Quantum Leap

Oh Boy!

In 2009, the leap back arrived. This was the 20th Anniversary of the hit TV show Quantum Leap and the Leap Back 2009 was a convention held in Los Angeles in March. I am a huge fan of the show so my I decided to make an 11 week holiday out of it with my girlfriend of the time.

This story, isn’t about the 11 week holiday. Its about the convention itself and the people we met and the fun times we had.

The convention was in Hollywood at the Beverly Garland Holiday Inn, just near Universal Studios.

Before the trip, I was on the message board, speaking with people that were also going to the convention. People were coming from all over the world, it kind of felt like I was going on another Contiki Tour! I can’t remember exactly how the next part of this story started, but I was in contact with the Master Of Ceremonies of the convention, Mr Marc B. Lee. He had decided to run a bowling event/tour the day before the convention.

The plan was to go out for the day, drive around to a few tourist spots and see the sites and then head to Lucky strikes Lanes near the Kodak Theater for some bowling.

We had two cars I remember, and we went to Santa Monica beach as a first stop. Walked the pier and enjoyed the sites. We also went through some mountainous areas seeing some great views of LA and other surrounding areas. We also headed up to the Griffith Observatory, made famous by James Dean and admired a brilliant view of Los Angeles and its surrounding ‘cities’.

I recall seeing a few famous movie star houses and I swear I saw Vin Diesel driving a car, but no one believed me.

After a drive throughout LA it was time to hit the bowling. Marc had organised some games and a good friend of his was meeting us. This good friend was Lee Arenberg, he is an actor famous for being in Seinfeld and as my mum constantly reminded me, the pirate ‘Pintel’ in Pirates of the Caribbean. We hung out playing ten pin bowling, had a couple of beers and just soaked up the atmosphere. He had also organized another guest Ed Wasser, from Babylon 5.

Marc had organized this as a unofficial event, and what a nice gesture for¬†the Master of Ceremonies to take us around and show us a good time. I will never forget the hospitality he showed us that day. We had a great time and when it was time for Lee Arenberg to leave, I released I had promised my mum I would get his autograph. I don’t love asking people for there autograph, considering he had just come to do some bowling and hang out.

I asked anyway, and he was happy to oblige. So, mother got her autograph she asked for ūüôā

Marc still has a website live, showing the event which you can see here –

https://themarcbleebowlingadventure.shutterfly.com/

The Leap Back Convention site still exists as well –

http://www.leapback2009.com/

The convention was great, we met a lot of different actors from various TV shows and movies. We met Scott Bakula and the creator Donald P Bellisario and had a great time. I haven’t watched Quantum Leap for sometime actually, so it might be time to dust off the old DVD’s!

 

~Brad.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Satch Files

My trip to the United States was full of surprises. After the feeling of being alone had passed and I met some people on the Contiki tour I was ready to have the time of my life.

Before I left Australia, I had looked up a few musicians that I would like to see. Low and behold, Joe Satriani was playing about two blocks away from my Contiki Hotel.

Joe has been one of my biggest idols since I started playing guitar, introduced to me by a old work colleague named Dean. Talk about destiny, Joe was playing the week my tour started and I was just down the road.

Now, another first…I was going by myself. Never been to a concert by myself before. The location was City National Grove of Anaheim on Katella Avenue. It was a sit down affair with a meal and drinks. I was seated on a table with a bunch of other people. I had a couple of drinks and made conversation. There was another guy on the table, his name was Tye from memory. He was also by himself, I believe a friend of his didn’t make it.

I think either before the show started or half way through I was talking to him about the Joe Satriani Message Board and how I had entered a competition to win backstage passes. He then turns to me and says, “Oh yeah, I won that. I have a spare ticket if you want it”.

My jaw dropped. I couldn’t believe it. Not only was I going to my favourite guitarist concert I was now going back stage to meet him!

The show, itself was amazing. I think your really need to be a musician, especially a guitarist to fully appreciate Joe’s instrumentals. He is a famous guitar teacher for Kirk Hammett of Metallica and also has taught many other professional guitarists. He also incorporates into his music Pitch axis theory and is a master at the legato technique, one of my personal favourites.

He had just released a new album as well, so he played a lot of new music from the album ‘Strange Beautiful Music’.

At the end of the concert, it was time to head back stage. There was posters and t shirts to buy. I ended up getting a poster and when Joe walked in I got to say a quick hello, tell him ‘Great Show’ and got a photo and an autograph.

Unfortunately, I have lost that photo. It was sent to me by Tye by email and I have never found it. I did have it on a Contiki website I made once which I won a¬†free Contiki tour, but I can’t find that website any more either. I am sure there is a CD someone in a box with this photo, I look forward to one day finding it.

The only proof I have is a signed poster and ticket from Joe. It is my pride and joy and reminds me of both the trip and how lucky i was to be in the right place at the right time.

I did a search sometime ago and still on the message board is my review of the show. It reads as follows –

OpHeSiS
(Bradley Ordner)
Tue Nov 26 ’02
The Grove of Anaheim
Anaheim, CA, US
Rank: 10 Posted:
Thu Nov 28 ’02
9:29 am
Hey…that was my first Joe gig!!!! I was blown away. I came all the way from Melbourne Australia to see him and I wasn’t disappointed. His new songs sounded really good and i loved all the old songs…crushing day, cool #9 etc.

I was lucky enough to get an aftershow pass from a awesome dude I met there….joe signed my ticket and poster…thanks joe! thanks tye!

Can’t wait to see you in concert again!

Bradley Ordner

I have seen him again, in Brisbane with Steve Vai. My lovely Kerrie surprised me with some tickets.

I hope I do one day find that photo of Joe and I.

~Brad.

 

 

 

 

 

Stargazing

All my life I have loved looking at the stars, to me it is the endless possibility and expansion of space that captures my imagination. I remember being in primary school and looking at space books, my favourite shot was of the constellation Pleiades.

This constellation, its shape and colours, visible from earth even in the bright cites and only created from our position in the universe never ceases to amaze me. As you may know, I try and see any great meteor showers and when ever I get out of the city, I make the effort to look up and marvel at the sky on a clear night.

The best place I have seen the stars is probably Hawaii, although I did go to one of the greatest places to see the stars at Bryce Canyon in Utah but was unfortunately impacted by weather.

Kerrie & I were on the Big Island staying at Hilo. I had read that on the top of¬†Mauna Kea at 13,800 ft there was free stargazing with telescopes provided by the¬†Visitor Centre. The top of these mountains in Hawaii are home to some of the most powerful land based telescopes. The clear air, height above the clouds and position give us a great chance to look deep into the universe. Unfortunately, you can’t get to this telescopes without a 4wd, and entry is not permitted to the general public I believe.

One night before sunset, a storm came in and we decided to make our way to Mauna Kea. We drove our red delicious Jeep through the clouds, making our way up another dormant volcano on the beautiful Hawaiian islands. Arriving at the Visitors Centre, we watched some informative videos about the observatories and then made our way up a nice little walk to watch the sunset.

The clouds lingered below our feet, we were on top of the world. The sun, slowly started to dip, its light bent across the atmosphere, producing colours across the sky.

We returned to the visitors centre and they had started to prepare some telescopes for free viewing.

As the sun disappeared, the suns from other solar systems within our galaxy started to slowly appear. The air was fresh, the stars light that took so long to reach us started to brighten and we started to see our atmosphere, that blue by day turned transparent at night and reveal the universe to us.

Now, we saw Saturn once in Brisbane at a free telescope stall at the Greek Festival but when we saw Saturn from this height, I couldn’t believe my eyes. I could see the rings and the moons. It was so clear and just hung in the viewfinder like a tiny little Christmas ornament.

The employees of the Visitor centre used a laser pointer to show us various planets, galaxies and double stars above our heads, the expanse of the universe was from horizon to horizon, we had a full 360 degree view of the night sky. Unfortunately, our eyes were constantly not able to adapt to the darkness, as people were coming and going and the headlights of cars would reset our eyes. Usually its best to be in darkness for 30 mins for your eyes to fully adjust.

It was an amazing moment though, I felt like I could almost touch these burning balls of gas and planets above us. But I don’t think this will be my greatest view of the night sky. I plan to one day visit the Northern Territory to fully witness from what I hear is some amazing views of the night sky.

My love of stargazing continues to this day, and I have also been lucky enough to view a few comets with the last one visible to the naked eye being the great comet of 2007, Comet McNaught. I still have video footage of this comet, captured from our backyard right after sunset.

I wished I had studied the stars more and made it a career. Its important that what ever you do, you are passionate about it and the unknown questions of the universe continue to haunt me as they do everyone else.

As a keen stargazer, I hope one of the last things I do see before leaving this precious earth is Halley’s comet.

This comet is next due on the 28th of July 2061.

I will be 80 years old.

~Brad.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maui

Kerrie & I hired a mustang, as you do when visiting Maui. It sounded like a cop car on the hit TV show Cops. Every time we took off I would happily ‘boot it’.

We started most of our day trips from our hotel in Lahaina ,¬†taking the coastal road¬†with the impressive Mount¬†HaleakalńĀ as our backdrop. One thing I do remember, that volcano was huge and it wasn’t like any ordinary mountain. It gradually rose from the ground up, it wasn’t steep it looked like you could easily walk it, hardly any gradient.

It’s summit lives above the clouds, its mars like terrain looks alien with deep¬†dark red colours and plants that only exist at this height, sprouted from volcanic soil.

The air is thin, at 10,000 ft. I distinctly remember having shortness of breath for the first 30 mins we were up there. Now, I did say the mountain looked like your could easily walk it, but once you get closer, the road to the summit is very very steep. So steep, that coming down you would be lucky not to burn your brakes out, so drop to a lower gear as much as you can.

One of the most exciting, terrifying and stupid things we did was the Road to Hana. This road is popular with tourists, it winds its way around the ocean, with tropical rainforests and waterfalls. In a lot of places, it only has room for one car as well. Oncoming traffic, is a challenge to say the least, Kerrie wasn’t a fan of the Monster Truck size Ute’s coming our way.

We made our way through the impressive drive to Hana after various stops and 2000 photographs of us and stopped at the beach for a nice pre-packed lunch. Pre-packed as in we went to a supermarket and tried to find the healthiest thing we could. I recall my sandwich had Mayonnaise, so I only had half a sandwich.

Now, usually tourists will turn around and head back home, but we decided to push on. We pushed on so much we found ourselves going from bitumen to dirt. We then found ourselves pretty lonely, no other cars and the rainforest slowly turned to rocky cliffs and no barriers. The ocean continued to hug the edge of the island as we drove but a few metres from certain death.

I might mention that it wasn’t until after this drive did we find out you are not allowed to take hire cars on this road. I guess the rattling of the suspension should have alerted that to us earlier. The car was filthy, but the views were too good to turn around. What the hell, i thought. We are on a holiday we are on an adventure and we are seeing things not many people had the chance to see!

We continued on.

We passed small little local swimming spots, crevices in the mountain that flood water would rage through and even a little church right on the ocean. We found ourselves behind Mount HaleakalńĀ, places where ancient lava would have flowed to extended the island itself.

Now, as we made our way back to a proper road, yes the suspension was still rattling and yes the car looked like it went off road, but it was worth it.

We had a few more days at Maui to let the suspension work itself out and the rain wash the evidence away, which it did.

We left the car at the airport before heading to the Big Island, I assume the Mustang is still going strong, and so are we.

~Brad.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

South Rim

On my first trip to the US, the highlight and vivid memory to this day has to be the first time I saw the Grand Canyon.

My father, big fan of Clark W. Griswold made sure I was to do the famous head bob on the Rim. I didn’t disappoint.

First thing I noticed, was the elevation. I imagined the canyon at the end of a desert.  Basically dust until the crack in the earth, but I was surprised to find ourselves driving through a forest.

The Contiki bus was no stranger to climbing the plateau which the Canyon has etched itself into.

We climbed up through thick forest and gorgeous views of the surrounding areas, although this was nothing compared to the awe-inspiring canyon. Trees continue to line the highway as we continued to the South Rim. The more popular area of the Canyon and made famous by various movies,especially National Lampoons Vacation as mentioned before.

I kind of imagined driving into the National Park with views of the Canyon but ¬†it just wasn’t visible.

How could the biggest hole on earth be so hard to see? Our hotel was on the rim, but again with no view. We checked in and I recall getting to the hotel late. So late it was after dark.

I was pretty shattered, but knew I had to see something so I raced down to the edge. I can’t explain what I saw, a hole but I couldn’t make out details. It was also very cold, the wind was ripping through my every bone. I don’t think I have been in colder weather.

Due to the canyons elevation, it does snow although not this time of year.

I returned to the hotel, a little sad and a little disappointed I couldn’t see much. That night we had a party in a hotel room. Typical Contiki, the Ranger arrived and shut us down for being to loud. I can understand, was probably a Tuesday night.

On Contiki everyday is the weekend.

Morning arrived, the earth completing another successful rotation.

This was it, the time had arrived.

I recall walking down the short trail to the first lookout. this was also the place where the gas-powered bus would take you along the South rim, stopping at all the best lookouts.

There isn’t many words to describe the canyon, its hard to take in. It’s size, is immense, it looks like a painting. It looks fake. I think a lot of people describe it this way. You can’t see the river from this first lookout, but you can see what it left behind as it slowly carved its way through the plateau over millions of years.

Its quiet, and its peaceful. It’s also impossible to see it enough, the amount of detail, your eyes struggle to see every crack,every ridge and every pebble. I have returned to the Canyon 3 times and every time I go I say to myself, take it in as much as you can, but it’s just too big.

Even the helicopter I took over it, pushed my eyes and mind to the limit.

You simply need to see it for yourself.

~Brad.

Little L.

My first time on a commercial airliner was a Boeing 747.

Destination. Los Angeles.

I was working at a fruit shop and once again didn’t have any idea what I wanted to do with my life. I had been to TAFE and started a Diploma of IT but didn’t like it. I tried Multimedia, Cert III. Liked it but wasn’t sure.

My brother, cousin and my friend all decided to go on a trip to the United States. We planned a little but over a few months everyone started to drop out. I was faced with a decision.

Should I go by myself? I had never been on a trip before. I had never been on a plane!

I spoke with an Aunty of mine, she mentioned a Contiki tour. Wow, I thought sounds like a school camp for over 18 years old’s. Sounded fun!

I went to bed that night and before going to sleep I decided, what the hell. I am going, I was almost 21 which was legal drinking age and I needed a change, something new and exciting.

The year was 2002 and I was 21 years old.

The aircraft was huge, but I wasn’t afraid. I didn’t develop a nervous flying syndrome until I was flying to the Gold Coast on a Virgin flight around 2006.

I did cry, before I boarded but I had never left my family before and I really hate goodbyes.

The flight was interesting, everything was new to me. I had never seen our planet from such a height, I had never seen sunsets like we did as we crossed the international Date Line. Turbulence was new to me as well. I had never felt the affects of alcohol at 39,000 ft.

This is the first and last time I have ever slept properly on an overseas flight. My loving Nan slipped me some Valium to put me to sleep and with the alcohol in my system, it did the trick.

On approach to Los Angeles, I can remember the crisp look of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in the distance. The sky was a light blue and it just oozed morning. The flight was due to land at 8:00am the day I departed, kind of my first time travel experience as well.

No turbulence which was nice, just the stillness of the clouds and the early morning mood of a city that I am sure had a lot more going on than what I could see at 12,000ft. The aircraft banked and turned and I was handed a card to fill out. I had to say what I was doing and where I was going. Security was tighter, after last years towers. The moment we touched down, I cant explain what it was like. The look of different cars, the grittiness of the runway. The concrete looked different, the cars wider and bigger. I was in a different place.

Once we taxied to the gate, we were sent down a long and lonely hallway. I walked for about 5 mins following everyone down countless corridors with no one in site. It was like the airport was closed. Now remember, I was by myself and had no idea where we were going. The lady that was sitting next to me on the aircraft knew I was alone due to a previous conversation.

I turned a corner and saw the big United States flag and the little photo of current President George W Bush Jnr.

Customs. The first and last frontier.

I was scanned, photographed and accepted to the country I so wished to visit. I picked up my bags and the lady that sat next to me came past and asked if everything was ok? I said, “Yep no problem” and she waved goodbye.

I knew my plan, I had to go out the doors, across the first pedestrian crossing and find the Blue Super shuttles.

Once I left the safety of customs, it hit me. People were waiting for travellers and family to arrive, hugging and kissing. This was the first moment I realised I was completely alone. The safety of both the aircraft and its recycled Australian air was no more.

The previous plan in my head, disappeared. I walked out to the pedestrian crossing, looked around and went up an escalator. I was at the arrivals. No idea what I was doing. It was like I was in a daze. A luggage handler came up and I responded with the most cracking and scared voice, “Super shuttles”.

He pointed me back down the escalators and across the pedestrian crossing to find the Super Shuttles.

The drive was interesting, first the guy was on the other side of the car. The free-ways were wide and the surface made different noises depending on what part you were on. It was bumpy. The radio played some familiar tunes but they sounded foreign to me. I had a bit of a sensory overload. It was like a dream. It was morning 14 hours after I departed at lunch time in Melbourne, Australia. The crispness of morning was not expected by my body clock.

In the words of Luke Skywalker “there’s something familiar about this place” captures my thoughts exactly as we passed free ways, palm trees and suburbs that looked straight out of Boyz in the Hood. I had never been here before, but all my life I had seen this place.

We arrived at the hotel, and i checked in. I was sent to my room. It was raining.

I put all my bags down and started to check the room. Trembling started to appear in my hand and legs. I looked out the window. Could see a few American cars being hit by the constant rain and an industrial area behind the hotel with no workers.

At this very moment, I knew I wanted to go home. I didn’t want to go back to airport and fly home, I just wanted to be home at this very second. The shaking continued, I needed something. I needed anything.

I used the phone and called home. Trying to tell them everything is ok, I am here safe and its very interesting.

I actually think I was in shock a little bit.

I picked up my video camera and tuned it on, filming the room and my surroundings. If you watched that video now, you can hear my voice, the trembling, the camera shaking. I was talking to the camera, showing everyone around, but deep down I was petrified.

I had about 3 or 4 days if I remember before my Contiki Tour and I was completely alone.

Little did I know this beginning, was the beginning of the greatest moment of my life and would shape who I would be to this very day.

That story though, is for another day.

~Brad.