Saturday, April 3, 2010

Time of my Life

I've been repatriated. Josh has been asked to be extended....again. We're incredibly lucky though that he has such a good job and that he enjoys (to the most part) the work that he's doing out there. The only good part about it is that I have a ton of free time. Free time in which to blog and try to catch up on all the cool stuff that we have been able to do from last October to mid-March. While I thought that I could disappear from the blog-o-sphere without much notice, apparently there are quite a few people who still like to read about our life.

As a start, following is a story from our time down-under that just sums up how it was to live there. I've posted it over on that social networking site when it first happened, but it's worth writing down for posterity's sake.

In January of this year, we started playing trivia at a local restaurant/bar/hotel, The Russell. Australian trivia is much like any other trivia that you would play in the States except with quite a few more Oz-related political/entertainment/sports questions. Also, I'm not sure if it was because we were in Australia or because we were in the bush, but there seemed to be quite a bit more cheating going on (as in the host going around and giving us answers).

Our team consisted on a regular basis of 4-6 Americans and 2-4 Aussies. Most of the time the other teams just made fun of us for submitting answers in Farenheit or in not using the metric system, but one night I managed to embarrass us beyond all belief. We were one of the 2 teams in a tie-breaker for one of the rounds. While not a very intense situation (we were only playing for a $10 tab certificate), I was totally into trying to beat the other team. For some unknown reason, the hostess would never pull up tie-breaker questions prior to the game that night, but instead tries to think of them on the spot.

While thinking of the questions that would be asked of us, she asks the group "Do you know a lot about poetry?"

I, obviously not still not able to understand the accent, immediately yell out in my not-yet-lost Southern voice "WHAT? You mean like chicken?!?"

It was foreign diplomacy at its best.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Australian is funny - Part 8.

What? I haven't blogged in 5 months?!? That's normal, right?

So I probably have a lot to catch up on with the blog --- a month long trip back to the States, Josh's parents' visit to our great home, scuba diving on the Great Barrier, Christmas in 98 degree weather, a week in Fiji (*sigh*) --- but in order to ease myself back into the blogging world, today I only have a simple picture from Surfers Paradise to illustrate that regardless of how long you spend in the land down under, you're never really going to understand it.

After wikipedia'ing it, I found out that it basically means no soliciting or panhandling , but I think that I prefer the much more exotic-sounding ‘touting’ and ‘busking’.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Birds

Remember right after we arrived here when I posted a picture of this bird?

And I talked about how it was the Australian magpie - the national bird of Australia. And they can make 35 different noises including the imitation of a horse or a dog. And how their natural call sounds like beautiful wind chimes out our window. And how Josh calls them the penguin birds and oh how cute.

Well forget everything I ever wrote about them. The only thing that you need to know is that the bird above is the Australian version of Satan reincarnated.

We had read online that the magpies become extremely territorial while they are nesting and the chicks are growing (usually during the early spring months of August - October). Over the past 4 weeks or so, Josh has been getting swooped at and buzzed on the golf course. It has angered him so much that he's thrown golf clubs up in the trees to try to warn them off. We have discovered that they won't bother you if you keep your eyes on them so normally if we are on a hole that we know has a swooping magpie (there are about 3 out of the 18), I try to keep my eyes on them while Josh takes his swing. It has definitely proven to be a stressful way to play golf and I believe that Josh is almost ready to give up until they stop attacking him.

I haven't really been attacked yet since I believe that they go after Josh more since he's male and taller. It has been frustrating to Josh since I didn't really know how scary it was.

So yesterday, I decide that instead of riding my trainer inside, I was going to go for a nice leisurely hour ride out in the sun to enjoy the beautiful day. Nowhere in my mind was the fact that wikipedia had mentioned that bicyclists were particularly at risk from attacking birds (something about the constant movement forward makes them crazy). At least it wasn't until about a mile from home when I heard a 'SWOOSH' behind me and saw the shadow of a crazy bird following me and diving. It scared me so bad. I was yelling and spinning fast and waving my arms trying to get it to stop following me. And it wouldn't. I finally cycled out of its territory.

Only to be attacked by another bird. After the first I figured that I could keep going and just make it back home by a different route. But after the second one started swooping at me, I just decided to give up and make my way slowly back home.

This entailed not going back the way that I came, putting my sunglasses on the back of my helmet (to try to trick them) and getting off my bike every single time that I saw a magpie (regardless of how small it was). It was a slow journey with me walking and then riding when I felt somewhat safe.

Unfortunately I got a little too comfortable as I was making my way on the grass next to the main highway that runs into Dalby (the Warrego Highway) and the next thing I knew I had been bumped in the back of my helmet by yet another bird. You can not believe how scary it is to have a bird get that close to you in an agressive manner. He was by far the worst. I got off my bike and slowly started walking backwards (you know - because they supposedly won't attack if they see eyes). Well, this male had some serious testosterone imbalances because he would come straight at me while I'm staring at him.

So picture this - I'm in my bike clothes and bike shoes on the side of a major highway with cars passing constantly yelling and waving my bike at this bird flying down at me. If only someone had had a video camera on me, I would have become a youtube sensation over night.

It's easy to see the hilarity in it now. Josh pretty much laughed as soon as he heard the story (though he was happy that I was okay). I am actually still a little spooked by it and probably won't be doing much exercising outside until after I'm 100% sure that all the bird craziness has gone away.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Weather Phenomenon

Last week while Atlanta was having its own weather problems, we were going through something a little strange in Australia. Wednesday morning I drove Josh into work and it was a really pretty blue sky at 6 am, but the radio hosts kept warning that a dust haze was going to make its way into the area. Neither Josh nor I knew what a dust haze was, but Josh said 'I bet that we don't even notice it.'

Fast forward 3 hours and this was the scene out the patio door.

It was very War of the Worlds. You could go outside and come in with dirt all in your nostrils and all over your skin.

Josh sent me a few pictures that they took out at the power station. He apparently had to spend a few hours out in this that morning (I stayed inside and worked).

We were under the impression that this was a normal thing to happen, but one of the guys that Josh works with says that he hasn't seen one this bad in over 20 years! I guess that we just got lucky.

It cleared out within the day and we had bright sunny skies again on Thursday and Friday. And then on Saturday, it rolled back in again (though not as bad). Josh climbed to near the top of the power station to watch this one come in. He said that it looked us like a thunderstorm except it was all dust.
Against our better judgment, we went out and played golf Saturday afternoon. You can look directly at the sun without hurting your eyes.

That's me playing golf in the dust. The white shorts. Not such a good plan.

And here's Josh cleaning up after we finished playing 9 holes. We didn't really realize how dirty it was Saturday until we went back out on Sunday (which was clear) and all of our stuff was covered in dust.

Josh also found some pretty cool satellite images of the dust haze that shows how big it really was. This thing stretched from Sydney to Brisbane which is like Atlanta to Michigan.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

What we've been up to...

Wow, I've been negligent with the blog. We haven't been anywhere too exciting in the last few weeks. Just day-to-day Dalby.

Last weekend, I did participate in Relay for Life. It was a wonderful experience and I was happy to help raise money to fight cancer here and abroad.

The first picture is of Jonathan. He's one of Josh's best work buddies out at the plant. They cut up way too much and have started putting tire marks all over Jonathan's front yard from their e-brake antics.

Anyway, I just wanted to post his picture to show that it's all guys out at the plant that are as scruffy as Josh. It's not just him.

Also, it was not THAT cold outside. It was probably only in the 50's.

So, since we had a small relay team (8 people) and there was a total of 18 hours of walking, we had to each take pretty big chunks of time. My first portion was from 8 to 10 pm on Saturday. I ended up continuously walking about 2 hours and 5 minutes that night.

Josh's 2 hour period was a little more exciting. He walked the first 10 minutes or so with me until he decided that it was time to go off and find Jonathan. Then Jonathan and he decided to spend 40 minutes talking to the doughnut guy (the local man that fries up fresh doughnuts every other Sunday morning in town and for special events). They were only 50 cents per doughnut, but I think that Josh kept it to only 2 that night. Then they decided to walk with me for another 10 minutes. Then they played death frisbee for 20 minutes, chess for 35 minutes and finally finished up walking the last 5 minutes with me.

I was happy to have him there though.

I ended up also walking on Sunday morning from 6:30 to about 9:00 (with a short 20 minute break to buy some yummy coffee).

It was a wonderful experience and gets 2 thumbs up from me.

Not real sure why I'm looking jaundiced in that picture. I'm hoping that it's the lighting.

The day prior to Relay for Life, we had gone shopping in town. This usually takes up a good portion of the day since Josh never gets to go shopping and did I mention that the Big W has 3 aisles of candy?

However, that day we found a gem in the men's clothing section. Over here, all of the guys that work on the road or lawn care or even sometimes in construction wear the same bright yellow shirts that Josh wear, but they pair it with shorts. Short shorts.

And the men over here are big, burly guys with big thick tree-trunk legs stuck into itty-bitty 80's shorts. It's amusing.

Josh decided he needed a pair of them.

I'm not exactly sure where he plans on wearing them. He calls them his relaxing shorts.

Those are his normal shorts next to his new, blue Aussie shorts.

They are scandously short. I'm hoping to talk him into wearing them out in public.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Interruption in regular posting.

So I know that I said that I'd post the rest of the Fraser Island pictures AND the V8 Supercar race weekend pictures and I promise that it will get done. Eventually.

But this week we had a visitor and so my blogging kind of stopped.

Ashley graduated high school with Josh and me and I don't think that either one of us had seen her since graduation (or the summer after), but we had gotten back in touch through Facebook (the wonders of modern communication). She decided a few months ago that while traveling the world, her first stop was going to be Australia. Now she's going to get to do some pretty cool and fun stuff over the 3 months that she's here (she's been here 3 weeks, 9 weeks to go), but she made the time to visit us in Dalby.

I picked her up in Brisbane on Wednesday and she spent Wednesday and Thursday with us. She was going to stay one extra day, but yesterday she sat down and figured out how she wanted to book out her tours and where she needed to be on what dates and we realized that she had to be up at Noosa Heads on Friday. So she left today.

Here she is at our kitchen table planning all her stuff.

I think that she enjoyed the fast internet that we have. And it was nice to laugh and hang out with someone that kind of knows your background and doesn't ask you how big Georgia or Atlanta is.

It also made us realize that we LOVE having visitors (she's our first one) so anyone that wants to come, we have more than enough room!

I did manage to get her out to Lake Broadwater yesterday to see some wild kangaroos. She had been to the Australia Zoo and petted/fed some tame ones like us, but it's completely different seeing them out in the wild.

The one below had a joey that crawled in backwards in the pouch. The roos were behaving really well. We probably saw between 50 and 75 while we were out there. Ashley was very excited.

I should probably retract my earlier statement that anyone is allowed to come out and visit us. My cousins on my dad's side probably aren't allowed - there is no roo shooting. And I wouldn't want them to go to gaol.

Also I ran over and killed this snake. I feel kind of bad about it because I think that it was just a harmless green tree snake and also because of how gruesomely it died. I was just driving down the road was we were leaving Lake Broadwater and heard some snap up against the car. Ashley said 'You know that was a snake, right?' So we drove around to look at it.

Whatever - I think that snakes that live in trees are probably just as bad as snakes that can fly so I'm probably did the mates around there a favor.

I drove Ashley over to Toowoomba this morning (she was greyhounding it to Brisbane and then up to Noosa Heads). On the way back home, I was pulled over as part of a random police stop (a policeman in the middle of the road waving 4 cars to pull over) and I had to take my first breathalyzer. AT 9:30 IN THE MORNING!!! I wanted to ask the guy how many people he's caught over the limit when they do these tests in the morning, but he was too busy reprimending me about getting a Queensland license that I decided not to trouble him too much.

And I passed in case there was any question.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Fraser Island - Post 4

So on that Friday on Fraser Island (which I know was over 2 weeks ago), after Eli Creek, we drove up the beach just a little bit more to see the Maheno Shipwreck.

The Maheno was a luxury liner until it was beached on Fraser Island from a cyclone in 1935. A friend of mine (Australian) said that she'd been to see it about 20 years ago and the ship was intact. Now the side to the sea is all rusted away and caved in.

Most of this end is covered by sand, but you can kind of get an idea of how big it was. Josh is standing out where the stern (? bow?) was poking out.

After Maheno, I decided to take over the driving for the first time. I didn't quite realize how big the car really was.

After I drove down the hard beach for a little while, Josh told me to go ahead and give it a try to get up on the inner trails. The problem was that I chose this spot.

And promptly got stuck.

Josh hopped out and started pushing while I went in reverse. It took him about 4 tries before we got unstuck and a little embarrassment from the tour bus that went by and up the trail over an entrance over to the left of this picture.

Josh joked that the tour guy was saying 'And that, mates, is why you want to go on a guided tour and not rent your own 4WD'.

Here was all the sand on our wheel after we got unstuck.

And here's the tire flap from where it was covered. I'm really impressed that we were able to get it out.

After that, I lost my desire to drive and made Josh take over. On the way back, we were going through this forest of HUGE trees. I made Josh pull over and take my picture of me hugging it.

215 centimeters (7.5 feet) is the diameter of the tree right above where my head is (or maybe a little higher). And remember, this is an all sand island. I'm not really sure how the trees can take root so well. It's really amazing.