Yellowstone National Park

As we mentioned in our last post a few days ago, we are finally going to finish the Passage Across America series about our trip across the USA and back. The last post we put up in the thread covered Keystone, South Dakota to Yellowstone National Park (which is located mostly in Wyoming, with a little bit in Montana and Idaho, as well). Since that post only contained pictures, in this post, we’ll fill in some of the story.

Knowing reservations to stay in the lodges in Yellowstone needed to be made at least a year in advance, we had brought camping gear and planned to camp inside the park. However, on May 11th and 12th, it snowed. We had no idea that in the northern latitudes snow still fell so late in the year. We just assumed it would be warm and balmy; none of our camping gear was meant for super cold weather.

Not wanting to freeze to death, on the morning of the 13th, we desperately tried to find a hotel room in or around the park. We called Yellowstone’s switch board, who thought we were trying to make reservations for next year. When we clarified we meant that very night, they didn’t know what to do! They didn’t normally deal with last minute callers. After checking with a manager, we were told they had one and only one room available. We had lucked out! Knowing we had a place to stay, we proceeded to Yellowstone, as planned.

Yellowstone sits on top of one of the largest active volcanoes on earth. It last erupted 640,000 years ago, and the force of the eruption made the volcano collapse into a 45 mile by 35 mile steaming caldera (crater), one of the largest in the world. A hot spot of magma still remains under the park, creating unique hydrothermal features. Due to its unique landscape, Yellowstone became the world’s first national park in 1872.

We spent the night at the Old Faithful Snow Lodge, an upscale hotel.

We had a phenomenal Continue reading Yellowstone National Park

The Passage Across America Road Trip Series

Since returning from our circumnavigation, we’ve started several threads we’ve never finished. Christi’s new year resolution for 2012 is to finish up all the loose threads on the blog. Last month, we finished up a series on our recent trip to San Francisco in Kosmos. The next thread she is tackling is our Passage Across America on One Load of Fuel.

To give a quick refresher course: upon returning home from our circumnavigation in May 2009, we bought a diesel Jetta. Eric soon realized that we could carry enough fuel in the car to make it all the way across the country (San Diego to Maine, about 3,000 nautical miles — oddly enough, the same range as Kosmos!) without ever stopping at a gas station. So to celebrate the one year anniversary of the circumnavigation, in Spring 2010 we drove across the USA and back (with a small jaunt into Canada).

We put up several posts on the trip. Since we Continue reading The Passage Across America Road Trip Series

Occupy Oakland Riots

The Occupy Wall Street Movement started on September 17, 2011. While the movement was centered in New York City, many other cities around the country started similar movements at the same time. San Francisco’s Occupy Movement was centered in the Financial District near the Ferry Terminal, first at a Bank of America, then at the Federal Reserve Building. Christi often walked by the protestors on her way to her favorite Internet cafe.

Christi worked in the banking world from 1996 to 2007. In 2002, Christi became deeply troubled by the economic policies set by the Federal Reserve, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. As time went on, she became more troubled as the policies she viewed unfavorably were expanded. She wanted to join in the San Francisco protest, particularly once they moved to the Federal Reserve Building. Unfortunately, the peaceful protesters were harassed by police from the beginning. Eric made Christi promise never to go into the protest area because it wasn’t safe for a pregnant woman, particularly one who wasn’t yet showing.

After we moved Kosmos to Oakland, we saw that there was an Occupy Oakland protest set up in the park in front of City Hall, in the heart of downtown. Since it was across the street from the BART (train) station, we passed it often. Eric never went over to that side of the street to get a closer look, but Christi did several times.

In keeping her promise to Eric, she never actually went into the park, but she lingered around the sidewalk nearby and talked to some of the people that worked in the shops adjoining the park. There were a few more times she intended to stop by the park that she didn’t, though, because there was police wearing riot gear surrounding the park.

The more Christi talked to the locals, the clearer it became that this movement was different from the other Occupy Movements around the country. Instead of expressing anger about federal policies that have exacerbated income inequality, Oakland was more focused on Continue reading Occupy Oakland Riots

Blue Angel Sky Show

Another fun thing we did was watch the Blue Angel Skyshow over San Francisco Bay on October 9th. Many boaters like to take their boats out to watch the planes perform directly overhead. We don’t like to take Kosmos out on special events days because the waterways are generally packed with inexperienced, drunk boaters. We spend the entire time out worrying about what others are doing and never get to relax and enjoy ourselves.

Fortunately, we figured out how to watch the show from the water without taking Kosmos out — we rode the 3:00 ferry from Oakland to San Francisco.  It was a great plan. The show started a little after 3:00 and ended just as we pulled into San Francisco. We had amazing views!

 

As you may have surmised, the Blue Angels are essentially military aviation stunt show. Six Boeing F/A-18 Hornets fly together in a coordinated series of maneuvers, some maneuvers so daring that they take your breath away. The planes fly as high as 15,000 feet, as low as 50 feet, at speeds between 120 miles per hour (mph) and 700 mph (which is just under mach 1), and get as close as 18 inches from each other while twisting, turning, darting past one another, flying in close formation and doing other amazing coordinated tasks. If you get the opportunity to see a Blue Angels show, don’t pass it up!

We are glad we chose to take the ferry instead of Kosmos. Our poor ferry driver was constantly changing course to avoid nutty people who got in his way and weaving in and out of boats anchored in inappropriate places. We saw several near accidents between other boats, too. We probably would have been so focused on the other boats on the water that we would have never looked up to see the show.

Exploring Oakland, California

We knew that every Sunday morning there was a Farmer’s Market at Jack London Square. But when Sunday morning rolled around, we almost fell over from shock when we walked upstairs shortly after waking up to see this:

The booths were so close to Kosmos that we could have stood on the bow and stolen produce from the stands! Here is a shot from the other direction:

Having the Farmer’s Market come to us made shopping easy! It was an especially good market, too. We knew we’d miss it when we were gone.

We did a little exploring of downtown Oakland in the month we had Kosmos there. Oakland was officially made a town in 1852, the same time the shipping industry began on Oakland’s shores.  Oakland was prosperous from the beginning. In addition to the shipping wharves, Oakland became the main staging post for passengers and cargo journeying between the Bay Area and the Sierra foothills during the California Gold Rush. In the 1860s a railroad hub was put into Oakland and the town boomed even more, with shipbuilders, automobile manufacturing, canneries and many more industries developing there. Oakland’s history is rich with fascinating information, but we’re not going to get into the details in this post.

As we walked around downtown Oakland, we noticed that most of the buildings looked to be from the late 1800s to early 1900s. It was clear from the architecture, the quality of construction and the appointments that this was once a very wealthy city, and that it was beautiful in its heyday. Here are a couple of examples:

Oakland continued to flourish until World War II. During the war, an influx of Continue reading Exploring Oakland, California