Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

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Happy New Year Bloggers!!

December 31, 2007

Hey all, have a wonderful New Year Eve where-ever you are and with whomever you are with.

We wish you all the best for the coming year and hope to catch up with you before too long.   As mentioned we will be at Fort McDowell casino/new year eve party and will not lose our return tickets on the bingo.

Take Care, drive carefully and see you next year.

Julie & Pete

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Basketry and Campfires

December 29, 2007

Hi all, here we are in downtown Tempe counting the sleeps till we board the plane with our ton of luggage. So I’ll catch up on a few interesting trips and events that we enjoyed.

As mentioned before, I drove to Sells, (100miles west of Tuson) where I attended a basketry festive, with dancing by the children from the local mission school, native food cooking by a lady who has a national native food cookery show, corn husking, studio portraits and cultural events. There were also people willing to teach us non weavers how to do it!.

The basketry festival has been hosted by the Tohono O’dham people for the last 12 years and held in Phoenix at the Heard Museum (we will visit next week) but the TO people have just built a new museum/cultural centre where they wanted to host the event this year. This was a big gamble, as the event is so well attended in Phoenix, and having it in the middle of no where by the mountains west of Tucson was sure starting over again. Hardly sign posted, no accommodation and very little else to do…… It rained and was so cold and windy I thought I was on the corner of Saint Georges Terrace again in winter!!… After the first two days of very low attendance due to the above mentioned aspects Saturday morning showed promise with many visitors eager to buy baskets, enjoy dancing, cooking and meet with old friends, I was so lucky and felt very priveleged to be asked to attend.

A lovely lady from the Tohono O’dham tribe patiently sat with me for two days and taught me how to weave….. I stuck the awl into my finger a few times, (you then have to stop or the basket becomes pink) and got piece done about a the size of a fifty cent piece. I decided it was more opportune to enjoy the company of women from all over the nation and met another wonderful lady named Carol from New Mexico who made me a unique Red Willow basket in few hours. Another two amazing weaving ladies from the Akwesasne tribe (northern state of New York) took me under their wings and made me feel very welcome and accepted.

I stayed in Nina and her husband (contact via the university and we sat up talking with some good red wine listening to a late desert rain storm with lashing downpours and howling winds. I had a few anxious moments driving to their home in San Miguel, with water rushing down the mountains though the washways, but thankfully my time in the north west had given me a bit of experience in that area, although not in a ’93 Dodge van!!!.

Saturday afternoon I drove back to base camp Tempe and Pete and I packed for the snow trip that was written about in the last entry.

After returning from Salt Lake City, we got up at dawn (yes !! I can do it when I have too – remember the hot springs and snow flakes??!!) and drove 3 hours to Parker, where I spoke to about 100 year 5 kids about Australian Native people and animals. We met with Jay who is the local education director and he introduced us to the health coordinator, and gave us a good rundown on the four tribes that make up the CRITS (known by other tribes as CRITTERS).

About the Mohave, Chemehuevi, Hopi and Navajo Tribes

The Colorado River Indian Tribes include four distinct Tribes – the Mohave, Chemehuevi, Hopi and Navajo. There are currently about 3,500 active Tribal members.

We were invited to the river for a storytelling campfire get-together which was wonderful and I was a guest story teller along with an elder from the each of the four tribes that make up the CRITS (Colorado River Indian Tribes).

We had hot apple cider, cookies and a big fire that kept all fifty odd huddled around the flames warm as toast, that had been organised because Pete and I had first said we would camp there, but after the snow temperatures, we decided to stay at the Blue Waters casino and had a great visit with some amazing and very hospitable people. Photos coming asap.  Pete has added more snow shots, just to show you how much fun it was.

We are planning a two night get away over the weekend back to beautiful Sedonna and then for New Years eve we are hitting the casino at Fort McDowell, north of Phoenix run by Yavapai Nation.

THEN ONLY FOUR MORE SLEEPS TILL WE HIT PERTH VIA HONG KONG (17 hours first leg, 7 hours second leg – don’tjawishyoucouldjoinus?).

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Snow Bunny Fun

December 20, 2007

Well folks, here they are – some fun snaps of us in the snow. img_9389.jpgWe flew in to Salt Lake City and took a shuttle to Lava Hot Springs where our host George img_9262.jpgand his wonderful hospitality made the stay exciting. I was in the hot springs to see dawn and my first snow flakes – just breathtaking. We stayed at the B&B for four nights then with George at his home in Pocetallo. Then we went out to Fort Hall to visit with the Shoshone -Bannock tribe.img_9310.jpg

Sunny was our tour guide to the museum, shop, bottoms(wild life area with buffalo), img_9295.jpgcasino and health clinic.

We then took the shuttle back to SLC where we stayed with another contact, Marilyn img_9372.jpgwho took us to the Temple of the Mormans hosted us for the night img_9359.jpg– we in turn introduced her to a nice Ozzie merlot.

The next day we shuttled to Park City the site of the 2002 Winter Olympics.

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They we enjoyed tubing, snow angel making, coaster ride down a mountain and much more.

We flew back to Phoenix on Sunday then drove to Colorado River Tribes in Parker.

More photos to come, as I went to Tucson before this trip to a basketry festive, and the campfire storytelling night in the Desert at Parker was wonderful.. BUT for now, we are now carless, as we sold Dodgey this morning and will be busing it for the next two weeks.

Have a good festive break, see you soon – Julie and Pete

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Waiting…. Waiting… waiting…

December 8, 2007

We are currently in Idaho chasing the snow… and without our computer.  It may be a week or so before we get back to update our blog, so please be patient.  Don’t desert us, we enjoy your feedback!!!

Cheers

Julie and Peter.

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A new vet in the family!

December 3, 2007

Although this is not another story of our trip – It’s a fantastic journey of challenges and determination that my daughter Shey has just finished!

Seen here on graduation night with husband Dave.jolly2.jpg

Shey has just graduated as a vet out of Murdoch university, making her the first vet in the extended OWEN clan in South Australia, EVER (hundreds of people in that lot) and the third Dr in our family, so we can now call HER – WHICH DR?

Pete is pleased to hand over the vet baton and has been instrumental in assisting her and keeping her motivation up when things got tough. We are very proud of her and glad that so many of our extended family/friends were able to be help her celebrate this EXTREMELY happy and HISTORIC occasion.

She says it has not sunk in yet, as she is busy packing the house to move to Denmark (W.A.) to begin her career as a vet, where she will work tirelessly to save all creatures great and small!

So folks, let me introduce to you, (drum roll please 🙂 ………………:) her two surnames are Tidswell (university register) and Rogers (marriage register) …………….but it will still register with her and she will not mind if you just call her …………..Doctor.

Cheers to Dr Shey our newly graduated vet! I wish I could give her the hug she deserves, but have to rely on you W.A mob to do it for me! Pete and I did have a tequilla or two for her last night.

If you want to send congratulations;     Shey, Dave, Reaf & Teylan are at 🙂 jollyrogers@aapt.net.au

Julie and Pete

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Zion National Park, Bryce canyon and the Grand Canyon Sky Walk; saving the best til last!

November 27, 2007

We had done canyon country, seen it all: The Grand Canyon, Canyon de Chelley, Chaco Canyon, Yellowstone Canyon, Yakimar Canyon, … you name it , we’ve been there. Just about canyonned out. But a voice kept niggling away in my sub conscious, “You must see Bryce Canyon, you must, you must.” “We’ve come this far ,” I said to Jules, “Clive Hux will never let me rest if we don’t visit Bryce Canon!” We were in Las Vegas and Zion and Bryce Canyons were only about 5 hours drive north into Utah.

Thanks Clive. Zion was magnificent with its narrow ravine guarded by towering red cliffs, as spectacular as any sights we had seen to that point, but then came Bryce canyon. Bryce took our breath away. It was absolutely stunning, overpowering, truly beautiful. Again, I would rather let the images show the beauty rather than my clumsy words, even the photos we took miss so much. They hint at the beauty of the rock formations, but they fail to show the true grandeur and dimensions of the canyon. The depth of field is lost in these two dimensional images. All I can say to you is “You must go and see Bryce Canyon!”

Zion National Park …. (spot the climbers)!

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The Road to Bryce National Park
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Bryce Canyon

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The Grand Canyon Sky Walk

The final leg of our canyon expedition was to see the new Sky Walk on the west rim of the Grand Canyon just a few hundred kilometres from Las Vegas. The descriptions we had read of this amazing engineering feat indicated that the roads close to the canyon were very rough and windy so we decided to give Dodgy a rest and ourselves a break from driving, and to take a day tour on a bus from Las Vegas. (Dodgy was parked in the Monte Carlo car park amongst the BMWs and Cadillacs, enjoying the ambience). We were picked up from the hotel at 6:10 a.m. and returned at 8 p.m. that night after travelling over some fairly rough roads as we approached the canyon.

 

The Hualapai Tribe own the land at the West Rim of the Grand Canyon and is responsible for the construction and management of the Sky Walk. They also offered a boat tour on the Colorado River.

 

At the last moment we decided to really blow the budget by adding a helicopter ride down into the canyon and the boat cruise to our itinerary. It was a decision we do not regret, the chopper ride was an adventure in itself and took us over some spectacular areas of the canyon. As we descended we caught a glimpse of the Sky Walk jutting out from the rim of the canyon a kilometre above the canyon floor. The boat ride on the river gave us a completely different perspective of the Grand Canyon. Its walls towered up beside us, the jagged edge of the rim silhouetted against a bright blue sky.

 

 

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After being lifted from the canyon floor and another exhilarating helicopter ride we boarded the shuttle bus and headed for the Sky Walk. The bus took us past massive earthworks where the airstrip was being upgraded to cope with the huge influx of visitors. The Sky Walk itself was surrounded by a massive building site where a visitor centre and a restaurant were being constructed to cater for the tourists. Temporary barriers and walkways directed us to the entry of the Sky Walk, where we put on protective cloth over-shoes to prevent scratching of glass on the walkway. The numbers of people on the walkway are restricted (20 to 30 people are allowed on at one time) so there was a 15 minute wait in a queue before we reached the stepping off point. Then we stepped out on to the glass walkway, Whoa, what an eerie sensation! The walkway is all glass, five sheets of 40 mm glass laminated to form the 2 cm thick walls and floor. The inside and outside edges of the walkway have a narrow strip of opaque covering to give some sense of solidity to the floor. Between those two edging strips the floor is completely clear, with a view straight down for a kilometre. It was quite unnerving walking on the clear section of the floor, even though we had been assured that the structure was engineered to carry the weight of a Boeing 747. We slowly edged our way around the walkway, gaining courage as we went. Then we were at the other end of the walkway, it was all over and we had survived.

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The walkway is quite unique, but did not stir in us the excitement or the wonder of the helicopter ride down to the floor of the canyon. It was worth a visit, but neither of us would place it high on the list of places and things we had done during our travels. Perhaps it was a location of the walk, the canyon itself was not as spectacular as on the South rim or maybe we had just seen so many beautiful canyons in our travels that our expectations had been too high.

A dance troupe from the local Hualapai Tribe were performing outside the Sky Walk. They were quite excited when they discovered we were from Australia. Earlier this year they had performed at the WOMAD (World Music) Festival in Adelaide.

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On our return to Las Vegas I left Jules resting in the hotel room and headed down the strip to take some photographs on our last night in town. Walking back to the Monte Carlo in the throng of people I misjudged the height of a kerb and crashed down onto the pavement. I felt my arm hit the ground and remember a distinct pause and was thinking ‘that was lucky’, — then my head pounded into the pavement.

 

I saw stars which out-shone the lights of Las Vegas! I staggered to my feet with the help of onlookers and after gibbering something about kerbs and darkness set off unsteadily for the hotel, carefully negotiating the lobby and the walk through the Casino, conscious that people were staring at me. I was alone in the lift and was feeling much better when I tapped on the door of our room. Jules opened the door and I saw her smile dissolve into shock when she saw me.  I hadn’t realized that blood was streaming down my face and arm and that the skin had been stripped from my forehead and nose. Quite a mess. No wonder I had received those stares in the lobby.  Fortunately the wounds were superficial and I was otherwise unhurt, but our last night in Las Vegas was one to remember.

Next day we set out on the final leg of our road trip, through Flagstaff and back to Phoenix. South of Flagstaff we left the main highway, continuing south on a minor road to avoid the boredom of the freeway. More by chance than by any good planning we descended into Sedona, a small town in one of the most stunning settings imaginable.  We were later to find out that Sedona had been regularly voted to be the most beautiful town in America by the tourist industry.  We were completely besotted by the town and decided to stay overnight to enjoy the scenery.

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We stopped at a building which bore a sign saying ‘tourist information and maps”, seeking information on accommodation and directions around the town. Inside, after an effusive greeting by Jex we discovered that it was a sales office for time-share condominiums that were available in the town. Jex was the ultimate salesman, never mentioning timeshare or delivering a sales pitch, he talked about the town and its sights, then offered to find us some free accommodation in one of the upmarket hotels in town. It then became clear that there was a catch, and we both realised that selling timeshares was on his agenda. Jules and I regrouped, but decided that we could withstand the sales pressures if there was a free night’s accommodation at the end of it. So, after a two hour barrage of facts and figures about the advantages of time-sharing, a tour of available condominiums, several drinks and being passed from the salesperson to the sales manager and then onto the general manager, we emerged with our voucher for a free night at the Casa Grande (usual tariff $160 per night).

We spent the next morning sightseeing then headed back along the freeway to Phoenix.

 

 

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Viva Las Vegas; the crass & glitzy excesses of humanity on display.

November 26, 2007

After ten days at Laguna Beach we were ready to hit the road again. The smoke had cleared from the bush fires and the roads were open. We headed for Las Vegas, which was to be our base for visits to the new Sky Walk on the west rim of the grand canyon and to Zion and Bryce canyons beyond Las Vegas in Utah.
A four hour drive from Los Angeles through sparsely treed mountains and arid plains brought us to Las Vegas, a shimmering metropolis rising out of the desert. We checked into our hotel room on the 16th floor of the sumptuous Monte Carlo Casino in the late afternoon (rooms are cheap to attract people to the Casinos), then ventured out onto Las Vegas Boulevard, (the ‘Strip’).

Disneyland dealt in childhood fantasies, the Las Vegas Strip was an adult Fantasia!

The ‘Strip’ was a crowded, dusty promenade with twenty thousand bleary-eyed tourists threading their way past street stalls selling cheap T-shirts and plastic memorabilia. Massive casinos overlooked the road, many that were part of the folklore of films and entertainment, – Caesars Palace, the Mirage, the Flamingo, Circus Circus, Harrahs, the Desert Inn, Bellagios. We crossed Frank Sinatra Boulevard and Dean Martin road.

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Dotted along the boulevard between the casinos were around twenty huge construction sites. The Strip is in a continual state of redevelopment, – the original 1000 room hotels were replaced with 3000 room hotels during the 1980’s and they are now being demolished to be replaced with 5000 room hotels. The revenue lost during the 2 year demolition and redevelopment phase is recouped in the first 2 years of operation of the new hotel/casino. The noise and dust from the construction sites, along with the spruikers who blocked our path every few meters promoting everything from restaurants to personal strip shows, added to the chaos. Anything that money could buy was on offer.

Tourists posed for photos in front of the Eiffel tower, the Trevi fountain, the Empire State Building, the canals of Venice, the fountains of Versialles, the Elvis Presley Wedding Chapel and the Ferraris and Lamborhgines parked on the pavement.

The Strip was hot, dusty and crowded. We returned to the Monte Carlo, wound our way through the acres of gambling tables and poker machines in the ground floor casino and retreated to our room. Las Vegas by day was not a pretty sight.

By night the Strip lit up, the construction sites were quiet and the dust had settled. One hundred thousand tourists fanned out into the casinos and clubs to enjoy the show-biz glitz. We walked in the fresh air, taking in the colourful night scene, bought tickets to a show the next evening, then returned to our hotel for a late meal.

For all that we disliked about Las Vegas, the next night we saw the best show of our lives at the Treasure Island Casino, – ‘Mystere’, with Cirque de Soliel. A truly spectacular performance in a beautiful theatre.

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The lights of Las Vegas.