Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Heart Rocks at Cradle

Heart rocks are everywhere! Hiking around the seashore, up mountains, or along the roadside, you can find heart shaped treasures of many colors, sizes, and textures. Once you start looking, you will be surprised with your finds.
Often I pocket them just to enjoy them at home. Sometimes I choose one especially for a friend.
I remember one summer hike up Mt. Katahdin in Maine. Jim and I and the whole family including my Donovan clan were scrambling up Pamola Peak. My dad was alongside me as I spotted a large beauty right in the middle of the trail. It seemed to be saying; "Pick me up. I am here for you." and I said to may dad;
"Oh, I want to take this beautiful rock home with me. I think it is too heavy for me. Maybe Jim will carry it for me."
This one was larger than my usual collection. Dad looked at this fist size granite piece admiring the curves and colors with me. Dad always like to pause along the trail inspecting the detail of rocks, plants, animal scat and other important detail. He cautioned me,
"Lea, no, don't ask Jim to carry it."
"Why, dad?" I queried.
"Because I know he will carry it for you. You are lucky that Jim is so good to you, but spare him this." We laughed together.
"Dad, you are right." I saw his point and agreed.
We took a picture of the rock in its happy place. Looking ahead to Jim and the others nearing the summit of Pamola Peak, we kept on moving up the mountain.
As I think back on this scene, I wonder if dad was happier that I left the rock , or that I took his advice on the matter. Interesting.
That's what hiking with dad does for me - gives me time to ponder important questions about what makes people happier and which heart rocks need to remain in their natural surroundings.

Cradle Mountain Tasmania

We had so much fun at Cradle Mountain when Fraser visited us over New Year's. First we hiked all around the lake. This beautiful national park in central Tasmania is an absolutely wonderful place for hiking/bush walking.
We climbed to the summit - well, the guys did. I got to the top of that craggy ridge you can see and said; "This is the top for me!" It was so steep and scary - just like the Knife Edge on Mount Khatahdin in Maine - all rocky - big boulders to scramble over - and sharp cliffs that go "dddd - o - w- nnn" .....down a long way to the bottom. Whew! I sat on the ridge and conquered my fear - well, I got over the one boulder that was paralyzing me only to find another one that made me freeze in place and question why I was putting myself through this torture. I decided to "enjoy the view" and meditate while the Jim, Fras, and Scott took a half hour to go over and back to the summit. We had fun with the boulders as we headed back down to Dove Lake.
See the animals in this blog? One is an echidna and the other is a wombat. Can you tell which is which? The echidna has the prickly body with the long black nose. The wombat is so fury and cute - looks like a teddybear! We also saw a Tasmanian devil - just after midnight in the early morning of the new year -- January 1, 2007.
We were lucky with the weather at Cradle Mountain - we heard that clear days are few and far between - and it had just snowed two weeks before we arrived.
If you are plannaing a trip to Australia, be sure to allow an extra week to visit Tasmania. This island off the southeastern shore of the mainland is a delightful place. We want to return and hike the four day overland track and really enjoy what this interesting georgraphy offers. maybe we'll see you on the track?

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

We found Nemo! Great Barrier Reef, Cairns Queensland

We spent two days snorkeling on the outer Great Barrier Reef. We saw every imaginable color and species of fish and coral. The joy of being in this underwater aquarium garden is very hard to describe in a blog. Try to imagine floating in another world just watching creatures in their daily routine which appears as unspeakable beauty. Swimming with a green turtle was spectacular. We saw squid all lined up, groupers hiding in caves, anemone fish darting in and out, butterfly, parrots, triggers, and wrasses swimming all around us. The slower we moved the more we saw. In fact, when we floated and gazed at the same spot we kept seeing more and more.

We highly recommend this as something to do in your life. We have many more photos and stories which we will gladly share with you.

Great Barrier Reef

Great Barrier Reef Day 1 March 4, 2007
Early morning bus ride from Cairns to Port Douglas showed us a panorama of the coastal mountains. Taking the fast ride on the 8:30 am Silver Sonic catamaran, it took 1 ½ hours to reach Agincourt Ribbon Reefs. This site is 35 kilometers offshore from Cape Tribulation. We visited three different sites on this outer most reef on the edge of the continental shelf. We squeezed into our wetsuits, mask, snorkels, and fins as the vessel moored by the stern in the lee of the reef. Climbing down the stern steps, we splashed into the turquoise water. Coral appeared brownie green and the sand was the same greenish blue as the water.
Jim and I swam out together to the right to a coral pinnacle where we immediately entered another world. We saw many species of fish of all sizes and colors flitting among the vast array of coral. Fans, plaits, staghorn and brain corals in an endless variety of colors amazed us. Big purple and greens parrot fish nibbled on the algae growing on the coral while small yellow and blue striped little cleaner wrasses removed parasites off other larger fish. Schools of emerald green tiny fish enveloped us. About 50 yards from the boat I felt safe, but mindful that really swimming in the Pacific Ocean.