Saturday, December 01, 2007

Mimes are Boring

From a kid's journal at a Goodwill... priceless. Or maybe I should have said "kids say the darndest things." Either way, these are words to live by. Enjoy!

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Saturday, September 15, 2007

McKinney Falls State Park, Austin, TX

There's a nice state park a few minutes outside central Austin, and only minutes away from the 'burbs to the south-east of Austin called McKinney Falls State Park. It sounds lame, being so close to the city and under the airport-path, but desperate times called for desperate measures. To elaborate: We had just moved to Austin and were looking for an apartment while staying at the cheap and friendly Howard Johnson Hotel. Since our place wouldn't be ready for a few days, we decided to check out of the hotel and save a few bucks by camping at the park.

Outside the HoJo Austin!

Unfortunately, we didn't really get to spend any time at the park except at night to sleep. I went to work in the day (remember, it's close to central Austin) and J hooked up with free wireless in various coffee shops around town to look for jobs.

So anyway, here's a new feature on the blog and my first review of a campground, hopefully with many more to come. There are over eighty campsites at McKinney Falls SP, and all of them have water, picnic tables, trees (huge bonus... ours had a massive live oak that covered our table and the spot where we pitched our REI Quarter Dome UL), fire pits/grills, and several have electrical hookups for you RV folks. The cost is quite high, over $20 a night, but the sites are big and are laid out well, most have lantern hooks/poles next to the tables, the bathrooms are immaculate (including the showers, which have free hot water). Reservations can be made at Reserve America (online) and there are a handful of walk-in spots, too (first come, first served); there are also group sites, if that's your thing.

On the two nights we stayed there (Wed. and Thurs. before Labour Day Weekend), we were the only people staying in our loop of campsites. Not even the park host was on duty those nights, so we simply picked out a spot right next to the bathrooms, pitched our tent, and had a nice meal before it started to rain a bit.

The park sits next to Onion Creek, and there's loads of hiking and biking trials there, as well as good fishing in the creek, so we've heard. There's an interpretive center, which is okay (the rangers were a bit surly when we were there) and a big campground fire pit/amphitheater thing.

The only thing that dampened our experience there is that on the first of the two nights we camped, it was about 90-degrees F at night and raining, which meant inside our puny backpacking tent, it was about 120-degrees F, damp, and smelly! I can't really fault the park for that -- it's really a problem with the Quarter Dome's design that it gets such poor ventilation when the rain-fly is fully battened down. On the second night, it was still warm at night, but we took the fly off and were able to sleep and cooled down as the night wore on, eventually getting down into the mid-70's, which was great.

If you're coming to Austin, and it's not summer, I highly recommend going out there. I know that J & I will be checking out the park again this fall when it cools down so we can check out the hiking trails, try out new gear, and get out of the city quickly. Which is one of the reasons I will choose to give the park a 7 out of 10: It's close enough to Austin to be used as a base of operations for exploring the city as a visitor (and MUCH cheaper than a hotel!) as well as a good place for an overnight or weekend escape (provided it's not a million degrees outside) for Austinites and it makes an easy day-retreat. The facilities are top-notch, but the reason it doesn't score higher than a 7 is because the rangers were surly and I plan on reserving 8's, 9's, and 10's for those campsites that are really spectacular AND serve as gateways to phenomenal outdoors activities (stuff that's way out of the way, has amazing views, etc.).

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Capybarra and Hot Sauce

Yep.... it's been almost two weeks since we got to Austin, and we almost have a place. We've paid up our security deposit for a place just south of the river in the hip young neighborhood known as SoCo. Unfortunately, we're not able to move in until Wednesday next week because they're re-furbishing the place (still) so we're spending the weekend at my cousin's house near Houston, which is cool because I never got to see her much when I was young as she lived so far away.

Last weekend, after we had settled on a place to live, we went to the Red Bull Flugtag event, which is where crazy people from all over Texas (and North America, too, as contestants came from Minnesota and Alberta!) make human-powered flying machines that get pushed into the Lower Colorado River (which for some reason is called a lake in Austin) from a 30-foot-high ramp! Priceless. The only crappy thing was that it was about a million degrees outside and the sun was setting behind the ramp, which means to watch the event, you had to stare directly into the sun. Hopefully next year they plan it a bit better.

Bats in Austin are a bit of a theme, as a big colony lives underneath the Congress St. Bridge.

Overall, though, Austin has been fun, so far. We haven't taken in many of the cultural sites (like we havent been to the capital building, yet) and I worked all week at UT, but the people have been great, the food is amazing, and there's a bunch of cool independent restaurants, shops, coffee houses, etc. It's like being in Santa Cruz!

The Texas State Capital building, which I've been told is open 24-hrs. a day.

Anyway, after the Flugtag, we were pretty tired and even though we knew that on Sunday there was the annual Hot Sauce Festival, where individuals, restaurant chefs, and bottlers compete with one-another for the best red & green salsas, pepper sauce, and "special" category. "So," we thought, "there's no way we'll be interested in hanging around at the hot sauce thing because it'll just be too darn hot." But then again, what the heck else were we to do? Hang out in our Howard Johnson Hotel all day? [I must give a plug here and say how accomodating the HoJo Austin was. For less than fifty bucks a day, we got free internet, free breakfasts, a nice clean room, shower, and bed, etc.] So we went off with three non-perishable food items each (donated to the local food back) for some free salsas! And man am I ever glad we went! First of all, as soon as we showed up, I got to take this picture:

Justine and Caplina Rous, the baby Capybarra!

Yep. Didn't know you could own those, but it seems that there's a breeder of these gigantic South American rodents right here in Texas! SOOOOO CUTE! This one's just a baby, but the world's largest rodent can grow to be 150 lbs.!!

For the rest of the afternoon, we walked around trying different salsas and mustards and glazes and some hot sauces that were so hot they literally make you cry! Tamales and beer were plentiful, as was the free water, which helped put out more than a few fires on our tounges (as this video shows)! Overall, it was an excellent experience, and if we were in Austin this weekend, we'd be going to the annual "save the bat" festival, which has bands, food, and around 8 million bats, who come out from under the bridge just after sunset! Must be quite a sight...

'Till next time,

Crowds and tents at the Austin Hot Sauce Festival!

A new shirt and a new koozie!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

More Photos!!

Here's our drive from Albuquerque, NM (which sucked for the one evening we spent there, though we did have a good breakfast and Papa John's for dinner) to Guadalupe Mountains National Park in TX. We drove through Roswell, NM, thinking it would be fun to get lunch there and take pictures of crappy alien stuff, but it ended up being totally lame and everything was closed, didn't have vegetarian food, and we ended up having Subway, instead.

Once we made it to the actual park, where it was very hot, we set up our tent the shadow of the Guadalupe Mountains, which are actually the Capitan Reef, and ancient (non-coral) fossilized reef over 250 million years old. The next day (which I think was Sunday) we hiked for a few hours down the McKittrick Canyon trail (link goes to a Map). For some reason, it cost us another ten bucks to do this, but it was worth it. See, the park is part of a high-desert plateau called the Colorado Plateau (?) which makes up much of the South West, including the Grand Canyon. In addition, the park is home to some permanent spring-fed rivers, which means that in the canyons and in the high back country, this "desert" is actually pretty lush, as you can see in the photos. In fact, the foliage as you get into the canyon switches from desert shrubs to Rockies-like terrain, full of pines and oaks and maples. It's weird to see a cactus growing under the shade of a Ponderossa Pine, right next to an old Maple Tree! I should also add that the weather on this trip has been pretty amazing. Mostly very clear skies, nice days, cool evenings, but occasionally super duper hot (we had to pack in the hike after just a few hours b/c we were drenched with sweat!) and it has rained so hard that you can't see out the windshield and the car is hydroplaning all over the place, complete with massive thunder/lightening storms. Also, there have been crazy strong winds, which to a Californian like me has been really strange, since summers in Cali are so gentle. Anyway, the trip out to Austin has been good, and now we begin our search for a new apartment. More photos and stories to come, however, as we continue this adventure called life!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Still More Photos!

Here's some of the Grand Canyon, where we spent a few days. Be sure to check the three posts below for more photos from the Great Santa Cruz-to-Austin Road Trip, August 2007!




Photos online of our road trip, covering the time between the Painted Desert/Petrified Forest National Park and entering New Mexico... see also photos posted in the two posts below this one.




Photos online of our road trip, covering the time between the Painted Desert/Petrified Forest National Park and entering New Mexico... see also photos posted in the two posts below this one.



Friday, August 17, 2007

Just as promised

... well, I couldn't post just that one photo (in the next post down) and let it be, could I?! So here's a few more from the Grand Canyon. About the pictures of California Condors at the bottom of this post... we were walking around the South Rim of the GC, and we happened to see a huge (I mean, 6-ft. wingspan huge) bird fly overhead. Noting the black/white patterning on the underside of his wings, I knew it was a Calif. Condor, one of the most endangered bird species on the planet. We ran to the edge where we could see him flying around, and over the course of an hour, noticed 6 or 7 different birds (distinguished by their numbers). We later found out that only 306 such birds exist anywhere, so seeing a half-dozen of them all at once, in the wild and scavenging for food was a real treat. I can't explain how thrilling it was to seem them in their natural environment and not in a cage at the San Diego Zoo. Enjoy!




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More to Come...

More of this to come when we get to Austin, but here's a teaser of the truly amazing Grand Canyon. I only wish we could have stayed longer, but Austin is calling and we need to find a place to live!

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Thursday, August 02, 2007

Akashi Yaki

Japanese fast food in Kyoto and a huge crab. Enjoy.

New Road Trip Map

I've had to slightly change our trip from the map shown in the previous post below since there are not camping spots at White Sands National Monument. Instead, we'll be camping at the Grand Canyon, driving through the AZ Petrified Forest, staying at a hotel in Albuquerque, driving through White Sands, camping at Guadalupe Mountains National Park, and camping at Big Bend National Park in TX before arriving in Austin. Where we'll stay in Austin, I have no idea, yet. Maybe we'll find some youth hostel to crash at for a few days while we look for apartments.... Enjoy the map, and keep your browsers tuned in here for more details and pictures from the trip, which begins in about 10 days!

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

We're Goin' Down to Austin

...gonna have ourselves a time.

Clicky the picture: for a full view

Well, in case you haven't heard, Justine and I are moving to Austin, TX in a few weeks. And we're planning a good old-fashioned American Road Trip! The trip will take us about 10 or 11 days, with stops in Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, Grand Canyon National Park, a petrified forest, Albuquerque, White Sands National Monument, and Big Bend National Park.

Stay tuned for updates!

Monday, July 30, 2007

A True Road Warrior

American Airlines' in-flight magazine, American Way, is holding their yearly Road Warrior contest. The winner wins two million Hilton points and one million AA flier points. Pretty good, huh? Anyway, besides a bunch of questions about my "demographic" and some questions about articles written in the mag (answers are easily discovered via Google and Wikipedia), they want you to present three photos with captions that prove you're a road warrior and to write a haiku about being on the road. Here's my application, and when Justine submits hers, I'll post it here, too.

Picture 1: One is often faced with adversity, but only true Road Warriors can overcome even the most nefarious hazards and live to tell about it [China].

Picture 2: Sometimes planes, trains, and automobiles are delayed, but true Road Warriors find a way -- even navigating the dangerous streets alone [Laos].

Picture 3: Cold weather, rain delays, early morning commutes... a true Road Warrior pushes on and is rewarded for his or her struggles [Nepal].

The haiku I wrote is as follows:

In Asia, beware!
Potable water is scarce
Prepare for the runs


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Monday, July 09, 2007

Mozzies at Night

Bring your malarone (r) to India!

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Funny Story

Sorry... it's been a million years since I last posted. Things have been busy and I'd like to get back to posting more about our 8-months abroad, but even more so, I'd like to start posting about trips and things we've done since we returned. In the mean time, here's a little story from our days in Thailand, late January 2007.

Thailand has a 30-day visa that you get when you arrive. It's free. And you can renew that visa three times, meaning that you can stay in Thailand for up to 3 months straight and pay nothing. The catch, though, is that to renew the visa, you have to leave the country and then return. Several tourist outfits have this figured out and they make "visa runs" to various borders (Malaysia and Burma/Myanmar, for example) for a few bucks. It's all very much a part of the backpacker's M.O.

Needless to say, Justine and I needed to make such a visa run when we were in Southern Thailand near Krabi. We booked a visa run through our guest house (about 25 bucks for both of us, if I remember correctly), which would take us to Malaysia and back. We paid in advance, and carried our receipt. Off we went, at 6am, to take a 6-hr. ride in a minivan full of other backpackers to the Malaysian border.

We arrived just after noon (we had brought sandwiches for lunch, as well as chips, fruit and drinks and the trusty iPod for entertainment), behind a few other vans and buses filled with tourists. We all walked out of Thailand, getting our passports stamped, and into Malaysia, getting stamped here, as well. We then walked around the building to the other side in order to get stamps for leaving Malaysia. Ten minutes after arriving in the minivan, we were getting our passports stamped for arrival in Thailand, ready to go! Here's the best part... I already mentioned that the visa is free. Malaysia, who havn't realized that this operation could be a cash cow for them, doesn't charge anything, either. As we were getting back into the van, the driver goes "you have to pay them 20 dollars each for the stamp! Don't forget to pay for the stamp!" Justine and I looked at each other and laughed in disgust. "We already have the stamps." Some of the other tourists started to look confused and began reaching for their wallets. "NO!" We shouted. "It's a scam. This driver is running a scam... the guy in the window will give him half the cash if you pay. Don't listen to him." The driver insisted that you simply MUST pay. Nuts to that. We got back in the car and demanded that he drive us back to the guest house in Ao Neng. He finally relented, but what the hell did he expect to happen? Everybody already had their passports stamped, so even if you didn't know it was free, why would you hand over any money?

Getting scammed is just another regular day when you're traveling, though. Good thing we're not idiots or we'd have had to come home much earlier!


Friday, June 15, 2007

Map of Beijing

Here's a google map of Beijing, with our pictures attached. What you can do is click on the tabs on the map (or on the side bar) to view some place that we visited in Beijing. A little pop-up will appear on the map, containing information about the place in question and with a picture that we took of the location in question. For example, you can click on the pin located at the entrance of the Forbidden City and a picture that we took will appear. Enjoy!


Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The One Each Album

Here's a photo album that contains a single photo from each of the places we went to on our long and winding 8-month trip.

The show isn't a perfect summary (I'm sure we missed a few places and there's two from New Delhi, but we were there on three separate occasions even though we didn't include 4 pictures from Tokyo or 3 from Kathmandu, etc.), but it is as close to a brief summary of our trip as we're likely to get. If you don't like it, too bad. Otherwise, enjoy these 60 photos!


Tuesday, May 29, 2007


I meant to post this a long long time ago, but haven't gotten around to it until now. Check this:


Those shapes are the tangeled mess of dozens of huge daddy long legs, which by itself doesn't seem all that gross, except you might wonder, "why the heck are they all so close together?" If I could show you, however, you'd see that those dozen are attached to literally thousands of others, possibly a million, in a huge black, throbbing web of spiders that runs a several-yard-long stretch of a river path in the town of Pai in Northern Thailand. I have a video (AVI format, 20 MB) of it, too. Pretty gross, huh?

And for those of you who really like bugs (Gaby and Court, I'm looking in your directions), I present to you a
small and incomplete web gallery of animals, mostly bugs, that we photographed from around the world. Enjoy!

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Monday, May 21, 2007

More Pics

As Justine mentioned in the previous post (see below), we're finally getting around to organizing the 10000 photos we took (literally) while we lived in the other "real world" overseas. You can see them
here. There's only a few and they're all from the S. Island of NZ, but enjoy anyway. More to come....

Scenes from the Kepler Track

Brought to you by Picasa. Google is cool.

We have a lot of free time, being unemployed and all. Above is an example of the creative and fruitful use of our free time. We've been home a month now and we're still looking at our photos and fantasizing about "next time". A special thanks to our family for sitting through a two-part slide show this weekend.

Mike claims he needs to use the computer for something actually productive, so here ends my brief post.

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Thursday, May 03, 2007

Laos: a country with massive poverty (31% live below the poverty line), only a small fraction of their roads are paved, people are starving, they have not railroads and very little infrastructure to support their own people. But there are NUMEROUS places... just.... like... this:

Tourists with iPods come into town wanting cheap and easy western entertainment. And since iTunes is illegal in these here parts (and they hardly honor American copyright), you can just go in there buy mp3s, tv shows, movies, etc. The interweb, it appears, is ubiquitous, even in small South East Asian countries (hence our ability to keep this blog all along). We a service like this once in our travels, when we were in Phenom Penh, Cambodia. And although the Boom Boom Room has literally thousands of rock and hip-hop albums available, as well as the Simpsons, Family Guy and MI:3, we purchased a pair of Cambodian rock albums for about 2 bucks. Well worth it, but I just can't believe how desperate people are to get the new 50 Cent when they're out travelling the world! Which brings me to another rant: how come every time we walk into a place, they take of the local music and put on Hotel California?! I cna't count the number of times we would ask restraunts or shops to turn off the western music and put on music in Lao, Thai, Cambodia, Indian, Chinese, etc. That's how we found out about those bands whose albums we bought in Phenom Penh! Arrgghhh.... I could rant for hours about how certain parts of our travels were ruined by westernization, but I'll let the picture above tell the story, instead.

It was taken in Vang Vieng, Laos, a small town near these gorgeous limestone mountains (see previous post). We went for some hiking, caving, and river tubing, but most people go there to watch TV (literally... the place is known in the guide books as the place to watch Friends and every restaurant is blasting at least two different episodes of some kind of American TV) and get high (opium, shrooms, and weed are openly on the menus there). It was a gorgeous setting befouled by the worst kind of tourism and travellers. We met only a few other people there we liked, and every one of them (including us) couldn't wait to leave. So that's Vang Vieng. Otherwise, I though Laos was an amazing country with loads to offer all kinds of tourists. You should definitely go there, but skip VV.


Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Lao PDR ... With Pictures!

Here are a two incomplete galleries to keep you busy this week. I've posted about these places before, and if you need a referesher course, check these posts (one, two). Some of the pics have been posted before, but most haven't.

Trekking in Louang Phabang (without notes)
Vang Vieng (central Laos) (with notes)

And finally a great video (click here 16 MB, AVI file) of the kids playing with J at the village where we had spent the night.



Monday, April 30, 2007

More from Angkor Wat

As promised, here's a pair of pictures from the Temples at Angkor in Siem Reap, Cambodia. For those who have never been, the temples mark the heart of one of the largest empires the world has ever known. The most famous temple, Angkor Wat, is just outside the city walls of Angkor Thom, which houses dozens of ruined temples and the royal palace, among other things. There are a few super famous places there, including Angkor Wat which has thousands of people crawling around it all day long and the temple which was used in the movie Tomb Raider, known to English-speakers at the "Tree Temple". Fact is, there are loads of temples and loads of trees growing in and around many of the temples in Siem Reap. So I present to you two pics that showcase just how intimate and remote some of the temples can be... even though Angkor Wat and the Lara Croft temple are crammed with people, most of the ruins lie far off the tour-bus circuit, yet remain very accessible.


PS - the biggest gathering of Bedard-type siblings in history took place on Saturday, which was amazing! My brothers and sister and I hadn't been together in 364 days (since my older brother got married), and we were there with Justine, her sister, my brothers' wives and their sisters! The nine of us were so loud and stayed up so late... this is what we missed while we were travelling and is why we're glad to be back. HOO RAY!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Elephant Plays Harmonica and Dances

Two videos for all you loyal readers out there. Scroll down and hit play to see a video of Justine freaking out about a King Cobra, and then click here to see an elephant playing the harmonica and dancing in Thailand.

King Cobra goes up a waterfall...

This is the video I alluded to in a previous post.

I was sitting on these rocks at Khao Sok National Park in southern Thailand, when Justine yells out to me. But I'm near a small cascade, so I can't hear what she's hysteric about. Moments later, I notice a HUGE king cobra, swimming down the river, just a few feet away from me. While Justine shot this video, I took a picture that confirms that indeed, this is a king cobra (see the post linked to above).

Here it is, in all its 2-m long glory!

Friday, April 20, 2007

Angkor Wat Photo

Many more of these to come as we continue to settle in back in the States. We'll also do more formal blogging again soon, but in the mean time, we hope you're enjoying the pictures from the last three days. Today's photo is of the famous Angkor Wat, an ancient temple in the middle of Cambodia. Nobody knows what really went on there, but there's all kinds of Buddhist and Hindu symbols and figures everywhere (including weird hybrids, like a Shiva with Buddha's head and an 8-armed Buddha!). The temples were the center of a vast empire that suddenly stopped flourishing and was rediscovered (by the west, anyway) in the mid 1800's by French explorer, Henry Mouhut. Enjoy.

Thursday, April 19, 2007


Same sea lion pup as yesterday, but while she was playing fetch with a stick (by herself!). Did you know sea lions nest in the bushes of sand dunes? Me neither.

Rare yellow-eyed penguins on the S. Island of NZ.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Kiwi Crossing, next 1250 km

The obligatory photo from NZ.

Justine is somewhere in this picture. Can you find her?

On the way to Franz Josef Glacier on the S. Island of NZ. That's it coming down the mountain in the back. The water behind me is a glacial river. Very cool ('scuse the pun).

The face of Franz Josef. See the cave at the bottom middle? That's where the river comes out of. Stunning, but the glacier has receded tons in the last few years. Less than 50 years ago (maybe less... I forget the date) the place I took this picture from would have been covered by the glacier.

Sea lion pup from the Catlin's coast (the south-east coast of the S. Island).

Low-res. image of a sea lion pup with his pop.

Fixed the video

in this post from a few days ago. It shows how the wind was so crazy on our Lake Trek on the N. Island of New Zealand. It's only 6 seconds, but it's my favorite video!


Thursday, April 12, 2007

Made it home

Back in America after eight months!

Just a quickie here to let you all know that our really long flight from Christchurch-Auckland-Sydney-Los Angeles went well. In summary: United Airlines is worthless for service and food quality when compared to any of the Asian airlines we flew and they lost our bags (or didn't get them from Air NZ) somewhere. Who knows where they are, but our lives -- the bags we've been living out of for 8 months w/o ever losing them on dozens of flights, bus/train rides, etc. -- are simply gone. And did they compensate us like Singapore Airlines (who gave my sister cash on the spot plus a nice baggie of goods when they lost her bag 4 months ago)? Of course not! We only got a really crummy baggie of "goods" whose only useful item was a toothbrush. And this is only after we had to fill out a claim with one person for the missing bags and had to go seek out another office in which to complain and beg for the goods! And this leaves out the whole part about how their service sucked onboard and they lost our veggie meals (three of them!) somewhere between check-in (do you have us down for vegetarian meals? Oh yes... it's right here) and getting on the plane (are you sure you ordered vegetarian? yes. Then prove it. Where's your ticket? Uhhh.... it's not on my ticket but we've been vegetarians for 8 years).

Oh, United, you've lost our business forever!


PS - Go Sharks!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Never any time to blog...

We're wrapping things up here in New Zealand, and getting ready to come back to America. There will be ample postings then, so keep your browsers pointed here for further updates and pictures.

For now, a brief summation of our last week.

We walked the 60+ km Kepler Track in Fiordland national park on the S. Island of NZ. It was an excellent walk through alpine scenery and we were visited by several of the only (and very rare) alpine parrot in the world, the Kea. Pics to follow.

The day before we started Kepler, we walked 12 km around the famous Milford Sound and up to Key Summit to see some rare alpine plants and alpine bogs. Really cool.

After Kepler, we spent time on the Catlin's Coast in SE S. Island, and today are in Dunedin. We've been spending time watching sea lions on the beach (and avoiding being chased by them!) and watched a NZ horror/comedy flick today called Black Sheep. It's gold, Jerry! An evil farmer is experimenting with genetically modified sheeps (which outnumber New Zealanders 10 to 1), which go crazy and start eating people and turning them into nasty ware-sheep. Pure comedy.

We'll be back in America on April 11th, my birthday, which will last for something like 40 hours this year as we leave Christchurch around 6 am and we land at LAX at 10 am the same day! Weird.


Sunday, March 25, 2007

More to Whet your Appetite

More pictures to keep you reading our blog... I've found time while we're cleaning up our breakfast (fried eggs, baked beans, toast, and fried onions/bell peppers/tomatos) that we made this morning on the west coast of S. Island NZ. These ones are from our Lake Waikaremoana trek from last week on the N. Island. Enjoy!!

Painting by M, of our approach to Panekiri Bluff in 120 kph winds! Don't believe me, check this video!

Joint painting, mostly by J, of the grassy fields up against the lake at Maruati Hut.

Lake Waikaremoana, 600 m below, from Panekiri bluff.

In the grassy fields around the lake.

Two Quickies

Not much time here in Hokitika, S. Island, NZ, but I've managed to upload two photos, one from Sydney Aus. we took at Bondi beach with our Nepali friend and trekking guide, Bharat (the one who took us through the Himalaya in October... he's a student in Sydney now!),

... and the independence monument in Phenom Penh, Cambodia at sunset. This commemorates their independence from France. It has a cool park around it (though you have to cross a super busy traffic circle around the monument to get to it from the park) that is always full of fun people!