Sunday, December 30, 2012

Trip to New York!

Ben and I took a trip to New York to see these two darling children.
They have a new sister -- meet Adele Rose.
Steve has a lot more to juggle now, of course...
But Janet is as calm as they come.
It snowed a lot -- Kyle is a great worker!
Camille is good help, too.
But snow means sledding -- so much fun!
There were many other activities, too, such as meeting movie stars!
We played a game which was fun for everyone!
 Adele was a lot of fun, too.
By the time we left, Steve had everything under control...

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Surprise Visit from a Little Boo!

Boo came to visit for a few days.
He loved my Advent calendar, and I told him he could rearrange the days if he wanted to.
He wanted to.
Fortunately, we had everything we needed for sledding, including snow!
Boo and his daddy had fun sledding.  Phoebe wasn't sure about this at all.
Boo has no fear, and soon was sledding by himself, of course with Phoebe trying to stop the sled.
This is Boo's smiling face.  He had a great time!
Cousin Chris brought Max over to meet the family.  Phoebe was quite interested.
Boo and Max soon were good friends.
Boo loves dogs, and again -- no fear!
Boo came with me to visit the old tabernacle.  He loved all the trucks.
Sometimes, though, it was nice just to lean back and chill.
Phoebe definitely agrees!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Merry Christmas!

A little snow always helps with the Christmas spirit!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Here Comes The Sun

We left Cairns this morning at 1 to take a catamaran to Green Island, an hour away.  There we set up on a dark beach to watch the solar eclipse, the purpose of the trip.  It's rained for the last three days, and there were clouds, so we were worried.  But we could also see stars, which was very encouraging.
This was my first total eclipse.  Others told me that seeing a partial eclipse was like almost winning the lottery.  Ben took the photos today.  Most are with his solar lens.  
It took the moon an hour to cover the sun.  I will confess that it was spectacular.  Clouds?  No worries.
I've heard descriptions of the diamond ring before.  I've seen pictures, but nothing compares!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Or Would You Rather Be A Fish?

Meet Barry.  He's a barracuda.
He swims in the waters of Australia's Great Barrier Reef.
Meet Julie, the photographer, cause you don't know her.
Heck, I don't know her.
What happened to me today?
My intention was to endure the day since I don't do water well, unless it's dishes or a shower.
Ben bought an underwater camera for the trip.
Why didn't he use it?  Good question.
Many people on the boat today felt a need to chum the fish, Ben included.
Bad day for them, more opportunity for me.  
I spent hours swimming above the coral.
That's right:  hours.
I swam with lots of fishies.
I had a blast.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Give Me That Old Time Religion

Early this morning I felt a need to kneel before the porcelain god, soon to be followed by obeisance to some of the bushes outside the hotel.  I wasn't sure I was going to be able to make our trip to a rain forest with aborigine tour guides.  With a little faith, I decided I could be sick alone in a hotel room, or sick on a bus.  Besides, I didn't want to miss another boat ride, which was going to be part of our day.  But I was honestly so puny that while waiting for our bus, I couldn't stand up and had to sit on my haunches.  Once on the bus, I couldn't lift my head.  I spent the first hour zonked.  Along the way, the driver stopped so we could get out and take a picture of this rainbow, but I handed Ben the camera.  I couldn't move.
We arrived at a compound and the others wandered off to look around.  I had managed to find a place to sit, but my head was in my hands.  At that moment our guide entered the compound.  He looked around and then pointed to me, singling me out to follow him across the road.  Ya, I know.  You would have followed him, too.
He pulled some flowers off a tree, presented me with a bouquet, and then motioned for me to follow him to the ocean.  Within in five steps, I was a new woman!  Last week during our visits to aboriginal sites, there was a lot of talk by the guides about how spiritual the aborigines are.  I will confess that at that time I was a doubter.  Today, however, I was born again.
We had a lot of fun.  Our guide gave everyone spears and taught us how to  kill a coconut.  Ben was the only one who met with success.
Then we walked along the beach, but not in the surf because of the crocodiles who haunt there.  Our guide wanted to take us on a hike through the mangroves, and he assured us the crocs don't like the mangroves.  I was all about trust at that point.
However, at this point I bailed.
This was my path back to our little camp, alone.  It was actually very peaceful, although it was raining, too.  No worries, I kept the camera under my shirt, protected by my bouquet, which I carried for the rest of the day.
The guide's brother had prepared some refreshments.  My first food that day was a muffin, which I kept down.  I also was able to drink some water.  Lovely.
At our next stop, Ben presented me with a digital bouquet.  He's so sweet.
The day brought a lot of thrills.  Our eagle-eyed guide spied this baby crocodile.
But it wasn't hard at all to see his mother.  The guides have named all the crocs.  Meet Betsy.
I love bats.  These were wonderful, if not very noisy.
Ben managed to capture this picture of a king fisher.
I decided to snooze on the bus while the rest of the group walked through the rain forest.
Ben came back to the bus laughing.  The guide was in the lead but screamed when he came upon this poisonous snake, 6 feet long.  Then the guide said, "Everyone with cameras step ahead of me!"

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Uluru Means Way Cool

Ben and I have spent this past week in Australia.
In no time at all we were seeing what tourists see when they go into the outback.
And in no time at all I was having a great time!
I assure you, no telephoto lens was used in this picture.
Did you know the dingo is a real animal?
We were told we could pet him, but not feed him, as often he does not stop  where the food ends.
I was happy with just looking.
The outback has a lot of indigenous rock art.
Much of it was re-painted for tourists in 1962, but still, it was fun to see.
I was looking forward to traveling overnight on The Ghan.
We took the train from Darwin, in the north, to Alice Springs, in the center of the continent.
I got the top bunk.
The bathroom was extremely efficient.  The sink and toilet pulled out of the metal cabinet.
Ben's father was a missionary in Australia in the 1930s.
He said Alice Springs was at the end of the earth, and he wasn't kidding.
The train is called the Ghan after the Muslims who brought camels to Australia to move trade.
This was a great trip.
The train stopped along the way at Katherine, where we took a bus ride to some gorges.
Normally the water is high enough that tourists don't have to walk part of the way.
Nonetheless, the scenery was beautiful.
It was not hard to take a few good pictures.
While looking at the rock walls, I was reminded of traveling through the Three Gorges on the Yangtze River in 1999.  As I thought that, the woman in front of me said it out loud, as did the woman behind me.
We live on a beautiful planet.
And sometimes it's weird, too.
On the way back from the gorges, our bus passed by a cell tower. Ben had arranged to use his cell phone in Australia, so he began getting updates about the election.  This was how we learned the results.  Everyone in the back of the bus was asking Ben to see how their favorite candidates had fared, and many stood over him looking at the red and blue states.  It was an intense few moments until the bus drove out of range of the cell tower.  Not everyone had voted the way we did, but all were polite.
We spent almost an entire day on a bus to get to some mountains made completely of rock.
This is Kata tjuta.
This is Uluru at sunset. No filter was used in this picture.
I hope this picture is worth 1000 words.
To give you an idea of how magnificent this was, the focal point of our trip is a solar eclipse next week, but I can't imagine it comparing with Uluru.
I am doing my best to take some artsy pictures. 
These trees are at the base of Uluru.
Sunset with my back to Uluru.  Again, no filter on my camera.
No worries!