This feed contains pages with the tag "Travel".

Burning Mans

It's been a fortnight since we got back from Burning Man. The experience was some of what we expected and some we didn't. I'd go again but next time with a lot more preparation.

We arrived on the Monday at the beginning of a 12 hour duststorm. We'd heeded the warnings and had goggles and dust masks at the ready. After the first few hours we gave up on trying to wait it out and put up our tent. Luckily the camp we were with was stupendously awesome and had put up a car port. Everyone constructed their tents in the carport and then moved them outside and staked them down.

The time I spent making rebar candycanes was well spent. It took the combined effort of several people to hammer the damn things in. However the tent survived all three duststorms without even budging. Getting them out was...strenuous. The final solution was to bang on the sides with a sledge hammer then pour water down the sides. Let that loosen things up and then use a crowbar to twist-and-pull the 3 foot stakes out of the ground. Think of doing leg lifts while winding up a big clockwork toy. With lots more swearing and grunting.

Buying the more expensive 4 season tent was well worth it. We used the vestibule like an airlock and had only a tiny amount of dust in the tent, even at the end of the week. It did mean the tent was an oven during day as it had no airflow. The shade structure we bought didn't even survive the first duststorm, one of the poles bending under the stress.

Shade is key. Our camp put up a shade structure between the two RVs but part of it was only 80% blocking. Turns out the other 20% is still pretty brutal when you're at 4500ft. Most of each day was spent hiding in the shade and trying to snooze. Once the sun started to go down you'd want to get out and about and see as much as possible. This lead to only having a few hours sleep sometime before dawn. Then the big yellow scare ball in the sky would brutally wake you up by turning your tent into an oven. Rinse, repeat.

The photos don't really do the place justice. I took two cameras but didn't use them as much as I could have. I made the decision to spend more time looking at things directly and not through a lens. I feel I'll have a much better idea of what to take photos next time.

I would've liked have taken more photos of the various art works and art cars out on the playa. Next time, Gadget, next time.

Tea Minus Juan

We fly to Reno this afternoon, pick up our rental bikes and meet our fellow camp mates. Tomorrow we head out to the playa at dark o'clock and setup camp.

Then the fun begins...

Music In The Hills

The weekend just past Tanya and I went to 'Friends and Family', a music festival/campout run by Cloud Factory. We went last year as well, courtesy of our good friends Weaver & Andrea.

This year was epic. The lighting and sound for the main event on Saturday night were out of this world. The other events of the weekend were all lots of fun too.

Tanya dressed up as the Green Faery, with faery wings lit up with EL wire, and handed out Absinthe lollipops we bought from Lollyphile. They were very popular :)

This year we took advantage of a 25% off sale at REI and bought our own camping gear. We're going to Burning Man this year with the BloodyMaryLand camp so I wanted to test it all out first. A three day campout in a less formidable environment was perfect.

The instructions that came with the tent were terrible and the North Face website is an abomination. After clicking around I found the section with downloadable tent pitching instructions. Of course it's out of date and our shiny new tent isn't listed. Though it wouldn't matter if it was as the PDFs they do link to return a 404.

Even more fail. I found a review that mentioned the website for this tent It's a single page with no content. Woo.

North Face, you suck.

Stuck In Vegas

Our flight from Mexico to San Francisco was via Las Vegas and due to some delays in Cabo we missed our connecting flight.

Sunday night flights out of Las Vegas are typically fully booked. The next flight we could get was on Monday afternoon.

So that left us with the difficult task of finding a hotel in Las Vegas :) Seeing as this was our first time in Sin City and we were only staying one night we decided to live it large and got a room in Caesar's Palace.

The place is massive. Imagine the largest shopping mall you've ever seen (times two) filled with bars and casino floors and then topped with several floors of hotel rooms.

We decided to just explore Caesar's Palace that night, having dinner and then doing a bit of a bar crawl. It's certainly a good spot for people watching. I had an excellent martini in the Shadow Lounge.

The next day we wandered along the strip for a bit. We went to the Venetian to have brunch at Bouchon only to find it closed. We'd apparently misinterpreted things somehow as the waiter we spoke to assured us they only did brunch on Sundays.

The place really is Disneyland for adults and it's all quite surreal. There are poker machines in the airport.

Giving Thanks In Mexico

Our friend Ryan decided to celebrate his 30th birthday in grand style and rented a villa in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico and invited his friends.

We're totally out of annual leave (I'm still negative) so we couldn't take any extra time off. Luckily the USA celebrates Turkey Day at this time of year so we had a 4 day weekend to play in the sun.

The day starts with a mimosa and a dip in the pool. Cooking a communal breakfast is a good way to get to know any strangers. The day slides by under the warm Mexican sun, playing cards, reading, drinking cerveza and the occasional refreshing splash about in the pool. Music plays from speakers hidden around the pool and firepit area.

As the evening arrives the drinks menu changes pace adding all manner of tequila and perhaps a dangerously fruity Pina Colada. Guitar Hero 3 on the Wii is a great way to inform others of how much you 'Rock'.

As the night cools the hottub is a popular place to chat and chill.

We drove into town twice, once to Cabo and once to San Jose. They're both tourist traps but it's not too far to wander into the non-tourist part of town.

We had tacos at a roadside taqueria and they were excellent. I haven't seen anyone serve 'hardshell tacos' in the US or Mexico (except for Taco Bell but that doesn't count). The standard seems to be two warmed, soft tortillas with your choice of meat on top. You usually add whatever other toppings you want yourself.

Once you get the hang of eating them it's actually easier than a hard shell taco. Having a pointy piece toasted tortilla spear into the top of your mouth is a recurring theme when eating hard shell tacos (or maybe I'm just unco).

Mexico was fun and I look forward to going again. Maybe with a bit more sight seeing next time, though chilling out at a beach-side villa certainly wasn't a terrible plight.

The Almost Post About Sydney

I wrote a post yesterday about our stay in Sydney and our trip to the US Consulate. Really, I did. Then I accidentally overwrote it with an empty file before I checked it in. So it's gone.

He's a quick recap for everyone who didn't get a chance to appreciate the now lost, paragon of prose.

  • Went to Sydney for a week
    • Caught up with some friends from Brisbane
    • Caught up with a friend from High School, (Hi Igor), that I haven't seen since 1993. He has detailed files on lots of people I've been too slack to stay in touch with.
  • Worked in the Sydney office
    • they have Vegemite, real bread and a toaster in the micro-kitchens. I was in snack heaven.
    • hung out with Sydney NetOps/SRE/Sysops, had a ball
    • used an inflatable kangaroo as a stand-in for a video conference team meeting, much hilarity ensued.
  • Renewed our visas at the US Consulate
    • lots of stress (some my fault, some bureaucratic insanity)
    • Things To Remember For Next Time:
      1. Don't get an appointment before the Post Office opens
      2. Bring something to read

The upshot of all this is that we'll most likely be in the USA for the next two years. Visitors welcome.

The Land Of The Long White Cloud

We just spent 3 weeks in the Southern Hemisphere.

The first week we were in New Zealand for my Nana's 80th birthday (aka family reunion). I haven't been to NZ since I was ~15yrs old and it was interesting to meet all the rellies again.

Mum, Dad, Liam, Jesse and Jimmy arrived in NZ a week earlier. They had hired camper vans in the south island and travelled around, finally meeting up with us in North Palmiston. Then we headed up to Lake Taupo.

We stayed in Taupo at my Aunty Nancy and Uncle Stoney's place. Stoney took us trout fishing on Lake Taupo in his boat. I actually caught two trout but neither were big enough to keep. Liam caught one and Jimmy two, all but Jimmy's last fish being too small to keep. Stoney cooked up our catch that night (plus a frozen one from an earlier trip) with kiwi fruit and it was quite delicious.

Next stop was Napier and hordes of relatives. Tanya and I were able to borrow a car and duck away to see some wineries. We managed to get to Ngatarawa, Te Mata Estate, Craggy Range and Te Awa, in no particular order.

We had lunch at Craggy Range's restaurant Terroir, which was spectacular. Then next day we went to Te Awa's restaurant for lunch and it was excellent but somewhat overshadowed by Terroir.

After lots of drinking, barbeque's, dinner, drinking, photos, catching up with relatives and more drinking we headed to Sydney.

A Good Weekend Was Had By All

Friends and Family was truly awesome.

We stopped for supplies in Hopland and visited the Phoenix Bread Company. They make an exceedingly delicious version of fougasse. We were fortunate enough to have arrived shortly after they took a beef brisket fougasse out of the oven. Their website seems to be down but I found an article that mentions the fougasse. Even half a slice was suprisingly filling.

The campsite itself is pretty much in the middle of nowhere (ideal for loud music). Situated on a hill covered in trees and a beautiful ornamental fruit garden, the site is a natural wonderland, complete with a swimming pond.

I was a ring-in judge for the Iron Chef competition on Friday night, which was much more laid back than it's TV counterpart. The food was excellent and the winner, Amber, made good use of the suprise ingredient (limes).

Tanya and I had signed up for some shifts in the kitchen on Saturday and that was heaps of fun. Tanya learnt how to make Spanish tortillas (which looked like a frittata to me) for Saturday brunch. Meanhwile I was on cleanup duty. Everyone was chatting and joking and having a great time, despite a few tortilla spillage disasters.

My dinner shift was a bit less exuberant due to a few people not showing up for their shifts. The people who did show were awesome though and we knuckled down and powered through the food prep. Dinner was even on time.

I'm toying with the idea of signing up to be the cook for a food shift next year. It's quite a challenge to feed 500 people when you're armed only with some variously skilled volunteer labour and a random assortment of kitchen gear. =]

The pre-party on Saturday night was called "Schpank" and you had to be schpanked to get service at the bar. The costumes were many and varied and there was lots of berry infused alcohol to drink (or alcholol infused berries to eat).

The rest of the night was all about the music, with DJs spinning till 10am the next day. Tanya and I lasted till about 4am before we headed back to our tent. Ear plugs saved the day (or night as it were) and we managed to get some sleep.

All in all it was a fantastic weekend and a big thankyou goes out to Matthew, Andrea and Molly who we tagged along with.

Back From Oz

We've been back from Australia for a week and a bit now. My body clock is still mixed up though. Keeping strange hours will do that. I've had a bunch of things to post but through a mix of ennui and despair at the thought of using Wordpress, they've remained squirreled away in my noggin.

Until now...<cue drumroll>

What I Did This Summer, by Daniel
We started our trip by going to the wedding of my sister, Jesse, and Jimmy Matthews in Palm Cove (near Cairns). That was a blast. Got to catch up with a bunch of people, including relatives from my Mum's side of the family, who I haven't seen since I was 14. It's still strange to think of Jess as "Mrs. Jesse Matthews" but I expect I'll get used to it.

Tanya and I stayed with her parents while we were in Brisbane. We hung out with them and the cats and hid in the air-conditioning (I'd almost forgotten what humidity was like). We visited my Grandma and Auntie Glenda down in Kirra, stopping along the way at Yatala Pies and Pimpama Strawberry Farm along the way to sample their delicious wares.

We caught up with lots of friends (though not nearly enough), met many cute babies and generally flitted about trying to make the most of the short time we had. If we didn't get a change to catch up with you please don't feel slighted. We'll be back and as they say "absinthe makes the heart grow fonder".

A LAX Attempt At Humour

Four hours into a five hour lay over at LA airport and I'm either going to go manic and find everything amusing or snap. The constant PA announcements, repeating the same information in various languages, are inescapable.

Here's hoping the noise cancelling headphones I bought do something useful on the trip to Australia.