photos – Chilkoot Trail hiking

ET, Gregi, Kelly & I enjoyed the historic Klondike trail from Alaska to the Yukon. It was a wonderful trip, one I will never forget.

To see photos of our drunken hike jump to the permanent webpage in Rick’s photo archive. OPEN icon

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travelogue – U.S.A. A-OK?

I’ve long had a love-hate relationship with the States. To truly assess the super-sized Nation you need go to the strip in Las Vegas. (Those who have been, know what I mean.) …

For the complete travelogue & photos jump to the permanent webpage in Rick’s photo archive. OPEN icon

» Cirque du Soleil
» Red Rock Canyon

travelogue – Yosemite – USA

Many rank Yosemite valley in Yosemite National Park the best single rock climbing destination in the world.

I first learned of Yosemite from Dennis the Menace comics. But tales of the infamous Camp 4 climbers bivouac put it on my to-do-before-I-die list. …

For the complete travelogue & photos jump to the permanent webpage in Rick’s photo archive. OPEN icon

» hiking the John Muir Trail
» Half Dome & El Capitan

SKYPE

SKYPE logoRockin’ hectored me into finally trying Skype, the much hyped VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol).

Cool! It works, though far better with headphones.

Free long distance phone calls for anyone who downloads the also free Skype software. You PAY to call a non-Skype phone number.

Same week Skype was bought by Ebay for 2.6 billion! Skype has 54 million subscribers — 54,000,001 after I joined

Now Ebay owns an online phone company as well as an online bank (PayPal).

Google is building their own VOIP.

<a href=”http://www.skype.com/helloagain.html&#8221; SKYPE – the whole world can talk for free>

travelogue – What I did at Summer Camp – USA

I worked. 

Eight intensive gymnastics weeks in 4 different gyms:

1) Funtastics, Idaho <2004 photos>
2) Calgary Gymnastics Centre
3) Mountain Shadows, Okotoks
4) Woodward West, Tehachapi, California

Summer is my favourite time of year in the gym. I enjoyed camp as a kid & I had a good time coaching this summer.

This was my 3rd year at Funtastics (excellent!) and 2nd at Mountain Shadows (excellent!). But coaching in California was a first.

Woodward

Americans think BIG. The Woodward West camp objective is nothing less than to supply the best week of a child’s life! 

Free video games, bowling, table games, dodgeball, campfires, sign-out camcorders & digital lab, climbing wall & much more. The camp has a wild west theme.

For me the highlight was the perfect climate at 4000 feet. 

Woodward from the air

The facility is superb.

Surprise surprise, the camp is expensive – US$800 / week. Beginners to advanced including trampoline, tumbling, acrosport & cheerleading (which is booming in the USA.)

Woodward is half skinny white girls doing gymnastics sports, half skinny white boys doing what they call Action Sports:

Skateboard
In-line skating
BMX bike
Mountain bike

It was an experience learning about the world of Action Sports … (In-line is by far the best, skateboarding dull in comparison.) … though I still can’t remember the difference between a tail-whip & a disaster.

X-games 2005 were held in California while I was there. Many X-superstars visited Woodward. In fact, we coached a BMX finalist from Australia. He learned a front flip on bike into the foam pit with us.

Skater clothes IMHO are the worst fashion trend in the sorry history of bad fashion. Me, now, with moustache & short-shorts — very cool. (I restrained from wearing the Speedo at the swimming pool.)

Injury is the biggest worry at Woodward.

My main goal at camp was to avoid having to send kids to the trainer. Imagine my surprise when alerted that one of my best & toughest gymnasts was being helicoptered to L.A. on what the camp euphemistically calls Air Disney.

Happily, Nicole was OK. She insisted her father drive her 3 hours back to camp directly from the hospital the next morning.

Another attraction of Woodward are the many famous people who are paid to sign autographs there.

Playing dodgeball with Katie Ketchum, popular inline skater, was a treat. Seeing her boyfriend Marco train was a highlight too — he’s the first skater to land triple back.

TamayoCharlie Tamayo, Cuban Worlds medallist

Kurt Thomas, a hero when I was a kid, gave me coaching tips.

Woodward West is expensive during the 10 weeks of summer. But training there during the off-season is a real bargain! Something like US$100 / gymnast for 3 days, 2 nights with food & accommodation.

The kids pay for & get a lot of freedom at Woodward. I thought too much freedom.

For example, a 10-year-old skateboarder was standing atop the overhanging edge above a concrete pool trying to summon the courage to try to drop in. A certain injury, I thought. The older, better boys were not doing it.

However, when I alerted the supposed supervisor, he seemed unconcerned.

Is that drop-in even possible?, I asked.

Maybe, he shrugged.

Shouldn’t you stop him?

No, he should try it if he wants to. That was the reply.

The kid still had his skateboard poised over the edge of the overhang, psyching-up, when I left.

Rick

Hunter S. Thompson funeral

Hunter shooting a typewriterI read all his books & rank him as one of the most original writers of all time.

Come back with a warrant., read the doormat at the entrance to Gonzo writer Hunter S. Thompson’s farm near Apsen, Colorado.

On August 20th, 2005 Thompson’s ashes were blasted from a giant cannon as he had requested. The nut had committed messy suicide, emulating Hemmingway, an author he admired. He waited until after the Superbowl, football being his favourite sport, before dispatching himself.

The Woody Creek Tavern, where Thompson often had sat beneath the shaggy head of a stuffed buffalo, did good business that day.

Thompson’s longtime sidekick Johnny Depp underwrote the $2.5 million celebration. Among those paying tribute were Bill Murray, Rob Reiner, Rolling Stone’s Jann Wenner & Thompson’s artist-collaborator, Ralph Steadman.

The writer’s wretched persona embodied a manic, macho, paranoid, inflamed sense of outrage at the failings of his age.

He was insane. But I will miss him, one of the great characters of the last century.