.All Trips / California / North America / Southwestern USA

A backpacking trip to Sequoia National Park: Pear Lake (The Lakes Trail)

Sequoia 6-1996 008  Pear Lake

Most folks visit Sequoia National Park to see its giant sequoia trees, the largest living things on the earth!  That’s a great reason to go and there are wonderful hikes through these amazing forests of giants and the meadows that surround them.  But Sequoia National Park also provides access to the high Sierra Mountain range comparable to what you find in the high country of Yosemite National Park (like around the Tioga Pass Road).

When I lived in Southern California, Pear Lake was one of my favorite places to go backpacking, having made five separate trips there (two with my oldest son when he was just a boy, and one with my dear friend Dr. Gary Schwartz, the best oncologist in …

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.All Trips / Eastern Canada / North America / Ontario

St. Catharines Market, Ontario

009 St. catherines Market 07-2014

One of the oldest Farmers Markets in Ontario is found on the Niagara peninsula, in the pleasant small city of St. Catharines (nicknamed the “Garden City”).   The market has been held since the early 1800s and is currently located in Market Square in downtown St. Catharines, at the corner of King and James Streets (adjoining the historic courthouse).

The market highlights the quality fresh produce grown in the rich soil of the Niagara peninsula.  You’ll also find fresh baked bread and other bakery items, meat products, seafood, and cooked food for sale.  Several vendors sell fresh cut flowers, jams and preserves, honey, and even some handicrafts are available.  The farmers market operates year round every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, with an extended …

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.All Trips / California / North America / Southwestern USA

Mission San Juan Capistrano. The “Jewel” of the California Missions

040a Mission San Juan Capistrano 03-2014.

I love honesty in advertising!  When a place as historically famous as Mission San Juan Capistrano tells you it’s “Worth a Visit”, it’s not only a believable claim but likely one of the most understated in all of California.  Founded in 1776 by Father Junipero Serra, San Juan Capistrano is one of a string of missions in the state and home to the state’s oldest surviving buildings.  This is a much beloved place and is known as “The Jewel of the Missions” because of its beauty.   Despite severe earthquake damage in 1812, which collapsed the roof of the Great Stone Church (still in ruins) and killed 40 people, Capistrano has endured and still functions as an active church.   It …

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.All Trips / California / North America / Southwestern USA

“Pic of the Week”, August 1, 2014″: Serra’s Church, Mission San Juan Capistrano

066 Mission San Juan Capistrano 03-2014. Serra’s Church

While exploring the grounds of Mission San Juan Capistrano — known as the “Jewel” of the California Missions — you’ll come upon a small chapel.   It’s Serra Church, the oldest church in California, named after Father Junipero Serra who founded this mission (and eight other California missions).  Our highlighted photo includes the “Golden Altar”, an early Baroque-style retablo, which is a relatively recent addition to the church.  The altar is from Barcelona, handcrafted almost 400 years ago of cherry wood and overlaid in gold leaf.  It was installed in the Serra Church sometime between 1922-1924.

Serra Church was built in 1782, six years after Mission San Juan Capistrano was founded (on All Saint’s day, November 1, 1776).  It was one of the first …

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.All Trips / Europe / Ireland

Guinness Storehouse, Dublin, Ireland

003 Guiness Storehouse Dublin

The Guinness Store attracts hundreds of tourists every day to what’s promoted as “Ireland’s #1 visitor attraction”.  Arthur Guinness began brewing stout at St James Gate Brewery in 1759.  Within a century this complex was the the largest brewery in the world, and it still brews 10 million pints a day (although today the Guinness brewery in Nigeria is larger than its Dublin counterpart, and the Coors Brewery in Golden, Colorado is now the largest single site brewery in the world).

The admission fee of about 15 Euros includes a self-guided tour of the old fermentation plant (everything is very well labeled and illustrated) and, when you’re done, a free pint of Guinness.  The old plant was refurbished in the late …

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.All Trips / Europe / Ireland

Dublin, Ireland: Trinity College and its Book of Kells

060 Trinity College 2013 Library Book of Kells

Trinity College gives you a grand entrance to its inner courtyard.  Through a door within a massive larger door, you enter a square and see the college’s bell-tower (Campanile) set in its center, surrounded by an assortment of buildings.  The Campanile is one of the College’s — for that matter Dublin’s — iconic landmarks; built in 1853, it stands 30.5 m (100 ft) tall and is mostly constructed of granite.  You’ll not see students lingering under this tower because of a lasting superstition that if you’re beneath it when the bell tolls, you’ll fail your exams.  But enjoy it’s fine construction then look around a bit.

Beyond the bell-tower, there’s a lot to see at Trinity College.  Situated on the south bank of the

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.All Trips / Europe / Ireland

A Visit to Ireland: Part 12) the Valley of the Boyne

050b Valley of the Boyne Mellifont Abbey

This post concludes tales of my road-trip around the Emerald Isle (though I’ve still got a few things to share about Dublin).  I don’t think this road-trip series could end with a more appropriate destination than the “Cradle of Irish Culture and History”, the valley of the Boyne.

The Boyne River Valley is less than an hour’s drive north of Dublin, close enough to do as a day-trip but a longer visit is most definitely recommended.  A valley of rich pasture and farmland with the Boyne River snaking through counties Meath and Louth on its way to the Irish Sea.  You’ll be tempted to sit on its bank and throw a fishing line in (and might catch a trout or salmon …

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.All Trips / California / North America / Southwestern USA

Yosemite National Park: Hiking in the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias

The “Grizzly Giant” in the Mariposa Grove, Yosemite National Park

The state of California has some pretty remarkable scenery.  Where else can you find the world’s …

Oldest trees (bristle-cone pines)
Tallest trees (redwoods)
Largest/most massive trees (sequoias)…

…but in California?  I know it’s a rhetorical question, but there’s no area I know of that offers such variety.

As one might imagine, to walk in a grove of giant sequoias is a most memorable experience.  If you’ve never felt small and insignificant in life, you likely will when you stand beside an ancient sequoia tree.   The largest density of sequoia trees is in California’s Sequoia National Park, south of Yosemite, including the tree known as “General Sherman”, the world’s largest living thing.  Yosemite National Park has two groves of giant sequoias, including the …

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