Figured I'd give a little timeline for the places we went in Australia.
Oct. 28 thru Nov. 1: Sydney
Nov. 2 thru Nov. 9: Port Douglas, Queensland (Stayed at the 'I-Can't-Actually- Afford-This-Condo-But-I'm-Here-Anyway' Condo.)
Nov. 10 thru Nov. 18: Tasmania (Yes, there really are Tasmanian Devils)
-10 - Hobart (Tassie's largest city at 120,000)
-11 - Port Arthur (Largest remaining ruins of convict settlements in Tassie.)
-12 - Bicheno (Not pronounced Be-Kaino or even Bitch-Eno.)
-13,14 - Launceston (Lawn-Ses-ton)
-15 - Devonport (Hi, I'm in Devonport. But we stayed at The biggest hotel in town. . . sweet.)
-16,17 - Hobart (What? Ho-Bart again? That guy got around.)
-18 - Richmond (And here I thought Bicheno was small.)
So, when last checked I believe I was upset at the good people of Sydney for taking my money in exchange for playing witness to one of the worst tourist abominations in the known world. (Seriously, we should compile a list of the worst tourist traps in the world 'cause OzTrek would top mine.) 'Nuf o' that, though.
/>Is this pillar really holding up this rock? It's be a lot cooler if it was a stripper pole or something instead. I'm just sayin'.
Our second day in Sydney we took the city to task and truly put it under foot. We walked pretty much all of the botanical gardens, saw the Opera House and then hoofed it back through downtown. I guess it doesn't sound like a lot but look at a map of Sydney and you'll know why our dogs were barkin'. The botanical gardens are pretty spectacular and there were many, many good pictures to be had. There was also a metric ton of fowl-life in the gardens along with about six-thousand bats that were trying to sleep in the heat. (The bats are destroying many of the trees in the gardens but they're protected and the city can't figure out how to move them. Nice to know that governments all over the world have stupid problems.) One part of the gardens takes you directly to the Opera House so we went with the flow and came upon that magnificent, clambake inspiring structure. I love that building and feel that the best view of it is actually from the water. We didn't bother with a tour because the inside is notoriously unimpressive and right now it's being redesigned by Jorn Utzon's son (Utzon is the Dane who designed the house and apparently his son is getting help from his dad and remodeling the inside of each venue to fit the original plans). Something to look forward to on my next visit.
On Sunday the bros and I ditched Pops (with his permission, of course) and took a train out to the Blue Mountains. Supposed to be a nice set of mountains with good hikes and what-not but we were completely rained out and ended up sitting in a pub all day, drinking beer and playing cribbage. Good times. If I remember right we went to the Sydney Aquarium later on this day. The aquarium was good fun and I particularly enjoyed the faster-than-lightning (in the water) penguins and the crackpipe platypuses. . . there's a word you don't use in everyday conversation. Seriously though, I think the aquarium puts something in the platypuses food to give them that little extra oomph for the entertainment value.
The nexy day we had an appointment to climb Sydney Harbour Bridge for Pops' sixtieth birthday. The climb was excellent but the prep was a little ridiculous. They make a huge production by putting everyone in these matching jumpsuits, harnesses (really just a belt) and radios, and before that you go through a metal detector to make sure you're clean 'cause they can't take the chance of anything falling onto the bridge below. It makes sense but one of the obvious benefits for the tour company is that you can't take your camera so you are forced to buy their pictures which cost an undogly amount. (Stop me if I'm wrong but don't all cameras come with a little strap that could be attached to your belt or something?) All that aside, it was a good climb and an awesome way to see the harbour and the Opera House from another angle.
This picture wasn't taken from the bridge but rather from one of the decorative pylons on the South end of the bridge that you can climb to the top of. After the climb we grabbed a little lunch (mostly in liquid format) and took a ferry back to Darling Harbour. I can't remember anything being too special about the meals we had so aside from Pops being obsessed with meat pies (simple pot-pies, really) the food wasn't the big story for us in Sydney. Don't get me wrong, I know there are a ton of good restaurants in Sydney but for some reason we didn't start spending big money on meals till later in the trip.
(This is better. Strippers of the world. . . UNITE!)
The next morning we flew from Sydney to Cairns and rented a car to get us up to Port Douglas. Next up was the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest.
Oh yeah, if you would like to see more photos from this trip feel free to click on the Flickr add to your right.
Yes, I have had a super-swell time.
No, I have not gotten after it in the drinking dept.
No, I have not spoken with any hotties except to buy the wares in their stores.
The. . . uh, Sydney. . . uh, Opera House?
We flew out on the 26th of Oct. and got in on the morning of the 28th. Thank you international date line. Travelling with the two older Bros and our Pops is a different kind of experience. Good and a sometimes not as good. . . but still good.
So we got into Sydney Friday morning and checked out Darling Harbour, Sydney Tower, Hyde Park and I suppose the airport when we first got in. Darling Harbour is just super-McDonalds-Hyper-Expensive-Tourist-Land. . . but still rather beautiful. Sydney Tower provides a rather kick-ass three-hundred-sixty degree view of the city and is was worth every penny. Unfortunately, we opted for the combined ticket with a little something called OzTrek. Yeah, um, if you've got the chance to pass on that you may want to go ahead and take that chance (to pass, mind you). The OzTrek 'Experience' was a terrifically terrible mixture of cutting edge technology (circa 1982), more information about Oz than one person can take (because the info was truly common sense and full of super-fun (moronic) cliches) and to cap it all off my fat-ass was treated to the back-tweaking expertise of a 4-D movie experience where you strap your butt into an older-than-GW's-lies hydraulic chair while the screen provides you additional information about Australia that a two-year-old happens to already contains in his tiny noodle.
'Nuf o' that crap.
Aside from wasting a little money on that mandatory tourist trap things have been amazing. Our hotel is located in the Haymarket district which is basically Chinatown for Sydney. We've had some good Chinese, Japanese and Turkish meals so far. We've also eaten at an Irish pub. Sydney is a lot like SF. .. good place to find almost any kind of food that you've got a hankerin' for. As far as I can tell Aussie food consists of anything they throw on the barbie and beer.
(Fun fact for the post: On a news ticker one morning the news was, "In a recent poll taken almost 50% of Australians believe that getting drunk occassionally is part of the Aussie way of life." Now here's a country I can relate to.)
. . . . the dots are there to symbolize that I had to stop writing at that point but I had every good intention of getting back to it before we left Syndey. Unfortunately, I did not get to it and now I'm in Port Douglas. Just wrote a couple of beautiful entries on my Pops' laptop with the hope of plugging it into the network here but that backfired on me and I'll have to find a way to do it later. Figured I'd better get this posted just in case anyone remembers that I have this site. Port Douglas and the rainforest in gorgeous. Too bad I'm too broken to appreciate it.
I'm here to temporarily change the function of this blog. Until now I've been posting as a tour leader as I spent all summer attempting to ensure that other people had a good time in the United States. For the next three weeks if I have the opportunity to post I will be doing so. . . .(gasp). . . on my own holiday.
Late tomorrow afternoon I will be traversing the wonderful world of BART with my Brothers and our Pops on our way to SFO and then to the beautiful country of Austria. . . oh, um, yeah. . . Australia. (Do you think they'd like it if I made that mistake whilst in their country?) That's right boys and girls, over three weeks of the world's most beautiful beaches, amazing views and dangerous insects for our vacationing pleasure. The rough itinerary involves Syndey (four nights), Port Douglas (near Cairns, nine nights) and the Island of Tasmania (nine nights).
The specifics are not important and not planned. . . as they should(nd't?) be. There'll be some bridge hiking in Sydney, some snorkeling above the Great Barrier Reef and some Tasmanian-Devil-Dodging in Tasmania (I missed the cut for that event by two Devils in the last Olympic trials).
Truly, I am unsure of whether I will be posting at all, given that the vacation will be short lived and only two of the four people attending will have laptops. I am also unsure of whether anyone will be monitoring this site since I've been back home for a few months now. (Allowances will always be made for the random soul who is continuously clicking the 'Next Blog' button at the top right of this page. . . a great way to kill time and look for people who be writesin good.)
In other news;
*I am currently unemployed. (That isn't completely true because I will be employed with the Shipyard for certain vessels but not full time. No worries cause I plan to return to my tour leading duties next May anyway.)
*My elbow will require surgery to remove a bone chip that is preventing full motion. (I will have this done as soon as Kaiser approves it when I return.)
*um. . . yeah.
In closing, I hope to expand this site (or create a new one) that will be a little more random and all-inclusive. In the future I'd like to post stories of my indignities following the model of my man BadNewsHughes
. . .or perhaps completely random bike-based rants like my man DC.
Don't think I won't be answering any emails while I'm in Austria. I will.
You're all beautiful people and someday I'd like to try on your underwear.
Whelp, here's the seventh and final group of my summer. This tour was really, really good for me as well as them. There's a lot of fun to be had across the northern states of this country. (Kinda like the southern states.) You may notice there's no picture of my 5th group. . . .that was my self-proclaimed 'bad' tour. That was when I lost my laptop and was a little despondent towards some of the group so I didn't take many pictures.
This was my sixth group. We did a Dixieland trip that rocked a virtual Casbah (it didn't rock a veritable Casbah cause it's hard to get to northern Africa by van). The DX is basically a party tour with a lot of cities on the agenda. We hit New Orleans before Katrina but didn't do nearly as much damage. The highlight might have been the beach blanket BBQ we had on the last night in Key Largo, FL. Not a bad place, those keys.
Third group on a two week whirlwind in the southwest again. By now I had a pretty good handle on things, and I certainly had a handle on the region and our destinations. This group got along really well (which is good but usually gets a little scary). If you look close you can catch the Hollywood sign through the haze in the background. Gotta love LA. . . . . . . . okay, you really don't.
Obviously, my second group. A little heavy on estrogen, especially when one of the guys left the tour early for 'family reasons.' (Personally I think the women drove him nuts.) It was a chaotic tour that culminated with a night in Flagstaff where we had a little BBQ at my old roommate's house, stayed out at the bars till 3am (even though they closed at 2am) and then all crashed back at my friend's house. He and his roommate didn't know what hit 'em.
This was my first group of the summer. We did a Western Wonder from LA to SF in one week. Stops included the Grand Canyon, Vegas and Yosemite. Pretty hard to run a bad trip with those destinations. 50 points and a pack of poodles to anyone who can tell me where the photo was taken.
Frozen Upper Yosemite Falls
Originally uploaded by A Ditlefsen.
It got cold.
Need I say more.
I must say that I enjoyed Yosemite much more ealier in the season. A bit chilly, yes, but fewer people (especially on the trails) and the waterfalls are just a scosh more active. My fortunes were bright all summer as I visited Yos' a total of six times. The final time was in August and the Upper Falls were barely a trickle. I like the strong frozen version better. . . kinda like my margaritas but not like my women. Though a woman did break my elbow when I tried to tickle her so I'll be shutting up now.
This picture was taken in Yosemite valley after hiking to the top of Upper Yosemite Falls. When we started the hike it was sunny and we didn't hit the snow line till six thousand feet. When we descended there was no snow line and we found ten inches on the valley floor. Inadequate gear, lungs and water repelent made it one of the best hikes of the 'summer.'
Well, I've gone and created another hiccup in the esophagus of my
life. Somehow I managed to fracture a bone in my right elbow on
Thursday night. . . all I was doing was tickling a girl. Now before
your minds reach the end of the gutter and drop into the drain I have
to make sure you know that it was nothing kinky and in fact was the
weakest way I've ever been injured. I thought I had just
hyperextended my elbow or maybe sprained it. But the next day my arm
kept getting bigger and bigger as I drove to Flagstaff. The next
morning I almost passed out from the pain so I checked myself into the
Flag medical center.
Of course, they can't actually find the fracture so I need to get more
film done later this week. I'm currently in a soft cast and a sling
while receiving some much needed help from some hydrocodone. Decent
stuff but I seem to be too large of a guy for these things to work
properly. Needless to say I won't be doing another tour for awhile
and this may end my season.
Cheers and beers.
HOLA COMPADRES. Como estas?
I'm in Lake Tahoe right now with my latest and greatest group. (you
know, the greatest group except for the three or four people who keep
crying for no reason and have the worst attitudes I've seen all
summer. cheers) We're heading to Yosemite for two nights starting
tomorrow (Wednesday the 24th) and then we'll be in San Francisco on
Friday the 26th. The plan as of right now is to sail the bay at
sunset (anyone can join us for that. . . $25, includes two free
drinks. .. just give me a call if you want to join us. . . starts at
6pm or so) then we'll be heading to Biscuits and Blues for dinner and
some music/drinking. I suppose we'll be there most of the night.
I'll make sure my phone is on so give me a call.
This trip has been pretty amazing. Met up with my WI brother in
Chicago for two nights and we got rained on (but had a good time) then
I met up with my homeless brother and his homeless wife in Yellowstone
a few days ago where it rained and hailed on us. . . . .sensing a
Unfortunately, I have to cut this short. Duty calls. . . . or at
least the taxi service I seem to be running is calling. I hope
everyone is kickin' ass and not even takin' names. Hasta.
. . . anyone checks this thing, here's my next trip.
Northern Trail. Three weeks across the northern part of the states,
leaves on the 10th of August. I'm in Key Largo right now. My
Dixieland ends tomorrow and then I have another lovely sprint up the
East Coast to New Jersey where I will spend one whole day in the
office and then sleep in NY one night before I start my trip on
My apologies to everyone for not updating this, writing emails, or
just generally being accessible.
However, at least this trip is going better than the last. The group
is really great with only two exceptions. Turns out that Belgians and
Swiss at crazy. . . at least according to my two person focus group.
Thank goodness for waffles and watches or I'd know the next place to
send our overextended troops. Just kidding (sorta).
So, thing are okay but I'm learning that when I'm doing a trip for the
first time I have absolutely NO time for anything else. This is the
first time I've checked my email in two weeks and I don't even get to
participate in all the activities in this situation because I need to
spend that time without my passengers learning the current city we're
in or the next place we're going. It wouldn't be so bad 'cept for the
time crunch with my next trip which I don't know either. . . until I
get to CA, I guess.
The next trip will take me through Niagara Falls, Chicago, The
Badlands, Yellowstone, Jackson Hole, Lake Tahoe, Yosemite, San
Francisco and then back to LA. Obviously there's a lot of little
stops in there but those are some of the highlights.
I'll be in San Francisco on a weekend this time. August. 26th and
27th if all goes well. I'll try to find time to send an email and let
everyone know where I'll be.
Hola Amigos y Amigas! Como estas?
I'm in Miami (actually Sunny Isles Beach or something like that).
Staying here one night before I leave on a two week trip tomorrow
called Dixieland. The rough outline is as follows:
New Orleans (2)
Panama Beach City (2, don't ask)
Key Largo (possibility of grabbing a night from Orlando)
end in Miami.
I'll finish the trip on the 6th of August and then I have to do the 19
hour sprint back up to New Jersey on the 7th and 8th. Then, as of
right now, I'm set to start a 3 week trip called the Northern Trail
(sort of a northern mirror of the Southern Sun I just finished). So,
I'm supposed to start that on the 10th which would put me back in San
Francisco around the 27th and 28th. I will definitely let everyone in
the Bay Area know exactly when I'm going to be there once I know for
sure that I am coming back.
I'll probably have only one or two trips after that Northern finished
up so my summer is basically over. I wish I hadn't had that month off
in the middle.
My last trip was the worst one I've done so far. You can imagine that
my laptop getting pinched didn't help things any, but the reality is
that I had a bad attitude for much of the trip. It was hot and my
passengers were annoying. This job offers no insight as to why people
refuse to use their brains while they are on holiday. The quote of
the summer is far is from this one English girl and it goes something
like this. . . . . . "Aaron, if I eat now will I be hungry later?"
I told her she'd only be hungry later if I didn't knock her out first.
Just kidding, but you now have an idea of what every day is like on
these trips. Every where you go people feel the need to ask after the
most simple and universal things. . . . "Aaron, is there a bathroom
in this bar/restaurant/gas station/rest stop/campground/etc. . ?"
No, they want you to pee exactly where you are.
Here's to intelligence and to all of us studying up before we travel
to another country. And here I thought that Americans were the dumb
ones when we went on vacation.
Well, now that I've wallowed in self pity for a few days I guess I can
find it in me to use a computer again. I'm in Austin, TX right now
and I have a precious few 'free' hours. My group is out and about
wandering the city streets, just the way I like it, but unfortunately
I have to leave in a minute to prepare for an interview I'm going to
give to a potential new Trek leader here in town. Great way to spend
my day off. The company does kick me a couple bucks for the process
This tour certainly started out as a bomb. Didn't really like the
group, out of the rhythm because I had so much time off, laptop stolen
and it's been hotter than a snake's ass in a wagon rut almost
everywhere we've been. However, the group has come together fairly
well and as long as they're happy then my job/life gets easier.
We were in Del Rio, TX the other night and crossed the border into
Mexico. I've got three under-agers from Australia in the group and it
was a good way to allow them to drink legally (though they have been
doing pretty well for themselves despite the legality of it so far).
Mexico is crazy. Picked up a one liter bottle of Kahlua for ten
bucks! Good times.
Right now we're staying in a pretty nice RV park outside of Austin.
Air conditioned cabins, pool, hot tub, individual bathrooms in the
bath house and of course, who could forget the free pancake breakfast.
We're staying in Austin again tonight and we'll be centerstage
(though in the audience) at a place called the Saxon Pub for a Bob
Schneider show. For those of you who know his music you can commence
being bitter and jealous right. . . . now!
Tomorrow we make a five-hundred mile haul to New Orleans for a couple
nights, weather permitting. Then to Tuscaloos, AL. . . . . . okay.
Then Ocoee, TN for a little class four river rafting. Then
Whyteville, VA. . . . . okay. Finally a couple of nights in DC before
I drop these poor travelling souls off in NY. I'll be heading to NJ
myself for a few days in the East Coast office before I possibly start
another trip in the south called a Dixieland. Never know, though.
I guess that wraps it up for me. All you really need to know is that
it's hot. Everywhere I'm going to be is damn hot. I hope this finds
you all happy and healthy. . . or at least alive and kicking.
Of course I haven't written a well crafted, time consuming entry for
this site. Of course I haven't utilized my brother's generosity with
a program that will allow me to post pictures here in addition to
text. Of course I'm bitching about what I HAVEN'T done instead of
celebrating what I have done.
I leave on my Southern Sun tomorrow. If you want a rough outline of
my schedule you can find it here.
I've only made a few changes to the tour. Spending two nights in
Austin, TX instead of San Antonio. Hopefully putting three nights in
New Orleans. . . that sort of thing. It might be a bit of a crazy
Second and third nights are in Vegas. There will be another tour
paralleling me for most of the trip so we will have 23 passengers
between us. In Vegas we've booked a 650 stretch limo truck for all 25
of us. Check it out on this poorly designed website.
Look for the Ford-650 Monster Truck Limo.
Should be interesting.
For the Fourth we're staying at a Cowboy Camp near Monument Valley.
There will be 4-6 trek groups there, fireworks are allowed, no quiet
hours and the camp has even hired a band to top off the event. Should
In Austin I'll be taking anyone over 21 who is interested to a Bob
Schneider show. He's one of my favorite artists at the moment and the
owner of the bar has reserved us a huge table front and center. We'll
be close enough to spit on the entertainment. . . though most likely
we'll just clap instead. Should be okay.
New Orleans. Let's just hope the group goes for the third night so I
can really get my jazz fix in. Shouldn't be too bad.
Washington D.C. will see us for two days. No big events planned here
but I'm not complaining. Should be hot and humid.
Along the way we have the option of bungee jumping, horse rides, quad
rides, swamp tour, river rafting, fight clubs, jazz clubs, water
slides and some other stuff. Fun stuff. One of those might be a lie.
Well this is my 'Friday' so I'm gonna get outta the office early. One
thing I'd like to say is that I'm a little depressed about the lack of
email in my inbox. Feels a little like people think I never read my
email. Hell, not only do I read it but I usually respond. How's that
As it turns out there was a good reason for me NOT to update this page
for a while. If I HAD updated it a few weeks ago (as I SHOULD have)
then I would have had to post about five other entries just to
retract, change, retract and change what my schedule is going to be
with Trek. Here's what has happened recently.
I finished my Westerner2 and then started a Western Wonder on the
thirtieth of May. The tour finished on June fifth BUT I managed to
injure my foot on the first day of that tour and I had to cancel my
next Western Wonder that was scheduled to leave the following day.
(The actual tour wasn't cancelled, of course, but another tour leader
took the trip for me.)
So, unbeknownst to many of you I have been at home for the past week
and a half! My apologies if you didn't receive a visit or a phone
call from me. My oldest brother was in town the first week and I
spent a lot of time trying to heal my foot. At that time I believed
that I would be returning to work this past week sometime and then
start a trip called the Pacific Crest on the eighteenth.
A few days into my healing process I was told that I would be
'sprinting' my van to the East Coast and running a tour called the
Best of the East. Needless to say I was intruiged with the
possibility of doing a copule of eastern tours. (I know nothing of
the East!) At the time I was all set to leave from the Bay Area and
just bolt out on I-80 across the country. They told me there was no
reason for me to return to LA-LA-Land if I didn't feel it was
So on Wednesday of this week I had myself prepared to leave for the
East Coast on Thursday. Sure enough, I got a call on Wednesday
telling me that as long as I was going out East I may as well come to
LA first and pick up a bunch of camping gear that is needed at the New
Jersey office. Great. I arrived in LA yesterday, after sitting on
the 405 for about two hours, and got into the office this morning.
This morning they were about thirty minutes from loading my van with
an insane amount of gear when things were brought to a halt. I
reported to the office of the man who handles all tour leaders who
aren't rookies and he revamped the schedule.
At this point I AM NOT going to the East Coast but rather am doing a
Southern Sun trip on the twenty-ninth. That trip will take me across
the southern part of the country and will finish up in New York on the
nineteenth of July.
Good times. This however, means that I will definitely have time to
update this bad boy. Of course, most of you are perceptive enough to
realize that I just had a week and a half at home when I could have
updated this thing but I think we already covered why I'm glad that I
Perhaps I'll wait to write more until my trip is changed again.
I'll try to explain the subject line later.
Remember how I promised to be more organized once I got my laptop
back? Yeah, me too. Though I am typing on the aforementioned
instrument at this very moment I must admit that I am no more
organized than a group of greased pigs on ice skates. However, I have
been online for more than an hour now which is a record for me since
starting this job. How is this hour possible, you ask? Let me start
by saying that the Grand Canyon is my new favorite place to stay for
more than one day.
Granted I'm not staying in a hotel and it's pretty darn hot here right
now, but all that aside I have discovered a wonderful bonus. I'm
coming to you via the internet at this moment courtesy of the IMAX
complex in Tusayan, which is the town right outside of the GC. The
wonderful people at IMAX have been kind enough to set up a driver's
lounge that comes fully equipped with coffee, donuts, two massaging
chairs, a TV, two computers with internet access and almost best of
all. . . . . wireless internet. Hell, I've been here most of the day!
The other reason that the GC is great is that I dropped my group off
at the rim and I just told them I'd be back at 3pm to pick them up. I
love my group but personal time is so very hard to come by in this job
that I will take every hour I can get. I guess at this point I can
also let you know that my tour is going relatively well. We have one
more night in the GC, then a night at Betty and Rusty's Cowboy Camp,
then two nights in San Diego before we end this thing on Saturday back
in El Segundo (where I DID NOT leave my wallet. . . TCQ anyone?).
Now, the subject of this email. I apologize to any children who may
be reading this inadvertenly. The acronym TO was first introduced to
me just a short time ago on my first Trek. A young lady from New
Zealand informed me that she regularly experienced something by the
name of TO. I asked her if she needed a Time Out, a work of Tubular
Oragami or perhaps just a Tuna Order. "No," she said. The T and the
O in TO stand for Travel Orgasm.
I was aghast, yet intrigued. She quickly informed me that it was not
sexual but more spiritual. After travelling different parts of the
world it seems that in some places she would experience a sort of
euphoria at certain spots along her journey. You know, a particularly
beautiful sunset over an inactive volcano, an unparalleled view of
Machu Pichu during a lightning storm, playing hop-scotch with the
lemurs of Madagascar, that sort of thing.
Point is, I recently had a TO while visiting Yosemite National Park.
Fabulous place, if you've never been, well worth the trouble with the
bears. In fact I was fortunate enough to see two bears in two days
when I was there just a few days ago. But my real TO experience came
when I was hiking the John Muir Trail up to Nevada Falls. I have been
to Yos a few times now but I've always been too far behind in my
paperwork to do a proper hike. This time I set out right after I
dropped my group off and I was rewarded with a 9-mile hike that gave
excellent views of two massive waterfalls (Vernal and Nevada falls).
At one point on the trail up (the ascent was about 1800') I came over
a ridge and got my first site of Nevada Falls. Surprisingly this was
not the moment.
The view proceeded to improve with each switch back or turn and at one
point I found myself standing on an insanely pretty spot with no other
person around and nothing but the roar of the waterfall around me.
I'm not much one for meditation but now I know why those monks are
trying to reach Nirvana. It must be something like that spot that I
stood upon. And that was that. I instantly remembered that moments
like those were the reason I had taken this job in the first place and
the world was good. Since then I've been wondering if my southwest
trips hold anything in store for me that will even come close but
after seeing a decent sunset at the rim of the GC last night I imagine
that I might not ever quite get that experience back in this part of
the country. All I really know is that I want to do some backpacking
in the Sierras again when I'm through with this season.
Unfortunately, I have to pick up my group pretty soon. Not that the
rim of the Grand Canyon is a terrible place to be stranded but I guess
it is pretty hot outside.
Love and Cheetos.
Here's the latest.
My first two tours were a success. My reviews came in with only a
couple of passengers giving my anything below a 9 out of 10. (I'm
gonna blame the language barrier.) But the fun doesn't stop there.
I've been stuck in the office all week but that has given me time to plan
my next THREE trips. That's right, they love me so much that I won't
have a single day in the office to do paperwork or plan my next trip
for a whole month. Here the breakdown.
Sunday the 15th: Leave for a two week trek called the Westerner 2
Saturday the 28th: Return from W2
Sunday: 'Day Off' (notice the quotation marks)
Monday the 30th: Leave for back to back Western Wonder tours. . . .again.
Sunday the 12th: Back to LA.
The Westerner 2 is a fun trip that is essentially exactly the same as
the Western Wonder only longer. That means, for those of you
counting, that at the end of my next three trips I will have spent the
following number of nights in each of the following places since I
started with the company on March 24th.
Twelve nights in Yosemite NP.
Twelve nights in Las Vegas N.C.D.*
Seven nights in Grand Canyon NP.
Five nights in San Francisco
*'N.C.D.: National Center for Debauchery
Not a bad racket, really. I guess I can't complain. I do hope to get
a tour with a little more variety in it next time but at least these
treks will just get easier and easier.
In general the trips have been great. Good people, good times, decent
weather. I've got a few pictures and hope to start taking more with
each group. At the end of the trips everyone exchanges email
addresses and sometimes phone numbers and at this point I have people
who would like me to stay with them in the following countries:
England, Wales, Scotland, Denmark, Germany, Netherlands (bit of a
stretch though), Australia and New Zealand (though in NZ I'm supposed
to call this girl's parents and stay with them because she's living in
England for another couple of years. Tough.)
I've also met quite a few tour leaders who for the most part are all
very cool. Some of them are cool in their own way mind you, but who
am I to judge?
Back to the trips. Both groups were good, but the first one was truly
a blast. Six guys and seven girls. No language problems, other than
funky accents, and everyone got along all the way through the trip. I
know, I know. The trip was only a week long but you probably wouldn't
be surprised to see how fast people turn on each other when they start
having problems and then they get stuck in a van all day. The second
trip was good too but that mix was ten females and only two males. . .
and then one of the guys left the trip early for family matters. I
was swimming in a sea of estrogen. I had to keep the AC in the van on
high at all times just to keep my olfactory senses from drowning.
Of course, the only drama that occurred on either trip was caused by
me. (Right now, minds outta the gutter.) I decided that since I knew
Northern Arizona so well I would just take my group on a little
diversionary trip and stop in Sedona and stay the night in Flagstaff.
Well, Sedona went very well. In fact some passengers enjoyed Sedona
more than the Grand Canyon! Then we headed up to Flag to have a
little BBQ at my old roommate's house. (By the way, much love to my
old roommate and other good buddy who let us stay at their house.
That's right, ten females fresh off the road shacking up at some guy's
house in Flagstaff. I doubt that'll make it into the brochure. The
two gentlemen behaved famously, were fabulous hosts and earned rave
reviews from my passengers.)
Needless to say we took the ladies out on the town in Flagstaff and
ended up crawling into bed around 3:30am. Somehow we all managed to
get up and going by about 8:30 the next morning and we managed to make
it out of town by 9am. I was shocked, personally. Then it was a
simple matter of driving 8+ hours the next day while everyone slept in
the van. I'm not sure that I'll be making that diversion again
My amazing cousin-in-law and his good buddy managed to fix my
Powerbook a few days ago so I should have a computer again pretty
soon. I can't promise that I'll be able to post more often but
hopefully they will at least be better crafted and not quite so
rambling because I can pre-compose some entries.
Here's to the wild west according to trek.
One down, next one starts tomorrow morning. The first Trek went
reasonably well and I'm hoping that I'll actually be able to write
about it sometime during this second Trek. Girls from New Zealand are
cute. Especially when you get to call them Kiwi's.
Roger that. I've just been informed that our landing gear is locked
are we are ready for take off. Remember, only one bag of peanuts per
passenger and anyone caught oggling the stewardess gets twenty lashes
with a wet noodle.
Right. Laptop. Yup, laptop.
I also had this backpack, and this particular backpack would occassionally liberate itself from my grasp as I attempted to swing it onto my shoulder.
And to complete the setup I also may have happened to possess a tremendous lapse in judgement when it came to protecting my new source of electronic joy. (All readers with a dirty mind may now exit the blog before they pervert my message of electronic joy into something that it most likely is not.)
So, the laptop was simply wrapped in a soft cloth bag and resting between two binders in my backpack. . . it didn't expect a thing. I'm in the lobby of the Hacienda (my home away from home away from the road between treks) and it's the first day of our training trip for the new job. We get a little spiel about out trip and then comes my mistake. I was in a good mood, looking forward to meeting new people and learning new things (even if that sounds like something out of an after school special) and I sorta swung my backpack up onto my shoulder. Only the backpack didn't make it to my shoulder. Round about the time that the backpack reached the apex of it's arc during it's journey to my shoulder the bottom strap slid quickly and cleanly through the clasp that is attached to the padded shoulder strap.
Quickly and cleanly the strap also made it's way across my palm and deftly avoided my grasping fingers. My backpack and my laptop proceeded to plunge almost six feet to the floor which is simply concrete covered with a thin rug. Good times.
My wallet leapt into my throat and attempted to throttle my brain.
Initially my brain did it's best to cooperate with the strangulation attempt seeing as how the original 'tremendous lapse of judgement' had been brought forth by that very object. Thankfully my medulla oblongata noticed that I was falling over and as it helped me right myself it managed to communicate with a few other parts of my brain and finally the grey matter performed as it should and kicked my wallet back down into my pants.
The wallet, of course, had no right to be angry since it's only function should be to be as full or as empty as the brain commands it to be. Stupid wallet.
I didn't even have the will power to look at the damage.
(ed note: Somehow this wonderful website design just deleted the second half of this entry before I could post it. Since I'm running late in my plans to plan for my first trip I will attempt to pick it up later. . .or maybe I'll just wrap it up now.)
The story will now become anti-climactic. I took my laptop to the Apple store in SF two weeks later. They wanted over a thousand dollars to fix it. "No, thank you," I said. My cousin and his friend were going to fix it but there would have been wine involved and no guarantees. Instead my cousin found a small, but solid, shop to take it to. The guy will only charge me sixty-five bucks initially and then we'll see what needs to be replaced.
Here's to technology. . . and dropping it on concrete floors.
I haven't read the previous posts and I think I will just let any ensuing confusion and contradiction stand.
Yesterday was a bit rough here in the office. It was the third day in a row of creating work for ourselves and while there are a lot of things to be re-organized and cleaned up from the winter lull I can't say that any of it was particularly enjoyable (especially at our current rate of pay). Thankfully the winds of change blew in with the afternoon sun and I was given some more info about my first possible trip. We are still doing a sprint to Denver from Sunday to Wednesday and then I will have two days to finish preparing for two trips that I'm leading back to back starting on the 25th of April.
The trips I will likely be doing are called the Western Wonder. It is the same trip and I just run it in reverse for the second group. It should go something like this.
25th - LA to the Colorado R. Probably stay at the southern tip of Lake Havasu.
26th - Grand Canyon ('nuf said)
27-28th - Las Vegas. A stretch limo tour the first night, and the second day is a free day for the group so I might get some personal time.
29-30th - Yosemite. Another tough draw (yeah, right). Once again I will sort of have a day 'off' on the full day there because I'm not required to hike with my passengers. However, I plan to hike as much as possible so. . .
May 1st - We drive to San Francisco and the trip ends at 5pm. I then proceed to finalize my accounts for the first trip and more importantly get the van and equipment ready for the second trip.
The second Western Wonder trip will begin on the 2nd and follow the exact same route in reverse. It will be amazing to have that much hiking time in Yosemite in the span of a week. I was going to say that staying in Vegas for free that much will be a great but I think I'll probably get tired of it pretty quick. Guess I better take up gambling.
Lunch is over and I was just issued all of my equipment. No van yet but I have to thoroughly check all of my equipment before I leave so I guess I'll go set up 8 tents.
I think I'll write an entry on how I broke the living bugeezus out of my new $1300 laptop next. Good times.
Anyway, I'm in SF for the night. We leave early tomorrow morning for Yosemite for two days and then we head back down to LA. If all goes well I will take the driving test for my CDL and then be ready to start my own tours whenever they have a group for me.
So far I've done a few things. . . . . . .
-Thursday 3/24, stayed at a nice campground at Lake Havasu, AZ.
-Next night was at a cowboy camp near Phoenix. Decent horseride, good steak.
-Thru Flagstaff and then to the Grand Canyon for a night. Cold as a witches tit in a winter Minnesotan lake.
-On up to Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell. Well I'll be dam-ed, it was cold again. We stayed at a place called Easton's in Paria Canyon, UT. Nice place. Had a bunkhouse, good facilities, a bar with pool and foosball, horserides, four-wheeler rental, climbing wall, etc, etc, It will be fun to bring my passengers there.
-Thru Monument Valley (which is beautiful but fairly boring). Stayed at yet another cowboy camp named Slim and Cody's. Interesting place right on the river. We had an amazing horse ride through beautiful red rock desert landscape, learned to rope, made Navajo tacos over an open fire and slept in a hogan made of wood and dirt. Comfy.
-Made out way up to Moab, UT for two days of vehicular adventures. The first night we did a red rock hummer tour with all nine of us. Second day we were supposed to float down the river but the sheer force of the wind precluded out trip and we ended up just driving Tomcars for the day. We also squeezed in a couple of amazing hikes in Arches National Park. We hiked Delicate Arch, Negra Bill Canyon and another arch that I can't remember at the moment.
-On to Bryce National Park which was cold at night but gave us the pleasure of hiking in the snow during the day while basking in 75 degree sunshine.
-Then two days in Zion. Finally some truly warm weather and some amazing views on our hike to Angel's Landing.
-Vegas. . . 'nuf said.
-Back through LA to drop off one of our trainers and then we stayed at Buelton and Marina, CA on our way up the coast.
-A single night in San Francisco which showed me a few bars in the tenderloin that I hadn't seen before.
-Two nights in Yosemite. Rain the first night and snow the second. I'll save the details for later.
Right now I'm back in LA at the office for a few weeks. I'm about to start 'work' for the day so I'll cut this short for now and since this has been written over three sessions and two weeks I apologize if it doesn't make any sense. I'll re-read it later and make some amendments.
I hope this finds eveyone doing incredibly well.
I am writing this on a laptop in Zion National Park, UT, using a
cellphone to connect to the internet. Forgive the typos and possible
lack of detailed info. I am in the middle of my training trip for
Trek and we've been hiking everyday for quite a while now. The days
are long but obviously enjoyable.
A brief recap of my life the last week+.
-LA to Lake Havasu (beautiful campground).
-Hav. to a cowboy camp outside Phoenix (good horseride).
-Thru Flagstaff to Grand Canyon (froze certain unmentionable body parts off).
-GC to Lake Powell, or the Glen Canyon Dam (stayed at a multi-function
campground-slash-activity center. . . good action).
-Powell to Monument Valley (another cowboy camp, even better
horseride, learned to rope, slept in a Hogan, etc.)
-MV to Moab, Utah (sweeeeeeeet. Humvee tour on the redrocks one night
then driving Tomcars through the rocks ourselves the next day with the
same guide,. . . still colder than a witch's tit in a winter
-Moab to Bryce N.P. (awesome rock formations, still cold, shoulda
packed the long johns).
-Currently. . . hiked Bryce this morning and Zion this afternoon. Not
a bad days work. Will be staying in Zion for tonight and tomorrow
Vegas, LA, CA coast, SF, Yosemite and back to LA for the conclusion.
The training is almost like a paid vacation. Not that I'm getting
paid that much but almost everything is paid for. (We did put in $50
a week for food.) All the horserides and other motorized activities
have been fully funded and we've gotten free meals almost everywhere
we go. All the adventure companies take care of us with the hopes
that we will bring big business their way (part of my job is to sort
of sell the activities. . . I get a commission as well).
I'm travelling with 8 other people. Two guys are the trainers and
there are seven of us trainees. Four dudes and three chicas.
Everyone is predictably capable and fun to be around. . . all type-A
personalities who are looking to work hard.
I had a million other things to share but it's 10:30 and we're
starting off tomorrow with a 5-hour hike followed by training on
paperwork for the accounting we have to do during our treks. I hope
everyone who reads this is doing well. It's starting to hit me that
I'm not going back to work for the shipyard anytime soon. For the
first week I think that I was fully expecting this working 'vacation'
to end the next weekend and then I'd be right back to the grind.
Well, I don't mind writing that I definitely made the right decision
on this one and this summer will be incredibly interesting. Don't be
afraid to give a phone call, especially in the evenings and on the
weekends. Obviously I won't always answer but I check my messages
every couple of days and have found some time to call people.
Don't know what else to say. Cheers.
No, no. I don't have any good advice for You. What the hell can You
learn from some punk-26-year-old kid who just quit his full-time,
decent-paying job to drag some foreigners all over the country. . . .
Oh yeah, possibly a lot.
No, my eldest bro told me I should post whilst I happen to be online
right now. That was the good advice.
I should be in bed, preparing for my big day of packing and minor
surgeries tomorrow, but then I never was known for a lack of
procrastination, so why disappoint?
(A technology update for my man SG at SFD. . . I was just instant
messaging with my brother who is down south. 'I.M.' is a great tool
that allows you to type messages back and forth fairly quickly with
your relatives wherever they are in the country. (ed. note: 'I.M' is
usually done from one 'computer' with internet access to another
'computer' with internet access) Seeing as how your boy will be in
college pretty soon maybe you should pick up some typing lessons and
once you get off the ol' hunt'n'peck process you will be able to
converse with your boy all the time without that akward point where he
asks you for more money over the phone and you act like you didn't
hear him. The beauty of the internt, Larry, is that you can always
act like your internet connection failed on you. Completely
respectable excuse in the 'modern' world.)
I guess my update didn't really update anything. . . though it may
have elevated my mood. I'm seriously considering paying for an
internet connection through my cell phone so that I can update this
SOB all the time. . . rather than once a week or less. That way I can
type to my heart's content and nobody will ever be able to say that I
didn't tell them what I was up too.
T-minus 15.5 hours to go and I haven't actually packed. Nevermind
that it feels like I'm packing for an eternity. I suppose my rational
is that anything I leave behind in the chaos wasn't meant to go along
(or hopefully I have the money to buy it on the road). That being
said I feel that I've got a pretty fine arsenal of crap to take with
me. I've avoided new clothes due to my Fat Bastard like belly but
I've got some mighty fine new bags and camping gear to boast about.
Besides, I can't always fall back on superior electronic firepower.
That'll keep me warm in the middle of the desert at 3am. . . won't it?
Watched a documentary on a group of soldiers in Iraq tonight. I don't
want to get too political on this site (most of you know where I
stand) but I'd like to wish the best to the children of Charlie and
Jim at SFD. . . and anyone/everyone else that I either know and didn't
mention or don't know but would enjoy the pleasure of meeting. My
utmost respect to the girls and boys stuck out in the sand.
Get the Hell
Out of Here
I've heard of the writing being on the wall but this is ridiculous.
I'd like to thank that particular supervisor and wish him the best with his ADD.
The irony in the message is that many people at the yard have been pressuring me to leave for some time now. They usually site the fact that if they were in my situation (i.e. my age, education, etc.) there's no way in hades that they'd stick around a shipyard. Personally, I had a virtual plethora of good times over the past two years. However, the last straw was realizing that even though my tenure was short lived I actually look about 5 years older. Aging at that exponential rate I'd look 40 when I actually turn 30.
All that being said I technically haven't quit SFD. I'm taking a four month leave of absence which will be extended for another two to four months when it expires.
'Nuf about that. I'm flying to LA on Tuesday night. Gotta get crackin'. At some point I may have to pack some bags or something. But I guess it's only six months. Heh.
For those who haven't heard I will be starting Trek on March 24th. I fly down to LA for training on the 23rd and there are a myriad of tasks for me to complete before I make that trip. New cell phone, health insurance, store truck, clip toenails, attain my commercial drivers license, etc. etc. I will leave for a seventeen day training trip on the 24th and then I will either start in as a leader or go on a secondary trek where I am the assisting leader (or somethin' like that). No matter how you look at it next weekend will be my last stationary weekend in the BA for a while.
So I'm sittin' here watching Dennis Leary on Comedy Central. I've got a cold Red Stripe to my left, a brand new ipod (still in the box) to my right and I'm typing this on my new Apple Powerbook. I'm thinking of getting the Apple logo tattoed on my forehead. . . backwards, of course. That way when I'm looking in the mirror or running after a car like some human ambulance the logo will come out correctly. I'll be logging off pretty quick here to open that second item up and have some adult fun (though not the kind of adult fun that requires an adult bookstore).
I would apologize for the length of time since my last log but in my mind the people who I want reading this will be sympathetic to my situation and rather than ridicule me will instead treat me as their favorite televangelist and show me some charity in the next week and a half. Should the word Angel be allowed to exist within the word televangelist?
At the risk of putting a huge jinx on the whole thing I will elaborate. Sometime in March or April I should be joining a little organization called Trek America as a tour guide. Let me first assure you that I won't be at Universal Studios with a blonde wig and mini-skirt warning my tour group to watch out for the big shark on the right. . . .although I did initially look at heading that direction. But it was not to be (they said something about my fat ankles and I stormed out). The real deal is that Trek does tours across the United States, Latin America and Australia. You can find out more at www.trekamerica.com.
In my wildest dreams I will be posting regular updates and pictures because this job will last at least six months and it's not guaranteed that I will be making my way through San Francisco at any point. On the flip side of that, there is just as much of a possibility that I will be coming through SF on a regular basis. If that happens I will most certainly 'make plays' (as the kids say)to try to see certain family members. Which family members I see will be decided on a sliding scale depending upon the quality, or sheer outlandishness, of the dinner that will be served that evening. Sign up early, the good nights may go fast.
(ed. note: It's a good thing my ego never gets tired cause I certainly do give it a workout.)
Some of you know that I did fairly well last year; decent job, new car, renting a room in a huge house (no matter how much of it was under construction we always had somewhere to go), etc. etc. So why am I embarking upon this new, very low paying, adventure? I'm glad you asked that. I'll give you my answer in a thirty-six part essay starting now. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . or maybe not. Stability is great, but the reality is that my life is incredibly susceptible to instability. Meaning, I have no woman, no house and no dog. In addition, I also have a great base of family willing to support almost any decision I make and really I just want to get the hell out of Dodge for a little while before I return and possibly 'settle' a little.
Trek America will provide me the opportunity to visit and learn about cities and national parks I haven't been to in this country. It will introduce me to an enormous new base of friends from all over the world. It may also satisfy some of my wanderlust, which is not to be confused with any other type of lust. In general, there was no way I could pass up the opportunity to become a Trek leader for a summer.
I hope everyone reading this is healthy, happy and aware of the great opportunities that are afforded to us in this oft contentious land.
(a la Little Bunny Foo Foo who was known to pick up field mice and bop them upon the head.)
2. a member of the Ditlefsen clan.
diffle (dif-full) noun 1. a rare type of North America snipe. (usually found in dense brush)
2. a moniker for close-minded people.