29 October 2010

Day (5) ...

Garberville, CA
 We spent last night in Garberville, CA.

It is a very small town with a population of about 2,500 and is located in Humboldt County.

View from hotel balcony this morning

Not much to see but fog & trees so we headed out of town early this morning to go find the Giant Redwoods.

Agenda:  Tour the "Avenue of the Giants".

The Avenue of the Giants is a 32 mile stretch of an old road that was originally built for use by stagecoachs & wagons.

The Avenue winds through some of the most beautiful forested land I have ever seen.

It meanders through the Humboldt Redwoods State Park (53,000 acres) which has the largest remaining stand of virgin coast redwoods in the world (17,000 acres of old-growth coast redwood forest).

Mike standing amid  3 giant redwoods
The California coast redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens) are the tallest trees in the world - some reaching over 300ft tall (taller than a 30 story building).

Founders Tree

Click on Photo to enlarge
Many people say that standing amid the giant redwoods is like standing in Nature's Cathedral.

And I agree. 

The forest is humbling, ancient and mighty. 

Each tree seems to stand with quiet dignity - reaching up through the mist  to the sky above.
- I love the way the bark twists around the tree -

Redwood trees are amongst the oldest living things on earth. 

The average age the old-growth redwood trees are between 600 hundred and 1500 years old.

Mike standing at the root base of a tree that had recently fallen

"I feel most emphatically that we should not turn into shingles a tree which was old when the first Egyptian conqueror penetrated to the valley of the Euphrates." 
 - Theodore Roosevelt-

The Avenue connects back up with Hwy 101 and so we reconnected with it and began heading north again.

Hwy 101  stretches from San Diego, CA through all of California, Oregon and Washington up to the Canadian border.  

It is without a doubt, the most beautiful drive I have ever taken.

Here is some of what we saw today ....

Roosevelt Elk in Eureka, CA.

Arcata Bay, CA

Mike & I in Del Norte Coast Redwood State Park, CA.
Wild Seas somewhere around Orick, CA. 

Elephant seals - Crescent City, CA

Stopped for lunch in Crescent City, CA.
Port Orford, OR.

Mileage:  Graberville, CA. to Coos Bay, OR.  (284. miles)

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28 October 2010

Day (4) ...

This morning we woke up in Half Moon Bay which is about 28 miles south of San Francisco on Hwy 1.

Today was a designated 'Drive Day' and we had planned to log about 400 hundred miles but ...

Oops - it seems we slept in this morning until just past 10 & so we missed our free breakie and we got a late start driving.

- blerg -

We drove through San Franciso ...

I love all the row houses in SF

And we crossed the Golden Gate Bridge (our 1st time) ....

Golden Gate Bridge
We continued driving and met the rain head on!

At first a slow & steady drizzle that morphed into a heavy downpour.

We stopped briefly along the way to visit the Chandelier Tree - a live tree you can drive through.

- Beep Beep -
It was a huge tree ...

Tomorrow we are heading north to see the "Avenue of the Giants" aka: the Giant Redwoods

Mileage:  Half Moon Bay, Ca  to Graberville, Ca (229. miles)

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27 October 2010

Day (3) ...

Beach as seen from our hotel room balcony this morning
We woke up this morning to sunshine, blue skies & birds chirping.

Nice way to start the day  ...

First on our agenda: A tour of Hearst Castle.  

I have seen many pictures of the castle (as have most people) but still, I've always wanted to go and see it in person.  

So, off we went ...

George Hearst, William Randolph Hearst's father  had originally purchased 40,000 acres of land in San Simeon overlooking the Pacific Ocean.   Although the land was a working ranch the Hearst family  used it as a retreat and often spent their summer's  camping there.  

By the time  William Randolph Hearst inherited the land in 1919 the ranch had grown to 250,000 acres in size.  

After he inherited it William R. Hearst renamed it the "La Cuesta Encantada" - The Enchanted Hill. 

Soon after he began work on the now famous castle which he named, Casa Grande and by 1947, Hearst and architect Julia Morgan had created an estate which consisted of 165 rooms and 127 acres of gardens, terraces, 3 pools, 3 guest houses and walkways.

The Hearst Corporation donated the Castle, all the art, antiques & furnishings (which are valued at about 5 billion dollars) and land (42,000 acres) to the State of California in 1957.  

The Hearst family still maintains & uses a family vacation home on the property.

Outdoor Neptune swimming pool at Heart Castle

Statues at Neptune pool
Neptune Pool
One of 3 Guest Houses on property (each of the guest houses was over 2500 sq. ft)

William R. Heart's office
Close-up of office ceiling (the ceiling was from an 400 year old church in Italy

Lights surrounding the indoor 'Roman' pool
Roman Pool
Close-up of the inlaid 'gold-leaf' mosaic on the indoor .  The tour guide told us that since neither Hearst nor any of his guest ever used this indoor pool that over time it became the household staff's pool.  Nice Perk

Our tour only visited the Neptune Pool, Roman Pool, 2 guest bedrooms, Hearst's office, a library and the kitchen.

It takes about 7 - 8 tours to see most of the castle and grounds.

Next on our agenda was to go see the The Piedras Blancas elephant seal rookery. 

The fall haul out of juveniles begins in September and the early arrivers share the beach for a few weeks with the molting adult males. Their number increases, reaching a maximum around the first of November and tapering off into late November and December when they again share the beach with the older males returning for the birthing season.

Beyond resting and, for the males, playing, little goes on during this period. Life in the sea puts no gravitational stress on their skeleton, so the visit helps to accustom the young seals to life on land and to build bone mass. It also develops the habit of a second visit to the rookery which will move later in the year as they age and involve them in the birthing and breeding period. http://www.elephantseal.org/
Elephant Seal barking - they were very vocal
Unless they were sleeping ...
and there were many of them just lazying around in the sand.
many, many of them ...
They had the whole beach to themselves
FYI: What's the difference between a seal & a sea lion?  Sea-lions have ears and true seals do not!
 After the seals we hit the road again.

We continued traveling up Hwy 1 and saw some of the most incredible ocean vista's along the way. 

It is a trip that I highly recommended that everyone takes at least once in their lifetime.

It is so indescribably amazing.

Some of the corner's will take your breath away ...

 The highway just clings to the side of the canyons and while very remote and uninterrupted by human development there are small towns doting the route so you can always find gas, food and rest-stops.


Mileage:  San Simeon, CA to Half Moon Bay, Ca  (231 miles)

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