The adventures of Pioneer Girl travelling with enthusiastic Camper Barn Owl Guy

Started as a blog about my trip from Pittsburgh to California in a Ford Pickup, hauling a 30' refurbed trailer/camper. Ah, California Dreaming, 'n all that. Found that adventures can be long distance or in your own neighborhood... I look for my own twist on local sites, don't take the known for granted...and always find something new. It's easy, just open your eyes..

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

There Was a Crooked Road...

Good morning, friends and pioneers everywhere. Today's excursion took me to North Park in McCandless in search of Pittsburgh's own anti-gravity spot...GRAVITY HILL..located at the intersection of Kummer and McKinney Road near the golf course.  Upon finding the exact location, I was relieved that no cars were behind me as I stopped at the STOP SIGN, put the car in neutral... and started to "magically" roll up hill in reverse...and at a pretty good clip!

Whoa, what a strange lose control for that brief moment, causing you to question the Newton's Law of Gravity!  I was  completely DISCOMBOBULATED.   I drove away, and came back as I had to try it again.  Below is the picture of the intersection from my Nissan and I am truly going backwards at that moment.  Just to test it out, I tried it again at another stop sign with what I thought to be about the same sloping grade..and nope didn't work.  So what's up with Gravity Hill?

There are numerous anti-gravity spots through the country where laws of physics and gravity do not apply.  Some people this is a magnetic force..Some people believe thinks there's a warp in Earth's gravity at these locations.  A quirky tourist attraction in Santa Cruz, California, touts its own "Mystery Spot." Folks there have fun speculating that extra-terrestrials buried unearthly metals or a spacecraft beneath the site.  They claim that people get headaches on the tour from the STRANGE FORCES . . . I don't know about all that, but it's still fun.

But here's the truth!  Read on if you really want to know, as the Law of Gravity really is the law.

It's an... optical illusion (shhh!)  The illusion is caused by the landscape.  The position of trees and slopes of nearby scenery and a curvy horizon line have blended to trick the eye. GPS measurements by physicists show the elevation at the start is higher than at the end. The road actually slopes downhill according to a physicist at Penn State... I guess, sigh!  Damn, now I wish I hadn't had to report this!! But it's okay, our imagination can still play...and it's still a weird feeling.

Crooked House, Storybook Forest
Illusion...reminds me of my favorite little spot of strangeness when I was a Storybook Forest in Ligonier, PA.  That crooked house confounded me!!  So once again, this exploration led me to another place and another time of fun illusions... and to remember:   there was a crooked man, who had a crooked house...he had a crooked cat, who chased a crooked mouse.

I like that much better than the dry old Law of's just a crooked road is all..  Until next time, keep your eyes open.... xoxo PG

Friday, April 6, 2012

Travel Songs...Hitch Hike??

Good morning, fellow pioneers and also time travelers... Todays coordinates find me in the year 1962, diggin' some Marvin  Watch "Marvin Gaye (Hitch Hike)" on YouTube     What's your favorite "traveling" theme song?  Does Hitch Hike count as a travel song? 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Flying Discs?

Hole #1 Knob Hill 
Monday, April 2, 2012 - GPS coordinates find me in Marshall Township, walking and exploring the Thorn Hill Trail with my buddy, Mary.  It's a nicely wooded hilly trail that skims Knob Road and a park aptly named Knob Hill Park.  I say aptly because true to it's name the park sits atop a nicely manicured hill, a knob if you will, circled by forest.  We decided to explore the perimeter of the park and kept coming upon these "things," which I thought had something to do with parking your bicycle as there are chains hanging down.  Hmmm, unusual to ride a bike up this grassy hill, but what did I know?  

We spot a couple and their two dogs, getting ready to do...what??  Then, colored flying discs are threading their way through the trees like frisbees....and hey!  it's a competition.  The young girl had quite a delivery, too, I must say.  And as it turns out, yours truly, has discovered Disc Golf...and, here we were right smack in the middle of the golf course.  Sorry, folks!   I had never heard of Disc Golf and the young couple took time to show us the ropes, even offered to let us try our hand at a hole in one...uh, I don't think so!  I found it interesting that their 2 dogs did not try chasing the discs (unfortunately I kept calling them frisbees), the cute guy said his dogs are trained not to even try.  He gave us a demonstration and it was true, but they will chase a stick or two.   Good dogs!
Map: Pittsburgh Flying Disc Society
Check it out: Knob Hill Park in Warrendale, PA 

Then I discover there's this whole league, Pittsburgh Flying Disc Society, and there are courses in Schenley Park, Moraine, Deer Park, and others all across the country.  You can find them here:  There are local leagues, national leagues and pros.. I just never knew!!  See what you can discover if you just get out there and look!

Am I the only person who never knew of this sport?  Leave me a message, I'd love to know!

So, I explored a new park and discovered a new was a good Pioneer Girl day.  Thanks for reading.. over and out for now...xoxoPG

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Hipping and Hopping...Islands that is.

Where? Bamboo Island
January 5, 2012 - Seen on Bamboo Island...Guess who!  yes PG was here!!  Speedboating to the Islands off of Krabi..just like James Bond.  Bamboo Island is a flat evergreen island with beautiful white sand and perfect clear sea.  Speedboating is just a little rough on the sea, similar to a long, bouncing Kennywood ride, felt like I was on the Thunderbolt for quite a while.  But check out the scenery getting there!  Vertical limestone mountains jutting out of the sea... so super awe inspiring..

After leaving Bamboo Island, we headed to a few hidden coves where we jumped in the refreshing water, did some snorkeling in Monkey Cove amongst the longboats and coral reefs with lots of waving fish of yellow and blue stripes, and then snacked on fresh cut watermelon, pineapple, and papaya.

Guess Who
Carlito's Bar - Phi Phi Island
On to Phi Phi Island...this is the largest of the islands and is where The Beach was filmed in 2000, and it was the island devastated by the Indian Ocean Tsunami in 2004.   When you look out at the sea from the bay of the beach,surrounded by two very tall limestone ridges how frightening it is to imagine seeing a 10' high wave and an 18' high wave...two bays..two huge waves...coming your way.    Happened in December, full of tourists.  Thousands of people were missing, some estimate the figure post-tsunami at about 4,000 (including tourists)

After lunch, we headed back across the Andaman Sea...a brief stop at Monkey Island , and back to Krabi to relax at hotel..the Pakasai Hotel is awesome, and btw Pakasai was the name of Krabi when it was a sub-county and under the King Rama officials used to catch elephants there, and Pakasai became Krabi province.  A little PG history here.

Today is my last day of my Thailand Adventure.. Taking care of sundry items, packing, repacking, getting documents together, tending to a little sun burn..but I do believe I have it in me for another Thai Massage (had a Thai Reflexology massage yesterday...bliss..)   I have lots of experiences and memories that I will keep for a long time, and savor next visit to ....   Peace and Love, and remember wherever you are, you are there...xoxo PG

Friday, January 6, 2012

Why the Caged Birds Sing in Thailand

Red-Whiskered Bulbul photo Phi Phi Island

January, 2012 - I have seen time and time again outside of shops, homes, cafes, bamboo cages and with lovely warbling birds..the red-whiskered bulbul (nok krong hua juck).   They have a beautiful singing voice.   Being a wildlife enthusiast myself, I do have mixed feelings about caging these lovely species.  The Thai's do have a bird trade and some have a particular kind of bird trap to catch these fruit eating birds.  While here in this culture, I look beyond my own personal feelings about caging birds (we actually had an exhausted trained carrier pigeon on our balcony last night...cats going crazy, but he would not move...he continued on his journey by morning)

Bird Singing Contest outside of Nichada
The Thai's hold bird singing contests (or golden voice contests) and we did come upon one outside of Nichada, where I am staying. I took this photo from the motorbike but we did decide to stop to see how the competition is conducted (mostly in rural communities by the way).  Lots of whistle blowing, and bets being made, the referee listens and counts each note apparently.  We never figured out the rules but it was fun to watch.  

So I guess the caged birds sing because they and their owners love for them to sing...and perhaps bring some extra Bahts..  I can also tell you that morning, noon, and night the trees sing out full of mynas, oriental turtle doves, peaceful doves, barbets and so many others in the canopy below us.   Keep singing..for now this bird is still free.....xoxo PG

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Wonderful, Mahvalous, Prodigious Thailand

PG looking like Survivor Girl
January 3, 2012 -         We are staying on the Island of Krabi on the coast of the Andaman sea which is a labryinthe of erupting vertical islands and long tail boats.  The town is called Ao Nang and is filled with inns, shops, cafes and Thai Massage shops on every block.  You can also catch a boat to the isolated beaches of Phra Nang Cape, where the famous former hippie colony of Railey Beach is located.  (more on Railey Beach soon)     The bays and coves of Krabi have sheltered pirates, merchants and sea gypsies for thousands of years. 
Couple of Sea Gypsies

 In fact, here's a couple of blonde sea gypsies I spotted right in front of me!  Let's Go! Krabi!

Today we visited ThanBok Khornee National Park on Krabi for some kayaking on a lagoon through beautiful mangrove forests and giant limestone cliffs. After getting off to a rough start with coordinating paddling efforts and going around in circles, we got our sh** together and off we went.   The peaceful kayaking took us through caves dripping with sharp limestone stalactites and erupting with stalagmites.   The cliffs were amazing and our companions were all super cool.  
Entering First Cave

 We finished up in a large cave called the Big Head Ghost Cave with ancient cave drawings estimated to be over 3 thousand years old.  Yours truly had to climb through the cave barefoot as I have a fear of wet flip flops...and some of you will know why.  See the pic below ...and can you tell why it's called Big Head Ghost Cave?  

Big Head Ghost Cave

Okay so here's a word I've been wanting to use on my blog since I got here, because..well because I'm feeling very prodigious right now...wonderful, mahvalous, PRODIGIOUS!  Onward to Railley Beach today.  I hope you all have a prodigious day too..  

Peace and Love...xoxoPG

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Fly with the Greatest of Ease..

December 30, 2011 - Our visit to Chaing Mai in northwestern Thailand was awesome..  a much anticipated zip lining experience across the rainforest canopy is a must-do.  We hired a skilled driver for the day , traffic is in a constant state of snarl in the populated areas, best to leave it to the pros.

The day started with a visit to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep,a temple high in the mountains (over 5,000 feet) overlooking Chaing Mai (Mount Thai Suthep) lunched at the butterfly and orchid farm, and then finally a visit to the rainforest.  Our driver hooked us with with an eco-friendly,  private zip-lining experience run by local Thai's (no tied up Gibbons for human amusement).

Outfitted with harnesses, helmets and gloves and two hang-lines, we flew from treetop to treetop with cables and pulleys on a cable high above the forest floor...super fun. Now, yours truly PG has a fear of heights which was quickly surpassed by flying through the air with the greatest of ease.  We flew connected with about 12 platforms, the most impressive about 500 meters (about 1/3 mile) emerging from the jungle and flying low across a beautiful lake.  On this particular leg, we were hooked up on our backs so that we could fly like "superman" across the lake...oh, and since its a long flight this position would enable us to make it all the way across...  Well not for your truly.  I almost made it as my guides waited patiently on the platform.  I got about 15 yards from them and then started going backwards back across the lake.  What the heck!  HELP!  I heard lots of laughter on the shore and I continued to drift until one of the guides hooked up and started his way across to rescue me.  At the same time, I went into rescue yourself mode and started to walk my hands across the cable to meet him.  I highly recommend a zip-lining trip.  Once you get past the do I land fear, it's an awesome flight.

Heading to the beaches of Krabi today, more adventures to come!  Thanks for following me on my trip.  PG is savoring it all...  Keep your eyes open...xoxo PG