For Easter weekend my entire family was together in California. My sister was in town from NY with her boyfriend who had never gone camping or done any high adventure outdoor desert activities. Because of this we decided to go camping at Soggy Dry Lake in the Lucerne Valley and show him what kind of fun you can have in the middle of nowhere.
I really don’t know why the Soggy Dry Lake has the name it does. It is as dry as can be but not wet or “soggy.” The lake bed is flat and large which makes it a perfect place for beginners to learn how to ride and push their bikes. I was able to ride a dirt bike at 90 MPH without any fear of hitting anything that would take it down. The surrounding area also has a lot of trails for quads and dirt bikes. Since I don’t have too much experience on dirt bikes I took a quad around on the various trails. If you stay up against the hills there are a lot of fun small trails with little jumps, hill climbs, and banks.
Shotgun shooting is allowed in the Soggy Dry Lake Recreation Area as well. Between me and other family members we had four shotguns available to shoot. We brought our own clay disk thrower and went through a couple boxes of clay (plus some fruit and soda cans). Hand guns and rifles are not allowed so those have to stay home.
One thing great about the desert is the amazing sunsets in the evening. I took a few pictures of the sunset the night I was out there and they are below:
Sunset in the Lucerne Valley Desert
Soggy Dry Lake Sunset
Another Desert Sunset Picture
After the sun sets it is a perfect time for a nice campfire. I can sit around a fire for a couple hours just enjoying the night with the warmth of the fire. In the desert there is little risk of the fire spreading because there isn’t much to burn.
Making a weekend getaway out of the desert trip isn’t a bad idea because at night the stars in the Lucerne Valley are amazing. Without all the light pollution of the city one can see hundreds of stars in the sky. It is also a lot easier to see shooting stars. Just looking at the stars for a couple minutes I saw a shooting star fly across the desert sky. My brother also saw a shooting star after looking at the stars are a couple minutes.
I went on a weekend trip to Brian Head Utah March 2012. Brian Head has two different mountains with available trials to ski or snowboard on. One mountain is dedicated to beginners and intermediate visitors. There are no expert trails this mountain. The other mountain is built for advanced skiers and snowboarders. Most trials are intermediate and expert trails. There are even two double black diamond trails on this mountain.
Brian Head recently built a new ski lift that joins the two mountains together. Previously visitors would have to drive between the two mountain bases. The lift makes it convenient for groups that may go with people of different skill levels.
I spent all my time on the intermediate and expert trails. There are many different trails with a great variety of terrain. Some trails are groomed, some trails are left ungroomed and have many moguls, others are off in the trees, and there is a small freestyle area. There is one trail that has a small bowl in it and another narrow trail through a small canyon as well. Due to all the different types of trails there is something for everyone.
At the end of my first day there I took one of the new intermediate trails off the lift the joins the two mountains. At the very end of the trail I followed what looked like part of the trail to the right. I saw what appeared to be an awesome jump. I decided to take it. After I hit the ramp I looked down and discovered I was flying over asphalt. I was 4 – 5 feet in the air when I figured out what was below me and landed right on the asphalt.
Landing on asphalt is like applying brakes to your snowboard. The snowboard stopped and I didn’t so I went down hard. I survived the fall ok but twisted my snowboard. I discovered this on my next run when I noticed the board was veering off to the right and I was applying a lot of pressure on it to keep it straight. Needless to say, the next day I had to rent a board.
There were no signs, ropes, or anything warning me of the danger. I had no idea a road was there. It looked like a normal part of the trail. The only thing the prevented my from getting seriously injured it my body type. I’m 5’9, 145
What I like about Brian Head Resort
Many trail options
A great variety of terrain
Very few people on the mountain
Lift lines are practically non-existent, even on weekends.
What I don’t like about Brian Head Resort
The snow was a bit icey in some spots (it was warm when I went, it is probably much better earlier in the season)
There are no high speed lifts
There aren’t many terrain features. I would love to see them put in more jumps.
There are a few flat spots on many of the trails that really slow down snowboarders and get even get them stuck
On my way to Brian Head Resort in Utah from Los Angeles I stayed at the Virgin River Hotel in Mesquite, Nevada. I got in on a Thursday night. The hotel check-in is in the casino. I was traveling with my uncle and one of the things we noticed right away was the average of the people in the casino. Most of them looked retired. We made a few jokes about the people there as we were checking in. One lady appeared to be in her 80’s and was sitting at a slot machine drinking a beer while watching people. She wasn’t even playing. She probably just wanted something to do.
The Virgin River Hotel is about as low budget as it gets. It is the only hotel I’ve stayed in that made me laugh at the quality of the building materials and maintenance. During a recent remodel the management decided to remove all carpet and install linoleum throughout the rooms. It is a little awkward to sleep in a room with linoleum flooring. Honestly, who wants to step on linoleum when you get out of bed in the morning?
I do understand the reasoning behind putting linoleum in. It is easy to maintain, easy to replace, cheap to install, and easy to clean. There is no doubt in my mind that this was a choice made to save money. There are some corners you simply shouldn’t cut though. This single item could make them the laughing stock of the hotel/casino industry.
Other items about the room worth noting are the shower head, tub cleanliness, and TV. The shower head was one of those tiny metal shower heads you may have had in an apartment 10 years ago. They could purchase a shower head for less than $10 that would be a nice upgrade. The tub also had mildew on the bottom of it. It wasn’t a lot of mildew but since I am a property manager I do notice things like that. The TV, it was an old tub TV that is smaller than my computer monitor. It was probably 19 inches or less and had poor reception.
I did like the bowling alley at the Virgin River Hotel. Shoe rental was $2.50 and games were only $5. The night I stayed there I bowled a couple games with my uncle. There was a league bowling around 8:30 P.M. when we showed up but they were gone at 9:00 P.M. and we were able to bowl. We were told the bowling alley closes at 11:00 P.M. I do not know how much time leagues take throughout the day but there were plenty of lanes open after 9.
All in all, if you are looking for a really cheap place to stay and don’t care about the quality of the room the Virgin River Hotel in Mesquite, NV might work for you. Room prices ranged for $30 – $118 when we were looking. The weekends get up to $118 while the weekdays are much cheaper. I’d feel ripped off paying $118 but for $30 you can simply say, “You get what you pay for.”
Monday I got the Kauai beach resort about 3:00 P.M. For some reason my laptop wouldn’t pick up the wireless internet that the hotel had available on the first floor. The Ethernet connector for laptops in the business center at the Kauai beach resort was also broken. Because I didn’t have the opportunity to plan much of my trip before coming out to Kauai I spent a good amount of time trying to figure out the internet problems. I discovered the wireless network worked on my phone so I looked up local places to eat on my phone. I then went into the town of Lihue and ate. After eating I went back to the hotel and decided it was best if I just spent the $40 for a week of internet in my room. After that I started driving the main road and went to a park with a beach a couple miles away from my hotel. I wasn’t there long because it was already starting to get dark. I went back to the hotel and went to bed fairly early as I was a bit tired from traveling.
Tuesday was a great day. I started the day by driving to a waterfall I remembered seeing signs for when I went into town on Monday. It was a 300 foot waterfall that you could see from the street. Seeing the waterfall from the street wasn’t quite good enough for me. I made my way to the top of the waterfall which is much more my speed (up close and personal). While I was up there I saw a large tree truck hanging out in the river. It was too tempting. I had to chuck it over the waterfall. It made a huge crashing sound when it hit the bottom. I started laughing because it was so loud and bailed out of there before I drew any more attention to myself.
From the waterfall I took a main highway up north until it ended. It was only about 40 miles but took 1 ½ hours to drive. The average speed in Kauai is 35 MPH and drivers don’t go much faster than that so you have to plan for much longer travel times than you would expect.
The highway ends at a beach and trailhead. After looking at all the warning signs I decided to do a hike to a waterfall that they said was “strenuous” and posted signs suggested 8-16 hours for. It was 4 miles and 4 miles out.
The first two miles was a hike to another beach. These trails are popular so in the beginning there are a lot of people going up at the 1 hr per mile pace. They were fairly good about getting out of my way though (especially when I was running). The scenery was absolutely spectacular. There were beautiful views of the sharp green cliffs of north Kauai with the endless blue ocean. This is the most beautiful hike I’ve ever been on.
A view from the trail
After the first two mile hike there is another two mile trail to a large waterfall. Along this trail I was able to see all types of trees and plants. Bamboo on Kauai is huge. Some of it was about 4” in diameter. I also saw some interesting trees that I haven’t seen before.
The trail follows a river (which I really like) and crosses the river quite a few times. In some areas the trail isn’t well marked so picking it up again can be tricky. Because it isn’t well marked people getting lost trying to find the trail have worn what looks like a trail into the dirt in some areas which makes it even more difficult to find the right path.
When you arrive at the waterfall there is a large pool you can swim in. I took the opportunity to jump in and swim under the waterfall. It was a nice refreshing break. After I’d climbed the hills around the falls and explored a bit I started heading back.
Waterfall and swimming pool at the end of the hike
I ran a good portion of the trail on the way back. As I was heading back a middle aged couple asked me if I was going back to the falls. Apparently I had passed them, got turned around crossing the river back and forth, and ran into them again. I thanked them for letting me know I was heading in the wrong direction (I must have passed many others that didn’t realize it or didn’t tell me) and turned around. The first 6 miles of the hike weren’t too bad. The 7th mile is a little tough. There is a lot of steep uphill parts in the 7th mile. After making it through the 7th mile I was able to start running again. Right near the end a young couple that was traveling at a good pace said, “we were wondering when you’d catch up to us again.” Apparently they saw me going the wrong way too. The total time it took me was 3H and 30M including the time I spent at the falls and beach (and backtracking). winches
I ran into another group on my way back from the falls. There were two ladies and two kids on their way up. The ladies looked like they were going to die. Unfortunately for them they were on mile 3 of 8. I told them it was another 25 minutes or so to the waterfall and they made complaining whining noises (I realized later when I got back to the beach in the middle that it was was probably another hour or more at their pace).
After the hike I grabbed my snorkeling gear and headed to the beach at the beginning of the trailhead as this is one of the best places to snorkel on the island. I saw a small barracuda, many fish, and some urchins. After running/hiking 8+ miles and swimming my legs started cramping up after being in the water for 1 hour so I decided by body was done for the day and headed back to my car. As I headed back to my car the couple that told me I was going the wrong way on the trail honked and waved as they drove by. Apparently the time I spent at the beach was just enough time for them to finish the last 3 miles or so of the trail.
Tuesday evening I checked out the pools and hot tubs at the hotel. They were very nice. The hot tub had one great hard jet that I took advantage of. After soaking for awhile I wondered off to the beach near the hotel. It was dark so I was exploring more than anything.
Wednesday I headed out to a another waterfall I saw signs for when driving north on Tuesday. This waterfall could be seen from the street but unfortunately was way too far away to get to. After checking that out I went to a local beach. Right when I got there I got a call from a company I scheduled a helicopter tour with for Thursday. They said they had an opening that day so I took them up on it. I made sure I had my camera and extra batteries for the flight and headed to their place.
When we took off the in the helicopter my camera batteries died after two pictures. I changed the batteries and realized my backup batteries were also dead. I did take my smart phone also just in case something ridiculous like that happened and I was able to take pictures with my phone. My normal camera is better than a phone camera but the phone pictures turned out pretty good too.
The helicopter tour was great. We toured the entire island in about 45 minutes. The tour included many waterfalls, mountains, and beaches. There was a fall that was 3000+ ft. It would have broken the world record but because it dumps into pools before continuing in a few different spots it didn’t count.
One advantage of taking a helicopter instead of a plane is the maneuverability. At the major falls the pilot was able to turn the helicopter so people on both sides got a good view and pictures before continuing on.
Picture from the helicopter tour
One thing you will hear about 100 times while on Kauai is a reference to the wettest spot on earth. On average it rains 450 inches per year on a mountain in the middle of the island and that is why there are so many spectacular waterfalls.
Thursday was beach and body boarding day. I rented a board early in the morning and headed to a beach with good waves. The waves in Hawaii are amazing. There are great barrels to ride. I got many good rides and when my stomach was getting chaffed I dumped the board and just went out in my fins. Body surfing was also a lot of fun.
One thing that struck me as strange was that the waves didn’t feel as powerful as California waves. It was a lot easier for me to get out as I didn’t feel like the waves were pushing me back very hard. It was a lot of fun.
When I got back to the beach to relax I noticed some girls next to me kept looking at me. I looked in their direction and one of them was smiling at me so I said “hi” and asked them where they were from. They said they were from France (with their accents). They travel together a lot and never have a plan when they go anywhere. Since I didn’t have a plan that day either I spent most the day with them. Went went into town to eat and went to a local waterfall. In the evening I met up with them again. We went out for dinner at a place in town.
When we were eating dinner they ran into one of the locals they talked to the day before. He invited us all back to his place. When we got there we played ping pong and pool. They went to their backyard and cut down a coconut for us also as we hadn’t tried it. The coconut water/milk was pretty good. The coconut itself was good too. It wasn’t a flavor I expected. When it’s fresh it is like a melon.
We were hanging out until 12:45 A.M. or so until we called it a night. I had to wake up at 6:30 or so the next morning so I didn’t want to stay out too much later.
Friday was a bit packed. I had to return the body board I rented before I went on a tour. I had to be at the meeting place for the tour at 8:30 and the body board place didn’t open until 8:00 A.M. I returned the board and made it to the tour place about 8:28 or so.
The tour was a lot of fun. We had great tour guides. It started with 4 miles of Kayaking up the river. This was my first time on a Kayak. The kayaks were for two people and the guide said he could go with me as everyone else had someone to go with. I asked him if I could go by myself instead (I wanted to mess around). He said that would be fine. It was a relaxing stroll on the river and I had my freedom to explore a bit.
After kayaking we went for a short hike to a swimming hole. There was a rope swing there so I swung into the pool a couple times. Later on in the tour one of the couples said I had welts all over my back when I was swinging on the rope swing. Apparently the mosquitoes were getting me (they always go for me).
After the rope swing we rode up to a location where a zip line was setup. The first zip line was 800 feet. I asked one of the tour guides how I could go the fastest. She said the cannon ball is the best but I can’t do it on this one because the other tour guide has to slow me down at the end. She did say the next one was fair game though. There was a great view as you went down the zip line. I took a video of it as I went down.
The second zip line was 1800 feet. This one the tour guides said we could go upside-down on if we’d like. Following the earlier advice I decided to do an upside-down cannon ball. I got a good amount of speed by the time I got to the lowest point and went higher up the other side than all of the others (haha, I’m competitive and figured he who went the highest won). That zip line was setup in a U shape so you go up, back, then up again until you stop and get off on a ladder. The tour guide said she had never seen an upside-down cannonball before so that is my mark on the zip line course.
After the long zip line we hiked down to another water hole. This one had a small zip line setup over the water hole. You could swing from it into the water. It was about 12 feet off the water or so. I tried it once but it was kind of weak.
There was also a platform that was 18 feet up that you could jump from into the water hole also. I jumped from that at normal height twice. When the tour guide next to the platform was distracted I climbed onto the rails and jumped from those while she wasn’t looking (haha).
After that we hiked again along a river and back to the river we kayaked in on. From there we took a boat back to the starting point.
After the tour I headed out to the west side of the island. I traveled up a mountain to see the Waimea Canyon AKA “the grand canyon of the pacific.” It was amazing. It looked like a small grand canyon only much greener. The dirt (red from rust) and the green trees and plants gave it a lot of color. I rushed to three different lookout points trying to make it before the sun went down. I barely made it to the last lookout point with enough daylight to see the view. It was definitely a beautiful place.
Waimea Canyon lookout point
After seeing the Waimea Canyon it was time to head back to the airport. All in all it was a great trip and I enjoyed every minute of it. I’ll have to see much more of Hawaii in the future.
Big Bear Lake has many cabins available for rent over the weekend. Often times these cabins are owned by private parties and posted for rent by property management companies. When I was younger I was lucky enough to go on weekend getaways with my family who had friends that owned cabins.
Big Bear Lake is a great place to go during the winter. Being from southern California, I’ve never seen snow on the ground at my home. Once every 5 – 10 years I will see some snowflakes for a minute or two but these melt as soon as they hit the ground. Up in the mountains at Big Bear Lake though, snow covers the ground every winter. Playing in snow is a lot of fun for us southern California residents who just don’t see it much. This makes Big Bear Lake cabins a popular weekend getaway option.
Big Bear is a fairly small city and has a few main attractions. There are two ski resorts and the alpine slides. Snow Summit is one ski resort and Bear Mountain is the other. Both ski resorts are owned by the same company.
Snow Summit has many ski trails and lifts. It is a good place for people that aren’t into freestyle skiing or snowboarding as much as simply riding down the mountain. There aren’t many trails for beginners here so keep that in mind if you like a variety of trails to go down but have only been skiing or snowboarding once or twice.
Bear Mountain ski resort is more my style. There are a lot more jumps, rails, and other freestyle features to keep you entertained. If you like freestyle skiing I would start here.
Since Snow Summit and Bear Mountain are owned by the same company you can use your lift ticket at both parks. They are very close to each other so it is easy to go from one to the other.
This past weekend I went up to Dumont Dunes. I’ve been there many times now to ride quads in the massive sandbox. It’s a great place to go riding and located 45 minutes outside of Baker, CA off the 127. It can be a great day trip or weekend getaway if you have a trailer or tent.
There are two camping areas. There are the main dunes and the little dunes. I’ve always stayed at the little dunes because it is a lot less crowded and it is a short five minute ride to the big dunes by quad. The little dunes are also close to some abandoned mines that you can explore.
Dumont Dunes is extremely hot in the late spring and in the summer. I wouldn’t recommend a weekend getaway between mid May and mid September. When you are riding in the heat it isn’t so bad but once you stop riding the heat gets intense. local internet marketing companies
My favorite place to ride is the northeast section of the main dunes. There are plenty of huge dunes and bowls to play around in and it is a lot less crowded than the other areas.
This past winter I decided that I needed more entertainment between vacations. I had gone snowboarding a few times in the past and loved it but didn’t have my own snowboard or gear. I figured if I bought the equipment I’d be much more inclined to go so I headed to the local Big 5 Sporting Goods store. Since the season was coming to a close I got great deals on everything I needed.
Mountain High is about 75 minutes away from my place. Since it is relatively close it makes for a great day trip. The first time I went after buying my equipment I had a great time. Since I had only gone a couple times prior I was still a beginner and basically falling down the mountain but having a great time doing it.
Mountain High has some great trails. They are well populated with jumps, rails, and ramps. I generally stick to the small to medium jumps because I still suck.
After my first snowboarding day trip to Mountain High my arms were really soar and at first I couldn’t quite figure out why because you really don’t use your arms much when you snowboard. After thinking about it though I realized it was because I fell down so much. I have a habit of pushing myself up as fast as I can if I fall and using a lot of force to pop up. I fell so much my arms got worn out from doing this.
I have been camping in Havasupai Indian Reservation twice. The Havasupai Indian Reservation is a paradise nestled deep in Arizona’s Grand Canyon. It is a trip I’d recommend at least four days of vacation time for.
The backpacking trip isn’t for the faint of heart. It is a 10 mile trek in to the campground and during peak hours it is 100º+ on the trail. Because of this you either need to hike really early in the morning or later in the evening. The hike takes 4 – 6 hours depending on how fast you travel.
The first time I went to Havasupai I camped out at the top of the trail and hiked to the campground the next morning. I woke up at 4:00 A.M. to get an early start. The second time there was a desert storm as we drove in. There were powerful rains, thunder and lightening, and even hail 30-60 miles before we got to the trail-head. I was really concerned because I only brought shorts and a T-shirt. By the time we got to the top the weather cleared up and the temperature was in the low 70′s. Instead of camping at the top we decided it was a perfect opportunity to start on the trail. We proceeded to hike three miles in, camped for the night, and hiked the rest of the way early the next morning.
When you approach the campground you get a great view of the crystal clear river and pass three amazing waterfalls. The Havasupai Indian Reservation is home to some of the most spectacular waterfalls in the world. jewelry making supplies
The first time I went the first waterfall was quite different than it is now. Major flooding in 2008 changed the water flow and created two new waterfalls (Upper Navajo Falls and Rock Falls). The original waterfall was annihilated. The second waterfall (Havasu Falls) is slighting lower and the third waterfall (Mooney Falls) is relatively unchanged. vietnam visa
Aside from the changes in the Havasupai Falls another huge change before the flood compared to after the floods is the depth of the water. Prior to the flooding there were huge pools around the waterfalls and the river running through the campground was deep enough to dive into. Now you can practically walk up to 3 of the 4 falls. Continue reading →
During the summer the Mammoth Mountain ski resorts are still used…but not for skiing or snowboarding. The ski resorts turn into a perfect place to go mountain biking. Special lifts designed for mountain bikes take visitors to the top of the mountain where there are many biking trails. Just like snow trails, there are varying degrees of difficulty.
A few years back me and a couple friends from high school decided to go on a short weekend getaway to try out the Mammoth mountain biking. One of my buddies know someone that had a vacation condo out there so we scored a free stay for the weekend.
The condo we stayed at was really nice. The place itself was three stories and well furnished. The condo homeowner’s association had an indoor pool and hot tub, gym, outdoor pool and hot tub, and well kept grounds. It was a relaxing place out in the mountains.
The first full day of our weekend getaway we heading up to the mountain biking trails. I didn’t know quite what to expect but when we got there I knew I was going to have fun. On the first ride down I took a beginner trail and got comfortable with the bike, brakes, and handling. Even on the beginner’s trail there were some good jumps if you chose to take them (which of course I did). I had a great time riding down.
Over 4th of July weekend this year I traveled up to Idaho to visit family. My uncle is a retired farmer and still lives on his farm land in a house he built with his sons. It’s a large house that is great for big family gatherings.
Since the beginning of summer is the busiest time for me I was only able to get away Thursday – Sunday for a small vacation. I was able to fly directly to Idaho Falls from Los Angeles both ways on the Allegiant Air for about $175 (score). I was picked up at the airport by my immediate family who was traveling by car (and left much earlier in the week).
When I got to the farm I explored a bit as I hadn’t been there in 12 years. There is a river that runs through the property and since I tend to gravitate towards water I hungout there for a bit. The mud on the side of the river was really squishy. If you jumped onto it you would sink a good 10 inches or so. After playing in the mud I got in the water briefly (too cold to stay in there long) to cool off.
The next day we traveled over to the sand dunes. Idaho is home to the largest sandbox in the world. Riding on the large dunes was a ton of fun. You can fly down one as fast as you want knowing that there is a dune right it front of it that will slow you down on the way back up. This is the kind of stuff that makes vacations fun.
On Saturday we went to the “cow pasture.” We rode the dirt bikes and quads there and launched a boat and wave runner in a river at the pasture. The boat kept stalling so we didn’t get a chance to use it by the wave runner ran great. We took turns tubing and riding the wave runner. On Saturday a lot of extended family had gotten there so we had a good size group.
I went on an 8 day cruise to Alaska with my family and a good friend of mine in June of 2007. Since I live in the Los Angeles area in California we first had to take a road trip up north. The first night we stayed in Oregon after driving a good 12 hours with plans on enjoying some of the amazing Oregon scenery.
The morning after our drive we went to Multnomah Falls. Multnomah Falls is a beautiful waterfall dropping water over 600 feet in two successive drops off of the Columbia River Gorge. A bridge crosses the river at the 2nd of two drops in the falls giving tourists and excellent view of both drops.
Right down the road from Multnomah Falls there is a trailhead. We went on a hike to another small waterfall while we were in the area. It was refreshing after the long drive the day before.
After fulfilling our desires to become one with nature for a day we continued on to our extended family’s home in Washington. We stayed there for the night and the next morning they drove us to Seattle to get on the Cruise.
This is when our cruise to Alaska from Seattle officially began. When we got on the ship we began exploring. The ship was the Norwegian Pearl from the Norwegian Cruise Line. It was built in 2007 so it was brand new at the time. The ship was huge and had plenty of entertainment, food, and events. After the routine emergency drill we had dinner and walked around looking at the intricate details and styling of the new ship. It was impressive and our home for the next week.
Since my cruise to Alaska from Seattle was a good 3 ½ years ago I don’t remember the order of how things happened exactly but I do remember making a few stops. I believe we stopped in Canada first. We wondered around but didn’t do too much in Canada. There were some shore excursion options but I saved my money for the later stops as those short excursions seemed more exciting.
At our first stop in Alaska we went on a hike. Although there were some amazing glaciers on the other side of the river we were hiking along the temperature outside was mild. It was probably 65 – 70 degrees out. Our hike ended at a violent waterfall. We watched the powerful fall for a good 30 minutes before heading back. The hike was short but nice and the scenery was great.