Friday, June 26, 2009

mushy things that move: June 22nd and 23rd, San Diego

San Diego was beautiful. The first day we went down to La Jolla Beach to see the seals! Story goes that years ago a wealthy family built a cove into the beach to calm the waves for the children of San Diego. A place for them to swim. The seals happened to love the set up as well, so now the animal activists are fighting to protect them and kept them there. Others are fighting to reclaim the area for the children. Hmmm, I have to say that I am on the side of the seals. Surely the kids can swim somewhere else? So, here is the picture of a cute seal, and us at the beach.The beach was nice as well, so much seaweed... BUT, it was cold! I thought it was cold, but I like the heat! Later that night we went out for Indian Food Buffet! Yum! Plus, it is always fun to hang with Uncle Skip.

Tuesday we went out in search of tide pools, we found a few, down at Cabrillo National Monument, although high tide. Here is a few pictures and a video. I laugh every time I watch it. If anyone knows what kind of anemones these are I would like to learn. The video is actually the next morning at 6 am down at Ocean Beach. But I BELIEVE it is the same animal that is in the still photo and active. Both look like a sticky brown blobs with bits of shell and dirt stuck to them.

Uncle Skip took us on a hike in Penasquitos Canyon, which is down the hill from his back yard and a state park. It is so much fun hiking with Uncle Skip 'cause he knows every plant and animal and can tell you what the native Americans used it 8000 years ago. Here he is explaining some puffy spiky puff ball seed case thing to Erika. We got to carry around binoculars and magnifing glasses and each time a bird would make a noise, he would tell us what it was. I wish I had a better memory so I could tell you the types of cactus, sage, and flowers we saw, but you will all just have to go with me there someday to see for yourself... or ask Erika, she took notes.



Monday, June 22, 2009

Dear, Dr. Suess ....need water.... uhhhh: June 21st, Vegas to Joshua Tree to San Diego

The drive from vegas west was rough, there is just no way around it, it was HOT and we were kinda miserable. We went to Joshua Tree thinking we were going to camp there and head to San Diego the next day. We arrived at the visitor center and quickly learned that many of the camp grounds were closed due to the heat. UGH, it was hot. But we loved the park and drove though thinking all the trees looked like Dr. Suess drawings. We stopped to have our pictures made at skull rock. We drove to see the San Andreas Fault Line. As the evening progressed the temperature started to drop, and we were more comfortable, but we still drove on towards San Diego. We had dinner at Chili's which restored our energy enough to have a brief dance party in the car to DMX as we continued south. The veggie burger there wasn't that bad. We got to Uncle Skip's in San Diego around 9:30. He started in telling us all about seals, mushrooms, and the renovations to his house. Glad to have more time in San Diego! Yay, made it all the way to California!!!! Yippie! Go Loretta GO!!!


High Rollers: June 20th, St. George to Las Vegas

We had a slow morning in St. George as the drive to vegas would be short. We hit up 2 thrift stores in search of the best vegas outfits for all of us. It was fun. We headed southwest towards Nevada. It was HOT and the interstate had mountains almost sitting right there in the road! We arrived in Vegas and found a room at the circus circus casino and headed out again for more thrifting. IT WAS FUN! By the end of the day we all had our outfits and had spent less that 20 dollars! We were hoping that our sequnces would be ironic, but after just a short walk through the parking lot of our casino, I think we just kinda fit in. Anyway, check my sequinces butterfly shirt.

I found the strip itself kinda depressing. It was fascinating and I am glad I went to witness the spectacle, but I found it fake, uninspiring, and just sad. I guess that is probably not a surprise. We still had fun though, in our outfits and playing the slots. I lost 6 dollars and I was pretty pissed about it. Erika lost 9 and Marlo won 20!! Woo hoo!!

The Best part about vegas was looking at all the interiors of the fancy casinos and realizing that a lot of the decor could make. Many of them did simple things with cheap materials.

The 3 of us and our high roller selves were asleep by 2 am with only one drink each. Man, do we know how to party. Thanks vegas, for the good thrift stores!





Where I lived 8000 year ago: June 19th, Grand Canyon to Zion to St George






I left the grand canyon with a little bit of sadness... I could spend a week there. The drive north however, was well, worth it. We drove on 64 east to circle around the canyon complete with many sweeping views and through the Navajo Indian reservation. Such beautiful landscape, orange, and tan hills and cliffs. The air was so dry and stretches of land with nothing growing. We kept north on our way to ZION national park! This place is awe inspiring. It is also in the desert but the type of rocks (sandstone) that form the canyon walls there, retain water, so at the bottom of the canyon, is very lush and green. It is like a small oasis in all this dry arid surroundings. We had such a nice time there doing small hikes and wadding around in the small river that runs through the park. Another thing I liked about Zion was the vertical gardens. The rocks stay damp enough that plants can survive in all the nook and crannies vertically up the side of the cliffs. Maiden hair ferns I love and know them from working at DSI but it was fun to see them in their natural habitat. We saw birds and salamanders and many lovely spots where I would like to build my house out of twigs and make baskets all day. Pictures just don't do this place justice... look for more online and go visit and take me with you. After a day at the park, we drove as far as St. George, Utah. We found a descent hotel room with a tiny swimming pool in the court yard and we all jumped in.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Is that for REAL?: June 17th and 18th, GRAND CANYON





We had more Mexican food last night. We found a hotel outside the petrified forest and snuggled in for the night. The morning of the 17th we drove 5 or so hours to the duh duh duhn GRAND CANYON!! The drive was so romantic... desert turned into mountains and rolling hills. Our camp site was close enough to the rim to walk over once we got settled. Now, I know a lot of you have been to the grand canyon before, but, well, for a girl's first time, it was just so much bigger than I expected. It is such a beautiful place. The weather was a bit hard to manage, it was very very warm in the sun, cold in the shade, and freezing at night. That first day we walked the trail along the rim with gobs of tourists from all over. We made our camp and camp fire and once is was the darkest of night we walked back to the canyon to do some star gazing. There were so many!! Shooting starts too. We managed to spook ourselves with the dark and the thought of wild animals, so we did lots of singing at the top of our lungs to keep away any mountain lions. After a mostly sleepless night, on the 18th we look the shuttle bus to a hike where you can go down part way into the canyon. It was really beautiful, narrow, and crowded with over weight people wearing sandals. I didn't stick around to see how they were going to get back up... it was hard, like climbing stairs! I enjoyed the views so much and decided that next time, I have to hike to the bottom and camp down there. We also saw so many animals in our two days in the park. The mules on the hike didn't seem to be scared of the edge, the mountain goat? i think he was, certainly wasn't scared either.... of the height or of the people. A lot of the animals we saw seemed to be accustom to all the people everywhere, when do you see deer in the day time 10 feet away from you, elk too. The camp site was also inhabited by many talking ravens, those things are big and loud! Our last night was another warm fire and walk along the edge of the canyon, this time we saw tons of glow worms!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Old wood, new blood and God: June 16th, Santa Fe to Albuquerque to Petrified Forest

I don't even know what day of the week it is, but this morning, we went to historical downtown Santa Fe. The plaza. It was really beautiful and the weather was perfect. Our first stop was The Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi. It is a beautifully restored church from the 1800s still currently under restoration it was fun to watch the decorative painters as I have done that kind of work too. We also hit up the famous Pasqual's cafe for yummy brunch and did quite a bit of walking around the square!I know now why they call it New Mexico. It was like Mexico with a dose of Disney. Very lovely and clean, lots of neat handmade things. I want to go back to Santa Fe for a month or so someday to an artist colony or retreat.
From there we went to Albuquerque with the sole purpose of picking up Marlo from the airport! Yay! We sped off on 40 west passing the continental divide and headed towards what has become on of my favorite places on Earth.

I am blown away by what I saw at the Petrified Forest. Again, so many different landscapes in such a small area. Also many types of petrified wood with many colors, rock varieties, sizes and huge quantities. It is crazy to image how much was there before it was protected and people just took what they wanted. We spent hours in the park soaking it all up and we loved it! Bunnies too.

Egypt in CO: June 15th, Denver to The Great Sand Dunes to Santa Fe

We had a nice send off from Denver and made our way south. It was so fun to watch the landscape change and the air begin to feel different. We drove on 25 south which runs for a while along side the Rockies. Here is a picture of Pikes peak one of the highest points. We drove on towards 160 west where Loretta had to WORK her way up a steep incline. I was nervous but we made it just fine and we're happy to find ourselves in a giant flat valley. Here we kept on towards the Great Sand Dunes national park. This place is amazing. It is just like a little bit of Egypt was plopped down in the middle of Colorado. Something about millions of years of wind patterns has deposited mountains of sands in this valley and now it is an amazing park where people sled, hike, sand board down the dunes. I am so happy we spent the afternoon here! You MUST go!From the dunes we continued south toward Arizona. It was highway the whole way and so very scenic. The plants changed ever so slightly ever 30 miles or so it seemed... flat with clumps of grasses, then small forests of spruce trees and red dirt, then rolling hills with mountains in the distance. I had a nice time watching it all fly by. We made it to Santa Fe in time to have overly Americanized Mexican food and a nicely priced motel.

6 legs: June 14th, Oakley, KS to Denver, CO

After a very stormy night in Oakley at said shady motel, we went to Prairie Dog town... famed home of the largest prairie dog in the world. It is one of those places you find in road side America. It was insane to say the least and I left with my heart in my stomach and really happy that I am vegan. Not to say that it wasn't interesting. It was a small building with a large tank filled with rattle snakes, many taxidermied genetic mutation animals (like a 2 headed calf) and a very large gift shop. Outside was a large fenced in area with dozens of prairie dogs running around and hoping in and out of their little mounds. There were many animals in small cages out there too: wolves, raccoons, goats, foxes, a bob cat. I was so very sad for them, definitely not a fun life. It is hard for me to even believe these things are legal. Anyway, their main attraction is the 5 and 6 legged cows. This one has a leg growing out of her back. I am not going to say anything else about it. I want my 8 dollars back.So, after the freak show, we headed on to Denver, again with the big big sky but this time we could watch a storm literally rolling in. We made it to Aunt Margie and Uncle Dave's just in time for a tornado siren to start up! That lasted an hour or two and the sky started to clear up, then we watched another storm approach, then there was a rainbow, then it was a beautiful summer evening as if the previous 3 or 4 hours never happened. We had a nice diner with them and my cousin Katy came with her family... 3 beautiful kids. It was fun! Denver is really beautiful and you can see the Rockies from their back porch, I wish we were there longer so we could see more of it... but there is always next time. Thanks M and D for such a nice time!!!!

Coffee, Hair, and Puppets: June 13th, Kansas City to Independence, MO to Oakley, KS

Morning in KC was great. We awoke to August and all of his rambunctious energy. He is the 2 year old son of Stacy and Jeremy. It was great to hang with them at the farmers market and their new coffee shop "one more cup". If you are ever in Kansas City people, get your coffee there! They are doing well with a new business and a young son and I was happy to see them again! Thanks, for letting us stay, showing us your garden, and driving us around in your swanky prius.From KC we drove east a little bit to Independence to check out the Hair Museum, yes, hair. I really got educated here. I had no idea but in Victorian times, people used to make hair art from human hair. Mostly wreathes and jewelry, it was a sort of keep sake for a man who is going off to war or as a wall piece to honor a deceased family member or as a way to make a family tree. For the wreaths they wrapped the hair around wire and sculpted into mostly flowers. The jewelry took all forms, we saw a lot of watch chains that really just looked like delicate macrame of some kind... hair was woven and pressed into buttons. It was really really fascinating and kinda icky at the same time. I loved it! It showed really great craftsmanship and patience. They didn't allow too many pictures, but here are a couple bad ones to give you an idea.From there we went to the puppetry arts institute. That was also very very fun. In both museums we received personal tours and got to ask as many questions as we could. The larger one below is by Delores Hadley. Both Erika and I loved her work.From Independence we drove west into Kansas. It really is big sky country! Things were finally looking different. Certainly we saw a lot in the East and it was always changing, but the east looks like the east!! NOW, though, we are in the middle of the country! Kansas! Fields and fields and so few trees and big big sky! Here is Erika in the wheat!
We kept on driving late into the evening to get to Oakley Kansas population of about 2000. We stayed at a shady motel with no hot water, went to the local bar where we met the self proclaimed "village freak". He had stories for us that I will not repeat here! It stormed hard over night and I was SCARED of tornadoes!

ps. here is a link about a hair wreath http://www.millicentlibrary.org/hair.htm