Legal alien

7 10 2008

Huh! I am now a true ‘Legal Alien allowed to work’. I can feel the antennae budding. I have a US social security number. Soon the mighty US government will even collect taxes from me. I am now supporting, in my own small way, the US economy. Perhaps I should go and buy something.

This brings the number of countries I am currently legal to work in to three. Only one classifies me as an “alien” though.

beep – beep.





New stuff

28 09 2008

A few things have changed in cyberspace since I rode around South America. Memory is now rediculously cheap, computers are smaller and faster (I didn’t say I was surprised!), and Google has a browser. I’m playing with it now, it seems like it has a few cool features that Firefox 3 should soon have (which is also new), but the reason I wrote this is it has a button that says “Stats for nerds”. Thanks Google.





Update

28 09 2008

Well, it’s been two weeks. I’ve been to Canada for Stuart and Rachel’s wedding, started working and been on two runs.

For a bit of a coincidence my old boss was also in Houston this week. So we saw the NASA center together.

Lots has happened, but writing about it doesn’t get the focus at the moment. Perhaps it will when life settles down again.





Adventures?

14 09 2008

I think the adventures are over for now. I have my email accounts all set up again, I’ve worked 11 days straight, mostly at 12hrs a day, and I haven’t had time to do more than eat and sleep outside of the refinery. Quite a shock to the routine (not that I had a routine – perhaps that’s what is making this a shock).

Sanity is being preserved by the knowledge that Stu’s wedding is next weekend in Winnipeg, and that hopefully the Spain thing will still happen in the short term. Then the adventures will begin again, unless I can find a few spare minutes to look around this tiny island I’ve been placed on (apparently it takes a few hours to explore – I commute 30 odd mins each way, but have only seen a few roads and restaurants). There should be some great snorkeling / diving out there. I’ll have a look in the next few weeks. I’ll let you know if I do.





US Radio

14 09 2008

On the way in to work this morning I was singing along to a song on the radio, still trying to wake up (unless you are deaf or want a good laugh don’t, repeat don’t listen to me sing when I’m on my own in the car). I suddenly noticed I was singing to Missy Higgins. Hang on, I’m not in Australia – this is the US! Actually it is more Caribbean than US, but still.

Impressed; they have some taste for music after all (at 5:30am…).

Actually, three days in a row, at the same point on the road, the same song has come on (not by Missy – a Canadian I saw in Victoria a few weeks ago). Those weeks feel like months! Maybe 5:30 to 6:00 am is the international timeslot.





I am still here

5 09 2008

Yes, I’m still kicking. I’m at work at the moment – it was a rapid transition from play to work, but I’m here now. I’m in the US Virgin Islands at the moment, but hoping to be in Europe in the not too distant future. I will update when I get a few minutes off work…





Vancouver

27 07 2008

So I got kicked out of the Calgary Youth hostel. Something about being full. Certainly nothing about me not being a youth any more. I looked around, considered my options, and ended up on a bus to Vancouver. Bye bye, Calgary.

Vancouver skyline

Vancouver skyline

So Vancouver is pretty good. I was here a few hours, found all the gear shops and got a first taste of precipitation (I’ve been scared off Vancouver because it “rains all the time here” – which doesn’t seem to be strictly true). For Aussies, this is a city that to me looks like Hobart has exploded to the size of Brisbane, but is far more dense. There are two big bays around the centre core, mountains in the background and piles of people. And apartment buildings popping up like trees. There is a forest of condos.

And hostel accommodation is full here as well. Travelling in summer in Canada requires planning and forethought. Not really my cup of tea. Perhaps I should visit Europe…





Moving on?

24 07 2008

I think I’m working it out. It is not the lack of work that I’m missing. It is technical challenge. I’ve just spent the better part of a day messing around with my computer (I did mention I bought one didn’t I), trying to install a different version of Linux. Without a CD drive (which turns out to be a difficult endeavour – especially when you’ve not done it before).

Why?

Well… ‘cos I can. Or can’t as it turns out. But the success (or lack of) is a little beside the point. What is worrying is that I can spend a reasonably sunny day in Canada messing with a laptop. I may as well be at home.

And that pretty much sums up my feelings toward Canada at the moment. Sure it is different to Australia, the flora, fauna, landscape are all completely unrelated. However, the people, the way they live, car they drive, work they do is all so similar to what I’m used to back home that I’m heavily doubting that I should stay here for the experience. For sure living here will not be a challenge (apart from the obvious get a job, get a house which really could be trivial if I applied myself). So, to experience Canada I should really be out hunting bears or up to my neck in ice way above the Arctic circle somewhere. It turns out you don’t get that in Calgary.

To be fair, I have my expectations of challenge at South American levels still, so it is unlikely that any place will truly satisfy me right now (except maybe Asia…). So the job hunt is still technically on, but…

Maybe after I get Linux working 🙂





New toy

22 07 2008

On the pretext of needing one to get a job, I just bought a new computer 🙂

It’s only a small guy – about the size of two CDs. And it does a few strange things every now and again, or that could be me and the new operating system. I’ll get used to that(if I can’t fix it) - see what I mean? Now I’m back online - perhaps more blog posts unless I can motivate myself to get a job...





Rockies

21 07 2008

I’ve been from Edmonton, to the edge of the Rockies through the Icefields Parkway, Jasper, Banff and now in Calgary. The mountains are, of course, great. Sorry Prairie dwellers, but mountains beat your habitat for me. I climbed up one hill (Mt Temple), in my sneakers, over the snow and ice and in a snow storm. Was quite an experience, and reminded me why I like the mountains. And was probably a little daft.

I’m supposed to be looking for a job and not blogging, so more details later. Although the weather here is supurb right now – I don’t know if I can justify sitting in an office at this time of year.





The Peg

28 06 2008

I’ve been here for 2.5 weeks. It is late at night, the sun has just gone down (the summer solstace was only a few days ago) and it is 26C, 60% humidity.

I’ve done so much in the last weeks with Stu and Rachel, and yet now that I’m logged in, there is little that needs writing about. I could write about my small trip out east, to Ottawa, Montreal and Quebec. One day. I have procrastinated a little the last few days (while pretending to be looking for work), but until then Stu and Rachel kept me busy – out with their friends, family, cottages, golf… You name it. I was planning on leaving for Toronto today except I was convinced to stay for a family barbeque tomorrow. My arm was easily twisted 🙂 Maybe I’ll go Sunday.

It has been great staying with Stu and Rachel. Thanks heaps guys. Now I’ve been introduced to the Prairie and Corner Gas. Sure is flat.





To Winnipeg

13 06 2008

Hitching out of the SooI made it. The latest challenge was to get from Toronto to Winnipeg (to visit Stu!)… hitch hiking. Would you pick this guy up?

Well someone did.

It was just over 2000km, and took 4.5 days. The drive flat out takes two long days, so I made reasonable time.

No time now. Stories later. I’m due to go down to Rachel’s good friends parents cottage for the weekend. Ah, finally a break from… well doing nothing really.





Ice hockey

3 06 2008

Pitsburg beat Detroit (4-3) in the 3rd overtime of the 5th match of the playoffs. Watched on TV. Now Detroit are 3-2 up in the series. Next match on Wednesday.
Who would have thought I could get interested in the ice hockey finals? Good thing the rules aren’t terribly difficult to learn – as a spectator anyway(s). If only I could skate…





Cyclists

1 06 2008

Long distance cyclists are everywhere in Canada. I’ve just met two cyclists from Boston. Another yesterday from somewhere out east. I saw a few more in Mont Tremblant. They all seem to be heading for Vancouver, despite the prevailing wind. And the prairie.





Travel anyone?

1 06 2008

I’ve been on the road for just over 11 months. That’s not really all that long compared to some.

I’m done. For some reason randomly traveling around is just not exciting at the moment. Since I’ve been living hedonistically this last year, a few moments of normality and I’m bored.

Canada is nice, in the spring it is even beautiful (out of the cities). Unfortunately, that is part of the problem. It is nice. There is nothing challenging about backpacking here – it is simple, the only way to do the country justice is to get a car (or motorbike) and travel thousands of k’s. For a few reasons I’m not interested in that right now. I guess it would also be possible by bike. Three months of prairie don’t drive me wild with excitement right now. Maybe in the winter it would be more fun 😉 Autumn might be pretty cool though (if not downright freezing).

I’ve got a few options now: Continue overseas again (India is a possibility – on two wheels); go home and return to the real world; or work here (and while pretending to be in the real world, actually continue the escapism). Of course I’ll give working here a whirl. I tmay not sounds like it, but that could be a challenge. A few more cities, then try to find a job and live in Toronto. More than likely – who knows, almost every plan I’ve made so far on this trip has fallen through.

So it looks like the traveling “adventures” will soon be over… for a while. Let’s see how long I can handle “normality”. Whatever that is.





Toronto

22 05 2008

Or ‘Trono’ as it is called. Very big city. Perhaps I could live here, but it loses its appeal for traveling after walking around it for several days. Luckily I know someone here; Alina, a good friend and fellow word traveller, lives here and she is helping me see the place.

It is with some relief that I have been able to stay here for a week. I feel like I have returned home in many ways. I’ve been here before. I’m talking and seeing someone I’ve known for years almost every day. I have been very lucky to have been given a place to stay. Almost everyone speaks English. I’m very firmly in the first world: the traffic runs smoothly and quietly; the streets are kept clean; everything is expensive and just works; I can use the credit card again. Apart from the funny accent, this could be Australia. So I feel like the trip has finished, and I should be getting back to some sort of productive activity (especially as the expenses have skyrocketed!)

Not so fast! There is still a chunk of country to see before I can stop.

Last weekend was the first real weekend in Spring. It was a long weekend, Monday was Victoria Day. Unfortunately it is still Spring, and Winter this year seems to be draging on (at least that is what the locals assure me). I hope they are right – surely it can’t be cold and wet all year. Whinging about (or “aboot”) the weather seems to be a national sport, and for good reason this week.

Saturday was forecast for rain, so we didn’t plan any outings, preferring to go on Sunday or Monday in the sunshine. You guessed it, Saturday was fine, the others not. So, of all things, we went shopping on Saturday. Well, I needed a new camera anyway so the effort wasn’t entirely wasted. Sunday started well but deteriorated into a movie session with one of Alina’s friends – who turned out to be an IronMan/Woman (how do you describe a female who has completed an IronMan?), marathon runner, and similarly all round sporty type. So we had something to talk about 🙂

With only one day left in the weekend, we took the risk and Alina drove me to Penetanguishene, a town just north of Toronto. It rained on the way there, and the sky was cloudy. But it cleared when we arrived, and I was treated to a Spring walk in the woods. Pity I didn’t have a camera, the woods are spectacular in the Spring. I imagine it would be nice in all seasons actually – there are lots of trees, and one of the great lakes is right there, both of which are covered in snow and ice over winter. The stories of cross country skiing to work and then in the forest or on the (frozen) lake by moonlight after work made me slightly jealous. Ok, more than slightly. If I’m around here in winter, I’ve picked my sport. Except I don’t expect such a good cover of snow in the city.

And I have got a new camera. So here is a photo from around the place that I am staying, well within walking distance of downtown Toronto (a city of 5 million people, another million on Sydney). I’m pretty lucky to be able to sleep in this area. Nice, eh?

There are lots of flowers out: Violets, Lilacs (not only in the colour Lilac so I’m told), Lilly of the Valley, along with flowering trees: Cherry, Crab apple, Almond. Alina has been attempting to teach me some botany. I’m just showing off. Everything looks so different to my last visit (that time there was snow about).

Next stop: Ottawa. Just up the train line. Heading east for a short trip. I would like to take a bike, but Canada is BIG and I don’t know that I want to spend the time in the saddle again, so soon.

 





Canada

15 05 2008

Well, I’m here. Spring is definitely here also. Thank goodness. Although it did (briefly) rain on me yesterday. I’ve got a few days planned in Toronto, and then I have to work out for sure whether I go east or west. At the moment starting east seems a good plan.