Monday, September 30, 2013

Curves & Beauty & Naming Schemes

While traveling, I have noticed that beauty and curves often go together. They are not mutually inclusive by any means, but they are often related. A beautiful woman very often has great curves of some sort. A scenic byway normally means a slow and curvy road from which to better observe beautiful landscapes. This is definitely true of California. The famed Ca-1 was so winding at times we had to take a break to give my mind and stomach some respite. In fact, some of the roads there reminded me of Central America, narrow, winding, and cutting dangerously close to objects such as rocks, trees or telephone poles.

In Sequoia National Park, we drove up a winding road to the grove of giant sequoias.
DSC05877 See the twisting road we traveled?

At one point, we even got to drive under/through a fallen sequoia.
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Another item of beauty with ample curves that I have discovered that I love is tree roots. When the tree falls over and exposes the beginning of the system of roots that it has, the roots are displayed in a whimsical, enchanting way.

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To get to the panoramic views atop of Moro Rock, we had to climbing a curvy staircase.
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The sequoias were huge. They aren’t as tall as the Coastal Redwoods, but they get much thicker than them. They have a more brusque, “big and strong” appearance, while the redwoods have a finer, more wispy appearance. And, get this, the sequoias actually have red bark! The scientific name for redwoods is sequoia sempervirens, while the sequoias is sequoiadendron giganteum. This drives me crazy. They should have given the sequoias the common name of “redwood,” and instead called the redwoods “sequoias.” I have no faith in our ancestors’ naming schemes.
DSC05901 That is me at the bottom of this monolith.

There was a fuzzy black bear with its cubs on the walk to see General Sherman. I got to get pretty close, but the trick is to keep someone else between you and the bear.

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In front of the world’s largest tree by mass.

DSC05929 This is an outline of General Sherman’s base. He no longer grows any taller, but each year he grows another thin layer of bark, which is the equivalent mass of another small tree.

Yosemite had more winding trails that lead to beautiful views.
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DSC05993 Bridalveil Falls.

DSC06004 Mirror Lake (currently dried up).
And, last but not least as we left California, we visited the ancient bristlecone pines. These trees are the oldest known living organisms on earth with some aged at 4700 years old! It is amazing the history contained in the tree rings of these trees. They have been able to identify major geological events in the rings, such as an unusually-cold year which corresponded with a volcanic eruption which lowered worldwide temperatures for over a year. They aren’t much to look at, except for their pinecones and their skeletons!

DSC06046 The oldest pines are often shorter, stunted and damaged trees.

DSC06036 The first-year pinecones (yes, they take multiple years to mature) are purple red spikes.

DSC06054Their skeletons of hardwood last for centuries as well. Look at the curving, whimsical beauty of this guy!

So, California has the tallest, largest, and oldest trees that we currently know of. This does not seem fair.

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