When I was nine years old, we moved to the Portland area.
A girl, Karen Van Hoy, lived across the street from our rental. She must have been eight.
We went to high school together. The next time I ran into her, she was a fellow lawyer in Oregon City -- and she had morphed into Karen Brisbin. We both practiced a bit of criminal defense law.
You now know as much about Karen Brisbin as I do about Brisbane, Australia after spending a part of a day there -- our first stop on this cruise.
There are the usual facts, of course. It is the capital of Queensland, the state that makes up Australia's northeast quadrant. With a population of about 2 and a half million. Australia's third most-populated city.
That statistic is worth noting, though. Australia is physically a big country. Sixth largest in the world.
But, its population is only 25 million. 53rd largest in the world. Tucked between North Korea and Ivory Coast. A population just larger than Mexico City.
Most Australians live on the coastal rim of the country -- primarily in the southeast. Brisbane is part of that population corridor.
Today we stopped by for a short visit. The weather was perfect -- especially after a stormy day at sea where a microburst of wind tipped our ship far enough to baptize two decks of portholes.
We were in the midst of the first round of progressive trivia. A perfect question would have been: "How did The Poseidon Adventure end?"
It is not fair to judge a city with such a short visit. But, both the city and the visit were pleasant enough.
Brisbane is built around the Brisbane river. It provides a great vista to see the city with its high-end houses, which were probably considered to be country homes at one point.
And its high rises with enough contemporary flair to remind visitors that Australia is a vibrant and growing country.
As well as its trendy bourgeois weekend markets filled with the type of trinkets that retired grandmothers and aging hippies love to buy and sell.
It even has an artificial beach built against the backdrop of a very real river.
When I started thinking about places where I could retire, Australia was one of the countries on my first final list -- along with New Zealand, England, Scotland, and France. Most of those countries quickly dropped off of the ilst because they were not interested in attracting aging retired people who could be a drain on their economies.
Especially, Australia and New Zealand who are active competitors in attracting highly-educated, young people to their shores. Something Canada does, and The States should consider doing.
Instead, I ended up in Mexico. And I have no regrets about that choice. The comforts of Australia would not really fit into to my choice to find a place that would offer me daily challenges.
But, I may have sold Australia short. Even though it is bad form to carry uncapped cameras into the mens toilet, if I were bound by such social constraints, I could not bring home treasures like this for you.
Next stop: the Great Barrier Reef.