Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Back to Party Town

Jess's Dad said he wanted to go for a drink the night we flew in, so he was waiting for us when we arrived, as expected. Not so expected was the bunch of friends, stretch limo, and bottles of champagne also waiting for us! We all jumped in the limo and headed into Toronto to a bar, where more friends were waiting. Forgot about any thoughts of jet lag and had a great time sharing stories of our recent adventures with close friends.

Sunny Sydney

Jess and I flew to Sydney for the last two days of our trip. The first evening we were there, we saw a play at the Sydney Opera House called "Doubt". Really good, try to go if you get the chance.

Went for a drink at the vodka bar afterwards. Upstairs was the "minus five bar" which they refrigerate to -5 degrees, give you a down jacket and you get to sit at the carved ice bar and drink out of glasses made of ice. Neat idea if you live in Australia, but just seemed like ending the holiday early to us! haha

Next morning was the Sydney Fish Market, which was great. Zillions of types of fresh-off-the-boat fish/seafood to be bought from a bunch of vendors, plus the option of buying said seafood cooked and ready to eat. Yum!

Then it was off to Bondi. Ate the Bondi Icebergs (what is it with the references to cold temperatures), which was part of the Bondi Swimming Club clubhouse overlooking the beach. Very cool. Then we walked along the cliffs to Bronte Beach and swam in the surf right in front of the "Dangerous Currents, No Swimming" sign.

Next morning, we walked around The Rocks (old, harbourside area of Sydney) like dutiful tourists we are. Waited around till a few minutes after an appropriate time to leave for the airport, then rushed back and grabbed our bags and bundled into a taxi.

Bye, Australia!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006


Went to Torquay surf beach today. Tried teaching Jess and my sister Amanda to surf. Was going quite well until we got into the water...Amanda got washed back into the beach by a wave, Jess fired out in the other direction past the breakers, and I tried to yell intructions to both.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

The Games

Went to Shepparton on Friday to see some of my relatives. They have lots of wacky plastic/fibreglass cows around the place, much like Toronto with its moose.

Jess and I went into Melbourne on Sat, toured my old neighbourhood, ate at my all-time favourite pizza shop and watched a triathalon. Did I mention Melbourne is hosting the Commonwealth Games while we're here? Anyone reading this probably does, i.e. does not live in the US. Australia only won the bronze and gold medal for that event, which is why we only have half the medals. Bah. But that gives the tv stations enough fodder that you wouldn't know there w
ere any other countries competing! In all seriousness, the triathletes were amazing. They were able to run 10km in only twice the time I would take to do 5km, AFTER cycling 50+ km and and swimming god knows how far (and I kind of fancy myself as a runner).

Sat night, we met up with my good friends from my home town: Simon, Sharon, Terri, Trev, Claire and Steve. Played a murder mystery, which was kooky and fun.

Went swimming/windsurfing with my family on Sunday. The usual debacle with trying to get everyone out the door. Afterwards, Jess and Brendan and I drove to Phillip Island to see the Fairy Penguins. Very cute. By the time we finished there, all the camping/caravan parks were full or their office was shut. We decided to just crash at one and pay in the morning, then found out we'd left the tent poles behind. So we drove to an empty area and slept in a paddock under the stars. It didn't rain much. Was awoken the next morning by a variety of noisy birds: 4 kookaburras, a rooster, 30 galahs, magpies...

Saw a bunch of koalas at the conservation area, then drove back to Melbourne and watched the bronze medal games of the squash, then caught up with Simon.

Today, I played squash against my brother and Dad while Jess met with some work people. Hello tax deductible airfare! Saw my good friend Margaux for a brief moment, then Jess and I went and saw a bunch of track and field events at the 110,000 capacity MCG (Melbourne Cricket Ground).

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Climb on!

Wednesday morning, Jess, my Mum and I played 9 holes of golf. Mum hadn't played before, and shooting 62 over par was understandable. I would have broken 50 for the 9 had I not gone 7 over par for the first hole....we're thinking of waiting till next year to go pro!

That night, we went in to "the city" (Melbourne) to see the Lion King. Much craziness with the 40,000+ that were also going in, for the opening of the Commonwealth Games. The show was great.

The next morning Jess, bro Brendan and I left before sunrise for Mt Arapiles. With so much to do this holiday, we only had time for a day trip. Brendan had his first pair of rock shoes to try out, and I got some more shiny new toys at the climbing shop in Natimuk (closest town to Arap).

I was hoping to get a couple of climbs in, including a multi-pitch, but reality dictated the events of the day, and we got on our first climb at 12:30: Watchtower Crack (16, roughly 5.7), 4 pitches. Wild climb...included some slab, chimney, face, laybacking, stemming, and awesome exposure. Fun had by all.

By the time I had a powernap (for an hour and a half) on the way home, we got in at 3am. But since we finished climbing in the daylight, I figure that's not an epic. :)

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Time for water sports

Went for a long windsurfing session with my brother Brendan, Dad, and Jess as the beach 10km down the road from my parents'. The wind was near-ideal. Brendan and I did most of the windsurfing, Dad did most of the advice-giving (like sons are going to listen!) and Jess was being supportive. How great is she?

Today, the family got out on our little keel boat (a Red Jacket for the sailors) and we sailed from Williamstown to Brighton and back (about 20km each way). Great weather for it: 10 knots and mostly sunny.

Brighton has these pretty little "bath houses". People used to use them to get changed, but now they're just trendy purchases for people with lots of money.

Climbing with the fam

After getting back from Cairns, Jess and I were greeted by my relatives who were here to see me (and, as it turned out, my new fiancee). I endured much cheek-pincing and "my, how you have grown"'s, but all in all, it was nice to see my extended family after such a long time.

The next day, I decided on a family-oriented climbing trip to Werribee Gorge. Did I mention the forecast was for 38 degrees? It did not disappoint. We arrived at the dry and dusty gorge all set with our picnic-ing gear, chairs, umbrella, esky, etc, and started down the track...only to find out it was a hilly 40 minute hike in the midday heat. Oops, my bad!

We actually did quite well, considering we didn't have a guidebook. I found what was 10b-ish (I'll let report what it is actually rated when I find out, I promise!) part-face, part-layback finger crack, part-off-width 28 metre climb to start off with, and my every member of my family apart from Mum had a good go. This being my family, I don't have any natural giftedness to fall back siblings, and even my Dad, did almost as well as I, with far fewer sessions at Rock Oasis under their belts!

I then set up another top-rope at a 14-ish (around 5.6) climb that all my family was able to get up, even Mum. Yeah fam!

I then suprised myself by managing to get up what looked to be a tough sport lead. In the end, it must have only been around 10b, given my current state of feebleness, but it was so great to be getting back on the rock!