California Archives

June 30, 2008

Ferry Building San Francisco

San Francisco Ferry Building

I decided to play tourist in San Francisco. It has been years since I have actually spent some time walking around the City. I hadn't seen the Ferry Building and I love food markets so that was top on my list. I also realized that I had never been to Coit Tower so that went on the list. I also meet up with Colleen to view the Chihuly installation at de Young and go to dinner at SPQR.

The reason for the quick trip to the Bay Area was the 3rd annual Slow Travel Bay Area Picnic in the Redwoods. I've missed the previous two and so I made a point this year to attend. G didn't want to go as usual.

I flew to Oakland and picked up a car. I had checked on line for parking places since that can always be a pain. I found several good resources for parking:

Parking Quest

I ended up parking at 75 Howard that I found on the Ferry Building website. I arrived just in time for lunch. Boy were there too many choices. I ended up having a tamale. I can never resist a good tamale.

The stone fruit was just coming in. Frog Hollow had outstanding apricots, nectarines and early peaches. Lots of great strawberries. In the main building there were also some very neat stores such as the store selling just mushrooms, chocolate, gelato, seafood, meat, wine. I also realized that we have some fine farmers markets here in Seattle. We just can't grow as much produce.

San Francisco Ferry Building

San Francisco Ferry Building

San Francisco Ferry Building

San Francisco Ferry Building

San Francisco Ferry Building

San Francisco Ferry Building

San Francisco Ferry Building

San Francisco Ferry Building

San Francisco Things To Do

July 5, 2008

Coit Tower San Francisco

Detail of mural at Coit Tower

I realized that I had never been to Coit Tower so I decided to climb the Filbert Stairs to top. Yelp had some great comments on the climb. Unfortunately, I was not going to be able to make the tour of the murals. But I want to keep San Francisco City Guides in mind for next trip. You can get a good view of most of the murals from within the lobby.

I took the F Trolley line along the Embarcadero and got off at the base of Telegraph Hill. It was a short walk over to Filbert Street. There are actually two sets of stairs. The other set goes up Greenwich but I had heard that Filbert was more scenic.

They start steep and sterile looking but soon pass through beautiful gardens along the hillside of Telegraph Hill. The gardens are filled with tropical wonderland of plants.

At the top, there are good views off towards the financial district, North Beach, and into the bay.

Trolley along  Embarcadero


Stairs to Coit Tower

Stairs to Coit Tower

Stairs on Telegraph Hill

Stairs to Coit Tower

Napier Lane
Stairs to Coit Tower

View from Coit Tower

Coit Tower

Detail of mural at Coit Tower

Detail of mural at Coit Tower

Detail of mural at Coit Tower

Detail of mural at Coit Tower

San Francisco Things To Do

July 7, 2008

Road Trip

It is almost time for our road trip to California. We're driving down for a family get together that I mentioned earlier. We're going to spend a few days ahead in Mammoth. I found a nice rental - Snowcreek in Mammoth. The owner has been great to work with and it should be nice. We stayed in Mammoth in 2004 when we climbed Mt. Whitney.

After our get together, we'll head back up the California coast and spend some time in Fort Bragg. We found a nice cottage to rent in Fort Bragg. It will give us a day or two to explore the area before heading back up through the Redwoods and home. If anyone is interested in exploring the Redwoods, I highly recommend the website Redwood Hikes. .

July 20, 2008

Back home

We're back from the road trip. We had a great time. The drive down went very smoothly. We stayed at The Palm Cottages in Ashland. It is a great funky mid-century motel. We loved the gardens and the funky decor. The next day we drove through Lassen National Park and down through Reno to Mammoth. We didn't notice any smoke until we got to Reno. We couldn't even see the mountains surrounding Reno - it was terrible. The second day was pretty long - 10 hours driving almost non-stop.

Mammoth was wonderful as usual. I liked our condo much better than the condo we had last time at Mammoth Inn. Snowcreek Condo was wonderfully equipped and the owner was great to work with. He had a lot of small extras which made a nice stay. We did two hikes. The mosquitoes were terrible but the flowers were great.

Next we met up with our family at Annett's Mono Lodge outside of Bridgeport. There were 20 of us and 4 generations. We had a great time talking and enjoying the outdoors. We even got the local hot springs but we were scared off by the thunder. It hailed and rained back at the camp which put a bit of a damper on the night be we all pitched in and cleaned up.

We spent a few more days in the Valley and then we headed for the Mendocino coast. We stayed at a very interesting Zen cottage just north of Fort Bragg. Very private. We never saw the owner and it was so peaceful and serene.

We finished up the vacation with a drive through the redwoods, a night in Grants Pass and another long drive home. Our cat was so glad to see us. She has been quite vocal about how upset she was that we went away and hasn't left my side.

July 31, 2008

Drive to Mammoth Lakes

Mt Lassen National Park

July 6 - July 8, 2008
California Road Trip and Family GTG

My niece organized a family camping get together at Twin Lakes outside of Bridgeport. We decided to drive down and spend a couple of days relaxing at Mammoth Lakes before joining the family. It would give us a chance to take our hybrid on a road trip and visit one of our favorite areas in California.

We drove to Ashland Oregon the first day. For a distraction, we took the Silver Falls Scenic Drive Loop through the small Oregon communities of Woodburn, Mt Angel, and Silverton. Lovely vistas of the rich agricultural area of Willamette Valley. We stopped at Silver Falls State Park for a picnic lunch. It is a great state park with lodge built in 1940. We didn't get to do any of the hikes to the falls but would love to come back when we have more time.

A quick stop at the Costco in Eugene for gas (4.12/gal), we made it to Ashland around 4pm. We stayed at The Palm Cottages in Ashland. It is a great funky mid-century motel. We loved the gardens and the funky decor. We had a good dinner at Standing Stone Brewery in downtown Ashland.

We hit the road early the next day since we planned on driving all the way to Mammoth. We turned off at Mt. Shasta and drove through Lassen National Park. The flowers were in their prime and it was a gorgeous clear day. But we could see the smoke billowing to the south from the fires around Paradise. We passed several roads closed between Quincy and Chico and there was a lot of activity from helicopters carrying water and road crews.

Around 5pm we made Reno. Another stop at the Costco for gas (4.09). The haze from the smoke was pretty bad. You couldn't see any of the mountains towards Tahoe it was so hazy. The drive down 395 was lovely as it winded along Walker River. Unfortunately, there had been a bad fire a couple of years ago and the craggy Jeffrey pines were reduced to black sticks. Just before we reached Mono Lake, a bobcat scrambled down the rocks along the highway and dashed in front of our car. It was so cool to see the wild cat. We pulled into Mammoth shortly before 8pm. It is at 8,000ft so we had a little difficulty sleeping the first night.

Mt Lassen National Park

Kings Creek Meadow - Lassen National Park

Mt Lassen National Park
Lake Helen - Lassen National Park

Mt Lassen National Park
Eagle Peak - Lassen National Park

Mt Lassen National Park
Mule Ears - Wyethia angustifolia - on the slopes south of Lassen

August 1, 2008

Sky Meadow

Sky Meadow Hike

July 8, 2008 - Mammoth Lakes California
California Road Trip and Family GTG

The Mammoth condo is great. It is one bedroom with a living room. It has everything we need and is very clean. We decide to go out for breakfast at the Good Life Cafe. It is warm and sunny and we can sit outdoors.

We decided to take it easy and do a short hike from Lake Mary to a Sky Meadows. (4 miles RT, 970 elevation, 10,050ft high point). It is just a short 5 miles from the town area to the basin of Mammoth lakes at around 9,000 ft. The parking for the trailhead just past Coldwater Campground just beyond Lake Mary. It serves both Sky Meadow and Duck Pass which was our second choice.

The trail ascended gently through the open forest. After about .9 miles, we came to Emerald Lake. There were several families who had come out to the lake to fish. The mosquitoes were out in force so we slathered on DEET. Unfortunately, I didn't put any on my arms. I thought they would be fine because I was wearing long sleeves. Not a chance! They feasted on my arms through the cloth.

The trail continues around the left side of Emerald lake passing a junction with a trail up over to join Duck Pass trail. It crosses over the Coldwater creek which feeds the lake and continue along the stream with the banks filled with flowers; monkeyflower, lupine, swamp onion, phantom bog orchids, and paintbrush for another .3 miles before entering Gentian Meadows. Across the meadow is a wonderful view of Blue Crag. The meadow was filled with elephant head, spirea, lupine, paintbrush, corn lily.

Continuing on and up through the open forest, you come to a water fall. At the top is Sky Meadow. We spent about an hour exploring the area. On the rocky slopes we found gorgeous paintbrush, coyote mint, blue penstemon, pink rock penstemon, western columbine, Above the meadow were the granite crags.

We returned to the condo for a relaxing evening.

Sky Meadow Hike Emerald Lake

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August 4, 2008

Little Lakes Valley

Little Lakes Valley Chickenfoot Lake

July 9, 2008 - Mammoth Lakes California
California Road Trip and Family GTG

Day 4 dawned and I glanced out the window to discover the smoke from the fires north of Tahoe had drifted along the eastern Sierra slopes. I could barely see mountains.

We decided to return to Rock Creek area to hike up Little Lakes Valley to Chickenfoot lake. We had been in the this area in 2004 and hiked to Mono Pass when we were training for Mt. Whitney. The trail to Mono Pass starts at the same trail head. We could see the valley from the trail and wanted to return some day and explore the area.

We drove south on Hwy 395 about 15 miles to Tom's Place and turned in Rock Creek Road. This road climbs up in a short 10 miles along creek lined with aspens and rock slopes filled with brilliant tall red penstemon, lupine, white prickly poppy (argemone) and coyote mint to the trail head past Rock Creek Lake. The elevation at the trailhead is 10,300ft. It seems strange to be able to drive to a point higher than Camp Muir.

The area is called Mosquito Flats and it is well named. I was prepared this time and covered my body with deet. The flowers started right at the parking lot. The area is white sandy volcanic soil and can be hot but the day was fortunately overcast. The trail climbs along Rock Creek, a favorite of fly fishermen and is surrounded by mountains. At .5 miles, you reach the junction with the trail to Mono Pass. Keep left and head towards Morgan Pass. Shortly after the junction, you reach a short rise and can see the valley laid below and ringed with tall peaks.

The valley is a chain of interconnected lakes. You pass the first lake, Mack Lake and then climb a short bit to the next lake, Marsh Lake and soon reach Heart Lake. Along the lakes you pass wet grassy meadows with willows and elephant heads. Leaving the lake, you climb up through rock slope filled with gorgeous white and blue columbines before coming to Long Lake with the peaks getting closer. Past Long Lake, you climb up to higher meadows. The trees have shortened and the rocks are granite. There is a turn off to Chicken Foot lake which is more alpine. It is ringed on one side by small pines and on the other side by the granite face of Mount Morgan. The meadows along the shore are filled with a very cool form of kalmia. It was our destination for the day (5.8 miles RT, 800ft elevation gain, 11,100 FT high point).

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August 15, 2008

Volcanic Eastern California

Hot Creek Geological Area Hot Creek Springs Near Mammoth

July 10, 2008 - Mammoth Lakes California
California Road Trip and Family GTG

Day 5. We checked out of our condo and had a couple of hours to kill before meeting our family. We decided to do the volcanic driving tour. The area is surrounded with geological features like hot springs, calderas, obsidian domes.

We topped off our tank (4.99/ gallon ! ). We knew it was 5.30/gallon in Bridgeport so we filled up in Mammoth where it was a little cheaper. We stopped off at the visitor's center where we picked up the brochure for the drive.

Our first stop was Hot Creek Geological area. The creek from Mammoth flows towards Crowley Lake. Along the way, it mixes with hot springs to become Hot Creek and enters a gorge. You can drive to a lookout over the hot springs where there are turquoise and yellow colored seeps and pools. Previously, you could use the hot springs but they have been closed recently due to scalding hot water.

Next stop was Inyo craters. To reach the crater, you a back road towards Mammoth and turn off on a dirt road. We weren't completely certain which direct road to take since we didn't see a sign coming from the opposite way. We took a chance on one of the roads and came across a wonderful meadow filled with mariposa lilies. We were hoping to see these lovely flowers. We pulled off to the side and walked across the crunchy prickly pine needles and enjoyed the beauty and solitude. And we were on the right road. We came soon to the parking area for the crater and walked a short distance to the rim. Below is in the crater was a brilliant blue lake.

Next up, Obsidian Dome.I was curious about this area especially since there was an interesting sounding wildflower hike. We have never done the hike because it is across white glass pebbles that can be hot on sunny days but I wanted to see the dome. It is a mile long pile of black obsidian glass. It was formed by slow moving lava from an eruption about 500 years ago.

It was getting late so we headed towards Mono Lake but made one more stop to see Panum Crater. It was too hot by this time and the area was very exposed. We walked to the rim and that was enough for me. We headed to a picnic area next to Mono Lake where we found a bit of shade. We shared our cheese sandwiches with one of the local gulls.

We headed into Bridgeport and turn off to Twin Lakes and Annett's Mono Village at the end of the road. We didn't know if our family would be there yet or not. The drive was pretty across a large open pasture before reading the foothills and the mountains closed in around us. We reached the lake and continued along the shore until we reached the Village. We pulled into the office parking lot and arrived just after our family. Great timing.

Volcanic Eastern California
Hot Springs Geological Area

Volcanic Eastern California
Hot Springs Geological Area

Volcanic Eastern California
Field of Mariposa Lillies - Calochortus leichtlinii

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August 24, 2008

Carson Pass

Wyethia mollis

July 12, 2008 - Carson Pass
California Road Trip and Family GTG

Day 7. We had fun filled three days together with the family. Good times were had around the campfire. We also spent some time at the Buckeye Hot Spring. Black mud, hot water but lots of fun for the family.

Buckeye Hot Springs

We decided to drive back ourselves so we could stop and do a quick hike. I thought at first that it would be good to go back over Sonora Pass which was closest but after reading my hiking book, it said that the Pacific Crest Trail at Carson Pass - Hwy 88 - had the best wildflowers. Sold.

We stopped in Bridgeport and had breakfast at the Hays Street Cafe. Wonderful. G had an omelett and I had the usual eggs and hashbrowns.

We headed north back up Hwy 395 and turned off at the turn off to Monitor Pass. On the Eastern slope of the Sierras, it is a steep climb up rising often 4,000-5,000 feet in a few miles to the crest of the pass. Our little Honda Civic Hybrid did its best but I ended up having to shift down to second to climb to the top. The views were stunning back over the great basin.

Monitor Pass

Once over the top, we traveled through Markleville before turning on to Hwy 88 and back to the top of Carson Pass at 8,573-foot. We pulled off to the Meiss parking lot on the north side and pulled out our parking pass.

The flowers started immediately. There were also lovely craggy junipers (Juniperus occidentalis) among the boulders. Dust was everywhere. We meandered along to a stream where G was able to find some yellow penstemon. A bit farther, a stunning Monument plant. Here is another bit about the flora of the trail.

The clouds were gathering and the sky darkened. We expected thunder at any minute so we turned back. It was a quick trip down to the blistering heat of Stockton. We arrived just minutes after our parents.

Here are some more pictures.

Aspens at Monitor Pass

Carson Pass - Juniperus occidentalis
At the foot of the old juniper trees

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September 2, 2008

Fort Bragg and Mendocino

Mendocino Botanical Garden

July 16-17, 2008 - Fort Bragg
California Road Trip and Family GTG

Days 10-11 It was finally time to say farewell to the family and head back to the Pacific Northwest. We wanted to return via the coast and spend some time in Fort Bragg. Our last trip along the coast was in the mid-80's.

First we loaded up the car with some of my mother's furniture that I was storing at G's parents. We got it all stuffed in the care with a little bit of room to spare. We waved good by and headed across the delta to the coast.

We stopped in Healdsburg for lunch. We had a couple of tasty sandwiches and great beers at Bear Republic Brewery. We continued up 101 and turned off a Cloverdale to drive through Anderson Valley. We stopped in Boonville. It is a very cool little town. I particularly liked All that Good Stuff store. Lovely gifts with a French flair.

We continued on and stopped for a tasting of award winning wines at Navarro Wines in Philo. We tried a very tasty Rose, Riesling and Gew├╝rztraminer.

Soon we entered the redwoods. The air was cooler and salty. We were nearing the coast. We stayed two nights in a private rental above Fort Bragg. It was a perfect getaway. We had a tasty dinner at North Coast Brewery.

Next day was plant day. We headed off to the Mendocino Botanical Garden. We were amazed at the diversity of plants that would grow in the area. It is at the northern edge of growing region of many of our favorite Mediterranean plants. We explored the beds and worked up an appetite.

We had an amazing lunch at Moosse Cafe. It was recommended in our rental as a good place for vegetarians and it was. Lots of fresh seasonal food and good fish choices. We walked around the town for a while admiring the large echiums.

Our last stop for the day was at Hortus Botanicus so G could be temped by some exotic tender perennial that he could do without. He found several. Fortunately, he was limited by the furniture we had in the car.

The next day it was time to say good by to the coast and we headed off for the redwoods.

Here are some scenes from gardens and Mendocino.

Romneya coulteri Matilija Poppy

Matilija Poppy


Dierama or Fairy Wand Flower

Mendocino Botanical Garden

Mendocino Botanical Garden

Continue on ...

Continue reading "Fort Bragg and Mendocino" »

September 3, 2008

California Redwoods

California Redwoods

July 18-19, 2008 - Redwoods and home
California Road Trip and Family GTG

Days 12-13 The day was misty as we headed back up the tortuous curves of Hwy 1 to Hwy 101. This section between Fort Bragg and Leggett is not heavily traveled. It had been closed recently due to a forest fire and we passed several burned out shoulders along the way. The sun broke out and we joined up with Hwy 101 to head north.

I used the David Baselt's outstanding Redwood Hikes website for our planning. We only had a short time to visit and I wanted to be able to see as much as possible. I decided on the Roosevelt Grove in Humboldt State Park and Stout grove in Jedediah Smith Redwood State Park. My friend E also highly recommended the drive through Stout Grove near Crescent City.

We decided our first stop would be the Roosevelt Loop in Humboldt Redwood State Park just off the Avenue of the Giants. We turned off at Mattole exit and drove along the river. We missed the turn off and had to turn around. There was no one else in the parking lot and we could still feel the morning chill. The trail was short but it gave us a good idea of the giants of these forests.

We headed on and got gas at the Costco in Eureka. It was pretty expensive even for a Costco at $4.60/gallon. We stopped at another brewery for lunch - Six River Brewery just north of Arcata.

Our next stop was at Stout Grove. We saw the sign just before Crescent City and turned off on to Howland Hill Road. This is very cool road that eventually becomes a dusty dirt road curving between the big trees. We took a short walk through the grove and then headed into Oregon for Grants Pass.

We spent our last night in Grants Pass. The next day we drove straight up I-5 and home to the kitty. A quick but enjoyable two weeks.

Here are some photos of the redwoods. I found them extremely difficult to shoot. The bright sun shinning and the dark shadows made it very difficult for exposing.

California Redwoods

Roosevelt Grove - Look closely - You can see me in red at the base of the trees

California Redwoods
Winding path in Roosevelt Grove

California Redwoods
Lovely oxalis meadow in the shadow of the giants in Roosevelt Grove

California Redwoods
The dirt road through the giants at Jedediah Smith Redwood State Park

California Redwoods
Late Afternoon sunrays through the Stout Grove

February 5, 2009

Point Lobos State Reserve

Pt Lobos
Carmel Bay from Cannery Point - Point Lobos California

I love the drive along California coast on Highway 1. Growing up in the California central valley, Monterey and Big Sur were just a few hours away and perfect for a quick weekend getaway. Asilomar was a popular place for school trips. Just a bit farther down the road is the wonderful Big Sur where we would go camping. In 1968, the summer of love, my parents and I drove along Hwy 1 to Long Beach to see my half sister. Her husband was in Vietnam. All along the way we passed hippies hitch hiking along the way.

I got off the plane last Friday and I could tell the weatherman was right. It was going to be a warm and sunny day. I couldn't resist a coastal road trip. I got my bag, rented my car and was on the road by 10am. It took about 1 hour to drive from San Jose to Monterey. I forgot to research where to eat in Monterey. I drove around downtown a bit and finally decided to just pick up a sandwich and picnic at Pt Lobos.

Pt Lobos is at the gateway to Big Sur. It is a landscape of rocks, headlands, craggy coves and meadows. Luckily Pt Lobos was acquired by an owner who had the foresight to protect it. It has been under the protection of the California state park system since 1933. The entrance fee is $10.00. The road curves around the headland with places to park and walk out to the headlands or along the cliffs.

First stop was at Whalers Cove. I sat at the picnic benches that were around the parking lot and watched the kayakers and divers. After I finished my sandwich, I took the trail up to headland above the parking lot to Cannery Point for views across Carmel Bay and back over Whalers Cove. There is a museum along the road but I didn't have time to stop.

I decided I only had time for one more short walk so I drove on towards China Cove. I made one quick stop at Weston Beach to see the lovely rocks that inspired the photography of Edward Weston and then on to the parking for Bird Island Trail. This goes a short distance to China Cove and then on to the headlands overlooking the cove. The cove is a lovely turquoise blue and stairs lead down to the beach. I decided to go on to the headlands above. I started noticing a glossy three leafed plant just starting to leaf out. Hmmm... sure looks like poison oak. It was all over. If you go here - be very careful and don't go off the trail. Those large bushes are filled with it.

Too quickly it was time to move on. I still had 90 miles to go to read Paso Robles and it was already 1pm.

Pt Lobos
View of Carmel Bay from Cannery Point - Pt Lobos

Pt Lobos - Bird Island Trail
Pt Lobos - Bird Island Trail

Pt Lobos
View of China Cove - Pt Lobos

Pt Lobos - China Cove
China Cove - Pt Lobos

Pt Lobos - China Cove
China Cove - Pt Lobos

Poison Oak
Poison Oak - Watch out!

Beach Rocks
Beach rocks at Weston Beach

Carmel Things To Do

February 6, 2009

Highway 1

Big Sur Coast

I traveled south on Highway 1 after leaving Point Lobos. It is difficult to continue driving and not turn into every pullout. But I couldn't resist stopping at every pullout. I had copied several tips from A Guide to Big Sur website. It is very useful because it lists exactly the highway marker to look for while driving south. I had wanted to go to the Pfeiffer Beach that I visited in the '90s and McWay Falls.

But it was hard. I kept pulling out and snapping photos. Eventually I approached Big Sur and noticed the burned undersides of the trees. The eastern side of the highway was fenced off and closed.

It was tricky finding the turn off to Sycamore Canyon and Pfeiffer Beach. I had direction in relation to the post office which I never found because it was south of the road. I just kept looking for a road to the west after the main Big Sur area. It has a lot of warnings on it since it is one lane. I didn't realize that it was not part of the state park but in fact part of the National Forest. So I had to pay another $5.00 to park. I was kinda bummed because I had a National Passport which would have allowed me to park for free if I had brought it along. I had thought about it but didn't think I needed it.

The beach was nice but I was running out of time. It was already 2:30. So I decided to continue on with no more stops. Okay... just one or two. The hills sides around Lucia were scarred by the fire. This area of the highway is susceptible to slides. The road became more and more windy. I didn't remember it this windy! I did make Cambria by about 4:00pm and I was able to stop at Peachy Canyon at 4:30 to pick up a couple of wines for our tasting. It seemed to take much longer but in reality it is about 3 hours straight.

Garrapata State Park
Garrapata State Park

Garraoata State Park
Garrapata State Park

Bixby Creek Bridge
Bixby Creek Bridge

Pfeiffer Beach - Big Sur
Pfeiffer Beach - Big Sur

Pfeiffer Beach - Big Sur
Pfeiffer Beach - Big Sur

South of Big Sur
South of Big Sur - Burns North Vista Point

Near San Simeon
Near San Simeon

Big sur Things To Do

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