Winding up the Trip

As the time winds down and we prepare for the long flights back into the northern hemisphere, we begin to reflect on all of the wonderful adventures we've had.

Of course, not all of them have been recorded here in the journal. However, there were several observations worthy of last minute remark .

Some are small, like the fact there was not one single tar paper shingle roof seen in all of New Zealand or Australia !! There were mostly metal roofs in a fantastic array of configurations, colors and designs. There were also tile roofs like those in Europe, but it stuck with us that the US may possibly be the last country on earth that uses the awful tar shingle - even in this age of diminishing petroleum resources. It's difficult to explain how we have been sold this convention despite its terribly short lifespan and awful problems with molds. In many ways we are far behind.

School uniforms fascinate us. After many years of working in schools we came away agreeing that uniforms are "a good thing". In both New Zealand and Australia school uniforms are the norm. They are not only attractive but add a wonderful element of pride to the students life. Here is a class outside the public library in Cairns.

Trains - my first ride in a train was from Moscow to Leningrad in the 80's - a sad comment on the  plight of the US rail system. Since then, I have tried to make up for it. We make a point of traveling every urban subway system we can find - from Mexico city to Buenos Aires. From Shanghai to Paris we enjoy the rail systems. When we were planning the trip north from Sydney to Cairns we had to make a choice of air, road or rail - we chose rail. It was a long journey well over 1500 miles . We took the overnight Sunliner from Sydney to Brisbane where we sent the day exploring this nice\city. Then we boarded the famous Tilt Train for the long but high speed overnight and another full day trip to Cairns. It was a great trip and very comfortable complete with shower.

Thinking back to New Zealand and watching Tim's webcam on the internet of the snow and cold in Whitefield, we were reminded of the day we spent in the famous Antarctic Center in Christchurch. Here Betty and I stand in the special snow room where the temperature was a chilly 17 degrees F and they turned on the wind fans to create a 40mph gale to illustrate a mild Antarctic winter.

And the last impression I want to record is not a pleasant one, but one that struck us strongly and consistently and is in need of recording.
Throughout both New Zealand and Australia we were asked about our president and his administration and his war. How did we feel - how could our country have voted him in twice. They couldn't understand. They said over and over that the world depends on us to provide leadership. In their memory there hasn't been an American administration so despised. A recent visit by Cheney confirmed their disgust - with his imperial demeanor and disrespect of their sovereignty.

And now its time to wind up this Journal for the winter 2007 and concentrate on reentry.