October 2016
  • Day1

    Venice Beach, CA

    October 18, 2016 in the United States ⋅ 🌙 16 °C

    The first of what will be many many man dates.

    Upon re-reading this entry, I thought it deserved a little more love, being the first stop of the trip and all. So here goes...

    Scott and I landed in LA after a relatively uneventful direct flight. A huge thanks so Sam and Jen for a cheeky upgrade which made the flight seemingly pleasant. We even cleared customs at a record pace! Our only hiccup was a broken gate on the tarmac but we all know that's a small price to pay on a long haul flight.

    We've rented a car, at least for long enough to get us to Vegas. Driving on the right takes some getting used to but we only had a few near misses. Freeways and higher speed limits are about the only thing that makes this massive country traversable.

    We have no business in LA, having both been before, so we pretty much just killed an afternoon. We visited Venice Beach, set up phones with AT&T (so expensive!) and dropped in to check out the UCLA campus.

    We also got a west coast undie swim. I really should have brought a towel, but fortunately the area is for the vein and I didn't have too many odd looks strutting my stuff. Call back November 15 when we hit Florida and swim in the Atlantic.

    Our first dinner on tour and first night's accommo were nothing to be proud of. Let's just say we set the bar low for the rest of the trip. And saved some coin.

    The highlight of the day was watching Scotty deal to a Japanese man (read: short ninja/samurai) in a rope climb race at the beach gym. A tight and heated competition with a rowdy crowd. Very enjoyable!
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  • Day2

    Las Vegas, NV

    October 19, 2016 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 25 °C

    What goes on tour stays on tour. Right?

    Down $100 and a brutal hangover if you really want to know, but we had a great night out on the town and met some very interesting people.

    Vegas is a unique place. So much luxury crammed into the strip yet just outside is a town that struggles for income, populated largely by the hotel and casino service industry - many I assume wouldn't be far from minimum wage.

    There are so many hotels and casinos which we did our best to visit and explore in all their might. Too bad we just missed the pool party season (again!).

    We returned our rental car for the few night's we're here on the premise we'll find a cheaper one way rental to New Orleans. Fingers crossed!
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  • Day3

    Grand Canyon, AZ

    October 20, 2016 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 28 °C

    The thing I really regretted last time I was here was not doing the scenic flight over the Grand Canyon.

    So we broke the bank and forked out for the twighlight flight. There's so many agencies hustling this on the strip it was hard to know who to chose. In the end we found a great deal outside our hotel with a twighlight flyover.

    It was my first time in a chopper and the thing felt light and flimsy but the views were amazing! We were gutted to get the back seat both ways, and that our pick up took all day, and that we landed before dark and didn't get the strip flyover we were promised (apparently nobody does - I don't believe that). Anyway - an enjoyable day nonetheless!
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  • Day4

    Zion National Park, UT

    October 21, 2016 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 22 °C

    What a place! Absolutely spectacular.

    Already melting in the 33 degree heat, the lads put the runners on and got stuck in. Well it's a big place and with hop on, hop off buses servicing the park we didn't have to run far before we decided to use them. This enabled us to get right into the heart and attempt a climb to angels landing.

    The health and safety was surprisingly poor for a first world country floated by a law industry. A rocky track ascends to sharp ridge where tourists run the gauntlet to Angels Landing. Sheer cliffs either side kept our hearts racing but all was worthwile making it to the top and taking in that 360 degree view!!
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  • Day5

    Antelope Canyon, AZ

    October 22, 2016 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 19 °C

    Crazy Canyons.

    Chosen on a recommendation from a friend, this place looked unwordly. As it was on Native Indian land, we were forced to take a tour which actually turned out to be really worthwhile! It was also for our safety as these canyons flash flood regulary and have taken several lives since their discovery.Read more

  • Day6

    Pheonix, AZ

    October 23, 2016 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 32 °C

    Game day!!

    Initially Pheonix was overshadowed by booking ourselves some dodgy accommodation, finding downtown completely dead, and a blow out with public transport. This impression was quickly overcome when we got to the Cardinals game at University of Pheonix Stadium. More accurately it was overcome when we got in our uber and got a half hour lecture on why not to live in the USA, culminating in a blood curdling, vein popping rant on Obama. Priceless.

    Seahawks at Cardinals was awesome. Pre and afterparties were packed and boozy. Impressive for a Sunday. 'Nuff said.
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  • Day7

    Tuscon, AZ

    October 24, 2016 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 32 °C

    The hottest jog on record. Could hardly breathe and spent the whole second half in search of water...why do we do this to ourselves?? Well I'm not sure but cold gatorade has never tasted so cluckin gooood!

    Tuscon has a chill vibe (hate that phrase but I'll use it). It's home to the university of Arizona and the student prominence is evident throughout. Downtown is relatively low rise and the main street is dotted with cute bars and restaurants. One of which (skybar) provided us a watering hole and an opportunity to test our (lack of) US knowledge in the local quiz. We sucked. So did the team we joined. I hate the wooden spoon.

    I'll also mention scott broke the hotel waffle maker. Hard not spit my OJ across the table when the biggest blackest man I've ever seen walks in and shouts "Awww shiiiit. This waffle maker's busted, mayyyyn!"
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  • Day8

    Guadalupe National Park, TX

    October 25, 2016 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 23 °C

    Highest point in Texas!

    Our first stop in Texas made for a tough decision. Take a short jog on a loop track or commit to the 6-8 hour trek up to Guadalupe Peak. The risk was that it was 3pm when we got there and sundown was at about 6.30.

    Fool hardy with a she'll be right attitude we stuffed our backpacks with water and sugar and made the ascent. By 'made' I mean we coughed, spluttered and snot-rocketed our way to the top, climbing 1000m over 7km. The views were worth a million dollars!

    Obviously work like that deserves a calorific reward, and where better to award that than a good old fashioned texan smokehouse bbq, washed down with a bud. Slept like a baby that night!
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  • Day9

    Carlsbad Caverns, NM

    October 26, 2016 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 23 °C

    Descending 800 feet below the desert plains, these caves could be the 8th natural wonder if the world. Calcium based caverns extend miles down into the subterrain, the full extent remains undiscovered, with some chambers as large as four football fields!

    In true American style, at the base of the largest of the chambers, and deepest accessible to the public, was a lift, a cafe and a gift shop. I don't blame them...an 800 foot, 2.5mile ascent would have been rough on the legs considering the previous days activity.

    For any geeks, the formation of the caverns is quite fascinating. Millions of years ago, the desert lay deep beneath the ocean allowing a coral reef to grow in the shallows. As time passed and the sea levels subsided, the coral reef became exposed briefly, before becoming covered by wind blown sediment. This sediment later became compacted to form a sandstone layer around the reef. As the sea levels continued to subside, the ground water followed. However, pores in the calcium based ex-reef allowed rainwater to percolate downward which, when mixed with chemicals from the sandstone, chemically broke down the reef from the inside out. This caused a swiss cheese effect and as the pores grew they overlapped and became the caverns visible today. The stalactites and stalagmites are formed by the same process above but in reverse. The calcium-heavy water evaporates on contact with the air leaving behind only the calcium.
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