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Monday, March 23, 2009

Joshua Tree National Park, California

landscape at Joshua Tree National Park
One feels so very tiny here in this vast landscape.
Petroglypys, if only we could read the stories they tell us.
Joshua Tree National Park

Left from cattle rustling days, a dam. We also saw some tools, and a water trough. Hard to imagine trying to live, and work cattle in this desolate desert area. How hard life must have been.

Climbers....yep they're really there. We were quite a distance and this is a zoom folks. Gives you an idea of the size of things there.

Joshua Tree Clouds
Fantastic outline here of a Joshua Tree against the dark and angry sky of an approaching storm.

Hiking, camping, siteseeing via car, climbing??? Explore nature in many ways. Joshua Tree National Park--something for people of all generations. Got a family, stop in the visitors station and sign the kids up for The Jr. Ranger Program. You'll be surprised how much you learn with them. There are Ranger lead walks, talks, and evening programs. Interested in geology? You'll be in heaven here. Desert yes.....but not in the way many of us think of a desert. It was pretty nippy the day we were there, the climbers though probably liked the cooler temperatures. We were there in February. We spent a day there, our accomodations were in Desert Springs. If traveling from other areas, I would suggest packing a lunch as nothing really much is available along the way.

Entrance into the park is $15.00 (unless you have a Golden Annual Pass). Camp grounds vary from $10.00 to $15.00.

Like to go off road, ride horses? Those activities also exist here.

Layer, take water regardless of the time of year you go.

The Joshua Tree (Yucca Brevifolia)is a giant member of the lily family. If you see a Joshua Tree, chances are good you're in The Majave Desert, but you might also see it growing along side a Saguaro Catcus in the Sonoran Desert in western Arizona or mixed with pines in the San Bernardino Mountains.

Mormon immigrants that reach the Colorado River named the tree after the biblical figure Joshua. They felt the tree's limb were guided travelers westward. All tree limbs reach up to obtain the light, so to me they seem no different than other trees.

You do see the landscape change as you drive through the park from The Mojave Desert to The Colorado Desert.

Hope you enjoy these few of the many pictures I took that day.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

No packing Day of Vacation...come and see

Sunset in my backyard. Thats right, good for the budget you can make a vacation day at home. Fix a nice meal, sit outside take in the smells, sites and feel. It's like being on a balcony. Enjoy the gardens the yard staff has worked hard to make them beautiful for your enjoyment.

I've ordered a vodka and tonic here, nice to sip as I view or walk among the gardens. No TV, no cell phones folks. Sit and'll be surprised how much like vacation it can be. This activity is probably more adult, though you could make it a family vacation. Put out the sprinkler and let the kids run through it. Get finger paints, a pick sheet of paper and let them paint with their bare feet.


Saturday, March 7, 2009

University of Virginia

An very interesting historical landmark. This University though planned by Thomas Jefferson sits on land that had been a farm owned by The 5th President, President Monroe. Monroe Hill is where his farm house was. The University's corner stone is dated 1819, and is designated as the only University in the world as a World Heritage Site.

The grounds are beautiful, the buildings most unique. A must see. Many historic plaques through out bare the names of students who served in every war. University of Virginia was the first to have a School of Engineering. Unlike other Universities, it remained open through out The Civil War, quite a feat considering the state of Virginia had more battles than any other state. General Custer marched into Charlotesville with his men, camped on the University's grounds for 4 days; but through the efforts of the schools faculty left without bloodshed and substantial damage to the University.

As with many historic buildings fire has damaged parts, and much has been rebuilt. The historic row, where the honor students dorms are; are built into the hillside. The design of the buildings, shape of windows etc. are very earth friendly.

To walk the grounds feels almost spirtual; soo many great men preceeded us.

A very impressive statue of Thomas Jefferson

The Greek Letters

The Green, currently the dorm area for only the very top students. Living in these quarters is considered quite an honor.

Very beautiful Rotunda.

History comes alive when you visit. Parking on campus streets can be a bit of challenge. Come prepared to walk.

psssssssss, if you have young children, check out the book on Virginia written by Jan Mader before you travel, or better yet buy it and take it with you.

And check out Williamsburg, in a previous post.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Wine Country

Napa is not the only wine country destination in California. We were staying in Southern California in Desert Springs and a beautiful hour plus drive away is Temecula. Up over a mountain pass, some fantastic scenery awaits aware though, in some places the road is narrow and no guard rail exists. A fun day, one I recommend.

You buy a pass at the various wineries which entitle you to taste x number of wines. We did a double pass and got 6 sips at 2 different wineries. Hubby and I tried not to get the same 6 sips. At each winery you leave with your sample wine glass. This is the price list, and special glass from LaCereza. Hubby liked the Champagne's here, though I was partial to The Pinot Grigio.

Mountains in the far distance with the vines in the foreground make a peaceful setting. We stopped for lunch at Meritage, which is just to the right of this field. Meritage is nestled in hills on The Calloway Winery. Here, I recommend Sangiovese.

A fun day, a scenic drive! There are no rest rooms, or places to eat in route across the mountain pass so go prepared. We were there on a Sat., on a return visit I would make a point to go through the week to be able to have smaller crowds.

Adult Day, not family oriented.


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