Friday, November 25, 2005

Muffin Cake

Ahhh the muffin cake - the signature internet you interject "what on earth are you talking about crazy???" Well until a few days ago when we found a hot spot in our living room, Chris and I were travelling into town to use the internet at a cafe that offered free internet (as opposed to the place in Cairns that wanted to charge us more for using the laptop as opposed to their computers - how warped is that?!?), so the weekly visit usually included a muffin cake. Don't they look delish??? That's cause they are, and the only other snack that is topping my charts at the moment is an apple and peanut butter combination - you should give it a go (did I mention that I'm training a good amount at the mo?)
That is the story of the muffin cake - only one of the wonders brought to you by the Gold Coast of Australia - not sure if it's indigenous, but it's a pull...and so we're staying another week here in Coolangatta. Not necessarily because of the muffin cakes, we do have a few better reasons (like the beaches and my job and not having anything to go to) and the hope that all of next week will be like today: beautiful and sunny. Then after my ride in the morning I'll be able to head down to the beach to work on my tan. Of late, this hasn't been possible as the weather has been a little lacklustre. Rain has come in most afternoons after a brutally hot morning - like the inversions we get back home, but the storms are coming in at like 2 or 3 in the afternoon. Consequently everyday has been a bit of a race with the weather to get home. I'm not sure if I've mentioned, but when we first got here 2 months ago it was crazy hot (like it hasn't got that warm since) and they have been praying for rain - they hadn't had a wet season for 10 years. The first day we were here I joked around with a guy on the group ride that they needn't worry now that Chris and I were here the rain would invariably come...and low and behold. I mean it's great that they are getting their rain - but did it have to happen on my holiday? Chris and I are thinking of lodging a complaint with the tourism board ;)
But despite the inclement weather, we made it out to the local track twice this week. The track is located about half an hour up the M1 from here in the town of Nerang. As the picture shows there is very little banking and consequently you have to turn in the corners, but it gets the job done now doesn't it? If I were to pick it apart, I might also mention that the whole track is on a bit of an incline so you're actually going downhill into the finish straight and it's something like 356m long (another rather useless distance), HOWEVER I think we could learn a good amount from the Australians here. The facility is always open and free of charge. The lack of banking makes the track accessible to everyone on all sorts of bicycles, and the kicker being that they have constructed a criterium circuit around the outside of the track. The support buildings are also pretty impressive - including covered stands for spectators. Bottom line - it was pretty cool and both times Chris and I pretty much had the entire track to ourselves - definately no complaints.
Although not a track bike, in bike nerd talk, my brand new BLUE bicycle has arrived. It's a wee bit depressing as my mom now has a bike in her posession (despite UPS' best efforts to harm it in transportation) that I will not see for another 4 months :( - but if you want to check out a picture of it look here: On a related note - if you are interested in (or know of anyone who is) purchasing a 52cm compact super wonderful Specialized Allez Comp with Dura Ace - lemme know. It's on the market.
Without any appropriate segway, on a more pop culture note, we have also managed to download the first seven episodes of the OC. Consequently I'm a very happy chicka - probably need a little more sleep though. I do however have a concern that I was friends with Taylor Townsend in high school (and I won't even let myself consider the alternative!) Also - they better not play around with my Seth and Summer relationship -- they just are not allowed!!!

Sunday, November 20, 2005

The Worst Pro Stalker Ever

This is a picture of Surfer's Paradise (your call on whether that many buildings can be considered paradise!!!) from the beach at Burleigh Heads where we were yesterday. Can you guess which building got hit by lightning???
I’ll start by diverting those of you who aren’t interested in bike nerdism to the second paragraph (this includes my darling sister who will undoubtedly be rolling her eyes at the moment – Becs head on down past this schlock!) So yeah, Chris and I were riding out to do intervals on Friday afternoon when a couple of well clad lads road by the other way – after a little discussion we decided that it was Robbie MacEwan and his buddy the Belgian champ (I haven’t a clue who that is – Chris does, however if those who aren’t bike nerds are still reading, Robbie is a sprinter dude who has won the green jersey twice – provided that some random dude I road with when we first got here had his trivia right. On a more entertaining note, he also named his child Ewan – which for the record makes him Ewan MacEwan – bad idea…) So yeah, we figured it was them, thought “hey, that’s cool” and kept on with our ride. However, on the way home, we came out onto the main road and there they were again! Using my cat like reactions (which were tested a few years ago in San Fran when Dan and I thought that we saw Cippo, let him and his Saeco teammates get a few minutes head start and then we gave ‘er to catch them – yeah somehow it didn’t work out) so yet again, I saw the pro, thought about it, Chris and I had a little discussion and then about a minute after their passing we started hammering after them. We hoped that they would get caught up in the ALWAYS congested intersection – that was clear – so again I found myself giving everything (which after the intervals wasn’t terribly impressive) to try and catch a pro cyclist. Which brings me to the next question: who do I think I am? Why do I think that I can give some bloke who can finish the Tour de France a minute or so head start and then catch them? Now, to my credit, they both were sprinters (and Cippo wasn’t known for finishing the Tour…) but yes, it was a little ridiculous…not to mention – what were we going to do when we caught them? So hi – invite ourselves over for tea…a little beyond me – but it was a fun few minutes as Chris and I impersonated the commuter-dude who is intent on racing you home on the Goose…
K, the bike nerdom is done – now onto my life for the last week: ride in the morning, lounge around in the afternoon (unfortunately not outside as it has been crazy windy…mind you from all accounts of the weather at home, you probably don’t care to hear about this!) and then head over to work. In my week as a waitress, I think that I’ve covered a good long list of the don’t dos – I have mischarged customers and had it come out of my paycheck (actually it took my WHOLE paycheck…nothing like working for free!), I have almost (that being the key I would say) spilled food all over customers, and just last night, I managed to serve a vegetarian a plate of keema (meat) samosas. In the last case, he informed that he hasn’t eaten meat for the last 30 years and there was no way that they were meat samosas – so I just ran with it…but I hope that he’s not sick today! But despite my booboos, I am very much enjoying myself. I’ve got to meet quite a few really interesting people – who seem to pay me for talking to them – and they are all rather keen on my accent. That haven’t been said, I have also had someone tell me that I have a Queensland drawl when I talk (mind you I’ve never known anyone who has referred to a drawl as a positive thing!), and another guy tell me that I must just have been born in Canada as I have an Australian accent – honestly, I think they were both on drugs!
Speaking of drugs, in case you were wondering – if you plan on heading over to Bali – don’t take drugs with you. Don’t smuggle drugs in – they will find you, put you in jail and hopefully not sentence you to the death sentence…a little intense? Yeah, you might say. The same goes for Singapore by the way – this is what I have learned from the newscasts here in the Land Down Under. In the next week a young Australian is going to be hung in Singapore for smuggling $26,000 worth of drugs into the country…not the best idea at the best of times – really don’t do it when the penalty is death…what are people thinking? Also topping the news stories, and Aussie model is returning to the country (we got to see her flight home on the television) after serving a 3 months sentence for being found with 2 ecstasy tablets in a club. Really folks, if you’re going to do drugs – head over to Victoria – they don’t seem to really care there! Sorry, that’s my dumb person rant for the month.
But things are going rather swimmingly here on the Gold Coast. Bottom line is that I’m loving life – there is nothing in the world like the coastline here – I tell ya! Oh right, and for those of you who have been concerned as it’s been a few weeks since the last Important Australian Sporting Event, the Socceroos (that is honestly what they call their National Soccer team) beat out Uruguay for a World Cup spot last Wednesday – it stopped the nation. Speaking of winning moves, a high five goes out to a Mr. Eric Holland from both Chris and myself.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Wet and Wild

I may have said that I was going to Australia - but did I mention that the US is alive and well here? Not only are there terrorist "threats" all over the place (seems a little far to come to bomb somewhere if you ask me!), but there are Warner Brothers themeparks coming out your ears! On Monday Chris and I opted for the wet one of the bunch (as opposed to Sea World or Movieworld - we are going to California in a few months), but it was great! My favorite was a double tube ride that shot you down over humps so fast I thought we were going to catch air. Fortunately we stuck around late enough to out-do the families - by about 3pm all the 9 years olds were tired and we got through as many rides in the last 2 hours as we did in the first 5. Good fun had by all.
Other than that, things here in Coolangatta are going swimmingly. We are planning on heading south again in about 10 days, although as I have procured myself some employment, we might stay here a little longer. I'm a waitress at an Indian restaurant about 3 blocks from our place and enjoying it. It's a pretty relaxed environment and I've managed to get a few monster tips from people feeling sorry for the poor Canadian backpacker - I ain't complaining! The major downfall to this new situation is that we have to ride a little later in the day so that I get enough sleep - but it hasn't been cripplingly hot (yet) - although today was one of the windier expeditions.
So to sum it up - life rocks! I love it here on the Gold Coast - but I'm excited to move on too. The only crappy part at the moment is that my new Blue bike should be delivered to my Mom sometime at the end of this week - awesome...I get to see it in March....:(
As for the picture here - isn't it great that they sell SARS in a can here? They are far too concerned with "bird flu"...Chris said he really wanted the picture to be taken in the supermarket with a token asian guy behind him...but I wasn't quick enough...k, I lie - we haven't downloaded those pictures yet, so I decided to put a picture of our picnic with Alena and Ryan when they were here on the Gold Coast (they have since headed down to Melbourne).
I can't believe it - we've been here in Australia for 2 months now and we're off down to Tasmania in a month - on a 10.5 hour ferry!!! Why that sounds exciting to a girls who has lived on Vancouver Island for the last 3 years, I'm not really sure...but it does!
Anyways, hope all is well where you are!

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Captain Cook

I must admit – every time I see a crocodile all I can think of is Peter Pan and Captain Cook – so there was a whole lot of that yesterday. We headed out to Hartley’s Crocodile Farm (farm as they breed crocs to sell for skins) – but it was one of the best animal viewing areas I’ve ever been to. The highlight of the day was the very first boat tour where they took us into a lagoon with 18 crocodiles and fed them off the side of the boat. Chris actually got the most amazing video footage – that I would put on here if I could – but you’ll have to see it when we get home!
We ate real crocodile meat for lunch (described as a cross between chicken and fish – but it was verging on a little leathery) so that was a treat and saw a lovely young woman handling the most deadly snake in the world – the Easter Taipan. I actually figure that all the tourist items that we have taken advantage of since we arrived here in Australia have had to do with the sun and beaches – or weird and wacky indigenous animals. Which leads me to my ignorant person of the day rant.
So we took a bus transfer up north to get in the croc park (as it’s halfway to Port Douglas for those of you with a map) and on the way we picked up an older British couple who sported perhaps the most pretentious accent I’ve heard in a long while. They jumped on the coach and we drove down the beach where they had just recently placed the stinger nets. A little background: stinger nets are placed in the warmer waters to create “safe” areas to swim in as the box jellyfish is somewhat deadly – not like the fun bluebottles that we get down on the Gold Coast. So yeah, they had placed the nets in the previous day and the woman comments that she was happy they got a swim in before that – it was just that more pleasant (at this point I asked myself if she thought they attracted the stingers, but I still gave her the benefit of the doubt). However, about 3km down the road she then proceeded to ask our guide if they would also have stingers on these beaches…now perhaps I’m being a little intolerant – but really. Come on now – it’s an OCEAN – I’m guessing that the whole concept was a little beyond the woman – but I honestly felt a little like I was watching This Hour Has 22 Minutes’ talking to Americans – but this time it was snooty British…sometimes I wonder about people – but she did give us a good deal to talk about later that day.
One might wonder what Chris and I have been up to here in Cairns other than being super tourists – and the answer is “not much.” It’s been great – although we are both looking forward to jumping back on our bikes tomorrow (and maybe heading up to Noosa where we get to see the big boys of Australia cycling duke it out in a crit – I want Baden Cooke to win!) Cairns has been everything we were expecting – namely hot and gorgeous and it has given us a chance to interact Aussie style with some locals. Consequently, I’ve been working on my Oz vocabulary and here are a few of my favs:
True: Used in a context of “you’re kidding me”
Flash: As in I have a flash bike – we might be more inclined to use flashy
Fair Dinkem: Chris’ favourite and I haven’t quite figured out how to use it, although many a postcard try to explain it!

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Reef Magic

Unrelated quote of the day: “There [Lance] is – right where he belongs between the boobies and the rap stars.” A charming quote from my lovely boyfriend in reference to where the Lance magazine was located.
So you walk into the Reef terminal and there are a bazillion different providers eager to take you out to the Great Barrier Reef – so how do you differentiate yourself (and the commerce student in me comes out)? But honestly, how do you decide who you are going to pay your $150-$200 for a day out to one of the wonders of the world…I just don’t know. We had a little advice from Keith’s (2nd cousin – not going to get anymore into the relations – as one of the people here mentioned – we’re “prick” relatives) girlfriend Faith who organizes tours for a living – her advice was to go all the way to the Outer Reef…but that doesn’t narrow it down all that much. But this is my take on it:
So the first key is to give out a free voucher for your cruise out to the Reef. Really that makes all the difference in the world – and Reef Magic had us won at that…but then, let’s sweeten the deal. Let’s take you out 500m and have one of the gear boxes fail on the motor – take another 2 hours to get back to the original dock – all the while feeding us fruit and snacks, only to get back and have the impatient and irritating 25% of the clientele get off the boat. At this point, I wasn’t completely convinced that we had made the correct decision (that having been said, we weren’t the honeymooning couple that had had a boat break down on them twice in two weeks) – but then the company moved on and gave us complementary snorkel tours and wetsuits – and I was actually impressed. So we were a behind schedule by a bit – but the day was incredible – so for those of you planning on heading out to the Reef in the near future (which is undoubtedly most of you!) – Reef Magic is the one I reckon.
Once out at the Reef (after I was a little concerned that I was going to lose my lunch on the way out there – apparently I take after me mum) we saw some of the most incredible fish – I really can’t believe the colours! There was one fluorescent striped fish that was my favourite and we saw a Nemo fish – the whole experience has made me want to see Finding Nemo all over again! There was one ginormous fish that was kinda ugly, but cool and we also saw a manta ray – or perhaps a stinger ray – but that made my day!All in all Emma, I dub the Reef festivus fun – it definitely had the potential of falling miserably under New Year’s fun – but it’s a winner – a definitely must do!