Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A minor setback.....

Well, they have told me I need to go back to Australia.....kidding. Rather, I was presented with a flight cancellation! :(. I went to the airport at 8:30PM for a 10:30 flight from Manila. 5 minutes after I check in I get a "the flight has been delayed till midnight". No drama....I'll still have time to make my San Fran flight if there are no further delays. At 11:00 PM they cancel the flight until NOON Wednesday!. So, while people are yelling, I call the US travel folks and get a flight booked via Tokyo then direct to Atlanta at 7:55 AM. So, I spent 45 minutes retrieving my baggage, have the hotel send a car, check in at 12:15 AM, sleep till 5:15 AM then catch another car to the airport...AGAIN! Sitting here PRAYING that this one leaves or I'm gonna start swimming!

I'm in Wednesday 2:50 PM........still plenty of time to ramp up my appetite for Turkey!

A couple final flights........

HOO WOO! Headed home! I'm sitting here in the Manila airport waiting to catch my flight to San Fransisco! The travel has started out with a sour note, given that I was set to leave at 10:30 and we have been delayed (annouced right as I checked in) by a couple hours. I originally had 4 hours or so in San Fran between flights, so pending no further delays I should be ok with 2 hours to clear customs. I don't want to rush them, as the plane is "undergoing further maintenance checks"!

It was a stellar last day in the Manila office today. Really felt good to see people actually sorry to see me go. There is such a good group of people in the Pacific region and I am blessed to have shared time with them over the past 6 months.

It looks to be shaping up as a stellar return.....Wednesday with Delane, Thursday off to Birmingham to stuff my face, Friday watching my nephew play football, then the Auburn/Alabama game Saturday. Not a bad way to start my return!

I am sure I will have a few other items to add to the blog....I've got tons of pictures and such that I never got around to posting.....but this may be my last during my assignment. For all those that actually read this site, checked on my wife, and otherwise lended support to us; Please know I very much appreciate it.


Well, Boracay was interesting. A very beautiful place, but........it's not been controlled in it's development, so it has gotten somewhat overrun with people and just stuff. Too many shacks, hotels, and such and not enough preserved space. It is a VERY beautiful beach, but the other factors took away from the experience a bit.

I may be a bit jaded by the weather and time there. I arrived at 7:45 AM and we were indoors for sessions until 5 PM when we FINALLY had an outdoor team event. It lasted about an hour and then the sun went down. Next day we were up at 8 and went until 12:30. I had an entire 30 minutes to roam before we had to head to the airport. And it was raining almost the entire time. A bit rushed to say the least!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Headed home….via Boracay!

Well, it's been a wild last 3 days! Left for the airport Saturday around 11:30. It was amazing how I kept finding stuff that I couldn't fit in my luggage! I ended up heading over to the office around 10:30 to drop off another box to be mailed. Rob and I took our 8 hour flight to Manila, got to the Hotel around 7:00, dinner at a nice Japanese place and then to bed around 11:30. So here is Sunday morning; Up at 3:30 AM. Taxi at 4:15 to the airport. 5:45 Flight to Caticlan. Arrived at 6:45. 5 minute taxi to the ferry dock. 15 minute ferry to Boracay. 15 minute taxi to the resort. I was having breakfast at the resort at 7:45. What a start to the day!

More on Boracay a bit later……I'm back in Manila and it's time for a meeting!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Check please?

The bags are packed and it's time to head towards home! There is certainly a twinge of sadness on leaving, but if anyone told me the plane broke and I couldn't leave today, I think I'd just start swimming!

Christmas party was last night and I am certainly feeling the effects today. It was a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory theme and someone at work got the bright idea to try for the Willie Wonka look. They really blew it out......stunning food, endless drinks, and the venue was a mini-chocolate factory. They even had some reasonably big Australian female singer perform.

I'm off to the airport in a couple hours for the trip to Boracay. It's an 8 hour flight and I plan on sleeping through most of it!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Farewell Lunch

We had a bit of a going away lunch for me today. I am, as most of you probably know, not much in the way of making a big deal about Jim. But it was nice to get out and spend some time with what have truly become friends. We went to lunch at Doyles in Watson Bay....a famous landmark right on the beach in a real nice area. From left to right: Rita, Me, Dave, Zhou, Rob, Wilson, and Katja. We left work at 12:45 and arrived back by work at like 5:30.....a pretty nice long lunch! There were a fews beers and wine served, but mostly just good social time and exeptional food.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Boxes packed

Well, I packed up most of my Sydney life in 5 small boxes and brought them in to work for shipping. They get on a DHL plane tomorrow! It's funny how you can pack up what has been your life and it only comes out to 5 boxes. But I lived pretty bare here, knowing that my "home" was somewhere else.

We are having a bye to Jim late lunch outing tomorrow. Just a few work folks getting together. Then with the Christmas party Friday I should be good and hung over!

Sunday, November 11, 2007


Ok, something struck me as funny today; It was the company Christmas event for the entire family today. They have a fancy party this next weekend for the adults, but they put on a nice event at the Zoo today for the entire family.

I laced up and ran the 12K to the zoo and met up with Rob (from work) and his family. Good food, stunning views, and some great animals! We were walking back by the area where Coca-Cola had the tables and food and such and what did I see; Santa Claus! Now this only struck me as funny because it's summer time and it was 80 degrees out! I bet it is strange to wake up Christmas morning and go to the beach instead of checking to see if you got any snow.

Saturday, November 10, 2007


It really hit me yesterday that I was spending my LAST Saturday in Australia. I am so excited to be coming home, but at the same time it's going to be a bit sad to leave this place. I've been here long enough that I've gotten to enjoy the place! While not having my wife here has lessened the enjoyment greatly, it has been a blast! Maybe a bit more reflection later…….

Saturday was busy and fun! I left at 10 to go do some final OZ gift shopping before I leave. If you get a gift from me for Christmas, don't be surprised if it came from Australia! J I then walked over to the Royal Gardens and read my book and enjoyed the stunning views and people watching. I hadn't gotten a picture of the world famous "CafĂ©-de-Wheels" (it's a meat pie stand in Wollamroo) so I strolled over for a few shots. Grabbed a bit to eat in Chinatown and ended up over id Darling Harbour a few hours later listening to some bands play. Got home around 5 and turned around an hour later and went to the Rose (pub) to meet some friends to watch the Sydney FC football game. I happen to have 2 tickets to the Killers concept but figured I'd just watch the football instead. Turns out my work mate Dave's misses is a big Killers fan, so she and I left with a few minutes left in the game and took a taxi to the concert. We walked in and only hung out 10 minutes before the Killers took the stage. They ROCKED for 2 hours. Excellent show! One of the best I've seen in a while live. Got home around midnight…….tired but what a last Saturday!

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Fly Fishing New Zealand

For those of you that know me, I've had the opportunity to fly fish some great places over the past 10 or so years. I've been a little thin on quality time on the water over the past year or so, but I still very much enjoy the time I spend on the water. I've caught plenty of fish, but I was really looking forward to going for some trophy sized trout in New Zealand. When I booked my guide, Craig from www.dreamtrout.com, I told him that I didn't want to go fish with 20 others and catch small trout. I told him my preference would be a small to medium stream sight-fishing to trophy sized fish. It's a risky request-there are plenty of places here to go catch fish, but experiencing a special place and fish is what I was after.

I woke up to a sky full of darkness………there wasn't a patch of sun anywhere! No worries, it's fishing time! I'd talked my guide into picking me up at 7:30 instead of his normal 8…..I was keen to fish. Turns out our stream was about 1 hour away including a quick stop for a fishing license. We got to the stream and it was exactly as I had imaged. New Zealand is a big place with not many people. And the Taupo region is LOADED with perfect trout waters. I seriously think there hadn't been anyone fishing the stream we fished in weeks. My guide said he'd only done 6 days on the water over the past 4 years.

It immediately became apparent this was going to be a challenging day. The river was maybe 15 feet wide at the most and much bank growth. We bushwacked through the brush and fell into the stream. Stalked up to the first hole and there sits a beautiful brown. We stalked the best possible location for a cast and my rusty technique was about to be put to the test. First cast…..near perfect….but not close enough. I swear, it was barely a foot short of perfect and the lunker took off. Ah, it was gonna be an interesting day! Craig had warned me that if we saw 15 fish all day it would be a good day. They are big fish and tend to chase of the smaller ones. We'll, I'd missed one of the 15. Moving one………

So it went….finding, stalking, casting. Took about 3 hours before I hooked up with a beautiful 'bow that weighed 5 pounds on Craig's scale. That one fish was all that I came for! The day proceeded about the same. Tough terrain, very selective fish, tons of missed opportunities, and a few more nice fish. Ended the day with 3 in the net and a couple more that have sore gums. What a day!


I drove down from Auckland to a town called Taupo on Wednesday afternoon. This first really interesting thing I noticed is how little there is around once you get outside of the big city. About 30 minutes outside of Auckland, it began looking seriously rural…..some farms, but not much else. Not a surprise, I guess, for a county with only 4.5 M people total. It was a stunning 290 kilometer trip down south, with a huge mountain range flanking the left side of the road all the way down. Got to Taupo in a leisurely 3.5 hours and checked into the hotel around 7:30. The lodge is right on Lake Taupo and I noticed the sun starting to set right as I was hauling my bags up the stairs. I grabbed my camera and went outside to snap a beautiful picture of the sun going down over the lake. Nice!

Walked down to town 10 minutes down the road and swung in the first pub I happened upon. I very much enjoyed a pint and a chicken burger and hustled back to the lodge. My fishing guide was picking me up at 7:30 and I wanted to be fresh and have time for a solid breakfast. I planned on it being a long day fishing!