Saturday, December 31, 2011

Joshua Tree

 After San Diego we had two more stops planned then back to Klamath Falls to see Ivy's parents. First stop, Joshua Tree National Park.

The trees looked more like cactus to be honest. They say these desolate expanses dotted with rock piles are a thriving ecosystem. I guess you have to know what your looking for as well as searching to find it. Anyway, these odd trees sure were neat to look at!
The expanses of Joshua trees stretched on for miles. They kind of reminded me of Saguaros the way some just are a tall trunk, like the one in the center of this picture, and and others may have a dozen or more off-shoots. Also how the branches come out and try to curve straight up toward the sun. I know all plants somewhat do that but it seems much more pronounced in these two in particular.

These pictures are in chronological order in case anyone was curious. It is somewhat peculiar how driving in mountainous terrain sometimes you can watch the sun set two or three times. A simple pleasure multiplied.

This was the campsite we chose for this night. It cooled down rapidly once the sun went down. When we woke up there was a sheet of ice over our tent inside and out and on our sleeping bag! I thought it was dawn and got out of the tent and to my suprise the moon was just about at its zenith. I suppose the combination of light sand, a layer of frost and a full moon can really light up the night!

A particularly neat grouping of trees

These last two picture exemplify what this park is all about (plus they're decent photography ;-). The whimsical trees set against a background of looming granite rock mounds all encapsulated within the ranging low mountains.

Friday, December 16, 2011

San Diego

New friends are silver...
Old ones are gold.

As soon as we arrived in sunny San Diego we had a new friend in Brutzie. As fun as she was I was way more excited to see my brother from another mother, big Don. We ended up taking a little trip down to my old stomping grounds in Imperial Beach and managed to keep it down to a three hour tour. Quite a feat with all the trouble there is to cause down that way.

The sun and surf of So Cal were definitely a welcome change from the frigid high plateau of So Utah. We hung on the beach and played in the sand for a bit warming our bones while we cooled our stomachs.

We headed down towards Seaport Village to watch a Christmas boat parade. It was on the Coronado Bay with all manner of sea-faring vessels decked out with lights, stereos; and Christmas cheer. Some may not have made as much holiday sense as others as you'll see below. Maybe it is an inside joke, rich people rarely seem to make sense anyway.

The yard long margaritas were only 1 1/2 ft!!

Jethro and Billy-Bob

One of the nights we decided to have dinner at a New Zealand style grill. Lamb burgers topped with blue cheese and pickled beets! We watched the Giants beat the Cowboys in a last minute nail bitter. If only they could both lose (we're eagles fans). Football, food, beer and... Jenga!! Are you friggin kiddin me, this place rules! 

The three cutest girls in the state; Ivy, Heather and Sarah! Heather is Don's girlfriend and Sara is Ivy's cousin. Sara and Eric recently moved down that way and we managed to meet at the pub he works at and after a few drinks decided it was time to show off our moves. 

One last moment of clarity

The Robot?

Backin that thang up?

It was raining the first couple hours hours at the zoo so the female Koalas were huddled up for warmth. Wasn't there a song about how it never rains in Southern California? We stayed dry by taking the bus tour right off the bat. Yeah, you heard right, a bus inside the zoo. There is actually a whole bunch of them, this place is monstrous.

The big one is 17 ft tall!

Definitely my favorite animal. Rhinoceros look like a concept character from a sci-fi movie or a dinosaur. With the horn and all the armor-like skin flaps it's natures tank.
Who doesn't like Pandas?

Or Ivy!?!

Gettin back to my roots.

Then we went and saw the real deal, gorillas. There was six of them mostly just hangin out by the glass. One was only three years old and it seemed he spends most of his time picking fights with the full grown ones. They would try to ignore him then slap him around for a minute. The pup would run away to play with another that would try to ignore him and so on. It was odd when one would come up to the glass and look at us. Like looking into a strange fun house mirror.

Here's lookin' at you.

Flamingos! Ivy's moms favorite animal.

View from the "Sky fari"

An 8 lb 10 oz bouncing bear cub boy

Ivy loves zoo's. So we spent the whole day walking down every trail and past every animal. We went up escalators and down hills. We even took the Skyfari, an air tram that took us up in the air and across the whole zoo. We walked past more animals than I've ever seen. It was a blast! It's hard to believe this place is right in the middle of San Diego.
San Diego was beautiful, a little cloudy and it rained, but it is December after all. We had a great time with Big Don and Heather. Thanks guys for putting up with us and showing us the sites. There's always room for you in Portland at our place.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Grand Canyon!

My first view of the Grand Canyon!!!!!

 The Grand Canyon was the one place that I was really excited to see. I have had a great time at all the places we have been but I couldn't wait to see the Grand Canyon. We drove from Zion to the Grand Canyon thinking that it would be easy to find a hotel when we got close... no not so much. We got to the canyon around 8:00pm to the east side of the south rim. We ended up driving the entire south rim drive in the dark until we reached the Grand Canyon Village.

Logan followed us again. He really enjoyed the Grand Canyon.

 There was so much snow on the road that it took us an hour and a half to drive the 25 miles to the village. We found a place to sleep, got a bite to eat, and took one look at the canyon in the dark.
Josh's cougar crossing the street. I'm only 6 months older...

 We got up early and walked through the village. The snow made everything look so much more grand! It was fantastic and huge!

 We took the scenic south rim drive again, but this time in the daylight. It was so much fun! We stopped at every view point and walked the trail.

 It was awe inspiring every time I looked at it! There was a lot of ice on the ground so we slide most of the way on the trails.

 I wanted to take the mule down into the canyon but you have to reserve it a few months in advance. We will be back and I will take a mule through the canyon...

 We also stopped at the Desert view point which has the old watch tower. We walked up into the tower and the view was spectacular. It was pretty much empty so we ran up and down the spiral staircase.
 Josh was shocked and amazed at the grandness of the Grand Canyon and about the $6.00 he had to pay to buy me a key chain I really wanted at the gift shop.

We had so much fun! Ahhhh!! We made it to the Grand Canyon!! It was everything I thought it would be. Cant wait to come back and go into the canyon. We spent the afternoon driving down to San Diego, I'm excited for a little bit of sun. Yay!