Report No. 16. Sunday, September 28 thru Tuesday, September 30. AIRPORT BIRDING - HOW APPROPRIATE. FINCHES I SAW YOU WITH. BANG-BANG BIRDING.

 

Reminder: Sharon's added comments are in {brackets}. Comments inserted after returning to San Jose are in red.

I accidentally sent this report out before Sharon could proofread it, so I suspect it's full of, uh, errors.

Here are some administrative review things.

Bird Locating Reference: "Finding Birds in Darwin, Kakadu and the Top End, Northern Territory, Australia," by Niven McCrie and James Watson. If you are intending to do any birding in the Top End, this book will save you days of wasted motion. Jo Weineke kindly lent us her copy to use, when we met by chance in Mt. Isa, but we were able to buy our own copy later, and mailed hers back. Thank you, Jo, and "Well Done," Niven.

When we see a new bird, never before seen or heard by us, it's called a life bird, or lifer, and will be in upper case, with an asterisk (e.g. GOULDIAN FINCH*). If it's a new bird for the trip, but we have seen that bird before, it's called a trip bird, and will be in upper case without an asterisk (e.g. LITTLE PIED CORMORANT). If it's anything else, it will be in initial caps (e.g. Painted Finch), or all lower case (e.g. woodswallow).

 

Sunday, September 28, 2003. Day 46 of 118. Airport Birding

Correction: My friend and old Stanford roommate Dr. Bill Bolstand points out, from his home in New Zealand, that it was Henry J Kaiser, not Henry J Ford who was responsible for the little Henry J automobile, as well as the Kaiser and the Fraser. I even remember a Kaiser-Fraser dealer in Versailles.

This makes the point that you shouldn't believe everything I say. Heck, you maybe shouldn't even believe THAT.

At the comfortable time of 730am, we are down by the billabong, where we don't see Black Bittern or Star Finch. I am not too surprised.

We exit the caravan park, refuel and check around a little, but get only common birds. Then we head out to the airport, recommended by McCrie. There is one single-engine plane parked, and not a soul around, so we have the field to ourselves.

We bird from the shade of the motorhome a little and get a SINGING BUSHLARK* - well, lots of them actually. We spot a kangaroo on the grass by the runway, but he doesn't have his ticket yet. He's clearly waiting for the ticket office to open.

Sharon spots a bird in the gravel, beside the runway. It's a wader of some kind. We are standing in front of the airplane, looking to our left, as we face the airplane. The bird's down by the first white runway marker. It has black wingtips we can see, where the wings cross over, in the back. Sand plovers don't have that. It has a thin black bill with no bump on the end. It has a faint neck band and the beginning of a chest band, maybe, like a collar. It is a tannish colored bird, with some black or dark around the eye and white eyebrows.

We review all the possibilities, and come up with ORIENTAL PLOVER*, actually mentioned to like the short grass of smalltown airport runways. If I understand correctly, this bird has flown here from China or Mongolia.

We feel great, leaving town with two lifers already. Gregory National Park continues on our left, as we continue westward.

At 1030am, we have left the escarpment area around Timber Creek. Now the landscape is all flat, with small scrubby trees in tall grass, about a meter high or less. There are a lot of baobob trees, called boab trees around here.

We stop at the East Baines River, still another McCrie spot, but get only hot here. I'm sleepy so we get Sharon in the driver's seat. No comments, Bill Petrick.

Suddenly, I have the incredible realization that all that great fruit we bought at Woolie's is going to get tossed out at the Western Australia border! Well, there are several possibilities, incorporating all of Sharon's thoughts too. 1) They may not be at their post, as it's Sunday, 2) they may let fruit in the refrigerator, or purchased at Woolworth's pass, 3) they may say, "Americans? Oh, just bring in anything you want. But please don't take over our country."

I'm betting on confiscation.

BUT! What they don't know is (Don't tell granddaughter Samantha), everything we eat between here and the border, we don't have to turn in! How cool is that? So over the next few hours I have about a third of the grapes I bought, the last two delicious oranges, the last banana, and one of the six tangerines.

If you're reading this, Ruth, my outstanding Weight Watcher leader, in Morgan Hill, you are invited to ignore that last paragraph.

About a quarter till noon, we are back in escarpment country, and 85 or 90 km from the Western Australia border. I have a natural attraction to WA because it reminds me of moving to California in 1965, when I was 22.

And so, about 1230pm, we arrive at the agriculture checkpoint. The ranger comes out, and asks us to open up the motorhome. He opens the refrigerator, and says all the tangerines, vegetables, grapes, onion and corn will have to go. But if we want to take the time to make the fruit into fruit salad, we can keep it.

We decline, and he takes one bundle while I take another to the fruit bin. I offer to sell the tangerines to another guy at the checkpoint, but he's busy going through all of his fruit.

And so it is that we cross into WA, setting the clocks back one and a half hours!

Goodbye Northern Territory, Hello Western Australia

A bit later, we come to Cockatoo Lagoon, behind a ranger's station in Keep River National Park. The ranger asks us if we've got chairs. He says, "The birds'll fly up. But just sit and wait, and they'll come back."

We walk on in and come to the lagoon. There are birds everywhere on this hot day. A half-dozen Cockatiels are across the lagoon in a tall dead tree. Maybe twenty Magpie Geese are scattered around, plus a pair of Black Ducks. The lagoon is long and extends to our left, curving back so that we can't see around a rocky point.

Then we hit the jackpot.

Just around the rocky point, flying out of, and back into some scrawny trees are Long-tailed Finches, Rufous-throated Honeyeaters, Double-barred Finches and Crimson Finches. We make our way around the point, and are able to stand behind some palms to watch what's happening.

This part of the lagoon, on this side, is chock-full of pole-like sticks, sticking up from the water. The birds fly in, perch on a stick, and some actually slide down to a point about two inches above the water surface. Then they bend down and get a drink. They take a sip or two, then fly back to cover. Amazingly fantastic.

Then a flock of maybe 40 Double-barred Finches, plus maybe 60 Long-tailed Finches fly in in about six waves, all landing in the mud at the water's edge. The closest are about six feet from us. Everything is totally quiet except the whirrrrrr of their wings, flying in and back out. Whirrrrrrr. I can't stand it, it's so incredible. Whirrrrrr.

Sharon says, "Get back down here," referring to my feet, about three inches above the ground, like that street magician, David Blaine. I comply with some difficulty.

We see the Crimson Finches only once, but this encourages us that maybe Gouldians will fly in too. In the end, they don't, but I won't soon forget the soft whirrr of those finches flying in and out. Excellent-O!

All the finches are gone when about 50 Peaceful Doves fly in, a few at a time, arriving faster and faster. All at the edge of the lagoon, dipping their beaks into the water. Just cool.

There are wallabies across the water, a White-faced Heron up in a tree, and a Nankeen Night-heron, which I scare out with a sneeze. There are Plumed Whistling-ducks and a big raven.

We also are treated to a couple of Dollarbirds sparring for position occasionally, but mainly just perching each in its own tree, across the lagoon from each other.

As we are leaving, and we come around the rocky point, we surprise about 25 Spinafex Pigeons who have walked over the rocks to get to the water. They look like regular pigeons with spinafex caps on. We want to leave them alone, but need to go. None fly, all walk back into the grass from the rocks as we pass, but then the last two or three fly to catch up with their buddies.

And about 2pm, we exit the very productive Cockatoo Lagoon.

We continue on and arrive in Kununurra, where we check into Ivanhoe Village Caravan Resort. After finding our spot and resting a bit, we head back out into sugar cane country, or as Sharon says, Taipan country.

We follow Wheatley's directions to the third irrigation ditch out of town, where we walk down one side of it. We get great Crimson Finches, an unidentified Fairy-wren - female with a brown tail, surely a Variegated. Plus a million ants we're stepping on as we walk.

Then we get incredibly excited as we see a white kite soaring with ELEVATED WINGS! We never saw the Black-shouldered Kite do that, and I am about 90% sure this may be our Letter-winged Kite, until 1) I read that the Black-shouldered Kite does the same thing, and 2) Sharon reads that the Letter-winged Kite is nocturnal, of all things.

Back to earth.

We watch the sun set, and get back to camp after dark.

FLASHBACK: One day, a little while ago, when my back seemed to be heading for recovery, Sharon was driving down a bad dirt road, trying to avoid deep ruts, when we heard this grinding noise. She stopped immediately. I jumped out, my back feeling better from the Aleve, I believe. A branch from a dead tree was scraping against the top of the awning. It hadn't done any damage so far, but I needed to get rid of that branch. I couldn't reach it, so I opened the side door of the motorhome and climbed to the top step. Still couldn't reach the limb. So I jumped over onto the tree, grabbing another overhead branch, and wrapped my legs around the tree. Then I pulled myself up to where I could grab the offending branch. It wasn't that strong, and with not too much difficulty, I managed to bust the branch off, away from the motorhome.

Sharon, that master of the double entendre, shouted, "Bob. Your back! Your back!" Or it could have been, "Bob. You're back! You're back!" So I climbed back down, back feeling fine, and said, trying to match her double meaning system, "I know."

But I wasn't quite - not yet.

Bird Summary:

Life Birds Today: 2 (Singing Bushlark, Oriental Plover)
For the Trip: 256.

Trip Birds Today: 2 (The 2 Lifers)
For the Trip: 300.

Snakes Seen Today: 0
For the Trip: 6.

Sleep in: Ivanhoe Village Caravan Resort, Kununurra, Western Australia (WA)

 

Monday, September 29, 2003. Day 47 of 118. Who Was That Finch I Saw You With?

521am. OK, we're on Western Time now, two hours behind Eastern Time, and 1.5 hours behind Northern Territory time. The sun's already up!

Last night a gigantic grasshopper, who slipped in during the day, made the mistake of attacking Sharon, who responded with vigor. They wrestled, he latched onto her hair, at which point she knocked him to the floor, pinning him down. Then, trapping him in a towel, she just threw him out.

This is what I remember, though it happened after I had gone to sleep. But I was brought out of my deeper sleep, to that place where you kind of decide, "Do I want to wake up, or just stay down here in this sleepy place?" And I decided to stay in the sleepy place, a place where you kind of notice what happens, in such a way that, next morning you might ask people around you if a particular thing happened or if you dreamed it.

But before I could ask, Sharon said, "Were you awake when that big old grasshopper attacked me?"

This morning is Yellow-rumped Mannakin-hunting day. We will go to the same irrigation ditch as last evening and try again. And by 545am, we're out there. We see a Black-fronted Dotterel, maybe a juvenile, with its splotchy black colors. We get Golden-headed Cisticola singing his heart out, to our benefit.

Then we get another one of those honeyeaters with white below, lemon-yellow wings, but grey on the head. I would say it's a Rufous-throated Honeyeater, except its throat is perfectly white. They may be Browns, and we're just not seeing the tear behind their eyes.

Suddenly Sharon gets three birds she's excited about, in a tree, and she gets me on them. She says, "Look at the one in the middle," but I am already on the one on the far left. Grey head, pale buffy underparts, nice brown wings with a deep yellow tail, and black undertail coverts. Beautiful in the sparkling morning sun. YELLOW-RUMPED MANNIKIN*. The third bird is a nice Chestnut-breasted Mannikin, and we were primed to beware of interbred birds, but these mannikins seem clean.

And it's not even 6am yet. Some days they come this easy.

We continue walking and scare up a shorebird-type. I see the head, wings and upper back as a dark grey or brown color, white wing stripes from the base of the wings to the tip, and a rusty, wedge-shaped tail. Sharon thinks it's a snipe of some kind. We walk down and scare it up again, but we never ID it. It may not be a snipe.

We get the white-throated lemony-winged honeyeater again, and we finally decide that it may be an immature Rufous-throated Honeyeater, but before growing the rufous thoat feathers.

Next we head over to Kona Caravan Park, where Wheatley suggests that there may be Gouldian Finches. But it's early, and we don't want to wake somebody up to ask if we can bird their park. So we head for the golf course.

Near the bridge over the canal, I get a Crimson Finch pulling and pulling at a big piece of dead grass, for its nest I would assume. We move on to the golf course, where we see lots of reedy stuff on hole No. 10. Suddenly we get a sharp call and a pair off sharp-looking White-browed Robins between us and the river/lake. And a Yellow Oriole gurgling his call.

We continue on and get loads of Zebras and Crimsons, plus Little Woodswallow, Strawnecked Ibis, Bar-shouldered Doves. Sharon calls every once in a while, and almost always gets something. A Clamorous Reed-warbler enjoys singing with her. We get a number of Double-barred Finches in the reeds, plus a Magpie Goose flying across the fairway.

We give up hoping for Gouldians or Star Finches, and start the walk back, getting a Masked Lapwing making a sound like ringing a bell that's muted.

We hit a grocery store, then refuel.

Sharon has read that one of the Star Finches favorite habitats is Cane Fields. Hot dog! We head for the cane, and find a place where a walkable road divides a cane field from an irrigation ditch. Perfect!

It's getting a little hotter now, and we walk about 300 meters down, then back. We get birds popping up quickly then back down, responding to Sharon's calls. Then, finally, at the last corner of cane before leaving, Sharon is standing to my right about three feet, and we are both looking at the cane. She does her alarm call, and two Star Finches pop up right in front of me, but are shielded from Sharon by more cane stalks. "Sharon, Sharon, come here. Quick," I whisper as loud as I can.

She comes over, and just as she gets there, three Star Finches vacate the premises, up and away. She is SO upset, and I am too, for her. I mean, SHE CALLED THEM IN, and I was the one that saw them. Ooh, Sharon, and they were SO beautiful...

She saw the faraway field where they went, and we try to go over there, but can't get over the irrigation ditch. We come back and work the opposite side of our cane field, but get no finch.

We go into town and do our full grocery shopping at Coles.

I have talked with the people who run the Lake Argyle cruises, and in other times of the year, they would take us to the far reaches of the lake and get Yellow Chat and Purple-crowned Fairy-wren, on a six-hour cruise. But the time of year is wrong, the chats have dispersed, and the cruise doesn't do that now. The best they can do is give us a 50% chance at Black Bittern on the Ord River cruise down and back.

We finally decline, and so we head out for Wyndham. It's about noon, western time, and as we drive the last few kilometers of Victoria Highway before it hits the Great Northern Highway, there is open woodland in two-foot-high grass. In the background, both left and right, are escarpments and tilted mountains. It's 98 degrees right now, and we're enjoying the A/C as we drive.

Sharon got a beautiful brochure for Parry Farms Tourist and Caravan Park, outside of Wyndham, and there is an incredibly tempting list of birds seen on the property. We cannot resist, and so we will drive the 8km off the highway to their property, which contains a billabong. Our bird appetites are sharp.

But the road is red corrugated dirt and gravel, not at all the expected bitumen. The ground is dry and dusty. Suddenly, I notice a kingfisher up on a power line, and I pull over, "Kingfisher!" I yell to Sharon, "I think it might be a Red-back!" We pile out of the vehicle, just as it takes off. "There's another one up there," says Sharon, and we both get on it. "Look at that white, scruffy head," I say, which is indication of the RED-BACKED KINGFISHER*. Then it takes off too, and Sharon claims that she might have seen red on the back. Great life bird to break up the jar-jar-jar-jar-jar-jar of this tough ride to Parry Farm.

As we pull into the approach road, we can see the billabong depression, but can't see any water. Also, there's almost nobody here. Nevertheless, we pull in, and the lady half of the managers says she's a birdwatcher, and after reviewing the birds I've highlighted from their brochure, she is encouraging enough for us to stay. Besides, the alternative is to do that 8 km corrugated washboard right now, and I like myself too much to put me through that immediately.

We pay, and the male half of the manager team points to a big, dry, dusty area, with little scrawny young trees, and says, "Just pick any sight you choose. You can see the electrical power poles. The shade may be a bit lacking." We thank him and as we drive along, we see a faucet dripping, with Double-barred and Long-tailed Finches drinking. So we park next to this faucet and set up - the only motorhome or caravan here, at the moment.

As we're cooling off, with a couple of water bowls placed near the faucet for the birds, suddenly a wind comes up. It feels like we're in the Oklahoma dust bowl during the drought of last century. We can hardly see! But there will clearly be no rain at all, just this strong, hot wind. I weigh the necessity of lowering the TV antenna, but Sharon, who is watching TV, says that won't be necessary. I do retrieve the two bowls of water, however, before they get blown away.

And fifteen minutes later, it's perfectly calm. The only hint that anything happened is that our electrical power cable, from the motorhome to the power port, is almost covered with the dust from the storm.

We clean the dust from the two bowls, refill them, and put them back out. The finches come around, but none drinks from them. We think they might be intimidated by the bigger Little Corellas.

Later, we go birding, walking completely around the billabong, but get only common birds. The best thing about this caravan park is, uh, let me see now, oh yes - the brochure. Slightly misleading, if I do say so. Maybe it's just a bad time of year.

Bird Summary:

Life Birds Today: 2 (Yellow-rumped Mannikin, Star Finch)
For the Trip: 258.

Trip Birds Today: 2 (The 2 Lifers)
For the Trip: 302.

Snakes Seen Today: 0
For the Trip: 6.

Sleep in: Parry Farms Caravan Park, Wyndham, WA

 

Tuesday, September 30, 2003. Day 48 of 118. A Bang-Bang Birding Day.

We watched the initial episode of Survivor - Pearl Islands last night. This show fascinates me. It began at 10:40pm, and what's up with these crazy Australian program start times?

Another thing I like about Australians: They are the world leaders in making up nicknames. Examples:

Football (Aussie Rules Football) is called Foote, and pronounced FOOT-ee. Eucalyptus trees are called Eucalypts, and pronounced YOU-clips. A camping cooler is called an eski, as in Eskimo. I think this is my favorite. A drink can holder (the insulated kind) is called a stubby. A cowboy is called a Jackaroo. A cuppa is a cup of coffee. People asked Sharon if she wanted a cuppa. The Never-Never is that bit of outback that people in the outback call the outback. An Englishman is called a Pom, and it stands for Prisoner of Her Majesty.

It's ten till 5am, and I am walking over to the toilet block, my silver two-cell AA Mini-Maglite ("Lampe torche a 2 piles AA," in French), with two bonus lamps thrown in and reconfigurable to form a make-shift candle, for romantic occasions.

I choose one of the toilet stall doors and open it. The lid is down, and it is being held there by a little green frog. I retreat, go to the next stall to the right, and find two frogs holding that lid down, though one politely vacates his position. The other frog asserts his rights and remains. I move back to the stall left of the first stall, and find it frogless. OK.

I retrieve our watering bowls, and by ten after 5am, we are on the road, headed for The Grotto, the name of a beautiful sandstone gorge, famous for its gorgeosity. I have first-hand information that there are two birds there that we're itching to see. Sharon has read that there are 140 man-made steps to the bottom, where lies a deep pool of water. We are wondering what kind of steps they are, knowing that we will have to walk down into the gorge. "We can do eeet."

Driving out this terrible red dirt road, looking to both our left and right, we see savannah. I would not be surprised at all to see gazelles and those things the zebra finches were named after, munching on the sparse grass.

We make it out to the main road, then turn south, away from Wyndham. After some time, we turn right, onto the Grotto approach road. But after a little while, we stop to examine a raptor we see in a tree. I am quite sure that since the last 200 such perched birds were Whistling Kites, number 201 isn't going to put a stop to this streak.

But Sharon - oh that Sharon, says, "Yes, but it doesn't LOOK LIKE a Whistling Kite." I reluctantly get the scope out so we can study it, and guess what, my friends. It's not a Whistling Kite!

It has feathers down the feet, which are very light tan. There are other features also, that tell us this bird is a LITTLE EAGLE*, a bird I've been hoping for for a good while now.

We continue on, and the road to the Grotto climbs steadily, taking us past a band of Double-barred Finches momentarily perched in a small tree. The road continues to climb, and at 10 after 6am, we are in the Grotto carpark.

I play the tape of the Sandstone Shrike-thrush and the White-quilled Rock-pigeon, but nothing happens immediately. There is a nice "The Grotto" sign at the edge of the level ground, near where the steps begin to take you down into the gorge, and I ask Sharon to go stand in front of it.

The Grotto - a Huge Hole in the Ground

I click the digital picture, then suddenly am aware of movement to my right. I tell Sharon, and we are treated to the nice ambling ramble of a WHITE-QUILLED ROCK-PIGEON*. It shows the hint of white patch on the wing, that we were hoping for. We watch it patiently walk from our right to our left, right along the edge of the precipice, over rocks, around rocks, behind rocks, and I get a couple of nice photos of this plump bird.

We Saw Exactly One of These

Then we hear a sharp song, and another bird flies in, landing on the rocks at about the same spot we first saw the Rock-pigeon. We get on it, and it sings once, then flies across from right to left, perching in a small tree growing right at the edge of the precipice. It begins singing, and doesn't stop. And it's a wonderful SANDSTONE SHRIKE-THRUSH*. It is supposed to be hard to see, never staying in one place long enough to get a good look. But this bird hasn't heard that yet, and fifteen minutes later, when I get all the video I want, the Shrike-thrush is still singing as we drive out of the Grotto carpark.

We didn't even climb down the first step.

Now one might say, "Hey you guys, the gorge is beautiful. You should walk down just to experience what a remarkable place it is." And one would probably be right. But we know how hot it's going to get, and this allows us to drive back to the red dirt entry road to Parry Farm. But we will drive in only one km, then turn onto the 6-km approach road to Marglu Billabong, a very famous water spot, in this hot hot heat.

We use the opportunity provided by the fast IDs to bird the Marglu before the big heat sets in. On the way, we get four or five Weeros flying up. This was the name the lady at Parry Farm used for Little Corella. A Pheasant Coucal runs across the road.

At 720am, we have the U.S. bluegrass group Nickel Creek singing The Smoothie Song on the inside, and an Australian Bustard on the road in front of us, on the outside. Sharon shoots some video as I try to get it to fly by simply driving forward on the road. It does, but I don't know if we got good video or not.

As we pass over the last bit of hill, and get the valley of the billabong in our sight, I would estimate a thousand Little Corellas scattered all over the valley, eating something in the red dirt. Or eating the red dirt.

We pass a tree with a big nest in it, and a raptor seems to be standing in the nest. Before the motorhome gets close to the nest, the bird lifts off and flies off. I immediately think it might be the nest of the Little Eagle we saw earlier, but it's probably a Whistling Kite.

We complete our drive in to the Marglu Billabong, and can see what appears to be a house, and an elevated walkway. Two clouds of birds - parrots of some kind, land in two separate trees. As we get closer and can make out the birds, we see that it's about 300 Cockatiels.

The elevated walkway turns out to be the entry to the structure I thought was a building. It's a bird watching hide, under shade, and is comfortably and refreshingly cool. The birds are fantastic, the lagoon smooth and pleasing to the eye, with green grass all the way around the water.

As we check out the common waterbirds, suddenly Sharon says, "What is that bird in the bush behind the bird hide? Is that a STAR FINCH*?" And of course, it is. We both get on it, and the colors seem paler than those of our ID books. Red face, yellow underparts with white spots on the lower part of the red face, and pale green back. We both breathe a deep sign of relief at the Star Finch miss yesterday.

I get a long-distance shot of the finch before it flinches.

There are two wonderful Jabirus stalking around the water, fishing, and Sharon sees one of them jab down, catch a fish with its bill, and eat it. We begin working on the possibility that a certain bird Sharon is on is a Terek Sandpiper, but that effort quickly runs out of steam.

Sharon, ever scanning, picks up our first SPOTTED HARRIER* at the end of the water, to our right. The circular barred pattern on the tail is the key feature we use. It was formerly called the Marsh Harrier. A Wattled Jacana stands tall on its enormous feet.

Wattled Jacana

We see a LITTLE BLACK CORMORANT, and I think we've seen it when we were birding with expert birder Greg Anderson. But I never logged it, so I log it now as a trip bird, though not a life bird.

There is a Little Egret, with black legs, and a black bill, with yellow at the base.

We finish up here, and head for Wyndham and the Wyndham Caravan Park. We have heard that Gouldian Finches may come to drink water there during the day, though early morning is the best time.

By 10am, we are in Wyndham, refueled, and checked in at our caravan park. It is extremely hot, about 100 degrees F right now, and headed higher. We hook up the electricity, turn on the A/C, and settle in to cool off.

We relax till about 3pm, when we exit the park to check out the town's likely finch areas.

Bird Summary:

Life Birds Today: 4 (Little Eagle, White-quilled Rock-pigeon, Sandstone Shrike-thrush, Spotted Harrier)
For the Trip: 262.

Trip Birds Today: 5 (The 4 Lifers plus Little Black Cormorant)
For the Trip: 307.

Snakes Seen Today: 0
For the Trip: 6.

Sleep in: Wyndham Caravan Park, Wyndham, WA

"Parallel World" Update: If you take a see-thru map of Australia, blow it up on a xerox machine by about 15%, and lay it down over a map of the continental US, they would pretty much overlay. I'm a communications addict, so I want to tell you (without a US map in front of me), what the similar trip would have been so far, accomplished in the US, geographically speaking.

Now remember, this is "Parallel World" talk:

We flew into Savannah, Georgia, then drove up the coast to about Boston. We took a small 16-passenger airliner to a spot in Maine that is 30 miles short of the tip. We rented a 4WD and drove up to the tip, took our photo, drove back to the 30-mile-from-the-tip point, flew the small plane back to Boston. Then we drove back down to Philadelphia on the same road we drove up on. From there, we turned west and set out, sleeping the first night in Pennsylvania.

Then we continued westward, through Nebraska to the Missouri River. We turned south, and drove down about where Missouri, Oklahoma and Arkansas come together. We turned west and went about a hundred miles into Oklahoma (Ayres Rock, in the Australia "real" world). Then we doubled back across Oklahoma, turned north to retrace our path, but then continued straight north to the Minnesota-Canada border (Darwin, in Australia).

We then drove a loop, first southeast about 120 miles, then southwest, about 120 miles. We then closed the loop by driving north to the Canada border again.

For the next part of the trip, we drove south from the Canada border about 200 miles. From here we turned and drove westward, parallel to the Canada border, about 300 miles south of that border. We drove across Minnesota, North Dakota and Montana.

And here we are, in Idaho, about 300 miles south of the Canada border, and heading west.

Our next route, in the upcoming report will be to continue westward to Portland, Oregon. From there, we will turn south, and go all the way through Los Angeles to San Diego, before turning eastward.

If you can't dig this Parallel World talk, that's ok. Just "fuhgetaboudit."


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