By Ben |

Fri, July 5

Jessie and I got a leisurely start on the day and then went to the National Gallery of Victoria. After perusing the artwork together, we split up around noon so that she could meet Teresa at the Latrobe University campus and I could walk through the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria. The day was thoroughly overcast and I got quite lost but eventually found all the plantings I was looking for!

to Melbourne

By Ben |

Thurs, July 4

We went for breakfast first thing at an artisan coffee place near our hotel, then checked out and returned the rental car. Our flight from Sydney to Melbourne was via the international terminals at both airports because it was bound for Phuket next; this meant that we (and many other domestic passengers) had to go through lots of extra checkpoints, but fortunately we weren't in a hurry!

Minnamurra Rainforest

By Ben |

Weds, July 3

We took the train into downtown again to have breakfast with Nathan Menser, who is doing community relations for public works projects. He and his wife have two daughters age 13 and 16; the older one is looking at colleges, so she's about where Nathan and I were when we met! Nathan says the Supercomputer Honors Program did not affect his career path at all as it did mine, but the social connections helped him a lot.


By Ben |

Tues, July 2

We drove into downtown in the morning to have brunch with Asabi Goodman. She is in town playing Matron "Mama" Morton in Chicago the Musical. We last crossed paths with her when the touring company of Hairspray passed through Omaha last year.


By Ben |

After a few false starts we found a place to have breakfast, and then we drove out west to Featherdale Sydney Wildlife Park. Honestly this place was worth the trip all on its own. We got to feed and pet kangaroos, wallabies, and quokkas, and we saw lots of koalas and Tasmanian devils and spectacular native birds from all over the continent. Many of the species were not at all endangered, but you'd have to travel all over to see them in the wild... for example, this is the only place outside western Australia where you can see a quokka. Anyone who likes exotic animals should put this place on their list.

to Australia

By Ben |

Sun, June 30

First thing Sunday morning, we packed up to leave the hotel and could not find my hiking boots anywhere. Since we both remembered the joke she made while unpacking them, it's a mystery... I guess they were made for walking!


By Ben |

Sat, June 29

Feeling much better rested on Saturday morning, we took a bus to the Auckland Zoo. There we saw native wildlife, including a kiwi and a kea, and some Australian animals as well, finishing around noon. Afterward we decided to split up for the day and meet up back at the hotel in the evening.

Earthsong Eco-Neighborhood

By Ben |

Fri, June, 28

We woke tired and sore and were unable to get the stove to light and decided over breakfast to return the campervan early and get a hotel. There was no refund, but it was worth it to have a comfortable place to rest! Jessie booked us at the Roomie Apartment Hotel, which was very roomy — although there were only dishes for two in the kitchen, there were three sinks! While unpacking my boots, Jessie made a joke about how we'd brought them halfway around the world to get them cleaned.

Rotorua and Hamilton

By Ben |

Thurs, June 27

Jessie was not ready to leave Rotorua without seeing more of the geothermal attractions, so we went to Whakarewarewa, which has been a tourist attraction since before colonization and is now a "living Māori village," meaning that people live there to learn and teach pre-colonial customs. We did not tour the village, but we had a lovely scenic walk on the trails past steaming and bubbling pools.