Monday, December 26

All iz better

I don't want to end the week in a negative mood. I am feeling better, thanks to everybody's comments both here and offline. Went for a short run today and! Stuffed my face with some cherries. Here's who I met on my run:

Wednesday, December 21

Happiness only real when shared

Thorin Oakenshield, son of Thráin, son of Thrór, died this morning during the Battle of the Five Armies. Or at least he died in my version of "The Hobbit", which I almost finished reading today.

Because you see, I couldn't finish it. Not this morning, at least.

I never cry. Until everything stacks up and then I cry for everything. And usually what sets it off is either a random book (dumbledore's death is memorable) or a movie (Up for example). And if there's nobody there to distract my attention (very easily done, mind you) I cry and I cry and I cry. Today I cry for being alone, for the silence on the campus (everybody's on leave), for my old dog, for dead friends, for dying friends, for missing my family, for the smell of christmas in my grandmother's house, and for missing Marian, and friends.

And since I'm still tired after the US trip, I am still crying. I stopped briefly this morning, and continued during lunch - while talking to Marian- and then really started again at around 5:30 pm. Cried while driving to the climbing gym. And crying now while writing this.

However, this time I must have banged my head or something - or really froze in the grand canyon - because I feel like going to buy myself a pack of cigarettes and take a nice, long, drag out of one. And then light it, and probably faint because of the toxicity. This is the first time I felt like smoking since I missed the Zurich flight in 2008. I feel guilty and also ready to tell myself to suck it up. And also ready to tell myself to LEAVE ME ALONE!

Ah, first world dilemmas! I got myself addicted to cigarettes, and then I quit, and now poor little me is alone and needs some comfort, and wants to smoke again. Boo hoo hoo.

That being said, depression is a bitch, and no matter how many cool and feel-happy things I do, they are worth absolutely nothing if there's nobody (even a blog, or, a dog :) ) to share them with.

The Great Ocean Walk - Part III

[See part I and part II.]

And last, since there only were three days! This day was the hardest of them all because both the russian mathematician and I split F.'s backpack and carried most of the weight, as his knees were giving in. This day was also the prettiest of them all because we reached the 12 Apostles. But before that, we did some serious trekking with some fantastic views.

And F. could walk better sans the weight, but both the russian mathematician and I were slowing down. We were also taking lots and lots of pictures, and as such we spent a lot of time by ourselves. Bonding, if you must. Turns out, he is very very likeable, although still an idiot. Aren't we all...

This day was the day we could finally see the coast properly.

We stopped frequently and as usual there was some stupid joke or other. Until we found the leeches that is.

Somehow, both me and the russian mathematician were leech magnets. And the leeches were very very determined. Oh, how I hate them! And oh, how difficult they are to take off one's sock, pants, or skin, when they are properly biting. Aargh, most gross! Here's one on his leg:

I butchered this one in particular. (Bloody shots coming!)

I crushed it to death. Ha ha. And then the evidence was all over my shoes.

I had 9 leech bites and the russian mathematician had 7. It was not good. We soon reached the campgrounds, finished our trek and headed into the showers, where the leech bites continued to bleed. Motherfuckers.

This minor inconvenience was soon forgotten because we drove to our final destination, the 12 apostles. We did not trek as initially planned because the russian mathematician had to take a bus and we were running out of time. Without further ado, here they are:

And here we are, like peas in a fucking pod.

The russian mathematician went to Melbourne, and F. and I explored a bit more of the area. After that, we had a fantastic steak (picture not included) and drove for ten hours to Adelaide. This time, with only minor incidents (I puked my sandwich) and no casualties (sandwich excluded).

And as I explore more and more, i realize what a truly beautiful country australia is, and just how lucky I am. Life is good.

Sunday, December 18

Look ma!

And so, ladies and gentlemen, i give you the grand canyon!

Tuesday, December 13

One picture Tuesday

I'm in Phoenix, Arizona, attending a conference (hence the late tuesday post). There's a good chance that I will go to the Grand Canyon and, more importantly, see snow! While I did have snow this year in the Alps, there is NOTHING like snow for Christmas!

Sunday, December 11

Great Ocean Road - Part II - Shipwreck beach

Or maybe wreck beach, I really can't remember. But what really matters is how amazingly beautiful that beach was. Especially after that wet day and night. We walked from Ryan's Den to Devil's Kitchen and spent at least an hour on this beach. It was beautiful!!

We walked and talked and gazed and opened our eyes BEEG BEEG and truly loved it. The tide was low and there were these little pot holes filled with water.

There were some anchors on the beach, hence the name.

The sky was overcast but there were occasional moments of bright light.

And then we missed the turn off the beach and reached Devil's Kitchen. There were some abalone poachers there (a family of three, two adults and a kid) and they were very nice in letting us know that we were lost. Good thing they were not nice in hitting us with their diving belt. Devil's kitchen looked really really rough - actually, I was surprised about the names, because australian names are really not that original.

As we were walking up F.'s knee started acting up and we had to take it really really slow (but more about this in the next post).

We reached Devil's Kitchen at around 7pm and put our stuff to dry [again]. This night was much better than the previous one, and we had an early one because we had to get up early the next day.

New Year

It has been one of those years where you know it was a fantastic year but you can't exactly say why. Wait! It was the year I finally finished my phd, got married and! Moved away to a totally different country, in the far reaches of the universe. The year started with a fantastic climb up Kinabalu and a more ferocious downclimb. Then there was the phd defense and the job interviews and the choice. And then we got married and had a fantastic grad trip and honeymoon with the girls in Europe. And then I moved to the land far far away where I am battling depression and loneliness. I meet fantastic climbers and made new friends. Also, joined a fantastic school with fabulous people, so don't start feeling sorry for me :) life is still good even though sometimes you have to grab her by the shoulders and spit between her eyes.

I am building friendships, some more complicated than others, and exploring the Australian landscape. Climbing, running, and socializing are my weapons against depression and loneliness, and so far, they have worked, although what I really really need is a hug and a cuddle.

In these past six months I have been slowly learning how it is to actually work in a workplace - read: I need to start to censor myself a bit!! I am also learning tons about myself - the bonus of alone time I guess. More importantly, I am discovering slowly what I want to do with myself for the next fifty years or so.

If it feels like I'm rambling, it's because I am. I have this feeling that in this past year life lived me, rather than me live it. Hence the resolutions below. This coming year, I want to*:
1. Read at least a book every 2 weeks
2. Spend quality quality time with both old and new friends. I am slowly coming to two realizations - happiness must be shared & my friends are great!
3. Avoid injury and climb 7a.
4. Finish six foot track marathon safely.
5. Climb mount cook.
6. Spend quality time with Marian, such that we recover from living by ourselves.

*[later edit] and yes, they can all be summed up as: I JUST WANNA HAVE FUN!

Wednesday, December 7

One picture Tuesday

Guess who will get harvested today?

Monday, December 5

Great Ocean Walk, part I

The Great Ocean Walk is a hike that goes parallel with the great ocean road. It's a fairly young trek, only six years of age, and F. heard about it by chance from a hiker that we met in the Grampians. It is a 100km walk, but we only had time to do about 50km of it. We started at Johanna Beach, and made our way to Ryan's Den and then Devil's Kitchen, followed by a quick finish at the Twelve Apostles.

I left on this trek thinking that it's going to be a desert, dry trek. I almost did not take my rain jacket and my thermal merinos. It was really a close call because it rained profusely for the first day. It rained so bad that our sleeping bags, our tents, even my clothes got soaked. Fucking joy! We even had a minor river crossing, which sort of brought back memories from New Zealand Dusky Track (Part I, Part II).

And so, it rained. Heavily.

We first started to trek through some hilly, very kangaroo populated region.

After that, we moved into forests populated (supposedly) by echidnas. We didn't see any.

Beautiful (wet) flowers.

I was surprised to see that people gave free water for all.

I was surprised to see that we managed to see the flowers and any signs considering that we could barely see the forest!

After the rolling hills and the wet forest we finally reached the coast. As we reached milanesia beach, we had to cross a little water flow to get to the other side ...

Much to the dismay of various spectators..

The occasional cormoran braced itself before going in again.

And then finally, at Ryan's Den, there was a sheltered dining area that we took for ourselves because well, there weren't any people on the trek what with the rain and all. We immediately put up the sleeping bags for drying but lo and behold, they didn't dry.

After a fretful sleep during the night things did not look fantastic in the morning.

But the rain stopped and we continued walking through an amazing forest.

The views of the coast were really breathtaking, and I had to stop many many times to take photos. I am really considering looking up a waterproof camera casing to prevent tommy from fogging up!

Behold, the first clear picture!

The track is really well maintained, with places to clean up your shoes to prevent diseased plants from spreading from one part of the forest to another.

With little miracles all along the way.

As usual, more photos here.

Saturday, December 3

I went ahead and done it.

I'm screwed.

Key measurements (in Km)

235m From Explorers Tree to the Start Line which is at 1050m altitude
0.0 Race start location (close to shelter)
1.7 to the bottom of Nellies Glen (down to 725m)
8.066 to the cattle grid at Megalong Valley Rd (570m)
14.36 to the Swing Bridge (not crossed as part of the race)
15.5 to the Jenolan-side of the Coxs River (270m)
18.6 to the drink station at the Fenced Yards
20.0 is right on top of Mini Mini Saddle (740m)
22.5 is halfway and at the creek crossing at the bottom of the Pluviometer hill (only 550m)
26.0 to the Pluviometer (990m)
34.7 to the corner at the start of the Deviation at Black Range Campground (1195m)
37.9 at the Caves Rd crossing (1215m)
45.00 Finish - by the manhole in the road outside Trails Bistro at Caves House (795m)
The course climbs a total of 1,528m and drops a total 1,788m giving a net drop of 260m (it's a downhill course !!)

Thursday, December 1

Us (1) : Kangaroo (0)

On Friday night, my colleague and his russian mathematician friend drove from Adelaide, Australia to Princetown, Australia, 700+ km away, to do parts of the Great Ocean Walk. It was a loong drive and as expected we ended up driving at night through the Australian outback. I was not driving at that time and it wasn't Snow White that we were driving, but a bigger car, thank heavens for that!

And then my colleague hit a kangaroo. It was a little one, and I had seen it 3.4 microseconds before he hit it, but there you have it, we hit it. We got out of the car and as the guys were checking the car I went to check the kangaroo. It looked dead to me so I returned to tell them that it was dead. My colleague (let's call him F.) went to check on the kangaroo too, because he is anal like that. So F. finds that my initial estimate was wrong and that the kangaroo was in fact, still alive.

So he drags the kangaroo to the car, puts his head under the front wheel and I drive over its head ensuring complete and utter destruction (we didn't check for a joey because it did not occur to us). During all this time, the russian mathematician is crying. Like literally in shock, crying. Wtf.

F. was in no shape to drive, plus it was my turn, so I took over. After that, it was like fucking open season. Still driving at night, still in the outback. Little bunnies crossing the street. Two foxes crossing the street. And then, the greatest kangaroo of them all. BIG BIG. Wanting to cross the street (and hit us) but changing his mind mid-way. Good thing F. and I were opening our eyes BEEG BEEG because otherwise i think we would not be telling this story. Anyway, to give you proof that there are still many many kangaroos out there, here are some shots from the trip.

In the campground:

On the trek:

Off the path:

On the path:

Always watching (I know what you did last summer!)