Tag Archives: Travel

Contrasts – Kapitel 1

It was time to come down out the high-desert mountains and head back to “civilization.”  So, what should one do along the way?  Why be a tourist of course.

For months I had lived in an amazing little oasis, hiked in beautiful spaces, and found peace being on my own and in the company of a few very special people and very special wild animals.  Simply put, Nature.  But it was time to move on and prepare a winter base.

I picked a few target sites and turned this into a bit of a winding path.  West, Northwest, Plains, Midwest.  I knew I would be encountering volumes of people, but there are many good ones out there.  What I saw, quite by accident, was some very interesting behavior.  The blacks and whites and the grays of social discourse.  And the rainbows of course.

One place I always wanted to visit was the San Diego Zoo.  I headed west through Yuma, Arizona – a hot, stifling, industrial and farming zone.  The contrasts there are incredible.

Bleached, beige sand with ribbons of blue water.

It was 108 degrees, surrounded by barren desert that normally receives a little over three inches of rain annually, and yet there was lush farming.  All because of a 53-mile system of irrigation canals that divert water from the Colorado river.

Not a place I would want to stay.

I was a little apprehensive as I headed into California.   A small-town boy, I had images of massive, intertwining freeway systems choked with a bazillion cars bellowing out vast amounts of toxic fumes.  Road rage nightmares.  Dirty inner-city avenues.  Muggings in poorly-lit alleyways . . .

I was packing my 9 mm.*

But I also had the contrasting images of deep blue ocean waters, sailboats at sunset, deep green valleys in the shadows of rolling mountains.  Heavy forests.  And palm trees, contrasting the desert scrub I’d become accustomed to.

And all of those visions did indeed come into view as I entered parts of the Cleveland National Forest.  The Pine Creek Wilderness.  Then the busy highways of San Diego.  And then, the Bay.

A couple of differences.  The forested areas seemed to me to be very dry, ripe for those California wildfires.  A layer of brown smog filled the air.  But the traffic was comparable to that of St. Louis – a mess, but not as much of a mess as I had anticipated.  I reached my destination in the center of the city without incident.

It was a cute rehab of an old stately home divided into condos.  The neighborhood was picture perfect.  Palm trees swayed among gingerbread homes on terraced streets.  Local businesses within walking distance perfumed the air with taste-bud delicacies.  Jazz resonated from three blocks down while neighbors across the boulevard gathered for a barbecue.

I divided my short days to visiting the Zoo, hiking around Cabrillo National Monument, strolling through the Museums of Art and Natural History at Balboa Park, and relaxing on a sunset sailboat ride in the bay.

The Zoo was nothing short of amazing.  I spent 10 hours there, Urban Hiking some 7 miles of Caged and packaged wilderness.

And it turns out, I was a bit of an attraction myself.  I looked out of place.  Wearing long pants and hiking boots.  My Aussie-style, wide-brimmed, bush hat.  Still shaking off a bit of desert sand and dust with each marching stride.

I was surrounded by short pants, pastel Becker-style T-shirts, retro bowling shirts, sun dresses, bikini tops, and sandals.  Designer everything.  Several people looked me up and down, and when their eyes reached my boots they visibly laughed out loud.

I was an outsider in a city where multicultural diversity thrived.  Many tourists blended in, but me, not so much.

But I was fine with that.

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Next Chapter of “Contrasts” – The Zoo.

Photo: San Diego Cityscape at night.

*Don’t worry, I had trained and had my permit for it.  Besides, one can’t travel alone these days without considering some form of self-protection.  Highway robbery has never died out.

Sunset Sail - 5

Back Country

I’m really amazed when I travel that I see so many different biomes in a single state or area.  From corner to corner you can go from flat, wide-open spaces to sky-embracing mountains, deeply cut valleys, meandering river basins, high dessert plateaus – and all are beautiful.

This particular view was one I came upon while on horseback.  I’m a total amateur at riding a horse, but love how you can delve into the deep wilderness so quickly and effortlessly riding on the back of such a spirited animal.

Hat’s off to my wrangler, Tina, a free spirit roaming the country picking up work she loves where ever she finds it.

Horseback Ride 7

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Soon . . .

A few weeks back, I wrote a piece about having an encounter with a Bear.  As you can see from my feature pic, I have had another.  This time, I was able to get a nice photo of this magnificent spirit.

You may have noticed that while I’ve been making posts to my Photo Journal, I usually don’t reveal my exact location.  I do this for a number of reasons.  One is I often see people on social media giving the play-by-play of everything they are doing and everywhere they are.  They share their personal information as well.

And predictably, people doing this on Facebook have had their homes burglarized while telling everyone they’re soaking up the sun on the beach.  I’ve also learned that privacy protections on social media platforms basically suck.

But I am going to make a post soon where I do reveal some locations, after the fact, because I want to make some fun comparisons.

In the meant time, appreciate this magnificent  Grizzly 🙂

Grizzly - Day 2 - 1+C1

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Fishing

This is sort of an iconic image.  A sole person testing his skills fly fishing in a mountain stream.  I’ve never done fly fishing per se, at least not the way it is supposed to be done.  But I do love fishing because I find it to be meditative.

Repetitious motion.  Casting.  Reeling.  Casting.  Reeling.  Letting your thoughts drift.

Then there is the thrill of catching one, and in most cases for me, releasing it again.  Although there have been times when I’ve eaten a few.

Many moons ago, I was in a remote part of southern Utah living off the land, and was catching trout by hand.  Amazing.  And nourishing on different levels.

It is said that to dream of fishing is to really be dreaming about spiritual pursuits.  I like that image.  And just looking at this one, I find it to be meditative.  Relaxing.  Letting inner thoughts fade into quietness . . .

Fly Fishing

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Water is Life

I have to say that I haven’t always been that observant.  We pass through time and places and forget to pay attention to the little things.  Sometimes the very obvious things.  As I travel, I now see that many of the communities I drive through are river cities.  And it makes sense.

These towns and cities sprung up over a couple of centuries ago because there was a major source of water for drinking, agriculture, and for travel and shipping.  Some of the cities have grown beyond the ability to provide fresh water and water tables are dropping.

I’m currently in a “land of water.”  It surrounds me in all forms.  I see it rushing down mountainsides, feeding rivers that cut deep valleys, forming lakes that stretch out over the horizon.  Yet I’m reminded of the need to conserve and the residents here go to extraordinary efforts to collect and store water for the basics.

Water is life.  We emerged from the ocean as a process of evolution.  Our lungs and our kidneys maintain the salt water environment internally that our primordial species used to splash around in externally.  Without pure water we would all perish.  We can’t take it for granted.  We must be observant 🙂

Undine Falls Area

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Be the Light

I think most people like lighthouses.  They are very beautiful and each has its own uniqueness.  We also like the image of having a warning light, or a light that helps lead us through a storm.

This seems to me to be a very troubled time in the world at large.  When I’m out, I don’t see many smiles.  I don’t hear much laughter.  Happiness seems to missing in this fast-paced, hectic society.  And people won’t find happiness chasing material wealth or from any external source.

We all need to venture inside.  Find our spark.  Light up our own inner house.  Then venture outside.

When we do that, we see that happiness is contagious.  Just smile and watch the people around you light up.

Be the lighthouse.  Let your own light shine.  Be the guiding light.  The light of wisdom.

Cabrillo 5

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The Young Shepherdess

Art Gallery - William-Adolphe Bouguereau - The Young Sheperdess

William-Adolphe Bouguereau – The Young Shepherdess

I loved this portrait and really thought it caught the essence of the subject.  It truly amazes me that the artist has such talent.  While I love photography, there is something about a fine painting that is so much richer.

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Grandfather Sun

The sun sets over the bay.

Imagine what our ancestors thought long before the science of astronomy.  The Sun would disappear each day and you would not know if it would return.  This giver of light, of heat, of life, extinguished.

This is why so many early religions worshiped the Sun.  Gratitude for it returning each day.  The source of many creation stories . . .

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 Sunset Sail - 2

And we can all be grateful for our Grandfather, who cradles the Earth in its gravitational arms 🙂

Caged

A great irony of being in an urban environment is you’re able to see some animals, up close, that you would most probably never see in the wild.  They are caged.

In some ways this helps to preserve species – ironically protecting them from us.  In other ways it seems inhumane.  They should be roaming freely.

But when you look at all of human life’s modern entanglements, perhaps we are caged too 🙂

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Zoo 8

Urban Hiking

Yesterday, I was able to get in about 7 miles of “hiking” in an urban setting.  At some point I’ll put together a travel piece for that experience, but for now enjoy a little beauty I discovered along the concrete trail.

I still have to identify this one, as I do with so many other of my flower pictures.

Zoo Flower 1 +C1

The morning sun hit this one just right 🙂

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