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The Blue Mountains: Katoomba, Australia

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A two hour train ride outside of Sydney, you can find the tourist hamlet of Katoomba in the Blue Mountains. Tourists have been coming here since the turn of the century (1900). Katoomba itself reminds me of West Virginia in its old coal town turned bust turned tourist vibe. You can now find hipsters and artists in residence.

We took the train out in the morning and spent several hours walking from the train station to a trailhead, down the cliff face, and back up again.

Highlights on the mountain visit include the three sisters, the giant stairway (976 steps!), waterfalls, and the steepest railroad in Australia.

We started our morning at Sydney central

The two hour train ride is a little long. The tourist center by the train station is well worth a visit. That is where we finalized our plan.

8things cafe. Great food and super service

Cassiopia coffee (recommended)

We walked from the station to Echo point (2.3 km).

The Echo Point visitors center

This is where we first caught sight of the famed three sisters. Which we saw many times throughout the day.

Three sisters from Echo Point visitor center

Three sisters from the echo point trail

Three sisters from the trail

Three sisters from just above

Honeycomb cave (at the three sisters)

Three sisters from below on the Federal trail

Three sisters from Scenic World gondola

Here’s what happened in between. After honeycomb cave, we entered the giant stairway. Lots of stairs down (976 in fact). Amy did not do them all.

This is an alternative way to get down the stairs (not recommended by our attorney)

Not here

Here

Flowers and bromiliads

Amy

AMY

A tiny fiddlehead against the mountains

Down

Flowers on the mountain

Looking down 500 feet

The blue mountains

Amy contemplates

Cliff hangers

Amy takes the stairs with a monk

Cliff hangers and rare species

Eventually, we entered the rain forrest at the bottom of the cliff.

The giant stairway is well named. It has been there a while.

Rainforest ecology

Amy rounds the bend

Ferns and trail. The rainforest shift is striking

A very big tree indeed

Katoomba Creek falls

After the falls, we were back in what passes as civilization. Scenic world was first contemplated by coal miners. Just take the train thingy up.

And, why not? Try the cable car too.

We walked back from scenic world (another 2.5km). All told we may have hiked around 5 miles. We deserved a beer.

After a long day hiking, it was high time for a beer!

The 2 hour train ride back to Sydney was slightly too long.

Glamping in Tanzania with African Environments

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This posting is cross-posted on noplasticshowers.com

During our 15 day trip to Tanzania in September, we saw some remarkable things about as up close and personal as you could get. We hiked over 70km in four national parks. And we stayed in tents. But don’t let that last bit fool you, we were “glamping.”

So what, exactly is “glamping” anyway? That’s the subject of this posting. There are 92 pieces of media in this posting.

If you are going glamping, you will need a truck

This is the passenger seat. Just for the record.

On the way to our first tent, we did a game drive for a few hours and saw many things. Including an albino baboon. But that’s another posting.

Without further ado, our first tent in Arusha national park.

The tent in Arusha

These tents have multiple rooms, double beds, and non-plastic showers.

This bed is better than a thermarest pad

Of course, readers of noplasticshowers are going to want to know about the bathroom area. There was a chemical toilet. And some sinks that drained directly outside.

Sinks without water

Mirrors in a tent?! Dang.

The shower also had no running water. It was somebody’s job to put 3.5 liters (not quite enough, that is) into the dispenser just before a “glamping shower.”

Those little handles control the water flow.

The shower from outside

Home for a couple of nights

Then there was the food situation. Just great. Really. No camping food here. Fresh fruits and veggies. Great chefs. Delicious.

Our first lunch. This is a theme we will return to.

Of course, some lunch spots were better than others. Like, say, this one. No bees and only one land shark sighting.

 

The fig tree in Arusha is famous. This is a staged video.

 

Lots of stuff happened between camps. By the time we got to Ngorongoro crater we had seen elephants fighting, black hippos, and more. See this posting for all that nature stuff.

Driving between parks

The roads in Tanzania vary widely. This one, recently completed by a Japanese engineering firm was all shiny and new. We stopped for gas. That’s because in Africa, the cars take gas, just like ours.

Gas station. Mostly familiar.

 

We’re here for the tents, though, and so tents it is. These tents are manufactured in Arusha. They are sturdy and must weigh several hundred pounds. Fortunately, whenever we arrived, they were already set up.  Oh, and the best part about the tents?  The views.

 

 

Another cushy double bed

In the morning, hot coffee was always delivered here. Just outside the door, er, flap.

There was a lunch, this time close to some bees.

Denis does not serve honey near bees

 

 

Base camp with the Maasai includes solar panels

Our little panel pales in comparison

The Ngorongoro base camp was another two night thing.

This lion is checking the exhaust system

More lunch is in order.

Fresh

Product placement opportunity

Did we mention that lunch was great?

Lunch was at hippo-land. I counted 53 trucks.

After Ngorongoro, it was off to the Serengeti for a completely different thing.

You go, Denis!

Your faithful crew enters the Serengeti

Pre lunch yoga

Yeah, there was lunch.

More lunch

Our guide Denis was by this time a great friend.

The roads in the Serengeti get some serious use. And so they also get repaired.

Road repair happens

Our third tent in the Serengeti looked suspiciously similar

We arrived at sunset and were delayed when we came across a pair of mating lions less than a kilometer from camp. For more about the lions, see this posting.

 

The camp lions. We saw this pair 4 times.

Solar

Our tent was cushy

The common areas in the Serengeti base camp were all hipster and very cool.

Firepit. The sand had lion tracks in the morning.

The Living Room tent, charging station and location of cold beer

Stuff

The mess tent

Breakfast was also good

Hitchhiker. This guy forgot his towel.

Make sure that you make up some Pele Pele for every meal. It is best if it stews in the sun for a week in some vinegar.

Dinner setting in the Serengeti

Base camp was great, but our plan was to do some hiking. Actually, it turned out to be mostly a walk in the park.

 

 

 

The scariest thing we came across on foot was this.

Camp was set up each night. Two different camps within walking distance.

Serengeti field camp

Even in the field, there was wine.

 

Who needs civilization?

Our tent in the afternoon. Sweltering.

Reading

Sunset was spectacular everywhere we were. This view from a Kopfe was typical in its atypical beauty.

 

 

Sundown on the Serengeti

Though the walking camps were less cushy than the base camps, they were still pretty cushy. Like, they were all set up, there was no carrying in stuff in a backpack, there were field showers with warm water, and so on. Yeah. We’ve backpacked 65 miles in Montana. This was definitely not the same thing.

Home glow

Field camp 2

Oh, and even when walking the Serengeti…there was lunch. This time buffalo.

Hiking lunch

Grill

The guys tried to surprise us with lunch, but we had binoculars and a sense of what was up.

Lunch was trucked in

James was our walking guide

Everyone was armed, though they were not really paying much attention to their rifles.

Morning at field camp

Then it was back to base camp for a night.

Glamping involves chairs and a fire at sunset

We had another lunch. Just under these bees.

And holy cow. On our way to the Hadza bushmen, there was this cheetah. In a tree. Remarkable. Cheetahs do not climb trees.

 

 

Sometimes there were goats in the road

Fire at night in the Hadza camp

Denis was a very serious person

 

 

Even while hanging around in camp, the Hadza were busy. Making arrows.

On occasion, one must stop for onions.

Onion stop!

Street vendors. Read the signs.

Another lunch shot. Because lunch!

Our last camp in Tarangire was at a tent lodge. The lodge had power, running water, a bar, and a pool. There was net too. Talk about glamping!

Civilization

A pool

Of course we were still, technically, in a tent.

The luxe tent

Which had a view.

View from the lodge

Though the showers were not all that, they did have LOTS of hot water that did not stop after 2 minutes. Woo hoo!

Not the best shower in the world, but hot water.

Anyway, that is pretty much what glamping in Africa is like. African Environments makes everything incredibly easy and fun. If you’re a real camper (like we are), it will seem unbelievably luxurious.

More product placement. We cannot recommend this firm any more highly.

Arusha HQ of African Environments. Where we had…anyone? anyone? Lunch!

Our guide Denis Mollel made the trip outstanding. Best guide in Africa. Ask for him by name.

Cerro de los Siete Colores (Seven-Color Hill): Purmamarca, Argentina

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A cycle around town in Purmamarca, Argentina provides really good views of Cerro de los Siete Colores (Seven-Color Hill) in an 8 kilometer very easy walk that starts in town. The Andes are incredibly interesting from a geological perspective. Seven different layers come from a remarkable range of dates stretching over 400 million years. Each color of rock is a different age.

 

If you are too lazy to walk the loop, there is a small hill in town that provides a good view.

 

Purmamarca itself is a small town situated around a market square. Crafts from all over Central and South America are available.

Purmamarca well

Birthday Show in New Hampshire: Where’s Aubrey

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Where’s Aubrey
photo by Tom Singleton

What’s the best way to celebrate birthday 52? With a show in New Hampshire of course. Where’s Aubrey played a show in the middle of nowhere in New Hampshire for a receptive audience at the Mole Hill Theater. As always, we played a benefit performance, this time for the LEAF (nutritious lunch) program of a public charter school operating out of the same revamped machine shop where we played the show.

Alstead

A machine

We played our sets right next to a huge blue machine. Not sure what it actually used to do. Stamp out complete cars??

Where’s Aubrey and the big blue machine

The show was high energy and fun, one of the best we’ve played.

Where’s Aubrey: Gary McGraw and Rhine Singleton

Laying into the fiddle

Rhine sings

Mando and the big blue behemoth

Where’s Aubrey in Alstead, NH

no silly allowed? definitely no silly.

fiddle and the big blue behemoth

What kind of stuff does it take to play an acoustic act??

the stage

Well, to be fair, we played our two set show. Then after a break we electrified the whole thing with drums, bass, and electric guitar. The LEAF Cutters were born. Dancing happened. Much fun was had.

=====
A message from Rhine

Dear Friends and Music Lovers –

Because you and so many others turned out last Saturday night, we not only had a total blast playing music, we raised $1250 for the healthy lunches program at the LEAF school through donations at the door. The silent auction brought in another $1000, so the event truly was a smashing success!

And, you were a wonderful audience to play for. So, we’re sending our heartfelt thanks. Hope to see you at another music event before too long!

fin

Pictures from the Where’s Aubrey Habitat Show 12.29.17

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We played a show last year. Hah. OK, last year was only 7 days ago, but it’s true. During the show, we dropped a new CD called “diversion” which you can order for yourself. Have a listen to our favorite track!

BTW, the super delicious cover art is by Eli McGraw.

Collectively, we raised $1181 for Habitat for Humanity’s work in Clarke County, bringing Where’s Aubrey’s all concert total to $15,662.

The concert was a blast to play. Here are some pictures. In each set, we started out with only two people on stage, Gary McGraw on violin and Rhine Singleton on guitar.

Where’s Aubrey performs at the Barns of Rose Hill 12.29.18 (photo Amy Barley)

 

Eventually (during both sets) we were joined by stunt guitarist Allen Kitselman and drummer Nick Schrenk (both of the Bitter Liberals).

Nick Schrenk of the Bitter Liberals plays drums with Where’s Aubrey 12.29.18 (photo Amy Barley)

 

The gang’s all here. Allen Kitselman play stunt guitar with Where’s Aubrey 12.29.17 (photo Amy Barley)

 

Where’s Aubrey plus two Barns of Rose Hill 12.29.17

 

The highlight of the evening for us was honoring our biggest fan and long time Berryville arts supporter Michael Hobert. Here’s what I said about Michael from the stage.

Michael Hobert (photo Jen Lee)

 

Rhine Singleton (photo Tom Singleton)

 

Where’s Aubrey mid-jam (photo Tom Singleton)

 

Gary McGraw (photo Tom Singleton)

 

Rhine concentrates (photo Tom Singleton)

 

Paging Allen Kitselman, Allen Kitselman to the blue courtesy guitar (photo Tom Singleton)

 

The energy was palpable during the show. Thanks to the 100+ people who came to see Where’s Aubrey perform. We’ll be back.

Where’s Aubrey Jams at Barns of Rose Hill 12.29.17 (photo Jen Lee)

 

Goofing off on stage (in the middle of a song) (photo Jen Lee)

 

Yeah, this is fun (photo Jen Lee)

 

Sensitive Big Boy Music not just reserved for the Bitter Liberals (photo Jen Lee)

 

Yessir (photo Jen Lee)

 

What a Blast! (photo Jen Lee)

Where’s Aubrey Art

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The show Friday 12.29 at the Barns of Rose Hill raised $1181 for Habitat for Humanity and featured the art of Eli McGraw. Here are the videos of Eli’s art displayed before the show and during intermission.

 

Eli’s art is in/on the new Where’s Aubrey CD diversion.

Have a listen.

Where’s Aubrey Benefit Show for Habitat for Humanity 12.29

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Where’s Aubrey is at it again, playing a benefit concert! We hope you will join us in Berryville on Friday 12.29 as we debut our new CD “diversion” and tick our philanthropy total up over $15K while directly benefitting Clarke county residents in need of housing.

Tickets are going fast, so please get yours now.

GET TICKETS HERE

Cover art by Eli McGraw

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