Monday, May 31, 2010

Protecting Nesting Shorebirds

At the moment, the beaches in Florida are still picture-purfect (no oil in sight). Here's a photo of me shot over Memorial Weekend at Honeymoon Island State Park ...  I volunteer to protect nesting shorebirds from predators like drunk boaters and their dogs. Not a bad gig, really. Most people see the signs and the taped off areas and understand they need to keep out. A lot of islands around Tampa Bay are rookeries and nesting is in full swing right now, so if you're at the beach and see the posted areas for nesting birds, please be nice and do not enter. This is an American oystercatcher, one of the threatened nesting birds.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Roadtrip 2010: Hope You Enjoyed the Ride

The Getaway Girl RV Roadtrip 2010 has come to the end of the road. A special thanks to my Roadtrippers John and Sandy, left, and Val and Brian, right (that's me in the center). Happy trails!

Friday, May 14, 2010

This Place Rocks

Here in Sequoia National Park, things really rock! Boulders the size of a house are everywhere amidst the forest and rivers and waterfalls.

Today we hiked 2 miles to Moro Rock, a massive granite boulder that can be seen for miles. Once you climb the 400 or so chiseled steps to the top, you get one mind-blowing 360-degree view. This photo shows Val and me at the top of Moro Rock. From the top, we could see the Continental Divide and all the way to Kings Canyon National Park, just north of this park.
With the weather finally in the 80's in the valley, we are happy campers. But alas, we leave at 5 tomorrow morning for the trip back to Phoenix. With Brian at the wheel, we hope to make it back home by dark tomorrow. It's been a great trip and I have come to appreciate the RV style of travel. Thanks go to my hosts, Val and Brian, for letting me experience this awesome trip!

There'Snow Bears Here

Everywhere you go around the Sierra Mountains, there are warnings about the bears. Don't feed the bears. Watch out for the bears. Well, today, we finally saw those sneaky bears! Freaked us out as we were driving along the main road in Sequoia National Park, rounding a curve and there they were ... a mother and 2 cubs. Took this photo from the car window.

Today, we drove south from Yosemite to a really beautiful area where both Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks are located. It's a region of lush green forested mountains and rushing mountain rivers filled with boulders and white water rapids.

Although warm at lower elevations, as we drove up the winding park road the temps dropped 25 degrees as we got to around 4,500 feet and there was snow everywhere! Many trails and roads in the park are closed due to snow. This area is known for the famous towering Sequoia trees, so we had to make a stop to see the General Sherman Tree, the oldest living tree in the world. Here's Val in front of the tree at ground level.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Hikes and Waterfalls

We decided to hang around homebase in Oakhurst area today since we saw a good amount of Yosemite in the last two days. We found a beautiful 3-mile hiking trail just up the highway from our campground called Lewis Creek Trail and followed it through a deep pine forest and along the creek nearly the entire 3 miles. It was rushing with the runoff from the mountain snows and offered up some beautiful waterfalls over large boulders.

It seems everywhere you turn here, if there's a river or creek, there's a waterfall. The weather turned sunny finally so we enjoyed a bit of warmer temps in the 50s and 60s. Woo hoo! In the photo, we are crossing one of the hand-built log bridges along Lewis Creek Trail.
We finished up the day with our first cook-out .... finally... and a real campfire. Life is good! (If you can't see the video, go to my blog at

I'm Falling for Yosemite Waterfalls

Things are looking up here at Yosemite....way up to the top of the dozen or so gushing waterfalls one can find throughout this magnificent national park. It's hard to watch where you are walking when the majestic scenery keeps your eyes to the skies most of the time!

Here is one of the most famous of them all ... Upper Yosemite Falls. As you can see, the rain has stopped (although it's still pretty chilly, in the 40s-50s), so we are happy to see the blue skies topping our waterfalls.

We are amazed with not only the number of tourists here for mid-May (hate to be here in summer), but the deer which are everywhere and seem relatively tame. This shot was taken not far from where we were eating a picnic lunch. Four deer calmly grazing in a small patch of grass right next to the road!

While there is only a smattering of wildflowers here and there in the lower elevations, Val and I have grown fond of the elegant white dogwood trees that are blooming everywhere. We don't have any in Arizona or Florida. Here's Val showing a dogwood blossom. Pretty, huh?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Rain, Rain Go Away

We started the day with chilly and overcast skies as we arrived at Yosemite National Park. This picture shows Val and myself at the edge of beautiful Yosemite Valley. We were surprised at the crowds -- busloads of Japanese tourists and lots of traffic in the park. By noon the rain was upon us, first a gentle drizzle but evolving into a steady downpour.

Our plans for hiking today dissolved in the gray mist that soon enveloped the valley. So we decided to take a 2-hour guided bus tour through Yosemite Valley. It was our only option ... and not a bad one, really.

We learned a lot about the history, ecology and geology of the national park, but the rain and cold (in the 40s) was not condusive to photography. By mid-afternoon, the rain had turned to snow in the upper elevations and we had to take an alternate route back to our RV park since we did not have chains for our tires! Yes, it's snowing here .... life is an adventure.

Note: If you can't see the video, just go to my blog page at

Monday, May 10, 2010

RV Roadtrip 2010: Phoenix to Yosemite

The GetawayGirls, Marcia and sister Val, head out from Phoenix on Saturday with Val's boyfriend Brian at the wheel of the 32-foot Winnebago. This will be a one-week road trip, accompanied by friends John and Sandy in their own home on wheels. We'll be visiting both Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks in Central California, and I hope to be posting nearly every day with a few photos and a video.

Saturday we travel 423 miles, stopping at a forelorn intersection off Highway 40 in the middle of the Mojave Desert to overnight in what appears to be an abandoned gas station parking lot. Next door is an antique shop with a bunch of old junk like vintage gas pumps, a rusty windmill and an old Texaco sign (see photo). On the other side of us is the Astro Burger. We hunker down inside our cozy RV and play cards, then continue on early the next morning.

On Sunday, we continue through the desert and into the Central Valley of California, where agriculture is king. All morning we drive past nothing but vineyards and orchards of walnut, almond and peach trees and vast expanses of cattle ranches. Finally we reach Fresno, where we head north into Yosemite country. Presto chango! The rolling landscape turns lush with pine forests and shimmering lakes and we feel a change in the air.

Yes, it's raining and chilly as we pull into our campground in Oakhurst and set up camp. But soon the sun comes out and we take a drive to Bass Lake, just 9 miles away (see photo). I am enjoying the cool brisk mountain air and looking forward to our first day at Yosemite tomorrow. Don't miss hot, humid Tampa one bit!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Road Trip! Getaway Girl Heads to Yosemite

Yep, it's time to hit the road and this time I'll be taking an RV trip from Phoenix to Yosemite and Sequoia national parks in California. Wildflowers and waterfalls should be at their peak! That's me at Yosemite in the photo below. Stay tuned!