Sunday, June 22, 2008

Road Trippin’

Our little Krysler!

The first two nights of our adventure were spent in Joshua Tree. All the Yakka trees immensely excited Chris. We had a wonderful camp spot on the 2nd day and enjoyed the sunset after we walked in to a real Oasis. Unfortunately we both had a nasty flu…I was so reminded of Dad in Orange Grove wishing for Death Valley.

The desert oasis

Luckily the desert heat did the trick and we were off to Vegas for a wee look around. We camped beside Lake Mead and headed into town at night for a look at the amazing Belagio with its majestic fountains and the Venetian for its amazing architecture. We were so reminded of Dubai and the gambling was eye opening. (Sorry Kurt, but we didn’t gamble a cent!).

At Lake Mead the next day the heat soared to 40 degrees as we cruised past the Hoover Dam, then onwards to the Grand Canyon. The Grand Canyon was spectacular, if a bit touristy, but we managed to procure ourselves the not-so-easily-come-by permits to camp down in the gorge. Early the next morning we trotted down to a lovely and not crowded (due to the strict permit policy) camp spot where we spent the day constructing an elaborate dam to form a brilliant swimming pool.

On the way down...

The Colorado River

Our dam

In the morning we cruised back up the 1500m to the top, past a lot of very unfit Americans. Then we were off towards Zion National Park. Camping was great, heaps of very cheap or free campsites all over the place. Americans seem to love their camping, which made our travelling so much less stressful.

Zion was super spectacular, and the pick of the ‘Angel’s Landing’ trail was the best I think. We climbed a steep and very exposed track to a large buttress in the centre of the valley with a breathtaking view of some great rock walls…enough to really inspire me for some climbing (Greig gasps!). We ran down and jumped back in the delicious river, then headed off for Bryce canyon.

Bryce is a land filled with Hoodoo’s (eroded rock spire things). We hunted for Kate’s famous photo…and upon finding it took as similar a replica as we could muster (-: Chris went wild with the photo taking…while I felt that over 100 Hoodoo photos was possible overkill? But oh well (-:

The chipmunks are so cute

Then we were off to Capital Reef National Park. We camped in the treed campground surrounded by Vermillion cliffs in the fading sunlight. We walked up a ‘the Narrows’ (a narrow canyon) of a ‘wash’ (river) in the morning and Chris was reminded of PQ 07. After a good dose of homemade ice cream we continued our journey to Moab where Arches National Park is located.

But first things first we decided we had to bike the very famous ‘slick rock’ mountain bike trail just out of Moab. It is basically just riding on this massive rock following a painted trail and you can whoopee up and down pretty steep stuff because the grip is so good. It was great and an awesome first ride for my anthem. By the time we finished it was about 39 degrees and high time for a delicious Moab super smoothie, yum o.

After that we zoomed through Arches and tried to take in too much amazing scenery. We belted in to the famous ‘Delicate Arch’ just in time to miss the sunset, but enjoyed the moonrise behind the arch instead (along with about 50 other people!)

Then it was a long drive up to Boise to stay with Chris’s teammate Michael and his family. On the day of our car return we got a cracked windscreen and a flat tyre…hmmm was our dirty little Chrysler trying to tell us something?

So we are now in Boise which is a very pretty town in Idaho. Jenny took us for a wonderful mountain bike on some flowing single track on the local hills just outside their backdoor, then Mike took us for a paddle up the swift flowing Boise river just round the road…good spot!

Tomorrow we embark on the next stage of our journey to Big Sky in Montana for the Primal Quest. Right this minute Chris is packing all the complicated gear that is needed downstairs, always a rigmarole.

Ok, well I’ll keep y’all updated on that one (said with American accent).


A week in Redlands….

Our arrival in Los Angeles was typical…huge queues through customs, traipsing around hot streets carrying many bags of gear. But after some hours we did manage to hire a wee Chrysler PT Cruiser, very snazzy, and we were catapulted onto the high-speed motorway towards Kurt’s house in Redlands via Google maps directions.

Redlands is about 1.5 hours drive from LA, and sits amongst some big hills and some very deserty terrain. It is suburban America, but set amongst orange groves it is very pleasant. It was great to catch up with Kurt and laugh about all the things that seem odd to us kiwis.

We spent 5 days in total at Kurt’s place and he was a great host! I tried out a demo specialised on a ride through some local hills with Kurt and Chris, lots of windy single track through some very dry country. We took a drive into the local mountains and tried lots of local cuisine (good Mexican!).

The highlight however had to be a free visit (thanks to Kurt) to Six Flags Magic Mountain in LA. Basically it is a massive roller coaster theme park with the craziest rides you can imagine including hanging completely upside down about 200 m above the ground then rocketing around the twistiest course you imagine. It was a bit much for poor old Chris who suffers motion sickness…. but he loves suffering so he insisted on doing every ride anyway!!

After 5 days and my acquisition of a fantastic, red, shiny new Giant anthem and Chris received his bike in the post from his team mates and we were off for an adventure in our wee Chrysler.

Some 'ohh, ahhh' photos of my pretty new bike (-: