Archive for the “USA” Category
Hanging out with Jen, Greg & Christopher is as much fun as always. We kick around the area doing a bunch of random stuff:
Jen, Christopher & Greg
I’ve been to LA a ton of times but have somehow not been into Hollywood, so it’s an easy choice on a nice sunny morning. We walk a little way down Hollywood Boulevard taking in the walk of the stars & the nearby Hollywood sign.
The Hollywood sign
Jen & I spend a day at Universal Studios, a park neither of us has been to in about ten years. A bunch of new rides and the hot California sun make for a great day.
Who else would I take a photo of?
Jen’s Dad runs a painting class and asks me to model for him (I know…) I sit still for just a few hours and am very impressed by the result.
Dan watercolor, done by Jim in a couple of hours
For Halloween night we go for my first night of trick-or-treating with all of the young children in the family.
For a reason I still don’t really understand, Jen has a huge bear costume in her car, so of course I throw it on and walk around the crowded streets, struggling to see the ground in front of me. I can’t believe the amount of effort people have put into decorating their houses, complete with strobe lights & smoke machines. The particular area we are in is very popular and there are literally hundreds of people walking up and down, parents trailing behind small children.
Dan's Halloween Costume
It’s a great week of fun, and I spend my down-time planning my crossing into Mexico. I’ve been running it over and over in my mind for a really long time now, so the only thing left to do is actually cross.
The Walk of Stars on Hollywood Blvd.
It’s time to step this trip up a little
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I’ve been to New York City a few times before and it doesn’t take long until everything feels familiar & easy. Mum & Dad’s apartment is on the upper west side, and I spend most of my time hanging around that area. I’ve done all the touristy things before like Liberty Island, the Staten Island ferry, the Empire State Building, etc so I’m not interested in that stuff. I spend most of my time hanging out with my parents, catching up and laughing while doing nothing in particular.
New York City Skyline
- Going to a bar with all of Mum & Dad’s new friends in the city where Dad draws a picture on a placemat with the supplied crayons.
“Tierra Del Fuego or bust” he calls it
Tierra Del Fuego or Bust
- Driving out to the little country town of Cold Spring on a beautiful sunny fall day. The leaves are seriously colorful here & we have a great day wandering around the quaint town.
Dan, Mum & Dad in Cold Spring
- Eating almost all of Mum & Dad’s Vegemite, an Australian spread. It’s been so long since I ate it I was unsure I would still like it. Vegemite turned out to be more delicious than I remembered.
- Catching up with my good friend Bari who I haven’t seen for too long. Hanging out with a part time bar tender makes me a part time regular for a while…
- Cooking dinner together in their tiny kitchen most nights.
Dinner with Mum, Dad & Bari
- Spending sunny afternoons in Central park walking, throwing a football & reading.
- Walking over the Brooklyn Bridge at night & playing with my camera. I’ve been trying to take some good night shots for a while now, and I’m really proud of how it turned out. Next time I find the perfect location for a photo of blurry headlights and taillights I’ll be good to go.
The bridges of New York City
The Brooklyn Bridge
I find it really hard to say goodbye when time is up. I’m going to miss my Mum & Dad a lot in the coming months, but having their full support makes it way easier for me.
I know I have to see them more often than I have been lately.
On the Hudson River
Watching the new Pixar animated movie “Up” on the flight back is a great reminder of what living your dreams is all about. I think the Jeep is pretty similar to a house floating with 3 billion balloons, and heading to South America sounds like a pretty good idea to me
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Posted by Dan in BlogSherpa, Photography, Road-tripping, USA, tags: John Steinbeck, Las Vegas, Las Vegas Boulevard, New York City, Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture, Travels With Charlie
I know I’ve got a big day of driving ahead of me and so get up really early and get moving. It feels great to be up before the sun in the cool morning air as I tear down my tent, cook breakfast and move ahead. I put down a few hundred miles before I see the Las Vegas skyline appear on the horizon. The traffic on the interstate crawls to a standstill just as I exit onto Las Vegas Boulevard, better known as “The Strip”.
About ten years ago I stayed at the Luxor, at the southern end of the strip and my memory of the area is spot on. All the major hotels, attractions and elevated walkways are just as I remember them, with thousands of people eagerly getting around. My jaw falls open as I drive the northern end of the strip, a totally different place from ten years ago. I catch every red light as I make my way, allowing plenty of time to stare in awe at the enormity of it all. Buildings and super screens almost entirely cover the road and there are literally hundreds of thousands of people roaming around, at 2pm on a Monday no less. I’m so stunned by the insanity of it all I completely forget to take any photos.
I continue on Interstate 15 all the way into the suburbs of Los Angeles, where I meet up with Jen & Greg, long time family friends. They’ve had a baby boy since I last saw them, and I’m completely engrossed playing with Christopher for an entire day.
My Mum & Dad have recently moved from small town Australia to New York City, their adventurous children apparently rubbing off on them. The relative closeness now combined with not seeing them for two and a half years means a detour to see them is high on my list of things to do. I leave the Jeep with my friends and set out to fly cross-country for a ten day holiday from my life-holiday
It’s a huge day of traveling for me and I have a few experiences that stick out:
- I find for the first time in my life I’m quite apprehensive about flying. When I think about it for a while it occurs to me I’ve been completely in control of my own destination for the last four months, and I am not comfortable giving that up.
- Lunch and dinner are both served to me in plastic containers wrapped in plastic containers wrapped in … you get the idea. When I’m finished, the un-used salt, pepper, hot sauce, ketchup & napkins are all mindlessly swept into the trash. I’m dumbfounded by this needless waste and it occurs to me I have just used up more resources in two meals than I normally would in a week. I watch as the same story is repeated over and over for every person on the plane.
I don’t know why the world works like this, and I really hope we can change sooner rather than later.
- I finish reading “Travels with Charlie” by John Steinbeck, a throughly enjoyable account of Steinbeck’s road trip around America in 1960. He does a fantastic job describing the personality of such a journey that makes me smile from ear to ear.
- I read “The Last Lecture” from start to finish in about two and a half hours and am very strongly affected by it. When Randy Pausch learnt he had terminal cancer he decided to give his last lecture, titled “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams”. It’s an amazing book, which I think everyone should read as soon as possible.
You can read more of Randy’s story at www.thelastlecture.com
My eyes are drooping when I finally get to Mum & Dad’s apartment in Manhattan, which does nothing to lessen the jubilant mood we find ourselves in at 1am.
There is lots to say about New York City, until then I’ll leave you with a photo I took from the Brooklyn Bridge, with a 30 second exposure. The big bright light on the left is the moon
New York City skyline as seen from the Brooklyn Bridge
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I feel like a slow day after the Zion Narrows hike and so dawdle around town, re-supplying at a few different places as I go. I drive to within 60 miles of The Grand Canyon and cut into the national forest where I find a beautiful high bluff that looks out over a monster valley, with just enough room for a jeep, small tent & camping chair.
During the sunny afternoon I…
- Dry out all my wet stuff, including my boots.
- Repair a broken tent pole with my last spare piece.
- Work on my tan.
- Read huge amounts of “Travels with Charley” by John Steinbeck, a book I can’t put down.
- Finally work on my dreadlocks – they’ve been pretty ratty lately.
In the morning I am up early, in anticipation of the mighty Canyon that lies ahead. A stop at the visitors center is disappointing when I find it nothing more than a glorified book store – all of my questions are answered with suggestions of books I should buy; “But it’s only $49.95″ I am told eagerly.
Thanks, but no thanks.
Fall colors in force
Friends said the North Kaibab Trail is the way to go on the North Rim, so I set out down the trail, only really knowing that it’s steep and drops some serious elevation. I think I’ve overdone the rock and canyon formations this week and so am not particularly impressed with the view from the North Rim. When I was about 16 I visited the South Rim and my memories of that are a lot more spectacular than the view I have now. I think it’s because I am a long way from the Colorado River here and ‘the canyon proper’, so it’s not as immense as it can be in other places.
More pretty rock formations
I power downhill as fast as I possibly can, knowing it’s going to be much harder and hotter on the way back up. Every step I take down I can feel the air temperature going up, as it reaches a solid 87 ˚F. Almost everyone that I pass has a huge pack and are planning on spending at least a couple of nights at the canyon floor before hiking up to the South Rim. The trail is wide and dusty, and drops elevation in a serious fashion.
The canyon wall
I drop 3215 ft (1000 meters) to Roaring Springs, a quiet shady spot perfect for lunch. I feel like I’ve seen enough and so begin the long walk back to the top. It’s not impossibly hard, but it’s not easy either, and a steady rhythm helps me through the time.
The Grand part is out there in the distance
The campground shower is only $1.50, a bargain after another big day of hiking. Before long I find myself back on my little bluff eating huge smokies with ketchup/mustard/relish, my favorite meal on the road.
The trail drops steeply to the canyon floor
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