• Category Archives Trips
  • 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!!!!!

    http://www.dailyadvertiser.com.au/story/2690356/historic-conargo-pub-goes-up-in-smoke-photos-video/

    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!].



  • Grand Canyon 2015 Part 6

    You can read Part 1 here.
    You can read Part 2 here.
    You can read Part 3 here.
    You can read Part 4 here.
    You can read Part 5 here.

    While Freddy was doing better with my bigger sized hiking boots, the heat and miles from the previous few days had taken a toll, the plan was for me to go on ahead, Terry and Freddy would just go at her pace, I would drop my pack off at the car, go back down and carry hers out of the Canyon for whatever distance remained.

    As planned, we got up super early (and were were not the first ones to get up and get going, seems most of the campsite had the same idea), packed what was left of camp (we packed what we could the night before) and headed off around 4:30am.
    The first thing of note you come to is the south bridge over the Colorado River.
    The phone struggled in the pre-dawn light, but here we are…. Freddy does not like bridges….

    grandcanyon-blog-044638

    Terry was doing a great job helping Freddy. This is just one of the few small creeks that flow down in the many canyons.

    grandcanyon-blog-052814

    The views are really different going up the valley compared to the South Kibab trail.

    grandcanyon-blog-173609

    There is more water, more shade, and it is just well, very different.

    grandcanyon-tfc-072025

    Even though I was heading up as quick as I could, I still grabbed a photo or two. It is just an amazing place. So humbling due to its size and timelessness, you feel so small and insignificant it is wonderful.

    grandcanyon-blog-083227

    We had packed about as much of Freddy’s pack into mine as we could, so it was heavy going, but I love the feeling of exertion, the feeling of the air getting thinner the higher you go so really did not mind. The hike out goes from around 2500 feet to 6800 feet. It is pretty solid climb!
    As we got closer to the top, the number of people really started to ramp up.
    It was both annoying since most of them did not know that that the uphill hiker has the right of way and bemusing since a lot of them were not dressed to be as far into the canyon as they were…. It was downhill for them at this point and very few people feel any effort walking downhill.
    So there they are in their skin tight jeans in high heels with makeup and perfume to the max, laughing and carrying on, having totally no clue that they are at 6000 feet and the air is real thin. As soon as they turn around and have to walk uphill, things were going to get really breathless for them!!!

    Even more sobering is coming apon the guy that was laying down with a few National Parks guys giving some pretty serious first aid to him and arranging via their radios an air lift out for him…. There was nothing I could do to be helpful, so we pressed on.

    At the car, I had a quick refuel with some non-hiking food (mmmm, real food), swapped some clothing layers and headed back down without my pack.
    Before long, I met two familiar faces, grabbed Freddy’s pack and grabbed a photo.

    grandcanyon-blog-104331

    Here we are again really close to the top.

    grandcanyon-blog-112515

    Even with no pack you can see a tiny hint of, ahh, effort in Freddy’s face. Use that to try and imagine how much people were struggling to hike up after their giggling downhill goof off.
    [Side Note: The National Parks people do a great job. You can not stop people from going down, so they just have to manage to pick up the bits. A job that I really would not be very good at with all my excellent people skills and all. To be a little fair, some random people stopped to ask me how much further it was to such-and-such look out or so. I was happy to explain it to them – the rest of them were just ticking me off big time!].

    So there you have it.
    One last look at the view from the top. You can clearly see the trail we had hiked up that morning.

    grandcanyon-blog-

    In conclusion.
    We pretty much used everything we carried. The extra layer of clothes (to keep warm) were clearly not needed, but were used as a clothing change, just to feel a little better.
    The jet boil stove is fantastic.
    We never used the water filter.
    We ate all the food we took.

    Here is the last of the Strava pace notes.

    out of canyon

    It is a really good climb out. You can see the double dip I did when we went back a ways to get Freddy’s pack.
    My milage for the whole trip was pretty much spot on 40 miles, 63 clicks. It worked out to be pretty much spot on 10 per day.
    Terry did around 30, and Freddy 20.
    No question that my heat training in the months leading up to the hike paid off. Big time.
    Freddy said she would do it again if we could take 5 days and stop in more places that are closer together (ie, not so many miles each day).

    Hike the Canyon he said, it will be fun he said…. And it sorta was.