Saturday, September 19, 2015

Mormon Rocks

 Mormon Rocks - west of the Cajon Pass
Every location no matter where one lives has unique historical tales to share with those willing to step away for a day of adventure and research. The emphasis is always on research to ensure when visiting a specific area one has the correct information in their back pocket or stored away within the cranium.

As the great writer Paul Theroux has shared over and over with his readers - he doesn't take photographs because his camera is his memories which are stored within the brain. Though we may not agree a hundred percent with Mr. Theroux about the lack of photographs we duly understand his point of view.

So, with this is mind we emphasize to go venture close to home or great distances from home to find those special places which can bring enjoyment and learning with or without a camera - of course most cell phones are remarkable in that category so a camera is always nearby to capture light at certain angles, a smile on a face when that face sees something remarkable, or simply as a record of the days adventure.

Just go out and look around - it's a big world out there even close by.

J and L decided on a Sunday afternoon to head out to a historical site not far from the abode and do some hiking in the hills. The destination was the Mormon Rocks (that is not politically incorrect since it is what the area is named for good reason) located near the junction of Highway 138 and Interstate 15 in Southern California. The area is located in the Cajon Pass which sits at approximately 3700 feet above sea level and was the main passageway from Los Angeles to the Victor Valley and areas beyond including Las Vegas, St. George and other territories to the north.

Mystical at times

Sometimes just awesome

It was the actual trail used by a group of devout Mormon settlers in 1851 led by Amasa M. Lyman and Charles C. Rich on their way to Salt Lake City.

The entire trip through the rough and brush filled canyons on foot and in covered wagons. What a sight that must have been to see as these intrepid hopeful people moved day by day to their promised land. Of course, that was a long time ago and the exact spot where the folks made camp is not one hundred percent certain but is believed to be at a place called Sullivan's Curve where the Mormon Trail and the railway now merge. Once viewed it is easy to imagine many suitable camping sites for tired feet and hungry bellies in the foothills of the eastern San Gabriel Mountain Range.

With determination and guts these pioneers found a new home

With camera in tow, Sorry Mr.Theroux, we marched up and down stunningly shaped rock formations for incredible views of the Cajon Pass and Highway 138. The quiet of the area was mind boggling since the aforementioned highways were nearly a stones throw away and it was difficult to believe that major metropolitan areas were less than a dozen miles to either the north or south from where we were exploring.

Caves in the rocks, trails leading to new unseen views, winds whistling through the desert fauna, and the tangible feel of the historical energy of such an area made the half day outing more than worth the effort.

Sometimes what we are venturing out to see is as close as our own backyards and with this blog that is proven time and again.

Go and drive a few minutes to the natural beauty or historical importance of your surrounding locale and again we believe you will be amazed. We are each and every time and we've only started looking into our own backyard as of yet - many more of these short day trips are planned and to be shared.

Laureen wondering who is driving?

John ready for adventure at Mormon Rocks

Enjoy the outdoors and enjoy the company you keep - that you do not need a photograph for but only a heart and memory for those you care for - perhaps Paul Theroux wasn't too far off after all.

County/State/National Parks are a great place to start

Thursday, September 3, 2015

A Little Respite from Paradise

When visiting a beautiful island country like Fiji sometimes you have to get away from it all and head to a tiny island a few miles from the mainland for a day of relaxing and watching the blue waters curl over the white sands of the beach as well as your toes.

Wait a minute – Fiji itself is a country of over three hundred islands all straight out of a travel magazine’s article on ‘the most awesome’ beaches to visit.

So many to choose from

The tourist city of Nadi (pronounced nandi) is a locale worth spending days in visiting shops, restaurants, blue waters, and everything else any traveler could desire. It’s a city with sights, sounds and views to delight the most particular visitor.

Fiji itself is a wonderful destination and that is why this blog may seem a bit odd.

While sitting on a beach in Nadi enjoying cold libations native to Fiji J and L discussed and commented on this and that about the people and scenery of the islands surrounding them. Nine days on Viti Levu relaxing and doing business had been time well spent but what was needed was a true getaway from the busy hub bub of Nadi. As we sat on the beach looking west over the South Pacific we saw many little dots on the horizon and decided we had to visit one of the destinations off the coast.

Leaving one island to visit another made sense to us.

Bored ? Just find a more deserted beach perhaps
Not ones who love tours we knew there was no other way to visit the off shore islands without renting a boat and navigating waters we were not familiar with. This would not work since we had an early flight the next morning to glide back to LAX.

After researching and exploring (that’s what we do) we chose South Sea Cruises as our choice for the day.

The place we would visit was the South Sea Island thirty minutes west of Nadi. The entire island was only three or four acres in size and maybe ten feet above sea level and the surrounding blue waters rippling over spectacular coral beds made it seem much larger. Crystal clear water to snorkel in, catamaran sailing, a submersible to discover the mysteries of the undersea world, and a large pool were only some of the amenities being offered on this small South Sea island.

South Sea Island - tiny, tranquil and tantalizing
If all the fun in the sun activities were not enough a full bbq with fish, steak, ribs, starches and unique salads were offered at lunch with a great entertainment provided by a local dancers. Fiji beer, wine and soft drinks were part of the deal rounding off the day as pleasant as any visitor could ask for.

The South Sea Island is part of the Mamanuca Island group of Fiji west of Nadi and south of the Yasawa Islands – in other words there are a whole lot of islands in the South Pacific. South Sea Island was just one of twenty that made up the Mamanuca’s.  Of course thirteen of these islands are totally under water at high tide which made the idea of spending any long term time not very advisable.

With a back pack filled with cameras, beach towels and sun screen we jumped aboard a very handsome three decker boat of about seventy feet in length and full of excited tourists. The boat was packed.

How were all these tourists going to fit on such a small island as the South Sea? Had we made a mistake on this cruise?

A moment or two later we realized that this boat, comfortable as it was with snacks, drinks and an indoor lounge was nothing more than a very fancy water taxi.

Nice little water taxi to the islands
This yacht would be dropping folks off on various islands through-out the next three hours from day trippers to those spending a week or more on the farther islands off the coast of Fiji. We were destined to the first dropped off on South Sea and then hours later the last of the visitors would be holding up on Mondriki, Mana or Yanuya – it should be noted that Mondiki was the host island for Tom Hanks and a volley ball by the name of Wilson for the film Castaway.

It's always better with a friend
But we were only gliding over the blue waters a short thirty minutes when the Captain slowed the engines to a crawl as we approached a low lying palm treed island of white sand and somewhat rough surf. Quickly two aluminum twenty foot tenders raced out to our large boat and within minutes we were escorted off the larger boat into the smaller and tore off for a day of relaxing on another beach not far from the one we had been relaxing the previous day.

A moment by moment description of our day won’t be necessary since it may be rather boring for the reader to view a day spent laying beneath a palapa sipping on cold drinks and enjoying the slight ocean breezes. The sun filled the sky only occasionally being hidden by a soft fluffy cloud leaving the day toasty warm.

Dips into the waves were cooling and refreshing enough to give the dynamic researchers the energy to climb into a submersible for a forty minute cruise around the island and the colorful reefs.

Not completely submersible but just enough
 But with that said it is always a bitter sweet moment when that elusive thing called time slips away and reality steps in.

Sunset was not far away and it was time to climb aboard the tender and power back to the luxurious water taxi for the return trip to Suva.

Not much more to write – the photographs are proof enough of how J and L spent their last day in Fiji

Well, we hope it’s not our last day on the enchanting green islands of Fiji and the wonderfully warm people who call it home.

About that Sunset!