I'm sick of smokers

Roaming around in Sydney today I couldn't help but notice the multitudes of smokers everywhere. There was nowhere I could hide from the digusting smoke flowing from everyones mouths and nostrils. Normally I don't really care what smokers do to their own bodies. If they want to inhale all that horrible stuff, go for it. Unfortunately being in the city everything is close quarters and there's really no where to go when someone lights up in front of you.Other human addictions don't usually affect a great number of peole. Yes, every kind of addiction affects someone you know but smoking seems to affect so many more people. How many people breathe in the smoke someones exhaled on a busy street? A lot. They may not get much but it's certainly not clean air. Combined with the exhaust that fills the air in most cities, it's a disgusting mixture.Aside from gum, I think I see more cigarette butts lining city street than anything else.  Doesn't anyone think to use a garbage can? I'm sure some of them do but there are still a significant portion of the smoking population that think it is ok to through their butts on the ground, out the window or into the ditch. I see it the same as throwing a drink can on the ground. It's still littering!!

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]

Not a bush man any more!

So I started this trip with the intention of not shaving or cutting my hair before I got home. Well that's harder to do than I thought. I made it 2 and a half months and then I gave up.This is how long everything got just before it all got chopped!IMG_2888I forgot what it felt like to not have a beard.IMG_2892Holy smokes, there's actually a person under all that! The pic below is in the middle of my 20k run to South Head in Sydney from Bondi Beach.IMG_2969

Foto Friday! Sydney, Manly

I liked the name Foto Friday so we'll pretend this one was from Friday :) Every Friday I'll try and put up a bunch of photos from the latest leg of the trip.IMG_0025View from the side of the harbour next to Manly, near Sydney IMG_0079View from the trail up to North Head from Manly Beach. IMG_0096Gun post on the North Head trail.IMG_0086Fish and other items in and on the rock on the walk from Manly beach to Shelly Beach.

Countdown to Australia Trip: Flying into Sydney

A couple things that I've learned so far.Float planes are loud.Plane seats are uncomfortable.Having an empty seat in between you and the other person on the plane is really, really nice.I don't have as good of a sense of direction as I thought I did.Related to the above comment, GPS are nice.IMG_0032I've been in Sydney now for 2 days and it's been really nice. The weather today wasn't fantastic but yesterday was pure blue sky and nice and warm. The temperature drops down to pants and long sleeve weather during the evenings but is very nice. During the day it's still tshirt and short weather.  It'll get a bit colder going south from here and a bit warmer going north. There are a few things that I'm going to see south from here and then it's north into the warmth of Brisbane, Lennox and Cairns.I took the ferry right over to Manly almost right away yesterday and have been hanging out here since. It's a nice little beach "town" just outside of Sydney. I like the small town feel but there's still a fair amount of people and things to do. This next week will be resting up, buying a car and then heading down to Canberra!

Countdown to Australia Trip: 20 days to go

Panoramic view of the Sydney Opera House by Christian Mehlführer, http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Image:MC_Sydney_Opera_House.jpg, used under Creative Commons Attribution 2.5

Sydney

When you find a website or look at a book about Australia there is going to be a few things mentioned. The Great Barrier Reef, Uluru, and the Sydney Opera House.The Opera House is one of Australia's iconic symbols. Most people can tell you what and where it is without blinking an eye. I'll definitely be having a closeup look at this place while I'm down there. It is where I land and where I'll leave from.Their official website is http://www.sydneyoperahouse.com/ and has all the good information about shows to see and how to get a guided tour.The City of Sydney also has their own website with tons of information of things to do and how to get there, http://www.sydney.com/ . I'm particularly interested in the outdoor part of things, which they've got lots of destinations to choose from.

National Parks

Sydney and New South Wales ( the state Sydney is in) have numerous outdoor areas and national parks. Blue Mountains, Barrington Tops, Dorrigo and Mungo are just a few of the parks that have many trails open for guided or non-guided walks through them. The beautiful scenery makes getting outside high on the list of things to do for many travellers.

Mountains around Sydney

Mount Warning is very close to Australia's eastern most point, Cape Byron. Being a fair bit higher than the surrounding area makes it the first place in Australia to get hit by the sun each day. From what I've heard, the sunrise from the summit is quite spectacular.Mount Kosciuszko is Australia's tallest mountain. Relatively short compared to the tallest mountains on other continents, hikers can reach the summit in the summer in a couple hours from the trailhead. My trip takes me to this area around the middle of the Australian winter so it will be hard to tell if  trail runners alone will take me to the top. Summiting this peak is definitely on the list of things to do but might take more preparation and gear than I'll have with me.  Australia in the summer will be have to be added the adventure list!Lord Howe Island

Lord Howe Island

Lord Howe Island has to be one of the most picturesque places I have ever seen in photos. Some places look completely different in real life but I'd imagine this one looks exactly as amazing and beautiful in real life. The only issue with travelling there is that it's a little out of the way. It requires a plane ride from Sydney or New Zealand and is not exactly cheap.  Getting to the island is only half the battle. Because of the fragile ecosystem and the number of rare species of birds and plants on the island, camping is not permitted. Accomodations start at about $130 a night and go up from there. Not what I call backpacker friendly! Check out http://www.lordhoweisland.info/ for info, pictures and contact info.Quantas offers daily flights from Sydney for $336 - $620 depending on the time and date.   http://www.oxleytravel.com.au/lhi/23.html often has deals on to get to Lord Howe Island from Sydney and Brisbane. These are probably your cheapest bet but check out the prices for flights and accomodation and then see what the deals are like.   Flying from Auckland in New Zealand will cost ya $700-$900 depending on the deal you find.~Ross- always an adventure -