Page 8 of Roosta Travel Blog Posts

North America » United States » Nevada » Las Vegas September 28th 2011

Today is my third day in Las Vegas, and this city is wearing me out. In many ways, it’s the dark reflection of Burning Man . Like the festival, this place creates its own world, where things exist that are not possible outside its borders. Unlike the non-commercial community orientated Burning Man, this world revolves completely around money. Las Vegas is the most materialistic city in the United States, if not the world. Almost everything here requires cash, and extracts it with amazing efficiency. My trip discipline is the only way I’m staying on budget. The city does have a few things worth experiencing that don’t involve opening a wallet. The view of the strip at night is amazing, at least the first few times. The Elvis impersonators on the strip can be fun. Many of ... read more
Grand Canal Shoppes show
Forum Shops center court
Bellagio fountains

North America » United States » Nevada » Las Vegas September 27th 2011

Today was another long day in Las Vegas. This city may be the most (over) stimulating place on earth. It contains unbelievable amounts of lights, gaudy architecture, and things to experience at every turn. All of them, of course, require money. This may be the best city in the world for people with cash in their pocket, and one of the worst once it runs out. I’m very thankful I had to develop spending discipline during the previous parts of the trip, because here it is pressed to the limit. A little unbelievably, I’ve managed to stay on budget. Cash Machine Rip-off This morning, I encountered another of Las Vegas’ rip offs. I’ve survived on this trip by periodically getting cash when I run low. A casino would seem like a place that would encourage this ... read more
Bellagio Conservancy
Fall topiary

North America » United States » Nevada » Las Vegas September 26th 2011

I left Tecopa this morning heading east. Thanks to its location, the fastest route goes back to Parhump. The road out follows the base of the mountain ridge above town. It passes a few more abandoned housing developments like the one I saw yesterday. Afterwards, it enters more empty desert, following ravines through mountains covered in scrub and exposed rocks. After an hour, the road crests a rise, revealing a truly surreal sight. A long line of absolutely huge buildings appears in the distance. Most of them are covered in mirrored glass. A tall concrete tower appears on the northern end. It all looks like a mirage, and in many ways is one. Those buildings mark a strange alternate universe; one where luck is a religion, money a form of worship, and hedonism the ultimate goal. ... read more
Red Rock Canyon
Red rocks
Calico Tanks Trail

North America » United States » Nevada » Pahrump September 25th 2011

This morning, I’m in the town of Tecopa. Most Californians have no idea this town exists, and most residents like it that way. It’s one of several small towns that dot parts of the Mojave Desert. This particular one grew up around a set of hot springs east of Death Valley. Downtown Tecopa consists of two hotels, a large RV park, a really good organic coffee shop, a gun store, a tiny bar, and an artist run gallery selling folk art. Most of these are contained in buildings so weather-beaten they look like they have been here since time began. Surrounding this are seemingly endless desert mountains and the occasional sand dune. Small desert towns in the Mojave mainly attract two types of people, desert survivalists and aging hippies. The hot springs mean this particular town ... read more
Shoshone CA
REAL Nevada gambling

This morning, I drove north through the valley. The road runs along the mountain foothills where they reach the desert floor. The heat is nearly unimaginable. The road has multiple signs warning of flash flood danger. They look about as silly as the signs in the mountains warning to carry tire chains. At the right time of year, both of them become deadly serious, as the sand streaks across the road make quite clear. Scotty's Castle Near the northern end, the paved road turns east into Grapevine Canyon. Immediately, the heat drops. It continues to drop as the road travels up the canyon, until it becomes almost bearable. Yuccas and other desert plants appear. Eventually, the road reaches a surreal sight in this empty desert, a large adobe hou... read more
Scotty's Castle
Scotty's Castle main room
Scotty's bedroom

North America » United States » California » Lone Pine September 23rd 2011

Relatively few visitors to California make it into the Owens Valley. Many of that do stick to a resort area called Mammoth Lakes. For the rest, the valley holds a truly compelling piece of American history. Most museums in California now talk about the Japanese American internment during World War II . Where did they end up? The answer is Manzanar, an armed camp deep in the Owens Valley. Eastern California Museum Until thirty years ago, finding anything about the camp was quite difficult. Many people, including those held there, tried to pretend that it never existed. Thanks to the dogged efforts of some detainees and local historians, that willing blindness slowly changed. The first major efforts happened at the Eastern California Museum in Independence. It’s a worthwhil... read more
Ancient Bristlecone Pine
Owens Valley Water War
Manzanar Artifacts

North America » United States » California » Lee Vining September 22nd 2011

I woke up this morning at Granite Lake Campground. It sits on the shore of a lake in a glacial valley on the eastern side of the Sierra. A little waterfall cascades down one of the peaks along the valley. I chose this campground mostly because it’s close to Lee Vining. In contrast with Upper Pines in Yosemite, the vegetation consists entirely of grass and the occasional small tree, and I got a spot by showing up. It still has the bear boxes, though! Driving out shows that Granite Lake is artificial. The creek was dammed by the City of Los Angeles in the 1940s to feed the city’s growing thirst. This had very important consequences for the surrounding area. Further down the road, it reaches a broad open slope. The area has no vegetation at ... read more
Granite Lake Campground
Mono Craters
Mono Lake

Yosemite Valley Nearly all books (and many websites) on Yosemite contain an apocryphal story, which has been around since at least the mid 1960s. A visitor walks into the valley information center and asks the ranger what they should do with only one day to visit Yosemite. The ranger responds “Weep”. The first part of my second day in the park covers Yosemite Valley. As noted yesterday, the valley has a huge traffic problem. Since my campground sits at the eastern end, I have no choice but to add to it. In a convertible, the views partly make up for the traffic. They are not as good as people may think, because the road passes through big areas of pine forests with views of nothing but trees. The rest, though, is spectacular. One major thing makes ... read more
Ahwahnee Hotel lounge
Yosemite Valley model
El Capitan

Most people have encountered a thought experiment called the “deserted island game”. The experiment states “if you were stranded on a deserted island with survival supplies but little else, what few things would you want to have with you to pass the time until rescue appears?” I bring this up because a variant exists for wilderness hikes: If I could only hike one trail for the rest of my life, what should that trail be? I’m now sure I know the answer: The Panorama Trail in Yosemite National Park. I woke up this morning in a sea of pine trees and other tents. This is not special at all. I then went to get water for breakfast. I reached an open area in the pines, and had a perfect view of Half Dome towering over the ... read more
Half Dome from North Pines
North Dome from Upper Pines
Tunnel View

North America » United States » California » Placerville September 19th 2011

Today, I’m heading south. Since I enjoyed the drive through gold country, I’m now doing it in reverse. The hills are still golden and glorious. My goal is a place that everyone in the world has seen pictures of, but even the best can’t begin to match real life. Gold Bug Mine Tour Along the way, I have a very special stop to make. California gold country used to have number of old mines open for tours. Gradually, nearly every one closed due to inability to get liability insurance. It seems that the old tunnels just have too many hazards. I finally managed to track down one that is still open, the Gold Bug Mine near Placerville. The Gold Bug Mine is what was called a gypsy mine. It was a very small vein of gold ... read more
Mine tunnel
Quartz vein
Mine timbers

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