Kevin Nelson

Great Stories Found Here

Category: Adventure

How to Survive a Trip to the top of Yosemite’s Half Dome

Note from Kevin Nelson: This piece won recognition in a travel writing contest sponsored by Dave’s Travel Corner, which drew entries from around the world. It’s about an adventurous trip to the top of one of the world’s most remarkable peaks. Here’s the start of the story, with the jump switching you over to Dave’s to read the exciting finale. Enjoy!

The plastic water bottle skidded off the granite and disappeared. It wasn’t the sound the bottle made that disturbed me. It was the silence that followed its rapid disappearance.

Along with twenty to twenty-five other people I was perched on the east face of Half Dome in Yosemite National Park, the world-famous granite slab that John Muir called “the most beautiful and most sublime of all the wonderful Yosemite rocks.” We were climbing the cables that lead up the backside to its 8,842-foot summit. The message in the bottle needed no translation. It was as clear as the pale blue sky above us.

Hug the cables tight, and we’d all be fine. They meant safe passage up and down. My problem was that I was feeling woozy and lightheaded, unsure if I should—or could—take another step upward. To read more, please click here….

Ziplining through the redwoods

There is a wealth of things to do in California’s wine country. Here is an activity you may not have thought of: Ziplining through Sonoma’s coastal redwoods.

A boy in flight.

My son and I took a “flight” through the forests of Occidental in Sonoma County, about two hours north of San Francisco. I’d heartily recommend it for families or anyone who is looking for something a little different than the usual Sonoma and Napa Valley pleasures of wine tasting and dining. Continue reading

What Dogs Can Teach Us About Overcoming Disappointment and Defeat

“Squirrel? Duck? What you got?” Ruby is ready to chase something at this pond.

On a walk this morning, Ruby lit out after a squirrel she saw at the foot of an oak tree. She went all out, from the drop, to get that squirrel.

She didn’t get it.

She did not in fact even come close. Squirrels appear to like to torture her and dogs in general. This one hesitated a second, as if to lure her in with the tantalizing possibility that she might catch it, only to scurry easily up the tree out of reach.

“Hah hah,” it squeaked. “Can’t catch me.”

Undismayed, Ruby trotted back to me after her fruitless chase, thinking nothing of it. It occurred to me that humans can learn a lot from dogs on how to handle disappointment and defeat. Continue reading

Fastest Cars at El Mirage, Then and Now

The races at El Mirage, circa 1948, compliments of the SCTA.

Fastest Car” is an entertaining automobile racing series that premiered on Netflix in the spring. Each hour-long episode pits a production supercar such as a Ferrari or Lamborghini against three “sleeper” cars built by garage mechanics. The cars square off in side-by-side drag races with the winners meeting up in the climactic finale at El Mirage dry lake in the high deserts of southern California.

During my research a few years ago for Wheels of Change, my friend Bob Newlon and I ventured out to check out the scene at El Mirage. It’s a fantastic place, and if you’re into cars, it’s worth a trip to see one of the SCTA-sanctioned races held there. The Southern California Timing Association has been running races there for half a century, and it is a first-class organization. The day we were there, we saw a car  break the 300 mph barrier. It was…MOVING!

The heyday of El Mirage and racing on the dry lakes was the 1940s and ‘50s when teenage hot-rodders such as Dean Batchelor and his buddies were running their fast cars there. From Wheels of Change, here is a little taste of the dry lakes scene back then: Continue reading

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