Thursday, March 31, 2011

my holiday is better then your life..what...

I'm sitting a coffee shop sipping a cappuccino, just finished a delicious spinach & feta crepe. The weather is a cool 10-15C and the sun is shining over the mountains.

On Monday I hit up Canyons, Utahs BIGGEST ski resort for one of the best days of all time. The day was beginning to bust as as soon as I got on the lift up to the resort it stopped, for 20 minutes I was stuck on that lift and I was barely five metres up I was considering just jumping down and heading to a bar. It was FREEZING cold the wind was pelting me and the snow was coming in thick. But success they got it working again and I got up to the resort. Of course I was so cold I needed a coffee so I went into the closest bar and ordered a coffee and a beer. They had about 30 beers and only about four of them were full-strength, they actually had a label on the full strength ones, which being Aussie of course I had to try. Three beers later I decided to hit the resort and it was amazing. I don't know where everyone was but the powder was so thick and the runs so empty. Breaking for lunch (and more beer) I ran into some guys from Indiana who ended up taking me up to the top and through a black tree run. The trees were wide enough for me that it wasn't a constant battle since my sharp turns are a little weak especially in powder. The powder was 2 foot deep. It was amazing.

Saying goodbye to them I did a few more runs then as it was nearing time for leo to pick me up I headed up to the top to do a last run only to find my binding was completely loose. Freaking out I had a guy up the top look at it and he managed to get the screw in but as I was about halfway down the mountain the screw worked itself loose again and I was riding quite dangerously with my lead foot rotating as I tried to turn.

Wednesday I went back to Sundance for a beautiful bluebird day. The slopes were softpacked with beautiful untouched courdery lines everywhere. The only problem was by 330pm it was so warm the snow melted up and I couldn't keep up any speed so I was trying the blacks and just getting stuck as soon as it hit flat no matter how fast I was going. It got trying so I went into the bar (suprise!) only to discover id left my ID at home, then I got kicked out of the bar. Ok honestly I don't look 21 do I?

That night we went to a CS meet in Salt Lake City about 15 surfers and hosts for Korean food. It was really good to meet everyone and I saw Matt again who I hadn't seen since Coachella. Rob ended up picking me up as I was now crashing his place and we smoked a joint and chatted till about 11 before I fell asleep.

Today was another writeoff, I put my board in for repairs and Rob was nice enough to lend me his car but I'd forgotten how to drive automatic and was using the brake with my left foot and wondering why I was braking so badly, then I remembered that your supposed to use the same foot, I think I was just so used to using the clutch to slow down by down gearing I'd forgotten how to drive auto!!! Switching back to right side driving wasn't a problem I thought I might slip up but it was pretty much like old times and made me think about my jeep, who I miss more then my ex boyfriend haha.

The air is being amazing to me and I worry about getting back into humidity and feeling the pain again. Snowboarding just makes me feel alive I hate sometimes how physically limited I am at home and everything I've given up over the years. Wakeboarding, bike riding I worry volleyball will be on the cards soon because of my illness. But the dry air and the snowboard just reminds me that I can be happy and healthy and active. The last few months have been increasingly trying on me and I was in some pretty intense pain that I was not my usual positive self. It wears on you after a while y'know. Anyway I'm getting back to my old self and I know I needed this holiday. I've even stopped my meds for the first time in 10 years.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


I don't know if its the air, or my lifestyle but I had my first pain free day in six months.. actually maybe even longer I can't remember. The funny thing is I even stopped my meds because I was sick of losing my hair and I haven't felt better in ages.

I would totally move to Utah if it wasn't for all the mormens & limited alcohol!!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sunday is a day of rest, for everyone else in this crazy town ;)

I have barely been in UTAH for two days and my entire body is in pain. But its that good pain where you realise you had some of the most epic days of all time. Saturday I headed out to 8,000 feet above sea level where Leo was giving me lessons on snowkiting. For the uninformed, you hold a kite and the wind pulls you and your board along. Utah is a bit of a kiting meccha. World champions come to Utah to practice. So you harness the power of this kite with a harness, can be a pretty intense workout on your abs and legs. I got the kite up and was controlling it for a good 20 minutes or so then this massive gust of wind took me unawares and next thing you know I’m flying forward face planting the beautiful fluffy snow and being dragged by this kite across the mountainside. I frantically reach forward to get the brake line which suddenly seems so far out of reach it appears I might very well be dragged to Colorado, when success the tip of my fingers reach it and I yank the kite back into submission.

Our kiting day went for a good 7+ hours and at least 40% of that was spent untangling my kite. I also managed one more faceplant. I came to the conclusion Kiteboarding is the most frustrating sport ever. For the brief moments of flying the kite I spent hours trying to untangle it. Sure once you get good you tangle less but for learning its just vicious. Still I was pretty determined until the 7pm came round and I was exhausted and freezing cold from all the snow that decided underneath my jacket was the place be. Leo packed it in and drove us home where I tucked into the beers and stayed up till midnight for some reason. Drinking at high altitude means quicker intoxication

Sleep was AWESOME. I still haven’t seen the jetlag. I slept in till 10am and woke up to a traditional asian breakfast before Leo gave me a ride to Sundance ski resort. It was Sunday now and everything where I am staying is closed, even the grocery stores. Because its Mormon country and they were all at four hours of church. So that meant the ski hill which had just got a foot of overnight snow was virtually empty. Seriously, why would god want you to spend four hours of your life on a beautiful Sunday praying? Surely he gave us life so we could enjoy it? Well I wasn’t going to complain showing up for a midday session. Since I haven’t boarded in a year I wanted to take it easy for the first few days. I won’t lie I was nervous, really nervous. I wondered if I’d forgotten how to board since the day before I had tried and couldn’t even turn on edge. But in my defense it was really powdery, icy... yea thats my excuse.

So I meant to start on a green run however missed the dropoff and ended up higher up the mountain where I took a blue down. I shouldn’t have worried, it all came back and I sped down the mountain hitting a huge beautiful pocket of fresh powder that made me remember why I loved spring boarding so much. Also I still found it hard to believe that it was Sunday after lunch on an epic day and I was skiing fresh lines still. Anyway a couple more blue runs and I was already exhausted I hit the chair lift once more and decided next run was the one before beer o’clock. So I was riding with a really nice local guy who was actually from France and he informed me the top of the mountain had a nice little restaurant which sells beer. Although beer in Utah is sold at 3.2% thanks to the mormons!!! But the altitude offsets it. So I parked in at the bar after taking in the awesome view and downed three beers quite quickly. As I was leaving the restaurant this woman waves at me “HI Amanda” I was dumbstruck. The whole four people I know in Utah would have been on the hill riding with me, who the hell was this random lady.
“Its Nicky’s friend!!”
“I have no idea who you or nicky are”
“Your name is Amanda right and your on the racing team?”
“My name is Amanda but im most definitely not on the team”
So we laughed about the random coincidence and said our farewells.
It was after my three beers and short rest I felt confident enough to take on the black bowl, it was still packed high with powder. Not sure if that was the best idea, my legs screamed at me to stop after a few minutes but I was determined. I got to the bottom, a really long way away and realised I was on the back side of the mountain and needed to get back up the lift. Doh... I wasn’t sure if I had another run in me, but living in permanent summer these kind of opportunities don’t come around often.

It was my last run after that, I went back to the bar down the bottom and drank a few beers waiting for Leo to pick me up. I fell asleep not long after for about 45 minutes and then woke up and we went out for some awesome Vietnamese food.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

People don’t really realise how taxing transit time can be on you. When Heather and I were in Ecuador we took a bus direct to Lima, Peru. It was a long two days of travel and cost us about $30, by Australian standards – cheap. When you factor in the complete and utter exhaustion over two days of being in a bus – expensive.

My trip from Darwin, Australia to Salt Lake City, USA turned into one of those epic adventures of chaotic proportions. I left Darwin 12:45am Friday morning. It was a direct red-eye flight to Sydney. Always hate a red-eye but the pain was increased by my annoying neighbour a young blonde girl in her 20s who decided to fall asleep with her music on full blast through the headphones. I could clearly hear Avril Lavigne tell me that she was a ska8ter girl. To add insult to injury she snored. I attempted passive aggressiveness because I hate to wake sleeping people on the plane I know personally how hard it is for some people to sleep. I turned her stereo headphones down via the arm rest and in my delusion I thought it was actually working. Only to discover six hours later that she was listening to her ipod and not the generic plane armrest. I did manage to fall asleep despite the noise, for a brief 20 minutes when all of a sudden the woman at the window turns on her light and buzzes the flight attended. She asks for juice. Its now 4am in the morning I’m fucking tired and she wants juice. I close my eyes and attempt to drift off again, no avril lavigne is woken up by window lady and buzzes the attended again for chocolate and juice. One more time I think as I try to drift off again..... lights come on guess what its 5am in the fucking morning TIME FOR BREAKFAST!!

So before I know it I’ve been up virtually all night and I’m now in Sydney. My time in Sydney is relatively boring. I arrived at 6:30am and my flight was at 10:50am. I located my gate and if you’ve ever been to Sydney’s international airport it can literally be like attempting to locate a virgin in Palmerston after dark. I plugged in my laptop and watched random movies & tv until it was time to board.

I am going to say the 13 hour flight to LA was uneventful. It was 13 hours long and delayed originally for an hour because apparently they had engine trouble. My exhausted delusions had fantasies of the plane crashing and me being the only survivor then getting free first class flights for life (how awesome would that be) however not be and it was just one long journey. I tried to sleep, and I think I managed at least 2 broken hours. Not sure. I watched two movies Burlesque & Hereafter both of which I can’t remember what happened. Also big bang theory and a little live arj barker. Seriously how did people survive before they had tvs in the backs of the chairs in front of them!!!

Arriving in LA it was the fun moment of “Lets go through customs” where I’m always so tired that I manage to make some sort of slip-up and the customs guy starts to think I’m a drug dealer!!!! This weeks was when he asked me about my return flight I mentioned I was living here and had brought a return flight home and this was the return of the return.. (im confusing myself now see|!!” ) to which he says “you were living here???” and I had to quickly correct that I meant Canada and not the USA cause heaven forbid I might illegally immigrate into the US and then leave for a year back to Aus. Honestly why would I live in USA when I make three times the money living in Australia?

So anyway through customs in two hours and Its 930am LA time. I realise.. my connecting flight isn’t until 4:25pm. I am so tired. I have now been away for almost 25 hours give or take a few hours in between... I find a random gate set my alarm for 230pm and try to sleep. Impossible... so many people everywhere. I doze in that trance state and eventually come to and realise I should get some lunch. I discover my flight just happens to be at the gate I was sleeping at. With over 70 gates, random much? Taking the flight to San Franscisco I am treated to another 3 hour layover and have just about reached my breaking point and caffeine overdose when I finally get to board the last plane. 38 hours later, 9 coffees, five airports I am in Salt Lake City waiting for my luggage. My snowboard bag is there, that’s a plus but no my luggage is in bloody Washington thanks to a misboard. Thank god for Leo picking me up. For those of you wondering who Leo is I met him whilst driving through Utah November 2009. I made him my amazing pancakes and he taught me how to fly a kite. We kept in touch and now I am crashing at his house for the next few days. He has the most comfortable bed in the world. Leo drove me home and I passed out. It was a looong two days.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Returning to my surfing roots.

Said goodbye to my final surfer, a very personable guy from Germany. And now I look forward to becoming the surfer again myself. Surfing is not about the money to me its about a way of travel few could only dream of. When it comes to large groups of people it takes me forever to open up, so travelling in hostels I generally have a hard time making connections. After the split from my boyfriend I decided to take the drive across the USA by myself. A terrifying prospect for a simple Territorian, where all our roads are basically highways and the concept of 4-way stop signs, right side driving & freeways boggles the simple bogan mind.

Here I was pulling into small towns for the night, walking into a strangers home and immersing myself in local life. My host in Rapid City, South Dakota texted me the directions for entering his flat, I was treated to a tiny studio apartment with six other people. I questioned where I was to lay my head and next thing I know I'm crawling out his kitchen window to set my sleeping bag down on the roof of the nightclub below. I promptly had the best sleep of my life.

In Sandy, Texas my host a strange artistic type told me to meet him at the church he worked for. I walked into a bible club where I sat beside some boys from germany. The pastor singled me out in welcome and had us sing from the bible. Torn between the desire to respect my host and my own personal beliefs. I ended up keeping my mouth shut and staring at the open bible. In the end the church served me a delicious fried chicken dinner.

In another town in Texas I was treated to my host djing funk at a club whilst they played kung fu movies on the wall, I shared a joint in the back of a car with a columbian and a texan and when jokingly asked them if they had a gun (in texas 4 out of every 3 people have one) he pulls out a sawn off shotgun!

In Utah I made pancakes and was then treated to a lesson on snowkite boarding 10,000 feet about sea level. I was also taken to an alternative club where the theme was rubix and you had to swap clothes with everyone until you wore just one colour. Have you ever seen hot guys in yellow mini skirts?

This is just some of the random things I did on my trip. Each place I went I had a new best friend. It didn't matter that I was alone. The things I saw and did I could never get from a tour guide. I seriously lived. So yea I am excited to be surfing again because the people I can meet and the experiences I can have will be remembered for ever.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Projects 2011.

This is a non-couchsurfing related post. Heaven forbid!

I have a bunch of projects to get stuck into for 2011 as soon as I make it back from the USA, and start working again and save my money.

Firstly my cricket farm. To you that might be strange, breeding crickets. But I just realised its a bit of an uptapped market in Darwin. If your a lizard owner and surprisingly a large amount of people in the Northern Territory are food will set you back about $7 every three days. If I can breed crickets on the cheap, all they need is a little bit of damp sand and food scraps I can sell them for $5 for three days worth. Then perhaps with the profits ok so its not going to make me millions, but extra money won't hurt I can invest in my own lizards. Or my dream animal, a breeding pair of black-headed pythons. now why stop with crickets? Mealworms are another lucrative market and so easy to breed, all you need to do is pop them in the fridge to stop them turning into beetles! I Have my basic setup I just need to get bulk crickets to start the breeding. So far its set me back $15 for four containers (lawn sales) and free sand :D

Second is my frog pond. I have decided rather then dig a permanent fixture into the backyard I am getting those baby pools the shells and turning them into a pond. With plenty of free rocks to stack inside and outside the frogs will have easy pond access. I need to find a native fish that will eat the mosquito larvae but not the frog spawn. Also a way to keep the water fresh.

Third project is my 30th birthday. Of course in true Amanda style it will be a massive party and I have finally decided on the theme. It was almost not going to have a theme but I have found the perfect idea. Zombies. I have decided to dip into my artistic side and create paper mache zombies. I found this guy on google. holy crap he is amazingly talented. I don't think I can get close to his talent but I am going to attempt more life like zombies. Then I can get toxic free pool dye and dye the pool red. I also have brain jelly moulds to create some awesome vodka brain jelly. This is just the beginning if you have any zombie ideas for a party let me know! I figured people could dress up as zombies or zombie hunters. Like the cop from walking dead, resident evil, nazi zombie from dead sno. Geezus is it just me or this year proving epic?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Opening doors.

With my impending vacation drawing close I have taken my couch off the market. I have a German guy for the next weekend and then nothing.
Its a strange feeling being surfer free. I need to go back and calculate the amount of travellers that passed through my house since I started hosting in July 2010 its easily over 60. Maybe even closer to 80. With 50% being either french or german.

Perhaps that was a little overboard I realise now how much I love the downtime. Being constantly social puts a drain on my personality and cuts into my gaming time. Not to mention I have a hard enough time maintaining my real life friends without adding bulk couchsurfers to the list. Heaven forbid I should try and fit a relationship in there. Thank fuck for facebook though despite the intense whirlwind connections we had for a few days, will I really ever see a lot of them again? I wish someone would invent teleportation technology so I could just jump over to a new country and see my friends for a coffee or something then jump back home to reality. I also wish they would never leave me.

Still you need to be happy that these people were in your life, even if it was just for one day. It helps to change my opinion of the world as well. We are so easily influenced by a minority of people we forget to look as a whole. Take Americans for example, for so long they have battled with this persona of being obnoxious, self-absorbed, rude, simple-minded etc. Yet what I realise every time I host or be hosted by an American how many bloody awesome ones there are. I have to admit my opinion of the French was a little bias as well, I thought they were elitist moochers and then I started opening my home and met some of the most amazing, generous French people I wonder how I would ever have met them without couchsurfing! Imagine if these French people had never come into my life for those few days I would still think of them in a slightly negative light.

So here is to couchsurfing and shedding the skin of generalisation.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

changing referances

It frustrates me that people can change their responses.

And he changed it to this

- I'm sorry that his Dad died, it sux. But if your not feeling social why are you couch surfing, or why don't you inform your host before hand? Why come along to events and not say thanks. I know why, because he didn't want to spend any money. When I had no more room left he wanted to sleep at the airport he barely ate because he didn't want to spend the money. If my dad had died recantly and I was couchsurfing I would make the effort to appreciate my host. otherwise I would keep to myself and stay in a bloody hotel.

As for cleaning the dishes? He ate the pasta BY HIMSELF inside while we all sat outside. Then he washed HIS plate only. The only reason he helped the other couch surfer with the dishes is because she flat out asked him to help her, and she was already halfway through them and he didn't even lift a finger until she asked him.

Did I forget to mention how he left the front door unlocked all day even though I said lock the house if you leave. When I asked him why he said "oh i didnt think I had to lock that door" WHAT??!!

Or that I said he had to leave by Saturday and 5pm comes round and he is STILL sitting at my house I had to give him a ride to the airport to get him out. The fact is if he had done something at ALL we would have found the room for him but honestly he wonders why he deserves a neutral? What positive things did he do? He didnt do anything. He didn't engage with anyone, share anything with anyone ...sigh. He basically seemed to use my place as a hotel.

I was nice on my referance because I don't think he is a bad person just a little disillusioned by what couch surfing is. I left out a lot of stuff but now with his excuses its just made me annoyed.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The traveller sees what he sees, The tourist sees what he came to see.

Is it just me? Couchsurfer host extraordinaire and I am feeling more anti-social than an emo with a good hair day. This sort of thing happens to everyone even bubbly, over social me.

I feel a little bad for ignoring my surfers a bit. But I am taking them out to Litchfield tomorrow. Speaking of I told my Belgian surfer that if he was interested I would take him as well just chip in for fuel/food and he asks what’s there, so I say waterfalls and stuff and he acts like he doesn’t want to go! Then I guess he sees pictures and he says “yea looks nice I’ll come” Weird, I guess the word of a local on how pretty it is, isn’t enough. I just know when I was couchsurfing whatever my host suggested I was interested in. I consider myself a traveller not a tourist, my mind is open to the experience of so many different things and couchsurfing brings that opportunity closer.

When surfers don’t want to do things I suggest it makes me feel like I am a bit of a hotel. Like passing up on one of my coveted snake hunting missions. Sure it sounds dangerous but its really not and hunting snakes or frogs in the middle of the night really breathes territorian. Speaking of I had a Belgium couple & Canadian couple just recently who were really great and easy to get along with. I took them out to hunt some frogs and we ended up traipsing around Holmes Jungle in the middle of the night through a little creek (only around in the wet) surprisingly successful trip with three baby dwarf frogs and one marbled marsh frog, now relocated to my backyard. Also two lizards also relocated. With the abundance of natural wildlife I’m hoping it brings in more snakes like some of the tree snakes who feast on frogs. Not that I want my frogs to die but I would be quite content with a self preserving ecosystem in my backyard. I think when I get back from the US I will see if I’m allowed to build a pond in one of the corners. That combined with my cricket farm means reptiles galore.

I am well aware snake hunting is not for everyone but one French guy who had a pretty extreme phobia he wouldn’t even touch Dj who is the most placid of all snakes came along just to watch me jump into a river and pull them out. Anyway as my original point is why are you a couch surfer if you don’t want to hang out with your host. I had this Austrian couple stay with me and they were kind of boring, I see why some people refuse to host couples but I think I have had more good than bad. These guys kept to themselves and were more interested in visiting the museum which is open every day and they were here for a week! Then coming down to the waterfront in the city for a CS meeting.

Back to feeling anti-social I did write that a few weeks ago I have since gotten over it. Right now I am just trying to save my money for my big trip overseas thank god I don’t have to pay for any accommodation. I know you shouldn’t rely on couch surfing but I already have a ton of CS friends over there that I am pretty secure will find a floor for me! My flights are insane. I have a red-eye to Sydney then four hours later I’m off to LA then six hours after that I fly to Utah where I arrive Midnight Friday March 25th and my awesome friend will pick me up. Apparently after the 30+ hours of transit and whatever sleep I manage to get Saturday we are straight out for some Kite-Boarding. Since I haven’t snowboarded in AGES my leg muscles despite all the squats I am doing to prepare will probably be jelly by the end. 90% of money saved will be spent on snowboarding.