July 31, 2013

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By Katharine

In early July, I was lucky enough to get to go to Australia for a business trip. Even better, I got to spend several extra days exploring Melbourne, Sydney, and the surrounding countryside with my coworker. We had an amazing time touring Melbourne, seeing the Sydney Opera House, feeding kangaroos, seeing wild koalas and wallabies, watching the Little Penguins of Phillip Island, and doing a tour along the magnificent Great Ocean Road. Check out the photos below for a quick look at it all we did. Click an individual photo for full screen/slide show mode and the captions/descriptions will show up. (Don’t click ‘show as slideshow’.)

 

On Memorial Day weekend, we originally planned to go backpacking, but life sort of got in the way so we decided to do a local hike up to Inspiration Point with some of Nathan’s coworkers. We followed Modern Hiker’s route, which is a strenuous 10.5 miles with 2700′ gain. We’ve been up as far as Echo Mountain before, but we’ve always wanted to go all the way to Inspiration Point, especially since the trailhead is only 10 minutes from our apartment.

Luckily we got an early start and enjoyed the shade most of the way up. The climb was tough, but the group kept a nice pace and made good time.

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The view from Inspiration Point really is great and worth the extra effort although it was pretty foggy when we were up there. There are a bunch of viewing tubes which would have been fun on a clearer day.

 

View-tube humor

We also appreciated that there are much fewer people willing to go so far, so you can enjoy some peace and quiet (while Echo Mountain is more of a zoo).

The hike back down felt a bit long, but the views overlooking Pasadena were great and kept us going.

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It was a perfect day in the local mountains, thanks to Nathan’s coworkers for joining us!

We headed to Dana Point with Nathan’s parents to try to observe bioluminescence organisms with the Ocean Institute.  It was a new moon and the weather was cooperating, but in the end the night cruise turned up a bit disappointing display of bioluminescence.  There is always some bioluminescence, but to really get the ‘wow factor’ you need a bloom of organisms that make the water glow instead of just a few sparks in the water.  The fog quickly surrounded us making it hard to see any faint horizon line at night.  We then got a little sea sick as the boat turned parallel to the waves and rolled back in forth in the fog. We were quite happy to make it back to calmer waters. On the way out to sea they pointed out some curious animals that are active at night including a few different types of birds and some new seal babies. The trip was a little expensive for a night cruise in the fog, but the crew was knowledgable, and if there was a way to predict that there would be a bioluminescence bloom happening on a particular night, then we would definitely recommend it.

Several weeks later, Katharine was camping at the beach north of Malibu (Thornhill Broome Beach) with two of her friends who were visiting LA. The waves were huge and crashing with quite a lot of force on the steep beach. As the sun began to set, we noticed that the waves seemed to be glowing and once it was fully dark, it was an amazing, indescribable show. The white water portion of every wave would glow in a very brilliant blue/green, then dissipate as the waves settled. It was probably a once in a lifetime experience; we talked to other campers who had been there for a whole week and only saw it that one night. Unfortunately Nathan wasn’t there to see it or capture it with his camera. Kim managed to get these photos of the waves and our tent with her camera; it’s a bit blurry, but it gives an idea of how bright the glowing was.

 

Other photos from the Ocean Institute boat trip: