Tuesday, June 26, 2007


Response to the comment..

"What's the prize?", indeed. That's a good question. We'll add up the points. Quick rules:

1. Split the year into quarters - that's 13 weeks per, people - and we'll have a winner for each and then a grand champion at the end of the year. I'll decide the prizes later.
2. You get one point for answering each of the following questions: Who or What? Where? When?
- I will determine the correct answers to the questions; for example a picture of my brother and sister can be answered as "your brother and sister", "Joanne and Steve", or "the turds you grew up with" but I won't take "some dude and a chick". If you say "Big Steve and someone that I don't know" I might give you a point, depending on my mood. Cool?
3. You have to email me with your answer by the next week when I post the next picture and the answers to the previous week.
4. I can give out extra points for creativity as I see fit.

And, yes, Ang, you can win even if you were the one that took the picture (thanks for letting me steal that btw).

More contests:
Not really a contest but we still have the poll open on the type of surfboard that I should buy. My credit card company called me up and told me that I can't buy it just yet.. maybe next month.

And in a week or so we'll be putting up a pretty cool contest that anybody would want to win... It will at least be fun for me.


Picture of the Week

This is an easy one.
Any guesses? When and where? I'll even give you points for the who.

Monday, June 25, 2007


This Week

This week will be busy.. Marathon training is taking over my life (16 miles on Sunday) and I'm always tired and hungry. But the big news is that Friday I'm flying up to Sydney for my first trip there. Of course, Sydney is the largest, oldest, and most famous city in Australia. Sure it's winter and they had some huge storms recently but I'm going to see what the have to offer. I may need to make a summer trip as well to see how it compares to Melbourne. At least the surfing's just a walk away instead of a 2 hour drive.

Beached freighter off the coast of Sydney from the storms last week.


Tassie Concluded

Back to Tassie...


I woke up early to make the drive to Hobart in the southeast corner of the island. It's not a long drive, 300km from this hotel, it should take 4 or 5 hours. First I need to find gas, which brought me back to Queenstown. Now in the morning light Queenstown has somehow come alive.. the gas station is open, people are walking around, and even worse, there are hotels everywhere. Where were these last night? No bother now, I filled up the Corolla and went on my way.

The first climb was to see how mining has torn apart and stained the mountains surrounding Queenstown. There's nothing that you can complain about, it just gives you an idea of how this process is done and what it does to the land. I pulled over to see the Iron Blow, which is a huge absence of earth where a mountain once stood. It was very impressive how they removed so much rock and kept the formation so round and the walls so sheer.

I drove on and on through the mountains until I came to Nelson Falls, a short hike from the highway that brings you right to the base of a 100ft waterfall. The signs tell you that early in the morning and late at night you can see platypuses scouring the the bottom of the river but I didn't see any. I looked as much as I could though. It was cool and quiet and a nice place to spend sometime even though there weren't many places to sit because it was so wet.

The next stop was Donaghy's Lookout, just underneath the Frenchman's Cap. Another short hike, the trail brought you to a point that juts out of what seems to be nothing. Suddenly you are far above the surrounding ground and can see a 360 degree panorama of the surrounding mountains and valleys. I don't know who Donaghy was (he probably owned the land at some point) but his lookout was a great place to read, think, or just sit and admire the surrounds.

The last stop on this trip to Hobart was Tarraleah - I needed coffee and the sign told me that they had a cafe. And that they did - a very nice cafe on the edge of town where it would have been nice to have lunch but instead I took my coffee to go. Before I got back in the car I had a look at the enormous power generator that they had in the town. They diverted two rivers through some very large pipes and then sent the water, still in the pipes, down a very steep part of the mountain into the generator at the bottom. It was a nice little town and I was glad I stopped.

The rest of the drive to Hobart was flat and not very interesting. I pulled into town and it was still light, which is what I needed to find my way around and a place to stay. I did one or two laps of the city before I parked and wandered into the Information Centre - they have these all over Australia and they are extremely helpful. They have brochures, book tours, maps, and for me, today, they found me accommodation. I would have settled for a small hotel with paper-thin walls and a small lamp on a table for light but they put me up in a very nice Mercure Hotel in the CBD for a reasonalbe price and full breakfast - high class all the way.

I was checked in and had the necessities out of the car and it was time to explore the town. I did a quick walk by the water and made my way over to Battery Point - a very nice (and I'm sure expensive) part of town with roads that wound by old houses and small shops. I found a nice Irish pub (naturally) where I stopped for a Guinness but they were setting up for dinner so I didn't stay long. I found The New Sydney Hotel, another pub that seemed to be a bit more lively so I stopped in there for what must have been the worst veggie burger that I've ever had. Aside from that, it is a great place and I would recommend it. And that's where I finished the night, it has been a long trip already and sleep was very inviting...


I woke up early but not early enough to see the sun rise over the harbor. I had enough time to get Macquarie Point but not enough time to get a coffee on the way. When I got to my viewing point I realized a couple of things - Hobart doesn't face the ocean, there's a large piece of land directly east of the city, although, on the other side of the river. Second, because the sun has to rise about the town opposite, it takes a lot longer to become visible so I was sitting on the point - without coffee - 20 minutes after 'sunrise' waiting for the sun to show itself. Finally it appeared, pictures were taken, and I was on my way back to the hotel for my inclusive full breakfast (that means buffet!).

There are plenty of small towns that boast some sort of historical significance or another but I wasn't having any of it. I was on the fast road to Launceston, the third oldest city in Australia, and I think the nicest town in Tasmania (from what I've seen). At first it didn't seem that they had too much but once I found the main streets and the cafes it was quite a charming town. I also found a nice little bookstore where I, of course, bought some books. And in the park they have a Japanese Macaque exhibit where you can watch the monkeys sit around, groom each other, and sometimes get in fights. The kids of the town seem to love it, which convinced me to leave a little earlier than I would have liked. Don't get me wrong, I like kids but kids and monkeys and trying to be quiet doesn't add up. I didn't want to be late for the boat anyway and I wasn't exactly sure how long it would take me to get up to Devonport.

Well, it didn't take very long to get up to Devonport so I had a lot of time to kill, which shouldn't be too hard because the ferry lands here so there should be plenty to do in town. That was my first mistake - the only thing worth doing in Devonport is getting drunk then falling onto the boat but even the pubs weren't open. Nothing was open except for the gambling establishments but I'm really not into those. I did find a cafe that let me in for a while but that time waiting for them to finally let us on the boat was just hell.

And then I was back on the ferry on my way back to Melbourne with a better idea of how I would see Tasmania on the next trip. Hobart and/or Launceston on one trip. Hiking on another. They don't go together, especially for just a weekend.

Monday, June 18, 2007



Before I finish off my Tassie trip, which won't take too much longer - I promise, I wanted throw in a quick race report.. Yesterday I did the Run to the G Half Marathon as part of my marathon training. The start time was 7:15am in Fed Sq but there aren't any trams or buses that get there from here that early in the morning so I had to drive up to the city. Then it was really cold and I just didn't want to be there - leading me to declare "This is f-ing stupid". But as I started to wake up I felt a little better about the race.

Then the gun went off.. the course was crap and other runners didn't corral themselves properly but I had a good run. Again, I was using this race as a practice for pacing and I was looking for a pace of 7:45min/mile. I had my splits written on my bib, my watch on my wrist and I was going to do it. Well, it didn't happen that way.

I started out fast and knew that I could keep it up for the entire race.

I finished at 1:33:18 official (1:33:17 watch), which is 7:07min/mile pace.. I'll take that.

Sunday, June 17, 2007


Tassie - Friday and Saturday

Well, Friday was a work day that turned into a going-away party (I go to a lot of these) for a couple that are doing a 5 month tour of Australia before they move back to Europe. But I really didn't have much time to stick around because the boat was leaving at 8 and I needed to be on board about an hour before that.

The Spirit of Tasmania was great, it was an 11 hour.. uhh, float? Voyage? It went from 8pm to 7am, they had bars, restaurants, and a casino on board, they even had a store and an information center. I was able to walk around, go out on deck, go to the bar and read, get a coffee. Plus, I already had a car to get around the island with and for some reason I like the slow travel of boats and trains.
I had a general idea what I wanted to do: a counter-clockwise tour of the island, some hiking, maybe some camping, and end the weekend by checking out the cities. Tassie is covered in national and state parks but I really only had time for small hikes just off the road and I was hoping that would hold me over for a time.
The cars are parked in the lower levels of the ship and they unload one or two levels at a time to avoid congestion and keep the amount of exhaust down. So I'm on level one and they're calling for levels 3 and 5 - that's easy, I just need to wait around, drink my coffee, no big deal. About 10 minutes later there's an announcement over the PA - "would the owner of a blue Corolla, rego #..." SOB - yup, I was "that guy". My car was parked on level 3.

So I'm on the road, flying down a seaside highway on my way to Burnie - I don't know what's there but it does have a junction to head down to Cradle Mt, which is my first stop. Turns out Burnie had some coffee and a vegie pasty (or is it pastie?) for me before I turned south to drive the winding roads through the start of the wild part of Tassie.
Cradle Mountain and it's jagged summit, though not the highest in Tassie, is the iconic symbol of the state. There are signs everywhere pointing out it's location but none that point out that Mt Ossa, the highest mountain, is only 25km south. I had no intentions of climbing the mountain but there were some tracks along the base of the mountain and around Dove Lake that would offer some great views of Cradle Mt and it's surroundings. When I arrived at the parking lot and saw the huge mountain in the distance with it's steep peak jutting out of the ground it only solidified the idea that today was not the day for this. But then there was a sign that said, "Cradle Mt summit.. 6km". I looked around.. 12k return? To that? I can do that.

The decision was made, it was 10:15am and it gets dark around 5pm, sure it's only 12km but look at that thing. So I signed in at the hikers registry, threw every piece of cold weather gear that I had into my pack. Hat - check; gloves - check; coat - check; headlamp - check; extra food and water - uhh, I had a bottle of water and a granola bar.. hmmm... let's do it.

The track leading up to the mountain was not difficult but gained a significant amount of altitude. There were also some great views just from the various lookouts. I was still unsure about the final approach but when I got up there it wasn't too bad. It was a lot of handholds and pulling up but nothing too difficult. Once I made it over the first peak there was quite a bit of snow and it could be easy to slide down into the rocks but luckily that didn't happen. From the summit it seemed you could see all of Tasmania. The walk back was easier than expected too but getting down the rocks was difficult as it can be harder to get down then to go up. Total time - 4hrs. Piece of cake.

From there I was looking for food, there was a 'cafe' just outside of the park but under "Hot Lunches" on the menu on the wall was absolutely nothing. Because it's winter they weren't serving anything so I just got a coffee and a water. From there I was going to drive down to Queenstown to get some food and possibly spend the night, I had my tent but it was pretty cold. I picked Queenstown solely on the fact that the name was printed in larger font on the map than any of the surrounding towns but when I came to a T in the road there was a sign that said Zeehan to the right followed by symbols for hotel, gas, food and then Queenstown to the left but not followed by an symbols at all. But I was confident in the larger font and if there's a problem then I'll just continue on to Hobart. Well, the latter idea was quickly thrown out the window when I saw a sign that said "Hobart - 289km", it was already dark, I'm tired, and these roads are anything but straight and flat, there's no way that I could make it to Hobart. Ahh, Queenstown.

My dreams and confidence of Queenstown being the answer to my hungriness and sleepiness disappeared as soon as I got a glimpse of the town - or, more accurately, the enormous mine splitting the mountain next to the town. Yes, it was a mining town. As I drove down the main street I had the feeling that I shouldn't be there - first of all, I think I was the only one there, the streets were empty, second, I don't think they get too many visitors. A pizza place.. yes it's open.. sweet. I went in to place my order and the place is being run by teenage girls and there are no adults to be seen at all. But I place my order - one cheese pizza - that will take about 35 minutes.. I glance around, you're kidding me, right? I'm the only one here. Oh well. I felt kind of weird just sitting in the pizza place so I walked outside and saw a grocery store across the street - that works, I need some food since I ate my one granola bar on the mountain. This place was being run by teenage boys. What is going on here? Do all of the adults work in the mines and the kids run the town? 40 minutes later I was happily eating my pizza - in my car - and then turned my mind to where I was going to sleep that night. Queenstown has done enough for me for today.

There's a town, Strahan, not too far from there and it has an airport - this place has got to be huge. The road there didn't suggest that. It was about 40km and just turn after turn and I was driving fast - I don't know how I made it - I did see one wallaby though, I'm glad he didn't run in front of my car. This is a problem in Australia, like other places, animals come out at night and run into the street in front of your car so I just knew that a kangaroo or a wallaby was going to become my new hood ornament (imagine returning that to the rental car place - it was there when I got it?) but I lucked out and didn't hit anything. Strahan was lacking my needs as well but now I need something else - gas - and the one station in Strahan was closed - it was 6pm! I couldn't get much further on what I had. Strahan was a bust. Do I sleep in the car? There's one more chance - Zeehan (from before) is not too far from here and there's a road between where I am and there so I don't have to backtrack. I know there's gas, food, and hotels there, the sign told me so. And I can just barely make it there on the gas that I have.

Pulling into Zeehan I had the only close call for endangering any animals as someone's cat ran out in front of me. After driving through town I decided that if there was any town that I wouldn't stay in without a damn good reason, it's Zeehan. This place is dodgy.. I'm not kidding. I guess I can sleep in the car somewhere.. wait.. there's a not so bad hotel. I walked in and asked if they had any rooms available and without even thinking or looking at the book in front her she said 'yes'. "And how much would that be?" "102 dollars." "Sold!"

Then she said to me, "Are you here 4 wheel driving?" "Umm, no." Seemed like a weird question. "Where do I park?" "Out back by the room." As I walked to the car I noticed that it was really getting cold and I was happy to have a room to sleep in instead of my tent or car. Then as I pulled into the back parking lot her question started to make sense, there were 4wd's everywhere and they were all covered in mud. These things were huge and here I am pulling in with my little Toyota Corolla hatchback thinking, "Just please don't tip my car over while I'm sleeping." I really wanted to take some pictures but didn't want the flash to bring any unwanted attention to me so I decided to pass.

So, my first night in Tasmania was spent in a very cold hotel room with a space heater and me lying in bed watching footy on tv and wondering what was going to happen tomorrow...

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


Back from Tassie

So, I made it back from my crazy tour of Tasmania - 4 days if you count the first night on the boat. I think I'm going to cut this up into different posts and do one day at a time to be sure that it gets done in a good time. And those that read all of the posts will be rewarded with the picture slide show on the last day. But to get you started, here are a few pictures:

Map of Tasmania

View from the summit of Cradle Mountain

View from Donaghy's Lookout

Cooking with Gas in Launceston
And make sure you check out Kelly's new blog from paradise. The link's to the left.

Monday, June 04, 2007


Help with my new board

As stated in my last post, I have been looking to get a surfboard and demoed one yesterday known as a stubby and I've decided that I'm going to get one of those. So, I need your help, I'm getting a 7' 6" stubby from the surfshop down the street from me and you can help me pick the color - they'll paint it for me.

No graphics, just one color with different color stripes. Stick to easy colors because they have to mix them themselves. Plain white is cheaper and is probably the most popular, I can add lines to that, and it can be glossy or not.

One thing to think about: I'm what they call in surfing lingo as, um, "not good" and one thing I don't really want to do is look like a poseur by buying a fancy board and not knowing what to do with it. See where I'm going with that?


Monday Post

M-Fs got us.. you've got to be kidding me. A great rubber game at Fenway that ends with A-Rod, after everything Red Sox Nation put him through the last 3 days, putting one into the bullpen in the 9th.. off of Pap no less. I bet the Yankee fans are loving it (at least those dirty bastards that actually pay attention, not the stupid people that wear the hat 'cause everyone else GD does). M-F! Lane - Not Happy!

Friday wasn't a bad night, a few of us went to a small pub down the street from me. The band started up, very loudly, covering Stones' songs so a really not to bad. Great people watching, it seems that this band must play there a lot because most people knew they would be there and since they're all Stones fans, I think most of them were older than my parents. Some crazies too.

Saturday is my rest day but I was ready to spend some money. I hung around to watch the Sox lose to the Yankees then finally bought some balcony furniture but of course it is stinking cold here so I'll be out there all bundled up, maybe I'll light a candle to warm up. Then I headed up to a running store in Kew East where I spent A$... let's just say a bit of money on new running shoes. They're the next generation Asics of what I've been using so now I'm running 2 pairs of 2120s and a pair of 2110s. I checked out some surfboards too, sort of picked out the type that I want but the place said I could demo one so I took the used one for Sunday's trip to Philip Island. Lastly, just hanging out - dinner and a smoothie - this is what it comes down to during marathon training.

I had a plan for Sunday. I was being picked up around 7:30am to go surfing but I had to run 12 miles that day too. Go surfing and then run? No let's run first. That means a 4:30 wake up call.. Think that can happen? I woke up at 4:20 without the alarm, got up, ran a great 12 miles and then... the alarm went off. You know what's worse than waking up at 4:30 to run? Waking up dreaming that you've already run 12 miles. But I did the 12 - in the cold - man it's cold here and was back in time to be picked up. We some how fit 3 guys and 3 boards in an Astra and drove the 1.5 hrs to Philip Island and Woolamai Beach. Woolie is known for it's rip and big swells and is not a beginners' beach. What am I? Yeah, a beginner. The board was great but the waves were huge and I just got wrecked on a few of them. And then it was even worse trying to get back out there. I did survive, although tired and cold, and can't wait to get out there again. Rest of the day? Yeah, nothing.

I have 18 weeks until the Melbourne Marathon and two weeks until the Run to the G Half Marathon. Last week I ran all 7 days for a total of 37 miles and today was my 12th day in a row of running. I've switched to running in the mornings and it has just been cold, I can't say that enough, and it rained one day too. Running every day can kill your joints and muscles and what the experts are saying, and this is used religiously by Scott Jurek and Dean Karnazes, is to jump in a cold tub after your run to constrict the blood flow and lower the swelling. Well, I don't have a tub but I have a shower and when it rains or is cold my knees swell up but this makes the swelling go away right away. This really works and I use it after just about every run but can you think of anything worse than coming in from a 6 mile run in 40F temps and cold rain and then taking a cold shower? ...I haven't thought of anything either.

Question: I'm going to Tasmania from next Friday to Tuesday, I can run Friday morning, Saturday and Monday are only 3 miles so I can do that on the island and Tuesday when I get home but I'm supposed to do 14 miles on Sunday, how am I going to squeeze that in? Any suggestions?

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