USA 2011

Various calamities

Managed to flood a hotel room and get attacked by the local wildlife, but for the rest all is well.

Vegas is… Vegas. Hot, lots of people and lots of light and lots of bling.

The pinball place was slightly disappointing, but only because we visited the Pacific Pinball Museum in San Francisco and that rocks.

Drove to the Grand Canyon (which is as big in real life) via Route 66, made camp, and missed sunset. Got to see the sunrise however. Others have posted pictures, Tanya resizes pics and blogs while I drive, so I don’t get much blogging time.

Continued on to Green River, where I was most impressed with the Robber’s Roost Motel. No wine for sale in town, got some pretty good IPA (Moab Brewery Scorpion Pale Ale). Had to buy a sixpack so there’s some left.

Life’s good. Expensive, but good.

Outside Michaels

Utah is a relatively religious place, to the point where the dinosaur museum is closed on a Sunday. Pity.

The Cabelas, however, is open. Wow. Nothing there for me to buy though, residency required to buy shootty things.

Then Tanya spotted a Michaels from the highway, so it was short right short right, and now we’re in the parking lot vamping off the Barnes & Noble free internet waiting for her.

Mechanical marvels

As mentioned before, we visited both the Pacific Pinball Museum and the Musee Mechanique in San Francisco.

The former is great, you can play for free all day for the cost of admission, and they have a lot of machines.

The latter can get expensive, but you won’t get a chance to see something like this anywhere else in the world*. While some pinball machines take 75c for one game, the player pianos are one, maybe two quarters, and while I love pinball machines, I straight out adore the players.

The Wurlitzer is also way high on my want list You’ll hafta tilt either your head or the computer screen for this one, I don’t have the software or the patience to rotate it right now.

(And yea, it doesn’t start from the beginning since you hafta put the money in then step back and hit the shutter.)

*If you can, I want to know about it, please.


Absolutely stunning scenery.

The Virginian Lodge is on the budget side of things, but in Jackson that’s still pretty upmarket. Impressed. Kids are in the heated swimming pool, Tanya’s in the bath, and I’m sampling the Grand Teton Brewing Co. Sweetgrass American Pale Ale.

Been a long day, we left the kids in bed while we headed back to Salt Lake City to a scrapbook store Tanya wanted to visit. They were closed. Back to Ogden and the Browning Museum, which rocks. They also have a nice collection of classic cars.

Found Tanya & kids having breakfast, ate half the leftovers.

Took the scenic route via Bear Lake and Freedom Arms (got there five minutes before they close at 16:30) and picked up a T-shirt and some spares for my 22 revolver.

Bears and bears and bears, oh my.

Some day, someone is going to drag Yellowstone (kicking and screaming all the way, no doubt) into the 21st century.

Specifically, there’s no public wi-fi anywhere in the park.

Before we left, I found a website that tells you what animals have been spotted where. Pretty useless if you don’t have web access.

Anywayz, so we drove up through Grand Teton from Jackson. First animal we saw was a large bear, identified by us amateurs as a grizzly.

Of course the place is infested by bison, can’t turn around and there’s one blocking the road looking at you (as Robert Ruark remarked about African buffalo) as if you owe it money.

Also saw elk does and calves and a coyote who was completely oblivious to people getting in our opinion waytooclose taking pictures.

(As mentioned before, pictures are a PITA, go look at Tanya’s blog for eye candy).

This morning we got up two or three hours before sparrow’s fart, piled into the car, and headed off to the Lamar Valley (where they supposedly keep the wolves). Got there and there was a chain across the road with a sign saying “closed 8 miles”, so we headed north with sleep in our eyes looking for wolves.

Didn’t find any.

Did however find a swamp donkey (they’re more scarce thanĀ  thought they would be). And of course the inevitable bison. Decided to head back, but to investigate the 8 miles of Lamar valley before the road closure, found more bison and a nice herd of pronghorn. By now the kids were mostly asleep, so we had to show them pictures to prove that we ran into a second coyote right in the middle of the road.

Got to camp, had a shower, stuck washing in the machine, which Tanya watched while I crashed, hard, for 40 minutes. Headed off again, saw the waterfall and the canyon, drove all the way around to Mammoth via a huge traffic jam because there were… bears. Two of them, as far as we can tell a brown and a grizzly. Strange.

Mammoth had the mother of all pileups and a large herd of elk in the middle of town, with tourists being silly and the park ranger lady shouting at them. Got ice cream and fuel and headed of.

Found another brown bear. Then found another brown bear. Ho hum.

Back to camp, where there was a power failure. So we decided to head to the lake to shop there, maybe get some meat. No luck. There was a coyote off in the distance on our way there though. And we spotted a grizzly on the way back.

So tomorrow we’re off to Cody.

(This post brought to you by the extremely slow but free hotspot at Salt Lake City airport).


So I walked into a voodoo shop and was immediately transported to Hillbrow late eighties.

Smells evoke the strongest memories.

And I still have no idea what that incence is called.

New Orleans is dirtier than I thought it would be, this is after all a first world country. In many respects the 3 months 3 years comment that popped up recently is accurate.

Royal street is great. One street up, Bourbon street is sif. In daytime, that is. Right now, going for midnight, it’s rocking. Including guys in G strings dancing on tables. If it were girls, I wouldn’t have been here blogging.

Accommodation is good. A bit far from town, but affordable. Read the disclaimer. It’s all good.

Weather is batshit insane. 34 – 36C, with just over 50% humidity. We’re melting.

Did the swamp tour, very good guide, saw a few small alligators and quite a bit of swamp. Got takeaways from Verti Marte. Did the lunchtime cruise on the Steamboat Natches, took the ferry to Algiers and had Po’ Boys at the Drydock, shopped around some more, came back and had a shower, then Tanya and I headed out again, found the shops on North Peters Street (recommended) and went to the Gumbo Shop on St Peters Street (runs at almost 90 degrees to North Peters Street). There was a queue at the door. The place half a block down was 80% empty. This alone should tell you something.

Anyways. The Gumbo Shop sells appetiser size portions which is great if you’re not-so-hungry. Had the seafood gumbo, the chicken gumbo, the jambalaya, and the smothered turnip greens and garlic mashed potato sides. Came to $40 with two beers, a glass of Australian bubbly. Highly recommended.


Internet is $9.95 for 24 hours, so we’ve been out there experiencing Disney rather than in here blogging.

Best so far: Hollywood, the Rock and Roller Coaster. We’re going there again. Tanya also liked the Tower of Terror.

The Star Wars ride is also very well done, much better than the space one at Epcot (in general, Epcot did not impress us).

From the all-you-can-eat department — if you’re hungry, the chicken dinner at the All Stars (where we’re staying) isn’t a drumstick and a thigh as you might expect, no, it’s a half chicken (plus two veg and a roll). Good value for under $10. Wine choice is limited to Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio or Merlot, and not expecially good examples of those. Ah well.

Abovementioned internet is in the form of a single RJ-45, so it’s time to log off and give Tanya a turn.