Thursday, March 24, 2011

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks

We found another beautiful spot with a view to die for in central California.  In the hills 10 miles outside of Sequoia National Park between the towns of Lemon Cove and Three Rivers is a Corp of Engineers campground called Horse Creek campground.  It sits on one side of the lake in a very beautiful valley that they dammed.  When we pulled in, the first question they asked us was if we wanted to be a campground host as they needed someone right now.

We thanked them but said we would take the host's site as it's only one of two that has full hook-ups.  We signed up for week stay and settled in.

It was sunny the day we arrived and was to continue that for one more day and then look out, here comes the rain.  We headed to the park the second day knowing the top of the park is over 7000' elevation and lots of snow was coming.  There was lots of snow at higher elevations but the roads were clear and off we went.

Quite a unique entrance sign for a National Park.  It was going to be a long trip through the park and we decided to go over the top through Sequoia NP and Kings Canyon NP and make full a circle to get back home.
First stop was an old section of the road that went under this large rock.  Not sure what the clearance was but not much.

At higher elevations we made it into the sequoia forest with some of the largest and oldest trees in the world.  Because of limited parking we could not stop and see the largest trees so will save that for next time.

What a grand day to traverse the park with the contrast between the red in the trees and the white on the ground.

We stopped and took some pictures for this family and then some for us.  We are now in Kings Canyon NP and about ready to head back down.

At Kings Canyon NP Visitors Center the snow was over the windows with a big opening that acted as a frame.  We saw the movie, toured the visitors center and headed back to the Jeep.  It was really cold up here and we only had light coats.  Not smart thinking or I guess we weren't thinking.

We made it back home traveling on roads that would put a European road race to shame.  We never saw so many twists and turns on one road before!  We were glad we left CC at home because she surely would have been carsick.

We stuck around home for a day or two because of the heavy rain and then found another day that cleared up so we could go back and try it again.  Except the road was closed 6 miles into the park because of snow and slides. We had planned to go for a hike, and lucky for us the hike we wanted started right where the road was closed.  

 This is about 3 miles of the creek (horse creek) from our campsite looking at the mountains and all the new snow.

In the Park we saw lots of signs of spring at the lower elevations with this tree in full bloom and the top of the mountain shrouded in clouds.

We parked the Jeep where the road closed and headed up a trail (Paradise Creek) that followed the river for about 2 miles.  It was cool but saw some spectacular scenery.  Two or three areas with water falls.

We looked and looked but did not see any critters until Jackie said "stop, that's the prettiest lizard I have ever seen".  What an eye she has.  Look closely as we added some arrows to this picture so you can locate what she found.

Dick quickly pulled out his camera and got a shot of it and then started to lean in a little more and got another, he kept getting closer and closer and closer...

One knee was in the mud and he was bracing himself with one hand on the wall to get as close as he could, like 4" away and the critter never moved.  I guess he thought if he stood still we wouldn't see him.  No long lens for this picture.

Heading back down the trail and then back home for a relaxing evening and then back to rain all night and it's still raining.

To be continued...

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

San Diego Maritime Museum

As we posted in our last blog we spent part of a nice sunny day on the waterfront in San Diego to view the ships that are part of the floating San Diego Maritime Museum.  It's quoted as being "one of the world's finest collections of historic ships."

Because Dick sailed in a submarine when he was in the Navy, our first stop had to be the USS Dolphin, SS 555.  The Dolphin is shorter and a little older than the boat Dick sailed on but it was exciting for him to go aboard and remember how tight things are in a submarine.

The control room was a lot different than the boat Dick was on.  Both are extremely crowded with little room to move around but this is the heart of the submarine operations.

The Dolphin has a very small galley and one table to feed the crew.  This is the mess hall and what you see is the cooking and cleaning area with the table on the left.

Down the wharf moored to another pier was a Soviet Attack Submarine B-39.  Quite interesting to see how the other side of the world sailed in a submarine.  This boat was commissioned in 1974 and was built in Sudomekh shipyard near Leningrad.  This boat was only 30' longer that the Gudgeon that Dick sailed on.

She had 6 torpedo tubes forward and 4 aft.

Just looking down through one of the compartments.

An interesting photo of the Star of India with the backdrop of San Diego, a little of the old and new.  The Star is the world's oldest active ship and has an all steel hull.  She was launched in 1863 and made 21 trips around the world.

Blue skies, white sails and lots of rigging on her 3 masts.

The Captain's stateroom was small but a lot larger than some of the few cabins in this deck of the boat.

Are you ready to climb the mast and rig the sails?  They take her out about two times a year.
H.M.S. Surprise (replica) is a 179' full rigged ship.  Her designers and builders made a painstaking effort to recreate a 24 gun frigate of Great Britain's Nelson era Royal Navy.

Glad we don't have to buy the rope in her rigging.

Ready to hoist the sails and sail away.

  We  walked through town, caught our trolley back to the car and headed home after another great day seeing another portion of our great Country.

To be continued...

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Guitars and city tour

Jackie got a great book for Christmas "Watch it made in the USA" and we took advantage while in the San Diego area of California where we headed out on a rainy day to Taylor Guitars for a great factory tour.  They have one tour a day and it was only 30 minutes away.  It was an excellent tour, and free besides!

Took lots of pictures but will only post a few.  In this step of production one individual would match up the grain and shade of the wood pieces for the back and sides of future guitar.

Close to the end of the tour you can see the shell of the guitars and the matching necks ready for final assembly.  Rather than fit by hand they now use CNC machines to cut the matching parts for a perfect fit.

In the visitors center you can pull any guitar off the wall and play all you want. These are the five basic guitars made by Taylor.


And the various woods they use from all over the world for the back and sides.

Another day trip into San Diego and a bus ride around town.  The tour was over 2 hours with lots of things to see.  We did the full trip then came back to the start and then back on the bus to the waterfront where we had lunch and a tour of several ships.  More on that part of the trip on another blog.

After the waterfront, then downtown, we went through Balboa park with lots to see but they charge for just about everything.  Must be California.

The far end of the trip was Coronado which at one time was nothing but sagebrush and rabbits.  Next to the docks was a display showing pictures in tiles of the history of this area of Coronado.  Yes, that's Jackie in the picture.

The boat house was built 1887 and is now a restaurant.  It was open for dinner only so did not get a chance to go inside.

Going across the Coronado bridge showing just a few of the thousands of boats in this area. 

And heading back across the Coronado bridge back to San Diego in an open vehicle, no seat belts and 60 MPH a little scary (not to mention how these California drivers drive!).

Outside of Taylor Guitar we found lots of these hanging from several trees and had no idea what they are.  They are about 1 1/2" in diameter and get hard as they dry out.  We did some research to find out what they are and thanks to the secretary and our new Droid X we got all the information.  Check out our next Blog for details, that is unless you know what it is.

To be continued...

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

More beauty of the desert...

After departing Roosevelt Lake we spent one night back in Casa Grande to flush out tanks and split the driving to California into two days rather than one very long drive.  That evening just at sunset Dick went out to get some pictures of the sky and turned around to see this beautiful, full 1/2 circle double rainbow.  By the time he got the picture the second rainbow had faded but still got this one with the pot of gold on our rig.

The next day was not the best day to travel but we went ahead and made the trip to Yuma Arizona and then across the boarder to Pilot Knob RV resort in the very little town of Winterhaven California.  We ran across heavy winds and then got into heavy rain and finally sun as we got closer to our destination.

The desert does strange some interesting things when it rains, especially the ocotillo that will sit dormant and looking dead with no leaves until a few days after a rain the very small leaves will come out and then beautiful large flowers at the top of each stem.  While walking one morning we ran across this one that had started to put on it's new coat of leaves.

A closer look shows the new growth but it's a little hard to see the sharp sets of needles that we find on most plants in this area.  The leaves are tiny and don't require a lot of water but will start to drop off as soon as the plant starts to dry out again and then sits there waiting for the next rain to start the process all over again.

Another Ocotillo, but this one decided to only bloom the flowers and not produce leaves.  Must know something we don't.

This is a closer view of the very beautiful flower that is about 6" to 10" long.

On another day we took a trip to Castle Dome Mines Museum where a wonderful old mining ghost town sits about 10 miles out on a gravel road in the Kofa National Wildlife Park.  Over 30 buildings have been moved  from the surrounding area to form a town and they are all full of original furnishings.  A must see if in this area.

The main entrance building has a very unique exterior as hundreds of these boxes were left when the silver mines finally shut down.

What are they, you say?  Just click on the picture and be glad they are all empty.

A typical view of the inside of one of the buildings where most of the treasures are just laying around for you to pick up and inspect but those thing that might wander off are behind lock and key.

One of the 5 bars that helped make up this town in it's heyday.  All 5 bars are filled with old bottles.

Looking across the center area gives an idea of the size of this little town.

Not shown was one building where the walls were all painted white and all military personnel asked to sign.  There are thousands of signatures and notes.  Another building people have put up business and personal cards with push pins on all the walls.  After adding ours' we looked around and found one of our friend Steve Grobstig.  What's the chances of that happening?!!

During WW II General George S. Patton used this area for tank-training exercises and had camps set up in the desert between Quartzsite and Yuma area.  We have run across some of the areas in the past while snooping around the desert; we found where a camp had laid out a huge compass rose on the ground with the name of the camp or nearest town.

While traveling to the museum we saw three areas where the surface gravel had been removed in adjoining areas and wondered why this was done and when.  We raised the question and found that during the training the army set up rows and rows of tents and who wants to sleep on a bed of rocks so now have a smooth place to sleep.  Well it's a little smoother and still remains after 60 to 70 years.

To be continued...