Earthquake

Earthquake

January 12, 2010 4:53 PM, 15 miles WSW of Port-Au-Prince, Haiti, the ground began to shake with a 7.0 magnitude earthquake. 8 miles below the earth surface the Enriquillo-Plantain Garden fault was slipping with the Caribbean plate moving eastward against the North American plate.

Unconfirmed historical earthquakes associated with this fault occurred in 1860, 1770, 1761, 1751, 1684, 1673 and 1618. A 5.9 magnitude after shock occurred at 5:00 PM followed by another 5.5 magnitude at 5:12 PM and then a 5.7 magnitude 2 minutes after midnight. Eight days later on January 20th at 6:03 AM a 6.1 magnitude struck again 35 miles WSW of Port-Au-Prince.

The problem with earthquakes is the time span between them. Generations may go by before a major one hits again. People become lax, building codes relaxed and disaster strikes.

The Richter scale, which records the magnitude of a quake doubles for every 0.2 increase. For example a 7.0 quake would be 32 times stronger than a 6.0 quake. The earth’s crust is a mere 6.5 miles thick in mid ocean and an average of only 25 miles thick under the land masses. Think of the earth’s crust compared to the skin of an apple, then imagine the apple drying out and wrinkling. Well that is not quite how it happens but it looks that way.

The crust is made up of large plates that are constantly on the move. The problem is that they are moving in different directions. When the plates grind against each other we have a fault and earthquakes. In other places one plate may be forced under another plate called subduction zones.

The subduction zone where the Chile Ridge oceanic plate is slipping under the South American plate created the largest recorded earthquake. On May 22, 1960 a 9.5 magnitude quake occurred off the coast of Chile. The sudden change in the ocean floor created huge tsunami in the Pacific.

Subduction zones are found in the deep valleys of the oceans and result in most of the deaths due to the resulting tsunamis.

What drives these plates? It would have to be the strongest force on earth, the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. The Mid-Atlantic Ridge is a mountain range that extends half way around the world. Running north and south through the Atlantic ocean. The ridge is growing through volcanos along the center of its length, pushing the North American plate west and the Eurasian plate east.

The question is whither the ridge is the result of the two plates moving apart or is it causing the plates to move.

The Core of the earth is like a boiling pot, with heat rising toward the surface and cooler areas falling toward the center. Convection and the release of heat from the Earth’s core drives further convection in the mantle. The portion of the mantle that is closest to the crust is plastic and flows easily. Convection in the mantle drives plate tectonic motions of the sea floor and continents. This convection is not even, just as currents in the ocean are not all the going in the same direction. These rivers of lava push against the bottom of mountains and move continents or continental plates. An excellent paper on the Earth’s Interior & Plate Tectonics can be found at http://www.solarviews.com/eng/earthint.htm.

The Pacific Ring of Fire is the most active earthquake and volcano area in the world. The Pacific rise is expanding and the continents of the Americas and Asia are pushing toward each other to create the Ring of Fire around the Pacific with subduction zones on both sides of the ocean.

Mountain uplift and folding

With all the pressure being applied to the edges of some of the continents, mountains are being pushed up and some that have eroded down are floating back up to stabilize on the ocean of mantle below. This results in the many smaller earthquakes in the eastern US and other parts of the world. This mountain uplifting has created faults along mountain sides and of course this results in caves being formed in the crevasse formed by this activity. As caving is my hobby, I have a special interest in all this activity. Cavers have reported not even noticing an earthquake during a cave trip, even when the quake was near by. All the rock moves together and being inside you have no reference to gauge the movement. Of course these are usually a magnitude of 3 or less. We do see plenty of fault evidence in the caves and they sometimes give clues to more cave passage to explore. There have also been freak accidents where large boulders have fallen on cavers that may have been caused by small quakes.

The Lake County uplift, about 31 miles long and 14 miles wide, up warps the Mississippi river valley as much a 32 feet in parts of southwest Kentucky, southeast Missouri, and Northwest Tennessee. The Tiptonville dome is the largest and highest topographic relief on the Lake County uplift. It is 8.7 miles wide and 6.8 miles long. Uplifting of this dome occurred during the earthquakes of 1811-1812. The ground subsided to the east of the Tiptonville dome during the same time and formed Reelfoot Lake. Some areas subsided as much as 16 feet. This area is also know as the New Madrid Seismic Zone, New Madrid Fault Line or Reelfoot Rift.

The most well documented and accurate prediction of an earthquake was the earthquake of December 16, 1811. The first quake was an estimated magnitude 8.1 followed by four other quakes of magnitude 8.0 or higher through February 7, 1812. The area of strong shaking associated with these shocks is two to three times larger than that of the 1964 Alaska Quake and 10 times larger than that of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.

Tecumseh was born March 9, 1768 under a shooting star called the Panther, his name means Panther-Across-The-Sky. Leading up to the War of 1812 Tecumseh was well know as a diplomat, a peacemaker and a prophet. He prophesied to the day the first of the long series of quakes months before. It was the signal for all the Indian tribes to go to war with the whites. An accurate account of the events can be found in the book The Frontiersmen a narrative by Allan W. Eckert.

In December, 1809, Tecumseh planned to visit each chief of all the tribes he was trying to bring together. But before he set out he gave strict instructions to his younger brother to go into the woods and make a large number of sacred slabs. Each slab was to be the same length, thickness and taper, and each was to have carved, on one side only, the same symbols. They were to be made of red cedar and each was to be supplied with a bundle of thin red sticks. Each stick was to represent one moon, and, when the bundle and slab was given to a particular chief, he would be directed to throw away one of the red sticks at each full moon until only the slab remained, at which time he must prepare for the great sign to be given. The meaning of the symbols, known only to the Indians on both sides of the Mississippi River were to come directly to Detroit to take over the fort. As he traveled through the southern tribes and handed out the slabs and bundles of sticks, the bundles were becoming smaller, so that the timing would be that all would run out of sticks at the same time.

Big Warrior, chief of the Upper Creeks, in the village of Tuckabatchee located on the Tallapoosa River, was hard to convince. Tecumseh told him that as a sign, that he would leave Tuckabatchee and go directly to Detroit. When I arrive there, I will stamp on the ground with my foot, and shake down every house in Tuckagatchee! Big Warrior agreed to follow if and when this took place.

When all of the tribes were down to the last red stick, they were told that they would be given a preliminary sign in six days. A great star would flash across the sky. They were then to divide the last stick into thirty equal pieces. Each day thereafter, one of thede pieces was to be burned in the light of dawn, but the thirtieth and last piece was to be burned in the midst of the night. Then the would come the great sign which he had told them about. They would then all converge on the British fort Malden on Lake Erie.

Saturday, November 16, 1811

Under a crisp cloudless sky, the Indians crouched. No fires were lit as to not interfere with the sign. There was also no moon and the stars were bright. From southern Canada, western New York and Pennsylvania, they watched. In Ohio and the Indiana Territory to the land between the lakes and the land west of the lakes they watched. Along the Mississippi and Missouri, and even farther west, they watched. In the Tennessee and Alabama and Mississippi country, they watched. And each chief held in his hand the final red stick.

Just before midnight it came — a great searing flash from out of the southwest; incredibly bright with a weird greenish-white light, swift and awe-inspiring as the heads of a hundred thousand Indians swivelled to watch its progress across the heavens until it disappeared in the northeast.

Many of the chiefs broke their sticks over their knees and threw them away in fear and anger. But there were some who carefully measured, marked it off with a bit of charcoal, and cut it into thirty equal lengths. And then they waited.

Monday, December 16, 1811

At 2:30 AM the earth shook.

In the south of Canada, in the villages of the Iroquois, Ottawa, Chippewa and Huron, it came as a deep and terrifying rumble. Creek banks caved in and huge trees toppled in a continuous crash of snapping branches.

In all of the Great Lakes, but especially Lake Michigan and Lake Erie, the waters danced and great waves broke erratically on the shores, though there was no wind.

In the western plains, there was a fierce grinding sound and a shuddering, which jarred the bones and set teeth on edge. Earthen vessels split apart and great herds of bison staggered to their feet and stampeded in abject panic.

To the south and west, tremendous boulders broke loose on hills and cut swaths through the trees and brush to the bottoms. Rapidly running streams stopped and eddied, and some of them abruptly went dry and the fish that had lived in them flopped away their lives on the muddy or rocky beds.

To the south, whole forests fell in incredible tangles. New streams sprang up where none had been before. In the Upper Creek village of Tuckabatchee, every dwelling shuddered and shook, and then collapsed upon itself and its inhabitants.

To the south and east, palm trees lashed about like whips, and lakes emptied of their waters, while ponds appeared in huge declivities which suddenly dented the surface of the earth.

All over the land, birds were roused from their roosting places with scream of fright and flapping wings. Cattle bellowed and kicked, lost their footing, and were thrown to the ground where they rolled about, unable to regain their balance.

In Kentucky, Tennessee and the Indiana Territory, settlers were thrown from their beds, heard the timbers of their cabins wrench apart, and watched the bricks crumble into heaps of debris masked in choking clouds of dust. Bridges snapped and tumbled into rivers and creeks. Glass shattered, fences and barns collapsed and fires broke out. Along steep ravines, the cliffside slipped and filled their chasms, and the country was blanketing with a deafening roar.

In the center of all this, in that area where the Ohio River meets the Mississippi, where Tennessee, Kentucky, Arkansas, Missouri, and Illinois come together, fantastic splits appeared in the ground and huge tracts of land were swallowed up. A few miles from the Mississippi, near the Kentucky-Tennessee border, a monstrous section of ground sank as if some gigantic foot had stepped on the soft earth and mashed it down. Water gushed forth in fantastic volume and the depression became filled and turned into a large lake, to become known as Reelfoot Lake. The whole mid-section of the Mississippi writhed and heaved and tremendous bluffs toppled into the muddy waters. Entire sections of land were inundated, and others that had been riverbed were left high in the air. The Mississippi itself turned and flowed backwards for a time. It swirled and eddied, hissed and gurgled, and at length, when it settled down, the face of the land had changed. New Madrid was destroyed and the tens of thousands of acres of land, including virtually all that was owned by Simon Kenton, vanished forever; that which remained was ugly and austere.

Such was the great sign of Tecumseh.

This was the earthquake which occurred where no tremor had ever been recorded before; where there was no scientific explanation for such a thing happening; where no one cold possibly have anticipated or predicted that an earthquake could happen. No one except Tecumseh.

And though they were only a small percentage of those who had pledged themselves to do so, nevertheless quite a number of warriors of various tribes gathered up their weapons and set out at once to join the amazing Shawnee chief near Detroit.

From the book The Frontiersmen by Allan W. Echert.

The second quake occurred at 8:15 AM on December 16, 1811 with about the same magnitude.

The third quake occurred at Noon on December 16, 1811 also about the same magnitude.

The forth quake occurred at 9:00 AM on January 23, 1812 with a magnitude of 7.8.

And the fifth quake occurred at 3:45 AM on February 7, 1812 this last quake had several destructive shocks on February 7, the last of which equaled or surpassed the magnitude of any previous event. The town of New Madrid was destroyed. At St. Louis, many houses were damaged severely and the chimneys were thrown down.

For almost two years strong aftershocks were felt in the area and currently smaller quakes are still occurring. Five towns disappeared, in Missouri Little Prairie and Lost Village, in Arkansas Big Prairie (Rebuilt as Helena) and New Madrid. Fort Jefferson, Ky was also disappeared though only a few people were living there at the time. New Madrid had the largest population and was rebuilt further north on the new Mississippi bank with a population of 1,548. To give you an ideal of the population density the population of St. Louis after the quake was only 3,149, Cape Girardeau 2,026, Ste. Genevieve 1,701 and St. Charles 1,096.

The quakes were felt in 28 states and the District of Columbia.

People and Earthquakes

New York City, New York
August 10 at 19:07 UTC
Magnitude 5.5

This severe earthquake affected an area roughly extending along the Atlantic Coast from southern Maine to central Virginia and westward to Cleveland, Ohio. Chimneys were knocked down and walls were cracked in several States, including Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. Many towns from Hartford, Connecticut, to West Chester, Pennsylvania.

Property damage was severe at Amityville and Jamaica, New York, where several chimneys were “overturned” and large cracks formed in walls. Two chimneys were thrown down and bricks were shaken from other chimneys at Stratford (Fairfield County), Conn.; water in the Housatonic River was agitated violently. At Bloomfield, N.J., and Chester, Pa., several chimneys were downed and crockery was broken. Chimneys also were damaged at Mount Vernon, N.Y., and Allentown, Easton, and Philadelphia, Pa. Three shocks occurred, the second of which was most violent. This earthquake also was reported felt in Vermont, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. Several slight aftershocks were reported on August 11.

Source: Carl W. Stover and Jerry L. Coffman, U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1527

People seem to collect in earthquake prone areas. Maybe it is because of the bays and waterways.

formed by the faults. A rift in the crust runs along underneath the 125th street in New York and is known as the 125th Street Fault. The fault line creates a fault valley deep enough to require the IRT Broadway-Seventh Avenue Line to become a trestle bridge between 122nd and 135th Streets. The street in the 18th century was called The Hollow Way.

Compare the population density of the US with damaging quakes and you can clearly see that we live in all the wrong places.

As recent as 2009 a mild earthquake has occurred in the New York City area.

Morristown, New Jersey 34 miles from New York City
February 03, 2009 at 03:34:19 UTC
Magnitude 3.0

A year later, 40 miles from Chicago, IL.
February 10, 2010 at 14:00:04 UTC
Magnitude 3.8

In poorer areas where building codes are not up to earthquake standards the death toll is much higher even with moderate earthquakes.

Deadest Quakes in the World:

Date

Location Deaths Magnitude Jan. 23, 1556 Shansi, China 830,000 ~8 July 27, 1976 Tangshan, China 255,000 [1] 7.5 January 12, 2010 Port-Au-Prince, Haiti 230,000 7.0 Aug. 9, 1138 Aleppo, Syria 230,000 n.a. Dec. 26, 2004 off west coast of northern Sumatra 225,000 + 9.0 Dec. 22, 8562 Damghan, Iran 200,000 n.a. May 22, 1927 near Xining, Tsinghai, China 200,000 7.9 Dec. 16, 1920 Gansu, China 200,000 7.8 March 23, 8932 Ardabil, Iran 150,000 n.a. Sept. 1, 1923 Kwanto, Japan 143,000 7.9 Oct. 5, 1948 Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, USSR 110,000 7.3 Dec. 28, 1908 Messina, Italy 100,000 [2] 7.2 Sept. 1290 Chihli, China 100,000 n.a. May 12, 2008 Eastern Sichuan, China 87,587 7.9 Oct. 8, 2005 Pakistan 80,361 7.6 Nov. 1667 Shemakha, Caucasia 80,000 n.a. Nov. 18, 1727 Tabriz, Iran 77,000 n.a. Dec. 25, 1932 Gansu, China 70,000 7.6 Nov. 1, 1755 Lisbon, Portugal 70,000 8.7 May 31, 1970 Peru 66,000 7.9 May 30, 1935 Quetta, Pakistan 60,000 7.5 Jan. 11, 1693 Sicily, Italy 60,000 [2] n.a. 1268 [3] Silicia, Asia Minor 60,000 n.a. June 20, 1990 Iran 50,000 7.7 Feb. 4, 1783 Calabria, Italy 50,000 n.a.

Largest earthquakes by magnitude:

Date Location Magnitude May 22, 1960 Valdivia, Chile 9.5 December 26, 2004 Off west coast of northern Sumatra, Indonesia 9.3 March 27, 1964 Prince William Sound, Alaska, USA 9.2 November 4, 1952 Kamchatka, USSR 9.0 January 26, 1700 Cascadia subduction zone 9 [2] January 31, 1906 Colombia-Ecuador 8.8 February 4, 1965 Rat Islands, Alaska, USA 8.7 November 25, 1833 Sumatra, Indonesia 8.8-9.2 [2] November 1, 1755 Lisbon, Kingdom of Portugal 8.7 [2] March 28, 2005 Sumatra, Indonesia 8.6-8.7 [2] March 9, 1957 Andreanof Islands, Alaska, USA 8.6 December 16, 1920 Ningxia-Gansu, China 8.6 August 15, 1950 Assam, India – Tibet, China 8.6 December 16, 1575 Valdivia, Kingdom of Chile 8.5 September 12, 2007 Sumatra, Indonesia 8.5 October 16, 1737 Kamchatka, Russian Empire 8.3 [2]

1. Official. Estimated death toll as high as 655,000.

2. Estimated.

3. No date available.

Source: National Earthquake Information Center, U.S. Geological Survey.

Largest earthquake in North America

Anchorage Alaska earthquake

March 27, 1964, at 5:36 PM local time in Alaska, a Magnitude 9.2 earthquake occurred in Prince William Sound. This was also the third largest recorded in the world.

This subduction zone was created by the Pacific plate sliding under the North American plate 16 miles underground between Valdez and Anchorage. The vertical thrust of the fault generated a tsunami that reached Hawaii and ran down the Pacific Coast of North America. Ground waves of over 3 feet high were reported as the ground turned to liquid and became unstable. In Anchorage, Post tension cables in concrete buildings became missiles as they shot out of the buildings and flew for blocks. Part of main street sunk into a 10 foot hole and major damage occurred to buildings in a 30 block radius. The air traffic control tower collapsed and water, sewer, gas lines ruptured. Remarkable only nine deaths were reported.

Twenty eight people were killed in Valdez where the wave entered the harbor and lifted a freighter thirty feet destroying the dock. Twelve people died in Seward were fires broke out at a large oil storage facility.

Two canneries were wiped out in Kodiak and Eight people died. The tsunami traveling at an estimated 400 miles per hour washing away 55 homes and damaged 375 others in Port Alberni, British Columbia, Canada. Twelve more were killed in Crescent City, California and four dide in Beverly Beach State Park in Oregon.

Deaths in Alaska were low due the Good Friday Holiday, and a low population density.

Most well known earthquake in North America

The 1906 San Francisco Earthquake

The San Andreas Fault neat San Francisco is the most well known and most studied Fault zone in the world. The 7.7 to 8.3 magnitude quake centered near Daly City, a suburb of San Francisco occurred on April 18th, 1906 and 5:12 AM. There were over thirty major fires and an estimated 3,000 deaths with 250,000 left homeless. 25,000 buildings in 490 city blocks were destroyed. Fires burned for 4 days. The bay area were the land was filled in on the bay suffered the most damage. The Fault ruptured the ground for 296 miles along the northern section of the San Andreas Fault with a displacement of twenty feet on each side of the fault in places.

On October 17, 1989 at 5:04 PM local time, a 7.1 magnitude earthquake occurred ten miles north of Santa Cruz and became known as the Loma Prieta or World Series Quake. This was on a parallel fault to the San Andreas Fault and occurred at the start of the third game of the World Series. Millions of people were watching and lost video at the time of the quake.

Several years before the quake my family and I were traveling the Viaduct on the Nimitz Freeway while vacation in the Bay area, and I can remembering commenting about what would happen if there were an earthquake and the upper level came down. I was happy to get off that road. Forty two people were crushed in their cars on that Viaduct when the upper deck collapsed.

A fifty foot section of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge upper level also fell to the lower deck. Six people were killed in Santa Cruz were forty buildings collapsed.

Comets and Earthquakes

The Great Comet of 1811, formally designated C/1811 F1, is a comet that was visible to the naked eye for around 260 days, a record it held until the appearance of Comet Hale-Bopp in 1997. In October 1811, at its brightest, it displayed an apparent magnitude of 0 (equal to the brightness of the star Vega magnitude 0, the brightest star Sirius has a magnitude -1.47), with an easily visible coma.

From May-August, the comet’s position made it difficult to spot because of its low altitude and the evening twilight. By September, in Ursa Major, it was becoming a conspicuous object in the evening sky as it approached perihelion: William Herschel noted that a tail 25° long had developed by October 6.

By January 1812, the comet’s brightness had faded. Several astronomers continued to obtain telescopic observations for some months.

The Great Comet of 1811 was thought to have had an exceptionally large coma, perhaps reaching over 1 million miles across – fifty percent larger than the Sun. The comet’s nucleus was later estimated at 30-40 km in diameter and the orbital period was calculated at 3,065 years. In many ways the comet was quite similar to Comet Hale-Bopp: it became spectacular without passing particularly close to either the Earth or the Sun, but had an extremely large and active nucleus.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

The comet was nearest Earth (1.22 AU) on October 16. (AU is equal to the mean distance between the earth and sun.)

It is very interesting that the earthquakes of 1811-1812 were noted by the North American Indians, as being predicted by the sign of the 1811 comet.

Conclusion

Earthquakes are a constant reminder of just how young and fragile our present home here on this earth is. When the Bible recommends building your house on a rock, it has a double meaning. Not only a stable foundation for our homes, but Christ the Rock as a stable foundation for our lives. Just as the moon pulls on the oceans of the world and creates the tides, the moon also pulls on the molten rock just under our feet to cause pressure on the earth’s crust. These external forces may not be the cause of earthquakes, but they could be the straw breaks the camels back.

If we can learn to measure the stresses in the earth’s crust and then watch for the things that trigger quakes, then someday we may be able predict earthquakes.

Hubert Crowell Retired and working part time. Hobbies are caving and propecting for gold. Please visit my web page at: http://www.hucosystems.com/

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An Alaska Cruise from San Francisco: 5 Reasons to Take One

An Alaska Cruise from San Francisco: 5 Reasons to Take One

It is now possible top take an Alaska cruise from San Francisco, rather than flying into Seattle, Vancouver, or Anchorage.


These are five reasons why you might want to consider starting your Alaskan cruise from the Bay Area rather than from ports further to the north.


1. The airfare can be much cheaper


Flying into San Francisco can be cheaper than flights into Vancouver, Anchorage, or even Seattle — especially if you live on the West Coast. In fact, many people in California can save even more by driving and avoiding airfare altogether.


2. You get three more days of cruising


Cruises out of San Francisco are generally ten days long, as opposed to the seven day cruises out of Seattle and Vancouver. There is simply so much to do on a modern cruise ship that you can never fit even a fraction of it into a week-long cruise. The extra three days extends your vacation, allowing you to enjoy even more of the ship’s facilities, activities, and entertainment.


3. You can add on some great side trips


There are simply dozens of great side trips to take from San Francisco, ranging from day trips to week-long excursions. You can choose from the towering redwoods, beautiful Napa Valley, picture-perfect Lake Tahoe, the coastline of Big Sur, Monterrey, Yosemite, Kings Canyon, and Sequoia National Parks, and the stunning Mendocino coastline – all within several hours of the San Francisco Bay Area. Slightly further afield (within a day’s drive) are Los Angeles, San Diego, the Grand Canyon, and the casinos and excitement of Las Vegas. In fact, San Francisco is easily accessible to the greatest variety of attractions of any of the Alaska cruise ports.


4. You can see more of the coastline


When sailing from San Francisco, you get to view far more of the amazing Pacific coastline, starting with the Golden Gate Bridge, the stunning Northern California Coast, and coastal Oregon and Washington.


5. You can explore San Francisco


Of course maybe the best part of taking an Alaskan cruise from San Francisco is that you can visit the city of San Francisco itself. One of the most beautiful cities in North America — or anywhere — San Francisco is built on steep hills, allowing you breathtaking views from seemingly every block. The city has wonderful restaurants, hotels, nightlife, museums, and cultural life. If you’ve never been, you’re in for a treat, and if you’ve visited before, you know just how special this city is. Of course, no trip to San Francisco is complete without a ride on the cable cars and a trip to Ghirardelli’s chocolates at Fisherman’s wharf. Throw in a tour of Alcatraz and an afternoon in Golden Gate Park, and you’re sure to have a fantastic time.

Scott Russell is a writer, consultant, frequent traveler, and editor of the Alaskan Cruise Advisor, a guide to Alaska cruise vacations and inland Alaska tours.

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Hitchcock Has Left Indelible Imprint on Bodega

Hitchcock Has Left Indelible Imprint on Bodega

There is a scene in Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds,” near the start of the movie, where Tippy Hedren is speeding her sports car through the rolling green countryside. Suddenly the camera pulls back to show a bay and seaside village that are so pristine and picturesque they would do justice to any fine painting.

The movie then proceeds to allow thousands of birds to terrorize this idyllic little place and run Tippy and boyfriend Rod Taylor completely out of town. Fortunately, it was all just a movie and we’re happy to report that the movie’s little village – Bodega Bay – has survived to become an even more popular getaway than it was before Hitchcock chose it for his movie.

In fact, birds are big business in Bodega. You can’t cross the street without some reminder that the movie was filmed there. The Tides Restaurant – featured prominently in the movie – now has a gift shop that has become a near-museum with its shelves and shelves of stuffed birds, Hitchcock posters, location photos and just about any kind of clothing you want emblazoned with some variation of Bodega Bay or “The Birds.” Of course, no matter that the “real” restaurant burned down long ago and the replacement buildings bear no resemblance to those used in the movie.

What does remain is the same sleepy seaside village that appeared in the movie. While there certainly have been many new buildings added since the movie’s release in 1963, the town retains the same character so evident in the movie.

Our suggestion would be to rent “The Birds” before taking your trip to Bodega Bay. It will be fun comparing the many locations in the movie with how they look now, 40 years later, and the movie will also give you a good idea of what to expect when you get there – as long as you disregard the birds.

You might also disregard a few geographic inconsistencies. For example, one of the most memorable scenes from the movie is when the birds attack the children at the country school and the kids try an orderly retreat from the school only to be forced running and screaming down to the waterfront. In the town of Bodega, you can visit Potter School which you’ll remember from the movie.

Another great place to match scenery with the movie is to take Bay Hill Road from the village area a little more than a mile up into the rolling hills above Bodega Bay. Soon you’ll be able to look back at Bodega and see exactly the same “establishing shot” of the bay that Hitchcock used in those early scenes of the movie.

Back down at the Tides Restaurant, there still is a bit of the waterfront flavor seen in the movie. Fishing trawlers bring their fresh catch to a seafood company on the dock, and there are always plenty of barking sea lions hoping to dine on leftovers. In the movie, Tippy rented a small motorboat at this dock before motoring across the bay to her new boyfriend’s house.

Now for those who could care less about movie-making, Bodega Bay was an established getaway long before “The Birds” came out. The countryside along this scenic stretch of the California Coast is like an ocean-lover’s paradise. It also helps that the area is relatively easy to get to from the San Francisco Bay area – less than two hours from almost any Bay area location, most of that by freeway.

We stayed the night at the Bodega Bay Lodge and Spa, the area’s only four-diamond resort. The property is located on the Bodega Bay’s southeastern shore and it provides a big area for you to go exploring the bay. The sights, sounds and smells of the bay are right there – most notably the foghorns heard faintly in the distance, guiding ships away from the hazardous coastline.

The lodge is spread out in a series of buildings that have been updated with Cape Cod styling. Our tastefully appointed suite was like a high-end studio apartment with a complete living room area adjacent to the bed and a small desk arrangement. Of special note was the oversize Jacuzzi tub, which got some good use during our stay. At the other end of the unit, sliding glass doors opened out to the bayshore, and a patio offered a relaxing place to observe the surroundings.

The Bodega Bay Lodge also features a resort-style ocean-view pool and large hot tub, which seemed quite popular with a group of business people who were staying at the lodge as part of a corporate retreat. Then of course we must not forget the spa – not on our list of activities, but popular with guests who come to Bodega Bay for rest, relaxation and rejuvenation.

Bodoga Bay offers trails to help guide you to beaches such as Shorttail Gulch Beach. The trail to Shorttail is fairly new and allows access to a beach that was previously difficult to reach. There is a whole network of such trails in the area, making for endless hours of exploration and discovery.

If you’re up for a short drive, the coastline near Bodega offers many spectacular seaside viewpoints as well as beaches to explore. Driving this part of Highway 1, it seems that just about every bend in the road reveals another picture-perfect view of the rocky shoreline, spectacular bluffs or Robinson Crusoe beaches.

Just south of Bodega Bay you’ll find Tomales Bay, a popular destination for kayakers and others who want to enjoy upclose-and-personal contact with the area’s marine life. At the Bodega Marine Laboratory, each Friday from 2 to 4 p.m. you can explore a number of aquarium displays featuring colorful local fish, a kelp forest and other marine life.

Hitchcock really was looking for great scenery rather than the birds he ultimately added to the movie through special effects and mechanical devices. But, ironically, Bodega Bay is known as a “hot spot” on the Northern Coast for finding rare birds. More rare birds have been spotted in Bodega than any other place in Sonoma County – and, fortunately, not one of them has instigated an attack on the thousands of tourists brought to this area each year by “The Birds.”

AT A GLANCE

WHERE: Bodega Bay is about 60 miles north of San Francisco and, barring a lot of rush hour traffic, can be reached quickly and easily from the Bay area.

WHAT: Bodega Bay, a town of just 1,400 full time residents, has long been known as a quiet seaside destination for Californians who want to explore the Northern Coast. Even thought the area was made more popular by the movie, which came out in 1963, it’s still quiet and charming.

WHEN: A visit to Bodega Bay can be made any time of the year, although winter months are cloudier and cooler. The area has a moderate climate so temperatures range from highs in the 40s during winter to highs in the 60s during the summer months.

WHY: The Bodega area has great ocean scenery and it’s fun to see where “The Birds” was filmed. It’s a great weekend trip from the Bay area, or an excellent stop to include on a travel itinerary through Northern California.

HOW: For more information on the Bodega Bay Lodge and Spa call (800) 368-2468, ext. 5 or email rooms@bodegabaylodge.com. Rates range from 0 for a guest room to 5 for a suite midweek, slightly more for weekends. You can also rent a vacation home in the area through Vacation Rentals USA, 800-548-7631. For Bodega Bay visitor information, phone 707-875-3866.

Cary Ordway is president of Getaway Media Corp which publishes websites focused on regional travel. Among the sites offered by GMC are www.californiaweekend.com, featuring California travel and www.northwesttraveladvisor.com, focusing on Northwest travel, as well as travel in Oregon, Idaho, Montana and British Columbia.

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Wildflowers, Recreation Beckon Travelers To Anza-Borrego

Wildflowers, Recreation Beckon Travelers To Anza-Borrego

There are so many reasons people visit the Anza-Borrego Desert, east of San Diego: Springtime wildflowers, geologic history and the mysterious Salton Sea.

Wildflower season is expected to be better than usual this year because of the heavy Southern California rains. This desert is area about 90 miles east of San Diego is known for a colorful wildflower display that usually gets under way in late February as well as many nearby points of interest.

How about an inland “sea” that was once promoted as a major water recreational area only to fall into near oblivion because of the water’s increased salinity and a major die-off of fish and birds? The Salton Sea is just one of the interesting sights in this area, and worth going an extra 30 miles east of Borrego Springs to see what remains.

Anyone flying over the desert east of San Diego will remember this vast body of water that stands out in stark contrast to the surrounding California desert. Drive up-close and it seems almost like a Great Lake – in fact it is the largest lake in the state measured at 376 square miles. Unfortunately, the water here is even saltier than the ocean and is so toxic that most species of fish have died. High levels of selenium also have been found in the sea which is thought to have contributed to the mortality of the local bird populations.

While this may not sound like the recipe for a fun vacation experience, the area is fascinating to explore as you walk on beaches made of barnacles and see where major beach developments of the 1960’s have rotted away, giving portions of the small waterfront community of Salton City almost a ghost town look and feel. One sign we saw was advertising a three-bedroom home for ,000 and conversation with locals revealed that, while a dying sea may not seem all that attractive for recreation, it sure reduces the local cost of living.

Our visit was just a quick look at the sea along the Salton City shoreline – the closest point to Borrego Springs — but there are in fact several recreational opportunities on the northern and eastern shorelines of the sea. Some state park beaches have been closed for budgetary reasons, but there still are good access points for kayaking, boating and other forms of water recreation.

Visiting on a weekend, we also were struck by the enormous influx of off-roaders who set up virtual cities of RV’s on many open camping areas on the outskirts of Salton City and on the way back to Borrego Springs. Visit the local AM/PM on a weekend and you’ll be completely immersed in this culture with 75 percent of the customers dressed in protective riding gear.

About 30 miles back toward San Diego is Borrego Springs, an area that looks a lot like Palm Springs did before it was fully developed. A couple of resorts and a handful of lodgings cater to warm-weather lovers and golfers but, for all intents and purposes, Borrego Springs still seems like a backwater town with more acreage devoted to golf courses than commercial buildings. The area attracts seniors who have found affordable winter homes as well as boomers who want an inexpensive vacation.

When you think about it, this really is Palm Springs – minus, of course, the fancy resorts and upscale shopping. But the views are the same, the blue skies are the same, and the sizzling summer weather is the same. The prices, however, are lower.

The Borrego Springs area is loaded with things to do. Many people will choose just to stay close to the resort, especially during summer, but others will find there is a myriad of trails and sights to see in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. The town of Borrego Springs is, in fact, surrounded by this 600,000-acre state park, the largest in the state system. In fact, about one-fifth of San Diego County’s land is within the park’s boundaries.

As you drive to various locations within the park, you’ll marvel at the desert vistas and enjoy observing the plant and animal life so prevalent in the park. Colorful wildflowers are in bloom in early spring; at other times, plants like the Ocotillo plant or the Cholla cactus fill in the desert landscape to create an other-worldly feel. Roadrunners skip across roads, black-tailed jackrabbits hop along golf greens as well as the desert and, up on the craggy rock mountain ledges you may even spot some bighorn sheep.

Bits of history are around every corner. The Anza Borrego Park includes geography where stagecoaches drove the first intercontinental mail. It’s interesting to sp;ot the old wagon roads and places where stagecoaches stopped to take on supplies. Hiking trails take you to these and other sites such as waterfalls (which can be dry depending on the season), historic monuments and old settler houses such as the hike up to Ghost Mountain where you can enjoy great views and poke around a house once occupied by a family that seemed to be living alone on top of the world.

These Borrego adventures are all outlined in maps and materials available at the Anza-Borrego Park Visitor Center, just a couple miles from downtown Borrego Springs. Inside, dioramas depict the park’s various types of vegetation and wildlife, while naturalists stand by to answer your questions. Interpretive trails will take you into a nearby section of the desert where you can see up-close the various species of desert plants. (But one note of caution: plan your bathroom stops elsewhere because the day we visited, four of six bathrooms were not open, and the other two were plugged to the point they were not useable).

AT A GLANCE

WHERE: The Anza-Borrego desert area is about 90 miles northeast of San Diego and about 150 miles from Los Angeles. The Salton Sea is another 30 miles east.

WHAT: Spring wildflowers are a big attraction and Borrego Springs looks a lot like Palm Springs without the glitter. There are a couple of resorts and some other lodgings and golf courses, but the valley is mostly open and surrounded by the Borrego-Anza State Park.

WHEN: Any time of year. Especially in summer, be sure to bring lots of water, sunscreen and a hat, and time your outdoor adventures for early morning or early evening.

WHY: Lots of natural beauty and interesting attractions.

HOW: For more information on Anza-Borrego State Park, phone 760-767-5311.

Cary Ordway is a syndicated travel writer and president of Getaway Media Corp, which publishes websites focused on regional getaway travel. Among the sites currently offered by GMC are http://www.californiaweekend.com , covering California spa vacations and other Golden State destinations, and http://www.northwesttraveladvisor.com , covering Washington vacation ideas as well as other Pacific Northwest travel destinations.

The American dream can still be found in California. Beautiful scenery, great climate, wonderful people…this is the America you should get to know. Before anyone says anything, is it perfect? No. But the living and lifestyle are better than can be found in most places of the world.

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Top 3 Ways to Stay Connected to the Outdoor

Top 3 Ways to Stay Connected to the Outdoor

Love the great outdoors? If you’re the type who would rather be hiking up a mountain or rafting down a river that controlling the remote, you know exactly what I mean. I’m always amazed when someone tells me their ideal vacation requires a hotel room with 100 channels on the remote. Give me a mountain view, or the sound of a rushing river and I’m in bliss.

The challenge is to stay connected to the calm and joy of nature when you can’t be in that ideal location. What if your life requires a city address, too-close neighbors, and daily chores that threaten to suck the energy right out of you?

Over the years, I’ve found some simple ways to sneak a little bit of the outdoors into my life, no matter where I am. OK- I can’t transplant a Redwood into my den, or afford a home next to the crashing waves. What I can do is to figure out what it is about nature and the outdoors I love most, and find some small ways to incorporate that into my daily life.

1. Plants and foliage. Maybe watching leaving gently swaying out your window allows you to breathe more deeply. Maybe cacti and sand is therapeutic. Or maybe the scent of hydrangeas lights up your brain cells. Even in the tiniest city apartment you can find ways to use container plants, an indoor potted plant, or a line of small cacti along your window sill to help connect you with nature.

2. Seating for one. OK, you might want some cozy space for two people to enjoy whatever bit of nature is visible from your current venue. If the only thing you’ve got going on is a breathtaking sunrise, place a porch swing in the best viewing place. Maybe your porch or back yard offers a view of some woods or simply a bit of solitude. Try those beach inspired, wooden, Adirondack chairs. The low seating and optional footrests almost insist on relaxation and bring thought of ocean side enjoyment.

3. Bird and Bees. No, I mean the real birds and bees! Try setting out a bird feeder to invite some of nature’s ambassadors to your home. If you really are against trying to attract bees, how about some butterflies? Certain plants are very attractive to these winged beauties.

At the end of the day, your ability to function in the real work is directly connected to how well you are able to unwind, relax and put things in perspective. So, go ahead and plan for a trek along the Long Trail of the Northeast. Gear up for a cross country bike riding expedition in the western mountain trails. Or maybe make plans to visit the wild horses on Georgia’s Cumberland Island.

Until you get there, make sure to find some way to stay connected to the outdoor life. For many of us, it’s what makes the rest of life shine.

Find the best adirondack chairs and teak patio furniture online at this cool store. From patio chairs to beautiful garden benches, you can find it all.

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Connecting North and South Dakota: A Motorcycle Journey Through the Dakotas

Connecting North and South Dakota: A Motorcycle Journey Through the Dakotas

As a motorcyclist who enjoys vacant, isolated roads, I stared longingly at the Dakotas on my National Geographic wall map while planning my next excursion. A childhood friend of my wife had recently moved to Sioux Falls with her family. The brother of a buddy who was a groomsman at my wedding 25 years ago had transplanted himself to Sioux Falls from California long ago. I figured I should check out the allure, but I also needed an angle to enhance the journey. So, much like my ride around the perimeter of Kansas (Rider, August 2004), I decided to circumnavigate the perimeter of North and South Dakota.

Fargo turned out betwixt and between, so I ended up starting there. North Dakota’s largest city is named for the co-founder of the famed Wells Fargo Express Company. It is also the hometown of baseball legend Roger Maris, and as a fan of the pastime I headed for the museum tribute to him in West Acres Mall. Not much else shakin’ in Fargo, if you discount the casinos, so afterward I pointed the Beemer’s nose northward up the Red River Valley on U.S. 81 paralleling Interstate 29.

Grand Forks stands along the Red River of the North, which provided flatboat transportation for farmers’ goods until the arrival of the Northern Pacific Railway in 1880. The great spring flood of 1997 displaced the entire population of Grand Forks (some 50,000), and ruined downtown historic buildings. The resilient folks went about rebuilding their lives by renovating and revitalizing. I headed for one resuscitated landmark, The Kegs Sloppy Joe Root-Beer Stand.

The next town at a Red River confluence is Pembina in the far northeastern corner of the state, where fur-trading voyageurs established trading posts. Strife among trappers and farmers resulted in the Massacre of Seven Oaks in 1816, when 20 settlers were killed. Nonetheless, Pembina (an Indian word meaning high-bush cranberry) became the center of European settlement in the state. Scandinavians and Icelanders were among the hearty immigrants who homesteaded here, and a Heritage Center in Icelandic State Park relates their story. The needlelike tower at the Pembina State Museum offers an expansive view over the drift prairie extending into nearby Canada.

Drift prairie results from glaciers, and the receding hunks of ice scoured out Pembina Gorge just west of Walhalla. It’s only a slight dip in the land, hardly enough to swallow the Beemer. Route 5 westbound traces the prairie potholes and sloughs, havens for migrating waterfowl, and their raucous babble could be plainly heard above the hum of the engine. I’m told that most of the ducks in North America are hatched in this habitat.

I didn’t park long, for I didn’t care to be nibbled to death.

Not an hour later I entered the lakes and streams, rolling hills and broadleaf forests of the Turtle Mountains near Rolla. The Turtle Mountains comprise the only woodland in the state, reason enough for quirky monuments and celebration. The world’s largest turtle squats just off State Route 5 in Dunseith, made completely out of old wheel rims. Another giant turtle sits astride a snowmobile in Bottineau. But these fanciful creations also serve to represent the Bill’s Terrapin, or mud turtle, that is part of the indigenous fauna hereabouts.

The Turtle Mountains add a natural beauty to the region, which is given even more impact by the appearance of the International Peace Garden. This colorful floral park was dedicated in 1932 as a memorial to friendship between the United States and Canada. Four towers rise 120 feet to symbolize the corners of the earth reaching common understanding. Serenity is further enhanced by the presence of a chapel and carillon chiming every 15 minutes. A more recent addition memorializes the devastation at the World Trade Center. With a campground and café on the grounds, I found it a most calming spot to stay.

West of Bottineau the Drift Prairie transitions to Great Plains, or what’s known geologically as the Missouri Plateau. Some travelers view this as flat, and consequently boring. But as William Least Heat Moon writes in Blue Highways, “Boredom lies only with the traveler’s limited perception and his failure to explore deeply enough.” I passed acre upon acre of sunflowers, their seedless heads dipping in forlorn resignation like the marching ranks of a defeated army.

Austere State Route 5 beckoned toward a seamless horizon, vacant sky adding to the illusion of lost dimension. Chasing an ever-receding boundary and seemingly never gaining ground against a ceaseless, shoving wind intensified the disorientation. I searched for any landmark in order to regain perspective. The occasional abandoned farmhouse appeared like a derelict upon an eroded land. Such tumbledown homesteads commonly dot this vacated sector of semi-arid plains, leaving behind only ghosts wailing in the ever-present wind.

Fortuna lies in the northwest corner of the state like the remnant of a tattered rag. I quickly left the town headed south to shake the area’s depression and ended up retreating into the Mountain Man era at Fort Union. John Jacob Astor’s American Fur Company built Fort Union in 1828 to control the trading economy of the Northern Plains. It’s now a museum of the fur trade. A tradesmen’s building was reconstructed using an adz to square the beams and wooden pegs to hold them in place. A fire crackling in the mammoth stone fireplace and a ranger in a period outfit added to the authenticity.

Riding out from this post I passed over the Missouri River where it joins the Yellowstone near the Montana border. I recalled camping along this confluence one year, only to awaken after an overnight rainstorm to find myself stuck in a quagmire of river bottom gumbo. I had to scoop muck from the wheel wells of the Beemer I was riding at the time. This Missouri River bottomland ooze, I eventually found out from a park ranger, is called bentonite, a mud that holds three to four times its weight in water and is used as a drilling lubricant.

State Route 16 pleasantly undulates for 60 miles across the Little Missouri Grasslands. I passed a solitary one-room schoolhouse and Lutheran church. Cows lined pastures against a dramatic backdrop of buttes. Farmers emptied their round harvesters of cylindrical hay bales. I began to spot herds of elk. Then I skirted Sentinel Butte, North Dakota’s second highest point, on my way into Medora, gateway to the South Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

A French nobleman, the Marquis de Mores, founded Medora in 1883, naming it after his young bride. The Marquis opened a meat packing plant and built himself a chateau atop a hill. Young greenhorn Teddy Roosevelt soon arrived from New York on a hunting trip. He ended up staying and establishing a cattle ranch. However, blizzards during the winter of 1886-’87 all but destroyed the Dakota cattle industry, including Roosevelt’s enterprise and the Marquis’ meat processing venture. But the legacy of both lives on, and one is able to visit the Chateau with its original furnishings, and Roosevelt’s Maltese Cross cabin. I even took in a musical revue honoring Roosevelt at the Burning Hills Amphitheater, built into a natural bowl of the badlands.

After a night camped in the solitude of the Badlands, I dropped down U.S. 85, virtually scraping North Dakota’s highest point White Butte, which rises 3,506 feet. An Indian archer’s silhouette pointed the way through Bowman, in North Dakota’s southwest corner. Then I slung down the arrow-straight highway back into open country in a rush to the Black Hills.

Unlike August when the Sturgis madness is in full swing, now in mid-September the road ahead and behind me lay vacant, urging me into the sweepers. Toe and shifter danced a tango as the Beemer pirouetted the hairpins and whirled around pigtail bridges on Iron Mountain Road. I nodded toward Messrs. Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Roosevelt, begging forgiveness for the snub; I’d visited years ago and was anxious to see how another stone-faced icon was progressing. After poking through tunnels and threading the granite needles of State Route 87, I encountered the Crazy Horse Memorial back on U.S. 385.

Sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski began blasting and chipping away his vision of Sioux warrior Crazy Horse in 1949 on Whiteface Mountain. Though overshadowed by Rushmore he chiseled on undeterred until his death in 1982 at the age of 74. Only the face is complete of an image that will include an outstretched arm and horse beneath, but his sons toil on without federal money, accepting only donations. Ziolkowski sympathized with the Indian and his brethren, who endured a string of broken treaties. When complete, perhaps generations from now, this image will serve as a counterpoint to the noted End of the Trail sculpture that depicts a warrior slumped in resignation.

Although Westerners nearly wiped out the bison in a strategy to destroy Indian culture, there are still plenty along the wildlife loop through Wind Cave National Park. I was sure one of the bulls wanted to mate with the Beemer, and seemed awful jealous of me as it snorted threateningly. I made it out of there, skirting the buffalo chips, and finding refuge and refreshment in the far southwestern Dakota resort town of Hot Springs.

I left the Badlands along U.S. 18, entering grassland and woodland that delineates the Pine Ridge. The Black Hills were traditional hunting, worship and burial grounds for the Sioux until the discovery of gold, and treaties were then revoked. Today, the Pine Ridge Reservation serves as a reminder to their disenfranchisement. It’s ironic that Dakota is a Sioux word meaning friend, or ally.

Underscoring the plight of these Native Americans was the next site I visited, Wounded Knee. In December 1890 cavalry troops surrounded a band of Lakota Sioux, who were forced to march here, and began disarming them. A shot rang out and the slaughter began, with troops opening up with rapid-fire Hotchkiss guns, killing nearly 200 Sioux. The image of Chief Big Foot’s frozen body contorted in pleading anguish lives on in perpetuity. This massacre effectively ended the Indian wars. In 1973 an armed group of the American Indian Movement seized the site to protest Federal policies toward them. The standoff lasted 71 days and led to two deaths, but consciousness was raised anew about their plight.

Route 18 now carried me across flat, featureless terrain past indistinguishable towns until I jumped the Missouri River again, and a series of border routes hooked me up with State Route 50 following the Vermillion River. I entered larger cities now, places like Yankton, cow capital of South Dakota, and Vermillion, home to South Dakota University and the National Music Museum. After I touched Sioux City, my final corner, I hightailed it north on I-29 to the next location named after an indigenous native tribe.

Sioux Falls is nestled in a giant horseshoe bend of the Big Sioux River, where the namesake falls tumble and cascade through and over a broad quartzite quarry. Many of the buildings in the downtown historic district, including the Old Courthouse, are constructed of stone harvested at this site. A bicycle trail follows a greenbelt that completely surrounds the river, with canoe access and fishing holes aplenty. Extensive parks make South Dakota’s largest city of nearly 200,000 more habitable and family friendly, according to my friends the Raffertys, who moved here for a job commitment but don’t intend to uproot themselves again, a testimony to the claim that Sioux Falls is one of America’s most livable cities.

For the 100 miles from Sioux Falls to Watertown I’m riding a ridge along I-29 that offers occasional sweeping views into neighboring Minnesota. At the Sisseton exit I followed State Route 10 west for 10 miles to check out a lookout tower I saw from the distance. This observation post sits atop a continental divide overlooking the watershed where liquid runoff shoves the Red River northward, one of the few North American rivers that do flow upward, so to speak. Runoff from here also trickles south into the Bois De Sioux River bordering Minnesota, and pulls triple duty by quenching the Big Sioux River. I know for a fact this water cycle is prevalent after splashing through a gusting thunderstorm days earlier on my way to Sioux Falls, and just missing a tornado that touched down northeast of town two hours after I arrived!

I returned to Fargo taking back-country roads that led me past Fort Abercrombie, established in 1858 to guard wagon trains and steamboat traffic on the Red River. I’m back at the crossroads of what has always served as a major transportation route throughout the Northern Plains after some 2,000 miles. Now I’m ready to research the next prospect for one of these perimeter runs because they are fast becoming habit forming.

— Alan Paulsen is the author of this story published in Rider Magazine.

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What to See And What to Do in Sonoma County

What to See And What to Do in Sonoma County

Are you among the many others who hear of Sonoma County and immediately conjure up elegant images of clinking wine glasses? Do your nostrils begin to twitch in anticipation of intoxicating aromas? Does your mouth start salivating with eagerness to receive scrumptious beverages when Sonoma County is mentioned merely in passing? Is Sonoma County synonymous with California’s wine country in your mind’s eye? Well, you are not wrong by any stretch of the imagination but you are not exactly correct either. If you allow me some time, I will be happy to widen your perspective about Sonoma County and I promise to be as brief as I possibly can.


Yes, you are absolutely right; Sonoma County is all about wine, all kinds of wine. As a matter of fact, Sonoma County is more about wine than it is about anything else. However, one must not overlook its many other aspects which are so readily available to all its residents as well as to those visiting the area on their vacations, on business or are simply passing through on their way to elsewhere.


Without further ado, here is the multifaceted Sonoma County which can also serve as your travel guide if you ever decide to visit and want to know what to see and what to do there:


1. Sonoma Coast State Beach is a seventeen mile stretch of scenic land along the Pacific Ocean owned by the State of California. It consists of several named beaches such as Arched Rock Beach, Gleason Beach and Goat Rock Beach. Sonoma Coast State Beach features fine sand and dramatic vertical rock formations.


2. Lake Sonoma is a manmade lake that was formed by the construction of the Warm Springs Dam and is located in northern Sonoma County. With fifty miles of shoreline and 2,700 acres of surface area, this tranquil lake provides water for agricultural irrigation, for industrial uses and for year-round recreation.


3. Armstrong Redwoods State Reserve is an 805-acre California state park densely populated with majestic Sequoias and offers visitors self-guided nature trails, an outdoor amphitheater and well maintained picnic facilities.


4. Jack London National State Park is also known as the Jack London Home and Ranch and is a National Historic Landmark to be found on the east side of Sonoma Mountain surrounding the property which belonged to Jack London (a well known American author between 1876 to 1916). The burnt remains of his home, the Wolf House, are still visible in the park.


5. Gold Ridge Experiment Farm is what remained of the farm purchased by Luther Burbank in 1885 to perform his astounding feats as an American botanist, horticulturist and an agricultural scientist who developed eight hundred varieties of fruits, flowers, grains, grasses and vegetables.


6. Fort Ross was as a Russian settlement in the early 1800s and has since been designated as a National Historic Landmark. The Rotchev House which served as the official residence of the settlement’s Commander still stands unharmed but the rest of the structures on the site have been reconstructed with the help of Russian architects.


7. Sonoma County is also abundant with elegant hotels, modern shopping malls, lush golf courses, wide range of restaurants and eateries, theaters, night clubs, spas and, of course, wineries.

Learn more about Sonoma County Real Estate and homes for sale in Sonoma County by visiting us today.

My vacation last year. Rode my SV1000S on a 2500 mile round-trip to Redwood National Forest & Yosemite. A small part of my trip down the Avenue of the Giants while visiting the Redwood National Forest in northern California last year.

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Top Ten Travel Nursing “Hot Spots”

Top Ten Travel Nursing “Hot Spots”

The great thing about being a traveling nurse boils down to one key component – it’s about the travel! For those of us who love moving around and seeing the world, travel nursing is the profession of our dreams. There are many travel destinations available, based on weather, activities, cost of living, and salary. Therefore, I have gathered a list of my “Top Ten” destinations that nurses choose, based on the number of travelers who inquire about each location every month. Are you a travel RN scouting a new assignment? Then I’d like to suggest the following ten “Hot Spots”:

HAWAII – It’s no shock that Hawaii generates over 500 travel nursing inquiries per month. The wide range of outdoor activities from snow-capped mountains to snow-white sandy beaches elevates Hawaii to one of those meccas where you can build a snowman or a sand castle all in one day. Nurses tell me that you’ll discover virtually every type of outdoor activity imaginable—hiking trails that wind through erupting volcanoes, secret beaches, and lush green ranchlands. Many travelers also hunt, mountain bike, go rafting, and golf on some of the world’s most extravagant courses.

ALASKA – Travel nurses are intrigued by the possibilities of Alaska’s rugged mystery. Alaska is a huge wilderness with beautiful scenery, and travel nursing assignments offer plenty of time to see and do everything you want, whether in winter’s darkness under northern lights, or the glorious spring and summer where it’s light most of the time. Outdoor enthusiasts enjoy Alaska for its’ wildlife, spectacular natural landscape, and fishing expeditions where the fish really are as big as the stories about which they’re told. Countless day cruises and sightseeing expeditions abound, as well as opportunities to hike, kayak, canoe, ski… Need we say more?

MONTANA – Whether photographer, adventurer, or both, Montana is truly a state that beckons with open arms. River trips, fishing and camping, history, snowy mountain ranges, and waterfalls are what you’ll encounter, along with plenty of open space to explore. Assignments in Montana appeal to those travel nurses who just need some time to break away from their city grind to enjoy marching to the beat of an entirely different drummer. The Big Sky Country boasts some of America’s most famous mountains, canyons, river valleys, forests, grassy plains, badlands, and caverns, and many travelers find it just irresistible enough to keep coming back.

MAINE – Maine’s splendor has inspired artists like Georgia O’Keefe and three generations of the Wyeth family, since the mid-nineteenth century. Travel nurses can’t resist at least one adventure in this charming getaway. Whether you embark on outdoor adventures like skiing and snowmobiling, or if you prefer the cozy ambience of antiquing through charming villages or just strolling or riding horseback on miles of sandy beaches in the smell of salt air, Maine is legendary and offers some wonderful travel nursing experiences. Its’ unique culture is outdoorsy and quaint, and of course you get to enjoy lobster as the locals do—fresh from the ocean!

CALIFORNIA – Warm weather and world-famous beaches make California a favorite choice for traveling nurses. Nine-hundred miles of coastline gives nurses in all locations the chance to spend many hours near the waves; and for nature lovers, California is home to many wildlife parks, remote wilderness areas, and safe-havens for endangered animals. If you’re an excitement junkie, you can scout out a wide selection of theme parks; and no matter what your taste in music, concerts abound in every type of venue. Historic sites and museums invite, as do five-star restaurants and clubs in which to see and be seen. The shopping is unparalleled, whether it’s trendy Melrose Place, La Jolla, or the strand in Venice Beach; and of course it’s home to Hollywood, and, yes, movie stars. Whether northern, southern, or coastal locations, traveling nurses return to California time and again.

WASHINGTON – The Evergreen State boasts the gorgeous Pacific Ocean, the Cascade Mountains, desert experiences, rain forests, towering volcanoes, glaciers, and lush wine country. Washington State rates high on the list of many nurse travelers. Must-sees are the Space Needle and Coulee Dam. The culture here is incredibly diverse; sophisticated, outdoorsy, and loaded with resorts, history, parks, museums, and botanical gardens. Whether touring downtown Seattle for cozy antique and book stores, exploring ancient Indian grounds, or hiking and biking mountains or trails, Washington holds a strong allure for many nurse travelers.

SOUTH CAROLINA – Endless adventure, excitement, fun and exploration represent why South Carolina is always a favorite destination for travel nurses. America’s oldest landscaped gardens frame mansions rife with historical heritage, in addition to pristine beaches and legendary marshy wetlands. For all you golfers, with over 330 golf courses, there’s always a new place to swing your clubs. But what fascinates many traveling nurses is the rich heritage in which South Carolina has paved the roads of culture, art, and folklore in our past. You can visit several historical areas and discovery centers of American history, including the American Revolution and the Civil War.

COLORADO – World-class winter skiing and summer music festivals in the mountains are just two reasons that nurses love traveling to Colorado. Boasting four spectacular seasons, Colorado is where travel nurses get to explore the state’s 18 million acres of state and national parks, forests, and monuments for biking, hiking, fishing, mountain climbing, and kayaking, to name a few. Colorado has many cultural treasures, including ancient Native American sites and dinosaur fossil exhibits, historic ghost towns, and even award-winning vineyards in Grand Junction. And for those who enjoy city life, amid all this natural beauty lie wonderful metropolitan areas like Denver and Boulder, full of shopping, performing arts, and professional sports.

TENNESSEE – From energetic nights of blues on Beale Street, to gorgeous rolling acres of Tennessee Walker horse country, to peaceful Smoky Mountain sunsets, Tennessee is a vacation that offers many world-renowned attractions. Nurse travelers who visit Tennessee will find that they’re within a day’s drive of 75-percent of the U.S. population via quality interstates and highways. Attractions in Tennessee include the Jack Daniels’ distillery, Elvis’s Graceland, the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, and lots of southern hospitality. And don’t forget the crown jewel of the southern Appalachians, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

ARIZONA – If you adore the outdoors, then the Grand Canyon State might just be for you. The nurses who go there just rave about Arizona’s landscape which takes in tall mountain ranges, swift rivers, grasslands, sand dunes, and cactus forests all set against a beautiful sky that glows pink in the sunset. The traveler nurses who enjoy history will find plenty of it here, including Old West reformations, Native American nations, and Spanish-influenced areas all in one state. Arizona is also home to the nation’s greatest golf courses, resorts, spas, cabins, and ranches.

As you can see, limitless possibilities exist for those nurses who want travel, fun, and adventure to be part of their daily lives. If you’re a nurse who travels and it’s time for you to move on to a new location, try one of these top travel nursing destinations and see what new experiences lie ahead.

Janet Fikany is a “Placement Diva” for HealthCare Staffing Network. For travel nursing advice, please visit HSN online at http://www.hcstaffingnetwork.com/, or call Janet toll free at 1-800-388-2610.

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Top Destinations for Traveling Nurses

Top Destinations for Traveling Nurses

The great thing about being a traveling nurse boils down to one key component – it’s about the travel!  For those of us who love moving around and seeing the world, travel nursing is the profession of our dreams.  There are many travel destinations available, based on weather, activities, cost of living, and salary.  Therefore, I have gathered a list of my “Top Ten” destinations that nurses choose, based on the number of travelers who inquire about each location every month.  Are you a travel RN scouting a new assignment?  Then I’d like to suggest the following ten “Hot Spots”:

HAWAII – It’s no shock that Hawaii generates over 500 travel nursing inquiries per month.  The wide range of outdoor activities from snow-capped mountains to snow-white sandy beaches elevates Hawaii to one of those meccas where you can build a snowman or a sand castle all in one day.  Nurses tell me that you’ll discover virtually every type of outdoor activity imaginable-hiking trails that wind through erupting volcanoes, secret beaches, and lush green ranchlands.  Many travelers also hunt, mountain bike, go rafting, and golf on some of the world’s most extravagant courses.

ALASKA – Travel nurses are intrigued by the possibilities of Alaska’s rugged mystery.  Alaska is a huge wilderness with beautiful scenery, and travel nursing assignments offer plenty of time to see and do everything you want, whether in winter’s darkness under northern lights, or the glorious spring and summer where it’s light most of the time.  Outdoor enthusiasts enjoy Alaska for its’ wildlife, spectacular natural landscape, and fishing expeditions where the fish really are as big as the stories about which they’re told.  Countless day cruises and sightseeing expeditions abound, as well as opportunities to hike, kayak, canoe, ski… Need we say more?

MONTANA – Whether photographer, adventurer, or both, Montana is truly a state that beckons with open arms.  River trips, fishing and camping, history, snowy mountain ranges, and waterfalls are what you’ll encounter, along with plenty of open space to explore.  Assignments in Montana appeal to those travel nurses who just need some time to break away from their city grind to enjoy marching to the beat of an entirely different drummer.  The Big Sky Country boasts some of America’s most famous mountains, canyons, river valleys, forests, grassy plains, badlands, and caverns, and many travelers find it just irresistible enough to keep coming back.

MAINE – Maine’s splendor has inspired artists like Georgia O’Keefe and three generations of the Wyeth family, since the mid-nineteenth century.   Travel nurses can’t resist at least one adventure in this charming getaway.  Whether you embark on outdoor adventures like skiing and snowmobiling, or if you prefer the cozy ambience of antiquing through charming villages or just strolling or riding horseback on miles of sandy beaches in the smell of salt air, Maine is legendary and offers some wonderful travel nursing experiences.  Its’ unique culture is outdoorsy and quaint, and of course you get to enjoy lobster as the locals do-fresh from the ocean!

CALIFORNIA – Warm weather and world-famous beaches make California a favorite choice for traveling nurses.  Nine-hundred miles of coastline gives nurses in all locations the chance to spend many hours near the waves; and for nature lovers, California is home to many wildlife parks, remote wilderness areas, and safe-havens for endangered animals.  If you’re an excitement junkie, you can scout out a wide selection of theme parks; and no matter what your taste in music, concerts abound in every type of venue. Historic sites and museums invite, as do five-star restaurants and clubs in which to see and be seen. The shopping is unparalleled, whether it’s trendy Melrose Place, La Jolla, or the strand in Venice Beach; and of course it’s home to Hollywood, and, yes, movie stars.  Whether northern, southern, or coastal locations, traveling nurses return to California time and again.

WASHINGTON – The Evergreen State boasts the gorgeous Pacific Ocean, the Cascade Mountains, desert experiences, rain forests, towering volcanoes, glaciers, and lush wine country.  Washington State rates high on the list of many nurse travelers.  Must-sees are the Space Needle and Coulee Dam.  The culture here is incredibly diverse; sophisticated, outdoorsy, and loaded with resorts, history, parks, museums, and botanical gardens.  Whether touring downtown Seattle for cozy antique and book stores, exploring ancient Indian grounds, or hiking and biking mountains or trails, Washington holds a strong allure for many nurse travelers.

SOUTH CAROLINA – Endless adventure, excitement, fun and exploration represent why South Carolina is always a favorite destination for travel nurses.  America’s oldest landscaped gardens frame mansions rife with historical heritage, in addition to pristine beaches and legendary marshy wetlands.  For all you golfers, with over 330 golf courses, there’s always a new place to swing your clubs.  But what fascinates many traveling nurses is the rich heritage in which South Carolina has paved the roads of culture, art, and folklore in our past.  You can visit several historical areas and discovery centers of American history, including the American Revolution and the Civil War.

COLORADO – World-class winter skiing and summer music festivals in the mountains are just two reasons that nurses love traveling to Colorado.  Boasting four spectacular seasons, Colorado is where travel nurses get to explore the state’s 18 million acres of state and national parks, forests, and monuments for biking, hiking, fishing, mountain climbing, and kayaking, to name a few.  Colorado has many cultural treasures, including ancient Native American sites and dinosaur fossil exhibits, historic ghost towns, and even award-winning vineyards in Grand Junction.  And for those who enjoy city life, amid all this natural beauty lie wonderful metropolitan areas like Denver and Boulder, full of shopping, performing arts, and professional sports.

TENNESSEE – From energetic nights of blues on Beale Street, to gorgeous rolling acres of Tennessee Walker horse country, to peaceful Smoky Mountain sunsets, Tennessee is a vacation that offers many world-renowned attractions.  Nurse travelers who visit Tennessee will find that they’re within a day’s drive of 75-percent of the U.S. population via quality interstates and highways.  Attractions in Tennessee include the Jack Daniels’ distillery, Elvis’s Graceland, the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, and lots of southern hospitality.  And don’t forget the crown jewel of the southern Appalachians, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
ARIZONA – If you adore the outdoors, then the Grand Canyon State might just be for you.  The nurses who go there just rave about Arizona’s landscape which takes in tall mountain ranges, swift rivers, grasslands, sand dunes, and cactus forests all set against a beautiful sky that glows pink in the sunset.  The traveler nurses who enjoy history will find plenty of it here, including Old West reformations, Native American nations, and Spanish-influenced areas all in one state.  Arizona is also home to the nation’s greatest golf courses, resorts, spas, cabins, and ranches.
As you can see, limitless possibilities exist for those nurses who want travel, fun, and adventure to be part of their daily lives.  If  you’re a nurse who travels and it’s time for you to move on to a new location, try one of these top travel nursing destinations and see what new experiences lie ahead.

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Bloody Water-The Bay Area Red Triangle

Bloody Water-The Bay Area Red Triangle

Northern California is home to a plethora of famous cities, such as San Francisco, Sausalito, Napa, Santa Cruz, Berkeley, Oakland, and other lesser-known cities. The weather is always pleasurable, never getting too hot in the summer, and never getting too cold in the winter. The Bay Area is a popular vacation destination with local tourist attractions, such as the infamous prison Alcatraz, cable cars and trolleys, the Santa Cruz beach and boardwalk, Wine Country, and many, many more.


Perhaps one of the things a visitor must do before leaving San Francisco is see the beautiful expanse of beaches that line the west coast of San Francisco city. Baker Beach is no doubt the most scenic beach with spectacular views of the Golden Gate Bridge and Marin County just across the bridge. With all the beauty the Bay Area possesses, it’s hard to swallow that the waters in this area are also one of the most dangerous.


Danger lurks underneath the surface of the tumultuous waters of the Pacific Ocean. Stretching up from Bodega Bay, which is north of San Francisco and Marin County, out past the Farallon Islands and down to Point Sur, which is below Monterey Bay, lays an area called the Red Triangle. This area has been nicknamed so because of the blood that turns the waters red after a shark has attacked.


Due to a very large population of marine wildlife, great white sharks flock to the area to feast on their flesh. Great white sharks are carnivorous and eat all sorts of marine wildlife, including fish, smaller sharks, and even dolphins. The Red Triangle is home to elephant seals and sea lions, which are a particular favorite of the great white sharks. Of all the documented human attacks in the world, over half have occurred within the Red Triangle.


There are many myths about when a shark would attack, but most have proven to be false. It is widely believed that if you swim where there is kelp, the shark will not attack you, but a large white shark was seen attacking a sea otter in a kelp forest. Surface swimming is said to increase your chances of being attacked; in fact, it may decrease those chances because of a shark’s preferred hunting method, which is to attack its prey that is fully submerged.


It’s tempting to get in the water, more so for surfers who want to challenge the boisterous waves and for divers who want to explore the vast water world, but there is much at risk here. Your life is at risk.

So don’t be another statistic. Stay out of the water.

Rachel Yoshida is a writer of many topics, visit some of her sites, like
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