but apparently their baggage handling skills are world renowned for all the wrong reasons.
We spend the day driving 200 kilometers south through what is widely considered as the most beautiful portions of Tasmania. We knew we were in trouble when I had taken over a hundred pictures *before* we even entered the first of three national parks for the day. (The final tally included two full memory cards for over 350 images.)
Today was less about rainforests, and more about landscapes. We passed though mountain ranges, savannah grasslands, scrubland/hill country, reeded marshlands, both rocky and sandy beaches, before finishing up in rolling prairie-land. All this in little more than one hundred miles driven.
Which brings us to our first conclusion of the trip: everything is decidedly *not* bigger in Texas.
The roads here never end. We could spend four weeks on an island the size of West Virginia, and never see the same thing twice. The trees here would take half a dozen adults to surround holding hands. The animals are bigger (they even have longhorns). The land is more diverse. The mountains are higher. The beer is larger. So are the hats. Even the hubris is bigger (they have routed an entire river through pipes for use in hydro-electric plants.)
And we haven’t even reached the mainland.
Near the end of today, we were wincing as we drove around corners because the impossibly beautiful just kept getting more beautiful … it was actually more than a bit overwhelming. Words honestly can’t describe this place. The photos we posted do a pretty good job of showing the beauty, but really can’t give a hint to the scale … so, while you are looking think ‘vast’ and then triple it.
UPDATE: the lady sparkler’s luggage was waiting for us at the hotel in Hobart, which is great as we fly back to the mainland tomorrow morning. t.l.s. has never been so excited about the possibility of shaving her legs.
About that: I should have mentioned that while we made landfall yesterday, our luggage didn’t. the lady sparkler being a smart girl has two changes of clothes and four pair of underwear in her carry-on. I have 10 pounds of camera equipment. The most beguiling thing about this parallel universe we find ourselves in is that neither of us seem to care about the state of our baggage.
About that: Tasmania is just devastatingly beautiful. Since Australia is the original continent — and there hasn’t been much in the way of earthquakes, volcanoes or glaciers to stir up the ground — much of what you see has been that way for the last billion or so years (give or take).
The place we stayed last night was at the entrance to Cradle Mountain National Park, and so we began the morning hiking through the temperate rainforest at the mountain’s base. The youngest trees looked 500-years old, and there was a *thick* carpet of moss on anything that wasn’t moving.
After our morning in Eden, we bustled ourselves off to Strahan (the ‘ha’ is silent) on the western coast of Tasmania. The last quarter of the pictures are from the city’s “park,” which seems a mild understatement as it is big enough to house a 40-minute walk through rainforest to a trio of stunning waterfalls.
It’s a mad, mad world.
The moment the lady sparkler bought tickets to Australia, she started a list of animals that she wanted to see: kangaroos, wallabies, koalas, tassie devils, platypus-es (platypi?) and wombats. Fortunately, in the run up to our trip we saw something on the Travel Channel about the Trowunna Wildlife Park outside of Launceston (the ‘ce’ is silent) which rehabilitates wounded animals.
Now, if you haven’t been lucky enough to be on the lady sparkler’s Blackberry distribution list to announce her animal sightings, then (a) let me know and I will try and pull some strings for you, and (b) she saw ALL of the above in one afternoon sans the platypus. She even got to hold a baby wombat.
I’m not positive, but I’m pretty sure her life is complete now.
in october 2006, the school’s president removed a cross from permanent display on the altar of the college’s Wren Chapel saying it was important for people of all faiths to feel welcomed in the college’s buildings.
that cross is still available (and actively used) for christian services, but would not be displayed by default.
a frenzy of opposition arose, largely from outside the college community. one petition collected 10,000 signatures demanding the “return” of the cross, but less than 30% of the signers had ever been affiliated with the school.
what few people know is that the cross isn’t actually property of the school — it has been loaned by bruton parish church (and caterbury, the parish’s college community) in 1931.
and, for the two hundred and fifty odd years before that loan in 1931, the chapel was without a cross of any kind — as no Anglican Virginia church displayed a cross during the colonial period.
but, just as in the pledge of allegiance — in which the divisive “under god” phrase wasn’t added until the mccarthy fueled 1950s but is seen by some elements as being core to the pledge itself — historical fact has little to bear on modern controversy.
during the late 1990s, i was the liturgist for caterbury (the “owners” of the wren cross) and was the person responsible for both the only regular service in which the was used and (in as much as anyone) for the cross itself.
while i didn’t threaten to revoke a $12 million donation to the school over the issue, you could argue i’d be one of the people most emotionally outraged by the wren cross controversy.
but i’m not.
why? because i’m comfortable in my Christianity, and as such I don’t need to cling to iconography to support my religious beliefs. i also feel like we all paid tuition to this great college without regard of our religion — and as such, we should all feel equally welcome in the college’s buildings.
unfortunately, the school’s president Gene Nichol resigned this morning — under pressure from alumni withdrawing donations from the school — for having these very same constitutionally guided views.
and while i know that the College won’t even notice, after much deliberation i have decided that I can no longer financially support a school that succumbs to such petty partisanship and radically exclusive views — even though i’ve been supporting the school financially every year since 1995.
i can only hope that someone comes along to right this ship, but that won’t happen so long as the campus remains obsessed with the views of fringe elements from outside it’s walls.
either way, it’s open season now.
as of january 1, i thought i had this whole election this worked out. obama & edwards: guardians of the working class populous; clinton: guardian of the north-east elite. and then new hampshire happened … for reasons i am still struggling to comprehend, clinton carried the $50k and under, high school educated crowd, and obama carried those who make over $100k and have post graduate degrees.
clinton … blue collar? obama … white elite?
some order was brought to my internal chaos with super tuesday. obama carried the heartland (montana, kansas, north dakota) and clinton carried the coasts (california, new york, massachuesettes). but even with that, there were enough outliers (obama in connecticut, clinton in oklahoma) that i came to a startling realization: even with four years on the hill and another four years at a political consulting firm, i have no clue about politics.
my biggest complaint about politics (and politicians) is the seeming endless partisanship that has settled on d.c. since the republican “revolution” of 1994. and it has (inarguably) gotten worse since Bush II took office. my point is that, while truly believe that clinton would make a solid leader of the free world, i just can’t face the idea that we will have another 8 years where 49.5% of the electorate utterly despises the sitting president.
so, over the last two weeks i basically ruled out everyone else, and was left with obama for (admittedly) all the wrong reasons. and then i heard him speak for the first time. and then i was hooked.
now, i am a *sucker* for obama’s message. i hate fear mongering. the best president of my lifetime was played by martin sheen. i need oration, and hope. i want my politician to tell me why to love him, and not why to hate everyone else. i want someone to dream big, and challenge those around him to keep up. i want to vote for *someone*, and not just for who-ever is running against the neo-con of the cycle.
obama gives the best stump speech i have heard … easily since the “other” clinton in ’92, but probably since the kennedy brothers in ’60 and ’68 (of which i heard recordings, obviously). i find it fascinating how well he is doing in places that have heard him speak.
now, if you are already on-board, God bless you. but if you aren’t, watch the video clip above of him speaking in New Hampshire — if you are short on time, skip ahead and watch the last half — and tell me that’s not what you really want in a candidate.
unless, of course, you are christy rome … in which case don’t tell me, because i prefer living in denial.