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Archive for the ‘Geology’ Category

june 2009 vacation 121

Originally uploaded by Kiki Karia.

We stopped at the store to pick up a few items and then headed northwest on Hwy 395 towards a canyon that Mike wanted to explore. I later found out it was called Pine Creek Canyon. We took the Pine Creek Road exit. It was about 5:30 PM by now. We saw a sign that said the road we were on would end in six miles. Shortly after, we passed the small town of Rovana. Rovana is a community located in Inyo County. The elevation is 5,141 feet. Continuing further, we were headed into a narrow canyon up in the mountains. Below we could see the volcanic tablelands as we rose higher and went deeper into this towering mountain canyon. The snow-capped mountains further in the canyon loomed high and formidable above us. As we were taking in this fantastic scenery, Mike stopped the car and hurried outside. “What is he doing”? I wondered. In my side view mirror, I saw Mike looking at the rear tire on the passenger side of our SUV. He did not have a happy look on his face. I stepped out of the car and to my dismay; I saw that the rear tire was completely flat! We knew we had a spare tire under the vehicle. But Mike had never changed a flat tire on an SUV before. We had only owned our Sequoia two years. By now, it was almost 6:00 PM. I checked my cell phone thinking I could call AAA. To my dismay, we had absolutely no coverage up here. The winds were picking up in this narrow mountain canyon. The skies were darkening, and it would not be long before the sun would be setting behind the mountains. I felt panic rise up in my spirit. What would we do if we could not get down this mountain before dark? Would we have to spend the night here? There was not a single soul around who could help us. I felt like breaking down and crying and giving in to my fear. Instead, I began to pray to God and ask Him to help us. Mike found the auto manual in our glove compartment and began to read it. He placed heavy rocks under each wheel so our SUV would not roll over him. We had our bikes on the rack behind our vehicle. In order for him to get to the spare tire, he had to remove the bikes and the rack from our hitch. Next, He crawled under and began to move the spare tire down from its place. It was held in place by a winch. He had no real problems getting the spare tire out from under the vehicle. There was a hydraulic jack that came with our car, and after a couple of tries, he was able to raise the SUV enough to remove the spare. It was not easy work. I felt pretty helpless just standing there watching him and offering any help I could provide. We were in a race against time and the elements. After removing the flat tire, we saw a big screw inside. Thank God we did not have a blow out when we were on Hwy 395 driving 70 MPH. The spare tire was full of air. Thank God for small miracles! The tire was quite heavy, but Mike was able to hoist it in place and screw the bolts back in. It took about 40 minutes for him to complete the tire change and put the rack and bikes back in place. Before we left, Mike took three of the big rocks he had placed under our vehicle and piled them on top of each other as a memorial. The fourth rock we kept as a reminder of God’s provision. We then held hands and thanked the good Lord for helping us. Whew! This was our near peril miss, and we are grateful to God for His hand of protection and His help!

We made it back to our hotel about 7:00 PM. Mike called AAA and was told that they do not repair tires. We knew we were going to be leaving tomorrow and driving up to Yosemite, so we started looking in the local Yellow Pages for a tire repair location nearby. Most businesses by this time were closed. However, Mike called one place and was given the phone number of a man named Bill who had just left for the day. Bill agreed to meet us at his place of business and repair our damaged tire. He and his wife were there when we arrived. They were so kind and gracious to not only repair our tire, but to take the spare off and put the repaired tire back on our vehicle. And they only charged us $40. Bill and his wife Patty are around the same age as we are. They are recent empty-nesters like us. Patty is originally from the Midwest as we are. We had a lot in common. Sometimes I believe God sends people our way in times of urgent need to help us out. This was one of those times. If you are ever in the town of Bishop and need your car towed or a flat tire repaired, look up Bill’s Towing Service in the Yellow Pages.

We had not yet had dinner. It was about 8:15. We stopped at a KFC across from our hotel, and brought the food back to our room. It felt so good to know we would be sleeping in a warm hotel room and not on a mountain in our car. We fell asleep with grateful hearts.

Into the Foreboding Canyon

Into the Foreboding Canyon

fixing flat

Memorial

Memorial

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Minaret Summit View

Originally uploaded by Kiki Karia.

ANNIVERSARY ROAD TRIP DAY 3

Today we were up and on the road by 9:00 AM. We were headed to our next destination – the town of Bishop. The skies were a milky white with darker clouds gathering on the horizon. The temperature was in the low 40’s. Hard to believe it’s June. Since these trips are also meant as a time for exploration and adventure, we decided to turn off and visit Virginia Lake, not too far from Twin Lakes. This lake was rather small, compared to Twin Lakes, but it had a similar beauty. It was surrounded by high, snow-capped peaks, and there were many fisherman lined up along its shores. They were having great success in their endeavors as the lake was well stocked with fish. Mike and I crossed a rickety wood foot bridge and made our way to the shore’s edge to take some photos. Since it was overcast, we did not spend a lot of time here. We checked out the resort lodge, and I spoke with a young man named Christian who worked in the store there. He informed me that the lake we had just seen outside was actually little Virginia Lake. There was a big Virginia Lake further up the road. He pulled out a map and began to show me that there were many lakes which made up the Virginia Lakes. They also had a hike that would take you from there to Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite National Park. I’m sure that would be a rather arduous and strenuous hike. I prefer to drive there.
We continued on our drive and stopped about 15 minutes later at Mono Lake in Lee Vining, CA. We have been to Mono Lake many times, but we still enjoy visiting. Mono Lake is a majestic body of water covering about 65 square miles. It is an ancient lake, — one of the oldest lakes in North America. It has no outlet. Throughout its long existence, salts and minerals have washed into the lake from Eastern Sierra streams. Freshwater evaporating from the lake each year has left the salts and minerals behind so that the lake is now about 2 1/2 times as salty and 80 times as alkaline as the ocean. The Mono basin’s long history of volcanism is evident in the hills that mark the north and east boundaries of the basin. To the south lie the Mono craters. Panum Crater, the northern most of these craters erupted only 650 years ago. Mono’s islands are also volcanic. Pahoa Island is thought to be around 300 years old. Hot springs and steam vents in the basin show that volcanic activity is still present. This whole area of the eastern sierras is full of geo-thermal activity. Mike and I even saw a hot springs along the side of the road. We stopped at the Mono Lake visitor center and perused the displays and their gift shop. Mike bought me a little stuffed bird that chirps when you squeeze it. We have been collecting these birds for a few years now. The one he purchased today was a meadowlark. I named her Malarky.
Our next stop along the way was the town of Mammoth Lakes. We drove to the Minaret Summit view, which is over 9,000 feet in elevation. From this lookout, we can see across the valley to the group of mountains known as The Minarets. These peaks are very jagged and have a beauty all their own. Storm clouds were gathering, so we did not stay too long here. We took several photos and also video taped the Minarets and its environs using my cell phone. We then sent the video to Jeremy our son. It’s amazing what you can do with modern technology. It still blows my mind.
We reached the town of Bishop at about 2:30 PM. After checking into our room and getting settled, we drove around the town to do some exploring. We headed east on Hwy 6 for a few miles as we wanted to check out the Laws Railroad Museum. It was closed by now, but we wanted to find it in order to visit tomorrow. We rode a few miles further on Hwy 6. We were out in the middle of nowhere, with the White Mountains to our east and much scrub and sagebrush everywhere else. Out towards the west, dark foreboding clouds hovered ever closer. We could see sheets of rain in the distance dumping on the mountains.
We headed back into town and found a local Mexican Restaurant where we ate a delicious, albeit a little too spicy meal. Ironically, above our table was a big photo of over 100 different hot sauce brands. We looked to see if the “Wrath of God” hot sauce was there, but it wasn’t. We had a good laugh over the names of some of the other hot sauces though. There were names such as “Last Rites”, “Lotta Hotta,” “911”, and “Spitfire”. My favorite was “Tongues of Fire”. We retired early to get a head start on the next day’s adventure.

Old Cabin at Little Virginia Lake

Old Cabin at Little Virginia Lake

Boats by Little Virginia Lake

Boats by Little Virginia Lake

Little Bridge at Virginia Lake

Little Bridge at Virginia Lake

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We were awakened by the alarm clock at 6:00 AM. This was going to be a day of much driving as we were headed to the southern end of Yosemite National Park in a town called Wawona. Twenty-nine years ago Mike and I were married. We had spent our honeymoon in Yosemite, so it was only right for us to be there on this special day.

We made one last drive up to the Minaret Summit view before leaving Mammoth. The temperature was about 55 degrees, but with no wind blowing, it was quite mild. We took more pictures as this time of day provides better lighting. We spied some mountain flowers in blue and orange hues. This trip we have noticed more flowers than previous times being in the mountains. Perhaps it is because we have had a cooler spring than normal, causing the flowers to bloom later. After a quick stop at Vons to pick up groceries and gas up the car, we headed to Yosemite.

We reached the Tioga Pass entrance about 9:00 AM. The elevation there is 9,945 feet. Spring was just beginning in the high country, and many places still had patches of snow. Mike and I walked around a small meadow with a pond, reveling in the beauty of God’s creation. The Tuolumne River was full and flowing through parts of the meadow. Deer were nearby feeding, and the day was glorious! Cathedral Peak lifted her head towards Heaven in praise to her Creator.

We stopped at Olmstead Point to take pictures of Tenaya Lake and Half Dome. We were greeted by a family of yellow-bellied marmots, hiding amidst the boulders and rocks. . Everyone was hurrying to take snapshots of these cute critters. Mike then brought out his “Big Guns”, which are a huge pair of binoculars that weigh about 35 pounds. After linking them on his tripod, we were able to see several hikers up on Half Dome from off in the distance. Before long, he had a line of tourists waiting to look through his “Big Guns”. If he charged them for a look every time he’s done this on our trips, we would be rich by now!! Ha!

We landed in Yosemite Valley around 2:00 PM. Many road improvements were being made. We stopped at a favorite view point of Yosemite Falls and ate our lunch, thankful to God for bringing us here. We felt like we were home. The wonder of Yosemite is still new, even after twenty-nine years.

We parked in Curry Village and went riding on the many bike trails in the valley. Initially, we rode to Mirror Lake. The skies were such a deep blue as we coasted down the trail towards the lake. As my bike picked up speed, I could feel the wind blowing past me. This always feels so exhilarating to me. I almost feel like a kid again. It was a warm day, so quite a few people were wading in the water. On the way up to the lake, Mike and I stopped beside the river and soaked our feet in the cold, refreshing water. How invigorating and enjoyable! Straight up from where we stood at the Lake’s edge, Half Dome towered above us so lofty and high. Further back towards the southeast end of the lake was a little peninsula that provided an excellent photo opportunity. A medium-sized rock was on the peninsula where many would sit and have their photo taken, myself included. This was a very delightful and tranquil part of the valley.

About 6:00 PM, we drove down to Wawona, where we would be staying for the rest of the week. We checked into our cabin in the forest around 7:00 PM. We were very happy with our temporary home. Cabin #77 had a large front deck that was elevated about 10 feet. The house sits on a rise with pine trees all around. There are a few other homes nearby, but for the most part, it felt like it was just the two of us in this peaceful location of homes called Redwoods in Yosemite. We could hear Chilnualna Falls off in the distance. After unloading our luggage, we drove to the Wawona Hotel for dinner. This hotel is over 100 years old and is a historic landmark. It often evokes visions in my mind of women in long, flowing white dresses and men in white suits promenading on the beautiful grounds. Mike and I both ordered the 8 ounce flat iron steak, which came with garlic red-skinned, mashed potatoes and a vegetable medley of zucchini, carrots and broccoli. There was a small candle in the middle of our table, and Mike asked our waiter if he could light the candle since it was our wedding anniversary. He was happy to oblige. After a tasty and filling meal, our waiter told us he would give us the dessert of our choice on the house for our anniversary. We selected the Crème Brûlée, a custard-like dessert. Our waiter delivered this tasty treat to our table with a small, lit candle in the middle of it. What a sweet way to end our special day.

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This morning we awoke around 7:30. After packing up our vehicle, we walked over to the nearby meadow. The morning was glorious with sunny blue skies. The temperature in this mountain climate was a brisk 48ºF. Off in the distance, the lake sparkled as the sun’s rays kissed the water. We spent about an hour in this verdant meadow, taking snapshots of the majestic peaks, lush green grass, and the little groundhogs that kept popping up from their underground homes to check us out. We noticed some lovely lilac-colored Siberian Irises scattered in various places throughout the meadow. We learned from some of the locals that the highest peak upon which we had been gazing is called “The Matterhorn”, an appropriate name for this lofty peak. We almost felt as if we were in another country. What a delightful place!

We stopped at the registration office/general store to reluctantly turn in our room keys. It was sad to be leaving this beautiful place, tucked back in the mountains. Everyone here had been so friendly and helpful to us. This must be one of the best-kept secrets in the eastern sierras. We plan to visit next year and stay a few days and explore the area.

I purchased some breakfast muffins and juice, which we ate in our vehicle by the lake. As we drove along the lakeshore preparing to head towards our next destination, we stopped every so often to take snapshots. We did not want to forget this lovely place. Between the Twin Lakes is a spillway and small bridge. We were told that the upper lake where we stayed is nine feet above the lower lake. There was a gorgeous home sitting there between the two lakes. It had a manicured lawn and all the trappings that make a home attractive. On the way back down to Bridgeport, we just had to stop and take some more shots of the spectacular mountains of Twin Lakes now behind us. Ahead of us was a large range where a cowboy was herding in the grazing cattle. Such a pastoral setting this was.

We continued south on Hwy 395, passing through a glorious high-desert landscape. Twenty minutes later, we reached peaceful Mono Lake. Mono Lake’s salty waters support trillions of alkali flies and brine shrimp that provide food for some 90 species of water birds, from cinnamon teal to Wilson’s phalaropes. In the 1940s, Los Angeles began diverting water from the streams that feed Mono and the lake dropped 45 feet, with disastrous consequences. But a decade ago environmental groups successfully sued to limit diversion, and today the Mono ecosystem is slowly recovering. We stopped by the visitor center there for about half an hour. While taking pictures on the back deck of the center, we met a linguist from Norway. Although his roots are in the Midwest, he is now living in Norway with his wife and family. He told us that they speak three languages in their home; English, Dutch and Norwegian. I asked him if he knew how many language families existed. He stated that this is something linguists cannot seem to agree upon. It was quite fascinating speaking with him.

We resumed our drive down Hwy 395 towards the town of Bishop, about an hour away. We took a little detour drive around the June Lake Loop This 15-mile loop winds through a glacial canyon past four sweet mountain lakes abounding in trout and surrounded by aspen and pine trees. Compared to Twin Lakes where we had stayed, these lakes, while beautiful, seemed somewhat lacking. One of the lake’s water levels was really quite low. As we descended the Sherwyn Grade and approached Bishop, the mountains west of Hwy 395 just seemed to grow taller and taller. They loomed before us, their peaks touching the blue sky.

We arrived in this lovely mountain town (population 3,500) about 2:00 PM. After a delicious lunch at a local Mexican restaurant, we checked into our motel room at the Best Western Holiday Spa. It was in the mid 80’s and quite warm. Our room was luxurious compared to the one we had stayed in at Twin Lakes. It was tastefully decorated and very comfortable with welcome amenities. They even had a computer in the lobby for the guests to use. I was so tempted to add a post onto my blog but decided to wait. After taking an hour power nap (Those things really do help!), we felt recharged and ready to explore Bishop and the environs. We were pretty impressed with this mountain town. For being as small as it is, Bishop has its own hospital, airport and golf course among other assets. We stopped and visited the late Galen Rowell’s photo gallery. He was an awesome photographer, and we have a few of his books at home. We then drove all the way down West Line Street and ended up at Lake Sabrina, some 19 miles away and about 9,000 feet in elevation. This too was a lovely lake, but due to the late hour of the day, our pictures did not turn out as well. We met a sweet couple that was visiting here from South Korea. The husband’s name was Jon-Kim. We could not understand nor pronounce his charming wife’s name. In their broken English, they told us they were here visiting for a few weeks. They had been married since 1985. Jon-Kim was a professor of physics in his native country. His wife majored in voice. It was so enjoyable speaking with them. We took their picture, and they took ours.

Coming back down from Lake Sabrina offered us a spectacular view of the Owens Valley floor far below and the town of Bishop. We could clearly see the volcanic tablelands in this geo-thermal area. A large earthquake had occurred in this area back in 1872. Magnitude is estimated to be in the range 7.6 < M < 8.0, and a fault rupture extends from just south of Bishop to Olancha. It was felt in much of California and present day Nevada. I learned that the Owens Valley is a nearly perfect rift valley, and that both sides are moving apart. The geological history of this area is rather fascinating.

When we landed back in Bishop, we stopped at the local Von’s supermarket and picked up some microwave meals for dinner as well as lunch for tomorrow’s long trek over the White Mountains and into Nevada. We were tired but happy with all the splendor and beauty of God’s creation that we were privileged to see. Thank you Jesus!

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Day 1

June 11, 2008

We left our home around 10:00 AM, albeit 2 hours later than we had planned. Not because we woke up late, but because there was still so much left to do. Loading our luggage, pillows, lawn chairs, binoculars, walking sticks, food, ice chest, etc. into the Sequoia took longer than we thought it would. This year I had made up a vacation checklist, which really helped us to remember what to bring on the trip. This will come in handy for future trips.

It was a beautiful, temperate day in Suisun with sunny blue skies. This was perfect vacation weather. We pulled out of the driveway and headed towards I-80 East. Our destination for day one was Twin Lakes in the town of Bridgeport in the eastern Sierras. We would take I-80 East into Sacramento, and then from there, we would drive Hwy 50 into S. Lake Tahoe. Once there, we would drive up Hwy 89 and make the exhilarating 2,600 foot descent from Monitor Pass to Hwy 395. The drive up was pleasant, and it seemed to Mike and I that the scenery along Highways 89 and 395 was prettier this year than we’ve ever seen it. We noticed more flowers blooming than ever before. Perhaps this is because of the cooler spring we have had which has slowed down the arrival of spring in the mountains.

The drive from Monitor Pass down into the valley far below was very enjoyable. We stopped along the way and took several photos. My favorite part of Monitor Pass is when we are descending. The view of the valley below is spectacular with the alluvial plains, scenic mountains and fertile valleys. You almost feel like you’re in an airplane descending down into this valley. Topaz Lake was to our North, and stretched out before us for miles and miles lay Hwy 395 and some of the most diverse, fascinating and beautiful landscapes in Northern California. Hwy 395 was once a one-time American Indian trading route. This 230-mile expanse of Highway between Carson City, NV to the North and Lone Pine to the South connects you to a series of towns leading to trailheads, hot springs, cool streams and much awesome scenery.

We pulled into the town of Bridgeport around 3:00 PM and ate a late lunch at The Sportsman’s Restaurant. Our waitress, Nicole, was very nice and friendly. We asked if she was from Bridgeport, hoping to glean any tidbit of information about the area. She said that she was from Reno, but she comes to Bridgeport to work every summer. It is a beautiful town. I took some shots after lunch of the old courthouse across the street, which I was told they still use today. I also visited the old jailhouse and took pictures of a couple of the dingy, dirty, cells. I sure was glad I did not have to spend a night there.

We reached our destination of Twin Lakes, which is only about 15 minutes from Bridgeport, around 4:30 PM. It was so beautiful and definitely exceeded our expectations. The snow-capped Sawtooth Range towered above us in all its glory.

The resort where we stayed was called Annett’s Mono Village. It is by no means luxurious. Our motel was only $65 a night, and although it was clean, it was on the rustic side. But the people there were very friendly and kind and helpful. After checking into our motel room, we walked out to the Lake and rented a 12-foot aluminum motorboat. They only charged us $25 to use the boat for two hours! What a deal! Mike had never operated a motorboat before, but it didn’t take him too long to learn. What an exhilarating feeling it was to skim across the crystal clear waters and drink in the beauty of God’s creation. As Mike’s confidence in his nautical abilities grew, he began going faster. At one point, he started turning the boat in circles and jumping the waves he had created in the boat’s wake. The craft would lift up a little when he did this. What fun! We were like two children with a new toy!

At about 7:00 PM, we docked the boat and had a delicious dinner at the lake’s Café. We both ordered the burger steak with onions, red mashed potatoes, gravy and squash. Our waitress, Beth, was very friendly and cordial. She told us that they had a chef working in the kitchen. She even gave us one of his dessert creations FREE to share. It was a chocolate mousse of sorts with cherries and whipped cream. It was quite delicious.

By now, the high altitude (7,000 feet) had me pretty wiped out. I have asthma, and the first day in the mountains is usually the roughest for me as my body slowly gets used to the thinner air. I went back to our motel room and prepared to retire for the night. Mike walked over to a nearby meadow to take pictures. It sure is a beautiful place.

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The Fricot Stone yosemite trip oct 07 037

Originally uploaded by Kiki Karia.

“There’s gold in the hills of California!” These words resonated around the world in 1848 and started a massive migration to the wilderness of interior California. Gold seekers trekked from every part of the world and every walk of life to sift the streams for gold. Mining companies brought machines to the mountains and turned camps into boomtowns as they blasted and dug deep into the earth to follow the gold-bearing veins.
There is still gold in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, at the California State Mining and Mineral Museum, in historic Mariposa. And we were privileged to view these precious stones and minerals on our recent trip there. This is where explorers John C. Fremont and Kit Carson found the rich Mariposa Vein and opened the first mill to crush ore and extract gold in California. The collection, which began in 1880, contains over 13,000 objects including mining artifacts, rare specimens of crystalline gold in its many forms, as well as beautiful gem and mineral specimens from California and around the world. The collection was moved to Mariposa in 1983 after residing in San Francisco, for over 100 years. The museum became a state park in 1999.
The highlight of the museum was the Fricot “Nugget”, a rare and beautiful specimen of crystallized gold discovered in the American River in 1864. This spectacular 13.8-pound. specimen is the largest remaining intact mass of crystalline gold from 19th century California, when these finds were more common but usually were simply melted down. We also took a trip back in time as we walked through the museum’s mine tunnel which displayed how gold was mined in the mid-1800s.
As I gazed upon the many beautiful stones and gems, I thought about that scripture in Malachi 3:17 where the Lord says, “And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of Hosts in that day when I make up my jewels….” Another one that came to mind is found in Isaiah 54:11, “O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest and not comforted, behold, I will lay thy stones with fair colors, and lay thy foundations with sapphires.”
These precious stones go through a period of development and forming deep within the earth, where they experience intense pressure, heat and friction. And yet look at their beauty that is produced. We are like that to God. He looks at each of us as his precious treasures. Sometimes we have to be refined and go through the fires of tribulation to burn off the impurities and become the beautiful gems that can shine and give Him glory.
Yes, touring this museum was a vivid reminder to me of how my God cares for me and is making me into a vessel of honor for His glory.

azurite.jpg

Azurite and Malachite Stone

aquamarine.jpg

Aquamarine

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Amethyst Quartz 

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Mariposa Trip

yosemite trip oct 07 015

Originally uploaded by Kiki Karia.

Today we just returned from a six-day mountain trip which began last Sunday in the small gold-rush town of Mariposa, only an hour away from Yosemite National Park. Mike and I loved this peaceful town nestled in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains. We stayed here with our friends Mike & Debbie and had fun wandering the downtown streets and checking out the variety of quaint shops. I fell in love with this church and had to take a picture or two. St. Joseph’s church was established around 1863 and is a landmark today. We plan to return to Mariposa sometime and do more exploring in the future. My next post will cover the fascinating mineral museum that we visited while there.

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