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Map updated to reflect actual route
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Thursday, August 7, 2008

Photos Up!

Photos are now up on my Picasa page.

They're broken down by location.

San Francisco photos here.

Pacific Coast Highway photos here.

Sequioa / Kings Canyon photos here.

And all panoramas I created from those photos can be found here.

Feel free to comment, either here or on the photos themselves :)

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Photo Delay

There will be a bit of delay getting my photos up, as my camera is on the fritz and for some reason will not let me download photos, and I don't have any other way of transferring from SD cards.

Should have it worked out in a couple days.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Random Thoughts / Observations

First, I do wish I had had cell reception when I was out in the wilderness, just because it would have made this blog far more interesting. I would have liked to have kept up with the updates, both for my own enjoyment and the enjoyment of anyone who is reading this.

Some thoughts about San Francisco :
- As with most "modern" cities, I'm always amazed at the urban planning that goes into these places. Streets are numbered intelligently and are relatively easy to navigate (minus the hills). The public transportation, while confusing at first glance, is at least well-maintained and very efficient - not only did BART stations have digital readouts telling you how long until the next train, what type of train it was, and how big it was, but even some BUS stops had similar information. Imagine, a digital display at a bus stop telling you how long until your bus arrives.
- I may have mentioned it below - I can't remember - but I am absolutely amazed by the weather in the Bay area. San Francisco in particular is mind-boggling. There are a half a dozen different micro-climates within the city proper. If you're over by the Golden Gate bridge, it is almost always cloudy, foggy, cold and windy. On the other side of town (maybe 4 miles away), it is much more sunny, warmer, less windy. Inland it is even warmer. I mean, I'm used to it being cooler by the water, that's common, but this is way more than the usual ocean breeze we're talking about here.
- Beyond the city itself, the entire peninsula is similarly varied. From San Francisco to San Jose is 50 miles, and just when I was there, the average temperature in San Fran was around 60, while the temperature in San Jose was near 90. That's a crazy difference, and you didn't need to go all the way to San Jose to feel it - just at my sister's place in Redwood City, maybe halfway between the two, was similarly as hot as San Jose. Even while doing my drive along the coast, far south of the Bay, it stayed cool and foggy for the entire drive, but the few times I ventured inland during that trip the temperature immediately went up almost 20 degrees and the clouds cleared. Just fascinating to me.

I'm sure I'll think of more little tidbits when I do my photo recap next week.

Day 6 Recap

Well today worked out very well, after all my doubt about it. The fog wasn't nearly as bad at Golden Gate as it had been on Sunday, so I got a bunch of photos that hopefully come out well - it was impossible to see the screen of my camera in the sun.

I also hiked up to Coit Tower, which took some doing - the hills in San Fran are a bitch.

Aside from that, I didn't see too much "new" that I hadn't seen on Sunday. No dice on the Alcatraz tours, obviously. I considered taking one of the other various Bay tours that are available, but ended up deciding against it. Overall I wish I could have gone to Yosemite, but I guess it just wasn't in the cards. And I know I would have been tense about making it to the airport in time, so it's probably for the best.

Now I'm sitting at SFO waiting for my flight (still over an hour away). Thank God I still have some HotSpot time from my hotel. Yay for networked hotspots!

Once I get my photos all set up, I will try to do a more in-depth recap of the trip with illustrative photos to both jog my memory and make up for my lack of ability to write well. Knowing me and my impatience with such things, it'll be done two days after I get back (I'm in Seattle until Monday night).

Golden gate

At least it's LESS foggy

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Day 5 Recap

Today is day 5 - finally caught up.

This morning I woke up, and had a decision to make. The original plan was to go to Yosemite, and camp there. I asked one of the rangers at Sequoia about the state of Yosemite, as I knew there were fires. She said there were some road closures, but the park and campsites were still open. However, she said most of the valley was smoky and might not be too pleasant. So I decided to can that part of my trip - sucks cuz I pre-paid for the campsite, but oh well. Instead, I decided to spend my morning touring the rest of Sequoia Park - actually the other half of the name of the park is Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Park. So I headed up to King's Canyon. Definitely glad I did - it was a great drive down through the canyon, and I did a nice day hike down the bottom.

Was done there by noonish, and decided to head back towards San Francisco. My flight tomorrow is at 5PM up to Seattle. I figured I'd get a hotel room close to the airport - I'm at a Red Roof Inn - and maybe if I get up early enough, spend the morning in San Francisco before heading over to the airport.

So here I am. I was hoping I could wrangle an Alcatraz tour, but they're sold out for almost two weeks. So next time I'm out here, on my agenda will be Alcatraz and Yosemite.

Tomorrow I'll mention if anything interesting happens in San Fran and try to write up a little recap of the whole experience.

I put up a few photos from Sequoia Park over on Picasa, but as I said before there's a lot of work to do on photos before they're really worth anyone spending any time to look at them.

Day 4 Recap

The first several hours of day 4 was spent driving east towards Sequoia Park. I did take one wrong turn - my only real mis-step of the trip, that set me back a good half hour or so, but nothing serious. I got to Sequoia by 10AM, which was perfect. It took a few hours to drive in, since, again, I was stopping every few minutes to shoot pictures and take in some new view. It was almost a half hour in before I came up to the trees for which the park is named. I didn't realize, but Sequoias actually grow at pretty high altitudes - between 5 and 6 thousand feet - so there was a lot of climbing inovolved.

Once I hit them though... wow. Again, I'm sure photos won't do them justice - and it will be interesting trying to do vertical panoramas, as the trees never fit into a single photo - but they really are ridiculously huge. The first thing of note I came onto was the General Sherman tree, aka the largest tree in the world. They set up a whole little area for it, where you had to hike down from the parking lot to see it. Pretty incredible.

After that, I made my way to Lodgepole, which is one of the main lodges in the park and also where my campground was. I had camp set up by 1PM or so, and went to the visitor center to get some trail information. The woman there was very helpful, and told me of a trail that was about a 2.5 hour hike, perfect considering the time of day. I took my time hiking the trail, but holy crap was it worth it.

Lots of people throw around superlatives every day. For trivial things usually - calling a cookie "the greatest thing I ever tasted", calling a random girl on the street "the most beautiful girl ever." It makes it difficult to describe something truly awe-inspiring. But at the end of this hiking trail, I came into a ravine area, basically surrounded on 3 sides by 1500-foot cliffs , one of which had a waterfall. I literally had my breath taken away. I couldn't get the grin off my face. If you've ever seen Tuckerman's Ravine on Mt. Washington, it was a similar look, but just so much more. Of all the photos I've taken on this trip, this is the one that disappoints me the most - none of them even come close to conveying the awesomeness of this spot.

After the hike, nothing much special. I had some dinner at the lodge - the lodge was really a bunch of little things - a visitor center, gift shop, mini grocery store, snack bar, and deli. After that, I did some reading and went to bed.