"Egret" N4674 - Scott and Mary Flanders
Ed. note: On February 10, 2011, Scott and Mary Flanders, on board their Nordhavn 46, Egret, arrived in the Canary Islands. In doing so, Egret became the eighth Nordhavn to circumnavigate the globe. It had been four years, five months since the couple departed Gran Canaria, intent on seeing as much of the earth as possible, although not necessarily with an end goal to circle the globe. Voyage of Egret do cuments the Flanders’ entire trip, an endless adventure that has put them in touch with the most fabulous places and interesting people. Much route planning and forecasting was required in order to get to some of their ports of call. But the days of detailed planning are over…for now.“Egret” is now back in Fort Lauderdale, the place the couple called home for so many years, and, ironically, the starting point of their world wide cruising escapade that began with the Nordhavn Atlantic Rally in 2004. They currently travel hither and yon, sometimes by boat, sometimes not. Here, the latest update from the Flanders as they keep us continually apprised.
February 28, 2013
Position: Marina Queen, Ft Lauderdale aboard Egret
Hello mis amigos, today let’s start by backtracking to the secret slot canyon in northern Arizona. If you remember, I had a dumb attack and set an internal camera setting wrong and couldn’t download my pics until we got new software. So we did. I’m going to show just my favorite. I call the image; Kneeling Woman. She is what you see at first glance. If you look carefully there are 4 portals into the chamber of light and the woman image dissipates. The canyon floor vanishes in the photograph and it did in actuality. This is one of the places where you had to squeeze thru. Kinda cool, eh?
Unloading Bubba and the camper and loading el J for the trip to Florida has begun. I will say a 2 door Jeep is a Very Small vehicle, particularly after you fold the rear seat forward and look at the remaining space. Tomorrow is the big unloading/loading day so we’ll see.
Ok, so Bubba is spotless with 3 coats of wax and unloaded ready for his hibernation until the fall and el J is loaded to the top. We will leave Bubba with full fuel (diesel) and we changed the oil the other day so Bubba will be ready to go when we return. Bubba only had around 1,400 miles on the old oil but oil is cheap and it is best to leave an engine sit with fresh oil instead of used oil………..like we did with Egret.
Yesterday we had the oil changed in el J and like Bubba, only had around 1400 miles on the oil. But el J is new and we have a trek coming up so it was best. Besides, part of the purchase package was 3 years of ‘free’ oil changes. We also rotated the tires. We’re told these gnarly tires really need to be rotated every 3k miles so we got a jump start and will change oil and rotate the tires again once back in Ft Lauderdale.
We drove el J to dinner tonight and he handles like a pig. Sorta like Egret with full fuel including fuel bladders for a long haul (or to save pesos) and full provisions.
So let’s talk about fuel bladders. We have a few times in the past so this is a refresher for some and new news to others. There is no where in Egret’s travels she needed fuel bladders including the Indian Ocean trek of 3365nm that took 23+ days. However, to make the Indian Ocean trek counting on reasonable fuel mileage by throttling back, and hoping there are no adverse currents, is taking a chance and Anyone Taking A Chance for Anything is not particularly bright. Drifting with the wind and currents comes to mind. Of course it is easier to say we could have made it on Egret’s tanks After the fact. We Don’t Take Chances. A super efficient boat like the N62 throttled back could make it on her tanks, no problems and would not be taking a chance.
Egret carries 3 aircraft grade fuel bladders; a 150 USG – with 140 gal usable in Egret’s case, a 100 gallon with 95 gallons usable and a 75 gallon with 70 gallons usable for a total of 305 USG plus assorted jerry jugs on a really big push.
Sometimes we fill the fuel bladders simply to save money. We filled the bladders in Argentina when heading up the Chilean Channels even though the trip was only around 1400nm, simply because Argentine fuel was half the cost of Chilean fuel and the savings was around $1,500 USP (U.S. Pesos) which paid for the bladders in one shot. There were few areas in the Channels with waves so the inconvenience was a no brainer and no big deal.
The bladders came from Aircraft Rubber Manufacturing Company in the Pacific North West. If you decide to buy ARM fuel bladders, do NOT buy them from the Florida dealer, Fuel Bladders Inc, as we did because we paid for 4 and received 3 with no refund and no returned phone calls or further e-mails after they agreed by e-mail (saved – lest we or they forget) to refund the difference.
Days later. Ok, so we missed the Miami International Boat Show with the last VofE. So the message is dated for the show but the Real Message isn’t. There are upcoming boat shows and Trawlerfest’s this summer so you can still meet the right folks and get started on setting yourselves free. Wouldn’t that be nice? I mean, after all, how long can you read this drivel* before you give up and sink into boring meritocracy? Lose hope and depart wondering? I know we’re going to fight to the last gasp and refuse to Give Up. Tick, tick.
*VofE’s goal is not to provide long term entertainment but to get each of you to quit reading VofE and begin writing and sharing Your Adventures with others. Right Michael, long suffering Tim, etc?
We have written a number of times that long distance cruising is about places of course, but what you remember most is the people. It is meeting and keeping in touch with the free spirits you meet here and there is what puts the package together. For as many reasons as there are boats not everyone can go where they wish including ourselves, but there is a way to expand your travels.
We received an e-mail from cruising buddys Milt and Judy Baker, N47 Bluewater a couple days ago. M&J have many, many offshore coastal miles and have crossed the Atlantic on their own bottom. So its fair to say M&J represent a good example of well traveled cruisers but they like everyone can’t do it all on their own.
This isn’t meant to be a N commercial but the N Owners Site is where many folks meet and get to know each other – so to speak. Other manufacturers have similar sites as well where folks can get together. Bottom line here is, it pays to be active on the site and share your experience.
M&J received an invitation from fellow long distance cruisers Peter and Margaret from N55 Skie based in Australia, to join them for a 2 week circumnavigation of Tasmania. So they did. Tasmania is super remote and well out of the usual west-about circumnavigation track so very few cruisers get to enjoy Tassie. One reason is the weather which can be extreme at times, usually more often than not, and the other is it is extremely unusual to travel below mainland Australia, east to west so a visit to Tassie would be a down and back up the east coast of Oz. During late February and March the weather in Tassie is as good as it gets when the highs move farther south bringing southerlies and easterlies instead of the usual westerlies.
Skie visited the best of the best of Tassie including a visit to Hobart which is the prettiest harbor city of Egret’s travels. Milt was very high on the cruising experience in a recent e-mail and followed up with a 3 day rental car tour of the island.
The reason I mentioned M&J’s experience aboard Skie, it is a big world out there and if compatible cruising folks get together they can really expand their cruising horizons. The common bond is boats or brand of boat that is the entrée to spending time together. I know when Egret wintered in the Deep South (Argentina and Chile) we asked cruising folks we knew to come join us. We all want to share our experiences with friends and family, particularly when we are in an area for an extended period of time. When boaters get together, the visiting couple knows not to bring the hair drier, spike heels, or hard soled shoes because they Know The Deal. This makes it easier on the hosts.
When winter Marina Queens, one son and his family visited Barcelona during Egret’s 2004/5 winter and the other son came to the Aegean Greek Islands for a summer visit. Both came to New Zealand at the same time a few years later. Was that great or what? The visits were super fun and it let the boys see a part of the world they most likely wouldn’t visit on their own. There were a number of other examples with friends as well. So anyhow, if you invite folks to visit on Your Schedule*, it is great fun and adds to the experience. Of course if they return the invitation to a part of the world you may never get to, all the better. You get the picture.
*Your Schedule is paramount. Because of weather you have to arrive early if it is a long planned visit. This sounds easy but it isn’t. Plus, cruising plans change often and you may be 500nm away from where you planned to be months earlier. One thing to remember, you do this every day and some areas are more special to you than others. However, folks who don’t travel like you are happy to be anywhere. The smart thing to do is tell your guests to come where you are or will be shortly, not try to schedule a specific location months in advance. Bottom line: you can wear yourself out to meet guest schedules and usually it is YOU that shoot yourself in the foot with prior arrangements, not your guests.
Ok, its time for something super worthwhile for those of you who hope someday to cruise long distance or at least enjoy extended coastal cruising. I imagine if you are reading this drivel you have some interest. The latest (Fourth) revision of Voyaging Under Power is out. (VUP is well known as the ‘bible’ of powerboat cruising.) ISBN978-0-07-176733-0 hard bound – E-Book ISBN 0-07-176747-9. We received our copy yesterday. By the way, get the hard bound book, its worth whatever more it costs so don’t cheap out. This is too important.
The revision was written by Denis Umstot, a many mile – ocean crossing long distance cruiser with his wife Mary aboard 52’ Teka III. This is not a simple fluff and puff revision but a full on, leave no stone unturned revision in great detail. Denis not only recalls their own travel experience and knowledge but solicits many long distance cruiser’s opinions and words of wisdom. There is a Tremendous Amount of current information in the book you need to know and though it is faithful to Robert Beebe’s initial wisdom it goes well beyond. So just order your copy and you’ll see.
The drive from Arizona to Scott Jr’s house in Tallahassee, Florida took 5 days. We left each morning at around 7:30 and drove to near dark. We drove well under the speed limit, usually around 60mph but no faster. A 2 door Jeep has a short wheelbase and it is high off the ground because of its off road capabilities so heavily loaded it doesn’t drive like a normal car and we have to be careful. Southwestern U.S. states are scenic beyond scenic, however in between those states and Florida it can get pretty boring. Initially we planned to drive north and south visiting the more scenic areas as we moved east but we got tired of driving all day, every day so we straightened out the course somewhat.
We did pass by one depressing area that was an Apache Indian Reservation. Rather than climb up on The Box (soapbox) all I will say is it is a National Disgrace that Americans anywhere have to live like that. What was ironic was the number of American flags flying from homes.
Ok, so now we are at the home of the world’s cutest and smartest 2 ½ year old boy. Mary is getting her Grandma fix and it is nice to be somewhere warm and back into shorts. In a few days we’ll be back aboard Egret and we’ll put her back together and get ready for son number 2 and his family to visit.
We left Egret torn apart to give the Naiad mechanics easy access to the areas they need to reach. We are changing the Naiad high pressure hoses, the suction hose to the engine, the filter in the cooling tower and the hydraulic fluid. Vic from Naiad SE said the hoses could go a couple more years but why not change them now and be done with it? So we are. When we get back and Naiad can work it into their schedule we’ll do the start up and top off the oil reservoir. So then the Naiad’s will be essentially new with lotsa new parts including potentiometers and of course, fin shaft seals.
A few days later. Oh happy daze. Our little white fiberglass ship was waiting patiently for us to return. Her outside was filthy thanks to Ft Lauderdale’s pollution, however her interior was as perfect as we left her and there was no odor because we left a few portlights open to breath. We arrived late so after the breakers were back on, the water refilled and the mattress put back on the berth – it was off to give the Naiad guys access to the port stabilizer - we opened the seacox for the stateroom A/C and we crashed.
In the morning a quick inspection showed the Naiad hoses had NOT BEEN replaced as promised. ^%$#@@%&* The Naiad folks had been good to us in the past so we thought we were returning the favor by giving them a 3 month window to plug in a few labor hours when they were between jobs or whatever. Now they are so busy it won’t be until the end of April (promised) until the hoses are changed. I called Naiad when I saw there was no change and had Mary take the return call. She gave Victor – not Vic – an earful including telling him she had her son, his wife and GRANDSON coming in 2 weeks and her boat was a torn up mess. Any male with reasonable intelligence knows that you don’t mess with a grandmother and her grandson. So Vic promised it WILL BE done by the end of April.
I have been cleaning the exterior the past two days between rain showers and nap chores and Mary has been busy inside. She is now her usual spotless self inside and out. There are still a number of boat chores to complete between now and mid May when the little lady heads to sea once again. We’ll mention those chores like fuel tank cleaning as they come to pass.
So that’s it. It is super nice to be back home and start looking forward to the next adventure.
February 13, 2013
Position: Lo Lo Mai Campground, outside Sedona , Arizona ……..on anchor.
Hello mis amigos, today we blasted the last VofE into space but it was a day behind in exploring. So let’s talk about it. We showed you a snap of The Toadstools; rock formations with a cap rock head and a tapered neck in the last VofE. Wellllll, that was chump change compared to the mother of all Toadstools, the Wahweap Toadstools. The Wahweap Toadstools are an hour drive from the anchorage near Lake Powell with the offroad starting point at the metropolis of Big Water. From BW you head east on a dirt road past the fish farms into canyon country. If you have 4WD to ford a muddy creek instead of a normal car the walk is a mile shorter round trip once you reach the trailhead. However, even with 4WD like el J, it is a hike. The directions say it is 4 miles each way but by the time you wander here and there winding around following the creek bed it has to be much longer. In any case off we went and a loooooong time later we arrived at the first batch of toadstools. What was different was the toadstools had cap rocks of red cemented together river rocks and I suppose a slurry of Navajo Sandstone instead of the regular red/orange sandstone caps. Evidence of long ago toadstools are shown by just the hard cap rocks sitting on the valley floor up to a quarter of a mile from the cliff faces. It is interesting to see how toadstools form next to the cliff face then stand alone as the cliff face retreats from erosion. We recorded the evolution for ourselves but it would be boring to most. In any case here is the mother of all toadstools, The Wahweap Toadstools. As you can see these are very different from what we have shown or seen. The base is nearly pure white soft rock as is the surrounding area and smaller toadstools. MS adds scale to the photograph. We got there just as the sun was leaving the area in shadows and were lucky to be there at the time. Fifteen minutes later this area was a boring featureless shadow. Then it was a loooooong hike back.
So today was a lay day of sorts, a trip to the local library to fire the last VofE into space and a clean up day around the homestead. As we mentioned previously, Bubba is anchored near Lake Powell *. This entire area is super scenic. Standing on top of the picnic table in the anchorage we snapped these two photo’s a half hour apart as the sun was setting. Pretty cool, eh? Oh ho hum, we have to see this every night.
* Lake Powell was formed by damming the Colorado River and was begun by President Eisenhower pressing a button in the White House setting off the first blast of construction. The water supplies a number of communities as well as hydro electric power. We spoke to a park ranger today who said the lake is down 100’. That seems like Really A Lot but it is somewhat normal. Last year the lake got within 30’ of full and has dropped another 70’ to where it is today. The ranger said fluctuations like this are normal. There is still 500’ of water in the lake and the hydroelectric turbines take their water at 125’ so there is water to spare, abet with less head pressure. An interesting detail is by damming the Colorado , Lake Powell has an obligation to furnish a substantial quantity of water downstream and on into Mexico . A couple lucky duck residents applaud President Eisenhower.
Then came the Mother of All Offroad Adventures, at least for ourselves………so far. Yup, what started out to be an 8 mile trek to a view point ended up in being a 5 hour slugfest then a 7 drive back to the anchorage. There are two dirt/rock roads connecting one side of a giant 35,000 square mile wilderness conservation area (can’t think of the name…….you know how that goes). Within this area are Zion National Park , Bryce Canyon , Kodacrome, and a few others. However, these two roads are closed during the winter because of road conditions. Road conditions mean snow, ice and mainly 500’ of clay under the road including the road surface. When the clay gets wet it is Quite Nasty Stuff. And at least half of the 71 miles was wet clay mixed with snow and icy puddles. So I suppose the Smokey Mountain Road or Miners Cut wasn’t completely closed even though there were no other tire tracks.
The trip started out innocent enough as a drive thru a moonscape area that was bleaker than bleak. Then the road started climbing and climbed lotsa more. and changed to one lane and got more narrow and kept climbing and of course there were no guardrails so I hugged the inside of the turn to keep you know who somewhat sane until finally we headed down and then it got worse when the wet clay started. That was the easy part. Then we got lost. But not to worry because we have Maggie, our trusty Magellan navigator dealie. So I punched in Escalante , Az , fastest way and off we went. The road was pretty iffy and we stopped twice to let more air out of the tires and finally we came to a steep downhill of snow covered wet clay and there was No Way we were going to do that. So back we went and found a sign saying Escalante was just 42 more miles. &%#*^$_ So off we went and rebooted Maggie and she finally figured it out but kept getting lost in the mountains herself. The last time we stopped to let the last bit of air out of the tires trying to get more traction (down to 15lbs), I had to find the valve stems with a stick. Yup, wheels covered in mud n’ clay. Everything covered in mud n’ clay on top of and under el J. It was a sad sight. Of course I had to climb back in with Very Muddy boots and all that mess stuck to the floor mats and pedals. (This morning the accelerator pedal had ½” of solid dried clay on top.) So it was slip n slide city then we came to The Hill. This wasn’t clay. This was black greasy wet mud. I asked MS to get out and walk because if it went Way Wrong I was going to bail out the driver’s door. (The road fell away to the right.) So in low gear we went and with a very light touch on the brake we slid down slowly. It’s a good thing I had race car experience and drove with my fingertips. In any case we made it and Mary arrived with mud to the top of her boots. And so it went all the way to Escalante but The Hill was the worse.
A roll of quarters in a car wash got rid of the heavy stuff. We left enough clay the floor to plant a forest of bristle cone pines. Then came two hours back at the anchorage with a garden hose and a sprayer.
So that was an interesting day. However I will say, had I have known we wouldn’t have gone. There was no cell phone coverage and no one would be by for who knows how long if we got stuck or left the road. Still, it was pretty cool after the fact.
Today it was a drive from the anchorage in Lake Powell to our old favorite campground near Cottonwood, south of Sedona , Arizona .
One reason to return to this area is because nearby is where we are going to leave Bubba until some time in the fall. Another reason is the Sedona area is covered in 4WD trails, but instead of sticky clay they are rock and something new to learn. Today we stopped by Barlow Jeep Rentals in Sedona to ask about Barlow’s Jeep School to cut thru months or years of learning on our own. We have seen U Tube videos of Barlow Jeeps and so on and it looks super interesting. Timing isn’t right to attend one of Barlow’s Jeep Schools but as luck would have it we met Nena Barlow and she gave us a super tutorial including showing us some handling techniques in her parking lot climbing small mounds of dirt. Mary even got one of el J’s rear wheels hanging in the air. Cool. Of course that isn’t good and Nena told her how to push a button to correct it. (These aren’t your father’s Jeeps.) Nena gave us trail maps with micro instructions to make it even safer. If you have any interest in Arizona 4WD Jeeping, Nena is the one to see. She keeps a fleet of new Jeeps with All The Stuff that are ready to go and are capable. 928 282-8700. http://www.barlowjeeps.com/
And then came the snow. This shot was not taken in an exotic location but it was taken from the balcony where we were having lunch in downtown Senoma. The snow had let up for a minute and a hint of sun lit up the red rocks across the way.
The tiny bit of snow we got was nothing like the U.S. East Coast. I wonder how that will affect the Miami International Boat Show starting soon? If you haven’t Done The Deal, now is a good time because sooner is better than later. Florida this time of year is kinda nice, particularly if you live in the frozen wastelands farther north or anywhere in Europe . Yup, it’s in the 80’s (F.) but if a cold front pushes thru it might dip into the 70’s. Ho hum.
Here’s a tip from a former resident. Stay in Ft Lauderdale, not Miami . Take a cab from the Ft Lauderdale airport to the Enterprise Rental Car near the airport ( South Federal Highway ), not at the airport. You’ll save tons. Drive to the show in Miami after 9:00 am and before noon . After you Do The Deal and are full of excitement, drive down to the Florida Keys for a few days or more to celebrate. Stay in Islamorada first – Cheeca Lodge is very nice. Have a lazy breakfast on the beach at Cheeca then lunch on the dock at Islamorada Fish Company – fried yellowtail snapper is my favorite – and have dinner at Morada Bay next door. After these requirements, Manny & Easa’s is where locals eat and so on. Drag your feet in Islamorada. We did for 13 years and loved every weekend. Then drive to Key West for a day or two or ten to sightsee and people watch, enjoy a glass of suds at Sloppy Joe’s and visit the Hemmingway House and see the 6 toed cats. Of course you’ll walk the docks and see all the Lucky Ducks at the marinas enjoying the sunshine. Lunch at Jimmie Buffet’s Margaritaville is tradition. Dinner anywhere but get seafood. Its fresh. And if you are a fisherman, it would be great fun to hire a guide in Islamorada to back country fish (Mark Krowka is the best of the best if you can get a day) and in Key West to wreck fish (any of the Delph family if you can get a day). Both are very different types of fishing and lotsa fun. And you Will catch fish. Then return home and dream about your new precious.
Sound good? It is mis amigos, and the clock is ticking. Tick, tick, tick. You get the picture.
Ok, back to play time. Today we took el J out for a spin. The first couple trails near Sedona ( Arizona ) were closed because of snow and muddy trails – and slippery rocks. However a Moderate trail was open – Outlaw Trail. Before the trail there were some Indian cliff ruins but they were closed as well. I guess from slippery climbing nearing the ruins. So we ‘aired down’ – dropped tire pressure to 21lbs (it should have been 18lbs), put el J into 4WD low-low, disconnected the front sway bar with a push of a button (giving 4” more front suspension travel) and off we went at 7mph. We won’t elaborate except to say it is amazing what a Jeep will do if you go slow and pick and choose the route over boulders going up and down a hill. If I hadn’t watched the U Tube videos we would never have attempted it. So just like the book says – and Nena at Barlow Jeep Rentals I might add – el J went up and down without drama. We didn’t even need to push the rear and/or front locker button to keep down wheelspin. Ok, so I’m impressed. When the weather dries somewhat we’ll give some more trails a go.
Next day. We went back to Outlaw Trail for practice. Both Mary and I repeated the roughest section just to learn. We tried different lines thru the rocks and I tried something…..just to learn, and got hung up (hi sided). No biggie, we put it in R and backed off and took a different route. But that’s it until we return in the fall. Now its time to clean el J thoroughly and get Bubba ready to put to rest.
We have to do what we will do soon because on Friday (Feb 15th), Bubba goes into storage and el J turns east. Or at least sorta east.
On the way back to Egret we’ll stop by Scott Jr’s house in Tallahassee for a couple days. Of course you remember that Asher – 2 ½ - is the world’s smartest and cutest 2 year old boy. Cutest is obvious and smartest is obvious if you knew. Here’s an example. When driving around with Mom and Dad, if he sees a silly Chevy or Ford truck somewhere he says ‘Truck’. If he sees a cool Dodge Truck he says ‘Bubba Truck’. So now you know. Can’t wait to take the little guy 4 wheeling in el J.
Ok, it’s sorta late for me to announce the Miami International Boat Show starting tomorrow. So what? Haven’t you Ever Done anything on the spur of the moment? Life is moving along for everyone. So just do it, make the call, get on the plane and head for Ft Lauderdale. Yea, rooms won’t be an issue nor will rental cars. Don’t rush thru the show. Take your time, talk to sales people to confirm what you already know and Do The Deal. Then you will be just like the Egret crew and thousands of others who live free. Can you imagine? Then it’s off to the Keys to wallow in happiness.
February 7, 2013
Positon: Lake Powell, Arizona – outside the town of Page. On anchor.
Hello mis amigos, we can’t seem to leave southern Utah. In fishing we have a saying; you don’t leave fish to find fish. We found lotsa fish here in southern Utah and in northern Arizona. Our routine has been daily drives in el J to different places of wonderousville beauty. A couple days ago was no exception. Before we get started, let’s go back to school and later we’ll have a short but scary story about wilderness hiking.
I’m sure you remember vividly the photo of the petrified tree from the last VofE lying on top of relatively soft grey rock. There is a story behind the grey Triassic rock, not just another pretty picture.
Triassic Period – 200 – 251 million years ago. “During the Triassic, vast tidal flats covered much of the region. As the sea retreated, the coastal environment was replaced by a forest setting”. And so came the petrified trees after a bit.
Next comes the Jurassic Period and what we’re getting to. 145 – 200 million years ago. “During the Jurassic, tectonic rumbles within the earth began the breakup of super continent Pangea. As North Americarafted northeast new climatic and physiographic environments developed. Notable was Navajo Sandstone and one of the largest dune fields ever recorded in earth’s history.”
There are a lot of different examples of Navajo Sandstone in the area of the Colorado Plateau mainly concentrated in Utah, but with smaller areas in Arizonaand Colorado. There is a special area of Navajo Sandstone in the very south of Utah located in North CoyoteCanyon called The Wave. There are iconic photographic musts in the world if you are a traveled photographer. This and several nearby areas like AntelopeCanyon are one of those where folks come from around the world to record their rendition. The Wave is a small portion of a very remote region controlled by the BLM – Bureau of Land Management in Kanab, Utah. The BLM issues 10 permits per day chosen by lottery so during the tourist season it can take days or weeks to get a single permit. Of course we are here at the least traveled time of year so it was no biggie, And the light is right with the sun low to the south with relatively soft light.
North CoyoteCanyon is located 8 miles west on a dirt road that this time of year can be impassable to any without 4WD. However we did see one small Toyotasome guy trashed to make it thru. After arriving in the parking area the trail is an up and down 3 mile hike that took an hour and forty five minutes of hard work to get there. On the hike in we met a few other folks heading out so except for a young tourist couple we had the area to ourselves. We got there at exactly the right time for favorable light, around noonto 1:30 (before shadowing began). Like ZionNational Park you know who was running around getting in my way telling me “it’s MY shot – go away” and so on but in the end I smoked her with MY shots. Can you tell we have childlike fun?
(One thing I should mention. At times I give MS credit for this shot or another but for the most part we split photographs in VofE. She does very well and with two sets of eyes seeing things differently the combination is a good mix.)
The Wave is sorta like a tee, two legs about 100’ long and one leg inside a narrow canyon, which is a bit shorter. The entire area is spectacular beyond spectacular but The Wave is the crown jewel. These three photo’s show each leg of the tee. Pretty cool, eh? Can you imagine something so pretty?
So you think that was something do you? The Wave was just a Navaho Sandstone warm up. The region has quite a few slot canyons, some just a couple feet wide in places. Most are open to the top and others are closed in places with chimneys letting in light. These areas can be super dangerous if there is ANY rain in the area even though it may be miles away. These narrow canyons are carved by flash floods and they blast thru regularly during the summer. We visited one a day earlier that still had water in it as well as tree debris from a short time before. AntelopeCanyon, the crown jewel of ALL slot canyons is near Page, Arizona. It is in Navaho country and you must hire a native Navajo guide. We found the oldest guiding service in Lonely Planet, (Roger’s) Antelope Canyon Tours and made an 11:30 appointment hoping to catch the best light with the sun at its highest point to shine into the canyon.
We were worried how many other folks would be in the canyon at the same time. Shutter times are long and it takes quite a bit of space in a very small area to set up a tripod and be fair to everyone.We did our best with an hour inside the canyon but the entire quarter mile within the canyon is so special it is hard todescribe. It is all about the light. There are many, many different colors and intensities of light as it filters it’s way down to the canyon floor. AntelopeCanyon is more closed tothe sky than open so you walk between dark and light. I have chosen three of Mary’s photo’s to represent dozens of wild and crazy colors in abstract designs. This is what the camera saw and is not ‘photoshopped’. (We don’t even have photoshop.) We learned a few lessons in technique so we plan to return for anothergo trying for another collection of unique images that won’t be exactly duplicated because the light is different by the minute and by the day. So every photographer has originals.
Pretty wild, eh? Take your time to look at the photographs to see how the light falls on and shades different rocks as it filters its way thru. In two of the photo’s you can see the canyon floor.
For desert after AntelopeCanyon we stopped and hiked a mile thru a dry river wash to an area called The Toadstools. These weird rock formations appear like outer space critters, sorta like ET. The eroded rock towers have a cap rock of harder rock. Eventually the neck erodes away and the cap rock becomes another rock on the desert floor.
I didn’t want to interrupt the Antelope Canyonstory with this real life scary tale that happened at The Wave as we were leaving so we’ll post it here. The Bureau of Land Management wilderness areas are just that……wilderness. There are no defined trails (because most of the walk is over rock) or markers but with the BLM permit we were given a brochure showing 6 photographs of what to look for next as you move from waypoint to waypoint to and from The Wave. At the entrance there is a log book to sign in and out. There is a good reason.
Returning, we were hailed by a couple high up in the reddish hills, shown in the upper right of this photograph outside The Wave. (Mary is the speck in the foreground.) We waved then they hailed again and asked if they could join us on the way out. We waited for them to climb down the rocks and the lady slid for a hundred feet or so before she could stand up. As they got closer we could see they were very much in trouble. Both were exhausted and were trying to hide their fear. About a third of the way in they found the going too difficult so they decided to return to the car. A couple of young ladies visiting The Wave told them to climb over the high hills where they were. This was Very Wrong even though they may have done it themselves. The lady clung to Mary to regain her strength and I hung back with her husband. We talked about photography for a bit (he was carrying a tripod and a big camera) and soon it became apparent he was doing poorly. To make a long story short, I carried his stuff including all his camera gear and backpack. At times he could only move 100’ before stopping and near the end he was down to about 50’. I kept up the conversation to keep him focused but he was absolutely exhausted. I truly wasn’t sure he would make it under his own power. Obviously we made it and they were grateful but it was just luck we happened along. Had they had to spend the night in the mid 20’s (F), I’m not sure they would have made it. In fact, unless someone else came by the next day and saw them, they wouldn’t have.
Obviously these retirees should never have attempted the strenuous trip but they were told by their jerko jock son it was “flat and easy”. So jerko jock was trying to impress his parents of his own skills at their risk. What an idiot!! His mother didn’t have kind words for him when she was talking to Mary. We returned to the BLM office the next day and told them what happened and encouraged them to put up rock cairnsor wood stakes marking the trail for safety’s sake and forget this ‘wilderness’aspect. Navigating by BLM’s photo’s wasn’t particularly easy and if you were higher up the hills than you should be, the next set of landscape guides were not in sight. Anyway, we’re happy all turned out well.
Let’s go back to sea for a bit and make a point. I have written a number of times that cruising is not a competition. Where long distance cruisers go, what they see and do is for themselves. As long as you are having fun, it doesn’t matter where you go. Cruising is Not Work. Cruising is to pleasure ourselves and not impress others. So if you think someone has done this or that and you haven’t, we’ll put it all to rest now because you or they can’t compete with what you are going to read. This is a tale of a single person’s feats that will probably never be repeated in history and actually can’t be because there can never be another first.
This is the latest post from the Cruising Club of America. CCA’s Blue Water Medal is the highest award the club offers and the most prestigious recreational boating award in North America. You do not have to be a member of CCA nor a North American to receive the award. The RCC - Royal Cruising Club in Englandhas a similar highly prestigious award. Neither awards are awarded on a yearly basis but are chosen by merit with sometimes years in between awards.
March Meetings/Awards Dinner - March 1, 2013, New York (Spouses & guests are welcome)
The Awards Dinner is the centerpiece event of the March meetings and all members and guests are invited to attend and celebrate the substantial accomplishments of this year's recipients. For one example, please read this press release regarding our upcoming Blue Water Medalist:
The Cruising Club of America has selected David S. Cowper to receive it's 2012 Blue Water Medal for his six solo circumnavigations of the World, and five solo transits of the Northwest Passage. He currently is partway through his seventh solo circumnavigation. The Blue Water Medal was first awarded in 1923. It is awarded "for a most meritorious example of seamanship, the recipient to be selected from among the amateurs of all nations". The award will be presented Friday, March 1st at the New York Yacht Club by Commodore Daniel P. Dyer, III.
In 1980, Cowper completed the fastest solo circumnavigation of the globe via Cape Horn, Cape of Good Hope, and Cape Leeuwin in Ocean Bound, a wooden S & S 41' sloop, beating Sir Francis Chichester's record of 226 days by one day. Two years later, he repeated the feat, sailing against the prevailing westerly winds and rounding all five capes in 237 days, beating Chay Blyth's by 71 days and becoming the first person to circumnavigate the world in both directions.
Born in war torn Britain in 1942, David Cowper was educated at Stowe School, and lives and works in Newcastle on Tyne. Although he is a Chartered Surveyor and a fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, sailing has been his passion since an early age.
In 1984 Cowper switched to motorboats and sailed westwards around the globe in a converted ex-Royal National Lifeboat Institution Watson 42' wooden lifeboat, the Mabel E. Holland, via the Panama Canal, becoming the first person to circumnavigate solo in a motor boat.
In 1986 he departed the UK and made his way across the North Atlantic and up the West coast of Greenland. After entering Lancaster Sound in the Canadian Arctic, he eventually reached Fort Ross at the east end of Bellot Strait. Here, heavy pack ice forced him to leave Mabel E. Holland in the ice. In the short summer of 1987, he managed to get the waterlogged boat ashore and repaired her. He returned in 1988 and was able to reach Alaska where he left the boat at Inuvik, Northwest Territories.
Back again in 1989. he sailed into the Bering Strait, becoming the first person to have completed the passage singlehanded as part of a circumnavigation of the world. He continued the voyage via Midway and Papua New Guinea and reached Darwin on the Australian coast where he laid the boat up for the hurricane season. In April 1990 he resumed the voyage via the Cape of Good Hope, and arrived back in Newcastle on 24 September of that year. He wrote a most interesting book, Northwest Passage Solo about this four and a half year solo circumnavigation.
Cowper had a purpose built aluminum lifeboat type built, Polar Bound. He sailed her west about around Cape Horn and up the west coast of the Americas in 2002 with the goal of completing the Northeast Passage over the top of Russia. He was refused permission by the Russian authorities. He turned east and completed the Northwest passage again in two summers. He became the first person to have completed an east to west and west to east single handed transit.
In August 2009 David Cowper began his sixth circumnavigation. This included an east to west transit of the Northwest Passage, a voyage down the west coast of South America, Antarctica, the Falklands, and South Georgia. Then on to Cape Town, South Australia, the Pacific, Hawaii, Dutch Harbor, west to east through the Northwest Passage and back to England arriving 5 October 2011.
In July of 2012, Polar Bound brought Cowper through McClure Strait at the western end of the Northwest Passage. Another first, his fifth transit and first solo passage through this notorious ice bound route.
Are you humbled? We certainly are, but again we never tried to compete with anyone and have simply concentrated on having the time of our lives. You get the picture.
Today was a lay day cleaning el J from his romps thru soggy Utahclay to various points of interest. Each play day is ended with a 45 minute to an hour pressure wash from the garden hose back at the anchorage. Today we decided to catch up on everything including this VofE, clean n’ wash n’ wax el J, clean Bubba and the camper, grocery shopping and so on. Tomorrow we move south back into Arizonato a campground on Lake Powell. From there we will fan out like here in Kanab, Utah and explore in el J to see what is whipping here and there. More to follow.
OK, so Bubba is anchored in a campground at Lake Powell, Arizona along with about a zillion houseboats.
We met a local working at the campground who gave us some pointers about where to go. So we did. We were happy with our photo’s at AntelopeCanyon but our new best friend told us about a similar slot canyon that few know about or go to. So today we went. This canyon is longer than Antelope and Very Narrow in places to the point the canyon floor is less than a foot width wide so you kinda have to squeeze thru scraping appendages and backpacks, tripods, etc. It also involves climbing up and down steep steel ladders but was it worth it or what? It was magic. We were left alone for over 2 hours to do as we pleased and with only a couple German professional photographers and one French for company. The light was even more special than Antelope Canyon. We are out of photo room in this VofE to add but two more so here you go. Both are Mary’s. Both of her images are straight from the camera with zero alterations. This is what the camera sees. Can you see the wild and crazy fish in the second snap? Unlike usual photography, when we are shooting in slot canyons we don’t see what the camera sees. We frame light and what it is, it is. I could see how Mary shot the ‘fish’ by moving the tripod slightly for each shot in a series of about 8 shots. The last two showed the fish clearly. The fish is not a single rock with this shape but a number of different tocks at different distances from the shooter. Within 5 feet or so the second photo is what the camera saw and the fish was no where in sight. The canyon is composed of Navajo Sandstone rocks carved by water and abrasive debris into the shapes you see. If these same rocks were taken outside in the sun they would be plain orange with a small percentage nearly black. It is all about the light filtering it’s way thru. For my half, I had a major dumb attack and can’t retrieve my shots until I get some new software because of an in camera setting.
Today we signed up for 4 more days to explore locally. What will we see? Don’t have a clue. Isn’t that great?
Also today we started looking at back road routes returning to Florida. Because we are driving el J and not camping, if we decide to go more north and it’s cold it doesn’t matter because it is motel city at night with luxuriant things like heat and hot water. Imagine that?
January 29, 2013
Position: Kanab, Utah…on anchor.
Hello mis amigos, long time no writie. We have been super busy as you’ll see. The first stop moving into Arizona was the Petrified Forest National Park and later in the day Painted Desert National Park. So we did the tourist bit, snapped a few photo’s and enjoyed the day. One stop on the driving trail was an overlook where there were several petrified trees laying horizontal on top of tall stacks. Just to the left of this picture was the former most photographed scene in the park. It was a petrified tree that spanned two towers and made an arch. It collapsed in 2005. So let’s think about it. Several million years ago there was a couple thousand feet of dirt over the area. As time went on it eroded to the state it is today exposing the trees that a zillion years ago were lying at the bottom of a swamp. Impervious clay stopped any rot and in time quartz crystals replaced the cellulose of the tree that in turn was stained by minerals to give the trees the colors they have today. What is left measures 8 on the hardness scale. Knives can’t scratch it so if you want a wild and crazy cutting board, local Indian folks have slices of petrified tree for sale. Our favorite few were about $5,000 each. So back to the arch story, having the petrified tree arch to collapse on our watch is something.
During the drive around the Petrified Forest we hiked down into the bottom of a valley so see what was whipping. When ground erodes out from under a tree, gravity takes over and it follows the wash down the hill. Here is a perfect example where a once horizontal in tact tree headed down the hill. The light was gone so we had to light the tree pieces with a flash and that is why the photo looks fake.
We were headed north up a scenic drive on Arizona highway 89A slowly making our way to Flagstaff (Arizona) to change the oil in Bubba. Late one afternoon we were driving thru the small town of Cottonwood when we spotted a Dodge/Jeep dealer and swung in for an oil change. After the oil change and a BU spent in service bringing Bubba up to perfect we started nosing around the Jeep inventory.
It’s a long story but to backtrack a bit, soon after entering Arizona we came across the town of Quartzsite and ran across more RV’s than we knew existed. Many were pulling Jeeps and others had little rat cars but the far majority was Jeeps. So these guys were doing off road desert trails, dry river beds and so on. That could be fun. Another challenge don’t you think?
We did our research and ended up buying a 2013 Jeep Rubicon. A Rubicon is like the Nordhavn of Jeeps. Jeeps all sorta look alike but under Rubicon’s sheet metal is running gear that prior to this could only be added by a custom shop to make it live. Its kinda like boats. Some guys rake back their windshields and blow a lot of smoke but under all the fluff is a girl boat which is Ok of course if you want to putter. A Rubicon is a Boy Jeep for not puttering. We named him el Jeepo or el J for short.
So then we got a la did a Blue Ox 10,000lb tow bar – that should be enough – and added the whole deal to the Bubba camper package. So now Bubba will sit here and there on anchor while we play in el J. More on playing in a bit.
We wanted to register el J in Florida so we had to do an offshore delivery. Yup, the dealership had a driver drive el J to Utah and another driver followed. In Kanab, Utah we got the paperwork notarized and el J was ours. Within a couple hours we had Bubba in a RV park and soon after covered el J in thick mud. It was wonderful to be kids again.
Kanab is in the center of an amazing place in the world. Just a few miles up the road is Zion National Park, not much farther is Bryce Canyon and several others. We started with Zion leaving Bubba back in the campground. It was a grey day in Zion raining off and on. Mostly on. Zion is spectacular with sheer rock walls along the valley floor. We snapped a few photo’s but instead of red rocks you usually see of Zion we changed grey day photo’s to black & white. Mary’s is the artsy one.
But today was Really Special. Bryce Canyon National Park and later Canyonlands. Bryce was covered in snow. We hiked in snow, it snowed, the wind blew like crazy but it was great. Mary and I hikedaround the rim snapping a few photo’s. She was like a little girl with a number of “I got the shot” and yours aren’t anything. Bryce is known for its semicircular amphitheater full of eroded spires called Hoodoos. A number of the Hoodoos have a cap rock which helps protect them from erosion but in time these collapse to the floor. Because the rock is relatively soft, Bryce is constantly changing with the flash floods of summer eating away at the towers. And so Bryce went. Then it was off on a 125 mile ride along Scenic Highway 12. We stopped here and there and finally made it to Canyonlands in late afternoon. Canyonlands is a state park and it was virtually empty. All along there have been very few tourists. We ate lunch at Bryce Canyon Lodge and there was only one other couple having lunch.
The light was about perfect and there was a dirt road leading to a rock formation to the east. So off we went except the road was soggy clay and under ice and snow in places. 4WD got the deal done but a price. Lotsa mud. Before we show the photos we have to make a statement. As you know during our travels we have seen a lot of beauty. Some is majestic, some isn’t but there is beauty almost anywhere. However, the South West, mid desert areas are ……….you add the adjectives.
Of course everything comes at a price. After the mud fest and snap shoot we drove 30 miles to a little berg to get a room for the night and dinner. The room wasn’t an issue but dinner was. We left a 6:00 to find a restaurant and the entire town was Closed. Not even crackers at a gas station. Nada. So here I sit pounding out this VofE sipping the remains of this morning’s leftover coffee.
Anyhow we’ll spend most of our time in the area before heading back to Egret. Its been super cold farther north so why not spend the time here? Like boating, it doesn’t matter where we go as long as we are enjoying ourselves.
Next morning. Sipping cold coffee for dinner was better than breakfast at Subway’s in a local gas station. Can you imagine that? Uggggggg. It snowed overnight so we took it easy retracing our route. We stopped back at Bryce Canyon once again to snap a few with more snow. Unfortunately the light wasn’t good but it was still beautiful. Then another couple pull over stops and back to our new favorite diner where they serve Ho Baked Fresh Pies. Yup, Ho Baked. In 1966 when the third generation family sprang for a new sign there wasn’t enough room for Home Baked so it became Ho Baked. Today they make a fortune on capitalizing on Ho Baked tee shirts and hats.
It reminds me of the Cat House in Sebring, Florida. We went to the Cat House every year while doing a race deal. It was tradition. People from all over the world brought a cat something or other for the wall or shelves of the Cat House.
So today’s lunch ended with Ho Baked hot apple pie and ice cream.
Tonight Mary signed up for another 4 days here in Kanab. We may stay longer but 4 more days for sure. More to follow.
January 16, 2013
Position: Wickenburg, Arizona..........on anchor.
Hello mis amigos, let’s talk about the Bubba Truck and camper combo before moving back into Death Valley. We learned a few lessons while campervan camping in Australia and prior to that in New Zealand. One thing that is important to us is simplicity and small. It is important to be able to stand up, not like the van we drove 22,000k’s in Australia. It must be smaller than Dick’s campervan (Dickiedoo) we used in New Zealand to fit into tighter spots and weigh less. So we did our internet research and came up with the Four Wheel Campers’ Keystone Model. Compared to NZ or Oz prices it is almost free. Its build quality is better than expected, actually a lot better. So far we haven’t been below 75% battery power and 75% water even though there is only 20 U.S. Gallons of water plus a 6 gallon hot water tank. We were concerned about propane but so far a 10lb/2.5 gallon bottle has lasted about a week or more and that includes propane heat. We carry two 10lb propane bottles. In California where folks are sorta different they measure propane by the gallon instead of by the pound. Strange, and not only that the plastic fittings that hook the hose up to the propane bottle are threaded with reverse threads so you turn the large knob to the right to tighten and to the left to loosen the fitting, opposite from normal propane fittings. So while in Yosemite, I didn’t have a pair of Channel Lock pliers to loosen the fitting to change bottles so I tried a hatchet head to pound on the knob and even tried a small diameter line wrapped around the nut with a lever to loosen the threads. Duhhhh, I was tightening the treads not knowing California folks do propane backward from normal people. (The camper was built in California) After driving thru Very Heavy dust there are no dust leaks inside the camper or the Bubba truck. So that is nice. A big treat this morning after leaving the Mesquite Flat sand dunes we had steady winds to 50mph and there was literally no sway from the camper combo. We pulled off the road to snap a photo and I couldn’t open the drivers door without straining there was so much wind pressure.
So anyhow, the Bubba Camper (BC) is a good for us for what we want to do. I should also mention the 6 speed manual transmission is perfect for what we want as well. During some of the difficult up and down – tight mountain terrain we used 1st and 2d gear quite a bit of the time. In normal driving on flat ground we start off in 3d gear making the gearbox a 4 speed. The detents between gears are intuitive and gear selection is simple. I will say that if all we did was drive around town we would have an automatic instead of a manual. But we aren’t and if all we did was drive around town we wouldn’t have a Bubba Truck.
Death Valley has many diversities and it is super unique. The terrain goes from sharp mountains, to eroded hills to a flat valley with numerous valley features from salt pans to white mineral deposits to irregularity in the surface to mud flats to desert scrub. What is most surprising is the variety of color. You would expect a desert, particularly as dry as this one to be dull brown. It is very much the opposite. The colors of the rocks are as varied and anywhere we have been and probably more so. As we mentioned before, you could spend lotsa time here and never see it all and certainly not in optimal light.
The valley to the west between the Panamint Range bordering Death Valley to the west and the southern Sierras farther west is quite different. That valley is like a setting from a 60’s Western movie with cattle, a few elk and tiny towns. We visited this area by complete accident when we made a wrong turn heading for The Racetrack and headed north when we should have been going south. It doesn’t matter because it was all new and we came across this stream and valley setting that was worth stopping for a quick snap. Cool, eh? Oh ho hum. After this detour we reentered Death Valley farther north than the first time and got to see even more new stuff. No biggie.
So today it was a rock and roll trip down 27 miles of 4WD – high clearance recommended rocky road to The Racetrack. Nearing The Racetrack is Tea Kettle Junction. Apparently tea kettles have been hung here for years. Some are new and others are quite old. The Racetrack is a flat valley between mountains on all sides. The track itself appears white from a distance but changes color as the day goes on.
So let’s explain The Racetrack. The Racetrack is a flat plain – valley floor of dried fine silt that has mud cracked into small checks, perhaps 3-4” across and some larger. The track is level because the valley floor is flat, silt has filled the voids and so the silt doesn’t run off during infrequent rain, it just evaporates. This shot taken from high above The Racetrack shows most of the active track. The rock area in the middle is called The Grandstands. The BC is on the lower left for scale. On top of the dried silt are scattered rocks here and there. Not many rocks, perhaps a couple dozen for many square acres of ‘track’. The rocks vary in size from around a foot across for the largest to a few inches in diameter. Here is what is different and doesn’t occur anywhere else in the world. The rocks move on their own leaving a trail in the dried mud. No one has Ever Seen a rock move. Scientists have a couple theories based on sliding on ice then settling or whatever. So the beards are stumped. In two cases we found where two rocks hooked up and appear to be racing a parallel course like match racing sailboats or race cars on a flat track where the turn markers have been erased. One other rock was interesting with a track that went in different directions, reversed itself and sorta carried on within a 50’ radius. The two most active race rocks have moved a couple hundred feet.
However the coolest pair of race rocks reminds me of a cruising friend’s photo we saw in a table top book of 60’s American race car drivers. The book is something like America’s Greatest Drivers and was published in the mid 60’s. One full page photograph shows Bruce Kessler* pushing a couple big guys out of the turn in a high speed downhill left (hand turn). Bruce did a dive job on the two other cars driving an outclassed, smaller, lower horsepower race car. It was a great shot of Bruce and shows even the Big Guys have a hard time with a kick butt driver on a mission. As you can plainly see in the photograph, the small race rock is doing an inside dive job on the large race rock. What you can’t see in the photo is the large race rock has a couple rock length lead but being heavier and going faster it will have to brake sooner for the turn and the little race rock can hold braking longer and dive to the inside, just like Bruce. Of course one of the truths of racing is if you are on the outside…….you loose. Another truth in racing is exit speed squares itself. (We named the little race rock BK). So if BK can squirt thru the turn and gain a milimeter per decade times a few centuries, BK will leave the big race rock in his silt. Ho hum…….another winners circle for Bruce.
*Circumnavigator with wife Joan aboard Zoplote. Many of you know Bruce from speaking at boat shows, Trawlerfests, FUBAR and the like.
On the way back from The Racetrack the BC was chugging thru some high country getting rattled a bit and cresting a hill the Joshua Trees (part of the Yucca family) led the way to a light show in the distance. So we stopped in the middle of the single lane – two way road – to snap this shot. Like we said, there is so much to see in the park but tomorrow we be gone. We’ll wander south for a while to see what there is to see. Its sorta like boating. We just wander here and there to see what there is to see and when we see something we like, we stay a while. It is a big world and there is a Lot to see. And the clock is ticking. Tick. Tick. Tick. You get the picture.
So the next morning the BC was whipping along at 20mph below the speed limit and we came across some sand dunes. At the same time a storm was moving in from the north so it was a race to hike to a good spot to snap a couple before the light was gone. I hiked a mile or so into the dunes but with the light leaving fast I set up and within a minute or two the light was completely gone and the storm was fast moving in with the vanguard of wind blowing the sand sideways. However, juuuuust before the light failed completely I snapped this photo where the last rays illuminated these two dunes. A few seconds later the light was gone but left a slight glow on the dunes and I snapped this shot then folded the tripod and beat feet for the camper without looking at the photo. This shot is very subtle but I love it. It’s a shame you can only see it in internet resolution. Mary was in the dunes as well in another location and got the the wind first so she had to beat feet early. So that was fun.
When the dunes came up we were on the way out of Death Valley to the next destination, Joshua Tree National Park via a drive thru Mohave Desert National Park. It’s a stretch to find beauty in the Mohave. The most interesting thing we saw was a train in the far distance on an angled course to the road and eventually we met at a crossing and waited for a while for the many car - 3 engine train to pass. If the train and the BC had AIS the CPA would have been 00. Not good.
Joshua Tree National Park is full of Joshua trees. Duuuh, what did you expect? Here MS is checking a Joshua tree out on a desert hike. However it had other things too so we spent time at the park information center learning about this plant and that plant. We arrived early so we toured the park before anchoring for the night in Jumbo Rocks. One trail went past Skull Rock – it was a stretch to see a skull in the rock formation – but the trail had little placards describing the plants. One small plant named Red Buckwheat with a long stem flower was special. The Indians boiled the flower petals to make eyewash and boiled the leaves for headache medicine. The flower balls on the creosote bush was a hopeful to replace sperm whale oil for this n’ that in the ol’ days. And the medicinal plants went on and on.
One of the more interesting areas in the park was the Cholla Cactus Garden. The entire garden appeared to be glowing from being backlit by the sun. The first photo is of the garden and the second is a close up of a flowering cholla. The brown cholla are called Teddy Bears. You Do Not want to hug these soft appearing teddy bears.
So after puttering all day in the park the BC was anchored for the night. This after sunset shot of a Joshua Tree was taken with a flash while leaning up against the camper. The color of the sunset is as it appeared and has not been altered. It was pretty spectacular to say the least.
The Egret crew is now in Arizona. There has been record cold in the Southwest. Last night we put a big dent in a propane bottle keeping the furnace going all night, a first. Nothing inside froze – it was about 12 degrees F outside – but the sink water drained by a hose into a pail outside the camper froze about 2”. And the last couple inches of water in the hose froze and the door to the toilet cassette froze shut, and……. Yup, it was cold.
So I suppose we’ll turn north in a day or so into the Prescott – Sonoma (Arizona) area. Mary’s reading about the area and she says it will be interesting. I’m sure it will.
January 11, 2013
Position: Death Valley, California
Hello mis amigos, the Egret crew is on the move again. The next stop in the land voyage was in Fresno (California) to pick up a couple pair of snowshoes then off to Sequoia National Park. We showed a sequoia photo in the last VofE posting but those were babies compared to the giants in Giant Forest. So let’s talk about Giant Sequoias.
Sequoia’s don’t die of old age and are resistant to fire or insect damage. Having no tap root, sequoias typically fall over when their root system is compromised by centuries of climate change and the roots either rot from to much water or if the soil washes out from under the root system. Walking thru the forests you can see the trees with a tilt that aren’t growing straight and their time will come to an end sooner than the balance of the giants. The world’s largest tree – General Sherman – is a sequoia. Sequoia’s are conical shaped trees. There are taller trees, older trees and larger diameter trees but for pure volume, nothing surpasses General Sherman. General Sherman grows at a rate per year that is the equivalent of a normal 60’ tall tree. Its weight is around 2.7 million pounds. The rest of giant sequoia stats are: height to 311’, age to 3200 years, bark to 31” thick, and base to 40’ in diameter. So here is General Sherman with a couple folks standing at the base for scale. This is a look at other giants nearby the General.
During our visit to Sequoia National Park it was hot for the time of year and altitude, around 35-40 degrees F. and snow was dropping regularly from the trees. We parked Bubba under a monster and paid the price with several shallow dents in the camper top and a complete coating of twigs and debris. When stuff falls from a couple hundred feet up by the time it hits the ground it is whipping. We met a young lady on the trail who was hit on top of the head by a largish lump of soft snow and it rang her bell. She had a nice camera around her neck and that got a whack as well. However there is beauty from snow falling from the trees as you can see by Mary’s photograph. We both shot similar photo’s but mine was snow falling from the top of the trees to the base. Hers was the essence of the snowfall with the light rays shining thru the falling snow. One rule of photography is SEX - Simple and Exclude – unlike an artist painting where they Include. She boiled the subject down to its core subject of light and snow and mine was the Big Picture. Hers was better. We have two photo’s below where one is the Big Picture and the other is reduced to its base subject of light. Which do you like better?
We would have stayed more than two days in Sequoia Natl Park but the park is mostly closed due to cutbacks so California can build a 100 billion or so railroad to nowhere as an Experiment no less, and they can’t pay for snow plowing. Oh well.
On the way out of the park in late afternoon the BC passed between two giants that were pretty impressive. (We originally included the photo but we deferred because of Death Valley’s scenery) Farther down the mountain the scene to the west was so….(add your own adjective)…. in the setting sun we couldn’t believe it. So we parked the BC (Bubba Camper) and headed for the best location for the snap. Guess who kept jumping in front of me for Her Shots. The only thing worse than that is someone who starts fishing upstream from where you are standing working New Water and leaving you with Used Water. %$#@#%= However, her enthusiasm thrills me so its OK.
More to follow.
Ok, so today Bubba drove back thru the southern Sierra Mountains heading east into the desert. We’re cheating early and are in a motel enjoying internet and hot showers. We will be in Death Valley starting tomorrow for some days and real hot showers will be a rare treat. During the narrow parts of the drive thru the valley heading east we took our half out of the road out of the middle because I would hate to scrape the camper top off on the roadside rock wall. There was little traffic so it was no biggie. I imagine after this weekend (Jan 5-6) tourist traffic will be at absolute minimum so it will be nice to laze along at trawler speeds enjoying the scenery.
Next morning. The drive into Death Valley was spectacular to say the least. Early on there is lotsa nothing and more nothing. During the drive in the temperatures kept rising to 53 degrees F later in the afternoon. I couldn’t imagine taking an 1800’s wagon train in the summer with temps topping 120 degrees F thru this terrain looking for water, winding around the different water eroded gulleys, over the mountain passes and so on. As you approach the second set of mountains from the west the beauty of the eroded multi-colored rocks begin and continues thru the park. A serious explorer could spend months here in the valley seeing all there is to see. After arriving at Furnace Creek Station and having lunch in a local saloon we started the exploring process. The desert is all about light when it comes to photography. So over the next days we’ll take advantage of the nice weather and take a few snaps morning and evening and hike during the rest of the days.
2 days later. Death Valley is truly an amazing place. It would take volumes to show and explain the different faces of the valley. During the day as the sun rises and sets the light is constantly changing and the mountains glow or are in shade. Hiking thru a narrow canyon the other day the temps went from cool to hot and back to cool within a couple hours. Obviously we are enjoying taking a few snaps and exploring. One early driving destination was the Badwater Basin’s salt flats. The photo shows the roadside entrance out to the crusty salt rings left by an inland sea 10,000 years ago. The people give the photo scale and at the top of the photo you’ll see a white sign that reads SEA LEVEL. In case you are wondering the sign is 282’ from the valley floor. Cool, eh? Here are the Badwater salt rings that stretch to the horizon. Badwater got it’s name from a dude cruising thru with a mule. The mule wouldn’t drink from the pool so he named the area Badwater and the name stuck. As harsh as this is we had a coyote cruise by not far from here. I wonder what it feeds on? Probably tourist hand outs if I had to guess even the Park has no feeding the animals signs posted everywhere.
So far we have done a bit of off roading, a bit of gravel roads and miles of paved roads. Far in the boondocks we found the grave of ‘Shorty Harris whose epitaph reads, “Here lies Shorty (Frank) Harris, a single blanket jackass prospector”. Shorty requested to be buried next to his good buddy James Dayton who perished many years before. Shorty got his wish and his grave is next to James’. Both are buried in the most desolate piece of the world you can possibly imagine.
Today’s touring took the BC on a wide loop to the west side of the valley floor, a loop out of the park and back into the park for a sunset photo secession at Zabriskie Point but the light was poor. This is the same location taken at daybreak the morning before when tdhe light was super special. Mary snapped this unbelievable photo while I was yakking with a photographer from the Netherlands This scene lasted perhaps 10 seconds. A couple minutes later the scene morphed into this light show. Pretty special, eh? Leaving Badwater earlier the next morning prior to an afternoon stop at Zabriskie Point we stopped at the town of Shoshone, population 29, for lunch. So we had 10% of the town working on our meal……one waiting, one cooking and one on cigarette break. Such decadence for the commoners.
Next day. Death Valley deserves more than we can show and tell in a few words and photo’s. Today’s ride thru Titus Canyon, a high clearance - 4WD trail was a white knuckle – single lane high and low mountain road deal (Of course there were no guard rails – the only savior was the single lane road was one way). Mary said it was the scariest thing she ever did in her life. Cape Horn was like backing the BC out of the driveway for comparison. We met one couple who froze at the top and wuz freakin how to get back or down. Most of the way the BC was under 10mph, about trawler speed. Of course today was a speedy lesson on packing stuff so it won’t end up on the floor. Its sorta like how to store stuff on a boat. You learn in time…….quickly if it is rough early on.
Near the eastern end of the canyon trail was the ghost town of Rhyolite. Rhyolite was a typical boom and bust town that was the last of the gold rush towns. Rhyolite had 10,000 people, 50 saloons, three railroads and a three story bank in 1904. In 1907 a financial panic cripples the boom and by 1912 Rhyolite was history. The rest of the town is a crumbling wreck including the bank and general store. We visited the Boot Hill cemetery of Rhyolite on the way out of town and it is a sad reminder of speculation and greed. History sorta repeats itself, doesn’t it? Insider trading, banks…and...and…and… come to mind. A second ghost town of Leadville was about half way thru the canyon. There were a few scattered shacks and mine debris here and there. The town exploded to 300 hardy folks because of “bad advertising” in a very short time. A post office was opened and closed within 5 months as did the town. When the miners left disillusioned I don’t think they thought much about tourists a century later that would make their way to their failed venture.
So now the BC was Finally in the canyon floor winding around short, tight turns with sheer walls of polished rock tight on both sides. The passenger side mirror and been folded in since up top and there was No Way it was going back out until we cleared the walls. It is no wonder the Park Service won’t let any vehicle thru that is more than 22’ in length and not 4WD with high clearance. The canyon floor walls were polished smooth by abrasive sand and rocks that roar thru during flash floods. Looking up the valley walls you can see the height reached by water and debris because above that the rock walls are still rough and unpolished. All of Death Valley has been under water several times during the past years and the sediments in one part of the Titus Valley walls were graphic with irregular shaped black rocks imbedded in white rock.
So anyhow, the BC is anchored for the night in Mesquite Springs (Death Valley) and will head out in the morning to a special place in the world. The Race Track. We have raced on many automobile race tracks over the years but this race track even makes the oxymoron of sailboat racing seem like a high speed event. More to follow.
We have internet for a short time this afternoon so we’ll fire this unfinished VofE into space. We’ll leave you with two more images of tourists touring Death Valley with unconventional transportation. With temperature extremes and very high winds from day to day – we had 50mph this morning – a nice car or Bubba truck is the way to go. More on Death Valley to come.
Wednesday, January 02, 2013
Position: Mariposa, CA
Hello mis amigos, our deer friend welcomes you to VofE’s 2013 postings. Before we get started let’s mention once again this digression in the Egret crew’s usual full time live aboard to winter camping in the Bubba Camper. We are not selling camping. In fact, most boaters we know that left boating and went camping in a large motor home didn’t last long. As a full time cruising group we are used to nearly total freedom with just a few Rules and most of those are moral. Rules are for other people…….. like dirt dwellers for example. What we Are selling is Living Your Life as large as possible. To us, dirt dwelling is boring vs the life we have enjoyed the past years. If we didn’t plan to spend the next few years in the Deep North with Cold Winters, we wouldn’t have a Bubba Camper. However we are.
So anyway, here is the Bubba Camper’s anchored with his top up among the Sequoia’s in Yosemite National Park. Bubba’s top lowers the distance of the heavy nylon skirt you see in the photo. Inside to port starting from rear to front is a tall locker, large 12V fridge/freezer, 2 burner propane stove with storage underneath and below that is a propane heater with an automatic thermostat. Next is the sink with hot and cold water, storage underneath and more storage to the right of the sink. Up forward is a shelf below the queen size bed that extends over the roof of Bubba. Below the bed is a bench with another storage locker to the right. Moving aft down the stbd side is a 2 seat dinette with a table in between and lotsa storage below the aft seat. There is a carpeted shelf running the length of the settee on the outboard side. Next are storage bins then the head and shower. The head is a high end cassette type with its own water source and a removable tank underneath. The tank exits via a panel on the back stbd side of the camper. The shower is a mouse job deal that isn’t worth mentioning. There is also an outside shower hookup which of course is Very Stupid trying to shower outside in 20 degrees F and snow on the ground. The inside of the camper is lined with what the manufacturer calls ‘Artic Insulation’. This works reasonable well but the key is warm blankets and flannel sheets. We turn the heater off at night to save propane plus we don’t need the extra heat. We carry two – 10lb propane bottles for the stove, hot water heater and furnace. We have no idea how long the bottles will last at this point but refilling them shouldn’t be an issue, particularly in small towns. I can reach the heater thermostat from the bed so I turn it on 10 minutes or so before getting up and then everything is toasty. So that’s the Bubba Camper deal.
To start at the beginning, Mary and I enjoyed our time at my cousin’s home in Reno. Cuz Mike and Barb fed us like royalty and we just lazed until the Bubba Camper arrived and was installed. Mike and I haven’t spent this much time together since kids. We left the day after Christmas for Yosemite and have been here since (6 days).
We practiced our snow driving in and out of four wheel drive on the way to Reno going over a number of mountain passes with reasonably heavy snow. Other than our snow skiing years many moons ago we haven’t driven in snow so this is all new. Yea I know, those of you living in the Frozen Wastelands of the world are giggling to yourselves about these two pilgrims talking about snow driving but we’ll learn just like you did. It’s sorta like boating but we don’t giggle at you because you are newbie boaters and it’s the first time to leave the dock All By Yourselves, or anchor All By Yourselves. We all start somewhere and it’s no big deal whether it’s boating or driving in the snow. You get the picture.
Yosemite is one of America’s iconic parks and is scenic beyond scenic. However, even during the high holiday season (the worst time to visit Anything interesting) we didn’t feel it was crowded. So we hiked, visited galleries, snow shoed and of course, snapped a few photo’s. We enjoyed snow shoeing so much we plan to buy a pair for the remainder of this trip and upcoming Deep North adventures. The sights along the trails were really something in the heavy snow loading the fir trees among the skyscraper sequoias.
One of the few good things about ageing is Mary now qualifies for a lifetime National Park’s Pass which costs $10/year. Well Ok, so I qualify too. So from now on we are covered on entrance fees and the campsites are a pitance. Not bad. However, being a major holiday week we got the Party People who decided sites 53 thru 80 were a good place to park. Of course we are in 73. So the Raven Maniacs carried on until the wee hours the first night and less each night since.
Yosemite is a photographer’s paradise with a number of iconic locations. I’m going to show you my favorite photograph of the trip first and describe it in detail. Returning from Valley View (we’ll show later in an Amsel Adams impersonation) in the late afternoon we came upon a phenomenon that lasted just a few minutes. There is a meadow along the road back to the campsite that had low hanging mist rising from the snow. We pulled over and of course MS took off with her camera to take advantage of the mist. I had to change lenses and by the time I Finally caught up for My Shot she had dropped to her knees for Her Shot. So this Florida Boy laid in the snow propped up on his elbows to make the snap. Half Dome was lit by the setting sun in the distance on the right side with clouds spanning the valley to the rock formation on the left. I would like to say the photo was taken on New Years Eve and Mary looked like ol’ man 2012 departing in a few hours. However, the photo was taken on December, 30th so the story isn’t quite accurate.
This is what Mary was shooting. Is this shot cool or what? Within a minute or so after these two snaps the mist lifted and the air was clear.
Photographers have been coming to Yosemite since the 1800’s. The most notable was a hard working professional named Amsel Adams. The era of photography spanning well into the 1900’s was only represented by black and white photographs. Amsel Adams worked many hours in a darkroom to enhance his photographs even though all he could do was ‘dodge and burn’ – lighten and darken the photographs. Dodging and burning can be done today using modern digital editing programs much easier than using chemicals of early darkroom editing. An original, signed Amsel Adams photographs sells today in the $45 – 50 thousand dollar range and up. The next photo shown in Adam’s era black and white and also in color was taken at the same site and is roughly the same framing as Adams’ iconic Yosemite Valley photograph that was his most famous. However, the image you see in VofE is less than .5% of the original resolution digital file so what we see on the laptop is very different. One thing nice about modern digital cameras and editing programs is we can make a digital duplicate of the original file and make the copy a black and white. We find a number of photographs we would normally delete come to life as a black and white. So anyhow……….you’ll see more black and white photo’s in this and coming VofE’s.
There isn’t much wildlife out and about during the winter. Mary did catch this coyote in the trees close to the road; one of three we have seen during our time in the park. The bears are hibernating for the winter but a park ranger did say there are three out and about but they haven’t been a pest like during the summer.
We ended our Yosemite stay with a walking tour in the morning and left soonafter for the nearest town with a couple goodies we missed during ouroutfitting but primarily to enjoy a HOT SHOWER and internet access to fire this short VofE into space. We don’t know when we’ll have internet again because the next stops are National Parks farthersouth and surely out of internet range.
We’ll leave you with a few more snaps of Yosemite. UpperYosemite Falls is shown here. The frozen spray on the sidesare called ‘Greybeards’ by the locals. The next scene is typical when there is a clear view of the mountains in thedistance over the river. The last is areflection photo snapped by MS as we hiked by.
Happy New Year and may this be The Year.
Ed. Note - The glossary of Egretism terms will be posted on the Captain's Log home page for easy reference.