Today was a day that for this long trip was the goal at the finish line. Sean Fitzgerald offered (and came thrugh in a big way) to coordinate a day trip hike into the Blue Mountains west of Sydney. We tossed together a plan in a wiki (zero emails).
Sean, Jo, Bruce, and I met at Sydney’s Central Railway, and Westley joined us two stops later. Along the train route, the city ever so slowly gives way to some more open-ness, then softly climbs into the sandstone hills, and then morphs to the multiple waves of tree covered mountain ridges.
It was 2 hours on the train to get to Katoomba, and the time flew among our conversations. We walked through town to get to the Echo Point overlook (encrusted with bus loads of camera toting tourists). The photo above is actually 4 run together into a panorama with a program called AutoStitch (one of the few things I will jump into Windows to use).
At this spot we met up with Robyn and Stephan, who had rode their motorcycle up the hill.
Sean, Bruce, Westley, and I opted for the hike down the stairs (like 1000 of them?) around the base of the Three Sisters, and across the forest about halfway down the seemingly bottomless opening. Trying to capture the sense, scale of this forest in photos got to be futile. Along the way, Westley asked us to record some audio with him, so as geeks on a hike, there we were with his ipod/recorder chatting about Second Life with birds calling and the waterfall gurgling. Look for the podcast eventually to be on Westley’s iThought blog (how is that for pressure to edit?)
We got to a point where it looked like the next trail up was yet another hour walk, so we did the logical thing and opted to ride out on the tram so we could get to town and find a pub. At the top, we still had 45 minutes of walk along the cliff top trail to return to our starting point. Just as the rain began to come down.
We caught up with the rest of the crew in town, and enjoyed camaraderie, food, and drink. And bonus! Alex stopped by as this was on his commute from Orange to Sydney:
Then it was another two hour train ride down the hill.
All in all, this was a great way to almost close out this trip. I’ve known all of these folks by web. twitter, Second Life, and all is now enriched having the real life experiences. In fact, I am thinking these distinctions of “First Life/Real Life, Second Life” are less meaningful as we live in a fluid continuum between them, they are not separate lives at all.
So.. all that left is to wake up at 4:30 so I can join Westley for a paddle around Sydney Harbor, one more meeting at the University of Sydney, and then get on the big old jet airliner.