Crusin’ Oahu

February 13th, 2009
Our chariot for the day.

Our chariot for the day, Mark would be jealous.

The tourist thing isn’t really our style so we didn’t want to take a group tour to see the island.  We knew Gertie (our GPS) could help get us to all the places we wanted to see.  The original plan was to rent motorcycles and tour the island.  After hearing the weather report, which called for 15 to 30 MPH winds, we decided a regular vehicle would be a better choice. We headed out in the morning to find a ride for the day. We were psyched when we got a deal on a convertible jeep. What better way to experience the sun, surf, and views.

Kim and Chris at Waimea Falls.

Kim and Chris at Waimea Falls.

One of the scenic spots we wanted to check out was Waimea Falls on the complete other side of the island. All of the tours stopped there and several people recommended it.  Although it was a very pretty walk with lots of great greenery, the falls were a bit of a disappointment, as we have seen many beautiful and much larger falls (it was also a ripoff at $10 per person).  We enjoyed the walk and made the most of what it was. 

Kim trying to make friends at Waimea Valley.

Kim trying to make friends at Waimea Valley.

At the visitor center area there were several male and female peacocks roaming around. We were able to get pretty close and that was cool!

Dole Plantation Silliness

Dole plantation silliness

After leaving Waimea falls we headed toward the center of the island.  We stopped at the Dole Pineapple plant (major tourist trap) to use the restroom and see what all the hulabalu was about.  We had a really good pineapple ice cream and had fun taking some silly pictures.

Surf at Waiahole.

Surf at Waiahole.

After leaving the pineapple plant, we started to head back home.  We captured this picture, which does a nice job of summing up many of the views we had along the way.  It’s amazing how many people “play” in the surf.  All over the island we saw people boogie boarding, surf boarding, and body surfing in the waves.

Surf at Hawaii Kai.

Surf at Hawaii Kai.

One of the last views was on the east side of the island when we were close to home.  After this serene scene we were happy head home with some take out chinese and a bottle of chardonay to do this post…  So far so good!

Aloha, First Day in Hawaii

February 12th, 2009
Palm Springs after the rain...

Palm Springs after the rain...

We had a great visit in Palm Springs.  Although the weather was challenging, the rain brought snow to the mountains and made for a great farewell scene.  We left Palm Springs for LAX by about 10 AM.  We had a great day of travel and after 2.5 hours in the truck, 4 hours in the airport and 5.5 hours in the air, we arrived in Hawaii.  We hooked up with an inexpensive shuttle service and were at our hotel in Waikiki by 10:30 local time.

Kim in the crater at Diamond Head.
Kim in the crater at Diamond Head.

The following morning,  we decided to walk to Diamond Head, a volcanic crater and a popular attraction on Oahu. We made the trip a loop, a long loop…(about 8 miles total)  It was a pretty “urban” walk from the hotel and we enjoyed the scenery and even the occasional rain drops.  It was really great to see so many people out and about walking, running, surfing, etc… so early in the morning.

Waikiki from the top of Diamond Head.

Waikiki from the top of Diamond Head.

This view of Waikiki is from the summit of the Diamond Head hike.  Our hotel is one of the ones closest to us.

Dinner in Waikiki.

Dinner in Waikiki.

We spent the rest of the afternoon exploring Waikiki and thinking about the other things we want to do while on this island.  We hung out at the beach for a little while watching everyone play in the surf.  Once the sun went down, we set out on the town to find a nice place for dinner.  Kim was excited when we found a place with outside seating and tiki torches!  We enjoyed a nice seafood meal and headed home to rest up for the next adventure.

Hanging in Palm Springs

February 9th, 2009
Gary and his new babies.

Gary and his new babies.

We have been spending the week visiting with Kim’s uncle in Palm Springs.  The weather has been a challenge but we have had fun playing with his new puppies, catching up, visiting with his friends, and getting out and about for some good meals.  This, combined with a visit to the local casino, a movie, and some hiking in the surrounding area, has made for an enjoyable week.  We found a really cool slot canyon hike about an hour away called Painted Canyon.  We had a good afternoon, the weather held out, and the hike was very interesting due to the ladders, tightness and height of the canyon, and views from the top. 

Now that we have rested up, we have energy for the next great adventure. Be sure to stay tuned….

I Speak for the Trees… Joshua Trees that is

February 4th, 2009
Joshua Tree at sunrise.

Joshua Tree at sunrise.

Our stay in Joshua Tree National Park has been quite enjoyable.  The stands of Joshua Trees brought back memories of “The Lorax”, one of Kim’s favorite Dr. Seuss books.  There were several other interesting sights like the Teddy Bear Cholla cactus (pronounced choy-a), the Ocotillo shrubs, rock formations, and Fan Palm oases.  We took another long hike in the desert to check out the largest stand of Fan Palms in the park called “Lost Palm Oasis”.  After a roundtrip of 7.2 miles in the desert sun, we know why it was lost… 

Not far from Joshua Tree NP lies the Salton Sea.   We took a day trip on the motorcycles to check it out.  The Salton Sea is California’s largest lake.  It is a popular camping, birding, and fishing location.  

On Wednesday, we headed to uncle Gary’s.  Looking forward to our visit and stay in Palm Springs.

Super Bowl Sunday

February 1st, 2009
Since it was Super Bowl Sunday, we planned on being big fat fatties (BFF-what we call ourselves when we eat too much). We decided to start our day with a hike on our way to Kim’s uncles.  The 49 Palms Oasis hike seemed like the right distance to fit our schedule, was on the way, and sounded pretty cool. 
49 Palms Oasis from a distance

49 Palms Oasis from a distance

Joshua Tree NP has several fan-palm oases. These are places where there are geological faults that have crisscrossed with groundwater. This water nourishes lush vegetation and creates the conditions for an oasis. As we hiked into the canyon we could see the palms from a distance. 

Taking a break in the shade of the Oasis

Taking a break in the shade of the Oasis

We had fun scrambling around on the rocks, trying to capture the timer shot of the day in the shade of the palms. 

Super Bowl Palm Springs style... Got your 3-d glasses?

Super Bowl Palm Springs style... Got your 3-d glasses?

Well… being American and all, we had to leave the wilderness so we could watch the Super Bowl. We had a good time hanging out with my uncle and his friends in Palm Springs.  Good food, great game, and silliness with the 3-D glasses.

California Here We Come…

January 30th, 2009
Chris gets his wood inspected

Chris gets his wood inspected

We left Saguaro NP pretty early hoping to secure a cool spot in Joshua Tree National Park.  Rumor has it that they fill up on the weekends and since our rig is so big we need as many choices as possible.  On the way, yes, we got pulled over again.  While going through the Arizona/California Border Inspection Station, we were called out to have our wood inspected for bugs.  Even though our friendly inspector found some worms, we were allowed to leave with our wood and a promise that we would leave it in the truck until we burned it. As we were finally going somewhere that allowed fires we were glad.

Coolest Campsite Ever!

Coolest Campsite Ever!

The campground in the park we were shooting for was “ok” but for the cost it offered very little.  We decided to take a chance and head further into the park to find a better location at a more reasonable price per night.  The ranger suggested trying “Belle”, which was close to where thought we wanted to be. The result, as you can see, was awesome!  

View of the campsite from the rocks

View of the campsite from the rocks

Kim finally got to camp in her city of rocks. The rocks are White Tank Granite. It is an igneous rock which formed when hot magma was pushed up from deep within the earth and forced into the overlying rock in a process known as intrusion (more plagiarizing).

Timer shot of the day

Timer shot of the day

Our first day in the park we headed out on the motorcycles.  The park roads offered some interesting twists and new and different views.  Beautiful mountains in the background, cool rock formations, and lots of Joshua Trees…

Old Mine on the Lost Horse Mine Trail

Old Mine on the Lost Horse Mine Trail

We decided to get our exercise in and hiked the Lost Horse Mine Trail, a 4 mile roundtrip.

Arch Rock at White Tanks Campground in Joushua Tree

Arch Rock at White Tanks Campground in Joushua Tree

On our way back to the campsite we stopped for a quick look at the Arch located in a different campground.

Spiny Desert Lizard

Spiny Desert Lizard

We ended our day with a campfire and hung out with some of the locals…

Last Day in Arizona

January 29th, 2009
San Xavier del Bac Mission

San Xavier del Bac Mission

We decided to head out on the motorcycles to visit some of the historical sites in the area. Our first stop was the San Xavier del Bac Mission just outside of Tucson. The present Church was completed in 1797.  The San Xavier Mission is acclaimed by many to be the finest example of mission architecture in the United States. It is a graceful blend of Moorish, Byzantine and late Mexican Renaissance architecture, yet the blending is so complete it is hard to tell where one type begins and another ends (proudly plagerized from the website).

Titan II Missile

Titan II Missile

Our next stop was the Titan II Missile Museum. This museum houses the only remaining Titan II Missile in its actual launch silo. There were originally 54 sites housing silos with Titan II Missiles, 18 in Arizona. These missiles were created during the Cold War as a retaliatory weapon in the event the Soviet Union launched nuclear missiles at the US. The purpose of these weapons was for them to serve as a deterrent and maintain the peace, because if they were ever fired there would have been Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD). 

Kim launches the missile

Kim launches the missile

During the tour, the guide explains the extensive steps for activation.  Kim was chosen to turn the key and launch the missile during the demonstration.

On Friday we are traveling to Joshua Tree National Park in California.  Chances are good that we will not have cell/internet service… We will update as soon as we get to civilization.

Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum and Sabino Canyon

January 28th, 2009
Hummingbird in flight

Hummingbird in flight

On Monday we decided to go to the Arizona Senora Desert Museum, which is actually a zoo and garden much like the Living Desert in New Mexico.  We were lucky to have free tickets, compliments of friends we met at dinner on Sunday.  The habitats were very natural and we saw some great wildlife.  We also really enjoyed the succulent garden and learning the names of the many cactus we have been seeing in our travels. We have been trying to get a picture of a hummingbird in flight for years. Just outside of the hummingbird exhibt, this guy allowed us to check one item off of the bucket list.  We also captured several of his friends in more static poses in the exhibit. 

Are you loking at me?

Are you loking at me?

There was a great large cat exhibit.  Aren’t they cute? 

Bobcat

Bobcat

The next day Chris went out to explore the trails in the mountains east of Tucson on his motorcycle. Kim tackled the laundry, which had become a mountain of its own. She also enjoyed a little shopping at the plaza.  Yes, she bought another pair of shoes.

 

 

Kim finds out how cold the water is

Kim finds out how cold the water is

We had heard good things about the Sabino Canyon and headed there on Wednesday to hike Bear Canyon to Seven Falls.  
Chris takes a leap of faith

Chris takes a leap of faith

This was a great 4 mile (one way) canyon hike that included several stream crossings along the way. 

One of the waterfalls at Seven Falls

One of the waterfalls at Seven Falls

There were actually seven distinct falls at the top of the canyon.  We had fun climbing around on the rocks and having a snack while listening to the roar of the water.

End of the line on the Seven Falls hike in Sabino Canyon

End of the line on the Seven Falls hike in Sabino Canyon

After enjoying our lunch and rest we headed back out of the canyon. The reward at the end of the day was a stop at Gentle Ben’s Brewery in Tucson. Fantastic Beer and good fish tacos.

Tuscon, Hiking and Friends.

January 25th, 2009
Lots and lots of Saguaro cacti.

Lots and lots of Saguaro cacti.

Gilbert Ray Campground is located just outside of the Saguaro (sah-wah-row) National Forest.  Although smaller than the eastern region of the Saguaro NF, there were over 45 miles of trails to choose from for a hike.   Although the views were not Big Bend, the vistas of saguaro covered mountains and valleys were quite beautiful. The saguaro cactus can grow to over 50 feet tall and are the largest member of the cactus family in the US. They generally take over 45 years to reach 6 feet tall and have a life span of 200 years.  They are impressive in both size and numbers in this area.

Kim and Chris at the top Mt Wasson.

Kim and Chris at the top Mt Wasson.

We decided to create an 8 mile loop from several trails, with the summit of the Wasson Mountain (Wasson peak is the highest peak in the western Saguro NF at 4,687 feet) as our goal. We were impressed with our timing.  We completed our loop in under 4 hours, leaving plenty of time to wash up for a visit with our friends June and John from Terlingua. 

 

Vic, Marie, June and John.

Vic, Marie, June and John.

As luck would have it, June and John were visiting family about 45 minutes from where we were staying.  We had a great visit and enjoyed celebrating John’s sister’s (Marie) birthday with a rib barbeque.  Hopefully, our paths will cross again int hte not so distant future!

Tucson, Mt. Lemmon

January 24th, 2009

We arrived at Gilbert Ray Campground, just outside of the Saguaro National Park, on Friday afternoon.  After driving in the rain from Patagonia SP, we were happy the clouds gave way to some sun while we set up.  We were very happy with the views from our campsite.  As we sat contimplating what we would do that evening we watched the clouds and rain return.  To our viewing pleasure the result was a great rainbow (almost a double).  As rain was the forcast for the rest of the evening, we headed out for a night at the local casino for a little gambling and dinner.  We will be keeping our day jobs, as the jackpot was nowhere in sight.  Better luck next time.

Our first day adventures included a motorcycle ride around the area.  We weren’t exactly sure where we were headed but wound up on the Sky Island Scenic Byway heading up Mt. Lemmon.  Mt. Lemmon is the highest peak in the Catalina Mountains, a range in the Coronado National Forest.  The ride up Mt. Lemmon was filled with twists, turns, and views.   The eleveation ranged from 4,370 feet at the bottom to 8,000 feet at the top.  It was interesting to go from desert and cactus to fir trees and snow in a 26 mile span.

Road up Mt. Lemmon.

Road up Mt. Lemmon.