No Throwing Fish.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Yakima River Float

Last weekend involved a group of about 40 people, myself included, tying inflatable rafts together and floating down the yakima river for about 14 miles. Understandably, this flotilla was hard to control, and spent a fair bit of time bouncing off the edges of the river.

One instance of this involved my raft colliding with a jagged rock, possibly a series of them. The raft tipped over and unceremoniously dumped me into the river, before its now utterly lacerated self moved on with the rest of the group, leaving me stranded. I got to my feet to see the uncontrollable mass of rubber, beer, and partiers several hundred feet downstream, a distance which could not be regained by swimming. Luckily, the road between Ellensburg and our campground paralleled the river, so I scrambled out and ran along the road, to the serenade of half the floaters singing "flight of the valkyrie" while the other half sang the theme song from Rocky. This lasted for what seemed like at least a quarter of a marathon, until I nobly rejoined the party.

By the time all that was through, everyone knew my name: The Karate Kid. I'm not sure how they came up with that.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Two-Tone Macbook

I'm temporarily back in the Pacific Northwest. I knew I reached Seattle, because people drive like they have mad cow disease. Since my return I've been enjoying such luxuries as couches and running water.

I think I'll set out towards California around Labor Day. Since I've been out for two months already, I've pretty much written the east coast out of my plans; I'll save it for another trip. The west should keep me company for as long as I feel like being out.

While having a place to do some work on my laptop, I replaced its inverter board to fix its chronic flickering screen. While I was at it I replaced the inner plastics with those from a black macbook, and here is the result:

click for more pictures

Black and white stylin'. I looked up other bi-color macbooks only to find they were all done by circumstance instead of by intention, making mine the only one of its kind (I think). Until people find out they can do this for something like $80.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

People talk slow in Montana

I took to calling Alberta "Canadian Texas," and all the locals agreed. It's very wealthy, very full of oil, the "welcome to Calgary" sign has a cowboy hat on it, and there are suburban housing developments everywhere. I drove over one hill in Calgary to be greeted with the sight of five-foot-long yard, housing development houses as far as I could see. And it's flat there, so I could see pretty far.

I've crossed back into the US. Washington Mutual's "fraud prevention" froze my debit card while I was in Calgary (but would still let me withdraw from ATMs, what the crap). I found the first place in Montana with cell reception so that I could spend a half hour on hold with them. It was this town called Browning. That place is a shit hole. I don't believe I've ever come across a shittier hole. About two of every three buildings are "for sale" or just boarded up and abandoned. Drunk people roam about in the middle of the street at all hours of the day. People ride around on crumbling, backfiring old ATVs, presumably because their cars have long since failed. It was impressive in a very sad way. I got out of there as soon as possible, looking for Egg Mountain. It turns out the mountain was recently bought by Museum of the Rockies, and no longer open to the public. very large frowny face. I did get the chance to be exposed to Montana's slow talking, large belt-buckle showing populace. I now have a much more solid knowledge of the fact that the Pacific Northwest is my kind of place.

Although Egg Mountain was a failure, I saw the World's Longest Dinosaur (world's largest was last time) but couldn't bring myself to sing about this one.

Glacier National Park had a really nice drive, the road that goes through the park is called the "going to the sun road" and has some awesome sights, as well as driving through caves. It took some deft peripheral vision to both enjoy the scenery and watch out for people being retarded in the road as they risked life and limb for pictures of themselves.

This post comes from Coeur D'Alene, Idaho. I am on my way back towards Seattle and Bellingham - I plan to hang out there for a bit and see if I feel like traveling further. Two months (well, almost) has turned out to be a long time and I need a break from my vacation, ha.

Photos (look up Frank Slide, it's some serious history)

Friday, August 8, 2008


This is going to be an "I was here and did this" kind of post

Since Grande Cache, I've been through Jasper, Banff, Drumheller, Vulcan, and am now in Calgary.

Jasper is pretty cool, a little town with tons of hiking and camping around its perimeter. The Icefields Highway is possibly the most awesome stretch of road I've ever driven.

Banff is like if you gave a shopping mall its own zip code. It has nature and stuff around it, but even their own hiking guides say "do this hike in the early morning or late evening to avoid the hordes." The fact that they use the word hordes gives you an idea of how immensely crowded this place is. I can see how people would enjoy going there and shopping and dining and blargle blah bloo blah, but it isn't for me.

I visited some of the areas surrounding Calgary - Drumheller, Dinosaur Provincial Park, and Vulcan. Drumheller is all crazy about dinosaurs - there are these dinosaur statues everywhere - like almost literally on every street corner. The city logo is a fossilized T-Rex, the street lamps have dinosaurs attached to them, they're the home of the "world's largest dinosaur..." the list goes on. It was a cool place though, well worth the trip.

Dinosaur park was less full of dinosaurs, and more full of Canadian Badlands. These are some surreal sections of earth. Again, well worth the trip.

Also stopped by Vulcan, AB. This town recently started going all star-trek like to attract tourists. It doesn't seem to have worked incredibly well as their star trek murals have been deteriorating, no effort has been made to restore them, "Spock's Bar" closed... Despite this, I enjoyed a Spock Burger at the Enterprise Cafe.



Me inside the world's largest dinosaur

Me crawling through a cave

Me chasing a ptarmigan (beware, over 3 minutes)

Sunday, August 3, 2008

why places like grande prairie and prince george suck

These are places with populations of 50,000 or more, and yet nobody wants to live there; they are only there because their job is nearby.

This results in the only businesses being bars, Wal-Mart, and Tim Horton's. These kinds of places seem to spring up "naturally" when nobody cares enough to open their own restaurant or coffee house.

The response to "I'm from Seattle" in either of these towns was a consistent "what the hell are you doing here?"

Even Fort St. John, BC, with less than half the population of these places, was more friendly, had more to do, and was better cared for. This is probably because it's on the Al-Can, whereas neither GP or PG are. It goes to show that a little tourism goes a long way.

More recently, I was in Grande Cache, AB, for the Canadian Death Race. I'm inside a chinese restaurant / coffee house, and one of the more common orders being delivered to patrons is "fries 'n' gravy." I guess that satisfies both of the Alberta food groups.

I was in this same restaurant last night, and after finishing a plate of chinese food, a chinese woman takes my plate and says "you're done with this, eh?" It was a cultural experience. I am starting to get the feeling that I sound rude if I don't end my sentences with "eh."

Death Race was pretty neat, a 125km marathon through mountains. I didn't participate, despite everyone in town thinking that's what I was there for. ("You look like you're runnin', eh?") The events surrounding it couldn't keep my interest for the entire three days of the festival though, I ended up leaving on Saturday afternoon.

I'm in Jasper now - it's refreshing to be in another outdoorsy place after a relatively dismal week in the boring cities on the eastern end of the Al-Can, which I have some photos of here

Grande Cache/Jasper photos