Summer 2006

Summer 2006 is long gone.....here is the archived version of our Summer 2006 activities....

Summer 2006 has officially ended. This is the archive version of our activities........

So, without further ado: here is what we have planned for Summer 2006

As you can see from the above animations, the weather here will change from being very pleasant in early July, to brutally hot in August, back to being pleasant again in September. There should be NO SNOW here in summer. Our weather is bad, but it's not that bad.

As has become our custom, before we can start Summer 2006, we have a few questions to note. These questions, and many others, will be answered of the course of the season:

  • Will there be peace in Iraq????? Answer...No. The sectarian violence continues to escalate in both number  and brutality of attacks. According to Amnesty International, the use of torture by the Iraqi government, associated militias and the death squads is now even more endemic than what it was under Saddam. Meanwhile, the official US military list consists of 2,695 dead and 19,945 wounded...numbers greater than the death toll of 9/11. The body count for Iraqi civilians is 43,269 [give or take a few....as quoted from GWB Jr]. Good one GWB Jr.....

  •  Will Weapons of Mass Distraction be found in Iraq????  Answer....Nope, not a drop. The latest US senate report published two weeks ago, confirms that Saddam had no active WMD program in either nuclear or biological weapons. The report goes on to say that the sources quoted by the Bush administration [the infamous Iraqi Liberation Movement] was a concoction of half truths and outright fabrications. For this, 2,695 US kids have died......

  •  Who will we be at war with by the end of Summer 2006??? Answer....After the botched fiasco of Israel invading Lebanon, we all assumed that the US would declare war on either Syria and/or Iran. Neither of which happened [thank god]. But, just hang around a while and wait....the webmaster's bet is Syria......

  •  Will the economy still be heading south courtesy of GWB Jr???? Answer.....If you're a Wall Street executive, or a corporate donor to the Republican Party [GOP], everything is just fine and dandy. If you happen to be  a working stiff, you're screwed. But, with Bush and the Republican's, if you're a working stiff, you would never have voted Republican anyway, so they don't  give a shit about you anyway.....

  •  Where will the webmaster be working?????? Answer.....This one is the easiest one....still at CSI in Valparaiso, Indiana....the "party town" of the USA...yeah right!!!!!

  •  How will the US economy be faring???? Answer...See above....

Friday, June 23, thru Tuesday, June 27, 2006: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

On Friday, June 23, 2006, Lisa departed for her bi-annual AG Bell conference, this time in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. For those of you who don't know where Pittsburgh is, please see the map below.

From the description o f the conference Lisa has given, while the conference itself left a lot to be desire, the seafood in Pittsburgh was fantastic!!!

While Lisa's original flight to Pittsburgh was boring, uneventful and on-time, her flight back to Omaha was anything but. It was over four hours late due to weather conditions in various cities across the US.

Saturday July 1, 2006: Wedding Anniversary

It's our wedding anniversary. This is our eleventh (11) year anniversary.....we spent a very pleasant day lounging around the house. For dinner, we went to our favorite local restaurant....

Tuesday, July 4, 2006:

July Fourth is Independence day. The day the US of A kicked the English out of their country. Something, at least one of us here thinks, Australia should have done a long time ago.

After spending some time with friends on the Monday night before July 4, Lisa and the webmaster essentially just goofed around the house. Hey, we've got to be rested before we go down under in less than a week!!!!!

Saturday, July 8, thru Friday, July 28, 2006: Australia

Yup, on Saturday, July 8, Lisa and the webmaster headed down under for three weeks of vacation. It was a time for time catching up with family, friends and for Lisa to see more of the country. Ah yes, Australia, the home of Koalas, Kangaroos, Vegemite and funny plastic money!!!! Not too mention the consumption of  few "restorative cordials"....This trip was the webmasters first since October 2001, and Lisa's first since Christmas 1998...talk about a lot of water under the bridge....a lot has changed since then....

At 8:30am on Saturday [a rather god forsaken hour as far as we are concerned] , July 8, Lisa and the webmaster set out from home in Omaha for what promised to be 24+ hours of travel time to Melbourne Australia. Actually, the trip to Australia was the easy part....first, though, the intrepid travelers had to bounce around the US of A just to get to LAX [Los Angeles International Airport]...just so we could get on a plane to go to Australia!!!! This circuitous route is shown in the map below!!!!

Once in LAX, the travelers had a five hour layover in this most wonderful airport...talk about a nightmare place. If LAX is your first "view' of the USA, no wonder people don't like the US. Talk about a dump.

Anyway, at 9:40pm [ish] on 7/8, the travelers finally departed for Australia for what was expected to be a very hectic three weeks in Australia....

By the way, for those of you interested, the distance we flew to get to Melbourne is as follows:

Flight Date Origin Destination Distance Flight Time Speed
Saturday, July 8, 2006 Omaha, NE Chicago, IL 430 miles 0h 45min 575mph
Saturday, July 8, 2006 Chicago, IL Los Angeles, CA 1,743 miles 3h 2min 575mph
Saturday, July 8, 2006 Los Angeles, CA Auckland, New Zealand 6,530 miles 11h 21min 575mph
Monday, July 10, 2006 Auckland, New Zealand Melbourne, Australia 1,629 miles 2h 50min 575mph
Totals     10,332 miles    

For those of you interested, this was the menu for the longest stretch of the flight....

Monday, July 10, 2006: Melbourne Australia

After 24+ plus hours in the air (via Auckland, New Zealand), Lisa and the webmaster finally arrived in Melbourne Australia at 8:30am on Monday, July 10. About the only "eventful" part of the trip was when we were clearing customs in Melbourne. Lisa was almost stopped because of a bag of US Jellybeans in her luggage!!!! The less said the better regarding "airline food"...as the airline start to charge more and more for tickets, the service and quality of flight service appears to decrease...Mind you, after 24+ hours in a plane, you can imagine that we were fairly much wiped out. Having been met at the airport by John and Rae Burton, and after a brief break at their unit in South Melbourne, we decided to keep with tradition [Omaha Burton's trips to Australia tradition anyway] and start the whole trip off with lunch at the Town Hall pub/bar just around the corner from Stephen's parent place. What a heart starter...a VB [Victoria Bitter] at 12noon after a 26 hour flight.......

After surviving lunch (replete with a few "heart starter" restorative cordials), and the temptation to take a quick nap in the afternoon (which would have been distrastrous as far as jet lag is concerned), it was time for the "official" vacation and festivities to begin. At 4pm, Stephen's sisters Anne and Wendy, and their respective families, began to arrive for an evening of food, conversation, catching up and the odd occasional restorative cordial. Mind you, Stephen and Lisa were amazed at how much David, Catherine and little John had grown over the last five years....

At 10:30pm, Lisa and the webmaster finally crashed for the night. We think we did extremely well, considering that we'd only had minimal sleep during the trip across to Australia!!!!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006: Melbourne Australia

And so a new day dawned...the first full day of vacation in Australia. We of course awoke early to a bright, sunny day......and, if you believe that, you'll believe anything. Lisa did get up early...the webmaster finally rose about 11am...to a typical Melbourne, winter day....cold, wet, windy, miserable and a brisk 14C  [58F]!!!!

This was a very pleasant quiet day, spent puttering around, not doing too much and generally relaxing. During the day, about the only exciting ting we did was to go out to lunch at a local cafe in South Melbourne....

For dinner, we met Anne, Darryl and David at a pub in Albert Park, the Lawn Green, for a steak dinner....a very pleasant establishment for eating, and of course, drinking....

Wednesday, July 12, 2006: Philip Island, Victoria, Australia

This was the first "official" trip of the vacation. Before our trip down to Phillip Island and seeing the Fairy Penguins, we has a quick walk around downtown Melbourne and lunch at Young and Jackson's......

AS you can see, Melbourne was it's typical Winter "best"....not!!!! Anyway, at 1:15pm, it was time for Lisa and the webmaster to catch a tour bus to depart for Phillip Island to see the Fairy Penguins (they are a family of Penguins that are unique to southern Victoria....they also do NOT like the cold....what a silly Penguin!!!!)

Before we hit Phillip Island, we stooped off at a place  called Warook to see Kangaroos, Koalas and other Australian animals....it was also a place to have some famous Australia "tea and scones"...man were they good....

Prior to arriving at the Penguins, the tour bus was able to stop along the coast so we could see the type of environment these little buggers like...man, talk about an inhospitable place...

After the spectacular coast line, it was time to actually see the penguins...

While everyone locally knows these little chaps as "Fairy Penguins", some bonehead in the state government has decided that's politically incorrect to call them "Fairy Penguins". So, to satisfy the PC loving politician, the "Fairy Penguins" are now known as "Little Penguins"....go figure!!!!!

And so, the adventurers first expedition completed. After a quick, delicious meal in Cowes on Phillip Island, it was time for the Tour Bus to depart back to Melbourne....

Thursday, July 13, 2006: Healseville Wildlife Sanctuary, Victoria, Australia

As if one nature trip wasn't enough, it was time to set off for the second trip of the vacation. This time, the destination was the Healseville Wildlife Sanctuary, located north east of Melbourne. Lisa and the webmaster last visited this back in 1994 when we were able to get an absolutely beautiful photo of Lisa with a Wallaby. We were both very interested to see how the place had changed in tem [10] years...and, man, had it changed!!!!

After the sanctuary, it was time for a quick bite to eat at a local Yarra Valley Winery. The food was great, but the local wine was even better!!!!! Lisa and the webmaster purchased a few bottles at the winery, but we're not sure if they will make it home back to Omaha!!!!!!

With lunch concluded, it was time to head back to Melbourne. Lisa and Stephen had a dinner date with the webmaster's ex-boss and his wife [Graham and Terri Watson] at one of the old ANZ haunts.....a Pizza joint called Pinocchio's on Toorak Road. This brought back lots of memories....eating a capriccioso pizza over a bottle or two of red wine...very, very pleasant....

Friday, July 14, 2006: Melbourne Australia

After a hazy, lazy morning, it was time for Lisa and the Webmaster to head out for lunch. This time, with Stephen's sister's Anne and Wendy. In what must have been the first active cooperation in organizing something for some fifteen [15] years, we managed to organize this without Lisa's knowledge, as she was to be the main recipient of the surprise.

As anyway, we all met at 12noon in front of the clocks for lunch at a place called "Time Out". Even though the lunch went far longer than anticipated, it was very enjoyable. Mind you, a little alcoholic as well....but, it's a dirty job, and someone's got to do it...

After finally staggering out from lunch at 4pm, it was time to head out to Glen Waverly via train [and this by itself was a first in over ten [10] years for both Lisa and Stephen!!!] to have dinner with Tom and Emilitta Thomas and Keith and Jeanette Schaefer. In store was some of the best curry you can get anywhere in the southern hemisphere....the home made kind.

It was a great night, with good fine, great conversation and fantastic company. Unfortunately, while Lisa and Stephen had remembered to bring the camera, they both forgot to remember to actually use it ad take photos of this occasion. It was the only occasion during the entire trip that we forgot to take photos!!! Both Lisa and the webmaster apologize to Tom, Emilitta, Keith and Jeanette...it was a sin of forgetfulness, not one of omission....

Saturday, July 15, 2006: Melbourne Australia

Another glorious Melbourne winter day began....yup, it was wet, cool and completely miserable. Just like any, typical Melbourne winter day. After Lisa and Rae made a dash down to the Victoria Markets to pick up some vittals [i.e., food and booze], it was time for the first of two parties to commence. The first one was for some of the folks that Stephen used to work with back in the ANZ days.

The folks that turned up were as follows: David Calendar, Phil Kronk. Tim and Jo McKendrick and Nick and Ria Watkin [and their two kids]. Unfortunately, Stu and Deb Baker, Drew Mounter and Chris Bowring couldn't make it for various reasons. Hopefully, though, we should have enough time this trip to catch up with them later on.

It was great catching up with these folks. Apart from all of us looking a little bit older (imagine that) and the kids looking a lot older than when we last saw them five [5] years ago, it was just like good old times. What was also amazing was catching up with Phil Kronk in Melbourne....he was the Ozzie who we bid farewell to in Omaha just over a month ago. We always jokingly said that we'd catch up with him back in Melbourne, but we didn't quite think it would be quite that soon....

Anyway, after a very pleasant evening/afternoon, it was time to wrap up the event. That of course is one of the negative things about having a party...cleaning up the mess!!!! But, many thanks to John and Rae for letting us use their "pad" for the party.......

Sunday, July 16, 2006: Melbourne Australia

As with the previous day, we woke to another typical Melbourne winter's day. Fortunately, however, the rain did not last long and the weather warmed up to being a reasonably pleasant, albeit cloudy, day. And why is this important....because this was the day we took Lisa to see her first game of AFL [Australia Football League] football. Yes, it's the game with the lunatics with the two white flags which get waived whenever someone scores!!!! The weather was important as we were walking to the game....the weather during the game was not really important as the game was in the Telstra Dome, which is an indoor stadium.

And so, at 1pm the motley crew set out from South Melbourne for the quick 20-30minute walk to the Telstra Dome. During the walk, the webmaster decided to take some photos of Melbourne...mind you, it was also incredibly overcast and murky, but at least it wasn't raining....

AT 2:15pm [ish] the actual game commenced [for those interested, the teams playing were the Western Bulldogs and Carlton] We had tickets right behind the goal posts, which meant we had a great view of the scoring plays. About the only "negative" was that these were the Bulldogs goals, so we were surrounded by a sea of one-eyed bulldogs supporters. But, this also helped to add character to the game.....at least for Lisa and Stephen.....

And so the game began.....

After the game (which the Bulldogs beat Carlton 110 to 80), it was time to head out to dinner. The place chosen was very interesting, a part of Melbourne called The Docklands. It was interesting because when the webmaster left Melbourne in 1993, the Docklands was a blight on Melbourne. From it's name, you can probably guess that it was once used as a "dockland", so you can imagine what it was like...poisoned and virtually unusable. Over the last ten or so years, they have done a fantastic job in reclaiming and cleaning up the site...very impressive......

After finally settling on a place called "Liquid" for dinner [very appropriately named], it was time to head back to John and Rae's...

After a few quick cordials at the Town Hall, it was time to call it quits for the night. As we [Mum, Dad, Lisa and Stephen] were all headed to Queensland the next day, we all needed to pack and get a reasonably early night.

And so ended our first week in Australia....

Monday, July 17, 2006: Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

On Monday morning, we all set out for Melbourne airport for the two hour flight to Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.

On the way into Brisbane, Lisa managed to take some fantastic photos from the. The webmaster, in typical IT technological arrogance, said that taking "good" photos from a plane window was impossible. Lisa, being the typical wife, completely ignored the webmasters previous comments.........

We were met at Brisbane airport by Stephen's Aunt Helen...she was to be our principal guide fir our stay in Brisbane and it's environs. Al Lisa and Stephen can say is, thank god....Brisbane had changed so much since Stephen was last in Brisbane back in 1983. It's a much changed city... a lot more cosmopolitan than the sleepy, little almost small country town that Stephen remembers.

Anyway, after the airport, it was time to check into our temporary new "home away from home" before a most excellent dinner at Helen's house, which, conveniently, was situated just around the corner from our "home away from home"...

After dinner, it was a quick stroll back to our "home away from home"...mind you, we did get side tracked along the way for a quick restorative cordial...this time, for a local Queensland brew called XXXX....we in Victoria claim that Queenslanders call it XXXX because they don't know how to spell beer....

Tuesday, July 18 2006: Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia

Our first day in Queensland dawned, and what an absolutely gorgeous morning it was. Today was the day that Lisa finally got to see the famous (or infamous) beaches of Queensland. But, what made this day trip even more special, was the fact that Stephen's uncle and aunt, Garry and Ailsa, were able to come with us. Stephen had not seen his uncle Garry since his sister, Wendy, was married back in 1992. Ailsa, Stephen had not seen since either the late 70's or early 80's. It was fantastic to see them!!!!! Also, this was the first opportunity for Lisa to meet both Garry and Lisa.

So, at 10am, we all met at Helen's house for the day trip south down to Surfers Paradise. And yes, it's called that because it used to be a Mecca for surfers in the 50's, 60's and 70's....including John and Rae [Stephen's parents] and Garry. While dad was doing the driving, Garry and Helen both provided commentary to Lisa relating to the history of the places we were going through as well what changes have happened [which are many]. Given that this was the ex-haunting ground of at least three of the adults in the car, some of the recollections and comments regarding the area were absolutely hysterical....

And so we arrived at Surfers Paradise.....man has this place changed. But, Stephen and Lisa finally got to see the one thing that the webmaster misses about living in Omaha, Nebraska....the ocean!!!!!

After a brief tour of Surfers Paradise, it was time to head south down the coast to Burleigh Heads for lunch (yes, it was that time of day again). The restaurant, The Burleigh Beach House, offered great food and an absolutely fantastic view of the ocean. On the food side, Lisa was able to have a Morton Bay Bug for the first time.....a food of champions!!!

After lunch, it was time to head further south down the coast through additional former stomping grounds of John and Garry. We saw some more of the cast line, including a surf beach which had no surf.....we are not kidding!!!!

After Kirra beach, it was time to head back to Brisbane for dinner. Mind you, we arrived back at the apartment in Brisbane with about an hour to spare, so Lisa and the webmaster took advantage of the time to take some more photos...this time of the view we had of Brisbane from he balcony of our apartment on the 13th floor.....

Dinner was at a place called St Paul's pub in Leichhardt, an inner suburb of Brisbane. What made this dinner special was that not only were Garry and Ailsa present, but so too was Stephen's cousin and wife [Craig and Sue], who Stephen had not seen since the late 80's and Lisa had never met!!!

After a very pleasant steak dinner, it was time to wind up our first full day in Brisbane. Overall, it was a great day...

Wednesday, July 19, 2006: Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

This was a reasonably quiet day. The day began with Lisa having a swim in the pool of the apartment complex, which all the locals thought was insanity as, to them, it was too cold. But, to us people from Omaha, the weather was incredibly mild. After the swim, it was time to go to the only formal activity of the day...lunch at the Brisbane club!!!!

So, at 12noon, we dutifully met at the Brisbane Club with our hosts, Peter and Andreana Mason. Peter went to college with Stephen and had worked with Stephen at the ANZ Bank in Melbourne. While we had always stayed in contact via email, it was the first time Stephen had seen Peter since 1992 (ish). The webmaster had not seen Andreana since before Peter and Andreana moved to Brisbane back in 1990 (ish). Lisa, of course, had never met them, but had heard a lot about them from the webmaster over the years.

Lunch was delightful. Catching up with Peter and Andreana was fantastic. After the "actual" lunch, it was time to retire to the second floor of the Brisbane Club to play pool and continue

During the course of the lunch, Peter and Andreana gave Stephen a collage of photos of the webmaster taken over the course of the years. What was really scary was the photos of the webmaster when he actually had hair!!!! It also reinforces the age old comment about always being careful around people with cameras....you never know when the photos are going to turn up!!!!!

Lunch was fantastic and words cannot express how great it was to catch up with Peter and Andreana. But, as with everything, all good things must come to an end. Mind you, no one was complaining.....the lunch started art noon and didn't finish unto 5pm!!!!!

To end the day, we returned to Helen's house for dinner...this time, however, it was a small and simple. Fresh Pumpkin Soup and Bread...delicious. While we were there, Helen's son Chris and his wife Nicky were able to drop in and say hello. Unfortunately, this was the only time we got to spend with them as they heading out of Brisbane on vacation....

We apologize for the fuzziness of the photo...

And so another great day turned to a close. Four very tired, well fed and well hydrated folks staggered from Helen's house back to the apartment. Needless to say, there was not too much done back in the apartment...just sleeping...

Thursday, July 20, 2006: Southbank, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

And so started another new day. This time, Lisa headed out to see a local Hearing Impaired school while Stephen and John headed out to meet with Peter Mason at his companies offices. For the uninitiated, Peter formed a started a company called Braintree Communications [follow the link to their official website...yes, it's shameless advertising...].

Unfortunately, the only photos we took of both events was the front of Braintree's offices....

When we all finally met (at around 1pm), we met at Southbank in Brisbane. Southbank is a completely new area of Brisbane that did not even exist the last time the webmaster was in Brisbane. It's a beautiful area stretching along the banks of the Brisbane River. Lots of walk ways, bars and restaurants. While Uncle Garry was able to make it today, unfortunately, Ailsa was not. She was very sick and the best thing for her was to stay at home and rest. While we were unable to see her again for the rest of our trip, it was more important that Ailsa rested, regained her strength and got better!!!!!!

After lunch, and wandering along Southbank, Lisa and Stephisa made the "democratic" decision that we wanted to catch a river ferry to take us down stream on the Brisbane River. While Lisa, Gary and Stephen decided to stay outside on the boats back deck during the cruise, the rest of the party (Rae, John and Helen) whimped out and stayed in the ferry's cabin....whimps!!!!!

After the cruise, it was time to bid farewell the Garry. We didn't know it then, but we would not see him for the rest of our trip to Brisbane. Unfortunately,  Ailsa's condition was such that neither Garry nor Ailsa were able to join us the next day. But, it was great being able to spend this time with them. The webmaster has vowed to make sure that it isn't another ten years before we see them again!!!!!

Once back on dry land, after a quick detour to the Brisbane Museum, Stephen and Lisa took an hour or so to just wonder around Brisbane by themselves. Actually, after about 30 minutes, we headed to the only bar/pub we had seen that appeared to allow smoking [albeit outside] where the webmaster was able to write some postcards while Lisa caught up on some reading time. All this while enjoying a XXXX brew.....life is hell!!!!!

At 6pm. we all reassembled at the Spiegeltent for our cultural event of our trip...a musical by Michelle Van Hautem with help from Frederick Caelin. Very enjoyable!!!!

After the musical, it was time for a quick drink before we all headed back to our prospective beds. Tomorrow was going to be another busy day...

Friday, July 21, 2006: Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

The last full day in Queensland dawned. After the obligatory early morning "discussion" regarding breakfast and coffee, it was time to again head to Helen's house. But, this time, we were heading north to the Sunshine Coast. As discussed previously , neither Garry nor Ailsa were able to make it for this last trip....Ailsa needed to get to a doctor so he could figure out what was going on (note: in the end, all she needed was a couple of days real, sold rest, and she was fine. That was the good news).

With dad driving and Helen navigating, we headed north to Maroochydore for lunch...here are some photos of the trip north,,,,

We chose Maroochydore for a couple of reasons. The first was because it's where Dad and Helen were from; secondly, it was rumored that they had good food there; and thirdly, we figured it was a good place to actually post the postcards back to the US from. We guessed that not many folks in the US had ever heard of Maroochydore, so what a better place to post the cards from!!!

Personally, though, Lisa and Stephen would have much preferred the menu of this place!!!!....But, sometime, things are not a democracy.....

Guess what....it was PIZZA.....

Well, we posted the cards, and the food was great. Stephen had his last real burger for the trip....an Ozzie burger with the lot,  including poached egg, grilled pineapple and beetroot. The food of champions!!!!! The webmaster is not quite sure what everyone else had, but they seemed the enjoy it anyway!!! What is the interesting question is whether the postcards will beat us back to the US....chances are not!!!!! But, at least we got them posted......

After lunch, it was time to hit the road again. This time, yes, you guessed it, north!!!!! This final leg of our Queensland trip took us through some the most spectacular coastline you are going to see anywhere in the world. Pure white, sandy beaches, and fantastic surf...it's the stuff movies and dreams are made of!!!!

After the trip north, it was time to head back to Brisbane for our last meal in Brisbane (the last for this trip anyway!!!!).

Dinner was at Helen's eldest daughter house, Jenny and Matt. Stephen had not seen Jenny and Matt since some time circa the mid 80's. Also in attendance was Stephen's cousin Melisa and her youngest child as well as a good friend of Helen's, Nola. While Stephen had last seen Nola in New York not so long ago, he had not seen Melisa since the 70's. Obviously, Lisa had never met any of them.

Dinner was delicious [curry] and the company was great. It also put to rest a long standing "rumor" that little children are scared of Lisa...given that's she a teacher and the way kids interact with her, we all knew this to be a complete falsehood!!!!

 It was great catching up with everyone, and it was very generous of Jenny and Matt to give up their time and house for the family get together. Also, thanks to Melisa for spending time with us. From Lisa and I, thank you.....it was greatly appreciated!!!

Alas, with the end of dinner, it was time for all to depart. The Victorian mob had to return to their apartment to start the fun exercising of "packing"...yea!!!!!

Saturday, July 22, 2006: Brisbane, Queensland and Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

The last morning in Brisbane dawned...actually, the weather was more like Melbourne than Brisbane....rainy, cloudy and misty. After packing up all the junk into the rental car, it was time to check out of the apartment and head back once more to Helen's place. However, before leaving, Lisa and the webmaster had one last photo chore to perform...these photos are for the benefit of one of Lisa's co-workers....so, it will be up to her to relate to folks the meaning and significance of these photos.

Anyway, after this last photo op, it was off to Helen's. We had breakfast at a local cafe and then set off for a quick walk around Helen's local area for a look at some of the beautiful, typical old Queensland architecture...

After breakfast and the walk around, it was time to bid farewell to Helen and head to the airport for the flight to Melbourne. To Helen, both Lisa and Stephen say, thank you for giving up your time and home for us.  It was greet seeing you!!!! From Lisa, especially, it was great to finally meet Helen!!! From Stephen, we have to get together in New York again [or anywhere else in the USA...given enough notice...] soon!!!!!

After a few drinks at the Qantas Club at Brisbane airport, it was time to leave for Melbourne. Apart from the webmaster watching the movie "16 Blocks" with Bruce Willis, the flight was uneventful. Back in Melbourne, it we headed up to the Town Hall pub for a quick dinner. This was the first time the webmaster did not bring the camera, and boy did we regret it. There was a theme party in the function room, with the theme being the letter "P"....so you can imagine what some of the costumes were like. Alas, we did not have the camera, so we were unable to take any photos. Them's that breaks!!!

For those of you interested in keeping track of the distances we've traveled since leaving Omaha, here is the Queensland trip sub-total:

Flight Date Origin Destination Distance Flight Time Speed
Monday, July 17, 2006 Melbourne, Australia Brisbane, Australia 853 miles 1h 29min 575mph
Tuesday, July 18, 2006 Brisbane, Australia Gold Coast, Australia 200 miles N/A N/A
Friday, July 21, 2006 Brisbane, Australia Sunshine Coast, Australia 200 miles N/A N/A
Saturday, July 22, 2006 Brisbane, Australia Melbourne, Australia 853 mils 1h 29min 575mph
Totals     2,106 miles    

Sunday, July 23, 2006: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Ah yes, we definitely knew we were back in Melbourne when Sunday morning finally dawned. Yup, you get the picture.....wet, rainy and miserable. Anyway, today was the day of the second of the two parties being held in Lisa and Stephen's honor at John and Rae's. This time, it was expressly for family and old family.

After a brief trip back to the Victoria Markets for a booze and food run, it was time for the festivities to begin at 12noon sharp...well, the webmaster didn't actually start until 1:30pm...he was still recovering from the "quick trip" to the Town Hall from the previous evening. But, the festivities did begin....

It was a fantastic afternoon. While the webmaster had seen most of the people in 2001, Lisa had not seen them since 1998. So, it was great for both of us catch up with all of the people. To Mim and Peter Blomquist, Jenny and John Wilson, John and Margaret Murphy, Marged and Jim Goode, Ross and Gail Coles, Jim Nelson, Ross McClelland and Anne and Sue, a very heartfelt thankyou for agreeing to spending a Sunday afternoon with us. A special thankyou goes to Jim Nelson for delaying his flight back to Sydney to spend the afternoon with us, and to John and Margaret Murphy, for coming up from Apollo Bay.

To the family, a great thanks to Catherine for sacrificing her Sunday afternoon and spending an afternoon with us "old fogies".....The only "down side" was that Juan's mother, Maria, was unable to make it. To John, Rae, Anne, Daryl, Wendy and Juan, there are not enough words in the English language to say thanks enough....

Anyway, after a fantastic afternoon, there was the obligatory cleaning up, which Rae and the webmaster masterfully performed...after all, they were the only sober people in the house!!!!

Monday, July 24, 2006: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

And so dawned the start of the last week of Lisa's and the webmaster's trip to Australia. We only had a couple of official engagements planned for the day, so we were both looking forward to a relatively quiet and peaceful day.

With Lisa nursing a killer hangover, the first engagement was lunch with Ivan Gojak. Ivan is the only person from high school that Stephen has kept in contact with....we also went to college together, and worked at the ANZ together, so it was great catching up with him at a little Italian restaurant around the corner from Spencer Street Station [oops, Southern Cross Station]. All this was after a quick tram ride...

After lunch, we were supposed to meet with the webmasters attorney to get Lisa titled to Stephen's sole property in Melbourne. At the last minute, he cancelled. While some people will be surprised that the term "unfortunately" was not added, this in fact turned out to be most fortunate!!! See the entry for Thursday, 8/27, for details.

After the cancellation of the attorney's meeting, Lisa and the webmaster headed up to 55 Collins for coffee with Stu Baker and Tim McKendrick. For those of you curious about the significance of 55 Collins....it's the world headquarters of the ANZ [Australia and New Zealand] Banking Group, an organization for which the webmaster worked for some six years before coming to the US of A.

After coffee [during which we purposely took NO photos], it was time for Lisa and the webmaster to head back to John and Rae's. After a very short meal at the Town Hall pub [and we do mean SHORT...all of us were suffering from the previous day], it was time to hit the sack. Tuesday was a whole new day!!!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

This was one of the few days that Lisa and the webmaster actually got to relax and do almost nothing!!!! This is not a criticism, after all, Lisa and Stephen organized our schedule. But, it as sure as heck, enjoyable to have a day to do nothing. The only event planned for today was dinner down at Wendy and Juan's. Apart from that, absolutely nothing.....

What did we do today....easy. After sleeping in until the decadent time of 11am [yes, Lisa slept in as well...which is most unusual for her], it was time to scratch our heads and think of LUNCH!!!! And yes, like Garfield the cat, the webmaster immediately thought of PIZZA!!!!! And so we headed off to a local joint called Patony Pizza Restaurant. While Lisa and Rae may have been less than impressed, the webmaster loved his capriccioso pizza, which turned out to be the last time the webmaster experienced a capriccioso in Australia. If only pizza joints in the  USA could learn to make it...man, it's not that hard...shaved ham, mushroom and tomato.

Anyway, after lunch, it was time for a typical vacation activity...an afternoon nap!!!!! Man was it good!!!!

After the nap, we were due down at Wendy's at 5pm. The original plan was for Lisa and the webmaster to catch the train down to Frankston, but these plans changed [for the better]. Instead, Rae and John drove down to Frankston. Along the way, we went past McKinnon High School, which was Stephen's, Anne's and Wendy's high school, Man, has that place changed!!!! We also drove past our old family home at 188 Tucker Road in Bentleigh. Again interesting. On both "pass by's", no photo-ops were offered.

Dinner at Wendy and Juan's was fantastic. Dinner was genuine Spanish paella made to Juan's mother's recipe.....delicious. It was great seeing Maria and "little John" again....mind you, "little John" [Stephen's nephew] ain't so little no more!!!!!!

Maria has asked for copies of all these photos, and the webmaster will endeavor to make sure she receives them!!!!

After a great night, it was time to start the long trek back from Frankston to Melbourne. The evening was great. The only downside was that more of Juan and Wendy's kids could not be present. But, given the amount of warning, this was not surprising. Also, the next time Lisa and the webmaster are back in Australia, Juan and Stephen have a pact...Juan will teach Stephen how to make paella. Secret family recipe and all!!!!

To Maria, both Lisa and I say, it was great seeing you. The webmaster hadn't seen her since Wendy and Juan's wedding back in 1992. Lisa had never met her. We look forward to seeing  you in two [2] years time, 2008. Then, she'll be able to laugh at watching Juan show/teach Stephen how to make paella!!!!!

To Wendy and Juan, thankyou. It was great seeing ya'all in Frankston!!!!! Lisa and I are looking forward to seeing ya'all back in Oz in 2008....or sooner maybe in the US of A!!!!!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Wednesday was another relatively quiet day, with only one activity planned....namely, lunch with David Radtke. David and the webmaster go all the way back to the ANZ days. David also was one of the many Aussies who flew over to the US for Lisa and Stephen's wedding. Every time we go back to Oz, we make sure we catch up with him!!!!

After a very pleasant morning of sleeping in and just goofing off around the house, it was time for lunch. We headed down to Bell's hotel in South Melbourne. Bell's was one of many of David and Stephen's old stomping grounds from when we were both at the Z.

While the food at Bell's was lousy, the company more than made up for it!!! It was great catching up with David and hearing how the families camp group in Keyneton is going. We were there in 1998 and it's great to hear that things are going extremely well for David and his family. On the amusing side, it was interesting to find out that David had given up smoking.....except for cigars and US cigarettes!!!!

After lunch and bidding farewell to David, it was time to head back to the webmaster's parents house. After that, while Lisa had a quick nap, the webmaster went on an hour's walk down memory lane....basically, walking through South Melbourne passed some of the webmaster's old haunts and stomping grounds....

While the walk through memory was great, it was just that...a walk down memory lane. Everything that the webmaster remembers about the area from the days at the Z has changed. All they are is just that...memories!!!!!!

After a brief nap by the webmaster after his walk down memory lane, it was time for supper. This time, were off to a local Chinese joint frequented by the webmasters parents///a [lace called "The Golden Duck". But, prior to going to dinner, we stopped by the Town Hall pub for a final drink there. All of us have heard the term "it's a small planet", but this time it turns out to be true....we were sitting in the Town Hall, just about to leave, when in walks Phil Kronk!!!! As in the movie Casablanca, off all the gin joints in the world......this one should read, of the 5,000 bars/pubs in the city of Melbourne, Phil Kronk just happens to choose the one we are in....

Anyway, after promising to return after supper, it was time to head off for dinner....

After supper, it was time to head back to Rae and John's, but via the Town Hall. There, we not only caught up with Phil, but another old friend of Stephen's from the days at the Z....this time, a guy named Kel Anderson, who Stephen had not seen since 1991...talk about a small world....

After a much later night than expected or anticipated, it was finally time to head back home and to bed. Tomorrow would be our last full day in Australia, and there were things to do and people to see....

Thursday, July 27, 2006: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

And so dawned our last full day in Australia. As per our entry on Monday, we had re-scheduled to see Stephen's attorney today. However, this too was cancelled. The attorney's daughter contacted Stephen to advise him that his long term attorney, and friend, was in Fairfield Infectious Disease hospital...he had been diagnosed with bacterial meningitis!!!! After confirming that he was in fact where he said he was, with what he said he had, Lisa and the webmaster realized just how lucky they were [hence the comment on Monday]....if we had seen the attorney on Monday, we would have been quarantined and would have not been able to fly back to the US the following day. All of Ben's family, friends and co-workers who had seen him since Monday were in Fairfield Hospital...and so would have been us but for a quirk of fate!!!! While not getting the paperwork done was a pain in the neck, it is not fatal. Ben will send the paperwork to us once he is out of hospital [in a week or two], and all we need to do is find a notary public to witness our signatures. At the same time, we wish Ben a speedy recovery....meningitis can be a very nasty affliction...

Anyway, after the melodrama and theatrics of the attorney, it was time to head out to the Imperial Hotel for a last drink with some of the ex Z crew. We were able to catch up with Drew Mounter, Ned Abdulha, Tim McKendrick, Nick Watkin and Stu and Deb Baker...including their kids, who the webmaster hadn't seen since 2001, and Lisa had never met or seen [except in Photos sent to us via email].

After lunch, it was time to do the last "souvenir" shopping, which included a slab [two cases] of VB for us back in the US. We also had to make one last stop at the Town Hall....no, this time not to drink, but to get a list of their wine list/board. This is typical of bars/pubs in Australia...if only half the restaurants in the US had half the wine list, drinking wine in the US would be so good...

Then, it was time for the last formal activity of our vacation...dinner at Anne and Daryl's for a delicious Roast Lamb meal...fantastic. Mind you, there were not many photos of the evening taken...by this stage, everyone was sick and tired of the camera, including the webmaster!!!!

While Catherine was unable to join us for dinner, it was greatly appreciated that she at least made the effort to hang around for a half hour or so to say goodbye to Lisa and the webmaster. David, who was probably what is called a "captive audience" and had no choice, was delightful company. Both Lisa and Stephen which Catherine all the best for her endeavors at college...David still has his entire life in front of him. With his intelligence and aptitude, we both have confidence that he will make the right decisions for him regarding his education and career when he is ready. To both of you, good luck!!!! To Anne and Daryl, thanks for putting us with us....the dinner and the company were both fantastic.

Alas, the night drew to end. It was time to head back to John and Rae's to pack and get ready to depart back for the US tomorrow. After packing, several drinks and burning of CD's it was time to head to bed.....

Friday, July 28, 2006: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

The last morning in Australia dawned. After a very quick breakfast, it was time to head to the airport and begin the long, painful process of checking in for an international flight.  With that achieved successfully, we were able to spend the last hour with John and Rae in one the airports many cafe's.

Then, unfortunately, came the time everybody was dreading.....the final farewell before Lisa and Stephen headed into customs to start the long flight back to the US and Omaha. To Mum and Dad [Rae and John].....thankyou. Both Lisa and Stephen enjoyed themselves tremendously. It was great catching up with everyone and being able to spend such good time with you. We both look forward to seeing you both next year somewhere in the US, and then on our next trip back to Australia, which is already planned for 2008.

And so begin the long trek home...

The flight was, well, long and, for the most part, boring. The only exception was taking off from Melbourne and Auckland airports....man was that plane noisy!!!! And it shook like you wouldn't believe....lets just put it this way, it was loud enough to keep the webmaster awake!!!!

Having reached Los Angeles and cleared customs, it was time to start the second phase of our trek home.....bouncing around the US of A to finally reach Omaha at midnight....

Having reached Omaha at midnight, after traveling for 36 hours straight, we had a chance to reflect on the miles we had traveled just to reach Omaha:

Flight Date Origin Destination Distance Flight Time Speed
Friday, July 28, 2006 Melbourne, Australia Auckland, New Zealand 1,629 miles 2h 50min 575mph
Friday, July 28, 2006 Auckland, New Zealand Los Angeles, CA 6,530 miles 11h 21min 575mph
Friday, July 28, 2006 Los Angeles, CA Dallas Forth Worth, TX 1,240 miles 2h 9min 575mph
Friday, July 28, 2006 Dallas Forth Worth, TX Omaha, NE 575 miles 1h 1min 575mph
Totals     9,974 miles    

This made for a trip total as follows:

Flight Segment Component Distance
Omaha, Nebraska, to Melbourne, Australia 10,332 miles
Melbourne, Australia to Brisbane, Australia and return 2,106 miles
Melbourne, Australia to Omaha, Nebraska 9,974 miles
Total 22,412 miles

And so ended our trip to Australia for 2006.While it was fun, it went far too quickly....

However, before we wrap up our Australian trip, we need to mention Marvin the Magnificent. Marvin was a stuffed mouse given to Lisa by her students. His role in this trip was to have his photos taken up and down the length and breadth of Australia is different locations, scenarios, etc. This was a duty Marvin the Magnificent Mouse performed with skill, style, flair and dignity. Follow the link for his adventure down under:

Marvin the Magnificent Mouse's Magic Moments

And this really is the end of our Australian vacation of 2006....

Friday, August 11, thru Sunday, August 13, 2006: Starved Rock, Illinois

Having been back in the US of A a week, it was time for Lisa and the webmaster to hit the road again...this time for a place called Starved Rock National Park in Utica, Illinois. Actually, it wasn't our first trip since Australia...the webmaster had to hit he road again on Wednesday, August 2, for Valparaiso, Indiana!!!!

But, hit the road we did...

And the target and reason for this trip....the target was the Grand Bear Lodge near Utica in Illinois. The reason....it was Slim and Lynne's 50th wedding anniversary, and they chose the Grand Bear Lodge so all the grandchildren would come along. The Grand Bear Lodge is just next to the Starved Rock National Park. See the following maps for almost "exact" details of its location...

 

 

 To get there, Lisa flew to Chicago's Midway airport, where Stephen met her. Then, a quick train ride to Joliet....there, Slim, Lynne and Paige met us and it was another quick car trip on to the Grand Bear Lodge!!! Talk about planes, trains and automobiles!!!!

Anyway, for those of you unsure, and/or don't know, The Grand Bear Lodge is an indoor, all year round water park. It also has a miniature golf course, as well as the "Enchanted Forest", which is a really cheesy indoor park with rides, etc.

Anyway, the first evening there was spent checking in and having some dinner, while checking out the actual lodge, which would be our temporary home for the next two night...

The next day was spent with the kids either in the water park and/or in the Enchanted Forest....

While the kids were indoors, some of the adults spent our time wandering around outside, exploring the environs of the Grand Bear Lodge...

That night, dinner consisted of pizza and chicken wings.

After packing up on Sunday, it was time for the obligatory group photos and, of course, lunch....

After lunch, while Kevin, Kimberly and family departed as soon as possible, Paige and the others decided there was one more opportunity to visit the water park one more time....

After the final swim, it was time for all to head off in their own different directions. Stephen and Lisa headed back to Chicago for the trip to drop Lisa back at Midway airport, while the others headed back to Sterling.

After another round of planes, trains and automobiles, Lisa arrived safely back in Omaha, while the webmaster made it back to Valparaiso without incident.

And on rolls summer 2006...

August 15, 2006: Lisa's Birthday

Lisa's birthday...Unfortunately, the webmaster could not be Omaha list year for Lisa's birthday. Lisa had some appointments this year for her birthday...first a mammogram, and then her annual OBJ checkup....what fun. But, she also treated herself to a massage and then dinner...she's earned it.

All the webmaster can do is say sorry for not being able to be on Omaha for her birthday, and a pledge to make sure it doesn't happen again...

September 4, 2006: Labor Day

Ahh yes, the unofficial end of summer. The weather only goes downhill from here on.

The last official BBQ of the year. This is also the end of the summer driving season and everyone now starts hunkering down for the onset of winter. This is also a traditional weekend to either hold or go to a BBQ to have a steak and a few beers.

And what did we do???? Well, apart from going and watching the college football season opener game of Louisiana Tech at Nebraska at The Lighthouse, absolutely nothing!!!! We watched DVD's and basically slouched around the all house. It was a very pleasant, relaxing weekend.

It might sound boring to other people, but it was enjoyable to us...

And, for the last time for Summer 2006, here is what our house and landscaping are looking like....

And on rolls summer 2006...

September 7, 2006: Football 2006 Season!!!:

Yeassssss. The long hot summer desert of real sport will finally be over. Gone will be the useless days and nights listening to mindless baseball scores and/or baseball strikes. As usual, we have our annual Football Pool. Unfortunately, non-paying players cannot access the site....oh, the price of technology...However, you can see how the previous years have gone by visiting this link: Football Central

Monday, September 11, 2006:

This is not really a day to celebrate, but rather one to pause and reflect on what happened on September 11, 2001. Where were you at 8:47am EDT when the world changed.

We also need to reflect on where we are in our battle, no war, against the cowards and their backers who perpetrated these cowardly and dastardly  acts.

The unusual aspect of 9/11 this year, was that the webmaster was supposed to fly to Chicago early Monday morning [9/11]. Unfortunately, weather in Chicago caused his flight to be cancelled, so the webmaster spent an additional week in Omaha.....

Saturday, September 16, 2006: Storms

This was supposed to be a very quiet evening for Lisa and the webmaster....we were planning on staying at home and watching the USC [University of Southern California] and Nebraska college football game. But, as with everything, this was changed by the weather. Shortly after the completion of the first quarter, Omaha was placed under a tornado warning for the next two hours, which meant that we spent most of the entire game in the basement and missed most of the game (which USC win 28 to 10). Bummer.

Anyway, when the storm system finally passed, we had one confirmed tornado on the ground but, luckily, no reports of damage or injuries. The following radar map is from our local weather station shortly after the storm system moved through the Omaha area.....

And so, on rolls summer 2006....

September 22, 2006: End of Summer:

This will be the last update for Summer 2006. For all you weather fans out there, without further ado, here are the season's weather statistics:

The first issue relates to flight availability during Summer 2006:

Date Airline Origin Destination Flight Status Reason Added Bonus
Friday, June 23, 2006 United Omaha, NE Pittsburgh, PA On Time Unknown None
Tuesday, June 27, 2006 United Pittsburgh, PA Omaha, NE Four Hours Late Weather in Chicago None
Friday, June 30, 2006 Southwest Chicago, IL Omaha, NE On Time Unknown None
Saturday, July 08, 2006 American Omaha, NE Los Angeles, CA On Time Unknown None
Saturday, July 08, 2006 Qantas Los Angeles, CA Melbourne, Australia 5 Minutes Late Unknown None
Saturday, June 17, 2006 Qantas Melbourne, Australia Brisbane, Australia On Time Unknown None
Thursday, June 22, 2006 Qantas Brisbane, Australia Melbourne, Australia On Time Unknown None
Friday, July 28, 2006 Qantas Melbourne, Australia Los Angeles, CA 1 Hour Late Traffic In Melbourne None
Friday, July 28, 2006 American Los Angeles, CA Omaha, NE On Time Unknown None
Wednesday, August 02, 2006 Southwest Omaha, NE Chicago, IL 20 Minutes Early Unknown None
Friday, August 11, 2006 Southwest Omaha, NE Chicago, IL On Time Unknown None
Sunday, August 13, 2006 Southwest Chicago, IL Omaha, NE 10 Minutes Early Unknown None
Friday, August 18, 2006 Southwest Chicago, IL Omaha, NE On Time Unknown None
Monday, September 11, 2006 Southwest Omaha, NE Chicago, IL Cancelled Weather in Chicago Stayed in Omaha
Monday, September 18, 2006 Southwest Omaha, NE Chicago, IL On Time Unknown None

Next, it's onto the weather...

Category Date High Temperature Low Temperature
Coldest Day September 20, 2006 42F 60F
Warmest Day July 19, 2006 104F 80F

Finally, the average high and lows for Summer 2006

Category Temperature (F)
Average High Temperature 84F
Average Low Temperature 64F

For those of you that are really interested in the weather, here is the daily, maximum and minimum, temperatures for Omaha over summer 2006.

This should keep you "weather nuts" happy for a while. Remember, people from down under, all temperatures are in F. Anyway, as you can see, come the beginning of September [Labor Day], boom, the temperatures start dropping.

And so, that will be the end of Summer 2006. The long, dog days of summer  finally will be over.

Well, that's it. Follow this link to the Fall/Autumn 2007 season. Otherwise, catch you again for summer 2007!!!!

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Revised: January 01, 2010

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