Almost Heaven – Second Anniversary Post

This week will bring the start of my third year with this blog.  1998 posts and 5 deleted ones later…. I celebrate two years with where I started.   The original post.  To all those reading, thank you for your support.   I have met some of the best people i know here.  ūüėÉ

Short trip to West Virginia in spring will leave you with some great memories. While you may have heard of New River Gorge, the place was meant for your eyes.  Spring brings high water, wildflowers, and people.   The New River cuts through several parks offering great views and chances explore on the ground.

Best approach to the area is US60 East from I77 in Charleston.  The travel time straight through is just over an hour. You leave the city and quickly start following the New River.    Several small towns dot the river, but at Gauley Bridge get out of car.  Here the Gauley River meets the New River, best viewed from walking abandoned railroad bridge next to small museum.  As you leave this town, you will cross railroad tracks and stop at little parking lot. Cathedral Falls is over sixty feet tall but looks twice the size in it‚Äôs little gorge.   It‚Äôs about 500 ft from road.

Next  the road starts to curve, it will take you to Hawk‚Äôs Nest State Park.  Great views over looking gorge and the river impounded is called Hawk‚Äôs Nest Lake.  The State Park offers lodging, with corner suites with views that are spectacular from balcony.  Lodge isn‚Äôt new but updated.

From here the New River National River is fifteen minutes away.   Taking US19 south,  You will see visitors center on left.   Inside you will get a map of park and learn the history of area. You should drive the old way to river.

The park guide has a list of hiking trails that are fairly easy. If you have two or three hours go to bridgeview trail. The picture below is your reward.

Once on other side of river, visit Pies and Pints for best pizza and microbrews selection around.  There are several outfitters here that offer rafting trips, climbing, and other activities. Fayetteville is really close to I77 about ten minutes.

If you have time side trips to Babcock State Park for horseback riding, Grandview park, and Bluestone Lake allow more views. These are all with half hour of National Park.

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Bell Rock Trail

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I posted a couple pictures while on Bell Rock.¬† The way there is interesting.¬† It involves parking.¬†¬† Well, after 9AM go at lunch time.¬† There are two parking sites.¬†¬† The park service days use Courthouse Vista because the rock climbs are easier.¬†¬† Bell Rock Vista parking is larger.¬†¬† That’s the way I chose after finding no parking anywhere else.

The parking lot is about 3/4 mile from Bell Rock.  The views are awesome.   There are plenty of spring flowers, critters, and people.  In 68 degree weather with partly cloudy skies, it very comfortable.  During summer, go early
and bring hat and plenty of water.

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The path to and around the Bell are fairly easy.¬†¬† The hike onto the bell isn’t.¬† The smooth surface means good traction on shoes.¬† The area is amazing.¬† The vortex effect is very calming.¬† The sense of peace fills this place

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Above and below are from halfway up the bell rock.

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This is a must do if you come to Sedona.   You can go to the top if your legs can take a strong without.   You can go partial up from the North side easily

The Path

Footsteps fall elsewhere.

The plants reach across the way

Time has forgotten it ever was.

Distant views bury any trace.

At one time, the only way.

A distant time there it was.

Fallen on hard times, maybe.

Left behind for better options.

Clear cut ways leave nothing of chance.

That’s their flaw in reasoning.

Chance is life in greatest sense.

Hope rides obscure rails.

Shadows cast from enlightenment.

Looking through the forest for trees.

But following the spirit first.

Nature creates blank canvas to be filled.

Walking on its acrylics and pastels.

Tapestry shows the path clear.

My footsteps will have little company.

  

outsider stories

There is a little sign hanging on a chain fence near the Grand Canyon. ¬† It reads”dinosaur tracks. ¬† FREE”. ¬†If you are a tourist the word “free” beckons to you. The area near the Grand Canyon is sparsely populated by the Navajo, or more correctly the Dine.

Well versed in tourist, my wife and I stopped over to look at the dinosaur tracks.   They are surrounded by tent like covers and have handmade silver and baskets for sale.  We smile and head toward the tracks instead.   Good tourists never carry extra weight when hiking.

We are quickly joined by “Sonny” who carries a bottle of water to our into the dinosaur tracks so we can take pictures. ¬† He tells us about the places far off that he could take us. ¬† He explains coming home because of lack of money. . He is actually a good guide. ¬†Until half a mile from the car, he drops a “we get $20 per person to guide you” on us. ¬† I have a dozen Dine between me and the rental car.

I’m busting out with a “you should have said that way back there.” ¬†I’m in enemy territory. ¬† We are totally screwed if Navajo police show up. ¬†As a union steward, I’m used to hostile encounters. ¬† So I dig out $ 12, and tell wifey were out of here. Sonny is keeping up, saying just stop at my cousin’s tent and look please.

We stayed outside street that!

Night Photography in Las Vegas

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The New York New York Casino from the Brooklyn Bridge to the Empire State Building.  A mininature in 4000 or so hotel rooms.

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People walk by the Monte Carlo all day long.  But stone cold eyes look down on them.

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Hard Rock Cafe are everywhere!  This one appearently uses street signs to point it out.

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Las Vegas Boulevard has people at 1AM.  Rare moment with an empty sidewalk. The traffic below is deceiving.  Never drive here!

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The former Riveria Casino is now dark.  But the reflection from across the street is clear.  Below is the semi scary clown from Circus Circus.

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Amboy Crater -More Desert Wandering

Every once in awhile the earth cracks.¬† Magma rises and there just isn’t a volcano nearby.¬† These form fissures when long cracks in the earth .¬† Small cracks form cones.¬† The magma flows out across the landscape.¬† the lava flow destroys most of what is in its path. When it stops, the hole filled with magma forms a cone.¬† Short lived ones form cinder cones.¬† This one last erupted 10,000 years ago.¬† In total, four lava flows have came from this site.

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The place of the cone is on a playa, or dry lake bed.  The big industry here salt and chemical mining.  Maybe not what you think when you drive by this on the road.

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Before the salt is mined

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Palo Verde Mountain Wilderness – Pictures!

Outside Blythe, California lies a vast desert.  Go further abound explore your world.  But you need to have a SUV or Four Wheel Drive vehicle.  The payoff solitude and if you lucky geodes, or thunderbird eggs. Below is a picture from the DesertUSA.com website.  I found nothing.

 Welcome to the desert.  

Rule one there will be wind. This is a sand storm five minutes earlier it was a couple clouds of dust. It drifts across the road like snow.
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The area around Palo Verde is sparsely populated. The roads are mostly gravel. The sides are between three and ten feet high on both sides.
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Road signs are a plus here. The first one is thirteen miles in. The second five more. But notice the difference. You have ti get out of car to read it. The idea of a cross on these roads are usually memorials to people who pasted away.
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Why go here? Views are eighty miles one way and fifty miles to the north. Only thirty to the east, but a mile high set of mountains are there.
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The crown jewel of the desert, the ocotilla. They are usually solo. This is about ten feet tall. It dances in the wind. September they are loaded with red or orange blooms tight against their stems.
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Cactus are what most think of in the desert. The white pieces are what’s left of the blooms. This guy off about four feet across.
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Here is the Arroyo. Below water cut a channel. It’s presence provides life for grasses, scrubs and trees. The rabbits and roadrunners live here.
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Three separate ridges in view.
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Did I mention spiders? This lonely tarantula was waiting for his close up.
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Desert

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The horizon hides in the distance.
Jagged mountains hide things close and far.
The Sun abd wind are the only constant.
Life didn’t hide, it had thick hide.
Water is a hidden commodity.
It’s might carves the desert floor.
It’s present decorates what is left.
The views are stunning and surreal.
Peace and harmony live here.
If you’re are quiet you’ll find them.

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Blythe Intaglios

The American version of Nazca Lines.  Three easily accessed figures are located off of US95, fifteen miles north of Blythe, California.   The following is a photo gallery of the area around the Intaglios.

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First off all this is the only sign you may see.   There’s are two small white signs with brown print warning of the turn off, but you won’t see them the first time.  

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Fall brings storms.   You’re open in the desert.   Heavy rains bring flash floods in the arroyos (dry creek beds).  The roads are gravel here and only passable for the first mile without four wheel drive.

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The wall behind is twenty high.   This creek cut that far bank.  It can be half mile of water twenty feet deep moving fast.

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Above is the view the builders never had.   These ancient figures are st least 3000 years old. They are fenced in. So pictures are hard to make look good.   But the views are staggering.

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Best view right from parking lot

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The walk around a figure one hundred feet tall and over sixty feet wide. They are made from removing the desert surface and leaving an outline of the figures. There are no vantage points to coordinate their construction.

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View showing the fence

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The desert does give gifts.  The rainbow had a faint double above it.   The views are on the fifty miles each way scale.

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One of the figures has extra features.   Concentric rings by the left arm and a line through the waist.   Although both male figures (no obvious reason for male) are called the creator.

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The third figure is animal.  No idea is given for it.  There were no cattle, no horses, and no elk near this area.   Other objects not seen here include rabbits, more people,  and snakes. I have not seen just read about them.

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