Thursday, December 29, 2005

I am sailing, I am sailing...

Got into Gibraltar, greeted by the sunshine, arrived on the ship, Stavros S Niarchos, and got assigned our cabins and watches (3 watches on ship, because someone has to be on duty 24 hours a day so the watches rotate). We were lucky because there were only 8 girls but 24 boys so the girls cabins were really empty and we had loads of room to make a mess of. No time to visit the monkeys but we had a bit of time to have a few drinks, before we set sail.

And then we were off, spain on the starboard side and morocco on port side but soon there was no land in sight at all and it was 5 days before we saw any again. Lots of other stuff to see though, dolphins swimming alongside, turtles, whales, flying fish, bioluminescent plankton that light up in the nighttime and the stars, soooo amazing.

On the third day there was a wicked swell and the seasickness started to kick in, but at least the fish were kept well fed, what with half the crew being sick over the side of the boat. Wishes were made on the shooting stars we saw in the hope we would all feel better again.

The next day all was right again, and the sun was shining so siestas on the bow sprit (the pole and netting that is at the front of the ship)were the order of the day, really, really cool.

The morning of Christmas eve, and land was in sight once more. Passing north of tenerife we watched the sunrise over mount teide, and headed into Santa Cruz de La Palma. Time to explore, buy presents in our capacities as secret santas and have a dip in the sea, sure all the locals thought we were crazy brits but the sea was plenty warm enough to swim in (and i'm a wimp normally) although a bit cool when we got out. Didn't stay too long on dry land though, back to the boat, the whole land sickness thing was getting to people and standing still upright required a lot of effort. Back to the Stavros for BBQ and music on deck. Counted down to Christmas day, santa had found some people aboard the boat so presents were opened, but it was fairly quiet really. We were all too knackered.

So Christmas day, started off with sunshine and shore leave, had to keep reminding ourselves it was Christmas. Went on a tour of the island christmas morning, then christmas dinner, which was excellent and the atmosphere with 50 people in our the tiny mess room was great, although not much elbow room. A little rest to let lunch settle and then off for another dip in the sea. In the evening there was a fiesta on the quayside, we danced along the quay to flamenco pop music, had a quiet festive drink and watched the fireworks at midnight.

Boxing day arrived and time to set sail again, headed for tenerife. I was at the helm as we sailed out of port, a little bit scary, there were lots of things to hit, but we successfully avoided all of them. And finally we had some really good wind, heading down between Tenerife and La Gomera. And then it was time to climb the masts and stow the sails because we'd reached Santa Cruz in Tenerife, the end of the journey. A few drinks in the town in the evening and then time to say goodbyes.

Friday, June 17, 2005

San Fran to St Louis (the long way round)

So in short from San Francisco we went to Yosemite, then north to Crater Lake in Oregon, Mount St Helens, Seattle, Olympic National Park, Victoria on Vancouver Island in Canada, Vancouder, Banff, Calgary, Yellowstone, Mount Rushmore, Badlands and back to St Louis. Suffice to say, it was really cool and saw lots of great things and lots of wildlife (bears, whales, moose, elk, buffalo, wolves etc.)

Click here to see the whole route.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Vegas to San Fran

Las Vegas Boulevard
Las Vegas Boulevard,
originally uploaded by ebygomm.
So the bright lights of Vegas were cool, a very surreal place, had lots of fun. From Vegas the next stop was the Grand Canyon, we spent one very cool night at the top (24 Fahrenheit!) and hiked down into the Canyon the next day and then back up again. So after the cool nights at the Grand Canyon we decided we'd had enough of the cold and headed to Death Valley on Friday 13th. Spent the night in Furnace Creek which was lovely and warm as the name would suggest and explored the valley in the morning before it got too hot. Thankfully Richie (the car has been christened) made it out and we decided to head to Sequoia NP. It wasn't made easy by encountering road closures that added 70 miles to the trip and some hills that Richie really wasn't keen to do. Sequoia was cool, saw some BIG trees and walked through the snow in my flip flops, perhaps not the wisest footwear choice. Travelled to Kings Canyon, saw some amazing waterfalls and camped the night. And then it rained, and rained and rained, pretty much most of the night. Not discouraged by this we packed up our stuff and headed to Yosemite where we learnt that it had also rained and was now CLOSED due to flooding... by this time we were a little bit down and seeing as the NPS didn't know when it was going to be open again we decided to head for the coast and hopefully some sun. Well, we found the coast, but the sun was a little bit less reluctant to cooperate. Driving up Hwy 1 through Monterey and Santa Cruz we arrived in San Francisco last Wednesday in the rain and people told me it hardly ever rains in California - liars! Well, finally the sun was back and we've had a couple of good days here. We're leaving tomorrow, not quite sure where yet but the general direction is North.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Missouri to Utah

Delicate arch
Delicate arch,
originally uploaded by ebygomm.
Well, we’re nearly a week into our trip and everything is going well. We’ve seen all kinds of scenery and all kinds of weather – often in the same day!

So, I spent my birthday in Denver, wandering around and had coffee in starbucks, then we drove to the rockies where we realized we would have to be absolutely crazy to try and camp so we stayed the night in a motel. Went hiking the next day, saw lots of snow and elk and ground squirrels. Alberto tried to hike across a snow covered lake and got wet feet! Then from the rockies we headed west, stayed the night in a ski town, stocked up on food for the next week from the free buffet breakfast and then headed to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. Scenery was absolutely amazing, we camped the night there, saw some deer and froze our butts off! Next stop was Arches National Park, with a brief stop at WALMART (where else?) for supplies. And here starts the adventure….

So we made it to the visitor centre, got out, came back and the car wouldn’t start. We tried for a while, but eventually had to get a ranger to get some jump leads and help us out. Well it started no problems so it all seemed good and we headed out into the park. Lots of great scenery, but about 16 miles in the car decided to die – aaarrgghhh! Well, some nice German guys gave us another jump and we made it another 5 miles and then we got another jump and we made it about 3 miles and another one and then the car was DEAD! So after passing messages on to tell the rangers we were stuck and seeing the sun come down, one came out and phoned the tow truck which was paid for courtesy of triple A. So the very nice tow truck man took us to a hostel in Moab and took the car to the garage. The next day the car had a new alternator and we were 100 pounds poorer but on the road again. Went back to arches and saw all the sites and then we headed to our next stop for the night on the way to Capitol
Reef. It’s all going great until the car starts to vibrate really badly at 55mph. We checked the tyres and they all seemed fine so we carried on, (slowly). We got to this amazing campsite at Goblin Valley State park, and decided we’d sort out the car in the morning. The weather was kind of funky, thunder, lightening, mini-sandstorms but by far the warmest we’d been so far. In the morning, the front tyre was completely flat so we guessed that was the problem. Changed the tyre for the spare, went to see the goblins in the valley, and then went in search of a new tyre – easier said than done in the middle of utah. Eventually found a place – only 70 miles down the road! – so we were on the road again with a new tyre, and the spare in it’s rightful place in the engine compartment (we’d had it taking up valuable trunk/boot space for all of the trip). Drove through some amazing scenery, total whiteout up in the mountains and then canyons and sandstone features and ended up here having in a little coffee shop in Escalante with an internet connection.