15 November 2010

Mountains of Mo's

Hello all, as promised, I'm back to give you the Week 2 Movember update! Here we go:

Hah! Just kidding. That was the culmination of probably five months of growth in March '09. Here's where we really are this fine day:

Yes, I know: the progress since last week has been remarkable. What can I say? Good genes.

Well, massive growth or not on a personal level, the Team is doing fantastically. Our Italian and Mexican members are truly the vanguard, even though there may be an illegal Vandyck in progress. To make up for my shabby soupstrainer, I expressed myself in cupcake form last week:

I sold a dozen of these suckers for at least $2 a piece. YOU do the math.

No, seriously, my calculator broke.

Moving on:
There is a storied tradition of great personalities of the physical sciences taking nature walks to muse about the infinite mysteries of the universe, and Sunday was no exception. The weather was beautiful and the out-of-doors was simply begging to have its hair mussed. Coincidentally, Dolf and I also went on a nature walk on Sunday. We were hoping to spot some of the aforementioned rare beasts, but we just saw other normals.

Dolf is a visiting researcher from Amsterdam and an all-around great guy, who's working on a similar project as me back at the Van Der Waals-Zeeman Institute (well lah dee dah). Dolf is a real-deal physicist (compared to yours truly, who somehow snuck his way into a Physics lab) and has been wonderful to talk to about the project and life in general. He's the only guy I know who can keep up with me on Long Blacks and is also the Movember team's token Dutch member, as required by Australian law.

Dolf has been here since September but hadn't been to the Blue Mountains yet, and we'd been rained out of a plan to go walking two weekends ago. Despite the promise of high temperatures, we headed out of Sydney early on Sunday, myself loaded up as usual with too much food for a mere 4-hour walk.

As usual, the rail system was under track work, which means that you have to take buses out to Blacktown to get any trains to the west. After waiting at the wrong bus stop for ages (thanks, 131500.com.au) and riding on the RailBus for 45 minutes, Dolf was understandably impatient and giddy about finally seeing Blacktown after hearing how great it is, and he insisted that we take the standard tourist photo:

Finally I convinced him to get on the train and after another 1.5 hours we were in Wentworth Falls, site of a rather highly-regarded walking track. The track heads out of town and down into the rainforest of the Jamison Valley, and passes several lovely falls, streams, and cliffs. It was definitely a warm day without much wind, and Dolf and I were soon soaked in sweat and not smelling too hot. But it didn't keep us from posing heroically---

---or appreciating the scenery.

Midway we stopped for a feast to lighten the load on my back and to replace the nutrients and crucial alcohols that we'd already burned through and sweated out:

I might add at the risk of sounding triumphalist that Dolf was impressed by my picnicking style: he said "Most people wouldn't bring beer, just...*shudder*...a bottle of water."

I told you he's a great guy.

The mountains were as beautiful and lush as I'd ever seen them, with waterfalls running like they definitely weren't when Nija and I first went two years ago at this time.

Anyway, we knocked out the 8.7km in 3.5 hours instead of 4.5, and unsatisfied with the effort involved to that point we headed for Katoomba, where we visited the Three Sisters and climbed halfway down---and back up---the Giant Stairway:

With the heat coming and going as it was, after the climb back up Dolf and I decided we'd had enough, given the walk back to town that was ahead of us. So we trudged back up toward Katoomba, enjoyed another beer, and then dinner and coffee at Common Ground. Dolf was again impressed with what I think is the neatest restaurant ever, but I had insisted that he be impressed, and you know those Amsterdamers love to please.

So we scurried back up Katoomba Street to get our train and run the gauntlet again, completely satisfied with a Sunday well spent.

Mountains conquered? Tick!




(thanks to D. Timmerman for fine photos)


  1. this was awesome to read. AND, i second the notion of "beer." whatever that means.

  2. Prof. Lem, I can always count on you to read these posts right away and nail them with some keen comment that distills the entire thing into one or two sentences. You are a true friend and a wise man!