Walking Stick, “It’s ALIVE!”

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…One of the more remarkable insects to be found, (and it’s hard to see them among the twigs,) this “thing” needed a double take for me to realize what it was, as it adorned the side of our house. Some Phasmatodea (try to pronounce that, not to mention type it correctly!)  can change color to match their surroundings. 

As usual, click on the image for a closer look, and thanks for viewing. Comments are always welcome. M 🙂

The Great American Road-Trip – Day 8

Moments, in words and photos, of our  ~7000 mile, 11 day trip across the USA and back in a 1965 MGB roadster.

The series begins here, posted originally 8/6/13

Short on Time? Just visit the photos.

Thanks! And, comments are always appreciated

—– 

Approximate route covering the first 8 days

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Day 8:

Sunday Aug. 20th, 1967    830 miles (1,336 km) over 16.5 hours.

Near Turuck Lake, Rt 132, (Yosemite Blvd.) California to 4 miles west of Evanston, Wyoming

Note: The Yosemite Park  portion shown below is  further north than our actual more direct route to the Mono Lake area.

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Sunday Morning. Tom was in his sleeping bag just outside the car, while I managed the available space inside, wrapped in blankets, this time with the soothing sound of the Tuolumne River coursing gently down from the central Sierra Nevada mountains, not far away.

On the banks of the Tuolumne River, west of Yosemite National Park 

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We slept fairly well for 6 hours, but were starting to drag a bit more with each passing day as the MGB had taken us 4,446 miles already.  Saturated with impressive scenery; our constant need for more film; and primarily a time-frame to reach Utah before dark influenced our decision to stop, and turn around minutes before coming into Yosemite Valley on Big Oak Flat Road. In Retrospect, this was unfortunate, as the grandeur of this valley is unparalleled anywhere. It was practical, but arguably the worst decision of the trip.

Returning to, and traversing the park on Tioga Road, was, however, incredible in itself; driving amongst tall, beautiful redwood groves, stunning lakes reflecting rock formations of the Sierra, and lush meadows.

Redwood grove in Yosemite National Park

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Ellery Lake, off Tioga Road, Yosemite

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Possibly near Tuolumne Meadow Rest Stop

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The vistas were like scenes out of a painting. Snow appeared on many of the highest peaks, contrasting to the granite faces of others, and the clear blue lakes. With the late morning temperature in the upper 70’s the open MG provided the perfect platform for taking in this incredible place. After eating breakfast at the pretty Toulumne Meadow rest area, we filled the tank with 11 US gal. ($4.55) plus oil, 100 miles from today’s start.

Near the highest point in the park, Tioga Pass, ~9,500 feet (895 m) just prior to changing in shorts and T-shirts

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The highest surrounding peaks were over 12,000 ft.; (3,660 m), and finding a snow patch, we couldn’t resist a snowball fight here in late August! The air was cool and fresh, but the sun was hot!

Summertime fun in the High Sierra’s, California

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The road down from Tioga Pass, descends about 2,700 feet on the “not for the faint-hearted” northern slope. Known historically as Great Sierra Wagon Road, it ends at Rt. 395, just south of Lee Vining, California.

Tioga Pass Rd. is right there, that sloping horizontal line. Oh yeah! There are several cars just barely visible in the original slide.

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At US 395, with the Owens Valley to the south, we soon turned east on CA Rt. 120 toward Nevada. Just 10 miles along this desolate but wonderful “driving” road, we detoured a mile or two to the shore of Mono Lake. This is not a place you’re likely to find many visitors. Think: NONE. Once described by Mark Twain as a “lifeless, treeless, hideous desert… the loneliest place on earth.” (Wikipedia), This is not a tourist stop. The primitive road brought us to within a few hundred feet of this large ( ~11 miles across,) “dead,” saline soda lake, land-locked for nearly a million years.  But was it dead? Just ask the millions of annoying “Alkali Flies” that cover the edges; and in the uncanny still air, beneath the deceptive, alkaline water, is a thriving life-colony of tiny brine shrimp, just part of an alien environment. We did not spread out a blanket and turn on Music-Radio WABC here. But migratory birds love it.

Desolate Mono Lake, California, looking Northwest

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A few minutes was enough at this hot, alien place. Note our trusty (it better be, here!) MG in the distance – center

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It would be 40 more miles to US 6, along Rt. 120; a roller coaster like ride for a stretch as it traversed fairly deep gullies, one after another, every few hundred feet.  Primarily, it coursed along dry basins stretched between 7,000 and 8,000 foot peaks, to over 11,000 (3350 m.) 

Rt. 120, heading toward the White Mountains, on the Nevada/California border

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The view of the road, the arid terrain, the 13,000+ ft, mountains (4000 m)  of the high White Mountains bordering Nevada, was palatable….except maybe to Tom, who was …tired!  The town of Benson Station is to the right; Mt Montgomery to the left center, Mt. Dubois right center.  

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Compare this “terrain” view to the previous photo. “A” is our location above, “B” is Boundary Mountain, NV. Montgomery and Dubois are labeled. (Google Maps)

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We crossed into Nevada on Rt. 6, with hope fading on reaching The Great Salt Flats in Utah before dark. Fascinating at first, then a bit boring for its desolation, we would drive nearly 240 miles through the High Desert of Nevada, to Ely; one relatively colorless mountain range after another, mile after mile, with only two small towns with any services. This is cited as one of the “Loneliest roads in America,” and we would see few other cars. It was about 5:45 PDT when we reached Ely, and stopped for food and gas; and another 120 miles NNE to Utah via US 93, and then onto Rt. 40 East, where several large casinos huddled on the Nevada side of the state line.

Not far into Utah, Tom pulled over and we walked out on the dried, caked, white salt, which went on for as far as we could see, which was not very far in the darkness. It would be late evening by the time we approached Salt Lake City.

Some miles before that, we considered finding a place to stay on or near the Great Salt Lake, but there were no signs; local people at a root beer stand couldn’t help; and we had no information with us on possible “interesting” accommodations.  Eating at another drive-in later,  just before it closed, we decided to push on, passing through the city and onto Interstate 80.  Leaving the lights behind as the new super-highway climbed north-eastward into the night, we stopped at a truck stop just across the Wyoming state line. It was 2 AM (MDT) with 5,275 miles (8,489 km) on the MG’s odometer. 

See Day 9 here: http://wp.me/p37YEI-T0 Wyoming, to Pikes Peak, to Kansas: 

Yo! What’s it Like In There

A while ago, I saw this ladybug walking around the rock garden while trimming some shrubs near our mailbox. Usually found on leaves and plants, this one was happily wandering the goose egg river stones, seemingly enjoying the weather, glancing at the nearby “tree,” and peeking deep into the caverns, from which the stem of a dead leaf protruded. I like lady bugs, or Coccinellidae, as they are known to scientist who like to spell things funny. Not only are they amongst the cutest insects (they technically are not “bugs,”) but also feed on Aphids, which are not so cute, and in turn feed on my flowering plants!

But looking closer while processing this image, I wondered what it would be like to be there, inside, amongst the BIG Boulders, underneath that leaf. Then I thought….I’ve been there! I’ve explored, and climbed on the eroded granite surface of these very rocks, and crouched underneath and around, and even sloshed in pristine water of it’s grottos and pools. Yes, a magical place called The Baths, on Virgin Gorda, in the British Virgin Islands, where ancient volcanic eruptions spewed enormous granite blocks into the air to fall in piles on the beach, eventually eroding into an explorers treasure. Maybe if I waited long enough, I could have seen the presence of a gigantic camera lens curiously peering down from above. ImageImageImage