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Race cars

Rimac

“Exotics on Cannery Row” is an yearly event in Monterey, CA that brings together all major manufacturers of sports and very expensive race cars. The event is bigger and better each year and it spreads in the entire town starting in the Convention Center with an auction of older race cars. The entire city center parking and streets around the wharf and continuing towards Cannery Row main avenue are all aligned with Porsche, Ferrari, Maserati, Bugatti, Pagani, McLaren to name just a few of the famous brands.

Bugatti

Besides there are a lot of other exotic cars that you may or may not have heard about. It is by far the only show I know where you can come close to these models and even hop in one of these cars for a picture.

Pagani Huayra

Koenigsegg

Rimac and Porsche

Air Jordan

RAESR

RAESR

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Posted by on August 25, 2018 in Blog, USA

 

Frisco’s chill

Cold spell in August in San Fransisco

What is wrong with this picture? It was taken on August 24 around 8:00 PM on the streets of downtown San Francisco in the sunny California. But sunny does not mean warm. People were dressed like in December on the East Coast with jackets, scarves and hats and we had to rush through the elegant Frisco’s downtown dressed just in a long sleeve shirt to find a dinner place where it was warm and cozy.

Gallery opening, San Francisco, CA

But this is the typical weather of the Bay area with hot days and chilly nights. We stopped also for a gallery opening on Market Street where we met the gallery’s owner longing for the New York’s East Village where she lived for a long time: “I miss New York so much because you get out of the house and everything is there; you can get anywhere you want. And besides San Francisco is full of homeless people. Giuliani sent them all here when he was mayor because it is warm. But look how cold is now in August…” I kind of remember Giuliani asking the homeless to move to California in the 2000s but for sure the number of homeless people on the streets of San Francisco’s downtown is staggering, in sheer contrast with the elegance of the buildings. It reminded me of New York in the 80s.

San Francisco street

 
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Posted by on August 24, 2018 in Blog, USA

 

The spirit of Ansel Adams

Grant Lake, Ansel Adams Wilderness, Yosemite National Park, CA

Out of the two Yosemite’s wildernesses that carry the named of the two main pioneers of the West, Ansel Adams Wilderness is the closest to Lee Vining, less than an hour away. The June Lake Loop is less of a wilderness being peppered by campgrounds, boat launch places and picnic areas but from the main road several paths start going steep up the mountains reaching the high dry peaks that can be seen from the valley.

June Lake Loop, Yosemite national Park, CA

The loop that forks out of CA395 is only about 16 miles long but passes through an amazing landscape with peaks on one side reflected in several glacier lakes. Entering the loop from the main road you first encounter the mirror of Grant Lake. After a turn it appears a small village with cottages that are aligned on the shores of Silver Lake, a lake so clear that you may think that the reflected mountains are in an upside-down picture.

Silver Lake, Ansel Adams Wilderness

After another several miles the resort of June Lake, quite unexpected for somebody who never went there, shows a place that is deeply grooved on the tourist map. The beach at the end of the lake offers a magnificent view that you don’t want to forfeit by leaving to some other places. You just want to sit with your feet in the lake and admire the peaks in front.

June Lake, Ansel Adams Wilderness, Yosemite National Park, CA

Deer crossing in Yosemite

Driving away from June Lake we reached Mammoth Lake, a winter and summer resort at the base on Mammoth Peak, a dry peak ideal for skiing. From there you have to take a local shuttle and go further and visit the Rainbow valley. At its beginning is the Minaret Panorama, a place from where you can see the steep minarets of the Sierra Nevada, spectacular naked rock peaks hidden in the middle of the ridge.

Minaret Panorama, Ansel Adams Wilderness

The minarets in Ansel Adams Wilderness

If you continue with the bus you get to the Devil’s Postpile National Monument, a natural monument established in 1911 at the insistence of a geologist who convinced the Congress that something like that you cannot encounter anywhere else. And he might have been right.

Devil’s Postpile National Monument, Yosemite National Park, CA

The solidified melted lava encounter adverse conditions of the ice age and split in hexagons, so perfectly shaped that you may first think that somebody paved the top of the mountains in tiles. You may encounter these types of rocks around the valley but not with such precision and perfect geometric shape that form at the base a wall that you may have seen only built by the Incas in Cusco.

Devil’s Postpile National Monument, Yosemite National Park, CA

Devil’s Postpile National Monument, Yosemite National Park, CA

The walk from the Devil’s Postpile Monument to Rainbow Falls is about one hour and a half and is passing in a disaster forest destroyed by a huge fire that happened in 1992.

1992 Rainbow Fire aftermath

The Rainbow Fire destroyed more than 8000 acres of land, engulfing in flames the entire mountain and threatening the evacuation of the Mammoth Lake village. Started by lightning the fire burned for about 10 days with no hope in site to be extinguished till the wind changed its direction and the rain started to help.

Rainbow Falls, Ansel Adams Wilderness, Yosemite National Park, CA

It is depressing to see such a devastation that left behind a forest covered in dry wood ready to go in flames at the next spark. At the end of the trail there are the spectacular Rainbow Upper Falls. The lower falls trail was closed at the time for renovation.

Half Dome seen from Olmsted Point, Yosemite National Park, CA

From the bottom of the Mammoth Lake Peak we drove in one shot CA120 back towards western California, all the way to the bay area. On the way we stopped again – how could we wouldn’t – at Olmsted Point with a hazy view of the Half Dome like in a picture inspired by Ansel Adams.

Yosemite ridges in sunset

 
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Posted by on August 23, 2018 in Blog, USA

 

John Muir Trail

Cathedral Peak, Yosemite National Park, CA

“This I must say is the first time I’ve been to church in California,” said John Muir when he traveled the first time to the Cathedral Lakes. And for us turned out to be the same. The Cathedral Lakes trail follows the famous John Muir Trail, a long and winding trail that starts in Mount Whitney, about 200 miles south of the Yosemite Valley. It is a very popular trail, as I was to find out from the many mountaineers I met on the road all carrying sleeping bags and several light pads on their large backpacks.  The trail passes peaks and valleys and, based on the chats I had with several of the hikers, it require 15 to 25 days to walk its entirety, based on the endurance and pace of the hikers.

Cathedral Upper Lake, Yosemite National Park, CA

For us it was almost a religious experience to walk in the steps of John Muir even for about 11 miles RT going to the two Cathedral Lakes, two crystal mirrors of waters reflecting the majestic peak that is towering upon you for almost the entire trail. When you enter the trail, you are actually entering the last 21 miles leg of the John Muir Trail that would bring you to the heart of the Yosemite Valley.

Horse train, Yosemite national Park, CA

The spectacular forest that surrounded us has towering trees that seem never ending, leaving a patch of sky to be seen through their canopy. Fire was always a presence in that forest and many trees are burnt and some fell one of top of the others, balancing incredible in the air on top of the forest in an act that you may be sure that it will end at the first pale of wind.

Cathedral Lower Lake, Yosemite National Park, CA

The path divides, going first to the upper Cathedral Lake, a splash of blue waters reflecting the majestic white peak on whose surface ducklings were cheerfully diving for food. When you reach this point you realize that the hike that is rated at 4-6 hours, it is not about the hike itself that may not take more than 2.5 hours RT if you walk reasonably fast, but it includes the the time that you may spend at the lake, its beauty being spellbinding. From there you walk back to the Lower Lake, surrounded like in an amphitheater by white rock that invites you for a circumambulation around the lake with no religious purpose.

Cathedral Peak in sunset

And if the 11 miles RT were not enough we jumped in the car and drove to another path that brought us to another beautiful lake in sunset, Dog Lake, a short trail of only 3 mile RT. …Maybe we should have started early and put a larger effort and walk all the way the all 21 miles to the Yosemite Valley instead of splitting the day to go to different locations and in this way we may have been closer to John Muir’s spirit…

Dog Lake, Yosemite National Park, CA

 
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Posted by on August 22, 2018 in Blog, USA

 

Glacier and salty lakes

Lee Vining, CA

Lee Vining is the type of town I love when I travel in the West. Just three hotels, two restaurants and a cafe, a store, a gas station, all in 2-3 blocks; and several cappuccino places…If you blink through it you may have missed it but the vibe of the place is great, the entire village is filled with backpackers and mountaineers ready for the next adventure, a place similar with Escalante, UT, another adventure hub that few know about.

Eilery Lake, Yosemite National Park, CA

CA120 road leaving Lee Vining towards Yosemite is probably one of the most beautiful I drove on with huge peaks ready to tumble upon you or into the clear lakes at their base. There are 11 miles of enchanting landscape that you have to drive till you enter the park.

Gaylor Lakes in Tioga Pass, Yosemite National Park, CA

We stopped right at the park entrance and started our morning hike to the Gaylor Lakes, two of them, surrounded by the peaks we admired from the road, a four miles RT all uphill through the two glacier lakes. The hike is probably one of the most rewarding in terms of views skirting Dana Peak and its meadow with the best alpine views in the entire park.

The miner cabin on top of the Gaylor Lakes

The path continues after the lakes going up the hill to several abandoned miners’ rock and wood cabins and a mine shaft. The landscape is very enticing for exploration with small glacier lakes peppering the top of the ridge and old rusted mining equipment still in place. The view from the top is beyond words with the rocky debris on Dana Peak that is towering over the valley.

Dana Peak, Yosemite National Park, CA

For the afternoon hike we drove to the Toulumne campground from where we started a five mile RT hike to Elisabeth Lake, another glacier lake surrounded by peaks at the base of Unicorn Peak. The hike itself proved to be much easier that mentioned in the brochures but the places are so beautiful that is taking you more time to stay put and admire than the hike itself.

Elisabeth Lake, Yosemite National Park, CA

The walk, about 1 hour and 15 minutes one way uphill, was serene and we arrived late and had the entire lake and the surrounding scenery just for ourselves.

Elisabeth Lake, Yosemite National Park, CA

From the campground we drove back to Lee Vining and because the sun was still up in the sky we drove to the Tufa formations at the southern side of the Mono Lake. Mono Lake is a high salinity lake that holds you on its surface if you want to dive into it. The water, beside being salty, is also silky at touch because of the calcium rich underwater springs that trigger the formation of the Tufas, large limestone formations that look like they popped out of the lake.

South Tufa on Mono Lake, CA

The place has an eerie feeling especially because the Tufas are everywhere, in the lake and in the surrounding areas. This happens because the lake was much larger but a number of springs that were feeding it were captured to bring water to Los Angeles diminishing ithe lake’ surface.

South Tufa on Mono Lake after sunset

 
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Posted by on August 21, 2018 in Blog, USA

 

Tioga Pass

The tunnel view, Yosemite National Park, CA

John Muir and Ansel Adams are two names that I always read about and wanted to discover more. In a spring about 12 years ago I came in to hike in Yosemite looking for these two titans of the American West; one an environmentalist, the other, a photographer. At the time I hiked for an entire day in Yosemite National Park exploring from the valley to the top all of its wonderful waterfalls, Vernal, Nevada and Yosemite, and drove my way out of the park late in the evening through the Lake Tahoe pass. The Tioga Pass road was closed for the season but I was adamant to cross the mountains and get to the Eastern Sierra, with its magnificent landscape that gave it the nickname of Switzerland of California. Unfortunately a strong dust storm obliterated completely my options and I was forced out of the area with a police escort that helped a long row of cars navigate the narrow road that was at the time CA395, a road blinded by dust storm all the way to Death Valley.

Ferguson Fire In Yosemite Valley, CA

This time was the first in a long series of tries when I got in Yosemite in the summer and found Tioga pass open and decided to cross the mountains and get on the Eastern Sierra Nevada. The fires that roared through Yosemite for the first half of August were declared contained when we arrived in California and only Fergurson fire was still smoldering in the park but we decided to stay away of the valley where accommodation was scarce and several access roads were still closed because of the fires.

Toulumne Grove, Yosemite National Park, CA

So we took a turn on CA120 and started to explore the park outside of the valley with a first stop in Toulumne Grove letting us be dwarfed by the imposing sequoia trees.

Olmsted Point, Yosemite National Park, CA

The landscape we discovered was stupendously beautiful. We were in awe at the white domes and the crystal lakes we discovered and the only thing we wanted was to start hiking and discovering them in depth. Of course we read about them before but no reading or picture would make justice to such an amazing landscape.

Tenaya Lake, Yosemite National Park, CA

The road crosses the entire mountain chain reaching the the beautiful Olmested Point, dedicated to the famous American architect and landscaper, till it reached Tioga pass at 9943 feet where it’s also the entry/exit booth of the park. From there the road descends through one of the most beautiful landscape I ever saw to Mono Lake on whose shore is the tiny community of Lee Vining.

Lembert Dome, Yosemite National Park, CA

 
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Posted by on August 20, 2018 in Blog, USA

 

The Long Island canals

The Bellmore canal in Long Island has a direct view to the Jones Beach obelisk

The southern part of Long Island is crested by numerous necks and a collection of tiny islands from where you could see the sand bank where is located Jones Beach or further to the east, Fire Island. From the Bellmore canal in Long Island you have a direct view of the Jones Beach obelisk.

 
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Posted by on August 10, 2018 in Blog, USA