Archive for January, 2012

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Amtrak for the Holidays, Part 1

January 28, 2012

As Christmas approached, I was faced with the question of whether I could/should go home for the holidays.  Having recently moved from Ohio to LA, this was substantially more troublesome all the sudden.  “Going home” used to entail a short hop down 75 followed by some state routes, etc.  About 180 miles in total.  I was now looking at over 2,200.  I took a lot of math classes in high school, all of which told me that 2,200 is more that 180.

I weighed the costs and benefits of making the trip (i.e. dithered), looking at expense, timetables, etc.  Eventually, I decided that I had time and money enough to make the trip.  Now that the if was answered, it was time to answer the how.  By this point, it was already early December, and plane tickets would have run over $1400.  Out of the question.  A cross country Greyhound trip on a tight schedule, while something everyone should do once, wasn’t something I was looking forward too after the last time (subject of another post perhaps).  I thought about driving, but I’ve kind of been there and done that.  It finally occurred to me that we have this thing in America called Amtrak.

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Thanksgiving Perambulation

January 26, 2012

Hold on to your butts.  This is a long one.

I had some time off for the Thanksgiving holiday, whether I wanted it or not.  Being that the four day weekend wasn’t quite long enough to drive the 2200 miles to Ohio and back, I instead took the time for a mini road trip.  I had wanted to head back out to Joshua Tree, if nothing else to see what it looked like when it wasn’t gloomy and raining all day, had been meaning to get up to San Francisco to visit some friends for a while, and there was a green spot on the map between SanFran and LA called Pinnacles National Monument that looked interesting.

Joshua Tree, Take Two

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Day Trip to Joshua Tree National Park

January 24, 2012

Right.  ‘Been a while.  I was about to whip up a post about my holiday travels, only to have it dawn on me that I haven’t posted anything since September.  So instead of going all Dr. Who on you and skipping around in chronology, I’m going to spend a few posts catching up with myself.  First up is a day trip to Joshua Tree National Park back in November.

The park is two hours and change from downtown LA.  I got into the town of Joshua Tree midmorning looking for breakfast.  The only place I found open was The Joshua Tree Saloon, which is pretty much exactly what it sounds like.  One of the regulars was wearing a t-shirt that read “In dog beers, I’ve only had one.”  At one point, he was talking about getting thrown out of a series of bars in the early 70’s and explained, “That’s why I stopped drinking so much…  Oh wait, I didn’t stop drinking so much.  I stopped drinking so little.”

Anyway, they served a pretty decent impression of biscuits and gravy, so I ate my fill, and so engorged, found the park visitors center to rustle up a map or two.

I didn’t have a whole lot of time, and Joshua Tree encompasses over 1000 square miles, so I didn’t want to burn what few daylight hours I had left driving all over.  I spent most of the afternoon in and around nearby Hidden Valley (No relation to the salad dressing).  There aren’t any trails to speak of, but Joshua Tree has a fairly laissez-faire policy towards backcountry use, and Hidden Valley is a veritable playland for scrambling and climbing.

The road into Hidden Valley

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