April 27thIt's such a good week, getting ready to escape overseas, will be strange for the weather to go from almost snowing to back over the 100 degree mark. We are looking forward to having some 'us' time. Closing the office, email etc, a time to recharge and recover.
My friend in the tax department was telling me how so many people who have kids with the same christian name or even the same first letter- example dad is Paul Smith and his kid is Pete Smith (so all cheques etc get made payable to P. Smith) and they hide extra dollars in the kids account. She told me it's fairly common but most of them get busted because they make some stupid mistake or someone dobs them in. There are probably whole families of Paul, Pete, Penelope, Phil and Pilate Smiths avoiding tax. So if you know of any families who only use the same initial on all their kids that could be what they are doing. The lengths some sad bastards go to avoid paying a few bucks, such a weird world.
The Crowdies are working on some brand new unheard of songs I hear..... so the wheels are turning. It's tempting to ask more but while they are making the music and obviously very happy- it's something you don't want to interrupt.
Good to see Iowa say yes to gay marriage- get rid of that moron Arnold from Kaliforkneea and it will happen their- not far away. With so many straight couples unable to keep their relationships in tact, the gay couples need to show them how it's done. *GRIN*.
April 28thLast chance for Dr Chiro to do his thing, get me ready for all the flights and serious desert driving in Nevada. I leave ready to rock.
I give our friends at travellex a call and they put aside some american dollars. Nice to use cash instead of Amex cards on this one- don't worry America we arrive soon, and we'll help your economy *GRIN*.
Had 2 returns on Judd cds that are crappy and scratched, please note if anyone else has scratched copies email Phil direct via his website and he can replace them- he received the money from these and we have zero stock, so he will look after you on any second rate copies. He basically supplied what was needed so he has all the stock, and heaps and heaps left so it won't be a problem to replace, he has an abundance of spare cds. We've only had one request for it over the past month, so it's pretty much dead via us. I'm sure his website would have copies available if you need one.
April 29thSee Cromb today, gives us all this fruit that Sal's sister grows, you just taste the difference between home grown and supermarket- amazing. Call in for a haircut etc, nice to have it short for the desert. We load up the suitcases with mail, there is so much- it's time's like this I realise how big the Finn Brothers- Crowdies database is. It just keeps on growing too. Insane. So we'll be heading to America with thousands of envelopes, 5 pairs of undies and 4 pairs of socks. Customs will just go, 'what the fuck' when they open our bags. The mobile mail centre that's us.
Tim Finn's THE CONVERSATION is having some second breath of wind, quite a few Emails coming in , people wanting to order it, so we'll be making that one available again, another small box of signed covers arrived, so an added bonus for fans. We've had an extra 100 orders in just over a week. I keep hearing it in CD stores, so not sure if it's EMi or fans that work in record shops that play it. He's working away with Eddie and a few other musicians in NZ as we speak. The Best Of is out in a few months.
Killing myself laughing at a track called 'some of best friends' from the latest Pansy Division cd, one of the lyrics goes ' I'd rather fuck an asshole than be one just like you'- what a great line, I sure know who i'll send that line too. Brilliant! Gay Punk Rock rules.
April 30thI forward on Reg Mombassa's invite to Noel as he showed some interest in the upcoming Reg art show, seeing we are side tracked and can't make it. The show in Melbourne is still on when we return so we'll be able to see it when we get back. I love Reg's work and he's a nice old geezer. he has done all the tourism posters and adverts for Sydney, they are everywhere. he does well from his art, just creates and creates instead of talking about it- he does it.
Jeanie sends the Obama tee for me for my birthday, great timing too as it's Mr O's 100th day in office. It sounds like America still has confidence in him, at least it keeps a few people positive which is something. Unemployment in the States seems to be climbing fast though, which is a worry. I just think of Obama as trying to plug an endless amount of leaks- hope people realise he only has so many fingers and toes.
May 1stSad day as Joan the chook dies. We knew her time was coming, as the poor old chickens don't live very long- the Isa Brown's seem to die earlier. They are a hybrid chicken- a cross between a Rhode Island Red and a Rhode Island White. They were developed in 1978 as a battery hen-which is horrible. At least we freed ours from battery cages to several acres. Just leaves Belinda the black hen- but we'll get her some mates when we return. The only good thing about this is that she died while we were still here so we got to bury her next to her sister. Banshee came and watched..later on I was walking down one of the trails and I spotted Belinda sitting in front of the grave and she was making chicken noises-like she was talking- sad. I'm not going to tell my mum her name sake has died, well not unless I have to.
May 2ndHave a coffee at The Verandah-take some work and spend an hour just playing catch up. People leave me alone , so I get a lot done.
The gorgeous Miss K sends me a fresh Route 66 tee which I will wear on the plane as we approach Hawaii- something fresh, new and cool to wear. God those gals spoil me, I get embarrassed by it, and yeah love it, good people.
Today I start to empty the vegetable patch, and add in the chicken poo etc- gross but healthy. I leave it without any vegies for a month so it can get full of nutrient. Plus one of the compost bins is nearby so it's getting fed every day. Wish I could expand the vegetable patch, but it's a bit to maintain. Maybe in the 2nd part of the year, love to have a huge plot with nothing but vegetables growing wild.
May 3rdThe Chestnut Festival at Kalorama is on again. All monies raised helps the local school so I'll go and buy some stuff and support it. Mark is working in the office....so just me. The street is packed full of cars as is the road. I spot Jodie and Jason and the kids and walk down with them. I see car owners stressing over the zero parking spots, so I stupidly tell the lead car- to go around the corner and park at the back gate, there is room for 3 cars. He see's me walking out of the circular drive and the huge gates- and thinks I mean IN OUR YARD....all the other cars follow. So a dozen cars pull into our yard!!!!!!!!! I just laugh, Mark will think it's an invasion.
The festival is packed, it's a fine day. Our neighbours kids are fun, the girls take me around for the side show games and I win them some prizes for them. It's a safe environment for them, no creepy old men about. Meanwhile the Mount Dandenong drum group are playing their hearts out and they are brilliant. Our neighbours boy is in the group and we are cheering them on, love seeing parents being proud of their kids. Good people up here, no arseholes and we get along with the locals-hey I guess we are now local. Strangers come up and say hello- I know their faces but for most not their names- as you know dear diary I am hopeless in that department. It was also cool as a few people thanked us for our work on the Sound Relief Show, and said they were proud to see the Kalorama CFA Tee on the big screen. A few people walk home with me. I walk through the gates and notice only one car remains in the Green Car Parking Arena. Mark comes out , he is waiting for them to return, I explain the mix up and we laugh. Next year we are charging $5 per car! *GRIN*
Benny calls to say goodbye, he's doing the sound for the Logie's tonight. It's kind of our cheesy tv show awards night. Mark and myself have a history of sitting on the couch like two young bitches and picking it apart., especially the public voted awards. Natalie B was on singing some horrid crap song, what a loud of crap- hate that MOR shit. It's close to midnight when it finishes...the Logies and bitching are over for another year.
It's not too insane today, our flight to Sydney isn't till 2.00. So we can get something for breakfast and have a calm morning. Banshee so knows something big is going down and walks around meowing., at one stage she tries to hide in my suitcase, the big hairy cat tail hanging out the end of the bag might f gave it away. We grab her and put her in her cat cage and off we go. The security system is on till our friend arrives, our neighbours are also keeping an eye on the place. Banshee jumps straight into her cat house at the Pet Hotel. It always leaves me feeling so guilty- she looks at me with those big eyes like she has broken probation and is in jail. At least her cell is large and has a sun balcony. It's only a short time, she'll be ok. They do a lot of one on one with the animals here.
The flight to Sydney leaves on time and even though our mail crammed bags are way over weight , they waiver it and say they love our bands. So thankfully no hidden costs. We do get spoilt, it seemed like everyone else was unpacking their suitcases to make them lighter.
Sydney to Honolulu we are in business or Star Class. The seats are a bit cramped because of my husbands long legs but we suffer in silence and we read most of the way. I'm loving Jon Ginoli's book on Pansy Division, such a fun read, especially for those who are interested in a band on the road with a twist- some funny moments too. Such a cool early birthday present.
Honolulu airport is wonderful, bags, immigration and customs all in 20 minutes. No bull shit. Why can't all American airports be like this. I never think of Hawaii as being America, it seems less paranoid. Arrive at the Hotel around 9.00 in the morning, an hour later they have the room ready for us. Normally check in time is 3.00 in the afternoon. It's a good room, the penthouse, so full lounge room and kitchen and 2 huge beds. Mark is all smiles, he is a 'good room slut' - never seen a man smile when the room is good, and oh yeah good pillows- his other obsession. I'm only his third obsession down the list.
We open our suitcases and fill up two big mail bags as well as juggling several parcels. Off we go with our Aussie Post bags to get these babies off to the fans. Thankfully I've done this before and know exactly where the post office is. It's all done, it's in the mail. Send Miss K a house warming present, hope she likes the small gifts...she has good tastes she will.
We do a bit of shopping, new Levi's are on special for $30+, and Hawaii's tax is only 4% (isn't it) so a bargain, these babies are around $120+ at home, so buy 3 pairs. In the change room I hear 4 different australian voices, it's packed full of Aussie tourists buying up big on Levi, as we leave we are all laughing, Australians love a good bargain. Also I fluke some deal on a Sony portable DVD player, and save heaps and get all bonus's and cash backs. I've packed some Zone 1 dvds in case the plane movies are not interesting so we have a few to watch. I spot some runners on the way out for 50% off- love this USA recession. I've now treated myself for the whole trip, I rarely splurge like this anymore.
We have breakfast at Wailana, Mark calls me a freak because I only want one egg with bacon, instead of ten plates of food like everyone else around me. We walk to the Forts beach for a swim, the water is a bit cold so not in it for long. Nice to sit and watch the surf. Dig my toes deep into the sand and chill out.
We catch the #8 bus to Waikiki, the bus service in Hawaii is pretty amazing really, there seems to be endless buses and you never have to wait, another reason why I like to visit here.
Mark is filming beach scenes of scantily clad nymphs, they run up to him with their volley balls and jump up and down screaming 'film us, film us'. They all seem to have big breasts! OK reality, it wasn't really like that- chunky pink fat new zealanders clustered in the rock pools. Maybe the bronze sexy tourists come out at sunset? I have no idea why so many where kiwis, maybe it was a group.
Off to the Zoo, normally we avoid them but I've heard this one has some decent size spaces for it's animals. It's ok, I still hate animals being locked up- wish they could all roam free. Almost got my wish as a Cheetah and friend (almost) escape when we are filming. They have Banshee's ears. The Tigeress has 4 babies and they are amazing. I am captivated and watch them for ages. Beauty, innocence and fun.
We have a coffee after several hours of Zoo filming. Mark devours his first Frappuchino , and has some weird conversation about Stillnox! He can't remember falling asleep- who does?
Bus it back and get a #4 and walk down the water canals to the jetty. We spot a PC dumped in the canal and make jokes that PC users are finally getting rid of their crap computers. Film it to bait our PC loving friends.
Go to the Indian restaurant for dinner and the owners gives me the usual table so I can watch the foot traffic go by. I do love to watch. The food here is good.
We saw the new promo for Tru Blood Season two-excellent, starts June 14th. Grown to love the show after a shaky start.
May 6thHonolulu- Las Vegas
I make us some breakfast in the kitchen, all healthy, it's going to be a long travel day.
Our first time with Hawaiian airlines (we've heard good things) and hey a direct flight to Vegas so avoiding horrid LAX. Arrive at the airport and check in, we are waiting for Marks Mum and Allen to arrive from Australia., they are on the same flight to Vegas with us.
Fun to have the in laws along. They are a no show at the ticket area so I know they will be at the gate, the airlines would of done a quick baggage transfer after immigration I'm sure. We arrive at the gate and no sign of them. I tell Mark to sit and use my spider sense to track them down.... 5 minutes later I find Margaret in a book store, of course she's checking out the Dean Koontz books. I tap her on the shoulder and ask if there are any books by the 'noted author' PG! It's good to see them both, I somehow freeze my throat by gulping an ice coffee and lose my voice (some may say a miracle).
We are first class, the ticket price with Hawaiian was amazing, the cost of an economy ticket elsewhere- first class for them. The food is brilliant, you get a choice of 3 small meals from 5. Chef Bev Gannon is their main food person and she is everything that horrid Gordon Ramsay isn't. Talented, and just classy and creates amazing meals. It didn't feel, taste like airline food- when can you ever say that. Even the rolls were warm and fresh not frozen. We will be flying them again- can't rate this airline high enough. They left on time too- the flight attendants were happy and helpful- though one guy did spill a glass of ice water on me! He was forgiven, and hey he had a very cool tattoo . Plus you know if they do something like that, they tend to spoil you more for the rest of the flight. It's not a long flight, just 5 hours 30 minutes.
We arrive close to midnight and Vegas is glowing out of the desert, like daylight. No Vampires could ever live in this town. Our bags are out straight away, the in laws almost last but thats ok. I look over and see Mark laughing with his Mum- made me feel all good. They are staying elsewhere and we check into the usual Circus Circus- I like the idea of people on trapeze flying over your head while playing the slot machines. Mark has a shower, I head downstairs and win $60 US within 5 minutes. I cash out head back upstairs more the richer before he is out of the shower. We get some sleep, not much noise in the corridors, think I have a cold coming on.
May 7thLas Vegas
Decide we want Dennys of all things for breakfast, but we are eating healthy tonight. The buffets at the casinos are horrible, fatty food and people stuffing their faces. Saying all that I have Dennys 'sampler' and I'm sure those mozzarella sticks will kill me!!! We walk up to the worlds biggest souvenir store-gift shop . The BONANZA. It's up near the Sahara. Buy some gifts. They have all this funny stuff. Our favourite was UNDERPANTS FOR SQUIRRELS. This cardboard squirrel cut out , with some real small Y-Fronts. I stupidly put it back, it's only a few bucks. For the next 2 weeks we go on endlessly about Squirrel Underpants- really I should of bought them. I was going to ask one of our vegas fans to buy them and send them the money, but instead I found THE SQUIRREL UNDERPANTS website.
So yes as luck will have it you can order squirrel undies online. Check out the site especially the clip it is hysterical. The fact that you can buy Y-fronts for squirrels on-line says that everything really IS available via the NET! Here is the site: http://www.squirrelunderpants.com/
God I love America...where else could you buy such things.
The new Star Trek movie makes $72.5 million dollars on the first few opening days. Out of the 11 Trek movies so far this is by far the highest opening. The next being First Contact which opened with about $30 million. At the time of writing it has already made it's budget back from USA ticket sales alone and is $70 million in profit. Great for the franchise and great for Sci Fi.
We give Bec a call for her birthday (we allow for being behind by a day). We catch her at home and it's nice to have a chat, expensive though, the hotel charges through the ceiling for International Calls- bastards.
May 8thLas Vegas
I wake up excited, we are off to the Neon Graveyard-Boneyard today. I've kept Mark awake half the night as I have some weird throat thing so I'm hardly breathing in my sleep. It's like sleep apnea which is a dangerous (and annoying) I feel guilty.
At 10.00 I go down to get our hire car, it's meant to be a Pontiac and I end up with a brand new white Mustang! Oh baby- sexy purrrr. I will have to keep an eye on my lead foot with this one. It has a portable GPS, the USA GPS are nowhere as good as the Australian-NZ ones, ours are far more detailed, but it will still get us from A-B, so that is the main thing. This car looks fast- I am tempted to sit in the captains driving seat and just say 'engage' as I'm sure it can drive itself.
Drive to Las Vegas Blvd North to the Reed Whipple Cultural centre and link up with a few people to head to the Neon Boneyard. The place where all the old casino signs go to die. Actually that's not totally true, the people who look after them restore a few each year and they are displayed around Vegas. I meet lovely Erin who organised this for us and granted me my wish, it's hard to get in and see these- but we have cameras and the HD video, so looking forward to it. We also have a guide who knows the history of the signs. He loves everything Australian and proudly tells me how he can make pavlova and loves vegemite. I tell him that New Zealand declared THEY created pavlova (I always thought it was actually named after Anna Pavlova- the famous russian ballerina!!!) I know she stayed at the Esplanade Hotel in Perth in 1935 and Anna stayed their in 1930's...and chef Bert Sachse who worked there created a desert in her honour...so who knows Australia or NZ...... am I side tracked or what.
The Laundry Girl via Eye sign. Neon Graveyard-Vegas
At first look through the huge wire fence the Neon Graveyard looks small. It's not, walkways between hundreds of rotting neon signs weave and turn. Our guide is great, amazing knowledge and just a nice guy. After 5 minutes you can feel this vibe and just soak up the history. Mark is filming and tries not to fall behind, I take quite a lot of shots. I love 'the laundry girl' and take a snap through a curved eye of another sign. The silver slipper, golden nugget, stardust are the most known ones, but so many others like Joes Longhorn Casino, the massive pool playing man, still as solid as the day he was made, all metal....the big crown from the Royal Hotel Nevada, sassy Sally's sign from Fremont street...so many so much history.
I loved the original Burger King sign next to the Wedding Chapel sign, some areas you just peep behind masses of broken signs and you will spot iconic stuff like Kentucky Fried Chickens original giant bucket, it's endless and we love it. You do have to look where you walk, there are fire ants and broken light globes. At one stage I actually find a real bone in the neon Boneyard...our guide gets a chuckle out of that. There are a few other people with us, most nice except for one guy who insists on smoking a cigar- he's a wanker and pretty much storms off, what the fuck is his problem. People roll their eyes, all this amazing history and someone has to be annoying. ..all over a boring old cigar-tosser.
The graveyard is divided into two areas, and you find shade for 5 minutes under a tree, while they do the count- every so often someone is locked in, in 100+ heat and no shade it's probably the last thing you want. We are wearing our hats, so shade from the sun, a couple of other people are looking rather sunburnt, I give them some sun block. I love the original Alladin's Lamp. Only one sign has been almost destroyed. A vagrant lived inside it and one day he set it on fire , think it was a giant chicken, honestly cant remember. It's been a great afternoon and the people at the Neon Museum - are so nice to us- special thanks to the gorgeous Erin who makes my wish come true. I'm in their office and am amazed by the original drawings of the Stardust framed on the wall- all fine pencil, pen work- beautiful . If you go to Vegas try and go to the Neon Graveyard, and bring your camera, it's one of those places that is unique.
I drive us to Wal Mart on Eastern Ave. It's a super store and pretty much empty. It feels like people are not spending money in this country, keeping those purse strings wired shut. Mark buys some cheap Blu Rays. I play with the Wolverine strap on claws in the toy department and buy the 'Caprica' dvd of the tv show, set in the Battlestar Galactica universe. I also see a doctor who's nearby about this throat cough thing, and get some pills to de -clag my throat (charming-ych). I know I'm keeping Mark awake, I'm keeping myself awake.
Back at the hotel and I call mum to wish her a happy mothers day, she says she didn't think I'd get to make the call so she is happy. We have dinner at Voga, which is located inside the Flamingo. The food is pretty good. It's Mothers Day so Margaret scores high on the food list and orders lobster, her 2 sons, the real one and me the adopted one treat them to dinner. A nice night. Next take some photos out on the strip, family shots, Mark grins and bares it, just.... he hates having his photo taken.
We head back to our room and grab the HD video camera and we film the strip at night. Watch the volcano erupt at the Mirage. I take some cool reflective shots, and try some new camera angles, we get our footage. I'm amazed at how many women try to pick us up (and one of them asked us to pay!!!!).
May 9thLas Vegas- Chloride-Grand Canyon
Wake up early and pack. We meet Margaret and Allan at the entry to Circus Circus and walk down the strip for some breakfast. We say our goodbyes and wish them well for the their next few days of holiday. We check out and drive the Mustang onto the freeway and head towards the Grand Canyon. I do my 'we're off to the Grand Canyon kids' Mr Brady line.
We call into my much loved 'Dead Cow' store at Boulder city. The guy remembers us, in the end we get some discounts too. Buy a few more indian tiles for the kitchen back home, and some funky mexican death figures. One a bride, one a groom and one a guitarist. They are all in the own little painted boxes with glass fronts and glitter side- love them. Hopefully customs wont flip over the wooden parts. DEAD COW has fantastic green glass, drinking glasses... so cheap $3.00.
It seems like a long drive today, we are both a bit sunburnt. Mark has bought me the new Dylan album so that is on in the car- another fine effort from Robert Zimmerman.
Mark spots the tun off to Chloride (we are on Hwy 93). A small town built around 1860, with the Cerbat Mountains rising behind it. We call into the general store and get a cold drink. We know the famous Roy Purcell murals are around this area and ask directions. They are about a mile and half east of the store. The road has some huge holes so it's hiking time for your favourite explorers. For those who don't know about Purcells murals...they were started in 1966 and titled 'The Journey'. Abstract Modernism, and very vibrant. They have been touched up in the last 3 years, by Purcell himself. They had a huge cherry picker to do it so it would of been much easier compared to when they were first painted. They are 2000 square feet of rocks, and well worth climbing up amongst them with your camera.
Today it's incredibly hot outside, a typical desert day. You are surrounded by dirt, a few cactus and lizards. I carry some juice and we head off. Both of us are dying to pee, so we head off road for a nature call, this is probably the most water the desert has received *GRIN*. We see maybe 4 people and they have all turned back from the hike, given up and look exhausted. It's not a long hike but the road is steep, rocky, and zero shade. We are the only ones with hats. The walk area is sign posted well with painted arty directional arrows on the rocks. It feels forever but we turn the corner and there are the murals. They just jump out off the rocks. Road Trip America has a half decent piece on the murals, located at: http://www.roadtripamerica.com/places/chloride.htm
I leave Mark to his own devices , as he films them in HD. I clammer up the huge boulders like some freaky mountain goat, art like this always gives me a second breath of life. I love Marky for suggesting and so glad I just turned off to Chloride. I wonder how many people live around here that have never made the day trip to view these. At the foot of the murals you will see three rock-on-rock creation. It stands like an exclamation mark. In Indian track lore it means 'something of importance'. I put this here. It's something I do every so often. I'm sure someone will remove it, or maybe others will add small rock piles nearby. So if you go to the murals and see three rocks on rocks nearby, think of me. I left it as a compliment to Purcells artwork creation. I also left a few rock -on-rocks on the walk ways....
The walk back to the car was much easier, almost down hill. We find one of the many mining tunnel entrances, looks like a cave. These can be very dangerous so please don't enter if you find them near the tracks, if you do have an accident no one will find you. They are a bit spooky and I wonder if a mountain lion lives here as there are some tracks. We spot several other couples, all have given up on the hike. On days like this I'd say 9 out of 10 people would not do it. In some ways it makes Mark and myself feel rather happy that we did it and got to see Purcells 'journey'. The one funny foot note., As I turned off highway 93, down the road to Chloride, I saw a car coming in the opposite direction, directly towards me- I WAS DRIVING ON THE WRONG SIDE OF THE ROAD!!! I still remember their horrified faces, an old couple- mouths open. As I turned the Australian driver in me must of naturally taken me onto the other side....yieks. I corrected it but I will never forget their faces (or Marks for that matter).
We depart Chloride and head back on the highway to the Canyon. I turn off near Williams, a bit too early so we go through the town of Williams itself. I obey the speed limit and we have always liked this little town. A lot of families stay here instead of inside the Canyon Park itself as it's cheaper. We depart the town and I move my speed up from 35 to 40.... I see a police car, I tell Mark it looks like the policeman is reading Playboy! Suddenly he pulls me over.
Apparently the town line ends in about 500 yards so I am doing over the 35 speed limit. Cars are rushing past way faster then I was going, I know for sure it's this white Mustang- he has car-penis envy. He says I was doing 65 which is total rubbish, but I know the game so I am all innocence and polite. With police nothing is gained by taking the other front- lets face it, I could easily make him freak out, I know the right buttons (yes we all remember the Heathrow airport fat English bright pink cop don't we, I had steam coming out of his ears!). So I'm nice and polite, he takes my license and all the other paper work. We chat and he tells me that a $500 US fine would wreck my holiday. I haven't the heart to tell him I'd just leave the country and not pay it, but I say yes it would. He's actually ok and apart from his crouch almost in my face, he is nothing like that horrid English dick head cop. I get a warning, it's in writing, so a very cool souvenir. We say our goodbyes and he goes back to his Playboy..... oh it's not Playboy it's California Surf Boys. Hmm my gaydar obviously wasn't working, neither was his radar I think. The Gryphon escapes again. (Thanks Goddess)...I'm starting to wonder what he was really after with his crouch that close!!!
We arrive at the Canyon at dusk. Sadly El Tovar and Bright Angel are booked out for months. We take a punt on Kachina Lodge, it's 1/10th the price. We always stay at El Tovar..but hey we have a room over looking the Canyon itself so we'll suffer this. We still check in via El Tovar so I'm assuming they own it. After trying to find the parking area we eventually locate our room, and you know it's ok. It's clean, has a fridge and a view to die for. It's also very very quiet. The one complaint- Mark hates the pillows. I hear him during the night swearing at his pillows.He secretly accuses the cleaners of swapping his pillows back again (we traded) and I think he will be accusing chestnuts of lying next!!!!! he has pillow phobia.
The dining room at El Tovar closes at 10.00, we quickly change into decent shirts and shoes and I race ahead. The host looks like Nadine Hurley from Twin peaks TV show- she has an amazing eye patch. I find this to be some sort of beauty, a part of me loves faults and things like patches. I joke with her and she tells me few guests make her laugh and she will make sure we are fed, she summons the kitchen. I go to thank her later and she isn't about and none of the staff seem to know her name. How weird is that- she was real right?
Food is always good at El Tovar, it's THE up market establishment here, presidents and kings have dined here . Mark has the salmon, I have something more vegetarian. They also have pellegrino , no lemonata , so I get them to cut some fresh lemon and just add. It's a really nice dinner and recharges me. We take an evening walk and a breeze has picked up. Mark continues his boxer shorts tour of America (sorry private joke). Sexy old man he is.
Sleep surrounded by the sounds of the canyon, in the distance a howling coyote calls out to her mate, the moon is shining her light on this six million year old gorgeous gorge!
May 10thGrand Canyon
Wake up at some normal hour and I am captivated by the view from our window of the canyon. Not many people about, it's usually packed around the walk areas. This is a good sign. There seem to be a lot of Germans travelling America these days. We eat some breakfast at the Bright Angel. They have the worlds most horrid cappuccino - truly horrid. I miss Lilly Pillys coffee. We spot where the Mules are being kept and vow to visit them later on, they all have such incredible faces and personality's.
A few tourists around the top rim area. Mark and myself control our giggles as two, way way too excited Japanese tourists start screaming 'Condor condor' and pull out 10 cameras nine video recorders, a film crew and game show in excitement. We haven't the heart to tell them that they were so excited over..a black crow! For the next 10 minutes the Japanese jumped up and down and pointed 'condor condor'........ I was ruthless 'whale whale' I chanted......! Opps. bad me...my anti whaling stuff just floats around me.
Once again Death Valley has the highest temperature in the USA, it seems much cooler at the Canyon. We do wear our hats as we hike down the Bright Angel trail. A young condor flies over head, yes the real thing, not a crow pretending. Only 60 of this type exist, so we are honoured. The breeding scheme is working, talk about the edge of extinction. One of the rangers we are talking too is trying to find this woman and escort her out of the canyon, they found her kid and got him out. Anyway while we are all looking for the woman, the ranger points out some 1200 year old pictograph's. They are of deer and high up on one of the cliff sides. Actually considering it's the Canyon they are not very high from the trail itself, all things considered. They are at Mallerys Grotto.... it's about 100 yards down the trail next to the first tunnel. I've done this walk a few times and never knew. We told quite a few people and they were all amazed, none knew of these. We filmed some in HD from a distance, as we didn't want to disturb the area, and I never had our climbing gear with us. here is a link:
The ranger is great, fun lady and she chats for awhile and fills us in on a few of the other secrets of this remarkable place.
We see quite a few dehydrated people stumble out of the canyon today, been there done that. We film and I take a few good snaps, kind of standard Canyon snaps but I like them....
The squirrels are hopping about, one tries to steal Marks camera remote. I picture them wearing squirrel underpants!
In the afternoon we head to the Mules, once more no people so I snap away at their faces and we watch them, very frisky today-the mules not me! Ok I'm always frisky. They are very healthy and look happy, think they are looked after.
Dinner at Xanterra- food was ok. Send a few postcards mostly to family. Guilting that I left my address book at home, was going to call my 'USA' family but in the end just thought I'd keep it a trip for Marky and myself and a chance to recharge the batteries. All the hiking and climbing not sure how re charged I'll be. I see the deer tonight eating grass outside my window. They leave little present all over the walk way for old people to slip in.
May 11thGrand Canyon - Kayenta (Arizona)
Happy Birthday to me. Another year, but still holding together. Thank you to the many many people who Emailed, send cards and even some amazing presents. Sometimes I feel I am the happiest person in the world, I feel the love and it's all good.
We read in the paper that the soon to be re issued Rolling Stones albums have lyrics and in some cases verses removed, sanitised Stones- how horrible- surely this is a mistake. God help them with songs like "Star Star' (Star Fucker). This is one of the most horrible things we have ever read- if this came from the record company they should be shot. Revolting- it's like defacing art and if the band agreed to this they are idiots. It has to be a mistake.
We exit the Canyon via the other side-gate, past the Watch tower. It's not as popular but some fence free areas to film from make it tempting (and dangerous). Old people, endless sea's of grey are wobbling around ,walking slow and looking confused, forget rabbits it's the grey brigade that is taking over!!! I expect masses of them to stampede over the cliff like some old people death pact.
Another day of driving. We call into the Cameron trading post just north of Flagstaff on hwy 89. Next to the post is a footbridge and under it the dying remnants of the Grand Canyon (or the start of it depending which way you look at it). We climb over the cyclone fence and wire and stand on the edge, a chunk of rock that stretches out, 20 metres above the dry river bed floor. Who'd think this would go on to be the many mile deep Grand Canyon. Sit on the ground near the trading Post and sip a soda. Mark toasts me on my birthday.
We arrive Kayenta -Arizona in the afternoon, we were expecting a total crap hole and you know it's kind of ok. It's part of the Navajo nation, about 5000 people, so small. It's just south of Monument Valley where we are filming tomorrow. It is a alcohol free zone. It's 93% native american population. Mark picked the hotel a month back- the Hampton Inn and I have to say I wasn't expecting much, and you know- it's a really good hotel. New, clean, amazing Navajo blankets on the beds and cool lights. The room is brilliant- if heading to the valley- stay here. We go for a walk, there are about 6 shops and we discover a cinema. I have a vibe to see the Star Trek movie on my birthday- and know the odds are almost zero for it to be showing here. My birthday wish comes true- the new Star Trek movie IS on a Kayenta- I can't believe it. We go in and it's a small cinema-holds 100 people. I wonder if all tickets have gone ' no we haven't sold any yet' tells the ticket lady. We grab two. I feel like a burger of all things and head there for dinner- I spot the special kids meal packs with the free Star Trek figure in it so I score a Spock doing his 'live long and prosper' hand sign and know Marks mum, a trekkie from way back would love this. So I buy a kids meal too (with no kid in sight). The things I do to surprise people with special gifts.
We arrive the cinema and only 2 people are inside, it fills up and several dozen way too cool local indian kids are here for the Trek experience. The movie is brilliant, as I've said before. It's my favourite movie for 2009. The Kayenta audience loves it too- they get it- so good to see kayentians appreciating some sci fi. The franchise just got a huge boost and probably saved the Star Trek universe.
We leave the cinema and a small sand storm hits, it gets bigger the closer we get to the hotel. We see the Burger King pack, a group of dogs that live near Burger King, they are famous and on the net. Cute canines and we all feed them. I walk in and the phone rings, it's our buddy Bec from Melbourne singing Happy Birthday- so stoked one of our friends called from home- yey 'Melbourne calling' , always nice when people make the effort. The final nice thing on a fantastic birthday. Thanks Marky for my Trek ticket, thanks everyone for making it special.
Tomorrow a full day at Monument Valley, more filming and photos. As the sand storm buries the Hampton Inn I am on the second floor waving from the window. More adventures in two weeks...we are having the best time.
Live long and......well you know how it goes
P.S.- I had a few Emails that my Interview is up on the wonderful Old Soul website: http://www.oldsoulink.com/ Enjoy!-PG