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Posts Tagged ‘vacation’

 

I just got back from vacation, and it was awesome.  I needed to go somewhere far away and unwind, and this totally did the trick.  The scenery was totally high-res, except for a couple really lame places that bordered on analog, but for the most part it was really nice.  My wife really liked the solitude of our trip the best, but I liked the depth of the design and the rich color palate.  It was so much better than the stuff I see at home.  

 

   

The Hotel Lockout
The Hotel Lockout

 

 

This is a picture of our hotel in the northernmost part of our trip—a lonely little place called Lockout.  The lodging was kind of Spartan, but since we only were there for two nights, it was ok. 

While we were there, we visited an archeological dig camp—get this—in the snow! and got a great shot of the moon rising and the sun setting. It had an unearthly feel to it, and it wasn’t quite as cold as it looked. 

the archeology dig camp in the snow at dusk

the archeology dig camp in the snow at dusk

 

After two nights, we went to another spot—an astronomy camp!—away from the cold.  The typical mode of transport for the region is a kind of airplane/helicopter thing they call a Pelican. This is a great shot of the one right before ours leaving the tiny shack they call an airport.

A Pelican

A Pelican

   

The local village close to the astronomy camp—very quaint.  I like how they worked the architectural style with the landscape.

The local village--beautiful view!

The local village--beautiful view!

 

 

ruined building--Mayan or Cambodian?  Not so sure...

ruined building--Mayan or Cambodian? Not so sure...

An old building we explored next to the camp.  A great place for a picnic.  Apparently you can see the remnants of both Central American and Southeast Asian style in the architectural design.  At least, that was what the brochure said.  I really can’t see it…I hope it wasn’t a tourist façade like some of the Old West towns in New Mexico and Colorado that I’ve seen.

 

This part of the trip was maybe the most exciting for me.  We were able to work with some pretty well-known astronomers and actually use the equipment there to take some photos of stars and stuff.  It was pretty cool.  You can see some of the arrays in the distance.

Astronomy array--really pleasant and reminds me of Rohan!

Astronomy array--really pleasant and reminds me of Rohan!

 

 

We got to see this new space station that was made in space, and we took some cool pictures of it. 

 

Station from a distance

Station from a distance

The station with the sun behind it

The station with the sun behind it

Closeup view

Closeup view

Extreme closeup of the surface--really cool! What these engineers come up with these days!

Extreme closeup of the surface--really cool! What these engineers come up with these days!

 

 

 

The day we left there was some kind of malfunction in the space station and there were all these fires on it—I guess they had to evacuate and everything.  But that’s this picture—the last one I got. 

 

On fire--I wonder how much this cost NASA?

On fire--I wonder how much this cost NASA?

 

 <End Program> 

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Two weeks ago Melody and I visited Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve—which to some sounds downright nerdy, but to those who enjoy getting away from the bustle of the city and work and the confines of a clock or wristwatch, or the constant nagging cell-phone-ring-reminder that we have become slaves to our technology, it was an absolutely beautiful day.  I wrote the following at the beach:

 

We woke up pretty well-rested, despite the cargo trains lumbering on their tracks 50 feet from our heads. As soon as we stepped out the abnormally heavy and loud sliding glass door, the cool breeze hit our skin, ruffled our hair and pushed it back from our foreheads, and hugged us good morning.  We sat on the porch for a few minutes, looking at a very glassy Pacific Ocean that, at that hour of the day, looked as though it was hundreds of miles deep with its deep blue hue.

 

We walked the five minutes parallel to the beach to a small coffee shop—our typical morning haunt, called the Kailani Coffee Company.  The café mochas are always uncomfortably sweet, and I wonder sometimes if there is any coffee at all in them, but the lattes are not any better.  The bagels, though, are wonderful, and although the atmosphere is not superb, it’s the beach at San Clemente, and we sit outside, eating our bagels, drinking our oversweet brew, and watching joggers, bicyclers galore, and the odd Metrolink commuters walk by right in front of the Metrolink station.  The people who bring their dogs are the best, and the little patio outside the coffee shop is a truly excellent place to people watch.  I try to read my novel for class, but people and dogs keep stealing my attention from my book, and Mel and I talk together about what to do that day.

 

We decided to visit the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve.  It’s a place we’ve never been to before, but we’ve read a lot about it.  It is one of the most significant birding places in Southern California with over 300 species of birds confirmed there.  We are always up for exploring an unknown place, so we got into the car and drove the 50 minutes or so to the site. 

 

As soon as we got out of the car, we realized it was going to be a unique day.  The preserve is a large area of wetlands with inlets from the sea creating a flat marshy area that resembles several different rivers sitting side by side.  There was a parking lot and a path that ran from the lot over a sturdy and low wooden footbridge, which we started towards, then stopped.  Across the inlet we saw more than a dozen white blobs, so we immediately reached for our binoculars.  They were Snowy Egrets, not a rare bird, to be sure, but they are water birds, so not often seen in Redlands, and almost never in these numbers.  The Great Egret is much larger, about the size of the Great Blue Heron, which we also saw in large numbers. 

 

Walking across the footbridge, we stopped and looked down into the water.  The shore was riddled in reeds and low vegetation, but towards the center of the inlet the water got deeper and clearer, although it remained shallow enough to see the bottom until it was more than five feet deep.  On the bottom, beds of clams sat, sifting the water, and hordes of small sea snails crept slowly around the bottom in their pretty spiral shells.  Round stingrays the size of dessert plates skimmed the bottom here and there, and schools of fish—tiny silver slivers of color—were ever-present under the long 150 meters of footbridge. 

 

We walked on in this beautiful place and saw Black Skimmers catching tiny fish in their bills as the skimmed the surface of the water, and when they caught something, their bills clapped shut like a trap. On one large strip of sand was a vast bird nursery where hundreds upon hundreds of birds had nests on the ground; there were also hundreds of Brown Pelicans, Terns of all kinds, shorebirds galore, and the two most interesting finds of the day for me: three Reddish Egrets, a very rare bird in Southern California, since it typically lives further south around Baja California, and a small Grey Houndfish Shark swimming slowly in very shallow water.  He was probably all of two and a half feet long. 

 

Yes, there wasn’t any shade.  It was hot.  But there were birds and wind and ocean and no time constraints—no looking at watches and saying we should probably be getting back; no schedules or rules or technology to get in the way.  Just the outside world—nature—and us.  And now I’m back in San Clemente, sitting watching the waves and feeling the breeze, and I have absolutely no idea what time it is.  We ate when we were hungry, and we’ll eat again when we’re hungry again.  But as for the time, I have no idea.  And you know what?  I don’t care.

 

Tomorrow we’ll get up when we want to.  We’ll watch the waves.  Then we’ll have some coffee and read.  Then we just might decide to go on another adventure.

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