Goodbye Texas

It’s time to say goodbye to Texas! And, yes, there will be (& has been) tears. 😥 sads

 

Almost 2 years ago now, my husband was made an offer to work in the USA for 12 months. What an opportunity – we could live in Texas, experience a new culture, do something different for a while and maybe have the odd adventure or two! We have now lived in Texas for 19 months and it has prematurely and abruptly come to an end.

Although this is a very sad turn of events – I think I recognised myself passing through most of the acknowledged stages of grief with anger and depression featuring strongly – I have now moved into acceptance and am trying to move past my sadness and bitterness and appreciate all the wonderful experiences I have had whilst here in the US; things I would not have done otherwise.

It wasn’t easy at the start, but I managed to make a life here and I have meet some amazing people; some will be friends for life!

Living in the North Texas town of Sherman, we have tried to experience as much of Texas (and Texoma) as we could, and also explore further afield when we could. There have been so many wonderful experiences. I was going to list our experiences here – but I now realise that we have done so much, it’s way too much to mention it all.

We have had opportunity to visit quite a few of the local sights and have enjoyed the uniquely Texan experiences of shooting rifles and pistols both at a gun range and on a ranch.

Cate_shooting

Other places we have visited in Texas are Fort Worth (where we saw the longhorn drive),

Cattle drive at Fort Worth Stock Yards

Cattle drive at Fort Worth Stock Yards

Texarkana, San Antonio – the Alamo and it’s wonderful riverwalk,

Riverwalk-view_from-bridgeWichita Falls, and the Texas hill country town of Fredericksburg. I also managed to get to visit Houston.

With Dallas being so close we managed to see most of the major touristy sites. We visited Dealey Plaza and the Book Repository, took a look at Old Red museum, checked out the DMA, enjoyed a visit to the Dallas Aquarium, took in the view from the top of Reunion Tower and enjoyed several visits to the Arboretum (one of my favourite places).

 

arboretum

There is so much to do in Dallas – make sure you visit some time!

We also enjoyed the very unique experience of visiting the Texas State Fair.

BigTex

In addition we also caught a couple of Baseball games at Arlington.

Cate_baseball

Besides Texas though, I have had the privilege of visiting another 13 states! Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana, Washington, California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Iowa and New York.

Some highlights:

View from the Space Needle, Seattle, Washington

View from the Space Needle, Seattle, Washington

The Grand Canyon, Arizona

The Grand Canyon, Arizona

Monument Valley, Utah

Monument Valley, Utah

Statue of Liberty, NY

Statue of Liberty, NY

Beale Street, Memphis, Tennesee

Beale Street, Memphis, Tennesee

Rio Grande Gorge Bridge

Rio Grande Gorge Bridge – New Mexico

I had no desire to visit the USA before coming here ,but I have a new appreciation of America and it’s people. Texas in particular will always have a place in my heart.  💕💕

I hope I can come back one day!

 

How Big Is Australia?

It didn’t take me long to appreciate the size of the USA and all it has to offer. The contiguous US (the 48 adjoining states) is vast, covering an area that is a bit smaller than the size of Australia. Although I am now more familiar with the geography, history and culture of the US, I realise that many Americans know very little about Australia (most Americans don’t get to travel too much and seem to be indoctrinated from an early age that America is the greatest and best nation on Earth; they forget there is a whole other world out there and that the USA is just one part of it, not the centre of it). We have been asked many questions about our homeland, which we are happy to answer; on one occasion we were asked what language we spoke in Australia!  (Yes, it is English). So, I thought I would share a few facts.

Map of Australia

Map of Australia

Some in the USA do not realise just how big it really is, or the diversity we have. Australia is the smallest continent, yet the 6th largest country in the world. We have temperate and tropical rain forests, snow-capped mountains, and quite a bit of desert (~ 70% of the country). In fact, only 10% of the continent is inhabited and 85% of the population lives within 50km (31mi) of the coast.

For those who like a visual feast – check this link, which illustrates just how big Australia is. 17 Maps of Australia

How does Australia compare to the USA? Some facts and figures:

  Australia USA
Total land area 7.68M km2 (2.9M mi2) 9.16M km2 (3.8M mi2)
Ranking in world by area 6/194 3/194
Population 23.6M ~319M
Population density 2 per km2 (0.8/mi2) 34 per km2 (13.1/mi2)
Coastline length 25,765km 19,924km
Capital Canberra Washington
Number of states 6 (+ 2 territories) 50
Largest City (population) Sydney (4.5M) New York (8.4M)
Highest mountain Kosciuszko (2,228m) McKinley (6,168m)
Lowest point Lake Eyre (-15m) Badwater Basin (-86m)
Longest River Murray (2,375km) Missouri (3,767km)

Some more interesting facts about Australia:

Australia:

  • Is the driest inhabited continent on Earth
  • Is the only continent without an active volcano
  • Has the worlds largest coral reef complex – The Great Barrier Reef (off the coast of the state of Queensland)
  • Has the longest fence in the world – ‘The Dingo Fence’ stretches 5,400km from Queensland to South Australia
  • Has the largest cattle station in the world – Anna Creek Station in South Australia is 8 times bigger than the largest ranch in Texas, USA
  • Chose the Emu and Kangaroo for its coat of arms as these animals are incapable of walking backwards, so represented a nation moving forward!
  • Was claimed for Great Britain in 1770 by Captain James Cook
  • Was settled in 1788 (when the First Fleet arrived in Botany Bay) as a penal colony. (Botany Bay proved unsuitable, so the colonists relocated to Port Jackson – now Sydney Cove)
  • Became an independent nation January 1, 1901. The Commonwealth of Australia was established as a constitutional monarchy. (Australia did not gain true independence until 1986 when the Australia Acts came into force, where the British government would no longer be responsible for the government of any state and the Westminster parliament could no longer legislate for Australia. Additionally, Australia took full control of all Australia’s constitutional documents). Ref.

I know Americans fear Australia because of our reputation as having some of the deadliest creatures on the planet. So, here are some facts about our ”deadliest creatures”.

Australia:

  • Has 4 of the 5 most deadly snakes in the world
  • Has the most poisonous spider in the world: the Sydney Funnel-web
  • Has the most poisonous fish in the world – the stonefish (in Australia, this is only found north of the Tropic of Capricorn, on the Queensland north coast).
  • Has the largest species of the Box Jellyfish (Chironex fleckeri)– the “most venomous marine creature” in the world, responsible for at least 64 human deaths since 1883
Sydeny Funnel-web spider

Sydney Funnel-web spider – image courtesy of Daily Telegraph

I came across culture guide to Australia web page that you might find interesting. http://www.australian-information-stories.com/

If you enjoyed this post, please like and share 🙂

Imperial vs Metric!

Why does the US persist with the Imperial system of measurement? It is archaic and extremely frustrating. The USA is one of only 3 countries left in the world where the Metric system has not officially been adopted; the other two are Myanmar (Burma) and Liberia!

I am constantly frustrated by the continued use of Imperial measurements in the USA. Whilst cooking the other day, a recipe called for a quart of water – I had to go and look it up – I had no idea (it’s just short of a litre, or almost 4 cups, by the way)! Using miles instead of kilometres is bad enough, but having to convert pounds and ounces, inches, feet, yards and miles and fluid ounces, quarts and gallons does my head in! Not to mention the use of Fahrenheit instead of degrees celsius – that is just annoying. Celsius is so much easier – water freezes at 0°C and boils at 100°C – simple! (For those curious, the respective values in Fahrenheit are 32°F & 212°F). But Americans are afraid of change (I’m hoping it’s not arrogance). So, let me reassure my Americans friends, there is nothing to fear – it’s easy – the Metric measurement system is all based on a factor of 10 – simple really!

The below image showed up on Facebook, so I’ve borrowed it from there to illustrate:

Imperial vs Metric

Imperial vs Metric

The metric system is used in the fields of medicine, science and technology and even in international sporting events like the Olympics (e.g. the running track is 400m). It is after-all, the International standard for measurement. So, when will the USA catch up to the rest of the world and switch to the International System of Units and embrace the metric system?

For those Americans who would like to know more I have added  simplified (I, hope) table to explain, otherwise –  here might be a good place to start.

Base units for each measurement type:
Length Metre (m)
Weight Gram (g)
Volume Litre (L)

What the prefixes mean:

Milli (m) 1/1000
Centi (c) 1/100
Deci (d) 1/10
Deca (da) x10
Hecto (h) x100
Kilo (k) x1000
* Deci, Deca & Hecto are not routinely used in everyday measurements

For weights and volumes generally only the base unit and the milli and kilo prefixes are routinely used in everyday measurements. For lengths – the additional use of centimetre (cm) is common. So, the most common examples would be:

Lengths: 1km = 1000m and 1m = 100cm = 1000mm

Weight: 1 kg = 1000g and 1g = 1000mg

Volume: 1L = 1000mL

🙂

 

Pride and Patriotism

Today I went to see the movie American Sniper. Not what I had originally planned to see today, but one I had wanted to see anyway. American Sniper is a Clint Eastwood produced movie based on the autobiographical novel by US Navy SEAL Chris Kyle (attributed as being the most lethal sniper in American military history). Chris Kyle was a Texan and started out as a cowboy and professional Rodeo rider before joining the military. I thought I would see this largely to improve my understanding of America, their gun culture and their seeming obsession with all things military. Watch the trailer.

Ok, so it is essentially a war movie. I hate war and violence at the best of times and I have a hard time understanding it. I am no film critic, nor professional movie reviewer, so I don’t really want to do a review, but I will say it is a very American film and very patriotic. Overall, I liked American Sniper and would recommend it. I’d give it 3.5 stars out of 5. And Bradley Coopers acting was excellent.

American Flag

American Flag

What it led me to was thinking about the Americans pride in their country and in their military personnel. I have noticed this on many occasions before. There is a great deal of respect and admiration directed towards anyone who has served (or is currently serving) in the military. You see it everywhere, everyday. Service men and women are offered discounts in most stores and preferential treatment at things like tourist attractions. I have actually witnessed military veterans being pulled to the front of a large queue, jumping many places because they are identified as having served their country (and most do not complain). They also get customised number plates on their cars, specialised caps, etc. Generally, they are well treated.

The level of patriotism in the US, on the whole, is supreme to anything I have seen anywhere else. Australians are very proud of their country, I can attest to that, and I am very proud of where I come from, but it is not like what I have seen here. National pride is overwhelming, particularly on days like Veterans Day and 4th of July, where I have seen virtually every house in a street with an American flag planted in their front yard. Patriotism is evident in the number of flags flying from buildings, painted on cars, printed on T-shirts or planted in suburban yards.

Texas flag

Texas flag

Aside from an immense national pride, Texans have great pride in their state; beyond anything I have seen Aussie states exhibit. Besides flying the national flag, the state flag of Texas is flown just as often, if not more! (How many Aussies can recall their state flag)? I partly attribute this to the simplicity of the Texan flag – it is easy to recreate and doesn’t have a coat of arms on it. And Texas is big, I think some amount of pride comes from that too.

Texans are also very Christian, very friendly, polite and show a good deal of respect. We mostly get addressed as ma’am and sir wherever we go, and although it took a bit of getting used to, I think I will miss it when I go home. All of these characteristics are endearing features – I have come to really like Texas and the people that I have met here, even though Texans have a reputation as being a bit “red-necked”, gun-toting, big-hat-wearing cowboys. Even though it will never replace the love I have of my home, Australia, Texas has won a little part of my heart!

Heart Texas

Love Texas