Grand Canyon National Park

In March I was sent to the Grand Canyon for a two week training course and it was the most fantastic experience.  I stayed in the dorms at the Albright Training Center, which is within walking distance to the South Rim.  I had been to the Grand Canyon before, but only for a quick look on my way home from Muddy Roots one summer.  This was quite a different experience.

For one, it was cold and snowy this time around.  The first day I arrived it started to snow.  Luckily for me, it waited to really snow after I was parked and didn’t have to drive in it anymore.  It was absolutely beautiful to see the canyon covered in snow.  It was also quite magical to see the elk and deer in the snow.

Please excuse some of these photos.  I used my cell phone for photos for a few of them.  This first picture shows my vehicle after a night of snow!

The one below is the view from my room.

The second thing that made my trip so different this time around was that I was there as a National Park Service employee.  I was there to learn all about the Park Service.  I was in class with close to fifty of my peers and got to work in teams to solve everyday problems that parks are faced with.  I met a ton of wonderful people and we all got to experience the wonders of the Grand Canyon together.

My team for the two weeks.  These people are awesome!

And of course, a few shots of the canyon…

I had an awesome time at Grand Canyon National Park and Albright Training Center.  I hope to go back soon to visit the North Rim and maybe another trip in the future to venture to the bottom of the canyon.

Advertisements

Joshua Tree National Park

A couple of weekends ago my old roommate from Redwoods came down to visit me in the desert.  We had plans to go to a concert in Santa Ana, which we did, but before we headed to Santa Ana we took a detour through Joshua Tree National Park.

I have been to Joshua Tree a few times.  Once on a camping trip with Lacy and a few times for work.  We didn’t spend a whole lot of time there, but had a lot of fun exploring different things in the park.

We discovered Ocotillo plants, which were really cool.  Look at these things.  They have beautiful green leaves that hide long sharp thorns and they flower in the Spring.  I bought a National Parks Annual Pass while I was here so I plan on coming back to see these in full bloom, which should be in the next couple of months.

dsc_0061 dsc_0062

I took a ton of pictures while I was there, but didn’t notice that I had my camera on a special setting.  All my beautiful landscape photos look like they were taken in a post apocalyptic world.  I had it set to a sepia type tone.  I did get some cool shots, just not exactly what I was trying for.  Here are a few shots that came out pretty cool despite the lack of color.

dsc_0017 dsc_0037

This is the shot that made me realize I wasn’t shooting in color…

dsc_0054

And finally, we have color!

dsc_0055

dsc_0068

One spot I am sad that I didn’t capture in full color is views from Keys View.  We had a beautiful view of the snow capped San Gorgoino Mountain, Coachella Valley, and the Salton Sea. This picture just doesn’t do it justice.

dsc_0043The Coachella Valley without color isn’t very impressive either…

dsc_0047

My next adventure is to the Grand Canyon.  I have a two week training class for work and will be driving up with a co-worker from Redwoods.  Hopefully I’ll have my act together and get a Grand Canyon post up in a few weeks!

 

 

Cesar E. Chavez National Monument

I made a trip home to Fresno this weekend and on my way back I stopped in to visit the Cesar Chavez National Monument.  The Monument is located in Keene, CA and well worth the stop.  It’s less than a mile from the freeway to get to the monument, but easy to pass.  I saw the sign on the side of the road, but the driveway didn’t appear to go anywhere.  It makes a sharp turn and goes down to the visitor center.  So what looks like a pullout IS actually the driveway.

Once I found my way to the visitor center I was pleasantly surprised.  The grounds at La Paz (short for Nuestra Senora Reina De La Paz (Our Lady Queen of Peace)) are absolutely beautiful.  You can take a virtual tour of the grounds HERE.

There is a museum in the visitor center, which used to be the administrative building for the United Farm Workers.  Now the building houses displays such as; Cesar Chavez’s office, a replica of farm housing, photos and displays of the Delano Grape Strike, and so much more.

Before it was a visitor center it was the headquarters for the United Farm Workers movement and before that it was a tuberculosis ward.  The history in just one building on the property is amazing!

Outside they have a beautiful memorial garden that includes the final resting place of Cesar Chavez.  There are also trails around the gardens and beautiful roses everywhere.

wp-1478580033080.jpg wp-1478580053112.jpg wp-1478580003467.jpg wp-1478580121751.jpg wp-1478580133028.jpg wp-1478580043419.jpg wp-1478580015371.jpg

Nice Peter and My Move to Southern California

This morning I watched this video from Nice Peter and it inspired me to pick back up with this blog.  I haven’t felt like I have had much to write about that is interesting, but after watching Nice Peter’s video it made me think, maybe someone out there is wondering what I’m up to just like I was wondering about where he had been and what adventures he had been up to.

The biggest news is that I have moved from Northern to Southern California.  I went from working in a forest of giant trees to a desert filled with Joshua Trees.  It’s been a huge change, but all for the better.  I’m now working for Mojave National Preserve and am learning a TON of new things.  I’m also a lot closer to family down here so that is a big plus.

I’ve gone on a few road trips since I have been here, but nothing that I have felt was blog worthy.  I made a couple of trips to Vegas, which is only 2 hours from me now.  One trip was to pick up furniture for my new place and the second was to see the Goddamn Gallows play at the Dive Bar.  I also made a trip down to Lake Elsinore (a hour south of me) to see The Urban Pioneers play at Lucky’s Tavern.  Lake Elsinore seems like a cool little town and I hope I have a chance to explore it more.  I’m excited that there is so much music so nearby.  I felt a little cut off up in the Redwoods.  I loved my park up there and loved the people, but the lifestyle was a little lacking for me.

So now that I have been inspired once again I hope to keep up with this.  I have a new job, and am working on getting my bachelors degree so of course adding one more “assignment” to my to-do list seems perfectly reasonable to me.   I think I am going to follow Nice Peter’s lead and try for a once a week posting.  I guess we will all see how it goes.  For now I will leave you with a few pictures from my new park.  Enjoy!

dsc_0147dsc_0150dsc_0093

Cousins’ Weekend

Last weekend my cousin Kendra came up for a visit.  I had a wonderful time showing her around the Redwoods and discovering new places with her.  I have lived in Humboldt County for a year now and there is still so many things I have yet to explore.

One of my favorite places we visited was the old WWII Radar Station.  The Klamath River Radar Station B-71 is located along Coastal Drive and was disguised as a farm when it was built.  What looks like an old farm house and barn actually housed a diesel generator, electronic equipment, and two 50-caliber anti-aircraft machine guns.  You can read all about it here: https://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/aviation/rad.htm.

CousinWeekend 061 CousinWeekend 066 CousinWeekend 068

After leaving Coastal Drive we headed up to Crescent City and hiked down to Enderts Beach.  This was another new place for me.  I live on the coast, but I have never been much of a beach person.  I love being ON the water, but not so much on the beach or IN the water.  

We drove out to Crescent Beach Overlook, where there wasn’t much to look at due to fog, and began our short hike down to the beach.  It’s only a short half mile walk, that takes you past a back country campground and down to the beach and tide pools.  I, being the unbeachy person that I am, was not impressed by the tide pools.  Maybe we went at the wrong time, I don’t know.  I do know that there was as super photogenic bird on the beach though.  I mean, look at this guy……..

CousinWeekend 170You can find his whole photo shoot HERE

CousinWeekend 084

Trail to Enderts Beach

CousinWeekend 092

Enderts Beach

CousinWeekend 102

Next stop was Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park.  I think this park is my favorite of our parks.  If you aren’t aware, Redwood National and State Parks work as a partnership between the National Park and three State Parks.  The forest in Jedediah Smith is all old growth redwoods and it like walking into a fairy tale. We drove down Howland Hill Road and stopped to hike part of the Mill Creek Trail.  This is my favorite picture from the whole trip, taken on that trail….

CousinWeekend 184

We were also able to hiked thru Fern Canyon in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park.  This is a popular destination for visitors to the park and is quite crowded during the summer months.  We arrived at the Fern Canyon parking lot early on a Monday and got to experience the serenity of the canyon without many distractions.  Fern Canyon is a beautiful walk down a creek bed nestled between 30-foot fern covered cliffs.  One of the things I learned working for the Park Service is how to identify the many ferns in the park.  You’ll find Five-Finger Fern, Lady Fern, and Sword Fern throughout the canyon.

CousinWeekend 262 CousinWeekend 221 CousinWeekend 224 CousinWeekend 205

It was a fun filled three days of adventuring in the Redwoods and I’m happy I got to experience it with such a wonderful person!

And now, I’ll leave you with one last photo, taken at the Klamath River…

CousinWeekend 042

Oregon Adventure

Last week I on went on an adventure through Oregon.  The main purpose of my trip was to attend Ruckus in the Boonies in Heppner, OR, but if you know anything about me, you know I packed in as much as I could along the way.

One of my favorite musicians, J.B. Beverley, had a couple of shows scheduled along my route to the festival, so I thought I would take a couple of extra days off work and check those out.  But before I headed up to see him I wanted to check out Oregon Caves National Monument and Preserve.

Oregon Caves is located 20 miles from the town of Cave Junction.  I highly recommend the cave tour, since it is the main attraction of the park, although I was told that they had some pretty phenomenal milk shakes at the Chalet that may steal the show.  Tours are $10.00 and worth every cent.  Caves aren’t for everyone, let me tell you.  If you are claustrophobic or afraid of heights, this may not be the tour for you.  I know a fear of heights in a cave sounds counterintuitive, but there were lots of stairs involved in this cave.  500 stair steps to be exact.  You descend down into the cave and have to come back up.  Most of this is pretty gradual, but there are a few steep set of stairs. I conquered both my fears and made it through the whole 90 minute tour.  There is not a lot of room in some parts of the cave and they want to make sure the bats stay protected so backpacks were not allowed in the cave.  I could have carried my camera, but opted to leave it in the car and just enjoy the tour. So, sorry folks, no Oregon Cave pictures to post with this one.

Next stop was Rouge River, OR to see J.B. Beverly play at Cattlemens Bar.  The people of Rouge River were the nicest people ever and it was wonderful to see J.B. once again.

OR_Adventure 047 OR_Adventure 011

The next day I spent the day in downtown Grants Pass.  I wandered through all the cute little shops, checked out all the bear statues and ate at The Haul, which had excellent food and beers.  I found a super convenient hotel directly across the street from the venue J.B. would be playing at that evening and settled in.  Later that evening I headed out to the show and got to meet the ever so talented Cameron Romero (pictured above).

Cameron is working on the film “Beverley: American Driftings of a Folk Anti-Hero,” which you can find out about here.  It was an honor to watch both Cameron and J.B. work for three days.  These men love what they do and I’m excited to see the final product of their adventures together.

13510896_10207890448832268_3291207916470669794_n

The next morning I left Grants Pass and set out on my long drive to Heppner, OR.  The last time I made this drive the ground was covered in snow, so it was nice to see the contrast of the summer forest vs the winter conditions I had driven through.

20160729_095658

The view from Grants Pass to Bend, OR

20160729_145304

The view of nothingness on the way to Heppner, OR

I made it to Heppner, met up with the awesome ex-roommate, set up camp, and was ready for music!  This was the third year for Ruckus in the Boonies and my first year attending.  The line up included James Hunnicutt, The Pine Box Boys, The Sawyer Family, The Drunken Cuddle, Gallows Bound, Stoned Evergreen Travelers, and so many more!

OR_Adventure 169 OR_Adventure 184 OR_Adventure 141 OR_Adventure 129

Heppner is a tiny town in northeast Oregon with a population of a little over 1,000 people.  The whole town was wonderful to us and made the festival and the trip that much more enjoyable.

I enjoyed everything about my Oregon adventures.  I got to see so many wonderful people, catch up with and make new friends, see new places, and listen to some great music!

OR_Adventure 84

 

Mother’s Day in the Central Valley

I was able to get home for Mother’s Day this year and had a lot of fun exploring all the wonderful outdoor activities the Central Valley has to offer.

The first place mom and I visited was the Fresno Chaffee Zoo.  The Chaffee Zoo recently completed a 13 acre expansion that is very impressive.  It had been awhile since I had been to the zoo and I was seriously impressed with the new exhibits.  I’m proud of our zoo and can’t wait to see what else they have in store for the animals there!

FresnoZoo 153

FresnoZoo 234

A pile of rocks?

FresnoZoo 236

That’s not a rock!

FresnoZoo 266FresnoZoo 275FresnoZoo 301FresnoZoo 093FresnoZoo 129

On Mother’s Day we headed up to Project Survival’s Cat Haven in Dunlap, CA.  The Cat Haven sits on 100 acres just West of Kings Canyon National Park and is home to approximately 28 wild cats.  The haven is used for rehabilitation,  education, and preservation of wild cat.  You can check them out at http://cathaven.com/ to learn more.  We took a tour of the property, which is about a quarter mile guided tour that lasts about an hour or so.  We had an awesome tour guide, who was also a handler, that gave us a ton of information on each animal.  If you are ever in the Central Valley or in Kings Canyon or Sequoia National Park, I highly recommend stopping by and checking this place out.  This was my second visit to the cat haven, and I plan to stop in again the next time I am on my way to the National Parks.

Fresno 036

Fresno 015

Best tour guide ever!

Since we were so close to the national parks, we decided to continue our adventure and buy mom her annual park pass for mother’s day.  Unfortunately it was SUPER foggy and wet in the park that day.  We had lunch in the park and then headed back home.  We DID see a black bear though!

Fresno 053

Overall, it was a great trip back home!