Friday, December 25, 2015

Whites Ferry ( near Washington DC )

Each Christmas, we either visit my sister and brother-in-law in Georgia or they come to visit us. This year it was our turn to do the 700 mile journey south.

But first, Marianne needed to stop at a shop in Aberdeen MD that sold quilting material. I sat in the car and took this photo for entertainment.

There used to be over 100 ferries crossing the Potomac River but now there is just one. We decided to take the scenic route rather than brave the Washington Beltway in rainy weather.

We used the GPS to find our way to Whites Ferry. It would not be easy without a good map or GPS.

Cars lined up outside the shop.

The ferry approaches. You don't have to wait too long.

General Early was a Confederate General in the Civil War. Jubal does not seem to be a popular name these days. It actually has a pretty good ring to it and would go very well if your last name was Ation.

The Potomac floods and you can see the levels on the wall.

We were directed onto the ferry and duly paid our $5 fee.

The black cable is used to direct the ferry across the river. It broke recently which you can read about here. Fortunately we had no problem and the crossing was very quiet and peaceful.

We stayed with friends in Charlottesville VA and continued to Athens, GA the following day. It rained virtually the entire way from Charlottesville to Athens and was a lousy drive with lots of pre-Christmas traffic.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Fiji Air and a spectacular sunset

Fiji Air was not as bad as we expected. The planes are reasonably modern and the attendants are friendly. The food is woeful and the best way to describe its quality is to say that United Airline's food is a step up on the gourmet chain. Or perhaps five steps. Obviously whoever runs that airline has never sampled the food served in economy. It should be a requirement each year for every airline CEO to take an anonymous, unannounced long overnight flight in cattle class.

The seats on their A330 planes are too small for me and the film / movie selection was poor. We have found on other overnight flights that occasionally we can score three or four seats to ourselves by reserving aisle seats on either side of the central section towards the back of the plane if it is not full. All the flights were full and Fiji changed our seat selections in both directions for the LAX - Nandi flights and put us together in the center section.  However, we found that the check in person was helpful and re-allocated us each aisle seats on the flight back. It really helps on the 10 to 14 hour overnight flights to be able to get up every few hours whenever it suits you.

Fiji Air is very strict about the size of carry-on baggage. As you line up to check in, there is a person who checks that your carry on bags meet the dimension limits with no exceptions. Quite a few passengers had to check their oversize carry-on bags which costs extra. We approve and it results in much faster loading and unloading of passengers on the plane at the airport.

So why did we use Fiji Air? Our return flights from the US west coast cost $1126 each compared to roughly $1700 for the other airlines such as Qantas, United, Delta and Virgin. Enough said.

We are doing much better with jet lag this time, probably because it is November and the cold weather makes it easier to sleep. This evening we had probably the most magnificent sunset we have ever seen here.

The photos do not really capture how spectacular it was. 

The blue was really dark. Even looking away from the sunset, the light was really a mix of pink and gold.

The leaves have disappeared and we can see the Chesapeake Bay quite easily. It will stay this way all winter except that there probably will be snow. Definitely a change from Sydney where the temperature was well over 100 degrees the day after we left.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Return to the South Head in Sydney

Two years ago we went to watch a whole fleet of sailing ships sail into Sydney Harbour. It was raining that day so Marianne requested that we go back to the South Head to see the view on a nice day.

 French flag flying in honour of the victims of the Paris terror incident. The Opera House was also lit at night with red, white and blue.

An old catamaran ferry took us to Watsons Bay which is where you see the 'Doyles on the beach' on the map. It is about a half mile walk to the lighthouse.

They were learning to do the stand up paddling thing. It looks like fun. 

Doyles restaurant is in the background. It is famous for its seafood.

Many desirable areas of Sydney are the targets of property developers. It is a quiet area with few cars and most of the houses are old and small.

 Four different colours. Now that is really separating your garbage / trash / rubbish.

 The dial on the camera shifted so some of these photos have strange colour or are black and white.

 We don't see much sepia any more. It looks strange.

 Back to the colour photos. I remarked to Marianne that it is when I walk through Australian bush with all the dappled vegetation, smells and bird calls that I really know why I miss Australia.

 Map of the South Head. We basically did the loop in an anti-clockwise direction.

We remembered huddling under the tree trying not to get too wet.

 North Head in the distance.

 Marianne asked me to take a zoom photo of a small barely visible object on the North Head which is 2.1 km or 1.3 miles away. 

Sometimes you really get a sense of how large and powerful the ocean is. In the foreground are the remains of an old gun emplacement from the 19th century.

 The cliffs are quite high. You would not want to fall off.

 Observation post. When we were here two years ago, it was crowded with people sheltering from a thunderstorm.

 Written on the wall of the observation post.

 Lighthouse keepers cottage.

 We managed to get back to the jetty to take the ferry back to Circular Quay. 

On our way back on the ferry, we passed this house. All I can say is that everybody is entitled to do their own thing, but sometimes you have to wonder.

Marianne remarked that every time we go on the ferry, we notice new things that we had not seen before. Usuallly that is a good thing.

Not good is getting some sunburn. I did not take my hat so my face is somewhat red.