Monthly Archives: November 2014

20141122 – Goodbye Big Bend, Hello San Antonio

 

Sunday – hot and sunny.

 

Tucker our Home Exchange dog. He's really smart; opens doors; knocks on doors to come in.

Tucker our Home Exchange dog. He’s really smart; opens doors; knocks on doors to come in.

Well we’ve a 380 mile drive down to San Antonio. We start off driving through a dust storm, complete with tumble weed. Any moment now John Wayne will come riding out of the dust. At least it’s Interstate most of the way and a cracking 80 MPH. Even 70 MPH on the side roads but then it is Texas, everything’s bigger. Looked at stopping off somewhere to break the journey up, but there’s nothing but dead cactus, nodding donkeys and road kill between Alpine and San Antonio. Never mind at least we’re heading back to civilisation. A game to keep us both amused is, sixpence to the first one to spot a Starbucks.

Wendy wins the sixpence. And then we know where nearly there. More Starbucks than empty coffee cups littering Blackburn’s “pristine streets”! Call in for a dirty Chai with two extra shots (free). Contributes to making me normal.

Our kitchen.

Our kitchen.

No doubt Texas has a major problem. It’s just too darn big.

Arrive at lovely hotel. But as we set off to find a sub way we turn left onto the road. Yet again it’s a one way side of a dual carriage way. Yet again completely dark; no indications; not even a sign this time. Fortunately there’s hardly any traffic so we survive. All part of the nightmare of driving at night in a 3rd World country where photons are banned.

Catch up on some TV with awesome 30Mbps wifi.

At last some imagination and smarts applied to the shopping process. Coming soon at Sainsbury, if you can afford to shop there:

At last some smarts applied to shopping.

At last some smarts applied to shopping.

I see that our politicians are yet again getting to grips with the big important issues of the day:

THE road sign that shows a hunched couple clutching a stick as a warning to drivers to slow down should be banned because it deters employers from giving the over-50s a job, says the government’s tsar for the elderly.

 

Monday – hot and sunny.

 

TV Room.

TV Room.

Up for a pathetic breakfast. Being Monday they say they’ve run out of bananas and bacon. Never mind when I come to pay the bill they’ll no doubt understand when I tell them I’ve run out of dollars!

Off down to the Alamo. It’s in the heart of Downtown. Fleeced for parking, but it’s free entry – well done Daughters of the Republic. I think this place must be run by retired TSA staff, they manage to create a queue by trying to sell everyone a photo on entry. Interesting place with a History channel film explaining what it’s all about. Not as impressive as I’d expected, a tad disappointing really. Very busy and they have done a good job of preservation, but I think we’ve been spoilt by all those National Parks. The area around it’s a seedy as Blackpool.

Coffee at Riverside Starbucks and pick up Kurt’s baseball cap from Lids.

Then in the afternoon we drive down to our home exchange for the next 6 days to meet the owners, get acquainted with their dog Tucker and be familiarised with their house.

Burger joint – Red Robin – for tea. Excellent burger. Then try and watch “The Alamo” on Netflix but alas they don’t have it.

Britains cultural problem. More from Pat Condell:

 

Tuesday – hot and sunny.

 

Formal dinning room.

Formal dinning room.

Move into our new home exchange for 6 days.

It’s big and very roomy, complete with pool – see pictures.

Get settled in and then off to drop the Hertz mobile off. Wendy follows me, with some serious trepidation on these super highways full of schizophrenic exhaust pipe huggers, who would slaughter their whole family, just to get one car ahead.

Then it’s the weekly shop. Unfortunately we find a Wholefoods.

Main lounge.

Main lounge.

We’ve got a VW Passat as part of the exchange. Well next time you see one of them sickening, bragging adverts about German engineering, ponder this. It’s so well engineered you can only see the cruise control – essential in BIG TEXAS – when you’re turning 90 degrees right or left. The rest of the time it’s any bodies guess how to use it, unless of course you lean forward and bend your head in front of the steering wheel – not recommended when surrounded by psychos in metal monsters. Unbelievable and so dangerous.

Why Starbucks can’t spell:

 

Wednesday – hot and sunny.

 

Wendy in front of the Alamo.

Wendy in front of the Alamo.

Drive down to the River Walk. It’s such a pleasant stroll through the Downtown area, with a “few” restaurants. You wouldn’t believe you’re in the heart of a major city. It’s lovely – so reminds me of strolling down a canal path back home, except their’s no rubbish, no shopping trolleys or no road cones in the water. What imaginative use of a natural resource and I’m sure it brings much prosperity to the City.

Have a 5 mile stroll and despite the plethora of restaurants fail to find a Starbucks. Well we do but it’s closed with a scrawled sign on the door “sorry for the inconvenience” – no reason, obviously incompetence.

The Alamo - no John Wayne though.

The Alamo – no John Wayne though.

Peter’s Laws (The Creed of the Sociopathic Obsessive Compulsive)

If anything can go wrong, fix it! (To hell with Murphy!)
When given a choice, take both.
Multiple projects lead to multiple successes.
Start at the top and work your way up.
Do it by the book… but be the author.
When forced to compromise, ask for more.
If you can’t beat them, join them, and then beat them.
If it’s worth doing, it’s got to be done now!
If you can’t win, change the rules.
If you can’t change the rules, then ignore them.

Apology from Pat Condell:

 

Thursday – hot and sunny.

 

Wendy models a Davy Crockett hat.

Wendy models a Davy Crockett hat.

Happy Thanksgiving to one and all.

We drive up to Horseshoe Bay (this is the place we’ll be staying in for our last 2 weeks) for Thanksgiving dinner with Lee and Stuart and some of their friends. Another great American experience and being Texas the Turkeys been pardoned in favour of some hefty steaks – Texas Big – as thick as a Russian female shot-putters thigh. As seems to be mandatory over here, the steaks are cooked on the giant all American Barbecue, outside and of course the domain of the all American male. No 12″ square, one shot, aluminium tray barbecues.

Wendy, well, well, well.

Wendy, well, well, well.

Steaks are followed by the traditional Pumpkin pie and for good measure Apple pie and that cholesterol special, whipped cream. All washed down by various alcoholic beverages.

Have a great afternoon and evening of fun and laughter with new friends.

Stuart with our Texas style Thanksgiving dinner.

Stuart with our Texas style Thanksgiving dinner.

More on Peter’s Laws (The Creed of the Sociopathic Obsessive Compulsive)

Perfection is not optional.
When faced without a challenge, make one.
“No” simply means begin again at one level higher.
Don’t walk when you can run.
Bureaucracy is a challenge to be conquered with a righteous attitude, a tolerance for stupidity, and a bulldozer when necessary.
When in doubt, THINK!
Patience is a virtue, but persistence to the point of success is a blessing.
The squeaky wheel gets replaced.
The faster you move, the slower time passes, the longer you live!

Bill Maher on climate Change deniers:

 

Friday – hot and sunny.

 

Stuart barbecuing big steaks.

Stuart barbecuing big steaks.

Drive back down to San Antonio. Dropping Stuart off at the Greyhound bus station in Downtown. How brave is that, riding a Greyhound bus. If you’ve ever popped you nose around into the urine stench of a Greyhound bus station you’ll understand the bravery involved. Good luck Stuart on you 6 week trip to Israel.

Japanese garden. A better way to spend Black Friday.

Japanese garden. A better way to spend Black Friday.

Well it’s Black Friday, but we do the sensible thing and go for a walk around the botanical and Japanese gardens. Yes, there’s a small queue to get in, but no one’s being dragged screaming across a Tesco floor clinging onto a 60″ colour TV shouting “it’s mine it’s mine”.

What has got into the World. It now seems the Black Friday lunacy from the US has infected the UK, like a dose of rampant Ebola. First they gave us Valentines day excess, then the terror of Halloween, complete with marauding bands of vicious Trick or Treaters teenagers and now Black Friday. No doubt about it, Marketing is responsible for nearly as much evil in the World as religion.

Oh how I wish I’d been there. “Fight, fight” goes up the cry in Victoria Secrets playground. Girls fight over thongs and bra’s in Victorias Secrets. I wouldn’t mind a thong on that women is a terrifying thought, it would disappear into the giant crevices of adipose tissue never to be seen again until they turned septic. All it needed was a bit of mud chucked in and Victorias Secrets would have a winning recipe to draw even more punters in.

20141116 – Goodbye Albuquerque. Hello Bob Cats, Roadrunners, TBones, Nodding Donkeys, wilderness – yea it’s Texas

 

Sunday – very cold and snow.

 

Loved ABQ but thank Chione I won’t have to try and spell it again.

The essence of Albuquerque, the iconic Balloon Fiesta. Sadly we missed it by a week.

The essence of Albuquerque, the iconic Balloon Fiesta. Sadly we missed it by a week.

Up and away by 08:50. That’s a record. Can you believe it’s snowing in ABQ as we say goodbye.

Sledging in White Sands National Monument.

Sledging in White Sands National Monument.

Drive down I25 and then over a mountain range, to view 144,000 acres of CaSO4•2H2O, or as Walter White would say hydrous calcium sulphate, or Gypsum as normal folk would say, that is White Sands National Monument. Crossing a mountain range and the roads are just sheet ice from the snow. It’s 20F. Not a smart move should have probably stuck with the Interstate I25 route. White Sands could be a bit of a let down if it’s covered in snow. A miserable grey cold trip but just as we arrive at White Sands the suns out and the sky clears to bright blue, not a cloud to be seen – how neat is that.

A unique place, the largest gypsum dune field in the world is located at White Sands National Monument in south-central New Mexico. This region of glistening white dunes is in the northern end of the Chihuahuan Desert within an “internally drained valley” called the Tularosa Basin. This dune field is very dynamic, with the most active dunes moving to the northeast at a rate of up to 30 feet per year, while the more stable areas of sand move very little. Many species of plants and animals have developed very specialized means of surviving in this area of cold winters, hot summers, with very little surface water and highly mineralized ground water. With white lizards it shows how evolution can speed up.

It's my turn now. But it's my sledge.

It’s my turn now. But it’s my sledge.

Can’t resist hiring a sledge to go sledging down the white sand dunes. Not exactly a bucket list item but certainly something you should try. Wendy’s not having any of it. Thinks I’m crazy, but then when she sees what a cracking job I make of it she can’t resist – see photos.

Finally arrive at El Paso and off out to the Olive Garden for tea. Chicken parmigiana, I’ve always wanted to try it. Sadly best described as chicken mac nuggets with a tin of tomatoes sloped over it and some spaghetti, then sprinkled with cheese. A kiddies meal. Certainly not a patch on their Steak Gorgonzola Alfredo.

We’re lucky to get to the Olive Garden in one piece, when some idiot turns left onto a one way road. Don’t blame me it was pitch black, not a lumen of street lighting in this 3rd World country; a dual carriage way; no “One Way” sign straight ahead of you; oh yes there’s one just over the dark Stop sign. Well those are my excuses. Anyway we survived. No thanks to the aggressive drivers coming at me.

Driving around here at night is terrifying. No street lights; aggressive drivers; fast and not prepared to give way. What is it with this American Jekyl and Hyde personality behind the wheel. If a pedestrian’s around they’re like meek and mild puppies scared of their own exhaust fumes. Then on a motorway they’re like some freaking steroid intoxicated maniac, out to annihilate everything that’s breathing.

El Capitain in Guadalupe National Park.

El Capitain in Guadalupe National Park.

Why I Like Retirement:

Question: How many days in a week?
Answer: 6 Saturdays, 1 Sunday

Question: When is a retiree’s bedtime?
Answer: Two hours after he falls asleep on the couch.

Question: How many retirees to change a light bulb?
Answer: Only one, but it might take all day.

Question: What’s the biggest gripe of retirees?
Answer: There is not enough time to get everything done.

Question: Why don’t retirees mind being called Seniors?
Answer: The term comes with a 10% discount.

2,738 road accidents in Texas last year. No wonder. Gordon Bennett, they have detailed instructions on when you can overtake or not, don’t just rely on solid yellow lines, oh no spell it out and yet they hide one way signs and don’t bother with street or sign lighting.

Then there’s the classic road sign, “obey all signs, it’s the law”.

 

Monday – cool and sunny.

 

Javelina and no it's not a pig or wild boar. They get terribly offended if you call them that.

Javelina and no it’s not a pig or wild boar. They get terribly offended if you call them that.

After a good nights sleep and a free breakfast at the hotel we nip down to Guadalupe National Park, it’s only 110 miles down the road, and back, no more than a trip to the local supermarket. Still a tad cold.

On the way we’re pulled in by border patrol. Perhaps it’s something to do with the giant “Kiss Me Quick” Sombrero I’m wearing. Can I see your passports – that’s a first in 20 years. My driving license with loose picture doesn’t cut it, these guys obviously have some brain cells. Don’t have passports with us, but thankfully he accepts an iPhone photo.

Guadeloupe is dominated by El Capitain, not the one from Yosemite, but oh so similar. Do a couple of the shorter strolls, nature trail down to Butterfield stage and then the Frijole Ranch walk. Certainly one of the more obscure and less popular NP’s. Don’t even have a NP hat. Alas no sign of a Roadrunner or even the Horny Texas Toad – an awesome looking creature.

Texas Roadhouse for me tea. Saves risking live and limb driving around El Paso in the dark, we can walk to it. I suppose being in Texas I must have a T-Bone, better at night than one for breakfast. 23 Oz monster. It’s just one of those things you have to do. Won’t need to eat for another 7 days now.

I know we’re a tad obsessed with this awesome bird but in view of two road dash sittings, which we’re that quick we couldn’t catch on camera, I just couldn’t resist including this 3rd party footage:

Welcome to Carlsbad Caverns.

Welcome to Carlsbad Caverns.

Question: Among retirees, what is considered formal attire?
Answer: Tied shoes.

Question: Why do retirees count pennies?
Answer: They are the only ones who have the time.

Question: What is the common term for someone who enjoys work and refuses to retire?
Answer: NUTS!

Question: Why are retirees so slow to clean out the basement, attic or garage?
Ans wer: They know that as soon as they do, one of their adult kids will want to store stuff there.

Question: What do retirees call a long lunch?
Answer: Normal ..

Ricky Gervais on atheism:

 

Tuesday – hot and sunny.

 

Carlsbad Caverns - awesome.

Carlsbad Caverns – awesome.

Drove from El Paso, yet again, to Carlsbad.

Call in at McKittrick Canyon for the walk. Reckoned to be a birders paradise. A pleasant walk but a distinct lack of birds. Certainly no Roadrunner.

Then it’s off to the vast underground Carlsberg, sorry Carlsbad, Caverns National Park. Words like awesome, stupendous, rad, narly and mind shattering don’t do it justice. Nor do my photos, mind you it is a tad dark down there and only lit with subdued lighting to maintain the ambience of a cave. It takes an hour to complete the walk and that includes cheating by using the 750 foot lift. If you walk down and back it’s 3 hours. Just lost for words. Sadly Wendy missed it all, although she did see the video but you really do have to see it to believe.

Then it’s off to our hotel in Carlsbad. A typical $90 a night hotel here costs $370. There’s a major oil boom in the area. More big trucks, big burly workers with giant footwear and plates of food piled high. I watch as one cuts up his pancakes into little squares, just like his mommy used to, then uses only his fork.

Question: What is the best way to describe retirement?
Answer: The never ending Coffee Break.

Question: What’s the biggest advantage of going back to school as a retiree?
Answer: If you cut classes, no one calls your parents.

Question: Why does a retiree often say he doesn’t miss work, but misses the people he used to work with?
Answer: He is too polite to tell the whole truth.

And, my very favorite….
QUESTION: What do you do all week?
Answer: Monday through Friday, NOTHING…. Saturday & Sunday, I rest.

 

Wednesday – hot and sunny.

 

Carlsbad Caverns - awesome.

Carlsbad Caverns – awesome.

Drive back down to Rattle Snake Springs. A highly recommended birding sight. Wrong time of year, hardly any birds and sadly no Rattle Snakes.

Call back in at Carlsbad Caverns to visit the exhibit and catch the video that we missed yesterday. No doubt about it, but this place is worthy of at least a full day.

Tempted to do a ranger tour of the Kings Chamber but it means we’ll be driving down to Alpine in the dark. Not advisable on these roads.

Wendy tries a spot of caving!

Wendy tries a spot of caving!

Drive down from Carlsbad to Alpine. Really get to see the extent of the oil boom around here. More Nodding Donkeys and drilling rigs than Arabs at an OPEC conference. Also a fair bit of cotton and cattle. Rewarded with sighting of yet another Roadrunner, doing what Roadrunners do best – dashing across the road. Oil tankers buzzing up and down the road like flies around a rotting turd. Never realised it before but these tankers must constantly go and transport away the oil pumped up and deliver it to a refinery. Obvious when you think about it.

Nodding Donkeys everywhere a sure clue to where we are. Along with drilling rigs, cotton and cattle.

Nodding Donkeys everywhere a sure clue to where we are. Along with drilling rigs, cotton and cattle.

Three hours later (yes Texas is a big State) we finally arrive at the one horse town of Alpine. Our Best Western hotel’s very comfortable. But what to eat? Not a fantastic choice. There’s a mediocre menu’d diner and a Pizza Hut. Settle for a Pizza, despite my reservations. Rip off misleading pricing and disappointing Pizza. Confirms my view that you should never bother with Pizza in America, they’re always crap, Chicago excepted.

A hawk but we're still arguing about which one it is.

A hawk but we’re still arguing about which one it is.

More on us geriatrics:

Just before the funeral services, the undertaker came up to the very elderly widow and asked,
‘How old was your husband?’ ’98,’ she replied….
‘Two years older than me’
‘So you’re 96,’ the undertaker commented..
She responded, ‘Hardly worth going home, is it?

Reporters interviewing a 104-year-old woman:
‘And what do you think is the best thing about being 104?’ the reporter asked…
She simply replied, ‘No peer pressure.’

The nice thing about being senile is
you can hide your own Easter eggs and have fun finding them.

I’ve sure gotten old! I’ve had two bypass surgeries, a hip replacement, new knees, fought prostate cancer and diabetes. I’m half blind, can’t hear anything, take 40 different medications that make me dizzy, winded, and subject to blackouts. Have bouts with dementia. Have poor circulation; hardly feel my hands and feet anymore. Can’t remember if I’m 85 or 92. Have lost all my friends. But, thank God, I still have my driver’s license.

 

Thursday – hot and sunny.

 

Welcome to Big Bend - at last.

Welcome to Big Bend – at last.

Drive down from Alpine to Big Bend. 3 days in the wilderness. Well by my definition it’s wilderness, no Starbucks, no Taco Bell and worst of all no Internet. Gordon Bennet, how will I survive.

See plenty of Roadrunners on the way down, but all camera shy.

As we’re staying at the Chisos Mountain Lodge – only hotel in the park – we explore that area in the afternoon. Do the short Window Trail and then the basin loop trail. Awesome scenery but not many birds.

At sunset we go out to try and get a sunset shot through the window, but no red sky shot, although some of the mountain shots in the soft light are great.

Chios mountains at sunset.

Chios mountains at sunset.

Dinner in the only restaurant. Everything served on paper plates as there’s a severe water shortage. Share a table with Lee and Lisa from San Diego. He’s a dermatologist who does a lot of lecture tours and now retired. Very entertaining evening and good company.

Apparently his wife has the claim to fame of having been taken short in Danali National Park, Alaska. Did what women do best in the bush when caught short, and ended up with 35 Mosquito bites on here backside. To add insult to injury Lee used a photo of the offending 35 bites to illustrate, in his lecture, how many Mosquito bites you can get on one backside.

No TV. Catch up on a boring documentary and early to bed.

I feel like my body has gotten totally out of shape, so I got my doctor’s permission to join a fitness club and start exercising.
I decided to take an aerobics class for seniors.
I bent, twisted, gyrated, jumped up and down, and perspired for an hour. But, by the time I got my leotards on, the class was over.

My memory’s not as sharp as it used to be.
Also, my memory’s not as sharp as it used to be.

Cheeky Roadrunner waiting on our car for us - bonnet runner.

Cheeky Roadrunner waiting on our car for us – bonnet runner.

Know how to prevent sagging?
Just eat till the wrinkles fill out.

It’s scary when you start making the same noises as your coffee maker.
These days about half the stuff in my shopping cart says, ‘For fast relief.’

THE SENILITY PRAYER :
Grant me the senility to forget the people I never liked anyway, the good fortune to run into the ones I do, and the eyesight to tell the difference.

 

Friday – hot and sunny.

 

At last the Roadrunner photo. Now we have 80+ to sort.

At last the Roadrunner photo. Now we have 80+ to sort.

Up early for breakfast. A tad disappointing, but then we’re off out to explore the Rio Grande village area and hopefully capture some shots of a Roadrunner. We’ve been told this is the place. Sure enough we’re rewarded and 80 photo’s later we’re RR’d out. One cheeky devil is even stood on our car bonnet waiting for us to come back off a walk.

As I’m walking down to the Rio Grande I see what I think is a Mountain Lion and get some great shots of her and her cub. Turns out to “only” be a Bob Cat. But what a treat.

Do the nature trail walk and not a bird in sight.

Coffee and wifi at the village store – wow wifi.

Then do the Boquillas Canyon walk. By now it’s 75F, the suns beating down on us in the desert and Wendy’s squawking like a banshee, “It’s too hot, you know I can’t cope with this heat”. Great views down the Rio Grande into the canyon.

Bob Cat or is it a Mountain Lion? Merely a Bob Cat with her cub in tow.

Bob Cat or is it a Mountain Lion? Merely a Bob Cat with her cub in tow.

That nice Mr Obama’s created a shit storm with his executive order to grant immunity to 5 million “undocumented immigrants”. His action will grant “deferred action” to two illegal immigrant groups – parents of United States citizens or legal permanent residents who have been in the country for five years, and young people who who were brought into the country illegally as of 2010. The majority of the countries up in arms about it, apart of course from 5 million “undocumented immigrants” – how can we become one.

From our overlook over the Rio Grande we see the first influx of some more illegals from Mexico – see picture.

Then it’s the Hot Springs – the road from hell – but at least we make it there and back. Wendy has a paddle in the hot springs, sat besides the raging, cold, Rio Grande.

That bird displaying his wares.

That bird displaying his wares.

After 7 hours on the go we return to have coffee (Chai Latte) on the balcony and admire the view.

Dinner in the restaurant again. Back to the room. No TV, but we’ve 80+ Roadrunner / wildlife photos to cull, crop and process. 21:00 and Noddy’s no where near Big Ears but we’re off to bed.

 

Saturday – hot and sunny.

 

Obama's OK'd "undocumented immigrants". Is this the start of another mass migration across the Rio Grande?

Obama’s OK’d “undocumented immigrants”. Is this the start of another mass migration across the Rio Grande?

Up early for an in the room breakfast. Much cheaper and better than the restaurant breakfast.

We leave today but have the whole day in Big Bend.

Do the Ross Maxwell Scenic drive and call in at all the Pull Offs to see the vistas. Highlight of the whole park, apart from the Roadrunner sighting, is a walk down the Santa Elena Canyon Trail. Sadly it’s a tad cloudy so we don’t get the best pictures.

After a full morning we drive back up to our hotel in Alpine, same one as Wednesday. Yet another pull in at a border patrol. Poor guy spends 5 minutes searching my passport for the date stamp. At last he finds it and we can go on. At least this time we have our passports with us.

Dinner in a classic All American diner, sadly no pinkle water license.

Santa Elena Canyon in Big Bend the other end of the Rio Grande.

Santa Elena Canyon in Big Bend the other end of the Rio Grande.

It’s goodbye Big Bend. A massive park with 3 different environments in one, the Chihuahuan desert, the Chisos mountains and the Rio Grande river. Enjoyed it, and at last we get some great pictures of our favourite bird, the Roadrunner, but Zion NP is still my favourite. To be fair they all have something different to offer.

20141110 – Up, Up And Away

 

Monday – hot and sunny.

 

Ancient graffiti or as the proper people call it Petroglyphs.

Ancient graffiti or as the proper people call it Petroglyphs.


Off down to the National (free with our NP pass) Petroglyph Park. Basically a lot of ancient graffiti. Have a pleasant stroll / climb around the rocks. Getting very brave in me old age.

Wendy at top of Petroglyphs.

Wendy at top of Petroglyphs.

Then we drive up to the Coronado Historic site. Now that’s a lot more interesting, complete with climb down into a Kiva and talk by a very helpful docent. Awesome views of the Rio Grande and the Sandia Mountains.

Having experienced Comcasts service first hand I can relate tot this. It took 4 days, 5 store visits and 4 phone calls to set my account up. Believe you me they are infinitely worse than BT.

 

Tuesday – hot and sunny.

 

Sadly none around.

Sadly none around.

Up at 05:00 for a 06:30 balloon flight. Manage to talk Wendy into it. She keeps whinging that it’s to expensive. You only live once; you can’t go ballooning when you’re dead, not even in FSM heaven, or so I’m lead to believe; what a great experience it’ll be; it’s only money; good way to fritter away the kids inheritance. If anybody, it should be me whose reluctant as I don’t like heights.

You’d think that having to get up this early they’d pay us.

Coronado overlooking Rio Grande.

Coronado overlooking Rio Grande.

Anyway we bundle up with 5 layers, hat and gloves – it’s probably going to be colder than a witch’s titty in a brass bra doin’ push-ups in the snow. I help with the erection, sorry inflation. It’s massive, they go inside. Amazing there’s a big hole in the top with a circular plug of balloon material below it. Apparently there’s a cord to it, pull the cord, the hole opens up to the heavens and you’ve got an emergency descent – whatever you do don’t touch the cord.

Would you believe that before this balloon flight I had a full head of hair. Now it's all been burnt off.

Would you believe that before this balloon flight I had a full head of hair. Now it’s all been burnt off.

Anyway we’re off up and away. All very smooth, and I’m amazed that despite my fear of heights how exhilarating it is. We drift around at he mercy of the wind. We get to do a “splash and dash” into the Rio Grande, where the bottom of the basket just touches the water. We get to clip across the top of the trees and are able to touch the branches. Rise up above 1,000 feet. The first 999 feet don’t bother me it’s that last 1 foot.

Nearly got our feet wet in the Rio Grande.

Nearly got our feet wet in the Rio Grande.

First attempted landing, would have been on a road, fails. Finally land in a large area of scrub land. Bend zee knees on landing, cling on and basket nearly tips over but manages to right itself. Yes, we’ve all survived although Wendy had the joy of a 20 stone female elephant sitting on her knees as we landed. It wasn’t as cold as expected and I’m sure the propane burners has singed all me hair off – could be a law suit coming on.

Rio Grande.

Rio Grande.

Then in ballooning tradition it’s a champagne breakfast, a badge, a champagne glass and a survivors certificate. Awesome experience, even Wendy enjoyed it.

Don’t you just love foreign call centres. This just epitomises the experience:

 

Wednesday – cold and sunny.

 

Wendy in the slot canyon at Tent Rocks.

Wendy in the slot canyon at Tent Rocks.

Bloody hell it’s cold. Need a Starbucks on the way back to warm up.

Before we go some Breaking Bad, this time as a Sitcom:

 

Thursday – freezing and sunny.

 

Tent Rocks.

Tent Rocks.

Call in at Wholefoods (AKA WholePayPacket) to pick up a dish for tea (dinner to any Southern softies reading). Wendy thinks it’s a great pity there aren’t any Wholefoods in the UK. Me and my credit card are eternal grateful for the 3,000 miles of Atlantic ocean and our language keeping them at bay.

Afternoon lazing around. Skived off my bike ride and did some SQLing.

Do you want to build a meth lab? (Frozen * Breaking Bad parody)

I can’t quite decide whether to class this as a rant or a joke. But before we descend into Texas I’d better get my anti-NRA rants over with. I think down there criticising the 2nd or the NRA is considered blasphemy, a bit like mentioning the war in Germany, and can probably get you shot:

 

Friday – cold and sunny.

 

Lazy morning and then off to the Balloon museum.

Only $2 each for us geriatrics. Must be the only benefit of old age. Interesting place, spend a couple of hours browsing and playing with the experiments.

Wendy wants to call in at Teavanha (Starbucks of the tea world) for some of their ludicrously expensive peppermint white chocolate tea. Two for one, and it’s still so expensive I’m beginning to think it’s perhaps a tea that’s been consumed and then shit out by a Roadrunner or some other exotic bird, with the droppings scrapped up and put in an expensive box. Thankfully we don’t have Teavanha in England either – I hope. However, I will admit it is a very tasty tea.

Well we’re coming to the end of our stay in Albuquerque and I suppose nothing would be more appropriate than some quotes from Breaking Bad:

Just couldn’t resist this Robin Williams and guns:

I promise to be good and not comment on the NRA once I cross the border into Texas.

 

Saturday – warm and sunny.

 

Last day here in ABQ, so big clean up. Wendy wants me from under her feet, so packs me off on the bird walk for a couple of hours. Oh dear how sad, the things I put up with to please her.

My jobs sorting the car apparently.

A1 Car wash.

A1 Car wash.

Now that’s what I call a car wash. Call in at the A1 Car Wash from Breaking Bad – actually called Octopus. Now I’m alway the first to slag off America and it’s Ford principle of tiny tasks and no discretion or initiative., but this place is a shining example and a shrine to the Ford Principle. Slick, and I’m not referring to the soap suds, isn’t the word. A cast of 1,000’s vacuum the car; whisk into a conveyor; clean wheel; clean inside; leather dry it. Just 5 minutes from start to finish but in case you get bored, thirsty or hungry there’s free, yes free, coffee, pop corn, comfy chairs and magazines. Admittedly no girly mags but hey ho, can’t have everything.

Finally manage to find the bottle bank. Obviously the Green peace tree huggers don’t want anyone re-cycling so they’ve hid it well and made sure there’s no signs to it.

After lunch we’re all done so drive down to Wholefoods to pick up some tea and then get the Hire car from that nice Mr Hertz, including “big” upgrade – well ain’t everything bigger over here!

We’ve had an awesome time in ABQ. Great city, so easy to get around; lovely weather; plenty to do; fantastic network of bike paths, just a pity about the “Goat Heads” – natures very own stingers and bike mine fields.

More Breaking Bad:

Why do we keep getting so many home exchange requests from giant families in Spain, more kids than you can shake a perforated condom at. I’ve emailed them back and told them we’ll come to Spain when they’ve finished building it.

20141105 – Roadrunner At Last

 

Wednesday – warm and sunny.

 

At last.

At last.

Lazy day. iPad has a dose of “computer problems”, got an occasional lock up – bloody software if you ask me – but to be on the safe side we take it back to Apple store. No problem to replace it. Try backing up to iCloud, but Apple store Internet’s too slow – can you believe it. Try Starbuck’s their links too slow. Finally give up we’ll come back another day.

David Attenboroug presents nightclubbing:

As usual I’ll totally brassed off with computer software, so here’s a few loony computer sayings:

Computers, huh? I’ve heard it all boils down to just a bunch of ones and zeroes…. I don’t know how that enables me to see naked women, but however it works, God bless you guys.

After growing wildly for years, the field of computing appears to be reaching its infancy.

Hardware: where the people in your company’s software section will tell you the problem is. Software: where the people in your company’s hardware section will tell you the problem is.

Computers have lots of memory but no imagination.

For the avoidance of any future doubt this is the St Francis church in Sante Fe.

For the avoidance of any future doubt this is the St Francis church in Sante Fe.

I’ve discovered this great app, “Around Me” that can locate all sorts of useful places, but sadly the senseless nerds have omitted perhaps the most obvious place – toilets. Another example of the lack of applied common sense, probably because there’s no money in toilets.

 

Thursday – warm and sunny.

 

Backed up iPad overnight and reset it. Take it back to Apple store for a no quibble exchange. Mind you the techy who dealt with us was slower than a herd of turtles stampedin’ through peanut butter. Unusual for Apple.

Call in at Costco for some excitement.

Back to the bike shop, yet again for yet another new inner tube. This time splash out on a thick, puncture resistant one.

Fit new inner tube, into new tyre. Let’s hope this survives all these little thorns that seem to adorn these fantastic bike paths. Ironic really.

New research into the “make you more alert affects” of coffee shows that for people who don’t drink coffee regularly it does make them more alert. While for regular slurpers and addicts it merely helps keep them “normal”. Wow coffee makes even me normal!

More Sante Fe.

More Sante Fe.

Pots for rags. Who’d believe it? Have they completely lost their marbles? That Cameron geezer has apparently given £650 million in aid to Pakistan for education.

When David Cameron announced £650m in education aid for Pakistan last week, I guess the same thought occurred to many British people as it did to me: why are we doing this?

While we are slashing our social services and making our children pay hefty university fees, why should we be giving all this money to a country that has reduced its education budget to 1.5% of GDP while spending several times as much on defence? A country where only 1.7m of a population of 180m pay tax? A country that is stepping up its production of nuclear weapons so much that its arsenal will soon outnumber Britain’s? A country so corrupt that when its embassy in Washington held an auction to raise money for flood victims, and a phone rang, one Pakistani said loudly: “That’s the president calling for his cut”? A country which has so alienated powerful friends in America that they now want to abandon it?

 

Friday – hot and sunny.

 

Sante Fe street sellers outside the palace of the Governors. Not Albuquerque.

Sante Fe street sellers outside the palace of the Governors. Not Albuquerque.

Electricity in kitchen cuts out. Check trip switches and sure enough the kitchen ones tripped. Try to clear and reset, but switch won’t even clear. Seems stuck in mid point. Disconnect ALL appliances to make sure there’s no a permanent short. Still no joy. Stuart ends up sending his handy man around. He manages to reset to the off position and clear it. I really must learn to use more force on these sort of problems, so often you try to fix something, especially plumbing or mechanical issues, to no avail, and yet the expert uses plenty of brute force and a good helping of “I don’t care if it breaks” and fixes it. Moral – eat plenty of spinach.

Up and out to Sante Fe. No, we’ve not been there before. Yes, we have been to Albuquerque before. How sad is it when you can’t remember.

Getting into this town is traffic light hell. There’s more traffic lights than jihadis in Iraq.

Not all that impressive. Pleasant town square etc., but Old Town Albuquerque is much more pleasant. Call in for a coffee and spot of lunch at a French bakery – yes, you’d think I’d have more sense. Should have voted with our feet when we saw the “No credit cards – cash only signs”. Can you believe that here in the land of the mighty dollar, even worse than a “ban the NRA” sign.

Visitors centre is, as typical with American towns, very well hidden to avoid staff being disturbed. Then we find a small visitors booth in the town square. May be a bit of a wait as they’ve nipped out until May 2015. Unbelievable when you look at the number of obvious tourists here. Of course I don’t suppose anyone cold have used some imagination and initiative and put few maps and leaflets in a rack outside. Imagination, empowerment and initiative seem alien in this country. I blame Henry Ford.

Madrid shop and post boxes.

Madrid shop and post boxes.

On the way back we call in at Madrid. An arty farty shanty ghost town. Seems to be inhabited by hoary hairy hippies, resplendent with their moth eaten, insect infested dreadlocks, with enough remnants from the past weeks meals to keep them fed for a week, or balding Bob Dylan fan’s with long pony tails to make the most of their withering hair. Sat on their balconies enjoying the last of the days sun, and probably some medicinal weed, just waiting for the grim reaper to come and spirit them away to the grand Woodstock concert bash in the sky.

As network administrator I can take down the network with one keystroke. It’s just like being a doctor but without getting gooky stuff on my paws.

If you have any trouble sounding condescending, find a Unix user to show you how it’s done.

Database: the information you lose when your memory crashes.

A computer lets you make more mistakes faster than any invention in human history – with the possible exceptions of handguns and tequila.

Back up my hard drive? How do I put it in reverse?

One of the many rickety places in Madrid.

One of the many rickety places in Madrid.

Interesting watching question time. You can always tell the non-politicians, they talk common sense, no party political broadcasts, no blame and the audience always rates their answer the best. Not a skerrick of common sense amongst any of the politicians. Major cause for concern. Really must stop watching, it’s depressing to think these chuckleheads decide our fate.

 

Saturday – warm and sunny.

 

Up at the crack o sparrows again to make to 08:30 Bird walk down at the Rio Grande.

At last we get to see a Roadrunner. Not just one, but two, and even manage a distant picture. Considering it’s New Mexico’s state bird it certainly seems pretty camera shy.

Best of all is this Youtube video of a Roadrunner seeing off a Rattle snake and then downing it in one, with no condiments or dressings. Roadrunner versus Rattle snake – awesome:

In the afternoon I manage a pleasant bike ride and happen to come across yet another Starbucks. It would be a sin not to pop in and rattle their cage.

Computers make it easier to do a lot of things, but most of the things they make it easier to do don’t need to be done.

Don’t anthropomorphize computers – they hate it.

Hardware: the parts of a computer that can be kicked.

I haven’t lost my mind; I have a tape back-up somewhere.

I just wish my mouth had a backspace key.

Birding geeks meet for their bird walk.

Birding geeks meet for their bird walk.

The technological singularity hypothesis is that accelerating progress in technologies will cause a runaway effect wherein artificial intelligence will exceed human intellectual capacity and control, thus radically changing or even ending civilization in an event called the singularity. The singularity is predicted to be with us by 2045, or in the case of comparison with politicians intelligence was reached back in 1965 with an IBM 360. With computers that can pass the Turing test by 2029.

I’m not alone in my fear. Silicon Valley’s resident futurist, Elon Musk, recently said artificial intelligence is “potentially more dangerous than nukes.” And Stephen Hawking, one of the smartest people on earth, wrote that successful A. I. “would be the biggest event in human history. Unfortunately, it might also be the last.” There is a long list of computer experts and science fiction writers also fearful of a rogue robot-infested future.

Two main problems with artificial intelligence lead people like Mr. Musk and Mr. Hawking to worry. The first, more near-future fear, is

Male Downy Woodpecker. How can you tell when you can't even see his pecker? The red on his heads a dead giveaway. Nerdy.

Male Downy Woodpecker. How can you tell when you can’t even see his pecker? The red on his heads a dead giveaway. Nerdy.

that we are starting to create machines that can make decisions like humans, but these machines don’t have morality and likely never will.

The second, which is a longer way off, is that once we build systems that are as intelligent as humans, these intelligent machines will be able to build smarter machines, often referred to as superintelligence. That, experts say, is when things could really spiral out of control as the rate of growth and expansion of machines would increase exponentially. We can’t build safeguards into something that we haven’t built ourselves.

Artificial-intelligence proponents argue that these things would never happen and that programmers are going to build safeguards. Oh yeh! But let’s be realistic: It took nearly a half-century for programmers to stop computers from crashing every time you wanted to check your email. What makes them think they can manage armies of quasi-intelligent robots? And even today, most software is still more bug infested than a doss house mattress and as well made as a soup sandwich.

 

Sunday – warm and sunny.

 

My favourite exhibit. Has no title or name of artist. I call "Soap opera's delight". Only joking but it was more interesting than some of the tripe on display.

My favourite exhibit. Has no title or name of artist. I call “Soap opera’s delight”. Only joking, but it was more interesting than some of the tripe on display.

Off down to the Albuquerque Museum. It’s free Sunday morning. Free’s always good. Calls it a history museum but it’s an art museum. We were told by the receptionist, with glee, that some of it’s even still for sale. Oh goody, I’m as happy as a baby in a barrel of tits .

Now “they”, the arty farty chattering liberal PC classes, say that arts meant to invoke emotion. Being the philistine that I’m proud to be, I’m glad to report that they’re correct. In me, yet again, it invoked the emotion of absolute incredulity that these lame brains, who must have fell out of the Stupid tree and hit every branch on the way down, could be so dimwitted as to pay anything for some of this tripe. More money than sense. But oh how I so love it when you get the chattering chuckleheaded classes wondering around with that wonderful phrase, “you can just loose yourself in it”.

Best thing about my cultural overdose – thank the Flying Spaghetti Monster, and not forgetting Chione, it was free. The place almost defies the free’s always good theory.

Have a shifty around Old Town once again so that we can buy an “authentic” Indian weaved basket.

Call in at Starbucks for my favourite – a soy dirty Chai with 2 extra shots, it’s awesome, try it. I point out that my Gold membership of the World of Starbuck crazies means I get shots free. They’re confused. Call the manager over, who’s amazed. Anyway to his credit no argy bargy, in fact my $6.8o coffees is on the house and to top it all so is Wendy’s Earl Grey. How’s that for customer service.

Massive life sized sculpture outside the art museum. At least something was impressive.

Massive life sized sculpture outside the art museum. At least something was impressive.

Letter to David Cameron

Dear Mr Cameron

I note from a report in the daily thunderer that the radical cleric geezer, Anjem Choudray, has claimed he would renounce his British citizenship and live under the rule of Isis, if the government would grant him safe passage.

Quick snap his hand off, as the police and security forces don’t seem able to nail him, and even if they did he’d only cost us a fortune in gaol. Not only would you save £25,000 a year, in what he calls Jihadist Seekers allowance, for his family of 4 sprogs, but you’d also free up a £320,000 council house. Pay the fare for him and all his family. Grant him safe passage and when he lands have someone there from the British embassy to have a ceremonial Youtube event, to cut up his British passport and remove British citizenship. A big cheer will go up in this country as we’re sick of the nonsense surrounding him.

If you’re struggling finding the funds then drop me an email and I’ll send you a tenner and have a whip round locally. I’m sure we could easily raise enough to send his whole family back first class.

Regards

Tony

PS

A few words of political advice, if I may be so bold, make the most of your last days in No 10. If you don’t pull your socks up and kick Europe into touch then I’m sure that Farage geezer will be taking residence and having some real ale pumps installed.

20141030 – Breaking Bad Tour

 

Thursday – hot and sunny.

 

Lunch by the Rio Grande.

Lunch by the Rio Grande.

Off down to the Rio Grande Nature centre for a birding stroll. Totally the wrong time of day as we spent most of the morning surfing, knitting and supping coffee. A pleasant enough place, but birds were as rare as a politician with some common sense.

Anyone remember Dave Allen? Here’s one of his superb comedy sketches on religion:

Try to book in the Olive Garden for tomorrow night. I detest the queueing that Americans seem to enjoy when going out to dinner.
Trees flaunting their Autumnal foliage.

Trees flaunting their Autumnal foliage.

But you can’t book a table unless there’s 8 of you. We can take your name, so when you arrive you go to the front of the queue that we like to have in order to piss off our customers. Hmm… Customer service strikes again. My delusion that I’m a customer has flared up again – don’t worry it’s not catching and non-aggressive, I have some cream I can rub on my head to medicate it. I realise it would be much to complicated to offer a reservation service, you might have to use some initiative and intelligence.

 

Friday – hot and sunny.

 

For all you Breaking Bad fans we did a DIY BB tour around Albuquerque. Yes, we suffered it. How sad is that! Sadder than watching daytime TV all day and every Soap omnibus going. Feel like a right pair of geeks.

Walt’s house in Breaking Bad.

Walt’s house – now.

Car Wash in Breaking Bad.

Car Wash – now.

Let’s Call Saul office in Breaking Bad.

Let’s Call Saul office – now

Los Pollos restaurant in Breaking Bad.

Los Pollos restaurant – now.

Crossroads Motel in Breaking Bad.

Crossroads Motel – now, minus classy broad.

Jessies house now.

Jessies house – now.


Hanks home.

Hanks home – now.

There’s many web sites showing locations of the various sets used, so off we went. Two hours of lunacy, but at least it gave us a good tour around ABQ. Even bumped into the official bus tour at a few locations and looking on the bright side we saved ourselves $150 by doing it ourselves.

In the evening we go out to the Olive Garden for dinner. It was as good as ever and so handy, could almost walk. Eating their Steak Gorgonzola Alfredo makes me think I’m in Flying Spaghetti Monster heaven.

Here’s a more modern comedian. Ricky Gervais does the Bible:

Some blue meths. I think!

Some blue meths. I think!

Don’t I just love the hype around Halloween. Amazing a pagan festival turned into a major marketing rip off by the Mighty Marketing Moguls. It’s such a major event over here.

So lets get it straight, people spend all year hammering it into their kids “DON’t TALK TO STRANGERS” etc. Then on this pagan festival night, they wait until it’s dark and send their kids out to beg for sweets off total strangers. “Come in dearie I’ve a big surprise for you” – hmmm..

Of course there are alternatives to avoid this rampant madness:
1 Go out for a meal – our preferred option.
2 Sit in the dark all evening with the doors and windows locked – my Mothers option as this used to frighten her.
3 Answer the door with a shotgun.
4 Borrow a class 1 attack dog.
5 Stick a plague flag on your front door.

Just what most of our politicians need - backbone.

Just what most of our politicians need – backbone.

Big danger is ending up with your house covered in Yellow spray can graffiti. To ensure no property damage to our home exchange we bought some sweets. Bad news – we now have to live off kit-Kats and Mounds for the rest of the year. No one came.

What’s even more disturbing in this supposed Christian country they’ll wish you a “Happy Halloween” (pagan festival), yet daren’t wish you a merry Christams, instead resort to the PC “Happy holiday”.

Even bigger worry is that this insidious virus is spreading to the UK as the greed merchants in marketing see an opportunity to exploit the numpties.

 

Saturday – warm and sunny.

 

Apple 1 computer from the Homebrew club.

Apple 1 computer from the Homebrew club.

Have a pleasant 12 mile bike ride in the morning. Great way to explore Albuquerque. Even if I did get lost.

After lunch set off to visit the Indian Pueblo museum. Wendy pops in to check times of Indian dancers and comes out totally pissed off by the receptionist. Apparently the rudest one she’s ever encountered. Of course in England we have a cure for this, It’s called a brown envelope, which would contain a P45 – equivalent of what I believe the Americans call a pink slip. In my view it should be doled out not only to the receptionist, but more importantly to the half wit who employed her. Why are there so many rude, unfriendly and inappropriate people employed in customer facing roles. You just have to send in a few mystery shoppers or even talk to these people to realise that they’re about as friendly as a grizzly with toothache.

Red Rocks on the Jemez Springs mountain road.

Red Rocks on the Jemez Springs mountain road.

Instead we go to the Natural History museum. Wow what an impressive museum. I’m not usually that impressed with Natural History Museums but this one was the exception. Good to see the volunteer docents come out and speak to you and explain what they were doing and the various exhibits. Best of all was an exhibition of computing through the ages. Plenty of Apple equipment, including an early apple one computer from the homebrew computer club. Whilst I could relate to most of the equipment on display it was also a sad reminder of our old I am.

If builders built buildings the way programmers wrote programs, then the first woodpecker that came along would destroy civilization. ~One of Murphy’s Laws of Technology.

 

Sunday – warm and sunny.

 

DSC07150Up at the crack of sparrows for an early morning organised Birdwalk down at the Rio Grande state park. Well worth getting up so early, seen about 30 different varieties of birds as well as a porcupine resting in a tree, I didn’t know they could climb, and a coyote strolling across a field.

In the afternoon we spend in as there is rain forecast. Sure enough it does rain, and thunder and lightning. Actually it is quite refreshing to spend an afternoon relaxing in the house. Makes quite a pleasant change and allows me to get SQL’ing done.

DSC07156I regularly read Internet user groups filled with messages from people trying to solve software incompatibility problems that, in terms of complexity, make the U.S. Tax Code look like Dr. Seuss.

 

Monday – cool and sunny.

 

Up early and off up the Jemez Mountain trail. What a stunning drive through the mountains, makes up for the paucity of the so called Enchanted Circle drive. This is not the least bit boring.

DSC07211Call in at all the places on the way up the Jemez Mountain Trail road. Have lunch overlooking Battleship Rock. A very enjoyable road trip. One of the nicest drives ever.

Finally get to our hotel. A Hampton Inn supposedly in Los Alamos. But no it’s 13 miles away in White Rock. Yes, according to the excellent receptionist a lot of customers are annoyed by this outright deception. What have Hilton done about it nothing. No they’d rather go on bracing there customers off. Well good news is I vote with my feet, cancel the booking and go to the Comfort Inn in Los Alamos. Well Mr Hampton that’s two Hampton Inns that have let me down in the past 7 days. One more strike and you’re out. I’ll take great delight in cutting my loyalty card up.

White rock overlook.

White rock overlook.

Dinner at the Blue Window restaurant. All very pleasant. It seems that Los Alamos is one of the more wealthier towns in New Mexico due to the Labs there employing over 10,000 people. You can tell it’s more up market, for a small town it even has a Starbucks and a very classy Smiths supermarket.

To get our green card we need to ditch our bad attitude to tipping.

 

Tuesday – cool and sunny.

 

DSC07251Here we are in PO box 1663, also known as Los Alamos, source of the Manhattan project to develop a nuclear bomb. During the 2nd World war post was sent to PO Box 1663 and this town was a secret.

Visit the Bradbury science museum. A great museum that explains what still goes on at Los Alamos, well some of it at least. I could spend all day here, but not really Wendy’s cup of tea.

DSC07298As we drive into town the main highway passes through the massive laboratory complex. All cars are stopped, subject to random search and have to produce photo ID – apparently imposed since 9/11. Of course we don’t have our passport with us, so I show them my paper driving license along with loose photograph that I slipped in their to keep “them” happy. Sometimes the photos even on a slant and is obviously not an integral part of the license. I just love it – see picture. This never fails to fool the numpties. All part of the jobsworth approach to life. Enough to drive a wooden Indian crazy. One of these days I’m really tempted to use that fake Breaking Bad (Walter White ID) just to explore the boundaries of lunacy.

My paper driving license complete with loose picture to fool the gullible.

My paper driving license complete with loose picture to fool the gullible.

Bradbury museum video:

We also visit Bandelier National Historic Monument – another free entrance with our annual National Parks pass.

DSC07278This place is awesome. Has a pleasant 2 mile walk amongst the 9th to 12th century ancient pueblo cliff dwelling. You can even climb ladders into them. Heights are not really my cup of tea, especially when there’s no safety harness and I’ve never received any H&S working at heights training. But hey, ho, I update my will and go for it. What’s the worse that can happen, I die or I stain my underwear. Signs of wood worm in some of the rungs is a tad off putting. I do hope someones wiped down these rungs with antiseptic!

One things for certain those Indians must have been fit, up and down those ladders, and judging by the 1 foot square hole in the roof that represents their front door, their certainly wasn’t an obesity problem. Blobbies would have to stay outside and freeze to death.

IMG_5328What a great day and to top it off, we drive back down scenic Highway 4 and call in at Jemez Falls for a quick photo. Get back to Albuquerque after dark. Now I know we’re in a third World country. No street lighting, no cats eyes and drivers behind you who seem to change lanes faster than a bee stung stallion and seem determined to crawl up my tail pipe. Makes driving at night harder than trying to stick a wet noodle in a wildcat’s ass.

Call in at WholeFoods, also commonly know as WholePaypacket for a take away dinner. I have a Burrito Subway style and Wendy goes for a stir fry, both freshly made.

Bill Maher mocks stupid Americans who carry guns around in public:

Don’t worry I suspect I’m already on the NRA’s hit list and given their way I’d go the way of Piers Morgan.

Wendy entering Los Alamos.

Wendy entering Los Alamos.

Just love the conversations you have with all these friendly Americans. A common theme they all seem to come up with is “well unlike you guys, we don’t really have any history”. And yes, when you visit towns and they have an historic quarter that all of 40 years old you can start to believe it. What they seem to forget is the Indians that lived here thousands of years ago, mind you they probably rather forget it as it really is part of their “bad past”.