November 22, 2007 == Welcome (flash) page

Montage of London, New York City, Chicago, Vancouver, Pearl Harbor.

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Missing People Found #2

What's been going on? We mean, what's been going on in our lives? Why haven't we made more appearances in public?

The simple answer is that we have had too much to do to fit in updating our web. Sure, we had good intentions. But in the six months since our last update we have had the opportunity to enjoy the charms of Paris, then those of "home", which included long visits to Darlington and New Jersey, and finally visits to mid and western USA and Canada before finishing off our round-the-world trip in Sydney. Consequently we just put updates off and off. Now that we are in the Southern hemisphere with winter exchanged for summer we've managed to put together an account of what's happened to us.


Let's start with Paris. Our previous entry on these pages ( May 16) reported that we got there in mid-April, coming from South Africa. By the time of our posting we'd seen a major campaign appearance of every major candidate: Nicolas Sarkozy, Francois Bayou, Segolene Royale, and Jean Marie Le Pen and the first (Sarkozy) had won and been installed as President. With lots of time then free, we went on to the usual and pleasant figurative diet of museums, seeing more friends, and lots of reading and TV watching. Our real diet wasn't so good for the waistline: We put on several kilos (but at least it was less than a British stone) having a wonderful bakery at our door step and at least a dozen times buying baguette sandwiches at a shop and eating them in a spring-filled park. You'll find lots of details and photos on another page).

Paris to Darlington

When our three months in Paris came to an end we were off to Darlington We'd made that an open-jaw on our round-the-world ticket and we now had to find transport. After much hesitation and puzzling we decided on a Eurolines bus. It was actually a bus-ferry-bus-bus) that took us 20+hours and got us in at 5:30 a.m. having seen a fair amount of countryside and blue wather.


We spent four weeks in Darlington, about half our hours spent with family members. There was lots of catching up to do; nonetheless for the adults in the clan there was little change. We did get clarified on who had changed jobs and what they were doing but our previous ignorance hadn't had any consequences. On the otherhand we got to meet a very young member of the clan who hadn't been born at our last visit. In between were those who had truly become young adults and independent; we visited two new digs and were impressed by how well they were doing.

Unlike Paris or anywhere away from "home" (which doesn't quite have a meaning for us) we didn't go to any museums or even any movies or much of anything; in fact, we only went outside the Darlington limits twice. What time we had to ourselves was spent sorting out our lives, including going through old mail, throwing out 1/3 of our stuff stored in the loft, and trying to put some order into our mountain of digital memories.

From Darlington we went on to a lightning visit in London where we were hosted — very graciously as usual — by Mick and Dinah before we hopped a plane to Frankfurt where we took another plane across the Atlantic to Newark. We are still struggling to get our frequent flyer points for all of these flights!

Vancouver Waterfront Apartments seen from Granville Island
Vancouver Waterfront Apartments seen from Granville Island

New Jersey - NYC - Chicago - Seatle

New Jersey was so chock-a-block full of visits and yet our little ole month there was not enough to see all our friends or much in the way of new sights. At first we were still thinking of buying a car to drive across the continent but we gave up that idea.. We hopped onto an all-night Amtrak from Manhattan to Chicago, our first long-distance train in the USA together. In Deerfield, which is just north of Chicago, we stayed with Gerry's brother Allen and his wife, Barbara We got to meet two neices, one already nine years old though we'd never met her and the other not quite three. Gerry spent some time looking for his roots and found where his grandparents were buried.

From Chicago we flew west via Las Vegas to Seattle. That was a great pair of flights as the weather was clear and much geography was on display, including the Great Plains and their lazy rivers, the Colorado Mountains and the Utah-Nevada desert with all of its reds. We may even have flown over Bryce Canyon and definitely flew over Death Valley and the Lake Tahoe region of the Sierra Nevada. As we approached Seattle we saw what we think was Mt Rainier; whatever it was, it was very impressive. In Seattle our six days flew by; we went out and enjoyed the waterfront, the Pikes Place market, the new outdoor sculpture garden, and the Koolhass Library.


We had to get to Vancouver to catch our plane and to do so took a Greyhound from Seattle. Our first night we were in the most slummy part of downtown (chosen out of ignorance); the drug addicts and bed bugs drove us away to a much more genteel area. We took in lots of the fresh outdoors, including the ferry to the north shore and Capliano River park. Another day we went to Granville Island and its market, which shares a lot of atmosphere with Seattle's Pike Place. Our one and only visit to a museum took us out to the University of British Columbia to the the Anthropology museum. It is a wonderful building and wonderful collection.


We'd ticketed ourselves for a stop in Hawaii enroute from Vancouver to Sydney. But having spent weeks this past year in Phuket, Krabi, and Tioman Island, we didn't expect to be particularly interested in the beach.

However Waikiki won our hearts. The sand was fine and the weather good so every other morning we took an early dip. We walked out to Diamond Head in spite of the heat and then walked up to the old military positions on the top edge of the cone. We had a moving and terrifically interesting day in and around Pearl Harbor: we went out to the sunken Arizona and its above-water monument, to the gigantic USS Missourri, where the Japanese surrender was signed, and saw the comparatively less impressive air museum. We'll go back, perhaps for a long time.


After six days in Hawaii we left for where we are now: Australia. We as good as lost a full day, since we took off just 10 minutes past midnight and only a few hours later crossed the international date line. In Sydney we tried something new, the Kriskindl Hostel, run by an ex-Catholic Priest. While simple it was a very good place for us, very coveniently located, and offering two unexpected great deals: Free breakfast and very good evening snacks. Our business in Sydney was to find a car so that we could drive around Australia. We got rather tired of doing that so spent alternate days just being tourists and thereby went to new places like Paramatta and the Blue Mountains and old places like Bondi Beach.

In the end we did get a car, a nice Hyundai Xcel compact. But before doing that we sort of despaired of finding what we wanted, and having found an apartment in Melbourne for six weeks, took that. Once we had the car (and of course were committed to Melbourne) we set out on what could have been a one or two day trip of 850 km; we turned that into two weeks and 2500 km. Perhaps the most memorable night was spent camping in a national park where we nearly froze. Our tent is basically just a mosquito net with a rain cover! We stopped at about half a dozen beaches along the way, some very remote, and some right in the heart of a city or town, and walked miles and miles.

We've now been in Melbourne four weeks and have two+ to go. We expect to move on to Adelaide, where we think we have another apartment waiting for us; we'll spend three weeks there and go on to Alice Springs and Darwin. And with that we'll leave you until we can post more about the USA and Canada and Australia.

November 22, 2007