A Hike comes before a Fall at the Grand Prismatic Spring

The lovely couple we met over breakfast in Gardiner gave us some good advice. They said they had been coming here for 20 years but only just found the hike above the Grand Prismatic Spring, and they said that was even more stunning than walking up to it on the boardwalk. They were right!

Grand Prismatic Spring view

The Grand Prismatic Spring is a stunningly beautiful multicoloured spring in Yellowstone National Park. the lovely colours are caused by a combination of minerals and thermophilic bacteria (bacteria that like heat) so at different temperatures attract different types of bacteria.

We “hiked” (aka. walked) up from the Fairy Falls trailhead to the hill at the back of the Grand Prismatic Spring. It wasn’t the easiest of hikes; at one point the people in front started walking back towards us, and we realised a bison was on the path coming towards us! Continue reading

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The Briddish are coming… Road Trip to New Orleans

Our drive to New Orleans, along the majestic Mississippi, was nothing if not interesting.

Mississippi River 1We stopped at a Taco Bell outside New Orleans and the lady was really friendly and said she loved our accents, and she had friends in Europe. For a bit of fun, I asked her to guess where our accent was from. Continue reading

How to Plan the Perfect Road Trip

Everyone loves a Road Trip. There is something special about having the wind in your hair, radio on, singing along, leaving all your troubles behind. But if a trip is not well planned it could fall flat. So here are a few Rules simple principles to help you have a great trip.

Near Monument ValleyRule 1 – Pick a good travel companion.

Whatever happens on the road – good or bad – it’s great to have someone to share it with. Ideally someone who doesn’t annoy the crap out of you. Continue reading

Skiing near SLC : Alta, Beta, Cookie!

So… here we are – my third skiing blog. Following my Austrian skiing and French skiing attempts, I confirm that I have not improved. I’m still terrible and my bottom still has a fatal attraction to the ground.

We started the day gently with a walk in the snow (no skis involved) to take in the beautiful scenery of Alta, Utah. The crisp air, sunny blue skies and beautiful mountains conspired to create a very pleasant stroll indeed. Just when I thought this might be for me after all, I saw an infant ski class follow each other off a cliff one by one like lemmings (they were unhurt and delighted, I should add. I was not.)

Alta ski resort, near SLCWe hadn’t packed full ski gear for this trip obviously, so it was just a matter of wearing normal trousers and a waterproof coat and hoping you didn’t fall over.  Continue reading

Challenging the Land Speed Record, Bonneville Salt Flats

We couldn’t visit Salt Lake City without visiting the nearby Salt Flats.  Mainly because we didn’t go to Bolivia on our South America trip, and I wasn’t sure I’d ever get to a salt flat otherwise. And it was only an inch away on the map. Unfortunately I had failed to spot the scale of the map, so I did not realise that 1 inch on the map was frickin’ ages in real life! One straight road and 2 hours later we were glad we had cruise control on our car. I’ve never had cruise control before, but it’s like putting a brick on the accelerator. (I would imagine…!)

After a false-start where we thought we were there but in fact I was hallucinating and seeing sand not salt (who can tell the difference?!), we arrived at Bonneville Salt Flats.

Bonneville Salt FlatThis is where the land speed records were set in the 1930s by Malcolm Campbell in Bluebird, and subsequently by others. I suspect that they weren’t actually attempting to break any records; they were just supremely bored on the mammoth drive from SLC, so put their foot down. Continue reading

Salt Lake City: Don’t Poo in the Pool!

When you say Salt Lake City, you think Mormon. So how can I start with anything else? Salt Lake City is the centre of the Mormon Church (the Church of Latterday Saints) and the city centre really revolves around this. We found Temple square interesting and went to a Tabernacle organ recital which was beautiful.

Mormon Temple, SLCWe saw the Jesus statue and looked around the exterior of the main church there. It was all interesting to look around, and there’s no mistaking where you are. Continue reading

Monument Valley : Are we there yet?!

Before we went on this trip, my BF’s boss was asking me about our plans. “Will you see Monument Valley at dawn?” he asked. “Oh yes” I said confidently “we surely will!”.  Did we? Hell no! Reality intervened – we struggle to get up for check-out, let alone dawn. Humph. However we did get there, which is the main thing, right?!

On the road going into Monument Valley we passed a few large natural sculptures of red rock. We kept stopping the car for photos; the conversation reflecting our natural intelligence…

“So is this Monument Valley or just some rocks?”

” I dunno. We better take a photo just in case”.

Red rock sculpturesWe needn’t have worried – we knew Monument Valley when we saw it. Continue reading

Disorientation 101 : London Bridge in Arizona?!

Our aim was to drive from Las Vegas to Flagstaff, which would give great access to the Grand Canyon. However, after we saw a place on the map called “London Bridge”, who wouldn’t stop?! Well, maybe someone who wanted to get to Flagstaff before midnight, but we were not that person.

London Bridge, in Lake Havasu City, Arizona, was one of the most bizarre places we’ve ever been. Obviously we’ve been to the “proper” London Bridge – the one that’s in London. Who knew that there was another real London Bridge in the middle of the desert in Arizona?

London Bridge, Arizona!Apparently London used to have a smaller London Bridge, but when cars were invented and what not, they wanted a bigger bridge, so, they, um, built one. Meanwhile, some Americans bought the old bridge, took it to America (not in one piece – I imagine it wouldn’t fit on the plane) and re-built it. Continue reading

Kagoshima: My first live Volcano!!

Normally in a hotel you would find evacuation advice in the event of a fire. Here there was advice in the event of a volcanic eruption! I can’t say I wasn’t worried! But I took comfort in the fact that they have technology to monitor the volcano, and procedures in place for what to do if it erupts. Preparedness (or “oonagi”, as Friends would say!) is probably the key. There were also trenches down the side of the volcano to filter the magma away from houses and towards the sea. The biggest safety-net is probably that the volcano is located on an island, so the sea would presumably act as a buffer between the volcano and the town. Nevertheless, an ash cloud could easily cover a town – that’s right – I paid attention in Geography! 🙂

In fact, Geography was one of my favourite subjects at school, so I was fascinated by the volcano despite my fear of it! We took a boat from Kagoshima (the town) over to the island where the volcano (Mount Sakurajima) was located. Continue reading

Tokyo: Welcome to Japan!

My conscientious boyfriend had been learning Japanese all the way around New Zealand. We struck a deal – I would drive and he would learn Japanese. Sounds fair! On the plane to Japan we were strangely calm… which is really very strange looking back, as we had not booked any accommodation and we couldn’t speak the language. I attempted to learn my usual repertoire of words (Yes, No, Thank you, Please, Sorry). My boyfriend on the other hand had a fairly good grasp of basic phrases, (do you have a non-smoking table please? please could we have a room for one night? do you speak English? etc). He practised his Japanese language on the air-steward on the plane, who informed us that Japanese people do not say “No” as it is considered rude. This threw us a bit, as “No” was one of the words we had learnt!

On the train on the way into Tokyo we felt scruffy – everyone was very well dressed. In our previous travels we had felt like the rich westerners – now we felt like people were going to give us money as donations for food. 😉

We arrived in Tokyo late at night and went to a nearby hotel. My boyfriend asked for a room in his best Japanese. The hotel man (who was standing about a metre from him) pointed at him and laughed loudly. To this day I have no idea why – whether he said “penis” by mistake or his accent was funny… who knows! Obviously I found it very rude at the time and felt sorry for poor boyfriend who had taken a great deal of time and effort to learn the language. But looking back it is pretty hilarious! I have resolved to point and laugh at my boyfriend more often, for my amusement. If he asks why, I’ll say I’m being cultural. Continue reading