Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Little Travels -- November 2011

Can I count it as travel when I went to Austin with Suze and Jessica when Susannah picked out THE wedding dress? Of course, she liked the more expensive store and dress. Sigh. (Truthfully it was the best dress)

Early November (9th to 12th) I went to the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing in Portland, Oregon.
Click here to see all Hopper pics

Phil and I drove to Georgia for Thanksgiving at the cabin (November 17-27) and at Gwyneth's in Decatur where we had a huge dinner for Gwyneth, Rob , Camille and Chloe plus the senior Buteras, Barb's brother Jim and his wife Marty and daughter Suzi with her family Stuart and Sanna and one of Barb's former students, Samantha.

Click to see Thanksgiving Pics

Once again we all (including my brother Jim) went to Tuba Christmas at Light Up Blue Ridge where I played my horn.

Little Travels -- October 2011

Thanks to a great colleague I was able to combine Fall Break at the cabin with a SIGCSE Board meeting in Charlotte.

Click here to see all pics

We were able to go to the Blue Ridge Fall Arts in the Park as well as the Corn Maize in Benton Tennessee

Phil and I were able to help Gwyneth and her family with their move from Pine Lake to a condo in Decatur.
Click here to see all pics

Monday, October 31, 2011

Little Travels -- August - September 2011

Lots of small trips.

Spent early August at the cabin in North Georgia trying to stay away from the heat of an extraordinarily hot Texas summer.

First off to California for a visit with Susannah and Luis from Sept. 1-6.

The next weekend was a trip to Denver for an ACM Ed Council meeting from September 15-18. Gwyneth and the girls were in Georgetown for ACL staying with Phil while I was in New York.
Two Kiwis (Alison and Julia) and me Click here for slideshow to see all pics

Finally I was New York City for a Sig Governing Board meeting near Grand Central Station from September 22-24. I had a chance to go to the opening of the IBM Think exhibit at Lincoln Center.

My dinner plans the last evening were canceled so my friends the Murphys showed me a great time in Garden City.
Celeste andLarry

Click to see all pics

Thursday, October 13, 2011

LittleTravels -- July

I arrived in Houston from Germany on the 4th of July -- seeing the end of the Georgetown fireworks from the highway as I drove home. I spent the 5th unpacking and packing.

Phil and I headed to the Georgia cabin on the 6th with a full car and the cats. The big rush was to get to the cabin to unload the cats and then make it to Atlanta for Chloe's 9th birthday. I took Chloe to gymnastics. While she was there, I went to look for a geocache in a neighborhood that had been on HGTV. When she was done then took the girls and their friends to Kroger to get a cake. Supper with friends at Harmony Restaurant. Back to Pine lake for cake and gifts. WE spent the night and returned to the cabin and the cats.

Gwyneth and the girls came up on the weekend and we headed for Chattanooga, stopping to see if we could spot Rob who was leading a rafting trip -- but we couldn't.
Ocoee Whitewater Link

Our goal was a a Lunch Money concert. Gwyneth had made reservations for us to stay in a railroad car at the Chattanooga ChooChoo Hotel.
Chattanooga Choo Choo Hotel
Gwyneth at her Choo Choo office!

The next day we headed out for Ruby Falls tour of the cave.

Ruby Falls
At the cabin Phil spent a lot of time sawing up the tree that fell during the spring storms. We both enjoyed hiking and looking for geocaches.
Tree cutting
Toward the end of the month, I went to DC for an NSF panel, followed by my water aerobics conference -- Atlanta Mania, and Phil headed to Carver for family and the Old Home Day Bake.
Old Home Day Bake 2011 Carver Massachusetts

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Little Travels in 2011 Part II May - June

Continuing to update my smaller trips in 2011, Phil and I returned from our New Zealand and Australia adventure on May 20. I was able to see Gwyneth, Rob and the girls for a few hours when they stopped at the start of their marathon road trip out west. I managed to stay in Texas until May 23 - 25 when I went to New York City for an NCWIT meeting which was held on the NYU campus. I shared a hotel room in Chelsea with Renee, my replacement as SIGCSE chair.

Jane and Barb with Washington Square Park in background

Then Phil and I went to visit Susannah and Luis in Palo Alto, California from June 16-20. Great fun, great weather and lots of good walks!

Luis, Duncan, Phil and Suze at Baylands

Little Travels in 2011 Part I January - March

I realized that this is my travel blog, but I have omitted lots of the smaller trips that I have made so far this year. I thought I would recap them with a few pictures.

After our snowed in adventure at the cabin in January, the small trips began. The first one was the side trip on the way back to Texas to celebrate Gwyneth's birthday with her and her family in Pine Lake.
January 19
A little over 10 days later , I flew to New Orleans for an NSF sponsored meeting on new funding opportunities. Since Rob had a meeting in New Orleans that overlapped my meeting, Gwyneth and the girls drove from Georgia to spend time with both of us. We enjoyed a great meal at Green Goddess. Because of weather in both New Orleans and in Dallas, my flight home got cancelled and I spent an afternoon with my Atlanta family going to the Insectarium and with Gwyneth and the girls; and then out for an oyster po' boy at Mother's with Rob. (January 30-February 2)

At Green Goddess
Barely time to unpack and re-pack before my February 5-8 meeting of the ACM Ed Council in Miami, interesting discussions, good food, good friends and lovely weather.

Miami Beach February 7
Another trip to the airport came two days later, but it was Suze who traveled from California whom we picked up for a long weekend visit.

Suze and Phil at ABIA February10
February 22-28 Phil and I flew to Massachusetts to visit his sister Belle in Carver. We engaged in a lot of ice chopping and snow shoveling.

IMG_0651 dopey
Ice chopping and wearing black and red in support of Christchurch Earthquake

On March 6 I flew to New York City for an ACM SGB meeting near Times Square. I arrived in a downpour and when I left the plane was delayed because it came from heavy snow in Vermont so I got home at 3 am on March 8.

Times Square in the rain

Later in the day on March I, I drove to Dallas for the SIGCSE Board meeting followed by the Symposium. I had a great room -- a suite, really. I even got to meet up with my Southwestern colleagues, since I never seem to be in Georgetown!

Southwestern Faculty
CS Department -- me, Sue Barbara A and Rick

t the close of the meeting, I drove on to Blue Ridge to oversee some plumbing repairs at the cabin and to go to Atlanta to attend a Ralph's World concert with Gwyneth and the girls (March 13-18 in Georgia)

Ralph Covert with Gwyneth, Chloe and Camille at Mall of Georgia

No more trips until April 16 when Phil and I headed to Australia. But we did have visits from our missionary friends, the Herrins (March 19-21), and a birthday/Capital 10,000 visit from Gwyneth and the girls (March 26-29) and from Suze and Luis (March 25-28).

Luis, Susannah and Chloe at a geocaching event at an Austin area ghost town

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Post ITiCSE Day 4 Winningen to Darmstadt

Click to see complete slideshow
View of Winningen
We went down for another big breakfast – eggs, sausage, multigrain roll, muesli, yogurt and an orange. We walked to the train station to find the times – the hotel clerk was unbelievable unhelpful. We finally asked a villager if we could take our bikes on the train to Koblenz and they were free because it was the weekend.

We went back to the hotel and set off for a geocache at the site of witches’ executions in the 1600’s. We asked a local for directions to Hexenhugel and with no English he was much more help than the innkeeper. We walked on paths up through wonderful vineyards and great views. At the top there was even an airfield! We came to a woods path where we saw the Hexenhugel monument and Judy spotted the cache!

Back to the hotel, where we checked out and walked our bikes to a café where Judy had coffee and tried the local red wine. We walked our bikes to the train and took off for Koblenz.

Luckily Judy checked in at the staffed visitor center where she found out we had to take the earlier local train in order for our bikes to be allowed, so we didn’t get to tour Koblenz but hd a slice of pizza

The train ride to Mainz was almost too fast to follow Rick Steve’s commentary but it was fun to read about what we had ridden by. We took our bikes to the shop. While I was in the train station (ran into Dennis Bouvier and Raven) the bike guy came – perfect. We had some time to spend, so we had a coffee and a cherry strudel. The train to Darmstadt was 20 minutes late so we got to the hotel just at 5 when the reception opened!

We retrieved our bags from Stefanie’s room and checked email etc. in our own rooms which were the same ones we had been in before! We then headed into town for the festival which was unbelievable. So many rides, food and people – Wauseon homecoming times 50!

Judy and I ate at the Biergarten I had eaten at the previous Sunday. She order Frankfurter green sauce which turned out not to be a sausage but eggs – the name Frankfurter modified the sauce! I got another fish salad, and this time the fish was fried but good. We walked a good portion of the carnival but not all.

Back at the hotel we talked to Stefanie. We talked more before going to our rooms. I showered and went to bed about 11.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Post ITiCSE Day 3 Oberwesel to Winningen 60K

Click to see Slideshow
Between Boppard and Koblemnz -- Spay
We saw the boat signals Rick Steve’s book had talked about at the treacherous, narrow spots. The Loreley was a huge cliff near where boats frequently foundered. We were successful in finding a cache on the guardrail by the path which was next to the highway. Rheinfels castel over St. Goar , Katz and Maus castles on the other side.

The extraordinarily lovely village of Boppard caused us to stop for lunch. WE both had goulash soup – this time no veggies in it, followed by coffee and pastries. We really enjoyed sitting in the old town square.

We got spectacular view of the perfectly restored Marksburg castle and shortly after met a brigade of tourists on Segways.

On the entry to Koblenz I spotted a Coyote Ugly bar! The only woods we cycled through afforded me a impromptu WC. Judy dropped her sunglasses at our stop, however and when she went back to try to find them she couldn’t.

On ur approach to Koblenz we passed breweries but the parts of the city we cycled through were beautiful residential streets. We only rode a few blocks in the city center to the train station and then trying to make out way out to the Moselle valley, we got lost and a helpful lady gave us directions and yogurts with no English!

A detour on the bike path sent us crossing the reiver earlier than we planned and uphill into a a rather ugly suburban village but then onto a lovely path surrounded by individual garden plots.

The vineyards approaching Winnegen were superb and the Moselle was beautiful and much quieter than the busy Rhine.

We had a bit of trouble finding our hotel, the Adler, which was obviously recently redone by a decorator. There was lots of purple and gold and many interesting details.

We loved the village and ate in a covered garden across from the hotel. We tried two of the local white wines (Rieslings) and shared a huge pork dinner with a salad whose dressing was similar to thousand island but flavored with dill. Great! The potatoes were like “Ida Heise” potatoes.

We took a long walk after dinner and got back about 10:30 to check email on my iphone in the lobby wifi.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Post ItiCSE Day 2 Wiesbaden (Biebrich) to Oberwesel 50K

Slide Show

We had a big breakfast and set off to search unsuccessfully for a cache on the castle grounds but we had a lovely ride wound the park. There was a sign that Wagner had written Der Meistersinger there.

We got to the next little town ( ?? ) and it began to pour so we stopped at an ice cream shop for coffee Aother cyclist, a helpful local, told us about the area. Out coffee done, the rain over, we set off again and stopped at a beautiful village – Elktville which was preparing for a festival celebrating its bubbly wines. Gutenberg had lived in the town which had a castle ruin and pretty gardens. The trail got rather badwith detours but we found a nice place to stop and have fruit and chese. WE got yelled at by a worker for going on a closed protion of the trail.

We came to Rudeshiem which was a complete tourist trap – many junky shops. There was a wine museum and the house where Carl Jung had lived. With difficulty we found the ferry to Bingen and took the auto one. We rode through a pretty garden – at its end a pair of prim ladies greeted us by holding up a sign retrieved from her purse indicating by a graphic that bike riding was not allowed in the park! We walked them to a tea shop where Judy ordered a pretzel and cream cheese (the pretzel part was a surprise.) While she used the WC, it began to pour and I quickly covered our stuff but as soon as she returned it stopped raining!

There was lots of boat traffic – barges each of which had the captain’s car on board – many carried coal; lots of tour boats; trains ran on both sides of the river ad vines grew along the hills, especially on the right bank. The land changed after Bingen, becoming a gorge. We stopped and walked our bikes though Bacharach whose castle is a youth hostel. Several pretty villages including the Pfalz Castle in the river at Kaub.

We were very tired when we got to Oberwesel and wandered up and down looking for our hotel which we had passed! It was a very modern boutique hotel and quite nice. We had a hard time figuring out the faucet in the bathroom – the water came out over the tap! We ate at the hotel and had a very friendly waitress. I ordered a salad with fish in it and noodles. The noodles were a big mistake as they were too rich and too plentiful. The salad was great. During dinner David Cassel and his family walked by – Boots was waiting for them at the train station. Oberwesel had a wall and a castle. The hotel had wifi only in the lobby so I checked mail.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Post ITiCSE Day 1 Darmstadt to Wiesbaden (Biebrich) 15K


Leisurely breakfast at hotel Etap with Judy and then slow to check out. Took 10:15 train to Mainz. We easily found a bike rental place with great bikes. There was a big problem in that they wouldn’t be open on Sunday to return the bikes. Finally I asked the guy if we could return them to his house, His “boss” then volunteered to come into the shop at 3 pm on Sunday to get the bikes! I got his cell # just in case we got stuck and we were off after a few seat adjustments. We headed toward the city center and locked out bikes in a quaint square before setting off on foot. We found the Gutenberg Museum, checked its hours and headed off to the cathedral square for lunch. I had goulash soup – pieces of meat, carrots and potatoes in a spicy broth (Café Afterblatt).
Then I took off looking for an internet café to make my ACM call. The les-than-knowledgeable woman at the i sent me to a place that had been out of business for a couple of years. There was a church ruins and some good statues as well as friendly ladies in a tea shop who looked up a phone number for me. I first went to McDonald’s to use their internet but it was too hard so I just used my cell. It got too noisy, so I walked back near the Gutenberg Museum and sat amidst the flowers. The call lasted an hour and a half. During the call (I was on mute) Boots Cassel, her son David, daughter-in-law and granddaughters came by geocaching.

The second call was about 45 minutes.

Judy came back from her walk after viewing the Gutenburg museum and we looked for a cache (no luck) and had coffee in a fancier café on the same square.

We got on our bikes and headed for Wiesbaden across the Rhine bridge. We found our hotel (Am Schloss Biebrich) and checked in. It as a really nice old hotel – we locked out bikes out back and trekked to the 2nd (really 3rd) floor. The room overlooked the Rhine. Our hotel was near the gorgeous castle of the Schloss Bierbrich and its park. We went to a Mexican restaurant and I had guacamole and a tostado with white wine.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

ITiCSE Day 3 Darmstadt

Click to see Slide Show
Posed poster pictureIMG_1564

The last day of the conference. Mark Guzdial was the keynote speaker and crammed a lot into a short time. He covered themes like media computation but also learning styles were proven not to exist and attitudes toward computing. After his talk I met with Mats Daniels and interviewed him for the oral history project. Quit an interesting story including the fact that his department gave him the entry fee for the 90K cross country race from Salarna to Morra as a PhD present!

After lunch I walked up to Margueritheholme which was an artist’s colony set up to include art deco homes for the artists, It rained lightly. Darmstadt was being transformed into a junky place as all kinds of carnival equipment was being moved in to prepare for an annual 5 day festival.

After the wrap up, I walked back to the hotel to get rid of my stuff which I had left with Judy Sheard while I had gone walking. We walked back to the hotel to change for the banquet, then back to the conference center to board busses for the banquet. I sat with Stefanie of the large suitcases – very intriguing person. Among other things she is a chiropractor!

The banquet was held in a castle ( ) between Darmstadt and Heidelberg. Along the way up to the castle there were many luxurious homes. The castle was above a small forest and we walked through a bit to get up to the castle. We were greeted by a trio of medieval musicians. The banquet hall had long tables where we were served bread with herb butter and jugs of water and wine. The first entertainment was a rather crude juggler who made fun of different nationalities, offending me and mostly other Americans by its insensitivity. We as we had come to expect were served lots of food beginning with cheese soup in bread, then turkey with fresh steamed veggies (good) and a bread pudding thing. Henry and I became the main entertainment as I was made queen of the realm and I knighted him, putting him in stocks and threatening to chop off his head, as scripted by the castle’s MC. To bed too late.

See Henry's pictures and script

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

ITiCSE Day 2 Darmstadt

Day 2 Slideshow

Harder to get up. Still went to Starbucks for coffee and a croissant before the meeting. The first session was on introductory computing. I really enjoyed listening to Shriram Kristnamurti on his Scheme Web Bootstrap project for middle schoolers..

I went out looking for a geocache in a cool neighborhood that had a kiosk full of books for folks to donate, borrow and share on their own recognizance. It was an extraordinarily hot day. I went back to my room and caught up on a few things before coming back for the bus trip to Heidelberg.

In Heidelberg we were divided into groups. Our guide, Viktoria, was an ex-pat Brit and super. We walked through the old city and then took the funicular up to the castle. The building is being kept as a semi-ruin because according to the guide it is like the romanticists liked it.

Myles helped me identify a chaffinch singing from the top of a tree. Then Harriet and I broke off for a bit to find three geocaches.

Again the theme is that it was very hot. When she and I stopped for a drink the water I ordered came with ice. I was very excited!

Back in Darmstadt, I went to dinner at a potato restaurant?? where 14 of us caused the staff to haul tables outside. Judy Sheard and I shared a meal of schnitzel that was like a chicken cordon bleu. The restaurant gave us all potato liqueur afterwards but I gave mine away. Afterwards several accompanied me to look for a geocache near a church. I texted Harriet when I needed a clue, but found it before she wrote me back!

Monday, June 27, 2011

ITiCSE Day 1 Darmstadt, Germany

Greeted some friends eating breakfast in the hotel lobby and then I walked along the main street so that I could pick up a cup of Starbucks and a croissant.

Sat with Mark Guzdial at the opening session on a project to attract middle schoolers to IT at Aachen (Go4IT!). Mary handed out the scavenger hunt materials and we had our poster immediately after the talk.

Lunch was a stand up affair but with very good food. After lunch Harriet, Boots and I went to town for postcards and stamps and to help me find the Ludwig geocache. I went to the hotel for a while. On the way back to the conference I located the Liberale Synagogue cache. Once more I headed back to the hotel for a conference call with the SGB-EC which lasted almost an hour and a half!

I headed back to the old town where I joined the conference steering committee for dinner at the Hotel / Restaurant Bockshaut. There was an incredible amount of food and all excellent!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

ITiCSE getting there!

Saturday June 25

I left the house at 9:50 to head to Houston for my plane. I got there in 3 hours 20 minutes exactly like google maps had said! The parking lot was nearly full and I had the Fast Park bus following me around as I searched for a covered spot. Glad there was no one else in the bus while the driver was doing that!

The plane was very full but KLM so service was good. I sat among some folks going on a mission trip to Kenya. I watched one movie and slept some.

Sunday July 26 In the air – Amsterdam - Darmstadt
There was no one around my 8 hour lay over in Amsterdam. However, Schiphol Airport is a great place – I found a comfy lounge areas with a series of different little “rooms” and actually slept comfortably.

There were lots of interesting shops to stroll through and I had lunch in a coffee shop complete with Delft teacups as booths! My plane to Frankfurt was late due to the commissioning of a new control tower at Frankfurt which didn’t work right, reducing flow into the airport.

When I got there, I rushed through the airport to find the bus for Darmstadt. Although I was a couple of minutes late, the bus was still there because it was so full. I had to stand in the aisle next to the driver until a woman moved her child onto her lap and let me sit with them. I had met the guy across the aisle from me at a meeting in Portland and he took my bag so even more people squeezed onto the overcrowded bus! Finally we were off.

It was quite hot in Darmstadt but we lugged out suitcases to the Etap hotel where we checked in and then hurried off to the conference reception. I missed registration but did chat with old friends and have some yucky apple wine. Several of us headed off into the old city for beer and German food at an outside beer garden. Finally back to the hotel to unpack.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Sydney - Home Day 23

Day's Pictures

We were glad the flight wasn’t until one. We had breakfast and I packed. We then walked back to Chinatown to go to the Chinese Friendship Garden, but it wasn’t open yet – we could see enough to know it was beautiful. The shuttle picked us up right on time. At the airport we waited in the Qantas Business class lounge and had breakfast.

The plane was late loading because the TV system wasn’t working! Phil and I sat across the aisle from each other and watched a Reese Witherspoon movie – How Do you Know.

Passport control was fairly efficient but Customs made up for it by being abominable but not as bad as security! There were absolutely no signs directing people as to how to get to their connecting flights and no one to ask. Bummer for most travelers. At least I opted for the full body and didn’t get humiliated.

We spent some time in the Admirals Club before the flight. Flight home uneventful except that Air Force One was on the tarmac because of Obama’s fund raiser in Austin.

Sandy and Marv met us and we went to the viewing area off 71 to get a better look at the plane. The house looked great and we were welcomed with a rain shower. Phil picked up pizza at Paisano’s

Monday, May 9, 2011

Sydney Day 22

Day's PiIctures
I woke up at 6:30 and made coffee and scouted out the lounge where I got cereal bowls to take to our room (out the fire door, down a floor and then reverse it to get back to the room).

Phil and I left the hotel to go touring. First we went to Chinatown and found a cache near the arch, but since it was so early we walked along George Street and across to Hyde Park where we looked at the Anzac Memorial, a statue of Capt Cook (who died in Ouwhyee), and across to the botanical gardens which were as lovely as I had hoped. I spotted some huge bats hanging in a tree and then more and more. We found a sign which told us they were called flying foxes and were killing the trees in the park. We talked to a groundsperson about it for a long time who told us that at high time there would be as many as 20,000 of them. We then walked to Mrs. Macquarie’s Point for a great view of the Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. There were tons of Chinese visitors taking pictures. Then we walked to the Opera House, looked in a few shops and ate sandwiches in Circle Quay. We got a $29 pass for ferries, trains and buses and hopped on the ferry to Manly. The wind was crazy strong but we walked down to the beach which was gorgeous. We also went in a few stores and I reaffirmed that I hate souvenir shopping.

The ride back to Sydney was rough – people got really splashed but I don’t think the waves were as high as when Dale and I went the time before.

We went to the Rocks and tried to go into the Susannah Place Museum but it was only by tour and we didn’t want to wait so we took another ferry back to Darling Harbour and walked back to the hotel, stopping for groceries at a three story Woolworths and then a bottle of wine. We ate dinner in the room. We went out to get money in the pouring rain and went to bed early.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Numurkah to Sydney Day 21

Day's Pictures

Phil and I were up at 6, showered, packed and breakfasted. I checked mail before we went for another walk along the lake.

When we got back we had champagne and cheese and crackers before leaving for the train station. When we got to Albury we checked it out and then the four of us went for coffee at a bustling café in the town center. The train station was lovely. They dropped us off and we got on the train. On board we ordered boxed hot lunches – I had lamb curry and Phil had roast chicken.

The second load of people got on to the train at Wanga Wanga – two sets made our trip nearly unbearable. The woman behind us had a baby that either cried, plied with an electronic toy or walked up and down the aisle. We’ll never forget little “Lillian” – the other set was a father, his two kids and an uncle. The dad talked I the loudest voice ever and irritated most everyone on the train.

We thought it would be better when we got on the bus we were shuttled to at Goulburn, and for a bit it was – no noisy people. But then the bus went through a weigh station and we flunked. The driver spent forty five minutes unloading and reloading luggage. Finally he asked for 10 volunteers to come from the back of the bus and squat down in the aisle when they re-weighed the bus! Phil and I were among the volunteers. The bus finally was allowed to continue and we were about an hour late getting into Sydney..

They let us off at the railroad station and while I was in the bathroom a woman came up to Phil and accused him of laughing at her the whole trip. Since he had never seen her before and we hadn’t laughed at anyone, he was stunned!

We walked to the hotel (Hotel Pensione) which was uphill from the station on George Street – the opposite direction and class of the Mercure where I had stayed before. Our room was the size of a postage stamp, but clean and modern. Or view was of a walled in mechanicals area and an overhead billboard. But the room was incredibly quiet.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Numurkah VIC Day 20

Days Pictures

Phil and I had breakfast and then Barrie and Joy got up. We left them with their breakfast and headed for a walk around the lake that was built by the resort builder. We saw lots of birds but didn’t have the binocs. However, the Victoria fauna app works great. We then went to Wunghnu (one ewe) to buy buffalo meat (what kind no one knows) and to look for a geocache under the bridge in the park across the street. Barrie actually spotted it.

We took the meat and milk back to the apartment and then headed off to time the route to the golf club where Barrie will be playing. It took about 45 minutes to get to Yarrawonga. The resort Joy thought she had booked was right across the street from the golf club. Oops.

Then we headed an hour east to Rutherglen, a large wine producing region where we stopped at the “i” for information about eating places. We had lunch at the Tuilieres Café which we thought was a complete lunch for $11.90 but turns out each course was $11.90! However, it was a beautiful spot outside in the sun and we enjoyed the “Turkish flatbread” pizza, my chicken fettuccini and Phil’s spaghetti carbonara. However, afterward I felt ill – way too rich. Joy and Barrie began wine tasting while we waited a long time for the bill – turns out we were to go inside to pay. While they finished tasting, we headed toward a path around a little lake but we couldn’t figure how to access it. We finally went through a bowls club where the old folks playing it stopped to ask us what we were doing. We asked if we could go through and got a good look at an Australian sport! The trail around the lake was nice with lots of wildlife, but we only went a bit before coming down and joining Joy and Barrie who picked us up.

Then we headed to another winery (Warrabilla --known for its Jurif wines which we later learned were petit sirahs. Phil tasted several but I only tried one.

We headed back to Numurkah and stopped for gas. I had volunteered to cook dinner and we had planned to go to the grocery. We got into the village at 5:10 and they had closed everything at 5! Joy bought a merlot and a sparkling chardonnay/pinot at a bottle shop and I got some potato chips and crackers and bacon.

I made a mix of boiled potato, onion, carrot, apple and bacon as veggie, caramelized onion gravy for the buffalo “fillets” and a salad. I made tzatziki to start. We drank a lot of wine and had little chocolates for dessert.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Clifton Springs to Numurkah VIC Day 19

Days Pictures

We had completed packing to begin our trek to Sydney with a two day stop over near the Murray River in far north Victoria just on the New South Wales border. Before we left, Barrie took Phil and me to find geocaches in the Drysdale – Clifton Springs area which we did successfully. Our search took us to the former Kilgour winery where Joy used to help Anne, the then owner. We also took a ride by the olive grove that is owned by another of Joy’s friends.

We had a really good ride heading north. The day was quite nice. We had take away pasties (mine was vegetable, Phil’s mango chicken) in Bacchus Marsh. We stopped twice in Bendigo, first to look at an impressive cathedral where kids from a local private school were practicing for their founder’s day celebration and then on to the Bendigo Art Gallery. I loved the gallery which was partly in a very old building and part new. The pictures were displayed beautifully and there was a lot of 19th c. Australian art as well as specimens of European masters including impressionists.

The next stop was in Echuca, an old inland port on the Murray river which had a recreated village and views of the paddle boats and the river hung with eucalyptus trees. We got meat at a butchers there.

We got to the holiday time share community in the middle of no where at just dark. We had steak and veggies from the beautiful Australian grown food box Joy had picked up the day before. It included bok choy and green beans which we ate as the vegetable. She made really creamy mashed sweet/white potatoes in her Thermomix machine she had carted along. Lots of cheese and wine for dessert. Yum.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Clifton Springs -- Trip Ocean Road Day 18

See the day's pictures.

We tried to get an early start but there were a few glitches. It was quite a grey day, so the sights weren’t as impressive as they could have been. The first stop was the golf course at Torquay for a quick look at the kangaroos who drive the golfers crazy. There weren’t as many as the previous time I was there, but still enough to impress Phil.

We had coffee at a nice beach café that wasn’t there when I was here before.

Our next detour was at Kennett River where a friend of Joy’s said that koala sighting was common. Indeed! We were really excited to see a lot of them nestles high in crooks of eucalyptus trees. One even woke from its 22 hours a day sleep to climb further up a tree and let me film him.

Our last destination was the Twelve Apostles of which there are only 8 left – large rock outcroppings that are impressive in and of themselves but made even more so by the wonderful vegetation along the cliff viewing paths. I claimed credit for a Geocaching earth cache there.

We got home past dark after a lovely ride through the inland countryside and Joy made a lovely risotto for our dinner.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Clifton Springs - Melbourne - Clifton Springs Day 17

See the Day's Pictures

Phil and I had breakfast downstairs and went on a long neighborhood walk up the hill that overlooked the whole neighborhood and went past really elegant homes.

We left for Melbourne. Barrie left Joy and me out at Federation Square where we went to Chloe’s Restaurant noted for a classic nude painting that hangs on the bar wall. Annemieke Craig was there before us and we were joined by Catherine Lang and Judy Sheard. We enjoyed an excellent lunch from the complete lunch menu which had five items on it and each of ordered a different one! We had great conversations and ended up spending over two hours there. Joy and I rode the free tram which had a recorded spiel equal to the expensive tours most cities have.

Instead of going straight back we went to Port Lonsdale lighthouse and then into Queenscliff with gorgeous Victorian hotels and buildings.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Clifton Springs, VIC Day 16

Link to Day's Pictures

Barrie did a wash and Phil and I went for a short walk. Barrie took Phil and I to Serendip, a nature reserve where we saw kangaroos, wallabies and lots of wonderful birds. We were the only people in the reserve.

Back home we had a traditional barbeque in their barbeque pavilion behind the house. The meal included sausage, beef, lamb and big pieces of wonderful veggies. There was ice cream and a cake for dessert as well as a Kilgour Cabernet and a 2009 pinot noir.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Latrobe - Launceston-Melbourne Clifton Springs Day 15

Day's Pictures

Susannah’s first day at work at her new job.

I made an English breakfast for Phil and me – eggs, ham, tomato, cheese and toast. We then packed and went for a walk around the hotel grounds. We saw their cone of quiet (weird) and a lot of fairy wrens flitting among the eucalyptus trees.


Cone of Silence at the B&B

Sherwood B&B

Back at the hotel we joined Joy and Barrie and took off stopping first at a cheese factory.


Cow Art Statues at Ashgrove Cheese Plant

Then we stopped for tasting as at two wineries. At the first winery the guy was completely distracted and acted as though we weren’t there. I particularly liked a dessert wine and bought it. Tamar Ridge Botterytis Riesling At the next (the winery that made the 9 Island pinot I drank at the hotel in Hobart) we bought a pinot to save and an aged chardonnay.


From there we headed to the airport and got there plenty early. The plane to Melbourne was a prop jet but because it was Qantas they served a snack and free wine!


We were picked up by the parking people and headed back to Clifton Springs.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Hobart Tasmania- Strahan Tasmania Day 13

We spent the entire morning at the Salmanca Market in Hobart. Phil and I ducked out a but to find a geocache in a lovely little park. All we bought was a ton of provisions for the trip.

Mead seller
Mead Seller
Knit Animal Caps at Salmanca Market
Picnic on the Road in Hamilton

On the road, our first stop was in the tiny town of Hamilton for gas and a picnic. Back into town for a coffee at a lovely café that had internet and when I looked up for a geocache the owner knew where it was. However, we never found it although it was just next to where we had our picnic.

The ride through the mountains was beautiful. We stopped for a look at a massive system of pipes taking water to a hydro plant and then headed toward Strahan.

Hydro Pant Pics

Our next break was in Queenstown, a depressed ex-mining town that had recently had a huge arson fire, making it even worse.

It wasn’t far down the mountain to Strahan where we checked into our very luxurious digs. We made lamb chops, salad and potatoes and drank a Lindeman’s chardonnay and a nice Tasmanian pinot noir.


See all today's pics

Friday, April 29, 2011

Clifton Springs, VIC - Hobart Tasmania Day 12

Up fairly early again to pack and head back to Melbourne for the flight to Hobart. We parked at an off sight lot next to the “World’s Largest Lolly Store”. We had tons of time at the airport and got sandwiches to take for lunch and coffee before the flight. In Hobart Phil’s bag got singled out once again (and I have not been searched once so far this trip!!!) because the search dogs smelled our sandwiches in his pack.

We got the rental car after some time and headed off despite some wrong directions to the penal colony at Port Arthur. It was a lovely ride, and we left the men off while Joy and I headed to a little nearby town for groceries. The stores were quite lacking and especially so the local liquor store, depressing in
Shopping in Tasmania
We stopped at a little state park, Stewart Bay Nature Reserve, to look for a geocache. We walked quite a ways to find a cache – I did the last rocky part alone, and was successful.

Stewarts Handle

We were nearly a half hour late picking up Phil and Barrie, but no problem since we were able to get back to the good roads to Hobart before pitch dark.

Port Arthur Prison
When we got to the hotel, The St. Ives, Michael Sims had left his business card. I texted him and Joy cooked supper – a chicken salad that was gorgeous and delicious.

Dinner at St. Ives
Michael came just as the Royal Wedding between the prince and Kate Middleton had started so we ended up sitting in Barrie and Joy’s room and chatting all evening with the festivities in the background. We learned lots about Michael’s family and his experiences both in and beyond Peekskill.
Michael Sims

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Christchurch - Clifton Springs Day 11

We got up at 3am to go to the airport. The city streets were deserted. We actually saw only one car and two fire trucks all the way to the airport! We were certainly early. We had to go around a strange way after checking in effortlessly. We had coffee and then when we finally decided to go through security the lines for passport control were quite long. Turns out it was the first day the new Christchurch international terminal had been opened. Our plane was late taking off as a result. Once on the plane, Phil discovered that he had taken Alison’s street map with him by mistake. We ate the apples and chocolate eggs that were in our packs for breakfast.

It didn’t take us long to go through passport control, but the wait was both for our luggage and huge queues to go through the agriculture inspection. Joy and Barrie were waiting for us and it was a lovely day. Back at the house we unpacked and Barrie did a wah for us. We had salmon patties for lunch and then went to the National Wool Museum in Geelong to see the Jacquard look in action. It was broken when we got there, but “Michael” worked on it and after our tour with a particularly garrulous tour guide, we got to see it go.
Jacquard Loom

Back at the house, we had a short nap and showers before going to eat at Alfio’s Italian Restaurant with the “retirees”, a group of 10 that Joy and Barrie have been eating out and tasting wines with for the last 19 years or so. I ate far too much and couldn’t get through my main which I shouldn’t have ordered!
The Retirees 2
The Retirees
Phil discovered he had lost his pajama bottoms somewhere between Christchurch and Australia – possibly when he was required to go through everything in his pack at Christchurch or his whole suitcase in Melbourne! Barrie lent him a set of bottoms for the duration. Shades of my lending Barrie my shorts in Russia to wear as a bathing suit!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Christchurch Day 10

I made eggs and toast for Phil and me for breakfast. I worked more on the blog> Julia decided to take us out touring at 10:30 and we rode about seeing some of the damage and then down to the pier at New Briton. A marvelous library lay at its feet and one walks through the library to get to the pier.
Phil and Julia at New Birghton Pier Library

The views were spectacular.
Brighton Beach

After spending some time enjoying the sounds of the surf and the view, we headed out to Scarborough at the South end of the harbour. Again massive rock slides and collapses. We had coffees at a lovely little café at the end of the beach before heading back into town. Julia let us out at the edge of North Hadley Park where we looked unsuccessfully for a cache near a hospital.

We had better luck walking further along the Avon River near the botanical gardens.
Avon Boat House

I directed us to the wrong bridge at first for finding the cache, but then succeeded. Several of the features in the park were roped off due to damage but on the whole the parks were lovely. Many of the cedars and redwoods were quite massive.
Giant Sequoia

We had coffee and shared a sandwich in the café in the garden before walking back. We had to skirt the CBD and were faced at every turn with collapsed brick walls and destruction.
Damaged Hotel Grand Chancellor CBD

We walked past Alison's office at Christchurch Polytechnic and loved the sculpture out front.

Buildings bore either green signs indicating safety, yellow signs indicating owners only could go in or red signs which indicated the building was unsafe and would have to be demolished.
CBD Red Zone

We got back to the flat just after Julia. I worked a bit more on the blog. I read my email to see that the vote against Schrum was 70 to 40 so it passed. Not good for SU. Julia and Phil went out for fish and chips and I made a salad which we ate for dinner. Phil went to bed ahead of me and I packed before going to sleep about 10:30. I woke up nearly hourly, but missed the 34 earthquake that Julia felt because she didn’t go to bed at all!