tiggymalvern: (fantastic!)
These photos aren't posted in remotely the order they were photographed, more about how they made some vague narrative sense of related themes. Or something. In my head, anyway.

Kaua'i is pretty! )
tiggymalvern: (embrace the darkness)
The category four typhoon Koppo did indeed come and sit over the Philippines instead of going north to Japan, which was its other choice. I got two dives in on Saturday, then no diving that afternoon and of course no diving Sunday, during the worst of it. Here in Puerto Galera, we're on the southern edge of the thing, so we had winds rising to 40 or 50mph and a lot of heavy showers, but it wasn't bad enough to stop us going out and wandering around town. If we had arrived in the Philippines one day later, we would have been stuck in Manila, where it was much worse, because the inter-island transfers were cancelled that day.

Most of the small boats that were moored in the bay here were moved elsewhere on Saturday afternoon, including the floating bar. Two of the small boats that weren't moved sank, one overnight and one Sunday morning. Clearly the owners needed to learn from their neighbours.

The forecast I checked last night was for the winds to drop considerably today, back to Saturday morning levels, and from what I hear outside now that sounds right, so we are hopeful about diving today. Have to wait and see how big the waves are. Of course, even when we do dive, I suspect the bottom will have been stirred up, and the visibility won't be great. I will feel right at home, like diving Puget Sound, only warmer!

If I had stayed at home, there would have been excitement too. The SO tells me there was a bear in a tree by the local Fred Meyer, and they had to tranq it and take the poor thing somewhere more suitable.
tiggymalvern: (summer lovin')
Cultural stuff! Yes, we did some of that too while we were in Hawai'i, and didn't spend the entire time mountain trekking, swimming underwater or drinking the local organic rum and vodka cocktails by the pool.

Temples and Petroglyphs )
tiggymalvern: (fantastic!)
Everyone loves Mayan ruins, right? They're so fabulous. I went to two sites at different times, Muyil and Coba. Tulum is the biggest archaeological draw in the immediate area, but Tulum is a small place with a train to take the masses from the car parks to the site, and what one website described as 'Disneyworld-style crowds', so we decided to skip it.

Muyil )
tiggymalvern: (sleep now)
The planes were old, and didn't have the lifting headrests so that tall people have somewhere to put their heads, but the cattle herding was efficient and the flights got where they should be on time, which is all I really wanted.

So we are here, and the hotel internet works, and we ate tapas in the open air restaurant after dark, sleeveless in the humid Caribbean breeze, and everything appears to be as advertised :-)

And now I have to go to bed ::crash:: The SO is already fast asleep in bed behind me.
tiggymalvern: (ready to roll)
In mid-April, I'm going to find myself with a few days to spare in Savannah, GA. And since you all did such a wonderful job with Niagara and Vegas, I turn again to you for the tourist tips :-)

So, anyone who's been there or knows the area, I'm looking for Things to See and Do Around Savannah. I'm not planning to drive more than about 60-90 minutes from the city, unless someone can recommend a great loop drive where we drive, stop and admire the scenery, drive a bit more kind of thing. That worked really well for the Valley of Fire and Lake Mead. I've never been further south than SF or further east than Denver (unless you count Niagara, but then we were almost exclusively in Canada), so I'm starting from a position of absolute ignorance.

Fire away, my southern friends!
tiggymalvern: (sleep now)
Well, I'm back after my 5 day excursion to the furthest reaches of Redneck, WA.

I've driven along the edges of a huge, sweeping dust-storm. I've shivered in temperatures barely above freezing with 20mph + winds in the Blue Mountains. I've basked in glorious sunlight in a T-shirt in the same Blue Mountains the day after. I've driven miles and miles along enormous, breath-stealing stretches of the Columbia River Gorge. And on the way home last night, as soon as I hit the west side of the Cascades, I drove 40 miles through pounding rain with visibility down to as little as 100 yards immediately after the windscreen wipers swept, and almost nothing right before. At least it washed most of the dust off the outside of the car, though the inside still has a fine, gritty coating.

I've seen black bears to the point where they become 'oh, it's another bear', and huge numbers of elk. I've seen 14 new species of bird I'd never seen before (or thirteen, depending on whether you believe the Cordilleran Flycatcher is a separate species from the Pacific-Slope Flycatcher. The Washington Bird Records Committee is so unconvinced that they refuse to list the Cordilleran, even though the American Birding Association has accepted the split. But while the author of the paper that led to the split sits on the national committe that judges such things, papers saying otherwise get rejected, so a species it remains. Wars between academics sneak into eveything, doncha know, even birdwatching.)

I've been awake far too early in the morning every one of those days. And the SO's mum and stepdad show up again tonight after their own excursion to the San Juan Islands, and I will be required to be sociable. More details and stuff will follow at some unspecified point in the future when I've caught up!
tiggymalvern: (scientists do it repeatedly)
I'm off today for a few days, spending a long weekend with the mad birdwatchers, aka the Washington Ornithological Society annual conference. Which isn't a conference at all, just a series of trips out looking for birds with people who know what they're doing far better than I do! Weather permitting (and the forecast so far says it will permit) one of the days will be a boat trip thirty miles out to the edge of the continental shelf, looking for species that rarely come near land, like petrels and jaegers, and albatrosses! I've always wanted to see an albatross, they're such amazing birds, and at this time of year we should certainly see one and possibly two species ::fingers crossed::

We're staying at a hotel that we stayed at on the road trip, and though it claims to have wireless, in our previous experience the bandwidth was so overloaded that the google homepage took three attempts to load, and anything with pictures was completely out, so there may be little hope for LJ reading. I just hope I can get mail....

Those of you I owe fic comments to, I shall be taking them with me and trying to get them read in the evenings, so hopefully I'll be emailing you when I get back on Tuesday.
tiggymalvern: (good to be a lunatic)
Back in the land of real computer access! We've been glued here since we rescued the cats from boarding hell XD

We got back last night, after a pretty good trip overall. Only a couple of days of rain, and we adapted our plans for more scenic driving and less hiking, so it worked out. Though of three and a half days hanging around the vicinity of Mount St Helens, we got one fleeting glimpse of the crater through a passing break in the clouds. I suppose that gives us an excuse to go back sometime :-) It wasn't always as warm as I would have liked either - what is it with the Pacific Northwest this year? If it's August with cloudless skies and glorious sunshine at sea level, I expect it to be 80F plus, with me driving a convertible in shorts and T-shirt, not wearing two jumpers with the heater on! But it was a fabulous route we covered, with a huge range of stunning scenery - now I just have to sort through all those photos....

The Seven people were a good bunch to travel with - by definition they were all car geeks, and largely computer geeks too since they're members of the online Sevens list, so they were a smart set of people. A couple of them were quiet types, who we didn't get to know all that well, but mostly they were fun and really easy to get along with.

The car was fairly well-behaved throughout, though the exhaust split again at the same joint it did last year. It's a design flaw in our model of Seven, with too much stress on that joint, and looking at the arrangements on the other Sevens, we now know how to get it altered to stop it happening again. We got it welded for $40 and half an hour in Ellensburg, once the guy at the garage had stopped laughing. 'Hey, Bill, get over here! You're gonna love this one - it's a go-kart!'

I've got to mention the food issue, because every time I venture into the rural US away from the coasts, it's tempting to begin some sort of rudimentary nutritional education program. I'm a very long way from being a health food nut, as anyone who's ever looked into my fridge will testify, but holy crap! I need to print a series of cards next time and hand them to management at every place we eat:

1) There are sources of carbohydrate other than potatoes. You should try rice or pasta sometime - you might like them.
2) It's possible to cook chicken without dipping it in batter or breadcrumbs and frying it. No, really, it is.
3) There are more kinds of vegetables than the onions on your burger. All those burgers and steaks that make up 90% of your menu could be offered with something green alongside the chips/fries. I'd pay extra!

After three days eating in towns like Packwood and Carlson as we wandered round Mount St Helens, I had cravings for rice, and Canada was like salvation. Every roadside eatery has some variety in the menu, and every one-street desert town has a Japanese or Chinese restaurant. It's only the US interior locals who think that people can live on beef and chips.

The wildlife have invaded again in our absence. Last time we were away for a few weeks, the mice had moved in when we returned. No sign of them this time (yet!), but we've acquired a wasps' nest in the garage, and the SO was stung while we unpacked the car. We've lived perfectly happily with a wasps' nest in the tree right outside the window before, that we walked under every time we left the house, but the garage is a confined space for a lot of sleepy, dying wasps, so the exterminators are coming to commit insect mass murder this afternoon. Clearly it's a sign that we should never travel!
tiggymalvern: (drivers wanted)
We're off on a road trip tomorrow for 12 days - touring around Mt St Helens then up through eastern Washington into Canada, to Kelowna and Whistler, then over to Vancouver Island and finally back via the Olympic peninsula. We'll have some form of internet access at most of the hotels along the way, but I probably won't be around to answer email or to comment on LJ posts much. Don't you all get too busy while I'm away :-)
tiggymalvern: (drivers wanted)
I'm going to be in Vegas for four days in late April, of which two half days will be taken up by the mundane work-related reasons for being there. So, all you well-travelled and tasteful people who inhabit my f-list - what's good to see that isn't Vegas? I'm thinking day trips out here, deserts and canyons and dramatic scenery - we'll be renting a car for the duration to get out of the city. Pour forth your knowledge and opinions upon me!

EDIT: Googling is suggesting the Valley of Fire State Park and Red Rock Canyon might be good places. Anyone been to the Hoover Dam? Is that worth a trip?
tiggymalvern: (we're busy - Art by Amakawa Sarina)
Still at Mum's place, and I've been roaming around the North of England a bit the last few days.

Just about long enough to cut for rambling )

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