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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Day 75 - Inspiration On the Trail / To Monterey

I wrote in a previous blog about a woman at Zion NP climbing a trail with oxygen flowing through a nasal cannula.  I called her inspiration as I felt if she could climb the trail then others could too.

Well, yesterday when I was climbing up Yosemite Falls Trail I was near the top switchbacks where you are close to 8000 feet and the oxygen is thinner and I stopped for a young woman hiking down the trail.

It was early and didn't know if she stayed overnight or not but she didn't have an overnight pack.  She could have left real early and climbed to the top and was headed down before I got there.

As she passed I said good morning and then noticed she had s prosthetic leg below her left knee.  The stub of her leg was very red.  I paused in amazement as she made every step over the boney trail.

In my mind I also labeled her Inspiration, like I did the woman on oxygen.  

I felt so much  strength in in this young woman's presence.  This is no small hike and although it doesn't classify as a extreme hike it is advanced at 3200 foot elevation from the trailhead.  Round trip is rated at 6-8 hours although my up and down times were close to 5 hours.  

I hope everyone she passed on the way down felt this strength and made their climb a bit lighter.

My camping spot last night was so welcome after my hike on the Upper Yosemite Falls Trail.  This is the view from my campground at Fleming Meadows Don Pedro Recreation Area Campground in La Grange, California.  It's on a large lake with boating and camping.  There are other Don Pedro sites but not all were open.  

I came upon this campground by using my app AllStays.  I had checked out other county campgrounds that were closed.

I couldn't believe that I was here camping all by myself.  If you are going to visit Yosemite NP and don't mind driving a few miles into the park this is a great choice at a very reasonable costs.  They do have sites with full hookups for a higher amount than the $18.00 I paid.

My drive west towards Modesto, CA this morning was through rolling hills of farms with beef cattle, fruit & nut trees, Vinyards.  This is a sparsely inhabited area that is very picturesque.  

This is a wonderful ride that gives you yet another perspective of the verity of California.

(Web photo)

If I had settled for the night earlier than dusk last night I would have gone out to eat for dinner.  Since I didn't get dinner I decided to find a diner for breakfast.

This was no small task.  I did a search of Google Maps for diner or cafe on the road I was traveling on.  Google only showed a couple places but none hit me as the kind I wanted to go to as I passed them.

I did see a parallel road to Modesto on the Google map about 10 miles north of me and it had a few Cafes.  I decided to go off track in my search for this excellent breakfast.  This is not something I would have done with the campervan last year due to the additive costs of fuel.

As I drove north into Oakdale, CA I drove by a couple places listed on Google.  As I turned the block I found Cahoots Corner Cafe and the parking lot was full.  This is a sign of a good place to eat.  Locals packing a place, it can't be bad.  I found street parking and took at set at the diner bar.

I knew I wanted an omelette and I got their Denver Omelette and hash browns with wheat toast.  I couldn't wait to taste the perfict omelette so that is why there is a piece out of it.  

If ever passing by Modesto, CA this is a good chice for s meal.

After my breakfast I was off to find the disc golf course in Modesto. I needed to buy some time before going to pick up Denise at the San Jose Airport.

I played 9 holes and called the game as I needed time to stop by McDonalds and get gas. The course wasn't very challenging. The park maintenance crew was also mowing the course so I had to wait as he passed by with the John Deere mower for a few holes.

At McDonalds the Internet was so bad I left in a couple minutes.  As I was walking out I was stopped by a couple that had a droid tablet and couldn't connect to the Internet.  I tried helping them but we couldn't get the McDonalds WIFI to bring up the accept our rules page on their browser.  I recommended they try another free WIFI place as I think their problem may be related to the poor internet there.

On my drive to San Jose I stopped at Flying-J truck stop along the way for gas where I get $.03 off the price for having a Good Sam Card.  

Then on to San Jose International Airport (SJC) to pick up Denise and then on to Monterey.  

Dinner was fend for yourself from any of the many vendors at their very large farmers market that they hold on Alvarado Street that they close.

My choice for dinner was from an Indian food vendor.  I had a lamb curry wrap.  It was good.  Oh, I had a oatmeal raisin cookie for a snack after.


Day 74 - Yosemite National Park / Yosemite Falls Hike

My Yosemite visit started on the afternoon of Day 73 with my chance look for a camping spot for the night.

When I got to the south Yosemite tollbooth I sawed my pass and asked if there were any camping available.  She told me that they had been told that there were som cancelations at campsite 4 and Upper Pines.  

I drove into the park and stopped in at the camp office at just after 3:40 pm and stood in line to find out.  After 2 people in front of me getting camping spots I was told that there were 5 camping spots and I could get one.

The only reason that I got a spot was that there were cancelations of registrations.  This national park is so popular so if you want to stay here get a reservation.

I drove over to my campsite and checked into the camp hosts.  After checking out the site and ate I went out for a look at the area around the visitors center.

I went to the store and but was crowded and I asked the young woman that checked my purchase of Gold Fish snack if it is always busy and she told me that it has just gotten that way in the last week.  

I went back to my campsite and was eating some cerise for a snack before bed and a woman ranger approached my site.  Her and her partner go around at dusk to check the bear food lockers.  She noticed mine was open and suggested that although I was at it that I should think the doors are refrigerator doors and close them.

I had my cooler in the locker with my power cord from the car to the box.  I explained what I was doing and she wanted to see my Prius modifications and asked if o was an Engineer.  I can't run away from that question.  We then started talking about my travel, hiking, & podcasts.  It turned out that she likes many that I do.

Our conversation turned to the podcast serial that recently finished its first season.  She was frustrated with the ending of the series and she had not heard that the court had ordered Anon a new trial.  She was happy.

I was keeping her from her rounds, so she had to move on.

This morning I left the campground before the sun came up and drove to the base of Yosemite Falls as I chose this as my climb today.  I had seen another hike but something called me to want to climb all the way up to the top of Yosemite Falls again like I did last year.  

After getting my roadside spot to park I had about a half mile walk to the trailhead.  The trail takes 6-8 hours road trip and as sends about 3200 feet.  The top is over 8,000 feet above sea level and this stressed my climb last year as I came from sea level last year.  This year I have been hiking higher elevations in Utah so I hoping to have it easier.

I was one of the first to climb for the day and I passed many others on the way up.  The last switchbacks kicked my butt last year and this year it was much better.  I also learned from last year to bring 1 liter for each thousand feet as I ran out of water last year.

I past this bird that kept close to me look hung for a handout.  I guess other hikers feed him, but no food from me.

On the way up you have a wonderful view of the upper falls.

Then from time to time a view you can frame.

Closer to the top you can catch the watt as it comes over the top of the mountain.

This sign greets you at the top showing you the way to other destinations.

The views are great from here.

This is the overlook area to the valley.

When I got to the top I may have been first for the day and I soon met K, a woman who had climbed yesterday and stayed the night up here by herself.  I was impressed by her doing this the first time by herself not to mention a difficult climb.

She had all the gear with nice backpack, tent, sleeping bag & pad.  When she got her backcountry pass they made her take a bear canister to put her food in.  I guess no more are the days of hanging your cash from a limb.

We had a very nice conversation about her career being an architect and her travels.  As it turns our she has traveled many places in the world and also has studied meditation.  This is the second woman on this trip I met that studied meditation.  It was very interesting.

We hung around on top by the river and the overlook where she picked up water for the way down and purified it with a UV pen.  

It was eventually time for both of us to head down.  K was headed back to her current home in the San Francisco area and I to find a campground outside the park nearby.

Our walk down brought us past many people trying to make their way to the top.  Some in flip flops, others with insufficient water, and ones that were tired from climbing before the base of the upper falls.  

I gave a an extra bottle of water I had to some folks on the way up with insufficient water.

We also passed some views that you don't have a tendency to see as you are making your way up.

In the morning the sun isn't right for a rainbow but come afternoon it is right and very nice.

K and I parted ways at the trailhead as she parked in a remote parking lot and needed to take the shuttle and I was parked a half mike down on the side of the road. 

What a traffic mess trying to leave the park about 4:30 pm.

I went to a campground that I had been to last year but the tent camping area wasn't very good so I left for greener pastures.  After thinking I may have to drive to a city for a motel I found this nice county park (Don Pedro Recreation Agency) for $18.00 a night with nice hot showers.  A shower was the first thing I did when I parked in the site.

I was the only camper in this part of the park.  With only one bar of service I could text and randomly get and send a mail message, but nothing strong enough to be able to blog.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Day 73 - The Ability To Decide What You Do Every Day

To me when I'm on travels everyday is the picture above.  A vast open road.  This was actually what my trip on I40 when the sun came up today.

It's true that I work within a travel concept.  When I left Salt Lake City, Utah I knew I needed to be in Monterey, CA for this Tuesday afternoon.

I am not kidding when I say I didn't know where I was going until the morning I checked out of the hotel.  I look at the weather and my options and I pick one and go.  I had no plan on completing the 5 National Parks in Utah at that time.  

I had actually thought about heading into Idaho them back to CA but I decided I wanted tee shirt and shorts so I went south.

So this morning I knew I wanted to be in central CA today and decided to go to Yosemite National Park.  I did hold back coming this way until today due to weekend crowds at state, county. and federal parks, believing Sunday night would be easier to get a last minute camping spot. 

Group of electrical power windmills on I 40 between Barstow, CA and Bakersfield, CA.

Well, it was a 370 mile drive to get to Yosemite by 3:00 pm and I got one of the last 5 camping spots.  The only reason there were any open spots was because of cancelations.  

My backup plan would have been a county campground I stayed at last year 35 miles outside the park.

Folks, it is crowded here like Zion & Arches NP's.  I was lucky to get a spot.  Like the other parks there are many people visiting from other countries.

The reason I tell you about my lack of planning is that when I was a program manager and Fire Chief I lived to a plan every day.  Although, I did like the razzle dazzle of the change in plans when it occurred.  One example was when I was flying to Tokyo with my boss from Kennedy Airport in New York and we took off and sucked birds into an engine on takeoff and had to dump our full tanks of fuel into the Atlantic Ocean to come back in for an emergency landing.

I was already working alternatives in my mind on how we were going to get to Tokyo for our meeting.

I had my boss go stand in line for the United Agent for the flight we were on and I called JAL.  I got a flight for us on JAL and myboss was still standing in line.

We later found out United as booking people on the same JAL flight and it sold out after I got seats for us.  With my bosses place in the United line we wouldn't have made it our meeting.  This was my world. Plan execute replan, etc.

Last year during my 2014 Travels  I found contentment in not having to keep all this detail.  Basically it isn't necessary when you only have yourself to contend with, or should I say I am the only person to disappoint.

So I am asked, or people make comment, many times on the trip, "It must be nice to wake up and do what you feel like doing./?"

Well, yes it is, but it doesn't last for ever.  I go home and responsibilities to home and others is part of my home life and I need to be more intent on planning.  So, I'm not totally a free spirit, nor would I want to be, but when I'm solo I do and I will.

I will not be covering Yosemite NP in this post as I will cover it in total tomorrow's blog.

Here is my sunset on a mountain in Yosemite NP tonight. 

Honestly,  I did not alter the photo in anyway, including brightness, that I often do.  Oh, yes I took it and didn't photo some picture

Amazing natural color!  What a gift to have seen this.  Right place and right time.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Day 72 - A Day Catching Up / 12000+ Miles / Movie Night

I left my spot for the night as I usually do and went to McDonalds and contemplated driving towards central California and then decided to hang out in Havasu Area and do some shopping at Walmart and actually cook some fish today.  I have been wanting fish for a couple days and have been way to busy to stop and take the time.

The other thing is that wher I want to go may be crowded on a Saturday night so I will go tomorrow after the weekenders go home.

There was an antique car show right next to Walmart so I checked out well over 100 cars.  At least half had been modified.  One old Ford with a Chevrolet engine in it.  The list of what was in the vehicle was often no parts from that the time it was built.

The age of the people showing and looking were just about the same, 60 something's.  I fit in!

It was a big show and some cars were for sale.  One was $22,000. 

I have had the idea over the years of getting a vehicle and fixing it but I'm am a stock kind of guy.  I am also realistic that I don't want to take my time to do it as I have too many other things I like to do.  

It would have been a good project when my boys were growing up to spend time with them doing it.  Now I rather visit them and their families than have this kind of project and then bringing it to shows.  

I know life would have been different if my boys had settled down near home as I would have had more time with them as adults and seen my granddaughters more often.  As a result I get to have a gret time traveling to see them and the time we spend together is quality and not superficial.

A bit of digression there.  😳

The other day I went over 12000 miles for this trip.  With at least a 1500 miles to Monterey again and around then about 4000 miles to get home I am now thinking this year will come in around 18,000 miles.  

Of course the trip odometer above says 2609 but you need to add 10K miles as the odometer does not track the extra digit.

Oh my!  That is more than I would have ever guessed.  Last year with the Class B Campervan I drove about 13500 miles.

I am on the road for 3.5 months or about 15 weeks so that is more than a 1000 miles a week.

Ok, no complaints but it's hot here.  It was well into the 90's in the shade.  I'm glad to be back in the tee shirts and shorts but my body is trying to accumulate again.

I'm headed to central California tomorrow and the temperature will be moderated from what it is here.  Some Vandwellers have already started moving north to get to cooler days and nights.

Last night it was mild all night with lows on the 60's.  At least it cools down quickly when the sun goes down.

In actuality posting my blog this month has had me go over my 5gb data plan twice so I'm working on 7gb each gb costs $10.00.  That isn't too bad for what I have published.  

I only share the highlights with everyone, so ther is a lot of editing.  Sorry for the misspelled words, but at some point its all a blur after working on it each day for at least 2 hours.  I do all my work in my IPhone to simplify integrating the pictures.  My phone is getting funky with memory management and I will limp home with my version 5 but a IPhone 6 is in my future.

Thanks to all that have followed and shared comments.  I have people that want the pictures.  I have others that like my people stories, and others that would like more insight into me by how I'm writing today.  

It's a real job blogging each day.  I have followed many others and daily blogs, never mind the ground I've covered, or what I've seen, only blog randomly.  

I travel a lot the rest of the year but don't blog during this time as I couldn't keep it up.  For the next couple of days I will be doing this kind of writing.  A peek into who I am I guess.  I will share experiences that were back burnered while I was busy just getting the places I visited out.

I did get an anonymous comment today thanking me for my Great Salt Lake Island visit.  A relative passed my blog sling to him.  

The other day when I was writing my Pentfecta on Utah National Parks I thought I could be a good tour guide for the first hand information I now have.

Tonight I am talegating watching TV that is from the back of my hatch.  It's a TV broadcast Movie Channel here in Havasu City.  I'm going to watch the movie The Seven Year Itch.

Yes it stars Marilyn Monroe.


Friday, March 27, 2015

Day 71 - Reviewing Utah National Parks - It's a Pentfecta

I drove over 300 miles south and west to what I call Lake Havasu Heights today.

I'm Boondocking with other like minded people on AZ 95 just north of Lake Havasu City on BLM land at no cost and no facilities.  I do have full bars on the phone and only 5 miles to McDonalds and Walmart.  I chose this BLM spot as my stepping off spot to go back to Monterey, CA this coming week to see son Clayton and family.  I am just a few miles south of I40 to make the trip.

I have been in and out of cell service through the national parks and when I do have cell service there is no public WIFI's in the very small towns to send and receive.

This has caused me to go over my 5gb data plan and I have already gone to 6 FB and have 8 days left.  Blogging with the pictures takes bandwidth.  It's all worth it though.

So I say I have done a Pentfecta of UtahNational Parks.  Utah proudly advertises their 6't National Parks, and rightly so.

Here is the recap of the five beautiful National Parks.

They are all beautiful in their own way and I can't say that I got to explore all they had to offer but I did get a good experience at all.

This Is the most crowded park of the five, but remember it was spring break for some and some schools have vacation.  It is also closest to the two major cities of LasVegas & Salt Lake City.

Even though it was crowded it was orderly and they had a process for dealing with the number of people.  

The time of day to visit didn't seem to matter for beauty.  The afternoon is more crowded.  If you plan on staying in the area get reservations.

Going here and not seeing the other side of the tunnel to the east you only see half of what the park offers.  The park does not offer busses to this part.

Zion would rank 5th for me although it gets much of the publicity.

Bryce Canyon is cold this time of year at 8000 + ft. Elevation.  If you plan to camp be prepared.

It is much less visited and no traffic or people.

I liked the morning best here as the pinnicles are to the east so I think morning viewing is best.

I had a hard time ranking Bryce, but I would rank it 2nd and I didn't hike it due to the snow so it was fighting for #1.

Arches was very crowded but it seemed to handle the crowd.  They are adding parking at Delicate Arch.

There are so many arches that they have and more that I didn't go to.  Just a wonderful place to hike.  

As for viewing some arches like Delicate Arch is open 360 degrees so time of day doesn't matter.  Architecture Arch is best in morning to noon aun based on the viewing area.  Window arches didn't seem to matter but right next to the the double arch seems it would be best in the am.

Disputes the number of people Arches gets my pick for #1.

It is a park I could go back to daily for a week to explore.  It is the furthest away from the major cities, but with so many other things to do in the area including Canyonlands National Park.  It's a must see.  The arches will not withstand gravity for ever!

Canyonlands with its proximity to Arches NP is a wonderful alternative space with excellent hiking, biking, off-roading, etc.

I could see myself renting a 4-wheeler to explore the canyons.

For time of day I don't think it matters as there are equal views to the west side as there is to the east.

I would rank Canyonlands #3.

Capitol Reef NP is out of the way and the fact they don't worry collecting money is a sign of please come to visit.  This a very nice park that is also very long north to south and with things to see in the south that I did not get to.

It was the most peaceful and with absolutely no towns nearby it had the best star gazing.  When I got up at 5:00 this morning every star jumped out at me.  Such a treat.

I foound that there are also equal sites that are better in the am as there are in the pm.

I had a hard time with ranking this park with Canyonlands but it ended up at my #4.


I did not set out to see all five National Parks in Utah.  When I left Salt Lake City I was actually thinking I would go to Antelope Canyon on Indian Lands in northern Arazona.  Then I decided on Arches.  Well, then next to Arches is Canyonlands which was a no brainer.  Then with four National Parks down I didn't want to leave one undone so I went to Capitol Reef.

I am amazed by what I have seen and done on this trip vs last year being constrained by the cost of 10 miles per gallon for gas.  Gas was not my issue on this trip at all.  I am still getting 51.8 mpg for an average on the trip.  Gas is my smallest expense.

It was 90 degrees when I landed tonight. The sun has set and it is getting cool as it does in the desert.

I am taking a few minutes to just sit and think about my trip that has just over a month left.  I saw the forecast for 1-3 inches of snow forecasted tonight.  I do not miss it and I sure hope the weather changes soon.


Day 70 Part 2 - Capitol Reef National Park

(View of mountains as you approach Capitol Reef NP)

The drive was long as you have to go north to I70 then west on it for about 4pm miles then south again for about 90 miles to Capitol Reef.

Soon after getting on I70 west I came across a large car rolled over in the median landing on its side.  It looked like it rolled at over once ending on its side.  There were a dozen cars and trucks that were stopped and a crowd at the side of the car.  It must have happened in the last 10 minutes as there were no emergency vehicles on scene.  I continued on my way as there were enough people.  About 5 miles from the accident I came upon a Utah State Trooper heading to the accident.

The whole thing made me think that my EMT expires this month, having had it for the last 16 years.  After I left being Fire Chief I decided that I had no place to use my EMT so I would let it go.  Massachusetts had also changed the regulations requiring that you affiliate with an ambulance service.

I arrived at Capitol Reef NP and unlike other National Parks that have a booth to check in this one doesn't.  I drove to the campground taking a couple pictures on the way. It was about 2:00 pm and I got a campsite for the night.

After paying my reduced rate of $5.00 to camp for the night I went to the visitors center to ask about a 2 hour hike.  

I picked Cassidy Arch.  There was a short ride on Scenic Drive to get to Great Wash Road.  You drive down the road crossing the wash many times to the end at the trailhead.  There are 3 hikes from here including Cassidy Arch.

I met this couple from Colorado in the parking lot and they were headed to the arch too.  They had rented a car to from drive over as they didn't want to dirty or ding their car.

He commented that I had a Gregory Backpack in away that he was impressed. He said he had a Gregory but larger and he showed me his department store backpack making apologies for it not being that good.

I could see he had a GPS on his hip and as we head down the trail he says you know we will probably will not stick together for the hike as we may not hike at the same speed.

I got the message so they were a couple hundred feet in front of me and I could see him checking his gps as we walked the wash looking for the turn to start hiking up the hill.  We both figured we had missed the turn. I had been looking for the sign I was told by the ranger to look for, but had missed it.

We start heading back now I'm first and I find the sign and let them know.  Then I just left them in the dust.  I have climbed and although I'm not the fastest I was ready having only hiked 4 miles this am.  This 4 mike round trip would be harder as it is up a steep side of a gorge, but his attitude gave me purpose.

I got to Cassidy Arch and took my pictures and headed down.  I met the couple still on their way up and I got the impression that they were thinking about turning back so I showed them the dome that they had to go over and they decided to go.

On my way down I could see the arch and they were on it.  For me it was pushing 5:30 pm and wanted to get back to camp for the evening. You can see the arch off to the left - it looks black in the hole as the sun is setting.

I walked around the camp and here is the Prius with womderful views.

Another view.