The Daily Explorer

April 7, 2009

From The Strip to Seattle

California: March 2009


MOZZIE BYTE (Editor): A warm welcome back to all our Daily Explorer readers and greetings to those of you who are joining us for the first time. To our regulars, many thanks for viewing our online publication and for giving us your feedback. Over 11,500 visitors have been to our site since we launched just over a year ago, for the latest information from Ray as he explores different parts of the world. If you are new to this site and would like to know more about what’s in our archives, check out some of our Previous Issues. We aim to maintain our high standards of journalism and presentation at The Daily Explorer, so please keep sending us your ideas to help us improve it. You can use the comments box online, or email Ray, ‘Mozzie’ or any of our correspondents at

Our lastest issue has been compiled for us by our top American guest correspondent Nick Elandimer (above). Hailing from New York, he is one of the most experienced online journalists of his generation and brings us the latest news and pictures as Ray and Nikki continue their tour of California and beyond on the west coast of America. Find out what happened when they visited Las Vegas, Yosemite National Park and Seattle in Washington State. We have all of the details. Plus, we announce the winner of our first caption competition of 2009 and we get an update from Ray as he begins preparing for his first ever marathon – yes, marathon – in New York this coming November.

In our last issue, Nick Elandimer followed Ray as he met up with his friends in Sacramento and headed for  Sedona, Arizona for the annual Film Festival. The awesome Grand Canyon was also on his itinerary. If you missed it, you can read it now at: Arizona Rocks!


Above: Ray sits on top of a rock stack at Plateau Point, overlooking the Colorado River, in the Grand Canyon in Arizona. You can read more about it now at: Arizona Rocks!

From the natural wonder that is the Grand Canyon, I wondered what was coming next for our global nomad? “Well Nick, we are heading for Las Vegas, which is about as far down the opposite end of the scale as you can get” he laughed. “There is absolutely nothing natural about the place. In fact, I’d have to say that is the best manifestation you will find anywhere on the planet of mankind at it’s tackiest – Vegas is spectacular because it is a tacky, man made wonder that is an outstanding architectural feat” said Ray. “To get there, we are going to travel along parts of the now famous Route 66 highway” he told me.


Above: “Get your kicks on Route 66” – the famous highway (shown in red) was established on November 11, 1926. It originally ran from Chicago, Illinois, through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California, before ending at Los Angeles, encompassing a total of 2,448 miles (3,940 kilometres). It was recognized in popular culture by both a hit song and a television show in the 1950’s and 1960’s. More recently, U.S. Route 66 was referenced in the 2006 Pixar animated film Cars

Route 66 underwent many improvements and re-alignments over its lifetime, changing its path and overall length. It was a major path of the migrants who went west, especially during the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, and supported the economies of the communities through which the road passed. People doing business along the route became prosperous due to the growing popularity of the highway, and those same people later fought to keep the highway alive even with the growing threat of being bypassed by the new Interstate Highway System.

US 66 was officially removed from the United States Highway System on June 27, 1985 after it was decided the route was no longer relevant. In 1990, Route 66 associations were founded separately in both Arizona and Missouri. Other groups in the other Route 66 states soon followed. Historic markers now line – at times sporadically – the entire 2,400 mile length of road. In 2008, The World Monuments Fund added Route 66 to its World Monuments Watch list of 100 Most Endangered Sites. Sites along the route, such as gas stations, motels, cafes, trading posts, and drive-in movie theaters are threatened by development in urban areas, and by abandonment and decay in rural areas.


Above: One of the many fascinating sites along the old Route 66 is the ‘Bedrock Amusement Park’ – “It is so American!” said our traveller

Below: An era long gone by – “You get a sense of how important this road was many years ago, but now it is a shadow of it’s former self – a reminder that everything constantly changes and nothing is permanent” said Ray


Approaching Las Vegas from the East along Highway 93, Ray and Nikki had to cross the state line between Arizona and Nevada. “The state line literally runs down the centre of Lake Mead and the Hoover Dam” recalled Ray. “When you cross it, there is even a one hour time change at the mid point! The dam is a spectacular engineering achievement, all the more amazing when you realise that it was built in the 1930’s” added our traveller.

For readers who are interested in its history, when the dam was completed, it was both the world’s largest electric-power generating station and the world’s largest concrete structure. It was surpassed in both these respects by the Grand Coulee Dam in 1945. It is currently the world’s 35th-largest hydro-electric generating station. Located 30 miles south-east of Las Vegas, it is named after Herbert Hoover, who played an instrumental role in its construction, first as the Secretary of Commerce and then later as the President of the United States. Construction began in 1931 and was completed in 1936, more than two years ahead of schedule. The dam and the power plant are operated by the Bureau of Reclamation of the U.S. Department of the Interior. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1981, Hoover Dam was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1985.


Above: Lake Mead is the reservoir created behind the Hoover Dam, named after Elwood Mead, who oversaw the construction

Below: Ray re-sets his watch to Nevada time on top of the dam as he crosses the state line from Arizona on his way to Las Vegas


“Some of the things I have seen as a traveller are quite literally mind boggling in terms of what it took to make it happen, and this is definitely one of them” Ray told me. “For example, the two vertical foundations for each of the arch walls (the Nevada side and Arizona side) had to be founded on sound virgin rock; free of cracks that the surface rock of the canyon walls had from thousands of years of weathering and exposure. So men had to remove the surface rock (they were called high-scalers). While suspended from the top of the canyon with ropes, they climbed down the canyon walls and removed it with jackhammers and dynamite” explained Ray.

The first concrete was placed into the dam on June 6, 1933. Since no structure of the magnitude of the Hoover Dam had been constructed, many of the procedures used in construction of the dam were untried. Since concrete heats up and contracts as it cures, uneven cooling and contraction of the concrete posed a serious problem. “Engineers calculated that if the dam were built in a single continuous pour, the concrete would have taken 125 years to cool to ambient temperature” said Ray. “The resulting stresses would have caused the dam to crack and crumble, so to solve this problem, the dam was built in a series of interlocking trapezoidal columns. Each pour was no more than six inches deep. Because of this depth it is extremely unlikely that construction workers were accidentally buried alive in the concrete, contrary to popular folklore” added our well informed visitor. “To further cool the concrete each form contained cooling coils of 1 inch thin-walled steel pipe. River water was circulated through these pipes to help dissipate the heat from the curing concrete. After this, chilled water from a refrigeration plant on the lower cofferdam was circulated through the coils to further cool the concrete. After each layer had sufficiently cooled, the coils were cut off and pressure grouted by pneumatic grout guns. Today, the concrete is still curing and gaining in strength as time goes on” he told me.


Above: Nikki examines one of the finest engineering achievements in American history. There is enough concrete in the Hoover Dam to pave a two-lane highway from San Francisco to New York. There were 112 deaths associated with the construction of the dam and there are different accounts as to who was the first and last. A popular story holds that the first person to die in the construction was J. G. Tierney, a surveyor who drowned while looking for an ideal spot for the dam. Coincidentally, his son, Patrick W. Tierney, was the last man to die working on the dam, 13 years to the day later

Las Vegas

In Spanish, Las Vegas means ‘The Meadows’ and it is the most populous city in the state of Nevada. Known internationally as a major resort city for gambling and shopping, Las Vegas, which bills itself as The Entertainment Capital of the World, is famous for its large number of casino resorts and associated entertainment. A growing retirement and family city, it is the 28th most populous city in the United States. The city’s tolerance for various forms of adult entertainment earned it the title of ‘Sin City’, and this image has made Las Vegas a popular setting for films and television programmes. Outdoor lighting displays are everywhere on the Las Vegas Strip and are seen elsewhere in the city as well. As seen from space, the Las Vegas metropolitan area is the brightest on Earth.


Above: This four mile stretch of Las Vegas Boulevard is known as ‘The Strip’ – “It is only when you arrive here that you get the sense that someone rolled out a giant rug in the middle of the Nevada desert and built this glitzy city full of sin on the top” said Ray. “Billions of dollars have been poured into creating a place that essentially appeals to the worst side of human nature. It’s a shame that all that money and creativity could not be used more for the benefit of mankind” said our traveller. “Having said that, it’s an eye-catching world of fantasy that is second to none, if you are looking for some big time distraction” added Ray

Below: “Have we taken the wrong road?” asks Ray on his arrival. No, it is the New York, New York casino and resort on Las Vegas Boulevard, with replicas of the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building and the Brooklyn Bridge, as well as a dedicated, 24/7 rollercoaster ride (left). Just a mile away, if Venice is somewhere you have never been, the stunning Venetian hotel and casino is the place to head for (right)


Established in 1905, Las Vegas officially became a city in 1911. The legalisation of gambling in 1931 led to the advent of the casino-hotels, for which Las Vegas is famous. The success of the city’s initial casino businesses was owed to American organized crime. “Most of the original large casinos were managed or at least funded by mob figures like Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel, Meyer Lansky and others” said Ray. “With the arrival of billionaire Howard Hughes in the late 1960’s, who purchased many casino-hotels and television stations in the city, legitimate corporations began to purchase casino-hotels as well, and the mob was run out by the federal government over the next several years. The constant stream of tourist dollars from the hotels and casinos were also augmented by a new source of federal money. This money came from the establishment of what is now Nellis Air Force Base. The influx of military personnel and casino job-hunters helped start a land building boom which still goes on today” explained our global explorer. In 2006 gambling revenues in Macau, China surpassed those in Las Vegas, making Macau the largest gambling centre in the world. There is no evidence as of yet to suggest that gambling growth in Macau is shifting growth away from Las Vegas.


Above: “The best place to see the Las Vegas Strip is from the bar at the top of The Stratosphere” (left) said Ray. “You are only allowed into the bar if you buy two rather expensive drinks, but we managed to enter and leave without doing this” he admitted. Back down on the ground, Nikki hopes to win big on one of the giant slots along the strip (right)

I caught up with Ray and Nikki at their hotel and asked them what their first impressions of Vegas were. “Well Nick, having just come from Sedona and the Grand Canyon, this is quite hard to swallow” said Nikki, who was visiting the city for the first time. “It is just like I imagined it – something you have to see for a few hours, by which time you are pretty pleased to be departing” she told me. “The lights, the shows, the 24 hour culture and the millions of dollars per hour that is being spent is all quite fascinating, but ultimately very hollow and devoid of any meaning – I do not think I will be rushing to come back anytime soon” she said. “For me, it is like being invited on to a giant, four square mile movie set, with plenty of high quality distractions for entertainment” said Ray. “But like Nikki, after a few hours, I have had enough and it is time to leave for something more soulful” added Ray.


Above: Nikki and Ray chose to stay at the Circus Circus Hotel – “Amazingly, the room was much larger and much cheaper than some of the budget motels we had stayed in around the country – simply because it’s all about getting people into the resorts and keeping them in the casino’s as long as possible, ensuring they eventually part with any cash they have saved” explained Ray

Below: “All of the casino’s along the strip have various shows and other forms of entertainment throughout the day and evening to lure punters through the doors. Circus Circus have a Trapeze group performing above the main casino area every twenty minutes or so” said Ray



Above: “Until you come to Vegas, it’s very hard to imagine just how much money and effort has gone into creating these individual world’s of fantasy” observed Ray. “Take the Venetian Hotel for example. From the outside, it is a complete copy of the buildings in St. Marks Square (left), including a replica of the tower, with all of the bridges over the fake canals, on which you can actually take rides on the gondola’s!” he told me. Every part of the interior has been replicated to the same degree” (right) added Ray

Below: Is it real, or is it Vegas? It is often hard to know as the creations are very authentic – this is inside the casino complex at The Venetian and comes complete with the sky, sounds and smells of Italy



Above: One of the best times to see Vegas is at night – “We watched the spectacular, co-ordinated music and fountain display at The Bellagio” (left) said Ray, as he stood outside the Hotel which has been made famous by the ‘Ocean’s’ movie series (right)

Below: One of the reasons that people have sometimes fled to Vegas has been to get married spontaneously – “We rode an elevator at the Stratosphere with a couple who had just got married minutes before” said Ray. “I hope they have more luck with each other than some people in the casino’s do with their gambling”



Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park is located in the central Sierra Nevada of California. It takes approximately 3-4 hours to drive to the park from San Francisco and approximately 6 hours from Los Angeles. The 1,189 square mile park is roughly the size of Rhode Island and contains thousands of lakes and ponds, 1,600 miles of streams, 800 miles of hiking trails, and 350 miles of roads. Two federally designated wild and scenic rivers, the Merced and the Tuolumne, begin within Yosemite’s borders and flow westward through the Sierra foothills, into the central valley of California. Annual park visitation exceeds 3.5 million, with most visitor use concentrated in the seven square mile area of Yosemite Valley. “After the insanity of Las Vegas, both Nikki and I were very keen to return to nature” said Ray. “We had quite a long drive from there, needing an overnight stop at a motel en route, but it was truly worth the wait” added our traveller.


Above: On their way to Yosemite, Ray and Nikki passed this huge windfarm at the Tehachapi Pass along Highway 58 on their way to Bakersfield for an overnight stop. The Tehachapi Pass is one of the windiest areas in the world. The winds through the pass average 14 to 20 miles per hour from one year to the next. Wind speeds vary with the terrain, season, and time of the day

Designated a World Heritage Site in 1984, Yosemite is internationally recognized for its spectacular granite cliffs, waterfalls, clear streams, Giant Sequoia groves and biological diversity. Almost 95% of the park is designated wilderness. Although not the first designated national park, Yosemite was a focal point in the development of the national park idea, largely owing to the work of people like John Muir and Galen Clark. Yosemite has an elevation range from 2,000 to 13,114 feet. Of California’s 7,000 plant species, about 50% occur in the Sierra Nevada and more than 20% within Yosemite. There is suitable habitat or documentation for more than 160 rare plants in the park, with rare local geologic formations and unique soils characterising the restricted ranges many of these plants occupy. “Unfortunately, we were coming here at the worst time of year as far as the weather was concerned and heavy snowfalls were severely inhibiting our chances of hiking on the best trails inside the park” said our global traveller. “We had to compromise and pick some of the shorter, lower elevation walks which will have to do until we can return!” he told me.


Above: The outdoors always seems to bring out the child in Ray, who remembers what it feels like to be six years old and have a great big park to play in – “Yippee!” says our traveller

Below: This was the scene confronting Ray and Nikki as they approached the park from the south along the high elevation Highway 41 – “We spoke to the park rangers and realised that the road was unpassable for us (without snow chains and four wheel drive)” said Ray. “We decided to return to the village of Oakhurst and see if we could get some snow chains or find an alternative route into the vast park” he recalled



Above: The ‘Elevation 5000 feet’ sign is obscured by heavy snowfalls along Highway 41

Below: 24 hours later and things are looking up, as Ray and Nikki find a different way into the park – “We discovered that we could get in there along the lower elevation Highway 140 through Mariposa (left). It took about an hour longer and we had snow chains on board in case the weather turned, but in the end we didn’t need them” said Ray. Once inside Yosemite Valley, Ray proceeded with the serious, grown-up business of making and throwing snowballs (right)



Above: Nikki stands and admires one of the most iconic images in Yosemite National Park – the magnificent Half Dome. The geology of the Yosemite area is characterized by granitic rocks and remnants of older rock. About 10 million years ago, the Sierra Nevada was uplifted and then tilted to form its relatively gentle western slopes and the more dramatic eastern slopes. The uplift increased the steepness of stream and river beds, resulting in formation of deep, narrow canyons. About 1 million years ago, snow and ice accumulated, forming glaciers at the higher alpine meadows that moved down the river valleys. The downslope movement of the ice masses cut and sculpted the U-shaped valley that attracts so many visitors to its scenic vistas today

Below: Yosemite Falls – the highest waterfall in North America


To hear Ray talking about the Yosemite Falls, watch the short video clip below:


Above: Whilst in the Yosemite area, our two explorers found the exact geographical centre of California, near Bass Lake – “Been there, done that, tick” says Nikki as she reads the inscription on the stone which marks the spot

Below: “I just love the American style mailboxes” said Ray, who sent us this picture of a whole row of them along Highway 140



Above: Only in America! The dog wash is lined up alongside the car wash, so you can drive through and do both things at once!

Below: To board their flight to Seattle, Ray and Nikki had one day to drive from Yosemite to Sacramento Airport – “We drove through the most amazing countryside along Highway 49. The road climbed and descended, twisted and turned and there were a few spectacular views, like the one below from ‘Fremont’s Fort” said Ray



Above and below: The Wild West still exists! Travelling along Highway 49, Ray and Nikki made an unscheduled stop in the tiny little town of Coulterville – “We stopped in this bar without realising that we had stumbled on the oldest wooden saloon bar (above) still in use in California” recalled Ray. Part of the Hotel Jeffery (below), they have been serving drinks since 1851



What, I wondered, had caused Ray to make a special trip to Seattle while he was in California? “Its a good question Nick. Ordinarily, it would not have made sense, but there is an exciting business in Seattle that I have been in telephone and email contact with for a number of years and when I discovered that there was a direct flight available from Sacramento, I decided to take a couple of days out to go and meet the people I have been speaking to. Luckily for Nikki and me, an American friend who we met whilst travelling through Vietnam in 2006 lives in the city and when we told her we were coming, she kindly invited us to stay” explained Ray. “The first and last time I was in the city was back in 1996, whilst it was Nikki’s first visit” added Ray.


Seattle is only a one hour direct flight from Sacramento (both circled in red, above) which made it easy for our global nomad to attend a business meeting there, as well as catch up with the wonderful Quita St.John, who met Ray and Nikki in Vietnam in 2006 (below, right)


On their arrival in Seattle, Quita came to the airport to meet our two travellers. “It was really great of her to come and get us” said Nikki, “especially as we had no idea where in the city she lived” she told me. “Quita also had an interesting invitation for us, as we discovered that we had all been invited to a costume party that evening to celebrate the last ever episode of a TV series called The L-Word” said Nikki. “The L-Word is an American and Canadian co-production television drama series on Showtime portraying the lives of a group of lesbian, bisexual and transgender men and women and their friends, family and lovers in the trendy Los Angeles area of West Hollywood, California. The show ran from 2004 to 2009. As we were going to the party dressed as one of our favourite characters from the programme, we needed Quita to give us a crash course in the shows history” Nikki told me. But what about Ray’s costume, I asked? “Apparently, there was at least one male character called Tim in the first series (of five) who was written out after his partner left him for another woman, so I decided to go to the party as him, with Quita advising me on the right look” recalled Ray.



Above: Ray (in the green hoodie at the back) joins Nikki (centre) and Quita (squatting in front of Nikki) and all the other guests at the ‘L Word’ party. Everyone came dressed up as their favourite character from the show – “It was quite amusing taking Ray with us to the party” said Nikki. “It is probably the only time he has been to an event where he is the only guy surrounded by thirty women, where we all knew from the outset that none of them would fancy him!” she laughed

Below: To get into ‘character’, everyone brought all sorts of different clothes and a few wigs, which gave our follically challenged traveller an opportunity to see if a different look might suit him – first, the brown, curly, permed look (left), then how about blonde? (right)



Above: The wigs definitely look much better on Nikki (left) and Quita (right)

Below: Our two travellers in costume as their characters – Nikki as the posh English woman called ‘Helen’ and Ray as swimming coach ‘Tim’. Not surprsingly, the sexy actors and gritty realism in the programme has been as appealing to straight men as it has to lesbian women – “I had never heard of it before I came here” said Ray


Seattle is the most populous city in the state of Washington. The encompassing Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue metropolitan area is the 15th largest in the United States, and the largest in the Pacific Northwest. A coastal city and major seaport, it is located in the western part of the state on an isthmus between Puget Sound (an arm of the Pacific Ocean) and Lake Washington, about 96 miles south of the Canada – United States border. By 2007 Census estimates, the city has a municipal population of around 600,000 making it the twenty-fourth largest city by population in the US. “It is a very creative place, with a thriving arts scene” said Ray. “We discovered that Seattle is the birthplace of rock legend Jimi Hendrix and grunge music, including the following bands: Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, The Presidents of the United States of America and Nirvana. Seattle has a reputation for heavy coffee consumption;coffee companies founded or based in Seattle include Starbucks,Seattle’s Best Coffee,and Tully’s.There are also many successful independent artisanal espresso roasters and cafes” Ray told me.


Above: The downtown Seattle skyline, with the Space Needle in the centre (left). The city has about 58 clear days a year weather wise, with most of them between June and September. Between October and May, it is cloudy or partly cloudy six out of every seven days. The Space Needle, dating from the Century 21 Exposition (1962), is Seattle’s most recognizable landmark, having been featured in the logo of the television show Frasier and the backgrounds of the television series Grey’s Anatomy and iCarly, and films such as Sleepless in Seattle. In 1917, the Smith Tower in Pioneer Square was the tallest building in this part of America (right)

Seattle Snapshots


Above: The tall dark building in the centre is the Columbia Tower. At 73 storeys, it is the tallest building in the Seattle skyline and an ideal place to get some great views over the city – “Our friend Quita used to work in the small, red brick building in the centre” Ray told me

Below: Because it is the tallest building, it has become the home of an unusual annual competition for firemen in the city. Every year, they race to the top of the stairs, fully clothed in their protective gear, attempting to beat the record time, which currently stands at around 7 minutes



Above and below: The incredible views from the top of the Columbia Tower



Above: Seattle has its own troll! Known as the Fremont Troll or the Troll Under the Bridge, it is a piece of whimsical public art in the Fremont neighborhood, located on N. 36th Street at Troll Avenue N., under the north end of the Aurora Bridge. The idea of a troll living under a bridge is derived from the Scandinavian folk tale “Three Billy Goats Gruff.” – “It is clutching an actual Volkswagen Beetle, as if it had just swiped it from the roadway above” said Ray

Below: The Troll is 5.5 metres high, weighs two tons, and is made of steel, wire and concrete. It was also featured in the movie Ten Things I Hate About You



Above: The Sunday market at Fremont attracts many visitors to it’s eclectic collection of stallholders (left), whilst the statue of Lenin (right) also raises a few eyebrows! The statue is actually on sale, at a  bargain price of $250,000

Below: Nikki wanders around Pike Place Fish Market as the weather takes a turn for the worse ….



Above: …. and then comes inside for a closer look at the freshly caught fare on offer

Below: Three things Seattle is famous for – Frasier, fish and coffee! Nikki stands outside the very first Starbucks shop ever, in Pike Place market



Above: The 5th Avenue entrance of the funky Seattle Public Library (left) and Ray on the even funkier luminous green elevators inside (right) – “The building is a contemporary design masterpiece” said Ray

Below: “This place is very cool – it is about as far away from the inside of a conventional library as you could possibly get” observed Ray


On their last day in Seattle, I caught up with our two travellers to find out more from Ray about his business appointment. “My meeting with the people at Fierce Conversations went extremely well” Ray told me. “Based on what I knew from reading Susan Scott’s best selling book and having met the people who work in her organisation, I am very impressed with what they are doing in the business world and thinking about ways in which I could get involved” he told me.

Fierce is a company that trains people in how to communicate well. Their philosophy is simple – Whilst no single conversation is guaranteed to change the trajectory of a career, a company, a relationship or a life, any single conversation can. “I have always loved the idea of being able to communicate authentically and powerfully, not just for myself but for people in general. After many years of practising this myself, I would like to train or facilitate others to do the same and this is one way I could potentially do this” said Ray. “It is something I will be giving more thought to over the next few months” added our global nomad.


Above: Ray attended his meeting at this office building in Bellevue, just north of the downtown area, where Fierce Conversations are currently based

Below: On his way up to Seattle, Ray was seen by our photographer refreshing himself with Susan Scott’s brilliant book, Fierce Conversations – “I can recommend the book to anyone who thinks they would like to improve the results they get from their communication at work” said Ray. “I first read it seven years ago and it’s what brought me here” he added



Above: Seattle at night is a visual treat

Below: Ray and Nikki were able to see this amazing view of the summit of Mount Rainier poking through the clouds, from their aircraft as they departed for Sacramento to continue their tour of northern California


Editors Note: Thanks once again to Nick Elandimer for yet another superb issue of The Daily Explorer. Nick will be writing for us once more in our next issue, which is due online in a few days, as Ray and Nikki return to Sacramento to catch up with friends, make a brief visit to Lake Tahoe, and then head south for the city by the bay – San Francisco. As well as exploring this wonderful city, our travellers also managed to visit Carmel, Monterey, Point Lobos and the Big Sur along the picturesque Pacific Coast Highway. Read all about it exclusively in the next issue of The Daily Explorer!

Caption Competition

We have a winner for our first competition in 2009. We asked readers to look at the picture below, taken by Ray in the Sacred Garden in Lumbini (Nepal), and come up with a humorous caption to match what is going on in the photograph. The winning caption was sent in to us by none other than charming Seattle resident Quita St. John. Our congratulations to Quita and many thanks to all of our readers who sent in captions – they were all of a very high standard! The winning caption is:

“No, really, Your Holiness, we’re all stuck!  We thought this was the introduction to meditation, not the advanced!”


That’s about it for this issue. We aim to maintain our high standards of journalism and presentation at The Daily Explorer, so please keep sending us your ideas to help us improve it. You can use the comments box online, or email ‘Mozzie’ or any of our correspondents at



Above: The majestic Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco – find out more about Ray and Nikki’s visit to the city by the bay in our next issue, due online in a few days. We will keep you posted!



  1. Looks like another great adventure… loved the dog wash and great photos – especially loved you in those wigs… Hallelujah! Keep ’em coming! X

    Comment by Susie Cream — April 7, 2009 @ 8:39 am

  2. Thanks for this edition. My absolute favourite photo of ALL blog time is the ‘Raymond 6’ picture. I love it; it made me laugh out loud because it is so typically you – playful and a lover of life. Please can you send me a copy? I want to have it where I can see it. Great blog, and enjoyed seeing Seattle, Vegas and Yosemite again. xxx

    Comment by charlie — April 18, 2009 @ 6:05 am

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