sarren: (Default)
OMG How much does Sufjan Stevens rock???

I stupidly did not take my camera - I had no idea what to expect, it was in the Pabst Theatre and I've been told off so often for taking photos...

Anyway, for future reference, take a camera to Sufjan Stevens concerts - they were ALL dressed as BUTTERFLIES, except Sufjan - who was a bird!

Also, now I can pronounce his name I feel a whole lot cooler. *g*

Am now off to get my hair cut and coloured, buy MAKE UP and SHOES and either a new dress or a more fancy jacket to go with my regular dress - cos Wisconsin gets COLD.
sarren: (Default)
The Holocaust Museum took about four hours to get through. It's an amazing place, very comprehensive. It starts with how Hitler was able to come to power, and finishes with an example of genocide today, and what people can do to help the people of Darfur. Obviously, very emotional.

Later we went to the SPY MUSEUM, which is a lot of fun. There are exhibits of all the 'high tech' spy equipment from the Cold War years, which is like, so 'The Man From Uncle'! *g* There was the Bulgarian umbrella - which made Cricket yell 'Professionals'! and giggle madly. It's an interactive museum.

After all that my legs ached from walking ALL day, so of course then we went on a three hour bike tour of the Mall, and the Monuments. And it was fabulous, cycling around the park at sunset, and all the monuments are well lit. I loved the Korean War Memorial the best. It's 19 soldiers walking across a rice paddy, and the lights in the ground represent the landmines. The faces have a ghostly appearance. On the wall behind them the 'mountains' that represent the landscape they fought in resolve into the faces of actual people when you get up close - the images were taken from Life magazine, and include soldiers, medics, nurses and all the other people who were involved. It's amazing.

Then I came home and checked my flist and was too tired to post. *looks vaguely embarrassed*

And then we watched Eureka on tv. Oh yeah, and this hotel has the sci-fi channnel!!!

Also, I have much love for Denmark and Sweden.
sarren: (Default)
So, Tuesday morning we made the motorhome shiny, except for the footprints that weren't supposed to be on the roof, and the one towel of theirs that we used and sort of destroyed. Accidently. It's sort of black from dirt from when drK and I thought the floor of the RV wasn't THAT dirty, and sort of pink from when drK and I were doing the washing and something red snuck in. Anyway, the RV place gave us a Gold Star, and we will be Permitted to Rent From Them again. Then we went to the airport to pick up the rental vehicle (we have spent a hell of a lot of time in that place considering we haven't actually flown in or out there - there was a whole saga before BM involving Cricket's lost luggage and how United Airline operates out of Hell). Hey, Reno airport has SLOT MACHINES, I wanted to take photos but didn't want to be detained for questioning. So we went to pick up the SUV, that the girl who'd served us cheerfully assured us would take five people and all our luggage and found...a SOCCER MOM car. We'd already waited in line for a really long time, and were expecting delays and arguments when we went to explain their mistake, and instead got the BEST (and quietest) service ever. In fact, the guy only spoke two words to us the whole time - 'sign here'.

And that's how we got Aiden. Aiden and I have bonded. Aiden is a sort of cross between a minitruck and SUV, or as Jody puts it 'it's a big, fat car'. After lunch at Bertha Miranda's (a Mexican place we'd tried the night before BM on the rec of the hotel guy I may possibly have been flirting with. a bit) we Set Off. drK drove for the first seven hours of our five hour journey. *pause* We went the scenic way through the mountains, nice roads, the stunning Lake Tahoe, and headed off towards Sacramento. Except we weren't going there. We were SUPPOSED to turn off onto Hwy 49, except that Hwy 49 wasn't there the first time we went through Placerville. Except we didn't realise that for a long time, and there were long highways and boring flat landscape and and the smog layer in the distance, but then we came to a Starbucks and all was right with the world because I had my first Mocha Grande. Back we headed to Placerville and searched, but still no Hwy 49 and so Dave got out at a gas station and asked for directions and the attendant had no idea but sold him a map of Placerville and then we set off and got a hundred yards up the street and Hwy 49 manifested in front of us. Our theory is that Dave somehow fulfilled some arcane ritual. hwy 49 is spooky and dark and passes through all sorts of tiny goldrush towns all lit up with fairy lights. We stopped somewhere near Jackson for gas, and then I took over driving. (I should probably mention at this point that my entire experience of driving on the other side of the road and adjusting to the strange road rules took place over a couple of hours in Reno before BM) And Aiden is quite big and fat. drK spent the first half hour or so (and periodically after that) saying 'shoulder! shoulder!' until I got the hang of clinging to the shiny yellow lights in the middle of the road. Which came in handy an hour or so later when we found ourselves in mountains again. Big Scary Mountains. With tiny, narrow roads that wind tightly around them, with dark chasms that I was could see out of my peripheral vision. And so the hours passed. I'm sure the mountains looked lovely by the light of the full moon, I didn't dare look away from the golden lights. Which became yellow lines as the reflectors (my best friends) were left behind. At exactly midnight (really!) I managed to pull over so the back seat people could get out and pee (very quickly, we were afraid of being attacked by bears). drK asked if I wanted to swap but I really didn't. Adrenalin was doing its thing, big time, and I was having a really intense sort of fun time. The really fun part came when we got to some ROADWORKS, and a traffic light that said 'prepare for 15 minute wait'. Advice from the passenger seat was that it was one o'clock in the morning, no need to wait. Except as it turned out, the 'roadworks' were a temporarily constructed ONE LANE bridge to the next mountain, a ONE LANE road and then another ONE LANE bridge. And half way through this, a car came towards us. I managed to find enough room to pull us over, and a couple of cars passed us, and we got over the second bridge. To find a cop car, and another set of lights with cars waiting to go. I think we all learned a very valuable lesson. Shortly thereafter we found our motel, and it was universally decided that we were too tired to unpack the car, and were going to crash in our clothes. The others went to check in and I parked. And then suddenly we were unpacking the car, especially all foodstuffs, because it had been a few years since bears had ripped a car door off, and the motel people wanted to keep it that way!

Lazy morning, then we set off to Yosemite. We drove around a lot. We stopped a lot to stare and take photos of some pretty rocks and mountains and meadows and stuff. More fun mountain driving.

Back to the motel for dinner, Jody and I decided to share a pepper steak meal. Turned out, for $2.50 extra, they 'split the plate', which means they cut the steak in half and put it on seperate plates and then we got two serves of everything else, the sauce, the garlic mash and vegetables, bread, and the salad bar, which was excellent and included raw broccoli and cauliflower. So, still haven't been able to finish a single meal I've had since I've been here. They had REAL BUTTER packets, so I absconded the restaurant with some, and the rest of our bread. (hey, it was OURS), in happy anticipation of being able to have vegemite toast for breakfast for the first time. Oh, vegemite, how I've missed thee! (I'd just found out that day that drK had brought some, it made me exceedingly happy) Except I got up this morning and the ants had got to the bread. *cries* So I had some peanut butter muesli bar thing that sort of tastes like cake, instead. Then we drove through mountains for a few hours, and then onto highways where I got to go 65 miles an hour! Whee! Aiden is very keen and wanted to speed, but I hardly let him at all. Late afternoon, driving alone wide roads, fabulous mountains on either side, and the light falling on them, just so, I got for the first time, why people do this for fun. There was one moment of panic when it started to rain and I realised I didn't know where the windshield wipers were.

At some point we detoured a long way to go see the Bristlecone forest. Oldest trees in the world. They look it, too. There was a one mile hiking trail which I followed, not realising that everyone else had decided not to, for various reasons. It was hot and uphill and I got breathless very quickly, and thought I was having my usual late arvo energy crash early, til I remember that we were at 10 000ft, and then I just paced myself and the scenery was...odd..and stunted..and quite brutal. It was beautiful.

As I was saying, Aiden makes me want to go get a better paying job so I can have a car like him. Five people plus much luggage phases him not at all. He is lovely to drive, if a little bossy. Seriously, he gets grumpy if the passenger doesn't put their seatbelt on. Also, he has a PHONE in the ceiling which Cricket inadvertently discovered one time while randomly pushing buttons.

And now I'm up to date, sort of. Still lots of Burning Man stuff, including the part where I went on a trip out to Black Rock and DISCOVERED A NATIVE AMERICAN ARTIFACT.


Sep. 7th, 2006 09:53 pm
sarren: (Default)
Okay, it's Thursday, so we're in Lone Pine, which is a one horse town next to Mt Whitney, the tallest mountain in the US. This town's claim to fame is they used to film Westerns here. The motel we are staying at was built to accomodate film crews. And I know all this because nearly every shop along the main (only?) street references it. It is all very cute. I took a photo of Jake's Saloon's swinging doors, but it was too smoky to actually go inside. We got here late arvo and immediately went for a spa - I boycotted the pool, it says it's heated - it's SO not. I don't care if it's the middle of summer, dammit. Then we wandered up and down the street and I bought five big bananas for $1.25 from a little market stall. And they were really sweet!! We went to a likely looking Westerny bar, but I had a moment of doubt when I pushed open the door, I was a little concerned that they didn't let women in, but then the place LIVENED UP. Cricket and I attempted to teach ourselves Shuffleboard, but were LED ASTRAY by one of the pucks being a different colour. The others got drinks and sat down while I invited the girls who'd started a game to teach me the rules. Which they graciously did. Then I nearly bought myself a drink but froze at the double challenge of 1. trying to find a beer I'd like (or other drink - K's vodka was made from malt) and 2. tipping the bartender. Also, though it's illegal in the State of California to smoke in that Establishment, everyone was cheerfully smoking away - maybe it's a small town thing. Um, the others went for chicken fried steak. That's our exciting evening in Lone Pine.

May post about the last few days in a little while. Unless I fall asleep.
sarren: (Default)
So apparently many motels and cafes here have free wireless internet. YAY America!

So I've just had a week in the desert with no internet, no cell phone, no TEA. Also, tragically, had little interest in beer, despite the peer pressure. At first I thought it was due to the intense heat (clearly not in my right mind as that is my favourite beer climate at home) but realised eventually that it was a pyschologically thingumagigy to do with my intense terror of portapotties. OMG. My overall Burning Man enjoyment increased late in the week when we finally decided we could pee in the motorhome's toilet and not use up the tank. Too much talk about toilets? Be glad you didn't just spend six days with me in an RV. I whinged. Clearly, I am not cut out for this roughing it stuff. Don't laugh! Yes, we had a luxurious motorhome. THERE WERE SANDSTORMS. AND TWISTERS. AND WHITEOUTS. Yes, we had a shower. We didn't use it cos we didn't want to use up the water reserves. I just went a WEEK without a shower. *pause* We took a lot of babywipes.

Burning Man is very, very cool. My first morning there, I got on my bike and set off randomly for a looksee. I rather timidly helped myself to a bandanna from a washing line full of bandannas with a sign that said 'help yourself', I was still very new to this 'gifting' thing. (Bandannas, as I did not yet realise are Very Important in an environment prone to sudden sandstorms). A little further on I stopped to talk to a couple of guys, who when they realised I was a Virgin, said. 'Welcome home'.

I can't really describe the atmosphere there in a way that does justice to the spirit of sharing and belonging. For the most part, BM poeple rock, and while I can't believe, the way some do, that the world will one day live by the same ideals, I think it's wonderful that there are so many idealists who want to try to make it happen.

I believe 42 000 people came to BM this year. I was just talking to a woman at the washing machine at this motel in Reno we're in and she was saying that the last time she went was eight years ago, and there were were only 14 000 then, and it was much more spiritual. I would have liked to have been there, in the days when the Man was a huge wooden structure that the crowd would pull into position with ropes, rather than the shiny electic Man that they set off fireworks over when they burn.

I think a lot of people that go to BM now, go to party. The bars are many, and the techno music pervasive. I am all grown up and staid now, and did not partake of the much free booze and partying, with the exception of the night that [ profile] cricketk and I went to the International Hostellers Camp for a British Pub Quiz, which started with Cricket drinking absinthe (I refused - I've HAD it before), and the guy setting the table on fire, and some random guy mixing me a tequila, papya juice, grenadine and 'with a dash of Sprite for bubbles' in my big drink bottle, and ended with Cricket leading me into a Den of Iniquity.

I commented that I felt immediately at home in that camp full of Canadians and Brits, and then Cricket's bike got stolen and she was 'wow, it really is like home'. Also, so much for no theft at BM.

Another great thing about BM was the way everyone just left everything unlocked, and the way that you could wander around at any time of day or night and feel completely safe.

I'm probably rambling, sorry, am very tired. But CLEAN. We got given the same rooms we had last week, when the shower thermostat in one of the rooms was busted, and still was today and I went to reception and was like 'last week we assumed we were just stupid foreigners who couldn't work out how to use it but oh look it really is broken and I'm dirty and RAWR' The 'houseman' came quite quickly to fix it *g*

I'm using [ profile] strangedave's laptop. They've gone out to dinner. We had DENNY'S for lunch - I may never eat again!!! I've had Denny's now, so I'm happy. I have no idea if it was ever in an actual episode, but Denny's means X-Files to me, from all the fics I read that had Mulder hanging out there.

God, so much happened at BM, and so much is just a blur now. There was a lot of cycling. A lot. And a big desert. With artworks at not insignificant distances from each other. And heat, and sandstorms. I remember Cricket and I went to a singing lesson at one point, and it made us think of [ profile] mr_booboo for some reason, and we learnt a Renaissance song to sing to [ profile] emma_in_oz and were very pleased with ourselves and stayed in that tent for the next thing, which was a tango lesson, and as nice as the naked old couple were, I was relieved that they chose to only dance with each other. Just as the lesson was nearly finished we had a 'whiteout'. Cricket and I tried to wait it out, but in the end made a run for it, (so to speak, we were on bikes) in sometimes zero visibility. [ profile] doctor_k_ took a photo of us when we got back to camp, in our goggles and bandannas, and totally white with dust.

Okay, too tired now, random things...

Managed to avoid any evil drug taking. It was harder than you might think, with quite insistant offers, and apparent drink spiking.

Joined camps with three young New Hampshire people because during the sandstorm we had on the FIRST DAY, their camp blew apart. They were really good value :). One of them was an engineer who makes robots that in the deep sea to look at the ocean floor, and when he started to explain it to us was like 'I don't know what you people believe, but some people believe that life began in the ocean'. After a moment of stunned silence and then quite a lot of laughter we explained that you don't actually have to justify evolution to pretty much anyone non-American. We all got on really well after that. And they gave us CHEERIOS. Which are NOT SWEET. Thankfully we were able to abandon the granola cereals we'd bought. Or maybe that was just me.

Even more randomly. DO NOT EAT AT ARBY'S. SERIOUSLY. That is one American fast food experience I wish I could repress. Though the curly fries weren't bad.

Also, I could not access my iinet webmail tonight, so I'm not sure what's been happening back home.

And I miss Bunny like crazy.

Love to everyone.
sarren: (Default)
T-Mobile has a deal where you buy a Motorola V188 for $154.25 (incl tax)

- includes phone, sim card, and 1181 minutes, and after that you can just top up with prepaid.
- quad band (so available most countries incl Aust and where Jody is travelling on to).
- texting 15c
- international calls $1.50 per minute
- calls within the US 10c per minute - NO roaming charges, I asked.
- The salesperson said she would put in an unlock request for which approval might come through before we leave (but probably not enough time, otherwise she gave us a card for another store that unlocks phones for $20)

This sounds pretty damn good to me. Am I missing something blindingly obvious?
sarren: (Default)
Well, hey. So much for the dramatic OMG NO INTERNET ACCESS FOREVA ELEVENTY1!11

Singapore airport has free internet.

Packing went smoothly yesterday, much cuddles and family time with Bunny. *sigh* I miss her already. Some emails back and forth with my sister and with [ profile] thisisbone where I'm like OMG what do I do if x happens?" and they supply the virtual valium.

Got some hotel arrangements finalised and all my little notes and addresses and bits and pieces sorted.

Got off to the airport to the airport in good time.

It was, of course, too good to be true.

It was on the way there I managed to spill hot tea.

In my lap.

On the bright side, while the lady at the check in counter took forever to learn out to process internet check ins, I cheerfully shared my tale of woe with the bright eyed boy helping her out - and later when we were queueing with the plebs to get on the plane, the same boy waved us over into the posh lane.

Also Singapore Airlines personal monitors rock like a rocking thing.
sarren: (Default)
1 These rates I'm being quoted, they're per room, right? Not per person, like in Oz?

2. Any recs for hotels in Orlando? And how far out is Kissimee, anyhow?

3. Recs for hotels in Washington?
sarren: (Default)
So today I decided to get everything in order for the trip, plenty of time, not like it's only A WEEK AWAY, or anything.

Apparently this involves cleaning my room and getting all my clothes sorted. Which means cleaning out the ONE box that I haven't looked at in years and years because it's just got some of Mum's stuff and old school reports, etc.

Things I didn't expect to find....

1. My passport. The lost one that I had to replace. *headdesk*

2. A birthday card my Mum made for me, and a lock of my blonde baby hair she'd kept in an envelope.

3. Thirty three American dollars. How?
sarren: (Default)
[ profile] cricketk has expressed concern that with the new security procedures 50 minutes might not be enough time to change planes in Denver.

Anyone know how long these things take?
sarren: (Default)
The last few weeks I've been coasting along secure in the knowledge that everything's organised, nothing left to do - except now I'm like OMG SO MUCH TO DO how can it only be 15 days til we go??

However, I am ignoring the mild panicking going on in one corner of my brain. I have Black Powder War, and everything else will simply have to wait. I am going to go read it right now. Yes, it is nearly midnight. Yes, I have a 13 hour shift tomorrow. I AM IN DENIAL.
sarren: (Default)
I appear to have acquired a rather large collection of tiny, tiny t-shirts - most of which have been bought FOR me by other people. Either, people have this mental picture of me of being way smaller than I am in real life (must be my retiring personality) or else people really, really like my boobies.

And I figure if I just pack all these tiny, tiny t-shirts I will not only save room in my suitcase, but do away with the need to take bras with me!!!

***This post inspired by [ profile] mynxii finding me a small size Swancon girly t-shirt. [ profile] mynxii, you ROCK.
sarren: (Default)
My Dad's had the urge to look up old mates in the UK. He was given written instructions on how to get to a site where you enter the person's name, city, postcode and it will give you the address. Unfortunately my dad hasn't quite mastered such intricacies as drop down boxes, or the difference between a web address and a search engine. So I faffed around for a bit - he only has their names and 'probably still in Manchester', which to my surprise actually got me two hits on the fourth name I tried. "Oh. it works, then." says my Dad, in tones of great surprise.

Dad - What I want is a phone directory.
Me *pulls up BT phone book, where you enter the name etc, and it gives you the number*
Dad - No, a directory.
Me - So what you want is listings, where you can look through names, right?
Dad - Look, I'll show you! *stomps off*
Dad - YES I HAVE. *reappears brandishing phone book*
Me *headdesk*

But, not being particularly skilled at this myself, I can't find phone book type listings. Do they exist? I ask, because I automatically assume that everything in the world is on the internet if you know how to look.

Talking about knowing how to look, last night I had a look at RV hiring for BM. So I look up El Monte, the first on the list. There's a list of places that you hire from. Reno's already booked out apparently, and SF is a bit far, so I check my map of California so see what other cities would be better to hire from. Except I can't find these cities. I spend half an hour googling different maps of California, trying to get a more detailed map. Go to bed tired and discouraged. Discover this morning from a post on [ profile] perthburners that 'Oakland' (and presumably the other places) are in fact suburbs of San Franscisco.

Mourn own incompetance..
sarren: (Default)
I was looking at my itinerary and thinking, hey what are we going to do in Florida for four whole days??? I was vaguely thinking about The Keys, but that's a long way from I had a look. *headdesk* Disneyworld's in Orlando! Who knew? And UNIVERSAL STUDIOS - not just in LA! Seaworld! Busch Gardens!

Yes, I am seriously that ignorant oblivious. In my defense, my lack of interest in theme parks is due to the fact that I go into an environment of crowds and heat and noise, I guarantee I come away with a migraine.

I was looking at this place to stay in SF. I am totally new to this booking online ahead of time thing, so if anyone has any advice, or recs, I'd be grateful. (My last experience was backpacking around the UK, where I'd just call ahead from the youth hostel I was staying at to the hostel in the next town I wanted to visit.)
sarren: (Default)
I know that a lot of stuff happens to me because I'm easily distracted, like flooding the kitchen, or crashing into a bus, or attempting to slice my finger off. BUT SOMETIMES IT CAN'T POSSIBLY BE MY FAULT.

Like the day I went to Movieworld on the Gold Coast, since I'd come all the way across the country for a Highlander Con, I thought, take an extra day, I thought, go on the new fabulous Lethal Weapon ride. Except the day I go, it's closed for cleaning.

Stuff happens, right?

We're going to America. We're going to Washington. We are SPECIFICALLY flying up to Washington to spend TWO WHOLE DAYS at the Smithsonian.

Except now we're not.


*is bitter*

Next thing we'll hear Burning Man will get cancelled.



sarren: (Default)

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