Manly Beach – Soft Sanded Surfer Heaven

 

Elizabeth Harper & John Winchurch - Manly Beach, Australia

I posted the photo above on Facebook, but since not everyone has a FB account I thought I would share it here as well. I snapped this on Manly Beach when we took the ferry over from Circular Quay in Sydney. The wind was blustery that day with a storm approaching and we only had a moment to put our feet on the soft golden sand before the raindrops came to chase us off. Even though a storm was hovering just off shore while we watched, surfers were taking advantage of the waves.

Manly Beach Surfers

John Winchurch - Manly Beach, Australia

Here’s a look at Manly Beach from the other direction. There are huge trees near the beach that look like a type of pine and remind me of trees along the northwest coast of the US, but still are a bit different from any I’ve seen.

I’m typing in a coffee shop called Gloria Jean’s which has free wireless for one hour with a purchase. Free internet access is hard to find in Auckland so I have to keep things short. We’ve been paying for it in our room, but I tend to use it up too quickly as the download is limited and expensive.  Gloria Jean’s has good coffee, friendly staff, and yummy low-fat muffins, but my hour is almost up and it’s time to run off to see more of Auckland.

I will be back later to tell you about an amazing musician I met last night on Victoria Street here in Auckland. His name is Luke Hurley and you can hear and read more about him by clicking here.

His music was so good that after listening only long enough to snap a couple of photos, I paid $20 for a CD. We had a long listen back in our hotel room and loved it! Plus, I found out something very interesting in the minute or so that he paused to meet and speak with me. I’ll tell you next time when I have a minute to post.

Luke Hurley

Amazing Auckland

Auckland, New Zealand

I can’t stop to talk for long this morning as there is so much to see, but I just had to share this photograph from yesterday. We took a short ferry ride that gave me a chance to see the city of Auckland from a distance and it was stunning from every angle. I’ll be back in a bit with more photos hopefully later today.

We’re having a great time here and I wish I could could drop more images into this post, but my online access is limited so I can only leave you with a taste for now and the promise of more to come.

Things That Fly In Sydney – Birds, Bats, & Qantas Airlines

If asked what I found most interesting during our three days in Sydney you might find it a bit different to hear that I was completely intrigued by the airborne creatures and not the traditional sights more familiar to most.

While I found images like the famous bridge and Sydney Opera House good for a photo opportunity or two, it was the birds and bats of Sydney that captivated me.

We flew into Sydney on a Qantas flight with seats near the wing so the engine was in my line of sight for much of the flight. I noted to John that our plane had Roll Royce engines which was unlike any airplane that I had flown on in the past.

Rolls Royce Engine On Our Qantas Flight

I was a bit alarmed to see that the day after we arrived another Qantas flight out of London headed to Sydney had a problem with its Rolls Royce engine where pieces of it fell off. I hate flying anyway so I did a bit of obsessing about our flight in December when we fly on Qantas from New Zealand to America before deciding to leave it to the Qantas folks to sort it out. Everything about our Qantas experience personally has been good so I am going to go with the assumption that our flight home for the holiday’s will be as well.

Going back to my topic of birds and bats, this little bird kept trying to steal my banana bread when we first arrived. We had stopped for a coffee and a bite to eat in the  Botanic Garden on our walk to our hotel room and I was amazed by the bird sounds and sights all around us.

Sitting with our backpacks while John went inside for our coffee, I saw something that looked unusual from my chair in the shade and I could barely wait for him to come back so I could move in for a closer look.

Fox-faced bats were everywhere and I sought out a volunteer the next day who gave me an education regarding these bats and the problems they are causing for the park with tree destruction as well as the safe way they intend to relocate many of them to another location. They are protected and as I learned, play an important role in plant pollination.

Rainbow Lorikeet

The Rainbow Lorikeets I saw were using their brush-tipped tongues to get to the nectar in the pink flowers above. According to the people who work in the Botanic Gardens in Sydney, the nectar ferments in the heat and makes the already noisy and gregarious birds even more vocal as it makes them a bit drunk.

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo

This was just one of the Sulphur-crested Cockatoos that we saw all over Sydney. I was surprised at first, but quickly became used to seeing these large noisy birds that can live up to 100 years.

I will be back with more fun things to share about Sydney a bit later as it’s time to explore Auckland, New Zealand where we woke up to blue skies and a view of the water this morning.

Seeing Sydney By Dawn’s Early Light

Sydney Harbor By Dawn's Early Light

Arriving in Sydney Australia early yesterday morning just as many of you were waking or going to sleep yourself, we flew into a gorgeous sunrise and the beginnings of a journey I never imagined I would take.

While I have long had a list of 50 Things To Do Before I Die, trips Australia and New Zealand were not included. Travel is there of course, but closer to home and more familiar than the other side of the world to where I was living in Athens Georgia when I began building my list.

Looking back I have to wonder if some of the things on it were limited more by the idea of practical obtainability than the scope of my imagination.

Don’t get me wrong … there are some pretty far-fetched ideas written on that wrinkled piece of yellow legal stationary such as my desire to write a speech for a US president or play the cello like some of the musicians I had seen on stage.

Many dreams I imagined important in my 20s no longer matter and there are new ones taking shape in ways I could not have foreseen when I created my list in the late 80s while finishing my undergrad years and preparing for the birth of my daughter.

Turning 50 a few months ago, I realized that I needed to close the door on certain dreams. It seems very silly now to mourn for a lost life as a dancer when I never even had ballet lessons as a child. Truth told, I have such trouble picking up steps that I was always a disaster in any musical audition that required dance and early lessons probably would not have changed that.

Speech writing for the president is another dream that’s not likely to happen as people develop whole careers as speech writers, a path I do not wish to follow. And while cello lessons and practice would improve my skill with the instrument, I wish for smaller things with it now such as solo pieces I can play with ease for myself.

It did occur to me while I was sitting and thinking during our 22 hour flight to Sydney that a writer has the best career because they get to be anyone and do anything in the stories they create.

After seeing treetops filled yesterday with loads of large bats in a park near our hotel, I wondered if the Wright brothers had studied the bat and its wings when considering how to cover the wings of airplanes while dreaming of the possibility of flight.

Which led me back to who I really am as I began crafting a story outline involving Orville and Wilbur Wright. I may not have a pilot’s seat on the flight deck listed on my list of 50, but I can fly all of the planes in the stories I write and the possibilities are really much larger than that old list ever was as long I stay open when the opportunity presents.

This two month trip with John is one of those opportunities and I am wide open to possibility.