Thursday, April 30, 2009

More Bath

After visiting the Roman Baths we literally headed across the street to the Bath Abbey.

Here I am standing in front of the Abbey. Note the angels climbing Jacob's ladder on the two towers (click to enlarge).

After the Abbey visit, we strolled around the city taking in the remarkable buildings.

This one is called the Royal Crescent.
Several street performers performed for "donations." Most were musicians who seemed to play the same songs over and over, but this "living statue" was remarkable.
A bridge over the river Avon.
Three sheep dogs were passengers on the tour boat. This swan was none too happy with their presence and angrily snapped and harassed them!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


We took the train from Newquay to the city of Bath, arriving to clouds and mist. We checked in at our guest house and walked into the city center, about twenty minutes away.

We crossed the river Avon on our way.
We were impressed with these little barges. We chatted up one of the inhabitants and found out that the mooring was free, although there were annual license fees. They can travel over much of England through an extensive series of canals and locks.

Downtown Bath is beautiful primarily because it is built of stone from one quarry and because it was built over a short period under the direction of one set of architects.

In the center of Bath are the Roman Baths. Around 45 AD the Romans found the only hot spring in England and promptly built a temple and bathing pools.Mary and Anne enjoy a little time off their feet.
The baths are adjacent to the Bath Abbey which is much younger, having been built in the 1400s.

This is a statue of Julius Caesar (click on photo to enlarge and see the inscription).
This figure was part of the temple which no longer stands.
Some leftover Romans still guard the place.

Monday, April 27, 2009

More Newquay

The next day was dark and rainy, so cycling was out of the question. It turns out that Newquay is the surfing capital of England and there were dozens of surf shops. Despite our concerns about cold water and cold weather we decided to have a go.

We rented body boards, wetsuits, hoods, booties, gloves, and fins and headed right down to Great Western Beach, literally a few minutes from our guest house. We were pleased to find ourselves in the water and plenty warm. There were several surfers out with us, so we figured we were in a good place. The waves were just right for us and we had a total blast. At one point it started raining pretty hard, but we didn't care! After a couple of hours though we were totally knackered (love that word) and totally stoked.

The next day was Mary's big birthday and she was more than happy to give body boarding another go, so we headed out to the "premier" surf beach, Fistral.
Again the cold water (50 degrees F) was no problem with our full wetsuits.
The waves were better than at Great Western and there were many more surfers, body boarders, and kayakers. I got many great rides and the weather was much better. What fun!

We headed back to the guest house for some rest then headed back to Fistral for dinner at the Fistral Blu. Along the way we stopped at the quaint harbor.
Fistral Blu was a bit crowded and the inefficient waitstaff was overwhelmed, and the food was mediocre. The views, however, were memorable.

We had a great day on Mary's 50th!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

England Recap: Newquay

After a day with Anne and her Mom in St. Albans and Stevenege we hopped on the train for Newquay. The train ride was smooth despite several transfers and connections. We arrived in Newquay to a driving wind and light rain.

The next day, however, dawned bright and fresh, so we went in search of bike rentals. The helpful lady at the Tourist Information Center directed us to this place.
The "bike shop" was suspect from the beginning. Their main business appeared to be odd tourist knick knacks, including adult oriented costumes.The bikes were of poor quality, but appeared rideable despite a few loose bearings. At least the handlebars and stems seemed to have been tightened properly.

We headed north, up the coast and were quickly out of the town bustle. We stopped several times and hiked out to the magnificent headlands.

The riding was great. I wished I had a decent road bike as the roads were twisty and fun with an occasional short, steep climb. The drivers were super polite to us cyclist.
We wrapped up the day with an evening walk down to the beaches below town.

England Recap: St. Albans

Our good friend Anne kindly picked us up at Heathrow airport when we arrived in England. We spent the night at her flat and went into St. Albans town center the next morning.

Here's Mary and Anne walking down a typical English lane in St. Albans.
We visited The St. Albans Abbey.

We were certainly impressed!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Update from England

We finally have some internet access, so I'll give you a quick update.

We finished up Newquay with two days of body boarding, which was an absolute blast and quite a workout too.
The waves were good and the beaches were beautiful. We had wetsuits, gloves, hoods & booties and stayed warm for the most part.

We celebrated Mary's birthday with a nice dinner out with a grand view of the ocean complete with a super sunset.

Next we rode the train into Bath, a beautiful, bustling center with a rich history.
We met our friend Anne and visited the ancient Roman baths and the Bath Abbey.
The Roman baths were built on the only hot springs in England around 45AD. Amazing!
The Abbey was much newer, but also held breathtaking architecture and great stained glass.
We hooked up with Anne' s Mum, Sister and her boyfriend for a nice dinner in city center.

We then drove down to the town of Cheddar - yes, the cheese place!
Cheddar is also well known for limestone caves and a stunning gorge.
We hiked steep trails above the gorge and saw goats, hares, sheep, ponies, classic rock walls, and emerald green fields stretching to the horizon.
We coughed up a few pounds to explore one of the caves, which was quite touristy but amazing nonetheless.

This morning we left Cheddar with Anne at the wheel, back to St Albans, then into London via train and underground. We're staying just a couple blocks from the Tower of London and the Tower Bridge. We are super happy to be in London with so much to see and do!!!

Talk to you later!!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Quick Update From England

Hi Everyone.

We are on our last day at Newquay.
We've spent the last two afternoons body boarding.
Incredible fun!
Great waves.
Not too cold either, with full wetsuits, booties, gloves & hood.

The weather is a little better today.
Broken clouds, a sprinkle or two, and windy.
We had one nice day.
Two quite rainy and windy days.

We rented some shoddy bikes from a sketchy little shop.
I was surprised they didn't break down, but we did have a real pleasant ride up the coast.
The coastline here is spectacular.

The town of Newquay is a bit cheesy with a lot of tourist junk shops, but there is a little character here and there. The food has been a little dodgy, the nicer places are good, but the pub food and the cafes are not. The "full english breakfast" is especially foul!

I'll post pics at some point, although probably not til we get home.

Tomorrow we head up to the historic city of Bath.
I'll try to keep in touch.


Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Dragon Peak

Last Sunday Steve, Jed, Annie and I headed back to Onion Valley for an attempt on Dragon Peak.

After about a half hour of hiking we got to the sun, warmed our bones, and put on the skis.
It wasn't long before we were truly in the High Sierra.

Jed skins up with Dragon Peak left of center and The Dragtooth to the right.
Dragon Peak looming over Jed. We skinned up the bowl to its left.
Steve skins the huge snow fields below the bowl.
When we reached the top of the bowl we were standing on the Sierra Crest and looking over miles of snowy landscape.
Steve climbs up towards the summit with Mt. Rixford on the far right behind him.
We had fun scrambling on the more solid blocky rock higher up.
Jed scrambled up the exposed summit block in his ski boots with ease and dropped a rope for Annie who climbed to the top in her socks! Steve and I were not as bold, so we watched with vicarious delight.

Jed gives us the victory wave.
Back at the top of the bowl Annie and Jed mack a few sardines.
Must've worked 'cause Annie shredded the pow below.
and Steve cruised the corn down lower.
What a day!
Thanks pards!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Dawn Patrol in Onion Valley

I got up early from my camp in the northern Alabama Hills and drove up to Onion Valley for a quick ski outing. Click on the pic to see a nice, larger version!

Dawn at the trailhead was breezy and cool.
Last Sunday Steve and I were up where the sun is lighting on the ridge.
University Peak.
This is the objective for the day. I went up the left arm of the "V".
Another nice view of University Peak.
This is at the top of the snow, looking east along the ridge.
The snow was perfect corn. Smooth and velvety. I liked it!
I was back to the car before 10am. The snow was just right at that time. What a great way to start the work day.