Showing posts from 2010


It is April 2010.  I departed the U.S.A. in April 2009. When I think of my reasons and life a year ago, a short story from Go Your Own Way: Women Travel The World Solo mirrored my intentions: "Feeling empty & dissatisfied, I decided to make some changes.  Eventually, I would discover that those changes needed to take place inside, but, at that time, it seemed easiest to just discard everything on the outside."

From Sydney I flew to Los Angeles, then Chicago & finally to my destination of Akron-Canton.  Oddly, I left Sydney at 11pm on a Wednesday and awoke at 5pm on the same day in California.  Not counting the time difference, I think I flew for about 36 hours on minimal sleep.  I couldn't tell down under from upside down.  However, I distinctly remember as the little jet was about to land in Ohio.  As the plane sunk below the clouds (yes, another rainy/overcast day in Canton) for a minute I could not believe I left temperate, pristine Australia for this!  Then …


In the previous entry ("The Thinker") I started to touch upon some major environmental issues.  Here, I wanted to briefly highlight how Australia tackles some of its issues.  Oz still has the 8th largest carbon footprint in the world, but I saw major differences in comparison to The United States.

First, I think Americans can learn a lot from Aussies.  Second, I think the world can learn more from Zimbabwe -- the only country in the world with a negative carbon imprint (I learned this at the Australian Museum).
In 1998, there were only 203 murders in the entire continent of Australia.  I can only imagine the U.S.A.'s number.All of Sydney's busses run on geothermal energy, a source Americans hardly consider.  Could it be because of our dependence on oil?Australians have an entire channel dedicated to travel within the country -- a massive, constant advertisement to its citizens.  The shows promote diverse areas every week.  There is another channel that rotates a brea…

The thinker

"What we achieve inwardly will change outer reality."
-- Plutarch

My last day in Australia had arrived.  I realized that I acquired a few basic things while living overseas that were crucial to my independent life in Oz.  In the process of preparing to leave I shed: a comfortable pillow to sleep on (makes all the difference); a mobile to call for information; a library card to borrow maps of Australian hostels/caravan parks; an Aussie bank account since American credit cards/money would not suffice as deposits; a towel to dry myself off.

Four hours before my airport shuttle departed for SYD I made my last two choices -- what to eat & where to go. First, I decided to spoil myself & ate only chocolate covered strawberries for lunch in the middle of Hyde Park.  It was a sunny, clear day & all of Sydney ate their lunch outside (there hadn't been too much of this weather in the last month).  A rugby team practiced.  The bums were awake.  Competitors played life-siz…

Connections [part II]

Still on an emotional high, I embarked on my second errand.  I arrived at Thrifty & started unloading all my gear.  The clerk asked if I was headed to the airport.  "Yes ma'am" I answered.  She offered to waive the Airport Drop Fee and let me just return the car there.  She saved me a $35 taxi ride from Alice Springs' CBD to the airport.  10 minutes after I gave away free produce, now I was receiving a free ride.

On the plane I sat next to an Asian mother & daughter.  The mom, in broken English, inquired about my visit & why I was headed to Sydney.  I obliged & asked her the usual questions too.  Though we had a bit of a language barrier & she often had to ask her daughter to step in, she was sweet.  Towards the end of the flight the mom gave me two origami cranes that were the size of a quarter -- one from her, one from her daughter.  Japanese cranes are holy/mystical creatues that symbolize peace and hope.  They fit the overall rewarding mood o…

Connections [part I]

"What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal."
-- Albert Pike
I awoke before dawn to two degrees Celsius.  My teeth chattered as I used the outhouse and freezing water.  Along the Stuart Highway, en route to Alice Springs, I saw two large buzzard-like birds feasting on a kanagaroo on the side of the road.  Except... they were much larger than buzzards.  They were larger than my dog back in the U.S.A.!   Also, I thought I saw a dingo but it was a mostly black four-legged animal and I wasn't sure if dingos were that dark, but who knows in Australia?!

Back in not-so-modern civilization, I had two orders of business before I revisited Sydney:  return my unused groceries to Wooly's a.k.a. Woolworth's and return the hire car.  I went to the grocery store at the main hub in Alice Springs and the clerk refunded me for everything but 6 potatoes and 2 ears of corn.  "Why?" I asked.  "B…

The Stars Are Projectors

"From these our interviews, in which I steal
From all I may be, or have been before
To mingle with the Universe and feel
What I can ne'er express, yet cannot all conceal."

-- Lord Byron

The evening was clear with a crisp breeze.  About 25 people piled into an old school bus which dropped us off in the desert just far enough away from the lights of Yulara's hotels.  Yulara was a half hour behind AEST (A for Australian) so our sky guide started pointing out constellations at 8:30pm. 

First, and probably the most stunning to me, the guide highlighted with his powerful laser the only two stars visible from the Big Dipper constellation.  It blew my mind that I was looking at the same stars that I had often stared at while home in Canton;  the same stars that my friends & family back home could see.  They weren't in any particular formation though & I wondered if I was looking at the Big Dipper upside-down (sort of how people wonder if the water flushes the oppos…

Yin & yang

My time in the red centre was drawing to a close, but I still had a jam-packed day ahead of me.  There was only one trail that was left undone at Uluru/Kata Tjuta National Park: Warlpa Gorge at Kata Tjuta.  I was secretly relieved that it was a short trail since my ankles, feet & toes had not yet fully recovered from the past two grueling days of hiking.

Since it was late morning, the high rock walls blocked all of the intense sunlight.  As soon as I stepped into the shadows I was cold.  Furthermore, the rock sides became more and more narrow which created a vortex for the winter wind.  I watched as puddles from the previous night were disturbed; their surfaces turbulent instead of glass smooth.  I put my hood over my head and cinched it tight.  In addition to the dim light and chilly temperature, I was the only person in the gorge.  It was silent except for the howling wind.  No birds chirped; no visitors spoke.  It was a bit haunting, yet peaceful.  I half sat/half leaned agains…

Feel the burn

Hiking The Valley Of The Winds backwards meant better views of the scenery and more uphill climbs.  When I arrived at the foot of the circuit's climax -- a massive, rocky mound -- my back was drenched in sweat.  I cannot recall a time I have ever been so wet with perspiration.
When I finally summited the hill, I plopped down on the nearest crag.  I was greeted by a gay couple from Sydney (originally from Poland) who witnessed my exhausting ascent.  They explained they rode from New South Wales on motorcycles.  The three of us reminisced about our respective homelands.  The couple highly recommended a natural hot spring (larger than a swimming pool) in between the park & Kulgarra (to the west) which, after my grueling hike, sounded so relaxing.  I noticed some gorgeous birds & beautiful plant life on the return walk to my vehicle.  It turned out, even in the middle of the desert, life and color flourished -- although humans often were not able see it.  The first thing I di…

Blazing trails

It did not drizzle all night -- it poured!  At times the raindrops pelted the car's metal roof so hard it was difficult to get back to sleep.
When my alarm went off at 5:45am I peeled myself out of the toasty sleeping bag. My first night in Uluru I had to cover my face I was so cold.  Why was I sweating?  Still sheltered in the car's warmth I laced up my Columbias.  I prepared myself for the pre-dawn chill as I opened the car door.  Why was it humid outside?  Again, it was the coldest month of winter.  Why did it feel like an Ohio summer?

The clouds that harbored the raindrops of yesterday & yesternight also sealed in the warmth radiating from the red earth.  I couldn't believe the temperature difference!
Blurry-eyed, I turned onto the Lasseter Highway again.  This dark morning I was headed for The Olgas (their non-politically correct name).  A third of the way into the drive, I passed a road sign that stated it was only 200 kilometers to the state of Western Australi…

Patience is a virtue

"In eternity there is indeed something true and sublime.  But all these times and places and occasions are now & here.  God culminates in the present moment and will never be more divine in the lapse of all the ages."
-- Henry Thoreau

I rested my weary lower body & waited for the approaching sunset with Uluru centered in the backdrop.  I was not sure what to expect, but Australian sunsets had proved quite stunning thus far; throw in a global icon and I just assumed there would be something magical to see.  Utes packed the Lasseter & the viewing area (I had one of the few cars).  The clouds that were overhead earlier in the day multiplied, spread & changed into foreboding shades of gray. Next to me two couples road-tripping together unfolded a portable table & 4 champagne glasses.  The lighthearted group relaxed, exchanged jokes, ate cheese, and unwinded with bubbly, like they were sitting 'round a campfire.  On my other side a French woman was sketchin…


"I leafed to a passage that had to do with reaching one's destination...  'This is a great moment, when you see, however distant, the goal of your wandering.  The thing which had been living in your imagination suddenly becomes part of the tangible world.  It matters not how many ranges, rivers or parching dusty ways may lie between you; it is yours now for ever.' "
-- Alice Steinbech, Without Reservations

It was a cold evening/morning -- much colder than I expected.  I had a flashback to a middle-school-aged-me watching a science video about the extreme temperatures in deserts.  Now, I didn't regret smashing my poofy sleeping bag into a small suitcase & hauling it across the continent.  I awoke to my first dull day in the red center with foggy windows and the morning sun low in the sky.  Though the sun was blinding it did little to warm the air, and the shade was downright frigid.

My insides felt like they were crawling with ants.  I was practically havin…