Porcupyn's Blog

July 6, 2017

Alaska Trip – Day 3 (continued)

Filed under: Family,Travel — Porcupyn @ 11:02 pm

I hope everyone is not bored by the amount of photos! Anyway, there’s more to come 🙂

 On the way back from Whittier to Palmer, after we crossed the tunnel and joined the Seward Highway, guess what we see once more? The train that had left about 15 minutes before we did.

On the way back from Whittier to Palmer, after we crossed the tunnel and joined the Seward Highway, guess what we see once more? The train that had left about 15 minutes before we did.

What I was surprised was that the train appeared to have reversed. I never figured out where and why this happened, but if I recall, this sighting was just around Girdwood. Any locals with more insight into this?

 As the train was moving slowly enough, we were able to come abreast of it very quickly, and then pass it.

As the train was moving slowly enough, we were able to come abreast of it very quickly, and then pass it.

Later, we stopped for Subway and donuts near the exit to the Alyeska resort. On the way back to Palmer, just past Anchorage, we ran into a big bottleneck. Road crew had cut the road down from three lanes to just one, and the back-up was about a mile long. It took us about 30-45 minutes just to get through that area. By the time we got back, it was almost 11 pm once more and we hit the bed!

Alaska Trip – Day 3

Filed under: Family,Travel — Porcupyn @ 10:55 pm

Once we reached Anchorage airport, on time, at about 8:30 pm, we collected our rental car – @ almost $600 for ten days, very pricey, if you ask me, in spite of getting it through Costco (but I was seeing quotes for $1,000 without Costco, so I am not complaining about Costco for sure!). And we were on our way … to Palmer, which is where we had our Airbnb.

But not before we had our great american experience at a Wal*Mart. Five months ago, I was clueless about what to expect in Alaska (especially as a vegetarian). Moreover, I had this idea of non-motorable roads that were optimally travelled in an RV. But when I inquired about RVs (based on input from friends who said that getting a rental car plus paying for a motel would be decidedly more expensive), Mrs. Porcupyn put both feet firmly on the ground and said that it would constitute grounds for shifting our vacation out of Alaska. Hence, I acquiesced and went for the more conventional vacation plan.

Wait though! Travel and lodging (thanks Airbnb, for the most part) was taken care of – whabbou food? In comes Wal*Mart, which, I hadn’t remotely thunk would be in Alaska. Guess what? There are three in Anchorage itself, as also Taco Bells and – blow me over with a feather – an Indian restaurant or two as well, not to mention sundry pizza places. We were going gaga at the gourmet options available … to be honest, at first glance, I failed to see the Wal*Marts in Anchorage. The closest one I saw to Palmer was in Eagle River, which is where we made our first stop after getting the rental car.

Thirty minutes later, we were well stocked with the essentials for a vegetarian on the road in USA – bread, butter, milk, cheese, frozen lasagna (no lard or eggs) and last, but definitely not the least, donuts! After an hour more (or less) of driving, we found ourselves at our Airbnb in a secluded area. It was past ten pm, but our hosts had informed us that we were welcome to land up any time – and the fact that it was as bright as seven am in FL was to our advantage as well. 🙂

We made ourselves at ease and went to be right around 11 pm. Unlike what folks had warned us about having difficulty getting to sleep in the light at night, we slept like logs. To an extent, though, as we needed to leave [B]early[/B] the next morning to Whittier for our first (of three – maybe overkill?) cruise of the trip.

Major Marine Tours operates out of Whittier as well as Seward. Its competitors are Phillips Cruises in Whittier and Kenai Fjord Tours in Seward. We picked MMT for all three of our cruises because a) they did not require us to purchase the Alaska Tourbook (which we had skimmed through and returned as it wouldn’t be worthwhile for our planned outings) for a discount, b) they gave additional discount for repeat customers and the biggest reason of them all c) they permitted cancellation with full money back up to 72 hours before cruising. Based on past experience (Great Barrier Reef), I had figured out that I just cannot stand getting tossed around in the sea (on a boat, of course!). So, we wanted to retain the option of cancelling the third – and longest/expensive – cruise, the one out of Seward, should we be confronted with a gloomy forecast. MMT (and competitors) have a no seasickness guarantee for cruises out of Whittier as Prince William Sounds is well shielded from external elements.

Anyway, we were requested to be at the Whittier Tunnel (advertised as the longest rail-highway tunnel in North America) in time for the 10:30 am opening in order to make our boat. This tunnel is a one-way tunnel which vehicles share with the train. The train comes at about noon and leaves … OK, I don’t remember when it leaves. So, opening timings in the morning are (currently, in Summer): 9:30-9:45, 10:30-10:45 toward Whittier and 10:00-10:15, 11:00-11:15 etc leaving Whittier. [I am writing this off memory, so please do due diligence if you are coming to Whittier!]. The train, I am assuming, uses the 11:45-12:00 slot. From the tunnel, it is less than a mile to the parking lot/marina.

We made such good time – in spite of a stop at Taco Bell to pick up our bagged lunch (in addition to packed sandwiches) – that we got there nearly an hour ahead of the suggested time. Usually, there is a line in the staging area to access the tunnel (folks queued up as they arrived at a time when traffic was coming out of the tunnel). However, because we got there right near the end of our time slot, we breezed through the tunnel entering at about 9:42 am and exiting at about 9:48 am.

When we got to the Whittier marina, it was a bit overcast and we were apprehensive that it might rain. But we were well prepared regardless and I had my waterproof camera handy as well. As we turned in to the check in area, we were met with a lady who was carrying a flyswatter bat/racket (we christened her “The Flyswatter Lady”) that she was zapping flies with. She directed us to a parking lot across the road that would save us five bucks. As we were very early, not much activity was happening, so she had time to talk with us. She suggested that in the evening, if we have time, we go to a cove past the old buildings further along the road, but up the hill. Also, if we were up to it, she recommended a short walk/hike to a point that overlooks Portage Glacier. We thanked her and let her know that we would try them out if we could. She also gave us her “No bears (almost) guarantee”, that bears had not been sighted in the Whittier Valley neighborhood for the last thirty years. Bear Valley, on the other side of the tunnel, was another story though.

As we had time to kill, Mrs. Porcupyn and I walked back retracing our path to get closer to the tunnel.

As we had time to kill, Mrs. Porcupyn and I walked back retracing our path to get closer to the tunnel

 One of the hanging glaciers in Whittier

One of the hanging glaciers in Whittier

 The huge catamaran of the competitor (Phillips Cruises) getting ready to go on the 26-glacier cruise - this left about 15-30 minutes before we did

The huge catamaran of the competitor (Phillips Cruises) getting ready to go on the 26-glacier cruise – this left about 15-30 minutes before we did

 Another view of the marina - in overcast conditions, the color of the water was gorgeous

Another view of the marina – in overcast conditions, the color of the water was gorgeous

 Birds of the Kittywake rookerie - one bird's restroom area is another's living room!

Birds of the Kittywake rookerie – one bird’s restroom area is another’s living room!

 This, I believe, qualifies as a tidewater glacier

This, I believe, qualifies as a tidewater glacier

 ... and another one!

… and another one!

 Sea otters favor the backstroke for sure!

Sea otters favor the backstroke for sure!

 Another huge glacier with a prominent medial moraine

Another huge glacier with a prominent medial moraine

 This one is hanging ... or is it a Piedmont glacier? Need to google once more!

This one is hanging … or is it a Piedmont glacier? Need to google once more!

 Surprise glacier

Surprise glacier

 Look at those colors ...

Look at those colors …

 ... and the falling ice! This is about as much as we saw - for more dramatic footage, you might want to search YouTube for videos (not mine!)

… and the falling ice! This is about as much as we saw – for more dramatic footage, you might want to search YouTube for videos (not mine!)

 Snowmelts that remind you of Switzerland

Snowmelts that remind you of Switzerland

 Another (or the same?) tidewater glacier

Another (or the same?) tidewater glacier

 Sealife on one of the rocks

Sealife on one of the rocks

 Train parked at the Whittier station, scheduled departure 6:45 pm

Train parked at the Whittier station, scheduled departure 6:45 pm

 We went toward the cove that the Flyswatter lady told us about, but took a wrong turn. Not to worry, as this was preferable to us anyway. The view was great and we saw a motorboat revving it up in PWS.

We went toward the cove that the Flyswatter lady told us about, but took a wrong turn. Not to worry, as this was preferable to us anyway. The view was great and we saw a motorboat revving it up in PWS.

 It is 6:47 pm now, and the train is punctual. Well, it has got to be, unless it wants to miss its tunnel slot!

It is 6:47 pm now, and the train is punctual. Well, it has got to be, unless it wants to miss its tunnel slot!

 Getting closer to the tunnel

Getting closer to the tunnel

 A close up of the tunnel entrance, as seen from a car. It definitely is narrow, and it does appear to have been cut with a train's car size in mind :-)

A close up of the tunnel entrance, as seen from a car. It definitely is narrow, and it does appear to have been cut with a train’s car size in mind 🙂

July 5, 2017

Alaska Trip Day 2 – continued

Filed under: Family,Travel — Porcupyn @ 9:36 pm

Finally at Seattle, nearly 12 hours behind schedule, we were able to quickly get out to baggage claim, locate our one checked-in bag, and check it right back in with Alaska Airlines. It was located not too far from baggage claim (though on the floor above) and it was easy peasy. Now, we had a couple of hours on our hands and were miraculously back on schedule (if you ignore the small matter of being, literally, sleepless … in Seattle!). But we were hungry for sure and I was a bit upset about losing our money on the Seattle hotel reservation that we didn’t use – I am still trying to see if we can get it back from the credit card one way or the other! We got pizza and sandwiches while Baab went around the terminals taking plane photos. Soon, it was time to board which, finally, we did without a hitch and soon we were airborne.

The scenery was absolutely captivating minutes after departure from Seattle. I don’t know if the mountains belong to the USA or Canada, but they looked really inviting. Snowcapped, with trails (or were they motorable roads?) at the top. they would come with great views for sure. There were also small lakes at the bottom of some of the mountains. After some more time, we started seeing snow on top of the mountains and glaciers as well. We touched down into Juneau.

Now, there was an ulterior motive in getting a connection via Juneau. Originally, we wanted to cruise to Alaska; however, all of the cruises had a halt within Canada and, as my mother did not have a Canadian visa (and didn’t have enough time to apply and get one), that was out of question. I thought that if we could get the routing that stopped in Juneau, we could at least see the local scenery – if only from the air.

As it turned out, that worked out just right. Though only Baab was able to see the Mendenhall glacier on the landing approach (the rest of us were on the left side of the plane), we had seats on the right for the next leg, and so were able to catch it while taking off. There is a whole story about our seats being messed up by Alaska Airlines that I will add later!!

Though/because we were (only) transiting Juneau, I had not researched the area. So, I was unprepared for the possibility of being able to go out to the glacier in the two+ hours that we had at the small airport. When we went outside the airport, the one taxi-driver we talked with informed us that all five of us and our (carryon) luggage wouldn’t fit in that taxi and we would need to get a bigger one. And, besides, they would charge us $10 per person even to just take us up to the glacier and back, as it was part of the national park system. By this time, we had less than two hours and I didn’t want to take a chance with missing a flight – besides, we would be seeing glaciers after we got to Anchorage anyway. So, we abandoned any plans of leaving the airport area and got back in through the security area.

As we flew over a sea of white (mountains) with glaciers all around (OK, I can only vouch for the area to the right of the plane), I got into a conversation with some high school students on our row – they were on their way back to the Bay Area after a school trip as part of their curriculum (sociology, human geography, or some such). Basically, they were there for a two-week program to live with folks in the outlying areas and experience life in the Alaskan remoteness.

Well, they apparently got some more than they bargained for. Their boat (?) was late arriving into the Glacier Bay airport (Gustavus) and so they missed their flight to Seattle. Now, they were going to San Jose from Gustavus via Juneau, Anchorage and Seattle. And instead of landing in San Jose before midnight, they were getting into Seattle at two am! Well, I guess our detour – though way longer by distance – was definitely not as long in terms of travel time difference!

There were many Alaska Airlines planes with unique livery. We saw several with college names and colors on them; but this was my favorite :-)

There were many Alaska Airlines planes with unique livery. We saw several with college names and colors on them; but this was my favorite 🙂

Didn't quite get what the sign indicates

Didn’t quite get what the sign indicates

One of the islands around Seattle

One of the islands around Seattle

Snow capped mountains - in USA or in Canada?

Snow capped mountains – in USA or in Canada?

And some lakes

And some lakes

... and is at our gate ... and is at our gate
Lots of snow

Lots of snow

Nearing Juneau - a cruise ship?

Nearing Juneau – a cruise ship?

Taking off from Juneau - Mendenhall Glacier

Taking off from Juneau – Mendenhall Glacier

An island near Juneau ...

An island near Juneau …

... and another ...

… and another …

... and a nice glacier!

… and a nice glacier!

... and is at our gate

This is a cruise ship for sure

More snow ...

More snow …

... and glaciers (some with exquisite medial moraines)

… and glaciers (some with exquisite medial moraines)

... and is at our gate ... and is at our gate ... and is at our gate
Seward Highway near Girdwood

Seward Highway near Girdwood

Seward Highway between Anchorage and Girdwood

Seward Highway between Anchorage and Girdwood

Seward Highway (closer to Anchorage)

Seward Highway (closer to Anchorage)

... and is at our gate

Island upon approach into Anchorage

Lovely collage of photos at Anchorage Airport

Lovely collage of photos at Anchorage Airport

Alaska Trip – Day 2

Filed under: Family,Travel — Porcupyn @ 8:43 pm

Though we have the occasional thunderstorm in the evening, I don’t recall having significant travel disruptions leaving in the evening from Orlando. The only time I recall missing a connection was nearly two decades ago; otherwise, we’ve been late, but not too late, like maybe an hour or so. This summer though, it’s been a haul – we’ve been having thunderstorms nearly daily. In fact, I recall the date very clearly – May 30th – when I was practising tennis with Katya when we were rushed offcourt at the local club (they were afraid that the rain would damage the ball machine). Since then, I’ve been able to play tennis only a couple of times in the evening – it has rained every day!!

Anyway, where were we? Yes, we took off right after sunset and reached Midway. Before leaving, we had tried to call relatives in Chicago to see if there was a chance of hanging out – though with an arrival time of nearly 10 pm and check-in of about 4 am, we wouldn’t really have had a lot of time. In any event, we couldn’t contact them, and decided that we would hang out in the airport itself.

Once we got to the airport, we were unable to find comfortable seats to lie down and sleep/rest. Somehow Katya and Baab managed to squeeze themselves under the chair armrests and sleep. Mrs. Porcupyn, I and mother managed to catch 40-80 winks! But my 4 am, we were frozen solid – they either turn down the AC really low or the human body just stops generating heat after some time, take your pick. That was one of the rare occasions that I was feeling cold and not sweating while at the airport.

As we already have our boarding cards, I’m like we should be good to go. So we didn’t even communicate with the GA and just went up to the gate when our Cxx number came up. Once more, our boarding passes failed to pass muster. Back we go to the GA, and she prints out more – now only ten more thankfully – boarding passes.

One thing I gotta emphasize. Because of the rerouting, we got a really scenic route as opposed to what would’ve been a routine night flight from Chicago to Seattle! Check out these photos 🙂

The Rockies

The Rockies

One of the many canyons

One of the many canyons

My guess is that this is the Grand Canyon

My guess is that this is the Grand Canyon

Landing in Las Vegas

Landing in Las Vegas

Sin City, baby, though we don't have time to waste as our connection is in just over an hour!

Sin City, baby, though we don’t have time to waste as our connection is in just over an hour!

Crater Lake, from above 35,000 feet

Crater Lake, from above 35,000 feet

Broken Top mountain and the Three Sisters, Oregon

Broken Top mountain and the Three Sisters, Oregon

A (too) perfect oxbow lake

A (too) perfect oxbow lake

Mt Hood, maybe?

Mt Hood, maybe?

Mt Rainier, Seattle

Mt Rainier, Seattle

July 4, 2017

Alaska Trip – Day 1

Filed under: Family,Travel — Porcupyn @ 8:33 pm

T-1 day:

Baab comes to me and says, “Appa! Did you know that if we were flying out today, we would miss our connection at Chicago Midway? And our flight from Midway to Seattle is the last one for the day?”

Me: Huh?!!

Baab: Yes, four days over the last week, our flight out of Orlando was delayed due to weather, enough for it to miss the connection out of Midway!

Me: *fry me for an oyster* What would our options be if that happened to us?

Baab: Well … there is this flight the next day, where you can connect from Denver or Salt Lake City … and can get to Seattle by 11:30.

Me: 11:30? We need to get out, grab our checked in bag(s) from Southwest, check it back into Alaska and go back in through security and catch the 2:00 pm flight from Seattle to Juneau! We will be S.O.L.

Baab: Well …

Me: I hope we don’t get in that situation. Maybe we should leave earlier and see if we can get the earlier flight out of Orlando.

T-0:
We’re down to one check in bag among the five of us, which is certainly an achievement. Don’t get me wrong, we could’ve taken up to one check in bag per person (including my almost octogenarian mother) – SW would allow two per person, but our bottleneck there would’ve been Alaska and Delta – but we would have a tough time squeezing in those items into our rental cars, either in Anchorage or in Seattle – with the five of us, or without!! So, chalk that as a victory to myself that Mrs. Porcupyn and Katya haven’t mutinied and squished me before we even set out to the airport.

We are even ready by noon, but dilly dally until 1:30 pm – our flight, after all, is only at 6:30 pm! By 3:30 pm, under sunny skies, we are checked in and at our gate. Because of how nice the weather was, I haven’t even bothered inquiring about the availability of an earlier flight-and-connection with the check-in folks.

4:00 pm: I can see clouds building up. *no problem, that’s par for the course*

4:30 pm: Clouds are getting darker. I am Whatsapping photos of us at the gate to sundry friends and co-workers.

5:00 pm: It is raining.

5:15 pm: It is pouring. I cannot see past the jetway. Needless to say, our flight is yet to come in.

5:30 pm: I am at the gate agent, asking her if our flight would take off in time. She’s like, umm, yes, it looks like your flight should be landing shortly, and it should take off in time. And not to worry, if there are issues, there are flights to Las Vegas and Denver that she could put us on, and we could get to Seattle from there.

I nervously walk around to the next few gates and see which other westbound flights Southwest has going – there are flights to Portland, Denver, Salt Lake City. I am thinking in my mind, if there are connection issues, surely we should be able to get much closer to Seattle than Midway. But those gate agents inform me that they cannot do anything for me – I would have to go speak with the lady at my gate. More dense rains …

5:45 pm: I see on one of the monitors that our inbound flight has been diverted to Jacksonville! At this point, I run back to the agent. For better or for worse, I’m number 3 in line. It appears that she’s already re-routing the folks ahead of me. I wait (and sweat) it out. Folks bound for Kansas City and/or Indianapolis are ahead of me. I’m thanking my lucky stars that no one else is going to Seattle.

6:00 pm: It’s my turn – yippee yay yay!

Gate agent: How may I help you?

Me: Well, I had come here earlier as well … going to Seattle … flight connection …

GA: Yes, let me check. *hammers away at keyboard* Well, sir, let’s see – party of five?

Me: Yes. You’d said that you could connect us through Denver/Salt Lake City/…

GA: *still hammering away* Well, Denver and Salt Lake City flights don’t have any room.

Me: Huh? You said …

GA: Yes, but other flights have been delayed as well, and folks are being rebooked. I can put you this flight that will leave tomorrow evening and get into Seattle tomorrow night!

Me: Hhhhuuuuhhhh??!!! We have got to catch a flight out of Seattle in the afternoon tomorrow. We cannot afford to get there any later than, say, 11:30 am. *frantically beckoned Baab, who’s our resident genius of flight routes and availability*

Baab: I see seven seats on this combination that can put us in Seattle at 11:30.

GA: No sir, there is nothing available that can get you into Seattle before tomorrow evening.

Me: Baab, why don’t you tell her the flight combination?

Baab: *hands over his smartphone to GA*

GA: Ahaa! I got it. You guys are now going to stay on this flight to Chicago, then an early morning flight to Las Vegas, and then from there to Seattle. Yes, there is space for five. Let me re-book you guys.

*hands me fifteen, yes, FIFTEEN, boarding passes*

At about 8:00 pm, our plane finally lands in Orlando via Jacksonville ...

At about 8:00 pm, our plane finally lands in Orlando via Jacksonville …

... and is at our gate

… and is at our gate

More hiccups – our boarding passes failed to scan at the gate. Back to GA, who reprinted the boarding passes (now, I’m up to 30 boarding passes!). I notice now that instead of being in the Bxx boarding category, we are Cxx (I didn’t get that, as we had not really relinquished our MCO-MDW flight).

Finally, we push back from the gate, and the view is really nice!

Finally, we push back from the gate, and the view is really nice!

July 3, 2017

Westward Ho! All the way to Alaska

Filed under: Family,Travel — Porcupyn @ 7:30 am

Alaska has been on my bucket list since I came to the USA a while back. Hadn’t ever been able to set the trip together. Finally, earlier this year, I thought well, maybe I could schedule it in for this summer, especially with my mother who would be visiting us from India. I had some frequent flyer miles with United and I could get about three round trip tickets to Anchorage from Orlando @25,000 miles per ticket.

What a rude shock I got! There was no availability to Anchorage from Orlando on United. Period! I think I even tried to see for next year. None. Scratched my head and resigned myself to the fact that our trip costs just went up by about $300 per person (which is what I thought a round trip to Anchorage would be).

Cue to Rude Shock #2 ! It would be a miracle if we even got to Seattle for less than $350 a pop! 😦 At this point, I almost returned Alaska back to the bucket. But I am nothing if not tenacious, especially when it involved lightening my bucket. So, I hunted around for alternatives. Finally, I decided to deplete our meager frequent flyer mile balances in sundry airlines, such as Southwest and Delta, and also quaff out of the points accumulated on a credit card as well! In spite of all that, there was a hefty amount that we had to pay out of pocket as well. What the heck, Alaska would be off the bucket, so we might as well do it! With that decided, I was able to put this itinerary together:

Day 1: MCO-MDW-SEA (Southwest)
Day 2: SEA-JNU-ANC (Alaska)
Day 3-4: in Anchorage (nights 2, 3 and 4)
Day 5: Travel day
Day 6-7: outskirts of Denali (nights 5 and 6)
Day 8-9: in Talkeetna (nights 7 and 8)
Day 10-12: in Cooper Landing (nights 9, 10 and 11)
Day 12: ANC-SEA (Alaska)
Day 13: in Seattle
Day 14: SEA-SLC-MCO red-eye (Delta)

Within that, we were planning on taking a couple (three, to be precise) short day cruises in the Whittier/Seward area, and visit Denali. If possible, we wanted to drive up to the Yukon River on the Dalton Highway as well.

June 19, 2017

The Great Ocean Drive – Part 2

Filed under: Family,Travel — Porcupyn @ 5:19 am

The plan for the day was to drive up to Warrnambool or Port Fairy, and find a place to stay at Warrnambool on the way back. However, as I didn’t really get a clear idea of how far we might be able to travel that first day – not knowing how much time we would want to spend at the attractions along the way and driving conditions – we decided to play it by ear once we got to the evening.

As it was, by the time it was early afternoon, we were just about at Apollo Bay. I had looked at the maps and decided that I wanted to take some extra time near the Cape Otway peninsula to check out the Koalas as well as the Johanna Beach. When we reached here, it was about 3 pm. At one location along the drive, the scenery was reminiscent of that near Grand Canyon (north rim). The trees looked like they had been devastated by some supernatural event.

Because of fellow travellers who had pulled off the road in Cape Otway, we were able to spot a couple of Koalas up in Eucalyptus trees, one chomping on leaves and the other fast asleep. We were short of time, so we had to pass on other local attractions such as a lighthouse and a couple of waterfalls (this was near Apollo Bay) that required about an hour’s hike.

Johanna Beach we did get to visit. Any other time, it would have been the ideal time to spend an entire day as the surf was great, the sand soft and the beach slope very gradual. However, the water was likely going to be too cold for our liking and, per my estimate, even Port Campbell (and the Twelve Apostles) was still a good couple of hours away based on our speed thus far, so we had to get on with our drive.

Our next stop was at Gibson’s Steps which is a unique feature just east of the Twelve Apostles. Steps have been created for visitors to climb down to the beachline right next to the cliff so folks could enjoy the scenery at sea level. By this time, the sun was setting. I wanted to get some photos of the sunset from the beach, but in our hurry, Baab and I lost our way and kept going along the Great Ocean Road walking trail instead of heading to the beach. Because we lost those precious minutes, by the time we backtracked our way to the parking lot, the sun had already set for the day.

Waves - on the way to Apollo Bay

Waves – on the way to Apollo Bay

Seals at Apollo Bay

Seals at Apollo Bay

This answers one of my questions about what folks do when they spend a week or two along the Great Ocean Road - we did not have time for any of these, though I had half a mind to go have a look at those waterfalls

This answers one of my questions about what folks do when they spend a week or two along the Great Ocean Road – we did not have time for any of these, though I had half a mind to go have a look at those waterfalls

Official starting point of the Great Ocean Walk!

Official starting point of the Great Ocean Walk!

Figurines near Apollo Bay Visitors Centre

Figurines near Apollo Bay Visitors Centre

The Pacific/Indian Ocean at a distance (I originally had the misconception that this is the Pacific Ocean - look at a map. I wonder what the Aussies call this ocean?)

The Pacific/Indian Ocean at a distance (I originally had the misconception that this is the Pacific Ocean – look at a map. I wonder what the Aussies call this ocean?)

Of the three Koalas we came across, this was the only one up and about ... and eating

Of the three Koalas we came across, this was the only one up and about … and eating

In Cape Otway, the scenery reminded me of the drive along the Northern Rim of the Grand Canyon a few years back

In Cape Otway, the scenery reminded me of the drive along the Northern Rim of the Grand Canyon a few years back

That is more like it - a typical koala sleeps about 20 hours a day

That is more like it – a typical koala sleeps about 20 hours a day

Koala #3, also fast asleep

Koala #3, also fast asleep

What're you guys staring at? Move on along!! If you want to stare at sheep, go to New Zealand

What’re you guys staring at? Move on along!! If you want to stare at sheep, go to New Zealand

A languid, bucolic scene in the Australian countryside (Cape Otway)

A languid, bucolic scene in the Australian countryside (Cape Otway)

Getting close to Johanna Beach

Getting close to Johanna Beach

Another overlook of Johanna Beach

Another overlook of Johanna Beach

Johanna Beach

Johanna Beach

More waves

More waves

Loved the waves there ...

Loved the waves there …

 .. and the easy, gradual slope ...

.. and the easy, gradual slope …

... and the milky white foamy water

… and the milky white foamy water

In the meantime, the moon had made its appearance ...

In the meantime, the moon had made its appearance …

... when we reached the first of the (not really) Twelve Apostles

… when we reached the first of the (not really) Twelve Apostles

After walking down Gibson's Steps, a view from the beach level

After walking down Gibson’s Steps, a view from the beach level

That is how far below the beach is at this point

That is how far below the beach is at this point

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