Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Big Trip: Our Grand Finale!

Badwater Basin in Death Valley...aptly named.

Death Valley's Natural Bridge...(Looks more like an arch to me, but whatev.)

The Devil's Golf Course, a meringue of rock salt crystals.

My son Ryan, thinking the devil's salt is pretty dang cool. (You're wondering if he ate some?...Of course he did.) Bleccchhh!

One roller coaster ride of a road to Artist's Palette, a colorful collection of volcanic rock.

Check out the green rock...and the itty bitty black speck to the right of it that happens to be my hiking-enamored son.

More colorful rock formations...Photos don't do them justice, unfortunately.

Artist's Drive, a pretty lovely spot, really.

Leaving Death Valley National Park and headed for...

Channel Island National Park...

Santa Cruz Island, to be specific.

Would it bother you to camp out in a place called "Scorpion Ranch?" (Just wondering...)

It doesn't seem to bother my husband.

Or my son.

Or this little baby seal either.

To say nothing of his foxy friend.

The kayaking is the highlight of the trip.

Mostly because of these cool caves.

A man and his son. Happy as clams.

A man and his son. Not so happy to be going home.

Highway 101...heading back to NorCal.

Some pretty sights along the way.

Don't you love a view of the ocean?

(Not so much the traffic.)

But the road opened up after Santa Barbara.

It was pretty idyllic.

And so was our stop in Buellton (near Solvang) for Andersen's split pea soup.

I love these rolling hills along the way.

(Close-up shot. Just for you. A cacophony of color.)

I think I'm in wine country!

Lookie here, friends. A small reminder of the splendor of Yosemite.

Farmland. Gilroy must be near.

A scrub oak always makes me happy.

And so does getting off the freeway near my own neighborhood.

Dorothy got it right. There really is no place like home.  =)


karen said...

You've really made me want to go to (almost) all of these places. I've got LaMar online researching. The Ahwahnee Hotel is gorgeous - their site is all messed up right now. Can't get any info. Looks like you all had a great time!

SnarkyMama said...

I have enjoyed your "journey" so much. The beautiful pictures have managed to make Snarky Papa envious for such an adventure! (However, I, personally, might bypass "Scorpion Ranch"). Thank you for letting us all go along for the ride! What fun!

I want to pack my bags and head west!!!!

Sleep well...and Dorothy was right...there is no place like home!

Two Pretty Little Skirts said...

What a beautiful trip! I do so miss the west coast. Looks like you had so much fun ;)

Sue said...

Come on out, SnarkyMama. I have a lovely guest bedroom!


Sue said...


We thought it was fun to stay at the Ahwahnee just this once, but it's really not worth the price they charge for it. So once was enough. Next time, we will stay at the Yosemite Lodge, which is reasonably priced. We could still go to the Ahwahnee any time if we wanted to eat in the restaurant or just hang out.

It was kind of fun to do though, and I think it was worth it for one time. But the rooms are relatively modest. It's more the atmosphere that you're paying for than the room itself. (And you are paying through the nose, by the way.)

But you only live once, right? And Yosemite is so beautiful. Not one clunker of a matter where you look. It's pretty glorious.

VK said...

What a great trip. Did you kayak?? I need to put these places on my "list." I've been to Death Valley many years ago but don't recall it being soo cool. (I am from the High desert in Colorado, so I LOVE the desert.)

Natalie said...

I'm beginning to feel the itch brought on by the travel bug!! Thanks so much for sharing your big trip!

Momza said...

Beautiful Pictorial! Thanks for sharing the trip! Glad u are safely home!

em said...

such gorgeous pictures!!!! i'm so homesick now!

KC Mom said...

I'd never seen picture of Death Valley looks a lot more fascinating then I thought it would be.
Your photos made me a little homesick for the smell of garlic. My grandfather, who just passed away last december, lived there since 1979. I miss going to visit him there.
Looks like you had a terrific trip!!

K2cole said...

Thanks for the vacation - I needed that!! What beautiful pictures.

jen said...

Just added some of these NoCal destinations to my list that includes Rome and Alaska. Thanks for sharing.

Heather Anderson said...

It was almost as good as being there. It looks like a perfect trip. I am so glad you went! Wouldn't have been sad to miss such beauty?! I love the night sky in the photo of the salt place. DId you like the Split Pea soup we always think of stopping there when we come to visit...

Sue said...

Actually, Heather, the soup is good but not spectacular. But I like the restaurant. It has tons of good stuff.

Lisa Loo said...

FUN TRIP!!! Love all the pics. And I love my home best of all too.

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