Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Day Infinity: Return to E-ville

Day Infinity: Return to E-ville

My idea of an amusement park story is getting adventurers to go tour environmental disaster areas. After all, if the entire Great Barrier Reef gets killed, which seems like an extremely lively possibility, what are you going to do with all that rotting limestone?
Bruce Sterling

Pics: Faves from prior trips

Week Four Observations

Book review: Zeitoun, Dave Eggers, Audio book. It’s been out for a while, neither of us had read it though THB did attend a City Arts and Lectures where the Zeitouns and Dave were on stage discussing the contents of the book. For those of you out there who don’t know anything about this Kafka meets Katrina story (it takes place in New Orleans), let THB summarize it for you: “Brownie, you’re doing a great job” is probably right up there with “Mission Accomplished” when it comes to the least observant statement ever uttered aloud by a US President. Recommended.

Final Observations
1. We made it, agreeing that audio books do wonders for filling dead time as we drove to and from the red dirt circuit, day after day after day after day, and that great scenery and love of art works wonders with the rest of the time. Clearly, DB has a very forgiving nature if she could still look benevolently upon THB as he came up with hikes in heat, day after day after day after day.
2. Top park/lodging/eating experience: a tie between Zion/Desert Pearl Inn/Whiptail Restaurant and Capitol Reef/Boulder Mountain Lodge/Hell’s Backbone Grill. BOTH HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! You could make an entire trip out of these two stops and be very very satisfied.
3. Nearly 5,000 miles and the 2000 Lexus held up beautifully; gotta love the engineers that thought you needed four cigarette lighters to make it to the store and back.
4. Adjusting our itinerary turned out to be important, and as flexibility is not one of THB’s most obvious attributes, DB gets a ton oh credit for initiating the thought that maybe, just maybe, there was another path to the Rockies (and back).
5. While THB did not expect many children (that’s the point of leaving after Labor Day), it was a shock to see how many foreigners are coming to the US to see the NPs. If it wasn’t for some tours of retirees coming from Arizona, it might have been just the two us trying to learn French and German to talk to other visitors. Of note: France is having major trauma now over the idea of raising pensioned retirement age from 60 to 62, so it may not be an accident that this group was over-represented: they have (govt) money and health and time to travel.
6. Reiterating an earlier observation: you can have a great trip if you follow our itinerary and just go to the non-NP parks. This part of the country is loaded with awesome scenery, drives, hikes, vistas, and quirky little spots in the in-between spaces.
7. We spent two days in LA and the first few hours presented quite a shock: the number of cars on the road, the amount of ambient noise, and the pace of the life here is way more than our systems could handle…and we grew up here and know what it is like!
8. We knew ahead of time that Great Basin NP would be at serious altitude. We didn’t realize that the rest of the trip would also be between 6,000 and 8,000 feet pretty consistently. It wasn’t debilitating, it was usually noticeable. And, of course the Rocky Mountain NP was at some serious altitude, and was debilitating at the peaks!
9. Overall, the food was better than we expected (we had very low expectations), and also not really very good by Bay Area standards. In general, the NP lodges are very mediocre and, in some cases, as their season wore down to closing, limited and lousy. Arranging to bring a car cooler and eating some breakfasts in the room and eating many picnic lunches in the middle of hikes was a good idea and practice. We also noticed that by skipping fries and most desserts and thus eating less, we kept the food depression to a minimum.
10. Favorite Alzheimer moment: We finish up the hike in Mesa Verde and are heading to the car to drive back to the lodge and THB feels in his right front pocket and the keys to the car aren’t there. Hmmmmmm…UH OH!!!! As we keep walking towards the car, we realize the spare key is locked in the car (not such a bad thing). We keep walking and THB realizes the keys are in his back right pocket. How can that be? Must have been fooling with re-arranging items in the car before the hike and somehow slipped the keys in there…okay, that makes sense, how did THB lock the car after all that fooling around? It’s a mystery…and at least the keys weren’t lost.
11. Damn, watching baseball on TV is slow death. At least the Giants are winning games.

The final pop Quiz:
1. How many miles did THB and DB drive on this trip:
a. Exactly 4,789.2
b. None, the trip was faked just like the moon landing and we stayed at home the entire time
c. Just enough to visit every possible, west of Denver, red dirt NP ever designated
2. Why should THB and DB have listened to A Sunburned Country on this trip?
a. Duh, pretty clear that the interior of Australia and the Southwest have a lot in common: vast, hot, red, and Mars Landing training sites
b. Suffering from sunburn and sunstroke, there was chance for getting some sympathy through the radio speakers
c. So much talk of dangerous snakes and bugs would’ve put our minds at ease
d. All of the above
3. If you had to pick a guide for the day, the primary attribute you would be looking for is:
a. Ability to check the gas gauge before setting off
b. Ability to fall asleep at a moment’s notice and hard to wake up
c. Ability to find the way back to the start without getting lost
d. Ability to play the flute and drum
4. Which of the following items are NOT essential for this type of trip:
a. Binoculars (assuming you have essential tremors)
b. Two pairs of jeans
c. GPS (assuming you are incapable of listening to and following the directions)
d. Woolen things (three!) to cover your ears when it gets cold
e. Ability to select hikes that are fully exposed to sun
5. Why was Blondies such a great spot to eat:
a. It’s the only place on the entire trip we ordered a milkshake, and it was GOOD!
b. The locals are proud of their isolation and eccentricities and happy to talk to you about them
c. It was really the only choice in Hanksville, which is about 2 hours from anywhere, and it was noon
d. All of the above
6. Identify the prior trips of the pictures!

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