A Traveler and his Cat exploring America.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Don't Crush the Brush

Alabama Hills, Lone Pine, CA.

Everyday I go for a hike in a different direction after Bean's concludes her morning lizard hunt.
This is just one of the many displays of the rock formations in this area.  What caught my interest here was how the rocks looked all squeezed together and the one big rock along the skyline neatly divided into four parts.

And this one here as is it were neatly fitted into an empty space.

All over various areas of the Alabama Hills are these little plastic wraps protecting new plantings.

Zoomed in on a hawk surveying his domain for a morning bite to eat.

 I reached the top of the ridge which afforded a view of the Owens Valley east of us.
Thanks to the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power Owens Valley is not the lush, green fertile valley which once had a vast lake within it a century ago.  Now it is an arid, wind-blown dust bowl home for a few thousand hardy souls living in four towns in the valley.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017


Alabama Hills, Lone Pine, CA.

I had to get a new phone a couple weeks ago.  It's a story I'll not get into here just that my old phone was handicapped and a retirement was in order for it.  Just a few days ago I discovered the camera on this phone does panorama pictures.  No more taking photos side by side like below.

The different type of rock layer forming this band I find intriguing. 

I wish I knew more about geology.

I wanted to capture the wide view I have from our home site

with the Sierra Mountains as a back drop.

Later I discovered the panorama feature on my new iPhone 5SE

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Fire Update - Tuesday Evening

The mandatory evacuation order was lifted today in our neighborhood.  Still very smokey there and firefighters are lighting back fires to sustain the advance and get a greater containment.  Got reports from neighbors who have returned that there is a lot of ash in the air and on the ground.  The inside of their homes smell of smoke.  Power was restored today also.  Now to clean out all that spoiled food in refrigerators and freezers.  Some rain is predicted for Thursday afternoon which will be a tremendous help for the firefighters and clear the air some for returning homeowners.  We were extremely fortunate only due to the relentless efforts of the firefighters.  Now I feel even sadder for those who lost everything, some family members and friends.

Three Boulders

Alabama Hills, Lone Pine, California

I could see what looked like three boulders perched on top of a large rock.
I hiked over there one day and as I got closer, that is exactly what it was.

How on earth did this come to be?

Beans resting after chasing lizards.  
There are a lot of lizards around here and they are really very fast.
She only has caught one mainly because it didn't have a nearby bush to escape into.
It was released unharmed.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Wind-made Arches

Alabama Hills, Lone Pine, California

There are some arches to be found here and unlike those at Moab, Utah which some had help from water, these are solely created by wind-blown sand erosion.

Some day thousands of years from now this too will be an arch.

The skies are clear here at Lone Pine and I can see the mountain range on the far side of Owens Valley for the first time this week.  I hope conditions are likewise at the house in Santa Rosa.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Waiting Out the Inferno

                                       The Alabama Hills outside of Lone Pine, California.
                           This area is famous for all the old westerns that were filmed here.

This is our location while waiting to see what develops back at the house in Santa Rosa.
That is Mt. Whitney about one quarter of the frame over from the right side.
Mt. Whitney is the highest mountain in the contiguous 48 states.

Even here smoke from fires somewhere in the southern part of the state fill the sky.
There is a mountain range in the distance to the left that you cannot see for all the smoke.

I think of all the deer, turkey, rabbit, fox, skunk, raccoon, yeah even the annoying squirrels that live in my Annadel State Park next door where the house is that have lost their homes and may have even probably perished in the fire that engulfs most of the wild land there.  
There are a couple of mountain lion that live there too.

Maybe they were able to run to a safe place

and find a new home.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Fire Update - Friday evening

Friday, October 13.  

We knew today would not be a better day for high winds were to return Thursday evening and all day Friday.  The fire renewed itself and made for our neighborhood.  These images were of today from a friend who I don't know how she can be there as the evacuation order is still in effect.  The first two are at the east entrance to the neighborhood.  The last is Ledson Winery directly across Highway 12.  The fire retardant stopped the advance and the winds have died down some late in the afternoon.  One cannot thank the efforts of the fire fighters enough for all they do.  

We're still safe.  

Friday, October 13, 2017

Welcome to Hell

I wasn't planning to put any of the following on the blog but as I have thought about it more these past few days I decided to go ahead.  After all this blog is about my life (and Beans) and to ignore the events that have happened as if they didn't occur just did not seem the right thing to do.

While in Utah I received notice that the upcoming renewal of my drivers license this time required me to make an appearance for eye exam, thumb print and photo.  We were on our way back to the house in Sonoma County and all hell broke loose as we neared California.  In short time where I lived was under a mandatory evacuation order.  I would not be allowed to my house, the highway that runs by my neighborhood was closed down and the area for miles around was in utter chaos and devastation. There would be not a thing I could do if I continued on except be in the way.

A day later from what I could gather from news sources and a few friends and neighbors who had to evacuate, our little active adult community survived the initial conflagration.  Wineries around where we live are gone.  My Annadel Park where I always went to hike and ride my bike is in flames.  So many of the places in and around Santa Rosa are no more.  I cannot imagine what it is like there now.  No power, gas services shut off, getting around the town may be next to impossible.  As of this writing as far as I know my neighbors have still not been able to return to their homes and it is now five days from when the fires began last Sunday evening.

I've read in news sources that the smoke in the North and South Bay area has created the worst air quality known of modern time and no one would want to be in any of that.  Currently we are on the eastern side of the Sierra mountain range at Lone Pine which sits at the base of Mt. Whitney.  Sequoia  National Park is to the west of us, Death Valley to the east.  You'd think we were in a good place but even here the skies are filled with smoke and I can barely make out the mountain range on the eastern side of Owens valley.  This smoke must be blowing in from the fires in Southern California.

There is still a lot of uncertainty as flare-ups continue, strong winds fanning the flames are predicted once again and the evacuation order remains in effect.  We will stay where we are until the all clear is given then continue on with our adventures...hopefully.  And tomorrow is Friday the 13th.  Great!

Monday, October 9, 2017

Overnight Stop at a Truck Stop

An interesting sign which the second to last line I thought amusing.

Bugs vs. truck radiator grill.
Truck wins.  Bugs don't stand a chance.

And Ms. Beans in one of her favorite sleeping positions.
I've never had a cat that sleeps on their back like she does.

And speaking of the great huntress, this is one of the lizards she caught awhile back.  When she catches one she'll walk around carrying it in her mouth by the head.  Imagine having a lizard head in your mouth.  Imagine what the lizard is seeing inside her mouth.  Anyway, she'll eventually drop it and if the critter is fast enough it might elude her for a moment.  Then I'll try to distract her (fat chance at that!) but at least do my best to let the lizard get away.  This one did have a puncture wound but it wasn't mortal as when I went back a few minutes after taking this picture he overcame his state of shock and had skee-daddled.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

The San Rafael Swell

The San Rafael Swell is a huge 75 by 40 mile dome shaped upheaval in central Utah.
Interstate 70 cuts right through it providing spectacular scenery
in eroded cliffs and deep canyons for the traveler.

It is sometimes referred to as the Little Grand Canyon.
Butch Cassidy and the boys used this area to hide from those looking for them.
Pretty good place to hide I think, as long as you can find your way out.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Bonneville Salt Flats

Some of you long-time followers know that the salt flats is a convenient stopover for me and that I have attended a few speed events on the salt in past years, as a spectator of course.
An interesting fact stated on the sign is that due to the curvature of the earth it is impossible to see from one end of the course to the other.  Think about that one for a bit. 

Ah but this visit was like no other for me as the salt bed was completely covered with water.

This is the sign at the end of the asphalt road that leads onto the salt.
Motor enthusiasts like to leave their stickers here.

The approach onto the salt.  
This Indian family (not Native American Indian) asked me if I would mind taking their picture
 and I said I'd be glad to, and so I began to get ready when all of a sudden he exclaimed
 "No,no, we mean with our camera."

The Honey Bucket.  
You will never look at a port-a-pottie again without thinking of Honey Bucket.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Not Keeping it Simple

My life on the road is always about striving to keep things simple and get by with the least possible.
These people pulled in across from us.
A huge diesel truck just to pull a 5th wheel trailer?  Good grief!
Imagine the fuel mileage that must get.

He dropped down the back end at out came one of those electric smart cars.
Notice too there is an ATV just behind the cab of the truck.

Just when I thought I had seen it all when it comes to RVing.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

A New Try for the Dinosaur Tracks

The next day I got on my bike, went down the dirt road to the sign, turned and went to I had no idea.
Several trail heads with signs and information made no mention of the tracks.
Off in the distance I could see a vehicle on a hillside.  It turned out to be a tour guide for a group of foreign tourists he was showing the sights to.  "Is this where the dinosaur tracks are?"  I asked.  It was and the tourists became more interested in this old man on his bike out in the middle of the desert than they were with the tracks.  Soon they loaded up to leave and I had the site all to myself.

Clicking on the image should making it bigger and easier to read about what this area was like 
165 million years ago and how the footprints were preserved.

Just this narrow band of rock was exposed which revealed the footprints.
I wondered about how many other prints were around there just a few inches below the rock surface.

I just stood there imagining the dinosaur making this one particular impresson
that would be preserved so I could place my foot next to it.

Not much further on I crossed the boundary into Arches National Park.
"Boy, I am a long way out here.  Best I go back home."

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

On the Search for Dinosaurs

I thought I would hike cross country in the direction where I knew there were some dinosaur footprints in the rock.  I had seen signs on the dirt road - Dinosaur Track.

First I came across an abandoned water station.

The water trough.

The pump house.

The water storage tank that will never hold water again.

Moving on was this barrier across a dry river bed obviously to keep the cattle on one side. 
It was constructed from PVC pipe with cable running through it.

Further on a tank for something.  Could have been a fuel tank for some machinery.

Next to be found a wash tub that will never hold water again either.

An abandoned mine shaft that went straight down.
You wouldn't want to go walking around out here in the dark of night.

Nearby the miners changed the oil filter and added a quart of oil to something long ago.

By now I realized I wasn't going to be finding the dinosaur tracks this way just wandering around in the desert.  I turned back for camp and would try again the next day.