Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Death Valley, Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon

We are now homeward bound after a great stay in Los Angeles. We will continue to see as many parks as possible on the way home starting with Death Valley. I have always wanted to visit the hottest and the lowest place in the U.S.. Gary was concerned that the car would over heat miles from anywhere so we drove slowly so as to avoid any problems.
At the visitor's centre we were greeted by a temperature of 118 degrees F. By the time we got out of the car and took a photograph the temperature had gone down a degree to 117 degrees F.

The scenery was not what I was expecting as I thought the valley would be sand and cactus. Instead it was sand, stone formations and salt beds.

About halfway into the valley we came across an oasis - a green area where there was a gas station, hotel, campground and a golf course. The golf course was the lowest in the U.S. as it was 214 feet below sea level.

 After visiting the oasis we came across Badwater Basin, the lowest point in the valley at 282 feet below sea level. It was called Badwater due to prospectors in the 1800s coming across a watering hole and attempting to drink the water. The water was too salty to drink hence the name Badwater.

To the side of the water was a dry salt bed that you could walk on. Prior to the walk was this sign-

It was about 3pm when we walked on the salt bed which meant we did not heed the warning.
The day after visiting Death Valley we journeyed to the Grand Canyon and got there late in the day after a long, hot drive. We decided to check into our hotel and then go and see the sunset over the Canyon. Unfortunately, the place we chose to watch the sunset was not the best as the sun was due to set behind some rocks. However, we stuck it out and noticed a storm brewing in the west. Hoping that it would not thunder and lighten which would mean leaving the canyon edge a.s.a.p. to avoid being struck by lightening, we waited with baited breath. My photo of sunset is not very good but here it is.

The above photo shows the approaching storm that luckily did not bother us.
Next day we got up early to see as much of the Canyon as possible as rain and storms were forecast in the afternoon (it was the monsoon season). We decided to go east first in the car and then go west on the shuttle bus.

The light for photos was not right so I hoped for better pictures after riding on the bus. However, it was not to be as we were 2/3 of the way to our destination when the skies clouded over and lightening was seen on the opposite side of the canyon. Our bus driver informed us that she had been told to take everyone back to the visitor's centre as a precaution. She told us that the rim of the canyon got struck by lightening 25,000 times each year and the Rangers did not want any calamities. So ended our trip to the Grand Canyon.
Our next trip was to one of my favourite National Parks - Bryce Canyon. It is unique among canyons.
It has columns called hoodoos in a variety of colours.

Well, again the weather was against us. During lunch the heavens opened and it poured down for about an hour which put an end to our seeing more of Bryce Canyon.
Next stop, Canyon Lands and Arches National Parks.

Monday, July 9, 2018

On July 3rd after visiting the Aquarium of the Pacific, we were treated by Jennifer, Gary's cousin, Jim's girlfriend to a visit to the Hollywood Bowl for fireworks and a concert by the Las Vegas icons of the 60s, the GoGos. I knew only one song by the GoGos but enjoyed their repertoire. The fireworks that followed were spectacular.

On Independence Day we spent the day with Gary's nephew, Eric and his wife, Nancy. They drove us to Santa Barbara where we visited The Mission Santa Barbara and the Courthouse. Both were very interesting. The Courthouse had a clock tower which we all went up to get super views of the city and the surrounding countryside.
                                                       The Mission Santa Barbara

                                                         Views from the clock tower.

                                                              The Court House

                                                             Ceiling of the courthouse.

                                                   Painted walls of one of the courtrooms.
After lunch and glimpses of the Santa Barbara Independence Day Parade, we drove to Ventura where we had cheesecake (brought by Nancy) and drinks on the beach. It was a lovely end to a lovely day.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Los Angeles

We are now in the City of Angels, Los Angeles and the weather is absolutely fantastic. The days are in the 80s and the nights in the 60s which makes for good sleeping weather.
Our first day here we went to the Fullerton Arboretum with a lot of endangered plants. We did not stay too long because that day was very hot and with very low humidity.

In amongst the cactus was a heron and he had just caught a rather large lizard. As I watched him, he turned the lizard around in his beak and swallowed the lizard whole head first.

There were several nice flowers, some of which I did not know the name.

Prior to leaving the arboretum I came across this turtle sunning himself on the side of the pond.

Friday night, we attended the rehearsal dinner of David's friend, Art and his soon to be wife, Ashley. It was a really lovely evening and we got to meet relatives from both sides of their families. The wedding was Saturday at 6:30pm and was a really lovely affair. Ashley looked stunning and Art looked proud and handsome. The following day, Sunday we were invited to a brunch by Ashley's parents. It made for a lovely finish to a wonderful weekend.
After the brunch, Gary and I took a trip to Long Beach to see the Queen Mary and have lunch on board her. I visited the Queen Mary when I was 8 when my Aunt Dolly worked on her. Needless to say, I could not remember anything about the ship so everything was new to me.

The ship sailed on her maiden voyage on May 27th, 1936 and was at one time the fastest trans Atlantic ship. She held that honour for 14 years, I believe. In fact, she was bigger, faster and more powerful than the Titanic. During WWII she was used as a troop carrier and painted grey all over to avoid detection by the enemy and was given the title of "The Grey Ghost". With the coming of the airplane and trans Atlantic flights, the need for a trans Atlantic Liner became less and less and she   completed her 1000th and last crossing in September of 1967.
I remember as a child crossing the Humber on the Winfield Castle and visiting the engine rooms. The smell and the sight of the pistons going up and down created a love of engine rooms for me. So, I went below and hoped to see the huge pistons of the Queen Mary but, alas she was driven by oil and not coal so had no lovely smell or pistons.

 Gary stood next to one of the wrenches used on the engines to give you a perspective of the huge size of some of the nuts and bolts.

I took photos of the inside of the ship but it was a little dark and they are not worth publishing. The only photo that turned out was of the bar on the observation deck.

We did get to see one of the original propellers under the water. Apparently, she was originally equipped with 4 propellers but two were replaced with one huge propeller making a total of 3.

The ship had 3 classes and each class had a library, nursery and lounge. There was a place on board to carry cars and pets. Two swimming pools were also on board. The price of a first class ticket in 1937 was 100 pounds which is about 5,000 pounds in today's money so you had to be quite wealthy to travel first class.
Yesterday, we visited the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach and it was packed. There were people and screaming children everywhere and you had to wait in turn to see the different aquariums. I got several nice photos though.

Today, July 3rd we are off to the Hollywood Bowl for a concert by the Gogo Girls followed by fireworks. I will tell you more about it in my next blog.