Melina Gunnett

September 19, 2012

Mount Rainier

Filed under: Photographs, Travel — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — Melina Gunnett @ 11:36 PM

I have spent a good part of the last two days hanging around the Oregon DMV trying to get my car registration and driver’s license straighten out. As with most things centred around the words ‘government’ and ‘paperwork’, it was frustrating. I’ll tell you about it tomorrow after I have recovered from the trauma. Today I want to think about more pleasant things, such as my trip up to Mount Rainier last weekend.

I spent the last year living under the shadow of Mount Rainier. Even from a distance the mountain is beautiful. I planned to drive up there numerous times, but something always came up that seemed more important. After all, I could always go up to the mountain another time – it was right there! It finally took moving away to get me to actually take a drive up there.

The drive itself was worth the trip. Had I started earlier in the day, I would have liked to have made a few more stops along the way. There were a couple of little railroad towns along the way that looked like they might be fun to explore. Next time I think I will make reservations for the scenic railroad tour up to Mineral Lake.

Alder Lake

I did stop for a bit at Alder Lake. It caught my eye as I was driving past and I couldn’t resist. The entire Northwest has been experiencing a long dry summer and the Nisqually river is currently no more than a trickle. This meant that Alder lake, which is a reservoir on the Nisqually, is currently low enough to display every long lost stump usually concealed within its depths. I am sure that the lake is normally picturesque, but with so much of the water gone, it was fascinating.

The lake was created in 1945 with the building of Alder dam. There hasn’t been time to grow trees that would provide stumps that large, so those stumps are probably from when the lake was originally created, that meas that they have spent most of the last 77 years underwater. It makes me wonder, if I took a boat out onto the lake, what else I would find.

Instead of renting a boat, I continued on toward Mount Rainier. A few miles before the park entrance I took a little detour by the Ashford Mansion. Okay, it was actually a wrong turn, but it was so pretty I kept going and ended up seeing some interesting things I would have missed out on otherwise. Like a tiny pond with a tee-pee and a wooden boat. This wasn’t a tourist attraction, it was someone’s yard.

teepee lake

I also found the Ashford mansion and a really cool house that I fell in love with. I could easily see myself living there.

Ashford MansionCute House

The road ended up winding back into town (the name of the town was, surprise, surprise, Ashford.). Once again on the correct road, I continued on and finally made it to Rainier Park. I’m not sure what I expected, but what I found was better. From a distance, Mount Rainier always seemed like a stand alone mountain. Up close, while it is the tallest mountain around, it is surrounded by many other mountains and valleys. There were several places through out the park where I could pull over and just enjoy the view as Rainier grew closer.

Mt. Rainier

Interesting peaksThese look outs also provided amazing views of the other weather worn peaks in the area. One of my favourite spots was Narada Falls, just before we reached the summit (Well as close as I could get to the summit by car.). What I could see of the falls was great and next time I plan to Rock wallgive myself enough time to get out and hike the short trail that wanders around the to the front of the falls for a better look. The trail will also put me directly underneath this amazing rock wall, which was on the most interesting outcroppings I saw that day.

Top of the FallsUnfortunately, by the time I reached the falls, it was already getting close to sunset. I didn’t bring a real camera with me, just my phone, and it was getting too dark to take very good pictures even if I had time to take the trail. So back into the car I went and finished the drive up to Paradise – That is what the area nearest the top is called, the Paradise Henry M Jackson Memorial Visitor Center.

I reached the top just as the sun was getting ready to set. The visitor center was already closed for the day, but the there were plenty of placards and trail maps. I hadn’t really thought about hiking, but once I reached the top, I wish I had. The trail up to the Nisqually glacier was only about a mile and would have been spectacular. One more thing to add to my “next time” list.

I got out and walked around for a bit and wished, not for the first of the last time that day, that I had left earlier. There will definitely be a next time, because it was already starting to get dark. It was time to turn around and head home.

Rainier from Paradise

The trip down the mountain seemed a lot quicker than the trip up. I am sure it was, since I wasn’t stopping to take photos and look at the scenery. I need to go back to keeping my camping equipment in the car. It would have been a good night to drop a tent somewhere and continue my adventure the next day. Yup, another thing for my “next time” list.

I did make one last stop on the way back. At the base of the mountain there is a little restaurant called the Wildberry Cafe. They specialize in Yak burgers – also on my “next time” list, I had a burger for lunch – and Himalayan dishes. The Himalayan stew was good, their salads are HUGE and next time, after all that hiking, I am going to be hungry enough for their wild berry pie.

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September 3, 2011

Filed under: Odd Thoughts, Travel — Melina Gunnett @ 5:31 PM

I’m staring at the blank screen wondering what to write. It isn’t that I like I didn’t do a lot on my trip. I did. It just feels like my mind has gone numb. It doesn’t’ want to think about the trip anymore. It doesn’t want to think about traveling or historic sites or pretty scenery. It just wants to shout HOME, curl down into itself and declare anything beyond house nonexistent for a week.

I used to think it would be fun to drive a truck across country for long hauls or take a job which had me traveling for most of the year. Part of me still thinks that would be fun, but the other, wiser, half says to make sure there is down time between runs.

The first trip was great. Actually, the second trip was great too. I just needed more time between the two. Perhaps it would have been different if I was settled in to a place. I had barely finished unpacking when I left for the California run. It definitely made it more of a trip than a vacation.

On the upside, rather than just touring the country I spent most of my trip to California catching up with friends. That part of the trip I really enjoyed. I didn’t get to spend enough time with any of them. There were a couple of people I got to visit with this trip that I hadn’t seen in close to 20 years.

One of the benefits of the internet era is that you can keep in touch with people over a distance. I think one of the drawbacks is that people now tend to move much further away from home. After all, they can still stay in touch. Yup, I’m one of the guilty ones. I’ve lived all over this country.

I really wish I could spend more time with my friends. Sadly Star Trek still remains a work of fiction and I don’t have a transporter that can send me off to see my friends whenever I miss them too much. This would be one of the drawbacks of living in too many places. In spite of all the traveling I have done this summer, there are still a lot of people I haven’t gotten a chance to see.

I’d like to sit down and figure this all out. To relax and reminisce and get my thoughts together enough that on Monday I can start working on my new projects. I have a few story ideas that are starting to fight their way out of my head. Sadly they are going to have to stay in there for a few more days. The power cord to my laptop is broken and my ride will be here in a few minutes to head out to Portland for the weekend for a friend’s birthday/housewarming.

Monday is a holiday. I think I’m going to celebrate it by not getting out of bed.

July 26, 2011

The Parks

I’ve been busy settling into my new home and figuring out what I need to be doing over the next couple of months.  What I haven’t been doing is keeping up with posting the things I’ve already done.  I’m currently planning a trip down to southern California for next month.  It seemed like a good idea to clear the photos from my last trip off my camera first.

I last left everyone in the Black Hills at Sunset.  The next day I ended up dealing with boring mundane business stuff. Then headed out across the Wyoming plains, following the Shoshone River through the foothills and into the Buffalo Bill State Park.

Buffalo Bill State Park

Click on the picture to see the Buffalo Bill State Park

Next I headed across the Shoshone Park and into the east entrance of Yellowstone.  I drove through the lake region and down to Flagg Ranch, just the other side of the West gate to set up camp.  I spent the next several days touring the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone.  Yellowstone is so big and its terrain so varied, that it is like having several parks in one.  I grouped the photos together in different sections.

 

Click for the Grand Tetons

Click for the Yellowstone Lake Region

Animals of Yellowstone

Click to see the Animals of Yellowstone

Thermal Region of Yellowstone

Click here to view the Thermal region of Yellowstone, Including Old Faithful

Yellowstone Mountains

Click to see the North mountian area of Yellowstone.

mammoth hot springs

Click to see the Mammoth Hot springs

July 13, 2011

The Black Hills

Filed under: Photographs, Travel — Melina Gunnett @ 12:11 AM

I’m back to civilization and I’m starting to get my photos sorted out. Here is a slide show of the my trip through the Black Hills.

Click for a link to a slideshow of the Black Hills

Click the picture to follow me into the Black Hills

July 5, 2011

Journey through the Badlands

Filed under: Photographs, Travel — Melina Gunnett @ 12:33 PM
Prairie Dogs

Warring!!! Only click on the above picture if you are prepared to endure oodles and oodles of cuteness.

I started yesterday in my own personal Badlands. Well, that may not be entirely true.  I wasn’t the only one staying at the hotel.  Let’s just say, should you happen to pull into the the parking lot at the Dakota Inn in Kadoka, stay there.  It will be more comfortable, smell better and you will have more privacy than you will checking into the actually hotel.  By the time I checked out (check out time is 10am) I was on peeved puppy.

Thankfully there doesn’t seem to many highway patrol on the long stretch of I-90.  I’m not sure what the speed limit was there,  but I’m sure it wasn’t anywhere near what I was driving.  I did feel a bit better by the time I made the turn off for the real badlands.

Then I stopped for gas, some thing to drink and tried to post my grievances to facebook.  Not enough cell service.  Just as well, I really shouldn’t be allowed to communicate with the rest of the world when I am still that mad.  I had been looking forward to the Badlands.  I had driven that particular stretch of I-90 before, but never had time to pull off and go through the park. I didn’t want to be in a foul mood for the trip, so I took a look around me to see what was there while I cooled my temper.

There were two attractions at that exit.  The minute man museum and a bunch of prairie dogs. Giant war toys probably weren’t the best solution so I went for an overdose of cuteness.  It worked.  How can you stay mad surrounded by all those cute little fuzzy guys.

After about an hour of playing with the prairie dog, I headed into the bad lands.  The views were spectacular.  I can only imagine what it was like for those first settlers.  They had probably spent weeks moving slowly across the grasslands and rumbling foothills of the great plains and then BAM! They were suddenly faced with high wind washed peaks and steep crags.  Not someplace a wagon is going to easily find a way across.

In the hot, high noon sun the cliffs were a stark white jutting up into the sky.  As the sun moved forward I could begin to see the shadows and crevasses that years of weather and scratched into them.  The peaks on the Northeastern side are mostly white clay, but as I moved further into the park I began to see the familiar copper bands that I associate with the badlands.

There is a convenient loop that circles the main part of the park allowing you to see these monuments to nature from all angles.  It wasn’t hard to picture the Duke riding through the hills in search for the brigands who had done him wrong.  You could view the plains below from the breath taking zeniths and stare up to the sun washed peaks as you journey around and through the park. For the more adventurous there are also some smaller dirt/gravel roads that cut through the park.  They are well maintained and if you have time (and I did) well worth taking.

The Badlands National Park

Click the image above for a slide show of the park

I finally ended my day with a visit to Wall Drug.  It is hard not to after watching their billboards pass by for a hundred miles or so.  Apparently neither could anyone else.  In spite of it taking up a city block, it was crowded.  The food there was good and in the very center, surrounded by souvenir and and gift shops, there actually is a drug store.

By the time I reached my hotel last night I had come through the Badlands, both physically and metaphorically and had a nice clean hotel waiting for me in Rapid City.  Now I’m off for another day of playing tourist and enjoying the scenery.

The Plains

Filed under: Photographs, Travel — Melina Gunnett @ 1:39 AM

Yesterday was mostly travel.  Granted, I got a late start.  First the hotel hot tub lured me in then I met a friend for lunch.  Runzos kind of taste like a meat based stuffing to me; fortunately I like stuffing.

Last time I drove through Omaha was about 10 years ago. I think they are still working on the same road construction project.  Unfortunately there has also been a lot of flooding.  Finding a way north to South Dakota was a bit of a challenge.  I ended up taking back highways most of the way.  It was slow, but I got to see a lot of the area.  It’s beautiful.  Lot’s of small towns and lots, and lots and lots of farmland.

   
       
       
   In Mitchell South Dakota there is a palace made of corn…OK, it is actually more of an auditorium.  I think they use it for local sport games, or at least the used to.  The floor between the stage and the seating is a large gift shop selling lots of Great Plains related memorabilia.

I almost made out out with my pocket book unscathed, then I found a book on Indian legends and beliefs.  As long as I was spending money I bought an ear of caramel corn. YUMMY!!

Corn Palice

The Mitchell Corn Palice - Click to see a slide show with more images of the Corn Palice.

 
       
       
       
       Haning Flags for the 4th.

July 1, 2011

Greenfield Village, Detroit

Filed under: Travel — Melina Gunnett @ 2:09 AM

Detroit was just meant to be a pit stop, but I ended up stopping at Greenfield Village, which is part of the Ford Museum.  It is an 1800’s village and most of the buildings are original or have been brought to the spot, including Edison’s Research facility.  There was a lot to see.  Below are a few pictures to give you an idea of what the place was like.

Welcome to Greenfield

Welcome to Greenfield

Round House

Round House

Grazing

Grazing

Village Church

Village Church

Farm with sawmill in the background

Farm with sawmill in the background

The Candy Shop

The Candy Shop

My it is hot out

My it is hot out

The front Stoop

The front Stoop

Inside cottage

Inside cottage

Combing wool

Combing wool

Spinning

Spinning

Writing Materials

Writing Materials

The Parlor

The Parlor

Carriage Horses

Carriage Horses

Sawmill

Sawmill

Cooking

Cooking

Hauling Water

Hauling Water

pressure gauge

pressure gauge

Kitchen Shelf

Kitchen Shelf

Chickens

Chickens

The wheelwright's shop

The wheelwright's shop

Storage barrel

Storage barrel

Printing Press

Printing Press

Port Heuron Engine

Port Heuron Engine

Machines to build machines

And power generators to make power generators.

Edison's Workdesk

Edison's Workdesk

Edison's Lab

Edison's workroom

Edison's workroom

This machine was used to press soy beans into oil

This machine was used to press soy beans into oil

Recreation of the shop where the Write Brothers built their first plane.

Ram

Ram

The Barn

The Barn

Inside the barn

Inside the barn

Inside the barn

Inside the barn

Pottery Kelm

Pottery Kelm

June 30, 2011

Oh Canada – Ontario

Filed under: Travel — Melina Gunnett @ 2:00 AM

Today’s adventure took me through Canada.  I got a slightly later start than I had planned. It really should have occurred to me that the correct answer to why I was traveling through Canada should have been “I’m on vacation.”  “I’m moving across country.” was NOT the answer they were looking for. They sent me to immigration.  Thankfully it didn’t take too long before I was back on the road.

   So, what did I think of Canada?Truthfully, it reminded me of upstate New York and Vermont. It was very scenic with large swaths of farmland. barn with sheep farm
horse and alpaca horse laying in the grass
  Which also means lots of animals including one horse who was determined to keep me amused by rolling back and forth in the grass.  horse rolling over
 school house Scattered farm houses weren’t the only buildings. There were plenty of normal residential homes and many of the same businesses that I see regularly on the U.S. side of the border.  There were also some interesting older buildings like this school house.    Haunted houseAnd this great house.  Do you think it is haunted?
 Lake Erie Since most of my drive today was along one great lake or another, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the water.

The Great lakes were strange.  I have lived near the ocean most of my life and, while they were certainly vast – I couldn’t see the far shore – there were no waves.

I found them both serene and eerie at the same time.  I wonder if that is how Lake Erie got it’s name?

 water

June 29, 2011

Niagara Falls

Filed under: Travel — Melina Gunnett @ 12:31 PM

I spent yesterday walking around Niagara Falls.  I stuck to the U.S. side today.  Today I’ll be heading across the rainbow bridge to the Canadian side on my way to Detroit.

   I started my day at the Niagara Aquarium where I was greeted by the cute little guy on the left.  He wasn’t alone though.  He had several playmates in his pen, including the momma to be pictured sitting on her egg to the right.  
     They, of   course, had the usual array of  fish, some more interesting than others.  One little girl was very excited because she found Nemo.

The one unexpected find was a display of poison dart frogs. I had never seen one up close before and never realized that they came in such a wide variety of colors.  They had yellow, blue and green ones (Like the little guy to my right) on display.  

After the aquarium I made my way over across a bridge to the discover center and took the trolly to the falls.

  They were, as I expected, breathtaking. What I hadn’t anticipated was the sheer force. At the point that the water hits the falls it is traveling over 30 miles per hour and has already passed through 4 of the 5 great lakes.You can feel the roar of the water has it plummets nearly 200 feet over the edge. In the picture to the left you can see the continuous spray of water which bounces back up from the bottom.  It is difficult to get near the falls without getting wet.The first thing I did was head for the observation tower and then take the elevator down to the base of the falls.  There I boarded the Maid of the Mysts, which took us up river to the base of the Horse shoe falls and back.The mist was so thick at the base of the falls that once the boat entered them, I could see nothing until we turned back out.

Observation Tower

Horseshoe Falls

Americian Falls

American Falls

Rainbow Bridge

Rainbow Bridge

 Afterwards I walked across the river and stopped to give a nod to my man Nikola Tesla.

Hermit's Cascade

Hermit's Cascade

Nikla Tesla

Top of Horsheshoe FallsThere is a restaurant at the top of Horseshoe Falls – Conveniently called Top of the Falls, just in case you forgot where you are.  I stopped there for what I thought would be a light lunch.My over priced salad didn’t seem so overpriced when it arrived.  It was big enough to feed 2 or 3 people and the view… well you can see that for your self.  I took the picture on the right from where I was eating.

After lunch I took a long slow walk around Goat Island (This is the large island between the American and Horseshoe Falls in the middle of the Niagara River.) The island is beautiful and a place I could easily spend an relaxing afternoon. Toward the Canadian side there is a string of three small islands called the three sisters you can walk out onto. It was a nice reminder that Niagara is a state park for a reason, and not just a large tourist spot.

After my walk around the island I headed back to the falls, finally ready for my last excursion – The Cave of the Winds.  I donned the raincoat and sandals  they provided and took the elevator down to the base of the cliff.  At the bottom I found myself walking down a long corridor that smelled a lot like the showers at a gym.  It was worth the trip.  I emerged at the base of the falls.It soon became evident why they are called the rainbow falls.  As the sun hit the mist filled air rainbows appeared across the rocks bellow the bridal veil.

Rainbow streaked rocks below the falls.

   Oh, and Canada has a space needle too. Theirs is overlooking the Niagara Falls.  So I guess this means that my trip will be taking me from space needle to space needle as I cross the continent.The sun is coming out and I should head out too.  Time for another day of adventure!

 

More pictures can be found HERE.  I will be uploading more as soon as I have time and wi-fi.

June 14, 2011

Mystic Seaport and Sea Song Festival

Filed under: Travel — Melina Gunnett @ 6:27 PM

Last weekend was Mystic Seaport’s 32 Annual Sea Songs Festival.  It is one of those events I have been "meaning" to make for years.  I finally made it down there this time and just WOW.  Not only was it a weekend of amazing music, but the town and seaport itself were a great place to visit.

 
 There were a whole host of amazing musicians at the festival. Unfortunately I tired to take video instead of still shots of the performances.  While my camera is CAPABLE of taking video, it really shouldn’t be. 
The video was halting and jittery to the point of being unwatchable.

This means I don’t have pictures of the festival itself.  That’s OK, music is really better heard than photographed.  The only still shot I took was this one of Richard Grainger, who was my favorite of this years performers.  He has some samples on his website if you want to take a listen.

Richard Granger at the 32nd Sea Music Festival, Mystic, CT 
 
Mystic Seaport


The Charles W. Morgan
The Morgan is an 1841 Whaleship that used to sale out of Bedford MA.  She is America’s last surviving wooden whaleship and currently undergoing repairs at the seaports preservation shipyard.  She was declared a national landmark in 1966.  You can track her restoration here.
In addition to many small ships, the seaport has three tall ships in port. 

The Joseph Conrad – A square rigged ship which was designed as a training vessel for the Danish merchant fleet. She was built in 1882 and originally sailed under the name Georg Stage. In 1932 she was purchased by Alan Villiers who renamed her Joseph Conrad and took her on a 2 year trip around the world.  She also did a stint as an American training ship until 1945 and was transferred to the Mystic Seaport where she is still used as a training ship for the Mystic Mariner program.

The L.A.Dunton is a Glouster fishing schooner.  She was designed by Thomas F. McManus and built out of Arther Story’s Essex, MA shipyard.  She worked out of Boston and Newfoundland.  When she arrived at the Mystic Seaport she had been retrofitted with an engine.  She has since been restored to her original design and was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1994

The Joseph Conrad
L A Dunton
The L.A. Dunton

The seaport was more than just ships.  They have created an entire 19th century village.  Perhaps created is the wrong word.  They took actually shops and homes from the 1800’s and moved them to the site.  My favorite was the ship-smith.  The they have the last operating ship-smith and, of course, I don’t have pictures to show you.  I was too busy oogling all the awesome blacksmith equipment they had.  In the future I will try and remember to oogle through the camera lens.

I did manage to take photos at many of the other buildings they had on site.

Coperage at Mystic Seaport There was a cooperage.  It was fascinating to watch the way that they made barrels.  It seems like it would be straight forward, but there is a lot that goes into a barrel, from the bending and fitting of the slats, to making the rings.  They just don’t make one kind of barrel either. 

They made barrels to hold water and ship supplies.  There were special types of barrels for everything from butter to rope.

The ones you see in the picture with Holes in the bottom are for storing the ropes on-board ship.  The pattern looks like a weird version of 9 man morris, but the holes and trenches are to let the water out.  This is important because if you ropes rotted while you were at sea, your ship was in trouble.

The hoops for barrels are now usually made out of iron, but coopers used to have to make them from wood.  Live oak was a popular choice for its strength.
 
There there was a carving shop where signs, decorative pieces for homes and ships, as well as traditional mast heads were made.  Commercial vessels wanted to be remembered so they would frequently have a mast head carved that would reflect the ships name.

See not all mast heads were scantly carved women.   >>>
(Actually few were.  While it is a good image for Holliwood
movies, it isn’t such a good image for a commercial vessel.)
tThere is a fully functional printing press on site as well. They still use it for demonstrations and teaching.

Indivedual typeset letters

Each word was put together with individual letters.

Then spacers were added to make white space.

Lock the letters down tight in their frame so they don’t spill

Run ink over the letters and add some paper

 

The you us the press to push the paper down onto the plate with your typeset.

And you should end up with your flier.

Some of the other shops included a chandler, chemist, general store, sail house, bank and tavern. 

Mystic Seaport, being a museum, also had several exhibits.  I’m not sure I got to all of them, but the one’s I remember included mast heads, restoration of the Morgan, a scale model of the entire Mystic seaport as it was in the late 1800’s, and a planetarium which show you how to use a sextant (and let you try it)

To me the most interesting exhibit was Skin and Bones: Tattoos in the Life of the American Sailor which not only gave an great overview of the history of tattoos, but  explained some of the symbolism.  The exhibit had a lot of flash on display, but cards and copies of books you could look through.  (The originals were under glass).

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