Thursday, July 31, 2014

Thoughtful Thursday

Photo taken on the Avenue of the Giants in the Redwood National Park and Humboldt Redwoods State Park. (No, mom, I didn't stand in the middle of the road to take this, I promise! It's a through-the-windshield shot that turned out pretty good.)

This quote is attributed to both Aesop and Aristotle. Amelia Earhart also put her own twist on it: "Adventure is worthwhile in itself." I had both quotes written down in the ongoing list I keep in my notebook and couldn't decide which one to go with. In the end, history won out. Sorry, Amelia! 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

First Look at the Redwoods

(First in a ??-part series about visiting Redwood National Park in northern California.) 

The first thing you need to know about Redwood National Park is that it's not really just one park, per se. It covers 133,000 acres and includes several California State Parks. What's even more amazing is that the redwoods used to take up more than 2 million acres of the California coast. Today, less than 5 percent of those trees remain. What's left will take your breath away. 

To get to the first part of the redwoods that we decided to explore, we traveled on the ranger-recommended Howland Hill Road and into the Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park east of Crescent City. It's an unpaved, narrow road that leads into the forest, and it was foggy as we entered -- which only added to the enchantment. 

Entering Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park via Howland Hill Road
The combination of fog + sunlight was magical. 

I was in awe. Photos cannot capture the size and magnificence of these giants. 
After a lot of stops and exclaiming over the beauty and size of the redwoods -- each stop seemed better than the last, as the fog lifted and the sunlight filtered through. We worked our way over to Stout Grove, a 1/2 mile trailhead, and spent more than an hour exploring the grove. I had a new Eye-Fi SD card in my Nikon and I drained the battery on my camera very quickly. So disappointed! I took quite a few pictures with my phone once my Nikon died, and just enjoyed walking around the grove, soaking in the view instead of taking photos. Lesson learned: have your camera battery fully charged and turn the camera off when you're not using it. 

Nothing makes you feel so small as being in the redwood forest! 
Inside Stout Grove. Notice the ferns, for size comparison. 

Howland Hill Road

More magic. 

That's a full-size F-350 pickup parked next to the trees, folks! 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Thoughtful Thursday

Photo taken in the Lady Bird Johnson Grove Trail in Redwood National Park. A Lady Bird Johnson quote would probably be more fitting, but I loved this one from John Muir. 

"The clearest way into the universe is through a forest wilderness."
: John Muir

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Traveling Westward

Tiny City: View of San Francisco from the prop plane. 
I've found there are a few advantages to being deaf when traveling. Sure, it can be a hassle dealing with communication breakdowns, and I'm always a little afraid I'm going to get plowed down by one of those souped-up golf carts because I usually can't hear their warning 'ding' as they hurtle up the concourse behind me. (I heard it just fine this time because I had my cochlear implant on! That subject is another post for another day.)

For all the things I have to "put up" with as a deaf person, I've learned to take full advantage of the perks when they are available -- and not feel guilty about it. Take my departure from Chicago O'Hare on United Airlines to San Francisco. Instead of being "on alert," watching people, and trying to figure out when I was supposed to board the plane, I went up to the gate agent and asked if she could let me know when I could board. Instead, she told me I could pre-board, and I was the first person to set foot on the plane. 

Not fair, you say? Try this on for size: Go to the airport with your ear buds in and music turned on full blast and see how well you can function. You'll miss gate change announcements; try to board at the wrong time and sometimes be asked to wait and board with the right group (it's happened!); walk through TSA and not be able to tell whether or not you set off the alarms (and try not to make TOO much eye contact at the same time); stand in the bookstore with a backpack on, blocking an entire aisle and be engrossed in a dust cover while a ticked-off person stands behind you repeatedly asking you to please move -- and when you finally feel their presence, you feel like a complete loser. Once you get on the plane, keep them on. You'll miss the announcements about flight delays, when you can turn your electronics back on, and notifications of upcoming turbulence (that's an especially fun one to miss out on). I could keep going, but you get the idea.
Rainy skies at O'Hare
On my flight from O'Hare to San Francisco, there was a delay. Or maybe more than one? I have no idea what the holdup was, but we sat at the gate way past our departure time, then on the runway a while longer. All I could think about was that I was going to miss my connecting flight in San Francisco. 

What made it funny (ok, not funny for anyone else) was that there was a crying, screaming toddler in the seat behind me. I probably would not have noticed it if Cute Guy in the seat next to me hadn't pointed it out with his uncomfortable body language and pointed looks over his shoulder. Or if several other passengers hadn't turned their heads to look in my direction, making me wonder what was going on behind me. I probably didn't help Cute Guy's displeasure much by telling him I couldn't hear a thing (I'd switched my implant off by this time, since the airport din had overwhelmed me). For once, it was nice to be oblivious.

When we landed in San Francisco I had a negative amount of minutes to grab my bag and run to my connection. Eleven gates away seems like an eternity, especially when you have to pee. Somehow, I made it -- and in the end, I could have just walked because the flight was delayed. It was pretty neat to fly on a prop plane!
Prop plane that was my transportation from SFO to Crescent City, California
My seat was next to the propeller, which I am sure was very loud, just based on the vibrations. I saw the flight attendant pop in some earplugs before takeoff. The views were great! I even got a glimpse of the remote St. George Reef Lighthouse as we went in for our landing. This lighthouse was first lit in 1891 and is not accessible to the public because of its hazardous location six miles offshore. 
St. George Reef Lighthouse
More photos & stories to come! These are just plane window photos. I was in awe all week, walking through the groves of redwoods, watching the Pacific Ocean, and even  a bonus trip to Crater Lake National Park. 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Thoughtful Thursday

Spending a week in the redwood forests of northern California & I stumbled upon this quote. It was chiseled into a fireplace mantel situated in the Women's Grove in the Avenue of the Giants. (Blog posts with photos and stories coming next week, when I'm back on my laptop!)

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Thoughtful Thursday

The point is, not to resist the flow. You go up when you're supposed to go up and down when you're supposed to go down. When you're supposed to go up, find the highest tower and climb to the top. When you're supposed to go down, find the deepest well and go down to the bottom. When there's no flow, stay still. If you resist the flow, everything dries up. If everything dries up, the world is darkness. 
:Haruki Murakami, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle