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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

End of Vacation: Crescent City

Crescent City's Battery Point Lighthouse at dusk

The last few days of vacation took Barbara and I driving from Klamath Falls, Oregon to a favored destination, Crescent City, CA. The drive there was uneventful other than a 'Zambini Sisters' U-turn so we could visit a rock shop. We were thrilled because each of us found our birthstones. Barbara bought a beautiful silver set turquoise pendant, while I got a natural pink star sapphire (corundum ruby) which I all but snatched off the shop keeper's neck.

In sunlight, the rough sapphire
shows a fantastic six-rayed star

How wonderful to squeeze in a visit to Crescent City! Barbara and I were happy not only to get our usual motel room on the beach, but we got to visit with our friend Inez too.

We started out early our second morning, Inez volunteered to drive in her faithful car Ivy, so Barbara and I could stare out the windows and take in the towering redwoods. Inez is fun to tour with. From the time she was a child, she gathered ferns, Salal and other wild plants for the florist trade down in San Francisco. Growing up in the redwoods means she learned loads of really cool stuff. For example, she pointed out to us what I never would have noticed at all; red disruption of soil on a slope. Inez told us either deer or bear slid down the slope, accessing the road below. Is that cool or what?

Bear or Deer slide

Bear Berries

Inez also really knows her redwood forest plants. She was good at pointing out little snacks for me as we wended our way through the forest too!

Red Huckleberries

Mid-morning snack; Red Huckleberries

Redwood burl

Wee Barbie deep in the woods

I was pleased to realize I've known Inez for more than ten years now. We met at a Passports in Time event called "Follow the Smoke" in 2001. On that week event we both helped the Karuk elders collect several different plants for basket weaving and dying. We ran across one of our favorite such plants, the Five-finger Fern, whose stalks make the shiny black roving in Karok and Yakut Indian basketry.

Five-finger Ferns

Five-finger fern's shiny black stems

Inez hiked downhill to look at the river rocks

Inez at the river bottom

Nice fat Banana Slug

I was tickled to hear Inez call the fungus below a 'conk'. I haven't ever heard such tree hugging fungus called that before. Cool!

A redwood forest 'conk'

After our driving tour with Inez, Barbara and I hung out in our beachfront room at the Crescent Beach Motel. Neither of us were inclined to actually go out and walk on the beautiful beach, but it has been a long vacation and we were at the vacation point where your brain is focused more on home than seeing anything else. Oh well, we had a fun couple of weeks!

Quite mysterious, when we arrived in town on Monday afternoon there was nothing along the shore by the piers but gulls. Two afternoons later, Barbara and I saw this incredible sight; a ship wreck on the beach!

Ship wreck by the Crescent City Pier

Maybe this is one of the boats destroyed by the recent Tsunami that hit Crescent City. And how amazing it should decide to wash ashore during our visit.

Ship wreck at high tide

After behaving ourselves for most of our trip, eating humbly, and mostly buying and eating groceries, we ate out every chance we got in Crescent City. We adore the local Thai House Restaurant which has my favorite food in the world, bar none - Thai chicken lemongrass soup. We also had one of Barbara's favorites, Thai Vegetable rolls. Oh yum! We also have a favorite breakfast spot, which is new and the decor celebrates Plains Indians.

On the morning we left, heading out, we saw this local Crescent City car parked outside the breakfast restaurant. The back of this little car was so wonderfully colorful and interesting to read, it made a nice good bye before heading down the coast, through the Avenue of the Giants and on home to Fair Oaks.

The tilts a bit to the left

Along the Avenue of the Americas

Monday, September 26, 2011

Who's Crossing the Road?

Nevada - land of cool mesas

After a nice evening in Winnemucca, which featured a lovely HUMONGOUS dinner at a local Basque restaurant, we were northbound to Klamath Falls. After a week in Colorado and Wyoming, you can understand how we didn't expect a single thing of interest along the way, but we were wrong - the signage was awesome. Periodically the signs warned to be careful of whatever critter was apt to leap on the road in a Kamikaze stupor.

Deer crossing

No deer here, just sagebrush,
sagebrush and more sagebrush

*sigh* no pronghorn crossing here

A lovely mini-mesa, but no pronghorns

Cattle Crossing - *yawn*

We actually got excited over a sort-of Devil's Postpile, despite the power lines that ruined the view.

Hey! Now there was a promise of wild horses afoot. But signs or no signs, we found no equine critters crossing the road.

Domestic or Wild Horses?

A bit after we passed the ensie Oregon town of Adel, we saw this sign promising Bighorn Sheep - empty promise for us!

Bighorn Sheep

But we did run across a sign that delivered on its promise.

Wild Burros?

Hurrah! What we thought were fat cows, were black burros, out browsing on savory sage shrubberies. Yum...

Check out those funny looking black cows... wait a minute!

BINGO! Wild Burros!

After we tore ourselves from the distant burros, we came across a Burro mare and her little black foal. They were too cute!

This Mom wolfed down sagebrush while her foal chilled.

sweet little burro foal

Hurrah! And as for any critters on the road, Barbara did nearly hit a Mule Deer doe, but the doe made good her get away. I can't for the life of me find the photo of the doe, but I suspect you've seen enough photos for today.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Estes Park and on to Winnemucca

A view from our room at the Stanley

The morning at Stanley Hotel this morning was AWESOME. The sky as blue as the little Mountain Bluebirds, and not an angry looking cloud in the sky. We had our breakfast at the Stanley Hotel restaurant, as delicious a breakfast as we'd hoped for, Eggs Benedict for Barbara and an omelet for me.
Soon we were on the road again, headed for our overnight stay in Salt Lake City. As I drove the winding way through beautiful canyon land along highway 34 I was already having a touch of post-vacation blues. I saw 2 Red Foxes and didn't get photos of either, and for this trip to Colorado there were no Bighorn Sheep to be seen, insert large self pitying sigh HERE.

Just as those thoughts wound its way through my windier than any Colorado road mind of mine, up ahead on a curvy road shoulder were several cars, and drivers aiming cameras binoculars and huge smiles at a cliff face.

Here's what everyone saw. There are 3 ewes in this photo
Did you see this leaping ewe in the photo above this one?
I didn't notice it until I examined my shots later

They weren't in any hurry

Climbing slowly skyward
All too soon, the lively ewes disappeared beyond our view and we were on the road again.

Not long after were left Colorado for Wyoming we stopped to photograph some pronghorn grazing in the distance. This was our first pronghorn photo op of the trip because at 75 mph we no sooner spotted pronghorn than we were way past getting any shots of them.

Heads down

Heads up!

We spotted hundreds of pronghorn along the highways
I thought these 'so-so' photos were all I was going to get, but later, as we drove along an entrance ramp, we spotted some pronghorns, much closer in.

A doe eyes us curiously

I suspect this is a doe (on the left) and her twins

You can see here, whining is not restricted to human youth
Examining the photos later I noticed I had taken the second of my 'Udder Shots of North American Ungulates'. Too bad National Geographic isn't interested in my udderly facinating series.

Certainly the buck noticed those udders

The Pronghorn buck was certainly the most handsome I've ever photographed.

Pretty boy

Just when you think there is nothing interesting between you and your rest stop for the night, you run into one of those strange little highway tributes. We ran into a Wyoming tribute to, of all non-Wyoming heroes: Abraham Lincoln.

Four Score and what-the-hell am I doing in Wyoming?

Nearby the humongous Lincoln pillar was a Visitor Center that was not too interesting looking from the outside and homages to Wyoming all over a parking lot rest area. Inside however was pretty nifty. There were book cases full of free for the taking pamphlets on Wyoming attractions and history. I was happy to take several free-bee issues of Wyoming Wildlife. There was also the most compact state museum you can imagine.

The outdoor placards were decorated by the bumper crop of grasshoppers
In short, every little thing you could ever have imagined about Wyoming, it's people, wildlife and history were bill boarded and expanded on one little mini-museum. Did you know Wyoming has as many pronghorn antelopes as humans? One of many tidbits available for the curious at the rest stop.

Here, click on this photo and learn yerself up something!

A bit of Grizzly Wyoming History

A little Pronghorn interest
Not much other than wonderful scenery happened for the remainder of our journey other than some interesting spots of autumn in the hills of Utah outside Salt Lake City, where we happily bedded ourselves down for the night.

Autumn approaches