Saturday, June 11, 2016

you're the top

Joanie and I took a quick road trip down to Pinnacles National Park. 
The Pinnacles are volcanic and seemingly arise from nowhere. They are along the San Andreas fault, with entrances from highway 101 near Soledad and 25 south of Hollister
It's a wild landscape, full of boulders. 
The rocks are really big. 
In the spring, creeks and waterfalls flow. 
Above are the Balconies. The black creases are dried waterfalls. 
In the summer, rock climbers hang from Machete Ridge and Elephant Rock. 
In early June, the park was filled with wildflowers and these flaxen California buckeye. 
Blooming Venus thistles too. 
The rocks are covered with lichens and have lots of minerals in them. 
Pinnacles is a breeding area for California condors. We did see a few circling red-tail hawks. 
All in all, a peaceful escape so close to home.

Friday, June 3, 2016

happy trails

All good trips must come to an end. This one ended appropriately on a dark field surrounded by astronomers, looking at Jupiter and Saturn and the Milky Way and the ring nebula. And wishing on a shooting star. 

Wherever the road takes you this summer…
On trains and over bridges…to the mountains and the sea…
Keep your eyes wide open. And your mind too. 

🎶 you give us those nice bright colors 🎶

Janet sent me to Kodachrome Basin State Park. It's about 10 miles south of where I was staying. 
"Take a walk surrounded by giant dildos," she said. 
The rock formations are magnificent. 
It's much less crowded than Bryce, plus you can walk among the sandstone hoodoos, although here they're called pipes. The carmel and entrada formations date from the Jurassic era, 140 to 180 million years ago. Just imagine dinosaurs roaming here.
And yes, some of the pillars, carved away by wind and water, are a bit phallic. 
Okay, maybe more than a bit. 
This one is just enormous: 40 or 50 feet. 
I headed off on what was supposed to be a short, easy hike up to the angel's palace. It was short but had a few steep sections. I wound up hiking with a few friendly Floridians, which helped on the steep sections.
Just don't look down and you'll be fine. 
It got hot so I came back to Tropic, picked up an iced coffee, had lunch, and took a swim. Then I headed back to Bryce. 
An easy walk brought me to this waterfall. 
I spied this arch up above.
No idea how those people got up there.
Tomorrow it's time to head home. It's been another great road (and rail) trip. Maybe I'll stop at Butch Cassidy's hideout on the way.

C'mon, you know you want to sing along: 

You give us those nice bright colors
You give us the gree-eens of summer
Makes you think all the world's
in a sunny day…oh, yeah.
I got a Nikon camera
I love to take a photograph…

Thursday, June 2, 2016

canyon country

The last time I was at Bryce, I'd climbed to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and back up the day before. We staggered to the viewpoints, took a few pictures, and drove on to Vegas.
You can see how ridiculous that was. 
These are the hoodoos. They're formed by wind erosion, and reveal millions of years of history. 
I loved this natural amphitheater. And the conversations of the other tourists.
"Is that a dog barking?"
"No, that's my brother."
This area is known as Sunset Point. 
"We're just going to stand here forever? Till it gets dark?"
As at the Grand Canyon, the trails are steep and not for the faint of heart. 
"Where would I hide? I'll bet dragons live here."

But oh so worth it. A woman from France and I talked about the US election, and she, like others, warned against Donald Trump. She searched my face as if to ask if it was possible he might win.

I ended the day with a ranger talk on Astronomy with Ranger Kelly. The stars at 9000 feet with no humidity and surrounded by darkness are incredible. There's also an astronomy festival going on with giant telescopes. 

Kelly told us that after looking at the stars, some people experience a kind of celestial vertigo, overwhelmed by the immensity of it all. 

"You start to sense your place in the universe." This is why I came.