Monthly Archives: November 2012

One Oh One

Wednesday evening and Thursday, I had the chance to take a slow drive up U.S. Highway 101, along the California and Oregon coasts.  It was a beautiful drive and I plan to do this again in the future.  There’s so much to see.  I hardly even scratched the surface.

I saw an amazing number of elk along the Highway, in the Humboldt County area of Northern California.  This was the biggest one:

My initial plan was to go see the giant redwoods, but I enjoyed the coast so much that I just stuck with it.  I never did visit even one of the giant redwoods parks.

The “Natural Bridges” were really amazing.  There is a trail which leads down to the bridges.  Of course I had to run down, check it out up close, and walk right out on top of the first one….

On one of the Oregon beaches I ran across this wooden sign with a poem and a painting of two swallows on it.  I’m not sure what the story behind the sign is, or if there are other signs like it on other beaches.

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San Francisco

My journey this weekend was partially inspired by another another WordPress blog.  Thanks, daydreams & shoestrings!  When I saw that blog entry I knew I would have to visit this staircase.  It’s pretty amazing.  The scale of the thing is really mind blowing.
The staircase leads up to another road, and a smaller second staircase of plain, slightly decaying concrete.  This in turn leads to another road and a much longer wooden staircase to the top of the hill.  The view from the top was pretty spectacular.  I pieced together the following panorama from 11 pictures, using Microsoft I.C.E., my first time using this software.  It’s pretty impressive and a HUGE file size, even in .jpg format.
On the way down the staircase, I met a lady carrying a book titled, “Stairway Walks in San Francisco.”  It had the Mosaic Staircase featured prominently on the cover–another book which is headed for the top of my reading list!
I also tried to visit the Point Bonita lighthouse, but ended up there at the wrong time of day–it’s only open from 12:30 to 3:30.  This is a picture of a decaying brick/concrete dome, near the trailhead to the lighthouse.
A few other random pictures:

Vegas

I don’t have a ton of photos to post from Las Vegas.  I was mostly just enjoying spending time with family there.  I do have a few though.  The first is a night time shot from the Stratosphere.  I thought this would make a good place to watch the sun setting and also a nice spot to get a night time picture of the Las Vegas Strip.  It is a terrific view, but the view is a obstructed by one unlit tower on the left edge of the photo.  Also, between the wind and the rides operating on the top of the Stratosphere, it really isn’t stable enough for time lapse photography.

We visited the Hoover Dam and walked across the new bridge.  I liked this shot of the bridge’s shadow on the dam.  It was a disappointing place to take pictures though, because no matter what angles I chose I seemed to always have a rat’s nest of power lines in the frame.

I loved the glass sculptures which we found throughout the casinos.  I can’t remember which casinos the individual photos are from.Parasols decorating a casino ceiling:

This was billed as the world’s largest chocolate fountain.  Mmmmmmmmmmm…  …chocolate!I couldn’t back up quite far enough to fit the whole thing into the frame–so the top of the fountain is cut off.  I really MUST get a wider angle lens.

Red Rock Canyon

I drove to Las Vegas Thursday night, to visit my Aunt.  I arrived just as the sun was coming up.  I didn’t want to wake anybody, so I drove out to Red Rocks to take a few pictures.

There were a lot of yellow flowers in the park.

I looked, but I didn’t spot any tortoises.

First run-in with “The Man”

I didn’t get as much photography done this week as my loyal fans have come to expect.  I did however, have every intention of spending a night sleeping at the coast.  I traveled out to the coast on Sunday, took some pictures of the beach, and found what looked like an ideal spot to spend a quiet night listening to the waves crashing on the shore.

My ideal spot was a vista point, just off an incredibly remote section of Highway 1, with a sign indicating it was closed.  Closer inspection led me to believe that it was just the restrooms which were actually closed.  There was no gate blocking the road out to the vista point.  The parking lot and trails, while incredibly run-down, were all perfectly accessible.  There was just enough of a rise in middle of the access road to prevent traffic along Highway 1 from seeing a car parked in the vista point’s parking lot.  And when I scouted it during the daytime, I realized that the “closed” sign was deterring traffic from using the vista point.

I continued on down the Highway, planning to return to the vista later, and took some pictures of the sunset.

Later still I made my first attempt at taking pictures of the stars and Milky Way, before moonrise.  I still haven’t gotten a tripod, so I was just setting my camera on the roof of the Prius and using the delay timer to allow for a reasonably steady shot.  Clearly I will need a wider angle lens for really good shots of the Milky Way.

After I grew tired of struggling to get decent shots of the stars, and the traffic had dwindled to essentially zero, I headed back to the abandoned vista point.  At about 9 PM I fell asleep.  It felt like 10 PM, since we just changed the clocks, but still this was an early night for me.  I was thinking it would be a good opportunity to catch up on my sleep, listening to faint sounds of the ocean down below.

At about 9:45 I was awoken by “The Man” rapping a flashlight on my window, demanding to know if I had any weapons in the car, and demanding to see my driver’s license.  I was somewhat prepared for this, having read quite a bit of The Survival Guide to Homelessness.  Even so, being woken up this way did come as a bit of a shock.  Fortunately I wake up sweet.  And actually it wasn’t exactly “The Man,” it was a lady, park ranger, rather than a cop.  She was rather gruff looking, and very gruff sounding at first.  By the end of the conversation though, after running my license, she ended up sounding a lot sweeter.  Towards the end of the conversation, I suspect she was starting to realize how ludicrous it was to wake up a person who was tired enough to be sleeping in their car, insist that they leave an abandoned parking lot in the middle of nowhere, and drive in their tired out condition back to town.  It’s hard for me to see how that was “in the public interest” and I suspect she was questioning it as well.  At any rate, I got the impression that she was just following policy and not terribly enthusiastic about having to do so.

By the time that was over I really needed sleep a lot more than I needed further adventures, so I headed back in to town (a few hours driving), and slept at the standard Walmart parking lot.  I’m really developing a deep appreciation for Walmart’s policy allowing people to sleep there without any hassle.  And so far, I’ve seen the same RV in the parking lot every day, so I’m not the only one enjoying their accommodations.

I will have to seek out another place to sleep on weekends in the future.  The coast is looking like a bigger challenge than I would ever have guessed.

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A few random pictures in no particular order….