Saturday, March 29, 2008

Power of place - part 2

Forces can frau you to a place or push you away from a place. The Grand Canyon South Rim provides a perfect example of this effect. The natural beauty, the grandeur of the space, the awe inspiring sense of exposed time reprsent sttacyice forces. But there are the repulsive forces at work that include the overwhelming numbers of people massing at the rim's edge or along the trails, the incredibly long waits to get a table for dinner, and even the dense clustering of buildings that though featuring historic sites does lend a commercial edge that detractss from the natural feel.

I have been to the South Rim several times though never this time of year. I knew it would be crowded but I was surprised by the sheer solize of the crowds we found not only st the rim itself but on Hermit trail, South Kaibab trail, and the inpaved portoon of the Rim trail. Mom and Dad felt the crowd pressure more than I did.

Despite the crowds we saw great beauty and took pleassure in being outdoors. On the Rim trail not far from the village we came eye to eye (almost within touching range) with several mountain goats. We marveled at the patches of snow nestled in the shade of evergreens. We tried to get in tune with the area but the throngs made that tough. People weren't rude there were just too many of them.

We didn't walk all the way to Hermits Rest. We squeezed into a park bus for the last few miles. Again I was stunned. Y the volume of people prsent especially on the trail itself. We only walked down perhaps a quarter mile to where views of the canyon below begin to really reveal themselves but that was enough.

That evening we waited and waited and waited to get a seat for dinner--easily 90 minutes. Perhap a cafeteria would haave been quicker. They're way overloaded. This put a damper on the day.

The next day, our last day as we decided to escape the crowded confines for Flagstaff, we hiked down South bKaibab to Skeleton Point. This is the most popular trail because of the expansive views it offers of the Inner Gorge. We would encounter people slogging their way back up. It is easy to forget judy how tough the ascent out can be and that is no doubt why so many get into trouble. With just a few exceptions I was able to ignore the noise of the people but I'd be lieing if I didn't say it didn't detract from what I know can be a remarkable experience. I know something spwcial was lost for all of us. However, even with this blemish on the hike we all had a very good time and were quite pleased with how we performed on the descent and ascent.

Photo: taken with my iPhone near O'Neil Butte.

Friday, March 28, 2008

The power of a place

We spent one more day in the Sedona area and visited two remarkable and quite different area. Starting out at Oak Creek (West Fork) we would hike into the canyon of high rock walls and rich forests. Completely different from what we had seen before. And to add to all that was the fast flowing stream that crossed the trail several times. It was a lovely scene. The hiking was easy going except for the stream crossings. We first crossed the swift cold stream over a log and rock bridge that required careful footing to avoid slipping. We passed through tall trees past patches of snow. Then we got to the second crossing and found a log and rock bridge that was more imposing. We decided to judy wade the stream instead. Very cold. But we did it and kept going. The trail dipped into shadow and the snow and ice increased. At the third steam crossing we decided we he had enough. Back across the stream to the trailhead. We did enjoy this popular hike and in hotter weather we feel sure this would be an excellent hike.

We wanted more since the hike we pretty short. We settled on the Devils Bridge. When we began driving down the dusty jeep road we soon decided that it wasn't worth driving down the road. We began walking the road hoping no one would drive by too fast and shower us in dust. Fortunately small cars and even the several pink jeeps that went by were moving fairly slowly. When we reached the trail we began the climb up into the hills. When we arrived at the popular natural bridge we were not didsapointed with what we found and everyone else we found there were quite happy too.

  ** Ken **

Sent from my iPhone

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Time in the Red Rocks

The trip had a rough start but now is moving along quite nicely. We have had two fine hikes in two different places and fine weather that should dontinue (sure we have some lovely pink clouds but like clouds in this part of the world they'll drift by no harm done).

Our trek into the red rocks of Long Canyon may not have been planned but it was a fine introduction to the region. The walk along what lt turned out to be Deadman Pass trail along reddish sand paths with looming red and tan monlithic rocks looming was easy and fun. Then we turned into Long Canyon entering cypress, oak and Aligstor bark juniper forest was quite a nice change. We drew closer to the wall of the canyon and in time hit the one short steep bit in the wilderness area that would take us towhst could be a secluded rocky spot on weekdays but today we would pass nearly 20 people. I think we all enjoyed this trail especially as it wound through the forest and slowly faded from grand sandy path to faint trail.

Today we switched to a creekside trail beaver creek was so close yet so far often times as we strode down the Bell Rock trail. This was and I think still is a cattle trail. Its wide and level walking. A highway. Though walking near the creek is nice it does get tiring in the feet so when we began the climb up to the mesa 1,000 feet above ok Ebite Mesa #86 trail we thoroughly enjoyed the change. It was a slow climb and I want to believe it was more than 0.7 miles long but I suppose it was not. A tour climb by full of views of the canyon below including Beaver creek below. Unlike the day before we saw few people and no one on the way to and from the mesa. Ending the outward bound leg of the hike visiting the wire at the end of Wier trail was a great way to end the hike. Of course we still had to walk back out on that wide sandy foot tiring trail to the car but that's the way it is with out and back hikes.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Spring Snow

It's snowing here. It has been for the past couple of hours. Can you see the difference in the two photos taken about an hour apart?

Winter has official ended but that doesn't mean we can't have a snow storm or two.Pretty but potentially very annoying if it affects my travel plans tomorrow.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Navigation - Part 2: The Power of Good Directions

To get to St. Armand's Circle, go right from the Inn entrance and the road curves around and becomes Ringling Blvd. In less than 5 minutes you'll be at the circle. Lots of restaurants on the circle and on the spurs off the circle. For a morning snack, go right on the circle to the next spur, which is the Boulevard of the Presidents. Cross the circle to the other side of the boulevard, go right, and in a few doors you're at a cafe serving bagels, coffee etc. Go back to the circle and continue around in the directions you were going, but do not cross the street and you will curve back onto Ringling again. You will come to The Blue Dolphin Cafe (perhaps more up your alley for a meal) where you can get a big breakfast or lunch. They close at 3 p.m. The bookstore is a few doors down from the Blue Dolphin.

That's part of an email that gave me some valuable information about Sarasota, Lido Key, and St. Armand's Circle. It is an excellent case study for what make good directions even accidentally so. My first full day at Lido Key I decided I wanted a hearty breakfast at the Blue Dolphin so after pulling myself out of bed at about 7:30 I strolled down to St. Armand's Circle to find my way to the cafe. I found the first cafe straight away. Perfectly described and found. It probably didn't hurt that the pedestrian traffic was so light that it was obvious from the sounds of people chatting just down the road and sitting outside on the sidewalk patio that that had to be the cafe where I could get coffee and bagels if I wanted too (but, that leads us off on another line from this post). I continued on around the circle looking for the Blue Dolphin. I followed the directions and couldn't find it. I had a couple problems: 1). I never did see street signs for most of the intersecting streets at the circle; 2). I totally missed the tiny sign for the cafe as I walked under it and did not notice the people inside the cafe eating their omelets, pancakes, waffles, and such. I think I had expectations of sidewalk seating or at least an open door with obvious restaurant sounds coming out of it like so many others. I walked around looking and then it ocurred to me to read the directions again and I found this bit, "The bookstore is a few doors down from the Blue Dolphin." Ah ha, another point of reference. I wasn't looking for the bookstore but I remembered seeing a window sign saying in big bold white print "BOOKS" and so I had a second point of reference to work with. I walked about down the street, came back tot he blue awning and this time noticed the people inside and when I stepped away from the door and could see the sign on the awning the sign for the cafe became obvious too. I had found my breakfast spot. The waffle I had was quite good.

Now if I had normal vision I suspect I'd not have had any trouble finding the cafe. I'd have seen the people inside right away as I walked past even if I did not see the less than obvious to a pedestrian on that sidewalk sign. The people would have been a great clue that this was the place. But having the second point of reference, even though in this case it was only their because I'd asked about bookstores, was an extra bit of very valuable information. Good directions work when they get you to a location with clear concise information but they also provide fallback information in case the route information isn't quite enough. It's why I often tell people that if they are coming from downtown and get to 7th Street they've gone too far. Sure they should see the sign for 5th Street but more than a few people have missed it and wondered what's up.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


I think most of you just got blasted by a bulk email from twitter. My apologies I did not realize twitter was going to do that.

Having said this if you are interested in following me on twitter (or pownce at ) feel free to do so. I've no idea if this'll go anywhere. I've mixed feelings about these sites, but it's an experiment that I'll engage in for a little while at least.

  ** Ken **

ps- Don't forget about the new blog at <>.

Kenneth Knight

Web Design, IT Consultant,
Software Engineer
Travel Pages Travel Pages
Ultralight Backpacker Ultralight Backpacking Pages

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Finsl (Grayish) Day

My last morning here at Lodo Beach and it is almost cold by local standards at 59&deg;F. As I sit on my balcony I notice things I hadn't before like the whiff of the sea salt sir on the moisture rich morning. It's great walking weather and a bit of a shame I'm not doing thatt now. But all things come to an end and this respite is almost there.

It has been a very fine trip and I will do it again next year. Perhaps then I will be able to have another person come along and share the fun.

Written on and photo taken ok my iPhone. South facing view from Sand Dollar restaurant.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Stormy weather,,,maybe,,,

I'm sitting ok the 7th floor of the Holiday Inn Lido Beach hotel in the Sand Dollar restaurant hoping it starts to rain hard. After all if the rains fail to come I'll miss a baseball game because I wimped out on advice of locals. I think this is one of those times when if I had a car ( which assumed I could drive it) that I would ve more apr to take the chance. But investing the time and money in a taxi or public transit is making me leery. As I write this the game is now just starting and it looks a bit worse, but only just a bit.

I wonder where everyone else is. Not on the windy almost chilly beach where the day rental chair with their blue awnings, long since furled, sit. Not here in the resturaunt where I sit alone. Maybe they're exploring the outlet mall or taking in a movie on downtown Sarasota or are hurridly and nervously walking St. rmands Circle. I do not know. I do know it still isn't raining and I'm not at a spring training game...oh well...maybe the rain storm will come later and keep the 20-25 MPH winds company.

Blog enrry and photo done on my iPhone... Its raining!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

From Snow to Sand

It might look threatening but it isn't so. In standing on Lido Beach just as the sun is setting and I'm happy. Sure I had some gelato and an adykt beverage but I don't think that is changing things much. No it's the wash of waved striking theme shore, seagulls crying as they fly by ever hoping for hand outs, children and adults playing with
gusto, the warm onshore breeze that blows napkins away, and more. This is the end of my first day here and I am sure that even if I fail to do all I want, find the places I want to go, or even suffer rain that this will be a splendid trip. If only I could share it with another.

But that is another issue and one I could deal with - maybe.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

The Power of Snow

I started to write this last night and did not finish. Now things have, naturally, changed and I am re-writing this entry. If I wait another day (I won't) who know what could happen.

Winter is hanging on. Thursday night it began to snow a bit. I had enough snow on the sidewalk that it made sense to me to push it off before going to bed. When the snow is fluffy it's an easy job and only took a couple minutes with the big broom to finish. The area was getting a fresh white washing and that was a welcome sight. The next day (Friday) the snow continued to fall leaving us with a few inches of fresh high quality packing snow. Kids everywhere probably were making super snowmen or having good snowball fights. For me it was another chance to clear the sidewalk and driveway which again did not take that long. More important to me though is the fact that the snow changes things. Even on an overcast day like today was the snow makes things better. It brightens the world, covers the slush mounds, and adds a muffed quality to what traffic you hear that makes those sounds of the town less noticeable and henceless annoying.
Snow also does something else, at least at night. Snow makes the world feel more comfortable. Even if it is cold and windy the world is more comfortable. But this night when the wind was almost still and the temperature was not that much below freezing and I was comfortably warm in my wool coat walking home from The Ark just before midnight the world felt more pleasant yet. Sure I had just left a fantastic concert by Bill Kirchen but his shows will always bring a smile to a person's face. The snowbound world of subdued yet encompassing light, soft crunches as cars now and then slowly went by, and the crunch and slide of my own steps through the snow on the sidewalks combine to make the 10 minute walk home a real pleassure. Most times it's just a walk.
Today (Saturday) the sun burst forth and the snow began to melt.Sidewalks that had been well taken care of the day before are now devoid of snow as the sun bakes the cement. Plows have rumbled through all the side streets mounding up piles of dirty snow leaving dirty colored slush filled streets behind. Pools of slush and water are forming at every street intersection challenging you to not get your socks soaked as you try to avoid them. But the snow is still fresh and no doubt kids are having a blast. Could I get somewhere to do a long walk in the woods I would. This is the kind of winter day that makes winter especially glorious. We've had a good number of these this year and are actually above average which is a wonderful change from the last couple of winter seasons.