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IdyllWild & Tahquitz

A lot happened this weekend, it was an excellent weekend up to the very end, where things took a horrible horrible change.

I got off work on Friday and headed home, grabbed my wallet which I had forgot that morning and then ran off to REI where I purchased a new Sleeping bag! It’s a 0 degree 750 fill down bag @ $100 off the normal price, so I just grabbed it up! I have been needing a new bag for a while, so it was time to get one! After that I headed to Trader Joe’s and loaded up on food, then back home where Justin came over and we hung out and watched Soldier’s Girl while I packed for the trip. It was a pretty good movie.

Saturday morning I got up early and found Tuxedo was throwing up again. He’s done this in the past where he eats and then pukes it all back up, so I wasn’t too concerned. Went out and got the last few things that I needed for the trip that morning and came home, put the cats in the bathroom so that he wouldn’t throw up all over the house while I was gone and then packed up the car.

We headed out about 8am that morning to get to Idyllwild. The drive was great, no problems or anything on the way up there for us. Though we did pass a pretty bad accident in which a motorcycle guy got killed. We got to Idyllwild and checked out the camp site, but we couldn’t check in yet so we went on this little scenic route hike that was nice and short. About half way back to the car though, it started HAILING on us! CRAZY! That went on for about 20 minutes while we rushed back to the car. Got back there and it stopped so we headed back to camp, got everything setup and then headed into town for some lunch. While we were eating it started POURING down rain for about an hour while we were hanging out there. Once it finally cleared up we headed back to the camp site and ran into George and Jason on the way there.

Packed up and organized everything for the next morning and then headed back to the site, ate dinner and hit the sack. That was a pretty bad night for sleeping, lots of snoring, tossing and turning and a very very flat mattress. Got up at 5am Sunday and we headed out. The hike up to the base of Tahquitz was killer, but we made it there in good time. However, we then could NOT find the start of the two climbs we were doing, so we wasted over an hour looking for those. Didn’t get started climbing till 9am! My group made it up the first pitch no problems, it was a really interesting climb up to there. While we were waiting for Jerry to get up, Meghan asked about what exactly happened between Const and I, she even specified she wanted details, which was odd. I gave her a very brief overview of what happened, at least as I see it. I didn’t really think it was appropriate to go into the real details with her.

Jerry started up on the next pitch and wasn’t exactly sure where to go, so he made a jog right and got caught around a tree. Found out that wasn’t the right way to go but he had already placed a device, so he just headed up. Got up to a spot where he found the route, but it was much harder then they were expecting. He placed another device and started the climb. At this point Meghan and I decided we had to get him out from around that damn tree. So I extend my anchor and climb out to where the first device was placed and pull it out then climb back to the station. Meghan and I do a quick belayer switch so that he was being belayed from the correct side of the tree now instead of the rope being wrapped around the tree. We completed that JUST in time too because less then a minute later Jerry took a nasty fall and landed upside down on the ledge. He laid there for a few minutes and then tried the climb again.

This time he made it about 20 feet higher, but hadn’t been placing enough devices. He was just about ready to get over this hard section when he lost it again and this time fell a good 30-40 feet, landed upside down again and cut up his forehead pretty badly, he was bleeding like crazy so we talked him into just coming down. We rapped off the wall and met Kris and Mok at the bottom. Hiked out and went to get coffee and rehash the day and share some stories. I was very sad that we didn’t make it to the top of the climb, but it’s good that Jerry didn’t keep trying to push himself because I think he would have gotten hurt a lot worse.

They all left that night and Kris, Mok and I headed back to the camp site, got some chicken and drinks. We made some great dinner, a great peach cobbler and sat around the camp fire telling stories and talking for a long time. Kris and I slept out by the camp fire and I slept like a rock! The stars were so pretty and just as we were laying down to go to bed we saw a shooting start across the sky.

Woke up about 6:30 Monday morning and we putzed around the campsite and got ready for the day, we headed out to climb up to Suicide rock about 9ish. It was a great hike and we moved pretty fast up there and of course the views up there are just amazing and so well worth it! It brought back so many memories though of last year and everything that’s happened.

Headed back to LA around 12:30 or so. Got home by 3 and walked into my apartment. This is where all the mess starts… Kris needs to use the bathroom and I tell him that it’s probably a horrible mess because I had put the cats in there. I open the door and Moo comes flying out, I walk in farther and see Tux half in/out of the litter box. I figure I had just caught him in the middle of business or something and give him a second, but he doesn’t move. So I walk over there and touch him and he’s stiff. At this point I start freaking out… Thank god that Kris and Mok were there. They really helped out so much. They took care of everything for me and made sure I was ok before they left. I just can’t get that image out of my head though of seeing him there like that. I wish I hadn’t left this weekend. He must have just had a heart attack or something though. I dunno, it was so weird last night being there and not having him lay between my legs. I’m going to miss him so much.

I did some laundry, took care of all the camping gear, geotagged the photos from this weekend, gave Moo a bath and caught up on some TV and then Kris called and invited me over for dinner and some wine. I headed over there and we got CPK and came back to his place and he had made a little note and put it around the neck of this bottle of wine that I really like and gave it to me. We ended up drinking two other bottles and watching some more Heroes and just talking till like 10ish. He’s such a great guy. This weekend overall has made me really care about him a lot more and getting those feelings of “more then friends”. But he and I have talked about that in the past and since he’s only here for a short time things probably wouldn’t work out. So we’re just friends and what not. But I can tell he’s going to be a great friend!

Pictures from the weekend are here.

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Around The Globe My Life

Napa Valley Trip!

I love three day weekends…

This past weekend we had a great time. First was Jason’s birthday party on Friday. We had a great time, but left early. I felt bad about leaving so early, oh well.

Saturday morning we got up early and headed out to Napa Valley. On the way up there we stopped at Pinnacles National Monument. The drive from the freeway to the monument was tons of fun. But we only spent about an hour there. It was pretty and I’d like to spend a little more time there.

Got up to Napa late that night, went out to eat and while we were
eating this girl next to us saw that we were looking over maps and stuff and talked to us about the winery she worked at called Mumm Napa.

Sunday morning we got up and headed out at 9ish. Our first stop was a few parks and what not. First was Bothe-Napa Valley SP. It was a nice park, but nothing exciting. After that we headed to the Old Faithful of California. That was also fun, but again not that exciting. It was neat to ee though. Then we headed to the petrified forest. Here’s a pic of Const at the Petrified Forest:

From there we headed out to the winery’s! First was Sterling, which was probably my favorite in terms of the overall experience. First you arrive and take a tram ride up the side of the hill to the top of the winery. You are greeted with your first wine tasting and then you go on a self-guided tour of the winery. Here’s a shot of the HUGE wood barrels they ferment the wine in:

As you make your way through the winery you get to try a few different wines, on the balcony you get some wonderful views of the valley and you can just chill and talk and drink your wine.

Once you get through the winery you can take a seat in the main building and you get to try three more wines. On the day we were there they had some AMAZING Truffles there as well from a company called Truffle Gateau. I HIGHLY suggest going and buying some of them!

After this place we headed out and and drove to Burgess Cellers. Apparently you needed reservations or something, because the guy seemed very confused that we just walked into the door that said “OPEN”. So we just left. Headed from there to Sutter Home, which we went to because I really liked the building. Tried a few wines, but nothing I really liked.

Headed from there to V. Sattui Winery. This was another GREAT winery. But only because of all the foods and cheese they had at the shop. Oh my god. The cheese was wonderful! We also ended up buying 6 bottles of wine from them. From there we headed to Mumm beacuse of the girl we met. We didn’t taste anything there, but saw the art gallery and bought two small bottles of wine just for the hell of it

Our last stop of the day was Peju (only because it was basically the only one open past 5). I really enjoyed the modern art they had outside, inside we found this great pic which is just exactly like Tuxedo!! How cute:=

We got a great guy to taste with and basically a private tasting room because they were so busy! We bought two bottles of the Provence wine which was really good.

But this whole wine tasting thing. I really don’t get it. “In this wine you’ll taste hints of bannana and mango and this and that and the bottom half is a little bit sassy!”. Umm, really!? WTF!

We went home and were just so tired from all the tasting that we went to the hot tub and then just ate dinner and hung out at the hotel for the night.

Monday we headed home and stopped at the Golden Gate bridge for some pics.

From there we headed south to the Winchester Mystery House. This place was really cool. Very crazy stuff.

Of course, you can download our Google Earth Tracks here or you can download our GeoTagged photos here.

And photos of the trip are all here.

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Rustic Canyon Nazi Camp – Winona Stephens Complex

This past weekend Constantine and I explored a few different areas of abandoned LA. First we went to the Griffith Park Old LA Zoo. On Sunday we went to the Rustic Canyon Nazi Camp up in Pacific Palisades.

In the early 1930’s Winona Stephens, a heir to a mining fortune created the Murphy Ranch on 50 secluded acres near what is now Topanga State Park. The person in charge of building all this was a Nazi spy named Schmidt. Herr Schmidt persuaded Stephens to invest more than $4 million to create a self-supporting community where a chosen few would live until the day anarchy fell on the United States after a presumed Nazi victory over England.

By 1940, they had built a garage with living quarters overhead, a huge concrete water tank, a diesel fuel tank and a dual-generator power station. Stephens, Schmidt and 50 other future master racers lived on the site, cultivating a vegetable garden and waiting for the New World Order. Guards stood at the gates, and the sounds of military drills often rang through the canyon.

The day after the United States entered World War II, Schmidt was arrested by the FBI and the community soon began to disintegrate. Now the buildings lie in ruins, littered with the remains of bonfires and plastered with graffiti, including swastikas. The canyon walls above are cut by four staircases of crumbling, treacherous concrete.

To get to Murphy Ranch, park at the corner of Capri road and Casale. Hike down the dirt/paved fire road which can been seen google maps here. You wil have to go around a gate to Camp Josepho.

The main gate to the complex is about a mile up the road from where the fire road starts, however if you keep an eye out you will see a set of stairs heading down into the canyon about 7tenths of a mile from the start. You can either take these or continue on to the main gate. You can easily walk around the gate and follow the road down behind. About .2 mile down the road will split. You can take either direction to get to the camp. We went to the left which lead to the main pumping/power station and an old garage/house.

You can still see many of the flowers and trees which were planted by the group back in the days. They continue to bloom on their own each year. It really is pretty amazing how well this is all being preserved even though it’s open to the elements and human destruction. The power plant is COVERED in graffiti, and the pits where pumps were once housed are now home to mounds and mounds of trash and empty beer cans.

Someone has even gone to the trouble of creating an artistic sculpture out of a bunch of old trash and building parts. Continue following the small trail past the old garage and once it ends, follow the river for a while. You will come across a very well preserved building which is enclosed in fencing. Here you will find the other end of the main gate’s road. You can either take this back up or continue to explore.

We didn’t have any more time once we got here, so we headed back up the road. But you can be sure that I will be back there soon to finish exploring this huge Nazi complex!

You can download or tracks for Google Earth here, and see just how easy it is to see. This is easily a 3 mile hike, but you could make it much much more. Take your time and enjoy it. We even saw a few people having a picnic down there!

Our pictures of the Rustic Canyon Nazi Camp are here. Or you can view the GoogleEarth GeoTagged photos here. Lastly you can view the other hard data from the weekend here.

Here’s some more references:
Nazi Commune Ruins
Rustic Canyon Local Hikes
I Hate Illinois Nazis

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Around The Globe

Old LA Zoo – Griffith Park

This past weekend, Constantine and I set out to go exploring a few different abandoned areas of Los Angeles, we started out with the one we thought would be the easiest to find and sure enough it was.

The Old LA Zoo first opened in Griffith Park in 1913, the zoo didn’t do very good and had many animal escapes and was poorly funded, during world war I many of the animals died due to food rationing. In 1965, the zoo was moved to it’s present location just south of where this one is located. This past year during the Griffith park fires, the old zoo was nearly destroyed, thankfully it survived the fires and is still amazingly well kept.

We headed up the I-5 early Saturday morning and got off at the first Griffith park exit and parked in the Merry-Go-Round parking lot. Head back across the street and up the road (away from the merry-go-round). Here you will find a trail that heads to the right along the ridge and through some trees. Go up the trail just a little ways and you will find the first group of buildings. It’s really very easy to get too. This is the back side of what appeared to be the Lion cages. There were plenty of holes in the fence that you can get through to climb around. In fact the day we were there there was some group filming a movie, which included a large fake tiger!

We continued to hike around for a while and found a few different ways to get there. In fact if you don’t want to go through the hiking part, you can actually get to the front of the zoo by going around the Merry-Go-Round to the right of the parking lot and then just follow the larger parking lot to the left.

You can download or tracks for Google Earth here, and see just how easy it is to see. You could easily spend 30 minutes or a few hours exploring this old compound and the areas around it.

Our pictures of the Old LA Zoo are here. Or you can view the GoogleEarth GeoTagged photos here. Lastly you can view the other hard data from the weekend here.

Here’s some more references:
Marilyn Carolyn
Boing Boing
Zoo Zoo Zoo

On the way home we saw this cute little PokeMan bug… Crazy LA people:

(Notice the mini one on the dashboard!)

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Around The Globe My Life

Death Valley!

What a weekend!

Friday night was the typical Dinner with friends. We all met up at Jason’s house and he had Meatballs cooking. However, he was no where to be found! So we made the rest of the dinner and ate it without him. He showed up just as we were finishing dinner. Overall it was a great night. Jason got me a Gift card to Apple for my birthday!

Saturday morning Const and I got up and headed out to Death Valley. On the way there we stopped at Randsburg and Alotia mines. They are both abandoned mines/towns. Very cool. Alotia was the only one that was open for us to really run around in. It’s just amazing to me that RIGHT off the road way are these open pit mines with ladders and stuff still leading down them. We didn’t go down the mines because we didn’t have any safety gear. Perhaps on the next trip we can actually go down them.

From there we headed through some tiny little crazy towns and out to Death Valley. First thing we did was climb the sand dunes which was really cool. Then we headed out to the Badwater Salt flats which is exactly what I was expecting Death Valley to be like. They were sooo cool. We got there right at sunset, so it was really pretty to watch the sunset over the salt flats. I really want to go back there on a full moon night some summer to see how pretty it would be with all the stars and stuff. After that we headed back to the hotel, ate dinner and then went to bed.

Sunday we got up and had breakfast and then headed out to Zabriskie Point which was just a wonderful view of the valley in the early morning. We didn’t stay too long because the wind was CRAZY and it was freezing cold. We headed down the back road from there and stopped at some more abandoned mines. These were really cool and it was a HUGE complex of mines. We went into a few of them, but not very far because it’s very scary with only the two of us and we had very week flashlights. Perhaps when we go back with a bigger group we can do them again. I really enjoyed the mines.

From there we headed down to Dante’s View which was a really cool overlook of the Badwater salt flats we had been at the day before. We headed on down back into the valley and on our way out stopped at an old Borax mine which had been preserved by the park.

There are tons of other things I want to do while there, like Racing Rocks, Scotty’s Castle, and the Crater. But we didn’t have a 4 wheel drive vehicle to take off road. This really does suck with us both having new cars, we don’t want to take them off onto dirt/gravel roads! I was thinking that maybe I can find a truck that I like, or maybe just a cheap user explorer or something that we can take on trips like this.

On the way home I got a very upsetting phone call from my cousin. My grandma was on her way home from Des Moines when she got into some bad snow, lost control of her car and hit a semi head on. Thank god she’s ok. They took her to the hospital because she was sore and they kept her overnight. They were supposed to be doing another CAT scan today but I haven’t heard anything new. I’ve tried calling a few times to her cell phone, but no answer. I assume she’s probably pretty out of it. Just hearing the news made me cry a little, but since I was driving I had to really hold it back. I’m very interested to see pictures of the car though.

The drive home was pretty good though overall. We ran into some REALLY bad dust storms, it was nearly whiteout conditions. And then some rain, but no traffic which was really nice. Got back to my house and the power was out, so we had to make due for a few hours before that came back on.

Today I am working from home. My car is supposed to be done. I sure HOPE that it does get done. I want my car back!

Photos from the weekend are here.

I did the GeoTagging again on this trip and it turned out MUCH BETTER! Download the Google Earth file here, check out the Google Maps Version (without photos) here or check out all the different files here.