In search of sun and warmer temperatures in which to spend our winter, we crossed the border in to Mexico. We travelled the legendary trans-peninsular "highway" (built only in 1973) all the way to the southern point of the Baja California peninsula, Cabo San Lucas. So far the temperatures are "tolerable" :-) at around 20 degrees Celcius at night (25 during the day). Compare that to tomorrow's forecast in Calgary of -31! If it gets too cold we can always take a ferry to the mainland so we can head even further south. Keep warm!
Las Vegas. For some, the wonder of the world. For others, a brightly lit, garishly painted sewer. It doesn't matter what you think of the place, one thing is for certain ...there's no other place in the world like it.
It's impossible not to stop here while travelling through the state of Utah. The desert, vivid colours, and impressive big walls as high as those legendary ones in Yosemite. Zion National Park in the southern part of the state is a mecca for hikers and big-wall climbers. The best time to visit is late fall or early spring. In the summer the sun is too deadly for any physical activity.
So, we decided to leave Calgary again, this time for a longer period of time. We were tired of work, the city, and afraid of another crazy winter. We packed up our tent and a few other things, including Felix, and headed south. We might be back but who the hell knows ...the world is an interesting place!

I spent a few September days scrambling in Kananaskis (close to home). The most interesting ascents were: Mount Bogart (3144 m, the second highest summit in the Kananaskis Range - elev. gain 1650 m) and Mount Allan (2819 m - elev. gain 1360 m) with amazing views of the Lougheeds and the summits surrounding Ribbon Creek.
The drive back west was long, tiring and boring so we decided to take a few days break in South Dakota. 95 percent of the state is covered by grassy hills burned by the sun. From time to time you can find small, dusty and frozen-in-time towns, next to the straight and never-ending highway (in rough shape - crisis in the US of A, I guess).
The only interesting part of SD lies next to the border with Wyoming. Black Hills offers hiking, rock climbing, fishing and wildlife watching for thousands of visitors to the area. Can't miss the kitschy Mount Rushmore of course.
Prince Edward Island is the smallest canadian province and a popular vacation destination for beach enthusiasts. Connected to the mainland in 1982 by a 13 kilometer long bridge (it will cost you $40 to cross the bridge leaving PEI) the island is full of picturesque fishing villages, large potato fields and beautiful beaches. Peace, tranquility and souvenir stores full of Anne of Green Gables stuff.
In 20 years spent in the "glass towers" of Calgary I've met a lot of people from Nova Scotia. Besides that they are usually very friendly, one thing about them stands out - they talk a lot about going back to NS. I always wondered why. Scenery, water, seafood? Probably the people and the atmosphere. After half an hour in a bar in Halifax everybody knew our names. From the bars and the harborfront of Halifax to the green hills of Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia rocks! Too bad the gas is so expensive :)

Quebec City is probably the most picturesque and european city in North America. Surrounded by fortification walls (the only remaining walls north of Mexico City) downtown is full of history, culture, restaurants and tourists (unfortunately). Every step reminds you about 400 years of french-canadian history. The jewel of the architectural crown of the city is Château Frontenac, dominating the city skyline and Saint Lawrence river.
Montreal - history, beautiful architecture, jazz and good restaurants. It's hard to believe we are still in North America. Differences are visible on every corner (you can buy a beer in a convenience store!!!) and yes a lot of locals speak english and they are not rude to tourists as people in the West like to think.
Our next destination was Ottawa. After crossing the border back to Canada we stopped at Niagara Falls for a couple of days. The falls are impressive but the town is a typical tourist trap. Thousands of people, lots of crap in the souvenir stores and everything is overpriced ($55 for a campsite, $20.00 for a parking spot downtown).
We got to Ottawa on Sunday morning. Except some tourists at Parliament Hill, the ugly downtown was deserted. Apparently they have some good museums here but somehow we couldn't get ourselves into "museum" mood, so after a classic tour of downtown we were on our way to Quebec.
After leaving Colorado we went east. Days of driving through cornfields but finally we reached a "normal" place - Chicago. We stayed in the "windy city" a few days only but I have to admit, I was nicely surprised. Interesting architecture, good art galleries, deep dish pizza and blues bars. Not bad for the US of A.
I spent almost two weeks in Colorado. The weather was good (windy though) so I got to do some interesting hiking. I succeeded in reaching the summits of eight 14,000 ft mountains. The most interesting was the scramble to the summit of Longs Peak (4345 m), the highest one in the Rocky Mountain National Park near Estes Park. The rest of the mountains I managed to "conquer" are: Mount Elbert (4399 m - the highest mountain in Colorado and the second, after Mount Whitney, in the continental US); South Elbert Peak (4308 m); Mount Massive (4396 m); Mount Cameron (4340 m); Mount Democrat (4312 m); Mount Lincoln (4354 m) and Mount Bross (4320 m).

Another tragedy of Polish mountaineering - Piotr Morawski died on Dhaulagiri .

Finally I got my hands on a really good scanner and because the weather in Calgary is very bad (cold like hell) these days, I decided to scan a couple thousand of my slides. Amongst them I found some from my early climbing days in Poland (we're talking about early 80's man). Life then was good and exciting. We were young and poor. We were so passionate about mountains and climbing (and vodka) that nobody cared about hom-made, crappy and unsafe gear, lousy food, sleeping on the floor in mountain huts and general lack of hope about the future, because we were living in a commie country.
Below are a number of pictures (sorry for the quality). Some shots are of Polish Tatras
and some shots are of me (young and with black hair) and my friends having fun.
The one thing I promised to myself is that no matter how old I am, I will always try to
have fun. Life is too short ...

Below are several pictures from Nassau, the capital city of The Bahamas. Palm trees, bright colors and beautiful weather. In comparison gray, dirty and frozen Calgary looks very depressing.
All the best in 2009 !!!