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Zion National Park - Utah

 

During this part of our trip I had some relief from weeks of driving. 

Brian, our travel companion and his wife Kat are keen cyclists and since he's retired Brian has travelled these roads extensively with other cycling enthusiasts and knows every hill.  It seemed appropriate that he drive.  In addition he has a senior's pass to the national parks. 

That enabled me to sit back and to take some photos from the car.  The park is well worth a visit and I wish I'd taken a few more pictures.  But I was probably too busy talking to Brian.  Wendy and Kat certainly used the time to get to know each other better.

It was a very enjoyable part of the trip.  

We actually drove through part of the park to reach our hotel not far from the Visitor's Centre.  Brian knew that the car park there would fill up by mid-morning and the shuttle busses, that go into the park proper where private cars are excluded, would develop very long lines about the same time.  So a 'Goldilocks breakfast' and checkout - not too early - not too late - meant that we nicely avoided both issues.  Good advice for those of you who might want to go there. 

There are some nine shuttle bus stops, each with a different walk or activity like rock climbing.  On the way back from the walk that we took we ran across some deer and were counted lucky to have seen them by a guide.  We kept moving as it was a very cold day and we could have had warmer clothes.   Fortunately one stop is at the Park's only residential lodge at which we got pleasantly warm again and had lunch. 

 


Zion National Park - Click on this picture to see more
 

 

Alas we couldn't hang about.  We had to get Brian and Kat back to Las Vegas airport on time for their flight, then drop the car, before catching our own flight to LA.

 

 

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Travel

Cambodia and Vietnam

 

 

 In April 2010 we travelled to the previous French territories of Cambodia and Vietnam: ‘French Indochina’, as they had been called when I started school; until 1954. Since then many things have changed.  But of course, this has been a region of change for tens of thousands of years. Our trip ‘filled in’ areas of the map between our previous trips to India and China and did not disappoint.  There is certainly a sense in which Indochina is a blend of China and India; with differences tangential to both. Both have recovered from recent conflicts of which there is still evidence everywhere, like the smell of gunpowder after fireworks.

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Fiction, Recollections & News

Merry Christmas

 

 

It's with much optimism that I wish you all a happy festive season and a prosperous 2023, after a 'bit of a rough spell'.

To echo the late Queen, 2020 was an annus horribilis: Terrible bushfires; then Covid-19 struck; followed by floods. 2021 was not a lot better, with repeated lock-downs and no international travel. Thankfully, 2022 was much brighter in Australia (unless one lived or did business on a floodplain).  It was the northern hemisphere's turn to have fires and to suffer drought.

And as I predicted at the outset, Covid-19 ceased to be a major issue - people are either dead; vaccinated; and/or have had the virus and survived. It's not quite Herd Immunity but the virus is no longer a worrying cause of death, even among those nearing the end of life.

When the virus first hit in Australia, following a mismanaged Cruise ship arrival, I was moved to speculate on how it might end.

 

Love in the time of Coronavirus Published 26 March 2020

"In the meantime I've been drawn into several Facebook discussions about the 1918-20 Spanish Influenza pandemic.

After a little consideration I've concluded that it's a bad time to be a National or State leader as they will soon be forced to make the unenviable choice between the Scylla and Charybdis that I end this essay with.

On a brighter note, I've discovered that the economy can be expected to bounce back invigorated. We have all heard of the Roaring Twenties.

So the cruise industry, can take heart, because the most remarkable thing about Spanish Influenza pandemic was just how quickly people got over it after it passed.

The history books tell us that the Roaring Twenties were a reaction to the end of the Great War. Yet the War was but one of the hurdles that had to be overcome. The Spanish Influenza pandemic was, more briefly, an enormous burden on post-war society - shutting down commerce, in the same way we are now becoming familiar with, and killing tens of thousands.

Although historians disagree over the numbers all agree that the Spanish Influenza pandemic killed a great number. The lowest estimate is 17 million worldwide while another puts it at between 24.7 and 39.3 million. Most, including the National Museum of Australia and Wikipedia, tell us that over 50 million people died worldwide. Globally, this is many more than died in the Great War (WW1). For example, the United States lost less than 120 thousand to the War - then over half a million to the pandemic..."

"So in the shadow of the dreadful losses in World War I, that are memorialised in our streets and parks and still remembered reverently at least twice a year, the pandemic that took many young women too, has been almost scrubbed clean from collective memory."

 

 

The best thing this year was our ability to travel overseas again and to visit Berlin and my daughter Emily, her partner Guido and their children, Leander and Tilda. I'm pleased to report that both grandchildren have very good English, in addition to their native German (Berlin style).

Those of you who read last year's message will find what follows familiar. I've barely changed a word.

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Opinions and Philosophy

The race for a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine

 

 

 

 

As we all now know (unless we've been living under a rock) the only way of defeating a pandemic is to achieve 'herd immunity' for the community at large; while strictly quarantining the most vulnerable.

Herd immunity can be achieved by most people in a community catching a virus and suffering the consequences or by vaccination.

It's over two centuries since Edward Jenner used cowpox to 'vaccinate' (from 'vacca' - Latin for cow) against smallpox. Since then medical science has been developing ways to pre-warn our immune systems of potentially harmful viruses using 'vaccines'.

In the last fifty years herd immunity has successfully been achieved against many viruses using vaccination and the race is on to achieve the same against SARS-CoV-2 (Covid-19).

Developing; manufacturing; and distributing a vaccine is at the leading edge of our scientific capabilities and knowledge and is a highly skilled; technologically advanced; and expensive undertaking. Yet the rewards are potentially great, when the economic and societal consequences of the current pandemic are dire and governments around the world are desperate for a solution. 

So elite researchers on every continent have joined the race with 51 vaccines now in clinical trials on humans and at least 75 in preclinical trials on animals.

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