Monthly Archives: June 2008

Margaret River Runs Deep

Posted by on June 27, 2008

I’m sitting in a bar in Margaret River, Western Australia enjoying the only free wifi I’ve found in Australia outside of the Cairns International Terminal. That is not an exaggeration in the slightest. This is the only place in the entire country.

I’ve come to Margaret River with a single objective, which I haven’t achieved yet and I’m not going to leave here until it is done. If I have to stay a few more days, then so be it. Its a very nice town. If I have to compare it to anyplace I’ve been before, I’d have to say it is like Door County, Wisconsin. Lots of small shops, nice restaurants, and rather touristy (but not in a big way). It is the low season for tourists so finding a table or a room isn’t too hard.

The hostel I’m staying at is surprisingly full, however. It is full of 20-somethings who are here to prune in the vineyards. I’ve noticed that Australian agriculture relies somewhat heavily on the young European tourist crowd to work a lot of its field work. I saw the same thing in Mildura, where there were tons of Europeans who would do day labor in local fields picking fruit. I’m told if you work for three months, you can get an extension on your visa for an additional year.

The weather here is cool and rainy. Nonetheless, people here are still surfing. This is about as winter as it gets here. For someone who has tried to avoid winter, I’m experiencing my third one since my trip started.

My stomach ache has returned. It isn’t something with my body. It is definitely something with my digestion. It happens when I eat certain foods, but I’ve never been able to put a finger on what exactly causes it. I get a sharp pain in my abdomen, which I’m assuming is caused by a gas build up in my stomach, because I have to burp all the time when it happens. When it is really bad, the pressure can cause pains in my back. It eventually passes as the food moves out of my stomach. It isn’t in intestinal thing either, it is definitely in my stomach.

I’ve been pretty productive the last few days, taking advantage of the free wifi at this bar. I’ve processed and uploaded almost all of my photos from the Darwin-Perth drive. I’ve added about 160 photos to the Western Australia collection, including some photos of humpback whales I saw in Exmouth (or at least their back and tails). I always let my photos pile up and always have to catch up in a marathon Photoshop session.

Seven Wonders of America

Posted by on June 25, 2008

When the New Seven Wonders of the World came out, I added my two cents. I have even done the Seven Wonders of the Philippines. (and will be soon coming out with the wonders of Japan and Australia). I recently (as in a few minutes ago) found out the Good Morning America came out with the Seven Wonders of America.

I couldn’t resist.

Here is the list they came up with:

7) New York City
6) Golden Gate Bridge
5) Saturn V Rocket
4) The Badlands (South Dakota)
3) Grand Canyon
2) Arctic National Wildlife Preserve
1) National Mall (Washington DC)

New York City???? (that should be said in the same voice as the El Paso Salsa commercials) If New York as an entity gets to be included, why not San Francisco? Why do they just get a bridge? My guess is they couldn’t choose between the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building and Time Square, so they just lumped them all together. I agree that New York should probably be represented on such a list, but putting the whole city on it really is sort of cheap.

Golden Gate Bridge I really can’t argue with this. It isn’t the longest bridge in the world anymore, but it is was the first of its type and is still a huge icon for the Bay Area and all of California.

Saturn V Rocket My biggest argument against this is that I didn’t think of it. Usually you think of places or buildings. The Saturn V is pretty damn cool, but the only Saturn V which currently exists is a shell sitting on the ground in Huntsville, Alabama. If you are going to include vague non-place type things, I’d just include the entire Apollo program. If you wanted to make it a place, perhaps include the Kennedy Space Center or the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum (which is technically included in #1 on the GMA list).

The Badlands I’ve been to the Badlands several times. I like the Badlands. However, it doesn’t belong on this list. I can’t say I’d rate it over half a dozen other national parks, including: Yellowstone, Yosemite, Volcanoes, Everglades, Zion, Arches, Arcadia, Denali, or even Theodore Roosevelt in North Dakota. Hell, I’d put the Black Hills ahead of it for the Seven Wonders of South Dakota.

Grand Canyon Duh. This is probably the most significant natural feature in the US. It should probably be #1.

Arctic National Wildlife Preserve If it weren’t for the oil drilling controversy, there is no way in hell this would be #2. No way. I won’t deny that there is some sort of grandeur to the place, but that doesn’t mean it should be put at #2. Hell, even the National Park Service hasn’t given it National Park status. It lacks the geologic and historical significance of Yellowstone or Yosemite, neither of which are on the list.

National Mall I can’t argue with this being on the list, but I really don’t see it being #1. You can easily spend several days exploring what amounts to less than one square mile in Washington. If you walk a bit farther, you can see even more. If you had to make a list of things people should see in the US, this would have to be on the list.

Here are some things I’d put a short list if I were coming up with a Seven Wonders of America:

  • Hawaii Volcanoes National Park I’ve been there twice, neither time was lava flowing on the surface. It is flowing now :(
  • Independence Hall/Monticello/Historic Boston I’d have something regarding the Revolution on the list. The American War for Independence is a pretty significant event in world history. It was the first act of rebellion against a colonial power and set the stage for much of what happened later in history.
  • Gettysburg Probably the most significant battle in the Civil War. I suppose one can argue that an empty field isn’t really a wonder, however.
  • Yellowstone and Yosemite That these were left off the list is a travesty.
  • Redwood National and State Parks The redwood forests are the most impressive forests in the world. I’d also include Sequoia National Park and Muir Woods
  • Death Valley It’s Death Valley.
  • Las Vegas If you are going to put an entire city on the list, put Las Vegas. There is no place in the world like Las Vegas. Not even close. Even Macau, which is probably the closest thing to Vegas, is nothing like Vegas. Vegas is uniquely American. Vegas could never have arisen anywhere but the US.
  • Denali The highest point in North America, Mount McKinley is actually one of the largest mountains in the world when measured from base to peak.
  • Theodore Roosevelt National Park This will probably take most people by surprise, but it is one of my favorite spots in the world. I love the Great Plains and I love this park.
  • Carlsbad Caverns The biggest cave system in the world.
  • The Interstate Highway System The more I travel, the more I come to appreciate this as really the most impressive building accomplishment of the United States.

In the big, global scheme of things, the United States is a very young country and we don’t have a lot of history compared to other places. Most of the things I’d put on the list are natural in nature, not historic.

What would you put on the short list?