Monday, October 16, 2006

Back in Pennsylvania

I knew for sure I was back home when I saw a billboard advertising a jewelery store. The ad showed an intricate and obviously expensive diamond necklace, with the following text: "And his new shotgun cost how much?"

Sunrise, Sunset

Here are two very different perspectives on one very wild place, valley floor and mountain top. There's just something about Death Valley that makes you feel small and fragile. Its more than the spectacular scenery, its the inhospitable environment. In September, the daytime temperatures still hover near 100. At night, the ground radiates warmth, making sleeping bags unnecessary. You don't feel thirsty, but once you start drinking, you realize you can't stop.

I can't imagine how people explored and mined this part of the world without the benefit of cars with air conditioning. Or how the beasts of burden who carried the people and minerals managed to survive!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

What am I?

So far, the options appear to be a Yorkian, a Yorkite, or my personal favorite, a Yorker. Regardless, today was my first day as a working Yorker. The job is very similar to what I did in Knoxville, just a little more specialized. The folks are real nice and friendly. So that's very good, and I'm extremely lucky to have good friends here who are taking excellent care of me till I find a place of my own. This will be my first blog with no pictures to accompany it, but with so many cool old buildings near where I work, I'm sure I'll have some up before very long. I already have a shot in mind!

Thursday, October 05, 2006


Mono Lake is a place I've wanted to go ever since I was wee little, looking at old National Geographics, and dreaming. I thought I knew what to expect: salty, big, with cool rock formations. But actually being there, walking along the shoreline, took my breath away. It was one of the four "WOW" moments I had on the trip. I walked into the water for just a minute or two. The water felt slippery, and my feet and sandals were crusty with salt once they dried off! The salt collects in the lake because it has no outlet to the ocean. The rock towers are made of a material called tufa, which is rock deposited by springs. The tufa builds up until it breaks the surface of the water, and sometimes keeps going. Many of the towers are exposed because the city of Los Angeles (nearly 400 miles away!) drew off large amounts of water from the lake's tributaries for use as a drinking supply. Courts have now restricted how much water the city can take. It is amazing to me, an Easterner who gets tired of having so much rain in these dreary Tennessee winters, how important water is in most parts of the West.

Tahoe Blue

I wanted to get some of my pictures from vacation up. These are from Lake Tahoe, where the color of the water has become a theme within the towns that surround the lake. We had a day full of beautiful sunshine to explore. As the sun went down, interesting clouds began to form. I had never seen anything quite like them. Most of our trip was spent exploring national parks, but Lake Tahoe ranks right up there with any of the parks, even though much of it is privately owned.