Friday, June 22, 2018

The Carrizo Plain

 The beauty of nature seems to know no bounds. I’ve seen her at her best in the red rocks of Utah, Southern California beaches and the rugged mountains of Colorado and we all have witnessed her at her most ruthless as earthquakes strike different parts of the world. The current situation in Hawaii is a perfect example of the beauty and destruction that Mother Nature likes to dish out. The lava flows that glow in the night are mesmerizing but the burned houses and displaced residents are an unfortunate side effect. But still, we watch on in awe.
  Now, I mentioned earthquakes and as it happens that is the topic for today. Over the past few months I've been fascinated with the San Andreas fault. In fact, I have already written a story about our first visit to the fault not too long ago. If you're interested in that story, you can check it out here.
 In my research I found that some of the best views of the fault are found north of Los Angeles county inside the Carrizo Plain National Monument. My goal was to stand on both the North American Plate and the Pacific Plate at the same time. These tectonic plates are moving in opposing directions and are directly responsible for some of the world's most devastating earthquakes. Devastation aside, this stuff is fascinating to me. I don't even know why. But I would not be happy until I could knowingly straddle both plates. This would turn out to be a more difficult task than I thought.
San Andreas Fault Zone
  It turns out that the fault is actually very difficult to find. As a matter of fact, after this trip I figured that we crossed the fault at least ten different times. I knew the exact moment we crossed it only twice. It's easy to follow the fault if you look at it on Google Earth. When you're zoomed out you can see a very distinct line that runs up the state of California. In person, though, the fault zone can be extremely wide and filled in with years of sediment. If I hadn't been using a handy guide book, I would have had no clue of what to look for. Luckily, there is one location in the Carrizo Plain that is a prime example of where the fault runs and it's called Wallace Creek.
 The highlight of our trip in my opinion, Wallace Creek is an ancient creek bed that is offset by the movement of the San Andreas fault. The hill above the creek allows you to get a good vantage point of how the creek comes out of the mountains and makes an abrupt turn to the north before emptying into the grass valley below. At one time this creek bed emptied straight into the valley but earthquakes over time have split the creek as the Pacific Plate and the North American plate grind past each other. I understand that the fault is creeping along at an average of 1.3 inches per year, but here at Wallace Creek the movement has been drastic during a few earthquakes. One earthquake in January of 1857, the creek shifted 30 feet. That's huge! To put this into a little more perspective, I figured that when this creek bed was still aligned the Great Pyramid in Egypt was already over 1,000 years old. In geological terms, that's really not that long ago.
Wallace Creek
  The Carrizo Plain is a National Monument and there are more of nature's features to see here besides the fault. You can't miss seeing Soda Lake as you travel through the monument. It is a normally dry lake bed that shines white across 3,000 acres of the Carrizo Plain. This is salt left over from the evaporated mineral rich water. Okay, that is a really simplified explanation but you get the drift.
 The Carrizo Plain also has a rich history in oil drilling and their is plenty of evidence of this history left behind in the form of rusted equipment and rotting buildings. The area also has Native American history that you can visit. Painted Rock is an area where pictographs can be viewed. This is near Soda Lake and is only opened to the public at certain times of the year. When we visited, sadly, it wasn't open. Perhaps another time.
  Bottom line here, I found our day in the Carrizo Plain National Monument to be an excellent one. I got to chase the fault through the desert and see some significant evidence of it's existence. We got out of the house and stretched the legs on the Jeep and made a few more memories with the kids.
The Carrizo Plain National Monument is 3 hours north of Los Angeles and sits below the Temblor Mountains. Most of the roads are dirt and may be difficult to pass in the rare rain storm. Don't forget to take extra water and snacks (I would pack a full lunch as well) just in case and make sure you let someone else know that you're going and when you plan to be back. This place is remote and getting help may be difficult. If you leave early enough in the morning you could see the monument in a day but if camping is your thing there is a campground inside the monument. It accepts smaller RV's and tents. So, what are you waiting for? Get out there and explore! See you next week.

Brandan


Thursday, June 14, 2018

Sneak Peek to Universal's Dreamwork's Theater Opening Friday!

Tomorrow is the big day.  June 15th is the official opening date for the Dreamwork's Theater at Universal Studios Hollywood.  We got a sneak peek into the fun and I am so excited to share a bit with you.  No big spoilers here.  We want you to enjoy it.  But if you want to be 100% surprised then you want to stop reading here and get yourself there to explore it yourself.  

Ill admit it.  I don't get excited about change.  I wasn't to happy when Shrek shut its doors to make way for something new.  I liked Shrek.  It was a cool place to relax when your feet were screaming from sprinting through a theme park for the day, but it was also a fully immersive story that sucked you right in.  It closed and I patiently waited to see what would replace it.  I have learned that sometimes these parks know what they are doing.  I will forever miss the Tower of Terror that Disney's California Adventure once had, but I do love Guardians of the Galaxy (Check out our take on the ride here).

So there we were at Universal Studios Hollywood ready to give this new attraction a chance even though we miss Shrek.  The line still had that same old Shrek feel to it but with out the specific Shreckness (that's a word now) to it.  It feels clean and organized.  That, I can appreciate.  Along the wall you see movie posters and this continues around the corner where the line enters the theater lobby.  To be honest, this is where the similarities end.


The lobby of Shrek was filled with characters and a million places to look.  I loved to see Pinocchio's nose grow or watch the three little pigs going through their back and forth.  This new lobby seemed to lack a lot of the detail that Shrek had crammed in every corner.  I really felt a little bit disappointed right up until the room began to come alive.  As you wait for the room to wake up you can see a wall of awards and movie props.  Not a big display, but still it was really cool to look at.  This sits where the little pigs once hung out.  Above it is a mirror that has a foggy flow to it where the Magic Mirror makes it's appearance.  This is the same familiar face from the Shrek lobby with his same charm.  As the show starts the walls come alive.  Magical is the best way I can describe it.  The panels up above become screens filled with your favorite characters.  I get the feeling this theater will be home to a lot of different shows.  It is set up to easily change from one theme to another with the change of the projector footage.

You meet a bunch of characters and they introduce the story.  The Emperor needs a delivery and Po needs our help.  We need to help him deliver the Liquid of Unlimited Power safely! The doors open and you enter the theater.  It is like the Shrek theater but new and upgraded.  We sat midway and center in the theater.  These seats were perfect.  The chairs are comfy and high off the ground.  My little legs dangled like a toddler in a highchair.  When the story started the seats began to gently sway along with the boat Po is taking to save the day.  Kane has taken the Ming Hammer and he is determined to take the Liquid for himself as well.  We travel through the spirit realm and are led on an adventure to safety.  The details are rich and the walls in the theater again come alive.  You find yourself completely surrounded in the story.  Its truly amazing.


Here is where I eat crow.  Universal, I wasn't convinced that you could create something I would love as much as I loved Shrek.  You did, and you went beyond what I could imagine.  I am so excited to see what you create in this space in the future.  Thank you for the imagination and creativity you put into these attractions for us.  We love them.

Come see it for yourself.  I think you will love it too.  While you are there, stop by Jurassic Park the Ride.  September is that last time you will see it how it is today.  They are shutting down the ride to open up the new Jurassic World the Ride.  Our Jurassic Park fan is devastated, but I am confident that they know what they are doing, whether Faith does or not.

Until next time, make the most of your moments.
🎔 Misty













Friday, June 1, 2018

Easter Jeep Safari 2018 Part 2

In part one of our Moab 2018 adventure, I talked about our first two trail days where we explored Deadman Point and Hotel Rock. If you missed that story and want to check it out, you can do so here. Today I will wrap up our trip by talking about our Big Saturday trail, Wipe Out Hill, and our experience of walking and dreaming about Jeep parts at the vendor show.
On Thursday and Friday of safari week anyone who’s anyone in the off-road aftermarket community is at the vendor show. You can find everything from recovery straps to roll cages here and you may even have an opportunity to pick up some of your long sought items at a small discount. You know, “show specials.” You won’t know how good of a deal you’re getting unless you know about the product prior to coming, so do your research before hand. It’s all too easy to get caught up in all the fun and the next thing you know you’re out of money and you don’t have enough room in your rig to get your stuff home.
I somewhat ignored my own advice during this trip to which I went into a purchase without all of the information that I needed. I had been in the market for a new GPS unit and had all but picked the new model out. Had I had more time, I likely would have already purchased the unit prior to our trip to Moab. As it were, I didn’t have time and I had my eyes open for a new Garmin while I browsed the show. Then I came across a factory rep for Magellan. He had a stack of TRX7 units. I had seen these units in multiple magazines and YouTube channels and I thought I knew everything about it, plus the price was oh so right. I decided that this would be the unit for me. Cha-ching! Thank you very much.
The TRX7 is a nice GPS, made for the offroad community. It comes pre-loaded with thousands of off-road trails and is a weather sealed unit. This attracted me because I would be using it in both my Jeep and a Polaris RZR. The RZR is open to all of the elements and the sealed unit is supposed to be resistant to dust and rain. However, the interface is a lot different from the GPS units I’ve used in the past. It acts more like your everyday navigation system on your daily driver as opposed to a Topo map style unit. This is the part I didn’t expect. It turns out all of the info that I want is there, I just haven’t mastered how to find it yet. It does work well on the trail, though and I don’t regret buying it. It just isn’t exactly what I was looking for. Again, do your research. Either way the vendor show was a great time as always and you'll find us there again next year.
 For our Big Saturday trail we chose to do the Wipe Out Hill Trail. Again this isn't the most difficult trail to do but we were wanting to take it easy. Also, we had some old friends, Perry and Linda Willard leading the trail. We've known them for a long time and we try to run with them as often as we can. 
 This year the Willards and their gunners were dressed as pirates. They like to have themes on their trails which makes it sort of an extra special time to travel with them. Even with pirates I think that the highlight of the day was having an opportunity to witness two base jumpers launch themselves off of Determination Towers while we had our lunch stop. I've never witnessed this in person and I have to admit, it seemed pretty intense. It probably only took them about ten seconds to reach the ground which isn't a lot of time when you're free falling. That's okay, it wasn't me doing it and it was a heck of a show.
 Going to Moab has always been about being in the outdoors and spending time with friends and family to me. I think that is what makes the off-road community such a tight group. It's what keeps bringing people back year after year and it's part of what keeps bringing me back. Of course, a well organized event with a plethora of trails and gorgeous scenery doesn't hurt either. I can't wait until next year's event and if you haven't been to Moab before, come on down, you won't regret it.