Saturday, April 07, 2012

NSW: Bondi Beach

Day 3 of our Sydney adventure continues, by now we were falling into a nice routine. Ill spare you the long and boring details, lets just say that we woke up early got ready and headed out, past the creepy cemetery and to the creepy train station. Yep still deserted but no zombies in sight, this only further cements the fact that i have seen wayyyyyy to many movies. This day was pretty uneventful, our plan was to hit up Bondi Beach i mean we had been in Australia over a week and still had not gone to the beach.....well thats just not at all acceptable!! 1st though. Remember Cha Time? That little asian tea place that we found the day before? Remember how much we loved it and i vowed we would return? Yeah it happened! Priorities first right, i mean why walk around on a hot day if you don't have a delicious iced green tea thing infused with other fruit flavor goodness to make life bearable. So yeah, Cha Time in hand and we were off to Bondi! Our journey came to a screeching halt though when we had to get oe a bus and realized that all of Sydney wanted to go to Bondi as well. Gotta pay your dues in order to get to the prize i suppose, so there we were in this bus depot surrounded by a bunch of sweaty people waiting for the next bus. I should have mooed like a cow cus it really wasn't far from the truth. While we waited we were treated to watching an Asian guy trying to force his way onto the bus by cutting in line or as the Aussies call it "jumping the queue" I will admit that it took me a while to catch on to what this term meant. When i first heard it i was so confused, i thought that there was a big letter Q on the ground that i wasn't seeing and people where jumping over it or something. Needless to say that i felt like a total idiot when i finally caught on. I learned something standing in that station surrounded by sweaty teenagers and 20 somethings......Australians are really laid back. You always hear of how laid back they are but never think that its actually true. Well its true, take this situation for example they all saw the guy trying to cut in front of the line but nobody really cared. They saw him, laughed and then went on about their business. If this were happening here in the states oh man that guy better watch out cus someones going to go ballistic on him. I must admit that i do get ticked off at stuff like that and get into this mode of "Look at this guy cutting in line! PREPOSTEROUS!! How dare you sir?! What gives you the right?! IM ZO!!!! and the 30 seconds that you are are stealing from me by cutting in front......yeah i want them back or else I'm gonna bring the pain!!" Ok not that dramatic but you know what i mean, in the end it all worked out. He tried to get on the bus, the driver laughed at him and kicked him off which in turn made all of us laugh at was a wonderful moment. So on the bus we were and finally on our way to the beach, we finally got there and the water was absolutely beautiful. Holy cow though! IT WAS CROWDED!!!! It felt like there was barely any place to move, we walked around for a little while. jen was somewhat reluctant to to go into the water not because she was afraid of it but because i had about 50 grand worth of gear in my back pack and it a little unnerving to leave it on the beach with so many people around. We almost left with out going in the water but that would have been silly, so i convinced jen that we should go for a swim. We found a spot close to the water and went for a dip, the water was awesome. Clear blue green ocean, beautiful sunny day with a few puffy clouds here and there, water was a little chillier than expected but very refreshing. Despite the crowds it was a fantastic 1st swim in Australia :) The area was very beautiful, long stretch of sand, a nice albeit crowded area to walk above the sand and off in the distance houses on the side of the cliffs that invoke great jealousy. Along the boardwalk there were a bunch of vendors that had everything from surfboards to umbrellas for hire (for rent). Definitely a very energetic scene, or an introverts worst nightmare. We spent pretty much the entire afternoon here people watching and sun baking ( laying out ) it was very relaxing. Eventually hunger reared it ugly head and we headed out. We looked for a coffee shop that was recommended by a friend who had been there before but it turned out to be closed. So we made the journey back to the city and went to Darling Harbour where we perused the menus of the many restaurant along the water front. Eventually we picked a place that sounded good and had a tasty meal, Jen had lobster and i ordered a burger. I was excited for my burger and a little scared at the same time, it wasn't anything crazy or anything but Australians make their burgers with a slice of red beet. When you're used to something as time honored as a burger it a little difficult to deviate and try something new. Still i tried it and found it surprisingly delicious! Full and happy and the sun having set we decided that we were pooped and headed back. We headed back exhausted but happy and ready for another day......

Bondi Beach Pano1 flat

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Lake Calaveras in bloom.....

A few weeks ago i posted a blog entry with some wildflowers that i went out to shoot. Spring continues forward and everywhere there are patches of color, some are huge fields of yellow flowers while others are tiny flowers that you have to hunt for. I decided to go out in search of more flowers to photograph and take advantage of this time before summer hits and they all wilt and die. My wife and i have been hiking and running with out dogs in some of the back trails at Lake Calavera, last few times we have gone i haven't taken my gear. This gave me an opportunity to just explore and see what areas i would want to visit, yesterday i decided to go out and actually shoot. It was fantastic!! Nice 2 mile hike in and not a person and site and some beautiful light and i was practically in heaven. I plan to go out a few more times and try to capture as much as i can get. I really encourage all of you reading this to go out and explore, i know that i keep saying this but i really feel that its important for us to go out and truly learn to appreciate the beauty of our home. If we don't take the time to do so we will never know what we could lose in the name of human progress. ENJOY!!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Spring has officially arrived!!

It is official, spring is finally here! Say goodbye to the cold and windy days of winter and trade your warm coats for shorts and flip flops.......its time to bask in the sun. Wild flowers are blooming everywhere do yourself a favor and get out to see them, it'll put a big smile on your face. I guarantee it :)

Sunday, March 18, 2012

NSW: Sydney Fish Market, Royal Botanic Gardens & McQuaries Point

As you can see it has been a while since my last post, the inevitable business of the California life has set in and i have had very little time. Still i want to continue with this journey and hope that you will join me along the way. So it may take a while but i will eventually get through our Australia trip, i do have some other posts that i will do that will break up the continuity of the blog as i am working on a little personal project......but more on that later. Also a big thank you to my wife as she was a huge help to me in figuring out what the heck we did on day two. She kept a journal of our trip and it was absolutely invaluable as my memories are complete mush now and i can't remember what happened from day to day. Ok! So day 2.........We got up early, despite our exhaustion from the previous night we were up and ready to face the day. Early mornings were becoming the trend of the trip and they had to be if we were going to be able to do anything and keep to our schedule. If any of you know me well you probably know that i am not what you would call a morning person, and unless you have a big cup of coffee in hand to bring as an offering it is generally advised that you do not disturb my slumber. Strangely enough though i found it fairly easy to get up in the morning while in Australia. Getting up was a bit disorienting the first week and a half or so, i would wake up thinking that i would see my bed and my dogs and when i didn't i had that feeling of "where the heck am i?" Slowly i got used to the fact that we were living in a camper van and that no i wasn't kidnapped by terrorists. So after catching my bearings we made some coffee and ate a quick breakfast of yogurt and fruit and off we were! Begin our hike to the train station, arrive at train station.........still deserted and creepy, be on the lookout for zombies, train arrives and all is well. After our last venture into the city and our trusty iPhones plus a map we were somewhat familiar with the layout and knew what we wanted to do. Todays mission should we choose to accept it (and we did) was to check out the Sydney Fish market and scope out a site from where to watch New Years Eve Fireworks. We got off at our stop and picked our route to see some of the city on our way to the fish market.........but wait.....whats that?! is that an asian tea place i spy with my little eye?! Indeed it is! So we went there 1st, it was a place called Chatime, they had all sorts of Asian drinks like bolba tea (which jen likes for some unknown reason) and for the more normal various green teas mixed with fruit flavors......ummmm yes please! Got our drinks........OMG! DELICIOUS!!! Yeah we would be visiting that place several times again. Off we went to the market and a long the way we check out the harbor area wich had all sorts of fountains and play areas for kids. It was really cool, there were families everywhere, hanging out on the grass, playing at the playground with their kids and little kids swimming in the huge fountains. The cities all seemed to have big central places where people could all get together to hang out, it was really neat to see and really makes me wish that San Diego county had areas like that. i don't know why but we seem to be so antisocial here in the states it really makes for a lonely existence and its depressing to realize this every time we leave california. So we hung out here for a little while and were back on our way, we walked and walked and walked for what seemed like an eternity. I was sore and my backpack weighs a ton with all my gear, it was not really pleasant and on top of that we were hungry but we pushed trough it. Our destination was close, we had read some things here and there about the fish market but didn't really know what to expect. The only thing that we had in our minds was that it was like Pike's Market in Washington but for fish, we were somewhat correct. We were finally there and we saw a lot of seafood restaurants the closer we got to the entrance, there were trucks everywhere taking fish to who knows where and of course tons of birds waiting to get their beaks on some scraps. The crowd became much more dense as we walked towards the entrance, unlike Pike's which has big open areas and parts are outdoors this was all an indoor market. Which makes sense as if you had it outdoors you would be getting attacked from above from all the birds. Finally inside and i could not believe at how many people were there!! They were everywhere that i could barely move a few feet without running into someone. It was complete and utter craziness in there, and everywhere there was people trying to order food yelling at each other because it was so loud in there. It was a complete frenzy of activity everywhere you looked, food orders being called out over microphones, people yelling to get their orders in, employees throwing ice on fish..........i was on overload. The place was big for a fish market but not that big, slowly we moved forward and made our way to see that different places to get food. Despite my introverted nature that made me want to go cower in a dark corner because of the people overload i managed to push through it and get some photos. Once the camera was out i was all business and had a lot of fun shooting, this was the 1st time that i was glad that i had the D700 with me for many technical reasons that i won't get into here but suffice it to say that it allowed me to shoot and get photos that would otherwise not have been as good with my D300. The immense amount of fish and the diversity of it was absolutely amazing. It is unbelievable the incredible amount of diversity that exists in our oceans and that so much of its wildlife provides food for us. Eventually we were able to get some food, we ate some fresh sashimi ahi which was very delicious but not very filling, so we went and ordered a relatively small seafood platter which turned out to be huge and it came with with fish and chips, oysters, shrimp, scallops, octopus and several other things that were all delicious. Full we headed back into the city via train and headed to the botanic gardens, we walked through more of the city exploring different parks and admiring some old buildings. We arrived at the gardens and explored for a little bit stopping to photograph various flowers and plants here and there.......but the real treat was to be what dwelled in the skies. As we moved deeper into the gardens i heard this absolutely terrible sound coming from everywhere, it was an unbelievably annoying squawking sound and i could not figure out what it was or where it was coming from. Then i looked up in the trees and saw that there were cockatoos everywhere! i think i was the only one there that was in the least excited about this because everyone kept looking at me like i was some crazy person being so excited to photograph these birds. Now I've seen cockatoos before in zoos or as pets but to see any kind of animal in the wild is a real treat! As beautiful as these birds are though they have by far the most annoying vocalization on the face of the planet, it is absolutely terrible and they sound like someone is pulling them apart piece by piece. i loved them though and had a great time seeing them interact, my favorite thing though is their feathers on top of their heads. They are so expressive with them and anytime something caught their attention these yellow feathers would stand up......made me smile every time. Alas the one bummer was that i really needed something longer than a 200mm lens......oh well. After all this excitement we continued on and headed to McQuaries point to finish off the the day and catch sunset. McQuaries point was a beautiful area with great views of the harbor and we decided that we would watch the fireworks from here, little did we know what a fiasco that day would be.......but more on that later. For now we just enjoyed the setting sun and the endless beauty of this place and looked forward to another day of adventures. The sunset was beautiful and as the skies darkened the lights of the city came to life and everything took on a completely different energy........cold and hungry we made our way back to the opera house and enjoyed a relaxing dinner. After that we gathered whatever energy we had left and headed back home, again we reached our van and just collapsed happy and satisfied looking forward to another day :)