Joshua Tree NP Revisited

Didn't I say I was going to have to visit Joshua Tree National Park again? Well, like they say, there is no better time than the present.

This time around, it wasn't hurry-hurry, go-go though. We had time to see the park in full. We hiked, birded, touristed, pondered, loafed, star-gazed, and basked in the desert beauty (taking care to find shade as much we could.) (Yes, Ryan, we even hiked up your mountain.)

For a better write-up and more pics about our visit to the park, check out Emily's post about it. And for those of you who want the full 360 degree tour, check out this.
Tuesday May 22 2007File under: travel, road trip

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A Lesser-Known Aesops Fable

Once upon a time, two friends went out camping in the desert. Like well-informed desert-goers, they took plenty of water. To keep the water from getting too hot in car and to claim their spectacular camping spot, they left the water containers under the picnic table. Little did they know, the creatures of the desert have grown very smart.

Upon returning from a wonderful day of exploring the desert, the two friends returned to camp to find the water containers with little critter holes in them and much of the water gone. In an attempt to save the water, one friend filled his water bottle with water remaining from the critter-holed water containers.

The sun went down on the desert and the two friends fell asleep. The water saving friend was awakened in the middle of the night with terrible pains in his stomach. Visits to the privy did not rid him of his stomach pains, so his stomach decide to take matters into its own hands. Under the bright stars of the desert, the offending water, with remnants of lunch and dinner, found its way onto the desert floor.

The desert creatures took note of the commotion. Coyote stood close by and watched the action. As the friend slowly made his way back to the tent, Coyote crept closer and closer to the scene of the commotion. The friends watched from the tent as Coyote ran and got his friend to share in this new midnight snack.

That just goes to show you that... Can you find the moral in this story?
Sunday May 20 2007File under: travel, road trip

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Desert Dispatch

As I find myself in the middle of the desert without water or electricity, much less wifi, for miles, I'm phoning this dispatch in from the road, much like the reporters of yore. Special thanks to Ma for acting as stenographer. O, and once I find some wifi again I'll get up some new pics.

Here are a few highlights from week 4 on the road: meeting and hiking for a few miles with some through hikers on the Pacific Crest Trail; Pines to Palms Highway through San Bernadino National Forest; beating the heat with a midday movie in Palm Desert, CA (10 Oscar Nominated Shorts); free promotional Hagan Daaz ice cream cone; another spectacular campsite at Joshua Tree National Park; revisiting recycle man in Indio, CA who is completely boggled by my little adventure.

Traveling is fun.
Thursday May 17 2007File under: travel, road trip

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EPotM for May

I'm extremely excited about this month's environmental project of the month (EPotM). It syncs so perfectly with this little road trip that I am on.

This month, I've decided that I want to recycle enough cans and bottles from the side of the road to pay for my gas here in California. California has a cash redemption law on bottles and cans like many other states (why doesn't WA?). You would think that would discourage people from chucking cans out their window on the highway. Well, as they say, one man's trash is another man's treasure. So far, I've earned about $16.00 which gets Scoot Scoot quite a ways down the road.

The History Channel's Modern Marvel's episode on canning states that recycling one can saves enough energy to run a T.V. for 3 hours. While I find that hard to believe, it's obvious that there is some energy savings over having to make a new can from scratch. So besides beautifying the highways and byways of California and keep waste out of the landfills, my little project will help save energy. I won't even go into the carbon offsetting that must be happening. Really, I think this is the best EPotM to date.

(Oh, and since a picture is worth 1000 words and this post is windy enough, here's a few of this month's project in action: 1, 2, 3, 4 )
Monday May 14 2007File under: travel, road trip

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Ode to Mom


She's got such verve, pizazz, and joy
I truly know I'm a lucky boy
To have a mother that's so fun
With awesomeness by the ton*
To match your vervey and joyous way
Here's how I wanted to say Happy Mother's Day
I figured this poem would do just the trick
P.S. Please don't be mad about the pic


To all you mothers out there, Happy Mother's Day!

Sunday May 13 2007File under: poetry, holidays

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Schralpin

I had always heard skimboarding was different here in California and now I understand why. For one, skimming smoothly along the beach for long distances at a time just doesn't have the panache needed to make it here in SoCal, so they beefed it up by skimming down the beach into the waves and doing all sorts of surf-like tricks. Another reason they do it differently here in CA is less obvious; their beaches don't lend themselves to long smooth runs.

Yesterday, I went out and found myself a skimboard rental shop. In chatting with the folks there, I explained what I was looking for. You could tell they thought I was a little crazy for wanting the flattest beach around, rather than the one with the best shore break. They tried to help nonetheless and pointed me on my way. I got a couple of good runs in, but nothing like that time Smiley's flooded over. Oh well, I guess not everything is better in Califonia.

(Oh, and a big thanks to my action photographer Julie who took these action shots.)
Saturday May 12 2007File under: travel, road trip

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SoCal

One of the things I like about traveling is seeing places that I've heard about. In China, for example, it was The Forbidden City and The Great Wall. In Italy, it was the Sistine Chapel and the Uffizi. Here in Southern California, there are places and things that fall into the same category; places I've heard so much about and wondered what they are like for myself (Huntington Beach, Orange County, and In & Out Burger just to name a few).

But it isn't all education-based, hurry-from-place-to-place, see-as-much-as-you-can travel. In addition to all the educational and cultural destinations, we've had time for afternoons in the park (where I was talked into an improptu juggling show), walks on the beach, geocaches, sunsets, and some of the tastiest homemade Vietnamese food ever (courtesy of Quynh Giao). Also, I've had time to catch up on a little internetting and give Scoot Scoot a little TLC that s/he has been sorely missing.
Friday May 11 2007File under: travel, road trip

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Best. Campsite. Ever.

The road from Henderson to Joshua Tree National Park is a piece of work. First, you cruise on the Joshua Tree Highway (no association to the park). There are joshua trees everywhere, ten times as many as in the National Park. Then you make your way through the Mojave Desert National Preserve, which, as you rise and fall in elevation, you go through strata of dense* vegetation of a certain type (e.g. a nice big cholla patch). Next, you reach a long stretch of road with no gas, even though the map has a number of towns listed. Who ever heard of a town without gas!? Then there is a nice little highway underpass perfectly suited for passing the time until the AAA man comes with a spare gallon of gas. Then you cruise into Joshua Tree National Park.

I've been through JTNP once before, but only for the briefest of visits. This time was longer, but only barely. There was time, however, to discover possibly the best campsite ever (pictured above). The campground was nearly empty, and I got in just after sunset. The spot I selected was nestled between two gigantic boulders. The temperature was perfect and there were no bugs around to disturb me and my Little Cesear's Pizza which I picked up in 29 Palms. Waking up, the campsite looked just as good (and the leftover pizza wasn't half bad either).

Yep, Joshua Tree National Park will need to be visited again. Then, I might even stay a whole day!
Wednesday May 9 2007File under: travel, road trip

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Colorado River Edutainment

The Hoover dam is one impressive structure. I learned all about it one morning (after enjoying a lovely, cheap, off-strip breakfast) as I sat in on the free video offered at a nearby casino. Then the opportunity for a more immersive learning experience presented itself, thanks to my hosts being so well connected. Emily and I found ourselves afloat the Colorado River just down stream of the dam on an oversized pontoon boat driven by the all-knowing, ever witty river guide Rick. We learned about the history of the river and dam, the geology of the area (including hot hot springs), the local flora and fauna, and so much more. We saw lots of big horned sheep, a peregrine falcon (which excited Emily more than should be normal), lizards, vultures, and more.

Since I have been in the desert heat all day, my mind-brain isn't working so good. I can't think of a clever way to fit in this picture and this one Oh wait, I just did. Does that count? Anyway, it was a good good time. If you ever happen that way yourself, be sure to do the trip and ask for Rick as a guide. You won't be sorry (except maybe when he gets going on the cow jokes...)
Tuesday May 8 2007File under: travel, road trip

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Oh, O!

The rematch between Vegas and me was epic, let me tell you. For those of you who put your money on Vegas, however, I have some bad news. Team Wren triumphed mightily in this second matchup. With the excitement of fight night, the magic of cirque du soleil, the teamwork of wonderful company, and the stresslessness of having it all figured out before hand, Vegas didn't stand a chance.

With all my circusy interests, I figured I couldn't leave Vegas without seeing a cirque show. The popularity of those spandex-clad body magicians is such that almost every casino has their own show, including Zumanity: The Sensual Side of Cirque at New York New York. We opted for O, one that I have been wanting to see for ages. Basically, take a cirque show, and put it in, around, and above a multi-million dollar custom pool, and you get O. Even before the pool was revealed, we were amazed by the spectacularness of the theatre. The show didn't disappoint (although did slightly suffer from a lack of juggling).

After the show, we wandered the strip gazing at the lights and people. We even caught 3 Bellagio water shows! The evening was just what I needed to counter the frusteration of the previous experience and put Las Vegas back in my mind as the amazing, unique, sometimes-sketchy/sickening/depressing-but-always-interesting place that it is.
Monday May 7 2007File under: travel, road trip

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