Friday, December 9, 2011

A frosty morning

We enjoyed a frosty December morning in Redwood National Park the other day with more elk than people! This big bull was the king of his harem. We watched him for awhile as he walked back and forth between us and the cows. He kept eyeing us suspiciously until finally trotting our way with his antlers lowered. This made us get out of there fast...but not before we got a few good photos!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Thanksgiving in Vegas Part I

We spent a wonderful 9 days in Las Vegas over the Thanksgiving holiday. Our adventures can be nicely broken up into two parts, although both parts have a lot of overlap. The first part includes the explorations with Mom and Dad Ausema while the second part includes explorations with Mom and Dad Weber. Susanna's parents live in the NW side of Las Vegas near lots of spectacular desert scenery. This is where Susanna and I stayed for the 9 days. My parents flew in to Las Vegas on Monday and stayed until Friday. They stayed on the 9th floor of a beautiful hotel called the Sun Coast. The Sun Coast also happens to be a casino...I found it very funny to drop off my parents at the casino each night! Here are some of the adventures that we packed into this short timeframe.

  • Sunset walk at Red Rock Canyon NCA (second picture above)

  • Explorations of the famous Las Vegas Strip, including walking around the Venetian Casino and Hotel...which is like taking a step into Italy!

  • Drive, picnic and hike along the north shore of Lake Mead NRA (top photo)...this included seeing a couple of desert bighorn sheep

  • Explorations of Valley of Fire State Park...a park as spectacular as the name suggests!

  • A huge adventurous day at Death Valley National Park

  • Thanksgiving morning back at Red Rock Canyon NCA (I'll include this in Park II)

The being in Italy

Glitz and glamor along the Las Vegas Strip

Desert Bighorn in Lake Mead NRA

Susanna exploring the red rocks of Valley of Fire State Park

Valley of Fire State Park

Sunset at Valley of Fire State Park

Desolate landscape in Death Valley NP

Appropriately named Golden Canyon in Death Valley NP

Wild and rugged interior of Death Valley

Mom and Dad at the lowest place in the U.S.

Thanksgiving in Vegas - Part II

The second part of our Las Vegas vacation involved explorations with the Weber parents. Once again, some of this has overlapped with explorations with the Ausema parents. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Thanksgiving morning exploration of Red Rock Canyon NCA (picture above) which included seeing a ringtail cat and a wild burro.

  • Afternoon Thanksgiving feast with 13 people at Susanna's parents' cozy home.

  • Climb of Lone Mountain, a rocky, rugged peak right next to Vegas.

  • An awesome hike into the steep, cool walls of Pine Creek Canyon.

  • Swimming in the community pool and playing mini golf

Red Rock Canyon

The start of the Lone Mountain Climb

Standing on top of Lone Mountain

The start of the Pine Creek Canyon hike

Pine Creek Canyon

Hiking out of Pine Creek Canyon

Friday, October 14, 2011

Peace Corps Reunion

This past week, we hosted the 2nd official Peace Corps reunion (the first was in the Virgin Islands in January, 2007). It's been nearly 10 years since Susanna and the rest of the gang ended their two years as Peace Corps volunteers in Guatemala.

People came from all over...including Maryland, Idaho, Colorado, southern California and even Thailand! We ended up with eleven people staying at our house, including 5 in a 6-person tent in the back yard (first picture below)! It was a wonderful time to reunite with great conversations, great food and the incredible scenery of the north coast. With the exception of an all-day rain on monday, the weather was flawless. We spent time in Trinidad, Redwood NP, Patricks Point State Park as well as Arcata and Eureka. Here are a few of my favorite photos...

Rainey's tiny friend!

Hunting season on the beach!

Mike and Susanna on top of Trinidad Head

In awe in the Redwood Forest

The group at Trillium Falls in Redwood NP

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

An Oregon Sunset...

We spent a wonderful night camping at Harris Beach State Park in southern Oregon this past weekend. The sunset was absolutely perfect...

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Range of Light

It's hard to write a single blog entry about such an epic adventure as 2 weeks on the John Muir Trail, but i'll try. Susanna and I began our hike at South Lake trailhead, which is close to Bishop in the Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains. It was well past sunset when we began backpacking up into the John Muir Wilderness. We hiked under the stars for a little over a mile, just because we couldn't wait for the adventure to begin! The next morning, we woke up in the heart of the "Range of Light" as the Sierra Nevada is called. Ten miles later, we joined the John Muir Trail and began backpacking north with a destination of Yosemite Valley.

We ended up spending 13 nights on the trail and backpacked a full 13 days plus the evening under the stars. By the time we arrived in Yosemite Valley, we had backpacked nearly 150 miles and had more adventures than we could count. Simply put, it was one of the best two weeks of my life.

Below, I put a single photo taken from each of our 13 campsites.

Night 1: Milky Way Knob (10,180')

Night 2: Glacial Cirque View (9,800")
Night 3: Snow Level Lake (10700')

Night 4: Evolution Lake (10,880')

Night 5: Piute Creek (8,050')

Night 6: Rosemarie Meadow (9,960')

Night 7: Quail Meadows (7,920')

Night 8: Lake Virginia (10,370')

Night 9: Red Cone (8,645')

Night 10: Lower Trinity Lake (9,250')

Night 11: Garnet Lake (9,700')

Night 12: Lyell Canyon Rapids (8,940')

Night 13: Sunrise (9,340')