Alaska marks the 50th and final state visited by my wife. (I am well behind in the low 30s.) Alaska lives up to its Last Frontier hype. Views are grand, flora and fauna are abundant, and rules are guidelines at best. We flew in, rented a car, and road-tripped the state as best we could in two weeks. And as most Alaskans are quick to tell you, Alaska is twice as big as Texas…three times as big at low tide. (Special note, if you try this yourself, and you totally should, know that every road is under construction 24 hours a day during the summer. Plan accordingly.) If you like the outdoors, Alaska is nothing but. But for all the grandness and splendor, the highlight for me were the sled dogs in Denali National Park and Preserve.
(Photo credit to JFB for the better of the wildlife photography)
Over spring break we took a trip to Scotland to continue is our latest trend of travel where it is not hot. (Admittedly we’ve gone too far as all the places we’ve been have not only not been hot, but actually snowed at least once during the trip.) A few things I now know about Scotland:
- As a rule, the folks are quite friendly. Way to buck that stereotype, Scots.
- Haggis is delicious. (I ended up having it at least once a day.) Also blood pudding is delicious.
- For the most part, Scotland operates strictly between 8 and 5. Plan your days accordingly.
- History and grudges go back. Way, way back. No tale has less than 300 years backstory.
Last Christmas my wonderful wife gave me a National Geographic DNA kit. (On our trip to Morocco, one of our travel companions had completed this process and I was fascinated.) Today my results came in. For the most part, if you know me, the results are not too surprising – lots of northern European action. But there are two points that are interesting. One, I am 18% southwest Asian, which any number other than zero would have shocked me. Two, I am 2.8% Neanderthal. Most people have somewhere between 1% and 4% Neaderthal DNA, and the average person has 2.1%. So now I have a built in excuse when I do something stupid! “I’m just a caveman…”
If you’d like to see the full infographic of my results, click here.
Here they’ve compared my DNA to a German and a Brit:
We took a trip to Morocco over the Thanksgiving week. Despite crazy floods and catching cold, we had an amazing experience. I was surprised at how much the landscape of much of Morocco looked like the Southern California desert area. Driving around the foothills of the Altas Mountains was strikingly similar to driving out to San Jacinto or Joshua Tree. Another thing that threw me about this trip was my lack of expectations. For example, with a trip to Paris, there are things I know I am going to see that I’ve known about my whole life, like the Louvre or the Eiffel Tower. But I didn’t have much insider information with Morocco. All I really knew was the movie Casablanca (which was shot on a Hollywood soundstage, of course) and that it was, to me, an exotic and remote place. Instead of known or expected experiences, it was a series of brand new experiences. This was a definite travel style paradigm shift for me. Now, having seen it, and smelled it, and felt it, and read much more about it, I want to go back, see more and expand on this first experience. (See full Flickr album here.)
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Spent an excellent weekend at Joshua Tree National Park, despite our camper being partially incapacitated. (The electrical system was kaput.) Still, we made due and had an excellent time with our friends. The weather was superb. Highlights include: coyote sighting, full Milky Way viewing one night, Barker Dam, Hollywood-ized petroglyphs, Skull Rock, Arch Rock, Keys View, and Wall Street Mill.
Blogging to you live(ish) from Ocotillo Wells. I write in praise of my Coleman brand, cabin style tent – The Taj Majal (called so as it is a excessively oversized testimate to my love for my wife). Over the five years we’ve been using this tent it has stood up to the elements. It has shunned the rain, blocked the sun, withstood the snow… And last night it stood up to a fierce, nasty wind storm. Granted, it was not a quiet night, and we and all our gear are now covered in a layer of desert sand. But she stood mightely and she stood bravely.
Blogged to you from my iPhone.
Thanks for all your help. However, UC Irvine’s Bren Center did NOT play host to the Commerce Department’s public hearing on the 241 Toll Road on July 25th. They feared that the turnout from supporters of San Onofre State Beach and Trestles would overwhelm the facilities at UCI, estimating that over 10,000 of you would show up. So the meeting has been moved. More on that in a bit. For now…
The Feds Need to Hear from YOU!
Federal public comment is open right now, and will be open until Oct 2.
The Surfrider Foundation has an action alert asking the Secretary of Commerce to uphold the Coastal Commission decision here: http://actionnetwork.org/campaign/tollroadappeal0408. If you have already completed this, their system will catch it.
And now for the moved meeting:
SECRETARY OF COMMERCE HEARING
SEPTEMBER 22 AT DEL MAR FAIRGROUNDS
WHO: Surfrider Foundation activists, surfers, hikers and everyone who opposes the extension of the 241 Toll Road. It is critical that toll road opponents register to speak and attend the hearing to show their strong support for San Onofre State Beach.
WHAT: The U.S. Secretary of Commerce rescheduled public hearing regarding the controversial 241 Toll road extension.
WHEN: Monday, September 22, 2008 10:30 AM – 8:30 PM
WHERE: O’Brien Hall at the Del Mar Fairgrounds 2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd. Del Mar, CA 92014
For more information and updates visit SaveTrestles.org.
Even Eddie Vedder thinks it’s a good idea.
At long last – pictures from the Casper’s Wilderness camping trip!
View Sweet Pics
Caspers Wilderness Park is an 8,000 acre protected wilderness preserve nestled among the river terraces and sandstone canyons of the western coastal Santa Ana Mountains. The park’s many fertile valleys are overtly complemented by specimen groves of native Coastal Live Oak and magnificent stands of California Sycamore. These areas are further accentuated by seasonal wildflower displays and running streams. Wildlife is abundant and can be readily viewed from any of the parks numerous trails.
Caspers Wilderness Park
33401 Ortega Hwy.( P. O. Box 395)
San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675
Next came The Chicken Dancer’s bachelor party weekend. We went camping at Malibu Creek State Park and spent most of the time daring each other to climb higher and higher before jumping into the rock pool. Here The Chicken Dancer takes his trusty Fun-noodle-chucks in with him to ward off evil.
Give man a sport and he’ll inevitably take it to it’s extreme, pay-per-view conclusion. This holds true even for unicycling. I was out hiking in December and saw the craziest thing. (Yes, December. I’ve been meaning to write about this for some time.) So, I’m hiking downhill and I hear a tell-tale biker call “on your left” come from behind me. I expect to see a mountain biker, but instead find a unicycler barreling down the trail. He’s hoping over rocks, bouncing off trunks, pedaling like a fiend, and then he ate it right in front of me. I raced home and quickly Googled me some answers.
How does on offroad unicycle differ from a standard unicycle? Well offroad unicycles or “mountain unicycles” or “MUnis” tend to have a super knobby tire (like a mountain bike) and a handbreak (located under the seat). Perhaps the pedals and frame are a bit stronger, but I didn’t read that far into it. What did take my fancy was that there were clubs and fests devoted to this (emerging?) sport. And it seems to be most popular in Canada (eh).
For instance, check out the Moab MUniFest. (It’s weird how their sport is the way of the future, but their website is circa 1994.)
Wish to make fun? Well, talk to the Unipsychos of Calgary!