YAY WE’RE BACK!
Not that it wasn’t an enjoyable trip—it definitely was—but we’re both glad to not be driving anymore and to be back in Calgary. Calgary’s a really nice city, yo. I think we both appreciate it even more after having gone through some large US cities (*cough*San Francisco*cough*).
I’ll post pictures on Facebook at some point…there will probably be a few more there that I didn’t post on here, just ‘cause.
We’re back in the land of Celsius and kilometers now! We’re also both super tan because of our time in the southwest. At least Nate has an even tan; all my shirts were of different necklines/sleeve lengths so I look like a giant gradient of light-to-tanned light skin colors. Super attractive.
Also, it was another easy border crossing to get back to Canada.
So the plan today was to drive from Idaho Falls to Bozeman via Grand Teton and Yellowstone (we were coming from the south end of things). We were not planning on doing much in the parks other than seeing Old Faithful, since it seems like it’s quite difficult to get the full Yellowstone experience without camping there and we were not equipped to camp there.
However, once we got into Yellowstone itself, we found that the road we’d have to take to easily get to Old Faithful was closed for construction/repair. We could have gotten to it using an alternate route, but that would have meant about 90 more miles of driving, and that was something neither of us felt like. So no Old Faithful for us. I’ll post some stats-related stuff about the geyser in a later blog, though, so there’s something good to look forward to!
We were also not in the right place for Mammoth Hot Springs, which I’m pretty sure is where my dad and I were when he took me to Yellowstone way back when. That’s where all the really cool stuff is.
Oh well. Have some bubbling mud volcanoes and a bison!
That was a hell of a long drive.
And that’s all I have to say.
Anyway, today we drove over the Hoover Dam (we didn’t stop because parking was $10 and we’re cheap and it’s hot) and went to the Grand Canyon. Nate has seen it before but I haven’t (despite having lived in AZ for a bit), so it was a good place to go even though it was easily over 80 degrees most of the day (no, I’m not going to stop mentioning the heat until we get out of it).
The first picture is the “unimpressive” side of Hoover Dam; the rest are Grand Canyon. The colors turned out really well in the pictures at least!
(It’s like 8 billion degrees outside and this picture pretty much sums up what we saw of the strip before we got to our air-conditioned hotel room. We also just had dinner in the hotel’s 24-hour restaurant because we’re done with big cities and buckets of pedestrians and—I reiterate—it’s 8 billion degrees outside.)
Holy hell, San Francisco is frightening.
I don’t know if it’s because both Nate and I had different expectations of the city than what we got or if we’re just in a bad part of downtown, but wow. Not a place we’d want to visit again and certainly not a place we’d ever like to live. No offense to any subscribers or passers-by who live there, but it’s not a city for us.
It is also FREAKING EXPENSIVE. We went to Denny’s when we were in Oregon, ordered dinner, and spent about $13 for the both of us. Tonight we went to a Denny’s here, ordered exactly the same things (‘cause variety is the spice of life and we don’t like spices), and it cost about $36. Crazy.
At least the Golden Gate Bridge looked nice.
More hiking today! We went to Prairie Creek and did an 11-mile round trip hike that brought us out to a beach and back.
I also took STUMP PICTURE…
…which is probably going to end up being my best picture from the whole trip, just wait.
We were originally going to do another hike today, but since we Lewis-and-Clarked it through the woods yesterday, we’re switching our plans up a bit and driving the Avenue of the Giants today instead of tomorrow and hiking tomorrow instead of today.
I’m pretty sure that since I’ve seen the Grove of Titans and thus have seen some of the biggest trees on the planet, all other trees will seem “small” now, haha.
The Avenue of the Giants was still pretty, though!
Alright you bro-factories, sit down and let me tell you the tale of the amazing and colossal Redwoods in Jedediah State Park, the quest for the Grove of Titans, and how Nate and I almost died in the woods.
So you get to this state park and you see all these random trees everywhere, and then suddenly—BAM—Redwoods.
Now you’re probably thinking, “Okay, cool, trees that are pretty tall, hooray for you, whatever.”
You are WRONG.
LOOK AT THESE.
They just jut right out of the ground. It’s like someone air-lifted massive pillars of ridiculously straight-growing trees and just plunked them into the soil. These don’t taper at all until like 50 feet up.
They’re all over the place in this park.
And let me tell you something else…those Redwoods in the pictures above? Those are the small ones.
Remember way back to NaNoWriMo last year when I wrote that godawful story Arborhood? I was (loosely) basing the Redwoods in my story on the Redwoods in what is known as the Grove of Titans. The Grove of Titans is a grove within Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park that contains quite a few super massive Coastal Redwoods—some of the biggest (height-wise and/or volume-wise) trees in the world, actually. These massive trees were the ones I’d written about.
So today, since we were in Jedediah, we decided to go hunt for the Grove.
Brief background: we both knew about the existence of the Grove before we got to the park; hell, we did about two hours of internet research the night before trying to pinpoint where it might be. The actual specific location of the Grove is not supposed to be revealed (to protect the giant trees within), but we found several legitimate-looking online sources to give us a good set of hints to find it.
Or so we thought.
Lots of the sources said that the trail was “faint” but “slightly worn from foot traffic.” There were also hints telling us to look for a specific and distinctive burl on one of the titans (it was said this burl could be seen from the main trail). This burled giant would lead us to the Grove. But we also found one source that appeared to very accurately pinpoint the location of the Grove based on some specific locations.
So what did we do when, not two miles down the trail, found a faint but “this is probably a trail” trail that was kind of close to where we thought the Grove should be? Why, we followed it, of course.
We followed it until it stopped being anything resembling a trail…then we kept going. For a mile and a half.
(This picture does not do those woods justice.)
And we weren’t just walking through some light underbrush or anything. We were freaking marching through super thick ferns, super thick plants-that-weren’t-ferns, dead and rotting fallen trees, walls of branches and twigs, an uncountable number of spider webs, hovering masses of mosquitoes, and who knows how many other bugs. The fact that we didn’t end up with poison oak is a freaking miracle.
Anyway, we eventually decided to give up after it was clear that the Grove of Titans was NOT where the internet said it was (surprised?). Defeated by flora, we returned to the main trail and trudged on.
You know where we found the Grove?Well, one of the internet sources was right—it’s “hidden in plain sight.” It really is. You just have to know what to look for. And we did! (And even then we kind of found it in a more difficult manner, haha).
And now, behold: GIANT TREES.
This is the Screaming Titans, two massive Redwoods fused together. One source says he’s 30 feet in diameter at his diameter breast height (measured 4.5 feet above soil level). The fact that he is two fused trees and not just one on its own is what keeps him from holding any records. He is the first one in the Grove we saw.
The above is El Viejo Del Norte. He’s 23 feet in diameter and 323 feet high and holds an estimated 35,000 cubic feet of wood. He’s got a super distinctive burl on him and is the fifth largest Coastal Redwood.
This massive tree is the Lost Monarch, the largest (non-single-stem) Coastal Redwood. She is at least 26 feet in diameter and 320 feet high. She’s estimated to hold 42,500 cubic feet of wood. Here’s Nate for size comparison:
It’s too bad pictures can’t do these guys justice, really. Will videos work any better?
There are other record-holding trees in the Grove, of course, but these were the three we could easily recognize from pictures we’d seen online. If you ever get to Jedediah, it is so worth trying to find the Grove of Titans. Trust me.
Just don’t go too far off trail or you’ll be eaten by spiders.
More beach times!
We made it to Crescent City today, meaning that tomorrow will be REDWOODS!
I am way more excited about trees than I ever thought I would be.
Here’s Nate striking a sexy beach pose!
Also, this just in: the Pacific Ocean is cold.
The nice thing about having a week to get down the coast to San Francisco is that we have time to stop at any good-looking beach and taunt the ocean.
It also gives us the opportunity to be disgustingly cute:
On our way to our next destination, we stopped in Ozette National Park to do a decently-long walk/hike through there. The walk was in three parts—the first and last parts were through the woods, and the middle part was on the beach. All of my pictures are from the beach portion, haha.
Somebody else stacked these; I just took the picture, haha.
Here’s Nate trying to determine how much further we needed to walk on the beach.
We left Moscow this morning to head to Bremerton, WA. We were going to stop at a zoo in Tacoma, but we got a bit of a late start so we decided to stop at Snoqualmie Falls instead. Nate had been there before, but this was my first time.
Our hotel in Bremerton was cheap but really nice. We were on the shore of Oyster Bay.
Today was our last full day in Moscow, so my mom and I took Nate down to Lewiston and then ended up playing some mini golf in that little golf course thingy by the Moscow-Pullman airport (it was really nice; I’d recommend going there if you ever want to mini golf or use a driving range). Have some pics:
Nate and me at the top of the Lewiston hill (I have no idea why this one looks so much more washed out than the first).
First full day in the States! Nate and I walked around Moscow and I showed him a bit of downtown, a bit of campus, and took him to our super exciting mall. I didn’t really take any pictures since I could probably draw a map of the city by memory, but here’s Nate by the fountain.
Tomorrow we’ll probably go to Lewiston!
That was probably the easiest border crossing I’ve ever had, and I’ve always had super easy border crossings. It probably took a total of 10 seconds, seriously.
And I got to see my mom again, which is super cool ‘cause I’ve missed her since January (and it seems like I’ve been gone longer than that).
And now to chill in Moscow for a few days.
We’re off! We won’t be reaching the States until tomorrow, since we have to go drop off Nate’s birds at his parent’s house so that they can be in good hands while we’re away.
I don’t have anything exciting to say today and no new pictures yet, so…have some old recipes I’ve saved in my bookmarks but haven’t posted here yet, haha.
ENGLISH MUFFINS!!!! (I like English muffins, sorry)
Okay, so it’s super late, but I have news that I can finally talk about (this was what I hinted at on Saturday).
Nate and I will be leaving in the middle of May to go on a three-week-long road trip through the western US. We’re going to see things like the California redwoods, Yellowstone, Four Corners, the Grand Canyon, Vegas, and a major league baseball game in San Francisco. We’ll also be in Moscow for a few days.
I will post pictures, of course, probably on here and on Facebook (even though I never use Facebook anymore).
So I’ve made my decisions.
Thesis defense will, if everything works out, occur sometime in May (the earlier in the month, the better).
I will then be done with my program here and have decided to move east to London, Ontario to pursue a PhD in philosophy (particularly the philosophy of science, more particularly the philosophy of statistics) at the University of Western Ontario.
Yup. Finally getting off the west coast.
The fantastic road trip across the continental US will occur sometime in August, for which my mom and I shall rent a van and drive the suggested Google Earth route, which involves passing through as many states as possible:
It will be wicked.
Here are some fun facts about London, Ontario:
– It sits on the Thames River. Not kidding.
– Population of approximately 350,000 people.
– Halfway between Toronto and Detroit.
– More southern than Boise.
– Affected by thunderstorms more than any other city in Canada (AWESOME).
– Home to the most technologically advanced Kellogg’s plant in Canada.
– Not Vancouver, and therefore not a rainy hellhole.
And a few fun facts about the University of Western Ontario:
– 20,500 undergrads, 4,500 grads.
– Ranked 164th university in the world (UBC is 44th).
– The philosophy of science program is ranked as a second tier program according to Philosophical Gourmet.
– Second largest philosophy department in Canada (largest is University of Toronto).