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Keyword: ‘yosemite’

Checklist of Clicheed Yosemite Valley Photos! (Day 9)

July 23rd, 2009 3 comments

Figured I should play self-locomotion-unable tourist for a day. No hiking, no rafting, no biking, no swimming, just riding the shuttle bus around the valley and taking the most typical photos I could find. For a day. For one very hot, very crowded day (it was basically like being in Mexico City, but with waterfalls).

Here ‘goes.

yosemite black bear on roadThe blurry bear-on-road photo: check!

yosemite falls merced riverLong-distance shot of Upper Yosemite Falls: check!

yosemite falls and selfPhoto of bus-riding tourist in front of Yosemite Falls: check! (Check out the long hair — lousy hippie!)

yosemite falls pathwayPhoto of other tourist(s) taking photos of Yosemite Falls: check!

yosemite washington columnShot of the river, because there’s a river there: check!

yosemite el capitanPhoto of El Capitan taken from the cleverly named “Valley View” turn-out: check!

yosemite tunnel viewPhoto of tourist taken from the tunnel viewpoint: check! (Oh, sorry, “vista point”.)

yosemite bridal veil fallsTypical shot of Bridal Veil Falls, with oddly cropped co-tourists: check!

half dome and falls from glacier pointPhoto that tries to capture everything in Yosemite Valley all at once, as taken from Glacier Point: check!

yosemite half domePhoto of Half Dome by itself, as if to accentuate its perceived profundity: check!

105 degrees, wall-to-wall people. Yosemite is fantastically beautiful, no doubt, and the valley presents it all on a very large scale. But man, the crowds…! Vince and Tammy recommended the Hetch Hetchy area, Sri talked about Tuolumne Meadows — I’m guessing I’d head there instead of the valley if I’m ever in the area again.

bkd

Kelty Meadow Campground, Sierra National Forest, Near (?!) Yosemite

July 22nd, 2009 4 comments

Check out the in-campground wildlife!

Good (we’re talking about the campground here):

  • Only nine campsites.
  • Pretty Good Privacy (although, honestly, encryption was lacking)
  • A lot of shade and trees.
  • Near at least one fun, short hike.

Bad (also the campground):

  • No dog fights (I should probably do a write-up on my Big Sur campground…).
  • No cops coming after drunks from Fontana.
  • So much shade that my solar hot water heater had no chance.
  • NOT VERY CLOSE TO YOSEMITE!!! — problematic in that I chose the site due to its (apparent) proximity to the park. Bad call. Hour and forty-five to the valley, including a half-hour drive to get to the campsite from Hwy. 49, a four-wheeled slog that I’ll be having nightmares about for weeks.

I probably won’t have nightmares about the drive. But it was a pain, especially when the sun was setting and therefore in your eyes. And the campground is way too far away from Yosemite to use it as a homebase for a park visit. It’d be a good place to stay if you’re from the Bay Area or something and just want an overnighter in a woodsy place near an easy hike, though. Which doesn’t describe my use of it: ah well.

bkd

Someone Over at the Biltmore Estate Needs to Get Beaten Up (Day 90)

October 17th, 2009 17 comments

It costs $55 to give yourself a tour of the Biltmore Estate (a house). Let me type that out in words so you don’t think that’s a sticky keyboard issue: fiffty-five dollars. I didn’t realize this before going in to buy my ticket.

Me: I’d like to see the house.

Woman: That’ll be $55.

Me: U.S.?

Woman: [pretends not to hear]

Let me bash the Biltmore Estate more before putting the price in context. Thanks.

  • While its original owner was a Vanderbilt, his first name was not Cornelius.
  • He was a grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt — all the money spent to build the place was inherited.
  • His two older brothers inherited the family business — the guy who built this house didn’t even have a job.
  • The house was lived in for thirty (30) years before it was opened to the public, at which point it was no longer lived in.
  • It was opened to the public because the family couldn’t afford to keep the house.
  • Therefore, it served as a house for 30 years and as a tourist building to be walked through for 80 years.
  • Some of the rooms weren’t finished until long after the house became a tourist-building.
  • In spite of this, everything in the house makes out as if (a) this Vanderbilt family was important and (b) their time in the house was significant.
  • The estate employs 1,900 people. It’s a non-house house with a bunch of grass around it. 1,900 employees.
  • Despite the $55 cost to enter the house, you’re not allowed to take photographs anywhere inside.
  • Excluding driving time, parking time, and time spent walking from the parking lot to the immediate house area, I saw everything I needed to in about an hour.

It’s The Biggest “House” in the Country, which screams of unfamiliarity with restraint. The interior maybe isn’t as tacky as Marble House in Newport or Hearst Castle (although Wm. Randolph Hearst at least did some stuff to increase *his* inherited wealth) — but then, it’s the gaudy, expensive stuff in those houses that makes them worth seeing. This one just seemed like someone’s outsized ego that, once it came down to interior decoration, couldn’t be matched by his bank account.

biltmore_exteriorBig house.

biltmore_flower-gardenRelatively normal-sized garden.

So, just to help better illustrate how ridiculous $55 for this house is, here’s a comparison of the prices of various attractions I’ve visited on this trip (and a couple other popular sites I haven’t visited).

Site Cost Note
Disneyland $72 Includes unlimited access to rides.
Biltmore Estate $55 Audio tour only $10 extra.
SeaWorld (San Diego) $55
Sounders Game (Scalped) $50
Boundary Waters Canoe+Campsite $44 Per-day price.
Colonial Williamsburg $36
Newport Mansions $31 Includes access to five mansions and audio tours (single house = $12).
Hearst Castle $24 Includes guided tour.
Mackinac Island Ferry $24
Monticello $20 Someone important actually lived here; includes guided tour.
Yosemite National Park $20
Buffalo Bill Historic Center $15
Sea Lion Caves $12
Shirley Plantation $11 Includes guided tour from hot tour guide.
Eastman House $10 Includes photography museum.
Niagara Falls Parking $10 There’s no actual entry fee.
Whiteface Mountain $10 Includes road access and elevator ride.
Patrick Henry’s Home $8 Includes guided tour.
Cape Hatteras Lighthouse $7 Was in use for more than 30 years.
Ft. McHenry $7
Air Force Museum $0
Marine Corps Museum $0

The most remarkable thing about the place, IMHO, was that it was fairly *packed* with people, despite my being there on a bad-weather weekday. Is there really nothing better to do in this part of the country? OH man.

Or, in short: bad value.

bkd

Categories: south Tags: ,

Video Tour of My Rig in Daylight

October 10th, 2009 5 comments

A month and a half ago or so, it was requested that I share with all y’all how my rig’s outfitted for travel. Right after that, I shot this video. And now? Now I’ve bothered to post it. It’s from a while back and it’s kind of long (8.5 min.).

Ah, sweet memories of South Dakota. And by “Yellowstone”, I meant “Yosemite”. And the truck has never been that clean or organized in actual practice.

bkd

(LMK if the video doesn’t work.)

Categories: other Tags: , ,

Welcome to Pennsylvania, State #18

September 22nd, 2009 No comments

That makes three-eighths (3/8ths) of the way there in terms of states. It’s not like I’m excited about blowing through states, just that it happens so I might as well enjoy it.

welcome_pennsylvaniaDaylight! Legible! Huzzah!

Someone on some other website told me I should visit Presque Isle in Erie if I happened to be driving through, so I did and I’d sort of like my 40 minutes back, although I took this photo of a lighthouse:

presque-isle-lighthouseBravely warning sandcrabs away from the 25-mph park road!

I’m sure real lighthouse people (they have those, right?) could explain why it makes sense to put lighthouses somewhere other than right next to the water, but it’d probably be a long and boring explanation, so — you know.

I’m also now saying that I’m in the “northeast” and no longer in the “northern states”. It’s a fine line. A fine line that I’ve drawn between Ohio and Pennsylvania. And it was weird starting out driving in Bengals AM radio country and then traveling through Browns and Steelers territory before ending up in Bills AM radio land. It’s also weird how much of AM radio is now on FM.

bkd

And I had this dream last night where I was rafting down a river with members of my family and we got to a spot that looked like a waterfall, but everyone else said it wasn’t, but I was pretty sure it was so I jumped out of the raft and then they all continued and it turned out to be a 20-foot waterfall and I called 911 and couldn’t quite figure out where I was (I thought I was in Central California in a river near a national park other than Yosemite, Sequoia, or Kings Canyon, but I couldn’t think of what that park would be called and then someone helpfully suggested it was “Hehla Park”, which meant “holy” in some unknown language, but that person didn’t know what he was talking about, so I disregarded), but then it turned out that no one got (physically) hurt, so I hung up.

Best of the West Coast: Other Stuff

August 22nd, 2009 2 comments

Since no one demanded it, I’m providing it.

Best West Coast Campgrounds

  1. Island Campground, Rogue-Umpqua (Day 16) – Riverside campsite, no mosquitoes, decent privacy, the sound of rushing water putting you to sleep…
  2. La Wiss Wiss Campground, Mt. Rainier (Days 24-25) – Riverside campsite (fine, you had to go down a trail), few mosquitoes, decent privacy, and the sound of rushing water to… A little less private than Island, quite a bit bigger, which is why it’s #2 instead of #1, despite the benefit of providing potable water.
  3. Dalles Campground, Mt. Rainier (Day 23) – Mt. Rainier has good campgrounds. For that matter, so far, everywhere that isn’t California has good campgrounds.

Worst campgrounds: Odessa in Oregon (although I shouldn’t complain about a campground that costs $0, it was pretty divey and there was no concierge service); Plaskett Creek at Big Sur (*no* privacy, no apparent understanding of boundaries by the people staying there, relatively loud, pretty crowded, $25/night).

Best West Coast Geographic Features

  1. Waterfalls.
  2. Peaks.
  3. Rivers.

Best West Coast Restaurant Food (I haven’t been trying to eat in great restaurants or anything, just — you know)

  1. Mi Chalateca, Federal Way (Day 30)
  2. That Peruvian place in San Francisco, San Francisco (Day 5)
  3. Round Table Pizza, South Lake Tahoe (Day 11) – All you can eat for $5.99!

Best West Coast Mountain

  1. Mt. Rainier
  2. Mt. Shuksan
  3. Mt. Thielsen

Best West Coast Waterfall

  1. Tunnel Falls, Columbia Gorge (Day 19) – They should blast tunnels behind *every* waterfall. Plus it was very pretty.
  2. Nevada Fallsf, Yosemite (Day 10) – Probably the most angry waterfall I’ve seen in my life.
  3. Fall Creek Falls, Rogue-Umpqua Scenic Byway (Day 17) – Like I sort of said yesterday, it reminded me of a secret waterfall you’d find on Kauai, only it was in Oregon.

Meh. Good enough.

bkd

Best of the West Coast: Hikes, Drives, Photos

August 21st, 2009 2 comments

I have the trip broken down into four or five parts (West Coast, Northern States, Northeast, South, and Southwest — it’s four if I combine the Northern States with the Northeast) and the West Coast is now finished, which means I figure I can do some evaluation. And if you’re joining the game already in progress, maybe this will help catch up. If you want to.

Nice intro. Oh well. Here goes:

Best West Coast Hikes > 10 mi.

  1. Glen Alpine Trail to Aloha Lake, Lake Tahoe (Day 12, 14 mi.) – Had everything. Except waterfalls. And there were bugs. But still: ever mile there was something new to look at that you hadn’t seen before, plus plenty of places to throw your hiking pulls on the rocks and jump into a lake.
  2. Half Dome Trail, Yosemite (Day 10, 18 mi.) – It wasn’t fun, but it was kind of an accomplishment and I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t dang pretty.
  3. Eagle Creek Trail to Tunnel Falls, Columbia Gorge (Day 19, 12 mi.) – The hike itself was kind of dull, at least until you got close to the big falls, but the payoff was huge and there were many waterfalls.

Best West Coast Hikes < 10 mi.

  1. Bumpass Hell Trail, Lassen Volcanic National Park (Day 14, 4 mi.) – Kind of cheating in that the hike I did went beyond Bumpass Hell and I’m really just talking about the trail to Bumpass Hell and not the one that continues past it. Whatever. Great views of Brokeoff Mtn. and various mountain scenery for the first and last mile, interesting views (and odors) of hell for the second and third.
  2. Fall Creek Falls, Rogue-Umpqua Scenic Byway (Day 17, 2 mi.) – If you took your basic Hawaii waterfall hike (e.g., Manoa Falls on O’ahu), removed all the people, then put it in Oregon, it would be this hike — which I liked a lot better than the hike to Manoa Falls.
  3. Lassen Peak, Lassen Volcanic National Park (Day 15, 5 mi.) – Another hike that’s no fun, but ultimately pretty and rewarding. It’s kind of a steep one (2,000 feet elevation in 2.5 mi.), but it’s pretty cool to be on top of something 10,000 feet high. Some pretty nice views, too.

Best West Coast Drives

  1. Rogue-Umpqua Scenic Byway, Oregon (Days 16-17) – Some awesome river gorges, a couple of very noteworthy mountain peaks, and trails leading off to waterfalls every four or five miles along the way. Highly, highly recommended.
  2. Mt. Rainier (Days 23-24) – The wildflowers were great, the rivers were great, the road borderline breathtaking. And I need a better thesaurus. And every time I hear the word “breathtaking”, I think of that one Seinfeld episode where the doctor calls Elaine “breathtaking”. It wasn’t really a top-flite joke or anything, I just remember it.
  3. Big Sur (Days 2-3) – I still think it’s a drive pretty much wasted if you don’t have a date with you and I didn’t really manage my routing very effectively while I was there. But still: pretty coastline! and not nearly as crowded as the Oregon Coast. Or as foggy.

Best West Coast Photos (That I Took on This Trip) (BTW, if you click on the link of the photo title, you’ll get a bigger version of the photo.)

  1. Mt. Thielsen, Rogue-Umpqua Byway (Day 16) – I love photos with roads or trails in them, sorry. And this mountain was very surprising to me. And I guess I also like how the photo conveys, you know, a *road trip* and all. mt thielsen oregon
  2. Stream Fording on the Hoh River Trail, Olympic National Park (Day 29) – I like the action in this photo — it kind of moves the eye around a little bit. Most of the photos I take just show nature, which gets all static and boring, but my nephew is neither static nor boring.hoh river trail stream crossing
  3. Tunnel Falls, Columbia Gorge (Day 19) – I like feel like big, impressive nature stuff can be interacted with, which I guess is why I think it’s so cool that they blasted a hole behind this waterfall so that I could walk through it. And I like the big white line on the left side of the photo.tunnel falls landscape orientation
  4. Vernal Falls, Yosemite (Day 10) – Mostly I just like the dark red-brown stripes in the granite that run parallell to the waterfall itself. If I could marry those stripes, I’d do it, so help me. I also like that this photo got taken at 6 AM — I’m amazed any time I have evidence of having been awake before 10.vernal falls in morning light
  5. Grass Lake, Desolation Wilderness/Lake Tahoe (Day 12) – Reflection + red mountains + blue sky + contrail + where’s-Waldo waterfall = pure gold. IMHO.glen alpine grass lake

Right, so that’s it. Feel free to argue with me, especially on the photos — it’ll only make my ego grow stronger. If I get to it, I’ll post another West Coast Best-Of thing. If not, you didn’t miss much (“best things I vomited”, for instance).

bkd

Categories: west coast Tags: , , ,

Rafting the Skagit River Is Different from Rafting the Tuolumne (Day 35)

August 19th, 2009 2 comments

For example:

  • It was 55 degrees on the Skagit (vs. 103 at Yosemite).
  • The Skagit is all glacial melt. Like, in the morning it part of a glacier and a couple hours later you’re rafting on it. So the water was going to be cold regardless of air temperature.
  • On the Tuolumne I was worried about getting wet because it would increase the intensity of the sun on my skin. On the Skagit I was worried about getting wet because of hypothermia.
  • The Skagit has three rapids. Like, *three*.
  • No helmets!
  • You don’t really have to paddle ever, or turn, or know what “high-side” means.
  • The rafts don’t have toe-holds for the guys up front.
  • The most dangerous risk on the Skagit is, truly, getting whacked with a paddle by the person next to you during a boat-to-boat water fight.
  • The water on the Skagit is light green.
  • The river banks are covered with trees.
  • You really don’t *need* a water-proof case for your camera, so long as you got a dry pocket somewhere.
  • Five-year-olds can go on it, no problem.
  • Well, except for hypothermia, no problem.

Relevant photos:

skagit river raftingSpeaking of waterproof cases — I really should’ve taken my camera out of mine.

skagit river greenAnd the color palette is a little different on the Skagit.

skagit river alyssaMore than enough manpower to get through *these* rough waters.

skagit river raftsRafts, forelorn.

I appreciated our guide telling us that, yes, he was also freezing cold. And I was a little disappointed there were no animatronic hippos on the ride.

bkd

Sol Duc Falls and I, Breaker of Droughts (Day 30)

August 11th, 2009 4 comments

Never been to the Sol Duc part of Olympic National Park before. Now I have. Was pretty, the waterfall was unusual, and the weather was rainy.  I kind of prefer the spelling of droughth with the h at the end. Should’ve used it in the title.

We camped out by the rain forest. Started raining during the night some time — which you sort of expect in a rain forest, I guess. Drove out of there and tried — nearly failed — to get breakfast in Forks. We were, though, able to verify that the town’s economy is still mostly Twilight-based. If only the author had visited before writing the books. So lame.

The hike up to Sol Duc falls was only 0.9 miles from the trailhead, well within tourist range, even with the rain. But on the plus side, it was the first time all trip I got to break out my rain gear, which is really good at keeping rain out. Which you’d think would be true of all rain gear, but alas.

hwy 101 in the rainHighway 101 at 12:11:16 on August 10th.

sol duc fallsSol Duc Falls, with impressive triple-cascade action!

sol duc falls bridgeYou know it’s a tourist when he’s carrying a golf umbrella onto the trail.

crescent lake cloudsAnd then the loch ness monster came and ate our car.

I guess they’d had a long droughth up here. And it’s not that hard for me to look back at my 106-degree Yosemite photos and think about the two averaging out.

bkd

Half Dome, Full Hike Photo Report (Day 10)

July 23rd, 2009 1 comment

IMG00061

half dome hike in the dark

muir trail merced river crossing

half dome view from trail

nevada falls and liberty cap

vernal falls in morning light

silver apron between falls

nevada falls from river

half dome at distance

half dome granite trail

little yosemite valley

half dome cable section

looking up at the cables

cable section final deliberations

top of hike

half dome trail back down

chipmunk eating grass

other emerald pool

nevada falls in bright sun

silver apron tourist playground

mist trail below vernal falls

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