Thursday, November 28, 2013

West coast Shuffle

 The road trip is now complete, and Cheetah is resting in her place in Seattle.  Danny and I are still alive, but we might have damaged our nostrils, and those who have come near us.  Charlie is barely alive, but green slime comes out of both ends and his boredom levels have never been higher.  Still, the stamp of completion remains!  We left Bellingham eastbound on the 11th, went through Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Montana again, Wyoming again, Utah, Utah some more, Utah again, Arizona, Nevada, California, Oregon, and finally back to Washington! 

Since last I left off, I went to my brother Jeremy's house in Fillmore, CA, near Ventura, then down to Carpenteria, near Santa Barbara, to Danny's Mom's house.  We walked the beach a little and basked in the sun there, and reluctantly left the next day.  I am sure I could have spent a few days resting in the golden glory of the sun.  We puttered up the coast to Morro Bay, and jumped off the sand dunes there, something I've done before.  There is a park called Montana Del Oro State Park, a mountain of gold it is.  The park has some large sand dunes and a bunch of great coastline, so everytime I am near, I like to go visit.  I also like the coast there because it is less crowded than further south.  The Central Coast, they call it. 

 We trundled furthermore to Big Sur, the coastline just south of San Francisco and north of Morro Bay.  This area is steep and rugged and the place to have a James Bond scene.  The Cheetah wasn't about to do any of that nonsense, so we purred along at a smooth rate.  Charlie was driving most of the time, and he didn't like us getting out to take pictures all the time, so here is a shot of him barking at us to come back and sit down.  Its a hard life being a dog.

 We stayed the night in a great secret spot that I cannot tell you more about, (secret) and then continued onwards toward Monterey.  While in Monterey, we mused about the steel boat that Danny bought there in December 2009, then wandered the waterfront to look for more boats to lust after.  We eventually made it to the Aquarium and reluctantly paid the $35 entrance fee and went in.  It was fantastic, but I am still a bit begrudging the fee.
They have lots of California fishes, like the Kelp Greenling...

There were a bunch of Jellyfish, and I like how they set the exhibit up for that, with a blue infinity background and lights to attract the jelly and light them up.  The orange and blue contrast was great.  I tried to get pictures that worked, but it is difficult.  At times I felt like the James Bond car chasing we had done on the big sur coast didn't go so well and we had been captured by the world-controlling fiend who had thrown us into his slow-death dungeon with beautiful, but fatal, jellyfish.  There were no jelly beans from the jelly fish.

 They have a giant tank for Tuna, and in it, there are a few Bluefin Tuna that are the size of a motorcycle, and heavy.  HUGE thing they are.  They wander the tank in a circle and even though it is a giant tank, it still isn't very big for them.  They also have Dorado, and hammerhead sharks, and some other pelagic fishes, many of which I've seen before in the wild. 
The aquarium is mostly filled with little ones.  There are tiny fishes and tiny kids watching the fishes. 
They have a bunch of Leopard Sharks that are really pretty, sliding through the tank like a sideways slinky.  I like the kelp, and I want to go back to the Channel Islands to dive some more in kelp.  Or just to dive again.  I miss being under water.  I'll be heading to Hawaii in a week, so I should get some catch-up time in la Profundo then.  

 They had a Pacific Northwest exhibit with a big bulgy frog too.
 After Monterey we went to Marin County to see my sister Rachel, and her little ones.  We tarried the night but slipped out the next day to make time out and north.  As we left California we got a view of the sun setting with the grasses waving their farewell.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Westbound and down

 After meeting up with the mighty Colorado River and passing through Arches and Canyonlands, after crossing Natural Bridges, we flowed on downhill through some unknown canyons and through some that are known, past Bryce Canyon, towards Zion. 
People had been telling us about the wonders of Zion, but I didn't know what to expect at all.  I thought of a canyon, like these ones, (see pictures) where the red rocks were eroded away by time and patience, but the valleys were flat and wide. 
But it was not to be so. 
The evening before arrival, we spent the night out in a cow pasture, with wide flat red dirt flanking the Cheetah on all sides.  Far away the mesas glowed with the last light of the dying day, and the skies blossomed overhead in many colors.  Color Rado was the theme once again.  As the lights dimmed towards darkness and starlight, we slipped off into slumber. 

Dawn found a cloudy sky overhead and some little pesky raindrops pattering on our windows.  We set off with all speed and found some caffeine, some gasoline, and pushed onwards.  Climbing up into Bryce Canyon led us through snowfalls and the high point of the trip, which was 9,600 ft.  Bryce was snowy and beautiful, but sadly the pictures did not reflect that as much, and it was cold, so we left after a short time.  

 We arrived at Zion right at dusk, and had to vie for the road with the wildlife there.  Bighorn Sheep lingered on the shoulder and put their horns down in front of us, casting stern glances about, and we slowed and passed with reverence.  
This specimen was caught in a private act.  I guess I'm practicing to be a paparazzi. 

Wild turkeys also roam the streets and valleys of Zion.  They are not the prettiest of birds, but are quite neat to watch, while they bob their heads about and peck at the ground.  Wouldn't you rather that the national bird, the symbol of our kindhearted and peace-loving country was this?

 Zion is in fact a very steep canyon with high red walls arching above a small plain.  It is very similar to Yosemite, I think, but the rocks are different.  There are deer everywhere and the river was flowing strongly with the fresh rain.  The rains followed us the rest of the trip (so far).

 We arrived in Las Vegas with a following raincloud, and passed our way down the strip, then went for a nice little walk with the dog.  We stayed in Sin City for a short evening, then drove out to a lonely road to sleep, and the following day drove through Death Valley. 
Death Valley wasn't as exciting as I would have liked because of the rain, and we drove through rather quickly, then climbed out over a 5,000 ft pass with lots of snow all over.  We are now at Jeremy's house (my big brother) in Southern California.

After Arches...

Before we leave the red rocks of Arches, I have a few more pictures from that park.  At night I got a few shots of the arch closest to the campground, with some star streaks...

We also had Optimus Prime aboard to watch over our hooliganage, so I got a shot of him in the night...

The most famous arch in all of Arches is the "Delicate Arch."  This one is in the brochure and pictures and movies and things.  We hiked up the trail to take a peek...

From a certain angle it looks almost like a pair of legs, standing strong against the forces of erosion.

 We of course took our giant pills and reached for the high points of the arch.  We also found ourselves doing kung fu in the portal.

 Before we left the area we had to check out Canyonlands National Park, which is a place I have to return to.  It is grand, for sure, though not the Grand Canyon.  The Green River and the Colorado (funny, that the green (verde) and the colorado (color rado = color red) meet here.  I wonder about the names, and who named them.) meet here and they form great big depressions in the high country.  We camped at 6,000 ft and could have easily jumped down to 2,000 or so just by going a little bit to the side. 

We left Arches and passed out of the town of Moab and into the deserted reaches of southern Utah.  We puttered through Natural Bridges National Monument, which was a neat place with a twisty canyon through sandstone, and in some of the places where the twists and turns of the river went too far, the twist came back to bite it.  Up high, the river turns in a wide turn and a peninsula is born, but then later on, as the canyon is deeper, the turn extends under more and more, until a bridge is formed.  I learned that this is much different than an arch, which is a more common formation (I guess 2000 arches in Arches National Park), and consequently there are very few Natural Bridges in the world.  There were three in this park and that is the most in a close proximity in the world.
Arches are formed (as I understand it) by the sandstone layers being turned up sideways and then the freezing and thawing and wind erosion carves the bottoms out.  I didn't learn this from the ranger, but I conjecture that the water doesn't erode the top because the sandstone is permeable enough to allow the water to seep down, so the top is dried out by the time it gets to freezy time, but the bottom is not.  The sides then, would fracture and slowly ablate off, leaving fantastically balanced rocks on small pinnacles and arches.  Thus far, it is my favorite.
We took a westbound small scenic road from Blanding towards Lake Powell, and ended up camping in a pastureland spot in a broad valley overlooked by red cliffs and mesas.  The sun set with a burning paintbrush, touching the clouds as if it were the last time it would see the sky, and today it was hidden from the clouds.  We awoke before the sun to a smooth layer of grey skies, and set off towards Capitol Reef and Bryce Canyon.  Both of them have been pretty, but on account of the cloud cover (and the gentle dusting of snow at Bryce), we have elected to go onwards toward Zion.  Bryce canyon is at 8300 ft, and on route we passed over a 9600 ft tall pass, the highest yet for the Cheetah.
There is so much to see in this area, and because much of it is so high up, I want to come back in a more summertime kind of season to soak up the sights again.  There are also a lot of places I'd like to go visit, given the time, including Four Corners, Mesa Verde, Valley of the Giants, and Meteor Crater.  They are close, but not close enough to warrant the trip.
We're starting our return trip now, having passed the furthest point, and have Zion, Las Vegas, Death Valley, and the West Coast to do still.  Many miles, but the Cheetah is equal or greater than the task, I think.

I've been cooking with my little fire breathing stove, so I figured I'd get a few shots of the hullabaloo.


I'm sorry, but this information is out of date.  We were at Arches National Park a long time ago, but sadly, my internet skills are such that I haven't had the time to post anything until now.  Presently we have been having awesome adventures, but you'll have to wait until I get to writing them down. 
In the small coal town of Helper, UT, I got to use the payphone at the gas station, and it was a wireless handset that looked a lot like my own phone.  In fact it was. 
We came down the passes and into the lower lands with warm sunshine beaming into the car, and turned into Arches National Park right at the heat of the day.  Red rocks reflected their ocher tones upon us as we climbed the 1,000 ft into the park, and we gaped at the sights, but drove on.  The park is a long and winding road, ending at the campsite, and we stopped first at the "Windows" and flew Danny's plane to look at the sights from aloft. 
It was a great way to spend the evening, watching the sun slowly set and redden the already flame colored rocks.  We poked around and climbed a bit, then retired to the camp site. 
The full moon blared out like a heavenly beacon in the desert, like it is prone to do.  This place is very similar to Joshua Tree National Park, except in the rock.  Here it is red sandstone, there it is granitic. 
We didn't see the comet, though it is reputed to be visible with the naked eye (in the morning).

 In this picture you can see the true nature of our souls...  Danny is obviously a relaxed lounger, and I apparently am a sexy flamenco dancing woman.
I didn't know this at the time of the picture, so I will have to get in touch with my inner soul a little bit more.  If you are confused, then look at the shadows.

 This one looks like a stern Easter Island statue to me...