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5 October 2003

It was sunset. The water was calm and the boat barely rocked. Celine was singing in the background. Penny stepped to the side of the boat, opened the box, and sent their friend Hillary to her final resting place. The other passengers on the boat tossed flower petals. The ashes rested for a moment on top of the water, and then sank into the bay.

It was the end of our day. We had come to Albany to join Penny, Claire and their friends in the scattering of the ashes of their friend Hillary, who had died one year previous. They had rented Albany's premiere whale watching boat and figured that it might be a good way for us to see some whales as well (though this has been a very bad year for whale watching, and no, we didn't see any).

But the tribute to Hillary was very nice. The weather had been fairly good, a bit nippy, but not unbearable. Peggy and I spent most of our time on the top deck of the boat, since we didn't really know anybody who was there to honor Hillary anyway.

The day started with a misty morning sunrise that allowed me to get some lovely photos of the horses in the field.

We futzed around the farm for the morning. I worked on the web page. We did the usual stuff. At noon, we left to drive to Albany (the "al" is pronounced as in "Albert"), where we spent a couple of hours at the whale watching center.

Most of what we did at the center was sit by a gorgeous picture window and eat lunch. Then I did made some more contributions to Australia's economy (no wonder the Australian dollar is getting stronger), and then we started through the museum.

The museum covers many buildings in what was once a whale processing facility, and there are signs everywhere warning that this is NOT necessarily 100% safe for tourists, since it was designed for production, so if you hurt yourself, don't sue us. (I can just see something like that going over in the states!)

I didn't get to see a lot here because we got split up, and since we were on a tight timetable, it seemed that most of my time was spent in trying to find the others. But I did see the platform where they stripped the blubber off the whale, and the huge saw which they used to cut up the jaw, which is too tough to be cut by human hand alone. Then I spent the last 20 minutes trying to hook up with Peggy, Claire and Penny. Missed the whale carcases, and especially the preserved whale penis. I guess I will have to live the rest of my life without seeing that.

On our way to the boat, we had to pass by Dog Rock, which Char had told me before I left home that I had to see. I have now seen it:

And then onto the boat for Hillary's last trip.

It was late when we returned to shore and had an hour's drive back to the farm. We stopped in to Penny's for coffee, but as her cold had left her with virtually no voice whatsoever, we decided it was best to call it a somewhat early night.

We leave in the morning to return to Perth. Peggy asked me last night what had been my favorite part of my trip thus far (with only 2 weeks go go). I thought about it for a bit and decided that these few days here at Settler's Run has been the highlight. I don't know what there has been about it, but the time to relax, to get to know Penny and Claire, to get away from everything has just been lovely. Perth isn't exactly hustle and bustle, compared to the life I lead in the states, but it's going to seem a lot more hectic compared to the few days we've just been through.

Thanks for a wonderful vacation, Penny and Claire!

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