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Today was also focused on energy because of what the California landscape had to offer us. Driving along back-country roads through California’s central valleys, we passed through a town called Lost Hills, which seemed to be nothing other than one large oil field. Oil rigs littered the landscape as far as the eye could see, north and south across the pancake-flat valley floor. It was a harsh and uninviting landscape, but what seemed most odd about was its proximity to rich agricultural lands. The oil fields were surrounded by almond groves and dairy farms, which gave way in each direction to other crops such as cotton, leafy greens and vineyards full of wine grapes. In some areas, mounds of freshly harvested almonds seemed literally piled up alongside oil wells – something to think about next time you bite into a plate of almond-crusted halibut.As dramatic as the oil fields were, so was California’s next big display of energy. Just east of Bakersfield, on the mountain pass into the Mojave Desert, lies hills littered in wind turbines. Thousands of them dot the landscape, twirling away in the breeze while providing a hopefully cleaner alternative to the State’s energy needs. We were joined on Twitter at the time by Tom Gray, who informed us that the two distinct types of wind turbine we were seeing represented varying stages of technology. The smaller, meshed looking turbines have been in place since the 80′s, while the larger, more cost effective jumbo-size turbines are the industry standard today. Somewhat ironically, the contrast between these two forms of energy was reflected in the environmental health of the State’s ecosystems we passed through. Whereas the clear and sunny day on the Monterey Bay revealed forest-covered hills, rich marine life and unpolluted skies, the air above and around Bakersfield was the exact opposite. A thick smog hung over that city like an evil gloom, and the entire ride through smelled of fumes and toxins. And then in the end we escaped that foul air, into the crisp, dry and mystically beautiful wilderness expanses of the Mojave, where we sleep tonight. Resting peacefully, looking forward to more of Big America tomorrow.October 16thToday was a day of crossing deserts and state lines. Parched, dry landscapes and obscure Americana dominated our voyage east on this leg of our cross-country journey. Escaping California offered little relief in terms of change of barren landscapes, although the appearance of giant solar farms was a welcome first. From the Mojave to the Hoover Dam, and finally the Grand Canyon, some of the south-westernmost stretches of the United States are as filled with historic iconography as they are beautiful expanses of desert wilderness.
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Golden Gate Park
While I enjoyed the drive over the Golden Gate Bridge, I was told not to miss out on the Park either. So off I went to unravel what seemed to me a plethora of interests merging at one place- the Golden Gate Park. While on one side I sipped on some exotic tea at the Japanese Tea Garden, on the other side the nature lover in me came alive seeing the exotic species at the Conservatory of Flower. As I walked further into the greens, I encountered an opportunity to walk along paths of history at two of the most famous museums- the California Academy of Sciences, which was a wonder in itself and then came the De Young Museum. And then I thought to myself, little did I know before I had left home for that one drive across the bridge, that I'll get to explore something much more than what I had expected.
Far away from the chaotic streets of San Francisco lies an island usually called as "The Rock" and houses a prison which anyone will never dare to escape from. This beautiful island of Alcatraz also having a magnificent light house offshore of California is a famous and wonderful attraction of San Francisco. The famous prison and the lighthouse are historical landmarks and engineering marvels in the history of San Francisco and is now maintained by the National Park Service.
Soon enough; there it was, the Marina; with couples and men and women of all ages walking their dogs, some jogging, some on cycles, some hand in hand and many stalls put up at the Marina Greens. I sure was a bit overwhelmed with so much activity at this hour only to realise in a moment that that day it was the 'Escape from Alcatraz- Triathlon' and there was a sea of fitness enthusiasts and families cheering all over... It was perfect for me to steal some energy from.. So I cheered ... No one in particular and everyone in general and just that got my blood pumping.
It would be almost time for sunset when we reach here. If it is so, it means we are on schedule. Like me, you may have a good fortune of catching a local fisherman at work trying to nab some dinner for the evening. Don't miss the chance of snapping the Golden Gate Bridge from Baker's Beach. It was truly a quintessential moment for me. The beach is a place to socialize with the plenty of fellow tourists or locals, giving you enough space to enjoy at the same time.
Aquarium of the Pacific
A visit to the Aquarium is a perfect rainy-day activity as most of it happens indoors. It is more like a big zoo actually and gathers both underwater species and earth animals such as parrots, birds, penguins, sharks, fishes, and weird things or plants. You’ll need minimum ½ day if you want to go through the shows, aquariums and outdoor entertainments. Of course, you won’t be the only one attending the place so I recommend you to get there early if you don’t want to be queuing forever. Also , I warn you, the entrance is not cheap. What we really liked was the fact that the aquarium building is located next to the sea and the Long Beach harbor. You can walk along the sea and get some fresh air while looking at the Queen Mary parked next to the Light Tower (phare). There are also available boat tours for the ones in need of historical facts J. Regarding lunch options, there are a lot of restaurants on the sea walk as well as many different snacks available inside the Aquarium building.
After her appointment, she drove me to Palm Springs and out to a place called Indian Canyons. She and I had spoken about this place many times, always promising we’d go together. Obviously, today was the day. When she asked me to accompany her that day, she only mentioned seeing the dentist and never said anything about this wonderful place. Otherwise, I would have dressed accordingly. I had the wrong clothes on and flip-flops. Not exactly perfect for hiking through a canyon, but I made the best of it. We paid our entrance fee and went in.