A Travellerspoint blog

The rest of the west

Return of the cargo van, final instalment of the road trip trilogy

snow
View the big trip on jamienrach's travel map.

Thank god, lets get out of the cities back onto the road and see some of that grand scenery that is littered across the country. And there really is some stunning things to see around the states, it’s probably the most beautiful country in the world. There’s just so much flat nothing and boring straight roads in between that you forget about it. So when you get to those few and far between places of great beauty you really appreciate it. Our next stop was definitely one of those places.

Four hours up from Las Vegas and into Utah is Zion National park, home to another one of the great canyons that scar the landscape of this past of the Southwest. But there were some pretty stark differences between this place and the grand canyon. Firstly when you look out on the grand canyon you’re looking down on vista from the flat mesa up top but in Zion you’re down on the canyon floor looking up at the crags.

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Just like at the Grand Canyon we camped out in the van for 2 nights setting up on the first day, going for a massive hike up into the canyon on the second day and then pack up on the last.

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The hikes that we did on the second day were right up there with the hikes we have done in the GC, Scotland, home in NZ and really giving our Alpine hike in Switzerland a run for it’s money. We did a quick 1 hour turnaround to some waterfalls just out from the park lodge, another thing which gives Zion a different look that the grand canyon... this place is wet. Then went to another trail head down the road and chose the Hidden Canyon trail over the Angel Landing trail as it sounded more mysterious.

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It was about 1hour walk up the side of the main canyon until we got to the entrance to the ‘hidden canyon’ which you can then walk along the bottom of, and when I say walk I mean scramble.

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The actual trail was about 3m under this ice drift which lead straight onto a 100m drop, slipping was not an option

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The hidden canyon finished quite soon after this as I forgot to bring my ice climbing gear for the frozen waterfall climb which was around the bend.

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150m drop directly behind Rach

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On the way back to the campsite we saw 3-4 large eared deer foals so cutie cutie

The next day was a full on driving day heading from Zion in Utah to Holbrook one of the old route 66 town in Arizona. No Wal-Mart’s here so we had to deal with in a trailer park and the folk who occupy said trailer park were true redneck trailer trash. But there was wifi, say what you want about trailer trash they know there tech.

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I made the mistake of sleeping in the van on the road, quick draw Rach was able to take a few snaps.

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Route 66 marker

The reason for stopping in Holbrook was the proximity to the Petrified Forest, hundreds of petrified trees scattered across the Arizonan desert. It was ok, but nothing much to rave about.

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From the Petrified Forest in Arizona we were planning on going to Gallup in New Mexico for some Mountain Biking, we got there at about lunch time and for reasons I now can’t remember we decided to carry on up to Durango in Colorado for some snow action.

One of the things I’ve noticed in the Southwest is subtle differences in the landscape between states. Texas was a big flat burnt grassland, New Mexico has huge tumble weeds blowing over flowing hills and rocks, Arizona is dominated by the Mesas and canyons of the north, Nevada in a super flat dust bowl and Utah was all weird red rock formations. The other thing was that you seemed to start noticing these changes as soon as you cross over state lines, this was most true for New Mexico into Colorado.

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Chill-balls

Literally 2 miles past the state line and the flowing hills and rocks of New Mexico changed into forested mountains covered in deep powder snow. We stayed one night in Durango township at a standard roadside motel. Durango’s a small place but it’s got about 4 different microbreweries of which we planned to vist all but ended up liking the first too much so stayed there.
We’d heard of a deal where you stay 2 nights at one of the ski lodges up the mountain and get an extra one free plus 3 days of skiing. So in the morning we wrangled that deal, brushed a ½ metre of snow off the top of the van and rented some gear before heading up the mountain.
Stupidly we’d booked the cheapest room possible which happened to be half a mile up the private hotel road and then when they asked us if the van had 4 wheel drive we said yip in another fit of stupidity. It took us 5 attempts to get up the road and the park we chose wasn’t exactly the best choice, facing downhill the only way out being in reverse. The room on the other hand was an great choice, LCD TV’s, big cushy bed (anything cushy after the van mattress) and full kitchen.
So we got up the next morning ready for our first day-o-ski-fun and found our van fully snowed in, a full meter of powder and all iced up under the wheels. We ended up having to call the reception and get them to send up someone so we didn’t miss the shuttle up the mountain.
When we made it back after a full day of snow fun times, reception told us to pack up our things as they were upgrading us to a lodge room, a sneaky ploy so they didn’t have to send someone up to get us each morning. Which is fine by me because the lodge has the best access to the spa and bars and we were told the rooms were way better, score!

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View out of the lodge room, icy.

Ok it wasn’t as easy as just packing up our stuff and driving down to the lodge. If you recall there was a full meter of snow around the van and thick ice under the wheels. So as Rach packed up I began to dig out the van with a plastic container lid, I did eventually get a shovel from some amused on-lookers. And of course after a full day of constant falls off my snowboard and an hour of digging ice I was quite disheartened when all we managed to do was get more stuck than before. Eventually we got a guy from reception to drive up and tow us onto the cleared road which is what we should have just done from the beginning.

But onto the skiing, Duragno Ski resort is way better than any of the ski fields back home. There was at least 8 lifts and 80 runs to choose from and the powder was so powdery that you could basically just point forward and go, but don’t fall off cause if you end up under a metre or 2 of powder is pretty hard to dig yourself out and start again.

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On the first day we rocked up all ready for some fun times, went right to the counter to pick up our 3 day passes and got a small form to fill out before we got them. Both Rach and I got to the end of the form at the same time and had to ask the date, ‘10th of Feb’ the guy behind the counter replied. We just had to look at each other with a wry grin and silently say happy anniversary as in the excitement of getting up the mountain we’d both forgotten.

It was pretty cold and snowing, which is apparently just how the locals like it but they also seem to be oblivious to the sore red patches of skin on their faces. After a morning on the beginners slopes it was pretty obvious that Rach was a better skier than I was a snowboarder but it was time to progress to the main slopes. This was where the fact that the locals like it when it’s snowing made sense as even on the groomed trails you’d still have about half a foot of powder down and off the trail you can push through a metre of powder. Which was great for me as falling became as pleasant as falling onto a marshmallow.

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The next day was bright a sunny if not a few degrees into the negatives and all the main slope trails were groomed, this was not so good for me as it was like boarding on glass and falling on concrete compared to the day before. I spent the day in frustrating pain wondering where all my skill from the previous day had gone to.

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After a soak in the spa and a good nights rest we headed back up the mountain for our last day skiing. Rach went out the back with some cool oldies we’d met from Canada, I think she was a bit passed being amused at my falling antics and I forced myself to relearn on the beginners slopes. This Canadian couple was crazy, they must have been into there 70’s and they were killing the black runs and he was practising on the moguls so that his 10 year old grandson didn’t show him up. By lunch I was back on the main slopes feigning competency and Rach had made it back with the Canadians.

The last afternoon was easily the best, the weather was sunny and was even warming up a bit, Rach was happy about learning a trick or to off her Canadian friends and I was even hitting a few intermediate runs.

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After 3 days of solid skiing and almost 3 weeks on the road we were getting pretty tired so the first morning after finishing up at the ski resort we decided to make a bee line right back to Texas. One thing we remember about that part of Northern New Mexico was the tumble weed, the wind had picked up something chronic and then tumble weeds it was blowing were massive. Because you could see for miles in any direction I’d pick put a 6ft weed rolling across the plains from a mile away and time it so I’d hit it as it went over the road. All seeds and stick flying everywhere... it gets boring on the road.

There was going to be some more stops in New Mexico like Santa Fe and Taos but we just blew right past them and kept on I40 until it got dark. There’s no Wal-Mart’s in the middle of nowhere interstate-land so we pulled up into a rest stop with a bunch of 18 wheelers and bunked in the van for one final night.
Alright then only 8 hours of straight road between us and a well deserved rest and only one last thing even remotely worth going to see. Cadillac Ranch is a barren dust bowl just west of Amarillo, Tx where some guy decided to plant 10 Cadillac’s in the ground. It’s about 50m off the interstate and you can just walk in and graffiti them or as we had no paint just jump around a bit.

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4 ½ hours after Cadillac ranch and one last fight with the voice in the GPS on the best way back into DFW and we’d made it back to Andrew and Sarah’s. Ready to do it all again, pack up and California here we come.

Posted by jamienrach 17:07 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Vegas Baby,

The hotels strike back, part 2 of the road trip trilogy

sunny 18 °C
View the big trip on jamienrach's travel map.

So imagine it’s 5 in the morning and you’re in a Wal-mart Carpark sleeping in the back of a van and your wife is twisting and turning. She eventually get’s up and says, ‘that’s it I can’t sleep anymore, we’re going to Las Vegas”. You continue to doze while the engine turns over and the van jumps forward and you roll around on the mattress in the back still half asleep as she drives you out of the carpark and onto the interstate which smooth rolling gets you back to sleep.

Around 7 I woke up again when we were about ½ an hour from the Arizona Nevada border, Rach had stopped the van and was taking a picture. When you actually get to the border you’re not just crossing into another state your going over the Hoover Dam as well.

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Hoover Dam

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New bypass bridge, when it’s finished you wont be able to drive over the dam.

Also you may remember that Rach had started driving at about 5 in the morning which meant we got to the border at about 7:30, but there is one more thing you cross over when going into Nevada, a time line. So 7:30 became 6:30 way way to early, what happened to sleeping in on holidays.
It took another hour and a bit to get into Las Vegas and our hotel, the Stratosphere (Looks like the Auckland Sky city tower but made out of playdough, a recurring theme in Las Vegas). We were way to early for check in but luckily our room was ready and we had a bit of a nap until lunch time to get rid of the superbowl party the night before.

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View of the Strip from the top of our hotel

I’m not exactly too sure what we were expecting of Vegas, maybe bright lights and superclassy everything with hot looking people all around and free offers everywhere. But unless you’re constantly on the tables spending up then they don’t really want to know you.

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F650, Someone’s ‘day car’ parked in the too big for normal parking building carpark

We spent our three days wandering up and down the strip, popping into all of the casino hotels and generally soaking it up. By day everything looks so drab and old and even the brand new sparkling buildings just seem out of place. But at night when all the lights go on it starts to make a bit of sense as to why people come here

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Fountain show outside the Bellagio.....nice

One thing we noticed was that for every themed hotel, Venice, Rome, Paris, New York, Egypt and more we’d actually been to the real thing. So when you’d see other touristy types staring at the buildings going wow, well we just weren’t that impressed with it. Don’t get me wrong it’s pretty in a flashing bright lights, everything all in the same place way, but the polystyrene nature of it all is a bit tacky.

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Tower in San Marco Square, Venice...bin there

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Eiffel tower...bin there

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Pyramids...bin there

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European Castle...bin there

One thing we were keen on doing was going to see a show of some kind, Circ de sole had 4 different shows playing while we were there so we just went to the one at the MGM grand that had the most amount of live fireballs (easily the best thing we did on the strip).

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Lion statue outside the MGM grand, and New York skyline (bin there) hotel in the background

Our hotel, the stratosphere, was not exactly the flashest hotel on the strip. It’s better than the back of our van but was nowhere as slick as some of the other places we could have splashed out on. And the size of these places, they’re massive. With football field size gaming lounges as you enter and just the weirdest standing attractions on the inside, flamingos in the Flamingo, lions in the MGM grand, a canal running through the Venetian, Half hourly circus acts at Cricus Circus, A weird zen garden by the reception at the Bellagio and Rollercoaster rides on the top of our hotel and through the NYC skyline hotel.

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Glass flowers in the Bellagio

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The sad looking flamingos at the Flamingo

If you haven’t already guessed we weren’t big fans of the things on offer in Las Vegas, the fake polystyrene nature of the strip just put us off and we just couldn’t get ourselves into the gambling scene. We tried, even went to a craps lesson but the games and the odds just don’t make any sense, and the cheapest bye-in for a poker game I could find was $250 (do you know how many nights of ‘accommodation’ we could get a Wal-Mart for that). After three days and two nights on the strip we gave up trying to fit in and found another drive-in movie theatre instead.

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Rachel just not able to give up her money to the slot machine monster

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We ended up spending more money in the kids area on air hockey and dancing games.

So Las Vegas, we were so super excited about going there but it kinda bombed for us. If you’re on a budget that requires you to sleep in a van outside supermarkets every other night then maybe it wont be too great for you either.

Posted by jamienrach 16:16 Archived in USA Comments (0)

The way to Vegas,

a new hope (for low milage), part one of the road trip trilogy

sunny 0 °C
View the big trip on jamienrach's travel map.

So if you’ve read the previous post then you’ll know we’ve hired a cargo van and stocked it with some food, a mattress, our clothes and plan to go to Vegas and back.

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Home sweet van

Now if someone had asked me before we set out if I knew how far you could get on one tank of gas heading west from Fort Worth I would have had no idea...well now we know. We’d gotten of the interstates just before getting into New Mexico and were taking some back roads trying to cut some time getting to Carlsbad. Rach had noticed that we were getting a bit low on gas so we planned to stop in the next town. Of course this is America so the next town was way too far away (40 miles) and as the engine cut out we rolled up a crest and onto a nicely placed gravel patch.
It was a pretty deserted road but our only chance was to flag down the next car, when I say we I mean Rach (who’s not gonna stop for a damsel in distress). I jumped in the car with the 2 local oldies who just happened to be going in the right direction.

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Where I left my wife

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Locked in the van with some pepper spray

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At least she had a nice sunset

Half way to the town the guy stopped at a middle of nowhere bar which the old guy knew to be an old petrol station. We both ambled in to an A-typical biker bar, leather and denim clad long grey bearded guys in a dingy room with motorcycle emblems spread all over the walls. So I put on my best Kiwi accent and yelled out “Hey mates, I don’t sapose ya know where I can get some petrol?” to which the bartender replied in a slow drawl “What’s petrol boy” (we must be well into the states, it’s all gas round here). We eventually got some directions to a mine a few miles along that might be able to help.
The mine entrance (a shack in front of a gate with a few trucks outside) was manned by a missing tooth stained singlet wearing guy (more reminders of where we are) who was really nice. He sent a boy out to a machine to drain us some gas and got one of his drivers who was heading back our way to wait so he could take me back to Rach. ‘Jed’ another missing tooth stained singlet wearing guy took me back the 20 miles in his fast food strewn 18 wheeler, although the conversation went a bit dead after he asked me what type of death metal I liked, who knew there were types?
So back on the road and we did get to Carlsbad for our first stay at what turned out to be one of the ‘major sponsors’ of the road trip, Walmart (number 1). No, Walmart has not introduced accommodation to their wide and wonderful range of products and services but they do have lovely car parks that have 24 hour security and happen to have toilets inside for when nature calls.
The reason for coming to Carlsbad is the close proximity to a cave network conveniently called Carlsbad Caverns. We weren’t there at peak season when 300,000 bats come out of the cave mouth at night but we did go down into the caves to have a nosey.

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Descent into the caves

Our next stop was to be Roswell so we found a state park with camping 20 miles out of town and headed straight there, what followed was to be known as the freezer night. Apparently an ‘ice storm’ was blowing from the east and the previous night had gone through Texas and frozen our cousin pool. So that night after our camp dinner (nachos) we hunkered down in the van. And then the temperature dropped and as we snuggled to keep warm we were woken up by scratching under the van.

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7 lakes state park

Before sleepy time I had put the chilly bin outside under the van to give us some more room. It took us a few minuets to figure out that it was probably a animal under the van and not a serial killer and because we were way to cold I opened the side door (which was in reach) and gave it a slam, that’ll scare it off.
Well it didn’t and we woke up to a centimetre of ice inside the roof of the van and an open chilly bin, dragged from under the van with the lid open, cheese and meat eaten and the basil pesto nowhere to be found. What fussy upper class raccoon takes basil pesto.
A quick note on Roswell as it was the reason for us venturing this way, don’t bother. We were hoping for tack and lots of it. But instead of tackiness we expected at all the diners and shops there was just a lame ‘museum’ about the ‘abductions’ and that’s it, just a town.

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Roswell, not worth the time

So carrying on the journey east into Arizona and we made one more New Mexican stop at White Sands national monument where we jumped around a bit and the wind was whipping the sands up so much that well, just have a look at Rach’s ‘final solution’.

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Climbing back up

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The final solution to the sandy wind issue, also good camouflage

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Arizona, hells yeah

Another few hours on the road and a nights rest in a trailer park and we were in the great state of Arizona, and Sugouo national park. A really awesome place as we had no idea what was there...at all. So when we rocked up and it was a cactus forest we were prickled tink.

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owwwww

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We spent ages just walking the trials wowing at the plants and the weird shapes they take.

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Not sure what rach is doing?

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After this we ended up at a Tucson Wal-Mart (number 2), so happy I’m jumping for joy.

North of Tucson is a wee place called Pheonix, all 4 story motorways and 3 million people small. We had a mission of a time getting into the place and not a few arguments with the voice in the GPS as to which exit we were supposed to take. We went straight to Scottsdale one of the suburbs, walked around, saw some Native American performances which were on in a park and just laxed out for the day. That night we found a drive in movie theatre, backed our van up to the screen and opened the doors.

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Sweet setup.

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Our first movie finished (Grand Torino, grrrrr Clint Eastwood), and we were on our way out when we noticed that the next screening was on and there wasn’t really anyone around. So we snuck in to another movie....awesome.

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We found out later that the second screening is actually part of the payment, not so sneaky sneaky then. That had been such a big day that we decided to treat ourselves to a well deserved rest and so upgraded from a Wal-mart car park to a Safeway (number 3).

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Arizona was shaping up pretty well but there was a big gaping chasm in our itinerary that we hadn’t ventured to yet.....the big GC (grand canyon)

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Elk just chilling by the side of the road on the way into the national park

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We spent two nights in the GC national park, camping out in the van. And don’t be fooled by the photos, this was winter. And even though it’s Arizona, we are 7000 odd feet up and there were ice drifts around the van. Handy though as we were able to fill up old water bottles and keep the chilly bin cold, also the hot water bottle and extra sleeping bags were by then well in use.
There’s not a lot you can say about the GC that hasn’t already be said..... huge hole at the top of Arizona, river at the bottom and literally breathtaking. You basically have to go and see it for yourself.

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Pretty freaken beautiful but still so early and freezing

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On the precipice

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A great leap into the great canyon

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The king of vistas

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Hiking into the GC, chilly in the shade

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Passing the donkey trains

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Tired coming back up.

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Half demolished ice cream sundae for 1, although me and Rach struggled to finish it between 2 (diner on the way to kingman).

From the GC we kept on course to Las Vegas. When we got to Kingman, a nothing much to write home about Arizonan town we decided to stop for the night and find a bar that was playing the super bowl. Now we didn’t mean to be in Arizona for the super bowl it just turned out that way, serendipitous as the Cardinals (Arizonan football team) had made the final for like the first time in ever.
After asking at a supermarket where a good place to watch the game would be we headed on down to the bowling alley which happened to have a sports bar inside. It was about 15 minuets into the first half so we played a couple of game of bowling to pass a bit of time but this is American football so only 20 minuets of game time had actually gone on.
It was a pretty standard American sports bar.... cheap beer in jugs ($2.50 and when they stuff up the size and give you a large you get that for the same price, score), free half time food (sloppy joe’s and hotdogs), free t-shirts thrown out at random times for correct score guesses and a big old moth eaten lazy boy parked right in front of one of the big screens which was raffled off for the locals.
After the game Rach drove us (I had a bit of a tiddle on) the 300m to what was to be the last Wal-Mart (number 4) before Vegas.

Posted by jamienrach 15:31 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Teaxs T

The big state gets a big blog

sunny
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So Texas, I’ve been saying that I’d come here since 1997............hmmmm 12 years but better late than never. The big attraction here (not including the big state) is the family that live here. The Lisby’s, who have been holding down the fort (worth, hahaha) since forever and the whites, recent immigrants from NZ.

We had a jam packed first week staying with cousin Rach and her family Victor (hubby) and wee bubs Ava. They wanted to fit in every single thing Fort Worth had to offer in 15 minuets, which was fine by us. So we went to the old stock yards area and had all you can eat ribs, the water gardens (more of a water sculpture), played some Frisbee golf and a game of Whirly Ball (bumper cars mixed with la cross mixed with awesomeness).

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Weird horse that had some ugly teeth

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Water gardens

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Frisbee golf, I sooooo rocked it.

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Whirly ball, not so much rocking on my part, very team I joined seemed to loose

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Rachel pretty much addicted to the quarters game at whirly ball

In the middle of all that was my birthday where I basically sat on the couch and has some me time, until the family came over and long story short I goaded Uncle Les into smashing a cake in my face (there was still frosting up my nose in the morning).

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So after our first week at Rach and Victors we had a week at Andrew and Sarah’s (NZ cousins who moved stateside a few years ago).

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Della, Andrew and Sarah’s dog... many a walk was had, many a stick thrown, many a slide slid and many a Frisbee lost over a fence.

Now there are 4 things I wanted to do in the states

- Shoot a handgun
- See a college sports game
- Go to a batting cage
- And go to a rodeo

The first Monday at Andrew & Sarah’s was Martin Luther King day and for some reason Andrew had the day off. So we told him our list and he was keen as on the handgun idea. So we rocked around to Bass Pro, a huge sporting store that he thought might have a range. Well they didn’t and as we were asking if they knew anywhere where we could go I noticed a guy milling around behind us in an All Blacks top. “Cool top”, I commented in my best kiwi accent to which I got a drawly Texan reply “Yeah I really like rugby”. Turns out this guy (who’s name I forget and for future purposes will be called Bob) had overheard our conversation and told us directions to a shooting rage.
After about an hour of trying to find the place (GPS woes and calls to Sarah) we walked into the range only to find that same Rugby shirt wearing Bob was there, hands in the air “what took you guys so long?” It was kinda busy so he offered to take us onto his lane and we could borrow the guns he’d booked out and split the cost at the end...sweet.

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So we’re on the range popping of shots while Bob is giving out gun advice and tid bits, showing us how to load them and explaining the differences between the guns. Then out of nowhere he tell us to go rapid fire gangster style on his cue. This had been expressly forbidden on sign in, but ehh it’s not like we were coming back.

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Rachel style, gansta style....popping caps

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We had a great time with Bob, even more so when we got out and found out he’d paid for the whole thing. Nice one Bob.

Later that week we knocked off another thing on the list a college basket ball game, TCU playing some Wyoming team. These teams weren’t even in the top tier of competition but they had all the bells and whistles, a super nice stadium with full brass band playing, cheerleaders and dancers, 2 mascots and a half time show.

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Not to mention the big screen that showed a super produced video montage of each player pre match when introducing them and then whenever they did something awesome on the court (no wonder these kids have super egos). What we weren’t impressed with was sportsmanship of the supporters who were more than enthusiastic on the booing of the other team. So me and Mark (another cousin) took up their cause cheering and hollering (we are in texas) when they scored.

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One bright and sunny day we hopped a train into Dallas, and we were pleasantly surprised. What we thought was just gonna be a city of 4 million with a bunch of skyscrapers around an x where JFK was shot, was actually a stylie manageable city with free transport up and down on a old school tram.

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We ended spending way too much time at the running bulls sculpture, well it’s more that a sculpture more like a whole herd of steers cast in bronze, frozen in time.

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This one got a bit techy and tossed me off

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Driving range in the middle of the city, kinda felt like we were going to smash the windows on the surrounding buildings. Look and the muscles.

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Batting cage, another list item.... the 70 mil and hour ball was scary, I only hit about 4 out of 20. Back to the 45 mph cage for me.

And last but not least the rodeo.

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We just happened to be in town right when the big rodeo came for it’s Fort Worth leg. It was pretty cool in it’s own arena and lots of patriotism at the start and many a prayer for the men about to take to the ring.

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There were heaps of events from bucking bronco’s (the first guy out got stuck and dragged around the arena a few times), speed hog tying cattle, kids chasing calf’s, wagon races and of course bull riding. Rachel finally got herself a toffee apple and I got a corn dog with mustard.


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So an awesome few weeks in Texas with heaps of stuff to do and lots of time with family. Now we’ve hired a cargo van, slapped a mattress and chilly bin in the back and we’re going to vegas baby.

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Big Texas sky

Posted by jamienrach 16:31 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Boston and Buffalo

A pub and a waterfall

snow -4 °C
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So we hopped a Chinese Fung Wah bus from New York and headed up to Boston, and the cold came with us. Boston seemed to be another one of those well laid out good public transport north east coast cities, sweet. Despite the ease of getting around and the obvious niceness of the place we were just a little bit underwhelmed, (the city is overshadowed a bit by big brother NYC to the south).

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We did get out and about a bit by going on a ‘themed’ (guy wore pantaloons and spoke in ye olde english) walking tour of important American revolution spots in Boston. And after that we stopped at important sitcom spots eg the pub that cheers was based on.

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No one knew my name

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Attack of the giant squirrel, no real reason for this photo

So, Boston... didn’t do all that much besides lay about in our hotel room (upgrade form a hostel, private bathroom...oh what a treat) and recover from a manic time in New York. But all mediocre things must come to an end so we caught a train to Buffalo (yeah I didn’t know there were intercity trains in the states either).
This was the longest train we have ever been on ......literally. It was 12 hours and we didn’t even get a quarter of the way across the states (this place is huge). So while i bunkered down and darned socks, Rach had a series of naps and the speeding scenery faded into night while the temperature dropped. Some time after 8pm we noticed that as people went between carriages there was ice and snow building up in the walkways, and when we’d stop every other hour the conductor would shovel it off.

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We had done the European when getting on the train and just put all our luggage above our heads instead of checking it onto the luggage carriage. Good thing too as at 1am when we got into buffalo and wandered past the luggage carriage there was about a meter of snow over everyone’s stuff, hahaha.
So New York was cold and Boston colder but nothing compared to this place, and I know that there are much more frigid place’s on earth but when you go outside and the wind instantly freezes the snot in your nose it’s time to fly south. In saying that, for a place I knew absolutely nothing about except for the close proximity to Niagara falls we had an alright time bunkering down for 4 days waiting for the smallest inkling of sunshine.

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Having a nice hostel all to ourselves right in the middle of town helped, next to a cinema (please hold the butter) and by a tram stop so we could do the local stuff without having to freeze our knees solid when outside.

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We did get that all elusive day of blue skies and sunshine so got a local bus up to the falls and walked over to Canada (tick another country off the list).

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The closer you get to the falls themselves the more the mist freezes on the railings until it was just a big ice fence.

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Watch out as I stab you with my ice dagger

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Ahh pretty

So the north east is cool (figuratively and literally) much more European style cities than we thought it would be. But the permeating temperatures were taking their toll and it was time to fly south for the winter, onto the big Texas T.

Posted by jamienrach 00:01 Archived in USA Comments (0)

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