Monday, July 25, 2011

The Serpent's Coil Book Signing at Barnes & Noble, Wed 7/27 @ 6pm

Hey locals! Christy is doing a reading and signing at the Medford Barnes & Noble store on Wednesday night, July 27th at 6pm to celebrate the release of her new book, "The Serpent's Coil - Prophecy of Days Book II". WhiThe store is located at 1400 Biddle Road. We're handing out cool new PoD bookmarks from the series, and I'm sure there'll be a staged question from 7 year old Hank that's posed in a earnest manner. Hope to see you there!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

EJCGC - Episode IX - Home Sweet Home

We pulled our last leg today... Sparks Nevada to our little burg in Ashland, Oregon. It's great to be home! On our way we stopped at Burney Falls just outside of Mount Shasta. Teddy Roosevelt once declared this the "Eighth Wonder of the World!" I think he had too many beers that day. However, it is an awesome sight...

This was an amazing trip. The kids and I are dog tired, but we saw so much and learned so many new things. Special thanks to my parents for the sweet ride, and a lot of love and patience. We created some great memories!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

EJCGC - Episode VIII - Military Activity in Nevada

Whoa... More desert, and more desert, and more desert! Today's trek was a bleak look at the Nevada wilderness. Based on our alien experience at Longstreet Casino, it made sense that we were perched on the edge of a huge military reserve and the infamous Area 51. The military picked the right place, it's in the middle of nowhere and it's impossible to get to - range after range of plus 100 degree desert and mountains, no water, just death, death death!

We started today's leg in the Amargosa Valley, through Goldfield, Mina, Hawthorne, Fallon and finally stopping in Sparks - a suburb of Reno. The landscape was empty and hot and full of weird minerals and salty, shallow lakes. Here's the route, note the similarities with the pic above...

Sadly, we went through several mining towns that are all but dying, particularly Goldfield and Mina - beautiful buildings from the 1800's that are near condemnation. We drove through Hawthorne and saw a weird set of bunkers and odd, ghostly warehouses. We slowly realized that Hawthorne Nevada is a U.S. Army Depot where ammunition is made, tested and stored. Endless rows of ammunition bunkers dot both sides of the road. According to Wikipedia, "The depot covers 147,000 acres and has 600,000 square feet of storage space in 2,427 bunkers. It is said to be the largest such facility in the world." Friendly! Here's a pic...

Just to the north of Hawthorne is Walker Lake. The East Walker river drains into it and over the past 20 years has become shallower and shallower. The lake is about 18 miles long and about 8 miles wide the longer axis running north and south. Walker lake is very salty and as of 2004 the salinity of the lake made it difficult for native fish to live. In addition, irrigation has made the water level drop over 140 feet over the past century. That said, it is a beautiful body of water. Here's a pic from the car...

The RV park we're staying in tonight is in the shadow of a large casino and on the shores of the Truckee River - a perfect end to a bizzare day in Nevada. We're on the homestretch to Ashland tomorrow. Can't wait to see my beautiful wife, and our needy cat!

Friday, July 22, 2011

EJCGC - Episode VII - Amargosa Valley

Weird day and a lot of miles in the desert... Today we traveled from Sedona, up through Kingman Arizona, on to Viva Lost Wages (Las Vegas) and eventually to the Amargosa Valley. Tonight we are staying in a border town in the middle of nowhere - Longstreet RV and Casino!

Death Valley National Park is just around the corner, and I've got to admit that this is one of the most remote places I've ever been to. We got out of the RV to a dry 100+ degree wind, and not a cloud in the sky. Here's what greeted us...

The RV park was a madhouse of activity (wink)! Hank's reaction in this photo is a classic that I will always remember...

Thankfully one other RV showed up or we would have been robbed by ancient pioneer ghost bandits. One added bonus is that they had a massive cow... which Juliet and Hank tried to milk...

Luckily they have a car wash... just in case we needed it...

That is all...

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

EJCGC - Episode VI - Slide Rock State Park

Another great day. We drove up the canyon early and went to Slide Rock State Park. This is a really interesting rock formation that creates little natural pools and water slides. Here's a blurb about it from the Arizona State Parks web site:
Slide Rock State Park, originally the Pendley Homestead, is a 43-acre historic apple farm located in Oak Creek Canyon. Frank L. Pendley, having arrived in the canyon in 1907, formally acquired the land under the Homestead Act in 1910. Due to his pioneering innovation, he succeeded where others failed by establishing a unique irrigation system still in use by the park today. This allowed Pendley to plant his first apple orchard in 1912, beginning the pattern of agricultural development that has dominated the site since that time. Pendley also grew garden produce and kept some livestock.
You can still see the Pendley Homestead where apples were packaged and several other cabins. My brother and I spotted some of the tin irrigation ditches that he build in the cliffs above, crazy engineering and rudimentary materials. If you have kids I highly recommend this park, it's a lot of fun. Hank and Juliet swam non-stop for three hours (we're a little crispy from the sun today). Here's a picture collage and a little movie of the kids sliding around. We're going to spend another day in Sedona tomorrow before we depart for Las Vegas, so I'm going to skip posting anything on Thursday. Really tired but very happy.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

EJCGC - Episode V - Sedona

Beautiful drive from Williams to Sedona today. Yesterday we had a few thunderstorms, but today was crystal clear until some clouds moved in late in the day. The landscape of Sedona is awesome - contrasting deep reds and greens everywhere. We had a snack in the old Tlaquepaque shopping area. Sedona reminds me of Sante Fe, many high end clientele. We are in the shadow of Snoopy Rock in the Rancho Sedona RV Park. Here's a map...

It was very hot and humid today, so we took a swim in the river nearby (see below). The rock formations are amazingly cool. Here are some pics from our day...

Monday, July 18, 2011

EJCGC - Episode IV - The Grand Canyon!

We met my brother and his family in Williams last night, and today we hit the sweet spot - the Grand Canyon! Instead of driving in, we decided to take the Grand Canyon railway which is a very cool vintage train that drops you off in the south rim of the canyon. I'll let the pictures do the talking...

I'm not sure why, but I felt really patriotic during our visit. I saw hundreds of people from all over the world at the edge of the canyon. It made me realize how beautiful our country is, how epic our landscape is, and how lucky we are as Americans to live in this country.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

EJCGC - Episode III - California Water War

Today was a big road day... We drove many miles down highway 395 - parallel to Death Valley, and eventually took a left at Barstow to head east on to Williams, Arizona. Not much to report but I did find out something interesting about this area. On a early morning hike into the hills above Lone Pine, I came across this huge canal behind a tall fence line with barbed wire...

I thought this was curious, but I didn't really think much about it until I saw this...

As Hank would say, "What in the nether?!?" Los Angeles is 230 miles south and east of Lone Pine. When I got back to the RV, we looked it up and it's a grave story. Here's some info on the Owens Valley from Wikipedia:
In the early 20th century, the valley became the scene of a struggle between local residents and the city of Los Angeles over water rights. William Mulholland, superintendent of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) planned the 223 miles (359 km) Los Angeles Aqueduct, completed in 1913, which diverted water from the Owens River. Much of the water rights were acquired through subterfuge, with purchases splitting water cooperatives and pitting neighbors against each other. The purchases led to anger among local farmers, which erupted in violence in 1924, when parts of the water system were sabotaged by local farmers.

Eventually Los Angeles acquired a large fraction of the water rights to over 300,000 acres of land in the valley such that inflows to Owens Lake were almost completely diverted... In 1970, LADWP completed a second aqueduct from Owens Valley. More surface water was diverted and groundwater was pumped to feed the aqueduct. Owens Valley springs and seeps dried and disappeared, and groundwater-dependent vegetation began to die.
Essentially, to supply the development of Los Angeles, the city stole all the water from this valley. Although the farmers got paid, it devastated the region and several lakes dried up and the farm lands closed. This aqueduct supplies about 50% of the water to the Los Angeles viaduct. It makes you wonder how LA is going to fair in the coming decades. Regardless, here's a beautiful shot of the mountains above Lone Pine - I was impressed with this town, small but large in character!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

EJCGC - Episode II - Lone Pine

We are in Lone Pine, California... a cute little town of about 2,000 people that sits in the shadow of Mt. Whitney, which at 14k feet is the highest mountain in the contiguous states. The landscape here is really stunning, a huge line of mountains that seem to drop straight down to a flat desert valley. Whitney and Lone Pine Peak are at the bottom end of the Sierra Nevada range, and part of the John Muir Wilderness. Here's a pic of Mt. Whitney from Wikipedia...

I'm realizing that this area is rich in history, and I was completely ignorant about it before the trip. Today we started south on highway 395 from Carson City, through Mono Lake (where gas costs 4.65 a gallon!). At a rest stop near Mammoth Lakes I learned about the "Lost Cement Mine", a legendary huge gold mine in the area that even Mark Twain searched for in the 1860's. The plaque pictured here is really funny, it basically states that if you find it to contact the authorities so that they can put this marker in the right spot. Uh, yea sure, I'm going to contact the government if I find the mother lode!

Lone Pine itself has some interesting history as well. In the late 1800's much of the town was destroyed by a massive earthquake that killed about 10% of its residents. During World War II the Manzanar War Relocation Center held Japanese Americans in internment camps. This facility has been turned into a National Monument and I'm hoping that the visitor center is educating Americans about our shameful practice during this time. Lastly, the town of Lone Pine has an annual film festival celebrating all of the westerns that were filmed in this scenic area, including 13 John Wayne films, Roy Rogers, and many other famous films. The nearby dry lake beds have also been the setting for several cool sci-fi films including Tremors, and Star Trek 5.

Tomorrow, we're continuing through the desert on to Barstow and then crossing over into Arizona for a stay at Williams - our Grand Canyon launching point!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Epic Journey to the Center of the Grand Canyon - Episode I

Greetings from Carson City, Nevada! The kids and I are in an RV with my parents and we are headed to the Grand Canyon. Today we left Jacksonville in my folks plush 30 footer (CRV in tow). This is a really kick-back way to travel, I particularly like the couch. It was a beautiful day, we passed by Mount Shasta, travelled down through Reno and ended in Carson City.
Speaking of... This is an interesting town that became a city based on a huge silver ore mine called the Comstock Lode nearby. During the Civil War, Nevada became a state and declared Carson City as it's permanent capitol. The city also has it's own mint - how cool is that! It's pictured to the right. 50 issues of silver coins and 57 issues of gold coins were minted here between 1870 and 1893 bearing the "CC" mint mark. The mint was established in Carson City to facilitate minting of silver coins from silver in the Comstock Lode. Now it serves as the Nevada State Museum. Another piece of random trivia - the old Bonanza TV show's "Ponderosa Ranch" was placed in this region just south of Carson City. This region definitely has an olde west twang to it.
Tomorrow, we're off to Death Valley!