July 2004

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2 July - Lord Howe Island

Sailing for many days on passages is a bit like camping on wobbly ground. Except without the bikes or the campfires or the S'mores.... But on a boat you can eat all your unhealthiest things, and then thow up because of them, so you'll never eat them again ( I have found two so far for me, Amsterdam Delights, and Nutella). Papa calls it the “Abel Tasman Diet”. After a day or so, your body starts to accept the motion and you can start to expand your diet.

My first impression of LHI was like: Wow. Awesome. Tubular! An Island with two big Mountains out in the middle of the ocean. My first thought was: “How do they get news of the rest of the world?” It turns out that there is an airport. Planes arrive at least 3 times a week with supplies. While we were at LHI we rented bikes at the Boat Shed, where the harbour master Lives. Lord Howe Island is rather small, but it is very hilly, so bikes are a lifesaver. One night we had a BBQ at one of the parks on the main beach. First I was averse to going, but the parents' iron will held through. My main concern was that I would get bitten by mozzies. My secondary concern was that we couldn't see my food. My tertiary concern was that momma wouldn't keep her promise to let me P.O.T.C. when we got back on the boat. But don't tell her I said that 'cause I wasn't supposed to be concerned about that.

The second to last day we were on LHI, we went on a 8 hour hike up Mt. Gower (pronounced gAwEr). Mt Gower isn't all that high, only some 875 meters, but it might as well have been 1,000. The hike is extremely steep, and there are many sections where ropes have been bolted to the rock to help you climb up. My favorite two places were the Lower Road, and the Get Up Place. To get to the base of Mt. Gower you have to clip around Mt. Lidgebird. The one spot to do that is on a narrow strip of land, a 100 meter drop from the water. No close calls here. The Get Up Place is my favorite of the two as there is more climbing than hiking involved. It is a narrow strip of rock, surrounded by bushes, with a long, thick rope anchored at the top. The guide only let one person at a time go up. After the Get Up Place, it was another hour of climbing in the slippery, moist summit to the lookout. I thought the view was worth the climb.

As with many places we have visited in Oz, Lord Howe Island was a really fun place to be, and I was really sad when we had to go.

8 July - The Maritime Museum In New Caledonia

Musee De L'Histoire Maritime Dans Nouvelle Caledonie

A few days after we arrived in Noumea, we went (as many of you could have guessed) to the local Maritime Museum. It was a small modern building about a klick from the marina. It wasn't as big as some of the other museums we have been to, but it had some really cool models and a cool bit on NewCal during WW2. What the museum lacks in size, it makes up in creativity. I saw the Rudder of the biggest(and last) wooden nickel-trading ship that ever was. The rudder was as tall as the ceiling, which was around 5 meters High!!! NewCal is rich in Nickel deposits, so a trade was set up between NewCal and other countries. The trip to France from NewCal took 80 days. Half of the bottom floor was dedicated to all the artifacts people had collected from the wrecks of ships on the reefs. The second level was dedicated to glass. There was a video showing how the made all the different shapes with the glass. But why would there be a section on glass in a maritime museum? Well, there are four reasons.

  1. Glass is used in telescopes and Sextants
  2. Glass was used in prisms to bring light to sections of the ship that normally didn't get any.
  3. Glass was used in the glasses and bottles used by the crew. Bottles include: medicine, fragrance, and drink bottles. Glass was also used for kitchen related measuring and storing.
  4. Glass was used for the beads for trading.
That's all for now, folks. I'll write again when we have been to the next museum, park, or zoo . . .

8 July - Bastille Day in NewCal

Instead of the 4th of July, the French celebrate Bastille Day, when commoners overthrew the corrupt French monarchy. One of the famous lines from that time was spoken by the Queen Marie Antoinette, when she heard that the people didn't have enough bread. She said, “Well, let them eat cake!”. The Bastille was a building where all of France's army stored their arms, so taking it was vital to the peasants plans. That was the turning point in the French Revolution. Here in Noumea, there is a fair, fireworks, and a military parade. The fireworks were really good for a town the size of Noumea, which has 70,000 people in the city, but compared to the K-FOG KA-BOOM, they were nothing. Nothing compares to having a firework 150 meters in diameter explode over your head.

The next day there was a military parade. Everybody was in straight lines, feet moving at the same time with guns across their chests. The funny part was when the music changed and all the people had to change their pace. At the fair, momma was really nice and let us go on a lot of rides without us having to pay at all. There was a bumper car ride, and Nikki and I went on it six times. As it is an European ride, the cars go really fast, and hitting somebody actually hurts sometimes. Once, a car hit me on the side and made me slam in the side, right in front of Momma and Papa I also mad a car crash into the unused cars on the side by blocking him from turning.

21 July - I got a Fish!

“I got a fish! I got a fish!” I yelled to the rest of the family aboard E.S. Of course, due to the fact that I was talking through my snorkel, and that E.S. was about 15 feet away, it sounded more like “I gho a hih! I gho a hih!” We were in Bai de Prony, about 20 NM south of Noumea, six days after leaving Noumea. It had been the 3rd time I had been spear-fishing. The fish was a Parrotfish that I had been pursuing for around 5 minutes. I didn't shoot earlier because he was always over coral, and that might bend the spear. THWOOOOSH went the spear, and it got the fish while it was over a patch of sand. When I pulled the line to me, I realized with dismay that the fish that I thought would be at least a foot long, was actually barely longer that my hand. Didn't matter to me, I just gutted it and scaled it, then we had Pan-Fried Parrotfish. On a scale of one to five I'd rate it a 2.5. By the way, Parrotfish in Snorkel-talk is “Harra-ish”.

23 July - Hot springs in Bai Du Carenage

After we ate the Parrot-fish, we left for Carenage Bay(Carenage is French for careening). It was a obviously a popular spot, as there were around 6 boats anchored. The main attraction was a hot spring that had been made into a type of hot tub. When we went into the spring, it had been raining only a couple hours earlier, so it was more of a lukewarm spring. It look the wood around the springs was fairly new, and the guidebook said nothing about it being like a hot tub, so I conclude that the tub must have been built in the last four years. Some days later, Nikki, momma and papa went on a hike, which I stubbornly refused to go on. I had fun just reading at home, while Nikki had fun hiking and swimming. I still don't know how people can have fun hiking.

24 July - A Grand Canyon for a Mouse

Yesterday we went on a hike to a lighthouse on Cap Ndoua. The Lighthouse is one of the leading lights to Havannah Passage. On the way there, I saw a sort of depression in the land, that slowly became more of a canyon “Hey Nikki” I said, “Yiz wanna explore this canyon with me?” “Sure.”, said Nikki. Once we started walking into the canyon, it became big enough that it could have been a Grand Canyon National Park for Mice. Hence the title. Nikki and I followed the riverbed, coming across some pretty rocks that we think is chrome, and a Pitcher plant. I think that the Pitcher Plants grows here because the soil in NewCal is not very nutritious. Because the Pitcher Plant gets its nutrients from the unfortunate insects that fly into its gaping maw instead of the soil as normal plants do, it manages to be a nuisance to the fly population in NewCal. Pitcher plants look like a pitcher with a lid which has a sweet smelling liquid in it. When a fly comes in and triggers the hairs on the inside of the plant, the lid closes and traps the fly. One section of the riverbed was sooooo skinny that we had to go sideways. At the end of the mini-chasm there was an outcropping that forced us to go on our knees and turn sideways to get under. When we reached the very end of the canyon we had to turn around, as the bank was so steep that we weren't able to climb up. This didn't stop us from trying. Nikki got some new scrapes from this.

When we reached the end of the trail, we could see that many people had made their names out of rocks. This trip was really fun. And for those of you who remember some of our earliest journals entries ... we actually do stuff now.