Friday, December 29, 2006

Leeches and Gum boots!

Attack of the Leeches. Today we went into the forest for a typical work day. Within 20 minutes I knew it wouldn't be typical. By the end of the short work day we had pulled off almost 60 leeches from our bodies. Below is a picture of my taped up pant legs over my gum boots. Some how Lora only had 13 leeches today. I had 45 of them! I'm supposed to be the volunteer here.

I think Lora's new gum boots had something to do with it. You can see them in action below. Doesn't she look so hot?

On the way home we stopped at a special tree. This is a GIANT Fig! They call trees like this one a Cathedral Fig because it is so massive. For those of you that don't know about Fig trees they grow like a parasite. They consume a living tree and grow all around it until the tree underneath dies. This makes a unique trunk. This one in particular is huge. It was pretty cool.

For the last picture we thought we would just take a shot of the local countryside on the drive back into Atherton. The rainy season pretty much started two days ago and today we finally got to see some blue sky.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Christmas Day in the Tropics

Well Lora and I spent Christmas day in the forest...working. She is such a slave driver! But I love her anyways. The good news is that she is now officially done with her first site of six... for this round of data collection. The bad news is that we had to spend most of our Christmas holiday working. Below is a picture of us at her Mossman Gorge field site. Mossman Gorge is part of the Daintree Rainforest, a World Heritage Site. It is really beautiful. There is a gorgeous river that runs right through her site.

The picture below is me holding a Richards prototype insect trap. They fold up, are light weight, and reasonably priced.

After working in the field we went to Port Douglas, a resort town nearby. We took a short walk on the beach before going out for a traditional Thai dinner.

There were many people spending Christmas on the beach. Many of them were playing cricket. Behind Lora you can see a family having a go at cricket.

Some people were swimming in the Pacific as well but up here at this time of year you must swim in fenced in areas due to the Stingers (Jellyfish).

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Christmas Eve

Seasons Greetings everyone. Just a quick note letting you all know what we are up to right now. We are just about finished collecting data at the first of 6 field sites in Australia. Looks like we will be working today as well as tomorrow, Christmas Day, so that we can move on to another site. It certainly will not be a typical Christmas.

Lora is sick right now with a cold and it is hampering her motivation. Some how she finds the energy to still go out into the field for a day of work! I'm sure I would be milking it for sympathy if I were the sick one. I'm still not sure how one catches a cold in the tropics during the summer.

We'll keep you guys posted and hope your all doing well and having a nice Christmas. Until next time.


Wednesday, December 20, 2006

I am still here

Hi everyone, I know I am long overdue for posting. I left Hobart 4 weeks ago to start my field work in far north Queensland. My internet access has been real hit and miss lately. When I first got up here I bought a little car. The rental car was costing almost $80 a day so it made sense to buy a car for $3200 since I have a lot of field work in the area.

I have had the car 3 weeks now and already lost 2 hubcaps on dirt roads, replaced the battery, got a nail in the tyre (Aussie spelling), replaced the bracket that holds the window in track and worst of all my cigarette lighter went out so now I can’t listen to my ipod. All in all it runs great and I am really happy with it.

It has been really nice to get back in the field. I had a grad student from the lab help me for a week. Poor girl had no idea what she was getting herself into. We ended up carrying 30 3meter pieces of rebar 2 km into the forest. Tim came up for my birthday and to help me as well. The first thing I had him do was to carry the rebar out. I came up with a better, lighter plan, which now involves Tim climbing trees and set lines up for me….I have a great husband.

He almost lost it one evening when the mozzies (Aussie term for mosquitoes) were really bad. He has already had to put up with the leeches. My current leach count is 11 and still counting. The best was when I found a full leech in my bellybutton.

While up here in far north Queensland I have been spending time with my friend Denise. It is so nice to have a good friend here and a place to be based out of. Denise is the one in the middle. The other surprising thing is that another friend from my days in Panama is also up here for a couple months. I paddled the Panama canal with Sue (on the right). Here is a picture of us during the race, I am in the back and Sue is in front of me.

Thank you for all the birthday wishes. I will try to write emails soon. Happy Holidays, while everyone is cozy inside with family and friends Tim and I will be enjoying the warm sun, swimming in the lake and drinking margaritas with Denise and beau Franz (my office mate from Panama).

Lora's Birthday

Well, Lora turned another year older and wiser last week. I flew up here to spend the 13th with her and to help out in the field. Her party was HUGE! I invited all of the people I know in Far North Queensland to an elaborate evening of fine dining and entertainment…Denise.

The three of us had dinner out on the back porch of Denise’s house. We dined on Eggplant Parmesan, of course it was a Jamie Oliver special! After dinner Lora opened up her presents. Denise gave her a fun little game called Abalone. Since all of you guys are way over in the States I decided to spoil her and gave her 6 presents. The problem with that plan is now I don’t know what I’m going to get her for Christmas. I’ve included a picture of Lora with one of her presents…an Astonishing X-Men comic. If you don’t know this about Lora yet she is a GEEK! She also received a cool Ripcurl watch to balance out the geek factor. She’s lucky she has me.

Just wanted to post a blog to let you guys know how things are going for us over here. Basically, life is moving forward. We love you all.


Monday, December 11, 2006

Sailing the Air

Not one of mine but read further down to see where I'm off to next.

First off let me warn you that I do not have any pictures to post because I forgot my camera at home. SORRY JAEL! But, I can let you guys know what we've been up to lately.

A picture right off of launch at Mystic Mounatin, Bright, Victoria. You can see the small town of Bright down below.

The past week I have been in Victoria taking a paragliding thermaling clinic. I had no idea how cool it was to be able to use a rising thermal to get HIGH above launch. At one point I was almost 2000ft above the launch... 4000ft above the valley floor. The bad news was that the fire season is really bad right now. Many of the days were unflyable due to POOR visibility (somke). My paragliding career is slow in coming living here. The good news is that I am leaving tomorrow for Cairns area to help Lora in the field.


I can't wait to see her. We'll spend about two or three weeks up there and then drive one of our new cars down the east coast to field site number 2 near the gold coast. The drive is about 1800kms and should take us a few days. There are numerous flying sites along the way so if I have my way we will take a LOOONG time making our way to the Lamington field site. I've included a few pictures of one of the beach areas I plan on flying in the next few weeks. Pretty ugly huh?

We did buy two cars. The first is way up north and is a 93 toyota corolla and I bought a 93 subaru down here in Tasmania. It's wierd thinking we own 4 cars now. Hopefully they will be low key and not need any major repairs while we're living here. The good news is if any of you guys decide to come over for a visit you will not need to rent a car. We've got them stashed all over this country.

Again, sorry for the lack of personal pictures but these are probably better than I can do and they give you the idea. Love you all and have a wondwerful Christmas. Ours will be on a beach arounf a barbecue drinking beer and eating sausages.


Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Sailing, Takes me away...

I know it's been a while since I last posted. I'm sorry! Really I am.
Lora and I have been working on insect traps and other important tasks trying to get her ready for the field. Basically, we've just been waiting around for the permits to come through. In the mean time I've been accepted into graduate school here at the University of Tasmania and w
ill be working on a Reasearch degree in Science and math Ed. Lora leaves for northern Oz tomorrow to officially begin here data collection. It's bitter sweet though since we've really been enjoying hanging out together.

I've been trying to keep myself busy and out of the house by mtn biking, sailing and kayaking. The sailing began with me deciding that I should learn to sail a little bit more. We happen to li
ve near many sailing clubs and one day I just walked into one and volunteered myself for a race crew. Within a few days I was onboard a brand new beautiful boat "crewing".

This was an evening race so it lasted about three beers...I mean two hours. I had such a blast that I decided to move up to the all day Saturday race. I was invited onto another boat that needed crew.
The race lasted about seven hours and it was HELL! The skipper yelled and called me all kinds of names. He totally knew what little sailing I had done prior to us leaving the docks and he said it was fine. There were only four of us on his boat and he usually needs seven crew to man his boat. Two of us had done very little racing and he took his anxiety out on us. I will not go into it anymore than by saying I will not be sailing on his boat again. He did have the nerve to invite me back though!

In other news I just recently went kayaing on a beautiful little gem of a river called the Broad river here close to Hobart. It was a class 4/5 river with clear water. It reminded me of Big Creek in the Smokey Mountains of Tennessee. Four of us took 1 hour to hike down to the river and about 5 hours to run it. I can't wait until I run it again. All it takes is a little rain and this river runs. I'm stoked!

Well, I guess that's it from down under for now. It may be a little while before either of us are able to post a blog entry because Lora will be in the field with the computer. I will try to post a text only entry or two from the Internet Cafe before Christmas. Who knows where we'll be or what we'll be up to next. Stay tuned!


Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The Totem Pole

Well I've been wanting to see this rock formation for over 10 years. The first time I saw a picture of this rock and someone climbing it I was awestruck. Today I was able to visit this magical accident.

One of our friends down here called and asked if I wanted to go seakayaking for the day. Of course I was keen to get out of the house. Lora was excited too because with me gone it meant that she would not be distracted and would be able to get a lot of work done.

I met Dan at his house at a little before 7am. He and two other Tasmanians were taking a high school group out seakayaking for the day. We weren't sure if I was going to have a boat to paddle when we arrived because I guess paying customers come first down here. So I set off on a hike. The track I was heading to made its way to the rocky coast of the Tasman Sea. Carol told me that it lead to a famous rock formation, the Totem Pole. I was stoked! The walk took about an hour and half and was beautiful.

Of course I thought ahead and brought my new camera. Unfortunately, the batteries were dead when I tried to take a photo. Oh well. I kept hiking towards the Pole. I then met two ladies out for a walk and told them of my dilema with the camera. One of them told me to take the ni-cad battery and rub it on my clothes. The static electricity would "charge" my battery. I of course was hesitant to try this but she just waited for me to give it a go. So I did. Guess what. That shit works! I was able to take two photos of the scenery before the battery totally drained. The two scenic shots here, I took. The Totem Pole shots I stole from the internet so you would have an idea of what I saw.

The photos are not great but you get an idea of what I saw. In the picture above you can see the Totem Pole standing alone, water lapping at it from all four sides. If you want to climb this very hard route you have to swim out to it while dragging a rope from the mainland so you can do a rope traverse from the top when you ascend it.

After seeing this climb I am now scared shitless! I can not believe that people climb this thing. The whole spire is only a few square meters at its base and rises over 60 meters out of the sea. It's one of the most amazing rock climbs that anyone could do. Maybe I'll give it a go. I'm just hoping that Scottie, Baldwin, Jack or one of my other rope guns will come over for a visit to drag me up this thing.

Well after returning back to the car I found that there was an extra seakayak for me to use so...I went for a paddle. The water here is even more clear than the water in the Virgin Islands or Panama. Since we are so far south there is no coral but lots of kelp and the beaches are made up of some of the most brilliantly white sand I've ever seen. Since I was unable to get any pictures I'll save this part of Tasmania for another blog entry.

We miss you all tons and of course want to share what we are experiencing with you all. So COME VISIT!


Friday, October 20, 2006

Around Town

We thought we would share some quick pictures of Hobart. Here is our house. You can see Mt. Wellington in the background. Supposedly there is great climbing on the crags lower from the summit, Devil's Tower stlye crack climbing.

A 5 min walk from our place brings you here to Salamanca. There are lots of restaurants and bars here in one of the oldest parts of town. Every Saturaday there is a huge outdoor market here.

This is what the market is like, lots of people and lots of stalls. Here are real live Tasmanians.

About 2 blocks from Salamanca is the harbor. Where we are huge fans of the fish and chips and the fresh fish monger.
A shot from the harbor towards downtown.

Here is the downtown pedestrian plaza. Hobart is a great little city. We can find just about anything we miss from the US here.
We hope you enjoy the pictures. Nothing exciting but most people have asked for more pictures.

Monday, October 16, 2006

I just added this pic so I can put it on Tim's profile.

An older picture of Lora from this summer. We need to post it so we can then use it in her profile.

The local scenery as we are driving to the Teva Lea river extreme race. I took this picture with me new teeny camera, so expect to see many more pictures.

Our practice run. The boat I borrowed was not the best for this run. Luckily I was able to borrow another boat for the next 3 runs.

Morning briefing on race logistics. The whole weekend weather consisted of sunshine, rain and wind. It seemed to change every 15 minutes and in any combination. They say it is normal for Tassie spring.

This was the scene at the finish line. This event is really laid back and in the spirit of the event many of the participants wore costumes. Lora and I decided to use a running of the bulls theme since this was a partner race. You can see Lora's costume in the picture above. The idea of this race is that teams of two race down a class 4+ creek in as fast a time as possible. There were 18 teams with four teams being a mixed male/female team. We were the only married couple to enter the event EVER! We placed 13th overall and placed 3rd in the mixed category. Not bad for only paddling the creek the day before. We are also really out of shape. For being third we both received an IR paddling top and some sweet schwag. I was really proud of Lora. She even had an asthma attack half way through the 15 minute race and refused to stop. Don't worry Shirley(Lora's mom) she did have her inhaler with her so she would have survived.

We met a lot of good people here. They don't know it yet but they are soon to be our NBF's. Saturday night was a huge catered dinner and party. There was singing and drinking going on into the wee hours.

Sunday's event was a first ever slopestyle event down the three largest rapids. On the first rapid I threw my first ever freewheel off the waterfall. I love my new boat (the SCUD, a super short creek boat). The second drop didn't go as well for me. Lora ran all the drops to take video and did not enter the comp that day. We had to leave early to get one of the people riding in our car to the airport to fly back to Sydney.

Here's a picture of Lora styling the first drop.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Moving to Hobart. Our luggage. It was definately quick to unpack the car.

After a month and a half of eating out we celebrated our anniversary by eating in. Homemade pizzas Jamie Oliver style.

Here's my new study, where I'll be spending a lot of time.

We don't have super exciting picts yet of Tassie. We went to our first Tasmanian Canoe and Kayak meeting last night. It just happen that they meet at our neighborhood pub. We'll be kayaking within the next 2 weeks. Then we should have some better pictures to share.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

While we were in Cairns we took a break from field work and went kayaking. We rented all the gear from an adventure company here. The boats were great, but the paddles were less than desirable. They were really heavy and the blades slipped around a bit. We were shocked to see how much the paddles are here. Now we are thinking we should have brought ours. Check out Tim's dorky helmet! Luckily the little boats we rented fit in the little car we rented. Notice they are on the right side of the car.