Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Apaneca Canopy Tour

Over the weekend I went with a group of people to the Canopy (Zip line) tour in Apaneca, El Salvador.

 Diagram showing all the lines, height and length

We arrived too early so we started our day wandering around the little town. After doing that for about an hour we loaded up into their trucks to head up the mountain.
 We were all outfitted with helmets, harnesses and gloves.

A short walk up the hill brought us to the first of the zip lines. The first six lines were all pretty short. These are the ones to get everyone used to doing it. You are not very high off the ground and don't go very fast one these ones.

Then you get to number seven, which is over the valley. It is the highest and the longest one. This one has the best views, and because our group was large enough you could see the others going across the valley on the lines eight and nine below you.

While in the tree platform between lines ten and eleven it started to rain. The tree stopped most of the rain, as we waited out the heaviest of it. We had to change gloves because the wet cables required different leather pads to slow down. These gloves did not work as well as the earlier gloves did on the dry cable, but they were still enough to manage your speed.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Eddie would go

In 2007 I went to the Quicksilver Eddie Aikau surf contest opening ceremonies. I think being at the ceremony is even cooler than seeing the contest.

There is no place else on Earth that you can be around so many pro surfers. The contest is held at Waimea Bay Beach Park and is open to everyone. Before the ceremonies start you can mingle and talk with the pros. Then when the ceremony starts all the invited surfers and their alternates grab their boards and get in a big half circle.

The ohana of Eddie is there to talk and thank everyone for coming. When the ceremony ends, there is the traditional paddle out. The paddle out is also open to anyone who dares to brave the surf of Waimea.

Paris in a day

In February I spent one day in Paris. It doesn’t sound like a long time, but because of how Paris is set up it was enough time for us to see almost everything we wanted in one day. Unfortunately the temperature was in the low 20s and most of the day we were walking.

Tower in the morning fog

We started the day at the Eiffel tower, because it was nearest our hotel.
View from the middle (top was closed for repairs)

After that we headed across the Seine river and towards the Arc De Triumph.

After thwarting a pick pocket we crossed into the circle to see the arc up close.

Then we headed down Avenue des Champs-Élysées and grabbed lunch before heading into the Louvre. In the Louvre we took the obligatory trip to see the Mona Lisa.
Beautiful girl in front of a beautiful painting

After seeing some of the other art in the Louvre, we were off the Centre Pompidou modern art museum. This museum was pretty disappointing. The best part of this museum was the view of the city from the top floor. Maybe I just don’t get modern art.

The front of Pompidou
View from the top of Pompidou

It was now time to cross back over the river for Notre Dame de Paris. We didn’t have time to tour the bell towers, but we did get to walk around the inside.

We jumped on the train to head out to the Palace at Versailles. Unfortunately we arrived after the inside had closed. We were able to wander the gardens, which even in winter were beautiful.

Palace at Versailles
Versailles gardens

All in all I would say it was a pretty good one day spent.

Ringing in 2008, New Years time square

Everyone should do it once, but most people will do it only once.

The tiny little ball

I had talked about it with friends a few times, but for 2008, I finally got a group of friends to commit to New Years in Time Square. Five of us headed out from Buffalo for a weekend in NYC. In New York we meet up with two other friends.

New Year ’s Eve we headed into Manhattan to spend the afternoon before heading to time square. This was our first mistake. After a late lunch we headed for the closed off streets around 4pm. You are not permitted to bring anything in with you. So 8 hours of no food no drinks, all bags are searched. There are also no bathrooms. Once you make it through the police search the put you in what I can best describe as a corral that is about 100 by 100 feet square. Then there is a 20 foot gap and another corral.

We felt lucky to be one of the first few people in our Corral about 7 blocks from time square. As it turned out this was not good luck. Everyone in the back is pushing forward constantly to get those few inches closer to Time Square, like in the pit at a concert. You are allowed to leave at any time, but you can’t come back. As the afternoon rolls on every few hours they push everyone up by one or two corral.

Enough space to lay down in the back

After our first move we decided it was best to hang near the back of our corral because it was empty and you could take up some space and even sit or lay down, and there was still about 6 hours to midnight. This is also when we noticed the pizza and Krispy Kreme guys running down the streets selling food while trying not to get grabbed by the cops. If you hung out in the back corner on the corral you could hold out $10 and they would take it and toss you a box without stopping as they jogged by. Not only was it nice to get some food, but the box was great to sit on and keep you off the cool NY street.

We made it to about 5 blocks from Time Square by the time midnight hit. This was followed by confetti dropping from all the buildings and fireworks behind us from Central Park. Lots of kissing and yelling for about 10 minutes and then they let everyone out. As flooded at the streets were the subways were empty and we were able to make it back to Queens and join a New Year’s party at the bar below my friend’s apartment.

Real Madrid game


While in Spain this past winter I had the opportunity to go watch Real Madrid play in Santiago Bernabeu stadium. Being able to watch one of the best teams in the world win at home was a great experience.

View from the top

Because it was February I expected it to be cold and full of only the hardcore fans, which I was used to seeing at Buffalo Bills games when there was 2 feet of snow on the ground. Little did I know! The stadium was completely packed and we were lucky to get nose bleed tickets. They have the enormous space heaters that blast all the fans to keep out the cold.

Final Score

The game was pretty good. Madrid won 4-1. Leaving the stadium was an experience in itself. Seeing the streets flooded with fans. It took about 20 minutes on the ramp just to make it back to the streets. Then we headed for the edge of the crowds to find somewhere with room to eat at.

Streets flooded with fans