Thursday, March 22, 2007
Our Talented Crew
One of the highlights of a Captain Cook cruise is the crew show. The Barrier Reef crew of "Reef Endeavour" are good, but the Fijian crew of "Reef Escape" are superb. Fijian singing and dancing just has to be experienced at least once in your life. Actually once you hear it once you will surely want to hear it again. Here is some of the crew from our 2006 trip serenading us before performing some of the most exciting dances this small bear has ever seen. My special friend, 'Tiko the divemaster, is playing guitar at the far end of the front row. I just love this crew. There seems nothing they can't do to make the trip one to remember. I can't wait to meet them again.
This will be my last post for a few weeks. Tomorrow morning we hop on a plane for Melbourne. We go to the Avalon airshow, catch up with friends from our 2005 Barrier Reef trip, and spend the next 2 weeks driving to Adelaide, seeing all the spectacular scenery along the Great Ocean Road and checking every lighthouse along the way (all 22 of them!).
Mum and Dad swim every week at this pool. They won't let me swim with them because Mum has this thing about me getting my fur all wet. Not that that ever seems to worry her when she reckons it's time I had a bath. Instead of letting me splash around in the pool they have given me a very important job. I sit here in this Bart-sized folding seat where I can see everything going on in the pool. Actually, I would prefer not to see some of the things that go on in there. At the first sign of anybody getting into difficulty I yell for help as loud as a small bear can. So far nobody has drowned while I have been on duty.
Monday, March 19, 2007
No doubt about Unka Mark and Auntie Vicki, they can always dream up fun things to do. We visited them last night to see how Vicki was feeling after her operation. She was fit and full of mischief. Somewhere along the way they realized that a plastic bag and a ceiling fan would make a great merry-go-round for a small bear. You can see the results. The top picture shows me all excited and a bit nervous, not really sure what is about to happen. The bottom picture shows me at half-speed. I think it was great fun. The room fair whizzed around and the wind in my fur felt great. Then Mark turned the fan up to full speed, the bag slipped along the fan blade and bear and bag went off on a tangent at high speed. Just as well I am a trained parachutist. Next time we use tape to hold the bag on.
Saturday, March 17, 2007
Here's the Manoora
You can see lots of interesting things when you cruise Sydney Harbour. One of the things I like is seeing what ships are docked at the navy base at Garden Island. Sometimes there are really big foreign navy ships visiting. This time the most interesting ship, one that I haven't seen before, was HMAS "Manoora". This is one of our navy's amphibious transport ships. That classification sounds a bit strange to a small bear because I don't think that the ship can go on both land and water. Dad says that it is called that because it carries Army landing craft, vehicles, helicopters and communication gear used in joint amphibious operations. It is also the newest and best hospital ship in the fleet. Anyhow, I like all sorts of boats and thanks to Captain Cook I now know what this one looks like.
Bear A'leaning on a Catalina
Only a week left now until the Avalon airshow. I am getting really excited. Dad got the suitcases down yesterday and packing has begun. I really love airshows because the pilots let small bears go places that they keep people out of. Here I am at the last Avalon, sitting on a bit of the undercarriage of a Catalina flying boat. This bit has obviously been designed as a Bart-sized seat. Catalinas were really important to Australia during the war years, and as transports along the coast and the islands after the war. Dad has a real thing about flying boats, Catalinas and Sunderlands used to land and take off just outside his school in Grafton. It must have been a great way to travel. We are making a model Catalina sometime soon and I am looking forward to meeting my pilot friends again.
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
Coming Into Cooktown
Cooktown is one of the stops on Captain Cook's Barrier Reef cruise, and one of Mum's favorite places. Here we are watching the "Reef Endeavour" come up to the dock. We are watching from the sundeck, right at the top of the boat. The "Endeavour" is the biggest ship to go to Cooktown and there is always a mob of spectators watching to see if the crew gets it wrong and bumps the dock too hard. They never do. Notice that Mum is so interested in proceedings that she hasn't noticed that I am sitting on the rail and could fall in if I don't hang on tight.
Not Your Ordinary Sort of Horse
This cute little guy is a seahorse. He lives at the Melbourne Aquarium. Actually he is just about to become a dad. Seahorse Dads do most of the work when it comes to having kids, and this one is about to have lots. Seahorses don't swim very fast, even Dad can keep up with them. They spend most of their time hanging on to seaweed with their tails and trying to hide. I like aquariums.
Friday, March 09, 2007
Boat Races are Fun
Any sort of race is fun, particularly if you win. The best sort are the ones where you can just sit back and let somebody else do the hard work. Here we are on the way from "Reef Escape" to the beach at the Blue Lagoon in the Yasawa islands in Fiji. Most people piled into the see-through boat, but I talked the oldies into going in the smaller dive tender. That boat is a lot faster, so even though we left last we got to the beach first. It was great fun to race past the other boat and yell things at them. Captain Cook trips are great.
Sitting On the Dock.....
I always like going to Sydney. There is so much to do and see. We usually stay at Darling Harbour, a place where things are always happening. I like to find a quiet spot and just sit and watch the boats, the tram, the monorail, and the crazy things that people get up to. This dock piling was an ideal spot until Mum found me and went into the usual panic about the possibility of my falling in the water.
Wednesday, March 07, 2007
All the Interesting Places are Locked
It is really a great shame. All of the interesting places have locks on them. We walked for ages to get to this lighthouse at Fingal Head. At least the oldies walked for ages, I rode in Dad's backpack. The lighthouse is one of the tiny northern NSW ones. It is in a very interesting place where the rocks at the edge of the ocean are smaller versions of the big basalt collumns that you see in Ireland and Tassie. I figured a small lighthouse would welcome small visitors, but when I climbed up to open the door it had a big padlock and a "Keep Off" sign on it. And of course Mum read the riot act about sneaking off and climbing yet again.
Coral is Crazy Stuff
Here's a picture of what the oldies get all wet to swim over. I am a lot happier now that I have found that if I lie on the glass in Captain Cook's see-through boats I can see it as well and not get wet. This stuff looks like cabbage plants, but is actually limestone castles built by tiny critters that live in it. There are all sorts of shapes of corals. This type that grows near the surface is called plate coral. I like fish better, but coral is OK.
You can see lots of my cruising pictures by clicking the Captain Cook link below, but for the early ones you will have to click into my archives 'cause they drop off the link page after 20 posts.
Monday, March 05, 2007
How's This For a Beach?
I've been to a lot of beaches over the last couple of years. This is one of the best. White, fine sand to dig in. No big waves to sneak up on small bears and get them all wet. Great coral and fish offshore to get the oldies out snorkelling and out of my hair for a while. Lots of boats of all sorts to look at. Even Captain Cook (the original one) liked the place when he visited here in 1770. He called the island Lizard Island because of the big sand goannas that live here. The big hill is called Cook's Look because he climbed up there to look for a way out through the reefs to open sea. We went there with today's Captain Cook crew. Can you see where I am hiding in the picture? And can you guess why I am there? (hint: crabs can't climb).
My Sort of Critter
This is one of the critters I saw at the Canberra show. It is a donkey so I am told. I'd never seen one before. I like donkeys. All the ones that were being judged inside the fence had minds of their own. They wouldn't start walking when their people tried to make them, and they wouldn't stop when told to either. They just did their own thing in their own way. Bears are a bit like that when Mum is away.
Saturday, March 03, 2007
In Fiji they drink a stuff called kava. This is an important part of most ceremonies. It is made by crunching up a dried root of the yaqona plant and soaking the crushed powder in water. Here some of the "Reef Escape" crew are pounding the root in a big iron pot. The kava was being made for one of our visits to a Fijian village. When you visit a village in Fiji the polite thing to do is to give a present of yaqona. They let us watch but Scruffy and I were too small to take a turn at bashing it. The guy in the purple sulu is 'Tiko, the divemaster. He looked after my oldies on both our Fiji trips and showed them the best reefs. He also made sure that Mum could go everywhere despite her bad leg. He is a great guy and I have named my new pufferfish toy after him because he showed the oldies a pufferfish during one of their snorkel trips. Kava has a funny sort of taste, so the oldies tell me. It isn't alchoholic, but it gives you a happy buzz and makes your lips go numb if you drink too much of it. Personally, I wouldn't know because (you guessed it) those mean oldies of mine wouldn't let me try any.
The Plane Train at Avalon
Great excitement! Dad has got our tickets for the Avalon airshow at the end of the month. This is the biggest airshow in Australia and happens every two years. I have been to the last two. The ground displays cover a huge area, far too far for a small bear to walk, so I usually ride in Dad's backpack but occasionally we manage to catch the train that takes you around the site. When this photo was taken we were on our way from the fast jet area to the transports. The aeroplane to the right is a Lockheed Super Constellation. Dad and I are going to build a model of it soon. Once the flying starts we settle down in the grandstand and watch Mum go hyper when the noisy jets go zipping past. Mum loves the noisy jets, Dad loves the old ones with several wings and fans on them. Avalon has enough of both sorts to keep them both happy. Me, I love them all.
No Swimming Here!
This is definitely not a place to go swimming. It is one of the pens in a croc farm near Cairns. We visited it during the break between our 3-day and 4-day Captain Cook Barrier Reef cruises. The Captain shouts continuing passengers a free side trip, so I was taken out to see how crocodiles are raised and turned into special leather goods. In just the area near the fence in this photo I can see 8 crocs. The pen had dozens of them. One pen had over a hundred. I was very glad that there was a fence between the crocs and the bus, and that I was well inside the bus window. The oldies got out occasionally to see things closer up, but there was no way I was getting out of the bus. Every pen had "Keep Out. No Swimming." signs on it. You would have to be an absolute dill to disobey those signs.
Thursday, March 01, 2007
Isn't Painting Fun?
I have just learned something interesting about paint. It can get into lots more places than you intend it to! Mum was painting this box thing and I was trying to help. I also wanted to show my new friend Tiko the pufferfish how paint worked. Mum had to leave the job for a bit to answer the phone, so there was my chance. By the time she got back I had finished the painting and had the brush ready for cleaning. Mum went ballistic! I can't really see why. Sure the paint dribbled a bit, but it was acrylic and washes off in water provided you don't let it dry first. Anyhow, I think I look good in blue camouflage. Dad has been a bit harsh with me. He says if I ever do this with his oil paint it will be a turps bath for me, and that stuff stings if it gets into your eyes and nether regions.