Month: February 2018

595. Sunday 25th February 2018. At home and looking back before looking forward…

Monday 19th February

It is hot today but not heatwave hot. Still hot enough for one member of the household to need the air conditioner turned on.

While labouring in the garden for 5 minutes (any longer and I would have been a puddle of oil and chemical salts) I spied a baby Water Dragon.

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Can you see him?

OMG these little guys are so cute. He was aware of me and went into his statue defence.

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From nose tip to tail tip he measures only about 60mm.

He stayed there long enough for me to run off to get the camera. Unfortunately there were little things around him which my camera could not discern on which to focus. (A small tomato plant with two small leaves) Switching to manual mode and Macro focus did not help all that much as trying to hold the camera steady is near impossible without a tripod.

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He will, if the hungry carnivore birds, cats and dogs do not get him first, grow into a beautiful specimen like this. Once he gets to this size, those other carnivores will leave him alone. Around the village this week I have seen dragons in various stages of growth.

Wednesday 21st February. I visited the RACQ and received my International Drivers Permit. Although I can legally drive using my Queensland License in both the USA and Canada, usually hiring a car can be difficult unless you have somebody with a local license to sign the agreement. Or, you have an International Driving Permit which is issued showing your good driving history and there are no driving warrants issued.

Sunday 25th February

The rest of the week was sliding off from a heatwave to regular hot days which led into overcast and rain which soon became heavy rain which eased off to just heavy days of humidity of around 92%. People are panting and saying how hot it is when in fact it is not hot but humid.

I used some of my time to look back in the past to see what we were doing this week in…

  1. We joined the Mackay Sugarloafers for a weekend camp beside Marion Creek about 50 Klms south of Mackay. The campsite is mosquito and sandfly ridden so the camp has a fire all weekend with mozzie coils burning and lots of insect repellent. We had the Toyota Coaster bus converted to a motorhome which we parked up on the almost extreme edge of the steep creek bank. The site was away from the rest of the Sugarloafers but exposed to a nice breeze which came up or down the creek. We were not bothered by mozzies or sandflys. Except, that is, when we joined everybody at the main camp.
  2. Usually in February in the Tropics it is too wet and windy to travel. It is better to stay home and be available in case there is a cyclone. Usually if a cyclone crosses the coast to the north we cop the tail end which includes wind and lots of rain, probably more rain than where it crosses the coast. If the cyclone crosses the coast to our south then it has probably buffeted us for a few days including the wind and rain before it moved south. Either way we need to be home for Cyclone Watch or Cyclone Alert.
  3. A freak storm blew through Airlie Beach and flattened a few houses and washed over 60 boats onto the beach with more than 50% of them being a total loss. We received 600mm of rain in 24 hours. We stayed home all of the month of February.
  4. Donnis and I were married on Cannonvale Beach. Council wanted $150 in fees for a permit plus we had to pay a damage deposit and all manner of regulations Council could think up including a fee for liability insurance. In the end we did not tell them the day we were getting married. Surprise, surprise, surprise. We had 50 guests, family and friends and somehow managed to not cause any damage or set off a chain of events which required liability insurance. So now we can thumb our noses at Whitsunday Shire Council and tell them “We Did It Our Way.” We also planned a 3 month trip to Tasmania in the Coaster.
  5. It rained all week. As you come to expect in the tropics in February it is going to rain. By now we had traded the old Coaster for a Winnebago Leisure Seeker and it was a bit annoying looking at it parked beside the house, in the rain and we could not go anywhere.
  6. Donnis is in Canada and I am house-sitting in Traveston on the Sunshine Coast and it is raining. This was not the rain which caused the major flooding in Brisbane. That was last week. This week the rain caused flooding in the Mary Valley along the Mary River including Maryborough. It seems Traveston Crossing is prone to flooding and once again the area around the bridge was washed away. Unusual in that the bridge and its approaches were still in place. I spent most of the week in the house watching TV.
  7. We have been living in WWWGO at Culcairn NSW for the last month. Donnis is working at the Henty Hospital about 40 Klms away. We took a drive through parts of the Murray River Valley (being the longest river in Australia we can only see a few parts in one day) crossing bridges into Victoria and back again. We stopped at the town of Walbundrie and Howlong. There are lots of jokes about Howlong. “ How long are you going to stay?” “How Long is a piece of string?” “Howlong is the name of a Chinese train?” “How long are you going tell silly jokes?”
  8. We had been housesitting at Guyra NSW since October last year. It was time to move on. We travelled to Forster to spend time with brother Allan and wife Rae the drove to Toukley and stayed on the coast at a caravan park at Soldiers Point. Our first night was a bit of a rude awakening with thunder, lightning, lots of rain and near cyclonic winds causing damage to most tents and trees but which thankfully left us, snug as a bug in a rug, in WWWGO.
  9. We have arrived back in Airlie Beach. I am slowly unpacking the garage, cleaning and moving things into the house. Donnis is working at Collarenebri in NSW and I am working 3 days a week at my old job as a Marine Insurance Broker. We are still wondering what our plans are. Do we stay here and put up with heat, humidity, cyclones and grass which grows before your eyes or do we buy and live somewhere else?
  10. Well the question from 2014 has been answered. We are now living at the Gold Coast and I am settled. Donnis is still trying to. This week we are watching as yet another cyclone threatens the stability of our home in Airlie Beach. Even here 1,000 Klms to the south we are effected by the tail end of cyclone MARCIA.
  11. We are well and truly settled in now. I am getting therapy for my wrist which I broke and had surgery last August. Donnis sister Linda and partner arrived from Canada. Her son Peter and his son Chris arrived and we all went to the beach and flew large kites, surfed and generally behaved like Aussies at the beach.
  12. We are cruising on the P & O Ship, “PACIFIC ARIA” to New Guinea and some of the myriad thousands of islands dotted around and belonging to PNG. It took me a couple of days to adjust to a different culture. A culture which is not far removed from cannibalism and headhunters but one which uses mobile phones and watches Australian sport on TV. That said, the towns, villages and islands we visited are extremely poor. Although after the trip I said I had been there, done that and had no desire to go there again, 12 months on and I feel differently.

After doing this review of a slice of time over the last 12 years I am left wondering.            In 2006 I wondered how I could plan a long road trip in the Coaster.                                    In 2010 I wondered how I would cope being on the road full time.                                        In 2014 I wondered if we were back in Airlie Beach to stay.                                                     In 2018 I wonder what sort of adventures are coming our way especially since we have a permanent home base and leisure time in which to travel.                                                        I wonder, with careful budgeting can we travel and have adventures just like so many of our neighbours. The answer, so far, is yes. For the next two months I will be driving for the Commonwealth Games then, in May, we head to the USA and Canada for 7 weeks including an Amtrak Train journey across USA from Seattle to Niagara Falls. After that we might take a break and perhaps plan something for later this year.

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594. Sunday 18th February 2018. Heatwaves, big surf, Telstra problems, Apple problems and a head cold which lingers…

The blog title and theme is Home and Travel Gallery.

This week there will be more of the former and less of the latter. In other words not much travel this week.

Monday 12th February

Heatwave conditions.

Need I say more? Stay indoors. Stay hydrated and turn on the air conditioner. Even with the AC on it was still a bit sweaty in bed waiting for sleep to come crawling out of wherever it has been hiding and throw a blanket of siesta over my mind.

Tuesday 13th February

Heat wave conditions.

Somewhere around 35° during the middle of the day.

Living on the coast we do get a sea breeze so conditions are not as bad as 60 klms and more inland where temps were in the mid forties. I suppose the humidity there was not as high as on the coast.

Our internet has been intermittent for some time. It has become much worse this last week. In fact it came to a grinding halt today. Hmmm! All the lights on the modem say we are getting signal and wireless is working. All lights green. The laptop and the desktop can connect wirelessly but say there is no internet. Both mobile phones are set up to switch to wireless connection as soon as we are in range. Both say there is no internet signal. That is four devices all registering no internet. I dragged out the aging Apple iPad. It also would not connect. There is no internet signal despite the modem saying otherwise. Five of 5 devices all with the same problem. I called Telstra and they did their usual tests, remotely, from wherever they are located. They told me I had internet I told them I did not. We turned the modem off and on…several times. I unplugged power…several times. I unplugged the modem from the splitter box and connected directly to the wall socket. No change. I re-set the modem…several times. No change. I kept saying we had an electrical storm on Sunday night and the real problem began after that. I told them I thought the modem was faulty.

The technical help person, probably located in The Phillipines referred me to a higher level technician further up the evolutionary tree. We repeated everything we did before. This technician referred me higher up the tree to a top level technician who declared they had reached the level of expertise or ability and declared I need a real live technician to visit us. Yay! That is what I was asking for. I think the modem is faulty. By the time we had finished, the modem ECO light was red and the Internet light was red…constantly. Earlier, before I called I would have a signal for awhile then it would drop out and the red lights came on then suddenly the signal would return then drop out again and then come back. After three hours they admitted defeat and just as a precaution warned me that if the technician discovered the fault was in my equipment they would bill me. The only “equipment” I own are the laptop, the desktop, the two mobile phones and an iPad. As far as I am concerned the modem is their property.

I received a text message to say the technician would arrive on Thursday between 8am and noon.

After the call was finished I saw I had a missed call from the Commonwealth Games Driver Section. They left a message. My day at Games Central tomorrow morning at 8am to get my uniform and accreditation has been cancelled and I have to reschedule.

Grrrr!

Tonight we had the annual general meeting of our village. Just as we arrived, close to 7pm, lightning struck very close by. So close the strike and the thunder were instant. The lightning shorted out our security gates, leaving the exit gate open and the entrance gate unable to be opened. Lightning flashed for another two hours and dumped a heap of rain. The temperature dropped enough that we could sleep with just a sheet and no need for air conditioning.

Wednesday 14th February. Valentines Day.

Another heat wave day.

We drove to Australia Fair Shopping Centre so we could park the car underground and go inside to walk around in the AC. Lots of other people had the same idea. The food shops and coffee outlets were busy busy busy. This shopping centre food court is located opposite The Broadwater and has high glass windows to show all those people still walking around in the heat outside while we are comfortable inside.

All too soon we spent money on groceries and returned home to a hot house.

The AC was turned on again.

Thursday 15th February.

Another heat wave day.

At 6am Donnis and I went to The Broadwater for a walk followed by a swim in the lagoon. There was a misty haze over to the east where the sun was wrestling with the salty residue from yesterday’s wind and sea spray. By the time we left the beach the sun had won the battle. The haze had all but disappeared and the sun had a distinct bite to it. Time to go home, hide in the house and wait for Telstra.

Telstra arrived mid-morning and confirmed the modem was faulty. It was replaced but still no internet. The techie made a call to the exchange and they re-set the port and viola, we had signal. Yay! It was working like a charm.

It was, that is, until 9.30 tonight. I cannot access the internet. The modem is firing on all lights, the laptop tells me I have internet but the little timer goes around and around and nothing happens. The techie did say that when everybody comes home from work or school the speed will slow. Slow I understand. Stopped is not what I am paying for. There was not even enough download to carry out a speed test.

Friday 17th February

Another day of heatwave.

Internet is as it should be. If the day pans out according to my expectations the speed will drop off late in the afternoon and become a sleeping tortoise by 8pm.

After lunch we drove out to The Spit to see the predicted big swells.

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These look like a cool way to get around. A sort of scooter with a seat, fat tyres and runs on battery.

It was low tide and the waves were not as big as expected and the entire coast was covered in a salty haze while in the distance an incoming storm was building dark ominous clouds.

I apologise for the clarity of the photos. I would wipe the lens clean and by the time I focus on where to shoot, the lens would be covered with a fine salty mist. It was almost impossible to see through my sunglasses by the time we left.

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Surfers Paradise looking through salt haze and large waves.

Between the haze and the clouds the skyline was disappearing.

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A lone Kite Surfer really had to work hard in the strong winds and large swells.

Although much cooler here on the beach the strong steady wind was blowing the salty haze onto sunglasses, camera lens, windscreen and skin. By the time we left we could feel the grittiness of the salt.

On the beach the usual hardy surfers, boogie boarders, kite surfers and Asian tourists were enjoying themselves.

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Even on days like these the little sailboats still venture out to sea for their races.

The Spit as it is known to most locals is actually called Moondewarra Spit and is part of the Doug Jennings Park.

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Hexagonal Basalt Columns at the entrance to Doug Jennings Park. Look closely and you can see the name carved into the rocks.

Recently council has spent a small fortune upgrading the northern end of the park including sealed carpark, sealed roads, fencing, pathways, dive exit sites, picnic facilities and a roundabout. At the entrance to the park, the roundabout and scattered throughout the park in strategic locations are basalt columns, some in an upright position while others are placed horizontally.

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Hexagonal Basalt Columns from the Tweed Volcano are the centrepiece of the roundabout.

These columns have been brought here from an ancient volcanic site, Burleigh Heads National Park, which is part of the extinct Tweed Volcano. Some years ago a number of columns, as a result of degradation of the underlying soil, slid down the slope of the volcanic caldera and landed in a precarious and unstable position. Those six sided hexagonal columns were removed and relocated to this park.

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A safe harbour with delightful white sand beaches on three shores. Surfers Paradise is in the background. Note the incoming storm and salt haze.
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Safe Lagoon at Single Lady Beach.
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Single lady Beach with a home made totally self sufficient houseboat. It is a bit small for my liking.
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Another home made houseboat.

The storm clouds rolled in, a little lightning and thunder announced a spattering of rain and the temperature dropped as did the humidity. We can look forward to a comfortable night without the need for air conditioning.

Saturday 17th February

Lesser heatwave day.

Only about 32° today.

I have been having some trouble with my original release iPad. iPad was released in Australia late May 2010. Mine was received in late August 2010. It cannot be updated any more. Its computing power for Internet is incapable of maintaining a signal. Battery life is still good and I can run Music and Photos but I am having problems in both areas. I called Apple Services on the off chance they could help. When uploading photos the iPad deletes previous photos or only imports the name of the new folder and either deletes a few photos or adds a few photos. After an hour the techie referred me to a local man who said he is a Case Support Manager. After asking a few questions, the same as the previous operator, he connected to my laptop and asked me to show how I import photos. Within a minute he explained what was wrong and how to overcome the problem. Photo problem solved.

Next came the Music. Sometimes it works other times almost all songs will not play and has a message saying it is unavailable. Once more I showed him via remote viewing and he was able to explain how to solve the music problem

What do you do when at least one person is suffering in the heat? Go to a shopping centre of course.

Today it was the turn of Robina Shopping Town. Originally I planned to go there and visit the Apple Store Techies but I no longer need to do that.

Instead we walked around in air conditioned comfort and did a load of shopping.

Sunday 18th February.

Still hot and a promise of huge seas from tropical cyclone Gita heading towards New Zealand encouraged me to go to the beach.

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Lots of people come out to see the spectacle of large waves breaking on and over the breakwall. I guess it is a bit of vicarious fun, flirting with danger a little remotely. Whats the worst which can happen? Fall over and get wet?

Down at The Spit the huge seas and low tide kept all but the silly out of the water.

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Just move a little closer to edge so I can get a good photo of you getting wet.
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OK is this close enough? can take a selfie too.

I watched as a half dozen people thinking it was safe to wade suddenly got knocked off their feet by the undertow and were dragged, struggling out to the waves. A larger than usual wave washed them back towards shore, tumbling them over and over. We have been warned for two days to stay out of the water and all the beaches are closed but there is always somebody who will ignore the warnings.

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When the wind gets a bit strong sand is blown off the beach and covers the path. When the wind eases and the sand drift is too big Council dig and sweep it back to the beach. This photo includes the sand drift, The Seaway, The Broadwater and the high rise buildings at Lands End.

593. Sunday 11th February 2018. A head cold, driver training, mini Commonwealth Games and a mystery…

No Photos this week.

I have been slack.

Monday 5th February

Damn head cold. The sun may be shining brightly On My Old Kentucky Home but I still need trousers and a jacket in the middle of summer. Lots of sneezes, coughs, headaches, nose blowing and a body temperature which does not seem to be able to regulate itself.

Searched high and low for my Samsung Ear buds which are normally attached to my original Apple iPod Shuffle. It seems the Co-Pilot uses her ear buds too often and they now only work on one channel. She also wore out the good Panasonic ear buds last year sometime. My ear buds work on two channels and the temptation to “borrow” mine was too great. Besides I was head cold miserable and unable to defend my property. (Insert smiley icon here) EBay came to the rescue and a pack of two ear buds suitable for my Samsung Galaxy A3 but will fit any device with a 3.5 mm stereo jack are on their way. They also have an in-line microphone the same as my original ear buds. We are both going to need good ear buds when we travel to the US and Canada this year.

Tuesday 6th February

Commonwealth Games Driver Training. Not so much training as driving to familiarise ourselves with the different vehicles, the locations, the preferred transit routes and the mobile phone app for booking passengers and Google Maps interface. The mobile phone app is still not working and everybody seems to have their fingers crossed it will be ready in two weeks. (Famous last words- that’s what they said two weeks ago) After today there is no sense doing any more familiarisation driver training until the app is ready. We really need to be familiar with the app as so much of the drivers work day will be dependant on the app and what it should be able to do

Thursday 8th February

Saw the doctor about the head cold today. I was fearful it would get into my chest. Although I cough and cough and cough only to bring up small amounts of phlegm he feels I am on the home stretch and my body is doing its work.

Coughing and nose blowing will continue for some days yet.

Grrrr!

 

Sunday 11th February

Picked up the stereo er buds from Big W. Although I purchased on ebay, on-line the buds are sent to Woolworths or Big W for collection. It cuts down on postage costs. Yay they work as they orta.

Day One of the expected heat wave conditions over the next 5 days. The best respite is to stay indoors and drink water. Some people even advocate turning on the AC. That sounds a bit drastic doesn’t it?

The social club organised a Mini Commonwealth Games followed by a sausage sizzle dinner at the clubhouse. All the activities were conducted indoors with the air conditioning doing a great job keeping us cool. Graham did a great job organising us into teams of 4 and named after nations of the Commonwealth. I did really good in the elastic band gun target shoot and the bean bag toss. Seconds of extreme training went into both events. Donnis was great at the 5 ring quoit toss but we were terrible in the golf chipping game. Our team, Canada, came in a disappointing 4th while Australia came in last. Come on Aussie Come on. Oy Oy Oy.

Just after the barbecue the clouds rolled in, the thunder and lightning began and some rain fell. As is usually the case we got little of the rain as we seem to live in a pocket of calm. The temperature dropped but humidity levels stayed high.

Heat wave conditions followed by afternoon thunderstorms are predicted for the coming week.

Coughing and nose blowing continue.

Now for the mystery.

During the week my blog post from late February 2017 which advised we were heading off to New Guinea on a cruise appeared on Facebook. I was asked by several people when did we get back? My reaction? Back from where? They began to show me the Facebook post.

WTF!!! How? What? Why? When?

There was even a photo when Donnis and I were married back in 2010. Nice photo but how did it get into the post? How did the post re-post this week?

Today I also began an on-line Family Tree search as I do from time to time. Oooh what a minefield of names and dates and Births Deaths and Marriages. Ancestry.com make it all sound so easy. Yes you can do all your own research through various state BDM offices ( I am using NSW Births Deaths and Marriages) or through National Archives in Canberra or even using old newspaper archives called Trove. You can also use Census records and even War records in Canberra. Once you get past your most recent family it really becomes a slow search. Great grandparents and beyond can be a challenge. What becomes interesting is the penchant for popular names among people with the same surname. It is amazing how many Beatrice married a Robert, who had the same surname as other Roberts and Beatrice in other towns even in the same year. Then the number of families who had ten or more children who named their offspring after themselves. So Robert and Beatrice had 10 kids and there was always a Robert and a Beatrice amongst them along with Annies, Elizabeths and Mary’s. Josiah and Hyam were popular, not only with the family but other families with the same surname. It is a conspiracy of names. It can also be very costly. For every certificate that you order from BDM…in my case NSW… it costs $43. If you join Ancestry.com it costs near enough to $150 for 3 months access to their data base, plus the cost of producing a certificate.

 

592. Sunday 4th February 2018. Commonwealth Games, looking at rail journeys a head cold and kite surfing…

Monday 29th January.

Today was another “buddy up” and take a car for a drive to some of the venues for the Commonwealth Games. The phone app is not working and probably will not be available for another week…or longer. My buddy and I drove to Brisbane Airport, Domestic and International. The International arrivals and waiting section have been changed but we are supposed to use the Limousine Service section but could not access it today. At least we now know where it is. Brisbane and Gold Coast Airports are going to be a lot busier in March and very busy about the 18th April when all those extra visitors and athletes want to go home. Well some of them. On the news tonight it was announced that Federal Police and Immigration officers expect there will be many athletes from poorer nations who will want to disappear while here or who will claim refugee status. It seems that about 150 athletes tried to disappear at the Glasgow Games in 2014. Imagine defecting to cold Scotland!

Wednesday 31st January.

Tonight was meant to be the Big Trifecta. The moon was in a eclipse phase as well as a blue moon phase and a blood moon phase. It was overcast, strong cold winds and skudding rain showers. We drove to The Spit hoping we might get a break in the clouds but it stayed bleak, wet, windy and moonless.

Thursday 1st February

Whaaaat the!!!! Just as a matter of interest I researched some train journeys. As a starting point I used our planned trip from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada to Seattle, Washington USA to Niagara Falls Ontario Canada, a distance of 4,391 Klms. The trip covers 4 days and requires a bus from Vancouver, change to train at Seattle, change again at Chicago, change at Buffalo NY and arrive Niagara Falls. The cost is AU$1,831 including all meals and gives us a private room with shower and toilet. That works out to about 41 cents per Klm for two of us.

A journey from Brisbane to Sydney is the next comparison. There is no train line between Queensland and NSW. Yes you read that correctly. No train line connecting two big states, more importantly, connecting two state capitals, Brisbane and Sydney. In Brisbane they load you onto a coach and change to the train at Casino NSW. The distance to Sydney is 915 Klms. The cost is $420 for the overnight train and includes breakfast (other meals are at your own expense)and a shared shower and toilet. The cost is .46 cents per Klm for two of us. If I compared that same fare to the US trip it would be $2015 not including meals.

I could not even begin to compare a similar journey in Canada from Vancouver to Toronto (near Niagara Falls) Firstly rail journeys per Province would be with different train companies. There is no direct route and involves several changes which also means staying overnight in hotels. The closest I could come is AU$7102 per person. That works out at $1.62 per Klm per person. Not all meals are included. I suppose I could research a bit further just for the train content but remember there are different trains on different time schedules so sometimes overnighting in hotels is required. I gave up trying.

Result. The US is good value for the train journey. Australia is dearer but Canada is off the rails dearer. Air flights across Canada to Vancouver is AU$857 for two of us but does not include any meals.

Costs in Australia are thwarted by The Tyranny of Distance, different railway companies in each state and lack of population and higher wages. About 24 million in 2016.

Canada also has a distance problem but also have about 36 million population in 2016. They are thwarted by different rail companies in different Provinces. They have a wage structure similar to the USA.

Costs in US are kept reasonable by a much bigger population, (326 million 2017) with one rail company providing a service nation-wide but with a lower wage structure for employees providing a service. A lot of US wages are biased against those people who work in service industries.

Friday 2nd February

For the past few days I have struggled to fight a head cold. The visit to two nights ago to The Spit to look for a moon hiding behind clouds in the rain and wind probably did not help my condition. Today was overcast and cold and wet. The head cold was winning and bed kept calling me. I succumbed for most of the day.

Sunday 4th February

The head cold is getting the better of me. The sun made a welcome appearance today but a blustery cold wind from the south was a bit bracing. Donnis bullied me into getting out for a walk, getting my feet wet and breathing wonderful salt laden air.

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The Westpac Rescue Helicopter kept flying around and hovering over a location on main beach between Sea World and The Spit

Still felt miserable but at The Broadwater I found the Kite Surfers were revelling in the conditions.

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A dunking turn before skimming across the wavelets and into the air.

They were skimming the water surface then becoming airborne for a couple of hundred metres and often 15 metres above the water.

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Yay. This is what i like to see.

It was gasp time for the beachside spectators so I guess it must have been thrilling for the riders.

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and we have liftoff.

We followed three riders for some time but they eventually sailed/Skiied/skimmed or flew north to Lands End where the sky was filled with surf kites.

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Somersaults are easy.
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oooh this is higher than I like to go.

The wind was so strong it was lifting the slab sided houseboats about 10 cm out of the water on the windward side.

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This looks like fun even when the houseboat is being lifting out of the water slightly.

Afterwards I must admit the head cold was less congesting but I still felt cold, needing to wear jeans and a jeans jacket to keep warm.

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This is one big family houseboat. Compare the size of the child against the houseboat. Nice life for some people.