Friday 27 February 2015

Quick Tips: Coffee! (and tea)

Commuter Java Press
People the know me know that I like coffee, good coffee that is. So while there is coffee everywhere
in the north America, it isn't well know for good coffee and I've been a little worried about getting my fix.  Here's the low down on my plan and how it all worked out..

On landing in LA near the top of my shopping list was a travel coffee cup plunger and some good coffee to look after my addiction.  I had done a little research and headed to REI in Santa Monica however they didn't have my first choice for plunger cup so I picked up a GSI Personal Java Press anyway.  A few weeks later I replaced it with the Commuter Java Press because it would fit in cup holders (just) and seemed to make more sense for what I needed.

Saturday 21 February 2015

Wake Up to Wildlife and Other Close Encounters of the Animal Kind

Quick shot through the windscreen but sets the scene well.
Before embarking on this trip, Will and I agreed that what we wanted to see in Yellowstone was wolves. I mean, who wouldn't? Wolves were reintroduced into Yellowstone twenty years ago so they must be everywhere by now right? Wrong. On our first afternoon, driving ourselves around, we saw a whole slew of people sitting by the road with their spotter scopes out (wildlife watching tip #1 - if you see a bunch of people stopped by the side of the road, stop and see what they're looking at, it's probably worth it). We got out, sidled up and nonchalantly started a conversation and were offered a look through the spotting scope. They were really excited. It was a wolf. It was lying down in the snow. It was 5 miles (8 kilometres) away. Even through the spotting scope I could have been looking at a rock or a log in the snow, I really wasn't sure I was even looking at the right grey splot. And there were about 15 people who had been sitting for a good forty five minutes, in the snow, watching this wolf through their scopes.

Thursday 19 February 2015

Snowmobiling in Yellowstone

Old Faithful
Now I don't know about anybody else, but I pretty much have a constant soundtrack-to-life playing in my head. Sometimes, it makes sense - like driving around California singing Joni Mitchell's California in my head (or okay, sometimes out loud). Sometimes it's a little more obscure - like seeing the eucalyptus trees in California and getting Give Me a Home Among the Gum Trees stuck in my head (Will did not help with this - as we drove around he would point to a stand of trees and say 'What kind of trees are those again?' so he deserved every ear-splitting rendition he got). Sometimes, my internal soundtrack is flat out bizarre. So, when you imagine me snowmobiling through the wintery wilderness of Yellowstone, it needs to be accompanied by a rousing chorus of the title song from Oklahoma -

 O-----klahoma, where the wind comes sweeping down the plain
And the waving wheat, it sure smells sweet,
When the wind comes straight behind the rain...

and so forth. It was pretty funny. My face was freezing off and I'm singing about waving wheat, which I'm pretty sure is a summer phenomenon.

Just so you can fully appreciate the full experience, auditory and otherwise.

Monday 16 February 2015

Where in the world: Halifax

So we've been on the road about a month and a half and have so far blogged about 2 weeks worth so we thought we'd do a quick update to let you know where we are.

Lower Yosemite Falls
Right now we are in Halifax and we got here just in time to be a part of a nasty winter storm that brought lots snow and rain to the area in temperatures below -10°C which messes up the road, drainage and apparently sewage systems a bit (and produces some nasty ice on the car).  Don't worry, we are fine, we got the chance to get some rest but it has meant seeing less of Nova Scotia.  Tomorrow we head towards Boston with a stop-over in St John and then after that to New York for a while before flying out to Africa!

And to catch you up on where we've been, well we completed the loop back to LA after passing through California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Alberta, British Columbia, Washington State and Oregon safely with a few stories to tell.  Then after flying to Toronto we have been through Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and now Nova Scotia.

So there's the brief catch up and we hope to bring you some more in depth stories soon!

Will & Jacq

Tuesday 10 February 2015

Quick Tips: Touring Monument Valley

The main highway
I thought Monument Valley was just an area you drive through on the highway with some impressive rock features, turns out the most interesting part is off the highway on a Navajo Reservation.  To see the monument you can take a tour with a Navajo guide or you can self drive so I thought I'd share a little info that might help you make that decision.

Wednesday 4 February 2015

Photo Tips: Antelope Canyon

Entrance to the upper canyon
We had a fantastic trip to Antelope Canyon so I thought I'd give you some tips about getting the best shots you can out of your visit and maybe show off a few more photos.  I definitely no expert, I've only visited once, in winter, early in the morning but hopefully it will still be useful.

Firstly, there are two Antelope Canyon's, the upper and the lower canyon.  We went to see the upper which is the narrow and probably the more famous one, I've heard good things about the lower and more open canyon and the photos tours available but it was closed while we were there.  Also if you want the iconic 'rays of light' photos then you need to be there in summer (or at least not winter) and pick the right times of the day (well documented elsewhere).  Make sure you book your tour in advance, even in winter.

Monday 2 February 2015

Arches and Canyonlands National Parks

North Arch, Arches National Park
By now we were getting quite accustomed to the Arizona/Utah landscape. Not in the sense of 'meh - seen it', we still stopped every time there was a decent butte on the side of the road, but just in a gentle acclimatisation sense. It was just there, every time we walked out the door. That's the thing. It's not just the national parks in Arizona and Utah - everywhere you go there's a canyon or butte or mesa (though honestly I'm not too sure on what makes something a butte as opposed to a mesa - could google it but I'm also not sure it matters too much in terms of my general enjoyment of life). So Arches and Canyonlands, whilst spectacularly beautiful in their own way, just didn't knock my socks off in the same way as the Grand Canyon or Monument Valley. They were different though. The former were all about the drama - the huge scale of everything is what makes it remarkable. Arches and Canyonlands were more subtle, their attraction was more subtle, softer, with rounded edges. There wasn't just one amazing feature to look at but many. It was like being in a room full of models rather than in a room with one supermodel (I know this because I have extensive experience being in rooms with supermodels... although in another life as a Melbourne Fashion Week dresser, I do have experience being in rooms full of models).