Nature, Landscape, and Night Sky Photography by Zach Schierl

On the road again

Two days til grad school starts: time for a quick post in list form! Here are some random musings, observations, rants, and pictures from a two-week, 2,500 mile end-of-summer road trip through Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, California, Oregon, and Washington:

  • Packing everything you own into the backseat and trunk of a Toyota Corolla IS possible, if only for 15 miles until you get to the closest UPS store so you can pack 61 pounds of crap into a box and ship it so your car doesn’t bottom out going across every single expansion joint in the road
  • A small passenger car with over 180,000 miles, power steering leaks, suspension maladies, and mysterious engine and electrical issues is nevertheless capable of successfully completing a 2,500 mile road-trip including travel up and over several 10,000 foot mountain passes, on roads through several deserts with temperatures soaring to 108 degrees, all while fully loaded with nary a squeak.
  • Said road trip is also possible to complete without the aid of a GPS unit, smartphone, or other computerized mapping device.
  • To anyone who claims their home town/state/country/etc has the best sunsets ever, please go to the Grand Canyon and watch the sun go down from Desert View. I’ll be expecting a formal, written retraction of your blasphemous statement in the mail any day now.

    Grand Canyon from Mohave Point

  • Pink Jeep Tour guides are really good at spotting Deeres.
  • It is impossible to make money in Las Vegas.  Even if you win a decent amount of dough, you will be tempted into spending your winnings on drinks served in three-foot-tall brightly-colored souvenir “cups” and $7 slices of crappy pizza in the casino food court at 2am. But you won’t know its 2am because there are no clocks anywhere.
  • When traveling through particularly desolate stretches of Nevada, it is amazing how quickly your mind begins  voluntarily generating thoughts such as “I wonder how many hours it’s been since I’ve seen another car…” and “I bet I could take my hands off the steering wheel for 10 whole minutes and not hit anything.”

    Tufa towers on the shores of Mono Lake, CA

  • If you never thought you encounter a situation in which you would consider $4.89 a screaming good deal on a gallon of gasoline, go visit Lee Vining, California (and look at what the Chevron is charging first…)
  • Americans like Yosemite more than they dislike getting hantavirus.

    Tenaya Lake, Yosemite National Park

  • Tropical plants will die if you leave them in the backseat of a hot car for a week with no access to food or water.
  • Camping in bear country is a pain in the ass. A typical night terror in Yosemite consists of waking in the middle of the night in a panicked and frantic state wondering if you remembered to take that tube of mildly scented chapstick out of your pocket and put it in the bear box.

Bumpass Hell thermal area, Lassen Volcanic National Park

  • Even if people say they aren’t buying you something from your Amazon wish-list, never buy anything from your Amazon wishlist.
  • Eugene, Portland, and Bellingham should secede and create a new autonomous state called Hippie-gon-ton.  Seriously, these are the kind of places where I deeply wish I had the courage to take pictures of random people I encounter on the street; I’d have a collection to rival People of Wal-Mart in no time, albeit in a very, very different way. Also, on a related note, Portland is the perfect city to arrive in when you haven’t showered for 3 days.

Yosemite Valley and Half Dome

  • The awesomeness of Powell’s bookstore in Portland, OR is still difficult for me to comprehend…I could spend WEEKS there. One’s need for a smartphone with navigational capabilities is greater WITHIN THIS STORE than it is in perhaps any major metropolitan area in the country, with the possible exception of:
  • Seattle, which has quite possibly the worst maintained and most confusing street network of ANY CITY ANYWHERE. Someone should probably go rescue the pothole crew because they clearly have been being held hostage somewhere…since the Eisenhower administration. Also, let’s stop it with the whole “Wouldn’t it be cool to make this street randomly dead-end and then reappear 5 blocks later?” thing.  If I’m driving down a numbered street, it should be a thru-street and not be broken into 8 billion separate sections.
  • On the plus side, if you can somehow manage to navigate Seattle streets without blowing a tire, breaking an axle,  or needing to pull over somewhere and cry, there are a lot of good eats to be had, including the 3rd best Philly cheese steak restaurant this side of Philadelphia and some seriously good pizza.
  • Sea anemones shrivel up when you poke them. Also, it is possible to be surrounded by so many fat purple starfish that you feel afraid.
  • Randomly arriving in a new city where you know nobody and finding a place to live using Craigslist is way easier than it sounds. And no, I’m not living with a convicted felon.
  • The Pacific Northwest is really nice and sunny in the summer…which is conveniently when I am never there.
  • Finding that a “Vegan Revolution” bumper sticker has been pasted onto your car over a pro-meat sticker instantly turns you into a card-carrying vegan drives you to east as much meat as humanly possible the next day (such as a Philly cheese steak and a delicious bacon cheeseburger perhaps).
  • On another related note, a maple long john topped with strips of bacon is just about the best thing e…….. (Zach has heart attack)

    Sunset over the San Francisco Peaks, Flagstaff, AZ

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One response

  1. Miriam Krock

    Love your commentary and gorgeous pix!
    Miriam

    September 24, 2012 at 5:01 am

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