Thursday, October 28, 2010

East into New Mexico

I left the Sierras behind and crossed into Nevada.  Things there tend to be kinda straight and flat...

Shortly before entering New Mexico, Arizona presented me with the vista of a developing storm.  Awesome clouds!

That night, staying at Bluewater Lake in western New Mexico, I was surrounded with an impressive thunder and lightning storm, complete with hail.  Knowing Andy's experience of having his RV struck by lightning, I made sure I was unplugged, then sat in Enterprise and rode it out.  It seemed... bigger... than the thunderstorms I was used to in the east. 

Monday, October 18, 2010

Across the Sierras

After a nice visit with Dawn and Dylan, I left Placerville (Sutters Mill), heading toward Albuquerque.  The first leg of my journey took me up and over the Sierras. 

It was a grey, rainy day, which was good, because I pulled into my overnight stop at Lee Vining, on the eastern edge of Yosemite, at about 4:00.  Had it been a clear, sunny day I think I would not have gotten there until after dark.  The ride was spectacular!  The higher elevations were lined with trees filled with luminous yellow-gold leaves.  Safe places for me to stop were few, so I mostly kept rolling.  Had the sun been out, I am sure I would have unhooked Galileo and been off exploring with my camera.

I got to Lee Vining and parked.  As I was setting up Enterprise for the night, the sun peeked out long enough to give me a rainbow over Mono Lake.  Niiiice.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


It would be both ignorant and arrogant to say that I have seen Lassen Volcanic National Park.  I have driven the road through the park, which exposes me to perhaps 1% of that place.  To see more, I would have had to hike some of the many trails that weave up, down, and around this marvelous place.

For me, this park was mostly about water.  At lower elevations, the road is bracketed by beautiful forest.  The valleys are lined along the bottom by clear mountain streams bubbling over the rocks.

At higher elevations, mountain meadows appear.  These meadows have slow, clear streams winding through them.  Erosion of the deeper slopes and deposition when the waters slowed formed these tranquil flats.

The really high mountain lakes are clear basins of water reflecting the blue mountain sky, bordered by volcanic rocks and peaks.

Near the high point of the road, a large boulder (I estimate about 12 feet high) is seen.  Thrown there from a volcanic eruption many miles away, it gives a tiny sense of the raw power contained in a stratovolcano.

That power is not gone, just resting.  In the southwestern corner of the park, the road passes between mud pots and fumaroles, each bubbling with sulphurous steam.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Creating the "Impossible" Photo

I am at McArthur-Burney Falls in Northern California.  The trail to the base of the falls is closed for maintenance, so I can't get a good perspective.  From the remaining overlook, I am shooting down at the falls (not my favorite perspective).  The face of the falls is wide, and is bracketed by trees so that one can only see a part of the falls from any one viewpoint.  To deal with that, I took three photos, moving my tripod about 15 feet between each shot.  I then photomerged the three shots to get a composite that shows almost all of the falls as one image, a view that cannot be seen in real life.  I am happy with the result.

These falls are unusual.  One mile upstream, there is no surface flow at all.  At the falls, the flow rate is 100,000,000 gallons per day, slightly more than Blue Spring and Alley Spring in Missouri, which flow at 87,000,000 per day.  Those are set in karst topography and flow from limestone.  Here, the surrounding landscape is volcanic in origin. 

The falls flow in two layers - a primary surface flow that drops over the edge in two main streams,

and an underground river that breaks into the air in a horizontal plane separating two rock types.  The result is a thin curtan of tiny waterfalls spread over a wide front.

Pretty cool!

Sunday, October 3, 2010


Lake Siskiyou, where I am camped, is near Mt. Shasta.  Shasta is an immense stratovolcano.  Click on the image to see the town of Mt. Shasta, at the foot of the mountain.

I drove up Shasta on an access road, about 1/3 of the way to the top to get this view.  Even from only 1/3 of the way up, I was well above most other peaks in the region.

In my campground, there is a herd of two does and three fawns, one still wearing his spots.

They seem very comfortable here, and most of the feeding seems to be very natural - twigs and leaves, with some pawing for acorns.

Tomorrow, I leave here for McArthur-Burney Falls.


After six months in Oregon, making it my home, it is time to start heading south.  On a misty morning, I say goodbye to South Beach State Park in Newport.

Entering northern California, I stayed for a few days at Siskiyou Lake.  To the south is a remarkable collection of granite outcrops.  The granite in Yosemite and in Maine is a medium gray.  The granite at Castle Crags is a very light gray, almost a white appearance.

Viewed from about 10 miles away, the Castle Crags form a jagged pale gray eruption from the smoother forest surrounding it.

In close, they are granite lances spearing the clouds.

In my campground, I looked out my window and saw...

As a rule, I'm not a fan of this kind of human-wild critter interaction.  I prefer to see the animals in a more natural way, with minimal effect from man.  There was something really neat though about seeing this woman, who has been feeding this deer for 2 years, interacting with an animal that other than its calmness in being in the campground, appeared to be a healthy, normal buck.