Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Keira - March Edition

Santa Clara, CA - Ok, I realize these photos are way overdue, but as I explained in the last post, we've been a bit busy.  After almost a year of nomadic life, we're finally moved in to our own place and are mostly unpacked.  Not to knock Arturo's place... we can't thank him enough for saving us a ton of cash.

Anyway, I'm not going to waste a whole lot of time talking.  I know folks just want to see a Keira update.  These photos were all taken in the last two weeks or so.  She's doing great, neck is strong, she's reaching for and grasping rattles and toys.  I swear she did a front to back roll, but I can't get her to repeat the feat.  She's definitely responding to voices and will even coo, gurgle and drool in response. 

Here is a link to the slideshow:
Mostly Photos of Keira from March 2011

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Summer Road Trip 2010 - Part II

Mud Calderon, Yellowstone National Park
Santa Clara, CA - It's been a busy week for Suwei, Keira and I.  We have officially left Arturo's place (only a crib and a rooftop box remain) and have moved into our new place in Santa Clara.  Now all we need to do is figure out how the heck we are going to squeeze a 3 bedroom home into a two bedroom apartment.  I'm thankful to have Suwei, the Tetris champ, on board.  Anyway, by the end of this up coming weekend most of it should be somewhat put away and we'll start accepting visitors again. So, give us a call.

As for the post... Here is Part II of our summer road trip. If you missed Part I you can check it out here: http://somehowlostagain.blogspot.com/2011/03/summer-road-trip-2010-part-i.html This is the continuing saga of our trip from Colorado to California that we took last August. Our trip goal was to hit as many National Parks as time would allow. Part One left us at the Western end of Yellowstone National Park. Here are a few more places we went:

*** But first, one quick note. Suwei says my park descriptions are dull to the point of being painful. I have to agree. However,here's the problem. Time. In the interest of time, I robbed most of the descriptions from Wikipedia. Sorry, I'm repeating the process here. I just don't have the time to create anything more interesting. If you don't like them, save yourself a little time and just look at the pictures or skip right to the slide show at the bottom of the post.

Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve

Description: One of the best preserved flood basalt areas in the continental U.S. contains three lava fields along the Great Rift of Idaho as well as the world's deepest open rift cracks and other volcanic features.

Tiny Hikers on the Moon Scape, Craters of the Moon National Monument

Location Southern Idaho, USA
Nearest city Arco, ID
Area 714,727 acres (2,892 km2)
Established Monument: May 2, 1924
Preserve: August 21, 2002
Visitors 183,111   (in 2004)
Governing body National Park Service and BLM

Suwei and I arrived at Craters of the Moon late at night in the middle of a Thunderstorm. When we awoke in the morning, we were completely surprised by the change in the landscape. Barren barely begins to describe it. We started off with the driving tour, which seems to be quite popular at this park, as it tends to get hot and hell out there very quickly. We however ended up getting side tracked a by a ranger led cave tour, which turned out to be quite interesting. The caves are actually lava tubes that can be accessed though cave-ins in the roof.

Craters of the Moon National Monument

Newberry National Volcanic Monument

Description: Located within Deschutes National Forest, the monument protects the area around the Newberry Volcano and its geologic features. It contains over 50,000 acres (200 km2) of lakes, lava flows, and other geologic features.

Chipmunk atop Lava Butte in Newberry National Volcanic Monument
Location: Deschutes County, Oregon, USA
Nearest City: Bend, OR
Area: 55,500 acres (22,500 ha)
Governing body:       U.S. Forest Service
Designated: November 5, 1990

Newberry is one of those newer National Monuments that doesn't feel like a National Monument especially out in the eastern portion of the park.  I think it is mostly because the park is run by the US Forest Service instead of the National Park Service.  Either way, it definitely felt like there was a fair amount to see in the park.

Suwei and I spent our first afternoon there exploring The Big Obsidian Flow.  I don't know if you all got as excited as I did when you found a piece of obsidian as a kid.  I always imagined it being an Indian arrowhead or some primitive tool.  Well, if you did, then  this place is amazing.  Imagine 700 acres of obsidian surrounded by an endless sea of trees.

Suwei Hiking Amongst the Obsidian at the Edge of The Big Obsidian Flow.

The next day we set out to explore the Lava River Cave, Oregon's longest known lava tube (at 5211 feet it's just short of a mile long).  The Forest Service rents out gas lanterns so you can all the way to the end.  Next we drove up to the top of Lava Butte, a 500 ft cinder cone, for a great view of the surrounding area.

The Opening of The Lava River Cave (where there was still enough light to shoot without a tripod)

360 Degree Panorama from atop Lava Butte

My best Chipmunk Impression

Crater Lake National Park

Description: Crater Lake lies in the caldera of Mount Mazama formed 7,700 years ago after an eruption. It is the deepest lake in the United States and is known for its blue color and water clarity. There are two islands in the lake, and, with no inlets or outlets, all water comes through precipitation.

Crater Lake National Park from atop Watchman Peak

Location Southwestern Oregon, USA
Nearest city Medford, OR
Area 183,225 acres (74,149 ha)
Established May 22, 1902
Visitors 446,516   (in 2009)
Governing body National Park Service
Lake Statistics:

Greatest depth 1,943 feet (592 meters)
Average depth 1,148 feet (350 meters)
Shallowest depths 15-25 feet (6 meters) at Phantom Ship
30-60 feet (14 meters) at Skell Channel
Lake surface elevation 6,173 feet (1,881 meters) above sea level
Surface area 13,069 acres (20.42 sq. mi; 5,289 ha.)
Widest point 6.02 miles (9.69 km) from Discovery Pt to Grotto Cove
Narrowest point 4.54 miles (7.31 km) from Dutton Cliff to Llao Rock
Average height of rim 1,000 feet (300 meters) above the lake
Hillman Peak 1,980 feet (604 meters) above the water, highest point on the rim
Palisade Point 507 feet (155 meters) above the water, lowest point on the rim
Wizard Island 764 feet (233 meters) above the water
Phantom Ship 167 feet (51 meters) above the water
Sinnott Memorial 900 feet (270 meters) above the lake
Rim Village to Wizard Island 2 miles (3 km)
Volume of water 5 trillion gallons (19 trillion liters)

I absolutely loved, loved, loved this park. This was actually the first time I'd actually visited on the ground. When I was a kid my father, a private pilot, flew my brother and I over the lake in his Piper Tri-Pacer years and years ago and I'd been meaning to return since.

Suwei at the Rim of Crater Lake

The "Reservations Line" for the Campgrounds

Suwei and I decided to dedicate two full days to the park. Day 1 was spent exploring the crater's rim and waiting in line for a campsite (2 hours!! and we had reservations!) That evening we watched the sunset from atop Garfield Peak.

Sunset at Garfield Peak

Day 2 we took the boat tour out to Wizard Island. It's a little pricey but being in our mellow tourist mood, we found it well worth it. In 2010 the cost was $28 + $10 for a 3 hour stay over on Wizard Island. That gave us plenty of time to scramble up the trail to the top of the caldera and still squeeze in nap before the boat returned.

Crate Lake Boat Tour to Wizard Island

Our second night we decided to try and catch the sunset on Watchman Peak, however, the weather didn't cooperate and we got fogged out before the sun went down.

Fog Moves in For Sunset at Watchman Peak
Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument

Description: One of the most diverse ecosystems found in the Cascade Range, it has more than 100 dwelling and root-gathering sites belonging to the Modoc, Klamath, and Shasta tribes.

On the Road to Pilot Rock, Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument

Location Jackson County, Oregon, USA
Nearest city Medford, OR
Area 85,173 acres (34,468 ha)
Established June 9, 2000
Governing body  Bureau of Land Management

So, I thought Newberry didn't feel very National Monument-ish. Well, Cascade-Siskiyou takes it to another level all together. I definitely got the feeling that the forming of this park was more about preservation than visitation. There may be 100's of Indian dwelling and root-gathering sites there, but you wouldn't know it by visiting the un-manned visitor's center. The only information there is about the highway that cuts through the park. There are no maps, hardly any roads, and the only geologic feature to visit is Pilot Rock. Granted the reason for it's existence is it's extreme biodiversity, but even that is barely addressed.

The Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument Visitor's Center

Oregon Caves National Monument

Description:  The monument is known for its marble caves, as well as for the Pleistocene jaguar and grizzly bear fossils found in the deeper caves. There are four primary buildings: The Oregon Caves Chateau, The Ranger Residence, The Chalet, and the old Dormitory.

Beginning Our Tour at the Cave Entrance, Oregon Caves National Monument

Location Josephine County, Oregon, USA
Nearest city Cave Junction, OR
Area 488 acres (197 ha)
Established July 12, 1909
Visitors 88,496   (in 2009)
Governing body National Park Service
Suwei descends into the depths of the Oregon Cave
Following our GPS, Suwei and I ended up taking the back roads from Ashland, OR over hill and dale and eventually down into the park.  It was mostly guess work on our part as many of the roads the GPS suggested simply did not exist and the roads that did exist quickly degraded to the point where we thought a 4x4 with high clearance might be necessary to complete the journey.  Anyway, we made it in time to take a late afternoon tour of the caves and we duly impressed.  As I mentioned before, I was without a tripod on this journey so the cave photos of course suffer, although a few came out.
The Oregon Caves Chateau, built in 1934 is a National Historic Building and well worth a peek inside.

And that there is the end of Part II. Yes, there is a Part III on the way, but it may be some time before I get it posted, as I have not yet finished working on the photos. That and the fact that I want to get some recent Keira pictures posted before folks start sending hate mail. Stay tuned.

Here is the slide show. Lots and lots more photos in there. Check it out.

Northern Route Road Trip - Part 2