Thursday, July 31, 2008

David and the Red Centre trip! part 4

The next day we got up early again (5:15) and had brekkie and drove to King's Canyon, we got there about at sunrise. The first part of the hike is nick-named "heart-attack hill" because it's the hardest bit, but it felt good. King's Canyon was gorgeous too! Every now and then Sheldon would stop and wait for people to catch up then do a little talk on something (plant...). Inside King's Canyon is a place called "the Garden of Eden" because it's this beautiful remnant of the area back when it used to be a fertile verdant land. There are pools of water that you are allowed to swim in (no one was, in the shade it was a bit chilly), and trees, birds, frogs... It was amazing! It was named by an explorer who by the time he got to King's Canyon was almost completely dehydrated, and if he didn't find water soon he would have died. He happened upon the Garden of Eden, and you tell me what else you would call it?! ;P On more of the walk we saw beautiful rounded rocks, which you will see a pic of below. After King's Canyon we ate lunch (tuna fish sandwiches) at a tourist stop (pretty much any stop out there is a tourist stop cause that's really the only people that go out there! ;P). It's really expensive to buy things out there cause for one, there's nothing else around so they can up the prices, but mainly it's because freight costs more to get it out there. Needless to say we didn't buy anything. We drove a lot more that day, stopped and got some pics of the (dried up) salt lake and the giant toothbrush. We got back to Alice Springs in time to see the sunset. :) Sheldon booked two tables for us at a pub/restaurant called Bogangles for those who wanted to go that night. Only 7 of us showed up (out of 18, David and I included) but it was fun. We got to choose from the group special dinners, David and I had the kangaroo, and one of the Dutch guys had a camel pie. It was really yummy, the kangaroo was served in a native plum sauce, very yummy, actually tasted a lot like BBQ sauce. Oh, also, that night right before dinner, a aboriginal woman came up to David and I and motioned for us to follow her. There were two other aboriginal women and an older white guy sitting on a bench, he told us they were all sisters, and they one we followed was "deaf and dumb". She was showing us a painting and on the back it had the explanation (about dreamtime), I had to ask what she was trying to tell us, her sister said "$40." I felt bad, I said it was beautiful (it really was, better than some I had seen in shops) but I couldn't. The lady showing us it seemed really sad, but the other three seemed ok with that. They were all very nice people though, it was just a very interesting experience. If I wasn't a poor Uni student I might have bought it cause it was very pretty. David and I went back to the hostel after dinner, where we found we were sharing out room with some Germans. I mentioned that I spoke some German and they held a little mini conversation with me in German and I understood everything!! I was so excited! Anyway, here's some pics again. :) P.S. Daytime was really quite warm, especially the last day. Usually between 60-60˚F (16-20˚C).

David and the Red Centre trip! part 3

On the second day of the tour we woke up, ate breakfast, then got on the road again, we went to Uluru this time. We had three choices, we could do the full walk around Uluru, we could do a sunrise viewing and do a half walk, or we could climb it (the aboriginals ask that you not climb the rock as it is sacred, so for that reason among others David and I didn't climb it). We did the full walk, which we also had a great few when the sun was rising. It really is amazing all of the different "faces" the rock has, you wouldn't think it to look at the pictures of it from a distance! There were some areas where you were not allowed to take pictures because of aboriginal sacred sites... it was a $5,000 fine if you did. It truly was amazing, we were rushed a bit near the end cause we had to make it back to the parking lot by 9:00 to do the Mala walk, where Sheldon would give us a guided tour of it (telling us the uses of different areas around the rock). In one of the caves we saw a dead bat hanging from the ceiling, we only know it was dead because it'd been there for at least 3 days (according to Sheldon) and it didn't move when you did anything. By the way, Sheldon is the one in the hat in the pictures. :) After that we went to the cultural centre near Uluru and had a bit of a look. We then went back to camp to have a quick lunch then pack up (we were a bit late and the next group coming had to wait a bit, but we had to do the same when we got there ;P). We then headed out to do more driving so we could get to King's Canyon a few hours away. That night we stayed at a camp that was about the same as the previous one, but we had a bit of off roading to do to get to it. ;P When we got there, there was a dingo sitting on the road scratching itself, Sheldon yelled at it to get out of the road. They frequent that area cause people feed them, which is bad cause then they are more daring and get closer (one must remember they're still wild). We saw one in the camp later that night too, it was just a few feet away from me, and it was sneaking around, it tried to get into one of the tents but I stood up and scared it away. They are cute though, I must admit. :) We had a very large, extravagant feast that night, there were two different types of chicken, veggies, David and I made bread, and there were mashed potatoes. It was a miracle the Italians liked it (one of them was trained as a chef and kept saying NO NO NO every time Sheldon wanted to put something strange in something... even though it turned out yummy, they didn't like it). ;P They were funny. David and I slept in a swag that night, it was really warm and comfy, but it also helped that King's Canyon is usually a few degrees warmer than Uluru, and it was actually a pleasant night. I had a shower that night too, it was nice!

David and the Red Centre trip! part 2

The next day we got up at 4:00 AM cause Adventure Tours Australia was going to pick us up from Annie's Place (our hostel) at 5:50 AM. They had bread out for toast, then we were picked up. Sheldon was the name of our tour guide, very neat guy (in his 20's, probably not much older than us really). We went around Alice picking up the rest of the group then we headed out towards Uluru. We made a few pit stops, the first one being this place where you could ride camels for $5 each. David and I decided to do it, it was just a walk up the paddock and a run back, but I think it was worth $5, I can now say I have ridden a camel, and it was fun! They had other animals penned up, they had a dingo on a chain, some birds, emus, and kangaroos. There's really not much to say about the rides, Uluru is about a 5 hour drive from Alice. We did see another rock form, which is often called "Fooluru" because from a distance many people (tourists) think it's Uluru, but it's not. It's also called the giant toothbrush, cause the big part looks like the bristles and then it slopes down and there is a bit of a handle. We got a picture of this on our way back to Alice a few days later.

We then went to Kata Tjuta (another big rock structure in the same National Park as Uluru, just a little bit away; the name means "many heads"). We walked a trail there, then went to the Sunset viewing area where we watched the sun set on Uluru (we also had Champaign and crackers). It was gorgeous, you could see Kata Tjuta in the distance behind you. Oh, and just for the record, Uluru doesn't mean anything, it's just the name of the rock, and the name Ayer's rock is after the governor or South Australia back in the day (SA used to go all the way up Australia just because no one had ever been North of there). It's funny though cause apparently it was named a few days before a new governor was elected, so a few more days and Uluru would have had a different English name. ;P Oh, I forgot to mention that on our way to Kata Tjuta we stopped on the side of the road and picked up some firewood. We went to our camp after sunset and cooked dinner. The camps were permanent camps, with tents and a kitchen area as well as grill and fire pit. That night was FREEZING as well, literally, it was 0˚C! That was not fun. Some people chose to sleep in swags (they are like a big sleeping bag that you put your sleeping bag in... essentially a small "tent" for your bag, minimizing the air around the bag making it warmer).

David and the Red Centre trip! part 1

So, I went to pick David up on the 18th, got a ride to the train station early in the morning from a house mate, took the shuttle to the airport and got there at 8:20 AM. David's flight was supposed to get in at 7:55 AM. His flight had left late from LA, and to make up for lost time went fast on the way to Aussie, again a strong head wind, so had to stop in Sydney for fuel. Anyway, in other words his flight was 3 and a half hours late! This wasn't so fun for me, waiting at the airport with nothing to do. I got through it in the end. ;P It was awesome and yet strange to see David again. It didn't help that his goatee was bushier than I had ever seen it. ;P It took a few minutes to get used to him again, but it was great! Anyway, we took the shuttle back to Geelong and chilled for the day. That weekend we went up to Ballarat to visit Christine and Ash; we went to the Ballarat Wildlife Park, went out to eat, rented "Run Fatboy Run" and on Sunday went mini golfing before David and I took the bus back to Geelong. It was good fun, and really great to see Christine again. :) The only bad thing was that Ballarat is known for being one of the coldest parts of Victoria, and I am willing to say that's true. I don't think I was really warm that whole weekend. It doesn't help that their house is one of those with one heater in the living room/kitchen area... thus bedrooms don't get warm. Houses in Australia have very poor insulation. Anyway, it was a good weekend. On Wednesday the 23rd we had my roommate drop us off at the train station again in order to take an early shuttle to the Melbourne airport to catch our flight to Alice Springs (we needed to get rides because we needed to catch a shuttle that was earlier than the buses into the city start). The flight was just long enough to show one movie, and they served us lunch (just a sandwich and drink, they were good!). The Alice Springs airport is really neat, you walk out of the plane outside and there is this luscious garden area you walk through to get to the airport. Then when you get inside the airport the carpet is in aboriginal art designs and stuff, it's cool; the most different airport I've ever seen, that's for sure.

Our hostel met us there, when we got back to the hostel we checked in then walked around Alice Springs. We went to the botanical gardens first (it was also the most different botanical gardens we had ever seen, very arid-zoney. ;P) Then we went to see about going to the reptile house, but decided not to to save money. We went up onto ANZAC hill, where we watched the sun set.

It was FREEZING that night, we went down the hill and went to a place called Todd's for dinner, it was good. We were in a room with a bunch of French girls/guys, they seemed nice. :) Alice Springs has some nice points, but overall is has kind of a run down feel; I think a lot of that has to do with the aboriginals (only because they are usually the poor/ troubled part of the population), there were a lot of them. It was neat to see them cause I'd only seen a few since I've been here, but I tried not to stare for obvious reasons, but it really made me feel like I was in "Australia" you know.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Almost there....

David gets on his plane in LA in less than 5 hours!!! I am so excited, it's incredible to believe that I am going to be picking him up tomorrow morning!!! I am sooo excited!!!! On other news, last night, after work, I met up with Ane (from Norway) again and I treated her to sushi this time. ;P We then decided that we would see a movie and I would stay at her place for the night (the last bus on Wednesdays is 8:42 PM), so we went to the theater and found out it was the opening of The Dark Knight (new Batman movie, Heath Ledger's last movie). It started at 8:30, so until then we went to Baskin Robbins and got some ice cream, wow, that was amazing, I want more! ;P I don't get ice cream very often here. :) The movie was really good, and I thought Ledger's performance lived up to the praise it had been receiving. This morning Ane had to be somewhere at 9, so we woke up and she rode her bike to where she needed to go and I walked to the bus station. :) Oh, I forgot to mention that that day at work they had made a batch of blackberry bran muffins that couldn't be sold cause they were too crumbly, so I took the lot (the are AMAZINGLY DELICIOUS!!) We munched a bit on those last night, and I munched a little this morning. :) Today I work from 4-8:30 (was scheduled for 9:30, but again, last bus leaves at 8:42 :( ) and then it's bed then David!!!! YAY, YAY, YAY!! I'll try and keep you updated with everything happening, in the next few weeks, but it might be hard cause with David here I'm not going to want to spend my time on the computer writing, but I'll see what I can do. :)

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

pics round campus

work drama

On Monday, after work, we had an emergency staff meeting, no one knew what it was going to be about (aside from the new computer system details). So, we all sat down on the seats in the mall against a wall and Sue and Allie stood looking at all of us and told us that in the past week someone had stolen over $1,000 from the store. Needless to say we were all shocked! (except, most likely, the person who did it ;P) Allie talked about how they had gone to the police to get tips of what to do, anyway, they said that if the person came forward and confessed the charges wouldn't be so harsh, but that they were setting up cameras looking at the register. The saddest part was that Allie and Sue are so cool, they have had really lax rules and have been very trusting and awesome bosses, which they should have been able to do, and then someone walks all over that. Sue even started crying at the meeting. They said that if the person didn't come forward that any money gone missing would be taken equally out of everyone's pay, which even though unfair, would mean that who ever was doing it would only be hurting themselves. We wouldn't be able to have free drinks, staff discount would not be on anymore, and we wouldn't be able to take food home at the end of the day anymore. We would also have to start keeping our bags in the store room instead of in the store. Anyway, to make a long story short, later that night I received a message on my phone saying that they had a confession and that person had been terminated. So, we still get staff discounts, and still get to take food home, and every thing's back to normal, but we still have to put our bags in the store room, and a key is no longer readily available to the register. I was trying to think of who might even be capable to doing it that night, and could only think of one person, and even then I was doubtful. In short, it was Amy, who was like the third manager in a way. She was the person in charge when Sue and Allie weren't around, and she was very good at it. She had been working at the Corio Muffin Break prior to Geelong, so she was like the top dog as far as workers, cause we were all new, just starting at the Geelong store. The reason she popped into my head as the only even remotely likely candidate was that even though she was a really nice person, and fun at times, she also had this side of her that cut corners, and was a bit snobby. It was like she had two personalities, sometimes I really liked her, and other times she would really get on my nerves. Honestly, I didn't think her capable of something that low, but I guess I was wrong. I am very glad that she confessed though, it was for the best all around.

On a different note, I worked later than I was supposed to again today, then I stayed in Geelong and met up with Ane (an international student from Stavanger, Norway). We went and got her a bike lock (hers fell off), then we went and got sushi, then coffee (more specifically chai lattes :)). She paid for me cause I only had enough to catch the next bus, under the understanding that I would take her out to sushi sometime. :) We share a love for sushi! Anyway, we talked about all sorts of things, we both agreed that it's hard to socialize with people here. We both think a lot of it has to do with the fact that whereas in Norway and the US, Uni is like your life, here it's more like just another thing you do during the day. People will be at school for their class then go home, they don't stick around cause there's really nothing to stick around for. It makes it a lot harder to socialize that way. Also, unlike in Norway and the US, Australians tend not to have pre or post parties, they just go to a bar and buy drinks right away... much too expensive for us! Then they go home. Needless to say, I've only gone out once, I just can't justify spending my hard earned money on drinks. Anyway, we were both really glad to have someone to converse with. :) Well, I think I'll wrap it up for tonight.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Working up until David

I have been working a lot the past few weeks, which is great! I want to earn as much money as possible so I can do all the fun things that I want to do with David, plus I still need to pay him back the rest of what I owe him. ;P It looks like I will be able to do all of that as well as pay rent and then some, so that's really good! David comes in 11 days!!!! I am soooo excited!!! This is probably the hardest part, his coming being so close, but yet so far away. I keep thinking about it everyday, which I need to try not to do cause it makes it harder that he's not here yet. :) I have been keeping busy finishing up The Brothers Karamazov, which is due back tomorrow. If I put my eyes to it (tee-hee) I think I can pull that off by tomorrow. :) I only have Wednesday off this week, I work every day other than that. Today after work we are having an emergency meeting, don't know what it's going to be about; we are all assured that no one's getting fired though. ;P The weather has been beautiful lately, today (and it looks like the rest of the week) looks dark and rainy though. I just hope that we get beautiful weather again for at least a little bit while David's here. I want to spend a day walking around Geelong, which is really nice on a nice day, so hopefully we get that. :) I was in the information center (with the carousel) on the beach a few days ago cause my bus got into town early, I saw a brochure there that sort of advertising that they do weddings there. The lady posing as the bride is my boss!! I wasn't sure it was her cause it wasn't her husband that was with her, but I thought it could just be a pose. Anyway, I mentioned it to Sue (my boss), that there was a lady that looked JUST LIKE HER, and she laughed and said it was her. She had done that shoot just before her and Allie got married (she joked that Allie wasn't good looking enough ;P). It was in her real wedding dress though, and her and Allie really did get married around the carousel, I thought that was really neat. :) Well, I have to go to work soon. TTFN

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

House mates

Here are some pictures of my house mates. The guy with the mop is Siddhant, he's the one that collects the rent to give to the landlord. In the group picture of the boys, the one furthest on the right is Apu (that's for short, I forget his real name), it was his birthday this night (he has chocolate cake on his forehead). The girl with the camera, also taking a picture is Amandeep, the girl who's room I moved into. Sid moved into a bigger room, she moved into his and I into hers. This is taken from my room looking into the living room/kitchen area (which is most of the house ;P The rest are bedrooms and bathrooms). I'll get more pics up of the house later. Oh, Loretta came over today and dropped off her bed sheets for me, so now I have bed sheets!! It was kind of sad seeing her go, I will really miss her. I told her I'll definitely come visit her in Switzerland, I just don't know when. :)