Thursday, September 24, 2009

Dust Devils

 I woke up yesterday at 5 am, nudged Bob, and asked, "Why is the sky orange?"

100km winds had whipped the dry central lands of Australia, stripping soil and dust into its torrents. Unfortunately for us, the wind then decided to dump it all on Sydney. An orange haze was all that could be seen for hours. A journey outside left many with raspy breath and dusty apparel.

People with breathing difficulties were advised to stay inside. And a general warning to avoid prolonged exposure was given. 

Again, unfortunately, I had to walk 20 dogs. I wore a dust mask for the first three walks. Even the tiny steps of a poodle churned mini dust storms. Every white dog came home brown.

Thankfully it cleared out in the afternoon, but there's still a dusting of dust everywhere. I wonder what tomorrow will bring.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Race to the Opera

Sydney's Harbour Bridge is cleared of all cars as a light fog hangs over the steel structure. A single shot rings out over the Harbour. Within minutes, the bridge is swarmed with runners.

It is the start of Blackmore's Sydney Half-marathon. Over 6,000 participants started the 13.1 mile race at the sound of the gunshot. Unfortunately, my friend Fiona and I didn't hear it. 

Due to disorganization of the race, a failed speaker system, and a serious lack of toilets, Fiona and I, along with 20 other participants, missed the start of the race and were disqualified. 

However, we had all payed $80 to put ourselves thru a self-inflicted painful event - no amount of shouts from race officials would keep us from passing the start line.   

We were 20 minutes away from the back of the pack, and Fiona and I wanted to catch up. We quickly passed the people in our group of late starters, then found ourselves alone on the massive Harbour Bridge. Surrounded in fog it was indeed an erie feeling. 

Eventually we caught up to other racers and through many pained steps, made it to the finish in front of the Sydney Opera House. It was a beautiful day and I was very proud of myself for making to the end, since I had really slacked in my training. 

With a smile across my face I used my remaining strength to sprint the last steps. Ten feet from the finish line, I heard a shout of, "Move to your left!" I dodged just in time to avoid getting hit by a biker. My glorious finish turned into an ungraceful stumble across the finish.

It was a race of unusual circumstances, and one that I'd like not to repeat.

Storms of Survival

Please read this week's Triblocal article: Storms of Survival 

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Sunday, September 13, 2009

A Weekend in Wine Country

My peaceful cottage was in disarray. A large, nine-month old Ridgeback puppy was running rampant downstairs and had just chewed the doorstop, gloves, and a stuffed wombat. 
Upstairs, two feral kittens frolicked in ballistic circles around my bed. Their knife-like claws tearing holes in my new comforter. 

In the bed, I pulled a pillow over my head, trying to ignore all these sounds. It was 3am, and for the past week, these wild animal occurrences had commenced nightly. I, like my cottage, was going crazy.

Noticing this, Bob decided I could do for a weekend away. He surprised me with a weekend in Orange, a town four hours west of Sydney, over the ridge of the Blue Mountains.
It was a beautiul drive over ranges and into rolling farmland. The town of Orange is still in the midst of a transformation between farm town, to a refined wining and dining location.

Overlooking working farms, large vineyards, and the town of Orange, the extinct volcano of Mount Canobolas towers over the land. 
Bob and I drove to the summit, but the winds were so cold at the top that we barely took the time for a photo before diving into the car and driving back down.

Back in farmland, we passed, what I must say, was the ugliest horse I'd ever seen.
We stayed at a lovely bed and breakfast run by a nice lady named Sally. 
Not only did she make us a great breakfast each morning, but gave us fantastic food and winery recommendations. Bob and I spent the rest of our time following Sally's advice. 

When we returned to Sydney on Sunday, it was with filled stomachs, a trunk full of wine, and a relaxed smile upon our faces. 

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A Town Called Orange

Here is the link to this week's Triblocal article: A Town Called Orange

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

First Day of Spring

September first, the first day of Spring. Living in the Southern Hemisphere sure can get confusing. My body is expecting the cool days and crisp nights of autumn. Instead my nose is bombarded with the bold scents of spring. 
I know I should be frolicking in the greenery after surviving the winter. But, to be honest, winter in Sydney isn't much different than spring...or fall. The majority of native trees keep their leaves year round, opting to shed their bark instead. And even the non-natives like sycamore trees are only barren for three months before flaunting their new buds. 

And while winter does sport a few cooler days, it's hard to feel the blues when hisbisicus are blooming on every block. A few more weeks and I'll be heading to the beach for a swim, a surf, and a nice day in the sun. I've got to say, the weather in Sydney is deliciously bearable.

A Cottage for Frank's Approval

Please read my article for this week's Triblocal: A Cottage for Frank's Approval