Saturday, 12 March 2011


Landmannalaugar-I mean, the Badlands.

Which one is the real Arc de Triomphe? hmmm.

Venice or "Venice"

Every Now and then I Wake Up From This Dream

So. Out of San Francisco. 8 am, on the bus, I see rolling hills, overgrazed by cattle, give way to almond and orange trees, farmland, small sage bushes, scrub and then sand.

The bus stops every few hours for washroom breaks. My ears have popped countless number of times as the bus goes through mountains and my eyes have been half-open, half-closed in attempts to sleep. I am half blind and half deaf as I stumble groggily from the bus into the gas station stores. I notice the prevalence of cowboy hats around here. Black, beige, white, lots of different colours, worn both indoors and out.

We pull in to Las Vegas at 10 pm. I am so sick of sitting on the bus - coach buses may be comfortable, but less so when your feet can reach neither the floor nor the footstand. The first word I think of for Las Vegas is - excess!

The next day, we go to Death Valley. As we near the hottest and driest place in North America, everything that I learned during my time as a "earth scientist" in 2008 came back to me. All that "training"* I did wasn't futile after all! I recognized the rhyolites, outwash, could identify morains, drumlins, ridges, and noted the direction of the clasts and observed shear strength of past glacial activity. I couldn't believe that geology was making me esctatic. When the bus reached the badlands, it reminded me very much of Landmannalaugar. There was a geology class there and I edged closer to the group the better to listen to the professor. He was talking about how bedrock determines everything, further bringing back dear memories of my "training". The professor continued, "How is it that we can economically exploit this knowledge? Water is most likely to collect on the foothills so we can put springs there." what?! Only in America would a geology class switch from the topic of describing alluvial fans to exploiting the resource in one breath!
The geology team with their cowboy hats.

That evening there's a tour of The Strip in Las Vegas. It was pretty cool to be able to see the sights of New York City then turn around and see Paris. But there was something inextricably inauthentic about the whole place. Maybe that's the point, and I kept on telling myself to embrace inauthenticity - whole fake venice included - but it was difficult. The attitude that people seem to wear in Las Vegas didn't help, either.

Oh, and I went to the Grand Canyon. It was nice.

*I put "earth scientist" and "training" in quotations because I did not care one pinch for earth science while I was studying it and as for the training, all the concepts covered were much too advanced for me and I was in way over my head during my studies

Monday, 7 March 2011

First batch of photos

A cute mural in the Charlie Brown museum.
The infamous In-N-Out fast food chain.
50 states make for interesting plates.
It was such a nice clear day when I went on this hill. It's usually foggy!
Self explanatory.
The cute family dog. Aww, Muffin!
Some random buskers outside Fisherman's Wharf.
You'd never see houses like this in Toronto! Every house is unique here unlike the cookie cutter houses so common in suburban sprawl.
Ocean Beach. Very creative name.
A few years ago I wrote about how Quebec reminded me of San Francisco because of its steep hills. Well, here you go.
The view of downtown San Francisco from the Modern Art Museum.
Open wide! A lot of people take the very accessible public transit system, which includes streetcars, buses, cable cars and the subway.
The sun is deceiving. It's quite cold.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

I Still Owe

San Francisco is like a resort town. The first day I came here I took a walk with my uncle's family dog (see photo post) and I saw a 'typical male San Franciscan' - a Moby look-alike . Load on the stereotypes! I'm sorry to say this but this is what I see. For the past few days I've been walking around downtown, and walking on the beaches and trails they have. Fisherman's Wharf is one heck of a tourist trap. It's so touristed up that I think they've scared all the fish away.

Also, I went to two favourite Californian places - Trader Joe's grocery store and In-N-Out fast food place. Californians seem to be fiercely proud and crazy about their In-N-Out. The place and drive-thru was packed at 2 in the afternoon. The hamburgers are made fresh-to-order and there are no microwaves, heating ovens or freezers, so everything arrives fresh every day. The onions on the burger can be grilled and they lay on thick slices of tomatoes, cheese and lettuce.

Then I went to the Charles Schulz, Peanuts cartoonist museum, the Charlie Brown museum in santa Rosa. It was great fun. I used to love this cartoon as a kid but I seriously forgot about it until now and I didn't realize how profound a lot of the strips were. Bring on the philosophy theory!

In a few days' time I'll be going to Nevada and Arizona and seeing my first desert ever! See you when I get back.