Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Rest of It

It's Boxing Day here in Oz, (that's the day after Christmas for all the Americans out there) and while Dom watches the Dallas Cowboys I thought I would finish up our Uluru/Alice Springs recap so that I can delve into the Jamaica trip from more than a month ago and our weekend trip houseboating on the Hawkesbury River and also tell you about the Opera House...all before we leave tomorrow for Melbourne (I can almost guarantee that's not going to happen, but it's a nice thought). So, here we go...

First up, just as we were heading out of Alice Springs we saw a kangaroo! Yes we've seen kangaroos before but never quite as close as this! And after seeing all of the other wild animals on our road trip and not a single kangaroo...we really needed to see a kangaroo to make the trip complete. We even managed to capture the moment on video. Unfortunately Blogger does not want to load my this picture where the kangaroo is barely visible will have to suffice. She's up at the top of the pic between the rocks, can you see her?

The road trip back was much less exciting as we took the shorter route and managed to do the whole thing in just over 4 hours. Here are the highlights:

Emus at a petrol station.

A giant frilled lizard and the same petrol station. Because why WOULDN'T there be a giant frilled lizard and echidna at a petrol station.

A salt lake.

The Uluru lookalike.

More camels.

To be fair it was probably the same herd as we saw on the trip out, not more camels, just the same camels again.

This is a dingo. It's a crap picture I know, but I promise in the very middle of the picture is a dingo.

And here's the car after the roadtrip, not nearly as many bugs as we thought there should be.

Our last night in Uluru we decided to do the "Sounds of Silence" dinner, remember when we went to Port Douglas and did the "Flames of the Forest" dinner? Well, this was essentially the same thing. Dinner under the stars while watching the sun set behind Uluru. Instead of an aboriginal telling a bedtime story this time it was the most Australian guy I've ever seen playing a digeridoo.

Have you ever seen anyone look more quintessentially Australian than this guy?

Champers at sunset.

Totally worth it if you're ever in Uluru, they give you all sorts of weird Australian fare like kangaroo and crocodile and give you too much alcohol. Awesome.

As we got ready to head off the next morning we took one last trip out to Uluru before we headed back to the airport.

A closeup of the walk you can do up the side of Uluru.

And our final look. Bye bye Uluru.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Just a Bit of Complaining

I should just make this a travel blog because it seems like that's ALL we do...I'm not bragging and I don't mean that in a good way. Seriously, Jesica wants to come home now and stay in one spot for awhile, that's right I want to SIT STILL. I used to think there was nothing greater than traveling and seeing the world, and while I still believe that it's also nice to have a HOME. I don't even know where home is anymore.

Of course you can say home is "where the heart is" and as long as we're together I guess we're home. But seriously that's movie hallmark stuff. We both need doctors for a few things that we've got going on and it sucks to have to jump from one doc to another because you're always moving cities.

Next year is already all over the place, first we have to live in Oregon for a few months while our renters take their sweet ass time about moving out of our San Francisco house. Then we have to get all of our stuff from our storage unit in New York to our house in San Francisco, just to put it all back in a storage unit in San Francisco when remodel time comes, then back up to Oregon for the rest of the year while San Francisco house gets remodeled.

AND to top it all off I'm in a foreign country for Christmas, a country where you're supposed to go to the beach on Christmas and IT'S GOING TO RAIN ON CHRISTMAS, or so the weather man says. I find that depressing.

Speaking of Christmas, I want this:

Scratch-off wall map from FLIGHT 001 on Vimeo.

I figure we could put it up in our office of our San Fran house and only scratch off the places we've been cute would that be?!

Merry Christmas everyone! Hope you all have a wonderful holiday!

Alice Springs

Man do I sure know how to drag out a 4 day weekend recap.

So, At long last we had made it to Alice Springs. Now a note on Alice Springs and the aboriginals. If you've never been to Australia you may think that there are just Aboriginals prancing about all over the place, but you would be wrong. I very very rarely see them...anywhere. They're not in Sydney, I saw none in Queensland or Cairns, none in the Hunter Valley and none in the Blue Mountains. Now I think I know why. I think they ALL live in Alice Springs. It was very...strange. Not because there were aboriginals there per se, but because they were there in such numbers IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE and really nowhere else.

But, back to Alice Springs. Cute, cute little town. Had we known better we would have done our trip exactly opposite of what we did. We should have flown in to Alice Springs, hung out there for a day then drove to Ayres Rock, done the whole sunset and hiking thing there and then headed back for more Alice Springs. Seriously, way more to do in Alice Springs then Ayres Rock.

So, Alice Springs first claim to fame is it's telegraph station which finally linked Oz to the rest of the world in 1872. The other claim to fame is the Royal Flying Doctor Service which is for all those who live and travel in the (decidedly unred) Red Center of Oz where there is no medical services for hundreds of miles.

The Telegraph Station is very well preserved and we totally thought we would pop in and pop out and be done with it, but ended up spending the better part of 3 hours milling about. It was pretty cool and I highly recommend it if you're ever in the area...and by in the area of course I mean if you've purposely flown to Alice Springs because there's no other way that you would randomly end up here.

Blacksmith's shop

Interesting story that I never knew, at some point the telegraph station was turned into a school for the "half-castes" all the little half european half aboriginal children that had resulted from the English taking aboriginal "mistresses". They essentially stole these children from their mothers and raised them to think of themselves as white and to marry whites or other half castes, not aboriginals. It's terrible obviously, but I think it's quite interesting that they encouraged them to be white and took them into their community rather than treating them as outcasts.

This is Dom in "school". =)

Nothing but this for hundreds of miles in all directions, pretty amazing that they ever made the telegraph station out here in the first place.

This sign for the spring in which Alice Springs took her name

IN the spring.

AND the Royal Flying Doctor Service! Unfortunately it didn't open until late in the afternoon and we had to get back to Uluru for our dinner under the stars...which I'll tell you about next!

Sunday, December 19, 2010


So, just over 4 weeks until we come home and we are excited! I can't wait until we're somewhere that I can actually buy furniture and clothes and shoes and not worry about how the hell I'm going to get it halfway across the world.

Simple pleasures in life.

I have so many crafty ideas in my head that I just want to DO something with.

For instance I have an old dresser from my childhood that is just dying to look like this:

I see silver leafing in my future.

I also am desperately in love with wallpaper lately.

I fear wallpapering might be a bit more of a project than the dresser...but I'm sure that's what husbands are for, no?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Through the Middle

After our early morning hike we hit the road. If you google directions from Uluru to Alice Springs you can see that it's a mere 460 km away, which if you drive fast is about a 5 hour drive. BUT, while googling Dom discovered there is ANOTHER way to Alice Springs that involves several hundred kms of unsealed (in the US we just call them DIRT) roads, making the trek 640 kms and approx 8 hours. So you just know we took the long way.

This is our car at the beginning of the journey, relatively bug free.

I just love Australian signage. This was definitely one of my favorites for 2 reasons. First, this sign is in the middle of nowhere, if you'd made it this far WITHOUT driving on the left that would be some feat. The second is of course that fact that it specifies "in Australia", as though you could be anywhere else but Australia....there's not another country for hundreds of miles...


Before we even made it to the dirt road we stumbled upon our first of many wild animals.

Wild Camels!

I had no idea there were wild camels in Australia! They were just crossing the road...hanging out. Very cool.

The red road is the long road. And our chosen route through the Red Center.

The only thing for miles and miles were these tiny little "towns" that consisted of exactly what you see here. Toilets, showers, possibly a restaurant, campsites...and emus. Ha!

Little sidenote here...from the time we stepped into our car we were plagued by suicidal birds. That's right I said Suicidal Birds. Have you ever plagued Angry Birds before:

That's what we had on our hands....Angry Birds. They would be sitting along the side of the road or in the road, NEVER IN THE TREES and as soon as the car was anywhere near them REGARDLESS OF WHETHER THEY ACTUALLY NEEDED TO MOVE OR NOT they would dive headfirst TOWARDS THE CAR! It was ridiculous. Sometimes they would fly out of the way and then immediately turn around to FLY BACK INTO THE CAR. At first I was completely traumatised after we'd hit one or two, BUT THERE'S NOTHING YOU CAN DO! I don't know how many we hit, but after the first 3 you just sort of accepted it. Poor little suicidal birds.

Have I ever mentioned how much I love bones? If this life of mine had turned out differently I would be a forensic anthropologist. Whoever decided to put skulls on a stick in the middle of nowhere is awesome.

And then...our second wild animals...Wild Horses!

We love our wide angle lens...and our timer. Ha.

And more wild animals...a skink! At least I think it's a skink, I saw a sign somewhere about skinks back in Uluru and since we saw about 10 of these along our drive I decided they must be skinks.

And even though it's called Red Centre Way and the middle of Australia is called The Red Center, this has been the wettest year in 70 years and the middle of Australia was decidedly...unred. Other than the unsealed road which you can see from the piccies is quite clearly red the vegetation was green and downright lush! Not exactly how I was imagining it to look.

And then just as we were about to hit Alice Springs after a LONG day of driving, we encountered this:

As I said it's been a really wet year! But not to be deterred by a river in the road Dom made the executive decision to ford the river...I was not so sure about this decision but since the only other road going to Alice Springs was a good 2 hours behind us we went for it. Obviously we survived the fording of the river, but again, not what you'd expect to see in the middle of Australia!

Next we finally make it to Alice Springs...

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Adventures in Egg Poaching

Eggs. We eat eggs every morning. Every. Single. Morning.

We pretty much follow a paleo diet ( I mean lifestyle!) and don't eat many carbs and try to stay away from preservatives and sugar. In a nutshell if you couldn't hunt it or gather it you shouldn't eat it! So, protein in the morning is very important

I used to do a very simple scrambled eggs & bacon which takes all of 15 minutes and is damn near impossible to screw up.

Then Dom goes to the doctor and the doc tells him his cholesterol is slightly elevated and he shouldn't eat eggs every morning and he should incorporate whole grains. As I just said protein in the morning is important! So we switched to poached eggs and included one piece of whole grain toast.

Why are poached eggs any better? Well, we took a cooking class back in NYC earlier this year and Chef Jane told us that the cholesterol is lower in poached eggs and hard boiled eggs...something about them being immersed in water...unfortunately I don't remember the science. Anyway, I decided Chef Jane was brilliant and regardless of the fact that I can't prove she's right via Google I think she's right anyway and eggs have less cholesterol when poached. JUST GO WITH IT.

So, poached eggs, not as easy as scrambled. I SWEAR I used to make poached eggs when I was younger and could do it easily every time, NO PROBLEM. Well, I'm just gonna go ahead and blame the Australian stove on this one and tell you I HAVE FUCKED UP MORE POACHED EGGS IN MORE DIFFERENT WAYS THAN I THOUGHT POSSIBLE. Please excuse the profanity, it was necessary to portray just how amazed I am that you can screw up eggs in so many different ways.

In a few short weeks I have managed to:

Make GREY poached eggs, yes the color grey, it was like green eggs and ham...except grey.

Make poached eggs with a hard yolk and runny whites, like so runny they were still clear, but the yolk was DONE. I have no idea how I accomplished this.

Make poached eggs with little to no white still attached to it's yolk, so basically we had poached yolks. Awesome.

Break 3 eggs before they got to the water in quick succession one after the other, one I managed to break still in the fridge. That morning I used a total of 7 eggs before breakfast was done.

Make a poached egg in which the entire egg white turned into a bubble. That one turned out delicious, but boy was it weird looking, the bubble floated.


I've made some absolutely PERFECT ones as well.

Ultimately I have discovered 2 things.

One, the water must be at a perfect almost boiling temperature, with bubbles along the bottom but not breaking the surface.

Two, they can't sit in the water TOO long, as in if the temperature is not right and they're not cooking fast enough some funky shit starts to happen to them. This is my theory on the grey eggs.

Breakfast unfortunately takes a good 30-40 minutes now a days because of the time it takes to boil the water, then the time it takes to lower the temp of the water so it's not boiling and it goes on and on. BUT if I'm helping lower Dom's cholesterol, then all is well in the world.

Anyone know if this cholesterol thing is accurate or is Chef Jane full of shit?

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Olgas

Though Uluru is the more famous of the two there is also another monolith just a half hour away from Uluru. The Olgas (or Kata Tjuta, the aboriginal name) are a group of 36 monoliths all clumped together. They are equally as impressive in their size and have the added bonus of being able to walk amongst and through them. And just like Uluru they are well known for their sunrise and sunset spectacularness, so at 4:30am I was dragged kicking and screaming out to the Olgas for a sunrise view and a very very early 3 hour hike.

I'm not a morning person at the best of times and especially not a morning person when it's too early for coffee because all the cafes (all 2 of them in the resort) are not open until 6am.

So, with no coffee and nothing but nuts to power me through, off we went.

5am...I'm shoving nuts into my mouth if you're wondering what I'm doing.

The Olgas

Moon still visible.

Sun finally rising at 5:38am

After the sunrise at 5:38 AM we headed off for our Valley of the Winds walk. The walk is supposed to take 3 hours and we did it in about 2.5 hours. In all honesty as much as I hate mornings it was good to get up and going before the heat of the day. I was actually even a bit chilly when we started out.

To me this sign says follow the path and you will fall and die. Unfortunately you have to follow the path...very confusing sign.

So, we followed the path. Luckily we did not fall down and die.

The landscape looks like Mars here...or what I imagine Mars to look like.

Sun flares are pretty.

This is me shooing away flies.

Oh the flies! The flies were miserable. They come at you as soon as you step out of your car and THEY WILL NOT LEAVE YOU ALONE! We bought bugspray which helped to some extend...but not really.

And to round off the excursion, some critters well adapted to the red environment.

Red lizard.

Red grasshopper.

To be continued with our road trip...