Saturday, January 31, 2009

Austrian Hospitality

Look at the coat of white our blue car got from the minute we pulled over until the time we climb up the stairs and look back. It was really snowing in late May.

We stayed at Austria Hof Lodge in Mammoth Lakes, a stone's throw from the gondola ride and all the skiing.

I took this picture and the one above it when we were checking out on our third day.

Here's Mammoth mountain from the lodge. It's really so close. The lodge's website indicates it's 200 yards away, which my husband and I seem to disagree. It feels much much closer than 200 yards.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Photo Hunt #26: Furry

san diego 079, originally uploaded by airam94564.

With this week's theme, the possibilities are endless. One can either go with the obvious or he/she can be very imaginative. I chose to be obvious this week.

Taken at San Diego Zoo, November 2004.

Wanna join Photo Hunt, here's the link.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Sky Watch #30

IMG_0247, originally uploaded by airam94564.

For my fellow skywatchers who drops in this site once a week, I am still running a series on my road trip from memorial day 2008, which is a road trip of highway 395 from Carson City Nevada to Yosemite NP via Tioga Pass.

This was the end of our second day. After a long day driving, we arrived at our destination for the night, Mammoth Lakes. It was late May and we were staying in a lodge just outside the mountain. It was snowing when we arrived.

But on the village as pictured here at 8 pm there was just snow flurries. This is the village (shopping, eating, etc). Pretty deserted on off season and just after the holiday. We replenished our energy by downing some huge portions of pub grub at the Auld Dubliner.
Then we called it a day, finally.

Skywatch is a weekly meme for sky/cloud lovers. Go visit this site for more skies, and clouds, and more.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Another Stop-and-Stare Moment

DSCF0780, originally uploaded by airam94564.

I am going back in time a bit, by a few hours. This should have been posted before yesterday's. This was taken while stopping on an overlook for another breathtaking view of the Highway 395. This highway climbs up and down and down we will go after this brief stop to stretch our legs. The rain had stopped a bit at this time, but the wind was gusty, it was a huge effort to keep the camera focused. This is the only shot I had from that overlook; the wind was too strong to even keep one's balance so off we went.

On the left you see is Mono Lake which would be a destination for the third day. The mountain range on the right is Sierra Nevada, and we thought we spotted Mt. Whitney, the highest point in the contiguous US. This stretch of 395 from Carson City to Bishop CA is about 171 miles of gorgeous vistas and changing topography.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Very Old Trees

Our destination was finally reached, the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest .
The Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, located in the White Mountains of California, is home to the oldest known living trees on earth, the Great Basin Bristlecone Pine Pinus longaeva. The oldest tree, nicknamed "Methuselah", is more than 4,750 years old, and is not marked to ensure added protection from vandals. The grove lies in the Inyo National Forest, between 3,000-3,300 m (10,000-11,000 feet) above sea level.
On September 4, 2008, a fire destroyed the visitor center and "three or four" bristlecone pines.
(source: Wikipedia)

Weather here is cold and dry. The average max.-min. temperatures range from about 70°F (21°C) to 37°F (3°C) at the base, and from 36°F (2°C) to -26° (-32°C) in the alpine zone. Precipitation averages 4 in. (10 cm) at its base to 20 in. (50 cm) mostly as snow, along the crest. Due to the varied topography, precipitation can and does differ greatly in localized areas. Winds blowing along the crest can blow most of the snow from some areas, leaving little for trees like the bristlecone at the treeline - 11,200' (3414m). Thunder and lightning storms occur frequently in the high country. Winds are strong at the crest, both summer and winter. The dry climate and high altitude make this region a rare environment. The rapid changes in elevation create abrupt habitat and species changes. The soil quality is poor, and at its poorest in the alpine zone. This factor combined with a short growing season, results in sparse and delicate flora. Recovery from disturbance is slow, said to take more than 100 years! This is truly an area that one must be careful in preserving. Driving along Hwy 395, and looking up at the White-Inyo range, it's appearance is somewhat barren and inhospitable, but once there we are gifted with sights and beauty unimagined from below. In August the wildflowers are abundant, the night sky clear and breathtaking; and it is so quiet here you can actually hear the wing beats of small birds! The bristlecones are reason enough to travel here, and with the abundant flora, wildlife, and vistas, we are compelled to return. (I totally agree and will return the next chance I get)

Reaching the White Mountains and the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest from Bishop, California is about a 1 hour drive. Travel south (14 mi / 23km) on hwy 395 to Big Pine, then east up hwy 168 to the White Mountain Road (13 mi / 21km). Here we turn left and continue the remaining 7 miles (11km) up to Schulman Grove at 10,100' (3048m). Several vista turnouts are located on the White Mt. Road, the most spectactular being Sierra View Overlook.

The trip is surprisingly simple considering the rate of climb, but large mobile homes or trailers should not attempt this journey because of the tight curves and grade.
An excellent map to have on hand is the AAA "Guide to Eastern Sierra".

An additional 13 miles (21km) beyond Schulman is required to reach Patriarch Grove (11,200ft / 3414m). This road is gravel, rough in places, but can be easily done with the family car. We are rewarded with sights you cannot find elsewhere. Patriarch Grove is located in a large open bowl, exposed to wind and weather. And yes, along with the astounding trees and landscape, you will find toilet facilities here, picnic tables and an outdoor display case.
Also check this site, this site, and this site for more information.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Photo Hunt #25: Chipped

When a piece of wood gets chipped by artistic and creative hands something wonderful almost alway happens.

Collage of totem poles at Totem Bight State Historical Park in Ketchikan, Alaska.

May I just mention that this week's theme was a tough one.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Sky Watch #29


For the majority of the morning drive on our second day, we were blessed with rain, heavy at times. But there were brief intervals where rain stopped and I was able to roll down the window and snap this one. I immediately knew this was going to be a Skywatch image. All these are drive-by shots.

The combination of mountain and clouds and a little patch of blue sky is unbeatable, IMHO.

Skywatch is a weekly meme hosted by wonderful people. To join or to view more skyscapes, visit the main page.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Passing Scenery

One of the shots I took while on the road on our second day. I particularly love this sight even if it's a little blurry (shooting at 65 mph) because I thought this type of scenery that I only saw on calendars before are not available in my state. I was so wrong!

Zooming on the mountains. This road trip has opened my eyes to the fact that I do love mountains. I love them as much as I love the ocean. And if asked to choose whether I prefer to live on the coast or on the mountain top, I would take a very long time to answer :)

A restaurant facade? Really? That was on your mind dear readers wasn't it? Did you think I was bored on the road so I snapped everything that was in sight? Well, you are partly correct. Not the bored part. I took a shot at everything that interested me. And food interested me a lot. And it was serendipitous in a way because my husband and I were eager to sample Basque cuisine for a long time and seeing this on the way has somehow made us happy :) We did not stop for a bite, we were on running on tight schedule.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Time To Rest

All good days must come to an end, and when we visited the places we planned to visit on our first day (Carson City and Virginia City), it was time for a rest before dinner time. We made reservations at Grand Sierra Resort for the night.

I was pleasantly surprised by my view from up there. I've never seen Reno this way and next time I want to explore what this city has got to offer for nature lovers.

From our 14th floor room, I was able to enjoy the view from up there. When I took this shot, I did not see the planes. This must be where the Reno Airport is located. What I enjoy with the view is the hills in the distance. I was fortunate that the photos turned out well after shooting this through the window glass.

Sunday, January 18, 2009


IMG_0014, originally uploaded by airam94564.

Miles of beautiful landscape can be seen from this overlook on the way to Virginia City. We stopped by Virginia City on our first day too and I have posted a separate series about it from August 21 to September 2, 2008.

Those tall buildings in the distance are the casinos/hotels in Reno. Yes, it did rain that rain on and off.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Photo Hunt #24: Hats

Photo Hunt #24: Hats, originally uploaded by airam94564.

2008 Memorial Day Weekend Roadtrip Series takes a break to give way to Photo Hunt.

This week's theme is pretty simple and easy, if one has photo of hats in the his/her archives. And I have one. I took this while attending the Strawberry Festival over at Watsonville, a couple of years ago. I found a stall selling hats; I did not buy one, but I took a picture of them. I had really no reason to snap this, well actually I was hoping I would find use for it in the future. Today is that time. BTW, when I snap this, Photo Hunt was not even in my radar.

This shows I like to photograph random shots of almost anything.

Happy Photo hunting. Have a pleasant weekend.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Sky Watch #28

IMG_0094, originally uploaded by airam94564.

Continuing with our exploration of Carson City by foot, I instantly noticed this beautiful building. It is the Paul Laxalt State Building that houses the Nevada Commission on Tourism.

Don't be fooled by the blue sky, there was rain not long after we took this.

It's SkyWatch time again and if you're a pro on this, you know that to see skyscapes from all over the world, you have to check this out, the skywatch page.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Brick and White

IMG_0106, originally uploaded by airam94564.

They probably have not completed the construction or renovation of the city hall. Or this is the new style in architecture these days.

This is a block or two from the capitol on the same side of the street.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Capitol

IMG_0098, originally uploaded by airam94564.

We parked our car infront of Harrah's Casino on the main thoroughfare, which we later found out was also Highway 395 as it's called after it leaves the city proper. From Harrah's we walked 5-6 blocks going to the left (sorry am lousy with directions). And this is what we stumbled upon. The state capitol from across the street. I don't really know if this is the front or the back, we did not investigate further.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Another White House

IMG_0091, originally uploaded by airam94564.

On the first day of our road trip, we visited Carson City, the capital of the great state of Nevada. We drove around a bit, walked a bit and took some photos.

This is the white house of Carson City. I don't know if it's called that, but it should. This is after all a white house. This is the Governor's Mansion. I wonder where is the Cali Governor's Mansion? Just thinking out loud.

Have a great start to your week.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Photo Hunt #23: Aftermath

Photo Hunt #23: Aftermath, originally uploaded by airam94564.

I dont know if this is the aftermath of a controlled burning or a malicious fire, but I saw this on the third day of our road trip. This is inside Yosemite NP.

I will be posting random snaps from the road trip series, jumping from day 1 to day 3.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Sky Watch #27

IMG_0128, originally uploaded by airam94564.

With this image, I begin a new series, the 2008 memorial day weekend road trip, which began in Reno, Nevada some 3 hours drive from the bay area.

Picture shows dusk falling over the Reno arch.

Go and visit the Sky Watch page and enjoy all the marvelous sky photos of other participants.

Monday, January 05, 2009

In 2008.................

I enjoyed a day in historic Malacca, Malaysia.

Ate my fill in tropical foodie paradise of Singapore.

And was wowed by beautiful pink buildings of Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Memories of 2008

No one could forget this. I could'nt because I paid this much during my Memorial Day 2008 road trip.

I attended my first Bay To Breakers marathon as a spectator. It's a serious marathon with world class marathoners participating. It is also a venue where ordinary people walk, in costumes or without, just like here. My first time to see this in SF.

I saw my first fox in the wilds at La Grange when my brother and his family invited me and my husband to a weekend of fishing. I was very excited. The fox was a bit far from the road and this is as close as my point and shoot can go. I also spotted a vulture, but all the photos I took were blurry.

I shall have another post or two about 2008 before I start a new series.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Photo Hunt #22: Hope

Photo Hunt #22: Hope, originally uploaded by airam94564.

I hope there is still hope left for all those who lost their hopes and dreams in the past year.

New year brings new beginnings and hopefully a brand new set of hopes.

Happy New Year.