Monday, April 14, 2008

Bridge Climb

On Monday we reached the climax of our trip with the Sydney bridge climb. We started the day with moderate rain as we went into the city. We were scheduled for 8:15am. The program starts with fitting everyone with a weather resistant outfit and safety equipment. We also each had a radio, parkas, safety tether, and even a handkerchief tied to our wrist. We then had an orientation and practice on how we would attach ourselves safely to the bridge and make the climb. We were expecting potentially nasty weather but as we headed out to the bridge, the skies cleared and the rain stopped. Mina was quite concerned with her fear of heights but she kept going and finished the experience very well.

The views were phenomenal! The climb wasn’t overly taxing and was quite enjoyable. Our guide Ronan did a great job of keeping everyone going and pointing out all the sights of the Sydney harbor and the city itself. We could see all the way out to the Blue Mountains.

After the climb, we were met by Helen and Carole from the Concord club. They went with us and bought us lunch before heading to the Sydney opera house tour. As we were meeting for the tour, Pete recognized the voice of the tour guide who was his tour guide for a travel tour in Italy last year.

The story of the Sydney Opera House is pretty amazing. The architect whose design was selected had to overcome tremendous difficulties in structural design to build this iconic structure. The initial plan was $7million but it went over 100 million and many years. The architect had to resign before he could finish the project due to all the cost overruns and problems.

Monday finished with our GSE farewell dinner at the Strathfield country club. Members of the Strathfield and Concord Rotary Clubs heard our presentation along with many photos of our experience here. Many of our friends from the district were there for one more goodbye. Several people are planning to visit various members of the team in the states.

Tuesday morning we had our final scheduled event which was are debriefing with Paul Erickson and Ivan Fedor. We were able to offer a few suggestions to fine tune the program but it is hard to improve something that is run this well.