Adventures in a Kombi

“Everyone just pretend to be normal.” Little Miss Sunshine

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You know that film Little Miss Sunshine? The one with the dysfunctional family travelling across the countryside in a Kombi Van to get to a beauty pageant in time! That film made me cry with laughter because it reminded me of my travels in a Kombi Van with my brother Ross, 30 years earlier. He picked me up from JFK Airport in New York (after I’d been travelling for three months in Europe) and we headed north. Our goal was to travel for a few weeks in eastern Canada, after which he’d drop me in Wisconsin – so I could spend a couple of weeks visiting a friend – and he’d continue on to Vancouver. We visited Halifax, Peggy’s Cove, Cape Breton Island, Quebec City, Montreal, Niagara Falls, Chicago and Madison; but it wasn’t so much the places, as the experiences along the way, that made this trip so damn memorable.

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Give me white nights

“Everything was an adventure, at night, when you were where you shouldn’t be, even if it was somewhere you could go perfectly well in daylight, and it was then only ordinary.”
Robin McKinley, Pegasus

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This year I attended my fifth consecutive White Night Melbourne! It’s an event I adore. The lights. The colour. The noise. I even love the crowds. Because this is a predominantly happy group of people who love delving into the artistry and creativity that is on offer; non-stop entertainment for 12 hours from 7 pm to 7 am. It’s sublime. It’s weird and wacky. It’s so imaginative. If you haven’t yet been, put it in your calendar for 2018.

We began our White Night adventure at the stunning Royal Exhibition Building and made our way slowly south to Flinders Street Station. Here are some of my photographs from the night, with accompanying text from the White Night Melbourne website!

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My top 12 moments of 2016

“Departure of a year welcomes so many new memories” Munia Khan

Slumber safari experience at Werribee Zoo

Slumber safari experience at Werribee Zoo

This blog was inspired by my friend Jules Wilkinson, who today posted on Facebook her ‘Top 18 things of 2016’. She later commented: “I worry that the ‘2016 sucked’ narrative is not letting people value the year they had on its own terms. I hope it was a good one for you and 2017 is even more sparkly!”

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A quirky fun-loving guy

“Life is short. Spend it with those who make your soul happy.”

Mike and puppies on rail trail weekend

I can remember a time, early in our friendship, when Danielle and Mike came over to my place so Mike could help me out with what was, undoubtedly for him, a very simple computer issue. He wandered around my house, delightedly pointing out all the out-of-date technology I owned. My video recorder. My Windows 98 computer. My walkman. “You live in a museum”, he said. And it made me laugh.

Mike was good at that. He always knew how to make people laugh.

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Just breathe

I don’t have any words this week. Except to say that when the world becomes too much for me, I like to escape into created worlds. Those of film, television and books. I can also easily lose myself in my photography, so today I’ve taken photographs from my recent trip to the Canadian Rockies and put them with inspirational words from artists whose creative works I’ve loved, at one time or another. If I could, I would head out into the wilderness right now – without a television, without a phone, without any access to news – and just breathe.

Emerald Lake, Yoho National Park

“Keep close to Nature’s heart … and break clear away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.” ~ John Muir

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San Diego Comic Con

“Comic-Con has become more of a pop cultural festival, and to not be included feels like you’re missing the biggest celebration of the year.” Felicia Day

San Diego Comic-Con (SDCC) can be described in so many ways but I think the best word is JOY. For four magical days there exists an abundance of joy, overflowing from people who are unashamedly passionate about the things they love. People from all walks of life, from diverse backgrounds and from all around the world, come together with acceptance and love. It is overwhelming, in the best possible way, and I immediately felt like I belonged.

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A smile for a child

“Friends, Romans, Countrymen, Jedis, Wookiees, Vulcans, Tribbles, Hobbits, Orcs, Spartans, Cogs, Mutants, Freaks, and the like… In an attempt to express my admiration for all the things we’ve come to know and love, and subsequently take over the world, I bring you thenerdmachine.com … So, let’s start assembling the machine, rallying the troops, and marching toward our ultimate goal of proving once and for all that the geek shall inherit the earth. Love, Blessings, and Viva la Nerdolution.” Zachary Levi, The Nerd Machine

Zach Levi

On my travels this year I went to San Diego Comic Con, which is the biggest pop culture event in the world. It is geek heaven and I’ll be writing more about that experience over the coming weeks. But the thing that has stayed with me, months after the event, is The Nerd Machine’s NERD HQ, a wonderful event that is held in San Diego but outside Comic Con proper.

There – in a beautiful welcoming space – a smile for us geeks results in smiles for numerous children who were born with facial deformities. The money raised at NERD HQ’s ‘Conversations for a Cause’ panels goes directly to the aptly named organisation, Operation Smile.

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