Friday, April 22, 2016

Prance Past The Poppies

These socks have been a long time coming. Back in 2014 I was knitting away at these socks. Life got in the way as it likes to do. But with the help of my friends, the socks have been tested and tweaked. I am pleased to finally show off the Prance Past The Poppies socks.

Knit from the top down, Prance Past The Poppies are inspired by the California Poppy display that can be seen in Antelope Valley, California around March and April. These poppy socks are meant to be a cousin to the Fern Canyon socks, another California inspired pair of socks.

So forget about tip toeing through the tulips. It is much more glorious to Prance Past The Poppies.

The Prance Past The Poppies socks are now available on ravelry,, and craftsy.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Sequoia/ Alabama Hills/ Death Valley/ L.A. pt.3

I had created an itinerary for Death Valley that involved driving to the furthest point we wanted to see, Badwater, and coming back out with a final stop by the sand dunes. On our way in, we stopped for a picture of the Death Valley sign. As I lined up the shot I commented that the boys were standing in front of the words in a way that made it look like we were going to "Death Nation." They thought it was funny and decided that their future death metal polka band would be named just that.

It should also be noted that just to the right of the mountains of the sign is an iPad. That would be the iPad that Joe forgot that we had to drive back and get after getting to Father Crowley point. It should also be noted that Joe loves the video game Mass Effect and fancies himself the main character, Shepard. When he forgot the iPad, Connor said, "The chief science officer left his data pad. Our mission is to retrieve it."
I referred to Joe as the chief science officer for the rest of the day, but only because it mildly annoyed him.

After stops in Stovepipe Wells and Furnace Creek, we finally made it out to Badwater, the lowest point in the continental USA. Connor and I stayed by the car to eat our sandwiches while Joe, who was itching to go, walked out on the salt flats. After our sandwiches were gone, we started walking out to find him. We passed large groups of people, then smaller groups of people, then just four other people without passing Joe. There was, however a speck in the distance, which I said couldn't possible be him because that person was clearly a nutter. Connor told me Joe was not a nutter, but that speck was definitely him. Connor was right. We were so far out, no one else passed us. I didn't want to go farther, so we stood out on the salt flats for a while enjoying the scenery until Joe came back to us. 

After Badwater, we rapidly saw several sights, including the Devil's Golf Course. I warned Joe that the salt formations were sharp. He verified it for himself.
Joe is a brave man. I would not have squatted so close to such sharp formations.

We stopped by the Artists' Palette, a drive I had missed in the past because the road had been washed out by a flood. The rocks there are almost every color. I liked the green and purple rocks the best. It was at this point that Joe and I started to pretend that we couldn't see Connor. He had worn clothing that almost perfectly matched his surroundings, except for his black socks. Joe and I giggled about the black socks that were walking around Death Valley.

We then headed up to Zabriskie Point. It was another stop I'd failed to make in the previous two visits to Death Valley. I was pleased to see it for myself this time.
It's Joe next to a pair of black socks

Our last stop was at the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes. I told the boys it would be much more pleasant later in the afternoon, and I was right. I also told them before we walked out there that the dunes suffer from the same problem that Las Vegas does: everything is so big that it looks closer than it actually is. 
You can see a silhouette of a tiny ant climbing up the dunes. That is Joe.

Despite the warning, Joe decided to go to the largest dune. My ego couldn't handle it, so Connor and I went after him. It was worth it, but we were all extremely tired by the time we got back to the car.
We walked to the third big dune from the left

Before we left, I got a picture of Yeti. Yeti had been with us the whole way because it isn't often that a yeti gets the opportunity to visit Death Valley.

It was such a busy day in Death Valley that I didn't paint at all. I didn't end up painting any more during the rest of the trip either. The day after Death Valley, we drive to L.A. to see my brother give his Masters Guitar Performance. And the day after that we drove home. It was a fantastic trip, but all of us were excited to have an early bed time almost every night.
Connor and I also collected a few more doodads to add to our magnet/ patch collection. Some of the patches were picked up because I'd previously been to a place but hadn't found a patch.

It's been few days since we ended our trip and Joe headed back home. And while it has been nice to have a rest after such a jam-packed journey, I'm looking forward to painting more scenes from our trip. It was so easy to be inspired in such amazing landscapes.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Sequoia/ Alabama Hills/ Death Valley/ L.A. pt.2

At the end of the last post we were about to drive into the Alabama Hills. I'd been there before with Mum and previously had been able to see Mt. Whitney through the Mobius Arch. This time it was too cloudy. It remained cloudy all three days we could have seen Mt. Whitney, so poor Joe and Connor never got a chance to see it.

We followed the trail and had fun spotting different shapes in the rocks.

We were also lucky to see the desert in bloom. The rain doesn't come often, but this year there has been a fair amount of rainfall. My favorite flowers were the orange ones.

It threatened to shower on us, but there was enough light to paint, so the boys left me in the parked car before going off to scramble over some rocks. It was a good move on my part. My paint is water soluble and would have been ruined when the clouds finally did let loose. Unfortunately I didn't remain dry. I managed to spill my paint water all over my lap half way through.

With my spirits dampened and the light fading, we drove back to town and got dinner. I spent another hour in the hotel finishing up my painting before going to bed. 

The next day would bring us into Death Valley and we had an aggressive itinerary planned.

To be continued...

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Sequoia/ Alabama Hills/ Death Valley/ L.A. pt.1

I have been rather unwell for the last five weeks. Two weeks ago I was certain that I'd be fine by the time Joe came to visit us. (Joe was the best man at our wedding and can be seen on the far left of the last photo on the wedding post.) Then another week passed... and another, and I started getting worried that I might not be able to go on the big trip we'd been planning for months. I kid you not, the night before he arrived, I started feeling better. Good thing too. I would have been sad to miss out on the Sequoia/ Alabama Hills/ Death Valley/ L.A. trip.

Our first stop was Sequoia. We were only going in for a few hours. I was horrified to find that we had to spend $30 on a week long pass. While I like to support the national parks, I wish there was a less expensive day pass option. It put me in a bad mood. Connor's response was, "There had better be some really big trees." And there were. We got to see the largest tree by volume, the General Sherman tree.
The theme of the day would be "Fees and Trees"

I had anticipated not having the energy to hike and brought my paints with me. So while Joe went off to hike for a bit, I turned around and set myself up to do a little painting.

Turns out I'm an angry painter. I spend lots of time muttering to myself that I don't know what I'm doing. It is only at the end when I put in the final details that it starts looking right. Midway through the painting, Joe came back and he and Connor hiked a bit while I muttered to myself some more. In the end I think it came out right. I did adjust a shadow or two when we got back to the hotel.

That night Joe, who was still suffering jet lag from being on Eastern Time, went to bed. Connor and I drove from Exeter (which smelled like orange blossoms all around, except at our hotel where it smelled more like manure) to Visalia to eat. We happened upon a nostalgia station (103.3 fm) and were thrilled to find that the Habit Burger we went to was 50s themed.
I love the neon!

The next day we started our next long drive to Lone Pine. We were treated to a rather under photographed bit of California. There are a lot of oil wells in southern California.

As we rounded the bottom of the Sierras, there was some concern over whether we would even get to see the Alabama Hills. I knew that the road going in was dirt, and it looked rainy. In fact, we had a ton of rain pour on us on our way up.
You can see a sign for Gus' jerky. It once said "Best Jerky in the World." Now it says, "Really Good Jerky."

We made a backup plan to go to the Film Museum in Lone Pine first. It was a good plan and we got to see all sorts of movie props from movies made in the area. The boys especially appreciated it as we decided that the roads looked dry enough to get out to the Alabama Hills that day.

To be continued...
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