Author: frankeeg

633. Sunday 5th August 2018. Seafood, beach walks, Rugby League and electrics…

Monday 30th July

Today we drove to Sea World Beach for a walk in the sunshine, fresh salty air and bare toes in the sand.

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While sitting on the beach we saw this pair walking up and down doing the Metal Detector Shuffle to the tune of Have Not Found Anything of Value or sometimes they play Just Bottle Tops.

Donnis felt invigorated after the walk. Afterwards we stopped to have a look at Peters Seafood Market in a little unnamed street just beside Palazzo Versace.   This is a hidden gem selling mostly, Australian Wild Caught fish and seafood. They have fish and chips for $9. Unfortunately you are only offered Basa catfish from Vietnam or Hoki from New Zealand. Both are pre filleted and half cooked in a thin batter then frozen. Peters finishes the cooking process. You can choose any other fresh Australian fillets of fish which they will cook for you. Battered, crumbed or grilled. Of course the price is dearer. Outside there are bench tables and seats all looking across the Broadwater and the fishing fleet marina on one side and the multi- million dollar boats in the Versace marina on the other side. These spectacular views cost nothing as you sit back and enjoy your seafood. Although there are only a couple of small signs on Seaworld Drive, this place is busy especially as it is Monday and not the busiest day of the week.

Thursday 2nd August.

Donnis is still not well but not so bad that she is confined to bed. She wanted to spend some time on the beach in the sand, just sitting there and enjoying the sunshine and fresh sea air. The beach opposite Marina Mirage seemed like a good idea but the breeze from the south was just a little cool and annoying. So we decamped and went to a walk around the marina precinct including Mariners Cove, Marina Mirage Palazzo Versace Marina and saw the boats, all in the multi- million dollar plus class at the private marina at Palazzo Versace.

There are a few seafood places here, one serves a $9 fish and chips but on checking found it is the dreaded Vietnamese Basa. Mariners Cove Fish and Chips will not be on our “to do” list.

Hogs Breath Café also serve fish but they offer whiting fillets, they are pre battered, half cooked and frozen ready to complete the cooking. It is still much better than Basa and for a $9.90 lunch time menu, Monday to Friday it’s not a bad deal. It comes with piggy fries and a salad too.  I still need to confirm if the fish is Australian or imported.

At the end of the marina is Fishermans Wharf Tavern.   They have $8.99 bar meals including a fish and chips option but I did not speak with the staff to discover what type of fish they serve. They also a dining area overlooking The Broadwater and the fish of the day including chips and salad is $19.90. Before we eat there we will ask the same question we ask here in Australia, Canada and the USA. What fish do you serve? If the answer is Basa, we leave.

Across the Broadwater we saw the circus tent for the Infamous Circus, well, it’s a circus but it isn’t.

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Across the Broadwater, viewed from Mariners Cove Marina is the spiral tent of the Infamous Circus/Cabaret show.

They call it simply, Infamous The Show, which does have circus acts but is also a bit like Circe de Soleil and a bit like a cabaret. It is a 18+ venue and ID is required. It seems there is some nudity and some adult suggestive themes and is intended to titillate attendees. Prices start at $50 and wander up from there. If you enjoy being titillated then this could be for you when it comes to your city.

We wandered to an unnamed beach just past Seaworld where all the yachts are moored.

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Looking across the Spit sheltered boat mooring area is The Broadwater and Southport.

We found a spot out of the breeze and within a few minutes had fallen asleep.

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Sea World, Marina Mirage and Palazzo Versace Marina are located to the left of the photo.

Wow! That was relaxing. It’s a pity Donnis was not well enough to stay for the sunset but once the sun begins to set the temperature drops too. The amazing thing about the beach is there were no mozzies or even more importantly. No sandflies.

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The Gold Coast Outrigger Canoe Club store their canoes on this unnamed beach. No wonder the car park always seems to be full.

Friday 3rd August

One of the elements on our Ceramic Cooktop stopped working. It is the element we use most of the time so it is a choice of…

  1. Continue to use the remaining three elements and put up with it as long as possible.
  2. Accept the offer of a used cooktop which may or may not have a long life ahead.
  3. Look for a Scratch and Dent sale and pick up a new cooktop at a reasonable price.
  4. Buy a new one and look for a good price.

For the moment we will use option a. Today I went to a Harvey Norman Scratch and Dent outlet and found the cheapest price was over $300 so option b is not going to happen. For option d we were told that Aldi had a cooktop on sale for $229 and recently dropped the price to $199. We called at a local Aldi but found they had sold out two weeks ago but called another store at Oxenford who reportedly had a dozen in the storeroom. I drove all the way to Oxenford and asked a helpful looking man. No idea about spare cooktops. Yes they have two gas cooktops but sold out of the ceramic style about two weeks ago. Hmmm! Sounds familiar. The store manager got involved and found a ceramic cooktop at another store west of Brisbane. They offered to have it shipped to a store near us and will call when it arrives. In the meantime we will run with option a. I read an on-line review of the product. They range from mostly glowing reports to a few who had cooktops fail after a few months. The cooktop comes with a three year warranty and past experience with Aldi is they usually honour the warranty with an instant replacement, no questions asked.

I should mention our toaster which cost about $20 in 2010 and which has travelled on the road with us ever since blew the power safety switch late last week. We bought a new toaster on Tuesday for $50 and Aldi had a new fancy toaster on sale for $42 on  Wednesday.

Saturday 4th August. I woke at 5am not feeling the best. Last night I had an upset stomach, a headache, my legs shaking and aching, diahorrea paid a visit and I had an indigestion pain which would not go away. On waking I still had those symptoms. So in the dark I dressed and went for walk. Arriving home at 6am I felt incredibly tired and sat in the recliner chair and umm err, reclined. I woke at 7.45 am and if not feeling 100% felt much better and the indigestion pain was gone.

In the afternoon we both felt a walk in the sunshine and along the beach or waterside was in order. So, for something different we parked the car at what is known as The Moondarewa Spit and walked the pathway along to the Gold Coast Spit and Seaway.

The Emergency Access Stairs in use. (Photo courtesy of Gold Coast Waterways Authority.)
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The dive entry/exit platforms are used by divers and snorkellers. A scuba diver drowned in this area a few years ago trying to climb out of the water onto slippery rocks Council has spent a truckload of money imp[roving the parklands around The Spit. Improvements include two sets of what are called Emergency Access Stairs. They are much used and are a testimony to something good coming out of something bad.
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It seems the local Fire Brigade organise free trips on the fire truck and information sessions where kids and adults can wear fire clothing and have a ride around the block with sirens sounding and lights flashing. You can also hire the truck for special events. I guess they need to cover the costs of running the vehicle and gives the firefighters something to do between fighting fires.

It seems half the population of the Gold Coast was there with the same idea as us.

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The Gold Coast has these wonderful para sailing adventures being towed behind a boat. The safety line is so long the riders were well out over the parkland before the boat wound them in.
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Almost wound in.

After returning to the car it was shoes off and a walk along the beach watching all the watercraft coming and going. While at The Spit we stopped to look at the menu of Seaway Kiosk.   We were quite surprised to see Flathead fillets, crumbed or battered with chips for $12 or Cod for the same price. Hmmm! I need to find out where the Cod comes from. I would rather pay that price for real Australian fish than the imported Basa junk for $9.

Of course while walking the pathway we passed a number of people sitting at bench tables and seats and eating their fish and chips. The smell was driving us crazy.

Last week we somehow got onto the subject of meat pies. Somehow this week we have Fish and Chips for discussion.

Near our home we have Charis Seafoods on the Broadwater at Labrador which sells mainly Australian wild caught seafood and they do a mighty fine fish and chips but you have to specify which fish.    $9 gets you Basa while $12 and up gets you Australian fish. This is a popular place which every day at 1 pm the staff feed the Pelicans (and seagulls) the remains of fish from the shop. Busloads of tourists show up for this event. Looking at the faces of the children as well as the adults shows they enjoy the spectacle. The downside of buying from Charis is if you do not choose your time wisely you end up waiting in a long queue before ordering then waiting with a huge press of bodies all anticipating their fish and chips.

Donnis and I have an aversion to the importation of cheap frozen bottom dwelling and feeding catfish which is farmed in the murky waters of the Mekong and other polluted waterways of Vietnam and other south East Asian countries.

We have a lesser aversion to local farmed fish and acknowledge that if we are going feed people fish, much of it will have to be farmed…under proper conditions. In the meantime we prefer wild caught fish.

Even closer to home is Harbour Seafood Market which is similar to Charis except they do not have nice views over the Broadwater.

They also serve Basa for $9 but will do Barramundi for $12 and Red Emperor for $15. I find it annoying that these local seafood outlets serve good quality fish but in order to win customers, even those who apparently have no taste buds, they offer up the cheap pre- packaged, pre- cooked, pre-frozen, risky import – Basa.

For our friends in the UK, Canada and the USA be aware that cheap Basa is available in many seafood places and the first clue is that it is CHEAP. It is also available through supermarkets especially Walmart and Costco and is sold as pre- frozen pre-cooked fillets under a variety of names but somewhere on the packaging the name Basa will appear. It frequently appears as fancy fare on cruise liners, cross country trains and towns a long way from the coast.

Hmmm! In Australia the fillets are available in 1 Kg packs of 7 fillets for $7.60 or about $1.10 per fillet. 1.4 Kg of Basa fillets for $9.97 CAN. OK lets see. An average of 10 fillets per pack that works out to be slightly less than $1 per fillet. No wonder seafood retailers, who can buy at wholesale prices can sell fish and chips for $9 and still make a profit.

Virtually outside our back door is Burger Bros a New Zealand franchise which offers a huge fish burger with chips and an extra fillet of fish…NZ Hoki – which is much better than Basa – for $13.It is not unusual to see other residents of our village at Burger Bros, some even go in groups once a month and sneak in a bottle of wine. The only fish served is Hoki and it is battered. No other choice. Kiwis are our neighbours so Hoki is acceptable.   It is Wild Caught.    Of course I would prefer Australian wild caught such as Barramundi, Red Emperor or even more local fish such as Bream, Flathead or Mullet

One more stand out fish and chips is both the restaurant and the take away of Doyles Seafood at Watsons Bay in Sydney.   Travelling to Watsons Bay by ferry from Circular Quay is half the fun. They have a great selection of mainly Sydney seafood but waiting in line in the summer sun is no fun. They really need to install some shade at the take away counter. Apart from that they have good fish and chips. Well worth the effort of going there when next you are in Sydney. Besides, the views across Sydney Harbour comes free. For an extra special treat you can always dine at the restaurant option.

While I am on the subject I must mention the good fish and chips AND seafood chowder we experienced in Canada. We had good fresh local wild caught fish and chips in Vancouver BC. Special mention is made of Daves Fish and Chips at Steveston Harbour and Tony’s Fish and Oyster Bar on Granville Island. Also we tasted wonderful fare in various fishing villages on Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and Cape Breton Island. Mostly the fish on offer is Cod or Haddock but it is FRESH, it is LOCAL and it is WILD CAUGHT. Alecia had much to do with the choice of seafood places for us to eat at. I still salivate over the seafood chowder I ate at the Sou’ West Bar and Grill which is located at New London a small fishing village on Prince Edward Island.

Sunday 5th August

No fish and chips for us today although I had planned something along those lines before we left home. Somehow life seems to get in the way of plans.

We went to watch grandson Chris play Rugby League…again. Chris scored three tries today and his team won 32/16. Chris actually scored half the tries for his team.

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When he gets wound up very few can lay a hand on him.

Chris is a talented player although he is too young to understand or appreciate where his talent can take him.

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Scoring under the black dot.

It seems talent scouts for the major clubs are everywhere these days and offering training programs for young talent.

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Sorry this is out of focus. Once Chris gets the ball in his hand it is only a matter of moments before he is over the tryline and I have to get him in the viewfinder, zoom in or out and try to focus on a moving target.

We know that Chris has already been sighted and offered some training which he has attended…without enthusiasm…at this stage.

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Sometimes the opposing team do get a hand on him but he drags them along anyway.

Afterwards we went back to Regelyn’s home for coffee and cake. A friend of a friend works at a place where they make restaurant quality cakes. Any rejects often end up at her house. We had what was called a Jaffa Cheesecake with our coffee. By the time we left an afternoon had disappeared and we never did get a fish and chips lunch.


632. Sunday 29th July 2018. Dentist, Lunar Eclipse and Blood Moon and PIES…

Friday 27th July

We attended Griffith University Dental Clinic today for a check-up, clean and polish. We are quite happy to volunteer as patients for the students to learn on real life situations. The students need to learn and they are always well spoken, knowledgeable and under supervision. It is nice to interact with young people who will be the leaders in dentistry in a few years.

Saturday 28th July.

The alarm woke us at 4.15 am in time for us to dress in warm clothes and spend a chilly hour in our park beside Biggera Creek.

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Eight second time exposure. Yes, there is the moon shining, out of focus while a little above and to the left is the red planet…MARS.

The Lunar Eclipse and following Blood Moon was what we wanted to see and we did. However I had a major mental block when setting the camera so I had minimal shake when pressing the shutter button. I really had a DUH! morning as I tried to take 8 second exposures on a moving moon. On top of that I simply did not try to get a quick shutter speed and higher ISO. In short almost all my photos turned out blurred and or not in focus.

Hmmm! Maybe I will do better next time. I only have to wait until 31st January 2019.

By now readers will have seen many many photos of the eclipse and blood moon by far more professional photographers

Sunday 29th July

Today was another morning of getting up early. This time so we can get on the road. First we drove to Redland Bay to take a few items we had stored for Peter. Then it was off to Acacia Ridge to watch grandson Chris play Rugby League. This week they lost 18/16 amid some controversy. The ref allowed the game to continue three minutes past full time. In that three minutes the opposing team scored a try and converted it, putting them two points in the lead. Protests were in vain. The result stands.

By the time we left the field it was well after 2 pm and we thought we would have some lunch on our way home. We decided that as the time was close to 3pm there would not be many customers at The Yatala Pie Shop.   How wrong can you be? It seems many other people must have been on their way home and felt like a pie at the same time as us. The shop was what we call “chock a block” full of customers. I must confess to having a fondness for a good meat pie and Yatala make a good meat pie. Today I had one of my favourites, a Steak and Kidney Pie. This is a huge pie and Donnis had to help me eat it all. The pie shop is located between the M1 motorway on one side and the Gold Coast Railway line on the other. It has been operating in Yatala for 130 years. The shop is located between two reaches of the Albert River. The pie shop was flooded when the Albert burst its banks on 31st March 2017. An army of employees and volunteers cleaned and repaired and remodelled, put in new ovens and refrigeration and was back in business in just 10 days. It is a credit to the owners that they make a damn good pie and people are prepared to wait and queue for them. It is also a credit to the owners that so many volunteers were prepared to get in and clean up so the shop could open again.

On previous visits to Sydney we have visited another famous pie shop, The Heatherbrae, outside Newcastle near Raymond Terrace, New South Wales.    On each of our visits it has been busy. I think the Yatala Pie Shop may just have the edge when it comes to throughput of customers. On the other hand The Heatherbrae probably makes a better coffee.

Another iconic pie shop is Robertson Pies at, of all places, Robertson in the New South Wales hinterland. I recall the people of Wollongong on a cold wet wintery day would drive to Robertson for a meat pie and a cuppa. As a bonus it sometimes snows in Robertson. Patrons often bought a couple of family pies to take home. I also recall when trail bike riding in the mountains our group always managed to take a detour through Robertson for a pie before riding down the steep winding Macquarie Pass to The Gong.

Beechworth Pies in Victoria are available at several locations but none bigger than the town of Beechworth. They call themselves Australia’s Greatest Pie. That could be debatable but they are welcome to say so. The Great Ausie Pie Comp has a few other choices as you will see below. Of the eight locations found around Victoria, Donnis and I have eaten at five of them including the wonderful Yackandadah Bakery.

Pinnacle Pies about 60 Klms west of Mackay in north Queensland also have a stake (pun not intended) in the best steak pie comp. The pies are not made in a traditional bakery. Rather they are made in the small kitchen of the rustic Pinnacle Pub. Once upon a time they offered a meal free if you eat a large pie with chips in one sitting in under 10 minutes. Pinnacle only offer a plain steak pie. No chicken, curry, steak and kidney and so on. All they have is a steak pie with chips.

A stand out bakery is Snows Bakery and Bread in Alpha some 1,050 Klms northwest of Brisbane. It is a surprise to find such good and tasty pies at the right price in a town of less than 600 people. Many towns no longer have a local bakery so it is a pleasure to see this bakery still going strong and offering a good pie at a good price.

I cannot forget to mention Freycinet Bakery and Café at Coles Bay Tasmania who make a yummy scallop pie. They have a similar population base as Alpha in Queensland but arguably more tourists. Unfortunately they only make a few scallop pies each day and by 9am they are all sold. Actually scallops are not that easy to buy in quantities, not compared to buying steak or chicken or even pork. We managed to buy the last scallop pie of the day when we left. I had to share with the co-pilot who asked if I would go back for another but that meant staying another night and waking even earlier. We had a timetable to maintain.

If I had to choose a winner I would put my choices to one side and take a look at the Great Aussie Pie Competition winners for 2017.    None of my contenders even gets a mention. In fact most of the Winners and Runners up came from Western Australia where we have not yet tried a pie. Another huge surprise is the Fairbairn Bakery of Cannonvale Queensland won an award. WTF! That bakery did not even exist when we left there in 2014. Hmmm! We expect to be in Airlie Beach in a month. Perhaps I can put the Fairbairn Bakery on my to- do list.

I could have a few GRRRR moments coming. WordPress, my blog platform since day one has announced that Facebook in their wisdom have changed THEIR system and the link may or may not work. WordPress have made some suggestions how to overcome the problem and also suggest the “fix” may not in fact work depending on my settings within Facebook. The changes are due to take place from 1st August 2018 so I will soon find out if it works….or not… next week. Please keep your fingers crossed and please continue to read along with me each week. One way or another I will continue to share my blog either directly through WordPress *(I do not expect any changes if you follow directly) or for Facebook only users, via Facebook.


631. Sunday 22nd July 2018. Where have all the days gone and other Reminiscences …


Well, it has happened again.

  1. I did not publish this blog by Sunday night.
  2. I did not keep daily notes of our activities.
  3. I did not take any photos.
  4. I do not recall with any precision what we did this week.

I do know we did our usual table tennis and we went to the Gold Coast Seniors Expo because, because, well because, at least one of us is a Senior and the other is supportive. What happens at a Seniors Expo? Lots of people who sell or provide some sort of service to Seniors pay money to set up a table and hand out brochures and free pens and small writing pads to people who think they need pens and writing pads. We do.  Gosh, everybody knows that Seniors need a good supply of pens and small writing pads. At least that’s the way it works in our household.

There were lots of stalls telling us all about holiday packages. There were investment people. There were those telling us about the joy and sense of fulfillment you get from Volunteering. There were the chemist shops, hearing aid people, exercise class people, bidet shops, Optometrists, hobbyists, gardeners, mobility scooter vendors and a host of others. There was even a movie theatre chain getting people to join their movie club.

We skipped past the funeral people.

There was also entertainment including a couple of supple curvy ladies dancing to a steel drum band who were playing in the brilliant warm winter sunshine. Inside there were people talking about a product or several and a half hour bracket called Rocking Through the Ages. I quite enjoyed listening to the three piece band playing all the hits to a synchronised video of the original songs while an energetic couple danced their hearts out. Back outside there was free coffee, muffins and even a sausage sizzle, again enjoyed in the brilliant winter sunshine. Inside again for the finale, the drawing of the lucky door prizes, There was a $5,000 Virgin Airlines prize to anywhere their Australian Airlines goes to in Australia. There was a $700 kitchen gadget set and ho- hum, many many boring prizes of a free one years membership to a Probus Club. I was so disappointed not to win something I have always coveted…membership of a Probus Club.

Did I mention the brilliant warm winter sunshine?

In the beginning… This blog was created in August 2001 in the far flung northern Tropical  Queensland mythical  and mystical outpost of Airlie Beach. My very first post began – “In the beginning”, then lay dormant until 2004 when I began again in a slow way until 2005 when I really got serious about a regular blog. It was then I decided I would post every Sunday night come hell or high water. Even while working and even when travelling full time I still managed to keep notes, maintain my photos and publish every Sunday night. Mostly I managed to maintain that output but this year and especially these last couple of weeks I have struggled to maintain that Sunday night deadline. I promise I will do my best to publish on time and keep my notes and photo’s updated every day.

Recently while in Canada fort 8 weeks I still managed to maintain daily notes (diary) and download photos from the camera every day. I posted often, whenever I had access to internet. Sometimes I posted every two days.

I promise to try to do better.

Friday 20th July

My youngest daughter Shelly, turns ++ today. Happy Birthday Shelley.

Donnis has been shuffling around, snuffling and coughing and SNEEZING the last several days.  She is now certain she has a full blown case of the flu. She is going through more tissues than I did when I had a head cold in Canada.

Sunday 22nd July

Donnis has worsened over the last couple of days. She is so sick she wants to see a doctor in the morning.

Readers may recall when back in April this year I was a driver for the Commonwealth Games. I was socially busy, off and on, before, during and after the games. I was especially busy after The Games, as we were due to fly to Canada for 8 weeks. In the final week of April, my trusty 8 year old Toshiba Satellite Laptop died. I had nursed the laptop through several dramas over the years but this was the worst case of failure yet experienced. Amazingly the 240 Gb Solid State Hard Drive was still good. I replaced the hard drive in a borrowed laptop with my hard drive and went to Canada.

Today I thought I would Synchronise my iTunes on my First Generation iPad released in January 2010. Regretably the iPad can no longer be updated but it is still good to use for music and photo slideshows although like all Apple devices it is a pain to upload anything as you have to use iTunes and the convoluted system they call “user friendly”. I realised that the Desktop I want to Synchronise with iTunes is a blank canvas. There is no music, books, photos or anything. First I have to upload to the Desktop, ALL of my music from a backup hard drive. Then I have to recreate all the Playlists, such as Line Dancing Music, Christmas, Rock and Roll, Australian Music, Party Music and so on. Then, once the playlists are created, music has to be transferred from Music to the Playlist. I can only upload music to the iPad, one folder at a time. So every day from today I am going to upload music to iTunes ready to upload to the iPad. This is a task bigger than Ben Hur and will prove to be tiring. That process will fill up my otherwise unoccupied days.


Already it is Wednesday morning of the following week and I still have not published last weeks post and I have not started any notes or diary entries for this week. I will do that later as I am off to Line Dancing first.

]Donnis is still sleeping as she had a rough night with the flu.


630. Sunday 15th July 2018. A quiet week at home and some more night photography…

For some reason I did not keep daily notes of what we did this week.

I do recall taking Donnis to an eye specialist one afternoon.

Apart from that the weekdays seem like a blur.

Saturday 14th July

While Donnis went to Christmas in July at the Star Casino with friend Glenda I played bowls in a triples event. As usual I am inconsistent but enjoyed the game.

After dinner I rugged up to brave the cold and drove to the wharf at Broadwater Parklands.

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Multi purpose wharf at Broadwater Parklands, Fisherpeople, photographers, lovers, families enjoy this location which gives fabulous views across the Broadwater to Marina Mirage and Southport Bridge and Surfers Paradise.
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Broadwater Parklands jetty.
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Reverse of jetty.

I am experimenting with night time exposure photography.

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The lights change colour inside the sails but the slightest touch on the camera shutter produces a slight blur. In this case it endows the sails with multiple peaks.
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The sails have changed to purple.

Although some of the results are satisfactory I realise that the initial press of the shutter button is enough to cause a little camera shake and creates the tiniest (sometimes not so tiny) out of sharp focus result.

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Southport bridge end of Surfers Paradise.
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Surfers Paradise

I really need a remote shutter device. I had one but had not used it since…well since a few years ago. When I took it from my bag this week the rubber was perished and the device fell apart in my hands.


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Surfers Paradise.

Sunday 15th July

Donnis is feeling the cold and it causes havoc with her sinuses making her sneeze almost constantly. After lunch we went to Mermaid Beach and sat on a blanket on the sand and watched the world go by just enjoying the warmth and the salty air. The water is clean and clear and an amazing 21.5 degrees.

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Burleigh Heads from Mermaid Beach
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Surfing at Mermaid Beach.
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Surfers Paradise seen from Mermaid Beach

After dinner I tried a few more time exposure night shots at Biggera Creek in our village park. Tonight really brought home to me why I need the remote shutter cable. Even a gentle touch on the shutter button, causes blurring.

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I have circle all the camera shake images.

The camera is mounted on a sturdy tripod so I did not expect the results.

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Lands end

629. Sunday 8th July 2018. Wetlands, Kangaroos and night time photography…

Monday 2nd July

Our good friends from Port MacQuarie, Tony and Dawn, arrived today. They are towing their caravan and have just started what will be their epic round Australia voyage of adventure, discovery and self suffiency. We had a wonderful lunch where Tony and Dawn tried to persuade us to buy a motorhome  (again) and join them. While Donnis, on an emotional level, is ready to go, I on a logical level considered all the implications. I would love to continue our travels but several factors tell me NO!

We are staying home- unless of course we win the Lotto over the weekend.

Wednesday 4th July

Not much happening today but I am working on features on my Panasonic Lumix DMC FZ-200 camera. I have been inspired by the photographs on Facebook pages where I am a member. I belong to Australian Outback Photography, Australian Landscape Photography, Picture a Day and Amateur Photography Group. The last two groups are USA based. Digital cameras can take time lapse photos, particularly night time scenes. Tonight, when it was a bit cool I went to our own village park, on Biggera Creek, to experiment.

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High rise units at Lands End on Biggera Creek taken with just a 1/4 second exposure.

Using a tripod to reduce camera shake I took a simple night photo and several rapid fire photos as well as several rapid fire which the camera stitches together to form one composite photo. Finally I set the camera on Night Scene which takes an 8 second exposure. The difference in  results is astounding.

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Same photo with an 8 second exposure.

Thursday 5th July

This afternoon we visited Coomababah Lakeland Conservation Area. This is an area of more than 1200 hectares of wetland, eucalypt forest, salt marsh and mangrove habitat.  These are important coastal wetlands and migratory water bird habitat. The Conservation Area is home to 274 species of animals, with seven species listed as ‘vulnerable’ or ‘near threatened’, including the koala, powerful owl and grey-headed flying fox, along with 24 internationally protected migratory bird species. Of course there is a resident Kangaroo and Wallaby population and that is what we initially came to see.

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Just a small portion of the Kangaroos and Wallabies feeding on late afternoon grass. Groups like this are known as a “mob”.

This magical parcel of land is owned by Gold Coast City Council and is maintained by them although there are no facilities – no toilets, no water and no benches on which to sit and enjoy what is on offer. Mixed in with this natural conservation area is a private airfield, a waste water treatment plant, a bushland nursery, The Pound and an Op Shop. Strangely these do not detract from the conservation area as immediately you enter the trees none of those buildings can be seen. Small aircraft,

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A restored WWI Bi-Plane taxis on the private runway.

including helicopters take off and land all day and none of the birdlife or the Roos seem bothered by it.

We saw people, mostly Asian visitors, wandering amongst the Kangaroos.

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Mother and Joey
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Both can feed off the grass at the same time.

I will add a note of caution here. These are wild animals, used to humans to be sure but still wild animals. They are not tamed in any way and are unpredictable. There are some big buck roos protecting their territory and Does. Getting too close may trigger aggression. These big bucks and I do mean BIG are fighters. They have some very sharp claws in their hands and even bigger claws on their toes which they use in fights. Clearly, many visitors do not read the warning signs.

Today was only a short exploratory walk and we did not see any Koalas but they live high in the trees and sleep most of the day.

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The walk passes through several stands of paperbark (Melaleuca) They can stand wet swampy conditions and are home to a variety of land and marine based creatures. When they flower in Spring the aroma is quite strong. Sweet but pleasant. Bees and bats love the flowering and fruiting trees. I like them too as the bark is generally soft and pliable and has a skin -like “live” feel to it.

We wondered why having lived here three years, in fact almost four years, we did not know this gem existed only about 2 Klms from our home. A fellow driver during the Commonwealth Games told me about the area. Speaking with other locals it was clear many did not know it existed either. However overseas visitors seem to know about it.

Friday 6th July

Today we took friends Marilyn and Barry for a walk through the park. We saw two big bucks having a fight in the middle of the mob.

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Kangaroos shaping up for a fight over???
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They are slapping each other using their front paws.
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Notice this roo is using both front toes in the fight. His body is totally off the ground but supported by his huge tail. The Doe in the foreground appears heavily pregnant and could also be carrying a Joey.

This highlights why it ius not a good idea to approach too closely.

Unfortunately we started our walk a bit late believing we might reach Coombabah Lake and be able to take some sunset photos. We forgot the gates are closed at 6pm so abandoned the rest of the walk.

Saturday 7th July

While I played bowls after lunch Donnis rode the bicycle to Coomababah Lakeland Conservation Area and explored another of the many paths around the area.

We did not win the lotto tonight.


Sunday 8th July.

Can you believe we again went to Coombabah Lakeland today. This time we entered from the western entrance where the pound is located. Donnis loves dogs so we went to the pound. The dogs are well cared for and exercised regularly but their kennels are isolated from each other and are all concrete. It just seems a little stark and clinical but is also easy to clean. Dogs are a bit thoughtless with their bowel and urinary habits so the kennels need to be washed out each day.

Cats on the other hand do their business in litter bins. All nice and tidy and easy to clean. They also live in 5 star luxury hotel units with lots of toys and climbing posts and shelves high off the ground and nice carpets to lay around on. They also have time out garden villas shared with another feline also on holidays as well as private rooms for some time alone. Dogs bark and growl and jump around threateningly protecting what they think is theirs. Cats strut around their kingdom knowing their servants…humans…will protect their domain.

Overall we were impressed with the dedication shown by staff and care volunteers.

After dragging Donnis from the pound we went on the boardwalk through mangroves to a bird hide on Coombabah Lake. Today was not much good for birdlife and at low tide I expected to see lots of crabs. Today they were elsewhere.

WE then drove to the Eastern entrance and enjoyed the Kangaroo Trail again.

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This is a big buck. When stands up and leans back on his tail he is well over 2 metres tall. Enlarge the photo to see the huge centre toe on his foot. It is a dangerous weapon as are the sharp claws on his hands.

Tonight I drove behind the Gold Coast Art Gallery on the bank of the Nerang River to experiment with time exposure night scenes of Surfers Paradise.

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Surfers Paradise including Q1 Building and taken on an 8 second exposure.
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Q1 Building. 8 second exposure

I thought I had chosen the time well. There was no breeze, it is Sunday night so I did not expect any boats to stir up the water. I expected a perfect still water to reflect the lights as a mirror image. I forgot about the tide which sort of ruffled the mirror image a little. Nonetheless I am pleased with the result.

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Eight second time exposure of Surfers Paradise. Note the slight ruffling of the waters surface and detracting from what might have been a prefect mirror image.
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Same image but only a quarter second exposure.


628. Sunday 1st July 2018. One BIG event this week. We are HOME!!!

Monday 25th June

Our last day in Vancouver. I suppose you could call it a “lay day”.

Basically we didn’t do nuffin.

Well, we did go to Jericho Beach for Poppy the French Bulldog to run around.

After dinner Doug n Linda drove us to Vancouver Airport to begin the process of coming home. Getting  booked on our flight was reasonably easy considering every domestic flight with Air Canada produced unwanted surprises.

Next comes getting through security. There seems to be no easy time for this process. Line up and wait. Remove belt, coins, glasses and mobile phone. Take the laptop out of its snug protective carry bag. Walk through the scanner then find what belongs to you and pack it away again. For the first time since arriving in Canada I have not been called aside for additional checks and questioning. After 15 minutes we are finally in the terminal and find a comfortable seat, near the flight gate and settle down for the 2 hour wait to be called.

The 15 hour flight home was just as I expected. Donnis slept most of the way and I watched 3 movies. While in the aircraft toilet, about 4 hours into the flight I heard a noise like somebody having a fit and heard a thump. I thought it was the adjoining toilet and intended to call the hostess. When I opened the door a woman was on the floor outside the door, passed out and attendants were umm err attending.  Shortly the Captain announced there was a ”medical situation”. Was there a doctor or nurse on the flight? A nurse came from cattle class, just like us while a doctor came from up front, business class. After awhile, they revived the woman and took blood sugar samples and she was helped forward.

We arrived 7.30am and suddenly it was Wednesday morning. We skipped Tuesday. The food on the flight was OK but not something I would order in a restaurant. It was filling, timely and slightly warm – no chance anybody will scald themselves. Same goes for the tea and coffee. Only warm enough so that it can be drunk quickly without much taste. Flavour was something which must have been left on the ground. We were given some French Wine with dinner. I did not like it and thank goodness I had an aisle seat near the toilets. How can coffee be made to taste tasteless? Donnis claims she knows the secret to make it tasty. Dump two of the little Half and Half servings into the coffee. It now tastes even less like coffee but at least has some taste. (Half and Half is a UHT type milk/cream combination much favoured in Canada and the US. They are often called coffee creamers, it can also be purchased fresh in various sizes)minimoo

Home at last. Skytrain to Helensvale then bus to Harbour Town. The bus driver must have been trained in Vancouver! He could not wait for passengers to get to their seats before accelerating and passengers grab for anything to save being thrown along the bus. I walked home, drove the car to collect Donnis and the luggage where she was waiting at Harbour Town bus stop. An hour later I was in bed sleeping the sleep of the innocent. At least for two hours. I guess innocence left while I was sleeping.

Since arriving home we have been to the beach several times and walked on clean white sand in water still around 21° and able to breath the lovely salt laden humid air. My sinuses cleared within a day.

It was a wonderful holiday, visiting family, seeing the sights but it was time to come home. Now we can start looking at local adventures again.

In the meantime we are both still tired.

See you next week.


627. Sunday 24th June 2018. Our last day in Canada, Dragon Boats, a couple of Brickbats and a good bunch of bouquets…

Sunday 24th June.

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Known as the Trans Am Totem in Downtown Vancouver. Erected in 2015 it is part of the Vancouver Biennale Public Art Exhibition.

Today we went downtown to watch the Annual Dragon Boat Races. Two hundred teams from all over the world competed. Held on the bay at an area called Creekside Park. Today was final day of competition and we were surprised to hear a call asking for competitors in race 90 to assemble. Race 90? Wow! Racing began at 8am and commenced every 11 minutes. Teams were organised into several staging area’s and would move from one to another until they reached the racing pontoon when a Dragon Boat was assigned to a team.

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Final staging area. Teams assemble here to await a Dragon Boat as they arrive from the previous race. As they paddle away, those in another staging area move onto the pontoon.
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I never saw this at Outrigger Canoe Racing where nobody wore a life vest. Here they are compulsory. Competitors grab a vest and join the first staging area in those tents in the background

Crowds of people came to support their team or like us, just came out of curiosity and to be part of an event.

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I have no idea if the are celebrating a win or just being a happy team.

Not having any connection to these racers it was hard to garner enthusiasm for the races but it was great to be a part of the spectacle and given my previous history with International Outrigger Canoe Racing I know the amount of time and effort that goes into planning such an event.

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The race is over and a winner declared.
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On the way to the start line. You can see the BC Stadium in the background.
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While race is on the many water taxi’s have to wait then rush in to drop off and pick up passengers. Mostly those passengers will go to False Creek and the Granville Island Markets.

I did manage to speak with one of the racers from an Australian team, the Maroochy Sea Serpents. He was very excited his team had won a medal.

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and the winner is…
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Winners are Grinners and also tired.

In an event of this nature there were lots of food concessionaires, give- away promotional booths, and free entertainment.

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Crowded Creekside Park

Thousands attended and it seems that as the weather began to turn and the first raindrops began to fall they were all, just like us, more interested in getting home without getting rained on.

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A dragon winds it way through the crowds.
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I like this Dragon because the people are on Unicycles.

The location is picturesque within the bay of course but the Telus World of Science Building is located here and unfortunately we never got to visit.

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The Telus World of Science . I really wanted to visit this place but we simply did not have the time. Perhaps we should have used one of or lay days and bus passes.

Telus is one of the major telecommunications companies in Canada. The system they use for their products – like all the other Telco’s – ensures Canadian users are kept hostage to limited coverage, high prices and take it or leave it attitude. I have written about Telus in a prior post so will not expand any further here.

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This Dinosaur was built from scrap materials to highlight the need to recycle.
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Tellus Science World across the Bulrush Garden. Did I mention I wanted to visit?

Across the bay is BC Place which is home to BC Lions American Football games, BC Whitecaps Football (Soccer) Club  and is also used as an indoor/outdoor concert venue. The roof can be closed completely.

Nearby is Rogers Stadium, home of the Vancouver Canucks Ice Hockey Team and is also a concert venue. It is fully enclosed. The amazing story about this CAN $160 million building is that it was built between 3 very busy motorways, high-rise apartments and an elevated railway. Sceptics said a 53,500 seat stadium could not be built in the space available. They were wrong and the building was completed in 1989.

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Who was most excited?
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The conversation went something like this. “I’m tired, bored. my bum is numb from sitting on this rock and rain is on its way. Waddya say we get everyone together, pack up and head home”. The reply was “Count me in”. Besides I was a passenger and the alternative was to find my own way home by bus.

As we wind down to our final days and contemplate our flight to OZ at midnight tomorrow, we also take time to reflect and thank those who contributed to our amazing travels.


Fred and Peggy of White Rock who gave of their time and organised for us to stay at their unit, travel by bus on a guided tour of Vancouver and looked after us as family. At a time when I faced no ability to charge the camera battery (I left my charger in OZ) Fred stepped forward and organised a universal charger. As well they picked us up from Vancouver Airport while Doug was being checked for a heart condition at the hospital. Their generosity will always be remembered and appreciated.

Amtrak who through no fault of their own delivered us to Chicago 12 hours late and we missed our connection. At 2am they organised a taxi to and from the station and overnight accommodation at the Swiss Hotel, plus meal vouchers at the station. Of all the stations throughout the USA, Chicago was the best place to be delayed. We had access to their First Class Passenger lounge and all the facilities on offer. Those facilities included food and drink – including passable coffee, comfortable lounge chairs, tables and chairs WiFi, power outlets and TV. There are only 6 such lounges throughout their network.

The very helpful desk manager at Wyndham Hotel at Niagara Falls who cancelled one night of our stay when we arrived 24 hours late and organised and paid our bus fare to Toronto out of her own credit card. Yes we paid her in cash in US dollars.

Alecia and Tyler at Prince Edward Island, particularly Alecia on her 10 days off shift organised sightseeing, adventures and a wonderful east coast experience. The road trip for all of us to Nova Scotia and Cape Breton Island was a great time and Alecia can take a bow for her organisational skills. It is not such an easy task to research places to stay for 5 people with a reasonable tariff as well as find laces to eat with food suitable for varied diets and again at reasonable cost.

In Calgary, we stayed with Joan and often had use of her truck and visited Andrea and Brett who had barbecues at their house along with visits to Heritage Park and Calgary Zoo. Unfortunately Joan has to work so was unable to join us in all our activities.

Simone and Lazar who organised the use of Simones Audi and their sightseeing adventures at Golden and Kicking Horse Mountain. As well, the meals, accommodation, sightseeing adventures and generous hospitality by Maia and Ivan at their mountain retreat in the Rocky Mountains was a wonderful several days and we truly thank the four of them. They all made us feel part of their family.

In Vancouver Linda and Doug allowed us to stay at their house while we were getting ready for Amtrak and again when we arrived the second time. Despite their busy schedule they arranged for visits around Vancouver and a trip to Poulsbo in the USA. Our car trip with Linda and the children to a game park was lots of fun. I am sure Linda would not have enjoyed her day as much if she had to drive the game park. I was happy to drive through and around animals and obstacles.

Thank you to Jessica and John in Poulsbo for their hospitality as well, since they have an even busier schedule. Johns mother Ruth also chipped in with a visit to towns we would not otherwise have seen.


Along with all the thank you’s there were also times when things just did not happen as they should.

Amtrak gets a nod as having the worst train journey from Chicago to Buffalo. In fact the train continued on to New York city. I can only hope the track improved as it got closer to the Big Apple.The journey was mostly at night and was on a rough track and the train rocked, rattled and rolled and the trains horn blew at every level crossing.  Our room was much smaller than on the Empire Builder from Seattle to Chicago. As such the beds were smaller and less comfortable as well as difficult to get into and out of.  Sleep was near impossible even for Donnis. We were left exhausted. On arrival at Buffalo NY while waiting for a connecting train we slept on the bench in the Buffalo station. You have to be very tired to do that.

The less than helpful desk manager at Super 8 Motel at Mississauga (Toronto). Maybe there was a language barrier but his idea of good food differs greatly from ours. He indicated there were no nearby places within walking distance for dinner and unless we took a taxi we would be better off using the Chinese Dining Room next door. In fact the Chinese was closed and all that was available was a dried buffet offering at the garage. Later we discovered a Tim Hortons and a Subway were across the highway. Both would have provided a better meal within a 5 minute walk.

Air Canada gets a thumbs down for the domestic flights booking arrangements. Their advertised price is for getting on the plane. Getting a seat allocated is another cost and just when you think you have it all paid for they charge $27.50 per bag. As well, their on-line check in to include baggage costs will only accept credit cards issued by US or Canadian banks. That does not make sense as they accept other cards to pay for booking a flight and seat allocation.

The bank manager and staff at RBC Royal Bank Dunbar branch receives a big thumbs down, they have no idea about how credit and debit cards work in their ATM’s. Instead of getting help and information the manager chose to make up a story that our card would not work in their ATM. He needs a few lessons in service and understanding about the banking system.

Our trip through the USA and Canada was exciting, exilerating, fun, busy and tiring. We have enjoyed ourselves immensely but are ready for home.

Tomorrow midnight begins our long flight home.


626. Thursday 21st and Friday 22nd June 2018. A day at a game farm and a drive back into Canada…

Lots of photos.

Thursday 21st June

Summer is having second thoughts about being in Washington State at this time of year. After discussions with winter they decided to share the day. The first half until midday belonged to Winter and the second half of the day is then shared between spring and summer.


Linda, Donnis, the children Jaxson and Emma and I went to Olympic Game Farm   in Sequim (Skwim) a bit over an hour away along some very scenic countryside with occasional lakes and views of the ocean. It began to rain and got colder but somehow by the time we arrived it remained fine and even turned into a near nice day.

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Peacocks were busy putting on a display all day.

This place looks a bit run down and cheap and nasty but somehow it all seems to work. Basically the grazing animals are free to roam throughout most of the park and you can feed them slices of bread purchased at the gate. You drive around the park in your own car. There are signs reminding you to keep doors and sunroofs closed and to keep fingers inside.

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Just trying to get through the first grid proved more difficult than anticipated. The Yak know that if they crowd the grid and do not move you will give them bread. After awhile you have no option other than to edge the car forward. The Yak will move.
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More Yak and a photographer.
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We are surrounded by Yak.

You are also reminded not to stop at the bisons.

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This big Bison was heading over to lick the front window before going to the rear window for bread. The signs said Do NOt Stop At The Bison. We did. We now know the reason for the sign.

There is a reason for that as bison will stop in front of the car while another sidles up from the side or even the rear.

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Their horns rub against the side view mirrors and their heads brush along the side of the car. Any fingers silly enough to be outside the window could get badly injured. Yeah, lots of signs to remind us the rules but it is not as if as if the bison can read. They know how to set up a roadblock and ambush you. We got mobbed by llama,

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They know when a window is open and where the food is.


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The Zebra and Llama all seemed too busy eating hay when we first drove by. Later they wanted bread.


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The car in front was hijacked by Yak. The driver was terrified to move forward.


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Reindeer and Bison


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Bigger Elk
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Those Elk horns were too large to allow them to put their head in the window.

peacocks – yes peacocks –

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Peacoks and for that matter, Peahens were everywhere. The must breed like rabbits. Oh and there were lots of rabbits too. They seem to hang around the cages occupied bt lions, tigers, cougars, bears and wolves.

and a bunch of other animals we are still trying to identify. The larger animals all managed to place their heads inside the open windows to the delight of Jaxson.

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Quick give me some bread I want to feed something.
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Oh. That was quick. Give me another slice.
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Com and get it Mr Bison.

Emma felt terrified when one large elk licked her and slobbered over Linda’s arm as she yelled at me to go, go, go.

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Yep! I am sure there is food in here somewhere. Can I come in?
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Holy Toledo Batman. This big Elk is gunna eat me.
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Naaah I aint gunna eat ya. I am just gunna lick your arm and drool all over ya face.

The park speed limit is 10MPH but the animals can easily maintain that speed and will happily walk beside the car with their head in the window.

Bears, which are also sort of grazers are in open grassed pens with the addition of a short wire fence and an electrified fence.

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Grizzly Bear.
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I get confused the Grizzly Bear and the Kodiak Bear look alike. Which one is this?

You can also throw bread to them but do not get out of the car.

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Hmmm! Am I a Grizzly? Or am I a Kodiak?
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The bear said, “that bread was stale. I am going to soften it in tye water.” and he did.

The other animals classed as animals of prey are kept in small enclosures. Lions, tigers, more bears,

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A couple of young…Kodiak Bears… were in a pen together and seemed to have lots of energy and used it playing with their toys and each other.They also loved going into this tub of water, rolling around and then running after each other.
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All wet and running around chasing the other young bear.

wolves, cougars, lynx and a bunch of others appear bored and pace around their small enclosures or simply sleep. Of the entire experience we really felt badly about these animals and their small enclosures with nothing to keep them occupied. Each enclosure is about half the size of an average house block. I would be bored walking around that all day. It was certainly a good rule you did not leave the car as technically the animals could escape but strangely the front gate was not a gate at all. An escaped animal could run straight through the open entrance.

In the afternoon we stopped at a wolf enclosure which also had a black bear pacing. Other wolf enclosures had groups of wolves nearby. The lone wolf climbed onto a high point and started a wolf howl. Soon the howl was taken up by the other wolves. This went on for some time then stopped suddenly.

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The primal Wolf howl had all the remaining Wolves in enclosures scattered around the park took up the call.

This entire area was once owned by Walt Disney Studios and many adventure type movies were filmed here on sound stages and within animal enclosures. In a large barn are some of the sets of wilderness cabins used in various movies are still in place along with posters and other memorabilia.

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Part of a film set, probably in the movie Grizzly Adams.
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Another Disney film set.

A small petting area which included a few billie goats and a very fat pig had children chasing animals to pet them.

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The Goat just lay there putting up with little kids all day.
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A real once upon a time log cabin. I guess any place out of the snow and wind would be better than nothing.

There was also a fresh water aquarium and a reptile room.

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I been sitting here for years and the sign tells people my name is IGGY. How embarrassing. IGGY the Iguana. Nothing original about that. I would rather they called me by my real name…SPIKEY..
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I dont eat any of the whole wheat bread you hand out to the Yak and Bison. Did you bring any dead flies or a few snails? Yeah, those spikes are mine and they are real but they are soft and not dangerous at all. However my claws and teeth are. Stop calling me IGGY.

Over all it was an interesting experience but honestly it gave the impression of being run down, short of money and not enough staff and certainly not enough room for some of the animals and not enough activities to keep those animals busy.

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This Zebra knew a sandwich was in here somewhere.

The amazing low entry fee…in our case $13 each…entitled us to an all day pass. We drove back through the grazing area but by now the animals were laying around sleeping except for a few who still wanted bread.

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Its afternoon nap time. It can get tiring walking up to cars and the people hand you slices of bread. We have to lay down to snooze and recover.

Even the bears were no longer interested in the bread except to dunk a slice in water.

It was an interesting experience.

On our way home we stopped briefly at a small pretty town called Port Gamble. It seems to be a typical American town of the 1950’s era. Complete with the usual USA flags and white picket fences.

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Entrance to Port Gamble.
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Main street of Port Gamble leading down to Squamish Harbour.
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Most of the short main street in Port Gamble is made of fancy restored houses like this.

Friday 22nd June

Today we drove back to Vancouver. Donnis has been unwell since yesterday morning. In fact I seem to have similar symptoms but she is not well at all. We brought Silver and Jaxson with us. Somehow Jaxsons passport was left behind and we had Emmas passport instead. The Canadian Border officer asked a lot of questions and it looked like we were facing a long drive back to Poulsbo for the passport. He directed us into a side holding area and instructed us to leave the car unlocked and walk inside the border control offices and wait to be called. We wondered about what might be the outcome but were pleasantly surprised when they told us to continue our journey. Perhaps Jason, at age 4 does not need a passport.

625. Wednesday 20th June 2018. Silverdale, Brownsville and Key Port…

Wednesday 20th June 2018.Somehow I missed writing and photographs from one half of this day.

Later in the day we drove with Ruth (Johns Mother) to Silverdale.

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Once we arrived I realised we had been here in 2015 but today saw it from another perspective. That is, summer is here and Silverdale is classed as a beach. Beach??? Yes a pebble and shell and oyster and rock and oyster and seaweed and mussel and other dead crustaceans, beach.

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This is beach.Little shellfish squirt water.

All the lovely sharp and slippery stuff you really enjoy when you go to the beach. Tender teenage feet hobbled carefully into the water to at least knee deep before frigid water drove them, hobbling, ashore.

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Silverdale Jetty

The real brave teenagers were at the end of a jetty where some unfortunates were pushed into the salty hypothermic h2o.

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I’m the bully and I’m gunna push you in the water.
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Teenage meeting place. Note the debris floating past.
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Aaah Summer. Time to get out on the water. Snow is still on the Olympic Range about 60 Klms as the crow flys.
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Silverdale Jetty.

From here I chose, at random, a place on the map, for our next visit. Brownsville was not far away and was a real picturesque location based around a marina and lots of houses built on the hillsides overlooking Port Orchard Channel.

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First sight of Brownsville is this cute rotunda framing a marina.
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Brownsville Marina

We were on a tight schedule expecting to have to be at Point No Point Lighthouse Park for a family BBQ dinner. We received a call to say the children had received shots today and were not well enough to go out. Instead a party for Jaxson was planned at home. That gave us a little extra exploring time.

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I was interested to see how this US Jayco Motorhome disposed of waste at what we call a Dump Point. After all we did this for many years.
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A man and his dog on a leisurely paddle. The man was using his mobile phone to talk to somebody and show them what the marina looks like.
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Inside Brownsville Marina.
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Marinas in this area can often freeze. Boats, for those that can afford them, are kept in these little boat garages.
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Boat garage.

I saw an interesting older boat that would be wonderful for exploring all the bays and coves and peninsulas and islands around Puget Sound. The entire area would be around the same size as the entire Whitsunday and Cumberland Islands group and just as spectacular in a different way.  Yeah, dream on. Only around CAN$1,000,000 would get us something like that plus $1,000 to fill the fuel tanks or $1,000 a day rental.

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El Capitan the boat which appeals to me.
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This delightful building is a BBQ and gathering place for people to have a place for a picnic or dinner or a gathering.
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Inside the cute gathering place.
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Great Blue Heron landing.
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Great Blue Heron.

Although I enjoyed wandering around this cute marina and sheltered bay, I also wanted to see as much as I can.

Next stop, chosen at random on the map is, Key Port. As it turns out we did not see much of the town as it is a US Navy Department and located right next door is US Naval Undersea Museum. AS we arrived at the Museum we could hear a siren, very loud and scary enough to make us think WWIII was happening. Eventually a voice announced situation OK and personell should return to their normal duties. It was only a drill. It worked for us! We had only a brief few minutes to explore the museum before they kicked us out at closing time.

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Key Port Museum.

As we were leaving the Museum we joined the queue of cars leaving the base. It was after 4pm and the military here are like the military in OZ. Time to finish fr the day and head home.

I enjoyed our time looking at just a few coastal locations.

Sigh, more unexplored potential.

Another sigh as our final days wind down.


624. Monday 18th to Wednesday 20th June 2018. In the USA, Poulsbo, Battle Point, a Birthday and a tragedy…

Monday 18th June.

So begins our last week away from home and we have finally found summer.

I got a bit agitated at a bank where we wanted to exchange Canadian dollars for US dollars. The teller was totally confused as to how to proceed so she called on her supervisor/manager to help out. He looked at our Canadian dollars Visa card and declared he could not help as it is not recognised by the Canadian Banking system. WTF! WTF! I told him we have used the same card all over Canada at ATM’s, shops, Banks, trains, airlines, WalMart and Costco without problems. He insisted that the card has a little symbol on the back and that tells him it cannot be used in an ATM – anywhere. I then asked if I went to an ATM and got cash would he organise US dollars for us. NO! We are not customers. The ATM is inside the banking chamber and in his view so I walked over, drew out cash using my card which according to him would not work. I waved the cash at him as I left. Linda is a customer of this bank so I gave her the cash and she got our US dollars. I have some strong words I would like to use about this bank branch and manager but this is a family blog.

Why did I need US dollars and where did I find summer? We drove to Poulsbo near Seattle in the USA to visit Linda’s daughter Jessica. It was summer weather when we arrived and everyone is struggling with the under 30° heat.

Going through US Customs at the border was painless. The officer asked me to take off my sunglasses and if I still lived in Australia and then we were on our way. Instead of driving in afternoon peak hour traffic to Seattle then catching the car ferry across the bay we turned off to Annacortes, then Coupeville and finally arriving at Fort Casey for the car ferry to Port Townsend . Along the way we passed the Whidbey Island Naval Air Base and the nearby town of Oak Harbour is a busy place servicing the base.

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Outside Whidbey Island Naval Air Base.

This is a really scenic drive and unfortunately we were on a tight timetable and unable to stop and take photos. Constant road works and even an accident caused delays. As it was, we arrived at the ferry terminal with only minutes to spare.

After leaving the ferry on the final leg of our trip we noticed a small rural airstrip. It is known as the Jefferson International Airport!!!???     I suppose if a small plane flew to Canada from this rural airstrip it would be an International flight.

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We saw a couple f these in Canada but in the USA they are popping up all over. It seems good espresso coffee is becoming more popular. Regular coffee outlets such as Tim Hortons and Starbucks are not responding quickly enough. These places offer a quick drive through coffee but do not supply cakes or pastries.They keep the menu simple and the service quick.

Not long after leaving the ferry we reach Highway 101. Turn right to Port Angeles and follow the Olympic Mountains or turn left to Puget Sound and Poulsbo. We turned left.

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The USA like Canada seems to sell colourful chairs on the roadside.

We arrived in Poulsbo in time to see John before he left for work. After dinner we sat around talking and getting to know the children, Silver, Jaxson and Emma.

Although I was not driving, I think I used my foot all the way on a phantom clutch and brake pedal. It’s hard to be a passenger sometimes.

I am tired.

Our bedroom has half- life size figures of a Star Wars Storm Trooper

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No batteries no power. Donnis was not kept awake by flashing lights, stamping feet or bursts of laser ray gun shots.

and Darth Vader beside the bed.

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Darth Vader was on my side of the bed, Luckily his battery was flat and not plugged in so I was not kept awake by flashing lights, a glowing light sabre or a deep sepulchral voice.

I am not sure if I have to call on “The Force” before I go to bed. I like the Star Wars movies but John is a real fan. Tomorrow I will get to see the rest of his collection.

Tuesday 19th June

It is young Jaxsons 4th birthday.

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A candid cupcake pose. Happy 4th Birthday Jaxson.

He was able to celebrate with a playgroup at Battle Point Park.

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Emma at only 15 months tries to keep up with big brother.
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Jaxson climbs the old fortress.

After singing Happy Birthday and blowing out the candle on the cup cakes, I had a look around the park. It is called Battle Point, neither because of a Civil War battle nor any other US military battle. It was from a native American battle, around 1900, between the local Suquamish Tribe and a marauding tribe from Canada seeking women. History does not tell us about the outcome. It just records there was a battle.  The area was once owned by the US Military and Fort Ward was created as a super secret radio installation. It was here that a decoded message about Japans plans to attack Pearl Harbour was handed up the line but sat on an officials desk over the weekend. History tells us the message was never acted upon. Or acted upon too late.

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Old naval base water tower.

Some of the original buildings have been retained and put to new useful purposes. For example the radio transmitter building complex is now used for a planetarium and celestial telescope and has regular information and viewing sessions for the public.

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Battle Point Astronomical Observatory.

Another building is now used as a gymnastics auditorium.

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Bridge over the Hood Canal at Port Gamble.

Along the road we saw several places selling fireworks. Not small shops but huge solid timber buildings with counters 40 mtrs long. Yes, they sell fireworks in the USA. Some of the stores also sold marijuana or cannabis. Imagine. Let’s have a fun weekend. Buy a load of weed and fireworks, smoke the weed and set off the fireworks.

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Enlarge the photo. On the left hand side you can see the fireworks for sale. These type of stores were everywhere around Bainbridge and Poulsbo.

In the afternoon Donnis and I took John’s Ford Mustang Convertible for a spin to Poulsbo.

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2006 Ford Mustang V6 3.7 litre motor. Although I have always wanted a Mustang Donnis looks rather chuffed to be in the drivers seat too.

The city, yes city of Poulsbo (despite only having a population of 9,200 persons at the last census) was originally inhabited by the Suquamish nation for somewhere around 5,000 years.

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Parts of main street of Poulsbo

Poulsbo was more recently settled by Scandinavian settlers (Norwegians) around 1880.

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The Mustang took us to a German Bakery in Poulsbo.

Locals still claim a strong relationship with the Vikings. Many of the original buildings along the shores of Liberty Bay on Puget Sound have been maintained in a quaint representation of a Norwegian Village of a century ago.

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Poulsbo waterfront picnic area. Note the Norwegian flag.

Even the sign, “Velkommen til Poulsbo” is in a nice Norwegian twang.

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What is an old Australian/British telephone box doing in the USA?

Although we like the City of Poulsbo we liked driving the Mustang even more. We would have enjoyed following a coast road around Puget Sound for a few hours but regretably John wanted the car to go to work.

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Birthday cake for Jaxson at home.

Wednesday 20th June

One of Jessica and Johns employees was badly injured in a car accident early yesterday morning. It seems he started through an intersection on the green light. An Audi travelling at 100MPH in a 40 MPH area drove through a red light and ploughed into his car, rolling it and trapping him half out the window and his car burst into flames. Meanwhile the other car also rolled and the 18 year old driver managed to crawl clear while the car owner was trapped as his Audi also burst into flames. We know from eye witnesses at the scene, Sheriff’s report and drivers of both cars he was screaming for help as he was incinerated. At the time of writing John has visited his employee who was airlifted to Seattle but was unable to speak as he is now in an induced coma and scheduled for several operations. Both drivers are still in a critical condition and we will not know the outcome for several days. We know that Gerard has been conscious once since arriving at the hospital but has been kept in an induced coma ever since. He is scheduled for several operations but miraculously was not burned.