Sunday, October 25, 2009

B16: The Academic Home Stretch

(Perfect day in Australia. You can see the fortifications built to fight back the tide to keep the fort safe. [Fort Nepean, Mornington Peninsula])


School has been going smoothly. Well, it always goes smoothly in the 'pre-final lull', but things should be heating up soon. My Statistics final, which is worth 80%, should be very steamy indeed. Globalisation is very vague and hopefully I can "crap on" (Australian term) about America, and how I'm American, and how I grew up in America, and how I have an American accent in order to sound like I am globalised and, hence, deserve a good grade. We are talking about seaweeds and seagrasses in Biology and that would be incredibly boring if I hadn't…

(My feet were killing me because I was standing on pointy rocks! Gotta' work on my Queensland feet. [London Bridge, Mornington Peninsula])

… gone to Mornington Peninsula 2 weeks ago! Often overshadowed by the Phillip Island penguin parade, the Mornington Peninsula was cheaper and more outdoors-ee. All along the Mornington Peninsula beaches were heaps and heaps of Hormisira banksii which I gladly squishd between my toes. Highlights of the camping trip with Brian and Mari included, in addition to the pristine beaches, the historical Fort Nepean (built on tip of peninsula for war time), the London Bridge (not the same as in Port Campbell), and Cape Shanck (home of the blue-ring octupus). I also turned on the gas stove and pitched the tent all by myself.
(This is Hormisirii Banksii. This was actually taken at Wye River, but its abundance at the Mornington Peninsula made me want to show what I was slushing through all weekend. [Mornington Peninsula])

The next weekend, I took Brian's (driving manual with my left hand!) car and drove Mari, Michele, and Maureen up to the Dandenong Ranges. Home of the famous lyre bird, this documentary, by Abdul's favourite documentist, David Attenborough, was shot in the forests we went hiking in. Actually watch the video… it is amazing. We climbed the Kokoda trail, which is meant to show the treacherous conditions that Australian soldiers dealt with when fighting the Japanese. Powering through the famouse Eastern lyre bird trail and Sherbrook Falls trail, we were bush-walking fiends! I only made the car start smoking once. Note to self: learn what is under the hood of a car when I get back to America.

(Some Australians gave me some birdseed to attract the huge cockatoos. They also asked me when I was going back to America before I even told them where I was from! How did they know?!?!? [Eastern Lyre Bird Trail, Dandenong Ranges])

(Ok, I'm not kidding. Watch the video. It was filmed in the Dandenong Ranges! This is also Abdul's favourite documentist.)

Don't worry, I'm not only hanging out with Americans. Abdul invited me to play "futsal" on Tuesday since our campus sport season is over. It is like soccer except:
- the goalie acts like a kamakazi and comes out on the field all the time.
- after a goal, the defending team stands on a line and the other team kicks it right at them, like a shot on goal, but it always hits the human wall. I did plenty of ball-protecting.
- there are only 5 on the field.
- it is played on a basketball court.
- it hits the ceiling.
Not to blow my own trumpet, but I scored 4 goals and we won 7 to 3. The other goalie came up to us afterwards and "reckons" our team can win "the whole thing". Australians do a lot of reckoning.

Abdul and I also went to the zoo and we saw some animals there. It makes me sad that I will be leaving soon. With that in mind, we planned a last hurrah for the couple of days after finals. We plan to go to Swan Hill, his hometown for a little taste of the outback. Then possibly a roadtrip down to the coast so I can teach him to surf and he can show me where he went to high school (right near Sydney). Hopefully it all works out for the best. Besides, I have to enjoy myself before I cone back to America and catch Swine Flu.

(These are echidnas, my favourite Australian animal. They are monotremes, meaning they lay eggs and have reptilian-like limbs. They 'breast feed' despite the fact that they have no nipples. Their penises have four heads and they are known for their "mating trains" where multiple males, sorted according to size, follow (in a line) and attempt to copulate with a female. [Royal Melbourne Zoo, Melbourne])

I booked my tickets to Tasmania for the end of November. They were only $28! My goal: capture a Tasmanian Devil and bring it back to Kimmy.

Until then,

Mikey Doo

("Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree, merry merry king of the bush is he..." wait, they are sitting on fence posts and they aren't singing; they are waiting to steal our food. [Eastern Lyre Bird Trail, Dandenong Ranges])

(Chilling on a lookout tower. The sea behind is where a former Melbourne Mayor went missing during an afternoon swim. His famous last words: "I know these seas like the back of my hand." [Fort Nepea, Mornington Peninsula])

(This is now Mike's seat. The hikes here were short and there was a chair lift that will soon make them even shorter. [Arthur's Seat, Mornington Peninsula])

(Auntie Amy, I found out about the Dandenongs from your friends list. Thanks! The thing I liked the most about the Dandenongs were the many different kinds of trees. Ferns and eucalyptus were abundant and everything was flowering. [Eastern Lyre Bird Trail, Dandenong Ranges])

Sunday, October 11, 2009

B15: Surfing the Great Ocean Road

(Jumping off the rocks in Lorne sucks! The surf was large, weak, and incredibly fun. This is where we entered the water. [Lorne, The Great Ocean Road])


This weekend I went down the Great Ocean Road again to our surf camp. On the way down we hitched a ride with an Aussie economics major who is applying to study abroad in Santa Barbara. He was pretty stoked that we wer from California and we talked about everything random, like cars, or the American Civil War, or the Chinese language, or surfing reefs, or Michele Obama, or Aboriginals. We also talked about our hopes for a good swell and warm waters.

After going too far and ending up at Kennet River (where all the koalas are) we finally ended up Wye River. We stayed in another clubhouse, the Wye River Lifesaving Club. It was very homie. It is interesting how there are all these little hostel-type clubhouses on the coast with places to board and cook in the kitchen. It reminds me of ski resorts that board their employees during ski season. I wonder why America doesn't have these little lifesaving clubs?

(The Wye River Life Saving Club. Looks small because it is. At least this time there weren't 90 people with 60 beds... There as also a koala in the tree to left, it isn't pictured here. [Wye River, The Great Ocean Road])

Friday night we surfed Wye River (not actually a river, just a beach where the river feeds into the ocean). It was big and choppy and incredibly difficult to get out past the waves. The waves were inconsistent but still super fun to ride and I enjoyed them in between conversions wtih a guy from Chile who was "Chillen" out there. Saturday morning we surfed Wye River twice and it was more of the same: unpredictable, tiring, but fun. I ran into one of the Aussies from the last surf trip and she invited me out to Lorne to her favourite break. That afternoon, we (Chilean, Brazilian, Norwegian, Philipino, Aussies [two], and American [Brian]) packed up and drove down the windy road to Lorne.

(Wye River. There was a bird's nest and it actually swooped screeching. We had to put our hoods on and run away. [Wye River, The Great Ocean Road])

At Lorne I borrowed the Brazilian's board and we jumped off hte rocks into the blue waters. Ignoring the sheila's advice, I paddled to the left and soon found myself paddling on top of a rock literally. The middle of my board was sitting on top of a rock and I was paddling and not going anywhere. Other than that, I surfed great and the waves were pretty endless. We would catch waves and ride them all the way to the beach (about 150 metres away) and have to get out and run back up the rocks and jump back in. It was nice being able to surf a fiberglass board… the big foam ones are clunky and usually end up hitting me in the head.

The next day (Sunday) we went back to Lorne and I got to see the first big crowd of beachgoers in their bathing suits (bathers). We surfed the beach break which felt nice and safe. I watched the little Aussie children shred it up and they watched me do handstands on my board.

I also got to explore the tidepool at Wye River. My feet are taking a beating, but I feel that that is for the better in case I am in Irvine and ever need to walk home barefoot in the wee hours of the morning. Brian and I saw fishermen, salmon, starfish and crabs. We actually saw more dead wild life than living wild life! We saw a dead seagull, a dead crap, a dead fish, a dead jellyfish, and a dead penguin. The waters were clear as day and as warm as a bathtub.

(Spring time in Melbourne. Evidence of cauliflory is in the foreground. The leaves grow from the stem of the tree. [Carlton Gardens, Fitzroy])

(Blue waters and pointy rocks. [Wye River, The Great Ocean Road])

It's amazing how all the students I've met are so generous. They take me places, let me borrow their fiberglass boards, and are never too busy to give little tips that can make my life easier. It seems like all their experiences are so unique and so culture oriented. I have so much to learn. On the flip side, Aussies and international students like to drink, play games, and talk very loud. Sleeping is also something they don't like to do. Hence I didn't sleep much and am extremely tired. Next week I'm going to try and look into flights to Tasmania and my housemate and I are going to the zoo!

Until then,

Mikey Doo

(Wye River Beach. Pretty good swell. [Wye River, The Great Ocean Road])

(A starfish with 8 legs? [Wye River, The Great Ocean Road])

(Getting the feet wet. I had to run away because that wave soaked that rock. [Wye River, The Great Ocean Road])

(Rock fishing. He was going for salmon. [Wye River, The Great Ocean Road])