During the International Congress of Speleology last summer I managed to fit in some site-seeing in Sydney. The congress was held in Penrith which was about an hour away from Sydney. Fortunately there were several different options for getting there that all proved to be quite practical, especially since the opal card I purchased originally to get to my hotel was accepted on the trains, buses and ferries that I took whilst traveling back and forth.
I particularly enjoyed the route I took from Parramatta since it involved taking a ferry downriver. This not only got me directly to the waterfront pretty quickly, it also allowed me to see another town.
In Sydney itself my two favorite destinations were the waterfront and the tower which afforded a fantastic view of the city.
I was a little worried when we first reached the top of the tower as the view was obscured by smoke from nearby fires but it wasn’t too long before the breeze blew it away to reveal the magnificent view. We also got to see the highest mailbox in the southern hemisphere:)
The waterfront is of course home to Sydneys world famous opera house. and so the opportunity for some great pictures exist there. The views are especially great from one of the harbor ferries. We also had a good view of the people participating in the trek across the bridge.
There’s so much to see and do in Sydney I wish I had more time there. For now though here’s a shot of a koala and a kangaroo I took, since you know, Australia 🙂
It turned out the reason we didn’t have reservations in Henderson for the trip home from Ely was because I had booked a non-refundable night for the following weekend, So what the heck it’s only 700 miles or so round-trip so I loaded the bike and off I went.
My first obstacle was as I neared Baker a huge dust storm hit. These are pretty impressive in a car, on a bike not really something I’d recommend experiencing. The pictures don’t really do it justice since I hid my camera away to protect it during the worst of it.
I made it through though and stopped in Baker to wash off some of the dust and check out Alien jerky.
I also stopped by a large solar collector field that had an unearthly glow as the focused sun beams shone through the dust still in the air.
I arrived in Henderson Nevada to find Dinosaurs had taken over the town!
I made it safely to my hotel though (T-Rex didn’t get me) and checked in and went and got some dinner before heading out to see the Vegas strip. I decided to take a ride on the new “High Roller” Ferris wheel. you start out by stepping into one of these.
Before long you are climbing into the sky, they have screens that remind you how high.
and the view once you’re up there is wonderful…
I walked along the strip a bit then cruised it a couple of times on the bike before the crowded traffic got to me and it was time to call it a night. So I headed back to the hotel in Henderson.
Last year I managed a visit up to Packsaddle cave but it was mid summer and I headed up a bit late in the day which made for a too warm trip. Well honestly it was hot but I survived. This year I joined a local hiking group and they wisely headed up early in the morning and picked a weekend when the weather was really very pleasant. I managed to pack extra water and even had some ice left in one of the bottles upon returning to the motorcycle for the ride home.
As evidenced in the photos there was more water present then last year which in turn meant more wildflowers and unfortunately more poison oak but I think we managed to avoid it all.
Hiking across the ridge
Hiking up the hill, if you look real careful there’s people up near the top 🙂
It was a surprisingly large group, close to 30 people but everyone seemed to enjoy the hike and no one complained that I took my time coming up the hill as I stopped to take just one or two more pictures.
Finally we reached the cave. Here I was disappointed to find my flashes weren’t triggering from the radio transmitters but I did have optical slave as an option so I took a couple shots with that and found that my dive light made a fairly good substitute as well.
flash using optical slave in the cave
So at least I got a few in cave pics then it was time to hike back down the hill.
There were still plenty of flowers to photograph on the way back
and I got back to the motorcycle early enough to enjoy a pleasant ride through the canyon before heading down to the valley where it was getting pretty warm again.
More wild flowers
After the previous days Whale watching trip I was a little worried that the ocean conditions would be less then ideal for diving. The weather was warm and sunny but there was still enough wind that the waves were choppy crossing the channel. Several people were looking rather green by the time the dive boat found a suitable sheltered spot to anchor. Everyone manged to stay in good spirits though and the diving was a lot of fun. I was enjoying the warm temps(57F that’s approx. 13C) since its considerably warmer then Monterey or salt point were the last time I dove those water temps were 51 to 52F. Some people said they were cold anyway but I presume they were used to tropical waters.
We were greeted with the usual critters, Garibaldi, sea hares, anemones, urchins various rock fish and numerous fish darting in and out of the kelp. Due to the conditions we stayed anchored in relatively shallow waters so I didn’t see any of the large sheepshead fish and groupers I’ve spotted on other trips.
chiton and purple urchins
Fish amongst the kelp
Sadly there appears to be a lot more of the Invasive species that are preventing the normal kelp forests from growing as abundantly as it usually does and which hides the rocky bottom where so many interesting critters live. I also noticed a lot more brittle stars then I have in previous years.
After the first couple of dives we enjoyed a delicious lunch back on the boat and a short rest before the final dive of the day. this time I spotted some tube anemones and had to stop and take pictures.
All to soon it was time to head back after a final stop to say bye to the dolphins jumping in the channel. We arrived back to Ventura where I loaded the motorcycle up for the ride home.
As mentioned , I’ve been playing around with programing this summer and completed one project, still got a couple of others I’m working on. Anyway, the one I finished is a simple card game I wrote in C# using visual studio for windows pc’s. Requires .net 4.0. I’ve tested it on windows 7, 8.1 and 10 and seems to work fine let me know if you enjoy it or run into any problems running it.
Since this is my first windows program any feedback is appreciated and I expect there will be some problems, but hopefully nothing major.
The cards are all custom, original designs I created.