The Buddha’s Striptease #8: Western Australia



Farewell to Yesterday’s Rain


Well we made it to Perth on rainy day. And my traveling companions from the Land of Sunshine (i.e. England, for the atmospherically challenged) were complaining.


Jon and Carina got an offer to stay with a woman in Perth who they met in Alice Springs. So we found out where the woman lived and dropped them off. They were planning on staying in Perth for a month or so in order to find work to replenish their seriously depleted savings account. But last we heard from them, they stayed in Perth for a week and didn’t find anything so decided to head over to South Australia where they knew work would be waiting for them.










Spring in WA


Springtime delight in WA



With my moving here and there every few years in my life, I have said a fair amount of ‘good byes’. You think they would get easier but it is just the opposite. Thank God Carina hated ‘good byes’ as much as me. So we decided to say ‘see ya’; like we were going to meet for coffee next weekend. See you, Jon and Carina. No cream or sugar.


Rain

After dropping Jon and Carina in Perth, Tony and I headed down to see the southwest of Western Australia.


We drove through the lush rolling countryside on the way to Wave Rock. When Eve decides to have her second flat tire. Wench. The drive down was absolutely beautiful. It was raining off and on. I thought it added to the spring beauty but my whining fellow travel mate from the Isle of Sun did not. We saw huge fields of bright yellow rapeseed against lush green rolling hills. I took about a thousand pictures.










Wave Rock


Rock Surfer



Well anyway, Wave Rock is like its name implies: the perfect wave sculpted out of rock. I hung ten. I rock!

After Wave Rock we drove down through more beautiful countryside. It was raining and Tony was complaining. It is obvious to me that he hasn’t lived through much rain and, therefore, England must truly be a sunny and temperate climate indeed. I must look into spending my January holiday on the balmy English seaside.


Anyway. There are supposed to be abundant wildflowers in spring but I think you have to wait more towards the end of September. But I did see quite a few anywho. We made our way down to Albany to do some whale watching.


Albany is a beautiful resort town on the Southern Ocean (I never knew there was a Southern Ocean). The only problem was that it was raining again and Tony was shaking his fists at the skies. And it rained some more, and then started pouring in buckets and Tony just started whimpering. I was telling Tony to just enjoy what God gives you – see the beauty in the rain. He told me to ‘eff off’. Well, I think Tony pissed God off big time because then the wind started to pick up and up and up. I think we had gusts up to 100km an hour, which is like 60 miles/hour. It could have easily been more because my tent was being bent flat at times (no joking). Tony, since he was on God’s shite-list, had his tent poles snapped, then he repaired them, then they snapped again and he repaired them again, then for good measure (God has a great sense of humor) his tent was uprooted a few times. I told him to look on the bright side of life and be grateful it wasn’t blown into the sea. I think he wanted to hit me by this time.










Tony


One of the few times Tony wasn’t complaining about the weather



However, God wasn’t through with us just yet. The torrential rain then turned into hail. Yup, hail. I was loving the extreme weather but Tony…oh, you can guess the rest.

We did see a whale right from the beach in Albany. It was a Southern Right Whale. It got the name ‘right’ because back in the whaling days, it was the ‘right’ whale to catch because of its ease of slaughter.


Since the weather wasn’t good for whale watching in Albany, we thought we would try Augusta. On the way we stopped at the Valley of the Giants.


These are Australia’s version of the Redwood Forest in California. They are equally as impressive. I did a tree climb up a 51 meter high tree (167 feet). There were these pegs in the side of the 167-foot tree that took you spiraling up and up the 167-foot tree. Yes, 167-foot tree. I spiraled about up 90 feet of it and the mistake I made was that I looked down. Never look down. I then started having an inner dialogue with myself going something like this:


Todd1: Long way up isn’t it?

Todd2: Yes it is. Isn’t great?

T1: Well, not if we fall. It is raining a bit and the pegs are a little slippery and look at the last 70 feet!!! It doesn’t spiral anymore – it just shoots straight up!

T2: Come on! If we get to the top – we will feel great!! Come on!

T1: OK…. No…wait. You better go without me.

T2: Come on. Please!?

T1: Alright… No… wait. I’ll just stay here and wait for you.

T2: Whatever. You are beginning to annoy me. I am going. See these pegs straight up aren’t so bad. Oh shit.. Just looked down… Oi… This IS straight up. It is going to be hell coming down. Could slip… I like your idea. I am coming back down.










Valley of the Giants


Tree top walk in the Valley of the Giants



Well this went on for a few more minutes. Starting then stopping before finally deciding that 90 feet was a good enough accomplishment and heading back down the tree. Fear. Bah! It’s back again.


When we got to Augusta it was, yes, raining and the whale watching boat had moved its operations about 50 miles north to Dunsborough the day before.

It rained in Dunsborough too but not hard enough for the whale watching to be cancelled. I did find out about the tragedy in New York and Washington, DC that day on the boat. I was numb for most of the cruise but when I saw the whales I realized that this is the moment I am in and shoved the thoughts of the tragedy away for a while.










Whale Watching


Whale watching



Whales are truly magnificent creatures. As a kid, I used to write to the Oceanographic Institutes in the US and asked them to send me info on whales. I just couldn’t get enough. Maybe that is also something I could pursue since I am without a profession now: professional whale watcher. I did see a whale do a back flip in the ocean. That was spectacular.

After whale watching, then there was dolphin watching in Bunbury. Bunbury is what Monkey Mia should be. Wild dolphins come to the shore here too but there isn’t that carnival atmosphere that you find in Monkey Mia. This was relaxed. I donned a pair of fisherman’s overalls and waded into the water to see dolphins swimming right by me. Amazing. Oh yeah, it was raining too.











Rain over WA


Rain adding to nature’s beauty



Western Australia has left me enthralled. It vastness and variety of beauty make me give it a huge thumbs up. Even with the wind, rain and hail. Western Australia, I learned, has a moniker for the abbreviation WA similar to the abbreviation for the Northern Territory (the NT – meaning “Not Today” or “Not Thursday”). WA stands for “Wait Awhile”. Wait awhile and the scenery will change, wait awhile and the rain will clear, wait awhile and you will have a new outlook on life.

Yesterday









Plaque


A plaque I found in a hallowed out Karri tree. It reads:

“Inside

There is silence

If you pause to listen”




I am having the most troubling time writing this travelogue. The terrorist attacks in the US have left me a bit out of sorts. When I watched on TV the city that I love so much and have called home for over the past decade being devastated, I went through the range of human emotions: from disbelief to horror, from shock to sadness then to outrage. I turned the TV off when I got to outrage. I didn’t want to feel revenge but I did in that moment. I still feel this is all a horrible nightmare and will wake up any minute in a cold sweat. But this is our present.


I find this excerpt from a commencement speech made by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Anna Quindlen at Villanova University comforting:



It is so easy to waste our lives, our days, our hours, our minutes. It is so easy to take for granted the color of our kids’ eyes, the way the melody in a symphony rises and falls and disappears and rises again.


It is so easy to exist instead of to live. …I learned to love the journey, not the destination. I learned that it is not a dress rehearsal, and that today is the only guarantee you get. I learned to look at all the good in the world and try to give some of it back because I believed in it, completely and utterly. And I tried to do that, in
part, by telling others what I had learned. By telling them this:


  • Consider the lilies of the field.
  • Look at the fuzz on a baby’s ear.
  • Read in the backyard with the sun on your face.
  • Learn to be happy.
  • And think of life as a terminal illness, because if you do, you will live it
    with joy and passion as it ought to be lived.



So here I am. I want to live now rather than in yesterday. I want to live in happiness rather than in revenge. But I do not disparage anyone who wants revenge. We all do what we need to do. I just hope it doesn’t mean more needless death.


I know this to be true with all my heart: God doesn’t want us to kill in his name. That goes for the Christian bombing of an abortion clinic, the Catholic and the Protestant in Northern Ireland and the Muslim and the Jew in the Middle East. All carried out in the Name. It is definitely not God but human ego at work, plain and simple.


Call God by any name you like: Yahweh, Mohammed, Buddha, Jesus, or Jane from Nebraska, Nigel from Essex, Yusef from Pakistan or even the ever precocious four year old Maria Luisa from Rio. It doesn’t matter: God is an open heart, not a name with a passport. God is around us and in us all the time. All we have to do is stop and listen.


So here I am. I wrote, I move on. I do realize that life is precious and can be taken away at any minute. I want to seize the moment. I want to learn. So these are the lessons I want for myself from the rest of the Buddha’s Striptease (without being too anal retentive to letter of these goals):


  • I want to live in hope.
  • I want to skydive in New Zealand. I think by doing this I would be conquering one of my BIGGEST fears ever. I hope it changes me to love the here and now more than I could ever do with my feet planted firmly on the earth.
  • I want to stray from my comfort zone from time to time. In comfort there is peace but there is also complacency. I want to be stirred vigorously every now and then.
  • I want to never, ever make a list of future goals again. Ever. I want to keep my future open.
  • I want to learn to love the journey.
  • I want to see God in everyone.

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