Feeling appreciated

I enjoyed a lovely Australian Fathers Day today. The kids gave me a new skateboard! I haven’t ridden one in well over 30 years, but I did okay at the ball courts today.

Later on, we went to Chowder Bay for some fishing. No catching, just fishing. I got a few nibbles but nothing really took the bait. There were a bunch of Asians on the end of the pier using bits of chicken and small hooks to catch a bunch of small fish and Heather and Brian had fun checking out their catch.

I had a terrific day with the kids and afterwards Teresa took us out for some yummy Korean food!

All in all, a really nice day.

Happy Fathers Day, Daddy!

Have fun with your new skateboard, Daddy!

 

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Thanks, Heather and Brian!

Picking up where I left off 30 plus years ago. After a bit of practice I was pulling off 360′s, (pivoting on the back wheel and spinning in a complete circle while continuing in the original direction of travel) more consistently than when I was a teenager and used to ride all the time. Funny how the muscles remember what to do, and that over time my balance has improved, so now some things seem easier. I went down in a heap at least once and somehow managed to bruise one of my heels, but that’s all part of it.

 

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Brian tried standing on the board and rode it a little, as did Heather, then Brian sat on it and he appeared to enjoy himself, immensely. Later on he told me he wanted me to buy him his own skateboard. Maybe next year, mate.

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Since Brian can’t swim yet, I brought his life vest, just in case he fell off the dock. You can’t see it, but there’s no rail on the side behind us.

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Maybe we didn’t catch any fish, but I had a wonderful time with the kids all the same. Next time we’ll try to go somewhere they’re bound to catch something.

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Ah, what a perfect day!

Is this not the look of a very contended man? I think it is. I’m blessed to have two wonderful children, a terrific wife, a healthy family and lots of love and laughter in my life. What more can anyone ask for?

 

Going along swimmingly

We finally put Brian into swim lessons. He started last weekend and I was so pleased to see him fully participate and not bail out of the class.

It’s early days but I’m hopeful he’ll continue being a good student and we’ll have him swimming before we know it. :)

Brian is wearing the blue swim cap in the video.

Brians First Swim Lesson from Paul Rooney on Vimeo.

Are you ready for some…

Football!

Butt Fumble! Looking forward to more of this in the coming NFL season!

Butt Fumble! Looking forward to more of this in the coming NFL season!

The Epic Bushwalk

Hey, look! There’s something new here!

Winter is now in it’s last month here in the Southern Hemisphere and thankfully the days are starting to get longer, light-wise. Apart from two weeks of chilly and windy weather, it’s not been too cold of a winter here in Sydney. Once or twice, due to the cold, we have had to put shoes on the kangaroos we all ride to work, but aside from that, no worries.

Here in Australia, school holidays are spread out though the year, with three two week breaks and then one big one that’s 5 weeks or so, for our Summer (Christmas) holidays. This works out to about 20 more school days per year than in the US, 200 vs. 180.

I took four days off for the recent Winter school holidays to spend some good one on one time with Heather for a couple of days, and then two days with both Heather and Brian while Teresa headed off to work.

Day one of school holidays saw Heather and I having a blast at Luna Park. Luna Park is a smallish amusement park that’s built in the shadow of one end of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. We got there early and had a blast riding the roller coaster 4 times in a row as there was hardly a queue (line) at all. It’s one that takes your photo and displays it as your come out. We had a good time doing different faces for the photo each time, first time smiling, then zombies, silly and then our scariest faces. I bought the smiling picture, shown below. I should’ve got the zombie one, too, it was pretty funny.

Good Times!

Good Times!

We did lots of other rides and had fun in the big fun house. There was hardly any wait for the rides as the park wasn’t very busy, being a Monday and all.

Fun in the Coney Island Funhouse. Heather getting her skirt blown up, ala Marilyn Monroe

Fun in the Coney Island Funhouse. Heather getting her skirt blown up, ala Marilyn Monroe

You must be...

You must be…

As we were about to head home (I’d parked in the Luna Park carpark) we were walking down by the harbour and I saw the ferry approaching. “Heather!” I shouted, “Let’s run for the ferry!” We did, and just caught it, taking it across the harbour for a spur of the moment trip to Circular Quay (pronounced like ‘KEY’). We hopped off and got some excellent ice cream at Baskin Robbins, watched some street performers and Heather surprised me by agreeing to my question, “Hey Heather, do you wanna walk back to Luna Park across the harbour bridge?” It’s a fair ways to the bridge from Circular Quay and then up and over it and back to Luna Park. She was such a trooper about it, and I was well impressed. I mean, this is the same girl who complains about one of the two places she goes for before school care because, “We have to walk up a hill to get to the bus.”

The next day of school holidays, Heather and I dropped Brian off at his daycare, then drove over the harbour bridge to Darling Harbour to meet up with one of her classmates and her dad. Together we all toured the Sydney Aquarium. I was a little disappointed in the aquarium as it’s been downsized a bit to make room for a wax museum, which to me, is a total waste of space. I just don’t get the whole celebrity worship culture. I don’t understand why people don’t just live their own lives, rather than living vicariously though “famous” people. Does it really make any difference in anyone’s life, at all, who is dating/marrying/divorcing who? Anyway, the aquarium used to be awesome, now it’s a bit less than it was and that makes me sad. The girls seemed to only kind of enjoy themselves there, judging by how quickly they moved through the place.

Back outside, we headed over to Tumbalong Park, also at Darling Harbour. It’s an excellent play area that has tons of things to occupy kids for hours. After playing for a while, we stopped for some sushi for lunch and afterwards, we spied a huge white structure over in what’s usually an open area used for events. Upon closer inspection, it turned out to be a “Snow Palace”. We had stumbled into a Winter Carnival! Just past the Snow Palace was a huge outdoor skating rink. At this point we said goodbye to Heathers friend, Jessica, and her dad, Shane.

Heather had never tried skating and I practically lived on skates in the wintertime, back home in the Northeast US. So, I rented skates for us and skated backwards while holding Heathers hands, catching her each of the many times she slipped and fell. It took a while, but she eventually got the hang of it and I was able to let go for short distances and have her skate to me. I was thrilled to share that with Heather and she really got a kick out of it, too.

Heathers' first time skating

Heathers’ first time skating

Heathers' first time on skates.

Heathers’ first time on skates.

Day 3 of school holidays came and we kept Brian with us and headed to the Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Centre for some fun in the pool, on the water slides and in the big whirlpool river. That night I told the kids, “Tomorrow I’m going on an epic bushwalk! It will be long and difficult, up and down mountains and you’ll have to walk the whole way. It will also be very cool and fun, but hard. So, do you guys want to come on an epic bushwalk with me tomorrow, or go to daycare/vacation care?” It was unanimous, as I’d hoped. They were both coming for the hike.

Day 4 of school holidays, Epic Hike time! The three of us hit the trail up at Cowan train station, about 40 minutes drive north, where I parked our car. The walk we did goes between Cowan and Brooklyn train stations, following the Great North Walk through some beautiful bushland. The GNW goes over 250 Kilometers (155 miles) from down south of Sydney way up to Newcastle, the next large city north of Sydney. The trail goes through mostly unpopulated bushland between Sydney and Newcastle. If you were fit and did the whole walk, it would take you two to three weeks. We were setting out to do 13 Kilometers (8 miles) of it. Along the way we’d descend from Cowan station to Jerusalem Bay before heading up and down two steep mountains then hitting a long fire trail that follows the ridge of a third mountain, past a small lake finally descending steeply down to Brooklyn, a small town on the Hawkesbury River.

We had an absolutely lovely day. Both weather-wise and adventure/fun-wise. We let Brian set the pace as he’s only 3 1/2, but he goes surprisingly well for someone his size.

Start of the hike, photo by Heather.

Start of the hike, photo by Heather.

The beginning of our epic bushwalk

The beginning of our epic bushwalk

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We had some fun along the river, finding cool little striped catfish swimming near the shore.

The intrepid bushwalkers, Heather and Brian

Along the way we were rewarded with lots of wildflowers and lovely eucalyptus forests. We even followed a side trail and were pleasantly surprised to find a very large, old Aboriginal rock engraving site.

Aborginal Rock Engravings

Aborginal Rock Engravings

Here we are stopping at Jerusalem Bay.

Jerusalem Bay

Jerusalem Bay

Here’s a group shot I took, with the camera timer, after going up and down the two steep mountains.

A very happy Daddy with his children on a lovely day.

A very happy Daddy with his children on a lovely day.

Here’s Heather after we had come through the difficult part of the hike, realizing that we’d come less than half the distance we had to cover, and it was 4 PM and gets dark around 5:30.

How much farther? It'll be dark soon!

How much farther? It’ll be dark soon!

Brian was a real trooper. He did 2/3 of the hike with me carrying him the remainder. He also made it up the first 2/3 of both of the really steep mountain climbs along the way. Heather was amazing, too. She didn’t complain once and was cheering us on later in the day, saying, “C’mon guys, don’t give up! We can do this!” She’s awesome.

The second part of the hike is quite easy, comparatively. You can make good time along the fire road as it’s wide and fairly flat though it does have a gradual incline. The only problem was that for the last 1/3 of the walk, I was carrying Brian laying across my shoulders. Even before it got dark, he was snoring as Heather and I hiked along. The other issue we had was daylight. The last hour of our hike was in pitch black, with me using the flashlight on my phone while carrying Brian. It turned out to be much brighter then the small flashlights I’d brought along.Go Galaxy S5! Somewhere, I have some excellent headlamps, but I haven’t been able to find them quite some time.

Eventually, tired and sore, we made it to the train station at Brooklyn. The next train wasn’t due for 40 minutes so we huddled together and had the last of our sandwiches while we waited. We did have a bit of drama on the train, though. When we got to Cowan station, where we wanted to get off and get our exhausted bodies into our car, we found out that the train we were on was much longer than Cowan station was! We couldn’t get off because the doors didn’t open due to there being a 12 foot drop to the ground outside. We ended up running car to car through the train in search of where there was train platform but we didn’t manage to get to it in time. Yikes! Thankfully, we were able to get off a the next station and rather than wait 40 minutes for the next train back to Cowan, or walking 10 K down the road, since there’s little chance of getting a taxi out there in the middle of nowhere, I managed to find a nice couple, who were just leaving the parking lot and agreed to give us a ride! We were so very thankful. It was completely out of their way too, so it was really very nice of them.

So, it did indeed turn out to be an epic hike, after all. It’s one we all enjoyed and won’t soon forget. I’m so very proud of Heather and Brian for their accomplishment as well as for their good spirits throughout the bushwalk.

In fact, they were quite happy to go on another (much shorter) bushwalk two days later with me and their mum, Teresa. But that’s another story for another post.

The Epic Bushwalk

Love to all!
Paul

Arakoon National Park camping trip – Easter 2014

We just returned home from a lovely week long camping trip to Arakoon National Park. It’s up the coast about 5 hours drive north of Sydney, in a town named South West Rocks.

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I’d planned this a few months ago with our friend Elaine Pang. We booked adjoining campsites in the National Park campground and the plan was for our families to meet there on Saturday the 12th of April. For us, that’s the first day of a two week break between terms for Heather’s school. For Elaine’s family it’s the second week of their Easter school holidays as they live in another state (Queensland).

Anyway, that was the plan. Unfortunately, it didn’t end up that way. Their car’s clutch decided to burn out about half way along their 6 hour drive. They got stuck in Ballina and were lucky to get a campsite there while they waited for their car to get fixed. They finally arrived on Tuesday and we had a great time with them.

In the meantime, we set up our campsite…
There’s a lot more to tell to this story but it’s getting late so I’ll just post some photos and hopefully finish the story telling tomorrow.

Here are some highlights.

New tent and lots of other additions to our camping experience.

Lots of fun

a few days with rain, but then lovely weather

lots of kangaroos everywhere we went, especially all around our campsite

Lovely beaches and warm clear water we enjoyed swimming in

I took Heather and Brian fishing and Brian caught his first fish!

Great hiking/bush-walking

Heather fell out of a tree while climbing on her own. We took her to where the ambulances park in town and they thought she should go to the emergency room to get it examined. We did that and they took an x-ray and proclaimed it “not broken”! She was back to climbing trees the next day, so, all good.

I took about 1200 pictures and managed to choose 70 odd pics that do a good job of sharing our experiences. Here’s a slideshow below:

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