Sunday, March 21, 2010

Hhaha *snort* bet I'm the first and only blogger to combine a dumb six packed movie and thier post number....
I'm always first on the interweb.

Things I want to blog about ...but really this may be it if I don't get with it.

One- need to write up New Mexico roadtrip....dances with immigration (freaking again) and the odd wolf (not as often done as it would seem cool to do, despite the potential face eating)
Photos incoming if nothing else.

Two- Hal, my 15 year old nephew surviving the American School Experience.
School starts at 7:50am and gets out at 2:30pm. Hal walks home, walks the dogs and plays WOW till we get home. I drive him most days cause i'm working to, but he can walk with no problem. Walking distance was the sole reason we chose the school.
Went camping with some random kids over Spring break. He came back great...bit ooggly in the tummy (always boil the water) but with a great experience and stories. He had campfire smoke hair....I love that smell.
Lucky he tolerates a high degree of Aunt hugging.
To be fair he hugs me most days when I get home from work, so any positive hugs are awesome hugs.

Three- Rob and I surviving the great American School Experience. First time we have ever have any real responsibility for anyone else. So far so good. Lucky he can feed himself.

Forth and most important- My new iPod touch 64gb. Love it. The End.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


We all got back from Mexico without too many hiccups, apart from the minor one where the computer ate Kate's electronic visa and she had to go redo it while we waited at the check in desk.
Maybe a coyote land crossing was still on the books after all.

We spent a week hanging around Flag doing the easy yet awesome day trips, then 4 days road tripping. It would have been 5 days but we were snowed in and I really didn't want to drive on the Highway of Snowy Doom and Semi Trailers till it cleared up. Though being snowed in is a kind of adventure in its self. Kate and Duncan went into town and I went sledding with the kids.

Did the usual showing off. Becoming a well trodden path, but one I never tire of.
I love living somewhere that is so interesting and diverse.

Sedona, red rocks, stunning vistas but what everyone loves is the woo. The Ye Olde UFO Shoppe was closed and reopening at a later date at a different solar system, but Crystal Magic will never die. We are not shy about expressing our opinions about "Who Built The Moon" "Learn To Shapeshift" and "Spirit Orbs, Digital Cameras and the Higher Plane" and I'm glad the kids seems to have a healthy skepticism and inherited a well developed mocking gene. We were quiet and mostly unnoticed in the shop lest we bring down the wrath of Ar'kithra Spirit Lord of the 288742 dimension and the Local Taco Shoppe. You don't want a smiteful Jalapeno on ya arse.
We had lunch at the Red Planet Diner...the only appeal and the only reason we went there was the kitchy alien theme. It was kinda cute but wouldn't really go for the food. It was diner food...nothing wrong with it per se. Though Kate did disobey the Prime Directive "Food bigger than ones head, usually turns out to be the carnivorous Snargtulfu from Beta 4 moulting from its Taco Salad instar". You can only point out page 27 of the handbook so many times....
Noooo its bigger than your head...back away
After our spaaaace lunch we went down the Camp Verde to Montezuma Castle. It has nothing to do with Montezuma, just the fact that the Spanish had no clue. It is a small site but a impressive 3 storey structure built into a cave high in the cliff face. Not for more the vertiginous pueblo dwellers.
There are sites dotted all along the Verde and Beaver rivers. It would have been a fairly nice place to eke out a living
Montezuma Castle
Another site we went to, which was new to me was Homolovi out near Winslow. Due to state budget cuts it was closing 2 days after we were there. The shop was having a sale so Kate stocked up on beautiful Kachina dolls and I got a couple of nice pieces. All the goods were made by the local Hopi, and the woman at the visitors center knew all the artists and could tell us about them and the history of the area. The site had been badly looted, and now its closed it probably will be again. Such a shame
Homolovi landscape. Looking at shards.
There was pottery shards everywhere, and we all had fun picking them up and marveling and the brush strokes and detail on some of them
Painted shards from history, Homolovi

My most favourite of pueblo ruins in this area is Wupatki. High desert, red and perfect blue. Volcanic cinder cones and the snowy San Fransisco peaks in the background.
Crazy blow hole hair, Wupatki
The blowhole was a' blowing. It was the biggest hit of the day with the kids.
Blow hole fun, Wupatki
It this day and age you think everything worth finding of archaeological coolness would be found or blown up by Indiana. But just least year some people were hiking up behind Wupatki when they found two large perfect pots buried in the cinders. They had them at the visitors center, and they are beautiful. What a find! How wonderful would that be.
Snowpea at Wukoki, Wupatki

We took the kids snowboarding. Their travel insurance didn't cover snow sports so they were under strict instructions not to break anything. Hal and Snowpea had never been before, James and Sam are awesome skiers but not much boarding experience. They all took a lesson, I did a few runs and the parentals chilled in the lodge.

Gnarly boardin' Grrls
After the lesson we met for lunch then spent the afternoon on the bunny hill having fun.
Hal got a bit discouraged but with another lesson I think he would be fine. Snowpea had a ball and was doing pretty good. She was so happy with herself. They all should be proud of themselves at trying and learning something new.
They all looked so cute in the snow gear.
Snowpea went again with Laura and the kids just before they left. She took another lesson and came home totally stoked at her gnarly skillz.
Snowboarding lesson. AZ Snowbowl.

Next post our roadtrip.

I miss them. There is so much more to see and it felt so comfortable and warm having them here.
Hal is here for 3 months attending high school on a exchange. He is doing well and is off camping for Spring Break. He is being awesome Kate, so rest easy. Playing more WOW than he probably should but its all good.
So far being Loco Parentis isn't too scary. Being responsible for a 15 year boy...hope I'm doing it right. Least he can dress himself.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

and gains the lifetime title "El Duffer Grande"

One thing I learnt from the whole episode is don't lose your passport in Mexico because the Embassy in Mexico City trooly, rooly suckth to such a degree I get weepy flashbacks thinking about it.
I send them and the Minister for Foreign Affairs a email about it. They probably won't care.
But god it was horrible.

After we came back from Muyil and Tulum I decided I had lost my passport and my US greencard.
I looked, we looked, I cried and felt like throwing up for the better part of 2 days. I thought maybe I had lost it out of my pocket while scrambling around Muyil. The next day Mike and I drove back down to the ruins, offered a reward to the couple of ruin guards and retraced my steps. Even to the place where I wee'd in the jungle. No luck.

If it was me and Rob traveling alone would have been not so bad, but I felt awful because I was with my family and was wrecking the holiday. Everyone was wonderful, and Snowpea was happy to snorkle in the pool for hours while we spent alot of time on the phone and internet.

At first I called the US consulate in Cancun, hoping the vague hope that because there are so many yanks in the area that they may have a office there that deals with lost stuff. But no, even US citizens have to go to Mexico City if they lose their stuff. All I needed to was to get back over the border, lost Aussie passport be damned. I could work all that out later.
Second I rang the Australian Embassy in Mexico City. I explained my plight and mentioned that I was a Aussie citizen and a US resident. I'm giving her the benefit of the doubt that she heard the US bit and blanked the rest when she gave me this advice. Which was " We don't do passports here you have to go to Los Angles to get one"....i was confused and sad so I said ehhh thanks and hung up. 3 seconds later I did the head wobble and WTF!?/!!
How do I get to the US without a passport?
Inquiring minds. Mmmm Pay off a coyote and ride in a airless truck for 74297410 hrs is the other way, so I've heard.

Thirdish I called the US Embassy about the greencard. One guy who sounded very sure of his information told me I could walk across a land border to the US with just my Arizona drivers license. I confirmed this with him a couple of times because I knew in the past it was true but in the last year or so they started to require US citizens a passport to go to Mexico.
It turns out that it is bollocks, you can't just walk across these days. Which I knew but I wanted to believe the embassy guy as a easy way back in.
I had a vague plan of flying to either Nogales or Tijuana and trying it because it came from the Embassy (they should know the laws right?) but I knew it couldn't be right. Good thing we didn't try.

Kate decided to come with me, which was wonderful but I didn't want her to feel she had too. Duncan and Mike were (mostly) happy to take care of two kids and bring them back to the US if we could get notarised documents that they could leave the country with non relatives.(Duncan is a main care giver but not in the maze like paper work way.)

Fourish I called the Aussie Consulate in LA. They were much more helpful, but couldn't help me. Wrong country. They said that yes of course that the embassy at Mexico City can issue emergency travel documents...what else are they there for? They were baffled at the stupid advice I got but were limited in what they could do.

I emailed Rob about the whole thing and he found much more useful info than i did.

He emailed and talked to Hugh about my problem.
Hugh Austin, who is a border dude at the US Embassy deserves much praise, awesome US embassy guy, needs a medal of dealing with sad Aussies on his day off.
I rang Hugh in Mexico City about my greencard. He was great, even though the Monday was a holiday and the embassy was closed he was going to be there. All I to was to ask the guards and he would come and escort me to the offices and give me a temp greencard. Easy.
This week is my writing compliments or complaints ....more compliments, except the the Aussie Embassy in Mexico City. Booooooo

Fifthly or are we up to tenthly by now? I called the Aust. Embassy in Mexico City to get them to start organising my emergency documents. Ha
A man answered, didn't understand me and handed me to the most unhelpful, useless person on the planet. I explained my plight as calmly and as slowly as possible to her. The longest sentence she uttered to me was " no no passports here" other than that it was all no no no. I asked her several times each in increasing pitch and voice wobble to transfer me to a manager or just to anyone else but it was all "no". In the end I called her completely useless and hung up. I was just a tad upset.
In my generous moments I think that everyone was on siesta and the cleaning crew were having a bit of fun, because how could the first contact for potentially distressed citizens be so appalling?

It was all organised. Kate and I were going to fly to Mexico City, do the Embassies, though the Aussie one was still an unknown. Pop into the awesome National Museum of Anthropology ( i went twice 5 years ago and loved it) and fly home. Truth be told we were kind of excited. Bit of an adventure into the vague unknown. But in the long run it was much better that I found the bloody thing.

I was about to call and cancel my flight and rebook it. I was looking for the bit of paper with the flight details on it when I found it. My god. How dumb did I feel.
Every one was happy, Mike nearly beat me to death with a pillow and we went cenote snorkling in celebration.

All this phone calls and worrying made us miss the Mayan ruins Coba plus just relaxing...sorry, so sorry.

We went to Chichen Izta on our last day. It's very impressive. When we were there 5 years ago you could climb El Castillo and walk through other plazas and temples. Its all roped off now.

A few years ago someone fell and died from the top. That and just basic preservation led them to restrict access. I'm glad I got full access back then. I totally understand why but it would have been fun to climb it with the family.

Still it is an amazing place. Parts of it has not been restored so you walk through the junglely bits and there are huge mounds of rock covered in vines the vague shape of a temple pyramid.
I love the serpent's and the glyphs and the skulls and the jaguars eating human hearts.