Saturday, December 15, 2012

Men on Film

First off, if you get the title of this post you are my new BFF.

Men on Film was a reoccurring skit on the best sketch comedy show ever, In Living Color (sorry, SNL).  When I was ten I wanted to be a fly girl (where J.Lo got her start, FYI) and it was the closest I had been to a black person up to that point in my life.  I loved it, and I'd like to thank my parents for allowing me to watch such wildly age inappropriate programming.  A+ parenting that I intend to emulate if I ever have kids.

But this post is not about the glories of early 90's urban TV or the genius of the Wayans brothers.  It is about movies.  Australian movies, on which I have a lot of catching up to do.

A Cry in the Dark

Not ringing any bells?

                "The dingo ate my baby!"

How about now?  Yes, that's the one!

I caught this on TV, but the listing said it was called "Evil Angels".  That's the name it had in Australia and New Zealand, and that title makes no. freaking. sense.  There's nobody (or nothing) evil in this movie, nor are there any angels.  A Cry in the Dark makes much more sense because the whole movie is based around.....a cry in the dark.

The movie is true life case of the Chamberlain family who were camping in the Outback in 1980.  Their 9-week old baby Azaria disappeared from their tent, presumably taken by a dingo, but the family was immediately presumed guilty of wrongdoing in the court of public opinion.

They found most (but not all) of the clothes the baby was wearing in the Outback, soaked in blood, but never found the body.  So, naturally, ritualistic religious sacrifice was the easiest assumption to make.

The mother, played by Meryl Streep, was locked up for a lot of the 80's for the "murder of her child".  Only when they found a jacket the baby was wearing inside a dingo den did anybody consider that maybe the dingo did take the baby, and human sacrifice didn't really happen.

It was a surprisingly good movie, and a historical view in to the hugest course case/murder mystery of Australian history.  Meryl pulled off a decent Australian accent if I do say so myself, but didn't actually ever say the words "the dingo ate my baby".  She said, "The dingo's got my baby", which begs the question: Who in their right goddamn mind would take a 9-week-old child camping?  In a tent?  Where there are wild animals?

Hmm....on a scale of letting your kid watch bad TV to turning them in to dingo feed, I say my parents erred on the side of caution.

The rest of these movies are ones I want to see, but have not yet.  It'll be quick, as I don't know too awful much about them, and I'm using this post as a list I can reference in the future.

The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert

If you hadn't noticed already by my prepubescent love of Men on Film, I love me some gays.  And nobody's gayer than a drag queen.

Which is what Priscilla is all about.

One of my favorite movies of all time is To Wong Foo, an American drag queen roadtrip movie.  I expect this movie to be almost exactly the same as that.  However nobody could ever be as fabulous as these queens:

Muriel's Wedding

I only know 2 things about his movie: It's a chick flick haters chick flick (a la Love Actually) and it has ABBA music.

Epic win!  Must see.

It stars Toni Collette, who I legit did not know was Australian until embarrassingly recently.  She's what I like to call a "clandestine foreigner".  An actor or actress who is so good at their American accent, and acts in so many American shows, you don't even know they're not American.  See also: Anthony LaPaglia, Hugh Laurie and Damian Lewis.  The foreigners are invading our shores!  And we don't even know it.

Mad Max

All I know about this movie is it is set in post-apocalyptic Australia, and I looooove post-apocalyptic movies.  It stars Mel Gibson before he was famous and before he was an anti-Semitic asshole, so it will be fun to see him so young, nubile and not-yet-Jew hating.

Crocodile Dundee

This can hardly be classified as an "Australian movie" but it's a shame I've never seen it.

So on the To See list it goes!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

On Oz

Save for a brief spell in the motherland, I've spent the last nine solid months on this isolated island.  In this short gestational time period I've done two random observation posts (here and here) and it's about damn time I do one more.

It's fun, you learn something, and I look wise like Yoda.  Enjoy it you will I hope.

I'm pretty sure Brisbane at one time housed Jurassic Park.

What else could explain this structure?

A bar is called a "hotel".

It often looks like this (unfortunately not all have the gay pride flag flying out front):

I imagine this makes it difficult for out-of-towners to book a place to stay (you know, a freaking hotel) since regular sleeping hotels are also called hotels.

There's often several bars under one roof of a hotel, so you can drink from different establishments without ever having to move seats.  A genius idea to be sure, just a confusing name.

Birds are murderously aggressive here.

I noticed a ton of bikers with zip ties sticking out of their helmet, like this:

I thought they did it just for funsies or to be fashionable or something, but it turns out it's to protect birds from swooping down and attacking their head.  

Now, these birds (magpies) exist in Norway but I don't recall any tales of bird-on-human crime.  I don't know how vicious the attacks are (Are eyes pecked?  Could they even do that to a moving target?) but it's apparently serious enough of a problem for people to bike around with spikes sticking out of their head.

What the eff, Australian fauna.

Australians are nuts - nuts - about their coffee.

You've never met a race of people so snooty about their coffee.  It's like the French and their wine, with 30% more snoot and 60% less body odor.

Secret code words and elitism surround the humble coffee bar in Australia.  Ordering from one is not for the faint of heart, so here is a handy ordering guide for those new to the game (but beware, the game is a blood sport):

Flat white: Steamed milk over espresso

Long black: Espresso + water, somehow different from an Americano

Short black: Just espresso, but Australians are too damn fancy about their coffee to simply call it espresso

God help you if you order "just a coffee".  There's no such thing and your request will not compute.  You might get laughed out of the joint or detained by authorities.

They're serious about their coffee, yo.

Eew, bugs.

The other day a cockroach fell from the ceiling on to my colleague's head.

Again, what the eff, Australian fauna!

When you're biotching about your below zero temperatures repeat after me: "At least there are not cockroaches falling on my head".

I can't afford this shit.

Seriously, the cost of living here is off the chain.  This is just one (albeit egregious) example.  Salaries are good, yes, but a large portion of my soul died when I saw avocados that cost $4 a piece.

I mean it, I can't afford this shit.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Wedding Bells

I am six years older than my baby sister; she's 23, I'm 29.  There are three of us girls, so when the elder two don't appear to give a rat's ass about marriage you inevitably wind up with the youngest one getting married first.

"But how do you feel about it, Heidi?" I so often got asked before the wedding.  Like I was supposed to mourn the fact that the baby beat me to the altar.  To which I responded, "I feel real good about it, thankyouverymuch."

My hitched sister Jenna is, proudly, the country bumpkin of the family.  Hell, of the upper Midwest, even.  Horses, livestock, the whole nine yards. While I enjoy the occasional foray in to the agricultural life (ahem, livestock shit smell lover over here) I am no country girl.

And do you know what country girls do?  They get married at age 23.

And I feel real good about that, thankyouverymuch.

The ceremony and reception were held at a really cool venue, Usher's House, on the banks of the Red River.  The only downside being that it is located in Moorhead, Minnesota.

I effing hate Moorhead, Minnesota.

After a disastrous freshman year of college spent there I vowed never spend more time in Moorhead than it takes me to zip through the interstate on my way through.  Oh, the things we do for family!  Usher's House, though, is a really nice place that gets a free too-bad-you're-located-in-a-sucky-city pass from me.

The wedding day was unseasonably freezing cold.  I felt bad for Jenna because she had to rejig all her plans, because you literally could not be outside for more than 5 minutes without wanting to pee our pants, just to feel some warmth.  The guests had to smush inside for the ceremony, but the fall colors still shone through and all was well.

We couldn't take many pictures outside, either, because the wind was blowing so bad.  Unsurprisingly, the two days after the wedding were beautiful, season-appropriate fall days.  Screw you, Mother Nature.

You read that right: PHOTO BOOTH!  Holler!

I maintain that there is nothing funner in this world when you're drunk than a photo booth.  I made great use of one at Martin's company ball a few months ago, and I showed Jenna's wedding booth the same level of disrespect. So. Much. Fun.

This was my first flight between the USA and Australia, which means I had the distinct pleasure of taking the longest flight of my life.  In fact, it is one of the longest flights available in the whole entire world, and I had two other flights to bookend The Big One.  Fifteen hours!  If I ever hear someone complain about their 8-hour flight again so help me god, I will cut a bitch.

Amazingly, though, it really wasn't that bad.  My secret?  Booze and pills.  The 'ol Marilyn Monroe special.  Take 1 glass of wine + 2 sleeping pills with dinner, put on your eye mask and noise cancelling headphones, and off to medically sedated sleepy land you go.  I slept the vast majority of the way over the Pacific ocean, which I hadn't realized is like freaking double the size of the Atlantic.  There's a reason Americans don't say "across the pond" about Australia, the way they do about the UK.  Australia is on the goddamn other side of the planet, while the UK is, like, just down the block.

As with all of my trips home my absolute favorite part is spending time with my niece Brynn.  She's 7 years old now, but when I moved abroad she was only 2.  The first time I came home after moving overseas she didn't recognize me or know who I was, which sucked royally, but she sure knows who I am now.  I'm the one who did this to her when she was at her most innocent and vulnerable:

And I'm the one who does this to her now:

Why bother having children if they're not going to entertain you, I ask?!

Which reminds me...

Dear Jenna,

Please make me some nieces or nephews ASAP so I can do hilarious stuff to them as well.  Please!

Thanks, love you, bye.


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A Fair-ly Pleasant Outing

I have professed my love for the North Dakota State Fair here before, and to this day it remains one of my favorite things on planet earth, even though I sadly haven't been in 3 years.  So when I heard that Brisbane has a similar event - and that there is a public holiday off work so people can go - I said "I totes gotta go to that".

This state fair-esque event is called Ekka or The Ekka, I haven't really figured out which is correct, nor what "Ekka" means.  To me it means gorging on deep fried foods:

Seeing livestock:

And wishing I wasn't to big/old/heavy for awesome carnival rides:

I planned every single little thing I wanted to do/see/experience/eat for our day at Ekka down to the minute (almost).  Why so anal, you ask?  Because at $26 per person admission, I ain't ever going again.  I love a fair - any fair, but not $26-per-person love.  That is insanity!  For comparison, an adult 1-day admission to the North Dakota State Fair (henceforth known as NDSF) costs $8.  One third! 

There are a few things that Ekka offers visitors that the NDSF does not:

1. Birthing animals

However many months it takes a sheep to gestate ago, they knocked up a bunch of sheep so they can give birth on display at Ekka.  I can imagine nothing more horrific for a birthing mother of any species, but man is it fun/gross entertainment!  They call it the Little Miracles Newborn Corner but I call it "What is that gross red sack hanging out of that sheep?"  We didn't see an actual birth but the little guy in this picture is probably less than an hour old.  Behind glass, for all the world to see, from the very moment he entered this world.

2. Fairy floss

"Fairy floss" is just another term for cotton candy.  While I think the Australian word is much, much better, I find the fact that it's pre-made in a bucket (a bucket for crying out loud), and not spun fresh on a cone is revolting.

3. Show bags

I had ever heard the term "show bag" before I got here, but it's apparently a huge part of an Australian childhood.  A show bag is a...bag...of crap, bought at events such as Ekka.  The week before Ekka the newspaper published a show bag guide, 4 whole pages, listing all the bags that were available for sale - literally hundreds at different price points - and the exact contents of each and their retail value.

The main ingredients in each bag were candy, dinky little toys, comic books and crap of that nature, hence why kids love them so much.  I was tempted to buy a candy or Oreo show bag, but I resisted the temptation since I had a bridesmaid to fit in to in a mere 2 months.

4. Carnies who are respectable people

I don't have a picture to back this one up, but the carnie situation in Australia is way, way different than anything I've ever seen at the NDSF.  The carnival workers operating the rides and games had - brace yourselves for a shock - teeth.

At the NDSF they have always been the skeeziest dregs of society, chain smoking, unbathed, foul mouthed no-doubt-about-it ex-convicts.  But here in Australia a lot of them were young Asian women with - I still can't believe it - a full set of teeth.  Unbelievable! 

5. Wood chopping competitions

This was so cool!  I had always seen wood chopping competitions on ESPN and that outdoors-y TV network in the US but I've never seen it done in real life.  Man, is it intense!  These guys are crazy buff and put so much muscle in to chop chop chopping various pieces of wood.

My hat is off to anybody who can chop through several logs in mere minutes, as I know it would take me untold hours and endless bitching to chop through even one.  I was scared they were going to chop their foot off with those crazy flying axes, but all limbs survived the day and I got to squeeze out a few semi-inappropriate lumberjack jokes.

As for similarities between Ekka and the NDSF, there were a disproportionate number of people of a wide girth, a.k.a. fatties, compared to what I see in everyday life but nowhere near as many as the NDSF.  Not even a tenth compared to the NDSF.

There was ample odor of animal dung, which didn't phase me at all.  When we were in the poultry barn (and you know how much worse poultry shit smells compared to other species, or at least you do now if you're city folk) Martin's eyes were burning and watering while I could literally hardly smell a thing.  I do not claim to be country folk but I have spent more time around the scents of the barnyard compared to most city people.  I'm going to admit it right here, right now: I love the smell of animal shit.

Ok, I don't love it, love it but it does bring back a lot of good childhood (and beyond) memories.  I love it in this type of fair setting, not in everyday life.  It doesn't phase me and is comforting.  So I love the smell of manure...sue me!

Ekka was awesome, and I loved every minute of it.  But I won't be back, for a few reasons: 1) The ridiculous admission price, and similarly ridiculous price of, well, everything there. 2) When I have a mid-week public holiday I damn well am going to spend it in bed and on the couch. 3) It's no NDSF.  It tries, and it almost succeeds, but it fails.  Ekka is no glorious, glorious NDSF.

I will leave you with some pictures of ducks with hilarious feather hats:

How hilarious and awesome are those?!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Fun with Groupon

Australia, like the rest of the western world, has embraced Groupon and its many, many copycats.  Being an avid user of daily deals sites in Edinburgh out of necessity (when I was a po' grad student) I brought that habit with me to Brisbane.  I found a day tour of the nearby Mount Tamborine and was sold by the words "wine tasting included".

The day started us off at a historical village, which had old timey homes and shops staged as they were "back in the day" (1920's I think).  There were also plenty of old timey cars, which confirmed my suspicion that this is the most perfect place on earth for my dad.  Or any dad, really.  It was a place for dads.  The highlight for me was this sign nearby, outside of the village:

Honey Boo Boo has apparently made her way Down Under.

Then we got to Tamborine Mountain, which we have visited briefly before, and did some jungle walking to this amazing waterfall, Curtis Falls:

We then stopped at a little tourist mountain town for lunch.  It reminded me of Nimbin, without all the dirty, dirty hippies and availability of drugs for purchase.  The idea was the same, though: Rope in the day trippers and take their dolla dolla billz.

There were a million and one fudge shops in town (I shan't complain about that!) and this one had booze-inside-of-fudge.  Sounds like something I'd love, eh?  Well, no.  Bleh, not at all.  I hate sweets and booze together.  It's just an unholy union.  Sweets?  Good.  Booze?  Great.  Booze-in-sweets?  Nasty crap.  I showed the utmost restraint and bought a single piece of fudge to share - Jaffa flavoured (British spelling there because I don't imagine Americans will know what that is, those poor, poor bastards). 

After lunch we had the option to visit a glow worm cave.  Glow Worm, you say?

No, not that kind.  This kind:

Real bugs glow worms.  I had no idea these were a real thing until I moved to Australia.  Apparently they are quite endangered because of loss of habitat, so the cave we went into is an artificial habitat that grows glow worms to release them into the wild.  The ones we saw weren't on a string like this, but plastered all over the cave ceiling and walls.  It was pitch black in there and looked like a starry night sky.  Nature = very cool.

Once we put in our concerned-about-nature time it was time for our wine tasting.  Woo hoo!  Booze without sweets!  There's not much I can say besides Wine Kicks Ass, and we enjoyed tasting several different kinds that are grown right on site.  However I did learn one very disturbing fact during our wine tasting: Bailey's Irish Creme, perfect coffee mixer, breakfast of champions, is made of like half raw eggs.  Raw eggs.  Half.  Eew.  Keep that shit refrigerated, people.  I had no idea.

Sneaky geniuses they are, they fed us a little booze for free then took us to a bar with infinite booze available for purchase.  The guise was "look at these beautiful views off the mountain" (which it was) but this bar had one interesting catch: It used to be owned by Mel Gibson.  Crazy, Jew-hating, drunk driving Mel Gibson.  I often forget that he is Australian as I don't think I've ever heard him speak with an Aussie accent.  I feel the same way about Julian Assange, but mainly because I've never heard him speak.  Clandestine Australians are all around you, people, so hide yo' kids!

The Passion of the Douche hasn't lived at this place since his Mad Max days, but I think it rides on that legacy quite a bit.  The indoor bar area used to be his indoor pool:

Speaking of Mad Max, I've never seen it.  It's set in a post-apocalyptic time so I am guaranteed to like it.  This is just one of several Australian movies that I've never seen but really, really need to if I ever hope to fit in here.  The other movies include Priscilla, Queen of the Dessert (from what I understand an Aussie version of To Wong Foo, which happens to be one of my favorite movies ever) and The Castle, which my boss quotes from weekly.  Feel free to leave me names of other Aussie films I shouldn't miss!

The other Groupon-esque deal that I took advantage of was nothing short of an epic, epic fail.  Entirely my fault, not the fault of the deal site or the business.  I'm embarrassed to even admit this, but I feel like I have two choices: Make light of the situation or feel like a complete jackass.  Since I have some wine in me (to recover from the following incident), I shall choose the former.

In Brisbane there is a rock cliff that has been cleverly utilized by a company called Riverlife, which offers various outdoorsy activities like kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, roller blading, rock climbing, etc.  I found a deal for $19 for an activity and browsing through their list of activities I found "abseiling", which is what the Australians call rappelling.  In any language, this means climbing your ass down a 90° rock wall.

My up-for-any-adventure Canadian friends were down for some reverse-mountain climbing, so we bought the deal.  "I will abseil," I said to myself.  "I will be active and outdoorsy."

Spoiler alert: I did not abseil.

The day started really great.  Sporty clothes!  Helmets!  A harness you wear like a diaper!  It was perfection.

Until it was my turn to go.  I was the third of the four of us to go down, and the two before me went like champs.  But I made one fatal, fatal mistake.  I looked down.

The hardest part of abseiling/rappelling is getting over the edge.  Mainly because it's awkward and there's no defined place to put your feet.  I was all hooked up, with my butt hanging over the edge of the 55 foot cliff, and I as I was searching for a place to put my feet I saw how far down 55 feet actually is.

And I freaked.

Well, I didn't.  My body did.  My legs started shaking so hard that one of the girls who went before me could see them shaking from below.  I don't know how my legs even kept me up at that point, they were not functioning at all.  I knew then that I couldn't do it.  I physically couldn't do it.

My heart was beating out of my chest, and my hearing was fading rapidly, even though the instructor, a hilarious Crocodile Dundee-esque caricature, was right beside me.  Here is a shot of me publicly making a fool of myself:

Had I been brave/stupid enough to follow through I suspect I would have lost consciousness.  Please keep in mind this abseiling business was all my idea in the first place.

I am so ashamed.

I got unhooked and got to a safe distance from the edge, but my legs took forever to recover from the shock.  I couldn't stand up without leaning on something for a long time.  Hours later I could still feel something off with my legs.  It was so embarrassing.  There were over 20 people abseiling that day, and some of them went down slowly, but none of them made a scene (like me) and none of them chickened out (like me).

I bring shame and dishonor upon my family.  But at least I didn't pay full price!


Chicken Shit

Saturday, July 28, 2012

A Whale of a Time

Who got a job and abandoned her blog?  That would be moi!

Apologies for sucking at keeping you up to date about my goings on, and I will be better in the future.  I spent the first month of my job absolutely slammed, but life is [back to] normal now so I should have the mental energy to write my thoughts on the interwebz.

First order of business: My job.  OMG, it's amazing.  Ah-may-zing.  It's like the job was tailor made for me.  It is so good!  And ::buffs nails on shirt:: I am good at it!  Two students have explicitly commented on how I'm doing a really good job in such a short amount of time and my boss has said the same.  I remain so grateful for this job and, really, errrything.

Now on to the good stuff!

When we did our tour of Fraser Island we met two girls on our tour whose story is remarkably similar to ours.  They moved to Australia for 2 years for work (at the 2 biggest competitors of Martin's company, no less) a month before we did.  Both are Canadian and I don't even need to explain my feelings about them.  I've never met a Canadian I didn't LOVE!

Many of our other tour mates were skanky 19-year-olds so I consider it fate that we were on the same tour.  Alas, our first Aussie friendship was born!  And most importantly, travel partners were found!

Shortly after we vetted each other as viable friends and not-serial-killers, one of the girls bought a car.  For us that means hitching rides to awesome destinations!  In the last month we have hit up several sweet destinations with the Canadians, in a car affectionately named Snowflake, that legit has this sticker on the back window:

First stop: Byron Bay, New South Wales:

As you can see, it is the most easterly point of the Australian mainland.  Take a good look at this picture because there wasn't many others taken that rainy, cold, miserable weekend.  We were lucky to get decent weather on our first afternoon so we were able to hike up to the famed lighthouse of Byron Bay:

The view from the lookout point was supposed to be ideal for spotting migrating whales but we saw no such thing.  The official whale season started early this year, end of May, but in the second week of June there were none to be seen from this aerial view.  No matter, we planned to take a whale watching boat tour later that weekend.

Yeah, no.  Remember that rainy/cold/miserable part?  That prevented us from going on a whale watching tour.  Or a sea kayaking trip.  Or doing almost every freaking thing outside of cooking in our apartment.  However there was one activity we were able to participate in despite the crappy weather.  Hippie watching!

Second stop, Nimbin, New South Wales

The history of the town of Nimbin is an interesting one.  Back in the 60's (or whenever) there was a hippie dippy music festival in the area.  Then the hippies never left.  The end.

It's an hour and a half drive from Byron Bay, up unmarked mountain roads.  It's a pretty big tourist attraction, especially for those who appreciate herb.  Nimbin is a great place to acquire herb, if you so choose.  Martin was offered some weed from a friendly fellow on the street, to which he replied "Nah, I'm good."  So we did not bring home any smokeable souvenirs.

I found this sign outside of a convenience store particularly hilarious:

In this town, whoever came up with that sign is nothing short of a marketing genius!  Our day trip to Nimbin only reinforced my hatred of/complete jealously of the hippie lifestyle.

Third stop: Springbrook National Park

Quite near Lamington National Park, where we had gone before, is another national park called Springbrook National Park.  The Canadian girls and I (not Martin, he was in far more exotic locations at the time) took a short hike to the Natural Arch, which is basically a river that has broken through the ground and formed a waterfall.

To see scenic mountain views, we had a multitude of lookout points to choose from, and decided we only needed to see one.  We decided to go to the one that was literally called Best of All Lookout because with a name like that, how could others compete?  What an amazing choice we made:

"An impressive outlook", "Best of All" my ass!  You couldn't see 10 feet!  It was actually hard to look at because it was so bright and overbearing.  We had a good chuckle about it and high tailed it out of there because it was freezing!  Probably 40 degrees, because this lookout was literally in the clouds.  You could tell it was wet up there 24/7 because every surface of the forest was covered in moss.

It was the wildest and coolest forest I have ever seen, so the bust of a lookout was totally worth the trip for the cool forest.  I entertained myself by telling passersby on the trail "Best of All my ass".  

Keeping it classy, as always.

Fourth stop: Darwin, Northern Territories

For 2 weeks, Martin was in Darwin for work.  I really, really, really (really, really) wanted to go but the only weekend he was up there was a weekend I had to work.  Oh the trials and tribulations of being employed.

We're both hoping he goes back again sometime, because that place sounds downright awesome.  He saw crocks at a crocodile park:

Took a tour in an amphibious bus, that could both drive on land and float on water:

And, of course, drank copious amounts of alcohol with his colleagues.  Which segues nicely to my next point.

Fifth stop: Ernst & Young Winter Ball

I had never had access to a free photo booth before, much less after a few bottles of wine.  Holy crap was it fun!  I see why people have them at their wedding!

Additionally, I had never been to a corporate event before.  In Norway, spouses weren't ever invited.  Here in Oz, if your spouse pays, they can come. It was so worth it!  There was a mechanical bull (did not try) and an adult-sized bouncy house (did try; kicked ass).  Martin even rented a tux!  It felt like prom all over again.  Really awesome; I can't wait to go again next year.  I'm glad it only happens once per year because my liver will need that long to regenerate.

A few pre-ball sunset shots of our fine city:

Sixth stop: Whale watching

My previous attempts at whale watching have been thwarted by weather not once, not twice, but three times before (in Hawaii, Scotland and Byron Bay)!  I thought I was cursed and destined never to see a whale, and a faulty boat engine on this tour damn near solidified that fact.  However the engine was replaced and we were off to the open ocean to search for whales, glorious whales!

It was amazing.  Nay, totally amazing.  By law, we couldn't get too close to the whales but if they came close to us, well, you can't very well stop nature.

At first we found a pod of 2 whales that didn't do much besides come up to breathe (and shoot water out of their blow holes) every 5 minutes.  Don't get me wrong, it was still cool though.  Then in the distance we saw a pair of whales jumping their entire bodies out of the water (called breaching) so we went and chased them.  By the time we got closer they weren't as active with the acrobatics, but they did flash us their tails a bunch of times as they dove downwards.

It's dang hard to get a picture of a whale, since they come up unexpectedly and in different places.  We were lucky to have gotten the shots we did!  Right now the whales (humpbacks, by the way) are traveling north to give birth in the warm waters of the Whitsundays.  Later this year they'll be migrating back south with their babies, so I totes plan to go again so I can spot some adorable whale babies!

Stay tuned for more travel updates brought to you by Mike Hunt!