This is the narrative and pictures, for a short vacation around California in July 2001. The pictures up so far are all from a digital camera (Sony Mavica FD-85). I took a lot of pictures with my 35mm SLR (Canon A-1) as well, but they are still in process. Once I get them back, I'll have to look them over and decide which ones to scan in for presentation here. That will take a while, so the pictures aren't likely to change soon. No doubt the narration could use some expansion, and I'll do that too. I just can't remember all the stops & places by name right at the moment.
For vacation freaks, I was in Venice, Italy, in March-April 2001. It was not a vacation, I was working with an Italian oceanography group. But I did get a chance to wander around some. See my Venice page for access to the story & pictures for that trip.
June 30 2001
Red Rocks & Whitney Portal
It was after 11AM before we finally hit the road from Pam's place. The drive took us up I-5 out of Glendale, through to state highway 14 through Antelope Valley. Traffic northbound on I-5 was jammed from that point, due to a high volume of cars headed for Magic Mountain. We said "so long, suckers", and headed north & east on 14, through Palmdale & Lancaster, and on to Mojave. Beyond Mojave, we made our first stop of the day, at Red Rock Canyon State Park.
After roaming around the spectacular formations of Red Rock Canyon, we continued on state highway 14 to US highway 395, through Owens Valley (and the Owens Valley Fault Zone for you earthquake buffs), and came to rest for the first night at the Best Western Frontier in Lone Pine. After checking in, we took a side trip up to the Whitney Portal trailhead, where hikers start their trek along the trail to the summit of 14,494 foot high Mt. Whitney.
We did not climb the mountain. Instead, we hung around the park for a while, and then returned to Lone Pine. We stopped in for dinner at Seasons Restaurant, where my chioce from the menu was venison; I found it to be sweeter in taste to beef, and although it looks similar, it is not as chewy as beef, and falls apart much easier. It was quite good.
The table below, which will be repeated in form throughout the page, reveals GPS data for our overnight stops. GPS data for other points of interest will be found in the text, where we have it. In the table, "distance" is the total driving distance recorded since the beginning of the trip, and "time" is the same total for driving time. I did all the driving, so that's the total time I spent behind the wheel. In this case, the trip tp Whitney Portal came before distance & time were recorded.
|Latitude||36° 35.623' N|
|Longitude||118° 03.381' W|
|Time||5h 7m 58s|
July 1 2001
The road to the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest branches off of state highway 168, which goes through Westgard Pass and the White Mountains, which form the eastern wall of Owens Valley. We spent all day, visiting Schulman Grove (37° 23.129' N, 118° 10.745 W, 9985 ft) & Patriarch Grove (37° 31.645' N, 118° 11.889' W, 11293 ft). The road from Schulman Grove to Patriarch Grove is 12 miles of "washboard" dirt road, very bumpy & rough in places, but flat with no center berm. My '92 Thunderbird made the trip just fine, though it rattled and shook quite a bit along the way.
But the trip was worth it. Patriarch Grove hosts the largest and oldest of the ancient Bristlecones. The setting is more stark & remote than at Schulman, the trees are larger, but look more scraggely and worn. While Schulman Grove is at about 10,000 feet, Patriarch is over 11000 feet up, and marks the high elevation limit for the bristlecone range.
We came down off the mountain and dined in Bishop. We were hoping to stop at Schat's Bakery, but it closed while we were washing up in the restroom. So we beat a hasty retreat to the Firehouse Grill, where I dined on alligator (yup, venison one day, alligator the next). It came like alligator nuggets, just little pieces, but has little flavor. It's all about the cajun black raisin dipping sauce. The restaurant also had wild boar chops on the menu, I probably should have tried that instead. But it was a very good restaturant, and rather different inside than the name Firehouse Grill would imply.
From Bishop we drove off to spend the night in Lee Vining.
|Latitude||37° 57.291' N|
|Longitude||119° 07.120' W|
July 2 2001
Mono Lake, Bodie & Monitor Pass
Lee Vining sits on the edge of Mono Lake, home of the Mono Lake State Tufa Reserve and the volcanic features of the Mono Craters. We didn't go to the craters, as we already had Lassen on our schedule. But that morning we did go and hang around the tufa. Maybe Mono Lake is famous for its tufa, but it is also surrounded by zillions of tiny black flies that actually fly under the water.
After Mono Lake, it's not too far to the ghost town of Bodie State Historic Park. Unlike some other "ghost towns", which have more motel rooms than ghosts, Bodie is a real ghost town, maintained by the state, but looking every bit as old as it is. You can't go in the buildings, most of which would be unsafe anyway, but you can wander around, peer through the windows (the insides often look as old as the outsides), and visit the museum/bookstore.
The weather changed while we were there. The few scattered morning clouds built into ominous shapes in the east & south. There were even a few light drops of percipitation before we left. We took off back to scenic US 395 and continued on through Bridgeport, through Walker & Coleville, until we turned off just before Topaz and the Nevada border. As we climed the road into Monitor Pass through the Sierras, we could see that the clouds behind us had formed into a formidable mass, and were definitely raining on somebody, and probably on Bodie.
We were on state highway 89 now, and continued on into Tahoe City. There we spent the night, and enjoyed the fare at Yama Sushi, on Lake Tahoe.
|Latitude||39° 10.493' N|
|Longitude||120° 08.249' W|
|Time||18h 03m 41s|
July 3 2001
Highway 89 from Tahoe City to Mineral
There were no particular stops for today. The goal was to be in a good position to enter Lassen Volcanic National Park the following day. Although there had been a major fire in the region between Truckee & Reno only a few weeks before, the drive north on state hwy 89 did not reveal any sign of it. We finally stayed in Mineral, a few miles outside the south gate of Lassen, at the Lassen Mineral Lodge. There's a gift store, a small market and a restaurant, and a gast station across the street. Located not far from the south gate of Lassen, where perhaps most of the "action" is, it's a good spot.
|Latitude||40° 20.910' N|
|Longitude||121° 35.728' W|
|Time||21h 53m 41s|
July 4 2001
Lassen, including Bumpass Hell & Subway Cave
Today was a long day, but worth it. We went in to Lassen Volcanic National Park in the morning, through the south gate, and hung around the gift shop, just inside the gate, for a while. There were a couple of rangers setting up a rock display, and we spent some time with them talking about how to tell one kind of lava from another. A few stops along the road were followed by a hike into Bumpass Hell, one of the best known, smelly geothermal areas in Lassen. We hung around the parking lot at the trail head for the hike up Lassen Peak, but did not go any farther. From there it was off to the Loomis Museum & bookstore before they close, and then back to the Devastated Area. In 1915 Mt. Lassen exploded in a manner similar to Mt. St. Helens, blowing away the north side of the mountain and devastating a large area. The site is much older than that around Mt. St. Helens, so the healing process of nature has had more time to cover it up. On our way out of the park we happened along the road to Subway Cave, a buried lava tube, which we walked through (pitch black inside, you must have a flashlight). We finished up the day by spending the night in Burney.
|Latitude||40° 53.263' N|
|Longitude||121° 39.354' W|
|Time||26h 04m 43s|
July 5 2001
Burney Falls & the ride to Shasta
We spent the night at Burney, on the advice of Akkana Peck & Dave North that we really had to see Burney Falls. McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park is a small park, on highway 89 not far from the town of Burney. If you're in this part of the country, take our combined advice and don't miss it. The park is on the highway, the falls are a short way from the parking area, and as you can see from the pictures, these are no ordinary falls. There's even a small store and snack shop, and museum right at the parking lot. There is a campground, and nearby Lake Britton is popular with the campers. After spending half a day or so at Burney Falls, we drove on to Mt. Shasta City. There we spent the night at the Best Western Tree House Inn; they had to move us from our reserved room when we pointed out that they had reserved us for one night instead of two. As a result we stayed in a family suite with two bed rooms, two TV's, and a lot of elbow room.
|Latitude||41° 18.553' N|
|Longitude||122° 12.072' W|
|Time||28h 06m 59s|
July 6 2001
Shasta & Medicine Lake Recreation Area
July 6 was spent around Mt. Shasta, and at the Medicine Lake Recreation Area. We took the road up from Shasta as far as it would go, and walked around a meadow nearby. From Shasta, we went around to the south-east, back down highway 89, to the Medicine Lake Recreation Area. We never made it all the way back to Medicine Lake, but we weren't looking for it anyway. Featured stops were the lava field, lava tubes, and Glass Mountain, made of obsidian. On the way back down, two large black bears ran across the road right in front of the car; they were not just ambling along, but running full tilt. On the way back to Shasta, we stopped for dinner at the Briarpatch Restaurant in the McCloud River Ski Lodge. They had a very good, but much too large creamy enchilada.
July 7 2001
San Jose Astronomical Association
After two nights gazing at Mt. Shasta, we moved on down the road to San Jose, to attend a meeting of the San Jose Astronomical Association, and hob-nob with Akkana Peck, Webmistress of The Shallow Sky, and Dave North, former president of the SJAA (we Presidents stick together you know).
|Latitude||37° 22.687' N|
|Longitude||121° 56.360' W|
|Time||44h 47m 39s|
July 8 2001
Winchester House of Mystery (San Jose)
Before heading off to Monterey, we spent the morning at the Winchester Mystery House. Cute, but not all that mysterious. The daughter of the inventor of the Winchester Rifle believed herself to be haunted by the spirits of those killed by the gun. The spirits basically told her it was cool, as long as she kept building on the house. So she did. It got bigger & bigger & bigger, and so on, eating up the garage, barn, and a few other small buildings. Stairways to nowhere, doors that open into walls, that sort of thing. Some cute old furniture and some nice artwork (especailly a few of the stained glass windows), but probably not worth the bucks it cost to get it. And you can't even get into the gift store without buying a ticket!.
From there we went to Monterey, where we booked into the Holiday Inn Express near Cannery Row. A tad expensive, perhaps, but there are no inexpensive digs near Cannery Row, and we got a pretty good rate. The location was close enough that we walked along to old railroad right-of-way turned walking trail, over to old Fisherman's Wharf for dinner.
July 9 2001
Monterey Bay Aquarium
Most of the day passed by in the Monterey Bay Aquarium. I'm a big fan of aquaria, and I am a member of the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach. I think the two complement each other nicely; the Monterey Bay Aquarium only houses creatures that are found in Monterey Bay, whereas the Aquarium of the Pacific covers the whole Pacific Ocean. Both have excellent Jelly exhibits, but the Seattle Aquarium has a better starfish exhibit than either of them.
After the aquarium we went back to the hotel, which was conveniently located right next door to the Cannery Row Antique Mall. I bought some musty old books, and we dined once again on Fisherman's Wharf. That was followed by a walk over to the "real" fisherman's wharf, past all the fishing boats.
|Latitude||36° 36.761' N|
|Longitude||121° 53.934' W|
|Time||47h 31m 26s|
July 10 2001
Monterey & Pacific Grove
Today we spent the morning finishing up the antique mall, and then took a long walk along the beach through Pacific Grove, most of the way to the Point Pinos Lighthouse. Then it was time, after dinner, for a visit to the old Montery Chess Center, where I used to hang out when I was stationed at the Defence Language Institute. It was nice to see that Ted Yudacufski was still there after all these years (I hadn't been to see the center for a long time).
July 11 2001
Return to Los Angeles
Breakfast at the Trailside Cafe was followed by the drive back to L.A. We went back down US Highway 101, and made it back to L.A. in time for the board meeting of the Los Angeles Astronomical Society. As a rule, we never ate twice in the same place. But the Trailside was good enough to break the rule, and it was the only place we ate at twice on the trip, breakfast on the 10th & 11th. It comes well recommended as far as I'm concerned, a nice place to sit along the walking trail, and a very handy location near Cannery Row. When we got back to Glendale, we had logged 1988 miles on the GPS, and 53h 59m behind the wheel.
My traveling companion, Pamela Gonzales, has no webpage of her own (maybe we'll fix that someday). She is an artist by training, specializing in bronze casting. After several years as an art conservator, she suddenly changed careers. After studying mathematics, she is now beginning a new career as a 7th & 8th grade math teacher in the Math, Science & Technology Magnet Center of Mary McLeod Bethune Middle School, in the Los Angeles Unified School District. An avid rock hound & astronomer, she is a member of the Los Angeles Astronomical Society and the American Association of Variable Star Observers. And if that isn't enough, she is a Next of Kin Member of the Battling Bastards of Battan; her father, then SSGT Francis Stuckey, USAAF (later CWO USAF) fought in Battan & Corregidor during World War II, and survived Japanese POW camps in the Phillipines & China.
She's pretty good company too.
Solar Spectrum from Larry Webster, lead solar observer at the UCLA 150-foot Solar Tower Telescope on the grounds at Mt. Wilson Observatory
This page last modified August 8, 2001
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