>> June 25, 2012 >>> Catching up: Burney Falls
I am remiss in letting this blog lag for so long, partly due to disappointment that I've not yet been able to take off indefinitely for parts unknown. But we have taken some good trips this past year including two really special ones, so I'll recap them now.
Late last spring we went to McArthur-Burney State Park in Northern California, with gorgeous Burney Falls as its centerpiece. The 129-foot falls are fed by an underground aquifer so they're full year-round. They're just a hop from the park's main gate and a short easy walk from the large campground. The campground doesn't have RV hookups but generators are allowed (gotta have my coffee), and there's a small store with an ice cream shop inside - a nice touch.
There's an overlook above the top of the falls and a nice paved trail leading down to the bottom for a different view. They aren't on a Niagara scale size-wise but they are certainly as pretty as any falls anywhere, loud when you're next to them, and misty-wet when at the bottom.
There's also a trail that leads downstream to a footbridge crossing Burney Creek and then back up the other side for even more perspectives. Theodore Roosevelt called Burney Falls "the eighth wonder of the world" and that's pretty accurate: they are truly spectacular.
At the other end of the campground there's a trail leading to Pioneer Cemetery. It's small and has just a few tombstones but they date from 1888 and include several children. It was cool in its way, and something different.
On the road north we passed through what seemed like a light night-time shower, but it turned out to be a swarm of teeny tiny insects of some sort: they splattered the entire front of the van including the side mirrors and even the front-facing side of the radio antenna! That was not a fun discovery at the next stop.
>> June 25, 2012 >>> Death Valley & Amargosa Opera House
Our other incredible trip was to Death Valley National Park. Summer temperatures can reach 125° but we went just after Christmas, when it was a perfect 70° and only dropped into the 50s at night. I was totally unprepared for the stark beauty of Death Valley - I think it rivals the Grand Canyon for scenery and scale.
The roads leading to it are a driver's dream, roaming up & down alternating mountain ranges and valleys dotted with Joshua trees before leading to some endless straightaways like this one that leads into the basin. It's not only the hottest & driest location in North America but also the lowest, 282' feet below sea level at the lowest point, which is especially odd when you realize it's only 80 miles from Mt. Whitney, the highest peak in the Continental US.
We stayed at a nice campground in the Furnace Creek area and enjoyed magnificent star shows at night. The scenery changes literally every few minutes as you drive through the park and there are a lot of scenic loops along the main park roads. One of the best is Artist's Drive, with multi-color rock formations of all shapes & sizes, plus a road that was like a Disneyland roller-coaster - too fun! These two photos are looking in opposite directions from Zabriskie Point: totally different views, colors & formations just by turning around:
We weren't able to get to Racetrack Playa and its famous sailing stones, but we did take a side trip to the Amargosa Opera House, which pretty much inspired this trip after I saw the documentary Amargosa about ballerina Marta Becket. She was stranded in Death Valley Junction in 1967, practically a ghost town at that time, while on a performance tour and she fell in love with it. She stayed, renting and eventually buying the small opera house that used to serve the tiny borax mining town. Over the years, she painted murals covering the walls and ceiling that included an audience to dance for when there weren't any human patrons. She continued dancing for this private audience as well as real ones into her 80s (en pointe, no less) and still gives occasional talks.
I highly recommend this 2003 film for fans of true-life colorful characters and people who follow their dreams, as well as a trip to the tiny town of Death Valley Junction and of course the opera house. The former bunkhouses are now a no-frills hotel with loads of character. It also has some of Marta's frescoes, and everyone you meet has a story about her. Visit the Amargosa Opera House site for more info.
>> June 25, 2012 >>> Closer to home
We've made several short return visits to Chabot Regional Park and Mt. Diablo State Park, where we watched the May 20 solar eclipse. All of these trips were lovely but unexceptional, other than the raccoon who came toward me in the dark one night on Mt. Diablo rather than turning away from my flashlight like most, and the trio of super-loud young turkeys who gobbled right outside our window at 7:30am each morning at Chabot.
We also went to Del Valle Regional Park a few times, which is up in the hills behind Livermore, CA. It's part of the same East Bay Regional Parks system as Chabot, but costs quite a bit more for an RV site with hookups.
It's really nice though, with large meadows between the campsites that deer wander into at twilight, and flocks of busy magpies to watch. There's a trail from the campground to Lake Del Valle reservoir that has lots of nice picnic sites around it.
Next up: Lassen Volcanic National Park in Northern California for the last weekend in June, and I hope to post about it before my summer hobby/job of following the Big Brother live feeds for Hamsterwatch.com starts up July 12.
~ virgin river gorge, utah national parks
~ pinnacles, peacocks, omelettes, lassen
~ burney falls, death valley, turkeys
~ delta, eucalyptus, redwoods
~ diablo, morgan hill, delta, chabot
~ sundial, shasta, river road, delta, olema
~ columbia, chabot, diablo, preparations
much more to come, hopefully
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I believe the essence of a person is what counts, and that comes out through words, actions, and creations, not vital stats. Also, since I'll be on my own out there on the open road, I'm not real keen on making myself too visible.
Suffice to say I'm a crotchety, intuitive, decrepid old lady who's equally appreciative of life's basics and its complexity. I like unicorns, rainbows and long walks on the beach reality tv, documentaries & unique movies of all types, memorable fiction, being awestruck, and nature's majesty. I do financial transcription work as well as running websites of my own and for a few clients. Serial killers fascinate me. I have an adorable little papillon dog but I only make her wear clothes on special occasions. Or when it's very cold.