Friday, March 6, 2009


Get your minds out of the gutter, I'm talking about the beautiful island of Tasmania!

After Team Nails: Australia disbanded at the Holiday Inn Melbourne, I was on my own to head south to Tasmania. It was a 1 hour flight and I land in Launceston (Lawn-sess-ten). Or something like that. It's really hard to say. It's a little town of about 100,000 that feels like it's in Colorado someplace (though the mountains are much smaller).

The best thing about it is that 10 minute walk from downtown there is the GORGE. This totally awesome river gorge where you can hike, swim, rock climb, cross suspension bridges, ride a chair lift and just have a blast in nature. I spent 5 hours + there on my first day, just enjoying the trails and tracks, the views and more. I couldn't exactly swim since it was rainy and about 55 degrees, but it was still really great.

I also rode a bike around the valley a bit and saw some sites.

And naturally had to hit up the University night at the Saloon. Filled with live music and, you guessed it, KARAOKE! I sang a little "Bust a Move" and "Sweet Caroline" for the mates down there. Was fun.

Of course, when I got back to the hostel at 2am some douche was in my bed in the dorm, and since you don't really know who it is that isn't supposed to be in there, (in fact there were 3 guys who snuck in and out and didn't pay that night), it would have been impossible and stupid to wake them up. So, having anticipated this I went to the other room I had a key for, but before I opened the door I heard this couple just going at it (no, not in a fun way, having an argument), so I ended up sleeping in a room with no door that had just been painted where no one else was. I took a sheet off a couch in the hallway (yuck) and it was like 40 degrees that night. Wooo summer! (they actually say it's unusually cold for march).

When I told the cool girl at reception what happened when they opened in the morning, she gave me a free night and a free bike rental and made sure I had a bed for my last night. (in the dorm, nothing as exciting as you might think :).

So my last day was a long bike ride down the valley, past Tamer Island wetlands, with its 2km boardwalk, and out to a town called Grindelwald. A scenic swiss town with food and fun (I was told). So I rode 14 km's on the main road, mostly flat. Then got to the turn off... and one big ass bastard of a hill. 3kms up up and UP! I walked it, it took an hour (ugh). There were plenty of animals to see, Kangaroo, Wombat, somthing else -- of course they were all road kill, but at least I saw them in the wild!

When I finally got to the town, sweating, hot, hungry and exhausted I had to look twice because it was so F'ing small!!! it was this tiny little place, like a hotel, a pond and a little kitchy square with a couple shops and bakery's. I laughed out loud at how f'ing stupid it was. The fact that I worked my butt off to get there is so funny in how rediculous the whole thing is. And on top of that... the restraunt was closed!!!

Fortunately the bakery was open and they had good old Meat Pies. So I got 2 of those, and told the ladies there of my adventure. They say no one comes up that hill on a bike (yeah, cause it's insane!). Needless to say, I wasn't looking forward to 18kms back to town. My ass already hurt and legs to. Then one of the ladies, Pat said "Well I'm going back that way, I can take you." YAHOOOOO!!!! So I rode my bike down the hill (had to do that). Took about 4 minutes, maybe less. That was GREAT! Then loaded up the bike in the car and drove back to town. Her names Pat, I took a picture. No email, no nothing. Just a super nice person from the super nice country of Australia.

Sleep 5 hours, after a nice seafood meal at sunset.

Today I got up and flew and flew. To Melbourne, to Aukland (hello New Zealand, that place is gonna rule to visit! I think I saw the marshes outside of Mordor on the flight in!), and there were delays on every flight. So it took 30 hours door to door from hotel to home to get back to the US of A. Ironically I sat in the same row that I rode over to Australia in, and met a cool guy who works at McMurdo base in Antarctica on the way. (next trip... possibly!)

And that's that...


Good old rainy (yep!) home.

The trip was grand, it was fun, full of highlights, laughs, great times with friends. Olga asked if I liked Solo or Group travel better, and they are both very different animals, and both awesome. As for this trip, i couldn't have imagined it any other way. It was awesome to share the adventure with good friends and have memories to share with them. ("when you go rafting, be sure to bring a towel!"). And in fact I'm greatful that I'm able to go with friends to such places. I hope everyone can take some time and get away, go alone if you want, grab some friends if you want. Australia is a wonderful country, safe, friendly as can be mates. We barely scratched the surface of things to do and places to go and see in the land down under, fair dinkum. I mean, we were withing 20 miles of the coast the entire time, and Australia is 3/4's the size of the continental US! There's a lot of land to explore, and a lot of fabulous people to meet. It's really fantastic just how nice and giving everyone is there. Sure they drive on the other side of the road, but you can't fault them for that. They have some funny slang, but that's part of the charm. It would be wonderful if everywhere you could call everyone mate. "G'day mate!" "No worries!" (just like Africa...hmmmm). They are laid back, not pushy, don't seem to get offended at much. Maybe we can all take some lessons from our mate's down under and chill out, lay back and treat each other kindly. They do and things seem to be going well there, fair dinkum. (I have no idea how to spell that:)

So grab your happy hat, saddle up your right handed automobile, and hit the land of Kangaroos and Coral Reefs, friendly people and fancy cities. Australia's got something for everyone, and if you get lost, they'll gladly give you directions and maybe even a ride. Fair Dinkum to that I'd say.

This is Craig Ouellette,

last surviving member of the Nostromo (otherwise known as Team Nails: Australia)

Signing off.

Monday, March 2, 2009


This one is going to be super fast, cause as things are going here in Australia, it's a whirlwind (including the wild wind blowing outside today which will be kicking up those fires again, and people here are very concerned. They don't want a repeat of Black Saturday from last month).

The Great Ocean Road is AWESOME!!!!!!!

We sang the song "Holiday Road" from VACATION, but sang it with "Great Ocean Rooo-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-oad!" It was the theme song.

It was great (ha ha) to get out of Melbourne and hit the road. We sang songs, walked in the ocean, saw cliffs and sites and apostles. Had great food, tons of laughs and a really really good time. Visually it's similar to the PCH in California, but that's only the first part. Then the cliffs tower up and things change up a lot. I kept thinking of the song Cliff's Of Dover from Guitar hero.

This was a wild, 2 day road trip. We piled into a toyota Corolla (quite literally the only car available for rent in Melbourne thanks to the wild and crazy QUILT FESTIVAL!!!!) It was a little small, but we made it work and headed out (drivnig on the left of course). We sang songs a lot, everything from Nine Inch Nails ("Down in it, now I'm down in it") to Hadaway ("What is love? Baby don't hurt me, don't hurt me, no more"). We had to sing cause there wasn't a lot of radio action out there.

Some of the highlights include walking down 366 steps to the beach, the cliffs towering above as the waves crash on rocks. And we walk up to an anchor from a shipwreck from 1890. There was another from 1871. This is called the shipwreck coast, with over 55 shipwrecks in 150 years. Some huge, some small, all dramatic. The coastline is beautiful, but feeling the wind blow in and the waves roar against the rocks hides an awesome power for which we are helpless against.

At night we drove out of the hamlet of Apollo bay (think a very very small santa barbara) and looked up at the stars. We danced in the road to our own songs (again, no music, at this point my ipod speakers had died), we tried to take pictures of the stars, but as is it doesn't capture how AWESOME they are. It was millions and millions, the milky way was bright, the southern cross up above. And they were bright bright bright. I've seen more in my life (I think), but it's been a long time since i've seen them so bright! Wow! We couldn't help it. "We didn't start the fire!"

We saw the world famous Twelve APostles rocks and climbed down on the beach near them. The waves were AWESOME, and we took some really cool pics as the sun got lower.

We ate some really good food in Apollo bay. Pricey, but everyone's meal was a tasty treat and actually filling! (a plus for me:)

The place was great, but the energy and chemistry we all had made it all the more wonderful. The amount of times we laughed and joked with each other, sometimes picking on each other in the fun way friends can. It was a wonderful, hilarious, song filled good time, that ended with a VERY long drive back in the dark reminicing about Jr. High and High School days with Tom. (Six flags, Car spin outs, old girlfriends and crushes and more). It was the kind of road trip I haven't had in a long time, and am glad it's still out there. Olga said it felt like we were in high school driving in the dark, talknig about silly stuff. And it did. And the great thing is it can, you don't have to stop having fun times with friends just because you have rent or a morgage or a job or "responsibilities". Those things are not exclusive of fun, excitement, wonder, and dancing in the streets.

Speaking of dancing, all the pedestrian crossing signs here look like Michael Jackson's legs from the Thriller days. Black pants, black shoes and white socks. We always get excited knowing that MJ was here, crusing the country, enjoying things. :)

Gotta go, flight to catch. The rest of the crew is gone. They headed out today after a bit of fiasco with airports being closed in the middle of the night and such, but now it's just me. The great TEAM NAILS AUSTRALIA trip is coming to an end. I'm the last one, heading to Tasmania in 2 hours.

The wind is blowing.

It's time to Ramble On...