towlola

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42 articles tagged as towlola
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I spent the holidays in Pismo Beach, a medium sized resort town north of Santa Barbara. The main attraction is, of course, the beach, which is long and pristine and allows dogs. Sign me up. The nice thing about Pismo in particular is that the majority of the beach is public, state park land with beautiful dunes and sweet-smelling eucalyptus. At Oceano State Park you can pay $10 to drive out and camp on the sand. (We did not, because Sacagewea’s 4wd went out back in Amarillo.) Between Pismo and Oceano is a grove of eucalyptus where a huge colony of Monarch butterflies spends the winter. Though my lens was a bit too short to capture them, …

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As we left “the Big Sur,” we entered San Simeon, which is more rolling and brown than the high cliffs north of there. At Piedras Blancas beach you can watch the elephant seals in their rookery. They’re sleeping, okay? I know, not very exciting. Every once in a while one would grunt and toss sand on their back. The males are huge and a little more active than the females. I saw a few playing (fighting?) in the waves. Inexplicably, the seals are guarded by a fence that says “Do not feed the squirrels.” The sunset was gorgeous, like the sky was on fire, one evening. Of course, I didn’t have the camera until the last second, …

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After many hours on Highway 5 amid very dry, dusty conditions and a sense of brownness everywhere, I finally made the turn toward the sea. It is one of the final legs of my journey: California Highway 1. At first, I was a little nervous. There were a LOT of people on the 1 around Santa Cruz, and the drive wasn’t all that pretty. Lola and I can’t drive very quickly around the bends, and traffic was piling up behind us, with no place to turn off. We headed south. Monterrey was much the same. You may ask why I didn’t stay in any of these places. At $50 a night, just for an RV spot, it …

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Barstow California is a FUNNY little town. It is at the crossroads between two highways in the middle of the Mojave. I stayed one night at the Rainbow Basin Campground, which has a long washboard dirt road, no electricity and a lovely view of very DESOLATE desert. It was also 25 degrees at night. Only I can nearly freeze to death in the Mojave, I swear. It was chilly, but I had the dogs to keep me warm. I was a little glad of the cold, just cause, ya know, snakes come out when it’s hot. Eesh. In the morning I heard a huge boom, which I’m assuming was some kind of weapons testing at the nearby …

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I am FINALLY out of the mountains. Hello, Nevada! I knew I was past the hard part when I exited the HUGE Virgin River Gorge outside St. George, Utah to be greeted by the town of Mesquite, which has a desolate and lovely view, yet can still grow palm trees I visited Valley of Fire State Park, which borders Lake Mead. It gets its name from the bright red sandstone rocks that are pitted and shaped by the strong wind. You can see three sets of mountains from the vista (usually) though today snow was happening. For once, I didn’t have to avoid it, and it avoided me. The park gets only 4 inches of precipitation annually. …

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We woke up to MORE SNOW. Even though I’m sure that it was gorgeous, I’m pretty glad that we drove the road down into the canyon at night before it iced over. I took one look at it in the morning and I knew that there was no way I’d be able to go back that way. At least the wind had died down a bit and the sun had come out, so Monty and Niko and I hit the Pa’rus trail. It is the only trail in the park where dogs are allowed, and it snakes along the bottom of the canyon along the beautiful Virgin River. We took many pictures of snow covered canyon walls …

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I took the northern route out of Piedra Lumbre west, past Pedernal, towards Farmington and the Continental Divide. On the map, it looks like a flat plain. In a way, this is true. Going into the drive, I thought I would come out of mountainous territory and slope downward towards a place that resembled Texas. It was not like Texas. (Also, I had to take quick snap pictures as I went, because I was trying to avoid an impending snow storm. His name was apparently Cleon. Who names these things? If you click on the first photo, a slideshow of the drive between Piedra Lumbre and Page, Arizona will appear. It will be like you’re actually driving …

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On our last sunny Sunday in the Chama River Valley, Monty and Niko and I hiked to the top of Chimney Rock at Ghost Ranch Presbyterian Retreat. I have a soft spot in my heart for Ghost Ranch, because I spent several summers here growing up. I remember each little nook and cranny, all the paths, all the good rocks to climb, because as a kid I was always exploring. Okay, I’m still exploring, but in this particular place it brings back fond memories. Here is some perspective: Yeah, I know. I can hardly believe I was that high up either. Monty and Niko probably thought that was the top of the world. I had to tie …

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The Piedra Lumbre Basin (or Valley of the Shining Stone) stretches from Abiquiu to Chama along the Chama River. And it is, probably, the most beautiful place in the world. I’m biased, though, I have many pleasant memories from childhood vacations here. Its icon is Pedernal, a 9000 foot mountain whose cap was produced in the Jemez volcanic field. Georgia O’Keefe lived in the valley below, and she painted it many times. I couldn’t help but take a zillion pictures of it. It’s like a benevolent version of the eye of Mordor, looking over everyone in the basin all the time, rain or shine. The lake is Abiquiu Reservoir, and from atop the dam you can see …

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I know you feel awful for me, but I had to take a beautiful drive in order to do laundry and buy groceries. I’m not sure I could manage it all the time, but for the one time, I was VERY glad I needed such errands. The road from Ojo to Taos is long, smooth, flat and GORGEOUS. There are almost no trees in this part of Carson National Forest, and you can see for miles around. There is little development, besides a cattle farm here and a mobile home there. I drove almost 20 miles in the wrong direction, all the way to Tres Piedras, and I didn’t even care. Coming into Taos, you cross the …

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