Phoenix Zoo: May 2016 Saturday, May 28 2016 

American Kestrel

American Kestrel

As members of the Phoenix Zoo we entered an hour earlier than the official opening at 9 a.m. We were greeted near the entrance by a colorful American kestrel. Although the zebras were offsite waiting for a new structure, there exhibit mates, Marabou storks, were present. One was chomping away at tree rot. Three Aldabra tortoises were eager to feed on kale. One of their neighbors, a Galapagos tortoise, plunged into its water pool. Indu, an Asian elephant, entered its exhibit systematically looking for treats hidden in hanging containers. The Sumutran tiger was pacing in front of one of the exhibit windows. The orangutans were active. Kasih posed in front of a window while Daniel covered himself with a blanket. Baby Jiwa stole the show by covering a giant ball. Many flowers such as hibiscus and yellow trumpets, were in bloom. A squirrel brought our attention to a tree with pomegranates. The early morning is a good time to visit the Phoenix Zoo.

Advertisements

Pirate Cove Wednesday, May 25 2016 

Colorado River Sunset

Colorado River Sunset

We stayed in the very same Pirate Cove campsite on the Colorado River near Needles, California that we stayed in on our return from Santa Barbara in March. That was during spring break, however, when all of the Moabi Regional Park peninsula campsites were full. On this stay we had the place to ourselves. A small coyote wandered by shortly after we set up. We used the boat dock to launch our kayak and navigated the inland waters of the Colorado River. We were the only kayak on the water as most people who were there used jet skis.We were gifted with great sunsets both nights.

Our return to Prescott was without incident. It was fun to get away for three weeks, but good to be home again. Where should we go on our next outing?

Calico Ghost Town Monday, May 23 2016 

Calico School House

Calico School House

Our stay at the Barstow/Calico KOA provided us an opportunity to visit the Calico Ghost Town. This old West mining adventure, a San Bernardino County Regional Park, charges an $8 admission fee. Of the 31 structures, five are original. Starting in 1881, this boom town was bustling with prospectors looking to become rich. Some did. Calico produced $86 million in silver and $45 million in borax. In all, the area supported more than 500 mines. In 1887 with a population of 1,200, there were 22 saloons. The Calico School House, a 1955 replica of the original 1885 structure, looked more like a church to me. The school district served the population from 1882-1899. One of those who attended and lived most of her life in Calico was Lucy Bell Lane (1874-1967). We toured her home and most of the other structures. Most buildings are now commercial selling everything from candles and soaps to leather goods and fossils.The founder of Knott’s Berry Farm, Walter Knott, donated Calico to San Bernadino County. We took a break with beer and sweet potato fries at the Calico House Restaurant.

Before leaving Calico the next morning, we stopped for breakfast at Peggy Sue’s Diner. What a step back in time. The walls are covered with autographed photos from movie and music stars. The music makes one nostalgic, and the food is classic, too. Don’t miss the diner-saur park in the rear.

Lone Pine, California Sunday, May 22 2016 

Mt. Whitney Portal Waterfall

Mt. Whitney Portal Waterfall

Eight years ago we stayed in Lone Pine based on my memory about an international chess tournament held here. This small town of less than 4,000 citizens offers many tourist opportunities. One of the major attractions for the adventurous is to climb Mt. Whitney. We drove thirteen miles to the Mt. Whitney Portal that is at an elevation of 8,365 feet. From there the Mt. Whitney Trail has a 6,100 foot elevation gain and is 21.4 miles round trip. We hiked a short distance on this trail to get a sense of the strength and endurance required. The waterfall at the Portal is worth the trip.

 

 

Manzanar Guard Station

Manzanar Guard Station

The Manzanar National Historic Site is located north of Lone Pine. Originally one of ten War Relocation Centers, it was established as a National Historic Site in 1992. Shortly after Pearl Harbor some 120,313 Japanese were confined. Manzanar encompassed 5,415 acres with one-square mile enclosed in barb wire. We learned much from “Remembering Manzanar” and the exhibits in the interpretive center. We visited Block 14, one of 36 blocks. Each block had 14 barracks divided into “apartments” with eight residents. The “Loyalty Questionnaire” required difficult decisions for many Japanese. Those whose loyalty was questioned were sent to Tule Lake in Oregon. Despite the difficult conditions residents created a 3-acre park with small lakes, bridges, ans a teahouse. Creativity was also exhibited in the creation of furniture. The cemetery memorial just outside the grounds was particularly poignant. Beginning in 1969 special events for former residents and their children take place on the last Saturday of April. Nevertheless, a sad event in U. S. history that should be kept in mind as a certain Presidential candidate says he will deport illegals and not allow Muslims to enter the country.

The Museum of Lone Pine History informed us about all the films set in the dramatic boulders of the Alabama Hills of Lone Pine. We noted the Tom Mix exhibit. I was impressed with the elaborate leather detail work on Ken Maynard’s chaps. The Lone Ranger and Tonto exhibit showed the dramatic change on the Lone Ranger’s mask over time. The movie posters, cars, wagons, costumes, and memorabilia helped us understand just how “reel” important this area was for films. One of the most famous films was “Gunga Din.” Who knew?

The Paiute originally inhabited this region. They were displaced in the 1860s as gold and silver was mined in the eastern Sierra Nevadas. This area also includes the Owens Valley which became a primary source of water for Los Angeles.

We made the right decision to leave Yosemite a day early as the Tioga Pass was closed the next day. Our trip over this pass was rough on the Via. An engine warning light lit up after we had stopped for lunch at a rest area on highway 395. As we prepared to leave Lone Pine, the Via conveyed a message that we needed to add DEF, Diesel Exhaust Fluid. Fortunately, I had brought a container of this additive. After a fuel stop on our drive to Yermo the engine warning light went out. That made me a happy camper!

Yosemite National Park Friday, May 20 2016 

Upper Yosemite Falls Reflection

Upper Yosemite Falls Reflection

Abraham Lincoln set aside some lands in what is now Yosemite National Park in 1864. John Muir was instrumental in promoting setting aside even more land. He successfully lobbied Theodore Roosevelt during the President’s visit in 1903 to maintain this special place for later generations. Thank you to all who have preserved this exceptional place. We stayed at Yosemite Lakes RV Campground. Our campsite was on the North Fork of the Tuolumine River. The major negative is the mosquitoes. Cascade Creek Falls is the first waterfall encountered on our way in to Yosemite Valley from the Big Oak Flat entrance. The next major waterfall, Bridalveil Falls, distributed lots of mist that impacted my pictures. The rushing waters of Bridalveil Creek are awesome. On our first full day in the park we parked at Sentinel Bridge. After admiring Yosemite Chapel, we walked to the Lower Yosemite Falls trail and enjoyed this loop trail. A deer didn’t mind those of us photographing her. We boarded a shuttle and got off at the Yosemite Valley Village Center where we watched two films in the Theatre, ate lunch, and walked through the Wilderness Center, and Museum. We took another shuttle to the Mirror Lake trail where we hiked along Tenaya Creek.

Washburn Point

Washburn Point Vista

On our second full day in the park, we drove to Washburn Point for magnificent views of the 8,942 foot Half Dome, Nevada Falls with its 597 foot drop, and Vernal Falls with its drop of 307 feet. At the end of this road, Glacier Point, offers panoramic views of both Yosemite Falls, Half Dome and Nevada/Vernal Falls. Back in our campground we took the steep climb of the Yurt Village Trail and returned via the Bunkhouse Trail and the Hardin Flat Road.

We decided to depart a day earlier than originally planned because weather forecasts predicted an impending storm. The Tioga Pass officially opened on May 18th, but would be closed if it snowed at elevations below 9,945 feet. We successfully negotiated the pass but encountered winds on our way to Lone Pine.

Elko – Sparks – Manteca Wednesday, May 18 2016 

We drove from Salt Lake City to Elko, Nevada. We stayed in the Iron Horse RV Campground. I reminded my wife that an “iron horse” was a steam locomotive.

Sparks Marina Park

Sparks Marina Park

The Sparks RV Park & Marina is rated 10-10-10. We walked around the Sparks Marina Park. We learned that the Blaisdell family settled here in August 1861 in search of gold. It later became a gravel excavation site. More recently, settlement money from contaminated soil caused by a nearby storage tank allowed for the creation of this 77-acre park. Another information sign alerted us to the fact that an F-4 Phantom II Reconnaissance Jet that had crash landed April 27, 1988 had been decommissioned and placed in 50 feet of water in the Park for Scuba divers to enjoy.

Walthall Slough

Walthall Slough

We stayed at the Turtle Beach Resort in Manteca, California. We visited a nearby grocery store to restock our pantry and a laundry to wash dirty clothes. We inflated our Sea Eagle 370 kayak for its maiden voyage in the Walthall Slough off the San Joaquin River. One seat deflated, but otherwise it was a pleasant voyage. We saw two herons. A bluebird graced us with a visit at our campsite.

Next Page »