Thursday, December 25, 2008

Florida: An Un-Road Tripper's Paradise

I started house-sitting in Melbourne this week, and I'm taking advantage of being in one place for more than a day to get back to some Un-Road Trip planning. Today I've been mapping out some of my options in Florida. There is tons to do there- especially with water-related modes of transportation. I can already see a route forming:

View Larger Map

Also, it's late December and it's sunny and warm here. The southern hemisphere is great! Although I hear July is a different story...

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Two weeks down (under)

It's hard to believe I've already been in Australia for two weeks. I'm working on some video pieces to give you a better feel for the trip. But until those are ready, here are a few pictures to bring you up to date.

I spent last week in the Riverlands of South Australia surveying the burrows of Southern Hairy-nosed Wombats:

Wombats are notoriously shy, but we did manage to see a few:

After surveying wombats, I had a few days to explore Adelaide, South Australia's main city. It's also a great central location for a lot of great day trips. I took a 2-day trip to Kangaroo Island which, due to its secluded nature, has stayed mostly free from invasive plant and animal species. It's a great place to see lots of Australian animals, and my trip was definitely no exception:

We saw tons of sea lions, wallabies, and koalas. We also saw penguins and echidnas, but I only have video footage of those ones. I'll try to get that up soon.

Also, my new favorite ice cream bar:

Saturday, December 6, 2008

My Australian Weekend

A few exciting highlights from the weekend:

• I learned how to play cricket from two kids. I thought it was like baseball. It's not. There are these sticks you try to hit to get people out called wickets.

• I tried Vegemite (spreadable yeast extract). It was darker than I thought- it almost looked like Nutella. It tasted like salty yeasty stuff. I'm not in a hurry to try it again.

• I'm starting to get a hang for all these Australian nicknames for everything. Breafast = Brekki, Biscuit = Bikki, Chewing Gum = Chewy, Tasmania = Tazzy

• It turns out that many young people are familiar with the Portland/Seattle music scene. One man who worked at hat store liked the Deecemberists, but he thought The Shins were overrated.

• There's a crazy Australian TV show that's like Survivor for kids. In the episode I watched, the kids were driving go-karts through an obstacle course- wait for it- while blindfolded!

• I haven't seen any marsupials yet, but I heard a dog barking at a possum in a tree. I also learned that Australian possums are different from American possums. The Australian ones look a lot cuter.

Okay- I'm off to South Australia to survey wombat burrows for a week. I don't think I'll have internet access, but I'll be sure to post pictures next time.

Also, in Un-Road Trip news I've been getting some great leads in Florida thanks to Nate at the Tourism Department there. I may even get to ride in a swamp buggy or sleep on a pirate ship!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Greetings from the other hemisphere

I've been in Australia for just about twenty-four hours, and it's still sorta surreal. I went from winter to summer, skipped a day, and everyone suddenly talks with an accent. Also, all the trees look different, the seagulls are smaller, and people drive on the other side of the street. It's strange to be in a city where English is still everywhere, but it still has the feel of a foreign city. I'm yet to see a marsupial, but I think I'll take care of that next week. Anyway, it's great!

The flight flew by, (pun intended), and the fifteen hours was full of snacks, lots of on-demand video programming, and frequent tea service. I also slept for seven of those hours. Going through customs took over an hour, but I got to see a food-sniffing dog lead a customs officer to an older woman's tote bag. The dog sniffed and walked around excitedly, before it suddenly sat down right in front of the bag. It turns out she was trying to smuggle in an apple. She claimed it was an accident, but the customs officer didn't seem to believe her.

Then I boarded a bus to take me into the city, and the adventures really began. I checked into my hostel and spent the rest of the day checking out downtown. I went to the Australian Center of the Moving Image and saw an interesting exhibit about Australian production designers in film. They had a lot of intricate models and sketches from various films, and they even had one of the sets from Baz Luhrmanm's new film Australia. I did some shopping, got an Australian cellphone, (feel free to call me at 04 1444 9804), and checked out a few pubs with some other people from the hostel. Okay, this is getting a bit rushed but I'm off to check out the Queen Victoria Market and a few museums. I'll keep you posted...

Monday, December 1, 2008

The Autocanoe

Wow. I really want to take the Autocanoe for a spin! It's part canoe, part something else, and it's amphibious! Technically speaking, they call it a Pedal Powered Amphibious Recumbent Tricycle and a Roadable Pedal Canoe. Take a look at the Autocanoe in the water:

And on land:

You can't buy a completed Autocanoe, but you can buy plans to construct your own for $40.