I’m writing this from the Online Access Center in St. Helens, Tasmania ("Tassie," as the locals call it). I picked up at smart blue Toyota at the Launceston airport yesterday and drove over here. It was only about 120 miles, but it took over three hours to get here. What the map didn’t clearly show were the three mountain ranges that had to be crossed. I would get over one only to find myself in a valley surrounded on all sides by more mountains. Only one way out–up and over. Each range was covered with thick, lush forests—rain forests almost. It was absolutely gorgeous. The terrain here sort of reminds me of the Oregon Coast, only with really strange trees. Instead of tall, stately pines there are tall gnarly gum trees (what I would associate with a tropical climate, which this defintely isn’t!). There is definitely something wrong with this picture. One of the forests I drove through had just had a bush fire go through—as in the day before. There was still smoke in the air, and I could look into the forest and still see small fires burning. Bizarre.
When I checked into a motel last night I asked the clerk if the motel had internet access. Now I will grant you that he is possible that he couldn’t understand my Yankee accent, but the word "internet" seemed qutie foreign to him. "Internet," I said. "You know, email!" "No, we don’t have anything like that here," he replied. Bill Bryson’s right when he says that in rural Australia it’s always 1975!
I’m off to visit Bay of Fires. All the signs and advertising say it is rated as the "second most beautiful beach in the world." Hmm. I wonder which one is "most beautiful."