Sep 082014
 

I was lucky to join in on a quick flight over San Diego county. We flew west to the ocean, roughly following HW 8, then north along the coast to Carlsbad before heading east to Escondido and then south to return to the airport. There was a bit of haze over the ocean, but the weather was generally good while I was snapping some photos:

North Bluff Preserve

Leucadia

Carlsbad suburbs

Escondido from the air

Silverdome

Jul 242014
 

Looking north along the Lost Coast

Hikers on the Loast Coast Trail

Sandy dunes

Anna walking through wildflowers

Punta Gorda Lighthouse

Giant redwood

We have driven through Northern California on road trips before, but have never made the trek to what is known as the Lost Coast. The Lost Coast is a remote area of Northern California which has stayed very remote and undeveloped due to the considerable expense to bring infrastructure into the area as well as the low population (and depopulation during the 30’s, see wikipedia for more). We had the opportunity to spend a few days in the Petrolia area due to the invitation by a friend to stay at their familly cabin.

I can understand why there is a certain romance about the Lost Coast – it is gorgeous, and a glimpse into the past of what California was like many years ago. It attracts a certain type of person to live there year round, and is one of the few places in California where you will find a lot of road signs which have been used as target practice or the smell of skunky weed gardens wafting over high fences.

We hiked the beach route to the remote (and long since decommissioned) Punta Gorda Lighthouse. We had gorgeous weather and enjoyed some beautiful scenery on our hike, which was one of the more picturesque hikes I’ve ever done. A word of warning, however, the distance listed for the hike is deceiving. This is because a good portion of the hike takes place on sandy ground or dunes, which takes a significant amount of energy to walk on compared to a regular path. Rest assured, the effort is worth it.

Photos from The Lost Coast, Humboldt, California Gallery link
Photos from The Lost Coast, Humboldt, California Flickr link

Jun 122014
 

We hadn’t planned the timing of our visit to Monument Valley, but it turned out to be a perfect day. As the sun went down the valley turned a gentle pink and the full moon rose between the two mittens. The moon rise perfectly matched the sunset colors and we were treated to one of the best evening views imaginable.

Long shadows on the mittens Monument Valley sunset and moon rise between the West and East mittens

We relaxed, watched the stars, and then got up early to watch the sunrise. The sunrise was beautiful as well, and cast a different light on everything. After a quick breakfast we ventured out with a Navajo guide around the valley floor. Along the way we heard stories about the different areas, heard our guide play the flute, and saw unique sights like the Eye of the Sun petroglyph wall. I was worried it would all be a bit clich├ęd given the number of visitors, but it was genuine and memorable.

Sunrise over Monument Valley Cowboy photo op and Monument Valley's Three Sisters Monument Valley arch - Ear of the Wind

After exploring the valley some more we headed back to Page, AZ and signed up for one of the Antelope Canyon tours. The canyon is one of the most famous examples of a slot canyon and has been photographed countless times. The canyon is on Navajo land and as such we had a Navajo guide for our tour. The tour started with a back breaking ride through a dry creek bed to reach the entrance of the canyon, thankfully only a 15 minute drive or so. We were lucky to be the only group at that time in the canyon (it can be packed full of photographers) and were able to take our time to explore the beautiful bends and shapes.

Looking up through Antelope Canyon Antelope Canyon Horseshoe Bend

After exploring Antelope Canyon, we visited Horseshoe Bend and continued our way home via Sedona, AZ. The full photo albums for Monument Valley and Antelope Canyon can be found here:

Photos of Monument Valley and Antelope Canyon – chrisnelson.ca
Photos of Monument Valley and Antelope Canyon – flickr.com

As part of our road trip around the southwest we visited Bryce Canyon National Park and Zion National Park.

Oct 242013
 

Last fall we took a road trip through some of the South West – I’ve finally got around to posting photos from the first part of that trip to Zion National Park. We were very lucky with the timing as some of the fall colors were starting and the trees were not yet bare. There was yellow colors in the canyon, mostly around the river. The upper road going east out of the canyon was a sea of gorgeous yellows and reds in the river washes, absolutely beautiful set against the tan and red rocks.

We caught a lovely sunset at Canyon Overlook Trail one eve and stayed late to watch the colors disappear. Everyone else at the overlook had already walked back so we quietly wound our way back on the trail in the dark. As we walked we noticed a single bighorn sheep walking on the ridge in front of us, framed by the rising moon. He seemed content to pose for photographs but just then we met some bighorn sheep not ten feet in front of us on the path. Both groups had been walking quietly so several bighorns were very surprised at how close we were and trampled off through the underbrush. The others jumped to a ledge above us and kept a close eye on us as we walked by. It always blows my mind how one can have these intimate experiences by following an easy walking path just a few miles from a major road.

Photos of Zion National Park in fall colors


Apr 202013
 

This American Life in coordination with Planet Money created a show which dives deep into structural issues related to employment which have been dogging the US (and frankly other wealthy western nations) for decades. As usual they do an excellent job crafting a riveting story about what can be a very dry subject.

The number of Americans receiving federal disability payments has nearly doubled over the last 15 years. There are towns and counties around the nation where almost 1/4 of adults are on disability. Planet Money’s Chana Joffe-Walt spent 6 months exploring the disability program, and emerges with a story of the U.S. economy quite different than the one we’ve been hearing.

Feb 262011
 

I intended to do a write-up about my experience becoming a US Citizen last year. However, as is frequently the case, if I don’t start on a post right away it never happens. Fortunately, Dafna Linzer wrote up a article on Slate that captures a lot of the things I was going to write about:

The Problem With Question 36: Why are so many of the answers on the U.S. citizenship test wrong?

In addition to the sometimes puzzling questions and answers posed by the test (we have a free market economy, really?) I thought she did a good job giving an overview of the interview tone and the swearing-in ceremony emotions. It was very touching to see in people’s reactions just how far they had come, and how much joy that moment gave them. If you ever feel a bit depressed, get yourself invited to a swearing in ceremony. It is hard to leave without a lump in your throat and a changed heart.