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Yes, it's been a while since my last update.  Sorry about that folks, but since I got back to the U.S. in April, a lot of things have been going on.  I finally posted this update, though, and just finished writing my last two entries from Australia, including stories about hungry crocodiles, kangaroo dung, and the proper way to eat Vegemite.  Those updates are at:

Check them out if you get a chance.

Who Let The Dogs Out? (Part Deux)

In my last entry, I had just gotten unpacked from Australia and was starting to deal with our neighbor's two barking dogs here in Bellingham.  I like dogs, but I really hate little foofy dogs with constant, piercing barks.  The dogs were driving my dad and sister up the wall and almost out of the house, but I figured out a way to shut the mutts up.


Above:  My life in 137 boxes.  This is my dad's basement in Bellingham where I've stored all my stuff during my journey.  It's also where I put four Bark Free's. 

It's called "Bark-Free" and it's a 120-decibel, bark-activated ultrasonic horn that's inaudible to humans.  It costs about $50 and you can find it on the Internet.  We bought four of them (yes, four) and, since 120 decibels is about as loud as a jet engine, the dogs are now very, very quiet.  Every time they go outside now, they meekly hold up their paws and carry little white flags.  It took me six weeks to solve the problem but it was worth it because, quite honestly, my dad was thinking seriously about selling his beautiful house here, where he's lived for the past 11 years, and moving somewhere quieter. 


After the dog issue was resolved, I spent early June getting ready for a month-long trip around the western U.S.  I had planned to spent two or three months traveling around the country this spring and summer but the dogs next door put an end to that idea, so this will be a much more condensed trip and limited just to the western U.S.


I'll describe in my next entry the first leg of my western U.S. trip, including my drive down the beautiful Oregon coast.  But before I do that, here are some pictures of the April, May and June I spent at my dad's house in Bellingham as I got ready for my "U.S. trip, Part Two."



Above left:  Eating dinner in Bellingham with my dad and my sister Doti.

Above right:  The view from our living room with Lake Whatcom, one of the longest lakes in Washington, in the background.



Left:  Working on my digital photos in the den. 

That's Doti's cat, Lila, sleeping (as usual) on the couch. 




Above left:  Birthday dinner for my Uncle Bill, who turned 80, near his home in Edmonds, Washington.  Bill was in the Navy during World War II and survived the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor and, a year later, the sinking of his ship by Japanese dive bombers.  That's my Aunt Dorothy (center) and Bill's wife, Lois, on the right.

Above right:  My dad cooking his famous breakfast.  Peace to you, too!



Above left:  Doti got a kayak and we drove over to the marina so she could try it out.

Above right:  Go, Doti, go!

More Reflections on my Trip Overseas

In early June, I packed up my truck in Bellingham and got ready to hit the road for my six-week camping trip around the U.S.  As much as I enjoyed traveling through New Zealand and Australia for four months, I really missed driving my old pickup truck on the backroads of America, as I've done so many times.


I didn't miss everything about America while I was overseas, though.  I probably got spoiled by the warm Aussie hospitality, because even after I'd been back in the U.S. for a few months, I was still trying to re-acclimatize to American attitudes.  Most Americans are pretty nice but compared to Aussies and Kiwis, I think Americans are definitely pushier, louder, ruder, and more selfish (though none of MY friends are that way, of course!).


Above:  Near Oodnadatta in one of the most remote parts of the Australian Outback.  I've had a great time in Australia with the help of the countless, kind Aussies I've met along the way.

I also realized from my overseas trip that a lot of Americans are pretty insensitive to important world issues, including deforestation and global warming.  Not many of us Americans consider global warming to be a big deal, and that included myself before I went overseas.  However, it's a life-or-death matter on the low atolls of the Cook Islands, places that will be inundated by the rising oceans in the next century.  I wish more Americans would think about that before buying monster, gas-guzzling SUVs and 6-mpg Winne-hog-os, which I've seen way too many of during the last few months.  I think the world would be a better place if more of us Americans changed our attitude of, "This is America and I'll do whatever I damn well please" and thought more about the consequences of our actions, both locally AND globally.


Yeah, I still plan to drive my truck (30 mpg, by the way), but after my overseas trip, I've become a lot more conscious about my impacts on the environment.  The trip overseas made me more aware of how my actions affect others in this world, why a lot of folks outside this country don't like Americans, and how we can make this country a better place.  If you want ideas on how to improve things here in the U.S., I'd suggest visiting Australia or New Zealand, because Americans could learn a lot from those folks.  Yes, the U.S. is a great country and I wouldn't want to live anywhere else but it could be a whole lot better.  I gained, from my overseas trip, a tremendous sense of perspective and humility.   


'Nuff said.  This page is getting pretty long, so I've split it up into two parts and put the photos and stories about my trip down the West Coast on the next page, News: June 18, 2002  Part 2.


See you there!



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