Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The One Where We Go To Joshua Tree

What I am lacking in timeliness with this post I hope to make up in QUALITY PICTURES!!! (Ideally, those last two words would be in Vegas billboard blinking neon, but that requires blogging skills beyond those of which I possess.) My boy Justin and I had been talking about another camping adventure ever since our excursion to San Simeon this summer. The weekend before Justin had to head back to college seemed like a perfect window. Logan and Peter were game enough to join in, and thus the fearless foursome was set. I had never been to Joshua Tree and it seemed like a great place to go for winter camping.

We met one evening early that week to go over logistics. Two of the agreements were that we would drive Justin's truck and Justin would take care of the firewood we needed to haul in. (Now, for all of you that know Justin, any of you getting nervous at this point?) Naturally, when I showed up at Justin's Friday afternoon, there were two pieces of 4x4 about three feet long each laying beside his truck. Yep. Firewood. Let me skip ahead a little and tell you all that the low that night was mid-30's. A fire wouldn't suck. Thankfully, Peter manned up and conned some bundles from his uncle, and our friend Ken was kind enough to spare some as well. Ken Gits 'Er Done. Firewood: check.

Logan couldn't get away from the gas factory until mid-afternoon, and if you've ever had the pleasure of dealing with Friday traffic in southern California, then you can understand that we wanted to put rubber on road as soon as he punched out. Which we did. But... As we did, Justin's low gas light comes on. Immediately. And by immediately I mean as we pull away from Peter's curb. (Justin meant to get gas earlier in the day - he had nothing else to do mind you - but somehow he forgot.) Well we took a risk and just hit the freeway and ignored the light as long as we could.

Leaving for J-Tree
Incidentally the mustache was put into effect specifically for this trip

I kid Justin a lot, but in all seriousness he is a really impressive young man. It is my honor to be his friend.

We didn't hit the park gate until about 8 p.m. so we pitched camp by the light of the moon. Considering it was nearly full, that's about all we needed. It was bright! The tent walls were nearly glowing. Chef Logan cooked up some chicken and baked beans (Logan continued to eat these same beans the rest of the weekend), and we spent the rest of the evening scrambling around rocks and taking pictures. I did more picture-taking than scrambling as my right leg is still in a brace.


Logan scrambling (he's the light)

All in all, it was a great time. The campsite (White Tank) was absolutely beautiful (small and remote doesn't hurt either). The first night was pretty cold with some strong winds. The wind all but stopped Saturday night. Too bad we had to get back as Sunday was absolutely gorgeous. 60 and sunny. Other than scrambling and taking pictures, we spent the weekend driving the park, careening down 4-wheel drive roads, searching out abandoned mines, drinking root beers, and eating Oreos (Double Stuff - mostly Peter and Justin).

We drove past a section of the park like this for quite a while. This was one of my favorite parts. It just seemed so primitive to me. I was waiting for a brontosaurus to stroll through at any second.

At sunset we went out to a cactus grove where we had stopped earlier in the day. Unfortunately, we failed to comprehend that the valley the grove was in was flanked by mountains to the east and west. The ridgeline being at about 15 degrees meant we wouldn't get any of the interesting light from the low-lying sun. I was very disappointed until I turned around to the East to see the moon rising over the ridge. From our vantage point it looked like it spanned over a mile of ridgeline. Incredible.

Saturday night we all took a scramble/hike along a wash leading away from camp. On our way back, I had the other guys go back along the wash a minute or so and come back with their headlamps on. This is the exposure of them walking toward me. We had been trying to get some pictures like this earlier with little success.

The Gang (w/ Joshua Tree)
"Here I go again on my own..."

(photo courtesy of Justin Scarpetti: justinscarpetti.com)

I've been getting my new computer running this week and all of these pics were edited on it with some new software. I'm pretty pumped; hopefully this will improve my images in the future.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

On Things That I Did / Happened To Me Last Week

So I had been thinking a lot last week about what to write in this here blog again, and I came up with a few ideas, but somehow never found the time to type it in. Here's the roundup.

I had a birthday this week, Thursday to be precise, and it got me thinking about time. Well not time really, but Time. OK, Time is a magazine (and it's not Outside or Backpacker so I don't read it), so let's call it time then. In short, I'm talking about the concept of time, that is, the idea that physical life is metered out in lineal chunks during which events and actions (and all sorts of other things) occur. (I was having trouble coming up with a good definition of time there without being circular. My definition still assumes you know what I'm talking about since it uses words like "lineal" - time has a progression and "during" - durations are made of time slices. I just looked it up in the dictionary and it doesn't do much better than I.) So what I'm curious about is how do we know time exists, and what can we prove about the nature of it? I'm not sure either of those questions are able to be answered (certainly not by me). [Boy I'm using a lot of parentheses here - thought I'd switch it up with brackets there.] The point is, somehow we just know time is. It's not a theory we can test like gravity (yes, gravity is a theory). That brings up another point; the assumption of time is implicit in so many of the physical theories we attempt to study. Strange isn't it? What's to say that time doesn't speed up and slow down and perhaps the physical laws with it? Anyway, what got me thinking about time, was my birthday, and I know a couple people who surely understood time better than I do are Dorothy and Patty Tuttle. Every year they somehow arranged for birthday cards to arrive on exactly the right date, and consider that they did this at every slice of geography which I have lived. How did they do that? Perhaps there is a secret manual handed down with all these answers one you become an Aunt or a Grandma. I guess I'll always be in the dark on this one. We miss you Patty and Grandma. :)

So, yeah, like I said I had another birthday, and actually, this one went pretty much just as I'd hoped, wellllll, apart from that meeting I had on Thursday afternoon. Jeff was kind enough to buy us all a beer after work at Naja's. Lucky for Jeff and I, we got there first and scored the last two pints of Stone's black IPA "Self-Righteous." Sorry, Erik. It was nice of all who were able to make it. I may have got Jeff in a little trouble as we kind of lost track of time philosophizing (on one topic of which I will get to soon). Sorry, Jeff. Saturday, Gwen came over and we had a late lunch at the new Father's Office location in L.A. proper. The new location is HUGE and I had a fantastic time. With an Office Burger and a Maredsous 8, I was euphoric as soon as we sat down. I think I went on and on about this (I'm sure Gwen can confirm), but that was really about one of the best meals I have had in a while. Terrific. Afterwards, we watched a couple movies, which leads me to...

Yep, Jeff finally convinced me to join Netflix as we examined the workings of Man at Naja's. My biggest reservation is that I really like supporting my local video store guy. I don't get to the farmer's markets too much, but I figure I could at least "shop local" for my video rentals. Honestly, the guy has a really good selection and is reasonably priced. I think I will still go there for new releases and the like, but Netflix has a lot of old movies, plus instant streaming on a lot of titles, so I went for it.

I reduced my facial hair down to a mustache last weekend before I went camping (more to follow in another post) last weekend, and this morning I I finally put you all, er... it out of its misery. It was kind of fun for a while. Here's me now, clean shaven as I blog, with a handy assist from one Gorillapod - thanks, Mike and Paul's!

Thanks, everyone, for the birthday wishes this week!

UPDATE: One More Thing
I started reading Catch-22 (for book club). I mentioned this to my buddy Nathan a couple of weeks ago when it was decided that would be what we would read next. Nathan said it was his favorite book (I think), but after considering the subject matter more thoroughly, he wondered what that being his favorite book might say about him. Well, it's fairly clear to me now why Nathan likes the book. I'm about 90 pages in and the narrator is still introducing a bunch of "crazy" bomber officers from WWII. They all talk in paradoxes and take words at their most exact - and exasperating - meaning. Every conversation I have ever had with Nathan is much like this.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Let The Blogging Begin

There is a lot of pressure coming up with a blog name. When you sit down and start an endeavor such as this, you can't help but have grand visions of what it might become. You imagine yourself blazing a path of grand thoughts and world-changing ideas in HTML for years to come. I suppose a title might be easier to pick if you had a grand vision (or at least wild guess) as to what your blog might be about. But for those of us who have no seeming aim or purpose, it's a bit difficult. It's a little like what I think naming a child must be like. How do you know your child will be a Carl? Or a Karl for that matter. Does anointing him so make him grow to be more Carl-like? Would he be the same if he were raised a Steven?

This blog has no grand (or otherwise) vision of what it's to be about. So I took a line from a song by one of my favorite artists. It tells about a man who drives a car off a cliff and tells the passengers "it's flying." In writing the previous sentence, I realize there is another clever line near the end of the song,
"Fighting for Peace?
That's like screaming for quiet."
I realize now "Screaming For Quiet" would have made a much better blog name.