Archive for June, 2011

Road Trip: Day 6: Light Show

Today was the last day in the mountains. I drove up through Taos, and on to the Great Plains. My first real stop was a long dormant volcano whose name I already forgot because I left the brochure in the car. It’ll come to me as soon as I click publish on this. I got there too late to hike around the rim. It would’ve taken maybe half an hour, but I didn’t get to the parking lot at the top until ten minutes before the park closed for the night. Oh well, at least I got to go up. On the way down, I could see lightning off in the distance. I took some video and did capture one strike. Click on any of these for full size versions.

Later while driving, there were some strikes off to my left, so I put the camera on burst mode and pointed it out my window for a while. I got this one that way.

Finally, when I got to my hotel room in Guymon, OK, the light show was in full swing, and went on for close to an hour. I got several good shots, here are the best couple.

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011 Uncategorized No Comments

Road Trip Day 4 & 5: Grand Canyon, Page, Santa Fe

Before leaving Zion, I visited the Mean Bean coffee house for coffee and a waffle, both of which were excellent. So far I’m keeping my don’t eat at the same place twice guideline. From Zion, I drove to Page, Arizona. The notable stop along the way was the Grand Canyon’s north rim. It’s an amazing view, of course, and all the more so when you find out that reaching the other side, which is clearly visible, by car, is a 200 mile drive.

I opted not to do the 200 miles, and instead headed to Page, which sits on Lake Powell. I tried to go out and see Horseshoe Bend on my way out this morning, but the road was temporarily closed for something, the workman said 15 minutes, but when I came back 15 minutes later after getting gas it was still closed and traffic was backing up. So I gave up on that idea. That was disappointing. There was a picture of it on the wall of my hotel room which I thought was a picture of the canyon taken with a fisheye lens. It wasn’t until I was looking at stuff to see online later that I realized it actually looks that way. Oh well, some other trip!

The picture I would have taken if I’d had more patience.

Today’s main attraction was Four Corners, where Utah, Colorado, Nevada and Arizona meet. It’s the only place in the U.S. where four states meet. The site itself is operated by the Navajo Nation, and surrounded by jewelry sellers and other touristy souvenir stuff. I walked to Colorado and bought a magnet for our door at home. You should all bug @lnorigb to post some pictures of our magnet door before all the magnets pull the space station down on top of us. It’s going to happen someday, especially after all the magnets I’m adding from this trip. Walking around the monument to Colorado “the long way”, I walked through as many states as I did on my AT hike. Today was slightly easier.

Also today was the Best Buy in Farmington where I got a replacement hard drive for my ailing laptop. It’s being restored from my external drive right now. Bombich Software, makers of the excellent and free Carbon Copy Cloner are getting a donation out of this, it definitely “saved my bacon” as they put it.

Farmington has this interesting builiding in its old downtown section.

It might be hard to see it in the picture even if you click for the full sized version, but there are swastikas all around the top of it. It’s not subtle at all when you’re standing across the street from it. It’s clearly an old building, and I know swastikas were sometimes used that way prior to WW2, but it’s really surprising it’s been left that way all these years! If you can read the sign, you’ll see that Tony Bennett took up photography and set up shop in the building.

I had planned on going over the mountains and staying in Los Alamos tonight, but when I got to the road I would’ve taken, there were signs indicating it was closed due to fires 30 miles ahead. I had seen the smoke before that, but hadn’t put it together that that was where Los Alamos was, I wasn’t really headed towards it at that point. Checking the Internet, it was immediately obvious I wasn’t going to Los Alamos. The whole town of 12,000 has been evacuated. So I wound up taking the interstate (drat!) to Santa Fe instead, where I found a hotel room on my second call only because I was willing to take the room with a broken TV. But I feel guilty about being here when there are probably evacuees who could’ve used it. There are a lot of hotels here, but I doubt they’re enough to absorb the entire town of Los Alamos! If I’d thought about it a little more before heading out here, I would’ve either gone to Albuquerque or headed out past Santa Fe to Taos or somewhere. I just hope everyone from Los Alamos stays ok.

Location:Fox Rd,Santa Fe,United States

Monday, June 27th, 2011 Uncategorized 3 Comments

Road Trip Day 3: Zion

Arrived at the Driftwood Lodge in the afternoon. The town of Springdale sits just outside the entrance to Zion Canyon National Park and seems to have a thriving tourist industry. The park runs free shuttles up and down the main street and into the canyon (a separate shuttle) every 10 minutes. Given how many people were visiting, traffic must have been a nightmare before they started the shuttle service in 2000.

I barely scratched the surface of Zion riding the shuttle and doing a barely two mile hike up to Emerald Pools. It’s definitely somewhere one could spend several days.

Emerald Pools.

Looking down the canyon.

Waiting at the tunnel on the way out of the park.

Sunday, June 26th, 2011 Uncategorized No Comments

Road Trip: Days 1-2.5

I’ve always wanted to watch a Space Shuttle launch. There’s only one more, ever. So I’m on my way to Florida, the long way. I don’t have a schedule except the family will join me at Disney World on July 4th.

I do have some guidelines though.

  • No Interstates – try to take the old highways when I can.
  • Never eat at the same place twice. For example, McDonald’s is a place, not one specific McDonald’s. So I can eat at chains, but only once per. I’ll have to try the local places. I’m writing this from a 50s Diner in Mesquite, Nevada. It feels authentic to me in that the one adjective that comes to mind when I think of food from the 50s is “boring”. If I decide this rule applies to Starbucks too, I might be in big trouble.
  • If I see any roadside attractions proclaiming “World’s Adjectivest Noun”, I have to stop there. Like the World’s Biggest Ball of Twine. Or the World’s Tiniest Violin.

    They’re guidelines, not rules. The no interstates rule is pretty hard to follow completely in the southwest, but I think other than the stretch of I15 I’m on now from Vegas to Zion in Utah, and a little bit of I40, I can do it.

    So far I’ve stopped at the Palm Springs tram and then spent a couple of nights in Vegas. Tonight I’ll be at Zion National Park, and then the Grand Canyon tomorrow. Not really enough time for either, probably, just enough for some quick pictures and then back on the road.

    I was going to add pictures from the tram to this post before posting, but I’d already gotten them off my phone onto my laptop. And then my laptop’s hard drive died. Completely. I have a spare bootable external drive that was cloned just a few days ago. That works fine. The only thing I’ll lose at all besides time fixing it are those pictures. So it’s really just annoying. But boy do I feel smart for having that extra drive! I’ve never travelled with one before. Now I always will.

    Location:N Sandhill Blvd,Mesquite,United States

    Saturday, June 25th, 2011 Uncategorized No Comments
  • Off the Trail

    Yes, for real. I made the decision to get off the trail a few days ago. I’m at tge airport now waiting for my flight home. I’ve been hanging around to make sure I got a proper goodbye with my good friends Shadow, Country Mouse and Flute Walker. I picked them up near Waynesboro yesterday and we all went out for one last AYCE hiker meal (last for me anyway, they’re all still going!) and ice cream. They are friends for life at this point and I hope they make it to the end. If you’re looking for trail updates, you can follow their continuing journey at I have promised to leave them snarky comments too. If the timing works out, I’d love to come back and hike up Katahdin with them in the fall too. But other than that my hike is over.

    As for why, it just reached the point where I felt like I wasn’t getting anything out of it any more. On top of that, it’s getting hotter, and buggier. The bugs seemed to like me an awful lot; there wasn’t going to be a day I didn’t itch until it got cool again up north. I’ll miss my friends a lot, but I’m not going to miss the heat, the bugs, the sore feet, the weight on my back, or a whole bunch of other little annoyances.

    I hiked 800 miles and I’m glad I did it. I would do it again if I had it to do over. Maybe I’ll even make it back someday and do the rest. Maybe I won’t. Either way it was a great experience.

    What next? I don’t know! I’m still planning on taking the summer off of work. But I’ll spend it with Lnorigb at home or somewhere else nice instead of with the mosquitos out in the woods.

    Thanks for reading the blog. I’ll miss writing daily updates here. Writing here was one of my favorite parts of the trip.

    Location:Sayward Blvd,Herndon,United States

    Monday, June 6th, 2011 Uncategorized 4 Comments

    Day 79: OMGWTFBBQ

    Punchbowl Shelter to Brown Mountain Creek shelter. Just 9 miles.

    Today was HOT! The forecast for down in the lowlands was 95 degrees, and it felt pretty close to that up here too. There wasn’t any wind at all either. 90s, hot, humid, still air, it’s a killer combination. Tomorrow should be cooler, today was supposed to be the peak of this heat wave, but it’s still going to be in the 80s for a few days. I guess summer is here!

    I stopped at this shelter after just 9 miles. After here, there’s a big 2500 foot, waterless, climb. I’ll tackle that in the morning when it’s a little cooler, and when I’ve got more energy. I do have the luxury of being able to do some short mile days while I wait for the gang to catch up. They went a couple more miles today, part way up that mountain, but then into Buena Vista. They will zero there tomorrow. So my plan is to get to Waynesboro a day or two ahead of them and then sync back up for Shenandoah. I can either do some normal mile days and take a zero in Waynesboro, or some shorter mile days and just spend one night there. They weren’t planning on spending any nights there, just a quick resupply stop if they need it.

    Shenandoah sounds nice right now. Because the trail parallels Skyline Drive for most of the park, there are frequent restaurant, snack, and lodging options. We think we’ll be able to get away with carrying no more than two days of food through there. That’ll be fantastic if it works out. Still more guide checking to do on that one.

    Wednesday, June 1st, 2011 Uncategorized 3 Comments