For those of you who haven't guessed i'm ...
Trip Start Aug 08, 2002
64Trip End Feb 01, 2004
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I do have some stuff to report though - for starters I have had my pictures developed. Unfortunately my camera was malfunctioning by the looks of it and only about 50% of them came out. And, the one entire roll I shot in Banff is blue, really blue. I did have them put on disk too, so I will be adding them to the relevant travel logs (I don't know if it emails you with updates, but I've just done one of the Banff ones) once I've sorted them all out (I haven't figured out how to get rid of the blue yet).
We also went away over the weekend, to Sequoia National Park. This is home to the worlds largest living organisms - Sequoia trees. They don't die of old age, some are reported to be nearly 3000 years old, they grow to over 270 feet (not as tall as the Redwoods) and have trunks with a radius of up to 40 ft (bigger than a redwood, though not the record holder), all of which means that they are the trees of the biggest size anywhere on earth. Because of a substance called tanine (and some other adaptations, they have bark up to 31 ins thick for example) they are practically fire and disease proof. The main cause of death of these trees is falling over (they have shallow roots) which means the behmoths lie on the floor for hundreds of years because nothing can break them down (that tanine again). The biggest is called the General Sherman tree.
They also have a few bears (35,000 blacks in California, no Grizzlies since they shot the last one in 1922, despite it being in the state flag) and we managed to see 7 during the three days we were in the park (none in 2 months in Canada, 7 in 3 days here). One of which we practically ran into on a path whilst walking back to the car (he was drinking at a brook we just approaching to cross), luckily he was only a small one and ran away, and all this despite mother assuring us that 'I don't think they're up at these altitudes.' Maybe we were hallucinating from lack of oxygen.
Whilst driving out of the park for gas (that's petrol to you and me) on the first day we spotted a single bear, then stopped to see what a crowd of people were looking at and saw a mother and two cubs (which were fighting with one another). On the way back into the park dad suddenly slammed the breaks on and exclaimed: 'spider.' Crossing the road was the biggest Tarantula you ever saw (it must have been big to notice it whilst driving). As the car coming the other way approached, it stopped, ducked to the floor and when it passed it raised itself back up on it's legs and continued to scurry across the road like it had done it a thousand times.
Still somewhat stunned by the spider, let alone the bears, we headed for our hotel, right in the middle of the park. We found that, whilst we lacked a TV (an American hotel without cable, it's hard to imagine I know), we had deer eating right outside out ground floor window!
During the rest of the stay we managed a few more bears and deer, we climbed a few mountains (even mum managed one, though she had trouble at the top and was afraid she wouldn't be able to come down, it's a height thing folks). I've also found that the US telecomms system isn't up to the Canadian one, no signal on the mobiles up these mountains.
Other than that, it's been life in the US of A. More TV channels than you can count (all with nothing worth watching), TV adverts that slag other companies off, TV adverts for prescription drugs (listing their wonderful side effects, would you buy something that might cause stomach bleeding?) - think about that for a second, you can't buy it, you can just ask you doctor to prescribe it to you - we've got drive through letter boxes, coffee shops, bank atms, drug stores, car insurance places and liqour stores (that's off licences to you and me)! Oh, and being California, if it drops below 80 F, everyone complains it's cold, not least of all the family! And to top it all off, the chocolate and sweets are awful, no decent tea bags or biscuits, no baked beans, no sausages or bacon (not like the ones at home at least) and no decent flavour crisps (thank god the family has some of these supplies in)!