wayfaringwordhack: (wayfaring wordhack)
To paraphrase from The Princess Bride, There is too much; I'll sum up...about our trip to Oklahoma, that is.

For three weeks:

We rested, following the sun's rhythms pretty closely, not bothered at all by the yapping of coyotes, which is so much more melodious as it rolls down hills and creeks, echoing off oaks than is the barking and snarling of the wild dogs that run the concrete labyrinth of this city.


(the photos are clickable)

Rest of the trip, this way... )


* Has anyone else been in proximity to an armadillo? There was one funky smell in its wake, and we don't know if it was the creature itself or something it had come in contact with. It smelled like skunk and wild garlic/onions.
wayfaringwordhack: (wayfaring wordhack)
Low oil in engine number two. Everyone had to debark. Trying to find connecting flights. And it all started off so smoothly...

At least we got off before the plane had trouble. Silver lining.
wayfaringwordhack: (wayfaring wordhack)
We had a geat time in the great outdoors, but our time is up.  just a few minutes before we board the first of our 3 planes to get back to Cairo.  Catch up with you on the other side, meaning in about two days.
wayfaringwordhack: (wayfaring wordhack)
Well, that is almost true.  Still have to finish the carry-ons and pack our toiletries, but we are pretty much ready for our trip to Oklahoma.  Sprout wants to leave NOW!

15hrs to go.

I'll take my laptop, but since my guardians don't have wireless and their pc is as old as the hills, I doubt I'll be around much.

See you in a few weeks. Be well.
wayfaringwordhack: (footprint in the sand)
This a journey through photos post so I shall put it behind a cut.  Come in and walk a while with me.

If there are road signs, they are few )

Photos: 1) Three Rivers Petroglyph Site, NM, USA; 2) Kemmerer, WY, USA; 3) Wheatfield near Vinon, France; 4) Capitol Reef, Fruita, UT, USA; Yellowstone, WY, USA; 5) Uyuni Salt Flats, Bolivia; 6) World's deadliest road, Bolivia.
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 For [livejournal.com profile] asakiyume 

Julien and I have somewhat of a love affair with White Sands. If we can, whenever we are in the States, we go there. I checked my archives for our world trip and see that I failed to make a post about our last visit, which I shall rectify now. How's that for catching up on blogging?

The first time I took Julien (and two of his friends) to White Sands I had no idea how much they would enjoy it, so I didn't plan time to camp or stay more than an afternoon.  The second time, after we were married, Julien and I took his brother to go see the dunes, this time armed with a tent.  However, we arrived too late, so late the park ranger was locking the gate and preparing to leave.  I begged and begged, telling the lady that the guys had come over from France and she capitulated and let us in, making us promise to head straight to our campsite and not get lost. Sadly, time still was not on our side and we had to hit the road and continue our trip the next morning.

The last time, this trip, we went prepared: tent, provisions, and three days at our disposal to really explore the park.  At the desk, we reserved our site and asked to book subsequent nights in different spots, to which the park official sadly informed us that the monument would be closing the next day in preparation for military exercises. (White Sands is next to Holloman Air Force Base and its missile range.) Thwarted again.  We were so bummed. 

We got to take a few photos, enough to show you the lovely shades the gypsum takes on as the sun moves across the sky, but unfortunately, we had no time for hiking or exploring as we've always dreamed of doing...

So, [livejournal.com profile] asakiyume , I'll answer your question in images. The sands really are that white during the brightest part of the day, but they are also:

dusky purple as the sun sets:

rich, chilling blue when autumn's sun disappears behind the San Andres Mountains, a warning of the cold desert night awaiting you;


 come dayrise, the dunes are the color of sugar cookies or biscuits fresh from the oven:


then, for the rest of the day, you can enjoy the many nuances  of white that the sands have to offer:


 (click on any of the images to enlarge them)
I wish I would have taken time to blog about our visit just afterwards, about the smells, the air, the feel of the gypsum crystals on my bare feet, about the stars over our tent, about the feeling of going into the heart of the dunes and the peace I find there.  But sadly, our next stop was with my family and I had no heart or time to wax about beauty after that.

These words that I just read in The Names of Things really speak to me when I think of that visit and look at that stunning orange foliage in the bottom collage:

"Something like the Fall in me
All my leaves were dying
They died in the most violent way
and turned screaming colors."
ETA:  Oops, saw that the last image wasn't clickable. Fixed now.
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Got back from my Minnesota trip on Thursday, but I've been too tired and occupied to make an entry until now.  The trip and wedding were lovely for the most part, but Soëlie had her first fever the day of the wedding. She was under the weather for the next couple of days and on the way back. 

Highlights of the trip:

- The Charles de Gaulle airport (AWESOME service when one is wearing a baby! "Right this way, Madame; you have priority") and flight over. My "seat mate" made my flight soooo easy.  He was super helpful, so nice and vigilant and patient. That Soëlie slept for 4 hours straight was a godsend, as well.

- Spending time with my friends.  Enough said.

- Meeting [livejournal.com profile] dlandon  in person, not to mention her adorable son, who was such a trooper with the 104 degree heat!

- Train strike!  Sounds odd, but what a blessing.  I arrived in Paris too late to take any of the morning trains and should have had to wait until 2:30 pm.  However, being unsure of the exact timetable, I hightailed to the RER and the metro and practically jogged--carrying S and suitcases in tow--to the train station, only to see that the train for my village was at 9:03.  It was 9:36.  Then I noticed the red letters flashing on the screen next to the time:  40 minutes late.  Hooray!  So I made the morning train and didn't have to kill 5 hours in Paris with a baby and all my luggage.  Also, because of the strike, all passengers getting off at my stop missed their shuttle for Sancerre, so the train company threw in taxi fare.

- The wedding was nice, but with a sick baby in tow, it barely makes the highlights...


- Soëlie getting sick.  I spent three nights in a row awake with her, trying to bring down a fever of 103 F. 

- Minneapolis airport.  Was lame--totally lame--compared to the great service in Paris.

- Accidentally clicking the wrong date for my return flight and then persisting in believing that I had clicked the right date, right up until the time the airline staff wouldn't let me check in because I was there a day early.  Boo on you, Miquela.  It was good spending the extra day in Minneapolis, though, and it allowed S to feel better for the flight home (that, however, did not go as smoothly as the flight to the States). And things would not have worked out so well with the train, so I guess it barely makes the lows. :P

Just a note to anyone out there who feels like taking note:  If you see a person traveling alone with a baby, feel free to offer aid if said person is carrying a baby, a backpack, a purse, and a diaper bag, especially if said person has dropped something.  Of course you are perfectly within your rights to watch in amusement/disinterest as she picks things up herself, tries to get all her bags through a small space, etc. but it doesn't make you come across as a very nice person.

More mention of the temporary in another post...
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Inspired by the nifty tracks [livejournal.com profile] asakiyume  posted, here are various and sundry tracks that I had a blast photographing in the biting chill of a Utah morning during our world trip.

Despite the warm tones of the sands, it truly was very nippy as it was October and we were on the dunes before dawn to catch the first glimmering rays on the crystal grains.

And here is an odd one out, a photo of tracks taken in Yellowstone on our hike to Grebe Lake.  We should have put a hand by the prints to give them scale, but they were quite large, at least 3" across, if memory serves. Anyone have any idea what they could be?  I looked in the guidebooks in various park gift shops and ranger stations and didn't see anything similar. 

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Welcome to Pecos, Texas, grower of great cantaloupes, birthplace of the rodeo and me.


Obviously, the first thing you are going to want to do upon entering this decaying ghost-town-in-the-making is to sleep around. Being surrounded by failed businesses, rundown restaurants, sketchy homes where drug deals are always going down, naturally you'd want to check out the only thing shiny in town: the motels that have sprung up along the interstate, giving a false impression that Pecos is a healthy, happening city.

But the sign was in place long before the hotels, so they (the good Baptist churches who paid for the billboard) must have had something else in mind...


Once you've tasted of Pecos hospitality and are on your way out of town, the kindly townfolk feel it necessary to warn you against killing.

Does anyone need wonder why, while I may have been born there, I do not plan on making it my final resting place?

That was one of the many things on my gratitude list this Thanksgiving...

Fly by

15 Nov 2009 11:54 am
wayfaringwordhack: (Default)
 Hello, all.

Julien and I have complete the "tourism" part of our USA visit and are now visitng with my family.  Because my grandmother does not have the Internet (we had to drive 7 miles to find a motel with wi-fi we could bum off), so I'll be silent for the next week or so.  I'll try to find the time to write up a post about our last few days and will put it up when the next net opportunity presents itself.

Hope you are all well and...

HAPPY BIRHTDAY[livejournal.com profile] kmkibble75!!!
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We drove down to the Grand Canyon and got our first view of it from the Watchtower, the tower actually being my favorite part of canyon. A kindly park ranger let us use the bbq of a campsite so we could grill our steaks (we didn't want to pay $26 just to pitch a tent). My sister-in-law is a little afraid that we aren't eating well, living out of the car and camping as we are. Sizzling ribeyes, roasted aubergines (that's for you, [livejournal.com profile] frigg, because, yeah, it's a better word than eggplant), and baby spinach ought to set her mind to rest. The tower and cookout were the best parts of the park. Getting woken up at midnight by a park ranger telling us we could not sleep in our car was the downside. He invited us to go to the campground and pay the 26 bucks for the privilege of parking our car. Yeah.

We ended up leaving the park and driving six miles to Tuyasan and sleeping in the parking lot of the National Geographic Visitor center, our car hidden behind two tour buses. The next day, we took a brisk walk along the rim of the canyon and then left for Monument Valley.


Not a bad camping spot with that view, eh?

After Monument Valley, we headed to Mesa Verde. Here are a couple of pics of the Spruce Tree House ruin that we visited. I admit to reaching a point of saturation and told Julien that I didn't really care to go see the Cliff Palace.

It was decided that we needed a break, so we drove to Durango a day earlier than planned. Dave and Susan, two fellow travelers we met in Mesa Verde recommended the hostel they were staying at, and seeing as how we were due for showers, we decided to check it out.

If you are ever in Durango and need a place to stay, you should look it up. Durango Hometown Hostel is clean, stylish, affordable, and full of nice people. The nice boarders may come and go, but Candace, the nice owner, will always be around.

Today, we leave for the Great Sand Dunes.  Looking forward to more dunes! May we have lovely light and good times.
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A quick clarification about my previous post: Ten people per day are chosen in a lottery at the Paria BLM office. Ten other people "win" their permits online, but they have to apply 4 months in advance. So, 20 people total have the right to be out there on the Wave on any given day.

For once, we set our alarm, so we could be out at the Wave as the first rays of the Halloween sun lit the rocks. We got a "late" start, however, heading out at 7:30, only half an hour before sunrise. It was a 3-mile, hour and a half hike to the Wave, so one might think we totally missed out on the good morning light. Not so. Perhaps it is different at other times in the year, depending on the sun's position in the sky, but the sandstone formations were still dark when we got there.

We made a tea with our little cookstove (a camping post is in the making, which will prominently feature this little cooker) and waited. The first couple to arrive at the Wave (about 10-20 min before us) were not so patient or, judging from the girl's grumpy face, did not have the desire to wait for good light, so Julien and I were alone with our Warrior's Brew and the swirls of deepening color.

Julien could not contain his eagerness, and he had to jump in to take a swim:


Just kidding; that isn't the Wave. This is, and obviously, you don't swim it, you surf it:


and because the surrounding land is just as fabulous:


We spent a full day out there, and every minute was worth it. We camped above the trailhead parking lot because we wanted to explore two slot canyons on the morrow, Wire Pass and Buckskin Gulch. Antelope Canyon is a lot more photogenic, but you have to be part of a tour and you can only stay about an hour.


Today, we're heading down to Grand Canyon. The Great American Adventure continues. Amazing to think it is only a part of the Stupendous Round The World Expedition.
wayfaringwordhack: (Default)

A picture of Bryce and another of Zion before I talk about today:










We went to the Paria Bureau of Land Management office this morning to try our luck at getting a dreamed-of permit to hike to the Wave, not really expecting to win. Only 10 people per day get to access the buttes where the Wave is; not ten groups, ten people. The Faures were assigned number 7, and it turned out to be as lucky as some believe. I feel almost bad about winning; we stopped pretty much as an afterthought based on a recommendation of other tourists (who weren't lucky enough to go out there).  Other people plan their trips here around the hope of winning the Wave lottery. Still, everyone was congratulating us, making it sink in that this will be a special occasion and thing to see.


So, tomorrow, we will spend the day in the famed sandstone formations! When I say the day, I mean the day. At first light, we’ll head out, but we will try to be back before sunset. According to the rangers, people get lost out there all the time. I have a great sense of direction and I pay attention to the route, so I’m not too worried. Still, don’t want to take silly chances.


To backtrack a bit, after Zion, we drove to the Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park to camp. Hot showers! We took 2. What a luxury; our bodies were probally freaking out, wondering what was wrong with us.


We had never heard of the dunes and, therefore, had no expectations. No expectations are the best expectations, I say, and we had a great time the next morning, watching t(photographing) the sun coming up behind Monquith Mountain. Julien and I would appear to be erosion and desert people at heart. I think we’ll go a little out of our way to see the Great Sand Dune Nat’l Park in Colorado, and, of course, White Sands in NM is already on the list--it’ll be the third time I take Julien there.



The park ranger at Coral Pink came by our tent, just as we were heading to the showers, and asked us if we wouldn’t mind correcting a French translation he had done (with Google’s help) of the park brochure. He gave us firewood in exchange for our services, so we’ll think of him next time we’re in front of a roaring blaze.

After leaving the dunes, we headed to the funky Toadstools in Grand Staircase-Escalante and passed the late afternoon having fun photographing the capped pillars.



Tonight, while whiling away time before tomorrow’s trip to the Wave, we’ll visit the Old Paria townsite, which should be a nice place to watch the sunset.

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I can't really remember. I think it was before Arches. I'm sitting in the car outside a general store by Bryce Canyon, watching the snow zip by, and don't feel like going into much detail. So, let's sum up.

Arches: Pretty enough, but it was the massive juts of solitary stone, like the Courthouse, that impressed me more than the arches. We made the mistake on our first day of trying to get to a "good" spot for sunset photos, rushing through the park without taking time to soak up the beauty. We headed back to town (Moab) after sundown because the campground was full. Slept in the car on a side street. Turning into quite the bums, it seems, but ouch, the pocketbook, it is a-aching. Spent the next morning hiking out to Landscape Arch, which I did enjoy and appreciate more fully. Lesson learned; no more rushing.

Canyonlands: Wonderful. We spent two days there, including Julien's birthday, and had a really good time. My only regret is that we did not have a 4X4 and had to stay on the Island in the Sky. I'm sure the formations would have been even more impressive if we had been down among them. Sadly, Julien had a pain in his heel, and we didn't go on any long hikes. Still, we hiked the Aztec Butte to see the granaries, and that was cool.

We drove through Capitol Reef, only taking time to see the petroglyphs and watch a short documentary at the visitor's center. We got a motel room for showers and laundry in Torrey, Utah, a cute little town.

The next day, in the Escalante-Grand Staircase park, we hiked the Lower Calf Creek trail to the falls. Very beautiful and worth the slog through the deep sands of the path. Afterwards, we drove through a spectacular sunset to reach Bryce Canyon...

...which is not what we were expecting! Throughout the years, Julien and I have both seen several erroneously named photos that sparked our desire to visit Bryce. What we were seeing were slot canyons, not hoodoos. I wasn't totally surprised to see the hoodoos because there have been lots of postcards, etc. showing them, but no pictures of lovely, wavy, worn and warm-colored sandstone walls curving apart and dipping together.
We took a hike on the Navajo Loop this morning, and after lunch, we're going to head off to the Bureau of Land Management to get some info on nearby canyons in the Escalante region. We know we'll have one or two in Zion and of course in Page, Arizona, but we don't want to bypass something spectacular while we're in the area.


Julien and Miquela on Holiday, a Study in Red.

For some pics of Arches and Canyonlands, go here.

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 Fossil pics can be found here.
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Check out that gorgeous willow scrub. This was after our fossil hunting outing, of which there will soon be photos--have to take the shots of our finds first. (Yes, [livejournal.com profile] frigg, we did find a few little fishies. ;) Little, but cool. ) Sadly, the sunbeam didn't last long enough for me to do the purples justice.


I don't think Vermont has much over on Wyoming in terms of fall color.

We're now in Moab, Utah, washing clothes in a laundromat (already showered in a hostel), getting ready to head into Arches National Park.
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In T -40 minutes, Julien and I are going fossil hunting in George's quarry. We don't know who the heck George is, but Bob from Bob's Rock Shop sent us there this morning, saying it was our best bet for finding someone to take us out in the wet. Apparently, after rains, it's not the best time to go fossil hunting, but we're here and hunting we will go.

We drove down from Jackson last night; the trip took us 4 hours instead of 3 because of all the deer on the road. Count: 3 alive, 3 dead. I didn't even bother counting the dead badgers and skunks.

Kemmerer is an eerie, empty town to drive into at 10:30 p.m., and it was made more so to have Pink Floyd's "Comfortably Numb" on the radio. Despite Julien's very comforting, "This is the kind of town where I can imagine someone stumbling up to the car window, gasping, 'Help me!'" we ended up sleeping in the car again:


We sleep really well in those Marmot sleeping bags! And no zombies or zombie-chased victims disturbed our rest.

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The weather forecast promised rain for our last day in Yellowstone, and the skies certainly looked threatening, but the showers didn't happen upon us until we reached the Grand Tetons.

What would be a visit to Yellowstone without touring the geysers and hot springs in the Old Faithful area? Non-touristy, for one thing, and seeing as how we are tourists and you are touring through us, after leaving our backcountry campsite in Sentinel Meadows, we headed for the geyser basins...


White Dome Geyser. Apparently, despite the large cone, this geyser is only a thin spray. I didn't see the spray--or care much to--I was just thrilled with those menacing clouds of doom looming over the dramatically-colored cone.


This tiny fellow--Pink Cone Geyser--was one of my favorites, again because of the warm colors under those lowering clouds.


Opal Pool. Look, there is some blue sky under all that black and gray.

After oggling all that geothermal beauty, we decided to drive through the dark down to the Grand Tetons. We slept in the car in the parking lot of the Chapel of the Sacred Heart and woke to the Tetons looming over Jackson Lake just on the other side of our windshield.

Those dratted clouds, so lovely in photos, started pouring down on us, and we only had time for a quick breakfast by String Lake before we had to seek shelter in the car.


We decided to head to Jackson to spend the night in a hotel in hopes that the weather would clear up the next day. Alas, aside from a few, very brief, rays, the day remained gloomy. Julien did spy two moose--a cow and her large calf--moseying through the sagebrush flats on our way to Jackson, so, score for the wildlife count. The moose were, sadly, too far to photograph.

The weather looks to remain glum until Thursday or Friday, so we're packing it in for the Big Nipples and heading for Kemmerer to chisel for fossils.

If you want to see more (and different) photos* of the trip from Buffalo, WY to Yellowstone, check out [profile] mana_trini's blog.

*Keep in mind that the pics we share here aren't our best photos.  We're hoping (fingers crossed, everyone) to make a book out of our trip and needs must keep some good goodies up our sleeves.
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Julien and I slept in a hotel in West Yellowstone, Montana last night instead of hiking 3 or so miles to our planned (and reserved) backcountry campsite. I was sitting in the driver's seat, puncturing the blisters on my feet and dreading putting on my wet hiking boots, when Julien reminded me that I should not try to be a hero, inciting the time I did this to my feet. I bowed to the sentiment of wimpiness and embraced the thought of a shower and a clean head and off we headed to the Old Faithful Snow Lodge, thinking to rent a cabin with a fireplace.


The only available room for the night was going for $215, without tax. The parking lot out front was empty, but do think they'd give us a ore reasonable rate? Since we drove out of the park to Montana, I guess you know the answer to that.

We're going to camp one lat night in Yellowstone, with a much shorter hike to our site, so I guess I can do a wrap up of our days in the park. Overall, I think it is a lovely park, but it doesn't quite live up to the grandiose image I and various photos/shows, etc. have painted in my mind.

I think we saw more animals in Custer State Park and because I had no preconceived ideas about Custer, it pleased me more. We still have the Grand Prismatic Spring and Morning Glory to see today or tomorrow morning, so I'm holding out hope of being wowed. We're just disappointed that we haven't seen any bears, wolves, or moose yet. In the Grand Tetons, there are supposed to be lots more moose, so maybe our luck will turn.

Check out is in a few minutes, so I'll leave you with a few pics of the park.


This is the Garnet Hill Loop, an 8 mile walk through rolling plains of golden grasses and silvery sagebrush, along the Yellowstone River, and a meandering creek that cuts through pine forests. It looks like we are heading into a storm, but we only got showered once and briefly.


Mammoth Hot Springs, perhaps a less typical look than the main cascading spring at the entrance.


Sunrise on Grebe Lake, site of our first backcountry camping adventure in Yellowstone. The walk to the lake was rather monotonous and interestless--lots of damaged, felled trees--but the lake was nice.


Yellowstone Canyon under the unforgiving rays of the late morning sun, thus taken in sepia.

Next update from somewhere around the Grand Tetons.


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