Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Time to play.......

Well, it's official; I'll be home in time to have Turkey! I will have SO much to be thankful for this year!!!! Look forward to catching up with everyone......3 short weeks.

I'm finishing up in the office in Auckland today (Wednesday) and headed south to Taupo New Zealand for a day of trout fishing and then another day or two of whatever strikes my fancy. Check out www.dreamtrout.com for my guide and the area I'll be fishing. I hope to have so (true) fish tales to tell in a day or two :) Otherwise, I assure you I will make some up! :) Back in Sydney Saturday or Sunday.

Good luck to Dave in the New York Marathon! You'll tear it up! Run strong........

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Sunday in Auckland-Devonport

I headed out early Sunday to get a run in and be a spectator during the Auckland Marathon at the same time. I timed leaving the hotel to catch the 10K runners at the 3K mark and ran along the sidewalk with them for a mile or so. When they turned around, I headed out a bit farther and caught up with the marathon route. Ended up running the last 4-5K my run with the leaders…….I ran on the sidewalk and back a touch to not interfere, but it was cool to be with them.

Roy and I met up around 9 and took the ferry across the harbor to Devonport. It's a more "neighborhood" village but still very close to the City. Some amazing old houses and tree-lined streets. We walked up North Head, which is a point overlooking the harbour in several directions. It used to be an old war fort and still has tunnels under the ground and gun turrets. Strolled another couple kilometers to Mt. Victoria which is a really high "cone" extinct volcano. Superb views of the city.

Finished up with a nice long visit to the spa at the hotel….sauna, steam room, weights, jacuzzi, and a quick dip in the pool…..and then a good ole pub dinner. Not a bad weekend in Auckland! I also booked a trip down to Taupo for later in the week to go fishing and hiking!!! More on that later.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Time in Auckland

Roy and I arrived in New Zealand on the last flight from Australia Tuesday night. Got up early the next morning and walked out to dreary weather….cool and rainy. It was just like my last trip and I was again not impressed! Ah, but after 4 days in Auckland I'm beginning to warm up to the place. The weather has been on and off nice and I've come to determine it's just the way it is. The winds blow a good bit and the weather changes often.

I have toured a decent bit via my daily runs and Dinner restaurant searches, and it really is a cool place. There is water EVERYWHERE! Harbours, bays, inlets, rivers……and there then to be trails next to all of them. Ok, maybe that is why I am digging the place……I went for a run today and put in 9 miles entirely on a harbor path.

There wasn't much in the way of fun and excitement the first 3 days in town, as we were working pretty hard on the local phone system replacement effort. But Saturday gave us an opportunity to tour a bit. After a run, Roy and I grabbed a light breakfast at a little cafĂ© and then grabbed a ferry to Waiheke Island (pronounced like the place in Hawaii). It a pretty big island but we were both surprised that there aren't a ton of people there. The scenery is much more what I expected of New Zealand….lush, rugged, and stunning views. We hike a couple hours around a few bays and then stopped in the town of Oentas for lunch. Walked back to the pier and caught the 3PM ferry back to town. I'll post some pictures in a bit. A super day and my head is clear of any lingering memories of a long work week!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Beach, Sports, and Music all in one day!

One of the projects I've been working on for almost the entire time I have been in Australia, a phone and voicemail replacement for the Australia and New Zealand Offices, goes live Monday! It has been an extremely long week, but we wrapped up things Friday night around 8:30PM and so far things seem smooth. I'm off to Auckland on Tuesday to do finish up the same effort in their offices.

After a few celebratory pints Friday night, I was home and sleeping like a baby after a few nights of less that optimal sleep. Saturday was to be stellar weather, so I got up nice and early to head out for a run. After a bit of breakfast, I ended up heading to Manly Beach with a work colleague from out of town. He wanted to see a bit and it seemed like a fun thing to do on a nice day! Walked around the North Head of Sydney Harbour from Manly and soaked up the sun and breeze.

I headed back around 4 and then zipped down to The Rose (pub) for some brews before the Sydney FC football game. 4 of us hopped in a cab and zipped of to see a head-breaking 1-0 loss by Sydney. They had many opportunities to score goals and just couldn't take advantage. Normally, the gang goes out after the game (started at 7 and the games are almost exactly 100 minutes….45 minute halves, 10 minute halftime, and no time breaks during the game) but everyone was calling it a night. I looked at my watch and realized that I could probably still make the Linkin Park concert. I had free tickets from work. So I hussled about 5K down to the entertainment center and walked in literally as they were taking the stage! Stayed for about an hour and a half and then zipped home. A great show….a little hard for me, but I was pretty impressed at the energy and the crowd was totally into it.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Pylon Bridge Climb

I decided it was high time to go walk up the Sydney Harbour Bridge pylon to get a birds eye view of the harbour. There are 4 pylons, two on each side of the bridge. Contrary to standard logic, the pylons do not support the bridge. They were put there just for aesthetic reasons, apparently. One of them has an office for CityRail, two of them serve as vent stacks for the tunnel that goes under the harbour, and one is open for walking to the top of. They say it's 200 steps to the top, but it only took a few minutes to walk up the steps to the top. There are several stops along the way where they have signs and other exhibits highlighting the history of the bridge.

Here is a cool shot of the area called Circular Quay (note the ferry terminals) with downtown Sydney (or the CBD as it is referred to...Central Business District) in the background.

Saturday, October 13, 2007


With a few business trips that will occupy a solid 10+ days, I realized that my time in Sydney is growing short! I flipped through my "to-do-in-Sydney" list I made over the first several months I was here. I've crossed off every one of the items on the list except for the one that said "Weekend Markets". There are various markets scattered around the city on the weekends that sell fresh produce, trinkets, etc. So, I decided that was my goal for Saturday!

I headed out for a walk to the Kings Cross area for an organic produce market. It was rather small and certainly not worth the 40 minutes it too me to walk there. I guess the only good thing was that they had a booth with some good looking bread so I bought a small sourdough roll for later. On to the next market! About another 30 minute walk brought me to Surry Hills. They were having a weekend festival with music and such along with tons of booths selling produce and other goods. Sat down on the grass, listened to some tunes and ate my roll and a fruit smoothie. The picture here is one of the bands.....check out what they are wearing!

Off to the next! Pyrmont is were the local fish market is, but they had their weekend fruit/vegetable market this weekend as well. Bought some items here.....a couple avocados, some green beans, and some exceptional looking asparagus. At this point I'm wiped out from my tour-de-markets, so it's time to head back for a rest! I stopped off for a coffee and some people watching in Darling Harbour and then stumble back to the apartment for a rest.

The coolest thing about my market tour was it really got me walking through some of the inter-city cool neighborhoods. I've run through a bunch of them, but it was neat seeing all the areas with their individual personalities.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Moth Invasion!

I was walking to the football game last weekend and was attacked! Ok, the attacker(s) were rather small......rather large moths, actually. But when there are billions flying around and a few dozen decide to dive-bomb you, it is a bit shocking! I got knocked in the head a few times, usually while walking near a light.

Apparently, the westerly winds have blown the moths that normally migrate more over the ocean right over Sydney. Happens every year, but this is the worst on record. They were, seriously, EVERYWHERE earlier this week. I work up one morning and the glass doors to my porch were almost covered with moths! They creep into building and offices as well. They somehow made it to floor 6 in the office as well. I actually saw a few riding the elevator....think they pushed the button themselves? :)

Article on the moths: http://www.news.com.au/dailytelegraph/story/0,22049,22552036-5006009,00.html

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


No particular topics today, just some unconnected ramblings.

It was interesting that even over here there was lots of discussion on the Chicago Marathon and all the issues. I emailed with my friends Nils and Bob and got a bit of their take. They both did very well despite the heat. And based on all I have read, it was a lose-lose proposition for the event people. Sure, they could have done more with drinks and such, but with that many people, many of which are first-timers, in that heat, it was gonna be ugly. If they'd have let the race continue the finger pointing would have been "why didn't they stop the race" etc.

I've got around 6 or so weeks left here. And they will be busy! I'm off to New Zealand for at least a week of it. And there is a good chance of a leadership trip in a cool location in the Philippines. Add to that two new phone system implementation projects going live and the time will fly by!

I have about exhausted by list of Sydney and suburbs "must do's". I haven't made it to Hunter Valley (the wine region) but I think it more of a "go with your love" type place so I'll pass without my lady! Think I might make it back up to the Blue Mountains this weekend. Really liked it up there.

On a similar note; I went to Ka Ring Gai Park last week. Started in the town of Cowan and hiked to Brooklyn. We'll, I get back and the first thing I hear Sunday is about the bush fires that have started. Then they mention that they think it was arson and started in the Cowan area. I was like "NOT ME!"!!! Several people at work knew I was headed up there and gave me a hassle Monday.

All for now!

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Just a regular ole' week

Well, I have a countdown timer on my desktop set for my current tentative date to come back to the States. Right this moment it shows 44 days 12 hours.....a bit over 6 weeks and I'll be home!

It was a killer week at work! Even given a 4 day week, it seemed aweful long! An exciting Sydney friday night ended up being a marathon work session that started Friday at 6AM and ended me getting home Saturday morning at 2AM! Crazy! I was sacked out till about 9AM when my work mate Dave called and said we were headed to the beach. We went down to Maroubra beach.....very nice but much more "local" than Bondi or Manly. Went for a COLD swin then just relaxed for a couple hours till a "southerly" blew in and it got cool and overcast and windy. We packed up and headed to The Rose Pub for a brew and a pizza. I hopped the train back to the city for a quick nap before a 7PM kickoff for the Sydney FC Soccer game.

The soccer had a good crowd but Sydney fell 1-0 to the Melbourne Victory. The rest of the soccer crew was headed to the pub to watch the Wallabies play England in the Rugby World Cup quarterfinals. Game didn't started till 11PM so I took a pass and came back to the apartment for some much needed sleep.

Not much exciting to share today, just living and working......