Thursday, May 21, 2009

Yosemite National Park - Valley

The valley of Yosemite is beautiful. There are waterfalls and tall granite cliffs all around you. Everywhere you turn in another photo opp. I will be adding more picture later, but here are a few in the mean-time.

The waterfall is Yosemite Falls. The tallest waterfall in North America. When I entered the valley I said, "Wow, look at this". I would walk a hundred yards and say, "Wow, look at this". It just gets better and better every time I turn around. What a place. This has to be the most interesting natural location on the earth.

Yosemite National Park - Glacier Point

This is the location in Yosemite where I will be posted. It is an elevation of about 7,500 feet with a huge panoramic view of the valley 3000 feet below and the mountains across the valley. Two thirds of the 12,000 square mile park can be seen from this vantage point. I did not take many pictures from the point because the lighting was not right and I will have plenty of time to get the pictures I want. I did put up a picture of Yosemite Falls from across the valley. Go to the valley section of the blog to view more pictures of this waterfall.
The stage picture is where I will be speaking most every night. What an amazing venue for a stage. I was really intimidated when I first saw the stage, but then I got into it and got excited. Also included is a picture of my new cabin at Glacier Point. I have two single beds, a table and chairs, frig and stove. I will probably use the fire pit and picnic table mostly though. I have electricity and water in the cabin, but I have to walk 50 yards to the pot and showers. There is an AT&T cell signal on the point so I will have phone and internet. Yahoo! More pictures from the point later.

Yosemite National Park - Mariposa Grove

Yosemite is such an amazing place. It has been photographed and written about so many times by very creative people that doubt I can do it justice sitting out in my truck on the side of the highway stealing a WiFi connection to update my blog. During a more conducive moment I will write something really clever and creative that no one else has even thought of in the 120 year history of the park. You will be amazed at what I will come up with. In the mean time, I do have a few new picture of Yosemite park that I can put up for you. This is a wonderful grove of Giant Sequoia trees. I hiked in here starting at first light before anyone else was in the forest. It was a sacred experience. This is a holy place. Enjoy.

Sequoia National Park

In 2007, Kimberly and I volunteered as campground hosts at Buckeye Flats in Sequoia National Park for the summer. I know it is not park of this trip, but I thought I would include it anyway since I have been describing other national parks. Sequoia National Park is in central eastern California in the Sierra Nevada's. The park in know for Mount Whitney, the highest point in the contiguous United States and for the General Sherman Giant Sequoia Tree, the earths largest living thing.

This experience was my introduction to the National Park Service and all that it offers. Kimberly and I  were campground hosts in a very remote wilderness campground that had not had hosts before. The clientele to the campground were used to having their own way and doing their own thing. The park service was very happy to have us move in and make some sort of order to things. I could tell you some amazing stories about our experiences there but I will same it for another time. We do have some close personal relationships with some bears in the park though. Kimberly also initiated an in-campground Junior Ranger training program. The rangers gave Kimberly the authority to train and induct Junior Rangers.

I have included a picture of Mineral King, one of my favorite places in Sequoia National Park and Sawtooth Mountain. The other pictures are of some of Kimberly's Junior Ranger graduating classes.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Whale Viewing

Without a doubt, whale viewing on the return trip to the mainland was the most memorable. We saw Humpback Whale and Killer Whales. There are only 20,000 Humpbacks left in the world so we were lucky to spot the three we observed. One was quite large. The captain moved the boat downwind from the whales and we smelled the most horrible a sewer or something. The captain said Humpback Whale have a terrible bad breath. That was good news. I thought it was the guy standing next to me.

The Killer Whale in the picture is a young female whale. Males have a straight dorsal fin that is about 6 feet tall. Killer Whales can live to be about 80 years old. Killer Whale have the best body size to brain size ratio of any mammal including humans. They are very smart. They prey on Humpback Whales. Even though they were in the same neighborhood as the Humpbacks, there was no threat today. Viewing these large animals up close was a thrill for me.

Channel Islands National Park

I visited Channel Islands National Park yesterday. The Channel Islands are a small group of islands in the Pacific about 20 miles off the coast of southern California. There are species of plant and animal life here than exist nowhere else in the world. Two of the most interesting to me are the Blue Jay that is about 33% larger than the mainland specie and the Dwarf Fox. The Dwarf Fox is about the size of a house cat. I did not spot the Blue Jay, but I was lucky enough to find the Fox.

I was on the large island of Santa Cruz. It is 64 square miles in size and an elevation of about 2,400 feet. The largest sea cave in the world is here. The Painted Cave. It is 160 feet wide, 100 feet high and 1320 feet deep. The tour boats and dive boats can navigate into the cave for close looks. I did not see the cave this trip, but it is definitely on my agenda for later.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Golden Gate Bridge

Jake Introduced to the Pacific

More Redwood Pictures

Redwoods National Park

Clear Water-Colored Rocks

I thought these multi-colored rocks were cool. You are looking through about two feet of water in the McDonald Lake in Glacier National Park. Interesting place.

Glacier National Park

Most of the park was still closed because the roads had not been plowed yet. We still saw some amazing beauty.

Buffalo Stampede

We were camping in Yellowstone and we had a buffalo stampede come through our campsite. Well OK, maybe it was a casual meander. It was amazing though.

Can't Get Up

This old timer buffalo has fallen and it can't get up.

Buffalo Bus

It took me a while to figure this out, but each morning the park loads all of the buffalo onto this old school bus after spending the night in the barn and they release them on the road to graze along the shoulder all day. Pretty cool.

Yellowstone National Park

Tetons National Park

Do you remember when you were a kid and your neighbors invited you over for popcorn and to view the slides of their recent vacation to Disneyland? Well this is my slide show of my vacation for you, except this time you can snack on whatever you want and you are not a captured audience. Enjoy as much as you like.