Sunday, January 31, 2010

One Wonder

Just back from India and took this photo of the Taj Mahal at sunset using the crackberry.Bought a new memory card so will download the second half pictures this week. In the mean time, enjoy one of the seven wonders of the world (and yes, that is debatable). It was amazing though. More soon as everyone gets their pictures uploaded.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


A quick blog post while I borrow a friend's computer.

I'm in India for a wedding and thought I would show off a few of my accessories for the my outfit. I've got the mendi, lots of blingy bangles and a string bracelet blessed by the shaman representing health and energy. What more can you ask for when attending an Indian wedding? Hopefully I'll be able to show you some full photos of the outfit later. Unfortunately, the memory card in my camera died on Monday so my camara thinks it has no photos on it. Luckily several people on the trip have way better cameras than me and have promised to share. Tomorrow... the Taj Mahal......

Monday, January 18, 2010

Wildlife Down Under

While in Australia, our host Eric took us on some great wildlife tours. He also has a fantastic camera so we were able to get some fun shots. I'm missing a few creatures as I believe they are on Loel's camera so I'll add those later.
Here the gang checks out some coral, plants and fish at the Austrailian Institute of Marine Science.

These dancing birds are known as Brolgas. Their heads are red (I can't remember much of what I learned about them. Sorry!)

The rainbow lorakeet. Very pretty, native bird.

A pheasant hawk I think?

Hmm... what is Patti spying in the distance?

Fishies! Can't talk about wildlife without these tasty..err I mean.. pretty creatures.

Rock crabs. I have to admit, when we were snorkeling, these guys freaked me out. You would be near the rocks and then all of the sudden they would just start scurrying up the face of the rock. It was quite unnerving actually.

These crabs, on the other hand, were hilarious to watch. They have one enormous orange claw and the rest of the body is normal size. Check out these two. They are fighting with their 'good' claw.

Here is what the crab looks like as he scuttles about near his hole. You can see his one giant claw as he waddles about.

From the back...

From the front. See? The claw is the entire size of his body! He must walk lopsided to carry all that weight.

Patti and Liam do a bit of climbing to see if they can spot anything new.

Loel gets up close and personal with lizards. I'm standing well back of this thank you very much.

Wallaby sighting! Exciting for me but boring for the Aussies. To them it is like seeing deer all the time. I think they are cuter than deer.

This wallaby liked to hang out by the hotel pool.

And last but not least, a picture of me swimming with the fishes. :o) Gotta love the aquarium.
I'm off again this week. Friend Anuj is getting married so I'm joining the festivities in India. I've got lots of work to get done between now and then so no more posts until I'm back. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

How I Stayed Busy in Oz

I have to start again with more photos of inclement weather. More snow! Hurrah! I know, my readers in Wisconsin and Omaha are rolling their eyes at me, but you have to admit, this is way better than rain. Had another fun romp in the snow this morning before work. Tucker is loving it as the rabbits are much easier to spot against the snow. Thankfully, the rabbits are still faster than he is. Here is a photo from the office window. I have a feeling the commute home is going to be absolute crap.

Alright, so back to my trip Down Under. I like my vacations to have a little bit of everything. As you probably realize, I'm a bit of an exercise freak. Therefore, I need my activity or I'll go a little nuts. On the other hand, I'm a girl who also needs some downtime to recharge. Holy moly I can get cranky if I don't get a nap in during the weekend. So with a few pictures, I thought I'd show you a few of the ways I spent my Christmas vacation.

My travels were based out of a city called Townsville located in Queensland, Australia. That's the northeast part. It has a fantastic beachfront area called the Strand. I spent quite a bit of my time either swimming in the rock pool pictured here, or laying in the shade under the palm tree reading a book. If I wanted some sand between my toes, I just moved 50 yards over and went in the waves by the beach. It had restrooms, drinking fountains, showers, bars, beers.. everything you need for a relaxing day. Oh yeah, ignore the pudgey kid in this picture. He seemed to always pop up as soon as I pressed the shutter!

The Strand and rock pool were also well lit in the evenings. You could swim fairly late at night if so inclined.

When not laying by the water trying not to spontaneously combust under the hot sun, I did a bit of touring. Here are the lovely botanical gardens in Townsville. This picture made me think I was approaching the Island of Dr. Moreau. Does anyone else think that?

I had to take a picture of this tree. Is this not an ideal candidate for the best tree fort ever?

On another day, we headed off to a nearby island for a bit of exploring. We started the morning with a hike to the top along a path that has frequent koala sightings. Exciting!

You can just see Liam sitting up on the rock above. Almost there....

Almost at the top... and blinding everyone with my transluecent legs. I'm amazed at how pale I actually am.

The view from the very top - you can see the World War II lookout towards the back right of the picture. The Australians were on the lookout for the Japanese during this time.

Another view from the top, towards the left of the old fort. By now, we were quite hot and sweaty so it was time to hike down and check out the lagoon/bay pictured above.

Back down to ground level, at the lagoon, the view to my right.....

... the view in the center (we parked ourselves underneath a tree for a wee bit of shade)

... and the view to our left. Once again, we are fighting off those crowds. Next time I'll have to come back on a slow day.... :o) There was great snorkeling here and a fantastic place to cool off after our hike. No koalas spotted in the wild - I'm sure they were smart enough to avoid sleeping in trees next to the noisy hikers. I think we did see a few lizards though. Big thumbs up to our hiking/swimming/snorkeling day on Magnetic Island.
(Okay, last post for a day or two. I need to save some material for when not traveling. More photos soon....)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Water Sports

First off, let me say that this morning I had the most wonderful run in the snow. Absolutely without a doubt gorgeous. A great way to start the day.....

I have to admit, I've never spent so much time in or around water as I did on this trip to Australia. I loved it. I'm usually not much for spending time in the pool but when you have warm water like this, how can you resist? Here is a picture of Whitehaven beach. It is a pure silica beach and absolutely gorgeous. Because the silica reflects the light and heat, you can walk on this beach without burning the soles of your feet. It was tough fighting off the crowds....

Why not watch a movie at the outdoor theater? It's not often you have a beach as your backdrop.

Here Patti and I are standing at the coast. I constantly got the feeling that I was standing at the edge of the world.

I really, really tried to get this picture but I'm afraid without the expensive camera it doesn't do it justice. This is the view from my deck hammock. Full moon overlooking the bay. You can just make out the reflection of the water and a few boats. It was perfect with my glass of wine. Umm...

On one of our day adventures, we decided to bring the inflatable Bruce (from finding Nemo) along for some water fun.

Unfortunately, the water table didn't cooperate and Bruce ends up stranded. Poor Bruce.

Liam and Nemo aren't phased by this development though. They decide the creek is enough to swim in even though they can touch the bottom with their feet. Cannonballs on Bruce = not happening.

Lastly, another view of the water on my last day. A little rest out of the sun - time to put the feet up, the hat is off, the martini is cold and the view is lovely. Why, oh why did I have to come back to work? Oh yeah, that thing called a mortgage. Bummer.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Going to Extremes

On the day I left for Australia, the fog had rolled in overnight and froze everything in sight.

The spiderwebs were even frozen.

Each ivy leaf was individually coated and frozen.

Everything looked beautiful. It was a gorgeous morning even if I did have to white knuckle it on the way to drop Tucker off. So this is what I left.....

And this is what I arrived to! Palm trees....

Cool pool water and fountains....

and palm trees just outside the window behind the Christmas tree. Ahhh... warm weather.

The kids unwrapped their Christmas presents and the adults emptied thier stockings. What did I get? A piece of coal.

Once the presents were opened, the games began. Patti and I have a good xmas Scrabble showdown. A few things to note in this picture

A: we have our bathing suits on. Yippee!

B: We are sharing a beer that is encased in an 'interesting' beer cozy.

C: Our lunch consists of Twisties (cheetos) and mango.

D: I was reading the Goosebumps book off to the left before our mind games began.

Didn't everyone else celebrate Christmas this way?

Getting ready for Christmas dinner, Loel forages for some food.


Seafood platter for Christmas dinner. Yum!

Loel isn't a fan of grilling up some of the oysters. Definitely not his happy face.

The view from up on Castle Hill. Blue water, warm air - great start to the holiday.

Upon my return, however, I was greeted with LOTS of snow. England had another record snow a few days before my return. Tucker was staying with my friend Nick. Nick lives just a little bit farther out than I do and received more snow than Windsor. To borrow a statement from Nick - it was Narnia like.

I love this picture. Somehow Nick got his dog Gibson, Tucker and himself all looking at the camera at the same time.

From one extreme to the another and then back again - that covers the last 2.5 weeks of my life. Happy New Year everyone! (More Oz photos soon...)