Sunday, April 4, 2010

Dream with open eyes... (29-Mar-2010-present)

After a great couple of days in Santa Fe, I headed onto Arizona!

However, I failed to realize that most of Arizona does not follow daylight savings time. I thought I would reach Sedona before sunset, but I still had an hour left to go after the sun went down:

Since I arrived after dark, the beauty of this place was hidden until I could see it the next morning in the light of day...

I wanted to experience the fun of Sedona so I went on a Red Rock Jeep Tour!

We had the chance to walk around a bit mid-way through and experience the flora and fauna (though, the fauna includes tarantulas :P Our cowboy driver made a joke about one being loose in the jeep! LOL! We didn't see any though)

This was a big hole in the ground (I can't recall the exact name) but the big bolder that looks as though it broke off did so after an earthquake that happened a few years ago! It was referred to as the grand piano due to its shape.

Here one of the other drivers got a picture of us going over some of the rocky boulders; we had so much fun!

We drove back into town after the excursion...

The town of Sedona is really great with no shortage of things to do. I just wish I had more time!

But, I did make time for something fun I thought I'd try...

Ok no, not chocolate with a teddy bear, but isn't he adorable? I had to take a photo. Anyway, moving on. This is what I did:

I had a palm reading and tarot card reading and the medium whom I sat with told me great news for the months and years to come! She said I would be successful in California but that I would need to be patient! Very cool. Apparently, for new age enthusiasts, Sedona is in some sort of mystical "vortex" that has a great deal of energy surrounding the area. Hence, this town has a very strong spiritual side!

After spending time in the town, I decided to check out Meteor Crater. I had passed signs for it on the way to Sedona. I had always wanted to see it but I had completely forgotten to look it up. It was a bit of a drive, but so worth it...

Ok, backtrack. On my way to the crater I got pulled over for speeding :\. Luckily the officer was very kind and just gave me a warning. He probably took pity on me since I was out of town and didn't realize how suddenly the speed limit changed from 75 to 65. But, I still made it to the crater and museum before they closed for the day:

I got some awesome photos:

Here are some fun facts about Meteor Crater you might find interesting:

This was one of the most interesting quotes posted. After seeing a video at the museum on the threat of comets, asteroids, and meteoroids and watching movies in popular culture, many people don't realize how important these objects were in making our planet the habitable one it has become:

On a lighter note, I just had to take a photo of these stairs. We had similar ones up in Syracuse at the student center and you either take really teeny tiny steps going one at a time, or really huge steps by skipping every other one. No normal stepping allowed. Maybe someone can enlighten me as to their purpose?

Outside, they had a big "Wall of Fame" honoring American Astronauts:

And I really liked this photo op. It's a "frame" of the landscape surrounding the Meteor Crater museum:

After Meteor Crater, it was time for me to head on over to Williams, AZ for the next day's Grand Canyon Adventure! Here is the view from my hotel room shortly after I arrived:

The next day started early!!! My tour group took a bus ride to our location in Peach Springs, AZ and then an open-air jeep ride to the base of the Canyon right on the Colorado River. The family I was matched with was from England and they were lots of fun to spend time with. Our driver was also really great, he kept pointing out landmarks and told us about the history and geology of the area. Very interesting!

It started out a cold, overcast day at the Grand Canyon! Unfortunately, I knew we were gonna get soaked on the rafting trip so I kept my camera in a plastic bag the entire time. You'll just have to believe me when I tell you it was awesome! The rapids on the Colorado River rocked!! We even took a few breaks for hiking to a waterfall and using all these ropes to climb up the different rock formations. It was so cool. At the tail end of the trip, we took a helicopter back to a local airport:

It was my first time in a helicopter and it was amazing! The view from inside was breathtaking...

The Grand Canyon and all of Arizona was so wonderful. I know I keep saying this about every location, but I really do wish I had more time to spend there! There is so much to do and 1 day at the Grand Canyon (and even in Sedona) is just not enough. Luckily, I'll now be living only one state over so a visit shouldn't be too difficult.

Later that night it snowed and I had to scrape my car off the next morning. I was in the mountains of Colorado only a few days prior but it snows here in Arizona?? Too funny.

That morning I left to begin my drive into California and I took this photo to mark off another point made on the trip:

The sky was so clear during this drive you could see the mountains in the distance:

And, heh, I thought there were a lot of wind turbines in Kansas, but California certainly had Kansas beat by a long-shot in terms of quantity. There must have been thousands:

My travels brought me to the town of Cabazon where the famous Cabazon Dinosaurs live!

The Apatosaurus' name is "Dinny":

You can go inside Dinny:

And the T-Rex's name is "Mr. Rex" and you can apparently go in him as well but I couldn't find the entrance:

For those of you born before 1985, you might remember these dinosaurs being featured in the movie "The Wizard" with Fred Savage. It involves a kid with superb video gaming skills traveling to California for a completely different purpose. Check it out if you have time; it's a nostalgic, touching movie.

The dinosaurs were originally built over 30 years ago to draw attention to the Wheel Inn Restaurant where I had dinner. It took 11 years to build Dinny the Apatosaurus (who is the largest dinosaur in the world) and 7 years to build Mr. Rex.

As Cabazon is somewhat east of LA, I still had a 2 hour drive south. I took the inland route and got to see some of the rolling green hills:

After almost 2 full weeks of driving, I finally made it to San Diego that night. I was able to get to Sunset Cliffs Natural Park in Point Loma to take these photos of the Pacific:

I want to thank everyone who followed and supported me on my journey westward! It was an amazing trip and I am so happy I finally got to see many things I've always dreamed about. While I am very happy to be in San Diego, I am also kinda sad that my trip is over; a part of me wishes I could stay on the road and be a vagabond forever! I just fell in love with the freedom of it all and I hope to do more traveling again in the future. I've gotten a taste of life on the road and I want more...

Here's to the next adventure in San Diego as I work to build a life in this beautiful, vibrant city! Thanks again everyone!


In this needle and haystack life
I found miracles there in your eyes
It's no accident we're here tonight
We are once in a lifetime, alive...


Monday, March 29, 2010

The truth is out there... (27,28-Mar-2010)

I arrived in New Mexico Friday evening and the weather was great! The skies started clearing and the landscape was arid with sparse vegetation. It was beautiful:

The next day, I went to the railyard the check out their freight line. Growing up, our Christmas train set was always a "Santa Fe" model and ever since then, I've been fascinated with the beauty of southwestern freight trains...

Next on the agenda was the VLA "Very Large Array" of satellite dishes 50 miles west of Socorro. This place is 3.5 hours south of Santa Fe and took the entire rest of the day. Here is an image of the drive so that you can get a sense of the remoteness:

It was so worth it:

Here is a description which does a better job of explaining the VLA than I can:

I went on a self-guided walking tour outside and found this sign kinda funny:

Well, it's funny now knowing that I didn't encounter any snakes on the tour ;)

I was able to take some great photos on the tour:

The 27 satellite dishes are set-up in a "Y" formation on top of these railroad ties:

This enables them to move the dishes around so they could be close-together or really far apart. This area in the desert is so large and remote that the dishes at their farthest expansion are the size of Washington, D.C. I can't recall the specifics, but having multiple satellite dishes arranged closely as in the VLA mimics what a much larger satellite dish can do (collect data on larger objects, farther away) and is much less expensive and more practical.

I met a group of radio astronomers from Stanford here. They are trying to save a couple of satellite dishes that Stanford is looking to get rid of and bring them to the VLA here in New Mexico. They were very kind, informative and took this photo for me:

Do I look cold? It was very cold on this day!

If you've seen the movie Contact starring Jodie Foster, part of that movie was filmed here:

However, the VLA also noted the many technical inaccuracies in the film. The famous scene where Jodie Foster's character first makes "contact" while listening on the headphones is the most telling as radio-astronomers do not "listen" to anything; all of their data is visual. I do still love that movie though!

On the ride back I was able to take this photo of downtown Albuquerque, NM. I didn't spend any time there, but would love to experience it someday:

After a long day at the VLA, I arrived back in Santa Fe in the evening. I decided to head to historic downtown Santa Fe for some dinner and took these shots:

I had a great meal of steak fajitas at a local spot :) This town is beautiful and the architecture is breathtaking. I liked it so much that I went downtown the next morning as well. Not knowing parking was free on Sundays, I accidentally gave the city of Santa Fe a little donation to their meters, woops:

This old church was quite beautiful. I completely forgot it was Palm Sunday and decided to attend mass. The inside of the church was very pretty too, but I didn't want to interrupt mass with photos:

After having some peach crepes at a local French bakery, I was on the road to Sedona, AZ (and yes the crepes were delicious!)

I was able to capture this desert freight train moving across the desert as I drove westward. I love desert trains:

Stay tuned for some great Sedona adventures coming soon!