18 July 2011

Brilliant look at how much government does for us!

I don't know WHERE this came from so I can't credit it (sent to me in the body of an email) but it's just brilliant. An amazing way to look at how important the government is to just the first 10 minutes of our day. Pass along!

"This morning I was awoken by my alarm clock powered by electricity generated by the public power monopoly regulated by the US Department of Energy. I then took a shower in the clean water provided by the municipal water supply. After that, I turned the TV to one of the FCC regulated channels to see what the National Weather Service of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration determined what the weather was going to be like using satellites designed, built, and launched by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. I watched this while eating my breakfast of US Department of Agriculture inspected food and taking drugs which have been determined as safe by the Food and Drug Administration.

At the appropriate time as regulated by the US Congress and kept accurate by the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the US Naval Observatory, I get into my National Highway Traffic Safety Administration approved automobile and set out to work on the roads built by local, state, and federal Departments of Transportation, possibly stopping to purchase additional fuel of a quality level determined by the Environmental Protection agency, using legal tender issued by the Federal Reserve Bank. On the way out the door I deposit any mail I have to be sent out via the US Postal Service and drop the kids off at the public school.

After work, I drive my NHTSA car back home on the DOT roads, to a house which has not burned down in my absence because of the state and local building codes and Fire Marshal inspection, and which has not been plundered of all its valuables thanks to the local police department.

I then log onto the internet which was developed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Administration and post on freerepublic.com and Fox News forums about how SOCIALISM in medicine is BAD because the Government can't do anything right."

12 July 2011

Tiny Town Australia

About 4 years ago I drove across the spectacular US of A and saw - for the very first time - small town America. Now I find myself having flashbacks in Australia as we drive outside the country's big cities and into the heart of what they call "regional Australlllia."

Roughly 20 miles out of Melbourne, "city" fades away into a brilliant, endless stretch of rolling hills, green farmland, tiny country roads, and adorable "town centers" that usually look a whole lot Iike this. You've got the general store with sells generally everything (the only more complete store in the world that I have ever seen is an alldays or a Kedi in Shanghai). This includes two to three gas pumps that hawk a unique brand of gas in each town that I have generally never heard of.

Next door (generally attached) is a post office with 100 or so post boxes. The is no home delivery of mail. Everybody just comes here to get their deliveries. How adorable is that?

The real charm of all this, of course, is that you are - at any given moment - just minutes away from gorgeous countryside and, in Australia, SPECTACULAR beaches with no people on them. When I say no people I mean NO PEOPLE for miles around in any direction. That leaves copious amounts of space for brilliant photos of both people and the other "personalities" on our trip like the rental car. From here it's further down the [Really] Great Ocean Road with Team SACK (Stafford, Aditi, Cascade, and Kyle). Here are a few more shots of the beaches. Enjoy!

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06 July 2011

Dramatic Sea Cliffs, Plunging Gorges, & Endless Farms

Or how Western Australia is Oregon, Arizona, and Nebraska all at once. We are now just 700 miles north of Perth in a little town called Kalbarri. Within the course of twenty minutes on the highway we have seen dramatic cliffs lining the sea that plunge precipitously into the ocean, rolling fields that carry on for miles in every direction, and deep red rock valley gorges complete with waterfalls, jagged cliffs, and kangaroos splashing about. It feels like all of the USA packaged up into travel size portions and plopped down right next to each other. In short, it is spectacular. Western Australia is SPECTACULAR. My only real frustration is that we have to turn around and go back to Perth instead of continuing north to Darwin. It just seems to get better and better...Some additional photos below, along with Aditi express our general happiness about the entire experience (pictured with one of about a dozen rainbows we have seen this trip).

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05 July 2011

Our Children Are Not Speedbumps

In case you were wondering, the children of motorhome driving, caravan towing, gun toting, fishing loving, liberal voting, salt of the earth Australians in RV parks are not, in fact, speed bumps. If you were confused about this have no fear, as every campground we have stayed in is adorned with an enormous sign right near the entrance that reads "Speed Limit 8. Drive like you're walkin'. Our children aren't speed bumps.". Yes, it is specific to the point of making the speed limit 8. Yes, it says "walkin'." No, children are not speed bumps (apparently). My first thought? What are Australians talking about? Of course children are speed bumps! They also make great bait for fishing, love when you strap them to the luggage rack on the roof, and act as brilliant targets for a game of lawn darts.

Camping in Australia is a cultural experience. That is, it is a culture all it's own. You'd think it was a discount vacation option and you'd be wrong. At $35 a night just for a splotch of dirt 20 feet by 20 feet, you don't do this to save money. You'd think it was about solitude and "getting away from it all.". Again, wrong. It's about big communal barbecues on Thursday, wine tasting Wednesdays, and disco Saturdays in the camp kitchen.

RV parks in Australia are a hustling bustling, social, active community that are more buzzing that Oxford Street in Sydney on a Friday night. To manage one you must have a sense of humor (all types stay in caravan parks), be willing to repeat yourself 100 times per day (bathroom here, code to enter is X, fry up starts at 6, our children are not speed bumps), have long arms (to run the toy car up and along the map of the park in an effort to ensure you do not get lost in a space the size of your front lawn), and have a name like Dolly or Big Pete.

Everyone says hello, everyone has their name on their "rig" (like "Mella Yella" and "Old Man Mac" and "Jim & Julie's Jammin' Jayco), and everyone is up at 6am, which is not ideal for two twenty somethings who are up until all hours watching Lost from start to finish.

As the days go on we have begun to embrace this lovely way of life. We named our rig Sally Jesse Rapha-Camper and we are actively taking photos of it and with it as if it were the third person on our trip. On the way to the bathroom I had a great chat with Rich from down south. "What's under the hood there son," he asked me. "Oh, you know, a 2.4 liter twin valve double cam dual exhaust premium-unleaded loving engine there Rich," I told him. "Nice one," he replied. I have no idea what is under the hood but I do know that "engine" wasn't nearly enough information.

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04 July 2011

The Pinnacles

It seems the further afield you get in Australia, the more interesting - and bizarre - the scenery gets. It's that sense which Bill Bryson described so well when talking about Oz: it's like you've left planet earth in every way - the landscape, the people, the crazy stuff that happens (like the reported detonation of a nuclear bomb by a Japanese fringe cult group 15 years ago that went entirely unnoticed), and the road signs.

We were just 250 miles north of Perth cruising along Indian Ocean Drive (yes, Australia's west coast is on the Indian Ocean) when we came across The Pinnacles. These limestone gems have been formed over literally thousands of years by trees growing then dying then sand flying a round in the wind then tree roots creating casts for shapes the rain then ore sand flying around then tree roots burning in a fire then salt water getting in then ore sand flying around then more rain. Did you get all of that? Basically, there is a lot of sand flying around.

What's left are thousands of little craggy limestone towers poking out of the sand anywhere from 6 inches to 10 feet in the air (with another 20+ feet under the ground). At the end of a 10-mile dirt track there is an amazing brand new museum that talks about their formation and the animals that can kill you - I mean live all around. Following a visit to the museum you take a one-mile walk or a 3-mile drive (we opted for the drive because we have a camper, our fellow walkers would have been weirdo tourists who wanted to chat, and we are incredibly lazy). Good thing we were not in a rush because I tell you what, people like to stop right in the middle of the road for extended periods of time to take pictures, go for a wander through areas marked "do not walk here" and, in one case, take a nap leaning on the steering wheel.

From here it's northward to Kilbarri, whose town slogan is "You'll Love It!". We are fairly certain that yes, we will indeed LOVE IT.

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01 July 2011


I wasn't sure what to think upon arriving in Perth. There is that whole tagline of "world's most remote capital city" and "cashed up bogans" (wealthy mining types who make $150,000 a year operating a forklift at a mine and don't know what to do with all that cash). Still, it was on a west coast and I have a certain affection for west coasts of continents.

We arrived at our hotel that I got at bargain basement prices thanks to the Entertainment book. Our view was...spectacular!

After dropping Aditi so she could continue writing copy, I headed into the city (a long drive, I was told by locals). 15 minutes later I was downtown picking up catering, inspecting our conference venue, and admiring the charming, quaint, yet Manhattan-esque central business district. Adorable churches re nestled in-between tall skyscrapers, tram lines whizzed down the center of main street, pedestrian malls were bustling, pubs had cool names like The Swedish Hotel, The Usual, and Belgian Beer Cafe (all amazing).

After I had finished running errands I followed the spectacular coastline all the way back to our hotel where I found the above windsurfer taking in some dawn waves before watching the sun set over the ocean - something I haven't seen in a very long time - in a brilliant show of reds, oranges, and yellows.

Post sundown we whizzed to Freemantle on this, our only free evening, to sip the micro-brew of the world famous bar and restaurant, Little Creatures. This place was AWESOME. Microbrewery attached, cool music, delicious food, multi-level dining, and that funky fabulous LA, San Fran, California vibe all around.

So then, what's the verdict on Perth? It's the little city that could. The best of both worlds ,really. Awesome city center, incredible coastline, and fantastic bars and restaurants yet no traffic, no pollution, and no people or buildings 20 minutes in any direction. I love it. LOVE IT.

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Location:Perth, WA, Australia