Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Moro Rock Trail

One of the shortest trails in Sequoia National Park, at only one-quarter of a mile in length, the Moro Rock Trail is also one of the steepest, climbing 300 feet in elevation. The path twists and turns around, over, and through the rock as it rises to the top. The views are stupendous!

A sign at the bottom of the trail warns that even though it is short, the trail is strenuous. Some of the steps have been, quite literally, carved from the rock.

Approaching the top of Moro Rock. It is a pretty safe trail with railings in place, where needed, for safety's sake. It's not scary, unless you decide to look over the edge!

Plants seemed to be growing in nearly every crevice.

It really wasn't dangerous, but glancing over the side and straight down did cause a bit of dizziness.

Looking south, toward the entrance to Sequoia National Park.

At the top of Moro Rock.

Spectacular views in every direction.

Just a few of the steps that have been carved from the rock.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Central California

Okay, now that I'm “caught up” with posts from before the Jamboree we'll get to the more recent stuff though now I'm even further behind because of the lack of internet access. (Rant: it's extremely frustrating when a place – any place – says they have wifi available but it doesn't work! Yeah, they have it, you just can't use it! Sigh.) Due to where I've been, I don't think that I would have had internet access even if I had an “air card” or some other techno thingy.

Anyway, back on June 15th I left the coast near Ventura and made my way north and east to central California. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that it was cool on the coast but it was hot once you got a few miles inland. A short stop in Maricopa left me drenched in sweat and the van was hotter than an oven after just 10 minutes of it sitting with the windows closed. Dry heat or not, it was still HOT.

That night I stopped at Kern River State Park just west of Bakersfield. In addition to the river, there was a lake in the park also, whose name I don't recall and didn't write down. The campground was huge. But it was empty except for one site, which had several adults and a bunch of kids of all ages. I selected a site along the river about in the middle of the campground a little ways from the occupied site. There were several cars that drove through the campground later in the evening but none of them stopped for the night.

I thought it was a little strange that with the heat there weren't more people at the campground taking advantage of the river and the lake. However, there were several groups of “tubers” that floated by. The river was high and the current was fast. The other strange thing was that no one ever came around to collect the camping fee and there was no self-serve pay station.

It was a pretty park, well maintained and clean and I didn't have any “bad vibes” about the place. Large trees provided plenty of shade from the hot sun and there was a nice breeze. All in all it was very pleasant.

The rather idyllic view across the river from my campsite.

The next morning I was up early and on my way by eight o'clock, going northeast on California 178. And what a beautiful drive it is! Following the Kern River to Lake Isabella the highway twists and turns, winding its way through the narrow Kern Valley with the river on the left and the mountain walls hugging the highway on the right.

Beyond Lake Isabella, Mountain Road 99 takes you up into Giant Sequoia National Monument. Now, why the government did this, I don't know, but it probably has something to do with how the land is used by the different agencies. We have Giant Sequoia National Monument and Sequoia National Forest. Then you have to drive 100 miles or more west, then north, then back east to get to Sequoia National Park, Sequoia National Forest (again), Kings Canyon National Park, Giant Sequoia National Monument (again), Sequoia National Forest (a third time), and finally, to Kings Canyon National Park (again). The latter “string” of Parks, Monuments and Forests are all connected, starting and stopping seemingly at a whim. It's very confusing! But it is an amazing and beautiful area of the country.

All of the rivers and streams in that area are full to brimming, flowing swiftly. There were quite a few waterfalls as well, many with several cascades, such as this one at South Creek Falls on Mountain Road 99 in the Sequoia National Forest.

A little further down the road, in Giant Sequoia National Monument, was the Trail of 100 Giants, which was a paved trail about a mile long that wound its way up, down, and through a forest of (what else?) very large Sequoia trees. It has been 30+ years since my last encounter with these magnificent things and I was impressed all over again.

There is no way that you can capture their immensity in a photograph. Of course, that didn't stop me from taking pictures!

At one time, these were three individual trees. I found it interesting that Sequoias gain their full height in the first 300 years at which time they aren't all that big around. As the years pass, they (like most of us humans) get bigger around. And, if they are growing close to others, they could, as these have done, join together. The boy standing between the two trees on the left is about four feet tall.

One of the things that surprised me regarding these trees is that the bark (or outer layer) is spongy. It gives when pressed upon. This tree has a portion of the outer bark layer missing, but it was still alive and growing.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Horseshoe Bend

A mile or so south of Page, Arizona the Colorado River navigates around a horseshoe bend. There is a 3/4 mile trek through the sand, up and down a hill, to get to the overlook, but it is well worth the effort. I went there twice.

The first visit was late in the evening before the sun set. The overlook faces west so the sun was directly behind the bend.

The river and the rocks, highlighted by the lowering sun.

The early morning light gives it a completely different look.

As the kayaks and canoes were preparing to leave a beach on the bend a big motorboat passed by.

These photos were taken on June 3rd and June 4th. I left Page on the morning of the 4th for Southern California to visit my cousin and to attend the Genealogy Jamboree. After Jamboree I spent two days on the coast near Point Mugu and Ventura (no photos, gloomy, foggy, but still nice) then ventured into the central part of the state...

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Glen Canyon and Lake Powell

From Lees Ferry it is a short drive to Glen Canyon and Lake Powell, near Page, Arizona. It seems like it would be a nice place to visit, with lots of things to do. It would be really cool to rent a house boat with a bunch of people and explore Lake Powell and the various canyons. Problem was, it was hot. Really hot. Like in the upper 90s. I know what you're thinking. For many months I've been saying that I sure would like some warmer weather. And that's true, just not quite that warm! Give me temperatures in the mid-70s and lower-80s and I'd be happy, maybe.

But, despite the heat, I decided to spend a few days at Wahweap Campground on Lake Powell a few miles north of Page. I found a site with a little shade, not that it helped all that much with the heat, but it did provide a little respite from the sun, and there was usually a light breeze that helped also. Of course, it cooled down a little after the sun went down so the nights were comfortable.

Page has a beautiful public library with free wifi, which I gratefully took advantage of during the hottest hours of the day! I was able to get blog posts written and scheduled up to the start of Jamboree though I didn't get quite as many posts written as I would have liked.

The Dam at Glen Canyon.

A small portion of Lake Powell. The cluster of boats on the far left are at Wahweap Marina.

Clouds over Lake Powell are touched by the last rays of the setting sun.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Lees Ferry

Early on the morning of Wednesday June 2nd, I left Jacob Lake and headed east on Alternate US 89 passing by the Vermillion Cliffs and on to Lees Ferry.

The Colorado River at Lees Ferry.

It was surprising how calm the river was here. Just around that bend up ahead is the Paria Riffle. Too small to be called a rapid, it is the first turbulence that rafters encounter on their journey down the river and through the Grand Canyon.

These outfitters were making preparations for a trip through The Canyon. That's something I've always wanted to do, but you need to plan about a year in advance and I'm just not very good about planning things too far ahead.

Looking back towards Lees Ferry (a mile or so around the bend) from the Navajo Bridge.

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Trail Not Taken

Of the reasons I had for visiting the North Rim one was simple curiosity. I wanted to get a glimpse of the North Kaibab Trail. Was it as formidable as the trails from the South Rim? It starts out at a higher elevation – the North Rim is 1,000 feet higher than the South Rim and the elevation drawing for the North Kaibab Trail is certainly intimidating. It is also a longer trail, 14.2 miles from the trailhead to the Colorado River. By comparison, the South Kaibab Trail is 6.3 miles to the river, while the Bright Angel Trail is 7.8 miles. I had no intention of hiking the trail on this visit. Why not? Well, the temperature at the river was over 100 degrees and I am not yet prepared to undertake an overnight backpacking trip, especially on my own! Will I ever do it? I really don't know. But for now, I am satisfied with just looking at the trail.

To get a good view of the North Kaibab Trail I took the Uncle Jim Trail which branches off of the Ken Patrick Trail. The former is a five mile loop trail that “winds through the forest to a point overlooking the canyon and the North Kaibab switchbacks.” There were some up and down stretches over somewhat rocky, steep terrain but for the most part the trail was in good condition and fairly easy walking.

The North Rim has experienced several fires in the past few years and evidence of those fires is everywhere. The Park Service is taking a mostly hands-off approach to the burned out trees and letting nature take her course in rejuvenating the area.

One of the big differences between the North and South Rim are the forests of pine trees in the north. Though only a few miles separate the two rims the climate is completely different.

Looking south from the overlook on the Uncle Jim Trail. The North Kaibab Trail is barely visible on the lower portions of the canyon walls.

The upper portion of the North Kaibab Trail, the beginning of which is in the upper right corner. Appearances are deceiving; it is much steeper than it looks.

The trail disappears from view in the middle portion of the canyon then appears again on the sides of the canyon walls.

I spent several hours at the Uncle Jim Overlook. I ate my lunch, soaked up some sunshine, marveled at the birds soaring on the wind, and watched the clouds float by. And I had it all to myself until the last 15 minutes when a mother-daughter hiking combo showed up. We chatted for a while then we each set off back down the trail.

It was late afternoon when I reached the trailhead. I wasn't planning on spending another day on the North Rim so I drove the forty miles north to Jacob Lake where I knew there was a large campground run by the Forest Service and where I had no problems finding a site for the night.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The North Rim

Early on the morning of May 31st I headed south from Kanab, Utah to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon arriving there less than two hours later. I also gained an hour of time because Arizona is the only state in the lower 48 that does not change to Daylight Savings Time.

The first hour of the drive was through the desert but as you gain elevation, the terrain changes to one of high meadows and forests of tall pine trees with aspen mixed in. It was so pretty and so different from the approach to the South Rim!

My first stop was the campground. Once again, at the registration station the “Campground Full” sign was posted and once again I asked and once again I got lucky! I could have one of the few available sites for the night. After putting my “tag” on the site post I went to the visitors center then went for a walk along the Bright Angel Point Trail (less than half a mile in length) and a portion of the adjoining Transept Trail, which takes you to the campground. I didn't take many pictures because of the lighting conditions (southerly sun and hazy blue skies).

Looking towards the South Rim. This was taken later in the evening on my second walk along the Bright Angel Point Trail.

That afternoon, I drove along the scenic road to Point Imperial, Vista Encantada, and Cape Royal. It was a beautiful drive. I stopped at all the view points and walked the short trails. Unlike the South Rim, there were very few people. Even though the campground was full and the Lodge had no vacancies, the crowds of the South Rim were nonexistent.

Along the Point Imperial Trail. Elevation 8803 feet. The highest point on the North Rim. On a clear day you can see the Vermillion Cliffs off in distance to the northeast.

Along the Cape Royal Trail.

The view from Cape Royal. Freya Peak is in the foreground with a little bit of the Colorado River in the distance off to the left. Taken with the 7x zoom fully extended. Apparently (according to a sign at Cape Royal) this is the only place on the North Rim where the Colorado River can be seen. At this point the river is 70 miles below Lees Ferry - the site from which all points on the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon are measured.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Where was I?

Oh, yeah. Prior to a brief interlude for a visit to my cousin and then meeting lots of online friends at Jamboree, I left Natural Bridges National Monument on the morning of May 25th.

The “plan” was to return to Capitol Reef and Bryce Canyon National Parks. And that is what I did. Sort of. After driving the 100 miles from Natural Bridges, through Glen Canyon, I arrived at Capitol Reef before 10 o'clock and was able to find a campsite. (It was the morning of Tuesday, May 25th.)

For whatever reason, Capitol Reef didn't do much for me. After a short rest break, I drove to the end of the scenic road and hiked one of the trails then returned to camp and read for a few hours. A short trip to the nearby town of Torrey later in the day garnered me a great hamburger and free wifi at a local restaurant!

The next morning (May 26th) I left for Bryce Canyon. The route took me through the familiar territory of the Boulder Mountains and Escalante National Monument. I stopped that night at Kodachrome Basin State Park, which was along on the way. The basin was named by National Geographic Photographers reportedly for the brilliant colors of the surrounding countryside. Although it was pretty, I was a little disappointed in the colors.

The campground in Kodachrome Basin as seen from one of the trails.

Bryce Canyon was less than a half hour from Kodachrome Basin, so I took my time getting around and arrived there at about 9:30 the next morning (May 27th). At the entrance gate I was informed that all but one of the campgrounds were fully occupied and there were only a few sites left at the one campground. That was when I realized the upcoming weekend was a holiday weekend – Memorial Day. I had completely forgotten about it. Finding an empty campsite on “normal” weekends is hard enough let alone on holidays!

I went on down to the campground that had sites available and saw just two that were empty. The entire campground was in shade, midst tall trees, which I imagine would be really nice in the middle of summer, but it was still a little on the cool side at Bryce (actually, it was cold). Plus, the sites were all very close together with little or no privacy. Most people, or so it seems, apparently aren't bothered by the lack of privacy at campgrounds. But it matters to me, a little. And, I guess, it sounds like I'm making excuses for not staying at Bryce... maybe so, but I decided to move on down the road and revisit Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park near Kanab, Utah. (If I had *really* wanted to stay at Bryce, the lack of privacy wouldn't have mattered – it didn't bother me at Death Valley or Zion! And some of the neatest people I've met was because of the lack of privacy.)

When I pulled into the entrance of Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park the “Campground Full” sign was posted. One thing I've learned during these travels is to ignore the sign and ask the attendant if the campground is actually full. Oftentimes it isn't, as was the case on this day. There were two sites available for the night, both small ones but plenty big enough for me. The park only has 23 sites and most of them are large enough for an RV with a trailer since many of the people who stay there have off-road vehicles for playing in the sand. I also asked if one of those two sites was available for the weekend and lucky for me it was!

I stayed at Coral Pink for four nights, until the morning of May 31st. I will admit that I felt just a little out of place. Most of the other sites were filled with families, which was cool. Everyone there (except me) had four-wheelers or sand buggies or off-road motorcycles, even the little kids!

However, I didn't spend a lot of time at the campground during the day. The library opened at ten o'clock on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday and the wifi was free and fast. So I spent quite a bit of time there writing and scheduling blog posts, getting caught up on email and reading other bloggers' posts, etc. Of course, I also went for walks in the dunes, drove around some of the backroads, and took a few side trips.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Off the Grid...

It had been my intention to get blog posts written and scheduled regarding my whereabouts prior to the Jamboree. However, I haven't had wifi access since Monday morning! I'm out in the middle of nowhere in central California and am headed for even more remoteness. Right now I'm at an itsy bitsy library and they don't have wifi so I can't upload any photos but I am able to check my google mail on their computer. Also, they have facebook blocked!!! Just wanted to let everyone know that I'm still around... and will continue posting when I get access.

iPad Envy

Thursday evening, footnoteMaven was flaunting her tech toys: Droid phone, iPod video camera, and her iPad – I want one of those! I really, really want one!

Steve has one too. So does Dick. I want one... (photo courtesy of Cheryl Palmer)

I spent half an hour writing a query for Dick's GenQueries project in the hopes that I might win the iPad he was giving away. But alas, that didn't happen. Looks like I'll have to go out and buy one.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

SCGS Genealogy Jamboree :: Part Two

It had been a late night on Friday and I skipped the first session on Saturday morning opting to attend the Blogger Summit (part one and two) and then the Live Podcast by Lisa Louise Cooke.

Lisa Louise Cooke and Chris Haley during the live podcast.

I had intended to go to Cath Trindle's presentation on "How Much Proof is Enough?" but didn't make it to the room on time. The next session I went to was "Neglected History" with Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak who discussed several people who have been “lost” to history – their important contributions have been pushed to the wayside with the emphasis on the more well-known people.

I was thrilled to meet Megan later and get my picture taken with her – and the photo was taken by Dick Eastman! Thanks, Dick.

At 6:15 there was a “special” session with Geoff Rasmussen titled “Brick Walls be Gone: Using Legacy's Research Guidance and To-Do List Tools” which I attended with Cheryl Palmer and several hundred other people. The Pavilion was packed with few, if any, empty seats. Most people were probably there because Legacy was giving away a netbook! I have been a user of Legacy for several years (since version 3.0) but had never really utilized the features Geoff discussed. I learned a few tips but didn't win the netbook.

Cheryl and I went to the geneablogger lounge and to our surprise found that no one was there! No geneabloggers in the lounge? We walked into the Marriott Grill and the only geneablogger we saw there was Randy Seaver and his lovely wife Linda. They invited us to join them, which we did and we had a very pleasant evening chatting with them. (Thanks, Randy.)

Me and Randy. I didn't get a picture of Randy and his wife Linda together...

On Sunday, I didn't attend any sessions!! But there was a good reason... In April of this year, when I had lunch with Craig Manson and Sheri Fenley, Craig had mentioned that he had never been to his grandmother's gravesite. She was buried in Rose Hills Memorial Park in Whittier, which is not far from Burbank and just happens to be the largest Memorial Park in the World! I told Craig then that if we both made it to Jamboree I'd take him to the cemetery! I made good on that promise Sunday morning.

Craig and I left the Marriott at nine o'clock and breezed through the traffic, which was pretty light even for a Sunday morning. Rose Hills has an online database of interments and we had looked up his grandmother so we knew the section and plot number. Even so, I stopped at the gate, which had an attendant, and was given a drawing of the cemetery and directions to the gravesite.

After one wrong turn we made it to the right section. It was on the side of a hill so I went to locate the grave while Craig waited in the van. But I couldn't find it. I counted off the rows and spaces several times but came up with nothing except a blank space. I really didn't want to tell him that I couldn't find a grave marker but I did. We then returned to the gate attendant and asked if there was a marker for his grandmother. The response was brief and blunt – No. And I wondered why she hadn't mentioned it the first time, but I didn't ask. We returned to the site so Craig could view the area and I took a couple of pictures for him.

More than a little disappointed and with more questions than answers we returned to the Marriott in time for lunch. Craig then had an interview with Lisa Louise Cooke for a future podcast and I skipped the final session for the day.

Craig Manson and me.

To mark the end of Jamboree, a little celebration was held courtesy of Susan Kitchens who surreptitiously provided a bit of bubbly for the occasion. And then I reluctantly departed, happy to have met so many of my online friends but sad that it all had to end and hopeful that we'll meet again someday.

Having some fun! Contrary to appearances, I had only a few small sips of the bubbly... Susan is more than a little crazy – but in a good way! Thanks, Susan.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

SCGS Genealogy Jamboree :: Part One

It was early Thursday afternoon when I arrived in beautiful downtown Burbank (well, actually at the Ramada Inn) and met up with Cheryl Palmer who was to be my roommate for the weekend. Cheryl had originally planned to team up with Sheri Fenley again this year (they were dubbed “Thelma and Louise” last year) and they were graciously going to allow me to barge in on them! However, Sheri was unable to attend (we missed you, Sheri).

Me and Cheryl Palmer.

Later in the afternoon, Cheryl and I went over to the geneabloggers lounge at the Marriott and schmoozed with the other geneabloggers. I was going to try to keep track of everyone I met but that goal went down the tubes after the first few minutes! The excitement was palpable. Everyone was thrilled about meeting or reuniting with online friends.

A group of us went across the street to George's Greek Cuisine for supper after picking up our registration packets. There wasn't enough room inside for us and the other customers so we pushed five or six tables together in the outside dining area (on the sidewalk). There were so many conversations going on with smiles and laughter all around. Then it was back to the geneabloggers lounge for more chatting and greeting the new arrivals.

One of the highlights of the evening occurred when Elyse Doerflinger arrived. She had graduated from college earlier in the day and was on cloud nine. But Tami Glatz had a surprise for her that literally put Elyse over the top. During the NGS conference earlier this year in Salt Lake City Tami had gathered the signatures of many of the “top names” in the genealogy field. At Jamboree the geneabloggers were invited to sign the book also. Many people not only signed the autograph book but most of them also wrote a personal message of encouragement and congratulations to Elyse. It was a wonderful thing for Tami to do and Elyse was nearly speechless, at least for a few seconds! Shortly after the presentation to Elyse, Cheryl and I called it a day.

Tami Glatz presenting the genealogist autograph book to Elyse Doerflinger.

Friday morning we returned to the Marriott for some more schmoozing. Class sessions began at 1:30 and I went to “Cases that Made My Brain Hurt” by Megan Smolenyak2 wherein she described some of the more challenging characters she has had to track down.

For some reason, I skipped the second session. For the third and final session of the day, I listened to Cafi Cohen talk about the importance of “Cousin-Connection Genealogy” and the possibility that it could help you break through a brick wall. Her primary emphasis was on researching the siblings of your ancestors and locating the descendants of those siblings.

After a little more schmoozing in the geneablogger lounge, I joined footnoteMaven, Kathryn Doyle, Schelly Talalay Dardashti, and Daniel Horowitz for supper. And then it was back to the motel for a good nights sleep!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

It's Over...

This weekend has been fantastic! I've had the bestest time ever meeting genea-bloggers as well as other genealogists and even attending a few sessions! It's been such a great time, I really didn't want it to end. I think many of us felt that way.

Thank you to the Geneabloggers Swag Bag Team of Amy Coffin, Thomas MacEntee, Joan Miller, and Denise Levenik for putting together a wonderful assortment of items for us. Another thank you goes to the Sponsors for providing that swag!

I'll post additional photos and more information in the very near future. Thanks to everyone for an absolutely amazing time!!!!

in front: Miriam Midkiff (AnceStories), fM (footnoteMaven and Shades of the Departed), Becky Wiseman
the others: Kathryn Doyle (California, Cheryl Palmer (Heritage Happens), Denise Levenik (The Family Curator), Elyse Doerflinger (Elyse's Genealogy Blog).

Thomas MacEntee (Destination Austin Family and Geneabloggers), Joan Miller (Luxegen Genealogy), Becky Wiseman, Randy Seaver (Genea-Musings), Miriam Midkiff (AnceStories), Craig Manson (GeneaBlogie), and Susan Kitchens (Family Oral History).

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Greetings from California – Again!

It was a roundabout route, but I made it back to California on June 5th and have been visiting with my first cousin, David, who lives in Southern California. The last time I saw Dave was in the spring of 1992 when the company I worked for sent me to Los Angeles for some computer training. He said I don't come to see him very often! But I've seen him every year I've been to California since he moved out here! Anyway, it has been great seeing Dave again after all these years!

And now, I'm going to Jamboree! I'm so excited that I'll be able to meet some of my fellow genea-bloggers. Of course I'm planning to attend "a few" of the sessions too! It's not my first conference but it will be my first Jamboree. I remember last year wishing I could be there. It looked like everyone was having so much fun and I'll admit to being a little envious, but not this year 'cause I'll be there!

After Jamboree, I'll play “ketchup” with a few posts on where I was during the last week of May and the first week of June... Coral Pink Sand Dunes (again!), the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, Lee's Ferry, Lake Powell. No big adventures though; mostly just taking is easy.