Friday, August 31, 2007
Meet My Friend Tenele
Here is a Very Important Person. She is my friend Tenele and she is the one who has arranged our BIG trip overseas. She has managed to link together tours in the UK, Egypt, France, Dubai and Singapore and got all the tickets and accommodation and everything. She is a real genius and cute as well. Today Mum and I picked up the very last thing needed for our trip. This is the tickets for the Eurostar train that will zip us from London to Paris at 300 km/hr. I am looking forward to that! Tenele has done such a great job for us that we surprised her with a big box of choccies, and helped her eat some of them. Only a week to go now and we are off to the other side of the world. Dad is certain that we won't fall off, but I am a bit worried.
Wind can be useful, as well as being dangerous to sailing ships. On our Great Ocean Road trip we saw two windfarms. They are both on ridges near the coast where the wind from the Roaring Forties hits Victoria and South Australia. This one is at Codrington in Victoria. The other one is near Lake Bonney in South Australia. You can drive right through the Lake Bonney one, but at Codrington you have to be in a tour group. The oldies were very excited by these places. They have often argued that wind power should be used more in Australia. The old arguments that wind turbines make too much noise and are dangerous to birds don't make sense to this small bear. Even standing just about right under a turbine all you hear is a very quiet swoosh. And we saw a flock of crows fly right through a spinning turbine without injury to the crows or the turbine. I guess people think the turbine blades spin fast like aeroplane propellors, but they actually spin quite slowly, even in strong winds. The Codrington windfarm is Mum's favorite. Can you guess why? That's right. Cows. Sometimes I worry about her.
Remember, to see a bigger picture just click on this one. Check my archives out too, to see what I have been doing over the last year.
This is the anchor of the American sailing ship "Eric the Red". "Eric" was wrecked on a reef just off Cape Otway lighthouse on September 3rd, 1880. The captain thought he was much further out to sea and steered in toward the lighthouse. There were no survivors. Lots of wreckage came ashore between Apollo Bay and Port Campbell. We saw some houses in Apollo Bay that had had additions built with timber from the wreck. The anchor is now displayed at the Cape Otway lightstation. You can see from the photo that the anchor is over 10 Bart's long, so you can imagine the size of "Eric the Red". Sea travel along the southern coast of Australia was a dangerous business in the days when ships were powered only by the wind.
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Wild and Windy Weather
Normally we have good weather for our holidays, but our Great Ocean Road trip earlier this year had some rough days in it. This photo was taken at Port Campbell, just after our first helicopter flight.You can see how rough it is by the waves and the condition of Mum's hair and my fur. No boats in port in this sort of weather. Port Campbell used to be visited by quite large ships back in the days before there were good roads. One of the ships was wrecked just opposite the jetty and you can see the remains on days when the water is calm and clear. At least in weather like this crabs stay tucked up in their burrows and small bears can go onto the sand.
The Ghost Bear and the Eclipse
Last night was different and exciting. There was a Total Lunar Eclipse just after dark and we spent a lot of time out in the cold watching it. The sky was very clear and we could see things easily from just outside our garage door, even with the lights in the laneway. I liked watching the Moon get slowly covered by Earth's shadow; it really did look like a big bear was eating it away. Then it went a very dark coppery colour and almost black near one edge at mid-eclipse. Dad says that was because the Moon was not quite centered in the shadow. Anyhow, it was really spectacular and I am glad that the oldies dragged me out into the cold to see it. Mum has a new camera and took lots of pictures. This one is spooky. Notice how you can see right through the small bear. I look like a ghost! I am not, really, I checked carefully and am still quite solid. What happened was that Mum had to use time exposure to get the Moon and flash to get the Bear. Dad moved me as soon as the flash went off, so the lights and the car were recorded too. Anyhow, whenever I am up to mischief Mum can always "see right through me".
Thursday, August 23, 2007
The Vital Link
This strange looking thing is actually one of the most important "aeroplanes" ever built. It is a Link Trainer. The first one was built by Edwin Link in 1929. He wanted to build something that would teach new pilots to fly by instruments, without the expense and danger of using real aircraft. The result was the first real flight simulator. It looks a bit rough and ready compared to today's high-tech simulators but it was so successful that hundreds of thousands of pilots were trained on them during World War 2. They were used in the USA, Australia, Britain, Canada, USSR and even Germany and Japan. This one is in the South Australian Aviation Museum. As you can see in the top photo, it looks reasonably large when there is only a small bear in the cockpit, although it must have been cramped for full-sized people. Of course, I got Dad to make me a model of one as soon as we got home. You can see that the Link is really quite small because the 1/72 scale model is much smaller than the small bear. Models are great, almost as good as real aeroplanes.
Monday, August 20, 2007
The Stuff of Dreams
This is really the sort of evening dreams are made of. Here I am, sitting on a beach with my oldies and a batch of passengers from our ship. The ship is at anchor just offshore. The village we are visiting is about to put on a special dinner and dance show for us. It is slowly getting dark and there are no crabs or mozzies around to terrorize small bears. Whenever you visit a Fijian village you should always follow strict rules of courtesy. Here the Captain and the Cruise Director are presenting the Chief with a present of Kava root and the Chief is formally welcoming us to the village. Most of the oldies tried kava later on, but they wouldn't let me. An evening like this is something that everyone and their bears should experience at least once in their life. Thanks to my friends at Captain Cook Cruises I have done it several times. Now I will start working on Dad about next year...........
There are lots more Captain Cook Cruise piccie in my archives
In the Kingsford-Smith Memorial at Brisbane airport they have a couple of models of Smithy's other aircraft, as well as the original "Southern Cross". The one that I am looking at here is the "Lady Southern Cross". This was a special Lockheed Altair that Smithy bought to enter the 1934 Mac Robertson England-Australia air race. He broke every city-to-city record in her before setting off for England. At Cloncurry he found serious damage to the engine cowling and had to pull out of the race. People called him "chicken", so he proved them wrong by doing what was thought to be impossible. With PG Taylor, he flew the "Lady" across the Pacific from Australia to America in October 1934. This was not only the first west-to-east crossing of the Pacific, but the first crossing in a single-engined plane. Smithy hit financial troubles and planned to make a record flight between England and Australia. He left England in the "Lady" on November 6, 1935 and disappeared somewhere over the sea near Burma. Two years later one of the wheels and part of the undercarriage of the aeroplane were found on Aye Island, but nothing else has ever been found. It is likely that the engine failed, the "Lady Southern Cross" hit the top of a hill on the island and crashed into the sea. I wish I could have met Smithy, Australia's most famous airman.
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Unka Mark's house has lots of interesting things in it. Every time that I visit him he has a different toy for me to play with. This cow was fun to jump and bounce on. She squeaks. My cow Holly doesn't make any sound at all and real ones moo, so this one is really different. No spurs allowed either, but that's no problem because I don't have the proper cowboy gear (hint for Santa).
What's Boots Got To Do With It?
Movie World on the Gold Coast has lots of fun rides and interesting things to look at, but this one is a bit of a puzzler. I couldn't work out what it was all about. Some sort of swing maybe? Maybe not because even when I climbed as far up the gate as I could I still couldn't reach the loop that I thought you sat in. Dad explained. I guess that this is one place where you wouldn't like to swing. I still don't know what boots have to do with it.
A Bart-sized Train
I found a train just the right size for me. It is in the South Australian Railway Museum at Port Adelaide, along with lots of big ones. This one is the size that is used in miniature railways all over the world. Normally they are driven by big people riding on the tender. I wonder why nobody has ever thought to train small bears as engine drivers? I would be good at it, so I asked the museum people to let me have this engine when they don't need it any more and Dad can lay some track for me.
Saturday, August 04, 2007
The Most Famous Aeroplane
This is the most famous aeroplane of all time. It is the Fokker Trimotor "Southern Cross" which was flown on many pioneering flights by Charles Kingsford-Smith, Dad's hero. Smithy called her "the old bus" and said that she was the perfect aeroplane and that she never let him down. This was the first aircraft to fly across the Pacific from America to Australia (in 1928), the first to fly non-stop across Australia (1928), the first to cross the Tasman in both directions (1928), the first to cross the Atlantic from east to west from Ireland to New York, and the first to fly completely around the world crossing the equator twice (in several flights between 1928 and 1930). It also made some of the earliest air-mail flights between England and Australia and across the Tasman. Today it sits in a special memorial building at Brisbane airport. Do visit it if you are in Brisbane and think how different airliners are today, and how the air routes between Australia, England and America were first travelled by this great aeroplane and Smithy. There is just one brief mention in Dad's library of Smithy carrying a Teddybear on one of his flights. I like to think he always did.
I will be away for a week, but more on Smithy when I get back.
My Barrier Reef Boat Again
There is something special about sitting on a beach on a tropical island and seeing your cruise ship anchored in the bay. This is the Captain Cook ship "Reef Endeavour" that took us on our Barrier Reef cruise two years ago. It is anchored off Fitzroy Island near Cairns. Fitzroy is a special island to my oldies because it is where thay had their first holiday together, way back in the days before me. It is where Mum first snorkelled over coral, and where she got some great photos of manta rays so close that she could touch them. Back in those days Fitz was a low-key resort island. Now it is being turned into an up-market one. I will see it again when the oldies next cruise the reef. Hopefully small bears will still be allowed to visit and check for mantas.