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!

Is Your Sister's Name Still Mud?

Last night Ben and I had dinner in a restaurant in Sydney.  We have spent quite a bit of time this week with another couple on this tour, the Smith’s.   Last night at dinner David Smith mentioned he grew up in Idaho Falls.  This is how the conversation went:

Julie: I went to elementary school until the third grade in Idaho Falls.
Dave:  Really?  Which school?
Julie:  I don't remember.  It was too long ago.  But, (trying to be helpful,) our family lived on Clair View Lane.

Both Dave and his wife jumped.  Everyone at our table noticed and all began listening.

Dave: My father built our home on Clair View Lane in 1956.  What was your maiden name?
Julie: Cannon.
Dave: (shocked), You were our neighbors!

I had to think past 5 decades.  My neighbors?  Who were my neighbors?  We moved away in 1961.  Then I remembered.  Our neighbors were the Smith’s!

Julie: You have a sister named Barbara!
Dave: Is your sister’s name still Mud?

Poor Mary.  She was always the last one to come when Mom called.


Update:  David's mother just emailed me this photo:  
Julie Cannon, David Smith, Mary Cannon and Cynthia Smith, having fun with vines 1958.
Another Update:  Turns out I know and have had dinner several times with Cynthia.  We just never had the "Clair View Lane" conversation.