April 4th, 2003

Australia

I spent the last 2 nights, on a 44' sailboat, cruising around the whitsundays. They are a chain of islands first reported by Captain Cook, just off the east north east coast of australia, in Queensland, accessible from Airlie Beach. The boat could comfortably hold 12, but since one of our two crew members was sailing for the company for the first time they sent us out with just 3 passengers. I was the only guy, on a beautiful sailboat with 4 women.

In the beginning I was amazed to see so many stars. Orion, the Southern Cross, and The Pleiades (Seven Sisters), and a thick white stripe of the milky way. Its gone past that now. Under a new moon I've watched shooting stars and satellites, imagining what it must have been like to see sputnik for the first time.

Fraser Island was a chance to do some real 4x4-ing, camp in tents on the beach, hike, swim in lakes, and see dingoes. I did it with a canadian named Peter who was my age, and six 20-ish folks from england. We watched sharks and dolphins and sunrise from Indian Head, a rocky cliff where Captain Cook first spotted aborigines (at the time called indians), and swam in the Champagne Pools, salt water pools fed by the bubbles of waves breaking on them. We cooked over open fires, and ate like savages. Every meal, and every orifice had sand in it.

In 2 hours I catch a bus. I've got 2 more cites to hit, lots of scuba diving to do, and then I'm going to DC. I expected to be terrified of going back. Looking for one more day, one more month. Maybe that will come, but at the moment I'm looking forward to DC.

In our eco-conscious age, you no longer bag a trophy rhino to bring back home. Plants, seashells, and even sand is considered taboo. Even organic waste is kept on the boat, for fear of damaging the fragile ecosystem you've come to see. The motto is "Take only photos, leave only footprints" and its a good policy. A reminder of Chief Seattle's
"We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children". But I was raised with an ethic which values the ability to change the world. To make myself a better person, and the world a better place, with lasting change the unavoidable, and desirable, means to that end. As long as I'm out here, I must be conscious to tread lightly and leave only footprints that will be washed away quickly. But something inside me screams to carve my name in wet cement. Paint a graffiti mural on a wall. Leave something behind, as big and as lasting as possible. DC welcomes that. Its the capitol of the land that raised me. Its got history, but it isn't just a shrine. New history is made there daily. Its a long shot, but the life I lead next might just change everything.