"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.
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.