Freaky Windfarms

I have a completely unnatural fear of windmills.   Not the cute little dutch-style wooden ones that people put in their garden but the huge wind turbines that all of those tree-hugger types tout will save the planet with their renewable energy greatness.

They are very creepy to me.

Now, first things first, I love the concept of green energy and I’m all about saving some planet Earth.   This post is not about that kind of stuff.    This post is about being completely freaked out by a stupid wind farm.   There are a ton (actual measurement: shit ton) of wind farms and the like in California.   Every time we go somewhere, I am confronted with a hillside or valley of these darn things.   And, to make it worse, there is a colossal behemoth wind turbine thing in Fairfield, California, near the Anheuser-Busch Factory.   Can’t go anywhere without going past that.   Ugh.

This gallery of photos is the Spring Valley Wind Farm just outside of Ely, Nevada.    Logistically, it is probably a great place to catch the wind necessary to generate lots of power.  And, there are very few human residents that will complain about how much landscape these big propellers take.   However, it totally peeves me to see some pristine desert get hogged up for a wind farm to power all of our electronic doodads.   It’s kind of ridiculous really.

There are 75 wind turbines in this project and it was built in 2012.   The last time I drove through here was 2005.   I guess that’s progress but I liked it better without them.   I did pretty much drive right up to them to take a picture and I’ll call that a win for conquering my weird phobia.   But, I still don’t like them.

Anywhooo … I’m working on getting over my weird freak out over these things.   It’s not totally a fear.   I just can’t stop staring at them and they totally give me the oogies.

What are you afraid of?

Vacation Days

It doesn’t matter what time of year it is but vacation days are better than regular days.   You know, those ‘going to work days’ or even just the ones where you stay home on the weekend aren’t the same as official vacation ones.    I have a ton of new photos to share but thought I would give you a quick peek into some recent vacation days.    We made the drive across all of Northern Nevada to Great Basin National Park which borders on Utah.   You can expect to see more in the upcoming days … enjoy.

Lake Tahoe by Kayak, Part Three

We’re almost half way around the lake!    In case you are just tuning in to my kayak adventures, here’s PART ONE and PART TWO so you can get your paddle up to speed.

This weekend we added another segment to the circumnavigate Tahoe journey:   Rubicon Bay to Sunnyside on the west shore of the lake.   The goal was originally to make it another two miles to Tahoe City where we left off last paddle but the winds and boat traffic picked up and just made it miserable.   So, we took the opportunity to meet some friends on the beach and call it a day.   We added 10 water miles to our total, putting us at roughly 30-ish of the total 72 miles around the lake.   And, yes, my arms are sore!

My kayaking buddy has several boat options so this week’s paddle was done in a double-seater.   We were a little worried about our mileage and thought we could make better time in the double.   Last time, we averaged about 2 miles per hour and this week we brought it up to 3 miles per hour.   Pretty good, eh?

5 tyak feet

And, in case you were wondering, Lake Tahoe is notorious for its cold water.   I think the average summer temperature of the water is usually high 50s, maybe 60 degrees.   Brrrrr.    This is a common beach sign:

1 a tyak extremely cold water

 

So, take notes, water peeps.   It’s chilly out there!   We’ve gotten lucky and had decent weather but, even on the good days, let’s not pretend this is the warm Caribbean or anything.   I can’t imagine what 80 degree water actually feels like.   Weird.

What’s your favorite water spot?   Is warm or cold?   I’d love to get some water time on Tahoe this winter because I love the snow but I’m not sure that I have enough gear to protect myself from the icy water.   And, some of the portage points are not available in the winter.    I might have to reconsider that idea.

Stay tuned … more adventures and photos will be posted soon!

Lake Tahoe by Kayak, Part Two

Today’s journey via kayak starts in Tahoe City, CA, and paddles to Kings Beach, where we left off in the last post.

I’m not worried about paddling in order clockwise or anything like that in order to achieve the full circumnavigate goal.   I’m fortunate to live close enough to just drive up to the lake when I have free time to do another section.    I have seen several websites dedicated to a full camping adventure via kayak around the lake.   And, I have noticed that several attempts failed for one reason or another because of the length, weather and access.   I’m hoping that I get to all of my sections before the summer is over and I would have to contend with snow.   Wish me luck!

I really like the Lake Tahoe Water Trail website that I mentioned in the first post.   There is a lot of useful information and great maps.   Here’s the full view of Lake Tahoe:

Lake Tahoe map

On the website, the map highlights sections for suggested routes but I am finding that the logistics for what I am trying to accomplish doesn’t work to use their day trips.    I do like the information that is available about parking and boat ramps.   Good stuff.   And, I also think it’s funny that Lake Tahoe looks like a foot with weird shaped toes.

This is the view from Tahoe City's Commons Beach where we started.   Nice morning.
This is the view from Tahoe City’s Commons Beach where we started. Nice morning.
All the public beaches are hopping with vendors renting kayaks and paddle boards.
All the public beaches are hopping with vendors renting kayaks and paddle boards.
I loved this tug boat looking 'yacht.'
I loved this tugboat-looking ‘yacht.’
Looks like a good place to have lunch, right?
Looks like a good place to have lunch, right?
My lunchtime view
My lunchtime view
My lunch buddy--this is as close as she will let me photograph her.   She's shy.
My lunch buddy–this is as close as she will let me photograph her.
As always, the water is mesmerizingly beautiful.
As always, the water is mesmerizingly beautiful.

After lunch, the wind picked up and the paddling was pretty choppy.   Carnelian Bay is a great place to visit on Tahoe so everyone was there, in a boat, kayak or on a paddle board.   It was crowded in the water.    I have a horrible video that I am opting to not post but it makes you seasick to watch it and there are boats buzzing by everywhere.   That tells you how the rest of the afternoon went for this trip.    I had a headache when we brought our kayaks into the truck and my paddle buddy felt worse that I did.   We accomplished 9.2 miles of  headwind kayaking and we looked like it.

See that guy?   He's wearing a fedora in a kayak.   Douchebag.
See that guy? He’s wearing a fedora in a kayak. Douchebag.
Hot Diggity Dog!   That kinda looks like fun.
Hot Diggity Dog! That kinda looks like fun.

And, last but not least, I found a dead balloon floating in the water.    I thought it was the right thing to do by scooping it up and throwing it in the trash.    And, it reminded me of a blog post from someone else who does the same … if you get a chance, go check out windagainstcurrent.com.   These kayakers know their stuff and seem to catch a lot of balloons along the way.

red balloon

Point Pinos Lighthouse, California

pp lighthouse

The Point Pinos LIghthouse in Pacific Grove, California, is about five minutes (depending on traffic) away from the Monterey Bay Aquarium.   If you are planning a visit, this is a great side trip and is much less crowded than Cannery Row or any of the downtown area.

I became a lighthouse nerd a few years ago when my family took a camping trip up the Oregon coast and we stopped at all of the lighthouse along the way.   I have a little lighthouse “passport” and the volunteers or tour docents that work the lighthouse have stamps and stickers for the book when you present it to them.   It’s a fun thing and we always buy a book or magnet from the gift shop.   Lighthouse restoration and preservation seems like a pretty decent cause to donate a little cash to, right?

Point Pinos is the oldest continuously operating lighthouse on the west coast of the United States.   It has been flashing a Fresnel lens nightly since February 1, 1855.

pp light

There is even a golf course just outside the lighthouse with fantastic ocean views.   Oh, and the deer don’t seem to mind if you play through, either.   Wow.   Deer.   Right in the middle of a town.  (If you knew how crowded this part of California actually is, you would share my awe.)

pp light golfers

pp light deer

We weren’t there during the right time of year but, apparently, Pacific Grove is also known as Butterfly Town for the Monarch butterflies that migrate through during the winter.   Have you ever been there to see the butterflies?   I’m certain it’s nothing short of spectacular.

The Octopus, Monterey Bay Aquarium

aq octo ringo

 

I am a Beatles fan so I had this song stuck in my head for the rest of the day when I saw the quote on the wall of the Monterey Bay Aquarium.    And, to be real honest, I’m singing it in my head right now as I type.   (Come on, sing-a-long with me … )

Every time I have ever been to any kind of aquarium exhibit, the octopus is usually hiding in the darkest corner of the tank basically begging for everyone to go away–far, far away!    Not on this day, though.   This is the most photogenic octopus I have ever met.   It was front and center on the tank begging for photos and posing like a pin-up model.   So impressive!

aq octo a

aq octo1

I’m wondering what the tentacles feel like.   Have any of you ever actually touched an octopus?   Do they bite?   Or are they stranglers like a boa constrictor?   Eeew.   I’m freaking myself out now.   Yikes!

 

Seahorses, Monterey Bay Aquarium

Allrighty … here’s another post from the Monterey Bay Aquarium.   I know I have bragged about how great the visit was, how awesome the jellyfish were, and how beautiful The Kelp Forest is … but, seahorses are the BEST!   I had forgotten there were so many kinds.   And, BONUS, did you know seahorse Dads are the childbearers of the species?   Yup.   The Daddies are the Mommies.   Go figure.

OK.   That’s all the science stuff that I remember from the exhibit.   On to photos …

The Kelp Forest, Monterey Bay Aquarium

I have to admit that I didn’t think The Kelp Forest was going to be that big of a deal.   I mean, I really thought it was going to be a fish tank with some seaweed.   Honest.   Wow — I was wrong.  This is way cooler than just some seaweed.   Way cooler!

aq kelp jd mom

The tank is three stories tall and open to top of the building so natural sunlight shines in through the water.   It is amazing.   I could have stood there all day watching leopard sharks circle the kelp.   All.day.long.

I never imagined that kelp would be this beautiful.
I never imagined that kelp would be this beautiful.
Peek-a-boo, Fishy!
Peek-a-boo, Fishy!
Scuba Steve answers questions from INSIDE the tank.
Scuba Steve answers questions from INSIDE the tank.
aq kelp forest
Just a section of the huge kelp forest tank.

This is a must-see and makes the $35 per person admission to the aquarium worth it.   To watch some video of the sharks in the kelp forest, check out my YouTube channel, HERE.   I don’t have the video upgrade on this blog so … you gotta click through to get there …

Have you ever been to The Kelp Forest at the Monterey Bay Aquarium?   What did you think?

Is there another exhibit at a different aquarium that compares to this?   Please tell me about it.   I think I might be adding aquarium visits to my travel wish list for the future.

The Jellies Experience, Monterey Bay Aquarium

The Monterey Bay Aquarium is one of those magical places that must visited at least once in your lifetime.   If you are lucky enough to live close, it is mandatory that you visit regularly to see how the exhibits change and go to special events.  The aquarium sits right on the bay and there are tons of natural wildlife to see all along the coast including seals, sea otters and whales.   And, in case you are feeling left out because you are too far away, those crazy scientists in Monterey have lots of live webcams for you to check out the sea creatures from home, right HERE.

Today, however, I am going to take you with me on part of my family’s adventure through the aquarium.    It was a wild Saturday during peak hours in the middle of summer.   So, that means my four year old ran out of patience pretty quickly and every square inch of the place was crawling with tourists (just like us) trying to get the perfect picture for their scrapbooks.   I would have loved to stayed in the aquarium all day to learn more about all of the different species and the interesting trivia that wins on Jeopardy but that just wasn’t possible.  Here’s the highlights and our trippy adventure with the jellyfish.

“The Jellies Experience” is the jellyfish exhibit and has been set up with a 60s theme; groovy music, strobe lights, and a psychedelic feel that’s totally mellow, ya.   Right on!

So, enjoy the fake names that I have given all of the jellyfish in the photos because I wasn’t paying attention to all of the signs and see what I think they should be called.

Do you have an aquarium near you?   What do you name the jellyfish?

Up next:   The Kelp Forest …

Beach Days

My family and I visited Monterey Bay in California last weekend.   It was just a short visit but we made sure to get some beach time in while we were there.   The sun cooperated on the first day but the foggy, marine layer stuck around too long on the second day for us to get much warm weather.   It didn’t matter to us, though.   The icy, cold water of the Pacific was still tolerable enough to wash our souls a little bit.   It’s always nice to get away from the norm for a bit and recharge.  What do you do to recharge?

water view

watching the waves   beach1 b

beach2 wide view

Plus, those cold weather days are good for seashell hunting!   Check out our beach loot:

beach loot

Stay tuned for more Monterey photos … of course, we visited the aquarium.   And, there’s a cool lighthouse out on the point, too!