Golden Gate Bridge in November

This week we took a road trip to the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. The Golden Gate is the gap in the mountains were the San Francisco Bay meets the Pacific Ocean. The Bridge spans the gap between San Francisco and Marin County. With clear skies and a high of 61 degrees F, it was a beautiful day for bicycling and hiking.

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Honolulu’s Koolau Range

During our trip to Hawaii in August, I was fascinated by the clouds and changing light on the Koolau Range behind Honolulu. Shown above, Manoa Valley is where I lived most my childhood, but I hadn’t seen this view of the mountains and valley from Waikiki. The back of Manoa Valley is gray, obscured by rain. The sun shines through the shifting clouds, lighting the ridges of the cliffs on Tantalus, the mountain on the left.

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Inside Passage: Rainforest Hike

On the fifth day of our Inside Passage cruise, we hiked through ferns and downed trees in a temperate rainforest (above photo) and kayaked in a fjord.

As we went ashore for the hike, the calm, dark water emphasized  undulating ripples with bright reflections. We were anchored in Yes Bay, where the ocean’s wave action is flattened by the islands and fjords of the Inside Passage.

undulating ripples in the still waters of a fjord
undulating ripples in the still waters of Yes Bay

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Death Valley: Mosaic Canyon

After the Mesquite Flats Sand Dunes, we hiked through Mosaic Canyon, the most interesting hike of our Mojave Desert road trip, with polished marble, a bit of wildlife, and the first cactus of our trip. Click on any photo to view an enlarged image.

Shown above, layers of marble have been formed, upended by tectonic forces, and polished by flash floods carrying stones down the canyon. The marble started as sedimentary rock high in calcium that was deposited horizontally. The rock was subsequently covered by more rock and heated, thereby changing to marble. A kind of metamorphic rock, marble is prized by masons and sculptors because it can be polished.

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Death Valley: Golden Canyon

After seeing the badlands from Zabriskie Point, we hiked up Golden Canyon from the valley floor through the same badlands. The National Park Service provides a trail guide explaining the geologic features of Golden Canyon.

The above photo shows the hills at the mouth of the canyon, cars in the parking lot, the flat floor of Death Valley, and the mountains forming the other side of Death Valley. The distant mountains had snow in February.

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Red Rock Canyon

This February we took a short road trip to the Mojave Desert, located in the southwest of the USA. The Southwest is arid. The Mojave Desert lies in the rain shadow of several mountain ranges, so it’s even drier than the rest of California.

At Red Rock Canyon outside Las Vegas, Nevada, we hiked along the Calico Hills, shown above. The hills are sandstone — deposited sand that turned to stone when covered and compressed by later deposits. Iron leached into some of the stone, turning it red.

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