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Journey Part 2 : Mona and a Boathouse

MONA

While in Hobart, there were two events that I want to touch on, not previously mentioned. One was my trip to visit to this wonderful chain of boathouses along the Derwent river. I captured some beautiful images there and was granted access by Suzette and Jonkie Pelt who own one of them. The other was my visit to the thought provoking and somewhat controversial museum MONA (Museum of Old and New Art). It's one of those places that will generate discussion like few other museums that I have visited. There was much more to see than my small sampling here and I'll attempt to give you a better sense of it's character through my description. 

The main and lower floor of the MONA facility. This is wher the tour begins, 3 floors below. The sandstone walls were so impressive. 

Firstly MONA is an amazing architectural site. There is artistry in all of its design. Also know that the exhibits change all the time. Some cycle back again, but there is one thing that is certain... what you find there, will be interesting. My visit initially left me with the impression of participating in a social experiment. As if the hallways were one-way glass and ceilings peppered with micro cameras (there were plenty of standard security cameras in evidence of course). But in my impression, I pictured a team of behavioral and social scientists behind those observational portals, rather than the typical polyester-clad security detail. One example (and I wish I took a picture of this) was a huge room with three unremarkable, square horizontal picture tables. These tables, at approximately chest height displayed, what looked like, the contents of an eccentric rockstar's scrapbook. The five to six museum attendants posted on the outer walls seemed to have the sole purpose of warning off visitors from touching these central cases. Due to the hight of the table, it's contents were difficult to easily view without leaning over. My first thought after my FIRST warning ... "who's gotta saw? We'll fix these tables and you guys can find something else to do for the afternoon." The more outlandish contents of these "scrapbook tables", as I liked to think of them, were what I would call "reproductive remembrances". You can figure out what I mean by that. 

MONA grants you access through an unmarked and unremarkable black sliding door. Like something out of Star Wars, is slides open at your approach and presents you with an empty entrance room. Once you have been properly scanned it deposits you down 3 floors through a circular staircase surrounding a cylindrical glass elevator where you start your tour. At this basement level, towering sandstone walls form the subterranean entrance to the main museum. One of the first exhibits is a "junk pile" of things painted gold. This sets the tone for the Matthew Barney, River of Fundament exhibit. Check out the highlights

There was an interesting and rare collection of Egyptian art that I breezed by. I was interested in the controversial stuff. Of that, I found an abundance. From 1970s soft porn films showing in curtained side theaters to darkened rooms with obscure and dystopian sculptures this museum was delivering an experience more than a collection of exhibits. I was most entertained by the 3 rooms with a horizontal line of plaster cast vaginas. I mean, there must have been over 100 of them. All artfully lit and ready for examination by the next passing OB/GYN. I'm wondering, ...  I walk away wondering ... what was this artist's pickup line to convince all these people to have their anatomy memorialized for his exhibit? 

There were also interesting and strange examples of technology. One example was what I called, the Crap Machine. One factoid I remember from my neck-slung phone APP, was the machine was built in 1967. I don't recall it's design purpose, but the designers were successful in it's results. I have included a photo below for visual edification. It's sole purpose was to create poop. Expelled through a tube at the far right of the device. Me, looking for some information on this contraption, other than the scant outline on my APP blithely walked over the line to see if there were any posted explanations... and promptly getting warned off by the wall hugging attendants. The smell did give it away though. I should have know that was enough to know.

The Car with a Shellfish Allergy. As I worked my way up through the subsequent upper floors, I encounter this exhibit of a swollen car. It was a Porsche Carrera I think. It looked like it had an anaphylactic reaction to a swarm of bees or an allergy to shellfish. Swollen to almost unrecognizable proportions both the interior and exterior, I believe this was a statement on our modern cultural excess.... but I'm not sure. Who put the clam juice in the tank?

BOATHOUSES ON THE DERWENT

Along the Derwent River, a body of water separating the eastern and western shores of Hobart, are a row of colorful boat houses. This small chain of vibrant "pearls" have become some of the more interesting and exclusive areas of real estate in Hobart. Perched on the western shore of the river, in Cornelian Bay, the former boathouses, now homes provide a retreat from everyday life and a unique, secluded character you might experience in an island backwater. Jonkie and Susette Pelt, owners of one of these beautiful houses, took me on a brief tour of this part of the waterfront. It is very peaceful and though the B36 motorway is only a long stone's throw away behind you, what I heard was the lapping of the water and calls of aquatic birds. 

One of the most important boathouses in the row...

One of the most important boathouses in the row...

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Journey Part 1 : A good beginning

Hobart

Nothing felt better than the blast of humid air that buffeted me as I exited the Quantas jet, descending the on-tarmac ramp to Hobart airport. Coming from single digit, frigid northeastern United States, this change was more than welcome. Welcome also, was the single-counter, double baggage carousel airport of Hobart. Since I was well within the comforting envelope of civilization and Wifi, i have documented most of the important highlights of my stay in Hobart. While there I became attached to this harbor town and it's friendly residents like few new "landings" in my own country. It might have been the newness, but the warm character was pervasive and planted the seed of anticipation to return again. While I'm considering this first leg of my trip, I want to extend my heartfelt thanks to Katrina Chen and her family (sons Jeremy and Oliver) for making Hobart feel like a second home.

Rocky cliffs along the Derwent river provided some really cool niches for our boat to pull into and get close to this fantastic geology.

I wanted to make a small note about something that I noticed all through this journey. From the planning, funding, equipping and researching each tile slipped into placed when it was needed. Things lined up. Often, the important things lined up without much of my own efforts. Friends, chance meetings with strangers that provided information, serendipitous timing of small events added up to what appeared to almost be a "clearing of the way" to make this happen. When I think back on it, I a bit spooked by this energy flow that I seemed to have been caught up in. I don't know what to call it, but I believe we get back what we put out. There is something more at work, but I don't understand it. It does add an interesting mystique to the whole endeavor though. I look forward to recognizing this "river of purpose" when I am caught up in it again ... maybe it's still happening.

But I want to move on now and play out the highlights of what turned out to be an enlightening and expansive adventure both internally and well, the other way too....

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Some Opening & Continuing Thoughts ...

Now that I am back, sitting in a cafe on the Darling Harbor, more important than describing the trip, was sending out some “thank yous” to those who shared in and made this little adventure possible. My initial intention was to chronologically blog this trip, but it could end up being a lethargic, drawn out thing. So I’ll eventually spoon out some of the interesting bits in roughly chronological order with key photos over the next few weeks. But here are a few “broad stroke” thoughts to share from the experience in the interim.

  • Whatever you think you know about something is usually about 20-40% of the actual affair. Some people are more perceptive and absorptive than others, but I’m not one of them, I’m squarely in the lower-middle register, but will continue to aspire to be further along the scale. 
  • I don’t like being wet for long periods of time. There were times when I thought, when I removed my gaiters, there would be mushrooms growing in there. 
  • If you are open to uncomfortable experiences, you reduce your inhibitions, expand your perspective and gain a greater sense of freedom to move through life. Allowing you to take on the next level of uncomfortability … cuz it never should end if we want to keep growing.
  • People are more open than you think… especially if you are open. We reflect each other’s demeanor and can foster a more positive reaction in others if we first approach it from that perspective.
  • Mosquitos and March flies are the gods punishment for something… but I may never know. It had to be something bad though. Haha 
  • I’m both more and less rugged than I thought I was … and I missed my gadgets, pizza and connection with society. But let's not "drink from the firehose" again if it can be avoided.

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It's Another World

Here is an example of some of the shots that I got on this trip. Shown is the pillow button grass that was all around us while we camped at the New Pelion Hut and vicinity of our camp 2 site. As often is the case, foliage in the bush appears to be soft, but is harsh when you actually encounter it. These fluffy tufts of grass are high and dense with rough leaves that can scratch you up pretty well. Difficult to walk across, a field of pillow button grass is as challenging as walking up an small incline of rocks. I took this shot early on Feb 19th while the mist was beginning to clear from the mountains in the distance around 7:30 AM.

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Our Fearless Leaders

Our fearless leaders and trail masters designed a great bush walk. They even called in favors with the weather gods, requested only light rain at night, soft sunshine in the day and a minimum of full-pack treks each day. Greg’s full-body laugh always brought a smile to my face and Sue’s endless knowledge of the Tasmanian flora and fauna gave me an even deeper appreciation for this world around us. Thank you both.

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A Good Friend is a Good Find

Adrien and I developed a friendship that I value greatly. Beginning with his efforts to keep me from losing my mind and my will to get through the first day’s climb. Having no knowledge of how these walks go, I was near panic as we ascended what felt like an endless vertical tunnel through the undergrowth for about half a kilometer. He talked me through that first grueling day and we continued to find great subjects to kick about on art, society and how we would rule the world … if anyone ever trusted us to do so. Thank you my friend.

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Thank You Jane & Susie

As I was about to begin my trek, Sanders Frith-Brown admonished me to watch out for these two and make sure they got back well and healthy. The opposite is actually what happened. Jane & Susie thank you for your generous spirits and provisions. I ate well and healthy on this trek and I couldn’t wish for better company with such a sense of positive energy … which I think was fueled by your talking. (I never met two sisters that had so much to talk about, even at 1,617 meters)

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Oops ... I did it again

Thought I'd give everyone a laugh. So I hate taking pictures of myself, and here is a good reason why. I can get it all "together" for other people, but not quite for myself. In trying to not take a self conscious photo of myself up on William's deck ... I forgot something. See if you can pick it out. What was really funny about it (later) was I went about town like that for about 3 hours. Now I understand those looks. Stupid Yank! Ahhh... I gotta laugh at myself.

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Getting Ready for Remote

This probably will be my last post for the next 8 days or so. We are heading to the cabin where we will launch from early tomorrow AM. There is no WIFI where I'm staying and precious little data budget on my phone... sooo. I will have more for everyone soon. And there will be much more extensive posting in the future as I develop a story around this project.

Yesterday, Katrina Chen, a good friend of Susie Clennett and Jane Batho-Eatherton, took me on an amazing drive around the the south end of Hobart and up onto Mount Wellington, which was breathtaking and a bit nippy. 

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Just Give Me an Iron Pot

I took a harbor cruise along the Derwent river and out to the Iron Pot Lighthouse. Really great and informative trip on the history of Tassie and Hobart in particular. I never knew that Errol Flynn grew up here! Here are some quick shots of some of the sights. Much more to come, but I’m running out of laptop power … and patience with this WIFI signal.

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Drinking Consultant

Hey I should have thought of this will all the people I hang out with. “I’m your DRINKING CONSULTANT”. A consultant does need to be very experienced to take on that title. I’m still in training I guess.

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Out and About in Hobart

On Tuesday and Wednesday morning I spent a substantial amount of time around the Hobart downtown and harbor to get familiar with the town, enjoying the cuisine and do some writing. There is this wonderful historic district very close to the waterfront called Salamanca. The original sandstone buildings that were used for commerce in decades past are now cafes, shops and creative cuisine restaurants. I’m learning that I need to ask how BIG things are. I ordered a muffin, thinking it was about the size of a coffee cup, when it arrived at almost the diameter of the dessert plate on which it sat, I knew I had overstepped my appetite. While I’m talking about food, people are very fit in general in Tassie. You are hard pressed to find many overweight. So I bought a T-Shirt that says “Please Don’t Feed the Fat American” … I think my plate-sized muffin is still waiting for me.

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Pints & Pool

In Tassie, two things that mix well are pints and pool. I stopped at a local pub called Doctor Syntax, not far from where I’m staying, to enjoy several of the former, watching locals play the latter and enjoying also the use of their WIFI (thank you Doctor Syntax)

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Arrival in Hobart, AU

Arrival at William Clennett’s place in Sandy Bay, Hobart. What a friggin view! Top floor of a block of “flats” with a 360 degree view of the area. From here I took some early morning pictures of the subdivision of Hobart called Sandy Bay, where I’m staying. It is about 1 1/2 miles from downtown Hobart. An easy walk. Thank you William & Susie for arranging this for me. Click on the images to see an enlarged view.

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Goodbye USA

A misty evening takeoff from LAX. Waiting to board the Quantas QF 94 flight to Melbourne, AU. I find that international travel puts me into a bit of a zombie state. I can’t read, don’t think much and am just so grateful for the seemingly never-ending selection of movies

I’m waiting on the tarmac at 11:30 at night in the Quantas jet and I thought I would provide an outline this trip to Tasmania. I will be traveling with a group of 5 other people who regularly explore different parts of Australia every year by way of a bush walk. My good friend Caitlin Eatherton’s mum Jane has been a regular participant of these bush walks dating back to the late 90s. This year they (we) will be exploring the Cradle Mountain area (as I understand it now… this information will be updated and may change). The Cradle Mountain is in the upper west area of Tasmania. Specifically we will be visiting Mt. Ossa and Mt. Pellion. These mountains are characterized by bare rock pinnacles overlooking grassy plains. My part in this enterprise is to create a photo documentary of the trip, the destination and our experience. I intend to produce a book and a story to be promoted to tourism and travel media services.

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Settling in for a Loooong Ride West

A little hung over from last night's party helped me sleep for most of the flight to LAX. Being a Sunday night, crowds weren't that bad and the flight went without a hitch. Other than the fact that I had a fairly large and sadly uncomfortable guy next to me. He did his best to keep to his "space" but it just wasn't possible. Thanks to my great travel agent though, Sandi Karlson, I was in a window seat and squeezed myself into the wall a bit to make room. And then there was that wonderful sleep. Arriving at LAX I was informed that all international flights were in a different building. It reminded me a lot of the Bangkok airport crossed up with a Vegas hotel.

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Tasmania in 3 Days

In training

I'm 3 days away from leaving for Tasmania in what I believe will be a great life and learning experience. I'm most challenged, not only by the destination, but by the nature of the trip.  This is not an unusual or difficult trip, but quite out of the me ordinary for most of us and the uncertainties and possibilities are thrilling. I think that is part of the major education for any of us. Take a step, a conversation, a social or experiential risk that puts us in a place of the unknown. Forcing us to learn new things and to rely on the support and engagement with others. As a card-carrying introvert (those who have spoken to me, might find that description surprising), I often challenge myself to have that "conversation" and it could be as simple as "hello".  In doing so, opportunities are found and new understanding about myself and others. That is where the growth starts, and moving to the next level is where I'm always orienting my compass.

So here is this damn backpack. I think I have spent more time than I want to admit to anyone in planning it's contents.

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