The Ultimate Adventure Report

Gallowbraid

Adventurist
**** This thread was started prior to upgrades to the site that made photo hosting here very easy. As such I was using an outside hosting service that I no longer have. Images for quite a bit of the thread will not show up as a result. I'm slowly going back through and correcting this as I reupload the photos here. ***


Ok now that I've sucked you in with that awesome thread title let me smash your expectations and let you down quick and hard. :rolleyes:

A few years ago I upgraded jobs from a crazy 65+ hour a week retail management gig to a project management job with all sorts of time for adventure. Basically my company sends me off to a location for anywhere from 2 to 4 weeks to oversee "stuff" and during that time I usually have the opportunity to see the sights and explore different areas. It's a pretty sweet gig (ie, best job I've ever had). In between these periods of "work" I usually have anywhere from 1 to 2 weeks off at a time to spend with my Jeep...I mean family.

Until right now it never really occurred to me to document these trips as "Adventure Reports". I'm hoping by doing so (and maybe having a few folks subscribe to the thread) I might be able to gain a little insight about areas I'm about to visit along with showing places I've been. Rather than attempt to remember all the places I've been in the last few years I figure I'll just post some random photos to begin with and then get started with my next work assignment. So next week I'll be in sunny Santa Monica for 4 weeks. This project has me baby sitting a construction crew overnight which leaves my day time hours open for, well, some sleeping and exploring. Seeing downtown LA really isn't high on my bucket list (although I plan to see the Hollywood sign and some standard tourist traps). Anyone near this area that can recommend some other things to see? I'm going to shoot for seeing Death Valley and Sequoia National Forest and driving up the coast a bit.

And don't worry, these trips get more interesting. The project after Santa Monica has me going to Kalispell MT and Glacier National Park! :)

So in the meantime...The first 40ish random photos of the past couple years I could find! Because really we all just come here for the photos right? I'm even going to try to remember where they are!

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I honestly don't remember where exactly this is. See, I've let you down already. From a hike somewhere in the North Georgia mountains...that's all I've got.
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Took a motorcycle trip to Florida, camped at a state park in South Georgia that surrounded this lake. I'll have to go back and find the name of the park.

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This is the road that runs through Tate City GA into North Carolina. It dead ends at a trail head. Coming from GA is the only way to reach this end of the trail in NC.

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Lake in South GA again.
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I know I was on the motorcycle trying to avoid rain but I don't recall where...
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Random old building found in the woods while out exploring on the bike.
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Rain forest during a hike in Puerto Rico.
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Somewhere in Florida.
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Waterfall near home.
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Brooklyn Bridge.
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Trail near home.
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At Boyhood Rock where John Burroughs lived.
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John Burroughs home outside Roxbury, NY.
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Some random FS road in North GA.
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A Puerto Rico beach.
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Another Puerto Rico beach.

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Ruins of an old fort in Puerto Rico.

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Way up high in the rain forest of Puerto Rico.

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Random cave in Puerto Rico.

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Puerto Rico beach with a cool inlet from the ocean.
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Puerto Rico rain forest.
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Beach shot from an island off the coast of Puerto Rico. If I could only choose one place to be the rest of my life...it might very well be that beach.

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On a boat off the coast of Puerto Rico, this photo stars my finger apparently.

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Bacardi Factory in San Juan.

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More Puerto Rico.

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A cathedral in San Juan.
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February in Detroit...not all my trips are fun...but it was an adventure.
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North Georgia...campsite near Raven Cliff Falls I believe.
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Another random camp shot.
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Motorcycles love water.

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Press box of a popular baseball stadium. Can you name it?
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Camping in style. Soooooo many trout were caught during this trip.
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Hmmmm....San Antonio I think...
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2 minutes from my house...not much of an adventure...but it's home!
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Haven't gone into space yet...
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New York City.
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It's a duck...in the Hamptons somewhere.
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What happens when you drive to the end of Long Island? This.
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A park in Manhattan. The plaque said they were "Eyes". I thought they were....something else.
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Random bridge in Texas somewhere...I was exploring!
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Best rental vehicle ever! I bought one the day I flew home.
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Chattahoochee River.
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Dinner. Fish taken off the boat, into the kitchen of this restaurant and out to the table. Beer in a mason jar. This was amazing!
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More space! Johnson Space Center in Houston.
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Holy cow this is a great start! Thanks for sharing!!! :bowdown
 
I assume you have to pay your boss for this job? Great pictures! Thanks for sharing. In California, not far from Santa Monica is Lake Arrowhead/Big Bear area in the San Bernardo Mountains is worth a look. IMO
I guess I don't have to say "Have Fun" LOL.:D
 
A rainy day in Georgia

With school starting tomorrow for my youngest we decided today we needed to get away from the constant remodeling of the house and play in the woods. After checking the weather and seeing sporadic thunderstorms in the forecast we threw caution to the wind and loaded up in the jeep.

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A little bit of rain keeps the dust down on the forestry service roads around Helen.

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It was in the upper 80's when we left the house but down in the river bottoms it was in the low 70's with a nice mist.
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We decided to hike down to Duke's Creek Falls but got caught in a torrential downpour shortly after this photo. This ruined the spirit of my 11 year old hiking companion so we called it a day. I personally enjoy hiking in the rain but my daughter certainly does not. :lol

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Now begins my three day count down until flying out to Santa Monica. Woodienut I'm definitely going to checkout the Lake Arrowhead/Big Bear area. Thanks for the suggestion!

I also need to start planning for my visit to Kalispell MT and Glacier National Park. Anyone been in that area during mid-September through mid-October? Looks like I'm arriving September 20th which is the last day the entirety of Going to the Sun Road is open this year. What else should I check out in the area? Haven't confirmed it with my boss but I'm looking to take my Jeep out there rather than renting a vehicle and would love to do some off-road exploring if anyone has some suggestions.
 
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So I've begun my 21 day stay in Santa Monica. The flight out wasn't too bad although it was a little cramped. Almost got booted to a later flight due to Delta overselling the flight I had booked. It amazes me how in this day and age the airlines still have no idea how many seats are on their own planes. :rolleyes: Once I landed at LAX the most important part of my stay began: rental car selection. When you stay somewhere for nearly a month at a time it's key to choose just the right rental car. Usually when I'm doing a city store like this I opt for muscle cars and would like to highly recommend the 2015 Camaro to anyone who's in the market. In this case though I knew I wanted to do some exploring and in the past I've rented sports cars only to discover some awesome unimproved road I couldn't traverse. I opted to go all out this time:

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No 4 wheel drive but it'll get me where I want to go.

After some obligatory work stuff yesterday morning I wrapped up the work day at about 10:30 am. That's a solid 2 hours of work so I was ready for some downtime. :lol I decided that Sequoia National Forest was a doable driving distance (3 hrs) and hit the road. I have to say you Californians know how to build some interstates. Even the views getting to SNF were incredible. On the east coast (at least in the south) when you drive down the interstate you're treated to views of a grass median and pine trees on the side of the road. Not out here!

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Oh wait...that's LA traffic...

No seriously, here we are:

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I got to see some of America's finest in their off road capable vehicles.

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The area around Lake Kaweah just before Three Rivers was stunning.

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Then I started to wind my way up into the park. The elevation changes are dramatic and make for some beautiful scenery.

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The higher you go the better it gets.

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As you enter the park and on up until about 5000 ft above sea level the vegetation slowly changes from sparse and rocky to a thicker forest. At some point I rounded a bend at around 6000 ft and the giant sequoia trees came into view. If you've only ever seen photographs you owe it to yourself to see these giants in person. You can not grasp the shear magnitude of their size until you've stood next to one and watched it block out the sun. They are amazing.

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I slowly wound my way further and further into the park taking time to stop and explore small groves of trees and other points of interest on the side of the road. I did find it interesting to note that at each stop I made where other people were present there were very few Americans. Most of the travelers I met were European with many of them being from Italy, France or Germany. I suppose for most of the US summer is over and vacation season is done with the kids now back in school.

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As I was soaking in the sights, sounds and smells of the little glen pictured above I discovered a small trail leading between some of the giant trees. 30 feet or so from the road was a sign that indicated the trail split left and right. To the right the trail went further into the park and led to other spurs of the trail system. To the left it went to the Lincoln Tree (4th largest tree in the world) only 1.1 miles away.

I should stop here and say that I consider myself a fairly experienced hiker and have some hard rules when it comes to this activity including:

1. Never hike alone.
2. Be prepared and equipped for the area you're going to.
3. Always let someone know where you're starting, the path you're taking if possible and where/when you'll be finishing.
4. When hiking established trails don't leave the trail.

I managed to let that 1.1 mile distance persuade me to break all of these rules, and it could have been very bad. We'll get to that later.

The path climbs a small ridge winding it's way through giant trees and logs, over rock ledges and through the forest heading north away from the road. I have to say if this is what hiking is like on the west coast I'm sold! I've hiked plenty in the southeast including parts of the Appalachian Trail and it's a lot of looking at your feet to make sure you don't trip, lots of pine trees and the occasional murderous uphill climb that leads to a fantastic overlook. On this trail there was something fantastic to look at around every tree, bush and rock. I saw more chipmunks on this one trail than I've seen collectively my entire life. There were numerous squirrels, lizards and the birds were singing. With temps in the mid 70's and the sun shining this was as close to the perfect hike as I've ever come.

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It's interesting the shots you can get with just a cell phone. I had both my work Iphone 5s and my personal THL 5000 and got some pretty good shots I think considering.

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The trail was well worn and very easy to follow even without blazes. There were footprints everywhere of those who had come before me.

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Eventually you reach the top of this small ridge and enter a field of rocks. The trails disappears here with only a few cairns to mark the general path. I stopped to admire the plant life and the views and eventually came to another split in the path that wasn't marked. There was just a small sign that said Indian Mortar Rock. It was getting late and I figured I'd head back to the car and take the short drive up to the Sherman tree rather than wandering around looking for the Lincoln tree out here in the wilderness. I headed back down through the rock field.

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As i reached the scrub brush pictured there I heard quite the commotion inside it. I stopped and was treated to a show put on by some mountain quail. They stayed back in the scrub brush enough that I couldn't get a good shot with my cell phone camera but they look like this:

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They were quite animated and noisy as they poked their way through the brush pecking at insects. I stood and watched them for probably 10 minutes delighting in the show nature was putting on. After they had retreated far enough into the brush I couldn't see them any more I turned for the bottom of the rock field where the path rejoined the forest. As I stepped up onto a rock ledge I noticed movement to my left and immediately recognized the outline and trundling movements of a bear in the brush. I could tell the bear hadn't seen me and being near sighted I felt safe that I was far enough away that with no movement it would simply pass me by if it kept heading the way it was walking. There was a fairly good breeze blowing and I was downwind of the bear so I didn't have to worry about being detected that way. Traditional schools of thought tell you to make a lot of noise to prevent bear encounters from happening or to frighten off a bear but in this case I decided to simply stay back and observe unless something changed.

The bear came down the hill from my left and crossed over the trail leading back to where I had parked the car. I grabbed my cell phone and got some video of it as it passed by. I figured I'd stay put, but keep an eye on the bear and once it passed back up the next hill I'd proceed down the path which cut to the left after entering the woods carrying me away from the bear. As I was getting the video below the bear crossed over the path and I caught more movement to the left. It was a bear cub...this was a mother bear with her cub. :wow Out of all the animal encounters I've had in the wilderness this is one I'll forever remember. You can see in the short video below there's a brief scramble to drop back below the small rock ledge I was standing on to further conceal myself at this point. :lol

I watched for close to 10 minutes as they dug around the hillside off to my right with the cub imitating mom as she turned over logs and dug around stumps for food. I tried to get some more video but the digital zoom on my phone just wouldn't cut it so I was content to simply watch. Mom continued up the hill to the right and after an animated attempt at climbing a steep log the cub followed along behind. I rejoined the trail and hiked back to the 4Runner feeling blessed to have witnessed these two in the wilderness.

[video]
 

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After a tough day of work, you really treated yourself well. Thanks for sharing. Now I need to get back to work.
 
Welcome to California, Please try not to become Bear food while you are here. Great report by the way.

Thanks! If I'm getting eaten while here I'll make sure I go all out and find a mountain lion of some sort. I've never seen one in the wild. Loving your state so far...except for this traffic. How do you guys do it? I've spent time in New York, Washington DC, Detroit, Atlanta....they've got nothing on the traffic you've got going on here.
 
Met with a contractor this morning and discussed out of date floorplans, shuffled some things around with a fork lift and called it a day. Don't worry, my work days get a whole lot longer starting tomorrow night. :rolleyes:

So with my free time today I opted to take the Pacific Coast Highway up the...well...coast and see the sights. There's some pretty water over on this coast that's for sure.

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Left that nasty drain pipe in the picture just for some balance.

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Plenty of traffic and some interesting sites on the PCH.

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Before long I was a bit tired of the traffic and turned off into the hills to work my way back around to the Santa Monica mountains. After winding up through a canyon road I came up to the entrance to Rancho Sierra Vista portion of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.

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There were quite a few people hiking and biking through the area and after talking to some of the locals decided it was ok to once again break my "don't hike alone" rule. After all there's no bears in this area...just snakes and big cats. So off I went. I won't comment much on these pictures other than to say it's a great area to hike. A number of routes to choose from with differing degrees of difficulty and some gorgeous views. I'd love to come back here and explore off down the fire road and farther into the wilderness area. I opted to climb up high in the Booney Mountain State Wilderness on the Danielson Road.

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The whole area had been hit by a fire in 2013. It always amazes me to see plants fight back from a fire.

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As usual the higher you get the better the views get.

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Found some shade along the way.

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How do you figure this plant got stuck here?

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Towards the top of the trail you get a great panoramic view of the valley below and to the right and off to the left you can see the ocean. Highlight of the hike.

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Had a great time exploring the small portion of this area I got to see. Would love to come back out and do some camping and exploring in the Booney Mountains Wilderness.
 

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Had some more time to kill today after working a couple of overnights so I picked up a co-worker of mine that's in the area and we hit the road. We headed north out of LA and went up Hwy 2 through the Angeles National Forest just taking in the sites. We then cut east and headed for Arrowhead Lake, Big Bear Lake and the San Bernardino National Forest. We headed out of Big Bear on 38 and then got off road on Wildhorse Meadows Rd which was gorgeous. Wish I'd had some camping gear with me as it was a beautiful day and evening and I would have loved to have spent more time out there.

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So after working overnight for about 13 hours I decided the most logical thing to do was take a quick flight to Mars.

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Or maybe it was a 3 hour drive to Death Valley. It was definitely one of the two.

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On the way out I saw some alternative energy.

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To which my immediate thought was:

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I have to say that despite the gas prices, traffic and smog around LA the driving in California is epic.

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I did a little off road exploring on the trip out.

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The navigation in the 4Runner is definitely earning points with me! Every side road, fire road and trail I came across was listed and easy to follow. The ability to record driven tracks just like a real GPS would is fantastic. Almost as good as my Magellan 60csx. The sound system is also quite capable and I rocked out to some Avett Brothers on the drive out.

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Rental poser shot warning.
 
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Followed that canyon road up to an old silver mining town.

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The sunset started throwing dramatic colors around.

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One of my other goals was to get out into the desert and see the night sky. Cell phone camera pictures are certainly not capable of displaying what I saw last night. The Waxing Gibbous moon last night blocked out the view of some stars I'm sure but it was still quite a sight.
 
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I have to say that despite the gas prices, traffic and smog around LA the driving in California is epic.

You seem to have caught on to California pretty quickly. There are a lot of down sides, but the opportunities to explore are almost limitless, and the only thing that keeps me close to sane. Loving the trip report and the photos, please keep sharing them
 
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