Friday, May 31, 2013

One More Time :: The Piedras Blancas Elephant Seals

Wednesday, May 1st - - A drive along the central Coast of California is not complete without a stop to see the Elephant Seals at Piedras Blancas, a few miles north of San Simeon. It is just plain fun to watch them interacting, getting annoyed with each other, and playing. If it is a warm day and the breeze is coming in off the ocean you may not want to stay long (the smell can be a bit overwhelming at times) but it is definitely worth a visit.

Carol has some cute pictures of the seals that she took in April of this year.  And here are some photos from my visit in April 2010. There was far more activity and movement amongst the seals today than on past visits.

Published under a Creative Commons License.
Becky Wiseman, "One More Time :: The Piedras Blancas Elephant Seals," Kinexxions, posted May 31, 2013 ( : accessed [access date])

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Along The Central Coast of California

Wednesday, May 1st - - No matter how many times I take this route, it never ceases to amaze me. This stretch of highway has got to be one of the prettiest (and most challenging) drives in our beautiful country! It doesn't hurt that I had an absolutely gorgeous day for my drive north along the Coast Highway with lots of  sunshine and temperatures in the upper 60s.

I didn't take a lot of photos - my goal for today was simply to relax, enjoy myself and the scenery, and to get to Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park (26 miles south of Carmel and about 90 miles north of Morro Bay) before nightfall. That 90 mile drive took me nearly five hours. Yes, I stopped. A lot. It was fantastic!

Along the southern section of the Central Coast, a "few" miles north of Morro Bay - the hills and mountains are still some distance from the coastline but there are still cliffs to navigate to get down to the water. This wasn't one of them but there were a few places where you could actually get to the beach.

Occasionally, the highway weaved inland through canyons and around hills. You can see a small stretch of the road in the upper right corner.

Guardrails along the highway are present only in some areas, particularly where there is a distinct drop-off or very sharp curve.

There were a few delays along the way for road construction, but no long waits. I would imagine there are longer waits on the weekends when there is more traffic.

Yeah, it was a gorgeous day!

You can just barely see it, but to the right of the "big rock" in the water is one of the many bridges, engineering marvels, really.

A close-up of the bridge in the previous photo.

I arrived safely at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park in plenty of time to admire the big trees and take a walk around the campground.  My site was next to a little stream and the sound of the water flowing by was very relaxing. I didn't see the sunset over the ocean but the sky above the trees surrounding the campground was filled with many shades of pink and pale orange. It was a fitting end to a great day.

Published under a Creative Commons License.
Becky Wiseman, "Along The Central Coast of California," Kinexxions, posted May 30, 2013 ( : accessed [access date])

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Montaña De Oro

Wednesday, May 29th - - I have been back in Indiana for two weeks and am staying with some friends. I've found an apartment but it won't be available until the end of July and I'm still waiting for the final approval.  However, it will be worth waiting for - it has a garage! And I'm looking forward to "settling down" again. Thankfully my friends are very good ones and are willing to put me up and put up with me for a while.

Tuesday, April 30th - - In early afternoon I left Yosemite National Park and continued on to the coast arriving at Montaña De Oro State Park, a few miles southwest of Morro Bay. I fell in love with that area when I was stationed at Point Mugu (near Oxnard) in the mid-1970s.

The website for the park states that Montaña De Oro is one of the largest state parks in California and features over 8,000 acres of rugged cliffs, secluded sandy beaches, coastal plains, streams, canyons, and hills. I've stayed here before and enjoyed it very much. As you can see in the photos, it was rather cloudy and overcast - it was rather chilly too!

One of many flowers in the Ice Plant that was growing alongside the road.

A close-up view of the inside of the flower.

Looking toward the south.

Details that were hidden in the dark original photograph show up a little better after it was converted to a pencil sketch.

Looking toward the north.

Published under a Creative Commons License.
Becky Wiseman, "Montaña De Oro," Kinexxions, posted May 29, 2013 ( : accessed [access date])

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Casa Roma aka Eastbrique Tower

In July 2008, I posted Home Sweet Home as a contribution to "Smile for the Camera : Celebrate Home" that was hosted by footnoteMaven. In that post, I talked a little about the house I lived in while attending Indiana State University (1979-1982) in Terre Haute, Indiana and included the photo below.

"Eastbrique Tower on Fruitridge Avenue, Terre Haute, Indiana. I lived here 1979-1982. I don't know when the house was built but it was quite old. The owner was remodeling it and turning it into apartments. I lived in a little efficiency apartment located in the left corner, first floor. I was devastated when I returned to Terre Haute in 1985 to discover the house had been torn down and the lot turned into a paved parking area for a neighboring restaurant."
A few days ago I received a comment from Donna Bollman who provided more information about the house:
This is the only picture I have ever seen of the "Casa Roma". I loved this building. My parents had bought the building and my father had brought it back to life. We put countless hours into the restoration of the immense wood throughout the home. In one room the opening of the fireplace exceeded 5' and I could walk into the opening. That room also hosted 20' ceilings and touted solid walnut ceiling beams and the room lead out by way of grand french doors that were arched. Behind this manor house was a carriage house that we were converting to a Art Studio/Antique shop. My father feel ill to lung cancer before it was completed. On the day of my fathers funeral in August in 1994 my mother gave me a box that contained a single brick. It was one of two cornerstone bricks from the building. That is how I found out "The Castle" had been demolished. My mother had the building bulldozed the night before the funeral. She destroyed the building at night because she feared the city would stop her from tearing down the oldest remaining grand home on Fruitridge Ave. The land was then sold on the day of the funeral to the restaurant next door for extra parking.
And, my response:
Donna, thank you for sharing the story of 'The Castle.' I have fond memories of that place. Your father showed me every room before I moved in. Since I was a poor college student, I could only afford the efficiency apartment. I really would have loved to live in one of the larger apartments. The woodwork was amazing and your father (and whomever helped him) did a wonderful job in restoring it.
Was the house demolished in 1994 or 1984? In my post I said I visited Terre Haute in 1985 and the house was gone. I could easily have gotten the year mixed up. I'm sure that had it been publicly known, there would have been an outcry to prevent it being destroyed. I'm amazed that your mother was able to pull that off without it being public knowledge! It's sad that it was torn down. It was a grand old place.
Donna, I have another photo of the house, taken from the other side that actually shows the tower. If you are interested I could post it on the blog or email it to you.
Donaa added another comment late last night:
No my mistake 1984. I would love to have a copy of the picture. To this day I still refinish wood for a living. (I was a fine arts major) The name Casa Roma was what it was called in the 1940's when it was a restaurant. The building itself took years to complete. (1860's to 1870's) The couple that built the house went on an extended stay in Europe. Each room was built one at a time. The wife would sent back ideas from homes that she liked in Europe. Many people think it was added on to but that was the way it was built. They say the wife did not see the home till it was finished and loved it. Also each room was furnished in the style of that room.
I find it interesting that both Donna and I were fine arts majors. My emphasis was in photography but I also took quite a few courses in woodworking while at ISU and loved working with wood.

Most of my older photos (i.e., pre-digital) are in boxes in storage but there were a few that were digitized during the scanning frenzy a few years ago, including the three below.

An infrared photo taken from the southwest side. My apartment was in the lower right corner.

The living room was rather small - I think the ceilings were higher than the width of the apartment!

A fun photo, taken with a very wide angle lens, made the apartment look bigger. The three square windows across the top were stained glass and added some wonderful color to the room in the late afternoon.

My thanks to Donna for taking the time to leave her comments and for providing more information about the house.

Published under a Creative Commons License.
Becky Wiseman, "Casa Roma aka Eastbrique Tower," Kinexxions, posted May 22, 2013 ( : accessed [access date])

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Yosemite Falls

Monday, April 30th - -

The morning light contrasts sharply with that of late afternoon.  The row of trees on the far bank of the river are the same trees that were in yesterday's photo.

Upper Yosemite Falls.

Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls.

Even though the campgrounds were full, there didn't seem to be many people out and about. Traffic was light and it was easy finding a place to park so that I could simply walk around the meadows in the valley and soak up the views.

On a previous visit in July 2010 I was able to visit Glacier Point (the road was still closed this time) and got soaked at Bridalveil Falls. This time I decided to walk to the base of Lower Yosemite Falls. The trail was nearly deserted, it was very quiet and peaceful - except for the roar of the water which got louder with every step along the path.

There was a hint of a rainbow at the bottom of the falls.

Out on the middle of the footbridge, the mist from the falls was the strongest as was the blowing wind. I got wet, but nothing like at Bridalveil Falls.

A dramatic view of both falls, which is somewhat deceiving as it looks as though the Upper fall is immediately above the Lower fall. But looking at the third photo above, you can see that there is a considerable offset between the two waterfalls. As always, double-click on the photos to view a larger version, then click again to get the full size.

In addition to the road to Glacier Point being closed, Tioga Road (Highway 120 through the park) was also closed so a visit to Tuolumne Meadows was out of the question.  As much as I would have liked to do the hike that takes you to the top of Yosemite Falls, I didn't think my legs could handle the rugged, wet trail. Instead, I simply walked around the valley, had a picnic lunch next to the river, and enjoyed a wonderful, leisurely day.

Published under a Creative Commons License.
Becky Wiseman, "Yosemite Falls," Kinexxions, posted May 14, 2013 ( : accessed [access date])

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Yosemite Valley

Monday, April 29th - - It was 24 miles from the Hodgdon Meadow campground to "The Valley" area, which took about an hour to get there - and it wasn't because of the traffic either! It was simply the nature of the route going up and down and over and around and even through the mountains. Luckily the road into the valley was wider than the road to Hetch-Hetchy!

The late afternoon light was incredible.

Upper Yosemite Falls.

Bridalveil Falls.

Bridalveil Falls from one of the pull-outs along the road back to Hodgdon Meadow. As always, double-click on the image to view a larger version...

Same view, zoomed in a lot. This really shows the "hanging valley" created when the glaciers receded many eons ago leaving Bridalveil creek with nowhere to go except down!

Published under a Creative Commons License.
Becky Wiseman, "Yosemite Valley," Kinexxions, posted May 12, 2013 ( : accessed [access date])

Friday, May 10, 2013

Ketch-in-up at Hetch-Hetchy

I've been "on the move" for much of the last 12 days since leaving Salt Lake City and have been off the grid for most of that time. I'm happy to say that I did indeed make it to the Coast of California but first I made a little stop at Yosemite National Park before moving on. The campgrounds in the valley were all full but there was plenty of room in the campground at Hodgdon Meadow at the North entrance to the park and I had no trouble getting a site for two nights.

Having heard about Carol's adventures (on Facebook - she hasn't written about them on her blog yet) in going to the Hetch-Hetchy section of the park, and never having been in that area, I thought I'd see if the drive was as harrowing as she described. I'll have to admit that, even in the mini-van, it was rather exciting with the sharp drop-offs and narrow roads. But I do believe that her trip down those roads was probably more than a little exciting - down right frightening - in that big old truck of theirs!

I did come across one turn-out where I was able to stop and take a photo of the dam and reservoir, but you have to look really close to see them! They are there, in the center of the picture.

From the same spot, zoomed in a lot. The Tueeulala and Wapama falls (on the left and right, respectively) can now be seen.

The reservoir and the falls.

That "dark spot" on the other side of the dam is a tunnel which takes you to the trail-head for several trails leading to the falls and beyond. I did walk about a mile along the trail but it kept going up and up and my legs kept getting shakier and shakier!

The view of the valley beyond the dam.
All photos taken on April 29, 2013

The drive back up to the main road was far more intimidating than the drive down to the dam. Yes, I tended to creep a little closer to the inside walls and away from the outer edges that seemed imminently closer than they had been!

Published under a Creative Commons License.
Becky Wiseman, "Ketch-in-up at Hetch-Hetchy," Kinexxions, posted May 10, 2013 ( : accessed [access date])