Tunnel to China found in Oakland

On ca24 southbound in Oakland must be the biggest pothole in USA.  And my van doubles as a pothole detector.

No spare tire can accommodate a disaster with 2 tire and wheels lost at once.  That was a brand new tire, too.


Oakland A’s vs Tampa Bay Rays

I don’t really care about either team, but baseball pigs are so funny.  But uhh, this one has elephant ears.

The A’s (like the Mets) found a way to lose the game.  They did it in the 9th, when their closer was unable to do what he’s there for, and gave up 2 runs.  Wrapping normally, from upper-left.  Tue evening, 7/18/17.

  • Ceremoniously named Rickey Henderson Field
  • Starting A’s pitcher, who knows.
  • A’s mascot getting hammered by a fan.  Good thing he has a job already.
  • Rays Manager getting tossed.  Is he smiling because the visiting office in Oakland is comfy?
  • Starting Rays pitcher, who cares.
  • A’s fan heckling a Rays pitcher who was taken out by coach.
  • Longoria swinging through a pitch.
  • Stolen base.  Third baseman dropped ball.
  • Pulled single past shortstop.
  • Opposite field squibber, or what happens when a second baseman is lazy on his heels with a right-handed batter at the plate.
  • What a beanball looks like a split second before the batter reacts.

San Francisco, Silicon Valley, Berkeley

Silicon Valley, if you’re a techie fan, has a campus for many of the tech companies out there.

Intel has a museum.  Google has the android foam scuptures outside it’s headquarters and separate visitor center gift shop.  Apple, Inc has a gift shop for visitors.  Facebook has the big thumbs up.

Ferries leave from several piers in San Francisco.  Pier 33 is where Alcatraz Ferries lead from.  Pier 1 is where the Embarcadero Food Market is located and ferries to Sausalito. Fisherman’s Wharf is around Pier 40.  Gharadelli Chocolate has great sundaes for around $12.


Alcatraz in the summer is booked for at least 3 weeks into future.  Take heed.  Book reservations well in advance, if you want to goto prison.


Oakland Colliseum from BART, the regional rail system, that converges on San Francisco, leads across the bay, and separate lines go north toward Berkeley and south toward Oakland and beyond, just short of Silicon Valley.  Inside San Francisco is a series of buses and above ground trolleys, that take exact change only, $2.75/ride.  All day passes are sold for $15.


Golden Gate Bridge only accepts electronic payment.  No cash.  If you do not have the electronic pass, you can pay in advance thru their website, as long as you know the day you will be passing through.  The toll is only south-bound, or traveling into San Francisco.


Mr. Rex is famous in Cali!  Like a beloved Dinosaur.


He even is a 49ers employee in Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, 45min south of San Francisco.  I think he’s riding a segway to compensate.



Oakland.  Oracle stadium where NBA champ Golden State Warriors play, and Oakland Colliseum where not so champion today (but 4 time champ) Oakland Athletics play.


Planet Granite in Sunnyvale (Silicon Valley).  Bouldering and rock climbing.  Partner belays.  Both lead and top rope.


Berkeley, considered one of the most diverse colleges in the USA.  The surrounding businesses show it.  The students love it so much, the campus is even busy in the summer.

Oakland has a less acute homeless problem than Los Angeles, but that may simply be because there are better options than tents here.


In California, there is a new franchise called smashburger.  I had a juicy, perfectly textured mushroom and truffle mayo burger and my doubts were put away.


Dodgers vs Mets

Palm trees grace the monuments for Dodger past.  From behind center field, upper deck of left field is graced by Jackie Robinson, sculpure of LA logo in on the way to the upper deck gates, escalators to upper deck gates, scuplture of Jackie Robinson sliding into home, and a Bobblehead doll gloating over the Mets loss.  Thank God it’s a Bobblehead doll and you can sock him (w gloves of course bc Dodgers have hard heads).

Watching the game from Iconic Dodger Stadium, from the upper deck, on third base side.  The Mets courteously gave up 4 straight losses to appease their hosts.

Above, wrapping normally from upper-left

  • Antonio Gate, TE for the SD Chargers, threw the ceremonial first pitch
  • Ryu was starting pitcher for Dodgers, and brought contingent of asian fans to stadium that day
  • Orel Hersheiser (Dodgers) and Keith Herandez (SNY) working in adjacent booths.
  • Steve Matz, throwing one of his 100+ pitches that night.  5 innings, 3 hits, 3 runs I believe.  Yeowman’s work, I think the term is, which the Mets threw away.
  • (center) Pitch sitting right there, which explains the 2 homers given up by Matz.
  • Attempted stolen base by a Met
  • Duda thrown out at home, try to score on sacrifice fly, with pitcher on deck.
  • Granderson hitting a double
  • Visitor dugout with the Mets looking like they’re hungover from partying with the L.A. models
  • Pitch is already by the Dodger batter
  • Attempted stolen base by a Dodger
  • Flores trying to work out a 3-1 count
  • One of Bellinger’s rips.



Anaheim, out of the frying pan of the desert

From 116F, to 86F in 2 hours.  What is the deal?

Celebrate the cool weather with Disney Fireworks in the background.


Downtown Disney the next day.  No entry fee to shop Disney products for 2 hours.  You can walk to theme park gates, but bc of the 2 hour limit, it’s not practical.  Cone of shame!

Where to go in Anaheim, if you want to get away from the tourist attractions?

Poke bowl, which is sashimi, topped on top of rice, mixed in the sauce of your choice (spicy mayo pictured).  If you like sashimi, or tuna tartare, it’s pretty good.  $12 at Pokinometry.


Tokatsu Ramen with Black garlic oil at Yoshiharu Ramen.  The aroma of garlic with tonkatsu broth… mmm.  $10.



Cabazon Dinosaurs, going Prehistoric in the Coachella Valley

Mr. Rex is free for photo ops.

But they do have an paid tour with more dinosaurs displayed (Mr. Rex’s Dinosaur adventure) but I elected to skip.


But if you feel you should support having a big, life sized T-Rex replica, with a grin like he got away with eating a tourist, for future generations to meet, there is a gift shop that probably pays rent, inside the Brontosaurus.  And they are sympathic with Mr. Rex’s plight, despite the fact he may have eaten a tourist yesterday when no one was looking.


They do have Cabazon Dinosaur T-shirts, as gifts for the grandparents.




Joshua Tree National Park, Epitomy of camping in the desert

Yes, I liked it there.  It was a big “better than expectations”.  Despite the hottest summer in decades in the southwest, at 120 degrees in the Cholla Cactus garden.  Despite sweating through 3 liters of beverage in a day just in a short hike to take pictures of rocks, and looking for a dam.  And a desire to stay in my air conditioned vehicle more than hike around and or explore the giant boulders that look like someone stacked them.  Those big rocks just make the kid in you, who used to climb jungle gyms, scream to climb them.  And those big rocks make you feel like you’re camping in a old western movie.  Theme parks and restaurants have tried to recreate the environment of those big boulder campsites.

The southeast side of the park is mostly how you imagined a desert to look.  There are a few oasis that you can see, Cottonwood Springs is the best example at the Southeast entrance, and easily accessible by car.  Big palm trees!  Including a conjoined one that reminds me of a cold cartoon.  Remember the Dr. Frankenstein monster in Looney Tunes cartoons chasing Bugs Bunny?

As you travel north from Cottonwood Springs toward the main road with the boulders and Joshua trees, you will pass the Cholla Cactus garden.  Hard to believe that those things produce spines so sharp, that a stray one will stick to your sneakers if you step on one.

But the north side of Joshua Park has the Joshua trees the park is named for, and they are the healthiest looking Joshua Tree Forest I’ve seen in the Mojave Desert.  And if these Dr. Seuss looking trees are your thing, which they say are yucca plants and not cactus if you understand the difference, the forest of them that you drive through on the north side is expansive.


But the park has these iconic boulders to climb and explore, and a few to photograph like skull rock on the left (seemingly looking upon a white SUV, judging the wisdom of a white car in a dusty desert).

Barker Dam is a nice hike, but the dam is unimpressive when the water is low.  But it is a reservoir of water in the desert.  You will see birds nearby.


$20 to camp at most developed campsites that have a bathroom, and fire rings.

You can also camp backcountry, by signing up in designated locations throughout park, parking your car there, and hiking to a site away from the road and any water sources, and setting up camp.  More details on their NPS website.  When I went, you can get a map from the visitor center and the signup locations are marked by a small blue “B”.  Backcountry camping is FREE, though you won’t have a fire ring or bathroom facilities nearby.

Pictured below is one of the developed campgrounds, Jumbo Rocks Campground.

Wildlife here does like the campgrounds.  Jackrabbits lying in wait, reptiles sunbathing (only cold blooded animals in 120F weather), squirrels trying to steal your picnic basket, and an unpictured Cottontail rabbit.


There are three entrances, Twentyninepalms (town) from the northeast, Joshua Tree (town) from the northwest, and Cottonwood Springs in the south east.  Coming in from Twentyninepalms, this is one of the first rock formations.


Keys View allows you to see the entire Coachella Valley, which is south of the park.  They say you can see the San Andreas fault.  But my eyes aren’t trained to see the difference in the rocks from 2 different geological plates.  The fault isn’t like a big crack in the ground. But there is a display, which tells you how to locate Palm Springs.


During a cooler season, the north part of Joshua Tree Park would be an awesome place to camp and climb to the top of the boulders.  During the hotter seasons, if you really must, bring plenty of water and shade structures to sit under.

Old Woman Rock, which doesn’t seem to be in google maps, but is mentioned on the internet, is across from Intersection Rock.  (http://www.summitpost.org/old-woman/493147)

Mojave Preserve

I have no idea why I wanted to see the Mojave desert.  But once there, I realized… why people don’t goto a desert in the summer.  Death Valley is in the Mojave Desert.

There is no ATT cell service.  I didn’t verify it, don’t think Verizon has towers there either.

Mojave Preserve has a multitude of life there, plants and wildlife.  The backcountry camping there is free.  There are several existing sites where people have camped where there are metal and stone fire rings.  You can camp at any unoccupied site.

There are also established campgrounds there.  And if access to restrooms and water are a must, the campgrounds are recommended, but if not, there are a few backcountry sites that are accessible by regular car.  More with a 4×4.  They however cost nightly around $12.

There are 2 backcountry sites near the Kelso Dunes on the south side of the Preserve, which if pretending you are in the Arabian desert is your thing, go ahead and give it hike.  The sediment there is a different color than the surrounding land, according to the displays, because they were formed over time as wind blew sand and the sand couldn’t get over the mountains, and it all settled in the same place, the Kelso Dunes.  But as the park ranger recommended, the backcountry site is very popular, but only after 7p in the summer.  I tried to get there earlier to camp on the spot.  But there is almost nothing you can do, to keep the sun from overpowering any mechanism you’ve put in to keep cool. Eventually I realized I’d be waking up in this heat, and moved on.


And decided on the ranger’s second recommendation, and moseyed onto the Mid-Hills Campground.  She recommended these fantastic giant boulders near the campground itself. Great place to hide myself from the sun.  And from the look of improvised fire rings, everyone else realized it as well.  The giant rocks look fun when you’re much closer, and provide serious shade.  But seriously, don’t go to the desert in the summer.


And this creepy thing, which kinda looks like a giant face.


You will see some wildlife like jackrabbits, some birds, lizards, and supposedly desert tortoise but I suspect they are the smarter species and avoids the sun.  You will see Joshua trees, and those poofy green shrubs.

Mojave Cross, which is a veterans memorial.  It’s on Cima road, toward the north side of the Preserve.


There are lava tubes, which are caverns within the hardened cooled lava fields.  You can see and even hike to the lava fields, but the tubes themselves are located far enough from the paved roads where you need a 4×4 to get closer.  The lava field is on the west side of the preserve.

Union Pacific has a rail going right through Mojave Preserve.  In fact, Kelso Depot (near the dunes) is the location of a ranger visitor center and was a prosperous rail stop in the past. Both UPS and the US Military seems to deliver there now (joke).



Also further west than even the lava fields, is a dried lake bed, which  can be seen from a distance, past the lava fields, as a white plain.

South of the Preserve is Amboy, which intersects with historic Route 66.  It also has some pretty expensive gas, but it is the ONLY gas for 50 miles.  And has the Amboy Crater (take a look at satellite view on Google Maps for perspective).




But south of Amboy, beyond the salt ponds, north of Joshua Tree, is a Death Valley like scene where nothing grows.  The desert of fiction.  Not the usual desert filled with shrub brushes.


Indeed, this part of the desert illustrates Looney Tunes cartoons where people see mirages of water in the desert.  The dunes look like islands from far away, but a zoom lens reveals that the reflection-like effect is just the heat from the desert surface.

(1/5, rating as a tourist location, unless you like camping in the desert wilderness a lot)

Mono Lake, CA, supposed to be a recreational park, but almost a sad story

If you search “Mono Lake” in Google, you get these fantastic looking photographs of geological features reflected off the lake.  That’s why I went.  But if you read the park reports, you understand that it’s really making the best out of an almost tragic situation, where the lake was almost completely dried up.  The geological features, the tufa, are actually supposed to be underwater.  Above water, they look like exotic geological features. Recently, they enacted measures to make sure the water level doesn’t fall anymore.

The water was redirected to help supply Los Angeles (noble effort), so it’s not like they were trying to dry a lake, but give water to millions.


During the summer, you can reach Mono Lake via Tioga Rd, CA-120, when it’s open, thru Yosemite.

There are two areas where you can walk among the tufa.  South Tufa area is the largest.

The is ATT 3G service in area.

Yosemite National Park, the view that makes you wonder if Hollywood created it

It’s gorgeous, in the Yosemite Valley.  The panorama is stunning from Glacier Point.  It’s hard to believe that God rolled the dice, and this all came out in a single view.

Come here for the day to look at what the creators of Jurassic Park landscape probably had in mind.

But keep in mind, this might be like the Central Park (NYC) for Northern California, and a kind of Disneyworld attraction.  It gets crowded.  It is at least an hour drive from the closest town, to the Yosemite Valley.  The campgrounds in the Valley are reservation only for a reason.  They are always full (at least they were full for 2 months in advance when I looked).  The first come first serve camgrounds outside the valley (north and south) inside the park, are only open in summer (July, Aug, Sept) because the snow has to melt first.   Stanislaus National Forest is outside the park and it contains several campsites that may be open (Sweetwater, Lost Claim, The Pines, and some private). Tioga Road (CA-120) is the access to the road from the east side to the Yosemite Valley, and it is closed until the snow melts.  BUT if you plan right, this is what you see.



The view from Glacier Point (you can drive to it, or park at the ski lift parking lot and take shuttle).  You can see all the nice people taking their pictures.



Half-dome.  In the close-up, you can actually see the figures of the people there, like they were little fleas.  There’s a telescope at Glacier Point that is 2x better than my close-up, where you can see the color of their clothes.



Nevada Falls, flowing into Vernal Falls, below


Nevada Falls.  The closeup, you can see the people on top of the falls.


Vernal Falls.  The closeup, you can see the people at the bottom, getting up close to look at it.


Yosemite Falls flowing into the Valley Below.  You can get a closer view of the Lower Falls, driving in the Valley.  In the close-up shot, you can see the start of the upper falls, and there are little figures who made the hike up, underneath the trees.


Yes, the critters have become people dependent


The Yosemite Valley


Tunnel View, entering the valley.  There is a scenic view stop for cars just outside the tunnel.  You can see El Capitan on left.  Bridalveil Falls’ mist producing a raindow on right.  And Half-dome peaking out in background.



Bridalveil Falls.  I think the name comes from the way the mist flows with the wind.  A video would show the effect better.


Ribbon Falls


Note: The Staircase Falls is actually different waterfall that isn’t always flowing.  That waterfall supposed to be flowing like the barrels in the old Donkey Kong video game, along the valley wall.  But the name evokes how the Yosemite and Nevada waterfalls feed into other waterfalls downstream.

El Capitan.  No little figures on the close-up of the top of El Capitan, from the Valley Floor.  What, no one wanted to take an insane photo view from the edge?



Merced River


reflections of trees.JPG


Yosemite Falls



I guess that’s why the campgrounds are all filled.  So they can spend a few days walking up to the waterfalls, or along the rivers, in the meadow.

There is ATT LTE service in the Yosemite Valley!  But it’s like a eye of a hurricane.  No service anywhere else.