Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The vacation trip

Was awesome. I had little idea of how dry California actually is, even at the coast. The sequoias were so immense & gorgeous! They don't die of old age but fall over eventually. Kings Canyon is several thousand feet deeper than the Grand Canyon...beautiful rocks & roaring river & Grizzly falls; we enjoyed the attention of the Stellar jays. Point Lobos was fantastic: harbor seals basking on rocks breaking crashing waves, flocks of brown pelicans cruising by, black Cormorants & Oystercatchers on the rocks.... Then the trip from Monterey down to Gorda was hair-raising: the Pacific Coast Highway 1 was closed because of the fires, so we went on a hairpin road following the arroyo between the mountain ranges, at about 15-30 mph the whole way. We saw only a few firefighters' vehicles; there were no sideroads & only 1 turnoff--with a trooper guarding it--right where I was watching not only smoke but also flames from the fires. Of course this was the road Amy wanted to turn on! Eventually we found the Hunter-Liggett army base, went through it to the National Forest road, & began an even more twisty-turny, up & down, 5-10 mph drive. We did see Acorn Woodpeckers, a new species for us. We were exhausted by the time we arrived at the Treetops Resort, the Yurt place, which was great. Round tents with a clear roof to see stars, wood floor, running water; the lodge had great food & clean bathrooms; we heard elephant seals from dusk to dawn, saw a golden eagle, Western Scrub Jay, Spotted Towhee, quail, & turkeys. We visited the Hearst Castle, which has amazing artwork: sculpture from ancient Egypt, banners from the Palio in Sienna, Italy, wood ceilings from medieval Spain, famous tapestries from France, etc. Enjoyed our visit to San Luis Obispo, with the airy public library (our one chance to catch up on email) & the Natural Cafe. Then there was Malibu, with more hair-raising canyon roads & driveways, Beverly Hills, West Hollywood, and the Getty Museum, where Amy got us a private tour of the largest art history library in the world. There they not only measure the books' size, but also weigh them: shelving goes up to 15' & staff have to know ahead of time if they'll be able to handle the weight when an item is requested; they also use cherry pickers besides the stair-step ladders. They had a whole large room full of files about provenance, and scroll-holders for architectural drawings which are too large for flat files.

My photos are at the Picasa link on the upper left; Amy's are here.

No comments: