Category The Great Outdoors

Sunburn and Bugs 2016: Escape From Santa Fe

 I slept poorly my last night in Santa Fe, tossing and turning fitfully, sweating and waking up in what seemed like twenty minute intervals. I’m going to go ahead and blame the room’s air conditioner, which ran constantly but never kicked out anything that could be remotely called cold. I believe it had two settings: “Devil’s Buttcrack” (aka off) and “Mouthbreathing Stranger”, in which air is moving but resembles nothing so much as a stranger standing close enough to breathe hot breath down your neck. I mean, sure, all of the alcoholic drinks and the rich food and the multitude of chiles I ate probably played a role in my discomfort, but the air conditioner won’t mind if I point a finger in its general direction, and I do enjoy divesting myself of any culpability.

Emily wanted a cinnamon roll for the road from the French Pastry Shop, and since Rachel and I were all packed and ready to go, we walked over there to get her one. Not having learned my lesson about rich food one bit, I bought myself a pastry with fully half a peach inside and a cookie stuffed with raspberry jam. What?! We were going to be covering a lot of terrain with not many food options, so at the very least I’d have two food items just packed full of fruit-y, healthy vitamins.

sunburn and bugs day 6 (1 of 64)

sunburn and bugs day 6 (2 of 64)Healthful. And so tasty, too!

sunburn and bugs day 6 (5 of 64)Feminist Killjoy, ready to hit the road

Our original plan called for driving to Albuquerque and heading west from there into Arizona, and I had a really solid list of things I wanted to do in Albuquerque, but if we were going to get back in three days, there just wasn’t time to spend an afternoon in Albuquerque. Not if we were going to hit two big targets that day: Antelope Canyon and the Grand Canyon.

canyonero

sunburn and bugs day 6 (6 of 64)

sunburn and bugs day 6 (7 of 64)

sunburn and bugs day 6 (8 of 64)

sunburn and bugs day 6 (10 of 64)

sunburn and bugs day 6 (11 of 64)Even if that rock already has a name, I’m renaming it to zombie face rock. You see it, right?

Antelope Canyon is a slot canyon (well, two of them) in northeastern Arizona, on Navajo land just outside of Page. The canyons are known as Upper Antelope and Lower Antelope, and they each come with their own advantages and drawbacks–Upper Antelope is much more expensive but requires no climbing. It’s also wider at the base, gets those pretty and photogenic light shafts more frequently, and draws larger crowds of people. Lower Antelope is narrower and twice as long as Upper Antelope, significantly less expensive, requires a lot of stair climbing, and tends to draw fewer people. I suppose if we really wanted to get our fill of slot canyons, we could have done both, but with another, grander canyon on the horizon and hotel reservations in Utah, we had to choose one or the other, so I chose Lower Antelope.

sunburn and bugs day 6 (12 of 64)

When we arrived, I had to pee. They had a huge row of port-a-potties, and as I walked across the parking lot toward them, I saw a woman walk down the row, open each door, shake her head, and close it. Every single door, all down the line. I immediately judged this woman as unbearably prissy. Oh, sorry these portable crappers don’t live up to Your Majesty’s standards–there isn’t even an attendant to pat Your Majesty’s royal hands dry after being sprinkled with perfumed water from a diamond faucet. Unbelievable.

Then, of course, I reached the first door, opened it, saw what she saw, and regretted my harsh inner monologue. Peeping out the top of that toilet was a veritable mountain of shit, a filthy human Everest that continues to rise as one brave soul after another says “fuck it,” climbs up on the seat, hovers above it, and unleashes an avalanche*. And it wasn’t just one toilet like this, but one after another, after another. Add to that the oppressive heat, blazing sun, and the stench of raw sewage, and I decided I could hold it for a while longer. I went back to the group and told them I no longer fear hell, because there’s no way it could be worse than those portable toilets. Rachel, who was judging me for my prissiness, went to go use them herself and came back with a similar conclusion.

We didn’t have to wait long for our tour to start. All visitors to Antelope Canyon (upper or lower), must be accompanied by a tour guide for safety reasons. During monsoon season, flash floods can whip through the canyon, and it’s important to have someone who can guide you to the nearest exit in case of trouble. A tour guide can also monitor the people in the group for signs of heat sickness, which isn’t terribly uncommon. Our tour guide also told us a bit about the geology of the canyon and posed each person (or group of people) in front of the most photogenic spots.

sunburn and bugs day 6 (13 of 64)The walk to the first staircase descending into the canyon. No photography is allowed on the stairs for safety reasons, and frankly, I’m glad. The stairs are scary enough without someone whapping you with a selfie stick.

sunburn and bugs day 6 (14 of 64)

Once I got down the stairs and took a look around, I was astounded. It was astonishingly beautiful. Every single step in the canyon is gorgeous. Every angle was something that I wanted to capture with my camera, to hold on to forever.

sunburn and bugs day 6 (18 of 64)

sunburn and bugs day 6 (19 of 64)

sunburn and bugs day 6 (20 of 64)

sunburn and bugs day 6 (21 of 64)

sunburn and bugs day 6 (24 of 64)

sunburn and bugs day 6 (28 of 64)

sunburn and bugs day 6 (29 of 64)

sunburn and bugs day 6 (31 of 64)

sunburn and bugs day 6 (32 of 64)

sunburn and bugs day 6 (34 of 64)

sunburn and bugs day 6 (35 of 64)

sunburn and bugs day 6 (36 of 64)

sunburn and bugs day 6 (37 of 64)

sunburn and bugs day 6 (39 of 64)

sunburn and bugs day 6 (40 of 64)

sunburn and bugs day 6 (41 of 64)

sunburn and bugs day 6 (43 of 64)

sunburn and bugs day 6 (44 of 64)

sunburn and bugs day 6 (45 of 64)

sunburn and bugs day 6 (46 of 64)

sunburn and bugs day 6 (47 of 64)

sunburn and bugs day 6 (48 of 64)

sunburn and bugs day 6 (49 of 64)

sunburn and bugs day 6 (50 of 64)

sunburn and bugs day 6 (64 of 64)

I happily snapped photos all the way through the canyon, and reluctantly climbed the stairs when it was time to leave. I hung out on a rock near the exit for the tour guide to finish taking some final photos so I could give him a tip and also let him know that Emily had gone to get some water in case he needed to make sure he’d left with the same number of heads he went in with. I offhandedly mentioned to Rachel that I wasn’t even that hot, more comfortable, really, and she told me that was a sign of heat exhaustion. Whoops. But hey, if I was going to keel over and die, at least I felt fine right up until the end, right? Still, I chugged an extra bottle of water on the way out. I’d rather have to pee in a gross bathroom than die just yet. Also, I couldn’t trust those other Harpies not to strap my corpse to the roof of the car and keep driving until they found a canyon grand enough into which to dump my windblown, dessicated ass.

*This analogy** got completely out of hand, sorry about that.

**Heh, anal.

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Sunburn and Bugs 2016: How Can I Have Moab If I Haven’t Had Any Ab Yet?

On the morning of my departure from Salt Lake City, I took one of those showers that leaves one still feeling dirty. Not because I was taking a shower in the middle of a giant jetted tub in a carpeted room, or because of all of the french fries I’d consumed hours prior in that same tub, or even because of the drinks that got me to the point of consuming fries in a tub like a bargain Hasselhoff. No, I still felt dirty because Salt Lake City has the hardest water of anywhere I’ve ever visited, the kind of water that leaves you feeling like your skin has been airbrushed with grime, leaving nary a single nook nor cranny unscathed. I probably would have been better off just slathering on more deodorant and hanging my greasy head out of the window to be blowdried by the salty wind. Perhaps the other people who had to share an enclosed car with me and my various odors wouldn’t have been better off, but that’s a hypothetical for the next road trip that runs through Garbage Water USA.

Before we met up with Emily’s brother for breakfast, I wanted to get a couple of snaps of the stuff I’d seen the night previous in the daylight, namely the astronaut and Brother Zack the alien. Although they were just a few blocks away, it took a bit longer than I thought it would, because SLC has long blocks, which are made all the longer for the relative lack of anything worth looking at on them. Granted, I didn’t see the entire city, but what I saw felt dull, empty, and oddly sterile. Few people out and about, primarily chain establishments, empty business spaces for lease everywhere, and none of the small stuff that makes a city feel vital and thriving.

sunburn and bugs day three (1 of 67)

sunburn and bugs day three (3 of 67)

sunburn and bugs day three (4 of 67)

After breakfast, we swung by the Gilgal Gardens, which are so set back from the street and unobtrusive that I never would have found them if I wasn’t specifically looking for them. The gardens’ sculptures are all intended to be physical expressions of the creator Thomas Child’s internal philosophies, primarily focusing on religious belief. If you’re interested in the intended meaning of the sculptures, you can learn more about them here. I was primarily interested in the Sphinx with the face of LDS founder Joseph Smith, because that was the weird thing that put this place on my radar to begin with. Aside from the photo opportunity, the gardens didn’t really resonate with me. It’s not impossible for me to be moved by religious artwork, there just needs to be something more to it than an obscure bible verse carved into a rock.

sunburn and bugs day three (8 of 67)

sunburn and bugs day three (9 of 67)

sunburn and bugs day three (10 of 67)

sunburn and bugs day three (11 of 67)

sunburn and bugs day three (12 of 67)

sunburn and bugs day three (13 of 67)

sunburn and bugs day three (14 of 67)

After the Gilgal, we were ready for some fresh, salty air in our faces, at the Great Saltair. I definitely half-assed my research, because when we arrived, I expected to see something that looked a lot more like this instead of the discount Wal-Mart version we got. If only I had scrolled down even a little further on the Wikipedia page. Just a little, eensy bit. Regardless, this was our first time getting a real glimpse (and smell of) the Great Salt Lake. It was, uh, not good. The lake has receded quite a bit since this Saltair was built, shimmering in the distance across a vast expanse of salt-crusted sand, while the wind whips its pungent odor up into the nostrils. It’s not the fresh salt air of the ocean, it’s a malodorous crusty decaying shoreline that assaults your nose. That’s some great salt air! Still, Rachel and I decided to venture out to the water’s edge, with me boldly declaring that I was going to taste the water to find out how truly salty it was.  The entire walk to  the shore was littered with bird corpses, and I began to instantly regret my earlier announcement. Bugs swirled around us in disgusting tornadoes. Bones crunched underfoot. And still there were people out wearing swimsuits and carrying beach towels, either because they were optimists or they were bound and determined to use the things they’d lugged along with them. As we reached the shoreline, the water lapped at thousands (millions? I wasn’t going to count) of dead insects and I really hoped Rachel wouldn’t remind me that I was letting her, nay, the world down for not putting some of that salty bug water in my mouth. Thankfully, she is far more humane than I would have been if the situation was reversed (I would have at least teased her about it), and the water remained ungargled. At least by me.

sunburn and bugs day three (18 of 67)

sunburn and bugs day three (19 of 67)

sunburn and bugs day three (20 of 67)

sunburn and bugs day three (17 of 67)

sunburn and bugs day three (21 of 67)

sunburn and bugs day three (22 of 67)

sunburn and bugs day three (26 of 67)

sunburn and bugs day three (27 of 67)

sunburn and bugs day three (67 of 67)

sunburn and bugs day three (28 of 67)Look at how far away the Saltair is from the shore!

Our next stop was the “Up” house in Herriman. This Disney dream house was built in a relatively normal Utahan suburb, and the new owners are kind of prickly about people taking photos of and with it, which doesn’t really make sense to me as long as people aren’t actually trespassing. If privacy was paramount to me, I don’t know that I would buy a house that was built for the express purpose of marvel and amazement in a populated area and then get angry when people marvel and are amazed. When I emailed to ask for permission to take photos of the house, they said a couple of photos were fine so long as we didn’t have any balloons or wear costumes of any kind. FINE. That’s what Photoshop is for.

sunburn and bugs day three (30 of 67)

sunburn and bugs day three (31 of 67)

Our next architectural marvel was Krishna’s Lotus Temple in Spanish Fork, which was built as a replica of a temple in India. It was beautiful and they even let us feed their koi. I can’t speak to the quality of their $5 all you can eat vegetarian buffet as I was still full from breakfast, but had I more time, I could have definitely done some reading there in the sunshine while peacocks strutted around. Alas, we had to pack back into the car relatively quickly as we had at least three more hours to drive–and that’s without stops.

sunburn and bugs day three (32 of 67)

sunburn and bugs day three (33 of 67)

sunburn and bugs day three (34 of 67)

sunburn and bugs day three (35 of 67)

sunburn and bugs day three (36 of 67)

sunburn and bugs day three (37 of 67)

sunburn and bugs day three (38 of 67)

sunburn and bugs day three (39 of 67)

sunburn and bugs day three (40 of 67)

Speaking of stops, we tried to take a short detour to see the World’s Largest Miner but after pulling off at three different (wrong) exits, finally getting off at the right one and being forced on a detour due to construction, and still not seeing it, I (as the driver and also the person most interested in seeing the world’s largest anythings) declared “Fuck it, we’re going to keep driving”.  And so we did.

sunburn and bugs day three (45 of 67)

Until we saw the world’s largest watermelon. The world’s largest driveable watermelon. I don’t know how the fuck the driver sees anything from inside this seedy behemoth, the important thing(s) is (are) that: it was completely unguarded, I was able to go inside, and they wisely did not leave the keys in the vehicle so I couldn’t attempt to take it on a test drive. It’s like they knew I was coming.

sunburn and bugs day three (46 of 67)

sunburn and bugs day three (47 of 67)

sunburn and bugs day three (48 of 67)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

sunburn and bugs day three (49 of 67)Once we were done trespassing in Green River’s giant watermelon, we made our way to Ray’s Tavern for a quick bite, and then it was back on the road, with a minor stop-off at another Pixar-happy location, Papa Joe’s, where the cars from Cars went to retire, grow decrepit, and die. It also appears that the Scooby Doo gang met with an unfortunate end here. The real mystery is where their bodies are buried.

sunburn and bugs day three (50 of 67)

sunburn and bugs day three (51 of 67)

At this point, we were about thirty miles from our destination. Rachel and Emily passed time by competing to see who could find the most prairie dogs, and I began to feel a little left out because as the driver, I couldn’t see any of them except the road-flattened ones which I was informed don’t count. So while they tallied up real prairie dogs, I began pointing out all of the ones they didn’t see, like a hitchhiking one on the side of the road wearing a tiny metal bikini with dreams of going to Comic Con. Apparently those don’t count, either.

We were passing Arches national park just as the sun was starting to set, and I asked the group if they wanted to swing in–knowing that we couldn’t possibly see all of it (including the most famous part of it, Delicate Arch, which I already knew was off the table as it requires a fairly strenuous hike from which the unprepared often have to be rescued) but that we could at least see some of this beautiful scenery that we may otherwise never visit. Everyone agreed, so I pulled in, racing against the sun, careening around hairpin turns while Rachel and Emily photographed out of the car windows. We made some pretty good progress before we lost the sun, stopping a few times to better take in the area. As the driver, I don’t have many photos, but what I saw was unforgettable, from the startlingly red rocks towering above us as we began our ascent into the park to the first twinkling stars peeking out over the formations.

sunburn and bugs day three (52 of 67)

sunburn and bugs day three (53 of 67)

sunburn and bugs day three (65 of 67)

sunburn and bugs day three (66 of 67)

sunburn and bugs day three (55 of 67)

sunburn and bugs day three (56 of 67)

sunburn and bugs day three (57 of 67)

sunburn and bugs day three (58 of 67)

sunburn and bugs day three (59 of 67)

sunburn and bugs day three (60 of 67)

sunburn and bugs day three (61 of 67)

sunburn and bugs day three (62 of 67)  sunburn and bugs day three (64 of 67)

 

We stopped at balanced rock and had just enough light to eke out the short hike around it. At the back half, Emily elected to go back the (more paved) way we came, and I decided to press forward, telling Rachel which way I was going. I got back to the car and pulled on the handle, expecting that everyone had beaten me there and were anxious to get to the hotel while I fiddled with camera settings. The car was empty. I walked back to the path. Full darkness had set in and there was no cell signal. “Emily? Rachel?” I called out, getting louder with each repetition. “EMILY?! RACHEL?!?” I found Emily back on the path, using her phone’s light to look at the various insects that had wandered out in the absence of the heat of day and told her that I’d gone back to the car but Rachel wasn’t there, had she seen her? “That’s not funny,” she replied. “I’m not trying to be funny,” I hissed back. Rachel joined us almost immediately thereafter, saying she’d been calling for me and some other hiker told her which way I’d gone. It’s not that he knew my name, he just figured that the two ladies stumbling around in the dark without any equipment must have been together. At least we didn’t have to be rescued.

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Not the U2 album, the other one: Joshua Tree

joshua tree (2 of 36)

I could feel the judgement in her eyes even though she was too polite to express her exact thoughts. The national parks employee had just helpfully marked a driving route of Joshua Tree on my map and asked if we needed any suggestions for hiking or other activities. “Nope!” “But there are just a few short–” “Nope!” I wanted to tell her that it wasn’t that I was lazy and underprepared, because while both of those things are true, neither has ever prevented me from getting out there before; I don’t really consider it a hike unless there’s a possibility of imminent death. However, I was also smack in the middle of an enormous day trip and simply didn’t have the time to really flirt with disaster in my usual fashion. Then again, maybe I’m growing up a little: before you enter the park, they make it very clear that people have died there from preventable accidents–things like not having enough water or food, so I backtracked just a bit before the entrance, gassed up the car, and bought important survival necessities like two flavors of gatorade and chips with the guacamole baked right inside so I wouldn’t have to expend any energy on dipping. My obituary certainly isn’t going to bemoan, “If only she had dipped a little less gratuitously” unless, of course, they are talking about the decades-long buildup of nacho cheese that is even now slowly coating all of my arterial pathways, waiting for the right time to strike.

Joshua Tree is gorgeous, with a wild beauty you might not even know was there, based on the area outside of the park. Thanks to a number of pull-out areas and parking lots, I was able to get out and wander around a bit even without tackling one of the proper hiking trails or attempting any bouldering. Since it was still spring, I got to enjoy spotting all kinds of teeny-tiny wildflowers blooming in the desert–not the riotous lush swaths of color you get elsewhere, but delicate clusters of petals wavering under the winds and blazing sun. I would like to go back and explore more thoroughly when I have the time–I should probably plan ahead and bring at least two bags of those chips.

joshua tree (3 of 36)

joshua tree (4 of 36)

joshua tree (5 of 36)

joshua tree (6 of 36)

joshua tree (7 of 36)

joshua tree (8 of 36)

joshua tree (9 of 36)

joshua tree (10 of 36)

joshua tree (11 of 36)

joshua tree (12 of 36)

joshua tree (13 of 36)

joshua tree (14 of 36)

joshua tree (15 of 36)

joshua tree (16 of 36)

joshua tree (17 of 36)

joshua tree (23 of 36)Thankfully, it was not hot enough when I visited for bees to try to drink the water from my eyes or I definitely would have thrown myself off a cliff. Which is a thing they do, and fuck that, fuck that, fuck that.

joshua tree (18 of 36)

joshua tree (19 of 36)The view of the San Andreas Fault/Coachella Valley

joshua tree (21 of 36)

joshua tree (22 of 36)

joshua tree (24 of 36)

joshua tree (25 of 36)

joshua tree (26 of 36)

joshua tree (27 of 36)This parking lot was full so I can only assume that you get stabbed in the Hall of Horrors and someone comes and tows the cars away at night.

joshua tree (28 of 36)The world’s tallest Joshua tree.

joshua tree (29 of 36)Skull rock!

joshua tree (30 of 36)It looks a bit less skull-y from this angle, to be honest. Not even worth the effort of picking its nose.

joshua tree (31 of 36)

joshua tree (32 of 36)

joshua tree (33 of 36)

 

Save

Save

Save

Save

Desert View Tower in Jacumba Hot Springs, CA

 

desert view tower (29 of 31)

In 1923, Bert Vaughn believed this corner of California was destined for big things: namely, that it was going to become a border crossing area. So, in anticipation of the future economic boom, he bought the whole damn town and set himself to the task of increasing his personal fortunes. One of the ways he sought to do so was by building a roadside attraction as a “monument to the pioneers”, though mostly it was to advertise his bar. Although the town’s border crossing dreams never came to fruition, the roadside attraction did: the desert view tower. Constructed from the wooden remains of an old plank road running over the sand, the tower has seen some updates since then–the lower circular portion was added in 1950 when it changed hands. From that point forward, the tower has remained much the same, even as ownership changed, and is now a California historical monument.

As I approached the tower entrance, I spotted a dog flopped across the stairs, basking in the sun. I didn’t want to startle it by stepping over it, so I tried making some noise to wake it up. The dog could not have been less interested in the prospect of waking up, so I carefully stepped around it and went inside, where I found another super chill dog flopped out on a couch. I don’t know what exactly is in the water of these Jacumba hot springs to make these dogs not even care who the heck is stepping into their abode, but they should definitely bottle and sell it as I happen to know a small dog who could use a little chilling out.

desert view tower (31 of 31)

For a pittance per person ($6.50,  or the cost of one regrettable drive through meal), I got access to the tower itself as well as the at-my-own-risk boulder park next door. Cheap thrills! I singlemindedly climbed all the stairs, ignoring the ephemera on each floor in favor of seeing the view first. After four flights of stairs, there’s a large viewing area, and the option of ascending a much narrower set of wooden stairs with room for one or two people at the very top, and I climbed this as well, cramming ahead of Jason who mostly got a view of my butt. The view was a bit better on the larger platform below, or at least I felt safer looking in all directions without worrying that I’d put a leg through the stairs while distracted, or be knocked off the stairs entirely by the wind. A sign on the gate says that they close the tower when wind speeds hit 110 mph so on the day I visited, it must have been below that threshold, but it was still strong enough that if I faced the wind and opened my mouth, the wind would breathe for me, saving a little mileage on my lungs. (I’m trying to keep them supple and youthful for all of those marathons I won’t be running and/or for when I inevitably run into an organs dealer in a back alley, I would hate for him to get a terrible price on the black market because of all of that time I spent carelessly breathing, the nerve.)

desert view tower (1 of 9)

desert view tower (2 of 9)

desert view tower (3 of 9)

desert view tower (4 of 9)

desert view tower (5 of 9)

desert view tower (6 of 9)

desert view tower (7 of 9)

On the way back down the stairs, I checked out the dust-covered doodads and geegaws lining the cases, but as there was precious little information about any of it to place it in context, I moved on rather quickly, having no patience for the “What inspired them to put this dragon figurine next to this string of christmas lights and Himalayan salt lamp?” guessing game.

desert view tower (1 of 31)

desert view tower (2 of 31)

desert view tower (9 of 9)

desert view tower (3 of 31)

desert view tower (8 of 9)

desert view tower (6 of 31)

desert view tower (5 of 31)

desert view tower (7 of 31)

Back outside, it was time to take my life into my hands at the boulder park. On my way in, I encountered a British couple outfitted in safari hats, who excitedly asked me how I’d heard about this place (as they were the only other people I’d seen there, and the reverse was presumably true for them), which sounded a bit like “Oi! This place is brilliant! ‘Ow’d you hear it about, then? Chip chip cheerio, time for a spot of tea!”. You may think this isn’t an accurate transcription of the conversation, but I guarantee they will tell their friends they ran into some Americans who told them that “like, oh my god, I like, totally read about it on the internet or something dumb like that, it’s so dumb, everyone is so dumb” so this cultural conversational mistranslation goes both ways.

The boulder park was constructed during the 1930s, when out of work engineer Merle Ratcliff carved effigies in the stone for the supposed wage of a dollar and a jug of wine a day. That day rate seems suspect to me, but I do like a good legend, so I’ll let it slide. Either way, Merle was an industrious worker, and his carvings are generally whimsical and have stood the test of time. It was seriously fun to clamber over all of these boulders–I felt like I was getting away with something, that someone would pop their head out of the tower and yell “Hey you, get down from there!” No yell ever came, and I happily jumped from boulder to boulder, ducked under others, squeezed through narrow passageways, and warmed myself on a rock like a fat rattlesnake. Thankfully no actual rattlesnakes, fat or otherwise, made an appearance, or there would have been a brand new boulder in my pants.

desert view tower (10 of 31)

desert view tower (11 of 31)

desert view tower (12 of 31)

desert view tower (13 of 31)

desert view tower (14 of 31)Olaf is seriously pissed about something. Maybe about being, uh, frozen in stone. This is a stupid series of jokes, I should let it go.

desert view tower (15 of 31)

desert view tower (16 of 31)

desert view tower (17 of 31)

desert view tower (18 of 31)

desert view tower (19 of 31)

desert view tower (20 of 31)

desert view tower (21 of 31)

desert view tower (25 of 31)

desert view tower (22 of 31)

desert view tower (23 of 31) dontforgettofloss

desert view tower (27 of 31)

desert view tower (28 of 31)

desert view tower (26 of 31)

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Iceland’s Golden Circle

I staggered back to the hotel around three am after looking for the northern lights and slept like the dead…for three hours until my alarm went off to rouse me for the golden circle tour. Almost every single part of me wanted to stay in that bed, save for the part that wanted to shatter the alarm clock with a rock first and then go back to bed. What kind of sadist tour agency books an early morning tour immediately after a late night tour? I mean, granted, that’s probably something I would have done anyway if I was in charge of scheduling as I subscribe to the “cram as much as humanly possible into one trip, sleep is for the dead” school of thought…at least until that alarm goes off in the stark cold morning and I’m the coziest hedgehog that ever curled into a blanket burrow and then I think “sleep is for me, sleep is for meeeeeee.” Either way, I always get up, looking forlornly at the bed, and this sullen state of mind usually continues until I get some food in me, also known as the Pre-Food Grumps™.

Iceland’s “golden circle” is a ~200 mile loop that comprises a number of tourist destinations, primarily Geysir, Gullfoss, and Þingvellir. Reykjavik Excursions must be familiar with the Pre-Food Grumps™, as the first stop on their golden circle tour is Friðheimar, which you will note is not on the list of three things I mentioned above. Friðheimar is known for growing tomatoes year round in greenhouses under artificial lighting. As you may or may not know, Iceland is a young land, geologically speaking. It’s still developing, and is very volcanically active. Natural forces bring Earth’s heat close to the surface, which allows the country to use inexpensive and clean geothermal energy to heat and light their homes…and to power these sorts of greenhouses to grow crops. Through the use of these greenhouses, they’re actually able to grow local bananas, a fruit you would never expect to find in their climate.

On the way to Friðheimar, our tour guide explained a bit more about food production in Iceland. Now, I am not mocking her at all–she was knowledgeable, well-versed in English, and I liked her quite a bit–but occasionally she would come up with a turn of phrase that just boggled the mind. For instance, when talking about geothermal activity in Iceland, she went on to explain that in some areas, the ground is too hot for people to bury their dead and that thinking about that problem was something that “put a little smile” on her face. Yes,  I often get a little smile when thinking about the problems of others, but generally that’s not something one discusses among company one doesn’t know particularly well. As we pulled into the Friðheimar parking lot, she told us that these were the best tomatoes we would ever eat, and they were grown completely without the use of “shamicles”. You would be wrong if you thought that “shamicles” has not worked its way into my regular vocabulary, and not always as a substitute for the word “chemicals”. As an example, the homeopathic natural remedy section at Whole Foods is FULL of shamicles.

tomatoes

so many tomatoes

marys menu

At Friðheimar, there was signage everywhere proclaiming that NOW is the best time of the day for a bloody mary. Jason is particularly suggestible when it comes to this sort of thing (I may or may not have tricked him into marrying me by leaving photos of wedding bands laying around) and this is how he ended up with the world’s finest bloody mary at 9am. At 9:01am, he learned that he doesn’t actually like bloody marys. I, too, am not a fan of the bloody mary,  though I briefly considered the “healthy mary” (green tomato, lime, honey and ginger, served chilled with sparkling water) or the “happy mary” (the healthy mary, but with added gin, hence the happiness). If you really want to get your motor revving bright and early, you can also elect to purchase a hollowed out tomato filled with schnapps. It was a little early for me to be hitting the sauce, particularly at the start of an all-day tour, so I passed. However, I remain intrigued by their dessert menu, which includes a green tomato and apple pie, tomato ice cream, and cheesecake with a green tomato cinnamon jam–so much so that I’m considering importing some of their products to try at my leisure.

bloody mary

Our next stop was Geysir, the periodically spouting hot spring from which the English word “geyser” also spouted. One of our fellow bus riders was so anxious to witness the phenomenon than he stood up and began grabbing his bags before the bus came to a stop, which prompted our tour guide to scold him with “You must listen to me or you will fall down and hurt yourself very badly!” to which Jason followed up with a whisper in my ear “and then I’ll get a little smile on my face!” which caused me to erupt in raucous laughter, like a different (more obnoxious) sort of geyser.

After we deboarded, we carefully made our way to the hot springs, as the constant water droplets cause the pathways to turn into sheets of ice. Nearby trees were crusted with ice solely on their geyser-facing side. The surrounding landscape was almost otherworldly, with smoking holes bubbling gases into the air, and every few minutes, the heavy sigh of Strokkur pluming boiling water into the sky. Geysir itself erupts infrequently.

In case the wonder of nature wears off, thankfully, there’s an adjacent gift shop with some really upscale items, like fur hats that I couldn’t stop petting until I worked out the price conversion and gagged a little…and then petted them some more because there was no way they were coming home with me. There were also some items that looked suspiciously like walrus pajamas, from the Danny Devito line for well-dressed walruses.

geysir hot springs

alien landscape

punching the sky

coated tree

walrus suits

After we’d had enough of water shooting up, it was time to watch water go down at Gullfoss. Gullfoss (or “golden falls”) is so named because of the way the waterfall lights up golden when the light strikes it just so, and has nothing at all to do with another phrase you may have heard, golden showers. I didn’t personally see the water glitter golden (it could have been the wrong time of day, too many clouds, or some other factor), but it is a gorgeous falls nonetheless. The popular legend about Gullfoss is that foreign interests wanted to turn it into a hydroelectric plant in the early 1900s, but that the daughter of the farmer who had leased the land, Sigriður Tómasdóttir, was so opposed that she fought a legal battle to prevent this from happening, walking to Reykjavik barefoot more than once, bleeding due to the rocky terrain, and she even threatened to throw herself into the falls themselves should she not prevail in court. Some sources say this story is true, others claim it’s false,  and since I’m not a research librarian and from all available evidence, you mostly read this blog out of pity for me and for jokes about butts, not accurate historical information, all I’ll say is thank you for your pity, and butts butts butts.

jason gullfoss

gullfoss 1

dont walk

gullfoss

gullfoss water

gullfoss pano

gullfoss iceland

 gullfoss flare

Next to Gullfoss is another gift shop, in case you found yourself with a desperate need of a keychain between your last stop and this one. I took a quick pass through (because you know me, I like stuff) and it was basically the same stuff I’d seen everywhere else on the trip. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, per se, I guess I just would have expected a little more variation from place to place–things that spoke more specifically to the exact place at which one is standing (“Sigriður Tómasdóttir threw herself into Gullfoss and all I got was this lousy t-shirt”, etc) but that just might be my American consumerism talking.

After reboarding the bus, the tour guide told us that we were coming up to her favorite part of the tour–the part where she stops talking for an hour, so if we’d like to nap and not miss anything, now would be the time. It seems all I needed was for someone to reassure me that I wouldn’t miss anything, as I fell asleep in seconds, drool running down my chin in a poor imitation of the waterfall. By the time the tour guide started talking again, I was feeling a bit more refreshed and a bit less like a member of the walking dead, saliva nonwithstanding. We had arrived at Þingvellir national park, the place where the north american and eurasian tectonic plates meet. You can actually see the continental drift between the plates, and walk along the Almannagjá fault, which is what we did. Other tours are available to go snorkeling between the plates in the Silfra fissure in the Þingvallavatn lake, which supposedly has some of the most crystal clear water in the world. I’m not the world’s most avid snorkeler, so that’s not a claim that I can personally verify, electing to spend my time doing something other than panicking quietly in a drysuit.

boulder cliff edges

cliff

walking path

rocky cliffs  pathway    j bundled             t walkway

church    

running water

pano

As we were leaving the park, the weather turned nasty. The skies grew dark, rain lashed at the side of the bus, and someone driving behind the bus felt the driver was taking things a bit too cautiously, laying on the horn the entire time he passed us. We saw him a few miles up the road being dug out of a snowdrift.

…It put a little smile on my face.

Save

Hunting for the Aurora Borealis in Iceland

One of the things in Iceland I was most hopeful I’d see was the northern lights. The flight and hotel package included a northern lights tour courtesy Reykjavik Excusions, which was smartly booked for the evening of my arrival–I say smartly because if you are unlucky in your evening’s attempt, the tour company will take you out again and again at no additional charge until you’re successful or you run out of time. Even so, I tried my best not to have my hopes too high: there’s no guarantee that the weather and the lights will cooperate, and if I made it the focus of my trip, the big bucket list experience I was dying to have, I knew I was setting myself up for disappointment…and who the heck wants to have a big trip framed by disappointment? Thus, I kept in mind that having the best time in Iceland that I could was the focus, and the lights, if I saw them, would be a nice bonus.

Before my tour, I had a little time to check in to my hotel and get settled, post horseback ride. Given that I was so exhausted from the flight, I elected to use a little of that time to try and take a nap, saving a couple of hours before the tour bus picked me up to go eat dinner. This short time window was when I learned something important about Reykjavik: if you don’t have dinner reservations, you aren’t getting in anywhere, even mid-week. I tried no fewer than four restaurants and was turned away from them all. My hunger grew larger as my time grew shorter, and ultimately, I had to buy dinner from the Icelandic equivalent of 7/11, 10-11. My healthy purchases included a sandwich called a “pepperoni taco”, a bag of mini cinnamon rolls, bacon maple syrup popcorn, and a couple of kinds of candy I’d never seen before, including one called “Dracula Blood”, which was easily one of the worst things I’ve ever eaten (and just let me remind you that I’ve eaten salsa stuffed with mealworms and a centipede flavored jellybean). Dracula Blood tastes of salty pennies and licorice, and just when I’d gotten past the salty penny coating to the more pleasing licorice part, I discovered it was filled with salty penny gunk as well. One pastille was more than enough, regardless of the recommended serving size.

dinner

With dinner down the hatch, I made my way to the lobby to wait for the bus. So far, Iceland hadn’t been as cold as I’d been anticipating, so I elected not to wear my outermost snow pants. They were a little snug in the gut region (it couldn’t be all that candy for dinner, could it?)  and I’d already managed to break the zipper once, because I’d bought the cheapest possible pair online. Why spend the evening worrying about whether or not my long undies were showing through my fly when I could be in relative comfort without them? This was a decision I almost immediately regretted when I stepped off the bus into a snowdrift that went up to my knees, soaking my pants.

The cold was unbelievable. I have no doubt that I’ve been spoiled (weakened) by mild Washington and California winters; I’m no longer the same Wisconsin kid who could wait for the bus in sub zero temperatures wearing only a hoodie, the kid who looked cool* but didn’t feel cold. Lately, I shiver when the temperature in the house is a balmy sixty-five, and my poor husband has to tolerate the icebergs, formally known as human feet, that I plant on him under the sheets every night. I have never implied that being married to me is a treat, so if you ever found yourself thinking “Oh wow, Mellzah is so cool and wonderful and beautiful, I only wish she had a clone that I could make my bride,” you should know that you’d be signing up for a lifetime of tantrums and torture.

I’d brought along a few packets of hand and foot warmers, which barely made a dent in the bone-chilling cold. At first, I stuffed my hands in my pockets, but eventually, I pulled my arms out of my jacket sleeves and kept them pressed against my torso in the hopes that they would not need to be chopped off later due to frostbite. My feet, tucked inside waterproof boots and thick socks, went numb almost immediately. The icy wind bit at my cheeks as I stared futilely at the sky. I didn’t know what I hoped for more–the aurora borealis in the sky or the warmth you’re supposed to feel when you’re close to freezing to death. After thirty minutes or possibly much less (time has a way of stretching when one is in misery), I’d had enough and trudged back to my bus to await the trip back to the hotel.

The tour group, however, was not ready to call it quits, possibly because they’d reached bus capacity. The bus that picked up tourists from our hotel and several others met up with something like twelve other buses before we headed out, and if we went back before seeing the northern lights, that’s twelve busloads of people who would potentially be back the next night demanding a free second outing…in addition to any new bookings. With the limits of their bus fleet in mind, we trekked on to a different spot while I tried to rub feeling back into my toes. It was there that we got lucky. Our tour bus driver said that the aurora we saw that night was the best we could hope to see under the circumstances–those circumstances being that we were only four days away from a full moon, and the sky being so brightened by the reflected light not making for ideal viewing conditions, which, come to think of it, is probably why the week I booked the trip was significantly less expensive than one a week earlier or two weeks later.

I made my way off the bus, up an ice-slicked hill, looked up at the sky, and saw what I can only describe as a dirty gray smear that may or may not have been moving, and if someone hadn’t told me it was the aurora, I would have assumed it was an unremarkable cloud. It was certainly not the spectacle of dancing green lights I had come to expect from years of looking at photographs of the aurora, and even with my “anything you see is a bonus” mindset, I couldn’t help but feel a little disappointment.

aurora

Cameras, however, can capture things that would otherwise be invisible to the human eye, and sometimes, post processing reveals things one didn’t notice at the time.

 

better aurora

 

…ah, that’s better.

 

*I was never cool.

Save

The Viking Horses of Iceland

viking horses frosted glass

My flight to Iceland departed on a Thursday afternoon and arrived bright and early on a Friday morning. In order to prepare for the time change and make the most of my time there, I thought it was best if I went to bed late on Wednesday, woke up very early on Thursday (3:30am early) and had no caffeine all day so I’d be good and ready to sleep on the flight. I dragged ass allllll day. Then the flight was delayed for three hours due to mechanical problems, so I had to put off sleeptime even further, looking longingly at the airport Dilettante cafe and all of the happy, perky people sipping their delicious mochas. By the time I boarded the plane, I was good and ready to sleep…only to discover that my seat was in the last row before the toilets and thus didn’t have the option to recline even a fraction of an inch. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! The seats in front of me, of course, reclined just fine. Maybe farther than normal, even, because I felt like the man in front of me was practically sitting in my lap. I’m not generally one to feel claustrophobic on planes, but the seat situation coupled with my extreme tiredness was a bridge too far.  Have you ever been so tired that you didn’t know whether to cry or go limp and boneless in despair? That was me, except I was too dehydrated to cry and strapped into a seat with two inches of breathing room in front of my face, there wasn’t enough room for my bonelessness to achieve its full dramatic effect. The flight was just over seven hours and of that, I got maybe two hours of terrible, terrible sleep.

But somehow, that two hours was enough for me to rally once I landed in Iceland. After getting through customs and taking the bus from the airport to my hotel in Reykjavík, Jason and I had only a couple of hours to spend before it was time for the horseback riding excursion I’d booked, and since we couldn’t check into our room yet, instead it was just enough time to fuel up with a sandwich and black coffee at Sandholt beforehand. Our ride leader, Viggó, who looked every inch the tall blonde Nordic gentleman you’d expect from hearing that name, picked us up promptly from our hotel at the previously agreed-upon time and drove us to the Viking Horses stables, where I got to meet my very first Icelandic horses.

Icelandic horses are unique; the breed has spent 1,000 years in isolation after originally being brought to Iceland by Norse settlers. In fact, they are the only breed of horse found on Iceland. No horses are allowed to be imported to the island (no livestock at all, actually), and horses that have been exported cannot return; this is to protect the breed as any new disease has the potential to be absolutely devastating. As a result of their breed isolation, Icelandic horses are much shorter than your average horse, more akin to the size of a pony, but with the strength and stamina of a horse. They’ve got full manes and tails and a double coat to protect them against the weather, and in winter, this means that they are so shaggy and adorable that they can make a full grown woman in her thirties squeal with delight at first sight (I’m talking about me, of course). Their personalities are the best, too–not easily spooked (no predators in Iceland), willing to work, and so flipping sweet they could make a diabetic keel over while they inquisitively nuzzle and nose into their way into his coat pockets. This is a horse that moves into a hug instead of backing away and going “whoa there, human, let’s  maintain that personal space bubble, shall we?”. What I’m saying is, I love them. I love love love love them. 

curious

shaggy chops

At the stables, after I managed to tear myself away from the horses, we met the two other people riding on the afternoon tour–some lovely British girls on holiday. We chatted a bit and then it was time to suit up and ride. If you don’t have all the proper clothing, Viking Horses has a great stock of loaner clothing–my fleece lined water resistant pants were stuffed into my suitcase, so I grabbed a pair of their loaners to go over my jeans so I wouldn’t get cold and horsey. When we went back outside, we introduced ourselves to the horses we were going to ride in the pen by grooming them a bit, and then it was time to mount up and head out. This ride marked a couple of firsts for me: the first time I’ve ever ridden in an English saddle, and the first time I was able to get up on a horse without standing on a box (especially impressive because with two pairs of pants on, my leg mobility was more than a little diminished). All of the horses in the group were named after Icelandic features, except for mine, Neo, who was named after The Matrix. I can be trusted to pick out the trenchcoat wearing goth in any given group. Small (even by Icelandic standards), dark, and oh-so-shaggy, I wanted to minify him even further, put him in my pocket, and steal him away.

hekla

Our tour was the afternoon Mjölnir tour, which is a one and a half hour ride through Hólmsheiði hill and around the Rauðhólar pseudocraters–the deep red iron-rich rocks in the lava fields outside of Reykjavík. It seemed to be a popular riding area, as we saw several single riders and one very large group. One of the single riders joined us briefly, riding one of the most strikingly beautiful black horses I’ve ever seen, and without thinking, I complimented him on his horse in English. He agreed with me in Icelandic, and as ridiculous as this sounds, it kind of made my day that he understood me and I understood him. Not that I would have known how to compliment him in Icelandic, anyway, because I am awful and learned about five words before I went and was reticent to use them in case I screwed up and insulted someone when I meant to thank them. It’s actually deeply embarrassing how well nearly everyone I encountered in Iceland speaks English, when I know that given my five years of Spanish classes, I could barely direct a Spanish-speaking tourist in Seattle to the baño if need be, much less educate them about the geographical history of the area.

 

riding icelandic horses

red rocks iceland

ride scenery

It was a gorgeously crisp day outside, and the snow crunched delightfully underfoot. On a clear day, you can can see a semicircle of mountains surrounding the area as well as Reykjavík city. It was a bit cloudy during my ride, so no mountains, but it was scenic nonetheless. I was able to pop out my phone on the ride for a few quick shots, but I was primarily concerned with keeping my seat, unlike Viggó who was able to whip around in his saddle and snap photos of the group. While it’s true that Icelandic horses are more comfortable and less bouncy to ride, a bit like a moving couch, when riding English style not only do you have no saddle horn to grab onto if things get hairy, you also have one fewer hand with which to grab since they’re both on the reins. And things indeed got a little hairy–one of the Brits and I were dawdling toward the back of the group, and I decided to try and catch up, which meant passing the other horse, Hekla, named after an Icelandic volcano, also known as “the gateway to hell”. Hekla decided this meant we were racing, and both horses broke out into a gallop and I lost a stirrup, at which point I fully resigned myself to the idea that I was going to go flying off Neo’s back. Somehow, that did not happen and I regained control just before I would have crashed into the rest of the horses, but the shame of doing pretty much everything wrong in those few seconds lingered with me, because shame never really leaves me, it just hangs out in the background waiting for a quiet moment to resurface. Maybe as late as 20 years later. Maybe longer.

neo

om nom nom

aww sweet face

grooming

they see me rollin they hatin

i whip my hair back and forth

sweet face

horse pats

After we got back to the stable, the horses were unsaddled and they promptly began to roll in the snow, groom one another, and shamelessly beg for human affection. After we’d had enough pats and hugs, we were invited inside for an Icelandic snack–thick skyr loaded with plump blueberries and fresh cream, Icelandic flatbread and cheese, hot coffee, tea, and a slice of dense chocolate cake. We all chatted a bit more and I did my best to not bring shame to America by inhaling everything on the table and making loud, obnoxious jokes…I made softer obnoxious jokes instead. The Brits were on the tail end of their holiday while we were still at the very start of ours, and they told us the trouble they’d had with their rental car; namely that they were unused to driving in snow and went offroad almost immediately, with nothing to dig themselves out. One mentioned her utter loathing of tea and her inability to make a decent cup of it, which surprised me because I thought that was the sort of attitude that got you personally booted out by the Queen while she splashes boiling water in your face and makes a suggestion not to let the door hit you in the arse on your way out, but I guess I was wrong. So far they’d struck out catching a glimpse of the northern lights, and were giving it one last go that night. I wished them luck (a bit selfish as I was also going aurora hunting that night so clear skies benefited me as well) and we went our separate ways, them driving off and Svava, the Viking Horses manager, giving us a lift back to our hotel, but not before recommending several different heated pools we could frequent on our trip.

viking horses base of operations

light lunch

viking horses instagramEvidently this is my horseback riding shirt.

piano skull

greatest picture frame

a little light readingA bit of light reading.

I researched a lot of different horseback riding companies in Iceland before settling on Viking Horses for a few different reasons–I liked their Sleipnir logo which indicated to me that they embraced their cultural history, their commitment to small group riding (immeasurably better than huge nose-to-tail groups), from stalking a number of website photos their horses appeared to be the cutest (an important consideration), and far be it for me to say no to free lunch. I was ultimately thrilled with my decision to book with them. They responded to my messages quickly, they were so warm and inviting, and it was the perfect start to my time in Iceland. Takk!

Save

Goofing Off On the Lewis & Clark Trail

commemoration stone

curious flat fish

quote rock

whale skeleton long beach

whale skeleton

whale wood sculpture

whale barnacles

sturgeon statue

forward

lewis and clark sturgeon

sturgeon rider

sturgeon riding

oh hello there

In Long Beach, nestled between the beach on one side and the shop on the other is the Lewis & Clark Discovery Trail, loaded with statues and other items (including a gray whale skeleton!) commemorating their first contact with the Pacific Ocean. The trail connects nearby Ilwaco (home of the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center) and Long Beach, a place in which I’ve engaged in many shenanigans but somehow had never seen this before, maybe because it didn’t involve riding down flights of stairs on an air mattress or shooting unsuspecting friends with a marshmallow gun. The trail itself is 8.5 miles long, but owing to having just hiked a bunch at Cape Disappointment, I wasn’t ready to dedicate myself to the entire thing. I’m thinking this summer, I’ll strap my bike to the back of the car and bike it. For now, just goofing around on a sturgeon will have to suffice.

Save

It’s OK I guess: A trip to Cape Disappointment

cape disappointment

fogI thought it was pretty funny that they printed a sign for fog.

dense fogBut by gum, they were right, that fog was front and center. Evidently, it’s one of the foggiest places in the United States. Take that, San Francisco, and eat it with your regional treat!

dragonfly

lewis and clark interpretive center

use a dogs nose

dead mans cove

 

jason at dead mans cove

lighthouse at cape disappointment

lighthouse

jason lighthouse

mossy building

jason mossy building

lewis and clark cliff

poop rockPossibly the poopiest rock of all time.

As with a number of things on my 33 list, I didn’t have a big pressing reason to add visiting Cape Disappointment to its number. I’d never been, it sounded scenic, it was within a reasonable driving distance, hey, let’s go. It’s actually not a disappointment at all, between the superb Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center and the miles of hiking trails in Cape Disappointment State Park. We hiked from the interpretive center to the lighthouse which took us past the picturesque Dead Man’s Cove (man, everything here has such a cheery name, I can’t wait to visit Butt Rot Park and Misery Peak, maybe Mediocre Cliffs if there’s time). The lighthouse is a working lighthouse as the nearby Columbia River bar is extremely hazardous, so a sign sternly informed us to leave the coast guard the fuck alone and get the hell out of the way of any cars driving up and down the path.

I thought it was funny that in the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center, there was a “lighthouse passport” with insane levels of achievement for collecting lighthouse stamps (seriously, I could spend the rest of my life’s vacations solely visiting lighthouses and I don’t think it would be possible to collect 420 unique lighthouse stamps…shit, I’m struggling with 33 activities in a year!)  and then when we got to the lighthouse, there was no actual stamper on site and I didn’t want to distract the coast guard for something as frivolous as a stamp for a book that I didn’t even buy. It turns out that a lot of the stamps for visiting the lighthouses are at locations other than the lighthouse, which means that you have to visit two places for every one stamp, and that half the achievement is just figuring out where in the hell you’re supposed to go for your stamp. What I’m saying is, filling a lighthouse passport will not be on my 34 list.

Save

A stroll through Audubon Park

 

audubon bridge

american white ibis

audubon park

ducks

gnarled trees

audubon park sunset

 

It’s an easy ride on the green streetcar from canal street to Audubon park, across the street from Loyola and Tulane Universities. Our group started off in the late afternoon in search of the labyrinth and arrived at the park just as the sun was beginning to set, giving us gorgeous light to walk the 1.8 mile paved path around the park. Not many other people were out walking during that hour, which gave me leave to imagine that the park and its riot of birdsong was for us alone. We never found the labyrinth; it would have been too dark to navigate even if we had, but none of us minded. Around us we could see the warm flickering glow of the gas lamps outside of the garden district mansions and the brighter twinking of the christmas lights bedecking the same. It’s funny that I have so little to say about what was actually one of my favorite places in the city. I suppose sometimes words just aren’t necessary.

 

Save