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I am currently experiencing the beginning of winter in one of Canada’s colder provinces– Saskatchewan. I’m looking forward to getting out the X country skis soon. It is hard to believe that this adventure happened seven years ago. It feels like yesterday.

Down Under

There are a number of reasons why I was not looking forward to the outbound trek. My cycling and exercise routine had fallen by the wayside during our recent sojourn in North America. I had not shouldered a backpack in years or been on cross-country skis in a decade. My gear consisted of rented boots and borrowed skis, downhill skis that had been modified for back country touring.

I regarded my companions as mountain men. They had all done this before. The group had come together over the years through work connections. I was the only one who was not working or going to school. We were a demographic oddity, covering a considerable age–span sixties, fifties, forties, thirties, and fifteen.

We were heading into the great white unknown in gale-force winds. All I knew was that it was roughly 8 kilometers (5 miles) distant and that the climb was not…

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I ended up doing four posts about this trip, which was memorable for a homebody who likes his creature comforts. I am writing this update from the Prairie city of Saskatoon, Canada, where we are heading into winter. The temperatures here promise to make this adventure seem like a walk in the park.

Down Under

Our destination for the winter camping trip was a place called Falls Creek, some 400 kilometers (250 miles) to the northeast, on the way to Sydney. A good part of the travel there is on the Hume Highway, one of the most heavily trafficked stretches of bitumen (asphalt) in all of Australia. That part is fast. The last section, when you head toward the Alpine region, makes up for it. It is a slow, two-lane road, threading its way through farm country, gradually climbing into the Alpine National Park.

Our foray into the snow began long before we set out. For me it started on June 24 with a casual email from Alan, my cycling friend, alerting me to the fact that a winter adventure was in the works. It would likely happen the second week of August. Would I like to come?

Like a small snowball accumulating size and…

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This is seven years old already, but I doubt if it has been put out-of-date by any shift in attire among the workers of Australia. They have to dress down for Halloween.

Down Under

Even the briefest visit to Australia will make one thing blindingly obvious to the visitor: the most colorful people in this country are not rap musicians, artists, gay activists, pimps or drug dealers; they are the men and women who work with tools and trucks.

Anyone who drives a ‘ute” (utility vehicle), works at a construction site, paves a driveway, plants trees or darts up the sidewalk on a motorbike delivering the mail, (delivering anything for that matter), must be dressed in a shade of yellow, orange or green that would make a butterfly blush.

It’s a safety thing.

I’ve been told by one of my eccentric cycling companions that some tool users are very, very touchy about their tools. So, the colorful plumage may also be one way of saying, “back off, mate.” If the Aussie equivalent of Homer Simpson was in the middle of a nuclear meltdown, he…

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