Too Scary to Write

Right, so just as I think I'm getting the hang of this self-trust, deep introspection, write from the heart thing, Mary Jaksch (how do you even pronounce that?) throws a curveball.

Emerson says: “Always do what you are afraid to do.” What is ‘too scary’ to write about? Try doing it now.

Wow. I thought I had it figured. We'd get these prompts and I'd dutifully write out what came to mind after reading the Emerson quote and the prompt. I liked it. It got me thinking about things I don't normally think about. The quotes from Emerson are just plain dripping with inspiration that it's hard not to feel good about the future.But this. This thing that tells me I'm supposed to write about something that scares me, I'm not sure what I'm really supposed to do with it. I'll say I don't understand it. See, I'm totally procrastinating.I'm not sure if I was taught this way or it was just what I saw around me in the world but airing out that stuff that scares you wasn't something I did. I still try not to do it. I understand that it's good to get things off your chest, but any time something comes up, I veer away. I shove it off. I ignore it. I pack it away deep down inside and hope it never comes back up again.It always does.I'm learning that hiding what you're afraid of isn't the best way to accomplish what you want to do. If something scares you, you have to get it out of the way or it's going to turn into a scary beast lurking somewhere in your periphery all the time.Once you deal with something, it's not scary any more. Once you start taking steps to slay above-mentioned beast, things become manageable. Yes, running headlong into a dragon's lair with no training or weapons is scary. It's also dumb and not a smart way to do things. You want to be prepared. You want some armor and a nice sword and maybe a few days of training with the best sword-wielding dudes you can find. But preparation can also be spelled procrastination.The most poignant example of having to deal with something scary I can think of right now is actually a situation I put myself into. I even paid for it. And I was scared out of my mind.Travelling around New Zealand, I was on activity overload. There was so much to see and do. Having spent Australia counting my pennies, I could afford to let loose a bit. I was going to bungy jump or sky dive. I thought about doing both but, looking back, I spent a little more than I should have so I'm glad I didn't.Bungy jumping seemed easier than sky diving. Apparently it's not.I booked the jump at the end of my 3 days in Queenstown. I should have booked it on the first. I spent my 3 days in Queenstown worrying about what jumping 134 meters was going to be like. My time came. I laid out in the best swan dive of my life and plummeted towards the 6 inches of water at the bottom of the gorge. My eyes bulged out of my head as I thought I was going to die. Then it was over.And I was fine.The instant I realized I was totally fine I felt a huge rush of relief. I was stoked that had just jumped 134 meters for my first bungy jump but it was more than that. I realized I hadn't thought about anything past the jump for the last 3 days. Nothing. Natta. Zilch.I had also spent the last 3 days worrying about something that was absolutely incredible. Exhilarating down to the last meter of bungy cord. I couldn't think of anything else other than the big beast that was ahead of me. I was terrified of it. But it came and went. My eyeballs were still in their sockets and I still had all my limbs. Nothing happened. I even had a bit of fun.Every time I am scared of something and then I conquer it, I make a mental note about that triumph. The next time something scary pops up in my way I check back to all those times that I took my little steps and learned what I needed to know and beat those scary beasts into a pulp so I can get over what I'm afraid of. It's all about the baby steps and the little triumphs. It's all about remembering those things when the going is rough.Great things can be scary but they wouldn't be so great if any ol' person could do them, right?Comments: Tell me what you've done lately that was scary and how you got over it. Was it as hard as you thought it was going to be? 

4 months in Australia and New Zealand; A Year Later

I realized today that I never did a roundup post of all the posts while I was away in Australia and New Zealand last year. Looking back I wrote way more than I thought. Having nothing else to do in the hostels during the evenings gave me some  good time to write. I wish I had kept up that momentum when I got home. Having to hunt for a job to pay off the trip put a bit of a dent in the free time I had.So here's the coles notes version of my trip last year.Flew into Sydney. Met up with a friend there that I hadn't seen for a few years and got my bearings. It was nice to see a familiar face when so many things are changing at once.I bought a shitty old car and drove through Sydney to Goulbourn. It was crazy getting used to driving on the other side of the road. I was trying to do it in Sydney no less.After staying Goulbourn for a couple days I headed down to Canberra and took some crazy backroads out to Queanbeyan. Where I stayed with some family for a few days. I checked out the Australia War Museum and a few other things while I was there. They also took me down to Mount Kosciuszko, Australia's tallest mountain. It wasn't very hard to climb but was an excellent adventure. The area was beautiful.I had planned to go down to the coast, possibly to Melbourne, then turn around and drive all the way back up to Cairns. But my family there convinced me that driving over to Adelaide was well worth the trip and I could just come back across the middle and see a bit of the "outback". So I headed off down the coast.  I stayed in a few neat places and was just going to drive straight through Melbourne but ended up staying for a week.There was tons of stuff to do in Melbourne. There are lots of gardens there and an awesome bus system that goes around the center of town. There is even a free one. The Aussie Rules game was awesome. I still don't really get all the rules. The best part was a show on the docks with the Pyrophone Juggernaut.Sadly, it was time to get on my way and I hit the Great Ocean Road. Apollo Bay was beautiful but wet, the 12 Apostles were, uh, some big rocks and Port Fairy was a little creepy(but had a volcano!)I had no idea what to expect when I headed into the Grampians. After hiking to the Pinnacle, I decided it was one of my favorite places in Australia. The hostel there was owned by the guy who started the one in Apollo Bay and they bother were small, cozy and eco-friendly.I had had enough of the rain though so it was time to head North. I packed my bag and headed up to Adelaide to spend a couple days. After that I started to drive to Broken Hill and realized that Australia is a really big place. I basically cut across from Adelaide to Sydney and got about as close to the "outback" as I could without being screwed if my car broke down. I just tried not the think about that happening. After 2 incredibly long days of driving I made it to Dubbo. After searching around for a place to stay, I got a decent campsite and then hit up the Taronga Western Plains Zoo. I hadn't seen most of those animals in my life.Despite being much further North than I was a week before, it still wasn't sunny enough so onto the road again to Cairns. Diving on the barrier reef was incredible and I will definitely be back to do it. Re-energized and a little tanned, I headed down to the party town of Airlie Beach to do some sailing.I was not disappointed.And then Rockhampton was pretty boring.I had never heard of Hervey Bay but it was apparently the gateway to Fraser Island, the Island of Sand.After driving around the whole freakin town trying to find parking for the hostel I was going to stay at, I hung out in Brisbane for a few days with some hilarious Irish guys.Back down in Surfer's Paradise and Lennox Head, I stayed with some more friends and climbed Mount Warning. Damn that thing is steep.Port MacQuarie was a cool little place. I ran a lot here getting ready for the 14k race I was going to do in Sydney when I got back there. It was on the water and sunny so I was happy.I had been in Australia for 2 months by now and I was starting to think in Australian. Weird though....now was that an Australian or Canadian thought?Funny that I totally blanked about what I did in Newcastle. I guess it wasn't very exciting.I wish I had had more time in Katoomba but I was anxious to get back to Sydney to sell the car that was falling apart around me.The first place I stayed back in Sydney was in Bondi Beach in the same hostel we stayed at when I went down to play rugby in 2003.Before I left for Australia, I saw a rad video who was travelling around Asia taking pictures of himself almost every day. He put it into a timelapse which showed going from clean-shaven to a dirty traveller with a bushy beard and long hair. I thought it would be neat to try. I couldn't do it.Cutting 2 pounds of hair off left me way faster for the 14km City to Surf running race. It went from Hyde Park all the way out to Bondi Beach. with 70,000 people in it, it's the biggest time race in the world. I've never been with so many people.I didn't lose much and bought a couple things and did some thinking back on my last 3 months. I took a few photos along the way too.Whew. I didn't lose you there did I? Ok, that was 3 months in Australia. I had 1 month left and absolutely no plan for my time in New Zealand. All I knew was that I had to Zorb... and possibly bungy jump.... and maybe jet boat too.Short and sweet New Zealand trip.... and GO!I think there were a number of days around here that I was just generally picking my nose and not doing much. I can't remember why I didn't post. I took the Magic Bus south through the North Island, through Rotorua, and spent a day in Wellington. Then we needed to get ourselves to the South Island. We had the option to take the Interislander Ferry across Cook Straight or fly across. I wanted to see the area a bit differently and knew I'd be taking the ferry back on the way North so I took a little plane over. After being re-routed to a different airport on the South Island because of the wind, I finally made it to Picton.We didn't stay long in Picton and headed right away to Nelson where we spent a day in the Abel Tasman National Park. We took a water tax a few kilometers into the park then hiked back. Talking the bus driver on the way out he had mentioned a longer, but more interesting trail back that went up into the hills a bit more instead of along the water. "Much better views up there", he said. We took his advice and took the high trail. It's always interesting hiking with people you hardly know when you have no idea where you're going. It all ended up well.Along down the coast to Greymouth. Funny enough, it was a very grey little town that's only claim to fame was the Monteiths Brewery, which we got a tour of. Being incredibly hung over after only a couple hours of sleep is not a great way to spend a bus ride but we made it in one piece to Franz Josef ( and to keep all our food down...).I had heard that there were a couple of good glacier tours to do in New Zealand before I left on the trip but I didn't really think about it again until I was down there. An option on the Magic Bus tour was a tour of the glacier or a heli-hike. The heli-hike was the same amount of time as the regular one but quite a bit more expensive.  I'm so glad I bit the bullet and in no time we were up in a helicopter and then wandering around the glacier.I wasn't sure if anything was going to top the experience of walking around on a massive block of moving ice. I forgot about everything you could do in Queenstown, the adrenaline capital of New Zealand. We took a bus trip out to Milford Sound and I have to say that it is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. My photos could not do it justice. To top it all off, I flew back over the mountains into Queenstown. I was a little disappointed that there weren't enough people interested in the helicopter ride back to Queenstown. It was expensive but it would have been the most incredible way to see the area. They even stop on one of the glaciers one the way back.Not wanting to say I went to New Zealand and didn't snowboard, I booked some gear and headed off into the Remarkables. The snow was great but the visibility on the morning I went was atrocious. They had orange pegs in the snow so you could see where the hell you were going. I definitely bailed into a big icey hole on my first run that I couldn't even see.Then I did the must gut wrenching thing I've ever done in my life. For some reason I booked everything right when I got into Queenstown and figured it would be a good idea to go Bungy Jumping. It was an even better idea to book it on the last day I was there so I'd stew in my own nervousness for a few days before I actually got the chance to jump. If you decide to do it if you go, do it right away. I felt sick I was so nervous the days before. To top it all off, I didn't choose the first bungy in the world off a bridge, or the platform off the side of a mountain over Queenstown, but the third tallest bungy in the world, the Nevis.I surprised myself on the bungy though. Everyone there was scared to go, some more than other people. Some people were so scared they tried not to jump when they go to the edge but ended up falling anyways. I'm not sure if it was competition with the couple guys that jumped well before I went or the solid resolution not to look like the fool that pretty much just fell off, but as I got to the edge, all fear fell away and I managed to pull out a beautiful swan dive 134 meters above the canyon floor. I felt like I was going to die just before the bungy caught and then it was all over. I was alive and well and actually able to think about the rest of the trip for the first time in a few days.We headed out to the coast to Dunedin and ate too much chocolate at the Cadbury factory. Aside from running, there wasn't much to do in Kaikoura because of the weather. Then it was back to Picton and across Cook Straight into Wellington. I had heard Wellington was called the Windy City but I experienced first-hand myself when I went for a run along the sea wall.One of the most unique things you can do in New Zealand is called Zorbing. You basically get into a giant hamster ball and get rolled down a hill. It felt like being stuffed into a giant washing machine.At this point, it felt like the trip was almost over. We were heading back towards Auckland and although there was still another section to the trip, I couldn't help but feel sad about an incredible adventure coming to a close. I had made some amazing friends on the bus trip around New Zealand and now here was a good chance I'd never seen them again.The last section going North from Auckland was relaxing. After the whirlwind tour of the rest of New Zealand it was nice to slow down, relax and spend the remaining time with the people I had gotten to know well on the trip. There was one more crazy adventure in store though. We all piled onto a 4 wheel drive bus to go out to Cape Rienga and on the way back 4x4'd to 90 Mile beach and the huge sand dunes in the area. Once we got there, they pulled out some boards and told us to hike to the top and slide down. We all thought the driver was crazy, until he did it himself and made some of the fastest runs out of all of us!The bus ride back into Auckland was pretty horrible. I got sick with something that made any time away from the bathroom a scary thought.  I made the best of my last few days in Auckland, and then making sure I had all my gear and tickets, headed off to the airport.Returning from being in other countries for 4 months was a strange experience. Before getting home, I had this feeling that things would be so different. Everything would be upside down and in different places when I got there. Everyone would be different and I wouldn't be able to recognize anyone.What I found though that everything was exactly the same. Everyone was doing the same things. Everyone was thinking the same way. Everyone was watching the same TV shows. Nothing had really changed. Everyone's were almost exactly the same as I had left them 4 months earlier.You can get addicted to travelling. I can see why that is so after only doing one international trip. It's hard to make big changes in your life staying in the same place and being stuck in the same routine every day. Being in a different with different people and different languages and different cultures shakes things up. You can stay the same if you want but it's hard. Travelling changes you. It lets you start fresh. It lets you be whoever you want to be.It's almost time to travel again and I can't wait. I'm excited for the opportunity to see new places, meet new people and, most of all, the experience of starting fresh.

Most Popular Posts from 2009 on rcThink

Popular Posts

2009 was the first year I really started writing on this blog. I tried last year and got bored. My 4 month trip to Australia and New Zealand really got my excited to write and share my adventures with the rest of the world. Here are my most popular posts from this year!10. Coming Home From Australia and New ZealandI spent 4 months this year in Australia and New Zealand. It was the best thing I've ever done. Check out my thoughts on returning to Canada after spending some time down under.9. Winter Challenge RoundupI found the best way to get myself to do something was to make a challenge for it. If it was a contest of sorts with myself, I'd be more likely to stick with it and write about it. Here are my challenges for this winter.8. Powerful Beyond MeasureI credit @jonathanmead with this one. What an incredible message. If you want to get riled up for the wickedness that will be your 2010, watch this now.7. A Change In DirectionI had no idea what I was going to be writing about when I started the blog. At first it was going to be about everything I did but it quickly turned into a travel blog while I was away. After returning I wasn't sure what to write about since I wasn't travelling. I'm a bit addicted to trying new things, seeing what I can learn and how far I can push myself so this is what rcThink will be about. If you love these things too check this post out and let me know what you're into.6. My 30 Day Minimalism ChallengeI was moving out. I had loads of stuff. I didn't want to take it all. I couldn't take it all. I started a challenge for myself to get rid of all that I could.5. 1 Week Into My Minimalism ChallengeA status update on the minimalism challenge. I didn't exactly hit my goal of one thing every day for a month but I did get rid of whole lot of stuff. It did change my view on what I need and why I keep things around. I'll be doing another one of these early in the new year to shed unneeded junk and clear my mind to accomplish all the awesomeness I'm going to in 2010.4. The Most Beautiful Place I've Ever SeenOn my trip this year I spent a day in Milford Sound. It's pretty much the most beautiful place I've ever seen. I've never seen anything like it, almost prehistoric. The cliffs rose straight up to staggering heights out of the glassy water. The dolphins were following the boat as we cruised by. Waterfalls poured from the valleys into the fjord below. Definitely worth a read if you want to go (or go back) to New Zealand.3. Rcthink FaceliftI had a tough time choosing a theme for rcThink. I'd change it every once and a while trying to find a fit for myself and my content. I've been so happy with Headlines from Woothemes that it's on a few other blogs I write for as well. Quick advice: Find a good theme and stick to it. Do spend some time finding one you really like though.2. Digital Nomad Blog Carnival #5I got the change to host the 5th Digital Nomad Blog Carnival created by Cody at Thrilling Heroics . I had a fantastic time reading through and picking my favorite posts. I'll be doing this again soon!1. Creating the List LifeWith so many ideas for adventures running around in my head I had to write them down. The best of the best appears in this list. I hope you get some inspiration to get out and really experience life from it!

Plans for 2010

It's an incredible feeling to have a clear purpose for something. I feel like I know exactly where I want to go with this blog and I'm going to pour everything I've got into it and a couple other projects in 2010.In writing this I've tried to experiment and see what the whole blogging thing is about and I've done well on some things and sucked on other things. A few things I want to improve on next year:

1. Regular Posting Schedule

I didn't think this was going to be so hard but posting on a regular schedule ended up being near impossible for me. I'm going to experiment with schedules this year and, who knows, maybe I'll end up with a schedule of no schedule.

2. Wrap up Challenges

I started some posts, challenges and contests this year that petered out into nothing. I won't be doing this again. Everything will have a strong start and an even stronger finish.

3. Spend more time on Posts

I've never spent much time writing. In elementary school, I breezed through. In high school, it was an afterthought. In university, I always did it the night before it was due. Writing has become much more than an afterthought or lame assignment to me now and I'm going to spend much more time learning and perfecting my skills.

Gimme Your Comments

What was your favorite post you wrote this year? What are you going to do next year to improve? To make it your best yet?

Creating the Life List

Travelling on my own in Australia and New Zealand gave me a lot of time to think.What did I want to eat the next day? What did I want to do a week from now? What was everything going to be like when I got home? What was I going to do for work? What did I want to do with my life?Wait, back up a step. What was that last one? What did I want to do with my life.It hit me like a ton of bricks. I had been doing a lot of reading about people leading unconventional lives, coming up with crazy business ideas and travelling the world but I had never really sat down and actually thought about what I'm doing.It's all fine and dandy reading about these other people that are gallivanting around the world working with new-age business and partaking in amazing adventures. But I thought it would just stay as that; reading. Now I feel myself being pulled into the world of doing anything I want, anywhere in the world.All these people are living lives I've dreamed of living but always thought it would never come true. Everyone has to have dreams right? But they stay dreams.Or so I thought.With everything and anything now open to my excited mind, I immediately hit a  wall. How do I keep track of all this good stuff? Where do I track it all? How do I remember what I've done?Enter the Life List.The best thing I've seen on the Lifestyle Design blogs in all my perusing has to be the life list. There is no better thing to keep you excited about what you are doing and a way to gauge how well it's going. My problem is that there might just be a million things that I want to do in the next year, never mind over the course of my life-time so I have a very hard time narrowing it down to a simple, easy to read list.For inspiration I turned to a few of my favorite blogs to see what they've put on their lists.Sean at Location180 was the first Life List that I saw and I will never forget how excited I got reading all those things realizing I could do the same.JD at WageSlaveRebel also has an excellent Bucket List on the go as well with the added twist that we are going to do it with him.I just recently found Nate's To Do List from WhereIsNate. A solid list that I'd love to do myself, I especially liked #22: Take Trans-Siberian Railway from Moscow to Beijing.  That one found it's way on to my list after good conversation with a Finnish fellow in New Zealand.And without further adue, here is The List.

Coming Home From Australia and New Zealand

IMG_4698I've started this post on the eve before I fly home to Canada from New Zealand. I've spent three months in Australia and one in New Zealand and while I'm excited to head home to my car, my family and my bed, I'm sad this trip is coming to an end.Having only driven and flown to a few place in North America previous to this trip, I didn't have much experience in overseas extended travel. I was about as green as they come when I landed in Sydney four months ago. Scared, excited and completely unaware of all the intricacies of travel, it took a while to figure everything out and become comfortable with it. Luckily I had arranged to meet a friend in Sydney when I got there so I wasn't totally alone. After that I hadn't  planned anything.I'm normally someone who likes to have things planned. It makes everything smoother and puts my mind at ease when I know 3 days from now where I'll be and what I'm doing. I'm also very lazy. I don't like to plan much because it is work. It requires reading, emailing, money and time. After reading so much on ditching the guide books and just do what comes up, I decided to give it a shot. I was in Australia and New Zealand during the winter, or low season, and I wasn't too worried about booking.My last minute plans were only disrupted a few times. The vast majority of the time I rocked up to whatever town I could find along the way and went with whatever happened. I don't recommend this way if you are on a tight schedule or absolutely have to stay at a certain place or do a particular activity but for me it worked well.Instead of driving around New Zealand like I did Australia, I switched it up a bit. I booked the best "hop on, hop off" bus I could find in New Zealand, the Magic Bus. What resulted was a very different trip than in Australia but one that I'm very fond of. Thinking back now, I had a better time in New Zealand because of the adventures and people I met on the bus.Back at home, I still second guess myself on which way I should look when crossing traffic. I highly recommend driving when there are other people on the road so you can follow them.If anyone has any questions or comments about the trip, please let me know in the comments down below!

The 39th Annual City 2 Surf

IMG_3161Looking through some of the interesting things to do in Sydney on the web last week, something caught my eye. A running race. Here in Sydney. August 9th. 70,000 people. Wow.When I was planning the trip, I had done a quick look through some of the races that are in Australia to see if I was going to be able to attend but didn't see much. I'm not sure how I missed this one. It's only the biggest road race in the world.The City 2 Surf starts at Hyde Park in Sydney CBD and winds it's way through 14km of streets to end at one of Australia's most famous sandy playgrounds, Bondi Beach. Many times it's been ranked as the worlds biggest race and this year is no exception. With 75,000 registered participants it makes the Boston and New York Marathons look tiny. While the runners here aren't quite the same international calibre as some other races, people jet from all over the world to join in.I have been running a fair amount lately to be somewhat prepared for the Royal Victoria Half Marathon in October but I know I will be no where near the finish line when the first few cross. Aside from not being able to do 14km in 40 minutes, I will be starting in the Back of the Pack group due to my late registration.The event is timed using chips on everyones laces so it doesn't matter where you start, you will still get an accurate time of when you cross the start line till when you cross the finished line. Part of the reason I'm so excited about this race is the number of people that are running it and the start is going to be the most interesting.The first 20,000 bibs were reserved for those that had a time from the last 2 years. They will be starting at the beginning of the pack. The next 25,000 bibs were for whoever signed up first on the website. The last 30,000 people are lumped into one group and will start nearly 30 minutes after the first group goes. Each group has a particular area they start from so not to interfere with the other groups.So far all the races I've participated in have had around 100-200 people in them. This is going to be a little bit different. I've heard the ground shakes when the race starts. Talk about an adrenaline rush!Wish me luck![gmap]

Bondi Beach

IMG_2900I'm back in Sydney and have almost completed my great loop of eastern Australia. It's been a fantastic trip so far and I'm looking forward to the rest of it. I haven't quite gone all the way around seeing as I'm just outside of Central Sydney at Bondi Beach. I'm curious to get back to Manly and downtown Sydney to see what it's like. I've been to a couple places on the trip more than once but this will be the longest time in between visits for any of those places. I spent the first week of my trip in a backpackers in Manly and while I'm definitely not going back to that hostel, I'd like to visit Manly and see how it feels to come back to something familiar.Already I've hit the oceanside paths for a good run in the breeze. The first point I came to heaps of people were snapping off shots of something in the water. Curious, I thought, there's nothing there. Just then 2 whales breached right in the bay. They aren't the first whales I've seen on the trip but definitely the closest. They came to the surface 2 more times before dropping out of sight.After only climbing up and down a million stairs the day before I figured I'd be in fine form for a good long run. I managed 11k before the lead weights at the end of my legs slowed to a crawl and I knew it was time to call it quits for the day.Enjoying a relaxing day near the beach was in order for the next day, perusing through a New Zealand guide book picked up at the hostel book exchange. Note for traveller's frequenting hostels, check out the book exchanges for guide books and interesting things to read. A lot of the time it's some German romantic novels but you might get lucky.The next day I headed out for another run aiming only to do small trip around the close headlands. Apparently small now means 20k. I made it all the way out to South Head and could see North Head and right into Sydney. It was fun to see North Head from the other side. When I first got the car back in May, North Head was the first place I went to get a good view of the city. It was windy as all hell that day for the walk around the cliffs. The weather was a little nicer this time.[gmap]

Katoomba in the Blue Mountains

IMG_2786It was freezing in the mountains. The sun was still shining when I rolled in but it sure wasn't that warm. I quickly got out the pants and jacket and made the most of the heat from the sun. I strolled around town, taking a look into some of the shops and grabbing some groceries and then it was back to the hostel to shave. I had yet this trip and my beard was getting to be a fair length, the longest I've ever had it. I originally had a goal of letting it go all trip just to see how long it would get but it was more annoying that I thought so the time has come. I'll post photos soon.Outside later my face felt cold, I had gotten used to an extra layer of warmth. It would be nice to have it gone for running though, it was just too warm most of the time. Later I checked out the Edge film at the theatre there. This particular video plays on an oversized cinema a few times a day. It's not quite Imax sized but it's considerably larger than a regular movie screen. The movie was about the Blue Moutains, everything you can do in and on them, and how unique they are. It starts with the recent discovery of a type of tree deep in the mountains that has survived since the age of dinosaurs and is found no where else on the planet. The theme and feel of the movie definitely tugged on a thread that made me want to protect places like these for our children to see. Most of them are dissappearing all too quickly.I came to Katoomba to see these Blue Mountains so the second day I was there I headed out to Echo Point. You could be in Katoomba for days and not know that it hangs on the edge of a cliff that drops into the valleys of the Blue Mountains and offers stunning views off the cliffs and mountains on the opposite side. Due to my lack of time here, I elected to just do one of the basic trails that starts at Echo Point, follows the cliffs over to Katoomba Falls and then descends trail and stair to the valley floor then across towards the Three Sisters. The trail and waterfalls were incredible and I was off in my own little world until I hit the Giant Stairway.IMG_2833It was over 300m up to the pathways along the top of the cliffs and I was at the bottom. Thankfully someone decided to put a huge set of more than 800 stairs straight up the cliff so I could get to where I wanted to go. Bless their heart. Mine sure felt like it was going to explode on the way up. As usual, I was trying to keep up the pace all the way up the metal and stone stairs that was more like a ladder in some places. Most people I passed were going down and while they were having a great time commenting on how steep it was, I could only grunt in response and try to smear the stinging sweat somewhere other than my eyes. I survived the great climb and took in the awesome sight of the Three Sisters at the top.[gmap]

Newcastle

IMG_2727Newcastle was much like Port Macquarie in that I didn't spend much time there but had a fantastic run. The drive wasn't long to get here so I had most of the day to wander and see what the place was like. The hostel was fantastic. A restored heritage building, it had high ceilings, big open fireplaces and lots of plush leather furniture. Although the fireplaces were gas it gave a nice cozy feel. The rooms were spacious and ours had an opening onto a deck with a fabulous view into the other side of the building through the courtyard. The only strange thing was the kitchen in the basement had an underground feel to it.After a little orientation and parking the car where it wouldn't get towed, I got out the running gear and hit the pavement. I'm not a huge fan of running around in cities but sometimes a few blocks are required to get to the pretty spots. At last I hit the seawall and cruised along to the point of the harbour in front of Fort Scratchley. I continued around the coast to the ocean baths and another old war bunker. In that same park I could help but laugh at the kids as they tumbled down the hill when their cardboard sleds stopped dead in it's tracks.The day was warm and being the genius I am was around running during the hottest time. There were a few fountains along the paths I found but not nearly enough. By the time I got back to the hostel I could drink a lake but could only find the smallest cup in existence. I threw back numerous glasses of that so I could breathe properly and hit the showers.Not really wanting to cook and curious about the local bars, I signed up for a free sausage dinner through the hostel. Free doesn't get you much these days. We had to play Bingo for a bit before we got into our 5 course meal of sausages and pieces of white bread. I won an hour of free internet! Everyone did though.[gmap]

Thinking in Australian

IMG_3090On arriving in Australia, you are at once assaulted with a variety of new accents, languages and slang terms. While you won't catch me trying to sound Irish or German and I have no idea what those Norwegian people just said, I can help you a bit with some of the terms Australians tend to use.There are a huge amount and these are just the ones that come to mind right now. There are a couple rules of thumb. If you can make it shorter do it. Sometimes that requires putting a y or an o at the end, eg Brissy for Brisbane or Robbo for Rob. And second, trying to say a place name without vowels will get you pretty far.Petrol is gas to us North Americans. Gas to them is LPG which is propane for cars.Arvo means afternoon.G'day... I think this one is pretty self explanatory. It gets used a lot. "How you going" is often used instead. There really is no response expected with this one. It basically means "Hi".Toilets are obviously restrooms or washrooms. They are quite interchangeable but in some towns they will look at you funny if you say washrooms. I'm not sure if this look means they don't like you because you are trying to be snotty or they just don't understand. Someone told me the other day that Canadians say washroom and Americans say restroom. Can anyone else attest to this?Stingers are jellyfish that can usually kill you. Pay attention if you hear this word and are near the water.Jumpers are hoodies or sweatshirts. Sounds like jumpa when said with an Australian accent.A ute is a small car-like utility vehicle. They have the back of a truck but are small and low. They always remind me of El Camino's except normal people drive them.Short Black, Long Black, Flat White = Coffee. A flat white is made with steamed milk and I'm still not sure what the difference between a short black and a long black is.Mackers is McDonalds. A hangout of mine lately because of the free wireless. The coffee and muffins aren't bad either. I have to make sure I eat before I go now so I don't buy any more greasy food. It's still hard to resist the fries flowing out of the box in the poster. Anyone heard Dane Cook?Servo is a gas station. Most of them have restaurants or cafe's attached to them. Sometimes a garage or some sort of mechanics station is there as well.Bogan. A very slang term for the, err, unfavorable types that tend to drive around done up cars with huge rims and massive stereo systems. You can usually spot them wearing wife-beaters.Heaps means lots.Hook turn. This really only happens in Melbourne. It's where the drivers that want to make a right turn(from driving on the left) will pull over to the left side of the road and then cross and turn when all the traffic has gone through. Make sure the intersection doesn't have a turn lane first since you'll need to use that if there is one.I'll add to this list as I hear more. Anyone who knows any more please add them to the comments!

Port Macquarie

I wasn't in Port Macquarie for long but I had a good time there, mainly because of the run I did soon after I rolled in. I always like to see what's around the corner on a run, walk or hike and being in a brand new city makes it even more interesting. I headed down to the beach aiming to do an 8 or 10k run but there were just so many interesting corners and little paths to take. I landed back at the hostel after pounding the pavement for 16 kilometers and spent the rest of the evening reading and recovering. Although interrupted by the odd strange comment from an annoying Aussie fellow, the night was relaxing and uneventful.The morning I left I overheard the Aussie guy commenting on how loud one of the girls snored. I couldn't believe he said that straight to her face and expected some sort of decent conversation to follow. She just gave him a withering glare and left the room. The owner of the hostel explained to me afterwards that there had been trouble with the guy at another hostel and she put me into his room to make sure nothing went wrong. Thanks for letting me know.