• Category Archives Trips
  • Catalina Island

    Freddy and I decided to get away for a few days together. (Its been a while – yeah yeah).
    Our destination for no reason other than we both wanted to see it… Catalina Island.
    Its due west of Dana Point, not far off the coast, but far enough to make it a little interesting.

    Of course, to get there, you have to take a boat. We chose the smaller of the two that fairy back and forth. Turns out we won’t be doing that again. The bigger boat is much faster and smoother. It means another 1/2 hour to our drive to get to the point where it docks, but eh, it will be worth the drive to save the sea time.

    Once on the boat we just sit and chat. It took a solid hour and a half. Neither of us felt great going over, it was pretty rough and the staff warned us as much. (It was a pretty windy day).

    When you get there, you have two methods of getting around, walk or golf cart.
    Cars are not banded on island, but its just so small that the number of cars is severely limited (I’m told the wait list is about 10 years long). Where as every resident automatically gets a golf cart permit. So yeah, noisy, smelly golf karts are everywhere.
    Here is the local supermarket parking lot to give an example.

    Some people try and hot them up, or deck them out, make them a bit interesting, but for the most part, they just look like golf karts. There is also more than the fair share of them broken down in the streets. I guess it costs too much to get them repaired and its very expensive to ship them back to the mainland to dispose of them.
    And yes, 99.9% of them are two stoke…. Electric ones were very rare. Reason being most people don’t have a garage and so have no way of recharging them. You are not allowed to drape a power lead across the sidewalk (footpath), so it limits your recharge options a lot.
    We looked at hiring one, but at 50 bucks an hour, it was a bit rich for us.

    So, we walked. It was beautiful weather and just a delight to walk about taking in the sites.
    First place we walked was up a hill!

    Well worth it.
    Short version short, we walked 7 miles the first day. Had a nice fish and chips lunch…

    Just hung out and had a nice day.

    Next day the goal was to check out the botanical gardens and the Wriggly memorial. Yup. More walking.

    It was the weekend of the annual marathon, so there were some runners out and about. Nice uphill slog for them from the starting line, but they turned around at the memorial.

    The memorial is just amazing. High up on the hill (but not at the very top) and pretty massive given its location. 100 steps exactly from the base to the top.
    It would have been amazing in its day, as it stands now its still very impressive and beautiful with brass doors, blue tiles and amazing marble inlay.
    Photos do not do it justice, but here is a panorama of the inside along one wall.

    Remember, you can click on pictures to make them bigger….

    We hung out there for a good while just soaking up the place.
    It was also very quiet when we were there, we had got up and got going pretty early and so not one was around, the runners were well below us and focused on running, not sightseeing, so yeah, it was bliss.

    I wanted to hike to the top of the island and see the Ocean on the other side, Freddy said that as long as I took my time she was in for the hike up the hill, so we set off to the summit of this smaller ridge.

    Lets try this little movie… Not sure it will work for everyone, but eh, try something new…

    If you cant play it, its a short movie of me puffing trying to hold the camera still and pan from one ocean to one sea.

    All in all that day we ended up doing around 14 miles on foot. Nice effort.

    Next morning, it was just a matter of taking the boat home. We goofed and did not get in line quick enough and so the only seats left were outside…. It was rather cold (we were NOT dressed like the people in this photo), but on the upside we did see a few whales and Freddy was thrilled about that.

    All in all a very nice weekend. We have decided that island life is not for us. I love my high speed Internet and 2 day Amazon deliveries and Freddy likes long drives.

  • Idaho – June 2018

    We had been planning this trip for about 4 months… Pinning down the date took the longest time. Amy and Cole were busy on the 4th July (Wednesday), so that took that set of dates off the books…. Anyway, the week after was chosen way back and we stuck to the date.

    Training at Opto Wednesday morning, then off at lunchtime. Freddy had the car packed and Krysta was ready for her first big road trip and we were all psyched up for the next 22 hours in the car.

    The drive out to Las Vegas is the first bit to get done, I took us to the rest stop just this side and Terry took us through the city that never sleeps around 3pm. From there, it’s the open road.

    We go through California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah and Idaho, so lots of ‘big sky’ country.

    Got there around 10am, made great time, 20.5 hours. Yes, Terry and I swapped back and forth and so we drove straight through.
    It’s a lot quicker in the summer than in winter, hence the 2 hour quicker than expected.
    I took a quick shower and then left the gang at Amy’s pad to have a snooze while I went into her work and recorded a live feed and a YouTube video for/with her.

    We are just trying to help her do the social media thing, people want to know that the models are just like every day people and knowing their parents helps that.

    From there, we headed back to her place to pick up the rest of the troop and headed off to the island.

    Coles parents are building a cabin on a plot of land that is on a 5 acre island and thus is only accessible by boat.
    Here is the dock you wait at for John (Coles Dad) to arrive at.

    There are a few shanties and tents on the island with some cabins on the other side, so there are a few little boats that come and go from here.
    Everything, EVERYTHING, must be shipped on and off the island by these small boats. There are no services at all on the island.
    Here is the their cabin.

    As soon as I arrived, having been there before, I was looking around and noticed some bugs on one part of the roofline. I straight away told John and so we got out to take a closer look.

    Yellow jacket hornets. They are building a massive nest under his eve.
    I am looking forward to the story of how he removed them as we tried once latter tha night and they attacked us before we even really got close.

    We all piled into the boat and went around to whats called Pebble Beach.
    Its a beautiful beach full of flat round skipping stones. Tons of fun and sore shoulders latter, we headed back to the cabin for dinner and more talking.
    We just low key hung out most of the next day (Saturday) and saw eagles, osprey and other beautiful birds. All in all a very peaceful day.
    Later that afternoon we drove the two hours back to Amy and Coles place.

    Here is a shot of the three guys scheming what to do with Coles very empty back yard. As the evening wore on, the plans got more outrageous. Odd that.

    Sunday Cole had to work, so Amy took us downtown after doing Freddys hair.

    Downtown is rather beautiful. All the street lights have flower baskets under them and Freddy just loves it.

    Meanwhile Terry and I were checking out the cars…..

    We got to the park to do some squirrel watching and got a passerby to get a photo of us.

    Later that night we got to hang out with Cole and Wade, Amys sugar glider.

    The thing is super cute.

    Next morning, quick breakfast photo.

    And then after a whole lot of this….

    We were back in Temecula.

  • Conargo pub lost to fire

    Matt B just tipped me off via Skype, the Conargo pub as been destroyed in a fire overnight!!!!!


    One of the Riverina’s most iconic pubs, the Conargo Hotel, has been destroyed by fire.

    Rural Fire Service crews were called to the village north of Deniliquin on Tuesday night, but when they arrived the pub was “fully involved with fire”.

    Crews first arrived at 9.30pm, and set to work on the Mackenzie Street hotel.

    An update on the NSW Rural Fire Service Facebook page at 10.15pm confirmed the pub was lost to the blaze.

    Fortunately, no one was injured in the fire.

    Such an amazing place with a long history. It sure will be missed by thousands of people.
    No word yet as to if it will be rebuilt, or on the cause of the fire.

    A ‘Conargo Pub’ sticker was on my to-get list, and I made the trip to the pub in 2006 to pick one up.
    As luck would have it, the pub was shut that day – The one day a week it is normally shut – I think it was a Thursday.
    So, I got a photo of the old Goldwing out the front, and moved on – making a mental note to drop past some time in the future and get me one of those sought after stickers!
    Guess the price of them just went up, and I will have to sadly cross that one off my list.

    Anyway, just thought I would share the sad news with you, it touched me all the way over here. Glad I went past and got the photo.

  • Solo in the Grand Canyon

    Super busy at work.
    Busy at home getting our water filter/softener sorted.
    How busy? I forget the last time I had a nice cool refreshing glass of Vodka.
    Yeah, I know, woe is me.

    But, there is a light at the end of the tunnel…. In a few days I take off 4 days for hiking in the Grand Canyon!
    Super excited.
    Back on Jan 1st, I was up at midnight faxing my hiking application to the National Parks Service.
    Broken hearted when it was rejected…. No space they said… I had applied for 2 people in the usual (aka popular) campsites.
    Not to be deterred, I had 2 weeks to reapply, so I grabbed a map and planned out a solo trip….. Since I was on my own, I could go a little further, a little deeper and forgo a few comforts…. No staying on the beaten path, no staying at the usual camp ground….. So I did.
    Yah! I was accepted this time around.

    So. We have the usual training at Opto today, which I teach. Then tomorrow is a half day for me. Around lunch time I will head off and drive 7.5 hours to the small town Tusayan just outside of the Canyon. We have a motel room reserved.

    Up at o’dark thirty the next morning and hike in. In my (slightly) overweight backpack I have everything that we will need (hopefully) to keep myself alive for the next 4 days…. Oh, and some camera gear… of course….
    It will be very different going solo this year, my first time doing this. It means that I have to have everything in the one pack. Last year, we could split it all three ways.
    Oh, and I will have you all know that I have been watching the weather for the correct location like a hawk. Super excited (and VERY relieved) to say that the weather is looking almost perfect. Hot and clear (there might be some clouds some days – hope they clear as I want to take some astro photos).

    Anyway, sorry the blog has been bumping along the bottom for a while now. Got a head full of stuff that I just can’t figure out myself, so really can’t blog about any of it…. It is so full it is just crowding out everything else. Hopefully 4 days in the Canyon will bring some peace and quiet.

    [And yeah Matt W. I hear ya, I will do my best to blog about said adventure in less than a year this time around!].