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January 5, 2005

We traveled from Rock Island to Sydney, leaving on
the 28th from Rock Island and making it to Sydney on the 31st. It is one
day later in Sydney, and five hours earlier than US Central Time. The
flights weren’t too bad. We all slept for the first 7 hours of the
LAX to Sydney leg, which followed a 10 hour layover in LAX. I never bothered
to take out the camera, except once in LA. We arrived in Sydney at 8am
on New Years Eve. Our accommodation in Penrith (site of the World Championships)
didn’t start until January 2nd, so we decided to stay in Sydney
for the day and New Years Eve (good call!). We watched the Tsunami coverage
on the TV like everybody else around the world during our travels, that
is another story.

Our hotel- Shangri-La was the only one in town with
a one night stay available for this big weekend. It is on Darling Harbor,
right in the middle of the good part of town. The Opera House, The Rocks,
both Harbors are within a 5 minute walk, and we had an awesome room view
of the biggest fireworks I have ever seen. The day was spent walking around
to see the sights, eat in really cool restaurants (I recommend the Gumnut
one block off of George Street for breakfast or lunch, oh yea). We found
a great restaurant to eat dinner at right on Darling Harbor in a table
that was on the edge for perfect viewing of the fireworks. We sat at 7:30,
the first round of fireworks were at 9pm, we were eating dessert when
the started, perfect. Not only was there an impressive round of fireworks
going on right in front of us, but also behind us at Circular Quay (where
the Opera House is) was a second set of fireworks going off at the same
time. They were both super close, with the Darling Harbor show being faster
and lower to the water, while the Circular Quay show being bigger and
more impressive but slower. After the show, we walked back to the Hotel
where the kids went to sleep right away. Kristine and I stayed awake for
a while but being 5 hours later at home and being early to bed people
we fell asleep.

At midnight our room lit up with the New Year’s
Show. The windows vibrating from the explosions, and the intense light
of the most unbelievable fireworks I have ever seen, woke us up. Kristine
and I watched them from bed, not missing the turn of the calendar after

I discovered that my importer in Australia, Jez didn’t
know about my kayaks being shipped to Sydney, so he didn’t pick
them up. Everything in Australia is closed until January 4th, including
the freight company. This is something that I can’t believe I didn’t
follow up on and make sure it got done. I can’t tell you how distressing
it is for me to not have my All-Star in hand. I am sure that Emily and
Dane feel the same way. It is not like you can just find a Fun 1 or Star

In Penrith we are staying at a place called Nepean
Shores. It is owned by the Holiday Inn Panthers (Panthers are the local
Rugby team). It is a bunch of holiday homes in one or two bedroom sizes.
Perfect for a long term stay, with kitchens, living rooms, air conditioning,
two pools, tennis, a running/biking path along the Nepean River where
crew teams practice in the mornings. I had never seen these things before
and was concerned that they wouldn’t be what we were hoping for
a long term stay. However they are perfect and the US Team, Team Jackson
Kayak will be impressed. Kristine rented one cabin for Team Jackson Kayak,
like Yagi, Tobi, Lawrence, etc. It sleeps 5 comfortably. The US Team also
has several cabins, compliments of Blackwater Limited (Tommy Gunn/ Sara
Daniels) who sponsored the US Team for $5,000 and also Lotus Designs who
is in their 4th year of sponsoring the US Team for $5,000 plus jackets
and some cool clothes. The US Team will have free cabins to stay in from
January 20th, until just after the World Championships. It is about a
5 minute drive to the competition site. There really isn’t anything
closer, so this is a rent a car type of location.

I will get some photos of the site and area as soon
as I start paddling here. We just bought a bunch of groceries to stock
the house with food. They have terrific bakeries and grocery stores, much
better than the restaurants. The restaurants are not that impressive,
and not cheap.

We will have a good mix of slalom paddlers along with
the freestyle boaters. The Slalom World Championships are also being held
here in Penrith in the spring. I already saw some Dutch and one American
boater. There were plenty of other boaters, but I didn’t see who
they were. Richard and Miriam Fox live here so they will give me the skinny
on what’s going on in slalom here.

Team New Zealand Freestyle Team flew in today. There
are 25 of them. I am looking forward to seeing them all. They are generally
awesome people to hang out with and impressive boaters too. I want to
start paddling!

🙂 EJ



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Jackson Family in LAX waiting on plane