Friday, June 27, 2008

Mac is dead, long live the mac

My iMac died yesterday, the hard drive packed up and after several hours of trying to fix it I gave up. I've replaced the hard drive and sold the iMac to a friend and ordered a replacement. I now have a brand new Mac Mini with a matching Iomega hard drive. Ordered at 2:30 today I got a shipping notice at 5 and it's on it's way to me. Should have it on Monday.
The plan is to install, load my 600GB iTunes library and stream it to the TV via a DVI to HDMI cable. Media on demand!!!!! How cool is that.

Monday, June 23, 2008

We're back

Back from another trip but now it's going to be three months before we go away again. Had a fantastic time in Italy and can't wait to go again. Check out the photo's we've uploaded to Flickr

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Italy here we come.....

Seeing as England didn't qualify for Euro 2008 we've decided to adopt Italy as our home team and head off there to watch their next match :-) Seriously we are off to Lake Orta with friends for the weekend. Draw a line between Turin and Milan and then head north to the Italian Lakes - not that far from the Swiss Alps. It's a return trip - we were there last year for a wedding and we're back for the anniversary. Can't wait - Italian food, weather and footie. What more could you want.

Looking forward to spending time in the plaza drinking coffee (or something alcoholic) and watching the world go by.

Good luck Italy!!!!!!!!

Friday, June 06, 2008

Nearly finished

We're heading back to Denver in 30 minutes - the RV goes back and we've got the weekend to explore the city and shop. Fantastic vacation - can't wait for the next one.

See y'all back home....A & R x

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Top of the Onion

Had a slow start yesterday - due to me being too lazy to get up. Drove northeast and took on the Onion Creek Trail - Very easy but a fantastic view and we must have crossed the Onion creek 15 times :-) Starting off from the main road you drive towards a canyon, then into it before finally coming out on top of it.

From there we attempted the 'Top of the World' trail. Classed as a moderate trail it was tough going at first but we managed to get 3/4 of the way along it before having to return to Moab. Abi was a star and managed to negotiate some difficult sections.

The drive back to Moab was interesting - a storm was brewing to the South West and gusting winds nearly pushed us off the road several times. Still we managed to get back to Moab, dropped off the jeep and then headed to Eddie McStiffs for dinner. After polishing off a Prime Rib and a Rack of ribs, half a bottle of wine and a couple of Amber Ales we headed back to Winnie.

It's been raining all night and today doesn't look any better. Heading back to Denver tonight, it's nearly the end of the vacation :-( Staying at Gamblers Edge RV Resort before returning the RV tomorrow.

More updates later. In the meantime I've posted a video of yesterday exploits to YouTube, see the embedded video below (Muzza - it should be working now).

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Pucker Pass!!!! Pucker up

Took on Hurrah Pass and got lost!!!! So we had to retrace our steps. I say we got lost, actually we couldn't find the second half of the route. Every track we took appeared to be blocked. Came back for a swim and then went to Arches park to check out their 4*4 routes but the park ranger advised us against it. Instead we too the Gemini Bridges route to Dead Horse Point and then Long Canyon back to Moab. Didn't see the natural bridges but had fun all the some. Some interesting points involving travel on three wheels - also very impressed with the jeeps clearance. We went over some big rocks and didn't ground the jeep. Fantastic views of Arches and the Canyonlands. Pictures posted to Flickr. More 4*4'ing tomorrow, we're going to try the Onion Creek Trail :-)

Short video of todays attempt. Dad - do you recognise the song. I remember listening to this in your car over 25+ years ago. Downloaded it a couple of weeks ago and I think the guy is great.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Off Road Again!!!!

Moab here we come

After a four hour drive from Springville UT we arrived in Moab. This has to be the coolest place in the US and a personal favorite. I advise everyone to come here once, take a trip to Dead Horse Point and just sit there for an hour to two. It beats the Grand Canyon hands down.

It's a little warmer here - for the metrically
challenged it was 39 degrees when we left Wyoming yesterday and this afternoon it was 94 degree's in Moab. I'm typing this on a park bench next to Winnie. I've got to go back in shortly and get some air con.

We're staying at the Canyonlands campground in the Centre of Moab. Great location - the town is within walking distance and the trails are not that far away. Walked into town to pick up some more t-shirts (love my Moab t-shirts) and then got our jeep. We've got a modified silver Wrangler Jeep - with a 3 inch lift and larger tires - sounds pretty cool if you ask me. Very strange to drive on the road but I'm told it handles well off piste :-) Can't wait. We are starting off our 4*4 adventure tomorrow morning with an easy trail - Hurrah Pass. From there we may try something a little more adventurous like the Shafer Trail, Gemini Bridges or Chicken Run.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Sweet Home Utah!!!! :-)

Wyoming, Idaho and Utah. 450 miles and 9 hours driving. That's three western states - not your small east coast states. 450 miles of hard driving on Interstates, major routes and through mountain ranges - just me and my woman :-) Well I say me and my woman - she was asleep for a couple of hours. Can't take the pace.

At the present time we are in the East Bay RV Park just south of Salt Lake City in a town called Springville, UT. Finishing our trip with a visit to Moab tomorrow and some 4*4'ing!!!!!

Some thoughts on the trip so far - Idaho is well know for it's Potatoes and from what I've seen that's about it. Wyoming has to be twined with Wales - it's wet & very windy. Montana is fantastic and some parts of it remind me of Scotland. South Dakota is pretty cool too - seems to me it's the real wild west. Utah - well what can I say - I just loooove Utah although I15 through Salt Lake City is a bit of a mess. Let me rephrase that - I just loooove all of Utah below I70.

We both noticed that we've only be able to recycle our trash ONCE on this vacation. God help the world!!! I suppose when you're driving a 5.8 Litre pickup you dont really care. At least the Aussies with their Holdens recycle. Come on America get with the program!!! It's about time EVERYONE did their bit.

Check out this song by Kid Rock - All Summer Long. We've heard it a few times on our travels and it's a cracking tune. I'm going to dedicate this to all the redneck pickup truck drivers of the western US of A.

Saturday 31st - Pretty Lame

Took it easy today after out wildlife watching yesterday. Took the long loop round to Old Faithful and watched a couple of Geysers do their stuff then headed back for an early dinner, a movie and bed.

I have to say that Old Faithful was pretty lame compared to the Beehive Geyser we saw a little earlier in the day. The beehive only erupts twice a day and so we timed our arrival perfectly. The whole site is setup for tourists as it's the only predictable geyser in the park (hence the name). People just turn up, watch it do it's stuff and leave. There is quite a bit to see in the area but all the tour buses work on a schedule so they have to move on. Pretty sad really as there is so much more to see in park

Friday 30th - DO BEARS S**T IN THE WOODS?

Early start this morning - up at six. Abi had showered and make herself look gorgeous we were on the road at 8:30!!!!

After driving for 30 minutes we came across a lot of parked cars - usually a sign of something interesting so we stopped. We were in a small valley and up in the tree line was a Grizzly Bear - about 60 meters away. He was digging around the trees looking for ants/roots. We stayed there for 30 minutes and took around 170 photo's. Some of the more professional photographers had some serious equipment. If we ever do this again I need to invest in a longer telephoto lense. About 10 minutes up the road we spotted a Coyote. He was trotting alongside the road. He must have been 5 meters from us when he went past. We pulled over, took a few shots and then carried on to Mammoth.

As we arrived in Mammoth we came across an animal jam. Nobody was moving so I jumped out of the RV and went to see what was going on. We'd been driving down from the mountains and on one side of the road, down a sharp incline was a huge black bear. No more than 10 meters away. Fortunately he couldn't get up onto the road so I stayed and got some great shots. However, I had to jump back into the RV after a couple of minutes as the traffic started moving again. We arrived in Mammoth at 11:00 and headed straight for a diner - large cheeseburgers all round!!! I popped into the camping shop for some toilet roll and ended up buying a couple of t-shirts. Abi got chatting to the guy on the checkout and he gave us a tip on the location of a black bear and some cubs. 30 minutes later we realised that quite a few people knew about the bear. Standing on the hard shoulder we were able to watch a lovely black bear and her two cubs playing in the woods. One cub was black and the other was brown. The were climbing trees and walking along fallen trees. They must have been about 120 meters away so the shots aren't great but it was great to be able to watch them play.

We headed back to Mammoth, walked around the 'terraces'. Then we headed back to our camp stopping at Norris Geyers for an hour. When we were 10 minutes from home we spotted another group of parked cars so we stopped to investigate. About 300 meters away on bank was another Grizzly bear and her cub. Abi also spotted what we think was a beaver playing (most likely fishing) in a nearby river. We hung around there for an hour before heading back to camp.

What a great day - a total of 5 bears, 3 cubs, a coyote, a wolf, loads of bison, some deer, mountain goats and we think we saw a moose!!! Do bears s**t in the woods? I don't know but we both feel very lucky to have been able to see so much today. Just for the record we took a total of 863 photo's today. Aren't digital camera's fantastic......Night x

Thursday 29th - GODS COUNTRY?

We were both cream crackered from yesterdays drive so we had a late start and didn't leave the campsite until 12. We headed down to Fishing Bridge Visitors Centre to get some advice and how best to spend the next three days. Here are some Yellowstone facts:

* Established in 1872 - the worlds first National Park.
* 2.2 Million acres (80% forest)
* Lowest point is 5,282 feet - The highest is 11, 358 feet
* 96% of the park is in Wyoming (3% Montana, 1% Idaho)

The park roads are in a figure eight - the upper and lower loops. About 140 miles in total. Plenty to see but a lot of driving too - all at an average speed of 25 - 30 mph. What I find interesting is that Yellowstone is actually one giant volcano crater which last 'blew' 640,000 years ago. Apparently it could blow again at any time.

We spent the day in Geyser County (or Geezer as Abi refers to it). We were going to see 'Old' Faithful' but there appears to be so much to see there that we've put it off until Saturday. We spent an hour at 'West Thumb' following the boardwalks around 15 - 20 springs, pools and geysers. Abi spotted several deer wandering around the tree line. We then headed north to the Fountain Paint Pot area. Not being a geologist the different features are beyond me - but it was very interesting all the same. Lots of pool bubbling away, some small geyser loads of steam. The steam was handy as it was freezing cold and raining for most of the day.

Got back to the campsite around 7 after driving though a snow storm, had dinner, loafed around for a while and then hit the sack. We've got an early start tomorrow (6am) as we're heading to the northern most part of the park to explore Mammoth Hot Springs.


Long day of driving from Garryowen, MT to Yellowstone. Started the day at the Little Big Horn County Museum in nearby Harding. Fascinating museum which contains houses, public buildings and farming equipment collected from around the county. A lovely lady was manning the front desk and spent 30 minutes chatting to us.

After that we headed up I90, through Billings MT (our most northern point on the vacation) and then down towards Cody, WY (supposed home of Buffalo Bill). From there it was a 70 mile drive into Yellowstone. Fantastic scenery on the way in, lots of snow on the shoulders but no ice - which is always good when you're driving a 40 ton RV!!! We drove around Yellowstone lake stopping to look at a couple of vents on the shore. Loads of steam which seems very odd when the lake is frozen and there's snow everywhere. We arrived at our camp around 8pm, checked in and after a wildlife briefing proceeded to our pitch. As I said in an earlier post we're in bear country. All food has to be locked away, trash cans are covered and have chutes to keep the critters out and nothing, including dogs, must be left unattended. Unattended dogs are referred to as bear bait!!!! A grizzly was spotted in the camp a few weeks ago so I've got my eyes peeled.