Is there any way that looking at this world-record tiny plane won’t prompt the thought of a bumble bee? Believe it or not it does fly with crazy-cramped quarters for the pilot; but it doesn’t buzz.
Having driven from NYC to Yosemite in 72 hours going west during my eighth crossing this year I was content to take my time going east on my ninth crossing. I managed to spend three days in Arizona and New Mexico and a fourth day in Colorado. Then I heard that my new iPhone had arrived and within three days I was home again. It’s nice to be back.
While I loitered, I saw many things but I’ll only mention four here now. Continue reading
This is not a picture of two trains passing one another. No, this is the same train passing itself. Strange as it may sound that’s what happens many times a day as trains take this loop to gain elevation.
I’ve visited the Tehachapi Loop before but I didn’t find it very interesting. This time however was quite a different experience. Today I had an absolutely fabulous visit because my timing was perfect. I arrived in time to see a very long train enter the loop and circle over itself. Crazy!
To understand what you’re about to see you need an overview. The first picture below is a satellite view of the Tehachapi Loop from Google Maps. I’ve annotated it with details which should put the subsequent pictures into perspective. Flow through them and see why it’s such a fascinating spot.
How cool is it to spend the night at a lighthouse? If I have to tell you then you lack romance in your heart! It’s awesome!!! Happily I’ve done it several times and twice along the California coast.
The appeal lighthouses hold for me is complicated. Do I understand it?!
First, they’re usually at land’s end overlooking the sea and typically in a tortured locale. The waters are rough or weather tends to be wild and/or the waters nearby are riddles with obstructions. Second, it was often a remote, isolated and hard working life that accompanied the choice of managing a lighthouse. Neighbors were few, towns were distant, and life was lonely. Still, there is a sense of romance in being alone on land and fighting the elements with light to keep safe those men at sea.
I’m sure it wasn’t romantic in life but from a distance it seems special. Work was physical and hard, the hours and conditions were terrible, and the never ending boredom must have been mind numbing. Perhaps I’d have found it a romantic life it I’d had automated equipment, a broadband connection and FedEx delivery. Then again, if I had those things they wouldn’t need a lighthouse tender. Darn!
This lighthouse is at Point Montara just south of San Francisco on the coast. It is the second I’ve stayed at in the area. Pigeon Point Lighthouse is the other. Within the Hosteling International network there are many lighthouse hostels but along California’s coast I’ve now stayed in both.
Perhaps I should set as a goal to stay in all of HI’s lighthouse hostels?
Hmmm … that’s food for thought! Continue reading
Isolated a mile off shore from San Francisco and separated by cold, rapidly flowing waters, Alcatraz was supposed to be inescapable. How amazing that now every year there’s a swim meet with hundreds of participants; it starts on Alcatraz and ends at Fisherman’s Wharf.
Alcatraz was first a U.S. fort guarding the Golden Gate and in the 1930s was converted to the nation’s maximum security prison which it remained for 30 years. After that it suffered neglect and an Indian land-rights kerfuffle before being taken over by the National Park Service. It’s now one of San Francisco’s most popular tourist attractions.
This little island is a pretty special piece of land. While it has almost no resources, its position in view of the bay entry and its isolation from nearby populations gives it distinct attributes. How Alcatraz could be used was nicely summed up in its history: fort, prison, protest platform and national treasure.
My ambition for visiting was just to wrap my head around its character and to take pictures of those things that interested me from the period. It’s the prison period which stands out most and with good reason, that’s the last extended purpose the island was put to. A few pictures are shown below.
Poor weather can’t take away from the grandness of the Arch, the visual cue most prominent of St. Louis. I’d driven by it too often to count but that wasn’t going to happen this time because I learned where to park my car!
From the outside the Arch is to be admired. From the inside it’s for the practical purpose of riding an elevator to the top to look out the windows. From beneath it’s to visit the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, run by the National Park Service. I came for the views.
Having recently visited to tour the Memorial I knew how to get into town, do my business, and get out of town. Given it was a Sunday, given it was early in the day, given I was downtown I figured this of all days would be a efficient opportunity to visit, and I was right. Today I’d ascend the Arch for the first time in over 40 years. Continue reading
Everyone needs to see the two-headed calf. This kind of oddity would get talked about and draw people into businesses. In this case, the stuffed contrivance was used by a pub in Boise to attract patrons.
Time to meander home. Why “meander”? The fact is that all the primary east-west routes via the Interstate Highways I’ve already explored. Sure, there’s alway more to see but they’re not the rich passageways as they once were. By taking secondary highways and especially diagonal highways I come across abundant new veins of discovery to mine.
Not in keeping with the above, I started down the Columbia River Gorge which I love, love, love to drive. However, once I emerged on the east side of the Cascade Mountains I jumped on a quiet road, the John Day Highway, to the National Monument I had once visited too briefly. Then I cut east through the Blue Mountains to historic Baker City. Continue reading