Monthly Archives: December 2012

Hawaii

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Hawaii

We are Aruba, on the way home (finally). This second cruise that we took isn’t half or even a quarter as much fun as the Grand Voyage! I can’t wait to get home (wherever that might be!)

Once we get back (in a couple of days) I hope to post a couple of posts on this part of the cruise (Panama Canal cruise) but won’t do it till we are home.. Hope that’s OK with everyone!

The ship is decorated for Christmas already and Eddy and his wife (never did get her name) has outdone themselves as you will see later.

Be well and Happy Holidays to all!!!

Here’s Hawaii!

I am dumping all the islands we visited in Hawaii together since there isn’t that much to say.

We visited:

Ohau/Honolulu

Maui/Lahaina

Hilo/the big island

We were basically done by then and all I wanted to do was chill and relax so we only toured Maui with Ken and Ellen, more about that later.

OHAU – Honolulu

View of Honolulu from the ship at daybreak.

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Honolulu was our first stop and since we had been to Honolulu a number of times. Actually, one of the best excursions I have ever taken had been to Pearl Harbour, the sunken USS Arizona Memorial, the battleship USS Missouri AKA ”Mighty Mo” and the Punchbowl Memorial Military Cemetery.  Pearl Harbour is definitely a sacred site and standing above the USS Arizona is one of the most humbling moments of my life, knowing how many lives were taken that day and that so many were still trapped within the ship was very sobering. When and if you ever get the chance to go to the island it should be your first stop!!!  And of course it is the place of Waikiki Beach.. One of the most famous of all beaches.. Not to worry, if you haven’t been but have been to Miami and South Beach it’s pretty similar.. miles of white sandy beaches with waves for all the surfer dudes and dudets  We didn’t go… wanted wi-fi..

One side:

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The other side:

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But since we hadn’t been on the net for so long we decided to spend the day online at “Hilo Hatties” a huge Hawaiian souvenir shop that had free wi-fi and great Kona coffee.. but first we had to get to Costco to exchange something and get some macadamia nuts. It was like Nirvana.. seeing the red strip around the building.. felt like home!!!! Now we knew we were back in the States!!!

 

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I believe we were finally done with touring and quite exhausted  and after wi-fi we just got back on the ship which was having a Hawaiian Luau around the pool.

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Eli, one of the great crew members dressed for the luau.

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As night descended I  went back off the ship to check out the Aloha Towers shopping center which was right by the pier where we were docked.

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The Mall at Aloha Tower has a couple of sculptures, one doing a Hawaiian Dance, I am assuming.

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Anyone know what type of bird this is??? It was just on the side of the road.. never saw one like it before.. any bird lovers out there???

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Maui:

The next day, September 28th, our shipped dropped anchor in Lahaina Bay on the island of Maui, where we were tendered in to the Lahaina docks. (If I didn’t say so already, “tendering in” means that the port is too shallow for the ship to pull in alongside the shore, so it drops anchor in the bay, lowers the life boats, and takes passengers aboard from the ship and into the lifeboats, and the lifeboats take the passengers ashore; reboarding the ship is done in the same way, going in the other direction.)

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Lahaina is shaped kind of like a figure-8 laying on its side, with one half of the figure 8 smaller than the other. Lahaina is located on the smaller section of the island. We had arranged to rent a car with Ken and Ellen, and together the four of us began the drive from Lahaina to the summit at the center of the larger half of the island, located in the Haleakala National Park. (Our US National Park Cards came in handy here, as we got in for free.) we had been to Haleakala (pronounced hah-lay-ah-KAH-lah) on our last trip to Maui, but the landscape is so interesting we didn’t mind going again.

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You can see the shape of the island from above ..

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The first part of the drive from Lahaina to the “neck” between the two parts of the island, is right along the coastline. We were very surprised to see so many people (and cars) parked among the low trees along the beaches, who were clearly there to surf. It was a weekday, and one could only wonder whether visitors would rent cars just to go to surfing spots, or whether there was anyone who lived on Maui who was actually working, since there were so many surfers in the water. Through a tunnel and into and through the “neck” of the island and we found ourselves driving along miles of sugar cane, which is still processed here (the large sugar cane processing plant is in or very near to Lahaina. Does anyone remember one of the old commercials from my youth for “C & H Cane Sugar – Pure Cane Sugar from Hawaii”?).

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Turning near the airport in the direction of Haleakala (AKA following the road signs) we passed through more lush sugar cane plantations and gradually began an ascent that would eventually take us over 10,000 feet high to the summit in Haleakala National Park. As we went higher the foliage changed from tropical lush to forests of eucalyptus trees to some pine and finally, above the tree line, to scrub brush and the natural habitat of Hawaii’s state bird, the Ne’ne (pronounced NAY-NAY) or Hawaiian goose, which is supposedly related to the Canadian goose, is a protected species and which lives only on the islands of Maui and Hawaii, as I recall.

Is it this one???

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Or this one????

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Another interesting inhabitant of the scrub brush is a plant called Silver Sword because when light hits the leaves of the plant (which has thick projectile leaves that slant upward, like fingers pointing toward the sky), the leaf color looks not white but actually silver, something I do not recall having ever seen in another plant. These plants are also a protected species because in spite of their name, they are delicate; apparently they have a very shallow root system that is adversely affected by people walking on ground near the plant. They appear to be related to blooming cactuses, although they don’t have thorns, the plants grow a long stem that blooms before the plant “dies”. I don’t recall how long their life cycle is; I do recall seeing some blooming cacti in Arizona and having been told that they live for about 100 years, and the year that they bloom is the year they are going to die. I don’t know if the same thing applies to Silver Swords, but they are remarkably beautiful for plants that have no flowers for most of their lives.

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As we continued our climb to Haleakala, the road became steeper and we saw a few bikers trying to peddle uphill.  Downhill looked easier!

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The distance from the turnoff to Haleakala to its summit is about 28 miles, but this part of the drive takes about an hour because of the steep inclines along the entire route and the many, many switchbacks and hairpin turns along the road.

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There were many beautiful flowers adorning the gardens of private homes all along the way uphill until we arrived at the entrance to the National Park and hit the scrub brush area, which was above the tree line.

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On the final portion of the ascent to the summit was the reason why we had come here: Haleakala sits on an area containing many ancient volcanoes and volcanic runoffs, where the calderas (rims) of the volcanoes had broken off while the volcanoes were still active and where spewing lava had run over the broken rims of the caldera and formed runoff stream beds of molten lava that later cooled and hardened – something of great interest to geologists and volcanologists, but of interest to me only in order to understand the phenomenon of what happened in order to give the area its unique look.

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Because the area had been a source of great volcanic activity, the entire surrounding area that was not part of the crater basin was comprised of a reddish brown lava rock, much of which had been smoothed and worn by the elements over the eons, and looked like a moonscape or a Mars landscape.

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In fact, NASA used this area as part of its work in training astronauts and nearby at the top of an adjacent summit, although closed to the public, are a number of telescopes shared by the US Department of Defense (USDOD), the National Aeronautical and Space Administration (NASA) and the University of Hawaii in projects used to track man-made objects in space (mainly satellites of all kinds from countries all over the world) and for purely astronomy research. We spent nearly an hour at the summit taking photos of the silver swords, the moonscape and the craters to the extent that they were visible (the drive from Lahaina to the summit took just under 2 hours, although it was only perhaps 50-60 miles away).

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It turned out that we were lucky that day – first thing in the morning we went to Haleakala (sunrise at the top would have been beautiful as you could see the Pacific Ocean from the top), which at the summit is well above the clouds, so the views looking down from the summit, for the most part unobstructed by clouds, were just spectacular and very clear (there was what looked like a small smog cloud in the distance). By around noon or shortly thereafter, as the weather warmed the clouds had rolled in from the sea and covered almost all of what just an hour earlier had been a marvelous view. We had expected it would be cold at the top of the summit, and each of us brought some kind of jacket or windbreaker, but it turned out that even at the top the temperature was only 57 degrees Farenheit (the last time I was there it was much cooler – probably in the high 40’s, and windy as I recall – so the nice weather was an added plus), so there was no weather issue at all. When we returned to our car to descend from the summit, we passed right through the ethereal “cloud belt”, which we could barely notice until we got below the “cloud line” and looked up, only then to see that we were now below the clouds.

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Haleakala we descended back to the floor of the island,

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From stopped for a quick bite to eat and proceeded to our next stop, one we had not visited before, the Iao Needle, located in the Iao Valley. (“Iao” is pronounced “ee-AH-oh”.) The Iao Needle rises out of the ground in a lush valley surrounded by high mountains and looks like a giant phallus, and apparently it was considered a symbol of the area’s fertility by the ancient inhabitants of the area.

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The Iao Valley is a lush area on the island where 4 or 5 rivers apparently run and bring mountain waters to the valley, which the ancient natives diverted by means of canals in order to water their field crops. The Iao Valley was important in Hawaiian history because it was here that the Hawaiian warrior Kamehameha defeated the troops of the Maui king in a battle in the late 1700’s, I believe, and after securing an agreement with one of the other islands (Lanai, I believe), became the first Hawaiian king, Kamehameha I, who is seen as the ruler who united the disparate tribes on the islands into one nation, and whose descendants ruled Hawaii until, I believe, close to the end of the 19th century. The Ioa Needle is a Hawaiian State Park and also contains what is called there a rain forest. However, when we looked down on the supposed rain forest area, it looked as if a lot of human hands had been at work “developing” the trails in the area, including benches for sitting next to the stream that flowed through it. Since we have been to untouched and pristine areas of the Amazon rainforest, Hawaii’s “rain forest” held no interest for us and we decided to “pass”.

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After finishing our visit to the Iao Needle we left and headed back to Lahaina via a different route for part of the way, passing through more fields of sugar cane and – UGH – NEW SUBDIVISIONS of homes that looked like California builders had put them up – all constructed of sideboard, all looked alike, all in HOAs, all with next to no space between the houses, nearly zero lot lines and nearly zero back yards. What a shame! We drove past Lahaina to the Ka’anapali coast and the Maui Sheraton, where the Enterprise Car Rental office was, dropped the car off and got a guy from Enterprise to drive us back to the Wharf area at the Lahaina docks.

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We spent perhaps a half-hour browsing but not buying in the many there-for-tourists shops along both side the Wharf (which actually appears to be built on dry land abutting the water but still referred to as the Wharf) before returning to the tender area and returning to the ship at the last “All Aboard” at 4:30 P.M.

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HILO:

HILO: We took the shuttle to the original Hilo Hattie’s (this was Hilo, after all), which was located just across the street from a large shopping area that held a Wal-Mart.

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After nearly 75 days away it was time to get a couple of new things, including a new large, drinking bottle  which we had traded away to one of the vendors on Komodo Island for two pearl bracelets.

Shortly after our arrival in Hilo yesterday morning the Sapphire Princess pulled up behind us and docked for the day. Our ship, the Amsterdam, a Holland-America ship, holds 1280 passengers at full capacity, but as this was near the end of our voyage (we had discharged large numbers of passengers in Sydney, Auckland and Honolulu) we now had only 600-700 passengers remaining on board. The Sapphire Princess, on the other hand, from Princess Cruises, held 3600 passengers and was in port on one of those 15-day LA-Hawaii-LA trips I described earlier, and the way the Port of Hilo is laid out required that the Amsterdam passengers had to walk to the part of the port where Princess passengers were disembarking in order to catch shuttles into Hilo proper. Talk about a zoo….. so many people it was impossible to pass by another person without bumping shoulders, and so forth. Especially coming from a ship where gracious, friendly service creates a feeling of camaraderie between passengers and staff, hitting head-on the Princess’ disembarking floating mass of humanity was not so much a sardine-can episode as a cattle-car experience.

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K’s thoughts and closing to a very special cruise!

I am happy that every-so-often we have this kind of experience, because just as I am about to forget how lucky we are to have the opportunity to sail in the gracious manner to which we have become accustomed, an experience such as this offers a timely wake-up call to remind me that there are less gracious, less elegant and less appealing ways we could be cruising. And this, in turn, makes me thankful and grateful for the wonderful opportunities we have had over the years to visit so many places around the world which otherwise we would never have the opportunity to see (if for no other reason than that they are so off the beaten path and so difficult to get to except by ship – Robinson Crusoe Island, anyone?) and so many others where by ship is the most practical way – and sometimes, the ONLY practical way – to get to them and to get to see them (think Antarctica, the river communities along the thousand miles up the Amazon River coastline to Manaus, and Manaus itself, or the Straits of Magellan, or the Kingdom of Tonga and many more I could mention). We are now 5 sailing days out from San Diego and, on December 5th, the end of this Grand Voyage to Asia (Japan, China, Hong Kong, Korea, Singapore, Viet Nam and Indonesia), Australia, New Zealand, the South Seas (Fiji and Samoa) and Hawaii, and it has been grand indeed – new cultures I never experienced, particularly in Asia, many of which have left me with the taste in my mouth of wanting “more” (which is always a good thing).

But as if to illustrate that every end is also a new beginning, at the same time we end our Grand Voyage in San Diego on December 5th, we will be starting another 17-day cruise from San Diego and along the Pacific coast of Mexico and Central America, through the Panama Canal and to several Caribbean islands, eventually ending on December 22nd in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

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Sydney, Australia

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Sydney, Australia

Extra: For all of you who read this and have no idea who Tracy is…

I met Tracy online on Knittingparadise and have been chatting with her for a little over a year now and was thrilled to know that I could visit with her on our trip..

I have waited for a while to write about Sydney because being in Sydney/Penrith with Tracy and her family was just so special I didn’t want to run through it like I did with other ports of call.

Get ready everyone, because this will be a long post with lots of pictures.

I am using Kal’s thoughts of Sydney because he wrote the details really well. I will add things in italics so you will get my input…

Love Tracy and family and really hope that we will meet again in the near future. She is truly someone I love to call a friend. So sorry we don’t live closer, I would love to spend time hanging out with her, learning how to bake scones and knit!!! (Oh, btw, she is a great knitter and gave me some great pointers on lace knitting).

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After a day at sea, the ship arrived in Sydney on Sunday, November 11th for a two-day overnight stay. We woke up at 6 AM and had a quick breakfast before going onto the ship’s forward deck to watch the sail-in to Sydney. They provided “Sydney Rolls!” just like “Singapore Rolls” and “Hong Kong Rolls” (please ignore the guy’s hand down his pants! I can’t crop the pix and still have the rolls!)DSCN7597

Sydney has to be the world’s most beautiful natural harbor, and the sail-in from the Tasman Sea into Sydney Harbor is nothing less than spectacular.

Three years ago, when we witnessed our first sail-in to Sydney, people told us that although Sydney Harbor was beautiful, the sail-ins to Rio and to Hong Kong were equally beautiful.

RIO from land not the sea.. You can barely see Christ the Redeemer from the ship..(Last year)

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Hong Kong Harbour (This year)

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In the intervening 3 years we have had the opportunity to sail into both Rio (twice) and Hong Kong (once). Without a doubt Sydney has more natural beauty, although if the weather is clear and not foggy, Rio is also nice – but not like Sydney, where you enter the sheltered but huge natural harbor from the open sea by passing through two large rock  attached to land on either side of a channel that passes through the rocks, known as The Heads.

The Beginning of the sail-in

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Once inside The Heads, sailing down the main channel reveals numerous open side channels, all with houses along the water and on the hills above them, and so many sailing boats, yachts, and other kinds of water transport in each of the many side channels.

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As you cruise further into the channel you pass a naval base for the Australian Navy on the left, the Tauranga Zoo on the right and across the harbor, then pass the Botanical Gardens that come down the hills to the shoreline near the downtown part of town, then on t o the famed Sydney Opera House with its “opening flower petals” design next to the oldest part of Sydney, known as “The Rocks”.

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The last time we were in Sydney we docked in Circular Quay near The Rocks, just opposite the Opera House, which was separated from the ship only by a couple hundred yards of water. This time, however, that berth was taken, so we continued sailing, first under the famous Sydney Harbour Bridge, also known as “The Coat Hanger”,

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then past the Luna Park across the harbor, (Last time there was no moustache on the face of the entrance to Luna Park) then a left turn and into our ship’s berth at Darling Harbor.

3 Years ago

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This Year

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The sail-in lasted about 75 minutes and was truly wonderful, and the weather conditions were perfect, as they were 3 years ago.

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Once we arrived in Sydney proper our plans were to take a cab to the Central Train Station and from there a train to Penrith, a suburb about an hour’s ride by train from Sydney.

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Nina has a good friend, Tracy, in Penrith who is also a knitter, and for the past couple of years they have emailed and spoken online often and agreed to meet when we came to Sydney. We arrived at the Penrith train station and were met by Tracy, who took us to her home, sat us down at her kitchen table and served us tea and coffee and the most delicious freshly baked (BLUE RIBBON!!) English scones, with raspberry jam and clotted cream, that I have ever tasted.

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We were joined by Tracy’s two daughters: Jess, and Sam. The girls are lolly-lovers (they love candies) and had asked us to bring them cherry Twizzlers (They asked for Red Vine, but I couldn’t find them so Twizzlers were it!), and an assortment of America chocolate bar candies (we brought a large assortment of 3 Musketeers, Snickers, Kit Kats, etc.). The girls loved the Twizzlers and had never heard of a 3 Musketeers bar, so we told them what to expect. They tenderly unwrapped one of the 3 Musketeers, placed it on a small dish, cut thin slices of the candy bar on the dish and gently placed the slices in their mouths as if to savor the taste of the melting chocolate nougat. It was like watching a child discover something wonderful for the first time.

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After we had given the girls the candy we had brought for them and to Tracy a lot of white cotton dishcloth yarn Nina had brought for her, Tracy suggested that we all get in the car and drive to an area of “the bush” not too far from her home where we would be able to do a “walkabout” and visit a cave that contained aboriginal handprints. The cave, known as Red Hand Cave because the handprints are outlined by ochre colored paint, was discovered a few years ago when a child went missing in the outback, and a search party discovered it while looking for the child. It is really off the beaten path.

A couple of notes: when Aussies say “the bush” what they mean is a forest, generally pretty thick with trees and brush, but a forest nonetheless. When they say “a walkabout” they mean a hike through the bush or in the Outback. “Outback” refers to the desert area that comprises most of Australia away from the coasts.

Anyways, back to the walkabout in the bush to the Red Hand Cave. We drove into the Penrith Valley, into the Blue Mountains, followed the road signs until the paved road ended and then traversed the dirt road for another 10-12 km. until we came to a dead end that was the trailhead for the walkabout that would lead to the Rd Hand Cave. It was up and down on a granite rock-lined path, through eucalyptus forest, until we finally arrived at a small, shallow cave, perhaps 15-20 feet wide, 8 feet high and 5 feet deeps, that had been fenced from the outside cave edge in order to protect the prehistoric drawings inside. However, there were holes purposely left in the fence to enable photographers to push cameras through the fence and take unobstructed photographs of the dozens of handprints found on the cave walls. There was no aboriginal art or drawings except for several dozen (sets of?) handprints on the walls, where the handprints were outlined by ochre red, yellow and white paint. It was quite different and most interesting, and certainly buried deep in the bush.

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DSCN7731From the Red Hand Cave we walked our way back to the automobile that had brought us here and began to drive back to “civilization”. Along the way we stopped at a lovely creek that ran through the Blue Mountains – in the distance we saw kids who were jumping off a high rock into what was obviously a deep water spot in the creek.

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When we left the Blue Mountains we drove again through the Penrith Valley and crossed the Nepean River that runs through it, stopping in the small town of Glenbrooke, where we walked around the village and got something cool to drink. As some of us were getting hungry Tracy suggested we go to the Blacks Stadium but once we got there they were closing so we headed out of the stadium to “Harry’s Pies” which was a food truck selling meat and veggie pies.. YUM!! we had vegetable pies topped with “mushy peas”, which is kind of like fresh boiled peas then mashed to a thick paste with whole peas in the mix and then dolloped on top of the pie. I LOVE THEM, Kal didn’t.. Tough, I would have eaten another one if they had any left!!!

Does this pic make us look thinner????

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Aussies also have some interesting slang terms: a “jumbug” is a sheep, a “drop bear” is a term used for a koala when trying to pull the wool over someone’s eyes, and a “mountain dragon” is a term used for a lizard that can be anywhere from 3-4 inches to perhaps 2 feet in length, harmless but found in mountain and desert areas and also used when pulling the wool over someone’s eyes. Kangaroos are called just “roos”, and contrary to what we non-Aussies think, there are numerous varieties of roos ranging in size from about 18-24 inches high to the most familiar 7-foot roos. Koalas are very slow moving. This is because they eat only a particular kind of eucalyptus tree leaf (eucalyptus trees are known here as “gum” trees) that contains almost no protein, so the koalas that eat them are very weak and so move slowly. Aussies like to kid tourists by telling them that the eucalyptus leaves koalas eat are hallucinogenic and that the koalas move slowly because they are “high” on the drugs, which would also explain why they supposedly fall out of their trees (they don’t) and are also called “drop bears”. Contrary to what they look like in photos, koalas are not warm, light and fuzzy but chunky with brushy hair texture.

Had to ad a pix of Koalas that I took last time!

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One of the interesting things about Penrith, and the area where Tracy lives, is that her home, in a city, is only a 3-5 minute drive from rural area. Tracy’s youngest daughter goes to a Catholic private high school that abuts a forest. Although the forest is fenced to keep animals inside so they don’t run onto roads and cause accidents, the forest itself is wild, covers a great deal of land and contains all the forest life one would normally expect to find on such land. As we were driving back to Stacy’s home and passing the high school, we fell upon a group of perhaps 15 kangaroos who were huddled together in what looked like a community meeting, perched on their hind legs and seemingly consulting with one another. Tracy pulled over to the side of the road and I left the car to try to get photos of the kangaroo conclave. I got off several pictures before I got up to the fence, at which time my presence must have caused some alarm, as the kangaroos sprang and scattered. When they travel they create a picture in my mind’s eye of what a four-legged animal would look like if he moved by bouncing on a pogo stick – very efficient but very funny.

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From our encounter with the kangaroos our conversation somehow turned to rivers and white-water rafting, and Tracy mentioned that Penrith has the only artificial white-water rafting course in the Southern Hemisphere. I had never heard of anything like this and asked whether, if it weren’t too far away, we could go there and have a look at it. Tracy was most obliging, and after another 10-minute ride we ended up at the Penrith White Water Rafting Complex. This structure had been built for the 2000 Sydney Olympics. It consists of a large, landscaped water pool with devices built in that create 20 class-3 rapids in a rectangular track with rounded edges. At the end of the run a rafter or rafting team or a kayaker can simply paddle their boat from the pool where the rafting run ends, up to a conveyor belt (like a moving sidewalk) that will carry the raft and its passengers up the center section of the track and deposit them at the start of the rafting track so they can traverse the 20 rapids again. This kind of water park sport was completely new to me, but it is clearly a going concern in Sydney, and while we were there we saw rescue teams (perhaps from the White Water Complex but not necessarily – maybe the Sydney lifeguards or even the military) practicing their rescue skills. From the number of times we saw these crews getting dumped into the water, it was clear that this course is a serious whitewater training area.

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From the White Water Rafting Complex we returned to Tracy’s home, where we met her husband Matt. The four of us went out to dinner at a local Thai restaurant – it was delicious – and from there Matt and Tracy dropped us off at the train station, where we took an express train back to Sydney, then a cab back to the ship. All in all it was a great day.

My camera died right before lunch and I had to rely on Kal and his little guy for the rest of the day which really SUCKED!!!! So I  don’t have many pix of the things I would have loved to take pix of.. like the Aussie Pies.. and MATT!!!!! UGH…

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The following day Tracy and her daughter Jess were coming into Sydney, so we arranged to meet them at the Sydney Aquarium.

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From there we walked to the Chinese Gardens in downtown Sydney, somewhere that Jess had been wanting to visit for a long time. In China we had not found any gardens that were similar to these Chinese Gardens, which were established and donated by the ethnic Chinese population of Sydney in honor of its Bicentennial. The Gardens cover a large area, and with casual strolling took us a couple of hours to walk through the various sections of the gardens.

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Jess wanted photographs of herself dressed in traditional Chinese costume, and Nina took dozens of photos of her in traditional imperial Chinese attire.  Doesn’t she look regal! We couldn’t believe it! WOW!!!

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After the gardens we went to the Haymarket District and entered the QVB or Queen Victoria Building in downtown Sydney. The building is Victorian in style with beautiful mosaic flooring and gorgeous stained glass windows that illuminate the sweeping stairways on both sides of the center of the building that were the original means of going up and down from one story to another. In the center of the building was a 3-story high Christmas tree made of Swarovski crystals. When we were in Sydney 3 years ago it was at about this same time of year, and at the time there was another beautiful Christmas tree in the center of the QVB, so this must be an annual Sydney tradition.

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Continuing our walk up George Street, the main street of downtown Sydney, we eventually reached Morris and Sons, a knitting crafts store, the girls disappeared downstairs where they kept the yarn… they had a great time looking but didn’t buy anything. Thank GOD!!!!!

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We had lunch at a Japanese fast food restaurant, where I had a bowl of sticky rice with a scoop of minced fresh tuna, seaweed and shallots, seasoned with soy sauce – simple, but the tastiest Japanese meal I can ever remember eating.

Following the meal we walked up to a nearby subway station, where we took our leave of Stacy and Jess, as they had to catch a 2 PM train from Sydney’s Central Station back to Penrith, and we had to head back to the ship, which was anchored in Darling Harbor, in time for the all-aboard at 3:30 that afternoon. Nina and I walked back to the ship and made it back about an hour before sail-away, and thus ended a most delightful visit to Sydney..

Just my take on the 2 days in Sydney!!!

They were fantastic.. I loved spending time with Tracy and the kids… What a great family.. So sad they live so far away… but I hope we will be back to see them again and possibly spend way more time with them. I really have to give KnittingParadise.com kudos for giving us, knitters, such great opportunities to get to know other knitters all over the world, and sometimes we actually get a chance to meet them.

Thank you, Tracy and the girls (and Matt, of course) for opening your city, home and hearts to us and making us feel so comfortable.. It’s as if we have been friends for years and years! I hope we can stay friends for years and meet up again, hopefully often!!!

The view as we sailed out of Sydney…

Leaving our berth at Darling Harbour.. and our views as we sailed away! Bye to one of my favorite cities in the world..

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King Neptune

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More stuff on the Ship!

The King Neptune Ceremony

All ships that sail the 7 seas have a tradition that goes back hundreds of years called “King Neptune’s Ceremony” which, is an induction ceremony for people who are crossing the Equator for the first time.

It is really a silly tradition that has the newbies, called polywogs, doused in slime and either roasted or boiled.. So they have the previous crewmembers who have crossed dressed up like pirates who lead the poor victims to the judges (the Captain and other Officers) for a verdict.

The crew completely decorates the Lido deck and lays out “slime”, usually egg whites and food coloring to douse the poor blokes. You can see the cage the polywogs are held in on the right side of the pix.

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The area around the pool fills out with all the guests and we watch the ceremony..

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The poor shumcks have to kiss a fish to cries of “KISS THE FISH!  KISS THE FISH!”  before they can get judged… then they get rolled in guck and then brought in front of the judges for sentencing.. Either thrown in the drink.. (the pool) or they have to broil in the sun…

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Spectators

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Barbara, the Travel Guide in costume!

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The polywog “prisoners”……

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The sirens of the sea.. (our dancers and hostess)

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The Judges

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Getting a polywog ready for “SINK OR SAVE !”

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The most amazing thing about this whole ceremony is how quickly it is cleaned up and you would never know some sort of insanity happened!!!  Lotsa fun to watch !  Thank God we’ve already been across the Equator several times…..