Posts Tagged ‘Mitch Hedberg

19
Sep
17

Road Trippin’ Down Under: Surprise!

Forgive me readers, for I have sinned. It’s been eight weeks since my last post.

By now some of you may have concluded that I had abandoned the column—if not writing altogether. You may also be feeling a bit betrayed after making the emotional investment in this adventure only to be left hanging barely halfway through the trip. For that, I apologize.

What’s far more likely—and far less self-aggrandizing to consider—is that you’re gotten used the long gaps between posts and have decided not to sweat it. Rather, you’re content to read them as they come regardless of how often, or you’ve patiently decided to wait until the entire series has been published and then read them all at once. For that, I thank you.

Or maybe you’ve thrown me over for a younger, prettier, or more dedicated columnist who won’t take you for granted. I can’t say I’d blame you. At least we won’t have to argue over who gets the kids.

But if it’s all the same to you, I’d like a chance to explain. Because I do have an excuse—a 57-year-old, 1200 square foot excuse, to be exact, that started gobbling up all of our time, money, and patience since well before went to Australia. In fact, you would have been reading about that 57-year-old excuse by now had the renovation gone as quickly and smoothly as the Jarhead and I expected. Then again, if the renovation had gone as quickly and smoothly as we had expected, there probably wouldn’t have been much to write about. So, silver linings and all that.

Anyway…day six in Australia fell on a Monday, in case you’ve lost track. We would have gone to Salted Board for breakfast again but they didn’t open for nearly an hour, so we hopped in the car and headed up the coast toward Joondalup.

Of course, at the time I didn’t KNOW we were going to Joondalup. All I knew was that we were heading north instead of south. To bottom line it, since we hadn’t decided before getting dressed that morning what we were going to do with our day and—more importantly—since we didn’t want to sit around our hotel room for hours pondering the issue like we tend to do with meals, the Jarhead had the taken the bull by the horns, so to speak, and after a quick look at the map assembled what, in his view, would serve as a suitable itinerary.

This was, in my view, a double-edged sword. On the one hand, by allowing the Jarhead to plan the day’s adventure, I was spared the task of applying my deplorably limited knowledge of Western Australia to cobble together an itinerary that would both thrill and amaze him without scaring me to death in the process. (Or, put another way, I was spared the task of applying my deplorably limited knowledge of Western Australia to cobble together an itinerary the would both interest and amuse me without boring him to death in the process.) On the other hand, allowing the Jarhead to plan the day’s adventure meant I was left with no idea of what expect and therefore no way to prepare myself.

Naturally he saw this aspect of the plan—call it the element of surprise, for lack of a better term—as part of the fun. A bonus, if you will, for allowing him to lovingly lift the burden of building an agenda from my delicate shoulders. In short: a dangerous precedent.

Still, what did I have to lose? Apart from my life, a couple of limbs, and whatever was in my purse. Then again, you only go around once, and if I was going to die, become an amputee, or have my money and/or identity stolen, at least I’d have a great story to tell. Or rather my family would.

Our first stop on our daring adventure was a visit to this coastal beach.

Aussie Coast 6

Actually, MY first stop was here.

Aussie Coast Loo

But eventually, I caught up to the Jarhead here:

Aussie Coast 14

Here is some more of what we saw:

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We didn’t get in the water. The Jarhead said since it wasn’t quite summer that it would be too cold. (I ask you: who’s the chicken s**t now?)

From there we drove a little further north, by which time we had gotten hungry, so we stopped off for brekkie at a place called the Canteen. I ordered eggs Benedict with salmon, kale, and beets, which was delicious.

Coastal Brekkie 1

My companion ordered pancakes with blue berries and freshly whipped cream.

Coatal Brekkie 2

Sadly, nobody told the Jarhead that they don’t sweeten their whipped cream in Australia, so he didn’t find out until AFTER he had already smeared it all over his pancakes and rendered them “unfit for human consumption.” He ate them anyway—after scraping off every last drop of the whipped cream (along with most of the blueberries and powdered sugar) but it wasn’t much of a breakfast. I felt bad for him and offered to share my meal, but since it included kale, salmon, and soft-poached eggs, well, you can probably draw your own conclusion.

Our third stop was at the Koala Boardwalk at Yanchep National Park! Yes—koalas! I have always wanted to see a live koala. Like Mitch Hedberg, I would much like to apprehend one and maybe feed it a leaf. And here was my chance!

Some fun facts about koalas: First, they’re nocturnal animals, so they sleep all day. Second, they’re shy little bastards, so they sleep way up in the trees. So high up, in fact, that you can barely see them without the aid of a telescope.

Another fun fact: if you want to hold a koala, you need to go to a petting zoo rather than the Koala Boardwalk at Yanchep National Park.

So rather than fulfill my lifelong dream of holding a koala, I had to content myself by looking at them from the ground. Or, more accurately, by taking a photo with my phone on superzoom and then looking at the picture in my gallery afterward.

But hey—koalas!

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After we’d seen enough sleeping koalas, we went to another part of the park to see what other wildlife we could find. If I were to write a blog just about this portion of our journey, it would be called “Road Trippin’ Down Under: Birds, birds, and more birds. Because, man, there were birds. The ruby breasted cockatoos and black swans (pictured with their babies) are the only ones I knew by name, but there were many, many more.

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And while we were marveling at all the birds, suddenly, we noticed this mama kangaroo and her joey just sitting in the shade.

Preserve 20Preserve 19

After visiting with the kangaroos, we headed down one of the many trails in the preserve. It took us through the park and into a variety of animal habitats, including wetlands, dry scrub bush, and some forested areas.

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All of the signs we had seen so far had warned hikers to keep to the path and watch for snakes. This proved a challenge because the path was barely 14 inches wide and much of it was overhung by plants, so you just had to walk and not think about what might be lurking nearby.

At one point, we met up with an old chap who, we concluded later, either had been lost alone in the bush for quite some time and had not seen or spoken to anyone in days, or was delirious from some sort of snake or spider bite. Either that or he’d had a little too much caffeine that morning and couldn’t find his off switch. For roughly thirty minutes the Jarhead and I stood there politely as he showed us every last one of the photos in his camera and educated us on the rudiments of Aussie zoology, snake avoidance, and venom survival.

Some more fun facts: You are much more likely to be bitten by a snake whilst trying to kill a snake than you are if you leave the bloody things alone. Also, you are more likely to be bitten by a snake whilst trying to kill a snake than you are if you just never go to Australia. Just saying.

Anyway, in sum, the old guy’s best advice was this: snakes prefer to avoid humans if they can so you should make plenty of noise as you move about the bush. That way, the snakes will hear you coming and slither away before you even get near them. The down side to this strategy, of course, is that all the cute, cuddly, nonvenomous critters will also hear you coming and disappear before you can see them, thereby preventing you from apprehending one or feeding it a leaf.

All that fresh air and walking (not to mention all that standing around looking at every photo one man had taken over the course of his entire lifetime) had us pretty worn out, so we headed back to the hotel to for an early dinner. It had been a great day and I was looking forward to an equally great evening.

Then, at 6pm, the Jarhead decided to take a nap. To be fair, “decided” might be too strong of a word since there was nothing deliberate or conscious about it. In fact, one might say it was an entirely unconscious decision, and if called to testify in court, I would swear he was much more of a victim than a perpetrator.

Assuming the man just needed to recharge his batteries, I let him sleep and did some writing—clearly not on this blog or you would not have had to wait nearly a year to read it. When he still wasn’t awake four hours later, I checked his pulse to make sure he was still alive, then went to bed as well.

I know. Don’t bother trying to look surprised. You won’t be fooling anyone.

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30
Oct
15

Road Trippin’ 2015: Valdez or Not Valdez

After departing the restaurant in Glennallen, we got back on Richardson Highway and set off for Thompson Pass where we planned to stop and see Worthington Glacier. From there we had hoped to head south to Valdez but since getting back to Anchorage from Valdez involves either turning around and going back through Glennallen or taking a ferry across Prince William Sound and catching the highway back from Whittier, we decided to turn back at Thompson Pass so as to avoid wasting time—and, more importantly, daylight.

Since we had the option of using our phones—thanks to an unexpected yet welcome increase in connectivity—we decided to check in with LaVon, who assured us that all the sights to be seen between Thompson Pass and Valdez were not to be missed, even if it meant delaying our return to Anchorage until the next day. Having no reason to doubt her—other than our fruitless excursion to locate Arctic Circle, that is—we decided to take her advice and set a course for Valdez.

The views on this leg of the journey were the most spectacular we’d see so far. I know I’ve said it before—and will no doubt again—but everywhere we went—every mile we drove—there were amazing things to be seen, and every last one of them seemed even more beautiful than the last.

TO WG 1 TO WG 2

TO WG 3 TO WG 4

TO WG 5 TO WG 6

TO WG 9 TO WG 8

Worthington Glacier was definitely worth the trip. Like so many of its peers, the glacier is retreating—although, fortunately, not as swiftly as some—at least according to the experts.

Unlike many of its peers, this glacier is approachable on foot. In fact, you can drive almost to the base of it by car, park in the lot of a relatively plain but well-maintained visitor center, and then hike up the front and even poke around in the hollowed out area behind the wall of ice.

Note the words “you can” near the beginning of that last sentence. I draw your attention to this phrase not to highlight the fact that these options exist. Although they—and several others—do exist, the aim here is to emphasize not the auxiliary verb (can) but the subject pronoun (you.) And to be clear, I do not mean YOU specifically—as in you, the individual who happens to be reading this right now; but YOU collectively—as in everyone. In short, anyone but ME.

For a change, I’m not steering clear of an activity due to fear, phobia, or paranoia. Rather, I’m simply adhering to the concept of knowing one’s limitations, which I’ve had to adopt ever since being fitted with my new knees a year or so ago.

AT WG 2 AT WG 3

Although I probably could have made it up the glacier without much difficulty, the going down bit may have given me some trouble since the trail was unimproved and there were no railings to hold onto, nor any trees, bushes, or small, sturdy children to break my fall. Had I thought to bring along a set of hiking poles or even a walking stick, you would be reading the words of an accomplished glacier spelunker as opposed to the envious and grateful SPOUSE of an accomplished glacier spelunker who was kind enough to offer his photos for use in this post.

AT WG 13 ICE 1

ICE 2 ICE 4

Our next stop was at a scenic overlook near Blueberry Lake. Blueberry Lake is what’s called an Alpine Lake, as it sits up high in a large switchback between Worthington Glacier and Hogback Glacier. The views here, like everywhere else, are awesome, and the wild blueberries are both abundant and delicious!

BLUEBERRY 1 BLUEBERRY 2

BLUEBERRY 4 BLUEBERRY 3

BLUEBERRY 7 BLUEBERRY 8

BLUEBERRY 10 BLUEBERRY 9

From the Blueberry Lake area we continued down the highway–which eventually meets up with and follows the Lowe River–past Snowslide Gulch, and down through Keystone Canyon. Along the way, we saw several of Nature’s most gorgeous displays, including Bridal Veil Falls and Horsetail Falls.BVF 3BVF 2BVF 1BVF 4 TO VALDEZ 2 TO VALDEZ 6

Although the views were amazing, my enjoyment of the scenery was dampened somewhat by the hairpin curves and steep grade of the road, and the realization that we had put our trust in a rented vehicle whose brakes and maintenance history we knew nothing about. Happily, the Jarhead has been around the block with me a time or two, knows how to keep me from going completely bonkers, and has learned to ignore the sharp intakes of breath that punctuate my comments on Nature’s wonder and his driving.

Upon reaching Valdez, the first thing I noticed—after regaining the ability to breathe normally, that is—was the number of rabbits dotting the ground. We have rabbits in Wisconsin, but you generally see one or two here and there, and they’re typically tawny in color in order to blend in with the scenery.

The rabbits in Valdez, on the other hand, are literally all over the place and they’re downright ostentatious when it comes to color and diversity. White rabbits, black rabbits, and gray rabbits nibble at the local greenery alongside speckled rabbits, spotted rabbits, and mottled rabbits of more colors and combinations than one could count.

Apparently it’s a problem for the locals, many of who view the bunnies as feral pests to be managed if not eradicated. Nevertheless, it reminded me of a riff by the late standup comedian, Mitch Hedberg, in which he claimed his apartment was infested with koalas.

“It’s the cutest infestation ever. Much better than cockroaches. I turn the lights on and a bunch of koala bears scatter. I’m like “hey, hold on fellas! Lemme hold one of you, and feed you a leaf”…they’re so cute…they should ship a few over, and I will apprehend one… And hold him… And pet him on the back of his head.”

I guess it loses something in the retelling. But google it if you get the chance, because it’s awesome.

Anyway, after admiring the multitude of resplendent rabbits, we had a look around town to see what there was to do. Our options included fishing, whale watching, shopping, and more—all of which would have kept us busy for several hours and possibly into the next day. Having neither the time nor the energy to devote to such occupations, we opted instead to head over to Mike’s Palace, where we enjoyed a seafood lunch and Caprese salad made with real imported Italian buffalo mozzarella. Yum!

From there it was back to the highway for another hair-raising ride up the canyon, to be followed by a trip through the mountains to Anchorage. Since we had already been through the first part before, and since the Jarhead was about to fall into a carb-induced coma, it was my turn to drive. I had misgivings about this, but since it was either that or let the zombie take the wheel, I climbed into the driver’s seat and and headed for home, as it were.




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