Australia Day Weekend 2016 in Berry, NSW

Just got back from a marvelous getaway south of Sydney, out in the countryside where instead of cars, trucks, and buses it was the sound of crickets and frogs at night!  This little town had a lot of charm and we had a great place to relax-just the two of us–and reconnect.  It was misty and cool there; lots of birds and wildlife (a wallabee, parrots, and even an echidna.)   Here is a slide show of photos that I snapped while we were there.  At times it reminded me a little of Pennsylavania, but the hills around Berry are much more intense than that, as I found out on a 4-hour bike ride!

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Reconnecting with Brooke

Nice to see our friend Brooke from Tennessee again tonight. Ziva was kept away from the gathering and was NOT pleased. So we let her back into the living room and she promptly inserted herself back into the group. Golden retrievers cannot be denied!

 

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Spring Cycle: 104 kms

Never before have I done something like this. 5+ hours of cycling, 64.6 miles!  And although many riders finished ahead of me, there were still a fair amount of riders behind me as well!    

 Wow, what an adventure!  To be honest, the real challenge was bike handling skills, not endurance. Multiple stops for red lights, traffic merges, narrow bridges with posts at entrances, trying not to hit other riders…that kind of stuff. I didn’t start feeling the fatigue until roughly 70km into the ride. Found some riders that were going my pace and shadowed them. Cloudy with some wind all morning, but I’d prefer that to hot sunshine so conditions were nice for this ride.  Stated 6:30, was done before noon.  But now I’m taking a few days off to give my body a little rest!

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One Year Ago Today

Yep, so sweet and innocent looking!  She’s a whole lot bigger now, one year after this photo was taken but now is unquestionably a member of The Smiths in Oz!

Ziva 17Sep2014

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Sue and Cindy in the House!

They’re here!  A little bit of Pennsylvania came home with me last night and Susan had a great dinner to welcome them  to Manly.

We had Brooke and Gus, and the Kilpatricks (Jode, Sharon, Maddie, Riley, and Ava).  What a Monday night!  This morning I’m playing tour guide, showing them the northern beaches area.  After a trip to Queensland, they’ll head back here and I’ll hop on the plane with them for the trip back to the USA!  Nice to have family with us again, if only for a day!

CJSS_in_Manley_17Aug15

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Welcoming Kaho to Australia!

In connection with Madelyne’s school, we are hosting an exchange student from the Tokyo area for the next two weeks.  Her name is Kaho (formally, Hirano Kaho) and she’ll be attending school at Stella Maris with several other exchange students that arrived at the same time.  Looks like we’ll be playing tour guide this weekend since she doesn’t really have a lot of time to spend in Australia.  She’s already seen the standard sights like the Opera House and Bridge; now where to take her next?  Well, as you can see below we started with frozen yogurt on the Manly Corso.  Maybe I’ll try to make some sushi this weekend….

She speaks some English, but it’s a little challenging at times to communicate.  Thankfully there are translator programs on our mobile phones (Google has a great one) that help us exchange questions or comments between each other.  It will be a challenging 2 weeks, but she seems very sweet and our pets are enamored with her!  The dog won’t leave her alone!

Next year, it’ll be Madelyne’s turn to travel to Japan to do this same thing in that country!

Mads and Kaho 29Jul2015

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At Ayers Rock

It’s the first bit of vacation I’ve had all year, and we’re ticking off a Bucket List item by spending a few days at Ayers Rock. This is the deepest into Australia we’ve ever gone; into the Northern Territories where oddly the time difference is 30 minutes, not an hour!  We’re several kilometers from Uluru but tomorrow we get a big dose of The Rock, both at 6AM for “Desert Awakenings” and then in the evening for the Sounds of Silence dining experience with Uluru in the distance. Check out how RED the soil is here!  The trees, shrubs, and other types of plant life are very different from New South Wales, obviously!    

 

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Sydney Vivid is Back!

Yep, once again as winter time approaches for us down under, Sydney comes alive at night for a brief period.  Beautiful lighted sculptures, and wonderful patterns of light are projected on buildings in parts of the business district downtown.  I have posted a few here from last night, but my video will require a tripod so perhaps I’ll get more done later.  It’s certainly a great way to deal with the early darkness down here!

Vivid 26May2015v4 Vivid 26May2015v3 Vivid 26May2015v2 Vivid 26May2015v1

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Sunset on the Lagoon

A few minutes before 5:00 PM on a Sunday.  Finishing up a peaceful ride along Manly Beach and around town. Our place is just to the right in this picture.  Although we had super sunrises when we lived along the beach, every now and then we get pretty nice sunsets in the current location!

ManlyLagoon 17May2015

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Concerns For Our Safety in Times of Emergencies

If you read the comments to Warren’s amazing post of the Sydney Storm of the Decade also known as Stormageddon, you will know there is concern for our safety in these times of emergencies. In response to this, I would like to share the amazing work of the Australian government in such situations.

Unlike the United States, Australia has a system for dangerous weather and other emergencies. Every state has a State Emergency Service (SES) made up mainly of volunteers numbering in the ten thousands. When there is an emergency, ONE of the many services offered by the local SES is emergency alerts. The SES issues warnings to landline and mobile telephones linked to the addresses (properties and houses) within a geographical area affected by an emergency. Warnings are also sent to mobile telephones based on the last known location of the handset at the time of an emergency. All three of our mobile phones received the following text:

Tuesday 8:38pm: SES FLOOD EVACUATION WARNING. Residents adjacent to Manly Lagoon. Evacuation may be possible. Prepare now. Listen to the radio. www.ses.nsw.gov.au Tel 132500

The SES then went door to door of every home in the evacuation area and spoke to the occupants. We were one of those homes. The SES recorded our current details, they wanted an address and phone number of where we would go if the evacuation became mandatory (also leaving current information on the closest evacuation centre) and asked for our permission to give out details should someone call them looking for us…i.e. like YOU, Papa! (New South Wales State Emergency Service may be reached from outside the country at +61 2 6261 3305)

When the evacuation alert was lifted, all three of our phones received the following text:

NSW SES All clear for residents adjacent to Manly Lagoon. No further flood threat. www.ses.nsw.gov.au Tel 132500

So as you can see, Australia has an amazing emergency system in place. Granted if the emergency were a tsunami, the previous process would probably happen simultaneously and with more SES personnel going door to door. Mads is never far from her mobile therefore she would receive the immediate text of an impending tsunami. If she were at school, the school is equipped to handle any and all emergencies and has processes and procedures in place for such emergencies. In my case (and if Mads were with me) I would follow the directions given by the SES in the emergency text. Less than one block from our home is a hill with an elevation level of 40+ metres. I’m not saying that elevation solves the problem but it is a place to start. Warren will receive the same text plus he would probably be the safest as he works on high floors in the CBD’s tallest buildings. As far as getting home, the Sydney Harbour is not the ONLY way to get to the Northern Beaches. There are ways to go inland to the west, then go north and come back east to the Northern Beaches.

It is all doable and in the end, it WILL all work out.

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