Balloon Festival – put it on your bucket list!

balloon festival

In 2003 my friend KJ and I took a trip with the Sierra Club to the Balloon Festival in Albuquerque, New Mexico. If you have never been, you must put it on your bucket list.balloon festival

These photos were taken with my little Olympus film point & shoot then digitally transfered to CDs. So while the quality isn’t that great, the memories certainly are!

balloon festival

We had to get up at 3:00am to be at the festival field before 5:00am. It was COLD and DARK!

balloon festival

So I have to tell you my story. I had to go to the bathroom in one of the Andy Gump type latrines. It was pitch black. Absolutely not one speck of light at all. I couldn’t see anything.

balloon festival

I have a problem with blood circulation to my hands on a Southern California summer day at noon.

So you can imagine, my hands had gone completely numb with the cold. If somebody had cut off my hands with a hatchet I would not have known the difference.

balloon festival

So I’m fumbling around in the complete dark. I can’t see anything and I can’t feel anything. I had to get my zipper undone to take a pee!

balloon festival

Let me tell you, this was one of the weirder experiences of my life!!! Somehow or other I managed to take care of business. But let me assure you I never want to go through that again… EVER!!!

balloon festival

Nevertheless, witnessing the balloons lying on the ground all around, then watching them ascend into the heavens is something I will never forget.

balloon festival

The word “awesome” is so over-used. But that is what it was.

balloon festival

I’ve been fortunate to have some glorious experiences in my life but this one still stands out. Do I wish I had a better camera in 2003? Of course, but these photos bring back the moment nevertheless.

balloon festival

We took the Amtrak train overnight from Los Angeles to Albuquerque. In the morning, this Indian guide entertained us with stories, music and song.

Click on an image below for slide show:

balloon festival

Near our hotel was this famous hot dog stand. We didn’t indulge.

All photos and content copyright roslyn m wilkins unless otherwise noted. No commercial usage without express permission. Please feel free to pass along this post via email or social media, but if you wish to use some of our images or text outside of the context of this blog, either give full credit to myself and link to One Good Life Travels, or contact us for proper usage. Thanks!

 

 

 

 

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Lassen Volcanic National Park – 2003

lassen volcano national park

One of the longest trips by motor coach I ever remember was in 2003 when I visited Lassen Volcanic National Park in Northern California close to the Oregon border.

lassen volcano national park

A friend was supposed to accompany me on this Sierra Club trip but bowed out upon learning that the park was 600 miles (965 km) north of Los Angeles and the bus would take more than eleven hours to reach the park… with a few pit stops here and there.

lassen volcano national park

I decided to go anyway and take my chances on a seat mate/room mate assigned to me by the leader.

lassen volcano national park

I won’t go into THAT story, but let’s just say I ended up sitting on about 1/3 of my seat… enough said!

lassen volcano national park

A few nights ago I made the trip out to the garage and hauled in boxes of photos I had taken since the 1970s. Prints, negatives, CDs, floppy drives, slides… you name the media and I have photos stored on it.

lassen volcano national park

It was exciting and nostalgic looking at all the photos… wonderful memories. Even before the advent of digital cameras I was sending out my negatives to be digitized on CDs and other storage disks that I can no longer retrieve.

lassen volcano national park

To the best of my knowledge, these photos were all taken with my very first point & shoot digital camera. Made by Olympus, it was maybe 1.5 pixels and required a handful of AA batteries. But at the time I was happy to be on the cutting edge of camera technology.

lassen volcano national park

I took all the images into Lightroom and did synchronized batch processing so I didn’t have to work on each one individually. It did a pretty good job considering what it had to work with. If you could see what the originals looked like, you would agree. There’s only so much magic Lightroom can do!

lassen volcano national park

Despite my room mate I had an enjoyable time. You have to take what you are given and make the best of it. I even thanked her at the end of the trip for being a good room mate… she didn’t snore and she didn’t hog the bathroom… two biggies for me! She just looked at me, didn’t say a word, and lumbered off the bus. Whatever!

lassen volcano national park

Lassen is one of the most beautiful national parks I have visited. Because it is so far off the beaten track it doesn’t have as many visitors as some other parks. That’s fine with me, but it does deserve to be visited.

lassen volcano national park

And I have to say, after not looking at these photos for fourteen years, I’m not unhappy with them. That little one megapixel camera didn’t do such a bad job and I am thrilled to find I have that trip recorded for posterity… that’s what is important here.

lassen volcano national park

I would absolutely LOVE to return to Lassen with my DSLR and shoot some higher quality pictures. Next time I would prefer to do it without the eleven-hour bus trip (and don’t let’s forget the eleven hours back again on 1/3 of a seat) and fly instead.

From the website: Lassen Volcanic National Park is home to steaming fumaroles, meadows freckled with wildflowers, clear mountain lakes, and numerous volcanoes. Jagged peaks tell the story of its eruptive past while hot water continues to shape the land. Lassen Volcanic offers opportunities to discover the wonder and mysteries of volcanoes and hot water for visitors willing to explore the undiscovered.

You can read more about the history and culture here:https://www.nps.gov/lavo/learn/historyculture/index.htm

Please click on any image below for slide show:

 

All photos and content copyright roslyn m wilkins unless otherwise noted. No commercial usage without express permission. Please feel free to pass along this post via email or social media, but if you wish to use some of our images or text outside of the context of this blog, either give full credit to myself and link to One Good Life Travels, or contact us for proper usage. Thanks!

 

 

 

Yosemite in the un-snow – day three and a half

Yosemite National Park

This is the final post about my Yosemite National Park trip in February. Life gets busy and I decided I had better finish up this series before I go on another trip!

The photo above was the very last image on my memory card, taken around 3:00pm on Sunday, February 15. After this I put my camera away so I could wander around and gawk at the scenery without worrying about the best angle for a photo. I’ve said it before, sometimes I envy people who don’t see everything through the viewfinder of a camera!

But before that I took a few more pictures:

Yosemite National park

The (not so) Happy Isles rockfall of 1996 when a total of 80,000 tons of rock, two football fields wide and three stories high, fell 1,800 (550 m) feet hitting the cliff base at 270 mph (435 kph) at this very spot. One person was killed.

You can see at the right hand side of the mountain in the photo below where the rock split off and fell.

Yosemite National Park Yosemite National ParkIn that same area are a couple of nice places to sit and contemplate, if you don’t mind getting hit on the head by a few rocks.

Yosemite National Park

A good use for a fallen tree trunk. I tried it out and it was quite comfy.

We visited the Yosemite Museum and Indian Village to gain some insight and knowledge about the history of the area and the founding of the park.

Yosemite National Park

Thank you Abe! This is self-explanatory but the important part is that this act was the first federal authorization to preserve scenic and scientific values for public benefit. It was the basis for the later concept of state and national park systems.

Yosemite National Park

Caption under the photo of John Muir sitting on a rock: “Muir soon became an expert naturalist and passionate advocate for the Sierra wilderness, writing articles for national magazines and speaking before groups. At first controversial, some of his ideas on a glacially carved landscape eventually caught on with geologists. Ultimately, he helped create Yosemite and four other national parks, launched the Sierra Club [ed note: of which I am a proud lifetime member], guided presidents and dignitaries, and influenced a nation on the importance of preserving wildness.”

Caption under photo of Muir with Teddy Roosevelt: “President Theodore Roosevelt camped with John Muir near Glacier Point in 1903. On that trip, Muir advocated federal control of Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Grove. In 1906, Roosevelt signed a bill that did precisely that.”

Yosemite National Park

Sculpture of John Muir contemplating the beauty of Yosemite. Today he is known as the “Father of the National Parks” without whom we may not have Yosemite or the Sequoia National Park to enjoy. He was born in Scotland in 1838 and passed away of pneumonia in Los Angeles at the age of 76.

Behind the museum we found the Indian Village, built on the site of the largest village in Yosemite, with examples of bark buildings used by the Miwok who were the indigenous people of the valley.

Yosemite National Park

At the back entrance to the museum. This tree was obviously confused, thinking it was spring already… and who could blame it with temperatures in the mid 70s F (mid 20s C) when there should have been snow on the ground in mid February.

Yosemite National Park

This black oak tree was also thinking it was spring. Black oak acorns were a major part of Indian diets with traditional acorn collection still going on today. These acorns are also an important part of the diets for many animals including bears, deer, woodpeckers and squirrels.

When the black oaks lose their leaves for the winter season, you can clearly see the clumps of leafy mistletoe continuing to grow among the branches. Mistletoe is a parasitic plant that gets its water and nutrients from a living host. It can produce some of its own food through photosynthesis, but needs the oak for all of its water supply. The mistletoe doesn’t usually kill its host, but it does weaken it.

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park

We decided to take the shuttle bus into “downtown” Yosemite to check out the market there. As we were waiting I wanted one last look at the Merced River.

Yosemite National ParkI had to wait very patiently and risk getting left behind by my friends in order to get a shot of the bridge with no cars. There were traffic jams all over the park on Sunday and I was so happy not to be driving.

We still had one more evening to enjoy the park before heading back to Los Angeles on Monday morning. Despite the lack of snow I had thoroughly enjoyed the trip and I hope I’ll have the opportunity to see the park again some day, hopefully with some of that white stuff next time.

All photos and content copyright roslyn m wilkins. Please feel free to pass along this post via email or social media, but if you wish to use some of our images or text outside of the context of this blog, either give full credit to myself and link to One Good Life in Los Angeles, or contact us for proper usage. Thanks!

Yosemite in the un-snow – day one

 

Yosemite National Park

Before my mother passed on February 8 I made the decision that whatever happened, I would still go on the trip to Yosemite National Park that I had been planning for several months. I really wasn’t expecting her to pass that soon. She was one tough lady and I thought she would go on for another year at least. But the nurses were right and I was wrong. I’m glad I made the decision beforehand because I had already gone through all the guilt feelings and “what would people think” before it happened.

As it turned out, everybody was very supportive of my decision to “get out of town” the weekend after her death. I made all the arrangements and had everything in hand before I left.

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The trip was organized by the West Los Angeles Group of the Sierra Club and three of my friends were traveling companions. As soon as I stepped on the bus I knew I had made the right decision.

Yosemite National Park

While it is extremely difficult to take a truly unique picture of such a well-photographed area, it is also nearly impossible to take a completely terrible photo too. Believe me, I tried!

We left West LA at 7:00am on Friday, February 13 and after a stop to pick up more passengers in the San Fernando Valley, we were on our way!

We took a picnic lunch break somewhere along the way and around 3:30pm we arrived at this picturesque spot within Yosemite for our first photo opportunity.

Yosemite National Park

I had signed up for the trip with the hope of seeing Yosemite in the snow. My last trip here was a camping adventure during the summer some years previously. We stayed near Tuolumne Meadows. This time, as it was February after all, I was looking forward to hiking in the white stuff.

Yosemite National Park

Well, the only white stuff was the water falling off the mountain. I had been keeping track of the weather reports the week before and knew the temperatures were going to be around 70F (21C). Not exactly the weather for skiing!

Yosemite National Park

Yes, I was a little disappointed but you cannot beat the fantastic scenery Mother Nature presents at Yosemite. I felt sorry for the people who depend on the snow for their living as usually at this time of year the park is teeming with people carrying skis and snow shoes. But I felt more sorry for the animals whose routines have been upset by this strange turn of events.

Yosemite National Park

First protected in 1864, Yosemite National Park is best known for its waterfalls, but within its nearly 1,200 square miles, you can find deep valleys, grand meadows, ancient giant sequoias, a vast wilderness area, and much more.

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite presents a glaciated landscape. The scenery, resulting from the interaction of the glaciers and the underlying rocks, was the basis for Yosemite’s preservation as a national park. Yosemite is nearly 95 percent designated Wilderness.

Yosemite National Park

The 2,425-foot Yosemite Falls are the tallest waterfalls in North America.

Yosemite National Park

Located in the northern half of California, Yosemite is 195 miles from San Francisco or 315 miles from Los Angeles.

Yosemite National Park

Our first glimpse of El Capitan as our bus stopped for the photo op. I was so happy to be in the midst of such magnificent scenery and we still had two full days ahead of us to enjoy the park.

Yosemite National Park

The ecosystem at the park reaches from below 3,000 feet to over 13,000 feet in elevation. Geologists, hydrologists and geographers continue to investigate and document the landscape. But we were there to relax, get some exercise and enjoy the scenery.

Parts two and three coming up pronto… stay tuned!

All photos and content copyright roslyn m wilkins unless otherwise noted. Please feel free to pass along this post via email or social media, but if you wish to use some of our images or text outside of the context of this blog, either give full credit to myself and link to One Good Life in Los Angeles, or contact us for proper usage. Thanks!