2016-Death Valley National Park

El Ninjo came to California, not to us. So we looked on the internet – here, Death Valley, the driest place in the US got some rain in autumn! Not some. In fact three roads were damaged by flash floods. So on the 26th of January we drove there to see the blooming, and it was worth it. You can still go – the peak is going to be around mid February. The weather was very pleasant, pretty warm and no wind! We slept one night in a tent, it was cold but not too cold. The best part  -Furnace Creek Lodge has a swimming pool with the water form a natural spring! A warm one – 82F – 28C. So we swam there 3 times! it was perfect. Here is what we saw and enjoyed:DSCN3970Zabriskei Point. DSCN3975On the way to the pool – two impressively old tamarisks. DSCN4038 DSCN4036Or camping place – under this tamarisk. DSCN3979Artist’s point with us photographing it.DSCN3982 DSCN3988

The lowest part of the continent – Bad Waters. Lots of salt and what a pleasure to walk that spacious walk…DSCN4007 DSCN3994And here are the blooms – Desert Gold, with luscious leaves coming from a soil that looks like asphalt-  isn’t it a miracle? DSCN3999 DSCN4005 DSCN4026

Brown eyed primroses:DSCN4034And some purple flowers: DSCN4035The next morning we swam again. There is their mining history museum right by the pool: DSCN4042Then we hiked in sandy dunes: DSCN4046 DSCN4050 DSCN4060Some more flower son the way back:DSCN4066 DSCN4070 DSCN4075Some of them fill up or follow dry river beds: DSCN4081 DSCN4098WE left Death Valley through the road that leads through Beatty. On the way there is a ghost town with hints to its previous majesty:DSCN4099This house is built from bottles! Their bottoms facing us: DSCN4114 DSCN4125Part of ghost town is decorated by some artists: DSCN4126 DSCN4129 DSCN4132 DSCN4134 DSCN4137 DSCN4144Yeh, it was good!

Mono Lake

Before driving to Mono Lake directly from Lee Vining, we made a small Juno lake loop in order to enjoy the Sierras some more.?? The mountains there are amazing!

Or so it seemed to us coming from very hot weathers in Southern Utah, Nevada and major parts of California. The air was crisp and refreshing, it was wonderful!

And then we reached Mono Lake which is a State park now, but may loose its funding from the feds because of the budget cuts and then the access to its unique formations and shores will be forbidden:

Mono Lake is the saltiest lake in the US and also the largest of this type of a lake. It used to be as high as those formations we see. They formed around on the springs that come from the bottom with lots of Ca salts and combine with other minerals in the lake water to become nature’s sculptures of different shapes:

The lake doesn’t have inlets or outlets, therefore its water is saltier that sea water many times…it is so salty. that only one type of flies live there, that lay their eggs in the shallow waters and then only one type of tiny shrimp feed on the larvae. Therefore Mano lake is Eden for birds. Lots of California seagulls and other birds come here to nest and spend winters.

And that was it – a long way through Nevada deserts towards home…the whole?? day of driving…on Rt. 120, then Rt. 6 and then the Extraterrestrial Highway 375, and then on Rt. 93, Rt. 319 to Utah.. But on the way still in California we saw a cute B&B by the town Benton – they had their own hot springs and some bath tubs or other kind of tubs for the guests to soak – they were not seen from the main area. Then we stopped at Tonopah, which had similarities with other Nevada mining towns and finally stopped at a place which was even not a?? town – just a small restaurant Little AleInn in the desert and some wagons with people living in them:

Yes, the theme was poor extraterrestrials who as if have landed here in their flying soccer in secret circumtances years ago…

I don’t envy those several people who live there…But maybe they enjoy the greatest possibility of solitude…And they don’t look like monks or nuns…

That is all about this trip. Till next trips.

The Sierra Nevada Mountains

After a night in Lodi we drove East – towards Rt. 4 which crosses the Sierras. The winding road, big trees on the sides, beatiful vies when the forest opens, till we reached the top of mountain chain with lakes on it, like on shelves:

Seems that the stones platforms on the tops are so dense tat they keep the water intact. The air became cold and we saw snow by the road, which meant that that snow was possibly not going to melt this summer:

The amazing part – once of a sudden while driving by that lake-?? it ended and we found ourselves almost on an abyss – the narrow winding road going down by steep drops. It was a little scary to drive – only for those who are used to mountains and mountain roads :-).?? And there we started wondering?? – how come that lake doesn’t drain into those deep crevices…

After landing the main part of the range we turned left a little towards Grover Hot springs on Rt. 89 which we saw on the map – to relax a little after such a hectic travel. But the views from there were nothing special, just two nice medium pools in a simple environment. And after soaking for a while we drove towards our destination – the Mono Lake. This is a view while going down the East side of Sierras.

And some more:

Then I got to know that there are wild hot springs in Bridgeport area, but it was too late. We reached Lee Vining just before the sunset. Found a motel there and decided to see Mono Lake on our trip’s last day.

Point Reyes National Seashore

The next day we again drove towards the ocean and drove north on Shoreline Hwy Rt 1 till we reached Point Reyes National Seashore, which is on a peninsular. From the visitor’s center we drove only to Limantour beach:

It very much reminded me our seashore in Lithuania. Except for those lines of thick clouds encasing certain parts of the shore in a mist:

It was a wonderful walk – almost no people, waves, sky, sand and some flocks of pelicans…

This is a walk from the parking to the shore – with a little winding stream and lots of bird songs. There are very many?? hikes and trails in this park and one can spend a week there, easy, having different places to see each day…But we had no time, as usual. So we drove up notyj still on the same Rt 1 and at some points we dived into the mist:

Then again out of it:

And even saw a colony of seals or sea lions taking a nap:

That same day the fun was basically over, for we drove inland from Jenner through Calistoga (a very cute hot spring town) and the rest of Napa valley, seeing the wineries only from our car, there was no time to stop…Till we reached Lodi for sleep.

 

North of San Francisco

The next day was a travel from Fresno, where we slept – a lot of motels (actually – too many to fill up…), to the North shore from San Francisco. We decided not to drive through the city – too slow, too much traffic, too much tension. So drove around the waters and bays on Rt 101 then Rt 37 to San Rafael and from there to the ocean, to Muir beach:

There were pretty many people on this windy evening on the beach and some were even splashing in the waves…An eagle or a hawk was circling over our heads all the time we stay there to be precise it was not circling. but hanging over our heads – flying towards the wind and to our eyes – standing still in the air:

Another wildlife showed itself to us:

And we finished the day by driving a little North to an overlook where they used to have some military outposts during the II World War:

San Francisco is seen in the far distance under a line of clouds which are usually coming precisely on the city, making it cool all year round.

Kings Canyon National Park

As I am writing this blog already in autumn – two giant 1000 year old sequoias fell down literally on a trail in Giant Forest – the popular hiking part of Sequoia N.P. Just fell down in all their 100 m (App 300 feet) length for no particular reason…A ranger was saying – maybe the soil got too wet?.. Well, it wasn’t wet enough for such a fall for 1000 years. Interesting. Must be trees like people have their fates.

So as I mentioned in my previous blog – we slept a night at the foothills and again drove all the way up?? to the Western Sierras to Kings Canyon which is connected to Sequoia NP.?? For a long time I was curious to see it for Europeans used to mention it as a very spectacular hidden secret off the beaten path.?? It was not disappointing at all:

But first of all we walked around some giant sequoias in General Grant Grove close to Kings canyon Visitor Center:

And I thought that I am tall…:-)

Yes, sequoias usually die by falling down because their root system is very shallow, and because their red wood is so resistant to elements – they lie their for everyone’s curiosity and enjoyment:

The trunk of this particular sequoia at different times was used as a shelter, as a bar and a souvenir shop.?? Right now it is just an empty hollow trunk to pass through:

This following view is taken from Convict’s flat – convicts used to do lots of the works in the canyon while the road was being built:

The water in Kings river enchanted me – so fast, so clean, green and transparant:

Andrei even cooled his feet:

THere were enough waterfalls. This particular one is called Grizzly Falls:

Then we drove to the very end where the road ends and the river is even more amazing -the waters are calmer and deep and green with some signs of its not so calm character:

This picture is my favorite of Kings canyon…From there on – lots of long trails start and lots of backpackers are off to meet?? their adventures and be more intimate with nature. Not us. We visited Boyden Cave on the way back, which is by that same Kings Canyon scenic byway:

For our guide there most of the formations looked like food – hamburgers, bacon, chicken leg.?? But this particular one as if looked like a Christmas tree or a wedding cake.

With our eyes full with beauty – we called it a day/ Still had to drive around 2 hours till we reached Fresno, the orchard capital of CA, for a night. Fresno has too many motels-?? hotels, not enough travelers to fill them.?? So to find a place to stay – no problem.

Sequoia National Park

Mid July this summer we at last visited the Giant Trees.?? Sequoia Park and Kings Canyon are both connected, they are on the same entrance ticket, but you can’t see both of them in one day. So we had to land from the heights of the Sequoia Park at the end of the first day and go back up the next day to see Kings Canyon. The point is that it is hard to find a place to sleep in between them .?? As I noticed visitors mostly camp there. There are?? several lodges inside the parks, but to pay $350 for a night is not in our practice. And when you land from the Sierras there – there are maybe 2-3 motels on the way,?? not good at all, therefore they have vacancies. And then nothing, a long stretch of driving with orchards, with towns who serve the orchards – and no motels hotels, very strange…the closest city came out to be Fresno, though with the help of people from supermarket we managed to find a Best Western somewhere in between those orchard – little town jungles. So this is my introduction to the Giant Tree impressions…Some facts impress more than others…:-)

But here is everything from the beginning. We drove through Las Vegas, then towards Bakersfield. California’s attention to renewable energy sources impresses:

After a night in Bakersfield we headed towards Sierra Nevada foothills?? from the West side and started rising towards Sequoias on Rt.198 :

The mountains are in haze and they say that partially it is because of the smog that is brought by winds from San JoaquinValley and partially from the humidity in the air in summer. they sau to see clear views you have to come in early spring. The road up the mountains is narrow and winding which you can expect.?? The views are beautiful Part of the road was being fixed, so we had to wait and meanwhile we thought that we already reached the Giant Tree grove:

But we haven’t. Those trees were something else, not sequoias yet. Sequoias grow very high – between 5000-7000 feet elevation, which is 1500-2100m in human language. They don’t grow?? grow on sea level as their cousins Redwoods, as well as they have other differences with redwoods, which i didn’t know before going to the park. Redwoods are a little taller, their trunks are not so massive and they die by 1200 years younger. Whereas sequoias are much more massive, they reach 100 m in height (311 ft) and 14m in diameter (40 ft) and they live up to 3200 years old! That is something…

They outlive many forest fires because of the structure of their bark -?? it is thick and feels like tissue paper, soft and airy, and though fires sometimes burn holes in them – the heat still doesn’t get the deeper layers.?? Their wood and bark have some chemicals that make them resistant to fungi and bacteria. Luckily.

And when you think – there are some 75 groves left in all… and all of them are on the West slope of Sierras, where the moisture comes from far away ocean to humidify its branches and the streams of the mountains feed them with water of which they need a lot.

From the Giant Forest Museum we took a shuttle to Moro Rock. Again there was a confusion. The next stop was Crescent Meadow and we planned to see the views from there and return to Moro Rock and climb it/ No way. the shuttle takes you to the Rock, then to meadows and back to the museum…So we did two rounds until we managed to climb the Rock, but on the way we saw this creature:

I felt good we were in the bus not on our feet???? – because mama bear could be close by.

Moro Rock was impressive, reminded me of Angel’s Landing in Zion NP, only more comfortable steps for climbing it. So the same as on Angel’s Landing I was scared to death to reach the top :-):

Thanks God Andrei reached the top and could enjoy the views of Sierra Nevada mountains:

Next stop was at Big Trees trail – sequoias grow usually around a little pond formed in a hollow of a big stone by some streams. they need water. Those ponds usually are not ponds any more, but a swamp or wet meadow. And therefore sequoia groves look like a circle:

The main cause of sequoias deaths is toppling. They have shallow root system and strong winds can uproot them:

The insides of the fallen trees are attractive:

Some more images of the Giant Trees. the biggest of them is General Sherman tree, but we saw it only from far away – too many people were crowding around it.

So much for this park, it took us a while to find a place to sleep that night as I have mentioned. Next Blog will be about Kings canyon.

 

 

Universal Studios, LA

Last weekend we went to see Universal Studios in LA. For those who decide to go there, too, there are coupons floating around, so try to get and use them. I guess the crisis has touched the theme park, too. We were there on Sunday and there were almost no lines, the crowds were thin, and we were able to get into our favorite rides twice. So here it is?? – entrance to Universal Studios:

It was a cold and cloudy day, so my two sweaters and a jacket were very helpful.

Parking by Universal City is $12 for a day. It was a pleasant walk from the parking lot to the entrance of the park – via an open fun-mall, as I would call it. The cashiers at the gate tried to take this pleasure away from us by offering more expensive parking tickets.

Once we entered – we were engulfed by everything about current movies or TV shows. This is the first scene we are used seeing in the Tonight Show where Jay Leno asks his famous “very hard” questions.

Then you meet the well known characters who are very enthusiastic in getting a picture with you :-)…

Then there are shows. Different kinds. First we saw the Shrek. After standing in a preparation hall for long?? minutes and watching something very boring on several TVs decorated with some funny bodies, you enter a movie theater where the seats during the show move. And they also spay water onto your face when Shrek or his donkey sneezes to make it more real. You watch it through those special glasses which creates 3D views. I guess for Shrek fans it is really fun. Me – I never got it. Maybe because I haven’t spent my childhood in the Us, so I can’t catch some jokes.

We took the excursion around Universal Studios next and here is what we saw from the hill – instead of sunny California – a cloudy LA! The excursion was very good, we were driving around the real movie sets, pavilions, even the producer offices where, as the driver said, they are making several million dollars a day! We got the feeling of how the movie scenes are created. How fake they are but they look so real in movies:

Like this plane wreck scene, it looked so devastated. The houses around damaged, the plane parts scattered. The train took us to a Mexican town with a flash flood, to several deadly empty European towns, to some braking bridge, a shark jumping from a lake, to a metro station where the earthquake happened and everything started falling apart, waters flowing onto us, fires exploding…We were even taken to Wisteria lane where Desperate Housewives live! With lots of fake wisterias and very beautiful real flowers planted in front of houses.?? It was fun and worth visiting.

The Simpsons Ride was the closest after we finished excursion, so we waited for some half hour to get into it. Of all the rides the line was the longest to Simpsons. And it definitely was the best ride – it was the simulator. We were as if in a roller coaster, then swam, then flew, then turned over and over and even got sprayed by little Marge’s sneeze. Lots of exciting physical sensations.

Then we ran to see the Water World show:

It is described on the program as a tidal wave of explosive action and it was!

People on the front rows got wet! Lucky those who didn’t because the weather was exactly not for that kind of fun. The waters in that pool were very blue, the actors played with great energy and enthusiasm and courage, lots of splashing around, riding water motorcycles and jumping, running, etc. As one of my friends used to call such things – they are meant for those who understand…

So this next show was exactly for me?? -Universal’s Animal Actors. Here is one of them. The others were cute also. They did things their trainers wanted and they were wonderful! We watched this show twice :-)…

Getting to the lower part of the park for more attractions looked like this:

Strange very tall Egyptians were wondering there:

So we did the Mummy forwards and backwards thrill ride, it was thrilling, in the dark. Then watched how special effects and pyrotechnic effects in the movies are created. It was amusing. There was also a museum of movie memorabilia. And a water ride Jurassic Park: among some grazing peaceful dinos and falling down cars…the thrill part was at the end when the boat started approaching a waterfall as if we were to dive under it. Luckily it ran out of water in time and we could pass it peacefully before the boat ran down a pretty steep hill and splashed into the pond down there -it was exciting but not as bad wet wise as the employees of the Park were scaring us.

We ended our visit with a visit to the House of Horrors – oh boy, it was scary!?? Especially passing by those three hanging bodies which you had to push to get through, yak… I lost my voice from screaming… Without the voice I went to the Terminator 3D and that was a slight mistake – it was also for those, who understand…Lots of shooting, noise, flashlights.

And then it got dark and cold and we ended our day watching TV with those little bundles of love:

The end.

We are soon leaving for New Zealand, so follow us and see NZ through our eyes if you please.

Bowen Workshop in Monterey, CA March 15 & 16, 2008

Hello again! After this trip to California spring started bursting in our Rockville, so I had to take care of my garden first. Feeling a little late with my impressions from Monterey…

Here what I saw from the airplane flying from Las Vegas to San Jose. It was the Death Valley underneath us and one could clearly see the white salts of Bad Waters! Boy, I liked it seeing from above just weeks after we visited it on the ground level :

dscf6165.jpg

Then the Sierras showed their snowy tops:

dscf6168.jpg

California on the other side of Sierra Nevada mountains is very green – quite a difference:

dscf6169.jpg

And here is the Silicon Valley with San Jose in the middle. Can you feel the tremendous and concentrated brain energy pulsing in the air?

dscf6170.jpg

Luckily the Bowen Workshop was held not in San Jose but in Monterey – it was a beautiful drive to there! I just couldn’t take pictures, the car was too fast…But believe me – there were lots of flowers on the green hill slopes by the road! You will see some of them growing in Monterey where I could walk and enjoy them. But fort of all – the House of 4 Winds (sounds impressive) where the workshop was held:

dscf6181.jpg

I mean the smaller one on the right. The bigger one is the Museum of Art. We parked the cars to unload the massage tables and were greeted by Karin Twohig – the workshop coordinator and John Wilks, the teacher for this topic: “Bowen for Back Pain” :

dscf6182.jpg

Everything was organized very well for such a sizable class – 34 participants. The House of 4 Winds had a big hall for listening to our teacher and performing the assessments he taught as well as some minimal number of moves on each other:

dscf6195.jpg

dscf6196.jpg

During small breaks we had chats in the kitchen while drinking tea with cookies, nuts and other snacks. Those breaks seemed always too short because there were so many information to exchange among participants or answers to get from the more experienced ones. I bet Sandra Gustafson never had a minute off…

dscf6197.jpg

Then again – back to demonstrations and studies. In this particular one John Wilks was showing us how to do the Pelvic procedure on a lying person:

dscf6199.jpg

During the lunch break I wondered around and saw some outstanding views:

dscf6185.jpg

dscf6186.jpg

dscf6189.jpg

dscf6202.jpg

dscf6204.jpg

The bright yellow flowers could be seen all the way from San Jose to Monterey. As I looked closer – they are from the same family as Irish shamrocks:

dscf6206.jpg

dscf6211.jpg

This time the sea lions didn’t fight for their rocks, they each had one and were peacefully resting:

dscf6216.jpg

Sometimes I wish I’d stop admiring flowers so much…

dscf6220.jpg

dscf6215.jpg

dscf6219.jpg

Returning back to Bowen workshop – this artistic house was on the way:

dscf6180.jpg

Here is the whole group of us students – Bowen practitioners:

dscf6222.jpg

dscf6223.jpg

I guess we were so in a hurry after the class that we didn’t take the untidy massage table away from the view…sorry about that…

It took me a long day to fly that 1h and 20 min flight form San Jose to Las Vegas…They found they had to attach some little thing to the airplane and it lasted for 4 h’s. So this is the evening view of Las Vegas Strip before circling it and landing:

dscf6226.jpg

Now with our sharpened skills in Bowen Bodywork we continue helping people to live and enjoy their lives without pain.

Death Valley -2

We did the Artist Drive then stopped at Golden Canyon and walked up a little. Very dry, no flowers or anything, except maybe one bush. But the rocks are spectacular:

dscf6036.jpg

dscf6037.jpg

dscf6050.jpg

And only when we reached the Visitor’s center which is by Furnace Creek – we saw the abundance of Desert Sunflowers – the ones we were seeking…Maybe I’ll place too many pictures of them here, but I can’t help. I want to share their beauty, their ethereal nature and my big feeling of ‘Awe’ -when you think: tender lush flowers in a harsh desert environment…(but you shouldn’t think, just be present – as Eckhart Tolle advises us). This is the place where the feeling of stillness and sacredness fills the heart and there is a possibility to connect with the Great Consciousness or God…

dscf6060.jpg

dscf6058.jpg

dscf6071.jpg

dscf6074.jpg

The sun was setting, so we drove back through Furnace Creek, which is a little oasis in the valley – they have some good palm trees and look like an island of life:

dscf6077.jpg

 

And then up to Zabriskie Point. When I was young and lived in Lithuania I saw a movie by this name by Italian film director Antonioni – a very existentialist movie that was forbidden in former Soviet Union. But as the constrictions were getting looser some enthusiasts showed the movie for small audiences and I never forgot it (well, and never even for a second did I dream to see the place with my own eyes). It ends with lots of naked bodies making love on the slopes of Zabriskie Point…It is a beautiful scene, but when you see the surface and structure of those slopes in reality – as one person said – making love here would be the last thing on my mind 🙂 . You can decide for yourselves…

dscf6080.jpg

dscf6081.jpg

And the sun is setting, heading home…

dscf6089.jpg

I highly suggest to see Death Valley NP, but not in summer. If you can’t go during the flower season which is March, warm yourselves up in winter or late fall. But if you are going for extremes – they say it feels like in a oven in summer. And I would also suggest not to take our bad example (in and out in 5 hours) and stay there at least for a night so that you could enjoy more of it and see its morning! There are many more good pictures to be made if the sun shines from different side. Best luck!