Headed East for the Day

Sara and I were really due for a road trip. We picked the direction of East. Sara found hot springs and an art exhibit. I had seen rumblings about a house Al Capone once lived in that is on the way. We also thought we could fit some time in Joshua Tree National Park.

So, naturally, we went on the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. We picked a good day, because it wasn’t too busy. It was hot as the devil’s ass outside, though. I had heard of it but was just never able to go on it. I didn’t know what to expect, but assumed it went in a horizontal direction across Palm Springs, even though I had never actually seen it go across the town.

The tram is one of those random ideas some rich guy had in the 1930s and was finally completed in 1963. “The mountains are amazing, but, ugh, that walk UP!” Something like that. I hate walking uphill so cheers to Francis Crocker! Trams on every mountain!!!

You drive uphill for a short while to get to the parking lot. Since it was a light tourist day, we got to park in the lot right next to the entrance. There are shuttles to take you up to the station from the other lots, though, so don’t be scared. And good thing because that is a steep-ass walk. The tram was $25.95 per adult human. The ride takes about 10 minutes each way. Bring your camera!!!

The tram goes up the side of a mountain, but is on cables so you are traveling in the sky, pretty much.

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That little black blob is our tram. aiiii

Sometimes, I get irrationally terrified of heights, but never freaked out in either direction. The floor on the tram circulates so everyone gets all of the views. On the way up, some people could not comprehend that the floor moves, so they kept moving in the opposite direction of the floor, so those of us that understood this crazy concept kept being pushed a bit. On the way down, however, everyone remembered that it moves and I had no problems. I was wearing thong shoes and felt a little stress on my feet going down, but not bad.

Something that Sara and I didn’t even think about until it was too late was that the temperature on top would be vastly different than the firey hell the basin was experiencing. Now, on the day we went, it was in the mid to upper 60s up top so we were fine, but it can get cold, so make sure you check their site to make sure you have the proper clothing.

There are restaurants, a museum and a gift shop at the top. There are a lot of hiking trails on San Jacinto, including one that is really easy and flat. However, you do have to climb down some stairs to get to the easy hike, which, of course, means that you will have to climb back up. The easy hike does not require a permit, but the wilderness hikes do and you can acquire a permit at the ranger’s station.

You can also camp up in the mountains. You will also need a permit for that.

The tram does run in the winter and their site suggests cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Their Adventure Center rents gear, so you don’t have to schlepp anything to Palm Springs if you don’t want to.

Sara and I just wanted to go up and down. We didn’t read about the things to do and didn’t even think about the fact that we could have made a day of it. So, we kind of just went up, hiked for 30 minutes, peed, then went back down. It was still worth it, though.
Palm Springs Aerial Tramway
1 Tram Way Palm Springs, CA 92262
Phone: (888) 515-8726
Email: pstramway@pstramway.com

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It gets a little bumpy around these things!

 

-jenn

Day Trip to San Francisco

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I have been to San Francisco many times, but never grow tired of the place. When I went with my family, we stayed at da Vinci Villa for one night. It had been upgraded and we were eager to check it out. It was generally fine, but the walls were definitely thin, but that isn’t really unusual. If any little noise drives you crazy, then this is not the place for you.

by cliff house

One place at which I love to always stop is Cliff House. I have yet to eat there, but do enjoy the great ocean view. It has an interesting history. So many historic buildings have experienced fires, but this one also was once damaged from an explosion that occurred when an abandoned boat that happened to have a lot of dynamite on it, ran into the rocks beneath the structure. Just the kind of randomness I love. Also, it made it through the 1906 earthquake, but then burned down anyway. It’s kind of like Final Destination for a building.

Near the Cliff House, in Golden Gate Park, you will find the Dutch and Murphy Windmills as well as a tulip garden. (I found them by searching the area on a Google map.) windmillThe mills were built to pump water long ago. The first of them was built in 1902. The second was completed in 1907.

Apparently, they are being massively restored right now.

 

 

This trip was the first time I visited the Wave Organ, which was officially ready for visitors in 1986.

This is a free art installation on a jetty (that you can definitely dance upon) near the Exploratorium. In fact, the Exploratorium had a hand in getting this thing built. When you put your ear up to a pipe, it sounds like the ocean is making music with its water fingers. It really should record an album and go on tour someday.

I was with 6 other people, so after 3 activities, we made it across the way to Muir Woods. Always a favorite place to visit in Northern California!

 

-jenn

 

 

My Little Amtrak Trip

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My Mom brought up taking an Amtrak train trip a while back. Specifically, Amtrak’s Coast Starlight that goes from Los Angeles to Seattle. At some point, I was with my Aunt, who also randomly mentioned that she wanted to take that train as well. I had always seen the train tracks along the coast and put off looking into it. Seems like the longer you live somewhere, the less likely you are to even remember to do things. Their interest got me to finally look into a vacation. In the end, there were seven of us that took a family trip.

By booking early, the one-way tickets to San Francisco were only $50 each. (We rented a minivan to return so that we could make a lot of stops.)

The train took 11 hours to get us to our stop. I worried that at about hour 5, I would start to say, “It seemed like a good idea at the time,” but that never happened. We went in December, but it makes more sense to do this trip in months with longer daylight so you can see the scenery the whole way up.

Five of us left from my place via Lyft to Union Station in Los Angeles. My Aunt and Uncle were coming from farther away and had reserved a ride that fell through in the morning. The car service emailed them instead of calling them, so it was a good thing they checked email. Luckily, they were able to get a cab.

The seats were comfortable with lots of legroom. We also lucked out in that our car was very quiet. I can imagine the trip would have been a very different experience had we been stuck with a loud group.

The train has a snack bar in the Sightseer car. We probably should have spent more time in that car since it is mostly windows and therefore has the best views.

I had read some reviews on a few sites that scared me into thinking the train would run out of food. It, apparently, happened to a few people. Therefore, we had a few small coolers with snacks and drinks. It turned out to be completely fine, though. We had no problems getting dinner. I still recommend tiny coolers, though. You will like the snacks you bring more than what the train offers.

None of us checked in bags since we weren’t sure how long it took to get them and were concerned about making the shuttle bus from our stop in Oakland to San Francisco. It turns out they are all kept on shelves near the bathrooms. This is great if you need your bag quickly. This is not great if you are really paranoid about someone looking through your bag. If you have to check a bag, make sure it is locked.

The shuttle bus was already waiting in Jack London Square in Oakland when we arrived.

I liked everything about this trip. The scenery is stunning. You get to go through areas you wouldn’t get to see in a car or plane. I am so used to the rigmarole of getting through an airport, so this was a treat. Everything was easy. I do plan on taking Amtrak to some other places in California, just for the fun of it. It really is nice to be able to look around instead of pretty much just staring at the road while driving.

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…views like this.

 

-jenn

94th Aero Squadron

94th Aero Squadron Restaurant, Van Nuys, California

 

Smaller airports are not often noticed or thought about by the general public since most of us can’t afford charter flights or our own planes. But one small airport in Van Nuys offers a very unique restaurant experience next to the runway.

Named after a United States Army Air Service squadron in World War I, this restaurant has replicas of old war vehicles and paraphernalia. The outside of the building is made to look old, as though it was actually around for the war. When you walk inside, you are treated to views of planes taking off on the runway.

My family and I went for lunch and a cocktail. Well, some of us had a cocktail. Ok. My Mom and I had cocktails. I tried the Aviation, which is amazing! The menu has fish, poultry, and red meat, but not a huge selection for vegetarians. There are sandwiches, salads. Their lunch menu is on the pricey side, so be prepared. But everyone was very happy with everything that was ordered, so well worth the price. Dinner menu includes a filet mignon option, with prices ranging from $20-$44 for an entrée.

You can also sit at the bar to watch the planes. The bar does offer appetizers and has a happy hour on weekdays from 4pm-7pm. They have specialty cocktails that are perfect for the atmosphere.

94th Aero Squadron Restaurant, 16320 Raymer Street, Van Nuys, CA 91406

(818) 994-7437

Drum Barracks, Civil War Museum in Wilmington, CA

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A few weeks ago, my boyfriend, Brian, and I went to the Chowder Barge in Wilmington, CA. It is a barge that was used as a support vessel (whatever that means) for “Mutiny on the Bounty” that was repurposed to be a restaurant on the water in the Leeward Bay Marina, surrounded by boats. I am glad we made the trip to try it, but it wasn’t my favorite bowl of clam chowder. The option of “bread” doesn’t mean a bread bowl, as we are familiar with in San Francisco. It was a piece of bread (not sure what kind) in the middle of the thick soup. We also ordered double clams. What that means is that fried clams are added. I didn’t even notice the clearly written fried part on the menu, but ate them anyway, so had to double exercise the next day. Our waiter was very nice and the restaurant itself is a pretty cool idea, but do not go with any gourmet expectations. Definitely a great place to visit during the daytime, when you can see the view.

While we were eating our clam chowder, I looked at one of my history books of California and found out there is a Civil War museum nearby. We were unable to get to the museum that day, but did return a few weeks later.
Before we ate, we stopped at Urban Americana. It is a really cool vintage store. It has furniture, old signs, toys, books, clothes, art and vinyl records.

Very unique and kitschy stuff. No matter where we go, Brian finds a place that sells records. Sometimes, I luck out and they have other things for me to look at. This place is huge and has a lot of cool things, an outdoor area with a nice bench, and they have bathrooms.

 

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Last year, I read a book entitled, “The California Gold Rush and the Coming of the Civil War” by Leonard Richards. There were a few stories that had me on the edge of my seat from excitement. I had a feeling how they would end, but they ended way more spectacularly than I imagined. The gold rush is certainly a big part of what we learn in history class. The gold miners did more of a gentlemen’s agreement on mining claims. They were none too happy when rich Southern slave owners came over, using slaves to do all the work, being able to mine more ground faster and make more money. The disagreement over California being admitted as free state is what some believe was the final nail in the coffin and what officially started the Civil War. Being a free state meant anti-slavery states had a majority of representatives in the government.

Drum Barracks was built to be the Union headquarters for California, Arizona and New Mexico. It was also protecting the harbor. Supplies were based there. Camels were shipped there also, with hopes that they would be more efficient than horses. (Nope.) Most of the buildings are now gone. The Museum was formerly housing for Junior Officers.

There is another building about two blocks away (Eubank Ave and Opp Street) that was Photo Feb 13, 1 38 07 PMthe powder magazine, where gunpowder & ammunition were stored. That building has a fence around it, but I didn’t see any signage. Very easy to find, though.

The only way to see the inside of the museum is if you take a guided tour. This is both good and bad. Good, because I certainly got more out of the visit with a human being there to answer questions and explain things. The only bad part was that there are many printed things on the walls that I didn’t read because I didn’t want to hold up the tour. There were only 4 of us. However, no one would have actually cared if I stalled to take anything in longer. That is all on me.

They have 1st edition Ulysses S. Grant books on display, which was absolutely amazing to me. Most of the furniture is that of the era, but not what was actually in the home. Soldiers lived more compactly. The original artifacts are mostly in glass cases, with replicas available to pass around.

There is also a room with different weapons that were used during the Civil War. A man that was on the tour with us was familiar with the weapons of that time. He asked my boyfriend if he had ever shot a gun, being fascinated with the size of the bullets. Kind of thought it was funny because I am the one that has tried shooting. Even tried a machine gun. Anyway, what I loved about that guy was how excited he was to finally be in the museum. He said he had heard about it and seen ads, but never went despite living nearby. That morning, he finally did it!

As you tour the building, you will get to the medical display. I knew about how surgeries were done long ago, but it was nice to have a refresher, gross as it was. Really gross. I think it was the re-using the surgical tools without sterilizing them and just wiping off the blood and moving on to the next surgery that really brought it home for me. Can’t help but wonder what things we now believe to be medical marvels will be thought as horrifying years from now.

Finally, Drum Barracks has a great gift shop, filled with Civil War books to help you further your knowledge.

Drum Barracks is both a Los Angeles Historical Landmark and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

 

The Chowder Barge

611 Henry Ford Avenue

Wilmington, CA 90744

(310) 830-7937


Drum Barracks

1052 N. Banning Blvd.

Wilmington, CA 90744

(310) 548-7509

**Drum Barracks is closed on Monday and Friday. Two tours are available per day. You do not need to make reservations for the tours unless you have a bigger group. Be sure to check their website before you go.


Urban Americana

1345 Coronado Avenue

Long Beach, CA 90804

(562) 494-7300

 

– Jenn

© 2018 Dart and Map All Rights Reserved – Copyright notice by Blog Copyright

Aviation Arrows, Utah

St. George, Utah

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In the early 1900s, mail carriers flew small planes across the country. Aviation arrows were placed along the route across the USA to help the pilots safely find their way. Many of these arrows are on private land, but there are some that are on public land that you can visit!  I am not entirely sure how to know which are on public vs. private, yet. There are a few sites out there that help find them all, but it is up to you to research which you can actually see.

On the day we arrived in Utah, my boyfriend, Brian, and I attempted to see one that was possibly on private property. Since it also happened to be really hot outside, my interest waned quickly. I didn’t want to start hiking uphill just to find out we weren’t allowed to go farther. We skipped that arrow so we could go off to Zion. Saving that one for the next time.

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Uhm….. YES!

Determined to visit a cool piece of history, Brian found another arrow that we could attempt to see at the end of our trip, on our way back to SGU.

 

The aviation arrow he found is up atop a hill in a suburban enclave. IMG_2017We started up the dirt hill in the hot sun. There was not much of a path when we went, but it may not be the case now. There were some parts that I got concerned about since we also had to walk back down. Slippery dirt and all. Also, I wasn’t super excited about getting completely sweaty before a flight, but persisted. I was excited that Brian was so determined to see the arrow because that forced me to climb. This was not the easiest hike, but also not the most awful, in the end. I think I was slightly panicked about making our flight and therefore felt like the hike was harder than it was.

Finally, we got to the top and saw the arrow. There was a guest book, which was really neat since I have never done any type of hike or activity that had one.

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I am very glad we put forth effort to see this incredibly cool piece of American history. We hope to be able to see as many as possible. It is a great idea to plan a whole trip around, actually. Pick an arrow and explore the whole area around said arrow.

(click the photos for the captions)

 

I pretty much whined about possibly being late for our flight for the entire hike. SGU is a really small airport. We returned the car and were at the gate in probably 10 minutes. I am such a baby sometimes.

-jenn

 

 

A cat got loose on our plane.

 

Red Rock, Rocky Mountain NP

(Originally Posted on October 27, 2014)

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Sunday. Our second and final day in Colorado. So many things that we wanted to do.. so many things we did not do. Two days is NOT enough. For sure!

We did not get out of the house until pretty late. After eating breakfast, which is something I usually do not put that much effort into on vacations, we decided to check out the Red Rock Amphitheater.

 

IMG_2353Brian lived in Colorado for a while years ago. He told me watching concerts there during rain and thunderstorms is the best. It is open to the public for free when there is no show. The stage is not accessible if a show is setting up, though. There were a lot of people using the place to exercise. Definitely a great idea to check it out. I want to see a show there someday.

We FINALLY made it to Rocky Mountain National Park. I had been there
years ago, but wanted new memories. Zipping through Estes, we got to
the park pretty quickly.

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Rocky Mountain National Park

There were signs saying that there was no more parking near the hike and a shuttle is best. We parked in a lot and grabbed a shuttle.! Naturally, there was a ton of parking at our stop, but the shuttle did not take that much more time than driving.
IMG_2371We went on the awesome hike that includes the lily pads on Nymph Lake
and the stunning Emerald Lake seemingly unreal Dream Lake.

Time was not our friend. Unable to do any more activities, we zoomed
back for an AMAZING dinner, knowing we will return someday.

 

 

-Jenn