Desert Explorers Offroad the Arctic?
Trip Report from Anne Stoll
If visions of green places and waterfalls help make you feel cool this summer, I recommend photos from Iceland! I can even throw in an iceberg or two from Greenland if you like. We’re just back from both and these people certainly have plenty of fresh water, along with many other wonders to share. Free hot water 24-7 even in winter, once you’re hooked in to Reykjavik’s geothermal water system. Nice people and a clean, civilized small country – if only they didn’t have three deep black months (January through March) when it’s cold and the sun never rises at all, period. They also have crazy-long unpronounceable names for everything. But summer is heavenly – and they LOVE Toyotas! What more could you want? ~ Anne
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By Vicki Hill
It was only a Category Two hurricane, but it was the strongest to hit the coast of Oaxaca since 1949.
Since I was going to spend a week with friends at the coast in July, we were not pleased that the storm knocked out all of the roads going to Huatulco and Puerto Escondido. Aerial views showed mudslides with half of the roads gone in places. However, we had a nice, comfy little house to stay in and just did day trips from Oaxaca city for our 18 day stay. Those little jaunts included the archeological sites of Mitla and Monte Alban and several side trips to lesser known sites. Many wonderful meals, museum visits… A visit to the Benito Juarez home and a free symphony in the opera house built in 1904 were a few of the highlights.
The Spanish colonial architecture is beautiful. Many historic museums and churches cover the city.
The Mercado sells everything from pet hedgehogs to home made mezcal. Dried grasshoppers (chapulines) dipped in chile powder are the favorite crunchy snack at happy hour. They are sold on the street along with giant tortillas made of corn. I heard women speaking the ancient Zapotec language.
We stopped at at mezcal distillery and were given a mini tour and tasting. I was amazed to see that this huge industry in the state of Oaxaca is driven by small, individual agave farms and it is made the traditional way by roasting the agave in a pit and then crushing the leaves with the pulp in an arrastra, with a horse being led around it using a large granite wheel.
If the mezcal is made using this method, you can request a worm in the bottle. Actually it’s the larvae of the moth that helps pollinate the agave.
Having seen many arrastras in our desert and never thinking I’d see one in operation, it was quite the thrill.
In nearby town of Santa Maria del Tule we visited one of the worlds largest trees, El Tule, a Montezuma Bald Cypress over 2,000 years old and 46 feet in diameter! It’s the oldest living tree in Mexico and one of the oldest in North America. The tree has a 190’ circumference, a 46’ diameter, stands more than 139’ high.
My camera program and computer are not cooperating with each other so I only have cell phone pics to share for now, but I wanted to share that Mexico is so rich with tradition, foods, warm happy, and generous people. It’s worth spending more than a few days! ~ Vicki
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A Lucky Break
The Sierras are beautiful in July. As a kid, my family always spent a week in Yosemite. As teens, Sue and I drove our VW bug over all the Sierra passes we could. We even honeymooned in the Sierras. So, last winter Sue and I made VRBO reservations for a July week in the Sierras and invited several DE friends along to ﬁll the cabin (I use the term “cabin” loosely here). As the summer heated up, we kept our ﬁngers crossed that forest ﬁres (which seem to be becoming the norm) wouldn’t force us to cancel our July plans.
It was a hot and dry beginning for July in the California Sierras. The Electra Fire in Calaveras County started on the 4th of July and eventually consumed almost 4,500 forest acres. The Washburn ﬁre started in Mariposa County on July 7 and for a while threatened the giant Sequoia trees in Yosemite and eventually consumed almost 5000 acres of forest. Then, on July 22 the Oak Fire started and was the worst of all. So far it has consumed over 14000 acres of beautiful forest.
So what became of our July Sierra plans? The dates that our little group of DE’ers had picked were July 18-23. Choosing those dates was a “lucky break” as the Electra and Washburn Fires had been largely contained and the Oak Fire hadn’t gotten going yet. The Sierras were beautiful, skies were clear! We walked under the Giant Sequoia trees of Calaveras, frolicked in cool streams and ate fresh, warm sour dough bread slathered with French butter at the old town of Columbia. Our visit to Railtown 1897 State Historic Park and Jamestown (antique shopping) kept us entertained for another fun day. We were in 1800s gold rush country and discovered many remnants of that era, even an old wooden ﬂume still carrying water.
Unfortunately, our week ended way too fast. Heading home over Ebbetts Pass we could see smoke from the Oak Fire heading north. We had been so lucky. ~ Joeso
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