October 28, 2011

Sequoia National Park

Category: California,National parks – NidaP – 9:26 pm

Mid July this summer we at last visited the Giant Trees.  Sequoia Park and Kings Canyon are both connected, they are on the same entrance ticket, but you can’t see both of them in one day. So we had to land from the heights of the Sequoia Park at the end of the first day and go back up the next day to see Kings Canyon. The point is that it is hard to find a place to sleep in between them .  As I noticed visitors mostly camp there. There are  several lodges inside the parks, but to pay $350 for a night is not in our practice. And when you land from the Sierras there – there are maybe 2-3 motels on the way,  not good at all, therefore they have vacancies. And then nothing, a long stretch of driving with orchards, with towns who serve the orchards – and no motels hotels, very strange…the closest city came out to be Fresno, though with the help of people from supermarket we managed to find a Best Western somewhere in between those orchard – little town jungles. So this is my introduction to the Giant Tree impressions…Some facts impress more than others…:-)

But here is everything from the beginning. We drove through Las Vegas, then towards Bakersfield. California’s attention to renewable energy sources impresses:

After a night in Bakersfield we headed towards Sierra Nevada foothills  from the West side and started rising towards Sequoias on Rt.198 :

The mountains are in haze and they say that partially it is because of the smog that is brought by winds from San JoaquinValley and partially from the humidity in the air in summer. they sau to see clear views you have to come in early spring. The road up the mountains is narrow and winding which you can expect.  The views are beautiful Part of the road was being fixed, so we had to wait and meanwhile we thought that we already reached the Giant Tree grove:

But we haven’t. Those trees were something else, not sequoias yet. Sequoias grow very high – between 5000-7000 feet elevation, which is 1500-2100m in human language. They don’t grow  grow on sea level as their cousins Redwoods, as well as they have other differences with redwoods, which i didn’t know before going to the park. Redwoods are a little taller, their trunks are not so massive and they die by 1200 years younger. Whereas sequoias are much more massive, they reach 100 m in height (311 ft) and 14m in diameter (40 ft) and they live up to 3200 years old! That is something…

They outlive many forest fires because of the structure of their bark -  it is thick and feels like tissue paper, soft and airy, and though fires sometimes burn holes in them – the heat still doesn’t get the deeper layers.  Their wood and bark have some chemicals that make them resistant to fungi and bacteria. Luckily.

And when you think – there are some 75 groves left in all… and all of them are on the West slope of Sierras, where the moisture comes from far away ocean to humidify its branches and the streams of the mountains feed them with water of which they need a lot.

From the Giant Forest Museum we took a shuttle to Moro Rock. Again there was a confusion. The next stop was Crescent Meadow and we planned to see the views from there and return to Moro Rock and climb it/ No way. the shuttle takes you to the Rock, then to meadows and back to the museum…So we did two rounds until we managed to climb the Rock, but on the way we saw this creature:

I felt good we were in the bus not on our feet   – because mama bear could be close by.

Moro Rock was impressive, reminded me of Angel’s Landing in Zion NP, only more comfortable steps for climbing it. So the same as on Angel’s Landing I was scared to death to reach the top :-) :

Thanks God Andrei reached the top and could enjoy the views of Sierra Nevada mountains:

Next stop was at Big Trees trail – sequoias grow usually around a little pond formed in a hollow of a big stone by some streams. they need water. Those ponds usually are not ponds any more, but a swamp or wet meadow. And therefore sequoia groves look like a circle:

The main cause of sequoias deaths is toppling. They have shallow root system and strong winds can uproot them:

The insides of the fallen trees are attractive:

Some more images of the Giant Trees. the biggest of them is General Sherman tree, but we saw it only from far away – too many people were crowding around it.

So much for this park, it took us a while to find a place to sleep that night as I have mentioned. Next Blog will be about Kings canyon.



February 15, 2009

Universal Studios, LA

Category: Amusement Parks,California,Travel tips – NidaP – 11:21 pm

Last weekend we went to see Universal Studios in LA. For those who decide to go there, too, there are coupons floating around, so try to get and use them. I guess the crisis has touched the theme park, too. We were there on Sunday and there were almost no lines, the crowds were thin, and we were able to get into our favorite rides twice. So here it is  – entrance to Universal Studios:

It was a cold and cloudy day, so my two sweaters and a jacket were very helpful.

Parking by Universal City is $12 for a day. It was a pleasant walk from the parking lot to the entrance of the park – via an open fun-mall, as I would call it. The cashiers at the gate tried to take this pleasure away from us by offering more expensive parking tickets.

Once we entered – we were engulfed by everything about current movies or TV shows. This is the first scene we are used seeing in the Tonight Show where Jay Leno asks his famous “very hard” questions.

Then you meet the well known characters who are very enthusiastic in getting a picture with you :-)

Then there are shows. Different kinds. First we saw the Shrek. After standing in a preparation hall for long  minutes and watching something very boring on several TVs decorated with some funny bodies, you enter a movie theater where the seats during the show move. And they also spay water onto your face when Shrek or his donkey sneezes to make it more real. You watch it through those special glasses which creates 3D views. I guess for Shrek fans it is really fun. Me – I never got it. Maybe because I haven’t spent my childhood in the Us, so I can’t catch some jokes.

We took the excursion around Universal Studios next and here is what we saw from the hill – instead of sunny California – a cloudy LA! The excursion was very good, we were driving around the real movie sets, pavilions, even the producer offices where, as the driver said, they are making several million dollars a day! We got the feeling of how the movie scenes are created. How fake they are but they look so real in movies:

Like this plane wreck scene, it looked so devastated. The houses around damaged, the plane parts scattered. The train took us to a Mexican town with a flash flood, to several deadly empty European towns, to some braking bridge, a shark jumping from a lake, to a metro station where the earthquake happened and everything started falling apart, waters flowing onto us, fires exploding…We were even taken to Wisteria lane where Desperate Housewives live! With lots of fake wisterias and very beautiful real flowers planted in front of houses.  It was fun and worth visiting.

The Simpsons Ride was the closest after we finished excursion, so we waited for some half hour to get into it. Of all the rides the line was the longest to Simpsons. And it definitely was the best ride – it was the simulator. We were as if in a roller coaster, then swam, then flew, then turned over and over and even got sprayed by little Marge’s sneeze. Lots of exciting physical sensations.

Then we ran to see the Water World show:

It is described on the program as a tidal wave of explosive action and it was!

People on the front rows got wet! Lucky those who didn’t because the weather was exactly not for that kind of fun. The waters in that pool were very blue, the actors played with great energy and enthusiasm and courage, lots of splashing around, riding water motorcycles and jumping, running, etc. As one of my friends used to call such things – they are meant for those who understand…

So this next show was exactly for me  -Universal’s Animal Actors. Here is one of them. The others were cute also. They did things their trainers wanted and they were wonderful! We watched this show twice :-)

Getting to the lower part of the park for more attractions looked like this:

Strange very tall Egyptians were wondering there:

So we did the Mummy forwards and backwards thrill ride, it was thrilling, in the dark. Then watched how special effects and pyrotechnic effects in the movies are created. It was amusing. There was also a museum of movie memorabilia. And a water ride Jurassic Park: among some grazing peaceful dinos and falling down cars…the thrill part was at the end when the boat started approaching a waterfall as if we were to dive under it. Luckily it ran out of water in time and we could pass it peacefully before the boat ran down a pretty steep hill and splashed into the pond down there -it was exciting but not as bad wet wise as the employees of the Park were scaring us.

We ended our visit with a visit to the House of Horrors – oh boy, it was scary!  Especially passing by those three hanging bodies which you had to push to get through, yak… I lost my voice from screaming… Without the voice I went to the Terminator 3D and that was a slight mistake – it was also for those, who understand…Lots of shooting, noise, flashlights.

And then it got dark and cold and we ended our day watching TV with those little bundles of love:

The end.

We are soon leaving for New Zealand, so follow us and see NZ through our eyes if you please.

March 28, 2008

Bowen Workshop in Monterey, CA March 15 & 16, 2008

Category: Bowtech,California – NidaP – 2:32 pm

Hello again! After this trip to California spring started bursting in our Rockville, so I had to take care of my garden first. Feeling a little late with my impressions from Monterey…

Here what I saw from the airplane flying from Las Vegas to San Jose. It was the Death Valley underneath us and one could clearly see the white salts of Bad Waters! Boy, I liked it seeing from above just weeks after we visited it on the ground level :


Then the Sierras showed their snowy tops:


California on the other side of Sierra Nevada mountains is very green – quite a difference:


And here is the Silicon Valley with San Jose in the middle. Can you feel the tremendous and concentrated brain energy pulsing in the air?


Luckily the Bowen Workshop was held not in San Jose but in Monterey – it was a beautiful drive to there! I just couldn’t take pictures, the car was too fast…But believe me – there were lots of flowers on the green hill slopes by the road! You will see some of them growing in Monterey where I could walk and enjoy them. But fort of all – the House of 4 Winds (sounds impressive) where the workshop was held:


I mean the smaller one on the right. The bigger one is the Museum of Art. We parked the cars to unload the massage tables and were greeted by Karin Twohig – the workshop coordinator and John Wilks, the teacher for this topic: “Bowen for Back Pain” :


Everything was organized very well for such a sizable class – 34 participants. The House of 4 Winds had a big hall for listening to our teacher and performing the assessments he taught as well as some minimal number of moves on each other:



During small breaks we had chats in the kitchen while drinking tea with cookies, nuts and other snacks. Those breaks seemed always too short because there were so many information to exchange among participants or answers to get from the more experienced ones. I bet Sandra Gustafson never had a minute off…


Then again – back to demonstrations and studies. In this particular one John Wilks was showing us how to do the Pelvic procedure on a lying person:


During the lunch break I wondered around and saw some outstanding views:






The bright yellow flowers could be seen all the way from San Jose to Monterey. As I looked closer – they are from the same family as Irish shamrocks:



This time the sea lions didn’t fight for their rocks, they each had one and were peacefully resting:


Sometimes I wish I’d stop admiring flowers so much…




Returning back to Bowen workshop – this artistic house was on the way:


Here is the whole group of us students – Bowen practitioners:



I guess we were so in a hurry after the class that we didn’t take the untidy massage table away from the view…sorry about that…

It took me a long day to fly that 1h and 20 min flight form San Jose to Las Vegas…They found they had to attach some little thing to the airplane and it lasted for 4 h’s. So this is the evening view of Las Vegas Strip before circling it and landing:


Now with our sharpened skills in Bowen Bodywork we continue helping people to live and enjoy their lives without pain.

March 10, 2008

Death Valley -2

Category: California,National parks,Travel tips – NidaP – 9:25 pm

We did the Artist Drive then stopped at Golden Canyon and walked up a little. Very dry, no flowers or anything, except maybe one bush. But the rocks are spectacular:




And only when we reached the Visitor’s center which is by Furnace Creek – we saw the abundance of Desert Sunflowers – the ones we were seeking…Maybe I’ll place too many pictures of them here, but I can’t help. I want to share their beauty, their ethereal nature and my big feeling of ‘Awe’ -when you think: tender lush flowers in a harsh desert environment…(but you shouldn’t think, just be present – as Eckhart Tolle advises us). This is the place where the feeling of stillness and sacredness fills the heart and there is a possibility to connect with the Great Consciousness or God…





The sun was setting, so we drove back through Furnace Creek, which is a little oasis in the valley – they have some good palm trees and look like an island of life:



And then up to Zabriskie Point. When I was young and lived in Lithuania I saw a movie by this name by Italian film director Antonioni – a very existentialist movie that was forbidden in former Soviet Union. But as the constrictions were getting looser some enthusiasts showed the movie for small audiences and I never forgot it (well, and never even for a second did I dream to see the place with my own eyes). It ends with lots of naked bodies making love on the slopes of Zabriskie Point…It is a beautiful scene, but when you see the surface and structure of those slopes in reality – as one person said – making love here would be the last thing on my mind :-) . You can decide for yourselves…



And the sun is setting, heading home…


I highly suggest to see Death Valley NP, but not in summer. If you can’t go during the flower season which is March, warm yourselves up in winter or late fall. But if you are going for extremes – they say it feels like in a oven in summer. And I would also suggest not to take our bad example (in and out in 5 hours) and stay there at least for a night so that you could enjoy more of it and see its morning! There are many more good pictures to be made if the sun shines from different side. Best luck!








February 24, 2008

Yosemite National Park

Category: California,National parks,Travel tips – NidaP – 9:56 pm

We went to Yosemite NP during our December California trip – not the best time of the year…it was very cold over there and parts of the road were icy. I am sure it is so much better to see Yosemite in summer when the rest of the US is in sweltering heat. But we run a B&B and we have irrigation to do, so summers are not free for travels. And not only that – when I saw how small Yosemite canyon is, how crowded the traffic may get there in season because it is advertised as almost one of the wonders of the world…no, I don’t want to go there in summer. Getting there is such a long drive…At least two hours after you leave civilization on a winding road where you have to be really careful – parts of it are icy and the big trees are so close on both sides…We drove into the park on Rt. 120. On the way, more than 2 hours before the Yosemite Village – the views were much better, with a Tulloch lake in between rolling hills:



So much of beautiful views…Then for two hours – only big trees and dull mountain slopes. And at last – we saw those so photographed peaks, but the waterfalls were “shut off “- because of shortage of water…We did two rounds in the canyon with the expectation that we are missing something, that such an advertised park should have so much more to offer, but no. We left very disappointed, sorry for ourselves to again have to drive such a long trip from it…Besides the big trees and those 2-3 well known peaks that the park has, it has nothing extraordinary, more than our Zion NP has, and it has twice of the visitors than Zion has. Zion is a longer canyon, and it has so many more beautiful picture perfect views from any part of its scenic drive. Driving to Zion is so much shorter and much more spectacular. Oh well, the power of advertisement! At least – driving back to the central valley was much better because we took Rt.140 which took us by Merced river and it was much more pleasant.





My advice: unless you have several days to spend and a reserved room or tent in Yosemite, it is not worth going there for a short one day trip. Consider Zion NP :-) . Unless it is mid summer and it is really hot.