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jenn

Murder by Death

I read cozy and historical mysteries, a bit of Paranormal/UF, and to mix it up, I read science and gardening books on occasion.

Back from holiday to Uluru/Ayer's Rock ... mostly intact and caught up.

We returned on Sunday night, but it's taken me this long to catch up with my dashboard (I did not miss my electronic devices, but I did miss BookLikes!) and cull all my photos, my photographic process adhering to the chimpanzees-typing-Shakespeare theory.

 

The birds were both surprising and disappointing.  On the downside, there was little variety, but on the upside, the few I saw were some of the least expected, including my first 2 "Uncommon" birds (according to the bird experts).  Amongst the birds I did see:

 

Crested pigeon: because if you have to be a pigeon, you can at least be a punk-rock pigeon.

 

Zebra Finches: proving that what's common in captivity is utterly captivating in the wild.  (And they're hilarious to watch btw, they're always flitting around as one giant flock, constantly nattering away.   Let's go to that tree!  Ok!  Oh, wait, no, that tree looks better! Ok!  Nope, back to the first tree! Ok!  etc.

 

This is a completely crap photo, but I was trying to capture this while riding on the back of a camel, and there are limits to my camera's stabilisation algorithm.  This is a Wedge-tailed eagle, amongst the largest in the world, with a wingspan up to (according to wikipedia) 3.8 meters or 9'4".  It's HUGE.  This one is also more than a little scruffy, but he's the only one we saw, so he's magnificent.

 

My first "uncommon" bird - a Western Bowerbird.  These are the birds that build elaborate bowers using colored objects meant to woo the female with bling.  I captured this one at a very small watering hole, while MT was doing the watch-tapping/heavy-sighing bit; it's uncommon status is something he acknowledges will be working against him in all future 'it's just a brown bird' debates.

 

My other uncommon bird is the Mistletoe bird.  I'm not going to torture you with its picture (although it's a very striking bird) because it's not a great picture: I was across the road, getting jostled by oblivious tourists and juggling camera and glasses.  It's a good photo, but not a great one.

 

My favorite of the bunch - VERY common, but adorable, the White Plumed Honeyeater.  These little guys are all personality; even after taking dozens of photos, I still couldn't resist taking more.  They're total hams.

 

As some of you know, I'd had pie-in-the-sky hopes of seeing a Thorny Devil; alas, this did not happen.  Even though the weather hovered at 28C (82F) the entire time, it's winter there and they're hibernating.  I did see two of them pickled in formaldehyde (because people thought this was interesting??) but that doesn't count.  There were, however two reptiles I got to interact with.  One was a Bearded dragon:

 

A total charmer, this one.  She insisted on always being the center of attention.  And the next one, for anyone who has ever spent any time in the southern/south-western part of the US or North America, will not look overly impressive ... until you see her tail:

 

 

She goes from top to bottom in that second photo.  I named her Lucy and she hung out in the tree outside our door the first two days we were there.

 

The impetus for this trip (or at least, how I got MT to go) was an art installation by Bruce Monroe called Field of Lights.  Over 7 US Football field's worth of outback covered in handblown glass lights and fibre optics that change color every 10 seconds.  Pictures don't do it justice; it's amazing.

 

 

We had a blast.  We climbed everything.  We did a Segway tour around the base of Uluru, which I cannot praise highly enough.  If you ever get a chance to ride a Segway, I urge you to try it - so. much. fun.  Although the first embarrassing story is me falling off of one.  One tire caught some gravel and lost traction, causing me to lost my balance (which is everything on a Segway) and start lurching back and forth (like one of those weird exercise bikes), over-correcting, until the tires started bouncing side to side and I finally gave up the fight and my dignity, and did a slow-motion sideways knees-than-butt landing on the ground.  No injuries to anything except my pride (they knee/elbow pad you up); I was complimented on holding out for as long as I did, but really, I'm pretty sure that was just said to make me feel better.  Fortunately the rest of the ride was uneventful and incredibly fun (although I think my Segway was slower than MT's ::sulk::).

 

And finally, the last photo, the obligatory picture of the red rock itself, off in the distance:One of those shadows is MT and I atop Diesel, our woolly camel.  The camel ride was also incredible: fun, and an outstanding way to really see Outback Australia.  And if you've made it this far in a post that is, let's face it, a modern day version of the "Our Vacation Slideshow!", you deserve to chuckle over my second holiday embarrassment. 

 

The camel ride was how we got to the Fields of Light (it can't be reached by personal car, so it's camels or buses).  The entire ride was enjoyed without a hitch and Diesel was a perfect gentleman - though he was talkative and sounded exactly like Chewbacca.  At the end he kneeled down to allow us our dismount, and as I was sliding down off the saddle, a buckle caught my jeans and ripped a monster hole out of the back and I was suddenly and intimately aware of the slight, ground-level breeze.

 

Luckily, it was an unseasonably warm night and I'd brought a jacket I didn't need to wear anywhere except around my waist the rest of the evening.  But damn, those were good jeans!