Olympic in Two Days: €*^%@£ Hippies!

We headed back towards 101 on Lauridsen Blvd, at the South edge of Port Angeles. It being late mid-mid day we were hungry, but we also wanted to integrate our refuelling with our tight schedule. On the north side of the road was a tiny deli/grocer of an obviously flower-child variety. We popped in and quickly ordered up a couple of sandwiches grabbed a few new age drinks, and a bag of snacks, before hitting the road to the Elwha River Valley where we planned to picnic and take a few short trails. Continue reading

Litchfield Termites & Cool Water

A day trip to Litchfield National Park in the Top End is a must do, especially in the hot season. But in hindsight there is very little added to this on tour, as everything you can do there is open to public and well marked, with detailed information and maps.

The park is a smallish portion of escarpment to the south of Darwin and is home to the famed Magnetic Termite Mounds as well as countless waterfalls and relatively crocodile free plunge pools beneath said falls.

The termite mounds are interesting, gigantic, plentiful, and not really magnetic at all. They got the name because they appear to align on a north to south axis. Actually the termites align their mounds on an east west facing in order to best capture the solar energy of both the rising and setting sun. It is more or less given that there is no planning on this, just a bit of rapid evolution. The mounds that fail to align in this way are too cold at night and so those colonies fail long before the mounds are big enough to be easily noticed.

The plunge pools and waterfalls are a beautiful and refreshing way to while the hot day. Moving from one to the next in a succession of scenery and cool water. I was lucky enough to be swimming in a small lower pool when a large-ish water monitor lizard came down to the pool for a drink.

Lunch was nice; the tour lunches around Darwin seem to consist of salad and cold meats, which is very fine by me. Also the little bush café we dined at was selling homemade apple slices…I am a fan of fruit in pastry, no matter what you call it. This was delicious.

At an afternoon pool I was able to enjoy a very isolated hike by myself. From the pool we were at there was the short return or a 2-kilometer bush track. No one but me chose the bush track, and I was rewarded with the peaceful sounds of the tropical north. Though I admit it was a hot walk, being 39 Centigrade and 75% Humidity.

Rainy Day

It is the third day in and already a major change in my set-up: No more dorm rooms after tonight. I have either slept alone or with Henry for the past 20 years and I guess I am not ready to change that system. Actually in hindsight, I should have guessed this would be a trial, since the last two times I slept in dorms were: in the Navy (I hated the experience and was booted out) and more recently (1990) in jail. So the whole dorm culture plays a lot with bad memory, enhancing the unease.

I’m fine with the Hostels in Australia, they are clean and I enjoy the common room and big kitchens, but I need a bed and bath to myself. I’m not sure how this will effect my budget in future, but I’ll burn that bridge when I get to it.

Sydney day two was chilly and rainy, but still I ignored my rail pass and walked mostly. Speaking of that: First if a city has a tourist transportation pass, that covers ferry, bus and trains, it ought to also cover trams and monorails. So far I have barely used my rail pass but I have paid for 1 tram and two monorails.

I had planned Bondi Beach today, but due to the rain I covered markets and some museums instead. Speaking of museums, I wonder why, wherever you go, there are war museums, and memorials galore, but the only peace museum or monument I know of is in Hiroshima. Says something about our race.

Sydney has a lot of nice museums, galleries and similar haunts. I was surprised to find an USA gallery in the Maritime Museum, and also a Wisdom installation at the Central Library. The Wisdom thing is pretty interesting, a collage composition featuring the words and photos of many of the worlds more prominent seniors.

I also found a Nurses Walk, which I took, because my sister Cheryl is a Nurse. On the walk I found all sorts of interesting signs about the role of nurses in Sydney. Including the fact that they were criminals – figures.

Lunch today was done in one of my favorite ways when traveling. I market grazed. Where ever I go I am constantly on the look out for artisan food stalls and markets. Eating while meandering such places can take hours and is the best buffet going. I usually buy the things I eat, but you could get away on samples alone. Sydney has a very nice market sprinkled with food stalls at The Rocks, as well as a big one in Haymarket.

After lunch I walked barefoot on the lush lawns of the Botanical gardens. I walked that way for hours. Sydney’s Botanical gardens are massive and feature huge lawns, rolling hillocks, rocky outcrops, beautiful flora of every kind, and a full compliment of woodland fauna as well (mostly large and friendly birds). Odd though that the airport is in Botany Bay, but the Botanical Gardens are off Sidney Harbour

I rounded out my day with a long walk across to the Sydney Observatory, thinking that was a great thing to do at dusk. But they close at Five PM sharp, a few hours before the stars actually can be seen.  So I had Fish-N-Chips at Nick’s in Darling Harbour instead. They were quite good, and so was the salad I had as starter, but the portions were obscenely large. This with another starter would have been a feast for two.

Starting to get some bearings, but still quite uncomfortable. More soon. Chris