Sydney, Australia

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Author:  Pete
Location:  Sydney, Australia

We all flew down to Sydney for a couple days’ city fix before my folks headed back to the northern hemisphere.  It felt a bit sacrilegious to be flying into one of the most spectacular harbor cities in the world with a perfectly good boat just a few (hundred) miles up the coast.   But, better to see the city by land then not at all though.

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Sydney is a stunning city, perfect for a couple days of nose-following.  There are landmarks, topography, and waterfront to keep one’s orientation.  Most of our time was spent finding new places to eat!  You’d think we’d been on a diet of fish and coconut for years!

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As we promenaded along the wharves one of the days we passed a floating building which turned out to be the cruise ship Carnival Spirit.  It’s the enormous white monster in the picture that’s the as big as the Harbor Bridge.  That was the same ship that almost ran us down at night in the Tasman Sea on our crossing!  Okay, okay.  He was four miles away, lit up like a Vegas Christmas, and very courteous on the radio.  Still, I really wanted to knock on the hull and see if I could meet their radio officer.  Thought that might not go over so well.  Move along, small fry.

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Another day we walked the Harbor Bridge with its sweeping views of the iconic Sydney Harbor.  Ferries muscle through the waters throwing heavy wake and turning the protected bays into chop even on the windless day.  I didn’t want to sail into the harbor anyway, says the fox of the grapes…

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In our wanderings we met many of the white, feathered locals gathering to picnic in the parks around the city.  These rambunctious cockatoos seemed to always congregate near dusk.  Apparently people bring snacks for them often enough that the birds will alight on your shoulders or head looking for munchies.  Cockatoos love munchies.  Who doesn’t?

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We happened to be in town when a David Bowe tribute was going on at the Sydney Opera House and got tickets to see the show.  The Sydney Philharmonic was playing behind a rock band with ostentatious vocalists.  I’m not sure if the professional orchestra musicians were incensed to be performing behind the oppressive screech of rock music (“Ugh.  Really?  Three notes in the whole song?”) or loved the novelty of it (“Yes!  So sick of Chopin!“).  Some got really into it, like the timpani player, hammering away on the kettle drums and the sax player who got to rip out on a screeching, jazzy solo.  How often does he get to do that?  Others, like the bassoonist, sat stock still, even through his solo.  Bowe loved a good bassoon solo!  Who doesn’t?

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We also went to our first rugby match!  It was very exciting to watch, something like a guessing game of what the rules might be.  Despite our ignorance, it was a gorgeous evening to witness head injuries.  Plus, Miranda loves the short shorts and huge legs on rugby guys.  Who doesn’t?

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And then it was time to head out!  Back to the states for my folks, back to Brisbane keep working on selling the boat for us!  Ciao Sydney!  Thank you, and goodnight!

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Knot Tying in Texas

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Author:  Pete
Location:  Dallas, Texas

 

I was a little apprehensive about leaving my baby to fly all the way to Hal’s wedding in Dallas, but Miranda insisted that she’d take good care of the boat in my absence.  Long flights don’t get to me, but it’s tough seeing the thousands of hard won miles of open ocean sliding effortlessly by under the 737, deceptively benign and maybe a little smug. 

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Hal picked me up at the airport and it was game-on despite the jet lag.  Pre-wedding frivolities ensued which I will leave without description in the interest of dignity preservation.  In accordance with Texas state legislature though, guns and whiskey were central fixtures of the wedding weekend.  For safety concerns, these civil liberties were not enjoyed at the same time.  Nothing pisses off a bride, even as chill as Taylor, like an unscheduled hospital run.

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Hal and Taylor threw a couple incredible days of reveling.  The ceremony was held in the oldest post office in Dallas.  Sounds odd, but it was a fabulous venue.  The upstairs courthouse that held the reception had once presided over the trials of Bonnie and Clyde’s cohorts and Roe v. Wade.  Hal looked like a million bucks, with a smile as enormous as his personality beaming out from under that Grizzly Adams beard when Taylor came sparkling down the aisle in her dress.  The ceremony was lovely; I think some residual sea salt worked its way into my eye at some point.  Dinner, dancing, and debauchery followed in true Foster fashion, spiced up by some old Charlevoix amigos, Spencer and Brandon.  You’d need to work hard to not have fun with a crew like that.  I was, however, appropriately sad that Miranda wasn’t along to join in the merriment.  

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Another perk of the trip was getting to spend some time with my buddy Mike.  We remedied the wedding hangover with a tour of the Dallas brew pub scene.  Mikey is a master beer craftsman and is opening his own brewery this year in Boyne City, Michigan.  We disguised our afternoon bar crawl under the official seal of Stiggs Brewing Company as “research and industrial espionage.”

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Travel back to the other side of the world went as well as could be expected.  Sixteen hours to Sydney with a ten hour layover, four hours to Auckland, and a harrowing three hour car ride on the wrong side of the road back to Whangarei.  The total dissolution of December 14th completed my chronometric vertigo and rounded out the trifecta of days lost to the International Dateline.  I’ll take jet lag over seasickness any day though!

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