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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,922

    Default Heading for the Horizon - 2012

    It is more than a week ago now, that the A380 landed at LAX, two hours late. We had flown over the Channel Islands NP, and crossed the coast over Ventura. The flight path took us over greater LA, before heading back west to land on the east-west runway. Bonus was that we got a fantastic view of the spectacular Sierras, all covered in snow, and sparkling like diamonds on this clear spring morning. A wonderful welcome to North America.

    My flight some hours later, to Philadelphia, via Atlanta, took us over the deserts of southern AZ and NM. As I sat there in amazement at the view below me, I kept snapping away with my camera to record this wonderful desert scenery. (The photos are nowhere near clear enough to publish.) Having always maintained that you don't see as much flying, as you do driving, I was left to eat my own words. This special area of the country, through which I have driven at least four times, looked so much more special from the air. I was able to pick out a few landmarks, in particular I-10, and if I had had a map with me, am sure I could have picked out many more. It was such a clear day, and the landscape was just spectacular.

    Doylestown PA

    Until I purchased my van, I had never heard of this place, but it will now forever hold a special place among my souvenirs. On my arrival I was met by my couchsurfing host, who together with his wife made me most welcome and comfortable. Much of my time there was spent resting and sleeping. Still we got in quite a few activities, and I had lots of opportunities to meet some of the locals.

    On the day after my arrival (Wed), I was invited along to a Women's Business Forum, which was almost a full day, with many excellent speakers as well as a chance to see some of the products of local businesses. On Friday we went to Philadelphia, where a Doylestown artist, another couchsurfer, had organised a luncheon for the folks involved in Philadelphia Magic Gardens Project and the Clay Studio. This project was started by Lilly Yeh more than 25 years ago, and the luncheon was in her honour. It was great to walk through the project with her, and hear how things evolved, and why things are where they are. I need to learn a lot more about this project, which should be one of the attractions for Philadelphia. As it is, it is something which 95% of those visiting the city would never see, and I venture to say that many living in the city are not aware of it.

    That evening I was invited to attend a dinner in a small cafe, with a showing of a documentary made by an elderly local film maker. Unfortunately he was not able to be present, due to ill health. The film told the story of Charles Eames, architect and furniture designer. I had heard of him. His furniture turns up from time to time, on the (British) Antique Roadshow - one of my favourite shows.

    All these activities gave me great opportunities to get a real feel of what life is like, these days, in that little corner of the world.

    The Ford

    After my day at the forum on Wednesday, I had made arrangements to pick up the vehicle I had purchased. I was not disappointed. It seems to be everything I had thought it would be. It is clean, runs well, and handles like the truck it is. My arms and shoulders are getting exercise like they have not had for a long time. I am slowly getting used to having a very short nose in front of me, and although its overall length is no longer than my Outback, there is a lot more vehicle behind me. It has a very large turning circle, so much so, that it is difficult to do a U turn. I have now taken to going round the block. And its width..... I shall have to get used to that soon. So far I have hit the kerb a few times, and knocked over some of those orange lane markers at construction sites. I am terrified that one day I will hit a vehicle, or side-swipe a parked car. Especially in the narrow winding streets of suburban Boston.

    But there is much I really like. The large windows all around give fantastic vision, and the large side mirrors almost eliminate blind spots. It also has the small round extra mirror, which gives an even wider view. The three large windows have blinds, which look like they have never been used. And when I lay down the sofa/bed back seat, it looks like it will be big enough for me to sleep on. Am now having serious thoughts of leaving that seat in there, rather than replacing it with a mattress.

    The vehicle searching/purchasing/registering thread can be found here.

    The auto electrician

    On the Thursday, I drove the car to West Chester, where Jerry, the auto electrician, installed an auxiliary battery for me. This is needed to make sure that when I run my fridge off the battery overnight, I will still be able to start the engine, the next day. Jerry did a wonderful job, even covering the battery with carpet to match the interior. The only thing he impressed on me is where the fuses are, and what they are for. The drive to West Chester had been quite traumatic, so rather than have me wait a couple of hours for him to do the work, Jerry had his wife take me out for a cup of tea and lunch.

    Lunch was at one of those nice little old places that has been there for ever and a day. It too, is the sort of thing which should be among the 'attractions'. A real gem. The only place where I have been served a pot of tea with bone china cup and saucer. And all that for less than $3. The lunch was great as well, and just as reasonable. After lunch we called in at the AAA so that I could pick up the maps I am going to need over the next couple of weeks. And while there, took out a AAA membership. She was a great sales lady... and convinced me that I should have a premium membership. So now I'm all set up - to break down! lol

    Lifey
    Last edited by Southwest Dave; 04-05-2012 at 03:25 AM. Reason: Added link.

  2. Default La La land

    Glad you saw my favorite approach to LAX. Aerial views do provide a different perspective than the road especially if you know what to see. Another favorite is the view of Yosemite Valley on LAX-Sacramento or San Francisco flights but unfortunately many people dodn't know where to look.

    If you return to LA before early June you might like see more Eames items including their living room. They are part of the CA Design exhibit at the LA County Art Museum. If you don't make it back, then following structural preservation their home (in Pacific Palisades) should be open again. Now that the Getty Museum is starting to focus on mid-century homes they may have exhibits in the future.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,698

    Default Cool.

    Thanks for the update Lifey, Great to see you engaging with the Local's and taking such an interest ! You will soon settle down and adjust to the size of the Ford and I am pleased that has all turned out well. The good thing about those 'Big Mirrors' is that if they fit through a gap, so does the rest of you. [Tight turns etc, are of course, a different matter !] Of course that doesn't help with kerbs and cones that are low down either, but are a big help in gauging the width and clearance to other vehicles. When driving an RV, I also have the nearside mirror angled slightly down, so that I can see the back of the vehicle to it's position on the road. I guess what I am saying is, you are more likely to clip a kerb then you are to side swipe another vehicle, so don't be too terrified ! Relax. ;-)

    Look forward to updates !

    Dave.
    Last edited by Southwest Dave; 04-05-2012 at 03:33 AM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, Australia
    Posts
    142

    Default

    Good to see you have your vehicle and on your way. Sounds exciting. Looking forward to the updates. Be well. Keith

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,922

    Default By Special Request

    She's looked after me very well, and other than regular drinks and a little TLC, has not demanded much. We've settled in well together. She seems to enjoy the adventures as much as I do.


    Hope ye like it Dave.

    Lifey

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,698

    Default Cheers.

    I do indeed, glad to hear you are getting along well together !

    I think that critter might be a Wolverine. [?]

    Dave.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,922

    Default Haines Highway

    Now that I was back in the land of less than $5 per gallon for fuel ($4.969), I figured I would fill up and pray that it would take me through to Tok. It did.

    For the first 18 or so miles the highway follows the Chilkat River. Just 52 miles long, this river originates at the Chilkat Glacier in BC. Glacial rivers tend to be shallow and very wide, especially near their source. This one was no exception, shallow with sand bars and gravel bars made from glacial debris. It was when the wind blew up that the sand swirled above the river, making it look as if the river was 'steaming'.


    About half way to the Canadian border I came to a sign 'Porcupine Crossing', and this one lane bridge over the Klehini River.


    Ever curious, and wanting to know where it leads, I followed that truck and crossed the bridge. On the turnout on the other side was an old broken sign. Although one third was missing, I could still make out that the road ahead followed an old gold trail.


    (I have since found a photo of the complete sign on the internet.)

    The road split soon after. I took what looked to be the better one. Still, avoiding potholes was sometimes a challenge.


    There was some rural civilization along this road. This farm stood out. There was as yet, nothing growing, but it looked like they might supplement the farm income with driving the schoolbus.


    Not a great deal further on - probably about 6 miles from the bridge - I came to what I considered for me to be the end of the road.


    Back on the Haines Hwy there is a rest area just north of this bridge. The view up river from here is quite spectacular. A typical glacial morain.


    The four large interpretive boards at the rest area give the history of the Dalton Trail from native and wildlife fishing trail, to an oil and fur trading route, the goldrush and eventually 'trail to highway' in 1943. I would post the photos of the boards here (they are in my album), but I am not sure if you can enlarge them, to be able to read all this interesting information.

    And finally, there was a bear... the only bear I have been able to pat!


    As an aside of interest, the house up on the hill, across from the rest area is for sale. A nice retirement shack.

    The road climbed steadily up to the border. My seventh border crossing went without any memorable moment to record.

    Once over the border it seemed as if by magic, I was once again in snow.


    Crossing the mountain pass here was as spectacular as it had been down to Skagway.


    Though overcast, it did not rain. We did get a few flurries of light snow and it was very windy. Snow was blowing over the road, and each time I got out of the van I was caught up in it.


    Driving up north early in the season has had some challenges... much is not open yet, and other things are not yet accessible. But then, look at the plusses. Up on the high plains, over the mountain passes... these views more than make up for the disappoinments.


    Though traffic was rare, I was not always alone on the road.


    Up ahead there appeared to be a vehicle parked on the road, without having made any attempt to move off as far as possible. I wondered if he was in trouble. There was some activity going on next to the vehicle, on the snow. Still no one signalled, I kept going. That is, until I saw this coming towards me.....


    They were moving quite fast, and I did not get an opportunity to get out of the van to get a really good photo. This one was taken through the passenger window.

    All too soon I was headed out of the snow and descending into the Haines Junction area.


    But this magnificent highway had one more surprise in store for me. It was not all that far from Haines Junction when I saw the black 'something' by the side of the road, and slowed down. Unfortunately a vehicle coming the other way scared it, and it scurried up the hill. So by the time I got close enough, I was not even sure what it was I was looking at. It seemed to be a porcupine. However, I always thought porcupine were small animals. Something like an echidna. This one must have been all of three feet from nose to tail tip and at least 18" tall. It was a good ways off when I took this photo... the best I could get.


    Just 146 miles long, and in many drivers' estimation at most three hours driving. For me, it was almost twice that, and I wouldn't have wanted it any other way. There was less than half a day now, and I still wanted to make it to Tok.

    Lifey
    Last edited by Lifemagician; 06-02-2012 at 06:14 PM. Reason: typos!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,053

    Default That's not even a big one!

    Quote Originally Posted by Lifemagician View Post
    ... However, I always thought porcupine were small animals. Something like an echidna. This one must have been all of three feet from nose to tail tip and at least 18" tall.
    Lifey, I can guarantee that porcupines can appear to be that big. I've always equated them with the size of a larger cow dog -- their actually bodies are smaller but those nasty quills add as much as 150% size. I've run into several when I was kid -- they are impressive beasts!

    They are actually pretty shy and gentle -- except when you've unintentionally cornered one... and then.... eeeeeeeyow -- Look out!

    Mark

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,922

    Default Some pictures to accompany the above text.

    Now that I have had another close look at my pictures, they may come out OK, on here. (Ignore the dates on the photos. I have no idea why it kept jumping back and forth from 26th to 27th and back to 26th. And to complicate matters further, it is on Australian time.)


    Approaching LA, over the Channel Islands.


    The spectacular desert country of southern AZ. Note the single road.


    The greening effect of water.


    I was left wondering why the circles?


    One of the many mountain ranges over which we flew.
    By now, the altitude was forming moisture on the outside (or in between) the window.


    Village for Arts and Humanities.... 2544 Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia.




    This was the first mural of the Magic Gardens Project.
    Together with the stage, it turned a derelict, rubbish strewn area, into a vibrant space for the youth of the area to enjoy.
    Of course, it was the young people who worked with the original founder, to create all this beautiful space.



    Some of the garden furtniture which adds more interest and comfort to this space.


    The sculptured fencing around most of the project is to simulate the waves of music.




    The angels of angel alley - a meditation garden.




    This wall was left standing when the building was demolished.
    It is now a memorial to the local boys who lost their lives in the Vietnam, and subsequent conflicts.

    I could go on. This project is something you have to see to appreciate, and then, I doubt you would without the commentary to which we were privilidged. There are many more photos of it in my USA 2012 album.

    If you put the address into Google maps, you can get the little yellow man to walk you through most of it. It covers quite a few house sites, and crosses over two streets.

    The Germantown Avenue area of Philadelphia, is a very run down area. Many buildings are empty and vandalised. In an effort to bring traders back to the area, and rejuvinate it, the city has employed artists to redecorate some 140 buildings. I saw the video of what it will look like, and I have to say, it will be stunning. I sincerely hope it has the desired effect, because the young people with whom we spoke are proud of their city, and full of confidence for their future.

    Lifey

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,053

    Default Irrigation Circles

    The round irrigation circles are created because of what is called "center pivot irrigation" where a single source of water pipe in the middle and the system slow walks around in a giant circle as it moves in the field. Here is an explanation of how this works.

    And the RTA Custom Maps also use the little yellow man for street-level viewing.

    Mark

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