Monday, May 26, 2008

Weekend Tramp

The perfect (well near perfect) weather continued over the weekend so Aleisha and I headed out to Wollemi National Park(click here for a map). We camped by the car on the first night before the short but steep walk down to the Colo River. The water was a little colder than we expected meaning we couldnt explore much of the river, but it was still a relaxing weekend.

Looking down to the Colo River

Even the plants in Australia are out to get you!

The campsite

Monday, May 19, 2008

Weekend Snorkelling

The weather this weekend was perfect for a bit of snorkelling so we headed out to North Bondi to check out the local wildlife. By far the highlight of the trip was spotting a gigantic Black Stingray which was ~2 m across and about the same in length.

The Black Stingray (Photo thanks to Allan)

Monday, May 12, 2008

Off to the Wollangambe crater again

As the weather has started to cool and the dog sized spiders have started to die, it is time to start a bit of tramping. This trip was to an old favourite, the Wollangambe Crater but this time with a few new faces to make the trip a bit more interesting.

Camp day 2

After bashing our way up the canyon we finally managed to locate the mythical cave and some spectacular views.

A Greater Glider

Adding to Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions.

The sweaty crew after the walk, from left to right: Sneaky Pete, Allan, Sarah with unnamed -3 month old), Arnold and some other random punter.

Monday, May 05, 2008

The US of A - The fun stuff - Part IV

After checking out the oldest trees in the world I figured I should go and see the largest. Unfortunately as I hadn’t planed any of the trip I was on the wrong side of the Sierra Nevada range and had a rather long day in the car as a result. This was not helped by my GPS unit which decided that there was a shorter route and would shave a few minutes off the trip. In the end I took the "short" route which took me through some nasty mountain pass with millions of hairpin corners and turned out to be a very long route. The next day I headed into Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park to check out the Sequoia trees.

A local

To show the scale of these trees look at the tree that is laying over the road, see the hole in it, you can drive through that!

The General Sherman Tree - The largest tree in the world (by volume)

Sunday, May 04, 2008

The US of A - The fun stuff - Part III

From Death Valley it was off to check out the ancient Bristlecone Pines (oldest trees in the world) in the White Mountains. The oldest tree is known as the Methuselah tree and is almost 5000 years old, although only a few people know which tree is the Methuselah. As it was early spring there was still a lot of snow about which meant the road was closed and I had to walk a few miles to the trees. But on the plus side there was absolutely no one else around which made it even nicer.

A Joshua Tree - Like the U2 album

A Bristlecone Pine, this one is probably around 4000 years old.

Some of the dead trees are over 10 000 years old.

This photo shows the growth rings in a ~5 x 5 cm block.

The US of A - The fun stuff - Part II

From the Grand Canyon I headed to Death Valley. Unfortunately I miscalculated how long it would take to drive there and ended up having to spend the night in some dodgy casino on the boarder. Death Valley turned out to be a pretty sweet place although the dust storms sucked. I managed to befriend a couple of locals who naively invited me to share some beers with them. Well, a few hours later there were no more beers left but they didn’t seem to mind, they even cooked me a traditional breakfast the next day (eggs, bacon and hash browns). Turns out not all Yanks are ring-wing-religious-nut-jobs, some a bloody friendly normal people.

The local drop (the good one)

A few photos from Death Valley

The US of A - The fun stuff

I figured that as I was in the US I should make the most of it, so I took a week off and did a bit of a road trip. For once the road trip was completely unplanned, which is slightly unusual for me but it all worked out in the end.
The first adventure was attempting to drive out of LA. You see I haven’t had the best experiences driving on the other side of the road. I decided to hire a GPS unit for the car and while it didn’t tell me when I was driving on the wrong side of the road it did make driving out of LA a lot easier. From LA I headed to the Grand Canyon and after getting lost in the car park I managed to find the big hole. It was pretty impressive so I stayed there a couple of nights. Much to my surprise there was a bit of snow about which made for a few chilly nights in the tent, this was not helped by my new leaking thermarest.

Camp and car.

The Grand Canyon, but you probably figured that out by yourselves.

It wouldnt be a road trip without taking some funky long exposure photos, this one went for 18 min.

The US of A - New Orleans

Well after a 13 hr flight from Sydney to LA (6 movies and no sleep) I arrived in the chaos that is LAX. After a refreshing 6 hr stop over we were looking forward to boarding the plane, unfortunately someone forgot to tell us that paying for a ticket doesn’t mean you get one. Apparently the flight was over booked and they had decided that those who just spent half a day getting to LAX could wait another half a day. Thankfully some people decided to take a later flight and we managed to get on. It is not surprising that half the airlines in the US are going bust when they treat people like shit. Anyway, 4 hrs later we arrived in New Orleans and much to my surprise it resembled a normal looking city. After a quick trip to the golden arches in the city centre I realised that the place reminded me of Dunedin during O-week, but with more sleaze and booze and a little bit more sleaze.
The conference had a pretty busy schedule of talks and I could only manage to take one morning off to see the sights. I decided to go and check out the swamps and saw a good collection of critters.

In the end the conference was pretty good and the 5 people who decided to stay for my talk on the last day seemed to like the work. I may have even managed to score a post-doc position in Canada, but there are a few details to iron out