Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter colors

some easter colors for easter sunday! this is actually named the artists palette, in death valley. isnt that amazing? these are volcanic deposits colored by mineral pigments. just a little further outside death valley we actually saw many green mountains. so funny to drive through such a wonderful landscape that is constantly changing..
it was very hot there, around 94F (almost 35 C!!), but in the coming months it will only get hotter here.... 
happy easter!

Desert roads

we drove quite a bit through the desert both yesterday and today. i cant get enough of it.... this is on the way to death valley, close to the little town olancha.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

California hoax

yesterday we visited sequoia national park in the sierra nevada mountains, where we looked at giant trees. here you can see part of such tree, with me next to it, to indicate how huge they are... ;)
these trees are around  50–85 m (160–279 ft) in height and 6–8 m (20–26 ft) in diameter. and the largest trees have been measured to be 94.8 m (311 ft) in height and over 17 m (56 ft) in diameter!! and they can be as old as 3500 years! its just so weird to imagine that they are standing there that long... having survived forest fires and whatnot... many trees actually have burn marks from fires that occur every now and then and in fact are necessary for new trees to grow. the cones of the tree need the extreme heat to open and release the seeds, and fire also clears the ground of debris and other plants etc that compete for growth!! so... years ago fires were always put out, until researchers discovered that it inhibited growth of new trees... now they let fires roam, and sometimes even set fires intentionally to restore natural growth...
the other funny thing i learned was even though a tree was cut down, chopped into pieces and reassembled at the 1893 world fair in chicago, some visitors did not believe those trees really existed! they called it the california hoax... :D

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Craaaaaaazzzyyyyy lady

yesterday we were in yosemite. some roads are still closed due to snow, and not all trails are open either. still, it was rather crowded, so i can imagine that in summer its crazy here. im happy we went now! we hiked up to the vernal falls, then a little further up even for really breathtaking views, and down again. above we are on top of the vernal falls. to the right is the water falling down with immense force some 317 feet. and as you see, some absolute moron decided to walk along the wrong side of the trail, she is standing at the absolute edge of the falls, taking pictures. we saw her coming and assumed she would turn around and get to the right side of the fence. but she just went on and on. and then even further, as you can see here. at this point i didnt dare telling her she had to get away from there as i was afraid to somehow startle her and she would loose balance or whatever. so the few people watching her were just staring at her in total silence, all shocked, holding their breath. after she had taken her photos, she returned, smiling. saying "ooh, that was a little scary". really, i cannot understand why people put themselves in such danger!! it was so slippery there, and i am sure her pictures were not better because she was on the other side of the fence, nor her view.... 
anyways. nature was stunning there, and my pictures a little disappointing. i yet have to look at tims, and perhaps another time show you more! in the meantime you can watch this video about climbing half dome... we only admired it from a distance. it is still impossible to climb half dome, as it is still closed for the season. anyways, im not sure i would dare to undertake that climb. not only because its so high up and takes about 12 hours roun trip, but also because of idiots like the lady here that could screw it all up for you...

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Bodega Bay

yesterday we arrived in bodega bay on highway 1 just after sunset. we had had enough of the driving for a little while already, but there was really nothing along the way. such a beautiful area, but also so very remote! lots of abandoned places. some houses on perfect spots, but no motels or hotels.... then we arrived in a small town with a motel that we found too expensive, but at the gas station the guy mentioned bodega bay would have more options. we found a nice looking motel at the bay. at the front desk i saw a picture of hitchcock and a barbiedoll from the movie the birds, both signed by hitchcock! turns out this was the hotel he stayed at. and... that movie was filmed at bodega and bodega bay. ofcourse, we had no clue, hahahaha (just like we drove through Forks in washington, where apparently the awful twilight movies were filmed...) so... we watched the movie that night (only half, we were too tired), and last night the second half. above the store in bodega that appeared in the movie, and as you see, a lifesize doll of hitchcock is still standing around.....

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Shoreline highway

yesterday we drove through the redwoods (amazing! picture another time), and then along the coast of california, on highway 1, also named the shoreline highway. winding roads with tight curves, sometimes right along the shore. high up and then down again. and up. and down. curve after curve after curve. i didnt drive, i wouldnt have dared. the roads were narrow too. we didnt go too fast, and also stopped at every amazing vista (there were too many), and took some little detours to see even more, like this lighthouse above.
this coast is really so different from the east coast!! i think i prefer this one....

Monday, March 25, 2013

Mossy trees

never seen such mossy trees before. and they are everywhere along the coast in oregon/washington. as you can see, some trees are entirely covered in moss, every single branch. i can only think "enchanted forest".... its really like a fairy tale!! moss needs a cool, damp, cloudy area (not too much sun) to thrive, and well yes, we saw how damp, cool and cloudy it can be around here. but next thing you know, its suddenly sunny again..
we saw quite some trees like this already, but photographing them is another story. too green, not green enough, not the entire tree. etc etc... so i have a collection by now, zoomed out, zoomed in, different settings. but seeing them for real is just the best!!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Real blossoms!

jaaajjj! saw some real blossoms today. isnt it pretty?! this is in portland, oregon, where we happened to be this morning... :)
some very general impressions of the states oregon and washington; defenitely more hippies here than in boston, and lots of people driving old cars (classics, just old, or just very crappy and many volvos), and more people on bikes. many more coffee places (and many cute very tiny drive through coffeebars along the road; tim now wants to start one in the netherlands) and the supermarkets actually have good bread. oh, and beautiful sights. amazing cloud formations (very different from the east us coast), empty beaches... (also so very different from the ones around boston!).
but now im tired, goodnight!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Breakheart reservation

this is not too far from our apartment, just a 10-minute drive or something. its called the breakheart reservation and we sometimes go there for a walk. its really pretty there, in any season and quite big. there are many trails, and you can easily spend hours hiking. 
once it was a native american camp site, but early european settlers cut down the original pine trees for crops and to prevent surprise attacks from the native americans. during the civil war it was used as a training field for soldiers, who found the place very remote and dull. they named it camp breakheart hill (still cannot figure out why exactly that name, but well...)

Friday, March 22, 2013

A sign....

... of spring!! with a raindrop though... :) 
i wasnt in the mood for blogging yesterday or the day before. i actually searched for a particular photo yesterday, and couldnt find it. it was to illustrate that i finally got my "learner's permit", now i could practice driving, provided someone with a real license sits next to me....  when we moved to the US, now almost 3 (!!) years ago, i promised i would get my license here (its so much easier, and MUCH, much cheaper), but well.... time flies and i never got to it.... not sure i really will now, having driven a bit back in december i learned its really scary if the road is not perfectly straight and when there are other cars on the road too....... lets see, it would be good to have, no..?

Monday, March 18, 2013

What spring?!

today started out cold! and guess what, it just started snowing again.... most of the ground is already covered, so perhaps tomorrow it will look like this again?
definitely no real signs of spring yet here in boston....

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Cloud factory

as you can see, some factories generating lots of "clouds"..... this is in page, arizona. took me some googling (typing page & factory led me to the cheesecake factory), but this is the "navajo generating station". its a coal-fired powerplant in the navajo indian reservation, providing electrical power to people in arizona, nevada and california. emission of the plant actually affects visibility in the grand canyon and other national parks in the area, according to wikipedia! (you can read all that, and more, here)

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Evening sky

earlier this evening we had quite an interesting pattern of clouds, as you can see.... looks almost fake! our days are longer again, we already changed the clocks last weekend, while the netherlands only changes them at the end of this month.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Elk crossing

60 miles of possible elk crossing! but we didnt see any.... at least we had the gorgeous mountains in the background.... :) this is in arizona, close to flagstaff.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Last week

another picture from last week. to the right you see the orange line station where we always get on the train. quite some snow!! and today it almost felt like spring....

Some snow...

last thursday it was snowing the entire day, but as it wasnt cld enough, nothing stayed on the ground. overnight it got cold, and we woke up to quite a layer of snow on friday. when we got to work they already had been busy for hours to get the roads clear, as you can see here. but... crossing streets is always messy; all the snow from the roads gets piled up, and as a pedestrian you just have to climb over it, and often sink deep into it. as you cant see where the pavement stops and starts, you might even sink deeper and you really have to be careful.... during the day it warmed up a bit, and this pile of snow became a slushy-mess. yuck!! so high waterproof boots are really a must!!
over the weekend it got warmer, and in no time all the snow has melted again... now we got quite some rain, so i still get to wear my boots.. :D

Monday, March 11, 2013

Friendly reminder

apparently, the dumping of used oil, antifreeze, paints, and other awful (household) chemicals are the primary source of pollution of the charles river. so.... most stormdrains have a sign like the one above, reminding people not to just carelessly dump their sh*t, as it will go straight to the charles river etc...
this one is actually on the bridge that i showed you yesterday.
as a kid, i sometimes used to make "soup" in such drains. we would throw in sand, mud, leaves, anything we could find and then stir it with a large stick... i guess that was one of the reasons they sometimes got clogged and all the rainwater accumulated at the little "playground" behind our house.... ooopss!

Neglected bridge

this is the longfellow bridge, connecting boston and cambridge. its for cars, the subway, bikes, or you can walk.because of the shape of the 4 towers in the center, as you can see here, the bridge is also called the salt and pepper bridge. hmmm. well, would never have thought of that, but ever since i read it, i guess i can sort of see it... unfortunately you cannot climb those towers. there was a time you could walk around them, they sort of stick out of the bridge, but as long as we live here the entrance has been blocked by fences.
this year they will start some major repairs on the bridge. the subway will not run during several weekends and the lanes for other traffic will be significantly reduced as well. according to wikipedia, the bridge has been neglected for a long time. the bridge has been there since 1906, but some  major repairs were only done way back in 1959 and lesser ones in 2002. they expect to spend almost 270 million dollars for repair. had repair been done regularly, it would have been "only" 81 million.... 

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Such sights...!!

this is what we saw somewhere in page, arizona. just driving on a road, suddenly we drove between 2 mountains, and next thing we saw was this. if i remember correctly, in the back you see the vermillion cliffs.... 
it was frustrating, we arrived when it was already dark in page. and while we were driving that last part in the dark we sensed we were driving through amazing scenery, but couldnt see it!! so, the next day we drove a little of the same route, and, as you can see above, we did indeed miss quite a bit the night before. this country really has so many amazing sights to offer... and im glad we saw (some) of it already!!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Not really

some advertisement on the floor of a subwaystation in boston.... the weather defenitely is not getting hotter just yet! its quite stormy since yesterday, and today it snowed pretty much the entire day. not that much on the ground though... maybe that happens tonight, lets see.....

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Ancient cottonwoods

while we drove around in texas last december, we saw quite some cottonwood trees. so very pretty! just this weekend i went through the photos and tried to make a selection that i can make into a photoook someday (the actual doing is the problem. the plan is there since a while, but at least now i started). its frustrating how fast you forget details of a trip!! yes, it was all pretty and impressive, but then you see some photos again and cannot even remember exactly where it was. or maybe thats just my problem.....
anyways. these trees had a sign warning you that you should not come too close as the trees were very old and limbs could fall off any moment.....

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Bye bye.....

above a picture of the fung wah bus that has brought us to new york and back to boston quite a number of times now. going through my blog i see the first time i wrote about the fung wah was already in 2011! just a few months before i had taken the greyhound bus to montreal, and that wasnt much of a success. as it involved crazy driving, hour in traffic, annoying annoucements, too many stops in between, and expensive tickets, i thought we could just try the cheap chinatown bus (many people had warned us that whatever we do, we should never take the chinatown bus), as in fact ALL bus drivers drive like idiots. by now we have seen it so often on the road... being passed by a huge bus going well over the speed limit.
and so we did.... we quickly learned that its best to arrive on time, as you never ever want to sit in the back of the bus; thats where the toilet is (i guess thats enough explanation). we also learned that its really the cheapest and fastest way to get to new york and back. often under 4 hours, often without a pit stop (who needs that anyways when the destination is new york!!), always on time, and it was never a problem to take a bus earlier if you happened to be there and there was still space on board (try that with the other companies that require you to be there well in advance, and then just let you wait). taking the fug wah also turned out to be quite amusing at times. once, when we did stop at the mc donalds along the highway, one annoying passenger was not back within the 15 minute-limit, and our driver agreed with us passengers, and just drove off without him. another time (or was it the same?) we sat right behind the driver and while i was dozing off, i was first woken by the driver singing, quite loudly, and later eating sunflower seeds. also, they do slow down, full on the brakes, when they see a police car along the road, and yet another time, when going back to boston, the bus driver suddenly stopped. just alongside the road. walked to the back, used the restroom and drove off like crazy again.  without a word (they never ever say anything! except when they stop. "15 minute, you be back!") so yes, we took the bus numerous times, and even made it a habit to just go to new york for one day. 8 hours of chinatown bus included.....
but.... no longer. for now, the federal officials shut down fung wah entirely. a first inspection "just" took out the buses that were deemed unsafe; 3 out of 4, on a fleet of 28 (!!). that didnt deter fung wah; they just rented other buses and continued their crazy schedule of (i think) some 24 trips a day. the inspectors found badly maintained buses and cracked bus frames. pretty scary indeed. and when fung wah refused to cooperate (letting the inspectors see their safety records), their operating license was revoked entirely. buuuuuuhhhhh. it has been a while since we last were in new york......

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Pretty tree!

today i was going through the pictures of our road trip in december, and found this one. it was in dalles, texas, at a cemetery. the trees were so pretty, and i didnt know how to take a picture of them. but tim did, i saw today, and now you can see that as well...

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Fish-eye view!

we went to the beach for a bit today. it was a bit chilly, but not too bad.... we walked and i got to test this cool new lens tim got me. yaaaajjj!!!!
the snow is mostly gone (except at the places where they piled it up), and im wondering if we will get more this season. i dont think so, but you never know....

Self portrait

friday evening... time for a self portrait... :)
havent been taking a lot of pictures lately, hopefully tomorrow!!