Sunday, October 10, 2010
10/10/10.† That date only comes around once, you know, and today is the day.†† At this particular moment, it is 10/10/10 here in Australia (8 PM where I am) and also 10/10/10 in Seattle (2 AM there).† Mostly we are a day ahead here, but for 6 hours out of each 24, it is the same date in both places.
So, I was up at about 6 this morning, after another good nightís sleep.† I would really like to stay on a schedule of 10 PM bedtime and 6 AM get up time.† I will probably slip, but we will see.† Tomorrow I will need to be out in front of my motel at 7 AM, ready for a big day of birding with a local birder, so that will keep me on schedule.
This morning I did computer stuff, had my brekkie (ham and cheese sandwich, of course, with a mandarin orange), chatted with Christina, showered, packed up, and headed out to pick up my rental car.† I got the car just fine.† A Toyota Rav4, 6 cylinder automatic with cruise control and CD player.† It seems pretty good, although it is black, a color I donít like, because it gets so hot when the sun shines on it.† It will do, though.† At least it is all-wheel drive, for those unpaved road places I expect to be, and fairly high clearance.
I was able to walk to the car rental place, about ĺ of a mile from my hotel.† I had arranged to park in the hotel parking garage while I loaded the car for my departure.† It all went smoothly, but with a lot of traipsing up and down elevators.
So, I headed on out of Sydney.† As I think I had mentioned, the Harbour Bridge was closed, so it was a bit slow getting out of town to the north, as I had to do.† I had mapped out a route to my motel for tonight, but it involved two or three toll segments, and I found out that I couldnít pay cash for the toll segments.† You have to have a pass or pay online or some other way.† I didnít want to deal with that, so I got off the freeway at the first toll point, and made my way on the old highway north.† I ended up going a bit out of my way, because I had not mapped the non-toll option, but I got here, and didnít have to deal with the toll situation.
When I got here to my motel, it was only about 12:30 PM or so, but I thought I might as well see if I could check in early.† No such luck.† They had a hand-written sign on the door of the office that said they would be back at 3:30.† It is hard to imagine a motel in the US that would close the office in the middle of the day, but that is the Aussie way, I guess.
So, this morning I had sketched a map of local birding places, and I drove on out to Mitchell Park, a place I had visited in 2006 when I came through here.† Oh yes, I also got some lunch at the local McDonalds, which is only a couple of blocks down the road from my motel.
They wanted 7 bucks to use Mitchell Park, so I paid up and went on in.† I spent a very leisurely three or four hours there, looking for birds and walking around a little.† I ended up picking up 10 more species for my trip list today, most of them at Mitchell Park.† I got a few pictures, but some didnít come out, sorry to say.† I wonít put up a Photos, there just arenít enough to bother with yet.
When I left the park, I went on in to Windsor and found a supermarket.† I got some nice rolls, some sliced chicken breast (off a loaf of it), and some sliced ham. †I already had butter and cheese and some carrots and broccoli, so I was set for dinner and brekkie tomorrow.† My room has a little fridge with a tiny freezer, but no ice, of course.† I had put a baggie of ice in my little cooler I bought the other day, and I had enough ice left to take care of tonightís drinkies.† I will put my own ice tray into the freezer compartment for tomorrow night.† So far, I am winning the ice battle this year.
Oops.† Cancel that.† Maybe Iím not winning the battle at all.† I just looked through all my various bags and parcels, and I canít find my ice tray.† I must have left it in the Sydney hotel room!† How could I have done that?† First I lose my glasses, and now my ice tray?† Am I really that much over the hill?† Maybe the ice tray will show up, but I sure canít figure out where it could be.† I canít remember packing it in any particular bag, but how could I have overlooked it in the little kitchenette in my hotel room in Sydney?† I donít get it.† I must have left it in Sydney, although I canít imagine where I put it that I didnít see it as I was packing up.† I guess I will have to buy another one, if it doesnít turn up.
They charge for internet access at this motel, like most places over here do.† It seems ridiculously expensive, but it is important to me, so I guess I will just keep paying.† I paid for two days of access here, rather than buy a few hours and have to log off and on, conserving my time.† It cost about 25 bucks for the two days of unlimited access.† That seems expensive to me, but I paid, so maybe they know what they are doing.† In the US, motels adopted the free access business model, in order to compete, but there is much, much less competition in the motel business over here, so, I suppose that explains why they have adopted this business model of charging for access.
Incidentally, I can connect to AOL just fine here, so the problem I was having in Sydney must have been caused by the hotel network.† That is a big relief to me.† I would guess that my FTP program, for uploading pictures to my website, will work fine here, too.† That is the first time I have encountered a hotel network with that particular problem.† It must have been due to their firewall.
Today as I was driving around, I kept noticing how much more comfortable I feel over here than I did in Britain, and I tried to figure out why that was.† The roads are definitely wider here, with shoulders you can actually pull off onto.† The signage is immeasurably better, and it is much easier to keep from getting lost.† Things feel much more open and expansive, rather than cramped and restricted, like in Britain.† Those are some of the reasons, anyway.† The bottom line is that I feel much more comfortable driving over here, and that is nice.† I like Australia for more reasons than I can articulate, I think.
Tomorrow I am set up to go out birding with a great local birder who took me out in 2006 when I came through here.† We will be joined by a woman who is a relatively or completely inexperienced birder, as I guess I mentioned in the last Ramblings.† I need to be ready to go at 7 AM, but I should be able to handle that ok.† It ought to be a great day of birding.
Iím up to 61 species now on this trip, after adding 10 more today.† 2 of those are lifers, although I am still considering one of the lifers, the Beautiful Firetail.† I saw some Red-browed Finches today, and it seems possible that the one I called as a Beautiful Firetail was actually a Red-browed Finch.† I need to do a bit more research.
Today while I was driving around, I kept thinking how great it was to be here, and to be rambling around looking for birds.† I donít know why I like it so much over here, but it really feels good to be here again.† What a life!