Postcard from Uluru – Kata Tjuta National Park

Uluru (Ayers Rock)

The National Park encompasses both Uluru and Kata Tjuta (Ayers Rock and the Olgas), significant rock formations that are geologically different yet are only about 18 miles apart. They are geologically interesting, but the true significance is how sacred these places are to the Aboriginal people.

Ancient aboriginal pictographs
Kata Tjuta (The Olgas)

It’s spring break here for children in several of the Australian states and families are on the move. Our Australian friends warned us that it might be a little crazy. They were right. In addition, the National Park will permanently close access to climb Uluru on October 26th. So, it is even more crazy. The park and its campground are flooded with hundreds of people from all walks of life and nearly every nationality. Everyone wants to climb Uluru before it closes. Out of respect for the wishes of the Aboriginal people, we will not climb it. Besides, there are way too many people on the dangerous slick route up The Rock.

All these people make it a little harder to do just about everything, but still, we have found ourselves in some special moments listening to an aboriginal elder share the sights and wonders he holds dear and on a Ranger lead walking tour about the ancestry and environment.

Ranger Justin

We’ve found special places and times to just sit, close our eyes, take a breath, and listen to the Rock and feel its spirit. Enjoy the photos; they tell the journey we’ve had despite the crowds.

Uluru at sunset
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Postcard from the Outback – South Australia

We spent a little time in Sydney, Melbourne, and Adelaide and now we are in the Outback. Beside visiting friends, the Outback and its unique sights is why we are here. We’ve been in similar places. You know, the road less traveled, the end of the road, and wilderness highways that are “out there”. But we’ve never seen anything like this.

A lot of people have gotten lost and perished out here before there were GPS devices, mobile phones, maps, and a paved road. Now it’s a simple matter of following the road north from Adelaide to Darwin, a mere 1,900 miles (3,000 Km). And while there is a lot of empty nothing out here, there always seems to be something interesting around the next bend in this very straight road.

So, here are a few photos from those interesting sights and places like Woomera, Hart Lake, Coober Pedy, and our first stop in the Northern Territories – Kulgara.

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Postcard from Adelaide

The River Torrens (Karrawirra Parri) passes through downtown Adelaide.

Adelaide was to be a stopping point only for the time needed to pick up and set up the little RV that will be ‘home’ for the next five weeks. However, you can’t just pass through this South Australia town without walking the downtown streets and, of course, finding a few geocaches.

Adelaide Central Market

There is a lot to see in central Adelaide. You can find just about everything culinary at the Adelaide Central Market with 250 stalls offering up fruit, vegetable, cheese, chocolate, and meat (was that really kangaroo steak?). Chinatown is right next door and the museums are just a few blocks away.

Gate to Chinatown

People are nice here and you might even run into the Beatles along the journey….

Even the buses are nice….
The Beatles were met by thousands of fans at City Hall in 1964.
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Postcard – Sydney

There are scenic obligations that must be met when visiting Sydney, though it’s nice that most of them can be met in one location. We spent two weeks in Sydney in 2007 and we’re here for just a few days this time. However, you are always obligated to visit the Opera House and Harbor Bridge. Both sites are located at Circular Quay where a multitude of trains, buses, and ferries converge along with thousands of tourists.

Street vendors in the “Rocks” district of Sydney. Harbor Bridge in the background.
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Another Milestone

Our 10,000th geocache, found in Sea-Tac’s Concourse B while waiting to depart for Australia and New Zealand.

It all started on a warm January day in 2012. We were volunteering for the National Park Service at Big Bend National Park in Texas, when Ken, a friend and fellow volunteer, said I should come with him while he looked for a geocache – an object or container hidden somewhere in the desert. It seemed kind of weird. There we were, wandering around following the pointer on a global positioning system receiver (GPS) until we got close enough to find the cache.

It seemed kind of silly at first. After all, why waste your time trying to find a container hidden somewhere when there is no reward for finding it. We found the first one, then a second, and by the third find it was starting to make sense. It was a challenge to get close and then use your powers of observation to identify where the container was hidden. By the way, the first one was a 35mm film canister stuck in an agave plant, the second one was a film canister under some rocks, and the third was an ammo can tucked into a gap among some boulders. Not particularly challenging caches, but fun for our first time out.  

Our 1,000th find. Near Albuquerque New Mexico, October 2012

You see, geocaching isn’t just about finding the cache. It’s also about seeing new things, about going to places that you might not visit otherwise, and about challenging yourself to be observant and to persevere when the odds are against finding it. It’s also about the people that you meet along the journey, cachers and non-cachers.

1,500th Find – Paris, France

We’ve made life-long friends while caching. Ken and Ginny taught us the game. They live in New Jersey, winter in Florida, and we stay in touch. We met our Dutch friends, Dick and Tita, in an RV park in Dawson City, Yukon and see them every couple years when they visit the US. Alan and Gayle knocked on the door of our motorhome one day after seeing our geocaching placard and we’ve been close friends ever since, frequently comparing notes about caches. Dan walked up to us at a geocache in Burns, Oregon, looking for the same cache and we had Thanksgiving with him and his wife last year. We met Billy and Roberta in Yuma last winter and had happy hour at their place every night for several weeks. And the list goes on.

Geocache in the desert near Palm Springs, CA

So, here we are, at a milestone in our geocaching lives, our 10,000th cache find. How do we keep track? Well, that is done for us at geocaching.com. We register our finds; they keep the stats. Ten-thousand may seem like a lot, but there are those who have found well over 100,000! Even so, there are still a lot to be found. As of September 9th , there were 3,198,065 caches around the world.

I guess we had better get busy…. On to Australia and New Zealand!

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Everything Okay?

“You out there? Everything okay?”

We had gone dormant and a Facebook friend was worried. The social media thing had gone all wrong, there was anger creeping into many posts, and we needed a break. So, we stopped for a while. Just looking and lurking, but not posting. It had become way too easy to be caught up in the instant gratification and ego boost of social media. How many likes did I get? How many comments? Are we keeping score?

We’re back on social media now, hopefully in a more balanced way. Posting occasionally when something beautiful or interesting comes up. However, you are here – on an old media – our blog.

We used to blog regularly, but Facebook took over and blogging went out of style. Our blog has more flexibility and allows for a wider creative release. So, we’re back. You can expect to find us here on a regular basis so click on the Sign me up! button in the right column if you want to follow along. We may also mention on Facebook and/or Instagram that we’ve made a new post, or, not….

Was our last post really four years go? A lot of miles have passed under the Dip’s* tires since July 2015 when we blogged about travel and South America. So there’s a little catching up to do. There was the trip around the US and Canada – The Cheesy Americana Perimeter Tour – that focused on visiting weird roadside attractions and national monuments. Then there was Africa with our daughter Bonnie to see the landscapes of Namibia and wildlife of Botswana. More recently, a cruise from Vancouver, BC to Japan. So, here’s a few select photos from those travels to get us caught up. Geocaching is still an important part of our travels and we’ve almost reached 10,000 finds.

So, you can expect more blogs over the next several months as we fly away on another adventure in a few days.

*The Dip is the name of our Monaco Diplomat motorhome. It’s also where we live as full-time RVrs.

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Bucket Lists

Bucket lists. Some people have them, some don’t. Our travel list includes stepping foot on each continent and more specific things or places like the great migration in Africa or ferry-hopping around the Scottish islands.

South America has been on our bucket list for a long time, but no plans had been made. It was just out there until our daughter Bonnie suggested that we go along with her to Peru. She was leading a six day photography tour to Cusco and Machu Picchu, a MAJOR bucket-list destination.

It’s a long way to Peru from the Northwest – thirteen plus hours from Seattle. If you have to sit on an airplane for that long it makes sense to spend more than six days where you’re going. So, we picked another place off of the bucket list and added eight days in the Galapagos Islands to the front of the trip.

Quito Madonna - Shungoloma

Quito Madonna – Shungoloma

Quito, Ecuador – Travel to the Galapagos from the US will likely take you through Quito or Guayaquil, Ecuador. The Galapagos are part of Ecuador and the Ecuadoran authorities keep a firm hand on who goes to and from the islands. We had only one day in Quito and were very fortunate to have an excellent guide, Jorge, to show us around. Quito is a Spanish colonial city that is located just 15 miles south of the equator. Click here to see a slide show of Quito.

Galapagos Tortoise

Galapagos Islands, Ecuador – “The tourists are saving the Galapagos” said our guide Billy. “If we didn’t have tourism, the locals would revert to their old occupations of fishing and farming which harm the islands.” Click here to see a slide show of the Galapagos.

Machu Picchu

Cusco, the Sacred Valley, and Machu Picchu, Peru – From the Pacific Ocean to the Andes, from colonial cities to ancient Inca ruins, from pastoral countryside’s to busy urban streets, this country has something for everyone. Everywhere you turn there is another Inca ruin, or a church built on top of a ruin. In the big cities, hawkers try to sell you trinkets on the streets. In the villages, the sales pitch is much more subtle. And there is the crown jewel, Machu Picchu. Click here to see a slide show of Peru.

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