Photo Girl Travels

Taking the Road Less Traveled

Jill’s Ride 4 Hope

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jills-ride-2013%20381x228A very good friend of mine told me about Jill’s Ride 4 Hope.  Jill Naber was an amazing, 15 girl who took her life after an embarrassing photo of herself was sent electronically and placed on an internet site.  As I’m typing this I am struggling to find the words…for her family and her friends.  The pain they have felt must be unimaginable.

Jill Naber

Jill Naber

After Jill’s death, a non-profit organization named CASSY quickly became an important resource at the Los Gatos High School, helping students, faculty and families, all free of charge. Jill’s Ride for Hope will help bring donations to help CASSY continue it’s incredible work.  If you would like to participate, the ride/walk is August 24, 2013.  Also, if you don’t live in the area and would like to donate that would be greatly appreciated too.  This link provides you with more information:  www.jillsrideforhope.com.

Jill Naber

Jill Naber

So how did this happen?  First, it’s a different world today, compared to when I was young.  When I was in school there was no internet…Facebook, cell phones. So – no “cyber bulling”.

But today, things have changed.  Cyber Bulling is horrible, and it’s happening all around us. I found a site called  www.dosomething.com which had some important facts about cyber bullying. First, “cyber bullying” is defined as a young person tormenting, threatening, harassing, or embarrassing another young person using the Internet or other technologies, like cell phones.  The psychological and emotional outcomes of cyber bullying are similar to those of real-life bullying. The difference is, real-life bullying often ends when school ends. For cyber bullying, there is no escape. And, it’s getting worse. Read on to get the facts.

  1. Nearly 43% of kids have been bullied online. 1 in 4 has had it happen more than once.
  2. 70% of students report seeing frequent bullying online.
  3. Over 80% of teens use a cell phone regularly, making it the most common medium for cyber bullying.
  4. 68% of teens agree that cyber bullying is a serious problem.
  5. 81% of young people think bullying online is easier to get away with than bullying in person.
  6. 90% of teens who have seen social-media bullying say they have ignored it. 84% have seen others tell cyber bullies to stop.
  7. Only 1 in 10 victims will inform a parent or trusted adult of their abuse.
  8. Girls are about twice as likely as boys to be victims and perpetrators of cyber bullying.
  9. About 58% of kids admit someone has said mean or hurtful things to them online. More than 4 out 10 say it has happened more than once.
  10. About 75% have visited a website bashing another student.
  11. Bullying victims are 2 to 9 times more likely to consider committing suicide.

If you, or someone you know is experiencing cyber bulling, please reach out for help. The Center of Disease Control reports that suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death of children between 15 and 24 years of age, and the rate is increasing. Also, almost 20% of high school students have seriously thought of committing suicide. “Suicide is such a hush-hush topic,” Polly Naber says (Jill’s Mother). “Maybe if people talked about it more, you might be able to save lives.”

Important Links

Jill’s Ride 4 Hope information: www.jillsrideforhope.com

Center of Disease Control: http://www.cdc.gov/

CASSY Counseling and Support Services for Youth: http://cassybayarea.org/

A touching video made by one of her good friends: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gekI_UWsvZo

Cat’s Hill Race – Los Gatos

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Cat's Hill Race held in Los Gatos

Cat’s Hill Race held in Los Gatos

I know I’ve mentioned a little bit about my bike riding skills but here’s a quick recap. First my bike – Carefully parked in my garage sits my sweet cruiser donning a seat the size of a couch. There’s a cup holder that’s perfect for a chilled Coke Zero and a basket that’s large enough to hold a good book and a blanket. My riding skills: I prefer flat, tree and flower lined pavements. Hills are nice if they are one-way and I’m heading in a downward direction.

So, with that said, the one thing I won’t be doing this week is registering for one of the toughest races on the NorCal circuit which is held in my town – Los Gatos. The event is called the Cat’s Hill Race and it leaves no margin for error or tactical lapse. You don’t dare miss a gear shift or shift your gaze. If you do, you most likely will find yourself in the back of the pack, or skidding along a hot tarmac.

Nicholson Avenue hill is the most impressive part of the race, and where it gets its name – this hill is also called Cat’s Hill or, “Sweet Mother of…” if you’re trying to walk / ride up it. How hard could it be you ask…well, it’s a gut-wrenching 23% climb. But it doesn’t stop there. Riding or walking up this hill once would be a real effort, but during the Cat’s Hill race the riders typically have to do it 12, 15 or 35 times!

Cat's Hill Race, coming around the corner before Cat's Hill

Cat’s Hill Race, coming around the corner before Cat’s Hill

Cat's Hill Race

Cat’s Hill Race

Now I don’t ride in this race but I do like to photograph it. During this race the riders go around the same circuit, over and over again. So even though they just road past you, you’ll see them again in about 5 minutes. It’s a photographer’s dream – versus most races where they fly by once and you have to drive miles ahead to catch up with them again. (Shaking your head as you peruse the many photos you shot that are all blurry) How could you not get at least one great shot if you have hundreds of times to photograph the riders? I have just a few photo tips if you decide to head over to the race.

  • First, just shoot a bunch of photos, I mean why not?
  • If you are shooting with your iPhone try an app called Fast Camera which takes tons of photos automatically.
  • If you have a digital camera check the owner’s manual to if it has this capability.
  • Pan when you shoot. Look out at the riders as they are approaching you, pick one, lock on that rider and then move 180 degrees with them as they pass from the left to the right, all the while shooting photos.
  • Find a place to stand about half way up Cat’s Hill. That’s where you’ll catch the agony in the rider’s eyes – along with a few good swear words.
  • And mostly, just have fun!
Cat's Hill Race

Cat’s Hill Race

Cat's Hil Race

Cat’s Hill Race, panning with the riders

Movement photo taken while panning

Movement photo taken while panning

Cat's Hill Classic Race in Los Gatos

Cat’s Hill Classic Race in Los Gatos

Cat's Hill Classic Race in Los Gatos, California

Cat’s Hill Classic Race in Los Gatos, California

If you’re in Los Gatos this Saturday, May 4, 2013, mark your calendar. You can’t miss it as there will be a ton of people around town. Note – The first race starts at 9:20am. The pros start racing at 5:00.

Here’s the link to the Cat’s Hill Classic website: http://www.catshill.org/

Here’s the map where they race: Maybe I’ll see you there!

catshillmap_lg

If you’d like to purchase a print to remind you of this beautiful area, please click on “Contact”. My photography is printed on aluminum. Utilizing an advanced process which infuses dyes directly into the metal, the colors and saturation are really amazing. In addition, your print will be displayed using mount blocks which float the image ½ inch off the wall.

©2013 Shelley D Spray – No content on this site (including all photography) may be reused in any fashion without written permission from the author.


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Death Valley: Scotty’s Castle

Scotty's Castle in Death Valley, California

Scotty’s Castle in Death Valley, California

I love castles and ghost towns and Death Valley has both. I was a little surprised to learn there is a castle in Death Valley, so I’ll start by telling you about that.  It’s a little off the beaten path and you’ll truly feel like no one is around as you coast along the desert road to your destination. As you get closer you can see an oasis in the Grapevine Canyon which is located in the northern part of Death Valley. As if it’s a mirage, you’ll take a corner and find palm trees, green foliage and the tips of the castle off in the distance. Yes, nestled in that oasis is a castle that will take you back to the Roaring ’20’s and Depression ’30’s.  It was a wealthy matron’s vacation home and a “man-of-mystery’s hideout. When you visit this place you will step back in time.

View into the courtyard at Scotty's Castle in Death Valley

View into the courtyard at Scotty’s Castle in Death Valley

As you enter through the gates (above) you’ll find yourself in a courtyard.  Throughout the grounds and home, everything is pretty much original….The furnishing, clothing, kitchen, rugs etc.  Here’s a Reader’s Digest version I took from the National Park Service Website: “Walter Scott (below) was an accomplished horseman and eventually was engaged as one of the rough-riders for the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show.

Walter Scott aka Death Valley Scotty from National Park Service Website

Walter Scott aka Death Valley Scotty from National Park Service Website

Although his engagement with the show lasted for twelve years, it was only seasonal employement. When not fully engaged with the show, Scott would return to Death Valley and pick up odd jobs. His connection with the area became so well known that eventually Death Valley Scotty became his nickname. Scott left the Wild West Show after a disagreement with Buffalo Bill in 1902 and began a new profession that brought him even more fame and riches – gold prospecting. He convinced several wealthy businessmen that he had a claim to a fabulous gold mine in Death Valley. One of the investors, Mr. Johnson gave thousands of dollars to Scotty over the next several years. Unfortunately, a number of calamities prevented delivery of the gold.

Undaunted, Mr. Johnson finally decided to take a look at the gold mine on a personal tour of Death Valley. Scotty took Mr. Johnson on a grueling trek by horseback through Death Valley. He figured a few days in the desert would be too much for the city slicker whose health had been permanently by a near-fatal train accident in his youth. Surprisingly, Johnson loved Death Valley so much that he stayed nearly a month, and his health improved dramatically in the dry, sunny climate. Although he never saw Scotty’s mine, and was most certainly being swindled, Mr. Johnson did not seem to mind. He had found riches in the desert far greater than those that glitter.  The two men began a lifelong friendship that would change the history of Death Valley forever. Albert Johnson bought property in Grapevine Canyon and eventually built what became known as Scotty’s Castle, which you can visit today.”  Here are some historical photos I found:

scotty DeathValley_ScottysCastle_1928Welte_JLewis01

That's Scott in the middle. The room is exactly like this today!

That’s Scott in the middle, Mr and Ms Johnson on either side. The room is exactly like this today!

Here are some past posts on Death Valley in case you missed them:

Death Valley Road Trip! https://photogirltravels.com/2013/04/10/death-valley-road-trip/

Death Valley CA Overview & Travel Tips: https://photogirltravels.com/2013/04/18/death-valley-ca-travel-tips/

Death Valley Road Trip: Ghost Towns and a Sunset:  https://photogirltravels.com/2013/04/10/death-valley-road-trip-ghost-towns-and-a-sunset/

Death Valley: Dantes View: https://photogirltravels.com/2013/04/19/death-valley-dantes-view/

Death Valley: Zabriskie Point: https://photogirltravels.com/2013/04/23/death-valley-zabriskie-point/

Death Valley: Badwater, Lowest Pt in N. America: https://photogirltravels.com/2013/04/24/death-valley-badwater-lowest-pt-in-n-america/

Death Valley: Where to Stay: https://photogirltravels.com/2013/04/25/death-valley-where-to-stay/


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Death Valley: Where to Stay

Fire pits at The Ranch at Furnace Creek in Death Valley

Fire pits at The Ranch at Furnace Creek in Death Valley

Since my trip to Death Valley was a last minute adventure, I figured out where to stay while parked on an off-ramp, about 3 hours outside of Death Valley. I urge everyone to change your mind when traveling. Why go home when you can keep driving and see something new? If you have the time – than I say go go go. There are a few places to stay in Death Valley, but not many. The first place I called was The Inn at Furnace Creek which is a four diamond AAA hotel. Very nice, but expensive. They told me there was a sister property (and a more casual) about a mile down the road called The Ranch at Furnace Creek. If you read my earlier post where I describe my fashionista tendencies when traveling – a wardrobe that consists of holy jeans, men’s white t-shirts and sneakers, I figured casual might be a little better. Besides, I’m in Death Valley – one of the only places where boots and heels just don’t make sense. With that said, I skidded out of the fancy schmancy place and drove over to The Ranch. The second I drove up, I knew this is where I wanted to stay.

Entrance at The Ranch at Furnace Creek

Entrance at The Ranch at Furnace Creek

General Store at The Rance at Furnace Creek

General Store at The Rance at Furnace Creek

First, not only is it a hotel/ranch, there’s a General Store, gas burning fire pits out front, a few restaurants and a Salon.  Everything you need in one place. Oh, and they have horses you can ride. The Ranch has been in operation since 1933 – and here is what their website says about this charming place to stay: “Hear the clatter of horse-drawn wagons as they roll through the Ranch and bring you back to the Old West. Stop off at the Corkscrew Saloon for a cool drink and a game of darts. Ride a horse, take a hike or challenge your kids to a game of horseshoes. Visit the General Store for a quick snack and some great gifts. Check out the antique stagecoaches, mining tools and steam locomotive at the Borax Museum. As you wander around the western-themed grounds, you’ll feel like you’ve been transported back to the 1800’s when this site was established as a working ranch. Yet, you’ll enjoy the amenities of modern civilization, like quiet, recently refurbished rooms, tennis courts, a children’s playground and the National Park Service Visitor’s Center – which is just a stone’s throw away.”

Sign in front of the General Store at The Ranch at Furnace Creek

Sign in front of the General Store at The Ranch at Furnace Creek

One of the restuarants at The Rance at Furnace Creek in Death Valley

Horses having a bit of dinner before their sunset ride

Horses having dinner before their sunset ride

There is also a spring fed swimming pool, the world’s lowest golf course (214 feet below sea level) I stayed in one of the standard rooms and loved it. They also have cabins and deluxe rooms.

The other part I really enjoyed was the antique outdoor museum with carridges (some photos are below).

After watching the sunset I got back to my room around 7:30. From there I could walk up to the restaurants, have dinner, walk around the General Store and head back to my room.

Another quick note – the stars were AMAZING that night.  (So if you’re there, don’t forget to look up!) For more information on The Furnace Creek Resorts: http://www.furnacecreekresort.com/lodging-295.html

Outdoor museum at The Ranch

Outdoor museum at The Ranch

Outdoor museum at The Ranch

Outdoor museum at The Ranch

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Here are some past posts on Death Valley in case you missed them:

Death Valley Road Trip! https://photogirltravels.com/2013/04/10/death-valley-road-trip/

Death Valley CA Overview & Travel Tips: https://photogirltravels.com/2013/04/18/death-valley-ca-travel-tips/

Death Valley Road Trip: Ghost Towns and a Sunset:  https://photogirltravels.com/2013/04/10/death-valley-road-trip-ghost-towns-and-a-sunset/

Death Valley: Dantes View: https://photogirltravels.com/2013/04/19/death-valley-dantes-view/

Death Valley: Zabriskie Point: https://photogirltravels.com/2013/04/23/death-valley-zabriskie-point/

Death Valley: Badwater, Lowest Pt in N. America: https://photogirltravels.com/2013/04/24/death-valley-badwater-lowest-pt-in-n-america/

Death Valley: Badwater, Lowest Pt in N. America

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Inverted photo taken at Badwater in Death Valley, California

Inverted photo taken at Badwater in Death Valley, California

If you love salt like I do…then Badwater is the place to go. Also, it’s the lowest point in North America – 282 feet below sea level to be exact.

That's me jumping at Badwater!!!

That’s me jumping at Badwater!!!

To get to Badwater you take a back road that is located off 190. You won’t have any cell phone reception and you’ll feel like you are out in the middle of nowhere. In fact, I’m not even sure I saw a car the entire time I was driving (until I reached the parking lot). The scenery is beautiful, mountains, desert, and then, stretching out in front of you is this vast white ocean of salt. It’s quite spectacular. As you pull into the parking lot you’ll see a small “pond” of water and a wooden deck.

View from the parking lot out over to the observation deck at Bad Water in Death Valley

View from the parking lot out over to the observation deck at Bad Water in Death Valley

Here is a photo a little closer:

View in Badwater salt beds in Death Valley, California

View in Badwater salt beds in Death Valley, California

Me standing by Badwater sign in Death Valley - don't forget a hat!

Me standing by Badwater sign in Death Valley – don’t forget a hat!

I thought that was pretty cool, but what was even more impressive was over to the left of the observation deck. Where it stops, you’ll see people walking out over the packed down layers of salt. (photo below)

Walk out over the salt beds in Badwater in Death Valley, California

Walk out over the salt beds in Badwater in Death Valley, California

So how did they come up with the name Badwater? The early travelers came across a spring. I’m sure it was a scorcher and everyone was thirsty. They say the horses wouldn’t drink the water which is when they discovered it was a thick, salty liquid. Obviously undrinkable, they gave the area its name – Badwater. Badwater is about 18 miles south of Furnace Creek where I stayed. Also, if you remember our trip to Dante’s View where I showed you the vast ocean of salt beds that stretch out in front of you. Badwater is included in part of that view. https://photogirltravels.com/2013/04/19/death-valley-dantes-view/

When you are driving back, you can take a one-way road called Artists Drive. I did a really stupid thing and I had 3/4 of a tank gas when I headed off to Badwater (badgirl!) I was pretty sure I had enough gas to drive along Artists Drive, but in Death Valley, you don’t want to take chance. So here’s a quick tip. Anytime you see a gas station, fill up. Regardless of how much gas you have. There are only very few places to get gas and an 18 mile drive can take an hour.

Next I’ll show you where I stayed – Yes, we’re off to the Ranch!

A couple of quick tips: First, bring a hat. Second, consider wearing a light, long sleeved shirt to keep your skin protected. I know everyone loves the look of a Coppertone tan but bronzer can be just as nice (and your skin will stay younger looking…longer) Seriously, you don’t want to mess around with the intensity of the sun in Death Valley. It’s harsh!

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If you’d like to purchase a print to remind you of this beautiful area, please click on “Contact”. My photography is printed on aluminum. Utilizing an advanced process which infuses dyes directly into the metal, the colors and saturation are really amazing. In addition, your print will be displayed using mount blocks which float the image ½ inch off the wall.

©2013 Shelley D Spray – No content on this site (including all photography) may be reused in any fashion without written permission from the author.

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Death Valley: Zabriskie Point

Death Valley's Zabriskie Point View

Death Valley’s Zabriskie Point View

Zabriskie Point was the first place I stopped when I arrived in Death Valley. Many of the sites require you to drive down long, dusty roads to your destination. Zabriskie Point is located on the 190, in fact, you can see the parking lot from the road. Once you park, you walk up a fairly steep hill to the look-out point.  It’s pretty impressive as you cast your view out over ripples and ripples of rock. I did a little research to see how these rocks were formed and here’s what I found.

In Death Valley, rainfall is extremely rare, but when it happens it’s intense.  With so little vegetation (and soil), when water reaches the ground, there is nothing to absorb the rainfall.  So during Death Valley’s rain showers, water hits the surface and immediately begins to rush down the steep slopes, sweeping  along particles of loosened mud. The rate of erosion can be incredible! Tiny rills are quickly carved into the soft mudstone. (I had no idea but a rill is a narrow and shallow incision into topsoil layers -I should call this Teacher Girl Travels 😉  Anyway, the more water in the downpour, the more rills are needed to carry the water away. Rills cut deeper to form gullys. And that’s how you get these beautiful ripples (that’s my non-technical term).

Zabriskie Point in Death Valley looking back at the parking lot

Zabriskie Point in Death Valley looking back at the parking lot

In the photo above you can see the parking lot off in the distance.  There is a bit of a hike to the top of the hill, but I honestly don’t remember it being that difficult. (Although looking at this phot my car looks like the size of an ant) I would try to visit Zabriskie Point either in the morning or at night when it’s cooler.  Next we’re going to visit Badwater which is the lowest point in North America!  Please Follow Me and you’ll get an email update as soon as I post it. Cheers!

If you’d like to purchase a print to remind you of this beautiful area, please click on “Contact”. My photography is printed on aluminum. Utilizing an advanced process which infuses dyes directly into the metal, the colors and saturation are really amazing. In addition, your print will be displayed using mount blocks which float the image ½ inch off the wall.

©2013 Shelley D Spray – No content on this site (including all photography) may be reused in any fashion without written permission from the author.