Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Nevada and some more Los Angeles

ello poppit!

Vegas was the plan for Kim's birthday, on the road trip north we decided to climb a sand dune/mountain at the Kelso Sand Dunes. We were rather interested to hear this sand dune because the description had this snippet:
When you slide down the mountain, it moans loudly. Singing Sand is very rare. It has to do with the shape of the grains of sand and the way they rub each other. Even on a windy day, if you are close enough you can hear it moaning.

So we climbed up, and at the top quietly listened... to the silence. Its amazing just how quiet the desert is! We definitely didn't hear the mountain moaning or singing or anything. Apparently it had rained recently and that effects it (and I discovered that deserts can have rain???).

Any how after the sand dune fun and watching a beautiful sunset over the desert we made tracks to Las Vegas!

Due to the fact it was also Kim's flatmates birthday, her flatmate's father paid for a suite for all of us. It was AMAZING! Like jacuzzi in the second bathroom amazing... I think we had a marble table, 3 big rooms and a really nice everything! I almost didn't want to leave the suite!

But of course did the usual things you do in vegas, gambled away all my money, got really drunk, got married... Okay wait no I guess I didn't do any of that. We did all try putting $1 in the slot machines - I somehow managed to beat the odds and get $12 back, but everyone else lost at least a dollar so I think the house broke even.

A massive Oreo fried ice-cream dessert thing... 
I gotta admit even between 3 we struggled to finish!
Watching the water show outside the Bellagio
Paris... Vegas same thing right?
We did go out for a few drinks of course, I was expecting lots of free drinks at the casinos but I guess we didn't gamble enough! Drinks were expensive, as was the food - but then that is somewhat expected in Vegas.

The Vegas crew
Sunday morning before leaving we went to the biggest buffet I have ever seen. Quite honestly there was more food than I have ever seen in one place, including supermarkets. We waited in line for close to an hour to get in and then just ate and ate and ate. Such nice food too, sushi, lobster... I think there were 9 types of potato! Everything in excess of course... I think I was full for about a week after that!

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Joshua Tree, Rocks.

Joshua Tree is south east of Los Angeles a couple of hours and it is this amazing place of rock, sand and warmth... I think they call it a desert. My main goal for the day was to find a snake as I've never seen one.

Unfortunately it was the middle of winter so despite the fact I was warm apparently it was too cold for snakes to be out and about. Many a lizard was spotted however, and two weird plants. The Joshua Tree itself shown here as we were heading home:

Once again we got an amazing sunset! The other plant I hadn't seen properly before would be the desert dwelling cactus. A blurred Kimi resides in the background.

It was a group of kids from LA (including my new flatmate Monique from NZ) that decided to go for a day visit to j-tree and go walking to an oasis. It was a beautiful walk, lots of rock scrambling and jumping from place to place.

Obviously the desert lived up to my expectations of ridiculously hot and no clouds etc. I was very surprised when we got to the oasis though - there was real running water and actual palm trees. Just like in the Tintin books I read growing up. Two artists had carried their easels in to the oasis and were painting the vista just to add another touch of surreal. On our drive back home we passed some dinosaurs beside the road, okay they may have been statues but I wanted to believe the velocirapter roam free!

Monday, 15 March 2010

California erm Rain

San Fransisco and Mountain View and Santa Cruz....

The Hacker fair, so the weekend that Kim and I had planned to go to San Fran happened to be the same weekend that the first hacker job fair was being held in Mountain View... So with a whole lot of help from Kimi I made a poster of me inside a facebook page:

It was a bit different from your standard job fair, the people looking for jobs made stalls and the companies hiring went around talking to them. Not that I was really looking for a job but I had a lot of fun and met heaps of coders, got some contacts at facebook and mozilla. Who knows maybe I'll try for a real job one day...

Onwards to Santa Cruz, went to Katie's campus, its this amazing university in a forest. It was tree, tree, tree, lecture hall, tree... really cool! Tramping style bridges between the buildings and just set in the forest - I liked it allot! It was raining quite heavily so I didn't take the SLR out in Santa Cruz, I hear there is a tree worth climbing as well.

We kept going North to San Fransisco. Saw a really steep street with switchbacks, got some famous clam chowder served in a bread bowl down at the wharf, had some AMAZING chocolate at Ghirardelli's and obviously had to go check out these big bridge things.

To be honest the silver bridge was cooler than the red one... and we got yelled out for walking across the Golden Gate bridge on the wrong side... spoil sports.

On the road back to Los Angeles, a beautiful drive by the west coast after a wicked weekend.

Banff Part 3: Moose Time

My last few days in Canada were pack filled with days starting at 5:30am and heading to the hills for snowshoeing, hiking and skiing. I was staying with my mate Ian in Calgory. Ian is seen here wearing a CUTC shirt from his trip to NZ, where we went on many a trip together.

Banff in the morning is so beautiful, on this morning the trail we had been planning to do was closed for maintenance (bug killing or something?)  but we just kept driving, taking pictures and found somewhere else. 

Gorgeous sunrises and massive mountains aside, I kept my eyes sharply peeled looking for some of the wildlife that kept eluding me. I was lucky enough to spot a moose and a coyote from the car:

Out in the hills on a hike - Ian doing his best to look like a mountain, with the beard he is really succeeding!

Returning from a superb day of hiking to the Elephant rocks! Didn't quite see the point in snow shoe trails and hiking trails to the same place but there you go, I guess they just have so many people sometimes they need to separate everyone.

While in Canada obviously I got some skiing in, the two big fields at Banff were off the charts awesome. They did hurt the piggy bank a fair bit - even when I borrowed skis and got half price lift tickets! Still it was just incredible, after one run I seriously felt I had got my moneys worth - Grinning for the entire day and the next I swear!