Chicago

Chicago

Finally back updating the theTravelled!  I’ve changed the look of the site.. let me know if you like the changes!!

It’s been a while since I was in Chicago, but, reminiscing here I found my short time there incredible!  I’ve been here once before for Lollapalooza in 2009 which was one of the best music fests I’ve ever attended.

Chicago has many similarities to where I live, Toronto.  Chicago, however, has a certain personality that is so lovable.  First the city is beautiful especially the public spaces around Grant Park by the lake filled with interesting art and architecture doting the inner-city green-space.  The “Cloud Gate” aka the “Bean” is a beautiful sculpture next to the Chicago Art Institute… a giant mirrored.. bean… very photo-graphical.  And beyond that the classic skyscrapers densely standing tall along long stretches of the downtown.  In my previous visit I stayed in South Chicago which was pretty ghetto and felt a bit unsafe at times.  This time we opted for a downtown hotel… which worked out much better.  One of my Chi-town recommendations is to visit the neighborhoods such as Wicker Park, Uptown with Monterose, where there are countless sports bars and jazz/blues clubs.  You’ll automatically feel like a local and will definitely prove to be the best way to connect with the city.  Toronto, with all its similarities to Chicago is much the same.. I always recommend visiting the neighborhoods like Queen West West, Roncesvalles Village, Leslieville, or Little Italy to get a feel for how people live and work and party!

Let me know some cool parts of Chicago and I can include them in the next post!

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Cool Skyscrapers in Chicago

Cloud Gate aka The Bean

The Road Trip: New Mexico

Earthship house in Taos - made from recycled materials

Coming out of Arizona we pushed onwards to Santa Fe, New Mexico.. a fascinating community of artists, spiritualists, millionaires and Navajo Natives.  North of Santa Fe is the small town of Taos, famous art community up here as well as world class skiing and Spanish style Pueblos everywhere.  The Rio Grande channels through the landscape and cuts a deep gorge into the high desert just outside of town which is absolutely beautiful.  The area had  a strange energy flowing through it although very quiet and peaceful there was a lot happening in town.

D.H. Lawrence had his ashes scattered here + some celebrities have homes in the area including Julia Roberts & Dennis Hopper .. the only disturbing person I found out that lives here part-time  is Donald Rumsfeld (ahh!!).

Check out these photos of the area!

A lone tree at the top of the Rio Grande Gorge in Taos, New Mexico

The Road Trip: Grand Canyon

I’m two steps away from a 2 km-down-sure-death-fail

Going through Arizona on our way up to the Grand Canyon we got on oold Route 66 (*built in the 1920s) which was awesome.. we stopped in a tiny outlaw town named Oatman which was filled with bikers and old-timely shops, mostly leather jackets and some hilarious souvenirs excluding Tea Party T-Shirts.. those were scary.  The actual road is in pretty bad condition but it takes you through the desert & mountains + donkeys stop you on the side of the road.. which is always good.

The Grand Canyon!!  One of the seven natural wonders of the world is a photographers dream landscape.  The only problem was it was really really cold and snowing as we ascended atop the giant plateau which is miles high above sea level… the low clouds were covering the entire canyon!  Luckily we stuck around and the clouds shifted so I got the chance to capture as many photos as I could before sundown.  Absolutely one of the most incredible sights along this long journey.. totally worth it.

Grand Canyon–2 billion years of exposed geological history

Sun sets over the Canyon

The Road Trip: Mojave Desert

Mojave Desert: Arizona, US

Writing this post from home in Toronto… I took a few notes along 4000 km/9 day journey across the USA with my family.   First stop.. the desert!  Starting from Venice, LA we drove out towards Arizona or in other words the pure-desert.. no ones out here… it’s the most barren landscape I’ve ever seen.  Here’s a couple of photos I took from the car along the California/Arizona border aka the Mojave Desert.

Sundown in the Desert

Wild West Coast – New Zealand

Tow Truck Extraordinaire

The New Year begins in a blissful escape from working in tiny Akaroa and off to the West Coast for new adventures.  We woke up to one of the worlds first sunrises of 2010!  Our plan:  to head over to the glaciers on the West Coast of the South Island.  We instantly drove to Christchurch and stayed a night on the beach in New Brighton…unfortunetly we were temporarily locked in the parking lot but woke up in the morning to a beautiful day and swimming in the surf and off to the West Coast!  We drove for a few hours towards the Southern Alps .. our car had quite a lot of trouble getting up some of the steep hills combined with the desert heat we had to make a lot of pit stops.  We stopped in one park with an incredibal name:  Korowai Torelesse Tussocklands Park.  This park had amazing trad and sport rock climbing, boulders, cliff faces but no sign of any climbers when we were there…we jumped around the rocks and climbed some of them too.

Arthur’s Pass is known as the border town between the West & East as it sits right in the center of the island & the Alps.  A funny little stretch of town with good cafes and hikes to the nearby waterfalls & alpine trails.   We were warned about the massive amounts of rainfall & general bad weather in the West which was instantly apparent driving in on SH 73 –there was a physical wall of clouds/fog/rain that divided the region from the rest of NZ.  The area has its own weather system that sees no sunlight most of the year–mainly an onslaught of South/North/East/West Westerlies and a hell of a lot of rain … it actually rained the entire 3 days we drove around–one day.. the worst day.. it rained 300mm and flooded the highways.  So much so that our poor 92′ Toyota died on us b/c of flood water making its way into the engine.  The break-down situation unwrapped quickly, we found ourselves stranded on the side of the highway with flood water rising around the car and the unrentless rain pounding down.  It was only a couple minutes before some people stopped to help us out–towed our car to the closest drive way to get out of the flooding tried to revive our soaking wet engine.  To add to the distress we had a dead cell phone & no road-side assistance.  Determined to figure a way out we walked up to the closest house to ask for help… a farmer named Mr Maisely who let us use his phone.  We got ahold of a local mechanic who could tow us to his shop 10 km down the road –the mechanic made his way over to us and hand cranked us up on a flatbed.  We were saved!  One last obsticle–get the truck to the shop:  FAIL!  The water was increasingly getting deeper on the road by this time and mid-way through a large flood the truck suddenly choked and came to a giant halt.  So we were stuck in a fast-moving flood, in a tow truck with our car on the back…  The only option at this point was to laugh… has to be one of the most hilarious looking break downs–even another mechanic stopped by our window to ask if we needed his help.. haha he instantly started laughing!  Eventually, our mechanic came back with a 4×4 to tow the whole lot outta the giant puddle and onto the town another few km’s.  Our good’ol’ car started after about 10 min of spraying it down with WD40 (a magical potion).  Annd we were on our way again–off to Franz Joseph!!  After a night in town we made a very instant decision to leave NZ altogether and start our trek to South East Asia!  We carefully drove back to Christchurch… got a room with our UK friends for the week and prepared our car for an auction.  We must be masters of marketing or something b/c we sold the car in a matter of hours.. just a few carefully placed ads at the downtown hostels and one online ad on the backpackerboard.co.nz    We got a bit less than what we paid for initially but happy for a quick sale and money for plane tickets!

Our Next destination… Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur!  We’ve bought direct flight tickets via Singapore Airlines leaving in 4 days from Christchurch!  We’re currently purging all of our excess stuff we’ve accumlated eg. sweaters, scooters, boots, books, clothing and preparing for a new kind of travelling!  Unfortunetly missing Oz this time around but we’ll make the trek back here in the future to fully experience ‘down under’ but in light of our rough timeline we want to have the most amount of time to explore S. E. Asia!  Check back soon!

Make sure to watch the final cut of our road trip video below!

Flood Warning!

New Zealand North to South: Views from the Car

[Vimeo 8583862]

Completed video of our Road Trip through New Zealand (re-edited from the last one)!  We sold the car for just under what we paid for it so we’re ‘as good as gold‘ (kiwi saying). I’ll be sure to update later today on our current events–things have been crazy lately!  We’re actually on our way out of NZ !

Video description:

This is a time-lapse of 1000+ photos taken over a 3 month period starting from the North Island and heading to the South Island.

Song:  Silence – Takka Takka

Christmas on the Beach!

Christmas on the Beach

Christmas was the best!  We brought our tree/friends/food/wine to the beach in New Brighton and had a fantastic Christmas day!  We’ve declared a summer Christmas beats a winter one any day… simply because you can body surf and play beach soccer… the two greatest activities.  All thanks to our friends Charlotte &  Chay (esp. for their Caribbean style roast).