Southwest Tour 2011 – Day 9. Coasting to TWiT

So today’s big plan was the catching the recording of This Week in Tech (TWiT) at the Brickhouse. Since the show didn’t start until 3pm, I had the morning and early afternoon to kill. What to do?

California Coast

Well, was going to tour wineries, however, I decided highway 1 along the coast would be better so instead of east, I took off west. Good choice! The scenery was incredible and made me realized how much I had enjoyed the Oregon coast the previous spring. After some pictures and a stroll on the beach, it was time to head to the Brickhouse.
I arrived at the Brickhouse at 2pm just as Leo finished his Tech Guy radio show. In studio he had some Mac and Java developers who were in town for a conference. After the show, Leo took all of us on a tour of the whole facility including the basement which houses the server farm. What a sight!

The set of TWiT

After the tour, it was time to get ready for the show. Leo would be joined by Patrick Norton and the Grumpy Man himself, John Dvorak! Once the show started, the small audience was either blogging about the show or taking pictures, or laughing! Overall a great experience. If you’re a geek, put this place on your bucket list! It’s worth it!
Tomorrow is a travel day. Petaluma to Tonopah NV. This route will take me through Yosemite park. I don’t know what I’ll get for pictures, but the camera will be ready.
So, stay tuned……..

The following is some video of the show shot on the 7D.

Southwest Tour 2011 – Day 8. I’m a TWiT!

Leo and I on TWiT

Today was day two of the drive from the desert to the ocean. Bakersfield to Petaluma was punched into the GPS and the route was set.
My GPS took me on an interesting route through some small towns which lead me to the Napa Valley area and avoiding the San Francisco – Oakland traffic nightmare.
Once getting into Petaluma, I checked into my motel then headed out to find the TWiT Brickhouse. It was easy to find and I also had a look at the old TWiT cottage. I finally made it to the mecca in internet webcasting.
Since I was in the neighbourhood, I figured I might as well see what’s there is to see. Well my timing was perfect. Leo was finishing up the days recording so I didn’t have long to wait to meet the man himself. Leo was great to talk to. He gave me a chance to sit at the desk and I even had a chance to do a Trackfiles intro on camera. This, plus enjoy the TWiT tradition of having a picture taken with Leo while wearing the TWiT fez.
So after TWiT, I was off to the city by the bay. It’s an easy drive to get to ‘Frisco from Petaluma. However once there, it’s a traffic nightmare! I wanted to go to the Twin Peaks viewpoint. The plan was simple. Come off the bridge, two right turns and up the hill!!
Well construction sent me off course as soon as I got off the bridge and I ended up in some of the city’s famous neighbourhoods. Eventually, I made it to the viewpoints and took some pictures. Then I got lost again leaving town, but it worked out for the better as it took me to a great viewpoint for the Golden Gate. One thing about driving in San Francisco, the hills are crazy!

The Accidental Golden Gate Shot

So, tomorrow is TWiT day and I’ll be spending a bit more time at the TWiT studio. Hopefully, I’ll be able to take some pictures of the inside and I’ll post them to my SmugMug site.
Stay tuned……..

Southwest Tour 2011 – Day 7. Walking the Streets of Bakersfield

Shot by the bus driver.

Today was a transit day. Grand Canyon to Bakersfield California. At a bit over 500 miles (800 Kilometers). the drive took me 8 hours, mostly on the freeway.
Nothing much to see along the way so the camera never came out of the bag. However, since I did get to my destination fairly early, I was able to catch up on uploading pictures.

Sunset at the Grand Canyon

So the sunset shots are now available on my SmugMug site. Please drop by and have a look.
Tomorrow brings the second part of the west coast commute taking me from here in Bakersfield to Petaluma where I’ll be visiting with Leo and the TWiT crew.
If anything happens tomorrow, I’ll post. Otherwise, I’ll catch up with you on Sunday.

Southwest Tour 2011 – Day 5. Get on the Bus!

Today was tourist day. I went on two guided tours today traveling from the eastern end of the park to the west.
The first tour was called the Desert View tour. On this tour, we stopped at viewpoints and were given details of the area by our guide. The final stop was at the Watchtower, which is a replica of an old native lookout post. Many photos were taken and I’ll get to uploading them tomorrow.
Next was a sunset tour which took us west to Hopi point. This was incredible! I took nearly 60 pictures in the 20 minutes we were there. I haven’t look at them yet, and I won’t get to that until tomorrow. As I write this, it’s 7:00 and dinner is calling me! Then relax with a book, then crash for the night.
So, stay tuned to this blog for some great pictures!

Southwest Tour 2011 – Day 4. Off to the Grand Canyon

The Hoover Dam
The Grand Canyon at Mather Point

Today was a travel day from Vegas to the Grand Canyon. Mostly interstate driving with the last 100km on a two lane highway.
The day started off with a trip to the Hoover Dam. Quite the structure. Ok, that’s an understatement. This thing is huge! The pictures don’t even come close to showing how deep the dam is.
From there it was off to the canyon. Once paying my vehicle entrance fee ($25US for 7 days) it was a quick trip to the campsite to set up home for the next three nights.
Then it was time to see what the canyon was all about. My first impressions? Holy Cow! I can’t describe the width and depth of the canyon. I hope the pictures give you some idea of the size, but it is something you have to see for yourself. I took multipole pictures of the same rock formations during my brief first trip. the sun was setting and the colours were changing. Have a look on my SmugMug set and notice the difference waiting 20 minutes can make on the light.
On a side note, there is no cell service in the park, however, there is free wifi at some of the area lodges. The cool thing is that everyone is in the lodge on their computers uploading the days photographs. It’s quite the show with everyone checking out other’s pictures and coming up with their own ideas for future pics.
As for tomorrow, I’m taking two bus tours. One is an early morning departure and 3.5 hours in duration. The second is a sunset tour and I’m really looking forward to that trip.
How will tomorrow’s pictures look? Stay tuned to this blog to find out!

Southwest Tour 2011 – Day 3. Afternoon on the Strip

Today was a fairly mellow day. It started with a call to Budget Rent-A-Car to let them know that the license on my rental would expire while I was on the road. Solution was easy. Come in and they would exchange the vehicle, or see if the plates had arrived. So, off to the car rental center I went. 30 minutes later, I had new plates on my car and was good to go.

Waiting for the Mac with a cookine.

The next issue was the non-booting Mac. I guessed the issue could easily be fixed and when I explained my problem to the tech, he thought the same. Well, we were wrong! Turns out Snow Leopard had to be re-installed. The whole process took about 90 minutes. While waiting, I visited a local cookie shop and enjoyed a cookie and a smoothie!

Giant bottle at the Coke Store

So once the problems were out of the way, it was time to resume the normally scheduled day. Today was tourist day and my plan was to cruise the strip. So, starting at the MGM, worked my way north up to the Bellagio where I caught the fountain show. What a busy place! All along the strip, it was elbow to elbow. People were everywhere! After the fountain show, I worked my way back to the MGM then back to the motel. Highlights of the tour included visiting the Coke and M&M’s store.  Also, I checked out the CSI show in the MGM where you get to solve a crime.  Turns out it was the Butler in the Dining room with the candle stick!  Overall, a great day.  Just a note.  Pictures are available on my SmugMug site.
Tomorrow, it’s off to the Grand Canyon where I’ll trade in the king size bed for my sleeping bag. The TV for a fire. Stay tuned to this blog to see how it goes.

Lion at entrance to MGM Grand.

Southwest Tour 2011 – Day 2. Houston, We Have a Problem….

What a day! I had a great time caching out in the desert. It was over 90F, however there was a breeze blowing which made it quite pleasant.
The first stop was at the start of the Extraterrestrial Highway to take some pictures. Then it was caching time!
ET Highway 1 was my first of the series and I found the first 5 before I moved on towards Rachel to visit the Little Alien restaurant. After caching out the town, I moved down to the Alien Head series.
This series I enjoyed. The caches were spaced about 170m apart along a soft dirt trail which made for comfortable walking.
Two hours later, I had completed the head and mouth. I wanted to complete the eyes, but it was late in the day. Time to head back to Vegas.
So, where are the pictures? Well, something happened to the MacBook and it won’t boot up! Fortunately, there’s a couple of Apple stores here so I’ll have one of their experts play with it tomorrow. Will it get fixed? Stay tuned to this blog!

Southwest Tour 2011 – Day 1. Vegas Baby!

Waiting for the rental bus in Vegas.

September 24, 2011. A day I’ve been waiting for a long time! Today is the day, the first day of the trip. Time to put together all the planning.
The day started in PG cold and wet. A great day to escape to the desert. All my gear was packed and ready to go. My ride showed up, and off we went to the airport.
With international travel, the common rule is to show up 2 hours early. So I did. Of course, Prince George doesn’t have the volume of other airports so there wasn’t much of a line at the Westjet counter and the bags were quickly checked in.
Next was security. I always worry at security. These people can prevent me from getting on the plane! That would, needless to say, ruin my holiday! So, jacket off, pockets emptied, belt off and camera bags in the bin with the Macbook taken out for the sniffer. Through the detector I went and off went the alarm! Opps! Sorry, I didn’t take out my phone! Take two!
With that embarrassment out of the way, it was time to check the x-ray machine. The young lady operating the machine, noticed the camera gear. It actually looked like a photograph, the detail was so good. She asked what I had for gear and I showed her what each lens was. We continued to have a great conversation on photography for about 5 minutes! Meanwhile, there was no line-up to get through security! It was that quiet at the airport.
So, onto the plane, and off we go. The flight was enjoyable as usual with Westjet and we arrived in Vegas 30 minutes early.
Next was US Customs.

In-N-Out Burger Sign

Our plane arrived at the same time as a Virgin Atlantic 747 from London so customs was filled with Canadians and Brits. It made for some great conversation. The line moved along quickly and within 30 minutes, I was in the USA!
Next was the shuttle bus to the car rental centre. Interesting concept. Move the rentals away from the main terminals and reduce traffic. An hour later, I was in my 2012 Chevrolet Cruze.
Next was a quick dash to the motel to get checked in then off to the Geocaching event at the In-N-Out Burger. First time there for me and Kevin, who I met up with. Good food, but long, long waits. As for the event, there was a good turnout and we heard some desert caching stories.
After the event, Kevin and I introduced a local to Munzee then took off to the welcome sign. Busy place on this Saturday night. There was busload after busload of teenage school kids dressed to the nines taking pictures. I think it was homecoming weekend. We couldn’t get near the front, but we did get some of the backside for a challenge. We also found a physical cache and a virtual. There is suppose to be a Munzee on the sign, but we couldn’t find it. However, we did find Elvis!

Kevin posing for a challenge.

To end the night, I took a trip up the strip. What a crazy stretch of road! I was too busy driving to look around, however while stuck in one of many traffic jams, I caught the start of the fountain show at the Bellagio! I’ll be back to that! Well, enough for now. Tomorrow is desert day. The ET highway! How many will I go for. Stay tuned to this blog to find out!

The Icenrye Southwest Tour 2011

Introducing the Icenrye Southwest Tour 2011.  A two week whirlwind tour of Nevada, Arizona and California September 24 to October 8, 2011.

Needless to say, I’m pretty excited about the trip.  I’ve never been to these areas and I’m looking forward to touring and caching there.  So far I have the following itinerary:

Las Vegas Welcome Sign

September 24 – Arrive in Vegas.  After clearing customs and picking up the rental car, I’ll make my way to the Las Vegas Welcome Sign.  Here I need the help of the internet.  There is a webcam at the sign.  Once I’m at the sign, I’ll post on my special Twitter page and Trackfiles Facebook page that I’m there.  If possible, could someone please go to the webcam page and capture a picture.  Then upload the picture to Twitpic or whatever photo sharing service you use and post the link.  Think of it as my first souvenir photo!

From there, I’m off to my motel to check in then off to an In-N-Out Burger for the “Icenrye and PGgeodude Meet and Greet” event.  So if you’re a Vegas area cacher, come on down!  PGgeodude and I would like to meet you.

ET Trail – Alien Head Caches

September 25-26 – Check out Vegas and the ET Power Trail geocaches.

September 27-29 – Visit the Grand Canyon and area.

September 30 – October 1 – Travel to Petaluma California.

October 2 – Take in TWiT at the Brickhouse.  I hope to have a chat with Leo.  Watch TWiT live to see if I make it on!

October 3-7 No set plans yet.  I hope to take in some Bay area attractions then work my way back to Vegas with a quick stop in Ely, Nevada.  What’s in Ely you ask?  Well, I’m a fan of the British show “Top Gear” and a couple of years ago, they stopped in at a local restaurant which is now a tourist attraction.  That, and they have good food according to every review I’ve read.

October 8 – Back home.

So of course being a web geek that I am, I intend to take tons of pictures and upload them to my Flickr and SmugMug site.  Also, I’ve set up a special Twitter page that all my  Geocaching logs, Foursquare checkins and maybe even Glympse will post to.  If you’re a Facebook friend, then like the Trackfiles page for updates there.  And finally, stay tuned to this very blog for, hopefully, daily updates.  All of this depends on my network access.  As a Telus customer, even tough I’ll have a “Data Roaming” package, I’ll still be charged $1.00/meg!  Ridiculous in my mind, but such is the nature of the beast! (carrier?)  If wifi is available, then all will be good.

So the flights are booked, hotels booked, campsites booked and the passport is here!  The Icenrye Southwest Tour 2011 is on!