Saturday, June 18, 2011

Yosemite...everyone was there today!

Remember, you can click on the pictures to enlarge them!

So was there a thing on the national news that said "everyone MUST go to Yosemite today!"? We got up at 6 am, left at 7:30 and got to the park at 8:30. We decided it would be fun to hike the little trail to the bottom of El Capitan, the very famous spot in Yosemite that is this really, really big rock. We parked the car, ate some snacks, and hiked to the base of it which was only a couple of miles. We got to see a brown bear on the return walk which was really neat too. All lovely and wonderful. Then we thought, we'll go check out bridalveil falls. Suddenly, there were so many people you'd of thought the Pope himself was scheduled to perform the electric slide with a resurrected Elvis singing backup. There was no place to park at any point. Even the sides of the road were filled with parked cars. We sat in traffic and took photos from the car which was OK but not what I had imagined. Yosemite Valley is that - a valley surrounded by big cliff walls. Unlike Yellowstone, it seemed liked you were confined to a circular road about the size of a football field, not quite that small really but seemed like it! Even the valet parking guys were just waving people on at the famed Awahanee Hotel! So we left that madness at 12:30 and thought we would go to Mariposa Grove to see the giant redwood sequoias. Several miles later there was a sign that said no parking, must ride shuttle. (sigh) So we sucked it up, and parked the car along the side of the road and got the shuttle. We saw some really huge trees but it was nothing like the Redwood Forest in Eureka. So many foreign accents along the trail in Mariposa Grove! Crazy, crazy..... We finally headed back to the house and stopped for pizza at an Italian restaurant on the way. I cant' believe what a day we had! We hiked probably about 5 miles and I was glad to see the sights that made Yosemite famous. It was also great seeing the falls made bigger from the flooding going on now so I really can't complain! Just wish there had been a few thousand fewer people in Yosemite today!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Dennis is the lean, mean driving machine!

The pool by our house. I just hope we find time to use it at least once!

The bedroom, and yes, that's a cow skin rug. Yucka doodle...........

The kitchen and dining area. They actually thought I would use the kitchen!

Mark Twain's cabin. He actually lived in this area

Me relaxing by the hot tub reading the guest info book.

Just one of the hundreds of curves on the way to Mariposa!

Cracy wind farms. Some had cows around them that looked like small dogs in comparison!

Today was another long drivin' day from Point Reyes to Mariposa - about 7.5 hours in all. We got to see LOTS of CA by following Highway 12 and drove through the biggest town, Lodi. We stopped for a fast lunch a McD's where they actually had a sign that said you could eat in their "lobby" for 20 minutes. WHAT? That wouldn't go over very well in WV, would it!? And there were some teen boys in there and one didn't have a shirt on. The manager yelled "We will not serve you! Get out or put a shirt on!" Everyone in the kitchen stopped and stared at him like time froze or something. So after that bizarre visit, we traveled on and saw hundreds of the big wind farm windmill things. They are huge and it looked like a scene from sci-fi movie. I never realized how many untouched acres there were in CA! The mountain pass to get to Mariposa was a real butt clencher. Narrow cliff roads with no guard rails for miles and miles. And Dennis driving like, well, like Dennis! Our house we are staying in is awesome but the drive is a doozy. A little dirt road up the side of a mountain. We have stunning views and the owners greeted us at the driveway. They gave us the grand tour and mentioned there had recently been a mountain lion sighting down the driveway. All I can say is nice kitty, kitty and pray he doesn't like the taste of WV hillbilly. They have a house just a few hundred feet away from this one. They also have a dog and two cats. We got to see a roadrunner in the tree above our car and that said it was really rare here so that was cool. They have hundreds of humming birds and she actually bands them and keeps track of them. Tomorrow we will be making the hour drive to Yosemite to see the sights there. So excited!

Ready for another day of adventure!

Ready to take off in our kayak!

Our little gang enjoying the views!

I was still warm in this photo at the start!

A minutes old calf near the lighthouse. Lucky cow

Looks a massacre but they're just sleeping. Really!

LOTS of steps to the lighthouse. Like climbing a 30 story bldg

Holding onto your had was a must. The winds all day were fierce and made us tired!

It's about 7:00am here in Point Reyes Station and I just had a bear claw from the local bakery with my tea. Yum! We were really tired after our kayaking tour last night as you read in the previous post. Yesterday was a great day! We loved getting to see elephant seals and harbor seals in their natural environment along the Chimney Rock hiking path at the Point Reyes National Seashore area. It was really odd passing acres and acres of dairy cattle on our way to the lighthouse but dairy is a big deal here in CA. We had to traverse 300 steps to get to the lighthouse which was a real workout but, as always, the views were awesome. Afterward, we hiked Chimney Rock and saw some signs along the trail that warned us to stay away from the cliff edge. Of course, we had to look. That's when we saw about 40 seals just hanging our on the beach, flipping sand on their backs with their flippers. Loved that! We also got to see a coyote running through the field on our way back to the main road!

After all that hiking, we went back to the main town to buy gas at 4.29 a gallon and got some lunch. We headed back to our cottage to rest up for the evenings adventure. I thought a kayaking tour meant we would be paddling alot but our guide had other ideas. There were 7 of us so she had 3 tandem kayaks and one single for some really tall guy. We were used to paddling a tandem so that was no problem. The other people were newbies though and we had to wait around for her to explain what a paddle was and blah, blah, blah. We helped her get the other people in their kayaks and we were off. It was neat seeing the little harbor seals pop their heads up to see what we were all about! We also saw a great horned owl and hundreds of comorants. The bad part was I was FREEZING along with a couple of the other girls. One had a soaking wet butt from a leaking spray skirt and she was miserable. The guide had "hot water" in a thermos for tea or hot chocolate but it ended up being just warm. So I stuck my hands in my tea instead. The others thought I was funny but my hands were shaking soooo badly I could hardly hold it! Then Dennis and I ran up and down the beach where we'd stopped for a break to help keep warm. They thought we were nuts. Dennis ended up paddling the trip back while I stuck my hands inside my jacket under my armpits to keep warm. We were paddling by moonlight at that point and it was beautiful, I have to admit. Our guide was good but she spent alot of time telling us every detail about every thing we came across and that was hard to listen to when you were numb! Why couldn't my ears have gone numb instead of my toes and fingers..........Anyway, we are off to Yosemite today! I hear the waterfalls are beautiful and we can't wait to see them!

Way tired!

This blog is going to be an abbreviated one! Dennis and I just got back from a "night paddle" that went from 6pm to 10pm. We never really paddled very hard and it was only a couple of miles but the guide was a real talker. It was fun but I froze and now we are tired. Will fill you in on the details tomorrow morning! Good night!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A long, long drive on Highway 1!

The famous Point Arena lighthouse. I saw a sign that warned dog owners to keep their pets on a leash. I can only assume it was to keep them from blowing away...The wind was about 80mph..........! That's why I am channeling the unibomber look.............

Yes, we actually followed a fire truck to a call! I had seen this smoke about 20 minutes before I saw the fire truck pull out. They probably made it in time to sweep up the ashes......No making good time on that road!

Beautiful views on Highway !!

Just a small section of the many miles of curvy, curvy roads. We actually had to stop a few time for construction where the lane had fallen into the ocean.

Sometimes, in your excitement to see coastal California, you forget just how BIG the state really is. We left Trinidad at 9:30 am and 8 hours later, we arrived in Point Reyes Station! At one point, I looked at the Garmin GPS and the road curved back on itself so many times, I thought I was seeing an image of my colon. Dennis said he sure he was going to wear off the surface of his steering wheel from making so many turns. This road puts Deal's Gap in TN to shame. Granted, there are some fabulous coastal views but there are also about 1,900 turns and if you are prone to car sickness, have several baggies available along your journey. We have traveled about 600 miles on our trip so far! At one point, I thought it would be nice if I could make a short restroom stop and Dennis pulled off onto one of the overlooks. I commented that one step over that railing, I could plummet to my death and a full bladder would quickly become a moot point. Awesome! Also, traveling in a convertible affords one many luxuries including the local smells along the way. We sniffed fields of cattle, local flowers, newly cut grass, and the odd smell of cat pee. We soon began to notice a connection between a lovely grove of trees and the smell each time we passed. I suggested it must be the rare Felineous Urinous species of tree but we can't be really sure until I check the internet. hahaha Ah, the joys of traveling in a convertible...........

We arrived at "Lolo's Cottage" in Point Reyes and it is a lovely little place to stay that has a back deck right on the bay. I can hear the water underneath my bedroom as I type right now. Let's hope the fault line can behave itself for the next couple of nights while we're here. It runs directly along this edge of the shore which worries me just a bit........We saw some houses that had dropped off into the ocean a few miles back today. Yikes!

Having again survived on peanut butter sandwiches, Combos, and Sun Chips, we splurged on an anniversary dinner at a really nice local restaurant. Happy 24th anniversary to us! I think we will surely sleep good tonight......We are tired!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


I'd hate to the size of the squirrel that would live in that tree!

This a real tree house!

It may have cost 6 bucks to drive through, but how often do you get to drive through a tree?!

Tiny, tiny me with a big, big tree

Shopping in historic Ferndale....

Carson Mansion was built in the early 1800's by a lumberman

Today was another cool, windy day in California but the sun was shining and it was a great day to see more redwoods! We began the day traveling south to Eureka to see the famous Queen Anne style home know as Carson Mansion. Eureka also has several other homes of the same style which were beautiful to look at and photograph. After that, we continued south to Ferndale to see the quaint little Victorian main street there and have some lunch. There was a large group of kids that Dennis swore he saw sitting in a restaurant eating. I said I didn't remember that at all but we walked main street a couple of times and he never did see where they were. There was a saloon in the area and Dennis thought maybe that was the place!haha Having starved yesterday, we stopped for Mexican that was delicious! (And in light of yesterdays food shortage, we packed the trunk with tons of food that we didn't even need! You just never know!) My big goal for the day was to visit the famous Avenue of the Giants and I must say it was just awesome! Who knew you could use giant coastal redwoods as houses, dance floors, gift shops, trucks, and even drive through one! They are awe inspiring giants that make you understand how very small you are in the scheme of things. They have been on this earth around 2,000 years. Our lives are just a drop in the bucket in comparison and I never get tired of looking up in wonder at them......

Tomorrow we will be leaving the quirky little town of Trinidad and heading way south to Point Reyes. So far, California is way cool!!!!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Another day of vacation fun!

Remember, you can click on the photos to see them larger!

Today, Dennis and I ventured north to see the Redwood State/National Forest and the Fern Canyon at Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. Seeing giant redwoods that make you feel like a little garden gnome has always been on my bucket list. We spent the larger part of the early morning staring up in amazement with our mouths hanging open. We hiked the long 1 mile loop (we swear it's longer) of the Lady Bird Johnson trail and saw giant snails and 4" long yellow slugs (banana slugs) that will numb your tongue if you lick them, or so we were told. Dennis might have liked it if I had tried this and rendered myself a silent back seat driver. But no...... pretty to look at, nasty to lick.......Afterward, we decided to go back down south and find the Fern Canyon trail, known for its 50 foot high canyon walls dripping with ferns. You had to drive a 4 mile long packed dirt road to get there but it was worth it. Beautiful drive through more big redwoods and forests. We didn't know it, but the the fern canyon was divided by a swift running stream that had to be traversed using ape-like agility, hopping from deadfall to deadfall and balancing like a trapeze artist to avoid soaking wet shoes. Oh, and there are no McD's in the area so our lunch consisted of a shared banana nut muffin, a half a Cliff bar, some Combo's, and some day old corn chips from the airport lunch the day before! Good eatin'! But you really don't care about food when your skipping your way through God's glorious creations in nature, or so I kept telling myself. After our adventurous day of hiking, we headed back to Trinity and had lunch/dinner at the little restaurant down the hill from our house, We stuffed ourselves on shrimp (me) and burgers (Dennis), fries, cheesecake, and anything else that didn't move! It was a wonderful, wonderful day in spite of the heavy mist this morning and cool temp's all day. Hope you enjoy the pic's! 'Til tomorrow!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

So it's 11:55 am here in San Diego and about 60*. (I feel at least 3 hours younger! haha) We got to try out the new body scanning security system which made me very happy. Remember, I always get picked to have the pat down at any airport so this was a refreshing change, no matter what all they saw! I asked her if it picked up my titanium hip and ankle and she said it just "reflected what was on the exterior of the body" and made note of my metal jewelry. We had to do security AGAIN because they run you outside to get to another terminal and we switched from Delta to United Air. Everything has gone really smoothly so far. We got to see the Grand Canyon and the Rockies from the plane during our last flight. I slept about 40 minutes so I will, maybe, be able to stay awake when I get to Eureka! We are going from the southern end of CA to the northern most point of CA before we even start our vacation! Will check in later!

California...Here we come!

We are finally on our way and so far, no problems. We were a bit worried about making the flight from Detroit to San Diego because it was boarding as we were exiting our first flight! We hurried to the front of the plane and rushed to the steps to go this "ginormous" tunnel at the Detroit airport. Then we rode a monorail to get to our gate and all with 15 minutes to spare. Dennis always says he hates sitting in airports! Not a second of sitting there! So now I am in the plane at 33,001 feet looking down on Chicago. I would watch a movie on this flight but it costs $6.00!! Really??!! Dennis is complaining that he is hungry and could eat a horse right now. We forgot our snacks!! Will update more later!