Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Review: The Gipsy Kings at Mountain Winery

When we found out that one of Inna's favorite groups - The Gipsy Kings - was playing nearby in Saratoga, at the Mountain Winery, we had to go see them. I could not find very good seats - they were all sold out ahead of time. However, the Mountain Winery's setting is quite small, so I was hoping that we would still enjoy the band.

This was Gipsy King's 25th Anniversary Tour - I didn't realize they were playing for so long. The last time I saw them in concert was in 1999 or 2000 (before I knew who they were).

The drive to the Mountain Winery was not long at all - about 30 minutes - but parking there took some time and we did not like being charged $20 to park.

The show was scheduled to start at 7:30pm. At 7:30pm, another band (made up of sons of Gipsy Kings) got things started, playing a number of Gipsy Kings favorites. They played for 30 minutes (until about 8:00pm).

The Gipsy Kings finally came out on stage around 8:15pm and started their set. They played all their favorites, including:

  • Djobi Djoba
  • Bamboleo (means swaying in Spanish)
  • Un Amor
  • Volare

According to Wikipedia:
The Gipsy Kings is a group of musicians from Arles and Montpellier in the south of France who perform in Spanish with an Andalusian accent. Although group members were born in France, their parents were mostly gitanosSpanish Romani people who fled Catalonia during the 1930s Spanish Civil War.
Gipsy Kings are members of two related families: the Reyes (Kings in Spanish) and the Baliardos. Nicolas, Canut, Paul, Andre and Patchai Reyes are sons of the flamenco singer Jose Reyes. The Gipsy Kings are:
  • Paul Reyes: backup vocals, guitar
  • François "Canut" Reyes: backup vocals, guitar
  • Patchai Reyes: backup vocals, guitar
  • André Reyes: backup vocals, guitara
  • Diego Baliardo: guitar
  • Paco Baliardo: guitar
Here is a short video clip I shot of the concert:

The concert ended around 9:30pm, after one encore.

I especially liked Gipsy King's "Bamboleo". Here is a short video clip of this this song:

We enjoyed the concert and especially being in the open on a warm summer night! Lots of people were dancing and having a good time.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Lassen Volcanic National Park

After breakfast at Best Western, we drove to Lassen Volcanic National Park. Since we drove in from Mt. Shasta, we drove on US-89, approaching Lassen from the north (this road is normally closed during winter).

Our first stop was at Manzanita Lake. We hiked around the lake, enjoying the beautiful scenery. There were a lot of people kayaking and canoeing. We also saw many fishing for trout.

Throughout the park, many fallen trees surround the lake. Some trees lay by the water and are fun to climb and walk on.

The whole Manzanita lake is very peaceful and quiet. The only sound is usually the birds, geese, or ducks.

There were many beautiful views of the Lassen Peak.

Lots of people were enjoying leisurely kayaking on this beautiful lake. We are also bringing kayaks next time.

The water is so clear and pure everywhere - that one can see all the way to the bottom in most places.

The hike around the lake was not very long at all - it only took about an hour to circumnavigate the lake. The trail was for the most part very flat and easy. It was an enjoyable short hike.

After stopping at the General Store to purchase some sandwiches and ice cream, we continued our drive through the park.

Our next stop was the "Hot Rock" near the road. This enormous boulder came from the eruption of Lassen and landed a few miles downhill. It was hot for many days. It's amazing how enormous this "Hot Rock" truly is. It must have been an enormous force that brought it so far down the mountain.

From here, we drove down US-89 and stopped next in the "Devastated Area". This area of Lassen used to be completely covered by trees. However, during the 1915 eruption, all of the trees were completely wiped out by the eruption and the ensuing mudslide.

All of these enormous boulders were thrown many miles from the peak of Lassen and landed many miles downhill. Amazing!

Notice the small trees in the photograph below. The trees here used to be tall and quite dense. The area is slowly recovering since the eruption.

This part of Lassen has a nice interactive exhibit, explaining the details about the 1915 Lassen Eruption and the differences between different boulders found here.

From here, we drove a couple of miles, stopping at a small waterfall.

We drove further, to explore the nearby Summit Lake. There is a nice campground here as well (but we were not interested in camping).

The water of Summit Lake was so clear and pure. We could see the bottom of the lake. It was so quiet and peaceful with almost no one present.

It's really another very peaceful area of Lassen.

From Summit Lake, we drove next to King's Creek. There is a beautiful waterfall at the end of King's Creek trail - but we did not have enough time to go there and back. It would be a 2.4 miles hike round trip or about 2 hours.

The King's Creek Waterfall looks like the following photo. It's not very impressive compared to the Burney waterfall at the  McArthur-Burney Falls State Park.

From here, we drove to the trail head for Lassen Peak hike. The hike to Lassen Peak takes 4-5 hours. The trail starts at 8,500 feet and go up another 2,000 feet in elevation, reaching the summit of 10,457 feet. Unfortunately, the trail was closed (it was being repaired), so I could not do the hike.

Notice, the evil looking eye in one of the rock formations in Lassen Peak. Lassen is watching you!

The hike really did not look too tough to me.

From Lassen Peak trail head, we drove toward Lake Helen, where we decided to rest and have our lunch. Lake Helen is a beautiful, blue lake. The water was very cold, fed by melting snow and glaciers.

Inna considered going swimming. We saw one brave person take a dip in the waters of Helen Lake. However, it was very cold, and she decided against it.

It's amazing how clear and blue the water is. We could see all of the pebbles deep in the Lake Helen.

Having finished eating our sandwiches, we continued our drive toward Bumpass Hell - the major hike to see the hydrothermal features of Lassen Volcanic National Park. In many ways, this hike reminded me of Yellowstone's hydrothermal features. The one major differences is that Yellowstone has geysers that operate fairly regularly, like the Old Faithful. There are no geysers in Lassen.

The hike started in the parking lot, near a large boulder overlooking a deep canyon below.

The Bumpass Hell hike continues on a rocky trail with a nice cliff drop off.

There is sparse vegetation and the trail is almost always in the sun - which can be quite hot even at this high elevation.

There are many boulders and small rock on the path.

On one part of the trail, I saw a nice overlook of the whole valley below.

After a while, we finally reached the hydrothermal area of Lassen Volcanic National Park. It looks like a miniature version of Yellowstone. The rotten egg smell of sulphur permeated the air and made it unpleasant to smell.

One is required to walk on a wooden platform that is elevated above the ground, to avoid getting burned by the super hot gases and water that circulate here,

There are many platforms to look out into the fumaroles (high velocity steam jets) and pools of extra-heated water. Bumpass Hell is named after a settler who fell into one of the hot pools and lost his leg, due to the extreme burns.

I shot a short video clip of how these fumaroles and mud pools look and sound. It's something too smell and see, and hard to describe in words or pictures.

Here is a steaming fumarole.

Some of the waters surrounding these fumaroles look very green - as if algae is growing there.

Being tired of the rotten egg smell, we decided to return to our car. The hike back was a bit uphill, but did not take too long.

Our next stop in Lassen was Emerald Lake. This lake looked extremely green, due to algae and other organisms that live in it.

Our next stop was another small hydrothermal area in Lassen, called Sulphur Works.

From here, we decided to drive back home to San Jose. The ride was long but uneventful, taking about 4.5 hours.