Joshua Gizelt (swashbuckler332) wrote,
Joshua Gizelt
swashbuckler332

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It's finally here...

While I have been embarking on my adventures on the West Coast, a close friend of mine may be embarking on his greatest adventure back home on the East Coast... more to come on that front...

So finally, at long last...

The Adventures of the
S W A S H B U C K L E R
On the West Coast

Part IV


Through the
SAN GABRIEL MOUNTAINS
and Beyond...


The San Gabriels are a mountain chain that encircles the greater Los Angeles area. Their growth rate is, reportedly, phenomenal, only balanced by the fact that they consist of crumbly rock.



The Los Angeles Crest Highway runs along this, offering many breathtaking vistas. Mark and aerolyndt invited amorpoeta and Mack over for a barbecue, but Mack, seizing the chance to show a New Yawkah these beautiful peaks, put forth the idea of travelling on this road, so, packing Raz's digital camera, we embarked in their Volvo station wagon.

Earlier that day, I had bent in a strange direction and for some reason had a shooting pain throughout my back, limiting my movement. I was able to sit in moderate comfort, however, so the idea of this journey was most appealing.

Within minutes of actually embarking on the mountainous part of this journey, we saw a gargantuan Sherriff's helicopter that seemed to be following us, one of the Sikorsky H-3 search and rescue choppers that have been costing the state of California a mint. Eventually, they lost interest in us and flew away, but for the space of about twenty minutes, we had the most expensive escort I've ever seen...



However, we then continued on, following the highway and passing such views as are impossible to see in my home state, despite its so-called "mountain chain."





I wish to mention, however, that these pictures, even in their original dimensions, do not do the actual location much justice. After a stop at Newcomb's Ranch for some barbecue, we continued along.

I was surprised at how much greener areas of California were than I was expecting. There is a larger selection of flora and fauna than one would expect, with more variety given by the changing altitudes.


A treeline at 7900 feet.


Snow can become a problem in these mountain roads, and as a result, they mount orange poles on the side of the road in order to serve as a guide for the plows. These poles are quite high, as while the sea-level area is way too warm all year round for much in the way of snow, quite a lot of it can show up up there.


A hummingbird upon a plow guide


There are also areas that are swarming with Big Horn Sheep. These majestic creatures would be quite astounding to look at were they visible, which they are not. Despite the fact that there were thousands of them amassing around us, nibbling on our toes and fondling us in an impure manner, none of us could actually see them. Like vampires, they do not show up in mirrors or on film or video either. Note the complete lack of Big Horn Sheep in any these pictures.






Artist's conception of Big Horn Sheep


From the highest points on this journey (close to 8000 feet from sea level), one can see the open desert. Those patches of green are farms.





Eventually we came to the town of Wrightwood, which seemed to be populated mostly by cultists... more of the TOTAL CALIFORNIA EXPERIENCETM, apparently. This area is a decent tourist center in the winter because it offers skiing, but in the summer there isn't really much going on except, well...



From here a turn occured, and we passed through an area teaming with Joshua trees. Feeling that it would be remiss of me to pass by so many of my arboreal namesakes without at least attempting to take a picture, I squeezed off these:







Yeah, I know, you can barely make them out, but you can always check the cover of the U2 album for a better look.

In time, all days must come to an end, and soon enough we were driving in the evening. We came out of the mountain chain and back onto the highway, passing by mile-long trains travelling at extremely slow speeds.



After the quiet serenity and awe-inspiring majesty of the mountains, we then embarked upon a side journey to the noisy and crowded Casino Morongo, a Native American establishment, where I failed to win the Mercedes Benz (the blackjack tables were impossible to get to, so I didn't get a chance to play). Aerolyndt, on the other hand, found a slot machine that for some reason granted her a large chunk of money for reasons beyond our comprehension (none of us figured out how the game was played).



However, I was finally able to have a geniune A&W root beer float. We don't have A&W's in New York, and I had heard from suitboyskin's father that they were really something to check out, and he was right.

And so, my head filled with glorious images and my ears ringing from the cacaphony of slot machines, we headed back to the urban sprawl, whereupon everybody who could collapsed into a deep, dark sleep.

This did not include me, however, as I was in too much pain to get comfortable. I took some painkillers and managed to get myself to sleep at about 6:45 AM... and when I woke up, I was much, much improved.

And thus concluded my most picturesque (if painful) day on the West Coast yet...




Thanks to all those involved in the journey itself,
and a special thank you to Raz for letting me borrow his camera.
Tags: travels
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