I haven't stopped since i got here, there is so much to do and see and strangely it feels that i have been here before. That must be from the pictures films and books i have read. Tales of The City appears round an amazing number of street corners, my hostel is one block from Grace Cathedral, I've walked through the Summit, Nob Hill, stumbled across The Endup and seen houses that remind me so fully of Barbary Lane it is spooky. Those of you who have not read the books will be wondering what i'm going on about, but it's all good.
My legs have not had so much exercise since NZ, the town is crazily hilly and they're steep. No wonder there are cable cars and trams everywhere. Wonderful architecture both old and new, famous and unknown and with a bit of effort it is all walkable.
Golden Gate Bridge has been hidden in low cloud most mornings, its feet in the water and tops poking out into the blue sky above. Its quite eery. The obligatory sight seeing tour on a red open top double decker bus whisked us round town, the recorded commentary pointing out all the places of interest and reeling off random facts and figures about the city. I have spent plenty of time since, revisiting those sights of interest and trying to keep my dollars in my pocket. Unsuccessfully i may add, as many of the attractions charge and become 'have to do' events once there. As do the cheap clothes and constant supply of tempting food.
I shall soon be citied out and will head off to the countryside for a change and to give my wallet a bit of a rest. Yosemite and Grand Canyon are calling, from how far away i have no idea, they look close on the map and the greyhound is always running.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
A yurt is a modern adaptation of the ancient shelter used by Central Asian nomads for centuries. The compact shape of the yurt and combination of lightweight members in tension and compression mean that the structure is highly efficient in maximizing strength while minimizing the use of materials.
The yurt is a lightweight, low-cost, state-of-the-art version that retains the sense of wholeness of the ancient form while delivering the structural integrity, longevity and low maintenance demanded by modern users.
Though generally classified as a tent, the yurt is much stronger and weathertight. The yurt is a circular structure that consists of a durable fabric cover, tension band and a wood frame that includes a lattice wall, radial rafters, central compression ring and a framed door.
Have a look at www.yurts.com and see where i stole the text!!
Saturday, September 13, 2008
Another day, another island.........
A quick interisland flight and i'm on hawaii island in the hawaiian islands, otherwise known as the big island to reduce confusion.
The newest island in the chain with the most active volcano and quite different to Oahau where i was before. It is also the highest mountain in the world, if measured from base and not sea level.
I can see the plumes from the volcanic activity from my yurt, some gas spewing from a huge crater and the more spectacular display consisting mainly of steam, created as larva flows downslope into the sea, instentaneously boiling the waves as they crash over the red hot rock. Best viewed after sunset, as the evening draws in, allowing the colours to show through better in the dim evening light.
My hosts, Camille and David, moved here from the mainland several years ago and have constructed their home from scratch, all shipped from the mainland in containers, from yurt kits, furniture and right down to the ikea kitchen. Their plan is to create a self sufficient lifestyle, growing cacao for chocolate as a form of income, along with all their fruit and veggies. An uphill struggle with weeds growing at an alarming rate. The areas i cleared at the start of the week are already green again and the grass appears to have grown again no sooner as it has been cut. A good foot every couple of days. It is very pleasant working outside in the tropical sun, view out over Hilo bay to the distant volcano, relaxing on the lanai (deck) with two well seasoned travellers, exchanging stories and retiring to bed in my very own yurt, falling asleep listening to the sounds of the tropical night.
Explored the island in a 48hour mad dash ina hire car, 450 miles and as many sights as i could fit in. The most southerly point in the USA, an amaing orchid nursery, i could have filled a car and brought them all home, plenty of haaiian history, amazingly similar to what i have already seen in New Zealand, with shared ancestry, the polonesian inhabitants created a highly ordered kingdom until discovered by the well travelled Captain Cook who introduced them to european ways before being dispatched to the next world after a tragic misunderstanding. He was later buried at sea. The scenery on the route round the island varied dramatically, due to climate and elevation, there are 13 distinct areas, ranging from raw lava fields, through savanna, rain forest, mountain pine forests and even winter ski fields. each region incredibly different.
If the volcano wasn't enough, the islands are frequently affected by tsunami, there are frequent reminders along the coasts with memorials to past disasters, towering trumpets ready to warn the locals at a moments notice and evacuation route signs indicating where to head for safety. All very well if the cause is across the ocean and there is plenty of warning, but locally produced waves, caused by the volcanic shelves collapsing under the sea can cause devastation with only a few seconds warning. Good for a visit, but i don't think that i shall be setting up home here.
Friday, September 05, 2008
Greetings from Waikiki beach on Oahu, Hawaii.
Monday, just gone, lasted for the longest time. Leaving after my last night in Queensland i got to the airport for 10.30 in the morning, flew to Sydney, waited 4 hours for my onward flight and an additional 3 hours delay before flying out on a 10.5 hour flight to Honolulu. When i landed it was still only 11.30 in the morning, having crossed the international date line, so still within the same day got a decent afternoon in the sun on Waikiki beach after all that travelling.
It is so different here, on the biggest tourist attraction that the USA has to offer. Thousands of holiday makers of all shapes and sizes, huge high rise hotels and appartments and flash shops and malls. It is a really exciting change to be in the thick of it again. Not sure how long it will remain fascinating, but loving it at the moment.
Had a great surf lesson with a wonderful old guy, he had been teaching for 57 years off the same beach and provided the best instruction i have had so far. I went with two other guys that are staying in the same hostel as me.
We hired a car today and headed off for a whirlwind island tour. Snorkelling by 8.45am. Look at the line of people arriving as we departed just before 11. Around the southern point of the island past volcanic rock formations, a very impressive blow hole, golden beaches, sparkelling blue sea and a landscape that changed from crisp brown to lush green as we hit the windward side of the mountains. High rises behind us, the coast rose steeply out of the sea with towering cliffs rising a short way inland. The coastal area dotted with villages, farms and the occasional town. A huge contrast to the towering hotels on the dry sunny side. Stopping at beaches for a swim to cool of or at roadside stalls to pick up exotic fruit snacks and a local garlic shrimp dish on rice for lunch. To the north shore, famous for its huge surfing waves at certain times of the year. Not hugely impressive at present, but far larger than i would attempt yet. It was good to watch the professionals from the beach and to decide which house would be most suitable to live in should the opportunity arise. A small wooden shack on the beach surrounded with palm trees and a bit of a garden would be fine for a while.
The road doesn't quite reach right round the island, but an inland highway cuts through the two mountain ranges to bring us back into Honolulu town just before sunset. We raced up the southwest coast trying to catch the sunset photo opportunity but the traffic was too heavy and the speed limits ridiculously low, failed miserably, but got some wonderful palm tree silhouettes instead.