Saturday, December 20, 2008


It was snowing in Seattle,

It was icing in Fort Langely (Canada)

It is cool and sunny in San Francisco (no fog at all oh wonderful winter)

Alcatraz tomorrow

Home on Sunday.

Can't upload photos on the internet computers in the hostel, but there will be time when I'm back in NZ. I look forward to catching up on everyones' blogs when I'm not paying extortionate prices for the internet.


Love, Ju's Little Sister.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Thanksgiving - NY, PA & Canada

I hope you've all done your prerequisite reading - if not then please have a look at Denny's Beer Barrel Pub. You don't have to stay there long, but I recommend you check it out, and perhaps have a look at the FAQs as well.


My workmate Geoff and I flew up to Buffalo (New York state) for Thanksgiving and drove down to the border between NY and Pennsylvania (PA). There we stayed with a friend of mine and travelled south to Clearfield on Friday, and north to Niagara Falls on Saturday.

Hopefully clicking on the map for the larger picture will make it easy to see our travel path - Dallas to Chicago and on to Buffalo on the way there, Clearfield down in the middle of PA, and our flight home took us through Cincinnati.


When I can, I like to take a notebook with me and write down observations and thoughts which are inspired by the places I visit. I haven't used any of these notes to write posts because I feel that if I didn't remember it well enough to post then it wasn't worth it. But in the spirit of the holidays I thought I'd use my notes to write this post - raw and unedited, with whichever photos I can find to illustrate. So this post will be a little more scattered but hopefully just as fun to read. Anything in [square braces] is an aide, and not directly from my notebook.


[Dallas-Fort Worth Airport]

Not as busy as I expected, I suppose everyone has already travelled.


The Lady in Pink should sit with her legs together when wearing a skirt. She's dressed her daughter in pink.
8 years old and already resigned.


I should have pulled my tripod from the bag in the hanger. I could have returned it on Monday before the Boeing arrived & no one need know.


[Flying out]

The Canterbury Plains always stretched away like a patchwork quilt drawn up to keep the mountains' feet warm. The other end would be teased at by the sea.
Dallas never stops. From the window seat the display of middle age spread roves out across the land until blue haze hides it from sight.
On the right there is more - trees and roads, subdivisions and strip malls and man made waterways. Dallas grows out not up.


The lady ahead of us had Valet carry-on. She put it in a shelf just before stepping on to the aircraft. I'm not sure if it was too big and had to be checked or if she was special.



street street street street street street street street street street
house house s house house s house house s house house s house
house house t house house t house house t house house t house
house house r house house r house house r house house r house
house house e house house e house house e house house e house
house house e house house e house house e house house e house
house house t house house t house house t house house t house
street street street street street street street street street street
house house s house house s house house s house house s house
house house t house house t house house t house house t house
house house r house house r house house r house house r house
house house e house house e house house e house house e house
house house e house house e house house e house house e house
house house t house house t house house t house house t house
street street street street street street street street street street

We flew over Chicago.


Travelling south through New York we can see how the country grew up. Every two or three miles is a new settlement just as the last nestled in the woods and snow. There is no room for franchise here - barely even for a gas station.
Houses meet the road with a snow hidden footpath and little else from front door to curb. The snow ploughs scatter brown grit behind them.



White flakes of teasing weather swirl in the air in front of us. At first I thought them to have blown off the trees but we could see the snow was real.
All around the country side is brown and white.



Denny's is great. Wooden building and cosy inside. The quiet murmur of well fed people ebbs and flows all around.



Behind us two burgers the size of small chickens are presented to the Challengers. Geoff's eyes light up. "They're pretty big for six pound pattys!"

We learn they are only three pounds. Geoff's nerves grow.


[Geoff's burger]

There is more to Denny's than the burger challenges, the menu is disproportionate to the size of the pub. They range from pasta, through tacos to any kind of burger you can think of. And they let you create their own. I order the Pennsylvania Beer Barrel Burger.


It has meat, meat, onions and cheese. No salad. It is delicious.



It is difficult to tell from my side of the table how well Geoff is going, it has only been 20 minutes. He plucks away at the food on his plate as though he is full.
I - in contrast - am full but not stuffed. I have time and inclination to wait for him.


[Geoff throws in the towel]

[Geoff and Denny]


As though it has run from a glacier the wind bites deep into my chest. My jacket is futile. No one to hug me warm. Erie is in front of us flat and cool. I can't hear the falls.


They're not as loud as I imagined they should be. No deep rumbling bass to warn of impending trouble. The falls are matter of fact - neither humble nor ostentatious. They just are.



[JLS and Josh]

[Geoff winds me up]

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Pre-requisite Reading

Before I make my next post about my trip to Pennsylvania for Thanksgiving, I need y'all to do a little background reading for me.

Check out this website:

It may be a little confusing as to what the point of the website is, but have a poke around the site and see what the pub gets up to here and there. I can recommend the About Us! tab from along the top, or the FAQ link down the left.

In a couple of days or so I'll be putting up my post, so make sure you have a look before I do!


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

For Dad

Don't see this very often in NZ, but surprisingly common here. Clever way to go about it I suppose!

(Sorry for the poor picture quality)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

JLS and the Air Show


Ju's Little Sister loves planes!

B-52 Bomber.
(eight engines!!)

Trying to reach one of the engines

JLS and the JSF
(Joint Strike Fighter - F35)


Fast Plane

Mean Plane

It's an A-10 Warthog.
(My Blarney Stone)

Skinny Plane

Blue Plane

Not a plane

But check out the horns

AWAC (Air Control Plane)

Plane on the Ground

Planes in the Air

Upside-down Plane

Up-up-and-Away! Planes

Cosy Planes

I had an absolutely fantastic day, and saw so many aircraft I really thought I'd never ever have the opportunity to lay eyes on. Because we were wearing our Air Force tees, we were able to start some great conversations with the aircrew manning the planes on display. The AWAC was available for the public to view inside and we waited until the crowds had died away and everyone was packing up before having a nosey for ourselves. The B-52 was so HUGE it really was an experience to walk through its undercarriage, and the A-10 Warthog was just pure GRUNT! GGGggggrrrr. There was some clever flying on display too and I hope to make a really great video of it - I might post it when it's complete (in about 3-5 years!!!)

I hope you enjoyed the walk about the flight line as much as I did!


Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Videos of Beale St

Here are the videos promised in my last post:

Friday, October 17, 2008

Memphis, TN

We were supposed to go to New Orleans. That was the plan. I couldn't have been more excited. I love jazz (though I'm a new entrant) and nothing could possibly be more exciting than being in a jazz bar in New Orleans. Not only would I have passed out from happiness but I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have come home again. I'd still be there in a bar somewhere sleeping under the counter and doing dishes to pay for my meals. And every evening I'd be listening to jazz. Real jazz.


Then this happened. It was deemed unsafe to go to New Orleans on account of the weather. The alternative suggested was Memphis. I can't say I was impressed. (how could I miss out on All That Jazz?) I was informed that Memphis had its version of Bourbon St (Beale St) and that I would still be able to go out drinking. I was unconvinced. The idea of spending an evening on the turps has never been a motivation of mine. But eventually I was convinced to get over myself and give Memphis a go. I'm glad I did.

Here's the email that changed my mind:

Only fools rush in to a hurricane, and if we stay in the ghetto and pine for the green green grass of home we'll all get the GI Blues. So lets get out of the Ghetto and travel the lonesome highway, we can get a room at the Heartbreak Hotel and find a quiet spot to listen to some moody blues. But lets not get all shook up and find ourselves doin the jailhouse rock or worse crying in the chapel because you got drunk with a hard headed woman. Because you know if your a Hound dog you'll be returned to sender. Hey, maybe there's a museum or gallery worth visiting so we can check how great thou art is. It's now or never folks, pack your blue suede shoes and lets rock-a-hula-baby.
Thank-you, thank-you very much.

The drive was long. We left early on Saturday morning (after dropping in to Texas Roast for some coffee) and headed North and East from Dallas, Texas.
We traveled through a little town called Texarkana and into the state of Arkansas. (Texas + Arkansas = Texarkana. Get it?) The day was hot and the road long and flat.

We stopped at a terrible little Burger King for lunch (I wished we hadn't) then finally crossed the Mississippi into Tennessee and Memphis around 5pm.

Relaxing in the Hotel before going out for dinner

After checking in and a quick shower we piled back into our little minivans in search of food and music. See the thing Ju's Little Sister didn't realise when she said 'no' to Memphis, is that Memphis is the City of Blues. That's right. And she couldn't wait to get to listen to some. Of course the only place we were going to please everyone with food, booze, and blues was Beale St.

I was fascinated. I won't get into the music because as central as that was to my enjoyment of the city I can't possibly do it justice in this blog.

The city was warm and light and people were already out in force enjoying themselves. The liquor laws state that alcohol can be consumed on the street, but glass vessels are prohibited. This explained why, when we went into the BBQ-house and ordered Coronas, we were given plastic cups. Once the meal was finished we tipped the remaining beer into the cups and took it with us out the door. The bars all opened onto the street, and you could order your next beer or bourbon as you walked along without having to go inside. This was especially handy as a lot of places had a cover charge.

Our first priority was a quick drink and some good music and luckily for me the first bar we walked in to that night was the best house on the street - BB Kings. We negotiated the cover-fee (probably not with the savvy we thought we did) and were escorted to a corner table under the balcony. BB Kings has a house band. I didn't want to leave.

We crossed the road for some BBQ Ribs then wandered up and down the street in the warm evening air marveling at the music emanating from the bars all around. There were little alleys which led to small parks where bands were playing for nothing more than tips. Blues, Rhythm, and even some Rockabilly. I'm still not sure exactly what that is. I went to bed that night very happy.

The next day we decided on a tour of Graceland and while I was impressed with all the memorabilia I did get the feeling they really focused on his earlier career and while there was a collection of all his jumpsuits - the less-than-perfect days were really glossed over. Perhaps I'm just not a big enough fan! It was special though and I really enjoyed myself.

From Graceland and Elvis Presley Boulevard three of us walked while the rest drove - destination: Sun Studios. On the way I found some of the buildings a little interesting. I don't know who would share my gentle fascination with the state of the area but I took photos any way, to remind myself of what the city was like:

It was no more than twenty minutes walk before we came upon our pot of gold.

Sun Studios and this really was the highlight of my trip. Upstairs are posters and amps, recording equipment, neon signs, recordings and paperwork from when Sun Studio was Memphis Recording Service, run by Sam Phillips and Marion Keisker. I have stood in the very room where Elvis, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison and plenty of others all made their recordings. It was *Amazing!*

(you may want to click on some of these to see/read better)

When Sun Studios was simply Memphis Recording Service

Some of the old gear

The Elvis Case. Guitars played by him and the jacket worn on his first TV appearance (before they x-rated his wild legs).

706 Union Ave is the address of Sun Studios. Presumably Marty Stuart left his guitar at someones house...

I learned a lot about the music of the era and was impressed with the tour. I liked Sun Studios better than Graceland because the history was more encompassing and I felt I learned more about Elvis here than his old home. But I also learned about the making of more than Elvis (as already mentioned). I left Sun Studios with a t-shirt, two CDs and a great satisfaction that I'd come to Memphis after all.

We filled in the rest of our time visiting the blues bars at night and the area by day. The Civil Rights Museum where Martin Luther King Jr was shot was powerful but not quite what I had expected, and the paddle boat ride on the Mississippi was fun as well as informative. I learned there how the first Holiday Inn was started and that FedEx also originated in Memphis (Its headquarters are still there). I learned about the shifting of boundaries and the river as the country grew up as well as a bit here and there about river barges. I was intrigued - but I don't think I'll ever be eating catfish.

We went back to BB Kings on our last night

Some of the group decided to stay - and they did, all night.
But the rest of us took this last chance to explore the annual Folk and Blues Festival which was in full swing (unbeknown to us until we arrived).

I said at the start of this post that I wouldn't spend too much time talking about the music, and I'm glad I haven't because I've already gone on for longer than I thought I would. There are photos and stories I would love to cover but I think this is as long-winded as it should be.

Soon I will post up a couple of videos - a busker group playing on Beale street, and another busker doing some acrobatics. 'till then - adios.