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Life is Good! 5 parts chronicling our dropping out for a year

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  • Life is Good! 5 parts chronicling our dropping out for a year

    The following were "Life is Good" emails we sent our family and friends to keep them up to date on our temporary dropping out phase before we got too old (mid 2000 - mid 2001). I will post the others periodically in this same thread. Hope you enjoy.

    1st Edition:

    Gone Walkabout. . .

    Hello all: Well, Dave finally rubbed off on Di and now we’ve both quit our jobs! Yes, it’s true. After 14 years in Silicon Valley, we decided to run like hell. While a beautiful place where we have lots of friends, the traffic, cost of living, and general rat race in San Jose caught up to us. We decided life is too short. So we sold our house, quit our jobs and are taking a year off.

    The Short Term Plan : After two months of traveling from San Jose to Colorado to Michigan to San Diego to visit family and friends, we’re taking off on Tuesday, November 28th for Sydney, Australia. There we will rent an apartment for six months, enjoy life down under, and take a few side trips (New Zealand, Great Barrier Reef, Asia, Ayers Rock. . .). The plan is to have six months of rest and relaxation with a little sight seeing thrown in.

    The Long Term Plan: We are relocating to Fort Collins, Colorado (where Di has an uncle and cousin), which is a college town one hour north of Denver and a little less than an hour from Estes Park. Ft. Collins has a great old style downtown, fairly low cost of living, is the home of Colorado State University, and (hopefully) has lots of job opportunities for both of us. We bought a house there, which we are renting back to the sellers until next summer. Then we will get back to reality and work and live, ideally at a slightly slower pace. We know, it snows in Colorado. We think we’re ready but that's easy to say when we’re about to experience a year of summer! CHECK WITH US ON THE SNOW THING LATER!!!

    Anyway, for now we have no mailing address where we will regularly be receiving mail so please do not send anything to our old San Jose address. Our email address is *******, please use it to communicate with us and let us know your email address so we can send you further editions of “Life is Good.” Once we have a mailing address in Sydney, we will forward it to you. If for some reason you need a phone number for us, you can call Di’s sister, Kathy.

    Cheers, Diane and Dave Gross
    Last edited by 12squared; 06-04-2017, 01:41 AM.

  • #2
    2nd Edition of Life is Good - settling in

    G'day from Down Under

    Greetings from Manly, a beach community in Sydney where we've moved into an apartment. (for a cyber tour of Manly, check out Our apt. is very nice-very modern with all sorts of neat little appliances, a 3 disc-changer CD player, TV, VCR, microwave, laundry room-all the comforts of home. It is a one bedroom with a large great room (family room, dining room, kitchen combo) with nice furniture including a sofa bed. So, we have settled in and finally have an address and more than just luggage keys on our key rings.

    We do not have an answering machine, so if we're not home, you won't get a pick up. Also, remember the time difference if you call. We're 16 hours ahead of Michigan time and 19 ahead of California. You guys in the middle, figure it out yourselves!!

    General gist of getting around: OK, enough of that (though we would love to hear from everybody via Snail mail, phone or email.), now on to the fun stuff. Our apt. is on a small strip of land between the harbour side of Manly and the ocean side (Tasman Sea), each of which have beaches. We are about 1 ½ blocks from the beach in either direction. The ferry ride to Sydney is about ½ hour and the jet cats get us there in 15 minutes, through what has got to be one of the most beautiful harbours in the world. It is full of sparkling little bays, inlets, wharfs etc. As you approach Sydney from here, you get a breathtaking view of the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge. People are always taking photos or videotaping it from the ferry-not a bad idea. The area between the two is the ferry wharf. (Called Circular Quay) From there it is an easy walk to many things, including the Opera House, the Royal Botanical Gardens, The Rocks (historical section of Sydney where we stayed until we moved in), many museums, parks, the city center with Town Hall, wonderful shopping and lots of other landmarks. From Circular Quay you can also hop a bus to lots of other areas, many of which we have been to already.

    What we've seen: The Opera House (spectacular, truly awesome) We are celebrating Christmas by seeing a Christmas concert there on the 22nd. The Harbour Bridge, The Royal Botanical Gardens (which are also spectacular. Mom-I'll take you there), The Rocks, Glebe (funky, bohemian area where U of Sydney is), Darling Harbour, The City Center, several small bays, Bondi Beach, Chinatown, Balmain (neat area with shops, restaurants etc.), Paddington (yuppie area with great outdoor market on Saturdays. Lynne-I thought of us at Portobello Market!!) and several pool/snooker rooms along the way. Dave already played in a snooker tournament and is busy checking out the local scene.(Golf as well.)

    What we've observed: The Australians are very hospitable, genuinely nice and go out of their way to be helpful. There is an air of excitement everywhere you go, Erika, we agree with your description of Sydney as a vibrant city. It is also beautiful and very cosmopolitan-great restaurants, coffee places, outdoor cafes, concerts etc. It is the beginning of summer here (70-85 or so, a little tropical rain every now and then, but generally great weather) and the Aussies are enjoying in full force. They are at the beaches, dining in cafes, taking their kids out in strollers (prams), eating ice cream on benches, etc. They really seem to enjoy life and take time to relish in it. Maybe that's the thing that strikes us as different. Though we certainly lived in an area with everything and beautiful sights to enjoy, I don't know that we ever took the time to enjoy our own little corner of the world like we should have. So, in signing off, we encourage you to do that. Wherever you are, go out for coffee, take your kid, dog, spouse, or yourself for a walk, enjoy the view, wish someone g'day and remember, Life is Good.

    Cheers, Di and Dave


    • #3
      Life is Good, 3rd edition. . .even after chopsticks!

      Hello all,

      Sorry it has been so long since we have written, but we suffered a hard drive crash a while ago and are just recently back into cyber space. First, since we have to recreate our mailing list, if we asked you for any email addresses of friends or family, please forward them again so we can get a complete list. Second, we have done a ton since we last wrote, including trips to both New Zealand and Asia and lots more exploring around Sydney. Since Asia was the most recent and is fresh in our minds, we will tell you about that and save New Zealand for later.

      We visited Singapore, Hong Kong and Beijing and will provide a few highlights of each:


      The Night Safari-the only one of its kind in the world, really neat, kind of like a night version of a wild animal park and since Singapore is a natural jungle, is very authentic.

      The Singapore Botanic Gardens, including the National Orchid Garden-breathtaking gardens with orchids so beautiful they seem unreal. The biggest orchid display in the world.

      Sentosa Island-this is a resort island just off of Singapore with an aquarium, historical wax museum and a huge concrete Merlion statue. The Merlion is a creature that is half lion and half mermaid and is the symbol of Singapore. This one is 12 stories high and you can go up in it for a view of Singapore. Besides a causeway, Sentosa is also connected to Singapore by a gondola, that we took and were treated to some great views.

      Tidbits: Fun, very clean city with every fast-food chain you can think of. The people live vertically in high rise apartment buildings in complexes which are completely self-contained with transportation, services, recreations facilities, food courts and shopping (in fact, Dave thinks Singapore is just one big shopping mall!!) all within a short distance. When you order an ice-cream sandwich from a street cart vendor in Singapore, you literally get a sandwich—a hunk of ice-cream folded in a piece of bread!!

      Hong Kong:

      The Hong Kong island skyline--a very modern skyline with skyscrapers lit in neon against dark mountains. We stayed on the Kowloon side so saw the skyline from across Victoria Harbor, quite a sight.

      Tai Chi-we got up to take a morning tai chi lesson sponsored by the HK tourist office--in a plaza overlooking the harbor and ferry wharf, taught by a Chinese woman and interpreted by a German couple (into English, thank god), very fun and not as easy as it looks!!

      The city streets-everything you have heard or imagined about Hong Kong streets being crowded is true. People are everywhere: shopping, eating, jockeying for position. Even the signage jockeys for position and the streets are adorned with signs of different sizes, colors etc., each trying to out-do the other. The street life is really fun and entertaining. A highlight of this was the Temple Street Night Market, a night market of stalls set up in a very highly populated section of Hong Kong. Old ladies making dim sum on the streets, live shrimp are in piles waiting to be bought and grilled and bargain hunters are everywhere.

      Macau-we also did a day trip to Macau, an island about 1 hour by water (jet boat) from Hong Kong. The island was settled by the Portuguese and developed into a multi-cultural sea port over the years. It used to be self-governed but receded to China in 1999 and many of the Portuguese returned home. A highlight of the Macau tour was an old opium den.

      Tidbits: Very cosmopolitan city with everything from people living on fishing boats in Aberdeen Fishing Village with views of skyscrapers to people waiting 8 years for a 200 square foot government subsidized apartment. Laundry hanging out of windows everywhere. Great street life and good food. When shopping in the nice jewelry stores, you get served tea.


      • #4
        Life is Good, 3rd edition. . .even after chopsticks! (continued)


        What can we say: The Great Wall, the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, the Summer Palace. . .all were fantastic. Sort of hard to believe we were actually there after seeing so much on TV, esp. Tiananmen Square which is enormous, surrounded by vast government buildings and monuments and framed on one end by a huge well-lit picture of Chairmen Mao, a very interesting and a not-so-subtle reminder of the oppressive Chinese government. Another constant reminder of this was the government soldiers who were everywhere in their foreboding green military uniforms.

        We also took a rickshaw tour into an area in Beijing where the streets are very old and narrow, called "hutongs" and the houses are arranged in courtyard formations that used to be all occupied by several generations of one family. We even went in one where a family is living. (They are all still very much occupied.)

        The food everywhere was great and when we went off-the-beaten- path, cheap. One night in Beijing, we stumbled into an area where absolutely no one spoke English. Our quest was for dim sum. We ended up in a small, very primitive restaurant where a Chinese woman picked up a bamboo dim sum steamer and gestured. Excitedly, we nodded and were promptly served two steamers full of very fresh dumplings. In an attempt to order tea, we got wonton soup, which was great. The biggest surprise was the price, which the woman had to write down for us, 10 yuan or $1.25 for everything!! (not each, for both of us!) Dave wanted to go back every day for the rest of the trip. : ) In contrast, our last meal of the trip was Peking Duck. After ordering, the waitress came to take us to a window where we watched them cut up our duck before it came to the table. It was a melt-in-your-mouth dinner.

        This may be a little more information than some of you want, but it is a must because it was such a part of the experience. Most of the public bathrooms in Beijing were eastern-style, which means there are no sit-down toilets. The toilets are porcelain-lined holes in the ground, sometimes with a sort of hood curling up over one end. You squat over the hole and go. Took a lot of getting used to (of course the men don’t suffer. . .), especially when my thighs were sore after climbing 7 towers of the Great Wall and I was wearing a heavy jacket and scarf, balancing my backpack on my back (didn’t want to set it down in case some squatters were a little off-center), and trying to get a tissue out of my pocket since most were not equipped with paper. A constant challenge.

        Finally, no description of a trip to Asia would be complete without mentioning the shopping--it was fantastic. From clothes to gold, pearls, electronics, watches, handbags, and cashmere sweaters to typical souvenir stuff like key chains and magnets, it was everywhere, cheap and always an experience. You bargain everywhere, even in the nice stores, (well, we did). Since Dave is the bargain king, we always had a lot of fun, got into some great squabbles and got some great deals on things.(One shop-keeper even threatened to call the police on Dave after Dave scraped a pearl on his tooth to see if it was real. I wondered if I was licensed to practice in Hong Kong.) Some of the markets are indoor--large buildings with different stalls and different kinds of merchandise on different floors, some are regular malls like we have (nice but not nearly as much fun as the "street" stuff ), and some are outdoor markets with stalls set up and people literally following you down the street if you so much as looked at something with slight interest. It will come as no surprise to any of you that we did lots of shopping and our luggage looked quite different coming home!!

        Needless to say, we had a wonderful time.

        It’s funny, Australia is starting to feel like home as it is nice to be back in Manly where the weather is 73, blue skies with patchy clouds and rain on and off, and they have toilets. We are now looking forward to a week-long visit from Michel Meredith, formerly my paralegal at Hoge, Fenton and always my friend. Of course we think we are experts on Sydney and are excited to have someone to show the town. You can check with Michel for a tour-guide critique later.

        In the meantime, life continues to be good. We realize we are on the downward stretch of our trip and reach that point with a mixture of sadness and excitement. We are looking forward to seeing family and friends and our new venture in Colorado and we hope to maintain our current philosophy, which is that we are controlling our lives instead of it being the other way around. We view our move to Colorado as the next chapter in continuing the wonderful quality of life we are experiencing. (Yes, we realize we have to go back to work!) Until next time,

        Stay in touch, enjoy life and go to Beijing for cheap dim sum.

        Love Di and Dave


        • #5
          Life is Good, 4th Edition: Kiwis, Sheep and Beauty

          Hello again,

          Don’t worry, we only have about 5 weeks left so you will only be subjected to a couple more of these. We have been in Australia for the last month since our return from Asia and are getting ready for a trip to the Red Center (more on that later) in a couple of days. But, we did want to go back and fill you in on our trip to New Zealand. It is such a spectacular country, it absolutely bears mention.

          Briefly, we flew into Auckland which is the biggest city in NZ and on the North Island. We then rented a car, toured some sights on the North Island, flew to Queenstown on the South Island where we also rented a car and explored the South Island. (Our first experience driving from the “wrong” side of the car on the “wrong” side of the road. We had to keep reminding each other not to pull out of a parking lot into oncoming traffic. No casualties.) In a nutshell, New Zealand is an awesomely beautiful country that at times reminded us of California , especially the Tahoe area, and Colorado, though it does have its own aura. It is very green with rolling hills, perpetually snow-capped mountains, lots of lakes and picturesque villages with European influenced architecture. Everything you have heard about lots of sheep is true as one of the attached photos will attest. They have their own personalities as well; Dave is convinced he got a few sheep winks!! All Di wanted from them was a couple of sweaters. Although Dave only got winks and no other action, Di did get her sweaters


          Auckland-a city similar to Sydney, set on a harbour and very nice. Not as pretty or exciting as Sydney and our decision to spend only 1 night there was a good one. We did do a city tour, a ferry ride across the bay and bought some sweaters so all was not lost.

          Working our way south of Auckland, we toured the Waitomo glow worm caves where there are thousands of glow worms attached to caves through which runs a river. Part of the tour is on foot and part in a boat. During the boat ride, it is pitch black except for the thousands of lights from the worms—like a starry night. From there we went to Rotorua, a town with a nice lake and lots of Maori tribe cultural influences. The Maoris are a polynesian tribe. We don’t know what this says for our high school geography lessons (Dave slept through his and I don’t think Yale or Howell HS had geography. Dad, did they?) but we had no idea how polynesian NZ is. One of the attached pictures is of a Maori dance production we saw there.
          Rotorua is also surrounded by several natural geysers with bubbling water, mud and steam. (Did wonders for the hair.) A photo of one we toured is attached.

          Taupo was our next stop, a beautiful lake town much like Tahoe. The lake is sparkling blue and surrounded by snow-capped mountains. It was cool and breezy when we were there and Dave used that as an excuse to buy a NZ All Blacks jersey. The All Blacks are the national rugby team, named when a reporter describing their play meant to say they play as if they were “all backs”. Via either a typo or a miscommunication, his words came out all blacks and it stuck. At least there is no decision making as to what color of jersey to buy . Anyway, once we made our way all the way to the southern tip of the North Island, we were in Wellington, NZ’s capital city. A picturesque harbour city with houses set on hills surrounding the bay.

          From there we flew to Queenstown (South Island), a very popular tourist destination in NZ and an adventure-lovers’ paradise. It is set on a lake fed by a couple of rivers so has many water sports (note the jet boat picture. Erika, I am wearing the Calvin Klein rain jacket you gave me a long time ago.) It is also surrounded by mountains and is a popular ski spot in the winter. We took a gondola to a scenic overlook and had a spectacular view. There is a ton to see and do in and around Queenstown and we really wish we had more time there. We did do a boat tour of Milford Sound, a water inlet from the ocean with crystal-clear still waters, waterfalls and mountains rising right up out of the water. There is a real sense of serenity there and we really enjoyed the day. Our favorite picture from the Sound is attached.

          On our way from Queenstown to Dunedin (next stop) we saw the bridge where bungy-jumping first became a sport. In order to promote it, woman were offered a free jump if they went topless. So many did that they had to discontinue the practice! Maybe this was NZ’s answer to “natural” breast augmentation.

          On our drive from Queenstown to Dunedin, a Scotish-settled town on the coast of the South Island, we were treated to one of those neat, unexpected things that often happen while traveling. Rounding a corner in an agricultural valley, with fruit orchards and sheep stations, we saw a sheep farmer and his dogs mustering a herd of sheep into two pens. We stopped the car and watched. We could hear the farmer signaling the dogs, who performed with amazing precision. The dogs just reacted to the movements of the sheep, as a one would try to resist the gate to the pen, a dog would in no time be nipping at its heels. We were thrilled. Babe in New Zealand.

          We then drove up the coast to Christchurch, a very pretty town set on a river. It has a beautiful city center, spectacular cathedral and nice shops and restaurants. We accidentally stumbled upon a “Busker’s” festival. Having no idea what busker’s were, we stopped to take a look. They are street entertainers and there were performers from all over the world. We only saw a couple of skits with very funny performers, some sort of campy, some in drag and others juggling and riding unicycles. Humor is definitely a universal language.

          In summary, we saw just enough of New Zealand to know we’d love to return someday. It really is an incredible, beautiful, green country that has the quality of being a little bit untouched by the rest of the world. The people are very friendly, the scenery spectacular, the food great (fresh fish, lamb, etc.) and the sweaters beyond compare. On this last note, we did a lot of looking at sweaters in every city. That having been the case, we can say with confidence that Di found and bought the most expensive sweater in all of New Zealand!! (It just happened )

          Whew, a little wordy but NZ deserves it.

          Next we leave on April 25th for a 10-12 day tour through the Red Center (Alice Springs, Ayers Rock), Outback and Boomerang Coast of Australia (South coast with Adelaide and Melbourne. For those Mabaraks reading this note, we will see the Kapunda relatives, who came to Australia from Lebanon about 100 years ago.) We will report on that later so stay tuned and remember, Life is Good.


          Di & Dave


          • #6
            Life is Good, 5th edition: Back from the Outback

            Hi Everyone,

            We have less than 2 weeks left in Australia so this is the last message you will get from Down Under. Next time we’ll be a mile high!! This last month has us in a whirlwind of trips and good-byes to all of the great Aussie friends we’ve made. We have been enjoying the beautiful fall weather with beach walks, ferry rides, golf and snooker when the weather is wet. Really though, we have had spectacular weather with the days in the 60-70 range and the evenings cool. Can’t complain about that.

            A recap of our most recent trip to several Australian sights follows. It was an unbelievable experience.

            The Red Center-Our trip started in world-famous Alice Springs, the center of the Center (KKM, remember the book A Town Like Alice?). The town is fun—a nice walking mall, lots of restaurants and hotels, dingos roaming the streets and a sizeable Aboriginal population. It is known for its Aboriginal art galleries; of course we bought some. We also visited The Royal Flying Doctor Service, where doctors are summoned by radio and fly to remote stations; and the School of the Air, where classes are broadcast by radio to kids living on cattle and sheep stations. The Outback is so large an area with so little population, that these creative services are the only way to offer medical services and school for the kids.

            From there we drove to King’s Canyon, a huge red rock canyon in the desert. The resort is beautiful and we did a guided canyon rim walk early one morning. When the rock weakens over the years, parts of the face of the canyon break away very sharply resulting in shear, smooth gorges and crevices. It was beautiful.

            Next we went to Ayers Rock (Aboriginal name, Uluru), the famous huge red rock in the middle of Australia. The sunsets at the rock are spectacular with the rock changing color from red to plum, purple and everything in between. We had planned on climbing the rock the next day but it rained and was windy so the climb was closed. Though disappointed, we did a partial base walk and got some breathtaking pictures of spontaneous waterfalls spilling down the rock face. A silver lining.

            We then flew to Coober Pedy, the Opal Mining Capital of the World and a truly bizarre town. Many of the townspeople live in dugout homes, and many of the businesses are also underground carved into the side of rock. This is because of the extreme heat in the summer (well over 120 degrees for days on end). The underground structures stay cool (low 70s) and are therefore very comfortable. We stayed in an underground hotel where the rooms had been carved into the rock using opal mining equipment. Pretty neat. The underground structures, the vast red desert and the mining mounds surrounding the town mean that Coober Pedy is a very strange extra-terrestrial looking place where many sci-fi and space age movies have been filmed. Among them are some of the Mad Max movies and the recent Red Planet. (Geoff and Meg, remember we took you to that?)

            By far the most memorable thing about Coober Pedy was the tour we took. We went on the mail run in a 4-wheel drive vehicle with the outback mailman. For 12 hours. On dirt roads. In the middle of nowhere. Where one roadhouse stop, William Creek, had a population of 9 kept on a blackboard. Where the biggest cattle station in the world, Anna Creek, is the size of Belgium. Where you drive for 2 solid hours before delivering a piece of mail. Where you pass Dog Fence, the fence built across Australia to keep the dingos away from the sheep. Where the mailman keeps a menu from the Oodnadatta Pink Roadhouse (dinner stop) in the mail truck and radios in your dinner order (he also knew what was on special). Where kangaroos jump in front of the truck and you almost run into cows on the road. Where you stop on the way back to gaze at the beautiful night sky and learn how to find the Southern Cross.

            If that wasn’t enough, read on. The mailman we rode with was Rex. Nice guy and there were only 4 of us on the tour so we all got to know each other. Turns out Rex was also the handyman at our hotel so we saw him the next morning. Turns out Rex also drove the shuttle to the airport so we got a ride with him. Turns out Rex also checked people and their luggage in at the airport. (There is one flight out of Coober Pedy a day and the airport is smaller than most of your living rooms. If you want a Coke, you buy one out of a cooler brought in the shuttle.) Turns out Rex also donned a fluorescent vest and waved in the one incoming flight!! We were in hysterics. We were going to protest if Rex climbed in the pilot’s seat, but thankfully there was a proper pilot and we left waving good bye and wondering what he was going to do next.

            We flew to Adelaide and went to the really quaint village of Kapunda north of Adelaide adjacent to the Barossa Valley, one of Australia’s wine country areas. On Di’s mom’s side there are distant relatives in Kapunda who gave us a first class Lebanese welcome. We did a walking tour of the village and a driving tour of the valley with brothers Reg and Eli Rawady and thoroughly enjoyed both. It was very special to have family on this side of the world. We will never forget our Aussie cousins or their hospitality.

            From Adelaide, where we rented a car, we drove the southern coast of Australia on the section called the Great Ocean Road, one of the most beautiful drives in the world. It is as extraordinary as Highway 1 in California though very different. The water has eroded the lime and sandstone rock, which is native to Australia. This has resulted in the development of spectacular jagged rock formations, arches, gorges and cliffs all along the coast. Some of them have been given names such as the London Bridge, Razorback and the 12 Apostles (though only 8 are visible because the sea has claimed the other 4). An awesome drive.

            It was on to Melbourne, Australia’s second biggest city, often compared to Boston. It is a wonderful city full of neat old buildings, the Queen Victoria Market (weekend market with fruit & veg, souvenirs, cheap street stuff, crafts, street entertainers, coffee stalls. . .), famous Flinder’s Street Station and much more. We only had one night there but managed to get a good feel for the city. More time would have been easily filled.

            One memorable thing we did outside of Melbourne was go to a little island called Phillip Island to see the Penguin Parade. We went to a visitor’s center on the coast where we walked down a long boardwalk to the beach where there are bleachers. At sunset every night (about 6:15 the day we were there) the fairy penguins, which have been out in the ocean feeding all day, come in on the beach to the borough in which they live located in the space between the beach and the visitor’s center. They just bubble up out of the ocean, group together on the beach (literally waiting for each other like one says “wait, we can’t go yet, Joe isn’t here”) and when they get ready lean towards land and scamper to the bushy, hilly area off of the beach. It was absolutely remarkable. Little groups are gathering and “parading” over a period of about 45 minutes so there is always something to watch. As we walked on the boardwalk back to the center, we heard and saw penguins all over in the brush, some in pairs, some alone, some in bigger groups. It was one of the neatest natural homecomings we have ever seen.

            From Phillip Island, we took a couple of days to drive back to Sydney. The route was full of agricultural valleys and rolling green coastline. While we saw many pretty sights and quaint little villages, the highlight was Robertson. This is a picturesque little farming village in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales and is the sight of the filming of the movie BABE. About as far, literally and figuratively, from Hollywood as you can get.

            With about 10 days left, we are determined to get as much out of the end as we have out of the beginning and middle of our sojourn. To that end, on Sunday, May 20th we will fly to Port Douglas, a beach town on the northern coast of Australia parallel to the Great Barrier Reef. We will be there for 5 nights and will take 2 daylong reef tours out to platforms on the reef to snorkel, submarine and get some sun. We will also tour the Daintree rainforest, part by rail and part by gondola. Between those activities, Port Douglas’ Four Mile Beach and the pool at the hotel, we should keep busy relaxing : ).

            For better or worse, you will all hear from us at least one more time from Colorado as we complete what has been a remarkable adventure. We are as excited about the next chapter in our lives as we were about this one and continue to believe that Life is Good.

            Cheers, Di & Dave


            • #7
              As you can see, I lost my patience spreading the posts out. And since they were already written I simply posted the remaining 3 we could find. Still looking for the last one.

              I will try to scan in some pictures at some point and post them. Thanks for your interest in our once in a lifetime trip.



              • #8

                OK, so I thought I better try to get some pictures up before the Members tournament so here goes:

                Let's start w/Snooker. When we first arrived in Sydney we stay in the Rocks that is just outside the city and a short walk to the Sydney Harbour Bridge. I learned of a club called City Tattersalls (Tatts) Club in downtown Sydney that hosted a weekly handicapped snooker tournament on Wed nights. I introduced myself and they said I was welcome but had to dress nicely. Once we moved to Manly Beach, I continued to ferry to City Tatts to play with the group.

                The Gang during one evening's tourney

                My Cuemaker, Peter Hanley (left) and Geoff Miller, who claimed to be one of Karen Corr's instructors. I also golfed w/Peter.

                Here I am standing way too tall for a 12' snooker table. I made them giggle

                Then there was Fishos in Manly. A club w/4 snooker tables (recreational and leagues playing other clubs); Golf; & Fishing. The club had a restaurant run by a great lady from New Zealand, Gloria; and full bar; and of course slot machines. Aussies love their gambling.

                Here's a picture of us with Gloria and the menu. She would prepare food for Di that had less fat...we loved her!

                We had a cake made to say goodbye to the Fisho's gang who were so nice to us. It was delicious and appreciated.

                Last edited by 12squared; 08-10-2017, 01:04 PM.


                • #9
                  Pictures cont.

                  We loved Sydney and Manly Beach as you may have guessed from the read.

                  Here is Manly Beach - you can see all the trees just off the beach, which made it unique (at least to us).

                  Manly Beach was used constantly for events. We saw the gold-medal winning women's beach volleyball pair more than once. They also use it for competitions - the next 2 pics being the Surf Life Savers Competition. It was crazy.

                  You may have seen the spectacular fireworks off the Harbour Bridge on TV during New Year's Eve - well, we saw it in person! Wow. We had to get to the Royal Botanical Garden very early to get a good spot (good advice by the way). The next 2 pics are before and during the fireworks (doesn't do them justice). The really cool thing is was that the fireworks were duplicated and synchronized several times up and down the Harbour. Very cool.

                  Besides the Bridge, the Opera house was the other main visual attraction from the harbour, Diane caught this great shot of a "Hat and a House". Me wearing my Opera House hat during a ferry ride passing the "House".

                  Last edited by 12squared; 08-10-2017, 01:11 PM.


                  • #10
                    Pictures cont.

                    Alice Springs is in the center of the country, they call it the Red Center. They have a big Aboriginal population so of course some unique artwork (dot art). We brought this one home with us as well as a didgeridoo not shown. This is Di and the art dealer (of course he's happy).

                    Then we traveled to see Ayers Rock (Uluru). There are 2 pics because it's usually red in color as the sunset picture shows, but when it rains it changes color to a plum/purple.

                    We visited Australia after they had hosted the summer Olympics so there were a few venues we visited that were built just for that event, this is one of them. Penrith Whitewater Course was built for whitewater events such as kayaking. It is now for rafting adventures. A couple of blokes from Fishos took us there with their families.

                    The following are just a few of the pictures we took along the Great Ocean Road. We would have to park and hike to get a view of most:

                    Bay of Islands

                    Loch Ard Gorge

                    The 12 Apostles (most famous and there are not 12)

                    Last edited by 12squared; 08-10-2017, 01:17 PM.


                    • #11
                      Pictures cont.

                      The Great Wall of China just before we hiked it (It was pretty great!)

                      Decisions, decisions...which way to the car!

                      And finally, the beautiful woman who made it possible to eat Dim Sum w/WonTon soup all for 10 yuan ($1.25)

                      That's all I scanned - I think I'm too tired to play in Chicago, but I'm going anyway. See many of you there.

                      Last edited by 12squared; 08-10-2017, 01:19 PM.


                      • #12
                        The pictures where not visible any longer because of the change of policy of Photobucket, so I finally got around to adding them back in.

                        As a bonus and way of saying thanks for your interest, here is a picture of a Red Back spider we found during the 12 hour mail run in the outback (starting in Coober Pedy, the opal capital of the world) where we rode in a mail truck to deliver mail to maybe 5 ranches that were huge (like the state of RI). Coober pedy is so hot they build their homes and businesses under ground.

                        A red back spider that was first noticed by a rancher's young daughter. She screamed and her mom was going to spray it but I made her wait till I got this picture.