Saturday, September 20, 2008

From San Francisco to Tennessee (photos)

West Coast Sunset

Here is a picture of the pier at Ocean Beach where I spent a lot of my time. It extends out into the water for what seems like nearly a quarter of a mile where people fish, gather, and hangout. A lot of kids would gather along the ocean more to the left of this picture. A rocky coastline had been cemented over and this was where the younger crowd gathered together. I saw kids jump into little pools of water where waves crashed against into the rocks. Two girls were dared into jumping and made it out with gashes covering their legs and blood running down. Another group invited us to come join them saying they had bottles of vodka to help. Unfortunately I had to decline their generous offer saying I had to drive back to the campsite that night. The adventure never ends in California!

Two Palm Trees

This is the same park in San Diego. Just the cactus garden alone was big enough to get lost in. While I meandered off the path I managed to grab this shot with my iPhone which explains the funky color. What made San Diego so interesting was how wide spread it was. You need a car to get anywhere in the entire city. If you look to the right you can see houses off in the distance. To the side of the garden is a vista point where you can see for miles. I saw a biker exercising, riding up hill then down hill again and cars slowly moving along long curved roads.

Shot of GC

This is another shot of Grand Canyon but with my phone’s camera. I picked this one so you could see the shadows of clouds passing overhead. If it weren’t for the tree I think this would be an outstanding picture.

Rainbow over Petrified Forest

Here is another rainbow in the petrified forest. When I first heard about this place I immediately thought how cool it would be to see a stoned forest? This clearly isn’t the case, although that may be a good idea for my book. The petrified trees are all on the ground lying down. You haven’t seen petrified wood until you come here. They have an amazing array of red and brown colors like the soil. Signs all over warn of huge fines if you are caught taking anything from the park. I wanted to risk it but changed my mind, thinking that it would be better to preserve this place for others to see. The Petrified Forest is one of the best drive-by natures I’ve ever encountered.


Look carefully! See the double rainbows? This shot was taken in Arizona sometime between the GC and the Petrified Forest. Isolated storms made for an exciting afternoon and the rainbows were a perfect reward for braving the storms.

Scotti in the desert

When this trip began I made it clear that I wanted to go to a desert at one point. Unfortunately our timing was off and we had to drive through the Mojave Desert at night. Some people would say we were lucky, the temperature was only 105ºF, although I really wanted to spend a whole day in the desert. To compromise we took a pit stop at this vista point after the Grand Canyon. It wasn’t exactly a desert, but it was hot and the ground was a deep red-brown that you could only find in Arizona.

Feet off edge

My best friend Jessica wanted me to hang my feet over the edge of the Grand Canyon when I was there. Tim crouched on another ledge so we could get this shot. He kept telling me to move over and by the time we go this picture it had been several minutes. All that time dangling left me a little light headed and slightly nervous, which explains the face I’m making.

Ocean Beach

The last two days in San Diego were spent here in Ocean Beach, a coastal town just 20 minutes outside of the city, and 40 minutes from our campsite. It reminded me a lot of the shore towns in New Jersey only with a lot more people. Surfing was truly part of the culture here. Everywhere you look you’re guaranteed to see one or two surfboards. I saw one being used as a chair in someone’s yard.
Tim and I met some interesting characters at Ocean Beach. One interesting guy named Stephen who had been living on his own since thirteen. Another kid, whose name I forget, traveled down from Humbolt CA often to visit his grandfather. And Neal, who was visiting from New Mexico with his parents.

Bonsai Trees

There was a Japanese bonsai garden in Balboa Park that Tim and I visited on our second day in San Diego. All over the west coast there is a huge Asian population and San Diego was no exception. They only charged us $3 to get in, Tim told them we were students, and to make up for the difference in cost we put the rest in a donation box. In the middle of the garden was a center built in remembrance of the Japanese Interment Camps of World War II. There were letters displayed of children writing to Congressmen and mayors asking why they and their families, as American citizens, were being held against their will. It was a powerful experience to see how people reacted to our government’s treatment of Japanese-American citizens.

Tim under a Tree

This is Tim posing for his picture under some cool trees in Balboa Park in San Diego. We were in a cactus garden that had countless amounts of cacti species ranging from tall and skinny to short and fat. I wanted to take more pictures of the gardens but my camera’s memory and batteries were about to bite the dust. Ah, the constraints of modern technology!

Scum cactus

I found a cactus that everyone seemed to use for their personal carving practices. This was the first one I saw and after careful investigation found simple, Max loves Jesse and other phrases, accompanied by what looked like Klingon, a Star Trek language, on another piece of the cactus. I guess this is what people carve on when they don’t have trees.

Oil Rig in California

A scary sight to see for an environmentalist. While traveling south along the coast Tim and I saw dozens of these giant oil drilling monsters. Everywhere you go you would see stations set up on land. Their metallic arms pumping endlessly as oil is brought up to feed our nation’s appetite. I spotted a miniature one pumping away in someone’s back yard! As much as I would like to go on about these deadly machine’s affect on the planet, I will refrain, and “save it for the party” as the saying goes.

Palm Trees

One of those moments where you feel like you are in a movie. Jersey boys meet California, a place where the sun always shines and palm trees line the streets!

Redondo Beach

The famous Redondo Beach! Just passing through this area.

LA Artwork

I saw this right outside of the car wash in LA.

LA girls with Scotti

The first exit in LA we took after passing LAX two girls with microphones were shouting for $5 car washes. As I pulled up closer I heard one of them shout “Hello, New Jersey!” enthusiastically. We had traveled 5600 miles at this point with out cleaning Scotti once and after hearing these girls were raising money for their senior class, I couldn’t say no to a car wash. It was an excellent time to get out and stretch, grab a cup of coffee, and soak up the Los Angeles sun. Thank you LA girls for the great car wash!

Coastal Highway Route 1

Later that day Tim shot this picture of me while we stopped at a vista point to stretch. When you travel ina car eight hours a day you need to stretch every now and then. This particular vista point was calm compared to other ones we visited. More often than not the wind blows so strong you feel as if you can be carried away. At one such place I could barely open my car door because of such winds! There’s a reason for the long sleeved shirt; it gets cold by the ocean. I saw it go down to the mid fifties by late afternoon.

Santa Cruz

Tim and I spent a couple of hours in Santa Cruz walking up and down a walkway by the beach. What you see here is a good testament of the cliffy beaches in California. As we’re all used to on the east coast zero elevated sea levels at there shore, here in California you need to climb to the shoreline. The beaches are significantly more ‘alive’ than the ones you find in Jersey.

Purple Flower Portrait

Who is that mysterious person? Tim saw this wall of flowers along a row of apartments a few blocks away from the Haight District. The combination of green in my shirt and the purple flowers inspiried him to take this picture.

San Fran

Out of all the pictures I have of San Francisco I have decided this one most accurately described it. I can’t remember which park this was taken from, although I am guessing Mission Delores Park. One of the coolest parts of this city is its parks. At any part of the city you are within walking distance of a park. Each one has its own flavor of people either walking their dog, taking a bike ride, or merely sitting down with friends enjoying the afternoon. In Beuna Vista Park on Sunday Tim and I were surprised to see a DJ set up blasting dance music to an enthusiastic crowd while legions of picnickers drank wine or beer in the sun. These San Francisco people know how to party!


Ah, the infamous Haight-Ashbury section of San Francisco. For those who don’t understand the significance of this intersection I will try to enlighten you. In the early 60s during the hippie era many people swarmed to San Francisco and took residence in this part of the city. Today you can see the obvious influence of such a history as peace signs, tie died shirts, and psycadelic styles litter the street. Small, independent businesses line the streets ranging from used clothing stores to tattoo parlors and music stores. At the end of Haight is another famous location, Hippie Hill, where collective groups of eclectic individuals gather daily. When I arrived dusk was near although there were many people still there, either playing soccer or football and some groups of kids had slightly inconspicuous clouds that occasionally rose into the air.

Golden Gate Bridge:

We arrived in San Francisco around mid-day after a late start in a motel in Corte Madera. (Don’t sleep in at motels! The owners get mean real fast.) The myst you see there is a common thing apparently for the Golden Gate Bridge. We couldn’t see the top from where we were. As I drove towards the bridge huge clouds came rolling in off the bay covering the five lane highway in a dense fog. To my surprise, no one even slowed down, and continued their 60mph race to the bridge.

Mountain View from 1:

This is a view from the car on Highway 1, the road known as the Coastal Highway Route, which spans the entire West Coast. What’s so great about the road is how you will see shear cliffs facing the beach and an hour later huge, tree-covered hills. After driving on this road for a few hours I understood what Decemberist singer Colin Meloy was trying to convey in his song, ‘California One / The Youth and Beauty Brigade.”
“And the road a-winding goes
From golden gate to roaring cliff-side
And the light is softly low as our hearts
Become sweetly untied
Beneath the sun of California one”