Saturday, April 25, 2009

Faithful Readers, I Now Return To My Blogging Duties

I apologize for leaving you all hanging and toiling in misery and self-loathing for the last 20 days. I now return to the blogosphere, where I shall resume my Messianic duties.

As prophecised in my last entry, I spent ten days in the northwestern Australian outback. While I could go with a run down of day-to-day operations, which seems soooooooo February, I think I will instead attack this behemoth in a style akin to the great and noble David Letterman.

Top Ten Things Learned in the Australian Outback

10. Never Go On A Date With A Dolphin
Before we shot inward to the red dirt of the outback, we drove along the red dirt of the Indian Ocean coastline. Along the way, we stopped at Monkey Mia, home to several trillion dolphins. Early in the morning, dolphins gather along the beach to be fed fish by their homo sapien friends (and descendants, if you're a flaming liberal heathen). Of the several hundred touristeers (that is tourists who volunteer, only doesn't sound as good as voluntourists), approximately 8 were chosen to do the feeding. The dolphins played very nice while the fish were in their hands, but then they shocked me and I should hope several others in licking their chops and booking it back out to sea. Not even a kiss on the cheek. The ol' dine n' dash. No good. I have crossed all dolphins off my list of potential suitors.

9. I Love Technology
I tried to deny that I did but I do. The first five or so days without digital access to the world proved easy enough, but certainly by day 7 I was starting to feel a bit disconnected and perhaps even a bit anxious. I attribute some of this to the fact that I was very out of the loop with regards to the Boston Red Sox, who just played and swept one of the more entertaining regular season series I've ever seen by the way against the New York Yankees, but regardless, if such feelings are common it does not bode well for the human race from a Wall-E/The Matrix/Terminator perspective.

8. Kangaroos Are Idiots
As a result of my summer '06 deer incident, I've neither sympathy nor patience for any living organism that thinks it's a good idea to run into a swerving car. As a result, the facts that we ran over more than one on this trip (read: 2) and that our tour guide, Barry, claims to have probably run over at least 300 in his driving career receive a disinterested "meh" from me.

7. The Australian Outback Is Amazing Looking. And Will Put You Right To Sleep.
It's a beautiful and obviously massive stretch of land. If you put on the right songs at sundown, you can have a surreal experience. But after that trip, where I would estimate 25 university students spent about 80% of their travel time dead asleep, I'd wager you wouldn't last 20 minutes.

6. The Stromatolite War Cometh
At one of the places we stayed, we were introduced to Stanley, who represented the Stromatolite Empire. While Stanley acted as a gracious host in giving us a tour of his people's breeding grounds (he told me exactly what they were but upon my realizing their true plans I decided I no longer cared for what they were, valued, or wanted, as our former President taught me to do) but made several cheeky comments with regards to the human race and its "wasteful" ways. Also, Stanley told us that his people have been around a lot longer than us and the picture below made it quite evident that they intend to come back to dominance.
Nonetheless, we stuck around on Stanley's pier, as we were treated to quite a nice sunset.

5. Emus Are Hilarious
In a laugh-at kind of way.

4. Aussie Flies Are Annoying
I suppose that would go without saying. However, flies here are certainly a bit more aggressive than I'm used to back in Massachusetts. They don't just buzz around you. They bounce into you over and over and over like the ultimate little brother that thinks it's funny and impressive to do so (sorry Dan, no offense. Think more when you were destroying the Lego sets, that's my point). I'd noticed this even just in Perth. Up north, there are about 20 of them per square foot. I don't even think that's an exaggeration. Yes, I spent much of the trip wearing a fly net.

3. Stuff Looks Cooler Red
I am now the proud owner of an authentic Bruins Outback Edition hat. It's neat, I think.

2. Karijini National Park Is The Most Beautiful Place I Have Seen and Likely Will For A Good Long Time
This was a part of the trip that I was certainly happy to take on but it was also a part that I was not overtly looking forward to. I suppose this is a good thing, as its sneaking under the radar to become the best aspect of my Australian experience thus far is better than if it had had to fulfill expectations, but in retrospect, I was stupid. Karijini is a huge area of land that is best denoted for its gigantic natural gorges. These gorges offer several trails to be hiked at varying levels of difficulty. Some of the stuff we passed along was pretty legitimately difficult hiking, though nobody died or lost any limbs which was a good thing. At the bottom of many of these gorges lie beautiful pools and waterfalls with water much cleaner and refreshing than you'd find in any swimming pool. I think my lasting image of the trip, arguably (see number 1 for its main competition), involved me leaning against smooth black rock walls while wading in a pool and looking upwards to warm sun seeping past the red upper edges of either side of the gorge; I did not get a picture of this. Perhaps it's better that way. Here is a picture from Karijini, though, taken while I was not in water and therefore my camera was not at risk of destruction.
Also, waterfalls feel good on your back.

And last but not least, coming in at number 1 and sounding much dodgier (dodgy=sketchy) than it actually is...

The Number One Thing I learned in the Australian Outback: When A Middle Aged Australian Stranger Thousands of Miles From His and Your Home Asks You To Walk Across the Bush To Party With Him and His Friends Who Are Away On A Camping Trip In An Area Surrounded By Sixty Square Miles Of Nothing, You Damn Well Get Off Your Ass and Do It.
While sitting around the campfire and enjoying a few drinks after dinner on an early night of the trip, a man came rustling from the woods behind us. Colby introduced himself to us as a man from Perth and, after striking up some casual conversation, asked if anybody would like to wander across the bushland to enjoy the night (again sounding fairly dodgy...) with him and his three friends, who were enjoying a week of mateship away from home. Most of our crew, save for two of our more adventurous who jumped right on the opportunity, were at first reluctant. They went with Colby and it was not long before we heard them belting out sing along songs from across the way. A short while later, Colby returned. He had brought his harmonica, and he played us some songs. Then we all sort of sat quietly for a few moments. Realizing the futility of the night if no other avenue were taken, I announced that it was time to get to Colby's. Upon arrival, we were quick to learn that Colby played the role of the goofy guy whose friends keep around for entertainment value (I don't think this is as demeaning a role as it probably reads). This was made particularly apparent when they all started to yell at Colby when he tried to take out his harmonica, saying things like, "I thought we sent you over there with that thing hey!" Nonetheless, Colby was very excited, and it is, as referenced above, arguable that my lasting image of the trip and my trip to Australia at large is Colby standing at the head of the deck with a beer in one hand and his harmonica in the other, his head cocked back and his arms spread wide and high, shouting lyrics to a great many songs at the top of his lungs while his friends sat around the table wondering how they'd come to be surrounded by ten or fifteen American university students. His friends included one aging fellow who seemed unwilling to discuss anything but politics unless he was busy singing along to Bob Dylan songs, a skeevy-looking fellow in the corner who I don't think I heard talk once, and a monstrous, monstrous fellow who likely stood about six-foot-seven and must have weighed two-hundred-eighty pounds and wore an AFL jersey. The last of the listed provided indirectly a particularly comical moment when he stood up, as it resulted in a friend of mine saying in seeming bewilderment, "You're a monster!" The night, as would be expected, became absurd quickly. As we entered the early morning, some friends rolled upon the ground while I went off and hit golfballs into the desolate northwestern Australian wilderness.

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