Saturday, August 13, 2016

Aug 12

This gas powered wok was in our breakfast place. Since we are going over a pretty significant pass today, we bought snacks for lunch, including bags of peanuts, the equivalent of fruit roll ups (hawthorn berry), sesame sticks and Oreos (which I have decided are a good mood enhancer) and stocked up heavily on water. I have a Contigo coffee mug, which keeps water cold for a long, long time, a phenomenal luxury. 
One off the amusements at a resort. To me it looks like a huge number of 2-4 story houses, in a variety of western styles. I never saw any occupied while we rode through a "town" the size of Beckenridge. Marian says they are probably all sold, but are probably the 3rd home for ultra rich, who don't spend much time here. There were motor boats for rent, but no people to rent them. It is very common to see unfinished major development projects here. 
This could have been in the Netherlands. The road was in pretty good shape here. 
Not a very good picture. One thing I've noticed is the absence of wild animals. There isn't even road kill. But as we go further into the mountains, I see small things, like butterflies and a lizard. 
Another poor picture, but Marian guessed these are walnuts. Each place we pass through has it specialty. You can seen it in the street vendor's spreads. Sometimes it's peanuts, sunflower seeds or walnuts. Right around the town, you can see them growing the stuff and how it is "processed" (by hand).
The iPhone camera does not do this justice. I have climbed about half way up the pass. The road has remained amazingly good and is graded at maybe 6 or 7%, similar to the roads in the Rockies. 
I could tell there were sheep up here. Besides the pebble poops, I saw quite a number of hoof prints from sheep walking across still wet concrete. 
And this could have been the Rockies. About another kilometer up a boar the size of a Shetland pony ran across the road in front of me, snorting and barking. It disappeared into the brush uphill from me and barked menacingly. Pretty scary, but I hoped they were similar in behavior to black bears, and more scared of me than visa versa. 
Looks likes beargrass. 
About 1km from the top, the road goes to pot and turns into an Appalachian pass. The difference between roads in the Rockies and those in the Appalachians is the occurrence of snow. Appalachian roads go straight up, since snow is rare. 
We came up through this pass at Nan Gou Kou, between Yesanpo Scenic Area and Yunmengshan Royal Forest Park.
Ok. At the top of this giant pass, I met a guy. He got off his motor bike and sprayed water on the engine. I said hello in Chinese.  No response.  Using my phrasebook, I asked if he had seen my friend. No response. Then another guy comes walking up the pass. He had had to get off because the motorbike was over heating. AND THEY START SIGNING TO EACH OTHER. Now ibises to be a teacher of the deaf, so I signed "deaf" in American Sign Language. And they looked very surprised and repeated "deaf". Then we all laughed and I signed "weird", which they didn't know. I used Google translate to look up the Chinese word for weird and they laughed and showed me their sign for weird. But the sign for "different" is the same as the American sign. They told me Marian was about 2km down, but was coming. Out of the snippets of the 4 languages I know, I would never have guessed that American Sign Language would be the one I could communicate with in China.
These are the fruit roll ups: 

I have named these "rattletraps". They may be the most popular vehicles in China. 3 wheeled, with 2 cylinder engines, they are incredibly loud and sooty. Apart from coal trucks, these are the worst vehicles to me. Fortunately, they can be heard from a long ways off. Unfortunately, unlike the coal trucks, which are huge, rattletraps are found even at the tops of steep, isolated passes. 
At the top, corn and beans were being grown. The farmer was growing small trees, which he lashed together to be supports for the beans. 
Marian calls these waterworks. I just call them irrigation canals. The tunnels allow the water to keep flowing downhill at a constant rate. 
First verified, official sections of the Great Wall. It truly snakes across the landscape. 
And here is the original gate. It poured on us all the way down the pass, a welcome respite from the 90 degree, full sun days. However, this did make the roads more hazardous, since you could no longer see what was at the bottom of the potholes. We did not ceremoniously go through the gate. The water is highly contaminated by human and animal waste and best avoided, if possible. 
We watched a family process their sunflowers. The man rubbed off the remaining tiny flowers, while 2 women set them on the ground and whacked them with sticks to make the seeds pop out. 
All around the base of the wall are crops, even in town. 
Like in Europe, you can see the outlines of roofs up against the wall on both sides. Shopkeepers and homes would have been built impromptu, until officials came and knocked them down. 
The ramp up was very steep. You were assisted by wedges implanted in it. 
It is hard to see, but each course sticks out 1/4 to a full inch beyond the foot for the next course. 
The top here was in excellent shape. It has probably been repaired several times over thousands of years, according to Marian. 
Again, crops of sunflowers between the wall and the river. 
The outside of the wall is straight up, but the inside has a slight slope. 
Again, crops planted in every inch (not true, but it seems that way). 
Here the wall was cut and a new road passed through. The slope on the flat top was extreme, about the same as the ramp up, but without the benefit of the wedges. I can't see walking on it, even less taking a cart on it. 

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