2008 Newsletter with Photos


Welcome to our belated photo account of 2008 (Beth writes in regular text. Carlos in italic.)

At the beginning of the year we went to Hawaii, to the Big Island (Hawaii) and to Maui. Dustin continued to add stamps to his National Park Passport, this time at Haleakela on Maui. One of the highlights of the trip was flying over the lava fields in a helicopter.  Both Carlos and I, on separate flights, sat in the co-pilot seat, so had great views of red-hot flowing lava, solidifying into pahoehoe (ropey basalt).

The Big Island Helicopter Flight

Fresh lava flowing out of the ground. Thin, shiny grey crust has solidified on red (barely visible in some places), moving lava. Hawaii, January 2008

Waterfalls as seen from helicopter

After a week on the Big Island, we flew to Maui. Photo taken on the rim of Haleakala caldera.

In February, I flew to San Antonio for a reunion of 1950s era alumni of American High School in Mexico City.  I stayed at Air Force Village, a place populated by retired Air Force officers, where my older sister, Penny and her husband, Ken, have a house.  My younger sister, Sandra, and Ernie were staying in their spare room, so I stayed in hotel-like quarters in the commons building.  The reunion included a boat tour with drinks and guacamole along San Antonio’s famed River Walk. At the reunion dinner, I received two awards (both a recording by the main organizer’s husband from his nascent singing career).  One was for best email signature; the other was for longest attendance at the American School (13 years—I flunked 3rd grade, which put me over a few that had attended a mere 12 years).  After 2 days of reunioning, I drove with my old school friend Raoul “Rat” Rodriguez to his house near Austin.  We went to a restaurant that specializes in exotic creatures and I had the mixed grill of game animals.    The next morning we visited the UT campus and Raoul drove me back to San Antonio.  The following day, Sandra, Ernie and I drove to Rainbow Bridge animal park and caves.  We bought animal feed and had some wild and scary moments when zebras and ostriches would stick their head in our car’s window to get food.  The cave tour was nice.  Not many stalactites because of a relatively frequent collapse of thinly layered limestone roof.  I spent the night in the Visiting Airmen’s Quarters on Lackland Air Force Base.  Inexpensive, and the AC didn’t work.


At the end of March, I drove alone to Owens Valley, east of the Sierra Nevada (Beth had to cancel at the last minute), for the Sacramento Volcano Society’s field trip, hosted by Dave Wagner and wife, Lynn Johnson, in Independence. We spent the next day looking at geologically young basalt flows, lava tubes and cinder cones.  The following day, we drove to China Lake Naval Weapons Station.  We were met by an escort from the geothermal power operations on the reserve.  We had to leave behind all cell phones, cameras and alcohol.  Besides seeing the power generating operations we visited a Yellowstone class hot spring area with large, steaming ponds, mud pots and fumaroles. We camped that night at the state’s Fossil Falls campground.  We had a great composite dinner of totally unrelated food items donated by everyone.  The last day of the trip, we hiked to Fossil Falls, a former river bed full of potholes and a dry fall, attesting to a much wetter climate during the ice ages.  Later, we drove and hiked to a unique geologic feature.  This is where apparently a basalt lava flow became a sill when it flowed into the ground, displacing and crumpling  layers of sedimentary rock while the layers above and below remained intact. 


First day of trip. Cinder cone and east side of Sierra Nevada in background.

Fossil Falls State Park. During the ice ages there was an enormous river running over this basalt. Note the potholes

When lava on the surface flowed into layers of sedimentary, it compressed some of the layers into the tight folds. Elsewhere in the canyon walls you can see the basalt that solidified into a sill.

Sandra's visit, Mt. Shasta & Lassen National Park (June, 2008)

We had two great visits from family. At the beginning of summer Carlos’s sister Sandra, and Ernie, came in from Florida.  They really saw a lot of California, and together we visited some Sacramento sites as well as up north around Lassen National Park and Mt. Shasta, in search of Plummer family roots (a great, great grandfather came out from New England during the gold rush without his family and never made it back).  We all had a wonderful time travelling together and are making plans for next summer in Canada. In the fall my brother Paul visited – happily his company sends him out every year or so to meet with clients, so we get to have some eye contact with my family – always nice to see him.


During Sandra and Ernie's visit,
we took them to Sutter's Fort in Sacramento. One of the living exhibits was a blacksmith and his shop. Dustin got to be his apprentice for awhile and really enjoyed
crafting horseshoes and other things.

Beth and Sandra below Lassen Peak, which last erupted in 1915

Snowbank in Lassen National Park. Beth, Dustin, Sandra, Charlie.

Lava tube near Lassen

Scenic Mt. Shasta

This is where Carlos, Sandra, and Charlie's ancestor, Thomas Plummer, lived during the Gold Rush days,
at a town then called Portuguese Flats.

MEXICO (July, August)

During the summer we took a nearly two week trip to Mexico – we first traveled much of the Copper Canyon on the Sierra Tarahumara and Chihuahua Pacific Railway – fantastic train and sites. Then we went to a time share north of Puerto Vallarta, on the west coast of Mexico – that too was lovely and relaxing.  Upon returning to the states I (Beth) took a small detour to Wyoming to join a paleontological field trip to a basin I’d never visited before. It was great to be back in Wyoming; while there weren’t many fossils there was some great geology to study.


Beth, Dusty and I had a long day (22 July) flying from Sacto to LAX, to Hermosillo, and to Los Mochis, where we were met by a travel agent, taken to town and then sent to El Fuerte on a van. El Fuerte is a Spanish colonial town. The Hotel Hidalgo, where we stayed was the stately mansion where the legendary El Zorro was born and raised during colonial times. We would have liked spending more time there, but had to get up early to catch the train to Copper Canyon. Photos are from hotel:


Dining Rooms

.......... Armor
Roots on tile floor

Stature of El Zorro

After several hour train ride, we were taken to the Hotel Mirador, overlooking part of Copper Canyon


View from our balcony. A Tarahumara settlement under overhangs is below us to left. Village seen the next day. Heavy rain from night before resulted in dripping walls of water.

The Tarahumara "cave" village. Our pink hotel is in the background.

Around noon we were bused back to railroad station and boarded train going west, back toward were we came from. We got off at Bahuichivo and took a bus to the village of Ceracahui and the Hotel Mission, another great place to stay. The next morning we went on a tour overlooking Urique River Canyon and other parts of the Copper Canyon.


Left. River overlook Right.The highlight of the tour is supposed to be the Gallegos Overlook. Unfortunately, it was in the clouds. We waited for about an hour, but the clouds never parted.

In the afternoon, we wandered around the town of Cerocahui to a small Cascade (left) and back to the hotel and the vinyard by our room (right).

Sunset from the church yard

During the morning we took a walk along country roads and trails. After lunch we were bused back to the train station and boarded the train going back to Los Mochis.

The train went down the complex route through many tunnels and bridges. It was essentially an even, downgrade from 7,000 feet to the coastal plain. It weaved into and out of mountains and crossed rivers often. I noticed that when you went through a long tunnel and emerged, the stream now alongside the train seemed to be flowing in the opposite direction from that when you entered the tunnel. This is because you couldn't sense the turning inside the tunnel as the train descended. Single tunnels turned as much as 270 degrees inside a mountain. We arrived in Los Mochis after 10 p.m. and were taken to the Santa Anita Hotel.

Next morning, 27 July, we flew to Mexico City and then to Puerto Vallarta and took a taxi to Nuevo Vallarta. We checked into our timeshare at the Grand Mayan and checked out the amazing pool complex, complete with 2 large wave pools, water slides and the Lazy River that looped around the pool complex. You could float around in big innertubes on artificially propelled current, under waterfalls and speed along a portion, propelled by a wave generator. A number of restaurants in the resort vied with excellent kitchen facilities in our two bedroom suite.

Left. Sand sculpters at he waterfront at Puerto Vallarta........................................ Right: One of the permanent art pieces along the waterfront. Dustin
has climbed up the ladder to nowhere.

Left: Sea horse sculpture. Right: A restaurant where we stopped for drinks

Market along the river

Beach in front of our time-share in Nuevo Vallarta. (Boulder brought in to prevent beach erosion.)


Two views of the water complex. The fake Mayan pyramid in each view has a water slide on the side away from the camera. (The two pictures act as a crude stereo-pair for 3-D viewing. I developed the ability to see 3D in a stereopair when you don't have a viewer. Relax your eyes as they each focus separately on the castle in each picture and get them to merge into one image in your mind.)


Part of the Lazy River ______________________________________________________Statue in the lobby of the Grand Mayon

Feet of a giant Mayan statue in the lobby.

Dustin has had a fun year with the scouts: in Monterey, the Sierra, Bodega Bay etc.  School also provided lots of distractions, such at trips to Yosemite and San Jose.  Over the summer he took classes (for kids) in bridge design and math puzzles. Dustin continues with piano and clarinet, loves soccer and might join the swim team – we’ll see.

BoyScouts near Bodega and marine biologist.

Not much to report about Charlie (now33) and Brian (31).  Charlie played bass guitar at his jazz ensemble class at Sac City College.  Brian has been taking photo shop and film editing classes at SCC. He seemed to have gotten over his psychosis of last year, but at the end of year he had to be hospitalized while visiting his grandmother in L.A. I had to fly down there a couple of times and drove a car back. He is doing better now but I am still concerned.

I guess the biggest thing of this year was having our atrium re-done.  A wonderful landscape architect designed the revision around a tropical theme.  We’re thoroughly enjoying it, despite the fact that it still is not completely finished.

Our Atrium


Carlos Plummer
Home page: http://www.csus.edu/indiv/p/plummerc/PLUMMER.HTM

Beth Strasser
Home page: http://www.csus.edu/indiv/s/strasserm/