The final entry.
We are sitting in LA airport in the same manky terminal as we were in 6 weeks ago almost to the day and time. Doesn't seem as overwhelming to the kids this time, and we know things are heading in the other direction now. Easier waiting here having come from a day at the beach in California than it was off a 12 hour flight and expecting to have anothyer 2 hour flight to Vancouver after 5 hours waiting.
\LA has been a good time for us all. It was great catching up with Karen and Dave and cruisy doing the parks with them. Also much easier than last time when the kids were not keen on some of the rides. This time they did it all, with Jenna conquering the Tower of Terror. My city and fun park fix is over for a few years now! The hotel we stayed in was full of Kiwis and Candians and great. Walking distance to the fun parks, 2 big pools, and really user frindly. 2 stories high so full of courtyards and plants...Yay.
It was loveley to get back to the sea and the beach today. Off the pier we saw a pod of dolphins just beyond the surfies, and later a seal lolling about in the shallows. Wow in the middle of LA!!!
We head home having had a fantastic time. The highlights for me have still been all about the people as I have renewed freindships and made some more. I know the kids will remember the places, but I want to get them to treasure the contacts...we will see if that stuff is as important to them as me.
Back to Chch where Diane has a roast planned for us with some friends around for dinner, and then a drive (short by our latest standards) home to Nelson. Monday is a public holiday so large intake of breath and back to work Tuesday. Erin has exams, Alan needs to teach 5 days to make up time, and Claire has...heaps happening. And Jenna will be Jenna.
It has been fun writing this blog and I know it has kept some in touch with our movements.
We feel like we are on our third holiday in a row. We finished our geological adventure and had a geological curtain call before hitting the urban America aspect of our trip. Popa Joe is right there hasn't been an entry for a while and we have done so much!
Vegas was a hoot. Mainly for the people watching aspect. Man: eyes wide open. Lots to do for free or very cheap so that is cool. I didn't put one coin in one machine so I wasn't the ideal kind of visitor although Erin was more co-ordinated than most and won the ugliest soft toys I have ever seen on some sideshows. Circus circus was a fun place to stay and the rooms lovely and big. Being on the 29th floor (thanks Jenna!) gave us great views, and we walked the strip to see the lights and free shows outside the hotels. The second night we got half price tickets to a show on ice from Russia that was just fantastic. The buffet got the eyes flashing too!
We got away form Vegas reasonably early for our longest drive (680km) that took us through Death Valley, below sea level and then on into mountains again and into Yosemite over a pass at 10,000 feet. Saying goodbye to the desert environment wasn't a problem for me. I loved the special places we went but the endless nothingness was not me. I often asked....so why would people live here? Astounding environment.
Yosemite presented yet another geologal oddity with huge hunks of rocks famous for rock climbing challenges. We arrived into the valley late, and I went to check the campsite availability. Standing reading the noticeboard and along rocks a bear looking for apples from the tree I was under. Well hello. He was less worried about me than I was wary of him so we smiled at each other and I watched him longer than he watched me before going our merry way. So....... no camera as proof but a cool encounter.
Yosemite also equals PEOPLE....and this was a quiet time of year. We couldn't get a campsite in the valley so had to either travel 30miles backwards or else pay for a canvas sided hut. The latter was the option as it was already 7pm. Some bought food and we settled in for the night. The next day we walked and explored and sat under El Capitain and watched those with a different psychologic demeanor from me. They were tenting up the side of the rock face....now we hadn't explored that option!!!!! Yep whatever pushes your buttons.
Onto Visallia around the Western side of the Sierra Nevada and a great visit with Norm and Sheryl. Alan worked with Norm in Aussie a million years ago, and our kids have very fond memeories of being there last time we came.
Great fun games of croquet, lots of talking and catching up and a look at a high school game of football (they could hardly catch the ball....Man what a frustrating game!) including the 52 piece band that played at half time and the cheerleaders and carry on. Erin was enthralled!!! Don't think it would catch on in our communityu somehow!
An early start on Friday and down to Universal Studios. Good shows and special effects. Erin hated the haunted house...you learn something new about your kids every day especially on holiday.
We hit the freeways at 7pm and made our way across LA to Ross Bianca and Kiera's place. It has been great to be in amongst family again and catching up with these guys in their environment. They get the tolerance prize for enduring the much waited for shoppping expedition to Ontario Mills the outlet mall (we had had a test run in Vegas!). Bianca cooked us real tacos last night. I can see they will be on the 102 menu for a while.
We are just back from the park watching baseball, and will go to a proper Mexican restaurant toinght.
Tomorrow is Disneyland and catching up with Dave and Karen. The odometer has 7300km on it and we are going to chill for 3 days with a Disneyland pass and a hotel with a couple of pools before we come home...shock horror...........
Alan this time, no beard anymore which is a suprise for many.
Bryce Canyon was great in the morning with views down onto deep red sandstone pinnacles. This kept us busy until lunchtime, few hours driving and joined the rest of America at Zion National Park.
Here the views are from the bottom of the Canyon, plus some amazing road construction and tunnels to get the traffic past the sheer cliffs. Huge sandstone massifs and walls, named by the Mormon Settlers so it is very biblical with pulpits, angels tables and apostles. To manage the large number of tourists there are compulsory shuttle buses along the canyon access roads, pre-recorded messages for each bus stop and a lot of signs. Jenna and I went to a Rangers talk in the evening and we can tell you that Squirrel bites are the most common injuries in the park and things to do if threatened by a Mountain Lion!! In the morning we walked up towards the narrowest part of the canyon, but without the hired wetshoes and walking poles available.
An afternoons drive across the top of the Colorado River to the south rim of Grand Canyon, never sure if we were going to be in forest, desert or grasslands as we crossed small passes. Interesting combination of Indian, Morman and European explorers/trails/settler/road building history at roadside stops.
Again back amongst the hordes at Grand Canyon but what a view. A huge RV park and for the first time we wondered if we would be able to get a campsite. Great views last night but no sunrise at dawn due to heavy cloud. But people watching was a good substitute activity. A trip to the visitor centre, some more photos once the sky had cleared, an IMAX film of the Canyon and the start of our drive towards Vegas. Forecast overnight minimum of minus 5 tonight so piked on the camping and all tucked up with a heater in a little cabin, on a small section of the historical 'Route 66'. Tomorrow it should be all Lights and Action in Vegas!!
Towards Las Vegas
Ok so it is catch up time. We have had so many pleasant extras on this trip that it is hard to document it all. I will go back to Sunday when we left Scarletts in a convoy of 2 cars heading for Sapphire mining. We got the true backcountyry cowboy experience thanks to Scarlett's navigation but had such a cool time in an old town setup for mining sappires with a real candy shop and a bar to lunch in. Great day with Scarlett and her friend Dixie. But goodbye it was and onto a campground just north of Yellowstone that Karen had recommended. Our kids are becoming KOA (Kampgrond of America) junkies as they all have good facilties and usually free wireless!
Into Yellowstone and wow from go. The geothermal was magnificent, and Jenna loved the wildlife. We saw a bear up in a tree and had an hilarious conversation with a ranger who had come out to a "sheep jam" (the cars that is!) and had ended up at a bear jam...you need the accent for this! Our second bear sighting was swamped by these fanatical cameramen with full camoflage on. Oh what!
Through the middle of the park about 4pm and the outside temp changed dramatically. The flash Subaru has an outside temp guage which we have competitions guessing. From 16 down to 3 in no time and then it was snowing! A qiuck family conference and we bailed out to West Yellowstone to a seedy motel that had a solid roof and a heater. Good decision as the night got well below zero, and our next day in the park was like being at the other end of the earth with snow everywhere. A closed pass added an extra 100km to the day but it was worth it. As we exited the park and headed for the Grand Teton National park the sun came out and we got the magnificent views of the 7000ft mountains rising up from a 7000 ft floor. Yep Mt Cook size all of them!
A late arrival at a campsite and set up tent in the dark was a mission but we got up this morning and hit the road for a 750km drive to here in Bryce National Park. Some lovely scenery with fall colours in Northern Utah and the geologist was almost dribbling (and nothing to catch it with?) as we rounded the corner into red canyon. Spectacular is a mild understatement and the 26 degrees a bit of a contrast to 24 hours ago.
So we are camped in the middle of scenery that TV commercials are made of and look forward to the opportunity to explore tomorrow.
Its Erin, this is for you Laurel.
we have had an awesome holiday so far, and my eyes have been opened a wee bit by some of the places we have been through.
After Bigfork at Scarlett's house we drove south th phillipsburg where we mined our own sapphires. It was pretty awesome, and at the moment they are getting heat treated and sent back to NZ so that we can do what we want with them, hopefully earrings. We have been through cowboy country, with lots of people on horses, and watching out for deer on the road at night is something new. I managed to convince my darling parents that staying in the snow in a tent in Yelloiwstone was not a good idea, so we got a little room that was small but warm. We also got to experience the land of Yogi bear in both summer and winter, On day we saw bears, deer, elk and Bison in the wild, and the next with a good 15cm of snow on it. It was pretty cool.
Love to you all
Had a fantastic time in Yellowstone. Heaps to tell but it is 7.30am and we want to do 750km today down to Zion National Park from here where we are on the edge of Idaho. I am not sure when we will have coverage again, and these pages take time...needed to put a comment up or else Papa Joe will get grumpy....will do a goody as soon as I can.
hiya everyone.We went to an awesome mueseum in drumhellar and saw real dinosaur bones fossils it was cool walking through the dinosaur gardens that were very much like our native bush. we saw people repairing and cleaning a dinosaur nest that they had found close to the mueseum. having a great time and covered 2500km in a week. wow that is a lot of driving. the view is very different from home and we have seen glaciers, prairies, mountains and forest in one week. Hope everyone at home is having a good holiday miss you all
I have just driven back from town having dropped Scarlett at a weeding. I was cruising along in "our" Subaru with the local classic Rock station blaring, past the old brown church, past the wetlands with the formation of Canada geese just leaving, onto the 70mph road with the big mountains in front of me. The mountains are sporting a fashionable frill of snow with a definite snow line on the trees. Turning left at a flashing overhead light I pass the local school which is all in one very large reasonably ugly building. They have snow on the ground for 6 months of the year. Past the christmas tree farm and onto Echo chalet the Road that leads to Scarlett and Justins lovely 3 year old house set in the tress at echo lake. Beautiful. Did I mention that in the 8 mile drive I saw 7 deer?
Now this is what travelling is all about. Getting into the small places and staying with the real people. Scarlett lived with us for 3 months in 2003 when she did a teaching placement at Brightwater. Just so lovely to catch up with her and hang out today. You realise how really well you know someone when you can get back together again like this and feel so cool to be together.
We have had a family insular last 4 days where we have done so much.
We are technically challenged so uploading photos won't happen for a while so description it is!
We left Kamloops on Tuesday and headed to Jasper. OUt of the barrren again and into the mountains. The Canadian Rockies to be exact! Kerry's pass saved our first of 3 lots of $17.80 to get into the park!
Mount Robson winked at us out of the clouds but we appreciated her awesome presence. Into Jasper and a fantastic camp under the trees. OUr first night camping too. Very exciting. We were met by elk wandering through the camp, and then the lovely sound of a male roaring...spine chilling. The one male had his evening ritual through the camp (that has 860 sites!) Jenna went crazy with photos of elk and then lovely little squirrels cruising around.
Wednesday we travelled the majestic road down the length of the Canadian Rockies to Banff via a cold Lake Louise. The glaciers at the top were fantastic especially knowing that if you if you peed at the top it could end up in the The Arctic, Pacific or Atlantic oceans. Well in thoery anyway. It would probably freeze for a few thousand years first! The photos will really show how awesome it was, and even they do it no justice at all.
Camping in Banff after that day was just as lovely in another Park campsite.
Thursday morning we got up and ready for action. Like the night before it got down to close to zero if not below. Great camping weather.
We exited the Rockies as dramatically as we had arrived into them and then hit the plains that sit before the Praires. Miles of Albertan wheat fields with telltale oil rigs chugging away in them. This is the rich province. Half an hour in Calgary traffic reminded us why we were avoiding the cities and then up to Drumheller to the astounding dinosuar museum. Jenna will fill you in on that!
In the car and South averaging 100km/hr on roads that only have right angled corners and signs to warn you when a hill is coming.
We made it to Fort Mcleod and camped in a nice commercial camp that felt like it was in the middle of the train tracks so not the best sleep. Warmer though.
Friday we crossed the border into Montana at a sleepy little crossing. No cross-examination about the car ownership which was good, and into the mountains again. This time with beautiful flourescent yellow alders, (it is fall here!) and beech trees complimenting the mountains and blue lake.
Lovely to be here in Big Fork with more of our family....This world is about places, but mostly about people.
This is such a cool trip....... Oh and Alan looks like a different piece of scenery too......that is just a hint!
We have experienced the true variety that BC has to offer in the last few days. We left Vancouver for theinfamous Whistler. Wow the road is 100% under construction. Roll on 2010. Beautiful place and the opportunity to stay in Sue and Jeff's condo. Just great. Could have done with a week or so. Manic downhill cycling and rich beautiful people all in one place what a hoot.
The drive north of Whistler and here to Kamloops was apparently a terrible road but the steep climb was in better condition than the average Wellington street so no probs. Absolutely beautiful moving from lush coastal to dry semi-arid...past the rodeo at Deadman's creek!!!! Here in Kamloops we have stayed with a family that met Alan's parents 25 years ago. A dry but interesting environment. Most of the trees are brown and dead as a result of the pine beetle ripping through North America. Wow.
Onto Jasper tomorrow and our first night in tents and the overnight temps are about zero!!! Yahoo!