Clinton and I were able to log a bunch of #TalleyYourMiles during our Thanksgiving adventure through California. In case you forgot between the other blog posts, we left and drove through Death Valley, north through Yosemite, around the Sierras to Sequoia/Kings Canyon, and then back around the Sierra through Death Valley for a second time before heading home. One of the spots we wanted to revisit that we had the pleasure of seeing back in 2011 when we lived out west was the Alabama Hills. Back then we hiked a bit more around the rock formations, but this time we had our dogs with us. There are plenty of places to stop off and park once you enter the Alabama Hills Recreation Area. In the distance are the Sierras with Mt. Whitney on display through the two different types of rock exposed at the Alabama Hills. Natural arches are easily accessible and there are a few notable arches including Mobius Arch, which gives many photographers an easy picture as it perfectly highlights Mt. Whitney in it’s arch.
The Alabama Hills Arch Nature Trail is an easy 15 minute round trip hike around the recreation area. If you are driving in like we did there is plenty of space to park around the park and explore, even if you aren’t able to walk the traditional trail. The Alabama Hills were formed at the same time as the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The increasingly arid climate weathered the rocks on the east side that were exposed, and sculpted the into ledges, spires, and natural arches. The landscape looks as surreal as the history of this interesting part of the country. Because of its beauty, there area many Hollywood films and TV shows, including the Lone Ranger series and 2008 Iron Man that was and still is filmed in the area. It is very beautiful but also very popular. We did bring our dogs with us, but that didn’t leave us much opportunity to hike too far off at this location. We recommend visiting the Alabama Hills under any condition – even if it is just a quick drive through!
We’ve had the opportunity to visit this gorgeous place twice so far in our lives and hope that we can go back again and again! This is only one part of our multi-day trip through California in 2019 while celebrating Thanksgiving and adding to our #TalleYourMiles. 219 miles did not come easy, but we hope that we can encourage you to follow the trail before you and visit more of your public lands!
Last year for Thanksgiving Clinton and I took more than just a few days off and took to the road with the dogs. Our goal was to drive to Death Valley and see where we wanted to go from there. Last time we had been to Death Valley was in 2011 when we worked out in Panamint, and we wanted to drive through some of the same areas. Driving from Page to Las Vegas takes about 5 hours depending on the traffic through various parts on your trip, and another 2 hours to get into Death Valley. We decided to take Hwy 95 to Beatty and turn on 375 towards Stovepipe Wells. We traveled this route frequently when we worked that summer and recognized that most everything was the same. Pretty neat since our experience living in cities means constant change even over short periods of time!
Our trip didn’t end here, though we did decide to head up north towards Yosemite before doing an elaborate loop around the Sierras to get to Sequoia and Kings Canyon later during this journey. On our way back to Page we decided to take another journey we had done back in 2011 to get back into Death Valley and head through Ridgecrest south of the park. Heading north on 198 towards Panamint Springs brought back many memories of traveling in such a remote and desolate place. That being said, we love Death Valley! It is such a unique place. One of my favorite things about this desert is the heat and the sand. It does not have the same red rock or painted desert look that the canyons hold in Arizona, or the stark sandstone formations that are located in Utah. It is dark, with very low cover, and dry sand with cracks everywhere in the earth that surround a hot dry atmosphere. Death Valley is simply an amazing place to sit and watch the world go by – with the comfort of water of course. It’s hard to put into words how great Death Valley is…but don’t let it fool you. Clinton and I always carry more than enough water, which is at least 1 gallon a person. Salty foods are you friend, as is finding shade whenever possible and keeping exercise to a minimum during the hottest parts of the day. Usually 1-4 p.m. In Death Valley it was not uncommon for the temperature to reach over 100 by 9 a.m., however. Be smart and enjoy your visit to Death Valley!
During our visit we had the chance to drive out to the charcoal kilns – one of the best reasons to drive up through Ridgecrest. Wildrose Canyon is host to these amazing architectural features located in Death Valley. 10 total beehive shaped structures about 25 feet high survive as the best example of such type of kilns in the western states. These kilns were completed in 1877 by the Modock Consolidated Mining Company for fuel usage in two smelters located in the Argus Range west of Panamint Valley. There is not evidence that the kilns were used after 1879 which is a good reason these kilns are in such good condition. If you are able to make it out there, and we did with our Honda Civic and Honda Accord on two separate occasions, we definitely recommend visiting this unique and awesome area!
Death Valley is actually full of life. Darwin Falls is a hike near Panamint that starts in the desert sands and ends in a small pool of water with trees and dragonflies. Rainstorms flash across the desert periodically, not normally, but when they do it shows how much life is everywhere in Death Valley. If you end up only having a few hours and can divert you can drive across definitely take the time. You’ll probably never see anything as unique and exciting as Death Valley National Park!
We still have not been up to Scotty’s Castle or the Racetrack – but now that we have our truck we have added this to our list! Stay tuned for an update on this wonderful National Park!
During our travels through Eastern Europe we were able to visit the Czech Republic, in particular Prague. Prague is a very interesting city. For starters, we were on the bus tour so we didn’t have the vehicle independence or public transportation option really nailed down. We did come back to the area one more time when we go our Eurorail tickets but spent the majority of the time going back to the same spots we liked the first time we visited.
Prague is an old city with stone pathways and amazing architecture, along with being one of the largest cities in all of the European Union. It is the historical capital of Bohemia and is considered one of the political, cultural, and economic centers of central Europe. As the capital of the Kingdom of Bohemia and the main residence of several Holy Roman Emperors, the city contains an enormous amount of cultural and historical significance for all of Europe. While visiting the area we were able to see famous attractions such as Prague Castle, Charles Bridge, the Old Town Square, and the astronomical clock. The historic center of town is a great place to not only be in a visitor friendly area fresh with tons of things to do to occupy your time, but is also still a great place to see the “true” character of a global city. Prague is consistently listed as one of the most visited cities in the world, right up there on the list with London, Paris, Rome, and Istanbul.
The Old Town Square in Prague is a delight to visit. There are many memorials in the square’s center, including religious reformer Jan Hus who was burned at the stake for his beliefs in Constance. Erected in 1915 to mark the 500th anniversary of his death, the memorial is only one of many ways the people of Bohemia celebrate Jan Hus. Celebrated as a symbol of dissidence and strength against oppressive regimes, Jan Hus historically opposed control by the Vatican and gave confidence to those in the nineteenth century who would oppose rule under the Hapsburg. In celebration of the end of the Thirty Years War and the end of Hapsburg rule is the Marion Column and in front of the Old Town Hall is a memorial to the martyrs beheaded during the Old Town Square execution by the Hapsburg. So much history spanned over a vast amount of time is astonishing. One could easily spend a few hours just in this main city area.
Another feature in the Old Town Square is the Astronomical Clock. Dating back to 1410 with the first recorded mention of the clock in October of that year, the clock was made by Mikulas of Kadan and Jan Sindel. Later the calendar dial was added and clock facade was decorated with Gothic sculptures. The mechanism of the clock has three main components – the astronomical dial (representing the Sun and Moon in the sky), statues of various Catholic saints, an hourly show of Apostle figures for the clock face striking the time, and a calendar dial with medallions representing the months. There are plenty of outdoor cafes and restaurants with outdoor seating to sit and have a great lunch and watch the astronomical clock in action. Why not have a sip of absinthe while you are in the area? Clinton and I had the obligatory shot and it is absolutely weird! Licorice tasting and extremely strong, don’t drink too much or it may be hard to navigate your way back to the hotel. The food is just as good as Poland and Hungary, with a bit of flare for global blending since so many different cultures seemed to come together in this one square.
Like most major European cities, bridges are a huge deal. In Prague the bridge to view as Charles Bridge, which is as truly beautiful as they say it is! This historic bridge crosses the Vltava river and its construction was started in 1357 under King Charles IV and finished in the beginning of the 15th century. Since the Charles Bridge was the only means of crossing the river until 1841, it was the most important connection between Prague Castle and Old Town. Speaking of the Prague Castle – it is one of the largest ancient castles in the world at almost 750,000 square feet. It is the official office of the President of the Czech Republic and was the seat of power for kings, emperors, and presidents throughout the long history of the Czech Republic. Don’t forget to cross the bridge and visit this beauty during your trip through central Europe!