Monday, October 31, 2005

Makybe Diva - it's a horse!

Another day, another major sporting event here in Australia – but today it’s the Melbourne Cup. The most important horse race on the Australian calendar occurs on the first Tuesday of every November and is titled “the race that stops the nation.” Makybe (pronounced ma-kie-be) Diva took home her third straight win this afternoon making Melbourne Cup history – the nation’s pretty stoked. In Melbourne it’s a holiday (however, as Hannah and Michelle put it – it’s instead of Halloween) and the holiday has some of the more atrocious hats I’ve ever seen, but the rest of the country just seems to call it a day at noon to head off drinking…which is of no great surprise.
Chris and I celebrated this wonderful event by betting on a horse (when in Rome), well two horses to be exact, and neither did anything, so we’re out $8 – but the nice thing is – that’s what I was expecting. We’ve been up in Cairns since Friday staying with my mom’s cousin Penny and her family who have been incredible! Spoiled yet again, we’ve now been to a real Aussie barbie with lot-s-o meat and two Australian sports stars. Apparently my 2nd cousins (well they are mom’s cousin’s daughters) have a knack for dating celebrities. The eldest is married to a footy star who’s team actually won the Grand Final (great sporting event from September in Melbourne) a few years back (his name is Ben) and the youngest Nicole is dating a rugby superstar Billy Slater and the two of them were in the paper this morning. However, Chris and I – although we were close to these sports stars, didn’t manage to speak to either one of them…mind you we didn’t know at the time what we were dealing with!
Tomorrow we’re off to the Reef – the big Great Barrier Reef – I understand that I can head home after this…then on Thursday to a crocodile farm. So we’ve been kept busy here in Cairns. Yesterday we went up to a small town called Kuranda (I think) in the Rainforest and took a gondola down (we both took amusement in the fact that it was made by Pomma) and it was absolutely beautiful. Everyone’s been dudes here – just unreal – we are really very lucky – well if you discount the fact that we didn’t win anything better on the Melbourne cup and Chris’ sunglasses were devoured by Penny’s dog Keela (who is adorable).
Saturday we’re off “home” to the Gold Coast, where with any luck, Berdt will have kept the air in his rear right hand tire (which seems highly unlikely at this point) and we won’t have another escapade with the car (again, highly unlikely) – so again, nothing but fun from the Ford Falcon (there was a horse in the race called Leica Falcon – Chris remarked that they might have to push start it!). Life’s great – no complaints…I’m super stoked to see the reef!!!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Sell your soul

Yes, and for $14/hour plus bonuses, you too can sell your soul to the devil. Chris and I both had the opportunity to partake in an afternoon of "telesales" yesterday afternoon. I lasted an entire shift of 5 hours while Chris only made it just over 3. Definately a proud moment for both of us - sad when the greatest accomplishment is actually quitting the job. We're still here in Coolangatta and we thought we had got the perfect job: 12:30 to 4:30, airconditioned, our feet up and not bad pay...well it might be under the title of "too good to be true"...and so we sit here at a cafe at 2:10pm the next day...unemployed yet again and soaking in the beautiful weather.
All I can say in my defense of not returning is that I'm fairly sure working there compromised my integrity - and I would like to think that its worth more than the aforementioned fact I like to think of myself as a morally upstanding individual and tricking people into buying advertising space didn't fit into the picture somehow. I did however feel a little better after talking to Chris and finding out that he had indeed seen an output the previous day and it wasn't simply organized crime...but definately verging on it.
As if anyone really needs me to tell them this but, DON'T GIVE OUT YOUR CREDIT CARD INFO OVER THE PHONE. Apparently they didn't get that warning here in the land down under - cause this company was making sales...very shady indeed.
But other that that forray into freaky, things are going well, I believe that I am going to ride for an American team - Team Kenda Tire for the 2006 season and I'm stoked. The manager seems really on the ball and I'm going to race a whole different calendar based mostly in the states. So that should really be a different experience - which is what I was looking for!
The weather isn't prime - haven't been in the water for a few days, but I'm doing my rain dance every night and it seems to be holding off for the moment...I'm sure to be back on the computer if it doesn't :P...lata!

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

We got a visitor...

So we're settling in quite nicely here in Coolangatta. Found a few cool bikes shops (we got a couple free beanies - tuques for the rest of us - from one of them - why they even manufacture the things here is beyond me!) and we're enjoying the lifestyle. I'm still searching for the moneytree though - maybe one of the million eucalyptus trees grows money...the seethrough part might be difficult though...
Yesterday we tried out "the crazies" training ride. Guess what - they aren't kidding. It is honestly the most insane thing I have ever experienced. We contributed our part by getting up at 4am to meet up with a few guys at 5 to ride up to Mermaid Waters where the ride starts at 5:45. We caught up with the 80 or so other keeners and wheeled around for about 5 minutes before EVERYONE in the group started hammering as hard as they could for the next hour. It was highly unpleasant and just plain bizarre. We ended up hanging out with a few 75 year old men and a masters world champ - not to mention that one of them was on a fixed gear...mental.
But that's when the joy comes in - we got home (at like 8am!), had a little nibble, a little nap and then headed out to the surf. Just in case you're wondering - no, life does not get any better than this!
Unfortunately we had a little critter come and drop-in late afternoon. Well actually little isn't the correct adjective - it was HUGE! And ugly - and Chris was a wonderful boyfriend and killed it while I went into the other room. I know I'm a really big baby - but at least Canadians can kinda understand where I'm coming from - here the woman where we rented the place from just about laughed at us last week when we mentioned that we had seen a cockroach. Her response was "they won't hurt you", which I suppose if you live in a land with 127 breeds of snakes (most of which are poisonous according to our friends at the Healesville Sanctuary) you do need to prioritize. So I didn't sleep all that well last night as a result, but I'm trying to be strong.
We had our first electical storm last night - they get a few good downfalls! But again, the internet is pricey - it's far cheaper just to call home - how ridiculous is that?!? So I shall be off...

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Coolangatta: Home Sweet Home!

So after a week or so of living out of Bernt as we stumbled up the beautiful Australian east coast - Chris and I decided that it was time to settle down a little. A few irrational moments had hit home just how tired we both were - so we hit up a hotel for an evening when we made it just south of Brisbane in Surfer's Paradise. The first comment I would like to make is that Surfer's is anything but a paradise! After 10 days of travelling a little off the beaten path, we were agast with the commercialization of this place. Driving through it made me want to cry - I was not enjoying it at all. On the flip, the riding scene appeared to be amazing - a track nearby in Nerang, a group ride every morning with 80 riders (mind you it starts at 5:45!) and a friendly crew. So we stopped in and tried the group ride on Saturday morning and enjoyed it quite a bit - most of the ride was along the waterline - beautiful sandy beaches and amazing surf, we road along the indy track (Indy is next week and a BIG deal here) and everyone raved about all the riding - to the south are a few great mountains. So despite my initial impression, we started looking around for a place to stay. All rent amounts are done by week here and we had decided that $250 should get a good place and based on what we had seen in the paper, it seemed quite likely. So we started calling around and we apparently fell a bit between the cracks - leases start at 6 months, but we are staying too long for some holiday resorts. After calling a dozen different places and getting no where (including a dude who informed me that his place was FAR too small for 2 people...) we went to a real estate broker in downtown (which is actually the CBD here - central business district) Surfers and she was only moderately helpful. She showed us many beautiful places - but we just didn't feel like dropping $350 a week (I paid less than that a month in Vic!). So we then got in touch with an extremely helpful lady down here in Rainbow Bay (hence the Rainbow on the building we're living in!) and she helped a ton. We figured we've done the student ghetto for a few years now - what's another few months!
So yeah, the pictures are our new digs - we are honestly a block from the beach! Today we went for a spin and then threw on the suits to hit the beach - what an amazing luxury! So tomorrow's off down the town to try and coherse people into giving us jobs...
The rest of the week may involve a group ride (as aforementioned)...but that means we have to leave our place about 4:30 - so that might be a challenge - and yes that is in the morning!
To leave you thinking - we're situated right on the border between New South Wales and Queensland - we're actually in Queensland - so we don't change our clock over for daylight savings time...on the other hand they do in NSW - so that'll be a treat as the next street over is Boundary Street - and it is the boundary...I wonder if the shops open at different times....

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Policier, policier...

So despite my superior driving skills, I was pulled over this morning on the highway between Port Macquarie and Coffs Harbour. My adrenaline soared (ask Chris, my hands were shaking!) but it turned out only to be a random breathalizer...have I mentioned that this was at 12:30 in the afternoon? Apparently (I asked the officer) they get "heaps" of people testing positive...not sure I want to drive on the roads anymore!!!
Anyways, prior to leaving PM (it was a great town! I really enjoyed it by the way) we headed out at 5:30am to try to meet up with the group ride. Try being the operative word, still not sure what we did wrong, but we didn't end up meeting up with anyone and did a nice little loop just the two of us. The highlight was by far heading to the Peleton Coffee shop for a drink just before we left the city. It's a small coffee shop attached to a bike shop (but I think the coffee shop is the major attraction) and the people there are incredible! First off, they were just super friendly and interested in talking to us, second of all, they gave me their copy of Ride magazine because my helmet and left leg made it into a picture (from the Tour de Montreal) - it's like I'm famous. It made my day.
This was a good thing as we're now in Coffs Harbour and I'm not overly impressed...could have given it a miss, but we're here now and apparently there is the worlds largest banana (that Lonely Planet has rated as lame), but I'm keen to see the gift shop! Hope all is well!

Hardcore Aussie!

So what have I learned in the last few weeks (other than the fact that I have a complete obsession with McDonald's or Maccers as they call it in this country, once I leave Canadian borders - it's all together weird, but yes I'm oddly intrigued) yes, back to what I've learned, it's that Australians love to abbreviate things and have them end in "y". For instance, my bike becomes a "push bike" down here, but they are referred to as "pushies", we're going up to "Brissie" (Brisbane), we eat dinner on the "barbie" (BBQ) and so on and so forth...good times - sounds kinda funny. Regardless, the last 24 hours have been super hardcore for Chris and I. First of all, we were hanging out in the campsite yesterday morning and this guy starts shooing away an animal from our neighbours rubbish. We're curious - what is it? Well it was a 3 foot lizard, the name of it is kinda like an iguana - but it has a different prefix. Yeah, so there was a 3 foor lizard about 20 feet from me. This guy started throwing rocks at it and even hissed at it while it went away - it was rather bizzarre!
After being mildly alarmed by this, we headed out in the avos (super hardcore sufer dude lingo) and hit the waves. It was incredible! I couldn't believe just how much fun it was - the boards were smaller and the waves bigger than what I have done previously and after 2 hours I was dog tired - it rocked! Good thing I already spend on my money on cycling paraphenalia - or else I might take up surfing! We then headed back to the campsite and were walking up to the store to get beans for our beans and toast dinner when we saw a rather large snake by the side of the road. I took a picture of my first Aussie snake sighting and I'll put it up when we get the chance. It was all ready to pounce - kinda frightening really!
So this morning we headed up to Port MacQuarie which is where I write from at this moment (the camp site has free internet) and we went to a koala hospital this afternoon. They are super adorable, although the number of animals with chlamydhia (I know I spelled that wrong) or "wet bottom" was kinda alarming.
I'm sorry I haven't been calling Mom and Dad - it's a little pricey where we are on the phone cards, but the second I get somewhere where it's reasonable I'll be giving you a shout home in a heartbeat. Love you lots!

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Finally in the heat!

So we did manage to leave Melbourne - and there were a few long days in the car that followed. We spent the first night in Yass - we put all speculation on the name and tried it out - but despite our ability to overlook the obvious, Yass was indeed what the name led us to believe. Two crappy meals and a lit up campsite just off the highway sleep later, we were outta there - and happy for it. The second day's obstacle was getting through Sydney - which was lotsa fun, but again we made it and headed up north of Newcastle, only to find that there were limited camping spots as it's spring holidays at the moment. We ended up in a campsite that was a little bizarre to say the least - there weren't any stalls, you just picked a spot of grass (everyone else also picked a spot for their campfire, we figured Smokey the bear wouldn't have been impressed) and apparently some guy came around and collected the fee - we never saw him, and while we are a little concerned about the karma of sleeping in a park on the river with a million other people without paying, it was nice to have a free night's accomodation.
Which brings us up to Seal's Rock - a beautiful beach campsite that until this morning was competely innondated with people as today's a holiday Monday. So we broke out the bikes yesterday and checked out some amazing scenery (the highlight of which was 100m from our site) - the 3.5 hours seemed a little much, but it's all good - we survived. The road down into the site is interesting - a good 4km of gravel road is fun both on the bikes and in the car - the speed limit is about 80km/h - which as Chris put it, is more of a dare than anything else. Evidently those who wrote the limits weren't driving Bernt!
We're just up the coast at the moment waiting to start a surf lesson - it's super hot out and it should be a blast! Can't wait - will try to get pictures soon!