| Middle | End
yesterday was a long day.
met my sister in berkeley while meryl stayed at home with her mom. went
into sf with sarah and essentially just walked and talked for a few hours
until i had to leave for the giants game. met up with meryl and her parents
at at&t park and got inside just as the game was starting. we thought
it was a 7:35 start and the girls hit traffic so we were slightly later
than we would have liked. we had club level seats (thanks tamara and clarke)
around third base. you need a ticket to get up there and the food is really
good. at the start of the second inning i went down to the first level
and met up with jon. he happened to be going to the park with some co-workers
so we talked and caught up with each other for a couple innings. the giants
were losing pretty badly so a lot of "fans" started leaving around the
7th and 8th innings.
in the bottom of the 8th,
or the top of the 9th (not really sure) someone hit a foul ball that flew
back straight towards us. now, this is something i've thought about in
advance before. i had figured that my biggest issue with getting a ball
hit towards me would be the fear of a hardball flying at me that quickly.
i had predicted that my biggest thing to overcome would be chickening out
as the ball got closer and closer. i assumed i'd get a case of alligator
arms. as it turns out things happened so quickly that instinct just took
over. and, like most well-heeled young men, that means i went for the catch
rather than thinking about the possibility of it going through my bare
hands and hitting me in the nose, or something like that. as it went further
and further back and got closer and closer to me i thought two things:
"it's not going to come to me" and "it looks like it's going to come right
to me." pessimism mixed with reality. anyway, i stood up and put my hands
up without thinking about it. i didn't hear anything around me, i had tunnel
vision and time slowed a bit, yet i didn't have time to do any thinking
- it was all instinct at this point. it hit me right in the hands with
a thud and then smacked out. i reach forward quickly to go for the rebound,
but it was in someone else's hands at this point. i don't think i really
looked at him or anything around me, i immediately knew that i had missed
a golden opportunity and i wallowed in disappointment as quickly as that
ball had gone in and out of my hands. i was pretty disappointed with myself
for the next couple hours. knowing what to do and doing it under those
circumstances are completely different. i know i should have cradled the
ball more, i should have accepted it into my hands more gently, but that
wasn't part of my instinctual program so i dropped it like most people
do. if i had a glove it would be in the car right now, but i didn't, so
pacbell, er sbc, er at&t
park is a nice park. it's probably most similar to minute maid in houston,
another HOK design. minute maid has the cool roof and train in left field,
but it seems to have worse blind spots and it doesn't have mccovey cove.
i appreciate how open outfield is at at&t - not just for walking around
the park, but also for the view. there's too much advertising at the park
for my tastes. there are some activities past the bleachers which i didn't
really get a look at, and i don't remember from my first visit. prices
are a bit on the silly side - hot dogs, drinks, etc. are generally all
$.50 to $1.00 priced above the average. safeco is also expensive. perhaps
it's a west coast thing. i guess everything over here is more expensive
so it shouldn't surprise me that much. i don't remember dodger stadium
being all that expensive, but i'll report on that when i visit it with
my dad after the trip. it was also interesting to see so many people cheering
for barry bonds. i guess it makes sense that sf would support a drug-user
though; and i don't say that disparagingly.
we said our good-byes and
made haste for santa cruz. luke and vern welcomed us to luke's digs in
the hills. he's got a sweet setup - plenty of money, a free place to sleep,
a house to work on and five acres of land on which to work. i envy the
guy. vern, luke, meryl and i talked until about 3am.
luke, meryl and i played
a little wiffle ball and talked a bit the next day (today) and then meryl
and i had to hit the road for la. we're more or less in santa barbara right
i've come to the conclusion
that i should have been born with more money so i could do more of the
things that i'd like to do: relax, travel, more fully pursue hobbies like
carpentry, film, and music, etc.
i'd rather be an outfielder
than an infielder. i've had this discussion with meryl before, but i think
it's fitting to bring it up now in light of my botched catch last night.
i explained to her that i don't like having to make those split second
decisions. in the outfield you have a little more time to gauge things.
it's like flying versus driving. if you're in the air and something goes
wrong you generally have a decent amount of time before you're in real
danger. in a car the hazards are presented to you too quickly to react
with anything other than instinct. no one's going to make an illegal left
turn in front of you while you're flying.
we're on our way to the
padres game right now. the past few days have been more relaxing than the
after leaving luke's place
we drove the 101 freeway all the way to my grandma's place. she made a
good dinner for us and we went to sleep. the next morning we drove her
to the airport (she's got business in maryland) on our way to the angels
game. on the way there we realized that we had tickets for the previous
night's game, so that was our first ticket-related mistake of the trip.
we weren't too worried about getting tickets for the day game that we had
planned on seeing, though, because the angels don't sell out that often
and it was a day game. we parked the car and made our way to the ticket
booth. there were a few lines and we got into the one that seemed the shortest.
it turned out to be the slowest moving line, thanks to the picky fans at
the front. it turned out that choosing this line was a good thing, though.
after a few people had been helped in the other lines a woman approached
us and asked if we wanted free tickets. she worked for a day camp which
had purchased an excessive number of tickets and she was looking to give
away the extras. we gladly took two adjacent seats and thanked her. it
all worked out pretty well.
there were an insane number
of day camp groups at the game. all around the stadium there were kids
with matching shirts, sack lunches, etc. who were waiting to get into the
park. we did a half lap around the park and then made our way inside. the
concourses aren't very open, but we were told that the park was originally
made as a dual-use facility (the rams played there as well) and was later
renovated to a baseball-only facility. our seats turned out to be limited-view
seats - the right field bleachers protrude a bit and limit the view of
center field from the right field first level seats (which is where we
were). it's a pretty nice park overall. they have a nice water/stone feature
in centerfield which seems to be fairly common these days. there were a
few nice activities for the kids (including a timed homeplate to first
base run game), but it wasn't too over-the-top. i had heard that disney
made it a quasi-amusement park during the renovation, but that wasn't true
at all. the hot dogs were total crap. i thought they were the worst we
had, meryl thought the wrigley dogs were worse. my favorite hot dog was
actually an apple sausage that i had at the sf park. though i must add
that the garlic fries didn't taste as good as they smelled. i like the
fact that angels' park is simply called "angels stadium." i get frustrated
by all the bank names and shifting park names, like they have in sf, arizona,
etc. camp kids "make some noise."
after the game we drove
back to la and, after a bit of traffic, we made it to my dad's place. we
went to todai and had an all you can eat feast. it's the first time i've
gotten to see my dad's new place, though i still haven't seen his roommate.
the next day, thursday,
we went into west la to get some work done on the car. meryl's friend peck
picked her up and they went out to lunch. i went to the westside pavillion
and watched the new woody allen pic. afterwards i went to border's and
spent some of my birthday present (thanks tamara and clarke). later that
day we met up with my mom and had dinner with her at some swanky sushi
chain. they serve non-traditional sushi dishes which is pretty novel, but
i think i prefer the traditional stuff. they had an oddly designed bathroom
as well. the sinks were very cool - they were essentially stone slabs with
spaces for the water to drain on the sides. there were mirrors from the
ceiling to about three feet above the ground, all throughout the bathroom
- including the stalls. the urinals didn't have dividers, but did have
mirrors, which means easy viewing for passer-bys. apparently people love
the place though, because they're expanding to downtown (right next to
staples center) and the location we went to got pretty busy.
friday was a pretty relaxing
day. we stayed at home the first half of the day and didn't do much. in
the second half of the day we went to the staples center and watched some
of the x-games events. there were four events at staples that night: moto
x best trick final, bmx freestyle vert final, bmx freestyle vert best trick
final, skateboard vert best trick final. the exciting thing about extreme
sports, and new sports in general, is that something new and historic is
always happening. it's very rare that you see something new in basketball,
baseball, football, etc. you're lucky if you see someone do something that
ranks amongst the best - like kobe's 81 points which is second best of
all-time or chase utley's 35 game hit streak which is in the top 5 since
1941 when dimaggio hit safely in 73/74 games including 56 straight. on
that night, though, we saw many firsts: travis pastrana pulled the first
ever double back flip in moto x competition, kevin robinson did the first
ever double flair in bmx competition, chad kagy did the first ever flat
spin double tailwhip in competition, and simon tabron (or keith mcelhinney)
did the first ever front flair in competition. it wasn't a packed house,
but it got fairly full for the moto x best trick competition. the rest
of the events didn't seem as popular. pastrana's double back was clearly
the highlight of the night. our seats were on the upper deck, but weren't
awful. the lights were in the way for the moto x events and we had an obstructed
view of the big screen, but it wasn't awful. we went down to the first
level during some warmups and it was pretty amazing to see those guys do
backflips like it was nothing. i remember when mike metzger did the first
ever backflip just a couple years ago and how huge that was. now people
are doing it during their warmups as if they've been doing it their entire
life. so it was nice to be able to squeeze in the x-games while we were
in la. that's the great thing about a city like la or ny - there's always
something big going on. saturday there was a huge hip-hop concert featuring
the talents of aesop rock, mos def, talib kweli, crown city rockers, immortal
technique, del tha funkee homosapien, wu-tang clan, and a shitload more.
too bad we didn't get to see that one too. some x-games footage:
white 1080 attempt.
kagy's flat spin double tail whip.
pastrana's double back flip.
saturday was our last full
day in la. i watched three movies - the maltese falcon was part of a bogart
festival on tcm and robocop and stormship troopers which were part of a
verhoeven double feature at the aero in santa monica. we also went to the
j. paul getty center; not the one on pch, but the one on the 405 freeway.
it's a great place. we drove by it every day of the week and got to see
it getting built, slowly. it cost $1 billion and took about 13 years to
be developed. it's an impressive complex in so many ways. the gardens are
beautiful, the artwork is noteworthy, and richard meier's architecture
is enjoyable. the walls are made of either coated aluminum or travertine
from a quarry in italy. i like the buildings and the mix of modern and
ancient quite a bit. it also offers some great views of the city, mountains
and ocean. i'm not a huge fan of cities, but i actually like la. i think
the obvious drawback of la is the traffic and what it causes - smog. i've
heard that it's gotten better over the years, but it's still not great.
if i had a few billion dollars i'd add to the underground metro system
and make it truly user-friendly. hopefully that'll happen one day and it'll
make la a better place.
speaking of which, we've
seen more prius and hybrid cars in la and sf than we have in the rest of
the country. california has its shit together. i also like the fact that
prius drivers in la (and probably elsewhere) get to drive in the carpool
i've seen 93 movies in
the theater this year, but 17 of those have been shorts.
was digging through some
old video and found this. i recorded it because
some gas station in south dakota was playing a familiar song that i couldn't
place at the time. i listened to it again and identified it as a BS2000
song. BS2000 is a side project of adrock, of the beastie boys. not very
many people know of it so it's pretty crazy that it was playing at a gas
station in south dakota.
we just left las vegas
and are on the way to zion.
the padres game was an
interesting one. the padres were one of three teams that gave us free tickets
- the reds and mets being the other two. thanks go to them. we parked several
blocks from petco park and got free parking. it never ceases to amaze me
how many people are willing to pay $20+ to be right across the street from
the park. not us. the park is quite different on the outside. it has a
different color scheme inside and out, which was refreshing. it's a big
park and there was a decent sized crowd in front of all the ticket windows.
generally there are immediate ticket window openings, but that wasn't the
case at petco. we got into the park and discovered that they were giving
away free lunchboxes. we were both pretty psyched so we reached out to
accept our gifts, but were told that they were only for guests 14 and under.
lame. one girl passed the line and said she didn't want a lunchbox, i approached
her and said i'd take her's if she didn't want one. quickly, her mother
stepped in and, in annoyed way, said "no, she wants one" and instructed
her daughter to ask for a lunchbox. we ended our quest for a lunchbox shortly
photo taken before
the game...take note of the name on the jumbotron, he figures prominently
in the story
notice the park beyond
outfield. wonder what that skyline is going to look like in five years...
notice the metal supply
building with bleachers, the tower at the left of the picture, the three
major screens in left center (the third is to the left of the budlight
sign on the outfield wall), and the lack of people in the rightmost section
of the field level seats...
these guys/girls got
a standing ovation in the 4th or 5th inning
we settled into our free
seats in the upper deck and took stock of the park. it's a fairly large
park, but it has a lot of interesting features. there are two towers on
the foul lines which house what i assume are luxury boxes of some sort.
there's a metal supply building in the left field corner which mimics some
of the brick buildings at wrigley which have bleachers on the roof. turns
out that they had to build around this building which is over 90 years
old. in left field there were two jumbotrons - one with color video, one
was a monochromatic display which featured game info. on the outfield walls
there were also a couple displays that featured pitch count and type. i
like parks that give this info because i have trouble identifying pitches,
especially from the third deck in right field.
my knee, meryl and
two old guys
the concourses at petco
are mores closed off than i like. the seats are nicely angled throughout
the park so looking at the action is fairly effortless. the food looked
pretty basic. there were a couple sections worth of military personnel
in camo who were being honored. beyond right field there's a park with
various activities and a jumbotron so you can catch the game. about half
way through the game we were pretty bored so we decided to walk the perimeter.
it was a 1-0 game, but it was going very slowly and neither of us were
really engaged in the pitching duel aspect so we pounded the pavement.
after checking out the various parts of the park we settled into a dining
seat and watched about an inning on a tv. the game got a little more interesting
when giles hit a 2-run homer and the crowd finally got into the game. we
searched around the field level to see if we could find some nice seats.
we settled on a section in left field which was strangely barren. after
finding a spot i saw that jumbotron viewing was essentially non-existent
from these seats and posited that this was the reason for the section being
so empty. that said, there's a mini-tron on the centerfield wall which
shows the same stuff as the jumbo tron...this is a feature of petco which
while we were seated and
watching the game i thought about the fact that we were in pretty good
foul ball territory. i was still a bit disappointed by the dropped ball
fiasco at pacbell so every seat we looked for was rated relative to its
potential for foul balls. this one rated pretty high. the game was tied
at this point and we were hoping it wouldn't go into extra innings. brian
schneider, catcher for the nationals, came to bat. he hit a foul ball towards
us and, without thinking, i jumped out of my seat and ran towards it. i
knew i wasn't going to be able to get it on the fly, but i also saw that
it was pretty close, so i took a step back and waited for the bounce. i
think someone got their hands on it because it didn't bounce much, but
it did end up on the ground at the feet of a lady in the row ahead of me.
i quickly bent down and picked it up before she was able to realize where
it was. so, two games after my life-ending mistake, i find redemption at
the feet of some middle-aged lady who was too slow on this particular day.
i know the feeling, lady, hopefully you'll get a chance at redemption as
there's the lady, wearing
the pink cap
other notes about petco:
good music choices. they even played funk phenomenon by armand van helden,
a relative oldie, but goodie. incorporated different ball park styles well.
it has the steel/concrete look, but adds an almost southwestern look because
of the colors on the exterior. has a little park beyond outfield, has the
aforementioned brick building in left field and it has the unique towers
on the foul lines. they played "god bless america" during the seventh inning
stretch before "take me out to the ballgame." that's practically
blasphemous, which is funny because many wouldn't ever think "god bless
america" to be blasphemous. but that's why we have mental institutions.
the game ended on an rbi double by giles, who ended up having all three
rbi for the padres. the crowd was quite pleased.
after the game we caught
a movie and drove to escondido where we ate dinner. we ended up sleeping
off 395 in some pullout.
after sleeping in four
corners, ca off highway 395, we bought some water for $2 a gallon and some
gas for slightly more. what a fucking backwards world.
we made our way to death
valley in anticipation of a hot day. we went in through some crazy backroad
entrance which was only partially paved. at this point elevation was decent
so it wasn't too hot. as we drove east, though, it got hotter and hotter.
the last time i went it was 114 in the shade. this time it was 109 in the
shade with the forecast indicating temperatures of 114. it's too bad the
heat wave had already passed because i was looking forward to temps in
the 120s. oh well. that said, i guess when the temp gets that high, a few
degrees doesn't make that much of a difference. we drove to dante's view,
hiked on some sand dunes and stopped at the visitor center to see a video.
we learned about the borax mining that marked the early human history of
the area. we learned about the endangered pupfish which live in devil's
hole. some of the causes for the intense heat are: the rain shadow caused
by the sierras, the wind which blows away the 1.8 inches of rain the area
gets a year more quickly than average, the mountains to the east which
help keep the heat in the valley at night, and probably something else
that i've forgotten.
i like death valley more
than the average person because i don't mind the heat as much and because
it's such a no nonsense place. people, generally, are there for more pure
reasons than some other parks. there's not much in the way of recreation
and entertainment in death valley. people go there because they're curious
or for bragging rights, but they don't go there for a leisurely walk along
a lake. there's something wholesome about that. that said, we saw a few
test cars out on the roads. over 30 companies from around the world test
their new cars in the heat. we saw a trio of them at dante's view. couldn't
tell what the manufacturer was, though, because they cover distinguishing
marks. we also saw a trio of bmws on the road into the park.
here you'll notice
the top secret cars and something in my lens which makes a curved ghost
shape in the middle of my pictures. lens needs to be dismantled and cleaned,
at best, replaced at worst; wonderful.
after death valley we hit
the road for las vegas. we spent too much time in death valley and couldn't
make it to hoover dam so we planned on catching a movie in vegas to kill
some time before making our way to zion's doorstep.
everyone's two favorite
vegas is what it is and
you most likely already have an opinion about the place. i see it as pure
artifice - a fake statue of liberty, a fake eiffel tower, a fake pyramid,
a fake roman palace, even fake rocks and a waterfall in front of the wynn
resort and it's all in the middle of a desert. add to that the gambling,
a marketing scheme ("what happens here, stays here") which glorifies the
dionysian, and the utter unnaturalness of the place and you have a place
that i don't like too much. it's a manifestation of so many things within
humans that i don't like. i can't deny that they're there and i can't deny
that many of them have their place, but i don't have to enjoy a colossal
monument to them.
we left las vegas after
watching a movie and driving the strip. i saw the $2.7 billion wynn resort
from the outside and wasn't impressed. i saw an interview with him on charlie
rose's show and thought him to be an interesting person with some novel
ideas, but the exterior of the resort didn't spark much interest. of course
i didn't see the interior so i can't pass full judgment.
we slept just outside of
zion and i took some night photos while meryl fell asleep.
f/3.2, exposure 13
sec., iso 50:
zion is an oasis in an
area that is generally desert-like. cut by the virgin river, zion canyon
is about 4,000 feet deep and was established as a park in 1919. with 2-2.5
million visitors a year, it's the 8th most visited national park in the
country. i'd like to get an official top 25, but i'd guess that yellowstone,
yosemite, grand canyon, great smoky mountains, mt. rushmore, everglades
and olympic would round out the top 8. the canyon took an estimated 16
million years to carve. water which seeps through the navajo sandstone
takes approx. 1000 years to get all the way through. in 2000 they went
to a shuttle system during the summer months. it runs every 6-8 minutes
and is quite efficient. so far as i can figure, the biggest reason that
zion is cut so straight, as opposed to the "V" canyons in grand canyon
national park, is because the virgin river has one of the fastest declines
of any river in the u.s. i think it loses about 2,000 feet in elevation
over the course of its 150 mile run. both those figures are from memory,
though, so don't quote me there. another cool feature in zion is the visitor
center which uses towers with water soaked baffles to cool in the summer,
and an angled roof to bring solar energy in during the winter when the
sun is lower. it's quite effective and is testament to human ingenuity.
i wish more homes were built like this.
wading through the
i've been getting pretty
bored of the usual pictures. nowadays i find myself pointing the camera
at less photographed things, taking pictures at night and photographing
things from different angles.
that said, i'm still
taking plenty of average pictures:
we left zion for bryce
canyon n.p. this is as good a time as any to talk about the colorado plateau
and why it's so interesting. southern utah and northern arizona are especially
beautiful because of the way the area was formed. ancient seas came and
retreated over this area several times over the last couple hundred million
years and, in the process, deposited all sorts of minerals and salts. rivers
like the virgin and colorado made their way through the soft sandstone.
freeze/thaw cycles at higher elevations made formations like the hoodoos
you see in bryce canyon. i love this area because it seems like the geologic
history is manifested in such awe-inspiring and plain-seen ways. at the
same time the variety of formations in this relatively small area is quite
impressive. the canyons in zion look different than the ones in grand canyon
or canyonlands national parks. then there are the natural bridges, formed
differently than the similar looking arches. the hanging rocks and hoodoos
are also different. somehow these features are more impressive to me than
the most beautiful mountains and forests. the appalachians were formed
over an equally impressive range of time, yet they just don't speak to
me in the same way.
we saw bryce canyon, did
a couple hikes and moved onto capitol reef national park. capitol reef
is a smallish park and we got there late, so we just did the driving tour.
there were some nice petroglyphs on some of the wingate sandstone formations
that were drawn by hopi indians. we listened to afrika bambaataa while
driving through the park, that may have been the first time afrika bambaataa
was ever played in that national park, who knows. we thought about sticking
around for the late night ranger talk on lizards, but it would have set
us back an hour so we opted out. we spent the night at a small motel in
capitol reef national
ten people lived in
this tiny cabin:
outside of capitol
this morning we went to
canyonlands national park and then arches. both parks are great and worth
the visit. the pictures will give the best explanation. one mystery formation
was at canyonlands. it's a crater with a mountain of debris inside it.
one theory has it being formed by a meteor, one has it being formed by
salt uplift. speaking of salt....salt canyon in arches national park is
interestingly formed by a thick salt deposit underneath sand deposits.
cracks in the sandstone above the salt allow water to seep in and lessen
the salt deposit's strength and size. the salt gives way and a canyon is
created. the arches and balanced rocks in the park are formed by weathering
and differing rock consistencies/strengths. speaking of weathering...canyonlands
gets about 10 inches of rain a year and we ran into a bit of it. luckily
it wasn't too heavy. the canyons in canyonlands apparently average a depth
of 2,000 feet, thought they looked larger than that to me. the ranger i
asked said they guess the canyons were formed over 5-10 million years.
dust is kicked up by
the wind while the rain moves in...
while at arches i spoke
with a young woman about some program through SCA which allows for what
boils down to paid internships in the park service or other conservation
organizations. she was working as a lowgrade interpretive ranger and had
her expenses paid. i'll have to follow up on that.
one natural phenomenon
that will never cease to amaze me:
arches had some of the
more creative exhibits i've seen recently. canyonlands had examples of
flora in ziploc bags mounted to posterboard with info on the species. i've
learned a bit about cryptobyotic crust and its role in the desert ecology,
but i'd like to learn more.
after arches we had a good
dinner at moab brewery which has some good bbq sauce.
if it wasn't for the rout
memorization i might like to become a scientist. i wouldn't mind being
a journalist either, but i don't like deadlines and i wouldn't like being
censored and told what to write about.
i think my "Milken will
sell you some junk, Bonds" slogan may be the pinnacle of my creative life.
this is an ambitious trip
we've undertaken. often it would have been nice to stop and spend a long
time in one place or another, but we don't have the time or money. we've
chosen to try to see as much as possible in a small time frame. i'd like
to make my next trip be a tour of alaska so i can finally get that last
state under my belt and so i can visit an even less tainted landscape.
after that i would like to make more concentrated visits to the southwest
and northeast to get to know certain areas better. of course i'd also like
to do a grand tour of canada's wilderness and major cities. then i figure
i'll branch out and visit japan, china, italy, australia and others. but
that all happens when my non-existent rich godfather dies and leaves me
his small fortune.
we just got done visiting
hovenweep national monument in utah. it was closed and the (native puebloan)
ruins are difficult to see in the dark so we experimented with some more
night photography instead.
f/2.8, 8 sec. exposure,
f/2.8, 10 sec. exposure,
f/2.8, 10 sec. exposure,
f/2.8, 15 sec. exposure,
f/2.8, 6 sec. exposure,
woke up this morning just
a few miles outside of the four corners monument which is run by the navajo
nation. we plunked down our $3/person, took a few pictures and left. i
can't say that the four corners monument is all that exciting to me. it's
sort of novel to think of the different things you could do on the site,
but that's about it. most people posed on all fours - each limb falling
in a different state. i thought it would be cooler to commit a crime in
all four states at once, but that's just me.
now we're on our way to
the petrified forest national park, but we'll make a detour at the canyon
de chelly national monument. not real sure what it is, but it's sort of
along the way so we're stopping.
meryl observed that we
drove past two ladies in zion who had gotten off at the previous stop.
the use of the term "gotten off" made me realize that you can get off while
getting it on. while i'm on the topic...why is it that things "stick out
like a sore thumb," rather than sticking out like, say, a boner in tights?
in what way does a sore thumb stick out? if you hammer yourself on the
nail then it sticks out because of the bruise underneath nail, but that's
all i can think of. speaking of thumbs...i have to applaud sites like factcheck.org
and the urban legend debunking site which knock down silly stories like
the one behind the "rule of thumb" expression. the myth is that the "rule
of thumb" is a reference to the maximum width of stick a man could beat
his wife with. turns out that that isn't true at all. i wish news programs
would do the same thing when they have so-called "experts" on who spew
clear lies about whatever topic is being discussed at the time. unfortunately,
reporters seem to think it's their job to merely repeat, and show, whatever
they consider news (which, somehow, often includes three-legged dogs saving
busloads of mentally retarded homeless children).
i plan on creating a directory
of all the pictures from the trip when it's complete. but, since the unaltered
photos (i currently post pics in 800x600, but the originals are at 2592x1944)
are 1-4 megs each, and there are over 3000 of them, it'll be a huge directory.
to make it more browseable i'd like to have a page with thumbnail previews
that access the fullsize photo. if you have a quick way of making such
a page then lemme know. i don't want to have to input each filename individually
- i'd prefer a drag and drop format or something that i can automate fairly
so i looked it up and according
to one site i found the top ten most visited national parks in 2005 were:
great smoky, grand canyon, yosemite, olympic, yellowstone, rocky mountain,
zion, cuyahoga valley, grand teton, acadia. mt. rushmore isn't a national
park, it's a national memorial, i should have known that. and the everglades
didn't even make the top ten. my other guesses were good though.
yesterday we went through
canyon de chelly (prounounced d'shay) which (i'm fairly certain) is the
only national park entirely on private land. it's on land owned by the
navajo nation and people still use the canyon bottom for farming, but it's
administered by the nps. it's basically a poor man's mesa verde so if you've
gone there then there's not much reason to visit this one. the exhibits
were a bit outdated - though they were soliciting public input for exhibits
that will be installed in the near future - and the visitor center was
smallish. it's right next to chinle which is another depressingly rundown
native american town. i'm beginning to think that the department of the
interior (which oversees native american relations and the parks service)
needs to be overhauled. but i guess that goes for the entire executive
branch these days. at a few of the stops which provide views of abandoned
indian (hopi, navajo, and anasazi) ruins there were locals who were selling
their wares - paintings and jewelry. there's some debate over the use of
the word "anasazi" to describe native pueboloans. the debate centers around
the translation of the word. i've heard it translated as "ancient ones"
and "enemies." it's probably safer to substitute "native pueboloans" for
"anasazi," but i don't know if there's an official ruling on that.
canyon de chelly
thousands of these
little buggers were in carved out pools in the rocks atop canyon de chelly.
not certain what they are, how they got there, or how they have survived
in the heat.
we left canyon de chelly
after making a few stops and being generally unimpressed; primarily because
the ruins were so far away and we'd already been to mesa verde where we
hiked into the ruins. anyway, we drove out the south end of the park and
took two dirt roads for what seemed like hours. they were pretty torn up
from a semi-recent rain so that slowed us down. we finally made it to petrified
forest national park a couple hours later. petrified forest's visitor center
is outside the entrance which means you can visit it without paying; that's
unusual. we watched the video which covered the science behind the formation
of the petrified forest as well as some of the flora and fauna of the park.
there was also a section on preserving the park. petrified forest is full
of petrified wood which, for the uninitiated, means that the wood's organic
matter is replaced by quartz and other semi-precious rocks. some of the
samples they have in the visitor center are stunningly beautiful. all this
means that the park is unusually susceptible to thievery. they estimate
that one ton of petrified wood is taken from the park per month. add to
that the fact that people have been taking the best samples from the park
since before it was a protected area (in 1906 under teddy roosevelt, who
else?), and you have some serious degradation. actually, the park didn't
even have regular patrols until the 20s so, while it was a protected area,
there wasn't any real enforcement until later. essentially, what we saw
at the park yesterday is hardly representative of what it was before people
began raiding the place. as a result the park was slightly underwhelming.
there are still a few specimens of fallen trees with beautiful colors,
but they're few and far between. the majority of the stuff that remains
is rather simple looking, but i guess that's how (un)natural selection
works in this instance - the nicest looking stuff was the first to go.
for this reason, this park ranks among the more depressing national parks
i've seen. everglades, glacier and petrified forest are the top, or bottom
(depending upon how you look at it), three. people would routinely dynamite
and chainsaw the petrified wood to determine whether or not the wood was
worth taking. the orientation video also had a section on people who return
pieces of wood that they've taken or write letters of apology.
the forest existed in the
triassic period, some 225 million years ago and was wiped out. the places
where the most trees are found are actually flood plains where the water
logged trees were carried and left. these flood plains were later sealed
and preserved by layers of sediment. unfortunately i've forgotten some
of the details and the video wasn't all that extensive, but suffice it
to say that the forest was preserved and slowly calcites and other minerals
replaced the organic material within the trees. that's the gist of it anyway.
tidbit: pronghorn are the fastest animal in north america.
we did a couple of the
walks within the park and saw some more hopi ruins. we also saw a sampling
of the remaining petrified wood. we also may have seen a family taking
a little souvenir for themselves. meryl was more certain than i, but we
both saw a kid with his parents and we saw that kid run off the trail while
his parents were gesturing towards something. the kid then ran back with
something in his hand and gave it to them. whether he had that thing in
his hand before or not wasn't clear. whether that thing was a piece of
petrified wood or not also wasn't clear. i think we live in an age of elevated
suspicion so i didn't want to accuse anyone without better proof. at the
same time i think anyone who steals from the national park deserves a thorough
beating. so we filled out one of the incident forms that the park service
passes out upon entry. it essentially allows visitors to document suspected
theft with basic "who, what, when and where" type info. meryl put it on
a ranger's truck and he picked it up later. we got the family's car make/model
and license plate so i think we did our part. there's an inspection stop
at each exit and they ask you if you have any petrified wood with you upon
entry (places outside the park sell it) so, at least in theory, they've
established a rudimentary way of detecting thieves.
after petrified forest
we drove through winslow (mentioned in cash's "everywhere" song) and onto
flagstaff. we listened to some religious wacko on fm radio and got a laugh.
flagstaff is at around 7000 feet, i think it's on the colorado plateau,
and is generally about 30 degrees cooler than phoenix. we decided to sleep
the next day, today, we
drove to phoenix, elevation around 1000 feet. we stopped in downtown to
see heritage square, but it wasn't as exciting as our guide book had indicated.
as we were walking back to the car we came across an ambassador. i've seen
a couple cities do this and i think it's a pretty good idea all-around,
especially when there are big events in town. she suggested a good place
to eat and that improved our view of phoenix. there was a lot of construction
throughout the city, but especially in downtown and that made for a slightly
annoying experience at first. there was a home design expo in town which
i wish we had gone to, but we opted to watch some movies instead. i did
poke my head into one of the buildings and saw an exhibit on concrete construction
for homes. i've seen this before and i don't know that i'm sold on the
technology. it essentially employs styrofoam as molds for the concrete
which create the walls of the house. you lose a good deal of space, but
you gain insulation. my biggest problems with it are that it seems to still
be in the experimental stages and i have to wonder what the impact on the
other trades is. i.e., how does it affect the installation of wiring and
museum in phoenix's
we watched the descent,
which was good and scary, and world trade center, which was trite and crappy.
9/11 really did usher in a new era, an era which apparently cut off oliver
after the movies we drove
downtown to the bob (bank one ballpark), only it's not called the bob anymore.
it's chase field now. i'm freaking tired of this name change crap. it turns
every park into a sellout, and i'm not talking sellout in the "capacity
crowd" sense of the term. i'm talking oliver stone sellout. anyway, the
bob has a retractable roof which allows it to have real grass, but also
allows the crowd to beat the heat a bit. the bob is a big place more along
the lines of skydome than miller park, both of which are covered, or have
the potential to be. i really liked the open concourses and the informational
displays that run throughout them. food prices were reasonable and food
selection was varied. bob is the only park that has a dirt path from the
mound to home plate and i like that feature. they also have a display in
the main rotunda which has an illustrated history of sport from ancient
greece to the diamondbacks franchise which formed in 1998. outside the
park they have a rather elaborate mouse trap style contraption. balls move
around a maze of twisted metal and periodically engage various bells and
doo-hickeys; there's no real great way of describing it. see the first
picture below. there are a few restaurants very close to the park, but
none of them seemed all that popular, in spite of location and scantily
clad women bartenders. speaking of which, we caught the centerfield cameraman
checking out chicks on his camera before the game. the bullpens are unusually
positioned right behind the foul poles and lie half in, and half out, of
the display didn't
come out at all, but suffice it to say he wasn't filming batting practice.
added an animated gif photo
in the x-games section. wasn't on the previous upload because i didn't
have a program at the time.
last night we had a bitch
of a time finding a place to sleep. we planned on staying at a motel 6
near tucson, but saw a travelodge for even cheaper so we went there. it
seemed to be in a bad neighborhood, the room was hot, there wasn't a remote
for the tv and we ended up having to pay an extra $5 because we had two
people. so, we decided to get a refund and go down the street to a motel
6. i went inside and there was some guy with his kid and he was getting
in an argument with an employee about something and they went on for a
few minutes so i just left. we ended up settling on another motel 6 that
we saw about 10 miles back. it was a little more expensive, but it was
in a better neighborhood and the people staying/working there weren't morons.
this morning we left tucson
without checking the city out and went to saguaro national park. we went
to the east park - the west park is about 30 miles away, on the other side
of tucson - since it was on our way to dallas where we'll be watching our
final game of the trip tomorrow. the east park's visitor center and loop
road were both under construction so there was a temporary visitor center
that was just opened yesterday, and the only access into the meat of the
park was via hiking trails. typically the park has a loop road that's about
10 miles long. we were still able to see some good examples of the saguaro
(suh-wah-row) cactus, as well as other cacti, but we were a bit disappointed.
the visitor center was small and unimpressive, but that was understandable.
we watched a 15 minute video on the unique ecology of the park, but it
was interrupted by people buying stuff and talking - an unfortunate consequence
of the small, temporary visitor center. i felt as though i wasn't getting
the most out of the park so i decided to buy one of the books about the
area. it's part of a series of books distributed by kc publications. they
give a pretty good overview of their respective areas and they're only
$10 so i figured it was worth it. i'd really prefer a compendium of all
of them for all the national parks, but i haven't seen anything along those
lines. the closest i've seen is a book called "geology of the national
parks." i'd prefer something that goes beyond the geology, and that's what
these do, so maybe i'll just collect individual books about individual
parks over a long period of time, rather than buying one book that covers
saguaro are pretty amazing
cacti. they can live to be 200 years old and can grow to be over 50 feet
tall. a 20 foot saguaro weight approximately 2,100 pounds and can provide
food and shelter for many species of bird, rodent, etc. in a single rain
they can soak up as much as 200 gallons of water because of their shallow
and efficient root structure. it takes about 15 years for them to grow
to a foot tall. other than habitat destruction (thanks to you know who)
their biggest threats seem to be old age and freezing. most of the saguaro
occur in the north and east of the park where winter temperatures sometimes
reach freezing levels. the saguaro can't stand freezing for more than a
day so this is obviously a challenge. creosote is another amazing plant
found in the region. they can live to be thousands of years old and are
the most common plant in the sonoran desert. they shed leaves to reduce
water loss and can even shrivel up and die when there is no water, only
to be revived by the next rain.
the mighty saguaro:
been quite a long time since I've tippy tapped on the old laptop. It was
really nice to be in the Bay Area 2 weeks ago, I think it was actually
the longest I've ever gone without being in the Bay Area or seeing my mom.
So being there for a few days and getting to hang out with my mom and Clarke
and see Adam and Erik and Chia Ling was really nice. Sometimes I forget
just how hilarious and great my family is. We watched a few episodes of
Chappell Show when Clarke's brother and sister-in-law came to visit. We
watched "Black White Supremacist" and "Black Bush" which are my families
favorites. While we all laughed our asses off, our guests didn't seem as
entertained. Oh well, that's what makes my family so great, so what if
no one else likes going to see "Bad Santa" on Thanksgiving instead of having
a big dinner.
A's game was fun, although they lost. The Giants game was great too. I
truly enjoyed wearing my "Buck Fonds" sweatshirt to the game. And OF COURSE
no Giants fans said ANYTHING to me, even though they cheer "Barry, Barry,
Barry," when he's up. What wussies. In true hateful fashion I proceeded
to stand and cheer whenever he got out as well. I was satisfied with my
Giants game experience. Clarke however was not as pleased with me - he
of course is a Giants fan, so my mom had to monitor our Giants discussions.
I remember when I was in high school Clarke and I could barely talk about
the Giants without getting into a good natured argument, it was pretty
funny. It was fun to also be at a game with my parents (thanks for the
tickets guys), I miss going to games with them and my dad. This trip has
been pretty spectacular, however, I think the best game I've ever been
to was a playoff game when I was in my first year at UCDavis. My dad got
thrown out in the 7th inning, I got a foul ball after a scrum with other
hooligan A's fans and the A's won. I remember my dad had been gone to the
bathroom for awhile when I got the ball and I called him to see where he
was, apparently I hadn't heard the 11 missed phone calls he had made. It
turns out he was thrown out when some drunk guy started fighting with him
in the bathroom and the only reason why he didn't have to go to Oakland
City Jail was because he told the security guard he had a "child" still
in the park (I was 17 at the time). They let him watch the rest of the
game from the dugout store. Yup, I've got to say my dad is my partner in
crime when it comes to going to baseball games and being an unruly fan.
We used to yell at Ben Grieve so much that when he ran out to left field
he would turn the other way so he couldn't hear us as much. And poor Wendy,
having to deal with a sometimes belligerent husband and step-daughter.
She always tries to be the moderator and make sure we're not too rude,
but I think she secretly thinks it's great too. Thanks Wendy :).
was a lot of fun too. It was nice to get a few days break there as well
and Chris' grandma, mom, and dad are very nice and funny. I also got to
see Peck, so that was really nice because I haven't seen her in a while.
We drove around and had lunch and hung out in a park and chit chatted for
around the southwest has been fun as well. I love the national parks in
this region of the US and driving from place to place is much more enjoyable
because I like the scenery in this region so much. After this trip Chris
and I will have visited nearly every national park in the southwest, so
that's pretty cool. We're on our way to Guadalupe Mountains NP now (east
north east of El Paso - a city that's pretty forgetful). Tomorrow will
be our last baseball game, and Monday will be the last day of the trip.
It's amazing to think that the trip is almost over. It's strange to think
that we've lived out of the car for 2 1/2 months. Thinking about how long
ago we were in the Everglades or Washington DC is weird because I can barely
remember what we did there, but at the same time it doesn't feel like we've
been gone that long. I have mixed feelings about the end of the trip. I
will enjoy sleeping in a bed for more than 2 consecutive nights, getting
consistent showers and meals, but I will also miss this adventure. It sounds
completely cliche, but I really have learned a lot about myself on this
trip. Chris and I have definitely pushed ourselves the last 11 weeks and
I think it's made us both a lot tougher. A few nights ago while falling
asleep we quizzed each other on what we learned at different museums or
national parks, the names of stadiums, what our favorite sites were, where
we ate or slept in different cities and other random facts. It was pretty
cool to be able to rattle off so much information and amazing to recall
all the highlights: almost getting mugged in New Orleans, seeing Wrigley
and Fenway, visiting Yellowstone, being harassed by the border cop in Detroit,
Chris getting a foul ball, meeting great friendly fans, the list goes on.
I feel pretty lucky getting to have gone on this trip and thinking about
it ending does make me sad. At the same time though, I also miss getting
to hang out with my family. This will probably be the longest I've gone
without seeing my dad and Wendy too, so it will be nice to get to hang
out with both sets of parents, brothers, and friends. I think my family
is pretty great, and although I can be a stubborn bitch SOME of the time,
they still love me, so that says a lot. Speaking of being a stubborn bitch,
I have to congratulate Chris as well, I don't think anyone else would voluntarily
spend 77 straight days with me, so he's pretty great for that.
we passed the 20,000 mile
mark earlier today.
the southwest, and the
desert in general, is pretty great. it's a place of contradiction - a place
were life exists when it shouldn't. you look at a desert and often think
of it as having little or no life, but deserts are often quite full of
life; and very interesting life at that. creosote, saguaro, and yucca plants
are three great examples, add to that creatures like the kangaroo rat and
you have some of the more compelling lifeforms on land. creosote and saguaro
i write about below. there are several species of yucca, but the one i
learned about during a talk at grand canyon n.p. flowers only once in its
long life time and does so amazingly quickly. it stores energy and liquid
for years and then, all at once, flowers into an amazing fruit-type flower.
people sometimes take this fruit-flower and cook it for hours and hours
in deep pits. apparently it's extremely sweet and tasty. kangaroo rats
are equally amazing lifeforms which are able to thrive in desert climates.
they extract all their liquid from seeds and other solids. rather than
urinating, they excrete crystals of urine, thus saving precious liquid.
these are just a few of the species that i know of, i'm sure there are
plenty more. but it all goes to show you that life finds a way, even in
the desert. this is one of the fascinating things about the southwest,
and it's one of the major reasons i like the place so much.
i'm a little wired on some
energy drink right now. we decided to stay up on this, our last night,
rather than trying to sleep. it's 85 degrees right now so we just figured
we'd save ourself some grief. so forgive any typos, non-sequitors, etc.
after saguaro national
park we drove to hobbs, nm and slept in some picnic area. this morning
we drove to sweetwater, tx and ate brunch at el taurino, a mexican restaurant.
i had the chicken fajitas, meryl had the nachos - a bad decision. after
only a few bites meryl knew it was bad news; after 76 days, we had our
first barfing incident of the trip. she's fine now so we can laugh about
it. my fajitas were great.
we hit the road again for
the dallas-ft. worth-arlington area. we got here with time to spare so
we drove around the arlington area a bit looking for a bookstore to browse.
we settled on some mall not too far from the baseball park. the place was
completely packed, mostly with morons. i think "cutting" into hair is back,
at least here, because we saw several young men/boys who had various things
shaved into their hair. it's interesting to see regional trends. it was
a fairly depressing place to be since people seemed unusually obsessed
with their appearance and there was an unusual level of stupidity (people
unaware of their surroundings, posturing, and conspicuous consumption)
taking place. we left quickly.
we drove back towards the
park and stopped by a kinko's to kill some time. shortly thereafter we
drove to the park and found an $8 parking spot. the park in arlington,
apropriately (since we're in texas), is probably the biggest we've seen
on the trip. it's strange because the park is surrounded by a castle-like
brick structure marked by tall arches. to my eyes, this brick facade was
more a frame of the park than it was a part of the park itself. at any
rate, we snapped a couple pictures and went inside. beyond the centerfield
area there's a large space for kids' activities - they have a mini-wiffle
ball field, a batter's box, and other games. they also have a row of fans
equipped with water misters - something that is much appreciated by the
fans. the park has several throwback elements incorporated into its design.
it has a steel bleacher structure which is reminiscent of wrigley or fenway,
the outfield was designed to mimic the polo grounds, etc. for the most
part the concourses aren't very open and i generally don't like that. on
the exterior support arches there are plaques commemorating different players
or moments in rangers history. there's also a mini baseball hall of fame
which apparentlly has the second largest collection of memorabilia in the
country. it costs an additional $5 so we didn't visit it. there seemed
to be an unusual number of closed in shops throughout the lower concourse
area. in most parks there might be one or two team shops, but there were
many more than that at ameriquest. all in all i found ameriquest to be
too large for my tastes. i enjoyed the effort to incorporate different
styles and i liked the idea of the mini h.o.f. and the activities for the
kids, but didn't like that those were extra. it's not a bad park and it's
not a great park. the crowd seemed pretty engaged throughout the game,
but i've heard that they often leave early. they were winning in this game
so maybe that had an affect. one less than funny moment came late in the
game when a popfly was hit to ichiro suzuki. a man behind us, presumably
in an attempt to disrupt ichiro, yelled "ko-nichi-wa!" the depth of stupidity
involved in making that one comment is staggering. he had to be dumb enough
to think it would make a difference, or dumb enough to think it was funny,
and dumb enough to not know what it meant (hello), and dumb enough to think
it was okay to yell it, and...
the final baseball
park shot of the trip:
after the game we went
to a mall and watched the new shyamalan flick. now were in kinko's reading
and updating the page. tomorrow is the last official day of the trip and
that's sad. we'll be in austin for a bit and then off to la to drop me
off. along the way we plan on seeing two more national parks, but we've
decided that the official end should be in austin. it's a day after the
last game, it'll be our longest break since the beginning and it's where
the trip began, so it makes sense. i really wouldn't mind living this way
for several more years. learning and traveling are two such great activities
that, if my finances permitted it, i'd probably just continue on the adventure.
next time i do this i'll keep even better notes and take even more pictures.
until then i have to find a suitable job.
after spending most of
our final night awake and in a kinko's reading and fiddling with several
photo album programs, we left for dallas. when we first got to kinko's
at about 2am there were several guys in a nearby parking lot who were playing
soccer, i thought that was pretty cool. on our way to dallas, we hit only
a bit of traffic (a surprise) and went to dealey plaza. i told meryl how
it all went down and a bit about the major conspiracy theories. we opted
to skip the conspiracy museum and the sixth floor museum because they were
both pricey...we were frugal to the final day. dallas isn't exactly a very
cultured city...there are only a few (pricey) museums and they're (from
what i hear) not all that amazing. ft. worth seems to be the cultural sibling
of the two. we were both tired from having stayed up all night and we weren't
all that excited about dallas so we decided to grab a bite to eat and hit
the road. i like a lot of the buildings in dallas, but didn't particularly
love the place.
we found a place called
the breadwinner in uptown, where there are plenty of nice places to eat,
and had a unique and fulfilling dining experience.
beautiful dallas. yuck.
in spite of the smog
and the people, dallas actually has some great buildings...here's my favorite,
the wells fargo building in downtown. btw, they have this in the background
of the main OCP building in the film Robocop.
a bit of dallas culture
from the dallas observer, read the whole thing:
i think there's something
to be said about the fact that while we were in boston we saw an israeli
day fair along with a peaceful demonstration that was pro-palestine/anti-israel
and while we were in the dallas/ft. worth area i heard one guy yell at
ichiro (story below) and saw that clipping in a mainstream area rag. i
know these could be considered isolated incidents or anecdotal evidence,
but it seems to me that there's a palable differernce between the two cultures:
one of political vitality and one of outright ignorance and racism. people
everywhere dislike other people, but it seems that they deal with it in
much different ways in florida (recall the sign that read: visitors beware,
floridians have the right to use deadly force"), boston, toronto and dallas.
after eating at dallas
and stopping in infamous waco for some gas, we arrived in familiar austin.
final odometer reading,
i've finally found and
correctly configured a photo album program that works for me. here's
the link to all the pics, if you want, for some bizarre reason, to download
the fullsize pics then there's a little download icon above each picture
after you click on it. there's also a slideshow option.
we'll have a few more features
added in the next week, after that this page will be done.
great ballpark information
jays at devil rays.
jays at orioles.
at red sox.
at blue jays.
at white sox.
jays at royals.
rays at twins.
jays at mariners.
jays at athletics.
one of the things we hope
to add in the next few days is an official ranking of the ballparks so
check back for that soon.
a partial list of (possible)
future hall of famers we saw on the trip: glavine, maddux, f. thomas, piazza,
bonds, hoffman, griffey, arod, jeter, damon, pujols, ichiro, vlad, ortiz,
ramirez, tejada, giambi, halladay, rogers, glaus, zito, nomar, vizquel.
of our official rankings.
for room, board and
donations thanks go to, in alpha order: Barbara, Brad, Clarke, Emily, Hector,
Jill, John, Keely, Lisa, Lynn, Max, Mets, Mike, Padres, Reds, Ruth, Stephanie,
Steve, Tamara, Vince, Wendy.
thanks also go to everyone
who bothered to read any/all of this travelogue, there's a lot of stuff
on here so thanks for spending the time to sort through it.
Baseball Trip Summary Links
Budget | MPG
Log | Best Of Trip |Ballpark
Rankings | My "I've Been
Everywhere" progress | Boxscores
| Middle | End