Saturday, May 13, 2017

Ridiculous Obstacle Challenge

One of my crazy ass friends asked, "Hey, do you want to run a 5K?"

"Uhh, not really." Replied my lazy, unfit self.

"Yeah but what about one with obstacles?"

This is how 8 people on the continuum from marathon runner to heavy smoker came to be on an un-televized episode of Wipeout.

Starting line of the Ridiculous Obstacle Course, or ROC race.


We even got t-shirts!  Which were promptly desecrated into fashionable 80's-style belly shirts.


Speaking of the 80's, did you notice me wearing one of these bad boys?


Except mine is even less fashionable.

Haters gonna hate
In Australia, "fanny" means ladyparts (by which I mean vag).  So calling it a fanny pack brings many LOLs.  In polite company here this is called a bum bag.

My bum bag made this blog post possible, because I could carry my (water proof) camera around throughout the course.  A few other bits of information about it:

1. I didn't buy it just for this; I've had this thing for years.

2. I've worn it before.

3. Yes, in public (but in my defence only when exercising).

4. I originally put it on intending to fill it with gummy worms, but knowing what's in store during the race realized wet gummy worms would be pretty gross.

Have you not heard?  Eating gummy worms during a 5K is a thing that people do.  For sure.

There were 12 obstacles, each with unique and exciting opportunities to break a bone.

Apologies in advance for water smudges on the lens.  Being soaked from head to toe left me with no dry clothes to wipe the camera off for optimal photography.

Aqua Drag


And we're off!

You're not staying dry throughout this race, so get moistened early on this easy, non-sloping water slide.

Wrecking Balls



One of the more difficult challenges, because you have a slippery, narrow path to concentrate on with huge ass balls flying around.  I believe 2 of the 8 (a mere 25%) of us made it across successfully.  Here's Martin mere seconds before he hit the water:


You can see that left foot slipping straight into failure.

Barrel Bounce


A fairly simple concept just scramble over these barriers.  This was my first massive faceplant of the day, as the barriers roll, and as I was going over it rolled me back to the side I came from and onto my...fanny.

Jump Balls

They should call these Impossible Balls.  We didn't see anyone make it all the way through here, or even past the first ball.



These are also the reason I will probably have to roll out of bed tomorrow morning and army crawl around all day.  Someone said "the trick is to jump one foot on each ball" so I went into it with all my weight on one leg, which promptly crumbled and sent me flying.  I could've snapped my leg!

Cool Runnings

In addition to being the best named obstacle, it was also the most fun.  It's a big slide you ride down in an inner tube!


After hauling yourself and your tube up a big staircase, that is.


I did veer out of my lane and into Martin's, which resulted in his "sprained thumb", an injury which lasted mere minutes.

The Drop


Smaller slide, no inner tube.  Fairly uninteresting in comparison to the previous.

The Sweeper

This was a good one, and what you think of when you think of Wipeout.


Run your ass across and don't get knocked over by the spinny things.


Pro tip: you can crawl underneath and get through just fine.


Those things spin fast!

Sky High

Not much to report here.  Just jump like a kangaroo through what would better be used as a bouncy castle.


Check out those foreboding clouds!

Leap of Faith

a.k.a. Jump of Death.  Such a simple premise, with not-so-simple execution.

Look at this!


3 meters, 9.8 feet.  All you gotta do is jump.


It's hard to get over the mental hurdle to jump 10 feet!  A quote from me: "I don't like this one bit".  But I figured if I can jump out of an airplane, I can jump 10 damn feet.

Definitely the scariest obstacle of the bunch!

Badger Wall


A fancy name for just a wall.  The only obstacle that wasn't soft and squishy, and possibly borrowed from a military training facility.  This one resulted in the most elegant and ladylike photos.



Possibly of all time.

Foam of Fury

Actually I stand corrected.  This was my favorite obstacle.  Nearly identical to the very first one but with tons and tons of...


...FOAM!



It's snowing in Brizzy!  Many a story about foam parties of yesteryear were shared, trust.

If you weren't wet before then you are now!


This was also the time the heavens opened up and started raining on us.  It was actually pretty convenient to clean the foam off, before the final obstacle.

The Hippo


Why run across the finish line when you can slide?

I'm not sure if it's actually 5 kilometers, it didn't feel like that much, but I can tell you our jogging between obstacles ceased after the first one.  There is no competition to see who can get done the quickest.  It's about having heaps of fun!

It took us about 1.5 hours to get through the course, and we were all soaked from head to toe.


It was super fun and I would totally do it again.

And next time I'm totally bringing gummy worms.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Melbourne Ladies Weekend

You know what's really convenient during a time when you have to hoard your vacation time and can't go on holiday?  Weekend visitors!

German Lara lives in Singapore, and works in fashion.  Her job isn't an overly important detail except when the two of us who work in less creative industries asked "Is that a pyjama top?" Lara replied, "No, this is a blouse".

The blouse in question
LOL!  Team hand-me-downs and clearance rack, which frees up cash to make random trips to Melbourne for ladies weekends.

The last time I was in Melbourne, which was over 3 years ago, was also for a ladies weekend.  Melbourne is apparently where ladies go!  My guess is because ladies like to:

Drink Coffee


Drink Wine


Eat anything and everything





Drink wine

And drink wine


Yes I like wine and no I am not an alcoholic.

As you will notice, Ms. Sabrina again flew in from Sydney like she recently did to Byron Bay.  I can't seem to shake this bitch off*!

* I love this bitch so she needs no shaking off

Melbourne is the hipster capital of Australia, and is possibly #2 in the world after Brooklyn.  I submit this photo as evidence:


It almost hurts to look at!  Shield your eyes.

But that's Melbourne in a nutshell.  This silly and exceedingly impractical sink set-up is more supporting documentation to my theory:


Can they not just be normal?  Like Sydney?

shirt reads: Sydney - it's not that great
Ha!  Melbourne is what it is and wears its heart on its sleeve.  I do appreciate that (despite my advanced age and excessive lameness).

We mainly walked around the city (in search of more food and wine) and talked our own ears off.  Of course, safety first!


I got a kick out of these signs which were placed near busy intersections.  Too bad that people who need to see this won't...because they are looking at their phone and not the ground.  Thin the herd, I say!

We swung through the Prahran Market, which is a really nifty permanent farmers market where you can buy (or in our case, gawk at) fruit, veg and meat.  And get smoothies!



I see Sabrina fairly often (see "shake off" comment, above) but I hadn't seen Lara since our EuroTrip nearly 2 years ago.  We will meet again this year in Florida when I tie the knot, and next year in Mallorca when Lara ties the knot!  Literally all my upcoming vacation time is accounted for in the foreseeable future.

But this time, for obvious reasons, boys will have to be invited!



Monday, February 20, 2017

Byron Bay

Only once in our half decade (!!!) living in Australia have we visited Byron Bay, not far over the New South Wales border to our south.  It only takes 2 hours without traffic (which happens approximately never) so it's kind of ridiculous that we haven't been back since.

Enter, Das German Visitors.


That's a crappy picture, but fits the spirit of Byron nicely.  Spur of the moment, no regard for aesthetics and more than a little grungy.

Martin went to grad school with a disproportionately large number of Germans, who are a rockin' good time and our lifelong friend base.  When one of them, Tall Paul (not small, but tall) was traveling Oz with his girlfriend Melle for a month we got to planning what we would do together.

Brisbane is a great place to live.  The ultimate destination in Australia, I would argue.  But for tourists?  No, sir.  It is not a must do destination.  I always advise people to give Brizzy a miss if they have limited traveling time on the continent.  It pains me to say this, but it's for their own good.

Byron Bay, on the other hand, is widely known on the tourist (backpacker, especially) circuit.  Since the weather was piss poor the first and only time we visited way back in 2012 we decided to make this our meeting place.  It's such a chillaxed place that it provided the perfect backdrop for our little reunion.


Sabrina from Sydney, former backpacker and now temporary skilled worker (like Martin originally was) joined us from Sydney.  So it was a legit reunion!

Being the height of summer, holy shit was it hot.  Not NYC hot - only the center of the sun rivals that - but it was still hot.  Let me get my complaining out now, otherwise this whole post will be peppered with it.  We had to put the brakes on some of our planned activities in the interest of not dying.  I don't know what the exact temp was but it was approaching 100 (37C) with high humidity.  Which sucked!

We tried to hike down Minyon Falls and swim at the base.


But we were not successful in our endeavour.  The several liters of water we packed were nowhere near enough to get us down to the bottom of that waterfall and back up again in that heat.  Plus it hasn't rained much lately, so the falls weren't rapidly gushing.  The pool at the bottom probably would've been a let down.  That's what we keep telling ourselves, anyway.

Look at the top of the picture at that guy, for scale.  Look how close he is to the edge!  Crazy!  It was so far down, even being on the safe viewing platform was hard to look down.  So clearly too far to hike.  Man, he was so close to the edge.  Madness!

So we kept our outdoorsy activities to a bare minimum and just hung out, eating and drinking instead.


No complaints about that!

My favorite thing about Byron was chilling on the beach after the sun went down, with BYO alcohol and all the people watching you could ever dream of.



Singing, glow-in-the-dark hoola hoops, public drinking, merriment.  Such a funky vibe.  We were definitely on the older side of the crowd, but there were some people old enough to be our parents in attendance.  And the best part?


Silent disco!  You probably can't tell what that is from the picture, but it's many people wearing headphones, jamming out in total [outward] silence.

I'm so old I've only read about these things, never seen one in person.  Our German visitors joined in.


For a mere $10 rental fee you could flip between three channels (green, red and blue) each playing a different type of music.  And dance in the waves until your heart is content.  I joined in for a while and even my curmudgeonly old arse found it fun.

We did emerge in daylight hours long enough to hike up to the Byron Bay lighthouse.


We do this everywhere we go, but I really think this one is the most picturesque as far as lighthouses go.  View ain't bad, either!


This one even offers tours inside upstairs, which was nifty and a first for us.



And the best part of all, we saw a pod of dolphins on the hike up.


Martin even caught one jumping out of the water!


How cool would it be to be those surfers so close by?!

Of course we took the obligatory shot at the easternmost point of mainland Australia with the whole gang.


The wind is blowing Martin's hat up, making it look hilariously sombrero-esque, LOL.  Here we have a Viking in a Mexican hat, three Das Germans, and me!

We took Monday off work (one of precious few non-wedding vacation days this year) so we had to cram a lot into that one vacation day.  By "a lot" I mean lots of food!

Throughout their month in Australia I learned Paul and Melle had eaten a shamefully low number of traditional Aussie dishes, so I took it upon myself to remedy that.

First dish, meat pies:


Few things are more Aussie than a meat pie, especially one from the renowned Yatala Pies (so popular there are government-issued road signs pointing in their direction).

Next dish, potato wedges with sour cream and sweet chili sauce:


Better than any plate of fries you'll ever have.

I didn't get a picture of the perfectly cooked kangaroo from the barbie and Tim Tams, but you get the picture.  If you come to Australia, on my watch you damn well will be eating Australian food!

We stopped in Surfers Paradise to check out the beach and myriad sets of fake boobs.


Neither were a disappointment, but unlucky for you I only got a picture of one.

Then in Brisbane we took a spin on the ferry to see the skyline at dusk.



Brisbane is worth a stop for travelers who aren't doing a rushed whirlwind tour of Australia, don't get me wrong.  And if you ever become a temporary skilled worker yourself, Brizzy is the place to be.

Back in 2014 when two of Martin's other grad school classmates came to visit, they took this hilarious picture of a drunkard napping on a bench at a bus stop.

Looks like somebody missed potty training lessons
Since we live only a few blocks from this hallowed ground, we returned to recreate the magic.


Minus one wet patch.

Brisbane was Paul and Melle's last stop on their tour of Australia, so as we went back to work on Tuesday they flew back to the land of sauerkraut and lederhosen.

It felt like we got an actual vacation out of this weekend, even though we were a mere 2 hours from home.  It was great to reconnect with friends we haven't seen in 1.5 years.  We love having visitors, so come on down to the land down under!

Please?