Sunday, November 09, 2008
Saturday, November 08, 2008
Monday, October 20, 2008
And our road trip ground to a standstill in British Columbia - our new home of choice! Basically if we can find a job and have a few bits of paper signed by the future employer there are ways and means of getting here somewhat quicker. In the short term as a temporary worker (being able to start work in as little as 3 weeks) and in the longer term as a permanent resident (that old application gets hauled out of the dusty cupboard to be processed with priority). Different options. Different choices to be made.
Monday, October 13, 2008
Friday, October 03, 2008
Chris - making friends. In this case it appears to be Sasquatch(...Or this from a couple of days ago. Making friends AND influencing people! And in case you weren't sure - yes that is a RCMP uniform. Put it this way she wasn't writing down her phone number for him!)
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Saturday, September 20, 2008
Tuesday, September 02, 2008
Friday, August 29, 2008
Next stop was Cultus Lake. This was where we had spent 5 months over our first winter on the trip. Sadly some things don't seem to have changed. Summer or not it still seemed to be raining! Thankfully not every day and there were still things to do. Harrison Hot Springs was a great way to while away a couple of hours (fully developed, it's really just a super warm swimming pool), the cinema, a couple of fab meals out at Earls. And Lauren and I managed some scrapbooking time. When the weather did perk up we went to down the lake, hiked Teapot Hill with some fab views of Cultus Lake. Spent an afternoon at the Waterpark where we had a blast. (Talking of 'blasts' Callum really wanted a ride on Chris's bike but the only spare helmet was my extra small one - not really suitable for a strapping rugby playing rower! Lauren however, with her small and lady like head managed to convince both Chris and her mum that it would be a good idea for her to go for a ride. So they did and she came back grinning from ear to ear and wanting to go again - sorry if she's been converted to a life of biking...) But really I think the highlight of the fortnight for us all was the white water rafting. Writing this my twisted knee seems to have finally righted itself and the black eye has faded but I'd do it all again tomorrow. About 14km of white water rapids down the Chilliwack River (the Canadian National team train on parts of the river apparently). Chris and I rafted a couple of years back but that was so tame compared to this!! Quite adventurous and derring-do we all loved it! Lots of rapids - just a constant 2.5 hour hard work and paddling. Both kids fell out on one major rapid and our raft nearly capsized - I can only assume this was where I picked up the knock which become the black eye but I was having such fun I never noticed at the time! Big smiles all round!
As always it's hard for us to say goodbye to visitors. It reminds us that this life of ours is a little lonely at times. It also highlights all the strange quirks we've picked up over the years. Too much time on our hands and not enough social interaction perhaps....?!?!?
Wednesday, August 06, 2008
As we drove across the Rockies into British Columbia we stopped for a short break in Banff and look what we saw...!!
Now we're in BC and very much looking forward to family visiting next week in Vancouver.
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Monday we hiked the 11.5 mile Highline trail. This is my kind of hike. Due to the (free!) shuttle service running throughout the park we were able to start and finish at different spots and meant that we had a 200ft elevation gain on the first 7.5 miles, followed by a 2200ft downhill to the trail end! Apart from it being pretty easy going we saw billy goats and big-horn sheep up close, we were wrestling with the goats for trail rights!! Thankfully no grizzlies (check out Chris's hand compared to one of theirs!! - and kids the world over take bears to bed and cuddle?! - sheesh!). Whilst waiting at the bus stop for our shuttle to the start point we met Jeff the Geologist. He was from Helena, Montana and has spent oodles of time in Glacier - as a Park Ranger in his youth. We hiked with him the first 7.5m as far as Granite Park Chalet and had a great time chatting away about this, that and everything. So enjoyable to hike with someone new. Not that Chris isn't charming company, but...well you can imagine!! Thanks Jeff - we'll be looking you up for your guided hiking services next time we're in Montana!!
Today we hiked 9 miles to Iceberg Lake. With every other man and his dog (Actually I was kidding - no dogs - but they would make great bear bait...) Despite the grey, miserable start to the day the sun won over eventually. Again a pretty easy going hike, but the closer you got to the lake the chillier it got - all that snow and ice around?! And curiously enough the lake was full of icebergs - well I never...!! Very cool. Literally! A quick stop for lunch and the hike back again. We were surrounded by prime bear habitat, no sightings for us today. Mostly that's a good thing!
This evening we crossed the border into Canada. After an exciting moment when an 18-wheeler steamed past the control booths and was chased down the road by the border patrol we calmly pootled our way to the nearest town on the Alberta side - Cardston. Bonsoir!! (because this IS a bi-lingual country!)
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Sunday, July 13, 2008
Thursday, July 10, 2008
Sunday, July 06, 2008
So the Homestead Crater is some sort of Calcite deposit thing. On the inside it's about 40ft in diameter and is 65ft deep. The water in it is a balmy 95 degrees (this is SO my kind of temperature!) and constantly circulates at a rate of 100 gallons a minute - circulating completely over the course of 3 days. There is an natural light opening but at 50ft it gets pretty dingy. To be fair there wasn't a lot to see or do but a good chance for us to practice drills. A sweet little dive to add to the logbook!
Saturday, July 05, 2008
SLC is the Morman 'mecca' and temple square seems to be the symbolic heart of it all. We took a guided tour of some of the square buildings with a couple of women working as missionairies at the Temple who explained the history and basic teachings of the church. Interesting....I'll leave it at that shall I?!
One of the very good reasons for me not being a Morman is the Utah Beer. Not in any way a dry state (contrary to popular belief) It just has a few restrictions and unique laws surrounding it's sale and distribution. It generally is a little weaker than other brewpub beers (max 4% volume) but still as fabulously tasty - I am rather partial to the Wasatch Raspberry Wheat ale!! and as always brewpubs came up trumps with a good lunch too - I ordered TUNA!! (I am SO not a fish person!) but I had the most amazing Ahi Spring Roll Salad (check that - not only was it fish it was a salad!) that was at the Squatters Brewpub in SLC (we get around when it comes to beer!)
Friday, July 04, 2008
Tuesday, July 01, 2008
And once we worked out that the RV costs us a little over 50 cents per mile to drive (OUCH!) you can see why this has become the preference.
And here's the childish way that Chris sends the old tyres to Tyre-heaven - doing wheel spins in the Walmart carpark - tut, tut, tut...
Friday, June 27, 2008
Each part is essentially the same; a front cover with pocket for journalling on the left, a transparency page with section title and photos on either side, a page with 6 circles with mini photos or embellishments, the backside of that with 6 square photos, and a closing full page photo of that era (love that picture of me and my brother as superheros!!). I added a couple of extra pages along the way to be able to include more photos!
Saturday, June 21, 2008
This is our gorgeous campsite in amongst the trees...
Last night we went to a ranger talk on astonomy - just reminds us how teeny weeny we are in this mighty big galaxy of ours. Earth is 3 light minutes from the sun whereas Pluto is 14 light hours from the sun (both planets are within our little ole' galaxy and they estimate there's billions of separate galaxies) The figures just start get overwhelming and fascinating at the same time. Bryce is quite remote and at 8000ft quite high so has awesome visibility for star-gazing so after the talk the rangers had set up several telescopes for us to spot through. We saw Saturn. Amazing. So clear, complete with it's rings - we could see the gap between the planet and it's rings and everything! Also saw some other stuff (all with weird astronomy tecchie names) - a galaxy, a dying star and a double star and other cool stuff!
Thursday, June 19, 2008
It was a pretty tough hike out there. Only 3 miles each way but completely exposed and thus VERY hot. Mostly walking across slickrock which was easier, but toward the end it was thick sand - I'm sure I've brought home half of the desert with me. Aren't I just wishing I didn't got for those vented trek shoes?! The Wave's location is pretty tricky to find. It's in the Coyote Buttes area of the Vermillion Cliffs Wilderness and although the trailhead is in Utah the actual Wave is in Arizona! You get given 4 pages of trail details when you collect your permit - with colour photos and descriptions and even they were ambiguous at times we thought!. Because the sandstone formation is so fragile they limit the people able to visit. And when you're there you can really understand why. It wouldn't take long to wreck the beautiful rock if hundreds of feet were trudging all over it. It would wear trails on the stone and damage the thin layers that create the waves and streaks. So really having limited permits is a good thing (easy for me to say now I've been!) It was great to get out there and see this famous formation!
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
We went on a tour of Antelope Canyon - a very popular slot canyon. It's amazing and although we're pretty happy with our photos they don't do it justice. I must be honest I don't really understand quite how slot canyons are formed (wind & water obviously!) but they are just something else. The walls are smooth, almost polished and wave-like in shape and in many places you can touch both walls as they tower up above and in Antelope Canyon it was just a floor of perfect, pristine pale sands. Tours are popular and busy but we still got chance to savour the place and take plenty of photos!!
We've been getting up early the last couple of mornings. There's a really 'famous' desirable hike in the area. Very exclusive and preserved area they only issue permits to hike to 20 people a day. 1/2 are reservable in advance but the other 10 are offered to people in a lottery system. It didn't bode well. I was the person who had a standing order national lottery ticket and won NOTHING for a year!! In high season 80 people turn up to try to get lucky for the 10 permits. Oh dear me!! You have to be in to win as they say and we went yesterday at 9am and didn't get lucky :-( Second chance this morning and this time they give you 2 balls in the bucket - we got drawn 3rd and got our permits for tomorrow! - Hurrah!!
Back to yesterday though. Who'd have thought we'd be re-visting the Grand Canyon. Certainly not us. We visited in Spetember 2006 and hiked to the bottom and back and spent several days based at the South Rim. This time we were much closer to the North Rim and we couldn't pass up the opportunity to visit. This is the 'exclusive' side!! Apparently only about 10% of all park visitors come this side. It doesn't open till 15th May and closes again by mid-October (due to snow - it's at a higher elevation than the south rim). Visitor facilites are much smaller here but that added to it's appeal. Even on a busy day in high season the place was quite lovely - not at all teeming with people. And at 8800 feet we managed a midday hike (wouldn't contemplate that back at Page where we're staying!) Walked out to Cape Final - just a lovely view! Such a great day out we had to drag outselves away around 5pm. We had a long ride home to Page. ABout 3 hours. But the scenery on the ride was hardly an eyesore. Past the Vermillion Cliffs, over the Colorado river where the condors hang out (we didn't see any!) and a full moon to guide us home the last 30 miles to Page.
Today we visited another slot canyon. This time we didn't need a guide and it wasn't quite as popular as Antelope. We had to ride a nightmarish 8.5 miles on a horrid dirt track (we've got to do this again tomorrow to get to the trailhead for our 'special' hike). From the trailhead we walked 1.5 miles in a sandy wash then entered Buckskin Gulch. This goes on for miles and miles. We only walked about 2.5 miles before we turned around but it was a fab hike for the time of day. The walls were so high and narrow - in one place we had to walk sideways to get through! It meant the sun didn't get in much so it stayed beautifully cool and shaded almost the whole way.
On the way back to Page we visited the Glen Canyon Dam - the cause of Lake Powell. Watched the video of how/why it was built and took it the spectacular views.
Saturday, June 14, 2008
Probably the first time we've actually been bothered enough about gas prices to cost out just how much extra it would be to take the RV rather than do a day trip jouney on the motorycle. But for $40 ish it was worth it. It meant we could stay overnight and for us that was the highlight of Monument Valley. It's just such a classic American scene and we were camped out on the top of the mesa overlooking the lot. Perfect sunsets with the buttes glowing in front of us and sunrises silhouetted them perfectly.
As I lifted my head from the pillow in the morning I was greeted with the most fabulous view - not a bad sight to see first thing in the morning! Went on a lovely short hike - actually did it twice, once in the evening and once again the next morning. Down off the mesa then onto the valley floor and around the butte in the middle of the photos.
Friday, June 13, 2008
On the way to Prescott was a small town called Jerome that although now quite a hippy/arty town, was once a virtual ghost town; it was a big, (in fact the biggest in America) copper mine built on the side of a 7,000 ft mountain overlooking the Sedona valley but partly due to a lack of demand but mostly because of a huge land slide that dropped more than half the town down the mountain, people moved out and almost but not quite, deserted the place.
In and around Sedona itself are the most amazingly red rocks and mountains so hiking was big on our list; unfortunately the pictures will never do it justice - you'll just have to go there and see for yourselves! Sedona is well known, (apparently...) for its vortexes; not really my chosen subject but the area is said to be full of high energy points which means everywhere you go there seems to be a bunch of people chanting and offering sacrifices, (thankfully not live goats and things) to whoever I don't know.
This was our hike out to the West Fork. Lovely shaded hike and at the end the trail just dead-ended in water. At least I'm sure it would go on if you wanted to get your feet wet!! We paddled a little just to see what was round the corner but it was COLD!! On the way back to the trailhead we were treated to a glimpse of this Hummingbird faithfully guarding it's nest. Didn't seem bothered by us even if we were poking a camera lens in it's face!
And then there was Slide Rock State Park; the name might hint at the theme here; basically a large park cum picnic area with a river running through a very rocky valley. The river of course had worn away the rock over the years leaving a smooth, narrow and thankfully, cold channel in which one can slide one's way downstream. We should have perhaps taken more notice of the fact that the locals were all wearing heavy duty shorts or cut-off jeans; let's just say my backside hadn't felt like that since my last caning at boarding school!