Sunday, August 24, 2014

Geo-RoadTrip 2014: Pit Stop

One of the last stops on the trip was an historically sticky situation.  The Le Brea Tar Pits in Las Angeles is the final resting place of scores of unfortunate animals who became permanent LA residents.  The Pits' museum utilizes the mammoth mascot in both robot and skeleton form:

You can also get your fill of other unlucky mammals who may or may not have appeared in the Ice Age movies:

The trip is almost done but the video is coming soon!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Geo-RoadTrip 2014: Not Our Fault

We couldn't go to California without trying to get a good look at the famous San Andreas Fault.  And the best place we found is in Pelona Vista Park in Palmdale, CA.  It's a pretty decent uphill hike to get to the view but once you get there you can get a good look at some distortion and folding:

After we had our fill we had to head to holy ground: Vasquez Rocks!  What makes this place so special?

This is the location of the famous fight between Captain Kirk and the Gorn!  Check out Shatner in front of the same rocks swinging his Captain's Log:

Next up, we hit the Tar Pits!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Geo-RoadTrip 2014: Scenery

Further down the road we arrived at an interesting geologic wonder known as Fossil Falls.  The name may be a little misleading since there's been no actual running water for a looong time.  But when there was, it helped to create the unique shapes in the basalt:

Our next stop took us to Red Rock Canyon State Park (not to be confused with Red Rock Canyon State Park in Oklahoma) which is the southernmost portion of the Sierra Nevada mountain range that we saw earlier.  Here's a quick look at some of what we saw:

Next up is a very famous fault!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Geo-RoadTrip 2014: Cartago

Cartago, CA is a little ghost town that takes very little time to drive through, which is fine since there is very little to see there.  But what is there is definitely worth a stop.  The mysterious orange building  along the highway is a roadside work of art made complete with a dinosaur skeleton statue:

Legend has it that this was originally meant to be a beef jerky store but the other jerky store down the road didn't seem to have a lot of details.  It's worth noting that the creepily non-abandoned motel next to it has a giant metal ant on the roof.  The artist remains unknown.  

After that quick stop, we got back on the road...more pics tomorrow!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Geo-RoadTrip 2014: Breakfast in the Hills

We don't always post about the restaurants where we eat on these trips but occasionally we find one post-worthy.  For example, the Alabama Hills Cafe was a great find and our last stop in Lone Pine, CA.  Not just for the food but for the geologic ambience.  They are smart enough to take advantage of their namesake hills for a little educational decor:

There are some handy references on the walls to some of the more famous and unique rock formations in the area and even some artistic interpretations:

The previous day we had gotten a picture of the "Visible Man" (also known as the "Monster Rock") which you can see on the bottom row, in the middle or in this pic:

It's one of the easier ones to find since it's right along the road to the hills and, of course, the face painting.

But at this point you're probably wondering, how is the food?  The cafe has its own bakery and even the toast is handmade.  It's, hands down, the best breakfast in town.  Check out that morning's special: Shrimp, tomato, mushroom and spinach scramble with fresh fruit:

Definitely worth the drive through the desert.  Next up, we head further into California!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Geo-RoadTrip 2014: Rock Shopping

After a little minor mountaineering we headed back to Lone Pine for the night and had some time to kill before dinner.  Luckily the Lone Pine Rock & Gift store was right in the middle of the town.  It was time to do a little geo-browsing.

They had a pretty good selection of specimens ranging from local rocks to those found far and away.  Here's a sample of some of the things we found:

Next up is our last stop in Lone Pine!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Geo-RoadTrip 2014: Hollywood Road

Not too far from Lone Pine, CA is an area where you might not have been but have almost certainly seen on the big screen.  The picturesque views in the Alabama Hills have been attracting Hollywood producers for almost as long as there have been Hollywood producers.  You can see some of these famous vistas if you travel along Movie Flats Road.

The area was a natural fit for Westerns, with lots of stunning rock formations for the bad guys and bandits to hide behind.  But over the years, just about every genre has utilized the incredible look of the area including several scifi films.  Two different Star Trek films filmed here since the area seems to be a good fit for cowboys as well as aliens.

And if you find yourself in the area you'll want to take the drive up to Mount Whitney.  At its peak it has the highest elevation in the contiguous 48 states (which is great symmetry to our stop at Badwater Basin).  That height also comes with cooler weather which felt great after soaring temperatures at Death Valley.

Next up, we go rock shopping!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Geo-RoadTrip 2014: Feeling Some Tremors

While in Lone Pine, CA amongst the picturesque landscape provided by the Sierra Nevada mountain range that has attracted so many film production crews, we had to delve into some of the Hollywood history of the area.  To do that we had to stop at the Lone Pine Film History Museum.

The museum has an impressively extensive collection of props and costumes from moves shot in the area.  The mountains, hills and geologic formations are the perfect backdrop for Westerns.  It was also the setting for one of our favorite franchises, "Tremors."  And the museum offered up a menagerie of monsters and props from the films:

But more traditional Westerns and the cowboys that starred in them are represented as well.  For example, Tom Mix's saddle:

There are also several costumes on display that range from Roy Rogers and Dale Evans to Tony Stark (Iron Man):

Next up, we hit the mountains!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Geo-RoadTrip 2014: Exploring Lone Pine

After leaving Death Valley we headed down the road to Lone Pine, CA.  It's a small town but has a lot of interesting things going on and is a great access point to the Sierra Nevada mountain range including the Alabama Hills and Mount Whitney.  But before tackled the mountains, we made a stop at the Eastern Sierra Interagency Visitor Center.

Inside they have a great interactive, 3-D model of the mountain range:

As well as a section of the Los Angeles Aqueduct that delivers water from around the area to Los Angeles:

Exploring Lone Pine further led us to a monument to a tragic natural disaster.  In 1872 the area was the site of an earthquake estimated to be 7.6 to 8 on the Richter scale killing 27 people and destroying most of the town's structures.  Today a small stone marker commemorates the event in front of the mass grave of the victims:

The plaque on the marker reads:

Next up on the trip: movie memorabilia!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Geo-RoadTrip 2014: Death Valley Part 3

At this point in the trip it was time to get low.  And by low, I mean very low...the lowest point in North America.  Not too far from the Devil's Golf Course, in Death Valley, Badwater Basin has an elevation of 282 feet below sea level.

You can the salt flats covering portions of the ground which add to the long list of things that make Death Valley a dangerous place.  Further into the park is the visually stunning area known as Artist's Palette.  Here are a few shots:

The various colors are a result of the oxidation of different metals and tend to look differently depending ton factors like time of day, cloud coverage and occasional rainfall.  This was our last stop in Death Valley as we headed out to other places to explore.