Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Visitor number 4 - Cousin Joe

We were lucky to have Chris's Cousin Joe visit us as a our first representative from his side of the family.  Joe was lucky enough to convince his company that he needed a trip to Melborne and managed to sneak up to Sydney for the warmest weekend of the spring so far.  Note to every who's worried about the steep price of tickets - get your job to send you - then it's free!

We took advantage of the 26 C day (that's 78.8 for those of you who only think in Fahrenheit) just two weekends into spring to rent a boat and tour the harbor.

 Checking out the various ocean monsters.

We docked the boat in Darling Harbor for a few hours to grab some lunch and check out the city sights.

The trip into the city had been fairly eventful, but when we turned around to head home the wind had picked up, and there was also a sailing event with well upwards of 200 sailboats participating in 4 or 5 different races through out the harbor.  Best part of the sailboats is that of course they have the right of way when under sail, so trying to make our way home was a three way cooperative exercise of spotters to make sure that no one was tacking directly in front of, or into us.

Asteroids anyone?

 Thankfully we made it back to Manly safely and rushed home for a few beers on the rocks while watching the sunset.  We wrapped up a great day with a bbq and some rum barrel porter on tap.

Sunday after some recovery pancakes we walked along the beach and up along the harbor heads to check out the views.  We rounded out the afternoon with a few pints at our favorite local pub before dropping Joe off at the airport after he insisted that he did have to go home and couldn't stay and have more fun with us. 

It's tough to drink sideways

Thursday, September 15, 2011

How real men dance

In case everyone wasn't already aware, the rugby world cup is taking place in New Zealand over the next few weeks, and yes, the good old US of A has a team in the competition! We are currently ranked 18/20, just nudging out Russia and Nimibia on the race to the bottom.

Last night was a cold war rematch of USA vs Russia, which was billed as our "only chance to win a game in the tournament". Thankfully we retained our superiority and pushed on to win 13-6.How did he get that hat here without wrinkling it in his suitcase?

With wonder woman on our side how can we possibly lose??

Some Russian fans confused about what we were competing for

In addition to the actual sport of rugby, one of the most amazing things is the Haka that most of the islander teams (NZ, Samoa, Tonga, etc) do to issue their challenge at the beginning of the game. This started getting attention way back when the New Zealand team was not the international super power that they are today.

This however has evolved to one of the most intimidating openings to a game that I've ever seen. Can you imagine being the opposing team and having to sit through this every time??

Even better, if it happens to be two teams with a haka they do it at each other at the same time which is just amazing.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Blue Mountains: Grand Canyon Hike

This past weekend we ventured up to the Blue Mountains to hike through Australia's Grand Canyon. While it wasn't as large or "grand" as the one back home, it was still quite impressive. The canyon is set in dense old-growth forest and has a stream/river running along the bottom. We traversed up and down the canyon walls multiple times as well as crisscrossed the stream throughout the hike.

View Larger Map

We had a beautiful day for it, cool with bright blue skies. The rain stayed away, defying the weather girl's most dire predictions.

At the end, we were rewarded with amazing views into the next valley, gazing deep into the heart of Blue Mountains National Park.

Us at the top, what a view!

We will definitely be back in the future to check out more amazing hikes. Blue Mountains National Park is only a 2 hour drive from where we live, making weekend day trips an easy proposition. They seem to do a really good job maintaining the many trails that thread through the region, enabling access to a diverse range of hikes and amazing views.

Clambering over a log to get across the stream

Crisscrossing the stream at the bottom of the canyon

Chris on a log that crossed the stream at the bottom of the canyon

Bright green moss covering everything on either side of the path

The view into the next valley

Looking down the canyon from about halfway down

Team photo, midway down into the canyon

One of the many small waterfalls all around the canyon

Looking across the canyon, such dense plant life

Amy and Chris behind one of the larger waterfalls