My first day trip excursion was to Green Island and Norman Reef, both part of the Great Barrier Reef. The day started out rainy but by the time we got to Green Island the rain had stopped and there were high clouds mixed with sunshine. The island was quite interesting. It is home to a small resort and the island is protected by the Australian government. It was approximately 10 miles from the coast.
I walked around the island, checked out the beaches and snorkeling area. They had shops, restaurants, and a nice pool for hotel guests and those on the excursion I took. The snorkeling didn’t look that great so I didn’t go. I later found that one had to go much further from the coast of the island to see the reef. The island also had a lot of forestation, like a jungle with boardwalk paths through it.
After about two hours, on to Norman Reef, about an hour away. This reef was on the outer barrier. You could see the continental shelf in the distance where the water was a decidedly a dark blue. We puled up to a pontoon moored just before the reef. This became our base of operation for scuba diving, snorkeling, eating, and sun bathing. It was also the base to a semi-submersible submarine that took us around the reef. That was cool, but not nearly as great as snorkeling in the reef itself. I have been to many reefs in the Caribbean, but this had the most colorful coral and most fish.
At about noon central time, Korean Air Flight 38 left Chicago, Illinois and I left the Arctic Vortex covering Canada and most of North America. The temperature was 9 degrees Fahrenheit this morning. That was a warm up from the -13 degrees and -38 degree windchill from a few days ago.
This is my first international flight (economy) on a non US airline and it was so much better. Let me count the ways.
Plenty of leg room.
Nice size media device with lots of entertainment options, each seat
Garment hanger, each seat.
SUB part, each seat.
Complimentary head phones, pillow, blanket, tooth paste and brush and slippers.
Wine, soft drinks, two meals and snacks provided.
I had to fly first or business lass on US airlines to get that kind of service.
About five hours into the flight we left Canadian air space and crossed into Alaska. Next up is the International Date Line. We crossed it about six hours and 45 minutes into the flight. From here we entered Russian air space coming across the Bering Sea and the Sea of Okhotsk. Then we followed the Russian coast line along the Pacific to South Korea. To avoid North Korea, we swung out into the ocean coming into South Korea.
We took off on time on the second leg of the trip, a nine hour flight from Inchon, South Korea to Brisbane, Australia. This flight was equivalent to the red eye from our east to west coast. This flight turned into day 3.
Today I began a three-year adventure to Australia, New Zealand, and a side trip to South Korea. I am going to attempt to summarize each day with feature articles to follow upon my return.
One lesson for travelers is to be prepared for anything or at least accepting of change. The first leg of my trip, a train to Chicago was canceled. I was at work and planned to leave in the evening. Well that plan changed, but I did make it to Chicago and my hotel room was ready. Yea. Let’s see what happens tomorrow.
In just a few weeks I will be hiking in New Zealand through ActiveAdventures New Zealand. I have my travel arrangements ready and my bags are getting packed. Here is a sample of what I am looking forward to on my hike.
I was fortunate to spend an evening with a family on an island in Lake Titicaca, living and eating as they did. We arrived in time for dinner, chicken noodle soup, potatoes and tea. Summer time was still very cool at night so we slept with lots of blankets. It was the first time I slept on a rope bed and a mattress made of straw. It may not have been a Certa Perfect Sleeper, but I was tired and slept well. For entertainment we went to a local gathering place to dance. That was interesting for someone who doesn’t dance. The next morning we had something between a pancake and a tortilla with jam and hot tea; very delicious.
Being on an island in a remote part of the world, central heat, air conditioning, phones and electricity are a rarity. Our host had two solar panels that provided light in the evening and some sources for electricity. The cost was expensive and my understanding was that it would take him about 14 years to pay off the cost of both panels. Through our interpreter I asked why our host invested in the solar panels. His response was the same as you would expect from a middle class family in most countries. He wanted his son to have a better life. This was one of the common denominators between my host and me despite our differences in culture, belief systems, life style and geographical location.
This summer my wife and I traveled to Dodgeville, WI to attend a wedding. We stayed at the recommended hotel, the Don Q Inn. We arrived late and were so tired that we missed the 1951 C-97 Stratofreighter parked in front of the hotel on a slight bluff. However, in the morning we were surprised to see this apparition. It has an interesting history, being primarily used as a military transport, and photographed in two television commercials with Farrah Fawcett. This C-97 was part of a fleet of aircraft produced by Boeing. They were used in the Berlin Airlift, Korean and Vietnam wars. Some were made as luxury liners for public transportation.
It was an amazing piece of history that I didn’t expect to find at a wedding in rural Wisconsin, but I am glad I did.