Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Nightmare of an Orthodontist

The setting sun illuminated the harbour, a cool breeze brushed delicate leaves of eucalyptus trees, and a giant maniacal face was consuming people. But we'll get to that later.

 On a beautiful Sunday evening Bob and I explored the northern end of the Harbour Bridge. 

We found a pathway along the coast, and, mindful of stray waves that tried to douse our camera with salt water, we wandered around the rocky path. 

Ferries puttered back and forth on the water and trees proudly showed off their new spring leaves in the breeze. We took a bazillion pictures of the Harbour Bridge.

See . . .  

So it was with a calm, awed state of mind that we turned a corner, and ran into this madness.

Luna Park sits on the northwestern side of the Harbour Bridge and was constructed from chaos in 1912. I imagine the designers sat around an old wooden table in a dark musty room and thought, "Lets build a park for children."
"Jolly good idea there! But how do we stop kids from nagging their parents all year about wanting to come to the park?"
"Well . . . how about, at some point, we remodel the entrance?"
"Yes! We can make a giant head with crazed eyes and a big gaping mouth to swallow kids whole! The children will be so frightened they won't want to come!"

Today, Luna Park lures people through its' gaping mouth with bright lights and smells of cotton candy. Inside, it is pure chaos of screaming children and loud carnival muszak, where prized plush neon toys suicidally hang by their necks over game stalls. Bob and I tried to wander quickly through the park, but kept getting separated by stampedes of kids with sticky blue and pink fingers on cotton-candy induced sugar highs. We decided Luna Park was like toon town on candy-crack. It scared us. 

Friday, October 24, 2008

Words of a Baroness

"OOOOO! ooooOOO! OOO! Wah HA Wah HA Wah Ha! Ooooo...."
This is not how one expects to be greeted by a United Nations Messenger of Peace.

Bob and I sat in the Sydney Opera House, slightly dazed by the greeting from Dr. Jane Goodall, world renowned primatologist and humanitarian. 

"That," a skinny yet vibrant Jane said, "is how chimpanzees say, 'hello.'" 
She proceeded to give an inspiring talk about the necessity of conservation and the responsibilities we have to protect our planet for future generations. It was, quite frankly, a good point.

After the talk, Bob and I made our way through a mix of hippies and business men, down the Opera House steps and towards Circular Quay. We took the train back home, grabbed some books, and read in a nearby park. Well, I read, Bob took a nap. I watched kids run around the park, enjoying nature, and decided Jane knew what she was talking about. 

Bob saw me watching and said, "You don't think those kids are cute are you?"
"Nope, it's just that the sunlight was on them."
"Wait," Bob sat up, "you only think kids are cute if they're in the sunlight?"
"No," I replied, "only if they're in golden sunlight, like a setting sun. Makes them look... angelic."
I looked at him, "Well yes, I mean, look at that little dog. It's a pug. It has been bred to have such a squished in face that it can't even breath properly."
"Now watch when it waddles out of the shade and into the sunlight. It looks ...puglishly angelic."
"Allie, you know you're odd right?"

The asthmatic pug heaved his way up to Bob, sniffed his feet, and ran away.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Footsteps of a Spider

Something ran against my foot in the dark. I turned on the light thinking by the size and the sound of footsteps that it was a very large mouse. Nope, it was just a giant spider. 

I flipped the trash can over top of it, ran to get my camera, then carefully dragged the thing outside.

Make sure your audio is up when you play this so you can hear its steps. 

Moral of the story, be careful around spiders so large that you can clearly hear their footsteps.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Running of the toddlers

Bob and I are not used to the bugs over here. We have each been sick three times in two months - it's ridiculous. And it is, of course, in no relation to us refusing to wear coats in sixty degree weather.

 While my runny nose was funding the Kleenex company, I decided to sign up for a 9 kilometer race that ran over the Harbour Bridge and ended at the Opera House. Between our wedding and moving to Australia, I became rather lazy in my exercise routine. I decided this race would be a good motivator to get me running and training again. Well ... it didn't.

Race day approached early on a sunny Sunday morning. I was unprepared and my cold hadn't gone away. Our friend John was staying with us for a few days while he attended a conference, and so he and Bob were going to cheer me on at the finish line. 

I stuffed a bag full of tissues to carry with me on my run, and made my way through the mass of runners to the starting line. It was chaos. There were actually four races going on that day: 
The Sydney Marathon (for crazy people)
1/2 marathon (for 1/2 crazy people)
9km Bridge Run(for mildly sensible people)
Family Fun Run (for people who like to put their small children in the way of angry runners) 

A poor flaw in the race planning, was that the family run started before the 9km run. The result of which was that once I started running the 9km with my fellow racers, we headed up the incline of the Harbour Bridge - and hit a wall of strollers, hand-holding toddlers, and piggy-backing kids. This was a problem. 

Kids, when filled with sugar, can run around malls screaming their heads off with never a need to rest. Kids, when exposed to sunlight and the monotony of 9km of pavement, wilt. The ensuing result reminded me of the Pamplona running of the bulls. Just replace the crazy running humans with sugar-depleted stumbling kids, and the bulls with sweaty adult runners praying that they not only make it up the bridge, but don't end the race to find a toddler stuck to the bottom of their shoe. 

After the initial kid-weave-and-dodge, the race calmed down, until I started running down the bridge and was nearly clotheslined by a Japanese tourist. I'm not sure if they were actually in the race, or just wanted a chance to get to run on the bridge, but about twenty of these tourists suddenly appeared on the course. They would run a few paces - this is while being surrounded by actual racers - then stop in the middle of the course, spread their arms wide, and smile so their friend ten feet back could take a picture of them. Again, this resulted in racers making sharp dives, falling over, and, I'm sure, a lot of pictures of a smiling tourist about to be run over by a very ticked off racer.

My cold was acting up and after another near miss with a camera toting tourist, I stopped to (in a very lady-like and dignified manner) hack up some phlegm. Anyway, after the obstacle course of the bridge the rest of the race went pretty smoothly and running along the botanic gardens and opera house was gorgeous. 

There were so many runners that Bob and John didn't ac
tually see me finish, but they did take me out to a nice breakfast in the gardens. So all in all, I made it through the race - and through another box of tissues.