Tuesday, March 31, 2015

A False Dawn

How pleased I was to see that - just one day later, the snow (see previous post) appeared to be receding.

And where I had, in the triumph of hope over experience, planted crocus bulbs, there were signs of life.

It all seemed to be getting better and better. Until this morning.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

It's All Relative

Coming back to this may not be much fun after sunny, springlike London..

But it's a lot better than it was before.

Hubby and I, like the Royal Family, flew back separately, a few days apart. He took Air Canada to Toronto, which means a long drive but no changing planes and had no problems whatsoever. I took my chance with my friends at United Airlines. I got as far as Newark, (New Jersey, not Notts) only to discover that all flights to Buffalo were cancelled for the day. My friends at United apparently do not help with hotel accommodation if the weather is the problem. (It was raining and a bit foggy but I was puzzled as to why other airlines were landing in Buffalo quite happily - perhaps they have bigger planes.) But I met a most delightful airport volunteer who spent ages on the phone trying to get me a not too expensive hotel so I could spend the night in Newark and fly off the next morning. This turned out to be a Wyndham Garden, a new one on me, where everyone was very pleasant, though I kept getting locked out of my room as the key wouldn't work.  But don't let anyone tell you people in Newark are unfriendly. No Flying Turkeys on them. Having now accumulated many hours being delayed there over the years,  I can tell you there are worse places.
  Finally boarding the little prop plane, or puddle-jumper, as the Americans call it, yesterday morning, I was surprised to see the pilot come out of his cockpit before take off, introduce himself to the passengers and chat to us in a friendly way, thanking us all for flying with him. Perhaps, in view of recent events, he wanted to reassure us.  And in view of recent events I'm not going to complain about my own minor travel hiccups. It's all relative and things could have been a lot, lot worse.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Back in Western New York

After a memorable journey on which more details shortly.

(And guess what, it's snowing).

Sunday, March 22, 2015

An English Interlude

There are some things not easy to come by in western New York, such as


Daffodils in March (though we should have plenty in May)

A country pub on a village green

The Theatre of Dreams

And no snow!  I'm wondering what we'll be coming back to. See you soon!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Blog in Blighty

For a while. Normal service from western New York and lands beyond will resume in a week or so but meanwhile watch this space....

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

A Reverse Flying Turkey

 Readers will be aware that I'm in the habit of dishing out Flying Turkey travel awards for less than satisfactory experiences on America's various airlines. Travelling anywhere in winter brings an embarrassment of riches in that respect.  I am spoilt for choice. Sister in law was so badly delayed going home to New York from Montana that she had to stay two nights in two different hotels. But actually I have to say that, this time, my experience getting back to Buffalo wasn't that bad, except that the airline lost my skis. But then they did deliver them the next day, in the hands of a charming young lad who managed to find our house in the darkness and snow and even arrived when he said he was going to. So a reverse Flying Turkey to him.

Friday, March 13, 2015

A Very Montana Display

 On our last evening we ate at a restaurant called the Cabin.

I would say this was probably not a place for vegetarians.

 Or the anti-hunting lobby. It was a magnificent menagerie if you like that sort of thing. Plus more horseshoes on the hatstand. Evidently a Montana thing. It being a Lenten Friday we eschewed the various elk and bison-related stuff and ate trout and walleye. The trout had come all the way from Idaho. Pity there was nothing from the local river. It's probably the wrong time of year or something.

 So it was goodbye to the wild west and ready for another interesting journey home. Who was going to get the Flying Turkey this time?

Monday, March 9, 2015

Thundering Paws

  Here's a novel way to spend an afternoon in Montana. A spot of dog-sledding. We arrived to find the pooches already unloaded from their trailer and looking keen.

These are Alaskan huskies, the Bugattis of the dogsledding world, according to our guide. In other words, they go fast. But it was snowing and we had to wait for a let-up.

Having a little nap before we started, this was Patton...

And this, I believe, was his brother, Stonewall, both named after generals.

 Hooking them all up was a challenge. And with the sun finally out, the yapping rose to a piercing, deafening crescendo.

 Until they were off!

And running in complete silence, with just the whoosh of the sled. It was cosy, all velcro-ed up and watching the world race by. The best bit was going downhill. They took the corners pretty fast. I had a quick go at driving too. Never let go, they say. You need strong arms.

The pair bringing up the rear of our team were called Ace and Joker.

 Here's another team crossing in front.

And a view of more of our lads, breaking a trail through fresh snow and breathtaking scenery. Incidentally, no one says "Mush" - it's "Hike" and "Whoah!"

We stopped for a hot chocolate with Lone Mountain in the distance.

One of the lads having a quick rest.

And finally, back at where we started, a little roll in the snow....

And with a push and a shove..

..Back into the trailer and home for a high protein, high fat supper. (That's the dogs too.)

 Unforgettable!  Thanks lads!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Big Sky Adventure Part Two

First, back to a look at Bozeman airport, standing on a flat plain with the mountains in the distance, it was practically springlike - a contrast to snow-covered Buffalo.

Inside, the airport was like some expensive golf club, complete with appropriate local art. You can just about read the sign for Sotheby's behind the bear. Hoping for some more billionaires wanting to buy ranches, I expect.

Meanwhile, up on the slopes, the Big Sky almost navy blue.

 Sometimes it felt a little like stepping off the edge of the world.

The runs, or "trails" as Americans call them, had appropriate Wild Western names, though they didn't exactly reassure.

 The ski racks had horseshoes.

And there was some more rustic art.

Though the Mongolian yurt mountain restaurant (sic - having been to Mongolia, I would call it a ger) was a little incongruous,  the bison burgers a little optional....

 .. and the chair lift on that part of the mountain a little scary, with no safety bar. Elf and Safety evidently hasn't reached Montana yet and perhaps that's not altogether a bad thing. Most of the skiers seemed to be rugged types, many with beards and backpacks. There was a refreshing lack of posers and fur coats. Courchevel this wasn't but even with a few loose rocks, the ski-ing was glorious. This is my sort of run...

Though there's plenty of scary expert stuff too, up on Lone Mountain, to which ascends a cable car which, for some reason,  they call a "tram"..

Base camp at early morning. The sun stayed shining most of the time.

Though sometimes you had to go and find it.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Big Sky Adventure Part One

  Ironic isn't it?  Western New York has had record breaking cold temperatures and snowfalls. My friends and I go to Montana to get some great powder only to find the worst snow they've had for ages and the powder much better at home. But all the same, Big Sky, Montana is a spectacularly beautiful place.
  Though we made a spectacular sweep over the mountains as we flew in to Bozeman airport, the airport itself was in an enormous flat plain. The drive started dismally, seemingly all trailer parks and dodgy looking casinos, plus several new housing estates with everything looking the same. But things soon improved, as we drove up through a gorge by the Gallatin River, with soaring rocky outcrops reminiscent of mediaeval castles. At our destination some helpful lads in cowboy hats relieved us of our bags. Presumably they've moved on from the days of John Bozeman, the city's founder, who made a living out of fleecing newcomers.
  A view from our condo (what Americans call a self-catering holiday flat) the first morning included some interesting icicles.

Not to mention a real Rocky Mountain, almost up to Alps standards. Is this Lone Mountain? If not, I stand corrected.

 And it's not as if there isn't any skiing at all. It's just not up to their usual high standards.

To be continued.