October 26, 2013

Shiprock, New Mexico

I first came to know Shiprock in a geology class during the latter half of my freshman year at college. For those of you keeping score, that was EIGHT years ago. With a click of the mouse, projected across a large white screen, there was Shiprock: a jagged monolith sailing above the dessert floor. And in those minutes where Shiprock loomed mightily over me in my lecture hall, my journey was set and suddenly all I yearned for in my life was to see Shiprock.

My chance finally came in 2008, and then again just recently when Vness and I crossed the country to California. Each time, watching Shiprock pierce the horizon filled me with an incredible joy. For one, I am always elated to accomplish a dream, to let the web of highways draw me into the Southwest where my geologic mecca lays. Secondly, Shiprock is a massively impressive natural monument and plays a large role in Navajo mythology. Plainly, Shiprock is important.

Shiprock in the winter of 2008.
Shiprock this fall, 2013.

Shiprock is a 1,583 feet tall ancient neck of a long-ago volcano located in Shiprock, New Mexico in the Four Corners Region.

Above maps provided by Google.

About 30 million years ago, lava erupted from the Earth's mantle and was thrust upwards through the crust. The lava cooled, forming a "neck" of rugged igneous rocks. Later, more lava squeezed up through cracks creating jagged dikes, which radiate from the center of the formation.

3D image showing Shiprock's dikes. Provided by Google Earth.
In the shadow of one of Shiprock's dikes.

Vness gazes up at the jagged dikes.
The dikes are composed of a granular iron ore know as "Minette".

Where is the volcano now? Gone. Over the past 30 million years, the softer sedimentary rocks surrounding Shiprock have eroded away and left just the tougher igneous rocks, which retain the jagged structure from millions of years past. 

Aptly named Shiprock because of it's sail-like appearance.

According to Navajo legend, Shiprock or Tsé Bitʼaʼí, which translates into "rock with wings", is the giant bird that brought Diné, the people, to their land in the southwest. Unfortunately, once they arrived, Cliff Monster built a large nest on the bird, trapping it. So the Navajos sent Monster Slayer to combat Cliff Monster, eventually killing him, but injuring the bird meanwhile. Cliff Monster's blood flowed down the bird, coagulating into the radiating dikes that surround the peak and to save the bird, it was turned into stone to remind the Diné of it's sacrifice.

A dirt devil swirls before the mighty Shiprock,

A different Navajo legend says that the ghosts of the Diné who were trapped on the peak after a lightning storm curse the peak. Today, Shiprock is off limits to climbers and other ne'er-do-wells, for preservation and protection. Shiprock is a sacred Navajo sight and not to be tampered with.

But I will still drive thousands of miles out of my way to catch a glimpse of Shiprock's magnificent silhouette, watching with anticipation as it paints the horizon and then with longing as it dips beyond my rear view mirror. 'Til we meet again, Shiprock.

October 25, 2013

El Rancho San Antonio

I mentioned before that it's tough to walk around Cupertino. People are kind to pedestrians, but the city is really designed for bikers and drivers. Luckily, there are plenty of places you can drive to for a short hike or long jaunt in the great outdoors. One such place is Rancho San Antonio Open Space Preserve, a mere five minute drive from our house.

Rancho San Antonio has quickly become my favorite local park. It's part of the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District, over 60,000 acres of beautiful, wide-open space across three counties. Rancho San Antonio is 3800 acres and home to the third-largest California bay laurel tree in the state.

Wildlife is abundant in Rancho San Antonio. All 23 miles of hiking trails offer the opportunity to see families of deer and squirrels, gorgeous birds, and tiny lizards.

Leave me alone, I'm trying to blend in! Hahahahaha

You could spend hours on the hilly PG & E Trail or do a quick loop on flat Coyote. I'm usually somewhere in-between, so my favorite hike is the High Meadow Trail. It's uphill, but only takes about 30 minutes to reach the summit. For a little effort you get an amazing payoff.

The view of Silicon Valley.

And if all that isn't enough for you, the preserve also has a working farm. Deer Hollow Farm houses a variety of traditional farm animals and produces food onsite. The farm has a huge vegetable garden and an education center for kids. It's also historically significant, a throwback to Santa Clara County's farming days. Some of the old machines are still on display.

Like this tractor from the 1920s 

I haven't been to any of the other preserves, but I have a feeling Rancho San Antonio is one of the best. We'll see if this holds true as I continue to explore my new left coast surroundings!

October 24, 2013

A Girl, Her Cat, and a Mushroom Hike

The breeze came rumbling, tumbling down Flood Brook through the forest. I slip-slide down the hill behind my house in wellies up to my knees. With a cry of excitement or alarm, Tina follows.

It is fall in Vermont. Late fall. The kind of fall that will give into winter in a couple of days. When my boots hit the water, I can feel the chill through my heavy socks.

The cat meows. Well, actually, Tina is always meowing. In fact, she may be the loudest cat in creation, but when you are hiking solo through the woods, it's nice to have a companion who "talks" back to you. Plus, she always has her eyes and ears on our surroundings while I splash through the water.

Down the brook to the south and then up the creek to the west- this is Burnt Meadow Brook, right in my own freaking backyard. Tina comes after me like a bullet, jumping from rock to rock as we crisscross lazily up the creek. 

I was just here yesterday, in fact, so was Tina. We are headed back to an incredible, mossy log that I found TOOTHED JELLY FUNGUS on. As an amateur, yet enthusiastic mushroom hunter, I was practically knocked off my feet when I first discovered these transparent mushrooms relaxing on this already magical log frosted with moss and cladonia lichen yesterday. Completely by accident. 

A little disappointingly, following a light frost the next morning, my perfectly clear fungus had a brownish tinge to their edges. But Tina and I still frolicked happily beneath their toothed caps like little elves. 

We are in Hapgood State Forest nestled within the Green Mountain National Forest. It is a forest thick with underbrush- young pine trees crowd each other for light, sticky blackberry brambles scratch the ankles, and the forest floor is often choked with tree blow downs from storms passed. It is also crisscrossed with lightly used paths, some off-season cross-country ski trails, and littered with interesting fungi of all kinds. We have already found enough chanterelles and hedgehog mushrooms on our side of the brook alone for several out-of-this-world dinners. Harvesting edible, wild mushrooms makes Zy a happy, happy girl. 

Also, I was playing with my macro filters, with Tina keeping a close and alert guard. 

The fungus with the BEST name... Witches' Butter (Tremella mesenterica)!Witches' Butter is actually a parasite of the fungus that digests moist wood, which is why you will most likely find it on dead and decaying tree limbs.

One tasty chanterelle, the Yellowfoot (Craterellus tubaeformis), grows ABUNDANTLY along our brooks. The season for them is just about over, but I look forward to reaping a hefty harvest next year!

And a lovely little Earth Tongue that I got down on my hands and knees for.

Eventually, we crossed the waters back towards home. Do you know how hard it is to capture a picture of a very fast cat jumping through the air? Whatever, I couldn't do it.

And then, through the hemlocks, the most wonderful place on Earth, my home.

October 14, 2013

Folsom Street Fun

I'd like to start by apologizing for my lack of photos in this post. Perhaps I was still fatigued from me and Zy's 25-hour photo project. Perhaps it was because I only had my fancy phone and no real camera in my possession. Perhaps it's because I was slightly intoxicated. Whatever the reason, I took almost no pictures at Folsom this year, although other people took pictures of me.

 And this girl, Jezi who asked me to "model" with her. Hmmm...

So my apologies but you will have to use your imaginations! And deal with my hastily downloaded pics from Google Images.

Honestly this pretty much sums it up.
From sfgate.com

Dpel and I went up to the big city a couple of weeks ago for our annual visit to the Folsom Street Fair. It is very telling that some San Franciscans found this year's Folsom Street Fair to be more "tame" than in the past. Tame?! Half the things I saw there are illegal in Massachusetts. What does one say about an event like this? It is so stereotypical San Francisco. This one-day kinkfest is the largest leather event in the world and a celebration of all things fetish. Pony-play, role-play, flogging, furries, leather...drag queens...

I would just like to take a minute to say how much I love drag queens. LOVE THEM.

Especially this one.From thebplot.com

We were a smaller group this year. Myself, DPel, Royal Dan and two recently married friends of Royal's who had never been to the fair before (Ali and  Gav). He was incredibly curious to see their reactions. We donated our $10 and proceeded to the beer line. This is a place where day drinking is strongly encouraged. This is because Folsom takes on a different tone as the day goes on. Things get way weirder.

Of course, there is plenty to see from the start. People-watching is one of the great joys of Folsom. I mean, at what other event in the country is 85 percent of the crowd dressed like this?

Seriously, only in San Francisco.From flickr.com by Thomas Hawk

Immediately upon leaving the beer line, we stopped to watch the public lashing of a woman tied to a tree. Her flogger was a bear-like man wearing only leather pants and a mask. And possibly a smile. At the Kink.com stage we saw a man get his nipples and anus tased by three dominatrices in various states of undress. An electronic dance party was rocking like it was Friday night instead of a sunny Sunday afternoon. Overt sex acts are verboten at Folsom, but we still caught a gay couple on a rooftop flagrantly ignoring that rule. Through it all, Ali and Gav were slightly stunned, but stoic.

Time for more beers. One of the best beer stores in San Fran is located right in the middle of the madness. We ladies waited outside to avoid the lines. Suddenly we were accosted.

"Heeeeyyyy!" screeched a drunk girl in a lacy corset that squeezed her breasts right up to her chin. She put her arms around Ali, my new companion. "I've been looking for a woman like you all day long." And then she put her butt firmly in Ali's crotch.

And what did Ali do? She twerked the hell out of that girl. And this is why we day drink at Folsom.

Royal flogging Gav. Royal got a flogging of his own shortly thereafter.

Why do we enjoy this so much? Maybe it's the open expression of sexuality, the freedom you feel that makes Folsom so special. People are into some weird shit and that's awesome. If it's not for you, don't do it. And if it is, do it open and often. 

Also we once saw a man get peed on here. On a stage. Fact.

October 12, 2013

Introducing Vness > Welcome to Cupertino!

ZY: A fresh voice joins the team at Day Drunk all the way from the west coast. Please welcome Vness!!

Hi everyone! My name is Vanessa or Vness or Nessa from Nebraska. And yes, I am from Nebraska, but Boston is probably the place I consider home. I am Zy's friend and fellow blogger. I like to travel, cook, sit in the sun, and basically enjoy as much time with as many friends as I can. I also got laid off in May and have been unemployed ever since. This is not a bad thing.

That's me in Portugal, shortly after layoffs.

I once had a blog about Portugal, but I am a terribly inconsistent blogger (as you will soon see). Luckily, Zy was kind enough to invite me to Day Drunk. One would think that being unemployed allows plenty of time for blogging. One would be wrong. Anyway, new events require a new conversation.

I moved to California! Specifically, I moved to the town of Cupertino, the home of Apple Inc. (my boyfriend Dpel's current slaver employer).

That's Dpel in Arkansas.

Anyway, Zy and I finally made it here after 7 days, 6 nights and 1 failed attempt on our lives (a story for another post perhaps). Our travels and travails will definitely make the blog sometime. Zy, of course, has a new home of her own, which she was kind enough to leave in order to escort me cross-country. Now she has returned to the east, leaving me to explore the west.

Cupertino is a city of about 55,000 people, situated in the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains.

The mountains! So close to home.

Perhaps because of this mountainous environment, Cupertino is not a very walkable city. I could walk practically anywhere in Boston - friends' houses, the park, the godawful grocery store that never had anything I needed. I could walk to the grocery store here if I had three hours to spare for the visit. Which I suppose I do, being unemployed and all. But I digress.

The point is, everyone here drives everywhere. Luckily, they are all terrible drivers so I feel right at home. *evil laugh*

But who could possibly get road rage when it is SO sunny here?! All the time. On the downside, I need curtains immediately. On the plus side, everything looks incredibly beautiful all the time. We even have fresh rosemary and fruit trees growing in our yard. Each morning, our neighbor, Heidi, picks fresh fruits and leaves them on the porch for us.

Fruit from our trees! Looks delicious right?

How cool is that? It makes me want to garden and be one with the Earth and shit like that. Thus far, I have only succeeded in drinking beers on the lawn in the sun.

But it's such a nice lawn...

Smokin' meats in the meat smoker.
So I'll keep you posted as I continue to explore my new surroundings. I'm keeping my eyes open for new opportunities, lessons, classes, etc. Dpel and I just took a composting class. I'm also starting my third attempt to learn knitting and/or crocheting. I want to make cutesy baby outfits for my friend Tori. I'm going to be an auntie! I'm actually kind of disgusted by how happy that makes me. Ultimately, whatever hobby I pick up will have to be done while I sit on my lawn with a beer. Aaaahh, California!