Thursday, January 19, 2012

A Trip of Superlatives

A stop in Bakersfield has provided me with my first opportunity to share some of our Southwest experience.  We have traveled about 1500 miles so far (not in the Yota--we decided to take the wagon in case of snow).  We've visited 2 National Parks (and another tomorrow, we hope), 2 National Monuments/Preserves, 3 states, and one National Forest.  We've seen the country's hottest, lowest, and driest places (in Death Valley), the world's oldest living plant (bristlecone pines), the lower 48 state's highest mountain (passed Mt. Whitney on hwy 395), what was for a long time the world's largest dam (Hoover), and hope tomorrow to see the world's biggest individual organisms (sequoias).  Fun was had in Los Angeles with friends, playing disc, and enjoying the Santa Monica Pier, in La Quinta with Aunt Sally, and in Vegas at the Circus Circus Adventuredome.  The driving hasn't been all bad either--thank goodness for books (and audiobooks)!  As usual, a special thanks to our neighbor Caleb, who helps make our adventures away from home possible by taking care of the goats, chickens, and ducks.

I will add pictures [done] and some more of my own thoughts (for example, I was awestruck by the bristlecone pines) when we aren't at a hotel computer, but I do want to share some of the kids' journal entries here [with some "editor's" notes]:

Eli, 1/17/12
Joshua Tree
Yesterday we were in Joshua Tree.  There was a bizarre landscape there.  In Joshua Tree, there were fields of puffy looking cacti and forests of desert trees (joshua trees).

I also climbed up a big boulder formation.  While I was climbing, I used techniques from the rock climbing camp [last summer].  Later we also did a 3 mile run through the desert [to a real palm tree oasis]...
Eli bouldering at Joshua Tree.

Sophia appreciating one of the 49 Palms at the oasis at the end of our run.

Sophia, 1/17/12
The Hoover Dam
Today we drove to the Hoover Dam. As soon as we stepped out of the parking garage, I took out my camera and started snapping shots of the beautiful landscape and many of the amazing beauties.  Two of the things that caught my eye were the two clocks of Arizona and then a few meters down, the Nevada clock.  Once we were done, we headed inside to take a tour.  Soon we were inside a theater watching a presentation about the dam.  It told us mostly about the making of the dam.  It said that all of the four tunnels only took two years and that 1 huge bucket of concrete was dumped every 78 seconds for 24 hours, 7 days a week for 2 years.  Also the workers only got 2 days off work a year!  When the presentation finally finished, we were shoved into an elevator, then a ding, and then we were let out in an underground room that had running water pipes under it.

Information:  Completed 1936.  Sells electricity to Las Vegas.  726 feet tall.  On the border between Arizona and Nevada.  Dams up the Colorado River.  1. Water flows in, 2. Water spins turbine,  3. Turbine spins magnet, 4. Magnet spins by wires and produces electricity.  This is called an electromagnet.
Sophia and Grace at the Nevada/Arizona border on Hoover Dam.

Grace, 1/18/12
Death Valley
Today we went to Death Valley.  As we drove to the resort in Death Valley, we saw a bunch of different colored mountains: red, orange, purple, green, blue, and black.  Our first stop was Zabriskie Point which is a beautiful viewpoint.  Next, we went to the visitor center.  At the visitor center Papa got suggestions on what to see in Death Valley.  While he was getting suggestions, I got a baby desert animal book so I could draw them.  After that, we went to Devil's Golf Course which was a sharp, salty, rocky plain.  We were careful not to fall in fear that we would cut ourselves and get salt in our wounds.  Artist Palette was our next stop.   Papa and I got out and took pictures while Mama looked for a scorpions.  She did find one eventually.  [We also saw the Badwater lowlands, a borax mine, sand dunes, and more!]
One of Grace's photos in Death Valley.

In our next installments, we hope to share our experiences at the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, Sequoia National Park (weather permitting), and more!


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