flying Virgin Australia

Oh joy, while a partner to United, and Air Canada – they are not a partner to the European members of Star Alliance (read Lufthansa which has been my frequent flyer affliction for decades). Especially since flying cattle car, I really don’t like losing any miles….

[Detour here – all countries but three have adopted the metric system. Turkish Airways is still Miles & Smiles, Lufthansa is still Miles & More…. Most of the other countries just call them frequent flyer programs under various names….  A number of otherwise purely metric countries still use air miles when discussing carbon offset]

The Gold Coast airport – OOL which I think might just be derived from Coolangatta – is most definitely a regional airport. It is a long, flat building with two wings spreading out from the mandatory central food and shop area. The waiting areas are rather confusing due to the design – rather than check-in podiums inside the terminal area – there is an outer glassed in area which is sectioned off. When it was opened at “boarding time” there were the usual poles and ropes to provide orderly lines of people. Two lanes – priority and the rest of us. And then we stood, and stood and hung out some more just because. The plane are on the tarmac, the boarding ramps are portable structures which means that there are challenges in getting non-ambulatory passengers on & off the plane.

Also of note, in spite all of VA’s warnings about 7kg limit for carryon luggage – there was the full complement of roller bags, backpacks, shopping bags etc.  The flight was a bit on the rough side. There were maybe about five of us on this full flight wearing masks.

Arriving in Adelaide – if you disembarked from the front of the plane – it was out through a jet way and through the terminal followed by the usual escalator to the lower level and baggage claim. If you were in the back and chose to escape early, it was down a set of outside portable stairs, across the tarmac and directly into the terminal near baggage claim.

The final challenge of the day wasn’t reclaiming luggage – it was trying to make contact with Helen who was picking me up. She has an android phone; mine is an iPhone. There is free wifi in the terminal but SMS don’t go over wifi. Email is effective only if read. Solution? iMessage Jill who could get an SMS to Helen. She, of course was stuck somewhere back in the approach line…..  Meet a terminal while has a combined pick-up/drop off area which includes ride share…. Did I mention that this is Adelaide? Population 1.3M plus with a significant use of Uber?  Chaos – complete chaos in an area that might be considered three lanes wide in a squeak.

We managed to connect and the rest of the day (what was left of if) was wonderful.

 

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Packing up

While US residents are indulging in overeating turkey with various trimmings, I was enjoying the views of the Pacific Ocean (yes, to the East) and avoiding the contents of my suitcase, the bed, the floor…. oh yes, and the need to accomplish some laundry.

But, by the time all was said and done, I was checked in for my flight tomorrow, the suitcase was packed, backpack organized and the duffle repacked. That duffle had been just about empty before a “few bags” courtesy of Royal had been added Since these are the really sturdy nylon bags with reinforced bottoms and rope handles, I am loath to ignore them. They make such wonderful shopping bags etc. And gifts, let us not forget that sharing is caring while lightening my load.

I am otherwise being a responsible stitcher and just working along the frame on the WitchyStitcher Supernatural SAL. Since the Ghost has been completed, I really have no excuse. I would like to see how many finishes I can have before I get home…

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a drive back

We checked out early with a plan. First, the bakery around the corner for coffee and pastries. I managed the pastries – but their coffee machine went out yesterday afternoon and was out for service. But the Retro Expresso was open for walk up right along the main road. Caffeine problem solved.

A stop at the information center netted post cards and a fridge magnet or two. And then we headed back to Labrador. None of us have any clue as to WHY the GPS decided to route us along a number of the QLD major roads rather than the M1. The M1 is smooth, it is the Australian equivalent of an autobahn, autostrata, interstate, or motorway (pick your country…), that state road was not. Reading was out, stitching was out. But the view from the backstreet was lovely for all the trees as we through forests and national parks. 

Upon returning to Labrador – it most definitely was nap time….

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Two Museums

There were two museums left on my list that I really wanted to see: The Whistle Stop (Train Museum) and the Military & Colonial Heritage Museum. So after stopping at the bakery just around the corner – excellent coffee and buns – the three of us headed into Maryborough at a reasonable time of the morning.

Now, I don’t know if any of you are interested in model trains, the history of the railroad (pick your country or another), or transportation in general. There are train enthusiasts, automobile enthusiasts, and aviation enthusiasts, Maryborough has two important historical bits – The Walker Company (now a different company) built railroad cars and engines here – and there was. lovely station right downtown. 

[side bar – that station is still there, the train is not. the closest the passenger line comes is on the outskirts, but there is a courtesy bus that runs from the old station – leaving from Bay 4 – to get passenger to the new station. Less expensive that redoing the spur?]

Now there is an active group of volunteers who run and staff the Whistle Stop and the associated Mary Ann steam train. The hours are a bit limited so it was our first stop this morning.  The place was crammed from floor to ceiling with this & that from the local railings. There was everything from staff uniforms to signage to engine books. to heavy sections of tie. The visit cost a whole whopping $2au. Yes that is correct. One of the volunteers spent significant time with us, both describing the various bit & bogs and provided a tour of the station master’s office as well. They still have the original station clock, the teletype machine, the switchboard……

there is a model (close to G gauge) of the trains the local company made for the last Olympics here. Pictures of trains made for other countries. And we were treated to a description of that companies new expansion a bit further from town that will take their number of employees from 400 to almost a thousand. 

there was the obligate model set up – donated by a community member after her husband died. It was pretty English in character and set up.

We have an invitation to stop back in the morning when a couple of the volunteers will be opening a back shed or two and working on both the Mary Ann and Engine #299.

From there it was on to the Maryborough Military and Colonial Museum – the Wiki article is here and their website. This area of Queensland has disproportionately contributed military service members over the decades. Unlike many military museums – this one is not focused on weapons, machines, but rather on the soldiers.

The three floors are well laid out, organized and clear. It is all about the individual stories of those soldiers and sailors, expanding to include the airmen with the onset of aviation. I spent more than a couple of hours there just reading the stories, looking at the mementos contributed by family. The second floor has a section on Gallipoli. The Australian dead numbered almost 9000….  

After that – it was errands – and – oh – just about forgot!

the walk signs in town!

 

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Maryborough

It is not an unreasonable drive from Labrador to Maryborough. Not if you start early enough and have patience with the traffic as you by-pass Brisbane. Any other route would involve at least double the time and a lot of backroads.  I would have also missed all the interesting murals along the route including people, Australian animals, botany and ocean creatures galore. Of course, sitting in the backseat on the left side, I was free to observe as much as I wanted.

We arrived on the outskirts of Maryborough shortly before noon.  The wiki article is the usual dry facts. This advert type article promoting tourism. A google search will net you more. The local population is about 25k with all the positives and negatives that can bring. If you have never lived in a small town, you won’t have a clue as to what I mean. For those who have – well, you understand completely. 

Jill & Graeme have long standing friends here. But I am the one who really wanted to head up here at this point. There was a wonderful woman I met 11 Nov 2013 in Esperance, Western Australia at the Remembrance Day Memorial Service. She was in town for a while due to family matters and offered to show me the local museum. We have stayed in intermittent email contact since. 

Glenda picked me up at where we are staying and we headed into town. Maryborough is located near Wide Bay on the banks of the Mary River. A particularly slow flowing tidal river, the town has been repeatedly subject to flooding. The most recent in this past fall following major flooding the previous year unto the banks of City Hall. Google Maryborough 2022 flood for incredible pictures (more so I am sure if you didn’t live there).

The town’s famous people include Helen Lyndon Goff (you probably know here as P.L. Travers). So a visit to the Story Bank was obviously in order. It is her original home as well as one of four major banks at that time. 

The museum is primarily set up for children, both to explore and to learn the art of story telling. As I understand it, the downstairs was the bank, the upstairs the living quarters of the banker and his family. But there was a desk 

which is placed in front of a cabinet of Curiosities. I want the desk. It has cubbies, wings, draws, a writing surface. Do I need a desk? Not really, but this one is worthy of avarice. Upstairs, among other things was a measure stick obviously designed for children, except for where I measure in

We walked the Anzac Memorial which plainly and brutally tells the story of the Gallipoli invasion attempt and then follows with the land war in Europe where ANZAC troops served. 

Then, although this was more the start of the afternoon than the finish – I will leave you with the Cistern Chapel (rest rooms behind city hall) which are guarded by volunteers and not actually in use.

The Mens – (and I skipped the tired king on his throne)

the Parent Room (where I found the bird song too shrill & too loud)

and the Women’s 

We also made a quick stop at the Peace Poles – which were dedicated just this September, and the Brolga Theater. Stopping by friends of hers after the theater stop, I was treated to meeting Lola (a tired but happy black&white Shepard who had apparently spent a goodly part of the afternoon at a local airfield. And disappointedly, she didn’t manage to catch a plane. She lives at what it locally referred to as Rapunzel’s Tower – a 130+ year old house with an upper balcony, extensive gardens, and amazing rooms. 

Not surprisingly – I was wiped by the end of the day.

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Sailing back to Brisbane – 1

As you might expect – other than stitching this was a quiet day on ship.

So I will just leave you with a picture of a lovey caprese salad

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Hobart

We had most of today in Hobart. It was raining and frankly I was still tired from the previous evenings outing. Since the ship was leaving mid-afternoon or so, I elected not to try and catch a bus anywhere. Did I mention it was raining?

Anyway – I elected to relax and stitch…

Oh yes, and have a delightful salad at lunch time.

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Tasmania 2/2 – Bonorong

Don’t fall over from amazement or anything – but I actually took a ship’s tour this evening (yes it is still Monday) to the Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary. They care for, treat, and whenever possible, return species to their native environment.

The distance from Hobart was too far and it is normally not open in the evenings which sounded like a great idea as many of the native wild life are nocturnal. Let me just introduce to – Kangaroos –

Various Birds –

Plus Fred – who will outlive everyone there…

there are lizards –

and echidnas

and of course, Tasmanian devils –

IMG_0311

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Maritime Musem – Tasmania 1 of 2

We sailed in early this morning and docked at Sullivan’s Landing promptly on time. I spent a few hours just walking around Hobart. I discovered some trivial things here – Woolworths still exists – as a downstairs supermarket. I bought chocolate bars….

Of note, like most harbor towns, there is a fair bit of up and down. The streets are all carrying classic UK names (some English, a fair number Scottish) and I see no evidence of renaming. 

If you are ever coming here – it is worth noting that if you want to tour the Synagogue – it has to be arranged ahead of time.   (the link will take you to their loading page). The history of the building is actually what you would expect given the attitude of that time and governance. Like many historical records – I don’t think ignoring or coloring it over does any of us any good.

Since I wasn’t exactly organized (or did any research ahead of time)… I moved on to the Tasmania Maritime Museum – which is located closer to the harbor. It is a two story building which provides both an incredible old detailed hardwood stair case as well as a lift for those who might not be as mobile. 

I spent more than an hour looking at the exhibits which detailed exploration, had some fascinating maps, and a replicated captain’s cabin from an Australian Navy Vessel decommissioned in 1994. Amazing amount of space considering all…

Only other thing of note in the morning – there was a bit of damp and the occasional mist/rain drop. All the locals were carrying umbrellas. Really? There wasn’t enough moisture in the air or coming down to make anyone from the US Pacific NW think it was anything other than a lovely day.  I decided to skip the Tasmanian Museum of Art & History.  I just wasn’t up for finding out how much of the ugliness of the colony and genocide was recorded.

Since my evening was spent out with wildlife – that is in a separate post.

 

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All those stairs

I have been trying to be responsible this cruise – that has meant stairs rather than elevators. Of course there is the added benefit (in this case) of the size of the ship – most of the time where I want to be, or what I want to do is at the other end of the ship.  The other passengers can’t avoid the distance, but it is rare than I see anyone else on the stairs. Now, if you are using a chair, walker, scooter, cane – I can completely understand that stairs are neither feasible or safe. Elevators (or Lifts for you Brits) are the only way to move between decks (floors…). But the younger people?  Hello? One floor up or down? Elevators? Seriously? Oh – there is a drink in your hand…

As this was a sea day which went from pleasant to fog, to storm complete with thunder and lightening, I headed back to my cabin early so that I would have enough light. Other than that? Not much happening today. Well, at least from my point of view. Tomorrow is Hobart, Tasmania…

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Man O’War Steps

Since Princess Cruise Line’s current plague ship – the Majestic Princess arrived today and was berthed at the Overseas Passenger Terminal, my ship moved to anchor within easy site, sound, and travel of Sydney. Very smartly, instead of fussing with tenders, they contracted with Captain Cook Cruises for the use of some boats of a style and build completely suited not only to the bay, but much better passenger support (latrines, real seats, an observation deck on at least one of the vessels. It made the loading, ride, and disembarkation run much more smoothly.

Initially, there had been talk of two drop off locations: one being the above named location to the non-Circular Quay side of the Opera House and the other around the far side of the Bridge. That second one made no sense. Yes, it is on The Rock, but nowhere near as accessible to the CBD (Central Business District) and would involve the water shuttle having to cross all of the ferry lanes. Not smart on a good day.

I drifted over early and wandered the city with the added benefit of little traffic and few pedestrians. Most locations don’t open till 1000 on Saturday. The Queen Victoria Building was open early and the first level coffee shops were doing a decent business. I hiked up a couple of stairs to be able to have some peace while waiting for my two target locations to open.

Then there is the clock –

 

Once I had made it through the book store and Morris & Sons I headed back to the ship. Both are located on York Street – the bookstore past the QVB and the yarn/needlework store a couple of blocks before – as counted from the OPT.

 

The jacaranda are in bloom.

 

(and thank you all for the reminder that Man O’ War is also a huge jelly fish. But anyway – here in the Wiki Link

 

 

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Remembrance Day

None of us remember WWI. In fact, most of those who served in WWII are gone. I am  of the Viet Nam & Cold War generation. Only one of my four is old enough to remember a divided Germany and the Berlin Wall.

Like many other remembrances, the US seems to have turned Armistice Day into an excuse for retail sales.  The name change to Veterans Day actually happened in 1954. I had thought it was much more recent.  It is one of the few US federal holidays with a fixed day (not floating) although there is a tendency to grant a floating day off. In the Commonwealth – it is Remembrance Day.

I had the privilege of spending the day with Val & Ian, two lovely cruisers I first met in 2013 on the Radiance of the Seas Circumnavigation. We connected again on at least one Transatlantic cruise and have stayed in touch by email.   They picked me up this morning and we drove south to the Royal National Park,

then to the Sea Cliff Bridge which we walked part way after stopping at this monument (not all aviation originated with the Wright Brothers….)

and along to shore to more lookouts…

 

It was a lovely day and I am hoping to be able to host them in the future.

My balcony faces the Sydney Opera House.  I was able to watch the concert, see the building lit with Poppies in remembrance

 

and watch the fireworks.

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Exploring the ship

I forgot to share the following with you: 

Yesterday I decided to adventure to Decks 15 & 16 having not bothered to go there while on the last two cruises. And yes, there are bumper cars –

Gaming stations with more of the animals peeking in the windows

over all I guess it might be fun for a minute or twelve. On the other end of the ship, there is an amazing fitness center. The outdoor running track circles just about the entire ship on Deck 15. According to the markers, it is over one kilometer long.

Ok – still haven’t bothered with any of the shops. Haven’t been in the theater or the bars or the casino…

Since I am at sea (literally as well as figuratively) it seemed like a good idea to listen to cruise ship mysteries. Since I am in Australia – I started with Kerry Greenwood’s Death by Water which is one of the Phryne Fisher novels

back to stitching. 

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Sailing from Brisbane

It isn’t hard to get from Labrador to Brisbane International Cruise Terminal. At least if you are staying with friends who are taking the same ship and own a car. We did the calculations. 3 Pax + some luggage to the train station, train which runs only to the Brisbane Airport then Uber or ship’s transfer to the ship and reverse. Or drive and park. The second option was significantly cheaper. Especially considering that there is NO public transport to the terminal.

So here we are sailing south – first to Sydney, then on to Hobart.

And as I was writing this, I looked out my balcony door and saw the sunset. Say WHAT? I am on the port side of the ship. For me to be able to see the sunset, it would mean we are sailing NORTH. (see post a couple of days ago about directions, confusion etc.)  Sydney and Tasmania are south…

Pulling up the screen map..

It turns out that I am not insane, we are sailing north to get to deeper waters to go south.  You can also see GoldCoast on the map (a suburb of which is where I have been for the last week or so).

I actually have made some plans for this cruise!  The first day we are in Sydney, we will be docked. The second day  there will be another ship in port so we move to anchor. I will get to spend the day with Australian friends whom I haven’t seen for years (thank grad school and the pandemic for that). I am really looking forward  to the opportunity to see a bit outside Sydney.  My plan for the second day will involve a tender and some wandering around.

Then it will be on to Hobart.  Right now my plans are to walk around Hobart the day we arrive then take a trip out to the wildlife sanctuary to meet Tasmanian devils and other native species. The following day it looks like a bus to Richmond to see a few sites and back to the ship before sailing.

Otherwise, stitch, sleep, eat, and start banking a few more hours of CME

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Clouds in the sky

which totally figures, doesn’t it? After all, how many opportunities do most of us have to observe a full lunar eclipse? Especially in the Southern Hemisphere at a reasonable time of day (like 18xx-23x) rather than 0 dark whatever?

So the moon came up. As did the clouds. Unlike the last time I watched an eclipse I don’t have a camera, tripod nor do I have a lot of patience…

So – the moon came up =

full and round in the sky

and reflecting over the water

and then …. dark and clouds

and after that? Nothing but clouds here…

 

and, since I looked it up – the last eclipse I observed was in Jan 2018 with the link to the post and the photos here...

 

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Not Elvis but

I left the building today!

(And if you aren’t old enough to follow that – it is perfectly fine…)

As I mentioned, this building is directly across the street from the Pacific Ocean. There is a park, sidewalk, stretch of beach – just what you would expect. The sidewalk has painted distance markers ever 50 meters just in case it is important to you to know where you are or how far you have gone. We entered at the 5000 meter mark heading north. And yes, I am sure of my direction!  

Walking for a bit, I detoured to check out the sand –

which is extremely fine to the point of powdery and white enough to blind you if the sun is at the perfect angle. There are boats in the water, some drifting at anchor with the tide.  On our return –

you can see the dozens upon dozens of high rises lining the coast (and yes, this is south of my current location. Mind you, this is not a city center, but some commercial, a lot of condos with holiday rentals mixed in. 

As Bruce reminded me (and I went and looked it up) geography is taught off Mercator projections of the earth.  These original flat maps hugely distorted areas at the extremes of the poles.  And then, as I was kindly provided – the map as currently relevant to me…

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Directionless

Or should I say clueless?

Let me start out with a statement of what should be obvious: I have lived in the Northern Hemisphere all of my life. Yes, I have been in Africa, South America, Australia, and New Zealand while traveling. But that is not the same as living there. Next – our current home (barring earthquake, hurricane, the Zombie Apocalypse, or the End of Days) will be the last place we live. Note – I tried saying that a number of ways and couldn’t get it to come out anything but morbid – but I think you know what I mean.

So, I live in the Berkeley Hill looking at the San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean. The sun rises in the east and sets in the west. Duh, you might all say. But  wait – the sun rises in the east over the mountains behind me and sets over the Pacific Ocean to the west. None of this is a problem to me, For that matter, if you live ocean front on the US East Coast, or on the European Coast line – none of this counts because you are looking at the Atlantic Ocean. Trust me on this. 

But I am now looking West and seeing the sun set over significant hills.

The sun rose this morning to the EAST over the Pacific Ocean.

 

See the problem? I am completely clueless.  At home, ocean to my left, mountains to my right? I am facing north. Here – ocean to my left, mountains to my right and I am facing south.   By the time I adjust, I will be heading west, away from Australia and the Pacific Ocean. 

Stitching is easier. 

Did I remember to include the Lego Surfer Dude?

He was in the lobby of SkyPoint. And yes, there really is a Surfers Paradise.

Stitching –

This week’s Supernatural SAL by the WitchyStitcher introduced the Unicorn which I think looks a little more like a Cindercorn but what do I know?

and then there is the Halloween Countdown which now needs the border completed + the 31st

Border stitching is almost mindless which makes for great cruise stitching. 

 

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Skypoint

According to their hype, this particular building at 331 meters tall is about the 77/8th tallest building in the world. Of course, there is a website. The three of us went there for breakfast and to give me a chance to admire the views. 

With the man made canals, the views of the ocean, beaches and some of the strangest buildings… really, this area reminds me of some of the other “next to the ocean” cities where there is a cluster of high rises facing the ocean overwhelming the view whereas you go back a few blocks and there are regular looking single family dwellings. Perhaps the idea of all the high rises bother me because I happen to live in earthquake country? Respect to all the engineers  – but really – would you want to be on the X floor when the big one hits? Never mind… It was a lovely morning complete with the breakfast buffet and the rest of the day I spent doing some of the essentials (laundry, sorting, some stitching).

And no, I am not going to return to climb The Point…

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Errands

I went out today. Doesn’t seem like much does it?

Prior to the pandemic, I went somewhere, did something every day. Whether it was to San Francisco to class, to Cal more of the same, visiting kids, running errands.

Then with the pandemic, going almost nowhere. And, for me, since I was not exactly living alone it wasn’t as much of a burden as it was for many other people.  When 2021 rolled around and vaccines became available, I started “working” in Alameda County’s clinics 1-3 days a week.

But perhaps all those days on deployment where I never went outside the wire, or all those sea days on ships left me well able to cope with “going nowhere” since I certainly wasn’t “doing nothing.”

So after arriving here in Labrador, I didn’t go outside the ship/oops building for a couple of days. But today it was a trip to New South Wales (less than an hour south) so that Jill could drop off three stitched pieces for framing, and Spotlight (kind of a combination of Bed/Bath&Beyond & JoAnns in the US) and Aldi (yes, Aldi is here too) where I bought chocolate.

And then it was back to the fine views looking east at the Pacific Ocean.

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One hassle fixed

First – yes, I did get the issues with USAA resolved. But it took turning on my phone, accepting the AT&T charge and having to spend time wading through the automated menus, speaking with a poor woman in Texas in the middle of her night shift, and explaining that the world doesn’t live on smartphones.  Frankly it feels like a decade or so ago when I made a trip to the US and needed to get to a hotel from the airport.

Anyone else old enough to remember those banks of hotel information right outside baggage claim with the ugly plastic handset attached? The one where you could make courtesy calls so that the hotel van would come and rescue you? That trip, those facilities were absent. A lovely person at the Information Desk let me use their phone to call after explaining that I had just arrived from overseas and didn’t have US dialing access on my phone.  Today – even if you can txt or call the hotel – they rarely have courtesy pick-ups. Uber & Lyft have taken that expense off their bottom line.

Never mind…. Since the card issues were resolved, I finished making my arrangements for the Adelaide->Lisbon leg of the trip in between spending time on the Halloween Countdown.

The end might just be in sight… or not. I certainly would like to have it done…

 

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