Thursday, June 25, 2009
Kids Enjoying the Meadow, Yosemite Valley Floor
Yosemite National Park abounds with more than 800 miles of trails, from very easy to extremely strenuous. Though most hikers would usually recommend staying away from the valley because for them it is too crowded, but actually, the Yosemite Valley Floor Hike is one of the more peaceful and silent hike in Yosemite. There may be some sections where it is overly crowded to experience a oneness with nature, such as at the trail to the base of Yosemite Falls,
Yosemite Falls from the trail
and in Bridalveil Falls.
But after this two places, the other parts of the Yosemite Valley Floor becomes too quiet, you wonder where all the people went. Most people make a pilgrimage to the base of Yosemite Falls, but after that they go somewhere else, or they leave the park. Other hikers avoid the valley floor thinking this is where tourists who do not hike flock and thus too crowded for them to enjoy the serenity of nature. As a result, leaving the other parts of the Yosemite Valley Floor quiet, peaceful, and really inspiring. We were glad we took this trail, as this may be one of Yosemite's best kept secret.
Only very few people would take a walk to enjoy the lush meadows, woods,
The route of this hike is through alternating meadows and woodlands, with frequent views of the towering granite cliffs and the alluring Merced River.
Yosemite Fall and Merced River
The water here was so clear that we can actually even see some fishes swimming in the river. The total distance of the hike is 13 miles loop, with only about 200 ft change in elevation. We were so glad we took this trail and did not follow the popular notion that this is a crowded hike. Except at Bridalveil and Yosemite Falls, the trail is mostly quiet and serene, and maybe, one of the less traveled path in Yosemite.
Yosemite Falls from the Valley Floor
If I were to add, though we did saw this endorsement only after the trip, the National Geographic describe the Yosemite Valley Floor hike as a must do secret in Yosemite, and it further added that this trail has not seen much foot traffic since the 1950s! No wonder why when we took the trail, it was so tranquil and inspiring, so contrary to the popular advises I got to avoid the valley floor. I am glad we took this trail, I am glad we listened to the park ranger when we asked him what is his favorite trail in Yosemite that he would recommend us to take.
This trail is like walking in a garden, so beautifully adorned with green grasses and wildflowers, surrounded by lush green trees, naturally adorned by majestic granite rocks,
El Capitan, the largest granite monolith standing at 3000 ft
with North America's tallest waterfall and the crystal clear water of Merced River running through it.
PS.....I hope you like this scheduled post. By the time this post is published, we are in Redwood National Park, California. I am not sure if I can get internet connection there, but I am hoping to really enjoy the red woods in the mountains along the Pacific coast. Hope you have a good day, and a good weekend ahead.
Friday, June 19, 2009
Birds in Flight, San Onofre State Beach
I'd be gone for a week to escape the civilization here in San Diego. Unlike these birds though who are free to fly, we would only be driving . We will leave early tomorrow for Big Sur, the first stop of our 9 days road trip.
Then we will head up North to the Park circle, which includes Redwood National Park (CA), Crater Lake National Park (OR), Oregon Caves National Monument, Lava Beds National Monument (CA) and Lassen Volcanic National Park (CA). I am hoping for a good weather ahead of us.
I scheduled 2 posts in my absence, which will be published on Monday and Thursday.
Hope everyone has a good weekend. I'll be around and get back to everyone as soon as we're back.
Posted by betchai at 7:00 PM
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Ooh-Aah Point, South Kaibab Trail
Grand Canyon, one of the world's 7 natural wonders, is often described as the greatest geological showcase on Earth. It is said that nowhere else features such a dazzling variety of colorful and artistically sculpted rock layers. Amazing how it was formed by the Colorado River, which had cut deeply through rocks, forming numerous steep-walled canyons.
South Kaibab Trail
The best time to visit Grand Canyon is early fall and late spring, where the temperature is not as scorching hot as in the summer, and the North Rim is still open. I myself have never been to North Rim, since for the two times I went to Grand Canyon, the North Rim is already closed due to icy road conditions on almost 6000 ft deep canyon hills. Nevertheless, visiting the South Rim is so much joy already I am thankful for.
South Kaibab Trail
Most of the visitors of Grand Canyon National Park just drive along park roads and stopping at scenic view points. After a few hours in the park, they are done and off to go exploring somewhere. Those who chose to spend more time at Grand Canyon however, have several options to enjoy the park, such as hiking, river rafting, taking mule trips down the canyon or viewing the canyon from air. Well, for me, the choice is always take a hike. Actually, my fear of heights stop me from taking the mule tour and the helicopter tour. Hiking for me minimizes the fear since I have more control over my steps.
Steep Trail @ South Kaibab
The Grand Canyon has many trails down the canyon, but there are only 4 main trails at the South Rim. These are: Bright Angel Trail, South Kaibab Trail, Hermit's Trail and Grandview Trail. These trails are steep, and most of them have no water along the path. South Kaibab trail follows ridge lines, thus it has an unobstructed spectacular view of the canyon, offering the most scenic route. Though this may be the best in terms of view, but this is also less traveled because of the heat, since most of this trail is exposed directly to sun.
South Kaibab Trail, Dusk, Grand Canyon National Park
The trail head for South Kaibab is South of Yaki Point. Access to the trail head is by the park's shuttle bus. For more information on Grand Canyon trails, please visit the Grand Canyon National Park site. For those who plan to simply see Grand Canyon from the rim, coming in the summer is not a problem. However, for those who plan to experience the magnificence of the rocks from the trail, cooler months are advised.
Sunset @ South Kaibab Trail
If you are planning for a Grand Canyon trip, and plan also to see other spectacular landscapes in the Southwest, you may consider the Grand Circle. The Grand Circle is really a beautiful, stunning landscape of the Southwestern United States. The "Hoodoos" at Bryce Canyon National Park would be one of the stops in this destination.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Prickly pear cactus is probably the most common cactus I can see here in Southern California.
Prickly Pear Cactus Among Yellow Wildflowers, Lake Hodges
From the coastal trails, to the inland hills and to the mountains, they are just everywhere. Bathing under the warmth of the sun, or coated with snow,
Prickly Pear Cactus in Snow, Mt Laguna
prickly pears have established their presence. Because they are almost everywhere here, some people may refer to them as "weed". Maybe a weed for some, but food for others, especially for these busy bees.
Busy Bees on Prickly Pear Flower
Notice how the bee in the top flower buried himself deeply, so busy enjoying the sweet nectar of the prickly pear. And here is one bee diving into the flower,
so busy collecting pollens. Notice the happy face in this bee, probably so filled with nectar already :) .
I cropped the above picture of the happy bee to be able to show the face more clearly :)
Cropped Picture of Happy Bee
Well, I do understand the busyness of the bees, for the taste of the pollen may really be something for them to dive for, plus the beauty of the prickly pear cactus flower, for me is such a sight to behold.
Busy Bees' Heaven, Prickly Pear Cactus Blossom
Saturday, June 13, 2009
African daisy has blooms in brilliant yellow, orange, pearly white, shades of pink, purple and blue. Some have uniform color, but some have rings of contrasting colors around the center. At home, we use this in some parts of our side yard as ground cover. To learn more about African daisy, please visit my African Daisy post at The Salitype Society. I, together with some friends, worked together to come up with a new blog, where our goal is to be able to send a child to school from our blog earnings through World Vision. Our new blog is called The Salitype Society, if you got some time, I hope you can visit our new blog.
Continuing from my backyard blossoms post, here is another flower from our little backyard.
Fuschias are very easy to grow, well, at least for me :) . They are drought tolerant plants, and in late fall, I cut a stem, plant some on the ground, and by spring, they are coming alive. During their first few months, I water them like once or twice a week, but after they have grown so well in maybe a year, I just let them grow naturally :) . Okay, I may water them like maybe once in two weeks during summer and fall. At home, we don't use water a lot, we actually use recycled water to water our plants. We collect our dishwashing water in a bucket, and use it to water our plants. Currently, our city is in mandatory water conservation program.
Another easy to take care plant are the roses.
I just picked this pink rose today from our backyard and combined it with African daisies, fallen limes and some leaves from the pine tree for some indoor flower arrangement. You can check my flower arrangement in my African Daisy post at Salitype.
As of now, these are the flowers currently blooming at home, I have taken some flowers that bloomed a few weeks back, but I still have to find them in my old folders. Sometimes, we do not really have to travel far to find gifts from nature, we can just look what is around us.
Friday, June 12, 2009
This week, our Fun Friday topic is about food transformation. We pick our favorite food that is unhealthy and fattening, and make a new recipe for it to be healthy. Frankly speaking, I do not think I really have a favorite food that is unhealthy, however, I think the way I eat food is fattening since I eat a lot!
Here are some of my food transformation:
1. Burrito - original burrito usually comes with carne asada (beef asada), guacamole, cheese and sour cream. Instead of beef, we used vegetables, and we omit the sour cream.
Vegetable Burrito by Betchai
Now, the concept is really not that original since there are vegetarble burrito in the Mexican restaurants too. However, their vegetale burrito usually comes with beans, lettuce, rice, guacamole, sour cream and cheese. Since I have no taste for sour cream, I usually ask not to put sour cream in my burrito. The burrito I made above actually has black beans (not in picture), instead of the usual refried beans. Then, I mixed the black beans with grilled mushrooms, grilled potatoes and sweet yam, grilled sweet pepper, tomatoes and 1% milk Mexican blend cheese. I wrap them like in burrito, and heat in oven or in microwave.
2. The next one, is my all time favorite, bittermelon soup. This can not be everybody's food because of the bitterness, but those who have developed a taste for bitter melon and other bitter foods list this as one of their favorites. I have very simple taste in food. I don't go for heavily buttered and creamed dishes. I prefer foods prepared in their own broth.
Bittermelon Soup with Mushroom by Betchai
I think even the original recipe of this one may still not be considered very unhealthy since the ground meat is balanced by the health and nutritional value of bittermelon. In the original bittermelon soup, the buttermelon is stuffed with ground meat. However, since we are not fond of meat, I modified the soup by stuffing it instead with tofu and mushroom, and I added mushroom in making the broth. For me, it still tastes as good as the original recipe. If burrito is a Mexican dish, bittermelon soup is an Asian dish. This vegetable is also known to lower blood sugar, thus in Asia is popular to help in conditions of diabetes mellitus and in infections. When I was younger, my mother would just squeeze the leaves of bittermelon for our first remedy whenever we had cough and cold. I also love bittermelon salad.
3. For something Filipino (my all time favorite cuisine is Filipino as this is the food I grew up with), I modified tokwa't baboy (or tofu and pork). I instead made tokwa na walang baboy ( tofu without pork).
Tokwa na Walang Baboy by Betchai
This dish is made of tofu ( either pan fried or baked ), and then, simply put in the sauce made by mixing soy sauce, vinegar, lime, finely chopped garlic, onion and ginger, and tomato cubes. Usually I add roasted sesame seeds, but this time, we ran out of roasted sesame seeds, so I just put a few drops of sesame oil.
4. And for a combination of dishes, tomato semolina (Indian), tofu a la king ( I am not sure if where did this originate) - which is originally chicken a la king, but I changed the chicken to tofu.
Tomato Semolina ( Indian) , Tofu A La King, Steamed Green Beans and Baked Tofu by Betchai
The dish above that got a transformation is Tofu A La King since the original recipe is Chicken A La King, however, I just made the dish all vegetables.
So, these are the foods that supply me energy when I go hiking or boogie boarding :)
Have a good weekend everyone.
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Torrey Pines State Reserve
As gray as our skies these days, is the fate of our State Parks. I do not want to be political in this post, but I just want to share my sadness at the posssibility of not enjoying our nature parks anymore, the way it was. California is in deep financial meltdown right now, as to how that could have happened is still beyond my simple wired mind. Our state does not depend on one industry alone, we have agriculture, high-tech, bio-tech, aero-tech, all kinds of tech, hollywood, etc. Our state's economy collapsed as if its sole industry is real estate alone. Because our state could not balance their checkbooks, they cut down education budget tremendously, something which does not seem like a solution to the problem at all. Aside from education, one of the budget cuts proposed by our governor is the closure of almost 80-90% of CA State Parks.
Wildflowers @ Torrey Pines State Reserve
As I walked along the Torrey Pines trails with the gray sky above me, I can't help but feel sadness as to the possibility of the closure of this park, among almost all State Parks in San Diego County and across the state.
Sea of Badlands, Anza Borrego State Park
I just look forward as far as my eyes can see into the endless horizon at the possibility of keeping and continuing to preserve these nature parks.
Desert Wildflowers, Anza Borrego Desert State Park
Would we still see as much sea birds in our state park shores, would we still enoy the peacefulness and serenity in the shore if there is a toll road that passes right through San Onofre State Beach, as our governor had supported before? And maybe, with the toll road, what comes next are more development and natural resources unpreservation.
San Onofre State Beach
The closure of the State Parks is perhaps the worst crisis the state park system has faced. I continue to hope that our governor will come into common senses and consider how much loss the State would have with the closure of these nature parks in the long term.
For more information, please click here.
Monday, June 08, 2009
Downtown San Diego from Cabrillo National Monument
The picture above perhaps seem to be the odd picture out if you search all of the pictures in my posts. This shows civilization, unlike most of my photos which focus mostly on the richness and diversity of nature. This picture was taken at east side of Point Loma Peninsula in Cabrillo National Monument. In the same park, but just at the west side of the peninsula, the scenery is totally different.
Tidepool Area at Cabrillo National Monument
It is now the world of rocks and the ocean, with civilization totally hidden by the coastal hill.
Small Sea Cave Overlooking the Ocean at Cabrillo National Monument
Walking here is just as fun as hiking in the trails. I love checking the weird cliffs of sedimentary rocks which have very distinct layers.
Carved Sedimentary Rocks
The distinct layers and the intricate carving of the rocks provides a glimpse to the power of the ocean.
Sculpted Rocky Cliff
Wildlife here is different than when I walk in the trail. Here, at low tide, I can view an ocean intertidal zone ecosystem up close. Walking through the algae coated rocks which really are very slippery that extra precaution is needed, I would see small fishes trapped in the rocky pools.
Small Fishes and Anemone
And these poor creatures are feasted by the birds. Do you wonder sometimes why at low tide there are just so many birds on shore? They don't really have to dive down anymore to fish.
Egret Looking For Something To Feed On
Aside from small fishes trapped in the rocky pool, there are also a lot of mussels, barnacles, small crabs, anemone, shells, snails, starfish, and many other small invertebrates.Resting on the North end of this rocky zone are usually the cormorants and the California Brown Pelicans.
California Brown Pelican
Climbing up the cliff and going up the hill, one faces San Diego's civilization again.
Downtown San Diego from Cabrillo National Monument
North of the park, is the Shelter Island, which is not really an island :) . Shelter Island is still part of the Point Loma Peninsula.
Downtown San Diego from Shelter Island
Now, this is really a totally different scenery from the rocky intertidal zone in Cabrillo National Monument. Yet, they are just close to each other in the same peninsula. Uphill on Shelter Island is some spot to take a picture of San Diego with the yachts parked in the Shelter Island Harbor.
Downtown San Diego from Shelter Island ( Lucinda St)
Now, this is what you call the glare of the city. But thankfully, we have many hide-aways from this civilization, we just have to go down a cliff, or hike a canyon, or round a hill or climb a mountain, and it feels like being transported to a different world. So a change it may be from my usual posts, but this is the city where I live.