Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Santa Ines Mission

 Well we've gone and found ourselves another Spanish mission. This time we were on a visit to Solvang, California over the Thanksgiving weekend.
 with family in town for the holiday we wanted to give them the chance to see some sites that they wouldn't normally get to see. We also didn't want to fight large crowds of people, a feat not easily accomplished in a state with 38 million people living in it and a rush of out of town visitors hanging around. So we decided to visit Solvang for the second time. Things haven't changed much since our last visit so if you're interested in reading about that trip, you can check it out here. The one thing we missed out on seeing during our first trip was the San Ines Mission. This time we made sure to stop by.
 Founded in September of 1804, the San Ines Mission is very similar to the other missions that we have visited in the area. This one, however, seems to have had a bit rougher life than the other two. The mission was built to ease overcrowding of the San Buenaventura and Mission La Purisima Conception and had baptized 112 natives by the end of the first year. By 1816 that number would climb to 786. 
 Disaster struck the mission in 1812 when an earthquake struck near Santa Barbara 34 miles away. This caused major damage to the adobe walled mission and the surrounding out buildings. The church would have to be rebuilt and completion on the new building wouldn't come until 1817. This new building is the one that we see today.
 In 1824 the Santa Ines Mission would be the starting point for the Chumash revolt. The native Indians, tired of working for the Mexican soldiers and getting nothing in return, took to armed attacks and the burning of some of the mission's buildings. This caused smoke damage to many of the paintings and decorations kept at the mission.
 Today the mission is a popular place to visit thanks to being inside Solvang's city limits. It's nice to be able to visit such an old structure especially one that has been cared for like this one. The original floor and ceiling of the chapel are in amazing shape but also show a little history in the way of new supports beefing up the ceiling timbers and carpeting to help keep the floor pristine. One improvement that is cool and creepy at the same time is an audio tour. They have installed little push buttons throughout the building that, once pressed, sets off a booming narration of facts for you to learn about the building. The creepy part to me is that it seems out of place for a church. They have signs that ask you to be reverent as you enter the chapel but there is nothing reverent about the speaker system. 
 I would have to say that of the three missions we've visited, Santa Ines was the most inviting. It has a newer feel than the others but still maintains is rustic charm. It also helps having the Dutch capital of the world right next door to help bring people in. I wish I had noticed the audio tour earlier on when we arrived rather than near the end. It would have been interesting to hear what they all had to say. So, if you're visiting the Santa Barbara area and you want to see a little more history during your visit, make sure to swing up to Solvang. You'll get a little Dutch and Spanish history that you wouldn't have otherwise. 

Brandan 

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

A Time For Thanks

 Can you believe it? It's Thanksgiving already. Where does the time go? Today I'm going to do the cliche thing and talk about what we've been thankful for this year. I know, it sounds like something that your parents made you do before being allowed to dig into that turkey dinner you've smelled all day long. But it seems important this year.
  First things, first. I need to apologize for not having a post for last Friday. Times have been very crazy around here lately with work keeping me busy and life has been demanding on all of us as of late. However, until last week, I haven't let these things get in our way of putting something out there for your entertainment. The reason we missed this is simple and is actually the first thing I'm thankful for this year. We closed on our new house in Utah last week. Yup Route To Adventure has a new headquarters and we're excited to be making the move. It just won't be full time for a few months because we aren't quite done here in California. With me working long hours at work and minimal time for exploration, I was unprepared and the blog post got pushed off. It happens now and again and I do apologize but we'll continue to bring you fun stories from our adventures as we enter our third year in December. Stay tuned for that.
New RTA headquarters!
  We are thankful for the opportunities that we've been given here in California. We've been able to learn a lot about the people and history of the state and we're looking forward to learning more. Its been a different world working and living here and although I still feel like a outcast in a strange land I don't think I would change a thing. Being here has allowed us to move forward in our lives and helped us get into the new house. Check off the completed boxes because we're hitting our goals.
  We're happy to have covered so many miles without any major incidents. We've put a lot of miles between our travels and we haven't had as much as a scratch to any one of us or our vehicles. We hope to continue that as well because flat tires and car accidents are not something I want to deal with. 
 We're thankful for our family and friends that help us along the way. Without them we wouldn't be able to accomplish many of the goals that we have set. These people make an effort to be apart of each of our adventures as possible and we wouldn't have it any other way.
  We are thankful for each and every reader that comes to this blog because without you, there wouldn't be a point to having the blog. We continue to grow each month and it helps to have a fun outlet for our creativity. We hope that we've inspired some of you to explore your own neck of the woods and enjoy the time with your own families which is the main goal for us at Route To Adventure.
  We find it important to promote an attitude of discovery and learning. We have tried to teach our children that there is more to life than video games and television and I hope they can continue the tradition with their own families some day. They grumble and complain a little bit when we suggest some of our adventures but by the time we get to the location and see it with our own eyes they tend to forget that they didn't want to go. I am truly thankful for such wonderful kids that put up with us and our need for photographs and video of everywhere we go. They have been a blessing and I wouldn't trade them for anything.
  We hope that you too have had a lot to be thankful for this year and we wish you the best over the holiday. If time allows, I hope you get to step away from the food, football and shopping long enough to explore your world even if it is only for an hour or two. Please be safe in your travels and we hope to see you back again on Friday.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Brandan

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Copperton, A Forgotten Town

 There are a lot of small towns scattered throughout the state of Utah. Some have been farm towns from their inception while others sprouted from the desert as mining towns that boomed until the ore fizzled out and the people left to chase the next big score. Most of the boom towns of Utah have faded away to history leaving only crumbled foundations as evidence of their existence. But there is still one mining town that has not only resisted extinction, it thrives.
  Copperton, Utah is located 17 miles southwest of Salt Lake City, Utah. After the last census the town claims just over 826 residents. The narrow streets are calm and quiet. The houses are dated but well maintained and if you didn't know where to find the town you would be oblivious to its existence. 
   Today the homes in town belong to private owners but when construction began in 1926 the homes were built to house the families of miners that were working in the nearby Bingham Copper Mine. How nearby? Three of the town's borders are identified by chain link fence with No Trespassing signs every twenty feet. If there weren't so many cars parked along the city streets you might feel like you were inside some strange type of prison. 
 The town has a small wooded park that if you were to ask people outside of town this would likely be the reason they know of Copperton. It's not fancy but it does have a few small monuments to look at. 
 The town has a patriotic side that few would know if it weren't for these monuments. The largest stands at approximately 13 ft. tall, has four plaques mounted to each side and topped with a bronze eagle. The plaques are tributes to the men and women that served in World War II. One plaque honors those entombed in the U.S.S. Arizona, another honors the locals that served and another honors those that gave their lives.
 Across from this monument is a stone that lays like a grave marker. The inscription on this stone honors those the victims of the September 11th attacks in New York city. This is just another example of how much such a tragedy affects everyone, no matter where you come from.
  Copperton's mining history runs deep. A sign standing over the entrance to the park still bears the name of the Utah Copper Company, the original owners of the Bingham Canyon mine and the developers of Copperton itself. Bingham High School, located eleven miles east in the city of South Jordan is named after the mine and use a miner as their mascot. That building is the fourth Bingham High School building, the first two are long gone and the third building, razed in 2002, sat along the main street cutting through Copperton. An empty field and a small set of concrete steps are all that remain of it. Next to the WW II monument in the park is another monument honoring Bingham High School which opened in 1908 and continues to this day. Another sign of Bingham's presence is the large, white letter "B" that stands high on the hill. And another piece of useless knowledge for you, I graduated from Bingham along with Misty in 1997; twenty years after my dad graduated from there.
 We hung around the park for about an hour, using the old fashioned steel slides that I thought they had practically outlawed and tossed around my son's boomerang. We aren't very good with the boomerang by the way. There seems to be an art to throwing those things. The tall trees still held on to many of their yellowing leaves but the entire park is covered with leaves that we had a blast running through. I haven't done that in a long time and it was cool to do it with my own kids.
 There seems to be a theme that pops up now and again as I write these posts. For some reason I want to encourage folks to get out and explore their own back yards. It's amazing the things you find so close to home that you don't even know exist. Copperton's park isn't really something I would tell you that you have to see but it is something that if you happened to need something to do on a leisurely morning with the kiddo's to take advantage of. Perhaps I found this place more interesting because of my own history of the area and someone else would find this place boring. That's fine. But this is just another example of a diamond in the rough that can be found if you look for it. Oh yeah, I almost forgot. Go Miners!!


Brandan 

  
  

Friday, November 10, 2017

Running Out of Time

Thanksgiving is less than two weeks away. Can you believe that? The other day someone mentioned that it was just like yesterday when we were all waiting for 2016 to be over. We lost a lot of popular celebrities, survived a cut throat presidential election and we had our share of tragedies of one sort or another. We celebrated the arrival of 2017 and now we are only fifty-one days away from 2018. I guess time really waits for no one and it seems like it’s in a hurry to leave us behind.
 The other day I mentioned that we have been very busy over the past few weeks but when I started thinking about it, we have been busy all year. For the last five months we have had a new home being built in Utah. Being out of the state has helped keep me less excited about it because I wasn’t around to watch it step by step. We’ve had people sending photos every week and we’ve been able to walk through it a handful of times as we’ve been in town but really, it’s all come together behind the scenes. Now we are a week away from closing and while I won’t be able to move in full time right away it does signify that our time in California is ending.
 Thinking about this, I realized that there are going to be places that I want to see in California that I won’t have time to see. Some locations are just too far away and others I’ll have to pick and choose what we decide is priority. Here are some of the places I think we’ll miss seeing that I wish we could.

Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge
I’m not sure why I think I need to visit a massive concrete structure full of dark, creepy cells with rusted iron bars for walls. But I do. The island has history as well as the former inhabitants of the prison. Like thousands of other people that make their way to the island each year, I have a morbid curiosity for how the most terrible criminals of the day lived. I find it curious because I could care less about how today’s criminals live. Why should I care about how they lived back then? Well…there is one more reason I want to visit. It’s haunted. Of course, if you’ve followed this blog for long you may have already guessed that the possibility of hanging out with ghosts would interest me. Hey, I mentioned a morbid curiosity, didn’t I?
I’ve been to the bay area once when I was eleven or so. My grandpa is a truck driver and I made a trip with him to San Francisco. But you don’t get to go site seeing when you’re working. The Golden Gate Bridge is an American icon. It’s instantly recognizable but I haven’t seen it in person. Someday, perhaps, I’ll get to it.

Redwood National Park
Trees don’t come any taller than they do at Redwood National Park. We were able to visit Sequoia National Park earlier this year and were enchanted by the size and beauty of the forests. I was hoping to get up to the redwoods because I’ve always wanted to see them. I respect something that can grow to over 350 ft tall. I don’t think a person can comprehend the reality of that without standing beside them.

Big Sur
 Here’s another location that is probably too far north for us. If I had the time I would choose to hop on the Pacific Coast Highway down at the southern tip and cruise my way north but it would be difficult to pull off at this time. This is a shame because from the areas we’ve seen along the PCH in SoCal have been awesome and from what I’ve heard the views only get better.

Big Bear
  I love the mountains and Big Bear has them. I’m no skier to I don’t have any interest in going up there in the winter. I’m more interested in doing the 4x4 trails the area has to offer. I’ve seen enough videos and read enough articles to let me know that I’m missing out on some fun trails and fine scenery. Unfortunately, I’m taking the Jeep back to Utah in the Spring for the Jeep Safari in Moab, so it won’t be here when the snow melts away and the trails clear.

On The Bubble
There are still a lot of things that I’m planning to see that I hope to get around to. These places are somewhat planned but I’m not sure if we’ll get them in. These places include: Channel Islands National Park, Death Valley, Joshua Tree. Easy to get to places like the Getty and the Griffith Observatory may be out of reach. Of course, I have a large list of places to see which is why these are on my maybe list.

These are just a few of the places that I will regret not seeing while we are living in California. I could keep going for hours. I’ll miss Hearst Castle and Monterey Bay Aquarium. I drive through Hollywood every day to get to work but I’ve never actually explored it and I won’t even get started about all the golf courses I’ve skipped out on. Ugh. I guess I’ll live. If there are places that you think are must see areas, feel free to leave us a note in the comments and we’ll see if we can hit them. I find the lesser known sites to be the most interesting and the only way to find them is to talk to the local so tell me all about them. Have a great weekend everyone.


Brandan

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

The Devil's Punch Bowl

 It seems like we are really running on short time these days. Work has been crazy but that really isn't a surprise. In fact, it's more of a surprise when work is going well. The kids' school continues to get more difficult as time goes on, as it should, but it can be trying on everyone as each person's stress levels grow. We're also getting close to having our new home in Utah completed and we're trying to accommodate inspections and closing schedules and plan around our daily commitments here in California. We needed to get out of the house for a little bit so I remembered seeing a sign for the Devil's Punch Bowl as we've passed through the Palmdale area on our way to Santa Clarita. I took to the internet to do a little research and decided that a one mile hike would be the perfect break on our restricted time frame. So we grabbed the cameras, backpacks and water and we were on our way.

 The Devil's Punch Bowl is one of many California state parks. It encompasses 1,310 acres of incredible geological features and rests at approximately 4,750 feet above sea level. To compare, Salt Lake City sits at 4,226 so depending on the time of year you visit you will want to plan accordingly for weather. You may encounter snow during the winter.

  The punch bowl is surrounded by high mountain peaks that belong to the San Gabriel mountains and to me were the most impressive mountains that I've seen in Southern California so far. But what makes the area so unique is the rock formations. Similar to Vasquez Rocks to the northwest, the Devil's Punch Bowl is full of layers of rock that have been tipped on edge over time creating some impressive formations. The tan sandstone mixed with the ever strange Joshua trees and the yellowing plant life of Fall created a landscape full of contrasting colors begging to be photographed. The November temperatures (68 on the day we visited) made for an enjoyable hike at any time of the day.

 Speaking of the hike, we took the one mile loop option that I foolishly thought was going to be an easy, flat trail turned out to be a little more moderate and took us almost to the bottom of the punch bowl which is about 300' deep. The trail can be slippery in places and there are some large natural stone steps and ledges that are necessary to navigate on both the decent and the ascent that could prove a little difficult for some people so know your limitations. 

 To me a unique thing about these state parks is that they aren't as regulated as our national parks. You have the freedom to roam, climb and explore the formations and slot canyons as much as you want, a kind of nice feeling in a world so full of rules. Of course there are risks associated with this freedom. I noticed that there are many folks that seem to be part mountain goat, climbing to some of the most precarious places they can find.  Hey, more power to ya. Just be careful. Also there are a few species of rattlesnakes you need to watch out for. This is the great outdoors after all. You're in their world.

Honey Ants
 You will come across the visitor center at the trail head. I would start here. It isn't very large but they have some living specimens of the animals you could encounter while hiking in the Devil's Punch Bowl. These include snakes, beetles and the strangest ant I've ever seen, the Honey Ant (or Honeypot ant but they referred to them as honey ant.) These guys actually store food in their abdomens which swell to abnormal sizes and appear like drops of golden honey. Other ants will consume this food when needed. Don't ask me how.  I didn't ask. (I (Misty) did ask. They vomit it back out for the others to eat.) By the way, take this tip with you on your visit. Ask about a self guided tour or pamphlet. It was only after we set out on our hike that we discovered numbered posts that would have probably made the hike even more enjoyable if I'd have known what the heck they wanted me to know. Oh, well. Next time, perhaps.

Visitor Center
  Okay so things to know. The Devil's Punch Bowl is about an hour and a half from Los Angeles. The parking if very limited so get there early or you'll be parking along the road coming in which is narrow and not a great place to park your nice ride. They do have restrooms at the visitor center but your on your own for bringing water and food. There is a picnic area at the visitor area as well. Besides snakes, I noticed signs that we were in bear country so keep that in mind. And as always keep an eye on the weather report. The temperatures can vary drastically so you'll want to plan accordingly. Other than that if you're looking for a break from the ordinary and are limited on time the Devil's Punch Bowl may just be what you're looking for. Oh and don't forget, you are very close to Charlie Brown's Farm so you can stop by there to pick up all kinds of fun stuff. We stopped to pick up some huckleberry soda. I can't resist the stuff. If you haven't heard of Charlie Brown's Farm you can check it out here. See you Friday!

Brandan

Devil's Punch Bowl 

Friday, November 3, 2017

Thor: Ragnarok Sneak Peek at Disneyland

An awesome movie came out today.  We haven't yet watched it but we know we are going to love it.  First, because we love Marvel.  Second, because Disney's California Adventure park has an awesome sneak peek that we are able to go to last week.  The sneak peek has me all excited to see this movie on the big screen as soon as I can.   

Prop of the Grandmaster Costume. 
Thor finds him self a prisoner without his hammer.  His world is collapsing and he needs to save it, but only after he escapes from the gladiatorial contest.  We are introduced to the Grandmaster, played by Jeff Goldblum.  Jeff Goldblum is a favorite actor here so we loved to see him in something new.   Thor is dropped into the arena only to see he is pitted against his long time pal, the Hulk.  The story plays out with a cast of new characters and old characters (who all seemed to get new haircuts).  

Costume of Hela,
Worn by Cate Blanchett
Costume of Skurge,
Worn by Karl Urban
The fun part of the sneak peek is getting to look at the costumes and props from the movie as you wait to enter the theater.  You can see swords, head pieces, costumes and other props fresh from the movie.  Only a simple piece of glass and a rope separates you from these movie treasures.  You can spend time looking at the little details. The details they put into these props are so cool.  These aren't simple Halloween costumes.   
Costume of Valkyrie,
worn by Tessa Thompson

 After you spend a while looking at the props and posters you will be lead into a 3D theater.  This theater is also well air conditioned if you are looking for a cool place to crash for 15 minutes.  Pop on your 3D glasses and prepare to be amazed.
                                  
In the center is a large screen.  On each side is a series of screens that add to the effect you are going to experience.  I am not going to go into detail, but this is a movie you want to see in the theater.  The sights and sounds were so fun.  While it stays true to the story line, it has its own feel to it.  I love to watch movies in my home.  I love to sit in my chairs and kick my feet up.  I love to eat snacks I didn't pay $50 for.  I love the comfort and simplicity of it all.  Withthat said, there are some movies out there that you absolutely must see in the theater.  The sights, sounds and effects are too big to not see on the big screen.  This is one of them.  We will be checking it out soon!  Will you be catching this one as well? 

You can find this sneak peek theater in Disney's California Adventure Parks Hollywood Land,  tucked back by Monsters Inc. where the Muppets theater once was.  The sneak peeks rotate by the movies coming out.  Just look for a sign and definitely take the time to check it out.  I try to keep an eye out for what is coming up next.  It is always a fun time.  

Well, off to the next adventure.  See you soon!  ❤ Misty