12.04.2008 - 15.04.2008 32 °C
Ok, firstly, I’ve just noticed that the pics I’m uploading are showing low res on this blog yet I’m uploading at at least 1024x768 and there seems to be no clear link to our gallery, so here it is…
(update thanks to "sam I am" - I now know how to make the pictures larger! - let me know if it looks aweful - I think I can live with the odd text allignment if it means having pictures that are actually detailed) - p.s. I understand teh "wrapper" bit but not sure if I can be bothered to get the url for each one. We'll see)
The weather has turned from a little chilly at the cabin (it snowed) to baking hot. I’ve spent a little more time experimenting with the telescope. I think I’ve got the hang of it now. I found some different eye pieces so things actually look bigger than to the naked eye now – which is a relief. I got some good views of the moon. I tried to ram one of the digital cameras up against the eyepiece to take a photo but it’s way harder than you’d think. Here’s an attempt… Not amazing but it kind of worked!
Kirstin obviously started to feel like she was cooking at the homestead so she made and baked a pie. She didn’t check on it though.
(The four and twenty blackbirds are most definitely dead)
It was actually a bit of blonde day for her. I lay in the bath upstairs listening to Pete’s Electronic piano play classicals – it’s one of those real sounding pianos that you can hit a button and it plays itself. Kirstin shouted upstairs, “Is that you? I didn’t know you could play?!” haha. If that was me then I’m a virtuoso.
(yes, I’m a master)
Anyhows, after a few days lazing about we set off to see some sights. Our first destination was Sedona – about 1 hour away at the most. It’s famous for it’s red rock formations and ancient “native American” ruins. It’s a surreal place when you arrive. All the rocks are red, the soil is red, the houses are…. Red. You get the picture.
Sedona is famous for it’s new-age shops. Apparently the place is built on some kind of cosmic line – not my bag at all as you probably know. We had a peek in one of the mystic gem shops. What a load of cobblers! They had stones that “drain your negative energy”. Ok, fair enough. Then stones that enhance your “money making ability”..o…k… then stones that help you lose weight! – I guess you eat them and then there is no room for cakes. They even had a massive lump of petrified wood marked “very rare!” – very rare my ass – it was a huge rock! More on petrified wood later.
So we were presented with a choice of things to do. There are many 4x4 jeep tours that take you all over the region. Most of the tours seemed to promote themselves on the fact you go on a “wild 4x4 adventure” and show pictures of the jeeps clambering over rocks etc. We’ve both done lots of 4x4 action in the past (I used to compete off road with my older brother Steve) so we poo-poo’d that idea and went with the more cultural choice – the “Ancient Ruins” adventure. We knew we had picked the cultural choice when we were loaded into our jeep. There were just two other people with us – all the other destinations had a good 6 or more people in each jeep.
Our driver blasted down the road for a while and then we joined a dirt track for some time and arrived at the ruins. The scenery on the way was breathtaking. It’s a huge place.
Then we trotted off on a hike to the ruins proper. They were quite interesting to be fair, but not really what we expected. Just a few crumbling walls built under the cliff overhangs. There were a lot of interesting “petroglyphs” – mud drawing on the walls.
Our guide was amusing. He was clearly “winging it” a lot of the time, and when he asked, “so, what do you think these drawings mean?” – we thought, “great, he’ll tell us!”, but when we gave him our best guess he would reply, “maybe - you could be right, we don’t know actually”. Lmao. He tried, bless him.
( Is it me or does she look like she’s not paying attention?)
The couple in the jeep with us were from New Jersey. I don’t know if you watch the Sopranos, but that’s based in New Jersey, and I loved the accent.
Overall it was a great day out. The scenery was awe inspiring, and red. And the jeep was pink. They were called Pink Jeep tours after all..
(Our transport for the day)
(If I’d known you could rent one :--( )
After a day or two more chilling we then decided to head up to the Petrified Forest and the Painted Desert (a bit like Kirstin’s pie).
(Did I mention I’ve bought a polarizing filter for my camera?)
It’s about a 3 hour drive, and to be honest, the drive was equally as interesting as the sights at the end. We spent a long time on the long straight roads that you see in the movies with the horizon melting into heat haze. With the roof down we zipped along soaking up the atmosphere. We even ended up accidentally doing a stretch of Route 66 which delighted Kirstin no end.
The petrified forest is essentially a desert with a collection of trees that got petrified (no surprises there!). They sat in ash and mineral soils and over 100000’s of years and absorbed all the elements, slowly turning to stone. To be honest, we expected to see upright stone trees, but of course they had fallen down millions of years ago. Fascinating to see, and the trail was an 18 mile drive through the landscape with various viewpoints and trails to walk along on the way.
(A petrified tree!)
Of course this stuff was everywhere, which is why I found it hilarious that the store in Sedona was describing it as very rare…
Of course we could not resist some “petrified gags”
(nope, the joke didn’t wear off for some time)
(me doing what I do a lot)
At one stage we reached the “crystal forest” – a very exciting prospect. When we reached the trail to it we were greeted with a sign explaining most of the crystals had been stolen by thoughtless visitors. Great. Still, it was a good walk.
We’d forgotten about the painted desert at this stage so when we happened upon it it was quite a shock. A colourful and huge landscape. Probably the highlight of the trip.
Everything here seems to be on a scale you can’t quote get your head around. Can’t wait for the Grand Canyon in a week or so.
Talking about large - I've had a little play with making panorama shots - this is one below of the painted desert from a different view point - it's rough and ready - clearly I need to set manual fixed exposures etc but it's kind of fun as it is - if you click on the picture it should start a 5mb download - then you can view it on your PC - be zure to zoom in and scroll around with your picture viewer....
Oh - we are on a Pulp Fiction mission - so far we have tried MacDonalds, KFC, and Wendy's (they do a burger called the "baconator!" - next up is Denny's, Jack In The Box, and iHop. Unfortunately we have not seen a "Big Cahoona" burger yet.
One more thing - boy does it get hot! we've been driving with the roof up, at 90 degrees and the aircon can't cope with the sun beating through the windscreen. We are told it gets to 122 degrees in Phoenix soon - yikes!
We are off to Mexico to the beach in 2 days time, for a week or so then , after San Fran and then some wine tasting in the Napa Valley we are going to Florida - Fort Lauderdale for a week to do the Keys, then we've rented a villa in Orlando and apart from the usual stuff we are going to see a space shuttle lauch!!!!