Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Just Kickin' It

Usually when Kelsey and I get together - whether it be out here in LA or back home again in Indiana (go ahead sing along) or some other place in these here United States - we tend to pack in the fun. Which leaves us both completely wiped out afterward. But this visit by Kelsey was supposed to be all about a relaxing time, just hanging out, being normal and not running around constantly.

I think we tried that for a while, but then Kelsey realized this meant sitting through my movie recommendations (and Shaun Of the Dead is a great movie, by the way) and so we ended up doing a bunch of stuff anyway. Actually the first few nights were pretty relaxed (actually really relaxed for Kelsey but I had to work during the day like a sucker), we just had dinner around town (Kelsey's first trip to Richmond St. for the peanut butter bacon burger - I had a salad) or fixed it ourselves (Kelsey's self).

soooo good

Then at midweek things started to get a little busier. Wednesday night we met up with Kelsey's friend Justin (okay, my friend too) at one of my favorite joints, Father's Office, for beers and the famous Office Burger and fries (the regular non-sweet potato variety for me). I don't know about everyone else (okay maybe I do), but I had a really great time. And Kelsey and I got to try out the LA Metro a little more taking the Big Blue Bus up to Santa Monica.

The next night (Thursday if you're following along) we met up with my friend Justin (okay Kelsey's friend too) and his girlfriend Jillian (okay she's my/our friend as well) for dinner at The Cheesecake Factory. It was, um, interesting hanging out with them as always. Just kidding, I had a lot of fun, it's just the conversation seems to go some awfully odd places when we get together. We tried to make it to a movie at the "sexy theater" but we all were kinda beat and had to be up early the next morning, so that didn't happen. Another time perhaps.

see? doesn't this conversation look interesting?

The reason Kelsey and I had to get up early the next morning was for our camping trip which will be in the next post.

And I do believe I set a personal best for parenthetical insertions in this post. I hope you enjoyed it.

(A few) more pics.

Monday, August 30, 2010

School's Out For Summer!!!

Well at least for a week or so anyway. Kelsey had a little time off between the second summer session and the fall semester, and I wanted her to come out and go to a wedding with me, so she was out here for about ten days the week before last. We took it pretty easy the first weekend she was here (I'll post about the second weekend later on), and part of that taking it easy was an afternoon at Bolsa Chica with The Pilgrims and The Mellquists. We did a little bonfiring and some weenie roasting. Matt and Kelsey did a little surfing. A pretty fun time was had by all as one might expect at a beach bonfire. I'm pretty tired so this is all you get tonight. I'll do better next time.

the lineup was filled with hooligans that day

Matt has yet to explain the finger licking

Paddle! Paddle! Paddle!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Tuttle Invasion - The Road Map

Kelsey's comment after my last post got me to thinking that I should probably put up some reference so the rest of you can figure out where all we were going. Since I've been carrying around my GPS lately so I can geotag my photos, I happen to have a log of everywhere we went. This first set of maps is our road trip tracks through Yosemite and Sequoia. The first one shows the whole trip and the following three are the rectangles on the large one zoomed in.

full trip track

day 1 camp and surroundings

day 2 driving

night 2 camp and sequoia

The second set is for all of our adventures around LA and with Dave and Jenny.

around LA

UCLA and Hollywood

Hope this helps!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Tuttle Invasion - Around LA And Another Tuttle!

We made it safely back to LA late Tuesday night. The rest of the week Woody and Dad spent hanging round town while I worked during the day (though mostly they walked on the beach or napped at my place) then we'd do something in the evening. They'd come and meet me for lunch but wouldn't really eat anything since they'd usually slept in and had a late breakfast (I think Woody cleaned the Blue Butterfly out of Cap'N Crunch). Basically what I'm saying is they were really lazy. But I guess that's what vacation is for and I think LA seemed a little anticlimactic after our road trip. Besides who am I to talk since all I do is sleep when I go back to Walton to visit (as Woody reminded me repeatedly).

Wednesday we had lunch at Rinaldi's (natch), then that night we drove up to Santa Monica and walked around the Promenade and Pier. After we had dinner at El Tarasco (salsa!). Thursday was burgers at Richmond St. for lunch and a drive around the Palos Verdes Peninsula. At one of the vistas, we thought we saw a shark but it turned out to be just the tide covering and uncovering a rock. When we got all the way around the peninsula, we stopped to look down at the Port of Los Angeles, which is immense. Since we were so close to Long Beach, we popped right on down to Roscoe's for a chicken and waffle dinner (except Woody got the chicken and cheese omelette).


Dave had been at UCLA for a conference the latter half of the week, and Jenny was flying in to meet up with him so we picked her up Friday evening from LAX, then jumped on the freeway to grab Dave on the way to a Dodger game. Unfortunately there was no good way to get across town since the 405 had been a complete bumper-to-bumper mess on our way there. I tried the best I could, but we didn't get there until the top of the third or so. The game was fun as usual with just enough of the usual Dodger rowdiness.

it's time for Dodger baseball!

Late the next morning Dad, Woody, and I had some quick coffee then drove back up to Westwood to grab Dave and Jenny for a day of sightseeing. We hit Pink's for an early lunch on our way to Miracle Mile. We stopped at the La Brea Tar Pits then split up for museum-going. Dave and Jenny to LACMA, and we Tuttle men to the Peterson Auto Museum.

decisions, decisions

Dave enjoying his pile of meats

A couple hours there, then I drove us up to Griffith Park and we stopped at the observatory to look out over LA (and get a picture by the Hollywood sign). I took the scenic way home, through Hollywood, and on Sunset to the ocean. I can't remember where or even if we ate dinner (but I'm pretty sure we did). Shortly thereafter, we dropped Dave and Jenny's stuff at their hotel, and took Woody and Dad to catch their return flight at LAX. The McIntoshs had a midday flight Sunday so we hit up The Kettle in Manhattan Beach for a filling brunch before they left.

the gang

I can honestly say I was pretty beat by the time it was all done, but I'd do it over again in a heartbeat. Thanks so much to all of you for visiting. And come again any time. Miss you all as always.

Last of the pics!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Tuttle Invasion - Day 3

We all managed to get a good night's sleep even after the bear sighting the night before. At least I did. I didn't ask the others. But they seemed awake enough in the morning (the evening drive home would be a whole other story), so I figured it was safe to assume they did too. Hey, I figure. It's what I do.

And it's a good thing they did too, because I was about to wear them out with the most strenuous day of sightseeing yet. After a quick breakfast, we walked over to the Muir Grove trailhead and hit the trail to the big trees. It was about 9am, so it was nice and cool, and early enough that not many people were out and about. This trail is one of my favorite hikes ever. Just a couple miles, but steep enough in some areas to get your heart going a little. About halfway through there's a nice rock outcropping looking over a wooded valley that is nice to take a break at for a few minutes. After that, there is a rocky section, but once you cross over the first creek, a lush, green, ferny foliage blanket covers each side of the trail. There is a log crossing another creek, and then just a few switchbacks opening up into the grove of Sequoias. The grove is fairly hidden, so it's a bit of a surprise encountering the first Sequoia. But after you do, man, it is cool. It's a little secluded and is a much preferable way to see some big trees than the Giant Forest Museum with its sidewalks, and buses, and crowds.

all I could think of was Harry & the Hendersons

Muir Grove

Muir Grove Hike from Ryan Tuttle on Vimeo.

After some spending a half hour or so marveling at and walking around the grove, we hiked back down to camp and packed up our things. Next we decided we wanted to do the guided tour of Crystal Cave. We got tickets and drove down the narrow, windy road 13 miles to the cave parking lot. Then walked another half mile (and 30 stories elevation) down to the cave entrance. It's about a 45 minute guided tour, and one of the nicest parts about it is the cool air, a welcome reprieve from the hot summer waiting for us outside. It gets tight in places and Woody's flashlight died, but we managed to survive the tour (and the horrible comedy attempts by the tour guide).

woody realizes his flashlight is out

woody enjoying the tour

After a dreadful lunch at the Visitors Center (actually I think this was before the tour, but I'm not much for rewrites, more of a stream of consciousness writer, just kind of putting down whatever comes to mind, like how I'm thinking of that time I left my lunchbox outside the cafeteria for something like 3 weeks in third grade, and it was all stinky and moldy, and I think the office had to make an announcement for me to come and get it, and it had these cartoon sharks on it, or was that my art box? I really can't remember but anyway, yeah lunch was probably before the cave tour), we drove over to Moro Rock, and hiked the short, but steep trail up to the top. Actually it was more like a run; I think Woody and Dad need to work on their hike pacing because they were leaving me in their dust. The top of Moro Rock offers a panoramic view of the surround hills and the winding roads of the park. The way down was a lot easier of course, but Woody and Dad thought that maybe they had had enough hiking for the day.

Tuttles at the top. boosh.

crazy trail

Which was fine by me. In any case, the next activity was more car-centric, namely driving through / under Tunnel Log. It's fairly self explanatory from the pictures below. Letting Woody drive was probably a violation of the rental agreement, but I told him not to run into anything and if he thought someone was going to run into him just through it in park real quick so he isn't technically "driving". That works, right? Right?


The last stop of the day before the long drive back to El Segundo was The Giant Forest Museum. We looked around the museum quickly (it's really only one room, the museum is mostly the trees outside I think), and then strolled down the Big Trees Trail (though even I was tired of walking at this point). We walked about a quarter mile to just about where the trail hits the road and figured we would turn around and head back, but we decided to just cross the road before we did. There was a small crowd gathered around on the other side looking into the woods. We couldn't figure out what everyone was staring at, but then two little girls pointed us to where a mama bear and two cubs were laying around in the brush 15 yards away. We stuck around and saw the three bears head off deeper into the woods with bear management personnel trying to scare them away from the road. Sure glad we didn't turn around earlier.

spot the bears?

After that we started down the road out of the park and into the heat of the flatlands below. We stopped for dinner at the Bakersfield IHOP (actually one of many) right next to Buck Owens' Crystal Palace. We were tired and smelly and sweaty and sore, but I think we all thought it worth it.

More pics.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Tuttle Invasion - Day 2

When I left off last, we had just bedded down at our June Lake campsite. We got up early the next morning because we had a long day ahead of us, and because, well, it's hard to sleep past sunrise when your shelter is a thin synthetic mesh. So, yeah, up early. Had a quick breakfast of oatmeal and Oreos (Dad refused to eat oatmeal without milk - sheesh, princess), then packed up camp before grabbing some gas (and sweetened teas) just outside Yosemite.

It was a long, winding uphill drive to the park entrance at just below 10,000 feet elevation with views of the valleys and foothills below the whole way up. Just a short trip from the entrance drops into the famed Tuolomnee Meadows. We stopped there for a pit stop and stomped around while the prairie dogs played.

Tuolomnee Meadows

After Tuolomnee, we wound through Tioga Pass, alternated rock outcroppings and forest. The views were so beautiful in every direction that even Woody had a hard time falling asleep during the drive. A couple hours later, we start the slow descent into the floor of Yosemite Valley. Coming around the first bend where it is visible is shocking. Just a jaw-dropping site. Fortunately I was prepared so I didn't run the truck off the road and causing a 2,000 foot drop into a flaming ball of metal. This was the first time I was seeing it from the North side which somehow looks totally different.

Tioga Pass

Yosemite Valley from the north

I was planning on doing a little bit of hiking around the valley, but I couldn't manage to get my gear boxes into the bear extra bear boxes. Which was really odd since I was sure I brought them there before (Jeff reminded me that we had to turn them upside down to get them to fit). So with a truck bed full of food and drinks, we couldn't really take off for anywhere else. Which was fine anyway, because the valley was crammed full of visitors as is the case in summer. We made a few stops on the way out, checking out one of the meadows and searching for climbers on El Cap.

El Cap

Yosemite Valley from the south

It was a short drive out of the park from there, but a long, HOT stretch of road through the rolling hills of Fresno (I think it peaked at 101 - quite a difference from our 40 degree night). Once we hit Fresno, we turned East and headed for Sequoia National Forest where we would be camping that night. The road is steep uphill for a seemingly impossible distance before hitting the park entrance. After following a stubborn RV for about 30 minutes, we finally arrived at the campsite, tired and hungry. We received the obligatory "bear talk" from the Ranger on duty, which I thought was overdone quite a bit more than normal. Out of the Ranger's earshot, I told Dad and Woody they were just trying to scare people, but still to keep things locked up (mostly so I didn't get fined).

Quickly we set up camp and got dinner going. As we're sitting around enjoying the campfire post-meal, two dear gallop through the campground, passing by us no more than 20 yards away. Night falls and I start taking some long exposure shots of the black overhead. About 30 minutes later we start hearing a racket being made by campers up the hill from us. Flashlights shining everywhere, whistles blowing, banging pots and pans like it's New Year's Day. After about 15 minutes of this we realize that the Rangers talk might have been more than just a scare tactic. I was a couple minutes into a 15 minute exposure, but I thought to myself after that shot I would get my flash set up and my camera ready in case anything came near. Dad waited around for a few more minutes, but things seemed to be dying down with the bear alert so he climbed in the tent. Literally just two minutes later, the racket starts and all of a sudden the light beams are much closer. Shining down from the hill above, they illuminate a large black bear, and we watch the silhouette rumble through the campsite next to hours. Pretty exciting. Dad popped his head out of the tent, but it was already gone, lumbering down the hill. Woody and I stayed up a little while longer, but no more signs other than noise from alerted campers, getting further and further away.

wildlife visitors

taken while bear ran by; so close

More pics.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Tuttle Invasion - Day 1

Last week was the years-in-the-making trip to LA for Dad and Woody. We had tried it the last couple of years, but things got busy, and it just didn't work out. But this year, they were determined to make it, if only to get away from finishing the porch remodel. Just kidding. Kind of.

They had about a week to spend here in LA, and the only real request from the two was to get out and see some of California. Dad wanted to see the big trees and the Pacific, and Woody was noncommittal on everything. Except he wanted to sleep a lot. Not kidding. They had a late flight in Saturday night, and we hit the road early Sunday morning to head into the Wilderness. Yes, capital "W." Boosh.

It was a pretty ambitious plan I laid out, requiring about 1,000 miles of driving over the three days. But I wanted them to see a lot, and I think we accomplished that. The first day was a long drive up the Eastern side of the Sierra Nevadas into the Inyo National Forest just outside Yosemite National Park. It was a long, but scenic drive up US 395. We stopped in Lone Pine for some pictures below Mt. Whitney, and for some greasy, cheesy pizza in Lone Pine.

Lone Pine; foothills of the Eastern Sierra

US 395

Eventually we arrived at June Lake, a vomitously beautiful (yes, I nearly threw up it was so pretty) area nestled in the outskirts of Inyo. We set up camp quickly because I wanted to stop by nearby Mono Lake, famous for it's salt-filled protrusions and fly swarms. It was a really interesting place, full of very strange wildlife (according to the Visitors Center), but what I will remember most is the nasty smell.

June Lake

After our stop there, we headed back to camp and beautiful June Lake, where Woody and I went for a dip in the cool (VERY cool) waters. The water was incredibly clear and strangely silky. What a refreshing swim it was once one got used to the temperature. But a few minutes drying in the mountain sun had me warm again.

afternoon swim in June Lake

Then it was back to camp again for steak dinners, and some early evening star gazing. Dad and Woody crashed out pretty early, but I walked down to the lake again for a few night photos. I didn't take too long though, because we had another long day ahead.

More pics.