So, yesterday the plan was to head out to Austin with my niece and nephews – see the bats fly out from beneath Congress Bridge, maybe run around downtown a little bit. They’d only been driven through Austin before, so I figured it’d be a nice little road trip.
Then, earlier this week, I started doing a little investigating on the possible caves in the area. Once I saw the pictures of the Cave Without a Name, that was it. I had to go. I presented the idea to the kids, and they were pretty interested, so I figured we’d roll out there early saturday morning, check the cave out, then drive back up to Hamilton Park Nature Preserve before going to see the bats in Austin.
What actually happened (tl;dr): We drove ten hours to see a cave.
I’m reminded of a tense moment during the drive from Redondo Beach, CA out to Albuquerque, NM last weekend. I’m goin’ down the highway, and there hasn’t been a bathroom for quite some time – and I’m getting really close to just pulling over and remedying the situation. Instead, because I don’t want to get bitten on the ass by something in the shadows in the midst of ‘the deed’, I pull over and check to see how close the nearest rest stop is.
Ok. I can hold out for that long. I think.
It takes roughly ONE MILLION YEARS to get there. And? On the way to the exit, I spot the following sign (granted, this is an image of a different sign – this was about 3:30am at night that I’m driving around).
Are you fucking kidding? Oh god, is the rest stop at…?
why yes. It is.
It is *exactly* on the exit that goes directly to the penitentiary down the road – the one that looks like an enormous shiny, razor sharp cube of penal glowyness.
And? The rest stop is closed.
My bladder starts SCREAMING and yelling, and throwing things at this point, but honestly – even if the frickin’ thing was open at that time of night, I don’t think I would’ve had the courage to use it.
I wait until I’m a few miles down the road, and I honestly can’t take it anymore. I pull over, turn all the lights off, then with my enormous fist full of keys, I bravely give fate the finger and ‘take care a bidness’.
It was uneventful, well – other than the ENORMOUS feeling of physical relief.
I have an interesting life.
I arrived at Joshua Tree National Park at around 2am friday night. The entire place was illuminated by the full moon that was just beginning to wane. Got some great shots with the flash, but the non-flash proved difficult without a tripod. Went ahead and picked up a tripod and am now going to do lots more night photography.
I’m fairly sure that the headline sounds a great deal saucier than the report below. Still, fun was had!
The ruins of the old Sutro Baths, built back in the late 19th century, once housed a large quantity of swimming pools that the well heeled gentry of the city frequented back in the day. It’s a rather large site, and looking down from the parking lot, you get a good idea how enormous this facility once was in its heyday. There’s a long bike path down to the ruins, as well as a very taxing looking collection of stairs down from the overlook to the ruins and beach beyond…
So, Friday night, I pull into a KOA about fifteen minutes away from Cape Disappointment down in southern Washington to spend the night – and as fortune would have it, I ended up getting a space next to completely fantastic neighbors. Two wonderfully raucous Canadian women and a Scotsman – it was like the beginning of a ‘walks into a bar’ joke.
Shortly after pulling in, I asked if I could join them and share their fire, and they waved me on over happily. I broke out my camping chair, then shared my story, while they shared various travel stories of their own. They were all very friendly, chatty, and VERY generous with their booze. (I’d brought my own, but I’m pretty sure that if I’d found myself ‘in need’ they’d eagerly have offered me a whole lot of pretty heavily tanked mixed drinks)
I haven’t laughed that hard, for that long, in a great while.
During my time with them, I learned that:
– Alcohol is apparently MUCH cheaper in the US, so they would make frequent trips over the boarder to stock their booze larders.
– Apparently ‘Fuck’ is a very popular word in Canada, which DELIGHTED me.
– We’d all been called filthy whores at several points throughout our lives – except for the Scotsman.
Wecked fahckin’ pahty night.
Thank you, Universe.
The other night, as I slept with the window open, I was awoken by what sounded like a coyote pack calling out to each other as they surrounded their prey. They sounded fairly close, but not right up on the house. Maybe a neighbor down the road. It was a quick skirmish, but the howls were chilling and cool at the same time.
Thanks, nature, for the auditory floor show
I love it when things like that happen.
What started as a movie set slowly grew into the attraction now known as 1880 Town. The majority of the historically correct buildings were relocated to an 80 acre lot owned by Richard Hullinger to add to the attraction, which consists of a long main street with a church at the end, as well as train tracks just ‘outside of town’, with a collection of old steam engines…
This was easily one of the most grueling treks I’ve taken to get to a cave. Unlike most of the other commercial cave systems I’ve been to throughout the country – where you enter the cave from the inside of a building, Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park has a 3/4 mile walk outside, throughout the mountains from the visitor’s center up to the cave mouth itself.
I was on the first tour of the day, shortly after 9am, and it was already getting really hot out. No clouds in the sky, and the hateful sun was doing everything it could to ensure that I expired on my way up the trail. I kept being surprised that the trail kept going, and going… and going. Ah, yes – my workout for the day…
Pictograph Cave State Park in Billings, Montana, went on ‘the list’ recently. I think it was while I was in either Wisconsin or Minnesota that I discovered it and wanted to check it out…
Snaking through the Black Hills of South Dakota, Highway 87 winds through both Custer State Park and Wind Cave National Park. Custer State Park itself is worth the visit, but I didn’t have much time to stick around and check it out, unfortunately.
I’d just visited Jewel Cave National Monument, a little over half an hour to the southwest, and had been wanting to make my way along Needles Highway to see the eye of the needle that nature had carved out of solid rock. The road has very sharp turns, low tunnels and is fairly narrow, but I figured I could manage it.
I’m glad I ended up being right…