Sunday, 25 October 2015

North America Trip–LAX to YYZ

Looking back over Los Angeles beachesI had a few hours break at LAX before my connecting flight to Toronto. Just as well, as I forgot that it was actually a code-share with Air Canada and had to walk to a different terminal (fortunately not too far).

I didn’t sleep very much at all on the flight from Sydney, and I tried not to doze too much in the waiting lounge at LAX in case I missed my flight! I slept a little more on the Toronto flight. Probably being quite tall doesn’t help matters. I remember the last time I few to the USA, I got seats next to the galley, so we could stretch out – but maybe they don’t have seating in that configuration anymore.


Flying over Los Angeles

Leaving Los Angeles. Looks very dry – don’t seem to have many parks or gardens in the suburbs I flew over. Just the occasional golf course. Quite a contrast from home.

Sunset on cloudsA pretty sight of the setting sun lighting up the clouds on the way to Toronto.


Our flight arrived into Toronto right on time. Unlike LAX, clearing customs & immigration was a breeze (I guess it isn’t quite as busy). Always a relief when your bag shows up on the baggage carousel too. Tom (who’s also over from Adelaide) met me at the airport and drove me back into town to where I am staying. We then went out for some tea and a chat (had some nice burgers). I’ll see Tom (and the rest of the RL Toronto crew) at the office first thing Monday morning.

North America Trip–ADL to LAX

United Airlines plane at terminalMy trip to Canada and USA has begun. My alarm went of at the early time of 3.45am, left me enough time to get ready for my ride. My sister and brother-in-law very kindly offered to give me a lift to the airport. My sister is doing a travel agent course at the moment, so she’s been able to use me as a bit of a case study and look up my flight details, which has been fun. It was also nice that I got to give my youngest daughter a final hug goodbye as I managed to wake her up in my tromping around the house. Not sure if she went back to sleep, or made the most of being up before her big brother and sister.

I discovered when checking in at Adelaide that my bags would indeed be checked through to LAX. I wasn’t sure about this when booking. Also no dramas with carry-on bags. I was worried that my (quite old) laptop might push me over the weight limit.

I wish I could say my flight from Adelaide to Sydney was uneventful, but that would be ignoring the friendly, but slightly inebriated passenger who had trouble picking up his cup of hot coffee off of the tray being offered by the flight attendant, and promptly spilled it down my leg. A small scald mark on my shin – just glad it didn’t land in my lap. Spent the rest of the flight with cold compresses on the burn area, and it’s settling down a bit now.

Arriving at Sydney, then transferring to the international terminal. Wow, is that a crazy place. Managed to find the United desk (right up the other end from where we were dropped off), and sailed through check-in and the border control/security stuff. Got to my departure gate with time to spare, so was able to make a couple of calls home.

Looking back over Sydney HarbourBoarding United Airlines was straight forward. I ended up in “Economy Plus’ somehow – not complaining! My sister again was able to do some digging and informed me that I was the only one booked in my three seats. That didn’t last, as another traveller decided he’d move to the seat across from me to share some of my elbow room. That’s ok, there’s still an empty seat in between.

I’d heard that some United planes didn’t have individual entertainment/tv consoles, but I’m pleased to find that I must have one of the more modern ones – my own screen on the seat in front, and there’s also power under the seat (and the other guy doesn’t seem to need to use it – bonus).

So now another 12 odd hours until we land at LAX (Los Angeles International Airport). I hope that goes as smoothly (if not with less coffee precipitation) as everything else has gone so far.

Sunday, 18 October 2015

When you’re a koala..

Koala looking back through rose bush

take some time to smell the roses.

Yes, never a dull moment in our backyard. Not just lizard fights, but the odd koala passing through too. Not to mention Narelle had a baby brown snake trying to come in through the sliding door on Friday. It’s all happening!

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Blue-tongue battle

A bit of excitement in the Gardiner backyard this afternoon, when two blue-tongue lizards had a bit of a ‘rumble in the jungle’.

I assume it was a bit of a territory thing. I’d seen what I thought was one lizard sunning itself on our back steps, and noticed another one across the other side of our yard near our lemonade tree.

The latter one must have decided to go visiting because all of a sudden it was also near the steps and the first lizard wasn’t too happy about unexpected guests.

Two lizards facing off

Two lizards entangled while fighting

Two lizards tumbling down steps while fighting

After a bit of biting and hissing, the visitor made a quick getaway – but not before attracting the attention of our 3 bantam chooks (enjoying some ‘free run of the backyard’ time), who were most intrigued by the lizard and “escorted” it back across the back lawn to the garden near the lemonade tree.

Chooks look on as lizard runs away

The “steps” blue-tongue then retreated back to its spot, upon which we noticed that there was actually another lizard there too. This one must have been friendly as they both then slid behind a rock without any concerns being raised.

Blue-tongue lizard heading back to steps

Glad to say that our backyard has now returned to relative peace – that is unless you’re a worm or slater, in which case I think you’d be a bit stressed that the chooks are out to eat you Smile

Saturday, 10 October 2015

4,500 kms later

Last night we finished a two week driving holiday to the eastern states (Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland). It’s trips like this that make you realise how vast the continent of Australia is (and how nice it would be to be able to fly everywhere instead of driving!).

Map showing route from Adelaide to Brisbane and back again

It also reinforces my respect for those who choose to live and work in these remote regions.

Sunset on horizon

Highlights of the trip were the Pioneer Settlement in Swan Hill,

Pioneer Village, Swan HillBlacksmith, Swan Hill

a paddle-steamer ride in Echuca,

Paddle steamer Canberra, EchucaEchuca WharfMurray River, Echuca

more driving,

Roadside forest, NSW

a few days in a Bed and Breakfast in Grafton, NSW,

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Some fun at Dreamworld in Queensland (yes, the kids are in there with me),

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more driving down through the Gold Coast (No, we’re not racing),

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Before heading back home again. Our final day was from Parkes, NSW back to Adelaide – at 1,000 kms the longest distance we did in a single day.

Sunset driving back to Adelaide

It is good to be home again. Needless to say, I’m glad I’ve got a couple more days to recover before I go back to work.

It isn’t the end of my travels though. I’m off again in a couple of weeks to visit RL Solution’s Toronto office for a week, before going to my first MVP Summit at Microsoft’s campus in Seattle.

Friday, 2 October 2015

I’m an MVP!

In the early hours of this morning I received an email from Microsoft:

Dear David Gardiner,
Congratulations! We are pleased to present you with the 2015 Microsoft® MVP Award! This award is given to exceptional technical community leaders who actively share their high quality, real world expertise with others. We appreciate your outstanding contributions in ASP.NET/IIS technical communities during the past year.

It’s an award not for exceptional technical knowledge as such, but rather for “community leaders..sharing .. with others”. I’m thrilled to receive it, and hope it will help me to do even more for the developer community in the future.

Next up I’m hoping to attend the MVP Summit in Seattle in early November. It will be great to meet many of the other MVP award recipients in person (and hopefully line up some speakers for the Adelaide .NET User Group).

It’s going to be busy over the next few weeks getting ready!