Thursday, April 28, 2011

Less suck. More awesome. Your tax dollars at work.

Here's a brilliant example of why I think NASA is a deserving recipient of your (and my) annual tax contribution. In a sea of suck, NASA is mostly a little island of awesome.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Pictures from the Week of Big Fun

Vacation overload. Too many pictures... No room in brain or energy for words. In a nutshell, Big Fun was had by all.

The Concept: Drive through Sequoia on the way south, camp at Joshua Tree for a couple of days to enjoy the hiking, climbing, and wildflowers, pop over the mountains for a surprise trip to Disneyland, and camp again at a location TBD on the way home. Lots to pack into one week. Lots of pictures and memories to bring home.

Remember to click on an individual picture if you want to look at it more closely.

Sequoia, with a fair amount of snow on the ground, big trees, and a fine spot for a picnic breakfast. It looks to me like this would be a fun place to go back and explore on skis; the Wuksachi Lodge makes a fine launch point, plus they have a pretty decent restaurant.

A most excellent campsite at Indian Cove. I love camping in the desert this time of year -- the air is balmy even at night and there's no chance of mud.

The full moon. they say it's bright enough to climb by moonlight; I believe it!

Many flowers. On one hike, we saw approximately 35 different species of blooming plants (counting quests motivate the Nim).

Small critters. I had to save the tortoise from being squashed by relocating it off the road.

Lots of hiking and exploring.

And of course climbing. It was nice to be able to boulder right in the campsite; Nim and I got up early on morning and played on the rock before breakfast while Chad slept in.

Excellent Sonoran desert plants on the way out on the third day.

Then we all piled back into the car and headed over the hills. Nim, by now was worried that the number of days wasn't adding up right, according to her knowledge of the plan, and of course we didn't tell her where we were going next until she figured it out herself. The contrast between "I'm bored! Just tell me where we're going," and "Really???? I really get to go to Disneyland?" was striking, as expected :)

We stayed right across the street from the main entrance. (The Park Vue Inn is recommended, by the way, by virtue of location, price, breakfast, and the fact that one can see the fireworks from one corner of the hot tub.)

Lots of rides: Matterhorn (we started here), Autopia (Nim was a very weebly driver at first, I would have to say as the driver behind her...), a very wet ride down Grizzly Mountain during the one short period of time it rained (there was no line!!), the carousel just before the fireworks went off, and the ever-favorite Spinning Teacups.

The many faces of Nimue in the many lines, ranging from goofy to bored to obedient to cute to shy to crazo.

Space Mountain with the lights on during a failure; after a few minutes a couple of guys climbed up and manually push-started all the cars so we could get to the bottom and start over. It was neat to see what the normally picth-black-specled-with-stars chamber actually looks like. This one was Nim's favorite ride.

Quieter moments in the less crowded and chaotic sections of the park (we didn't figure out we needed this until the second day):

We took advantage of the Fastpass feature of the tickets to go on the big California Screamin' roller coaster over and over and over and over and over and over again. (iphone picture of the display of pictures they were trying to see when you got off the ride...) By the last time, Nimue was able to keep her eyes open even for the upside-down part!

After all this, it was time to escape the crazed urban mayhem and go camping again. On the way back to the Bay Area, we stayed at the Selby Campground in the Carrizo Plain, where one can find big scenery, views of the San Andreas Fault, wildflowers, good hiking, and relative solitude (aside from the other mellow happy people camping here -- Nim had great fun playing with the boy from the next site over).

Strange Creatures on the Trail

The last morning, just for jollies, we took the dirt East Pozo Road across the mountains back to civilization. Fun route; might even be good on a road bike aside from the lack of water.

We're now back home, starting the 7-week sprint to the end of the school year, when the vacation fun starts up again!