Vancouver BC

So we had made it to Vancouver and waited nervously for our appointment at the US Consulate which turned out to be a 2 sec interview after a lot of queing, and waiting, and security checking, and we were told we could pick up our visas the next day! To fill in time we did a short walking tour of Vancouver which although it may be pretty it was just too darn cold for my comfort level. I’m sure the parks are lovely n’all I just wasn’t the best person to judge.

Lots of white sleek boats, one bright yellow boat named “KARMA”


A Canadian duck i mean goose.



We left Vancouver and drove 18 hours non stop back home.

I had my first American road side diner experience at Patty’s Eggnest in Arlington WA , just like the movies!

This a photo through the windscreen of the car, it’s of Mt Rainer as we were leaving Seattle.


Canada Road Trip

Well we arrived back home safely yesterday after what for us was quite an extreme journey through snow, hail and rain… SNOW being the new element for us, we encountered a severe snow storm as we entered California on our way home that lasted for about 40 km, we had snow chains but couldn’t stop to put them on, so we made our way slowly, slip sliding’ a few times, several cars had not made it and had plowed head first (or back first??) into the snow banks on the side of the road, we sagely shook our heads like we were seasoned snow experts.. tut tutting … they obviously were driving too fast!! Wish it had been day time so I could have taken some shots.


When we left home on Monday morning it was snowing!!

_mg_6391Far out we thought… this was going to be a tough trip.

Soon after we hit Highway 101 the conditions cleared, it was beautiful to see the snow capped mountains lining the Salinas valley as we made our way towards San Francisco. We drove up through central California on the I5. We had lunch at Williams (Granzillas Restaurant….thanks Hayley for the tip)

OK so the Central Valley of California is exactly that, a big valley stretching all the way through central California…boring as all hell.

Then we reached Redding and things started to change, first we noticed the oak trees disappeared and pine forests took their place the scenery became dramatic and very beautiful.

We didn’t stop and I tried to take a few shots out of the car window,the first being a photo taken near WEED CA, and views of Mt Shasta, this photo isn’t Mt Shasta but it was cool and pointy!!



Mount Shasta…




Love it….a town called “Weed” in California, unfortunately we didn’t stop we had a deadline to meet!


Not my photo but we saw exactly this scene.


Pointy Mountain near Weed Ca

So then we entered Oregon and it got fairly dark as it was snowing and raining intermittently,  it was very beautiful, I remember driving through the Rogue Valley and watching a full moon rise over Wolf Creek.. images etched in my mind that I couldn’t capture with the camera but will stay a while.

We stopped in Roseburg for fuel and a bite to eat, trying to find a place with Wifi so we could log on to Wine.Woot and contribute to the blog that we were part of, no luck there, “What’s WiFi?”, the question saying all.

Keen to press on we did passing through Portland and then entering Washington, we finally stopped for a rest it was 12 mid night, in a tiny dorp called Tumwater. The hotel was OK, clean and warm considering it was snowing outside.

We woke up early the next morning and after a quick brekkie were on our way again.

_mg_6409View out of the Motel window


We left early, passed through Seattle no problems and reached Canada before Lunch time. Booked into our hotel and found the Scotia Bank to pay the Visa fees ready for our Interview in the morning…


He’s an alcoholic socialist…what’s not to like?

Even Rob Schneider was ashamed

by Carlo Sands

I guess look back on 2008’s highlights. I shook my brain for hours, but as we all know it was a pretty quiet year where nothing much of any significance really happened. Not a year to make the history books that’s for sure.

Of course, with one exception. An exception that shook the world.

As anyone not from the planet Neptune knows, there was an extremely significant event that occurred around two months ago that grabbed the planet’s attention. There were tears, laughter and disbelief.

It took to the very pinnacle a member of a long downtrodden sector of society.

Yes, in a blow for hardworking, unrecognised pub musicians everywhere, Wes Carr was victorious and crowned Australian Idol 2008.

Readers of this blog may not be aware, as I was not, but in all of the excitement about the unprecedented situation of an Australian Idol winner with a small amount of talent, there was another vote around the same time that flew under the radar.

It has been brought to my attention recently that apparently there was a presidential election sometime in November in the USA.

The news surprised me, as I had assumed the US had done away with such things to free up time for the corporate elite to concentrate more fully on persecuting the immigrants who do all the shit work; filling jails with young Black men who then do even shittier work for free (thus making decent headway into reversing the outcome of the Civil War); and destroying the world economy.

But no.

Apparently they actually had a vote and so hated are the Republicans, and so so ludicrous their candidates for Rulers of the World, they didn’t even bother trying to steal it this time.

Desperate for change, the the US voters elected a Black man to oversee the Empire that has been killing Black people since its inception. The world is a strange place, sometimes. Perhaps they feel direct experience will help with efficiency.

Still, people seem relieved to see the back of the last guy.

It wasn’t just that he was a war criminal responsible for millions of deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan, torture all over the world, or a massive shift of wealth to his super-rich friends (“his base”).

Hell, that is expected. Not for nothing did US intellectual Noam Chomsky observe that if every US president since WWII was tried according to the principles at the Nuremburg Trial, they would all be hanged.

It is that he was so fucking incompetent at it. Seriously, the only thing he got right during his entire years was when he ducked in time.

If there is one thing the better off sections of the US cannot stand, it is an incompetent representative of the ruling class whose policies of extending imperial rule have failed ingloriously. Failure makes the US look foolish. And an Empire does not like to look foolish.

A very common complaint by many Americans during the reign of Emperor George Bush II was just how damn embarrassed it made them to be Americans. Especially when traveling to Europe. (The Europeans are also imperialists, of a less successful variety. But they pride themselves on a certain sense of style.)

Many US people who can afford regular overseas travel, have been, in ever greater numbers, speaking out about how ashamed the Bush regime has made them.

I have personally always been a little disturbed at the tendency of people in the wealthy industrialised nations to express the shame whenever the government installed through a farce of a democratic process, whereby two parties with identical policies, backed by the same oligarchic corporations and endorsed by the mass media owned by the oligarchs, proceed to do commit some shocking act of gross oppression on, well, on the oppressed.

What the fuck were you expecting?

We saw the same phenomena in Australia with the Howard government’s inhumane and racist immigration policy, which they merely continued from the preceding Labor government. This made many middle class liberals ashamed to be Australian.

Which always raised the question: why now? What pride is there in a nation founded on genocide that was always governed for the rich?

I never saw the point of feeling shame about a government I never voted for, supported or expected to be anything other than utter bastards. But, perhaps I just have no shame.

Just how hated Bush had become was brought home to me when, after the elections, US “comedian” Rob Schneider was on an Australian talk show hosted by that bloke who used to play Uncle Arthur and he spoke out bravely about how embarrassed Bush made him to be an American when traveling in Europe.

Like so many of his compatriots, he explained was forced to pretend to be a Canadian or even an Australian (cue a basic phrase said in an bad Australian accent that received inexplicable laughter from the studio audience).

How bad was Bush? Even the star of Deuce Bigalow, Male Gigalo was ashamed.

As if the initial Deuce Bigalow outing was not terrible enough, Schneider also stared in the sequel, Deuce Bigalow, Euopean Gigalow, that featured a promo poster of Schneider with the Leaning Tower of Pisa in the background, cleverly positioned so it appeared to be emerging from his groin.

When Schneider visited Europe, he was less ashamed to be known as the bloke who pretended, in order to sell a truly crappy film, that the the Leaning Tower of Pisa was his penis than he was of George Bush’s presidency.

That is how terrible Bush’s crimes were.

And, of course, with the election the US voters struck a blow against prejudice and did something unprecedented and inspiring — something few believed was possible in this day and age. They handed the most powerful office in the entire world to one of the most marganisled social groups.

Yes, stunning as it may seem, President-elect Barack Obama is a smoker.