“Pic of the Week”, August 28, 2020: Dogwood, Yosemite National Park

00 Dogwood Yosemite

When I make plans to visit California’s Yosemite National Park I target my trip for mid-to-late May.  Mostly this is because the snow melt in the Sierra Nevada Mountains is at its peak and the park’s waterfalls are overflowing and amazing.
A second reason for a late spring arrival is to see the dogwoods bloom.  There are two types of dogwoods: 1) a small ground plant (not the one I’m talking about) and, 2) trees that grow up to 30 feet tall having flowers about 3 inches wide.
Yosemite has many mountain dogwoods which are beautiful in bloom, as you can see.  Dogwoods are especially plentiful around the Merced River in Yosemite Valley, but are quite common along most of the park …

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.All Trips / California / North America / Southwestern USA

Magnificent Mt. Shasta, California

00 Mt. Shasta 13

One of the most memorable drives I’ve done in recent years is the road that stretches between Klamath Falls, Oregon, and Mount Shasta in Northern California.  Route 97 heads southwest towards the ever looming presence of majestic Mount Shasta, one of the prettiest mountains anywhere.  
We did this drive last month and the views of that beautiful peak were one of the highlights of our trip.  It was a clear day and Mt Shasta was visible for more than an hour. We stopped frequently for photos because we were worried the peak might disappear the closer we got because of hills obstructing our view, but that was not the case; some of these images are interspersed with this narrative, each subsequent …

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A Day at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

San Diego Zoo Safari (1)

The San Diego Zoo Safari Park is found near Escondido, California, about a half hour’s drive northeast of San Diego and its world famous San Diego Zoo.  
I’ve visited the San Diego Zoo Safari Park about a half dozen times in the past 35 years and really enjoyed every visit.  When we first came to the park decades ago the place was known as San Diego Wild Animal Park, but in 2010 the name was changed because some people were apparently getting it and the zoo confused.  This is not the zoo — it’s where you can go on a (sort-of) safari.  But at either place you’ll have the chance to see a large quantity and variety of …

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“Pic of the Week”, July 3, 2020: Snow Plant, California

Snow Plants, Yosemite (2)

The only place I’ve ever seen snow plant is on the western (wetter) slopes of California’s Sierra Nevada mountains, especially in Yosemite National Park.  It’s hard to miss seeing snow plant if its there, as it’s bright red and stands out against the melting snow and tree litter in which it grows. 
Some interesting facts about snow plant:
1) It’s a bright fleshy red plant (herb) of the Indian-pipe family, usually 15-30 cm (under a foot) tall
2) It grows in high-altitude conifer forests of California, Nevada and Oregon (generally between 1000 – 3000 m altitude)
3) It derives its nourishment from soil fungi attached to the roots of pine trees, and does not need sunlight to survive
4) It usually pops out in late …

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“Pic of the Week”, June 7,2019: Conservation Carousel, San Diego Zoo Safari Park

San Diego Zoo Safari (56)

My wife and I share an affection for carousels.  She’s in love with carousel horses (we have one standing in our entryway).  I have a greater interest in a larger variety of carousel animals.

So you can see from these images that the lovely carousel in San Diego’s Zoo Safari Park really appealed to me.  It’s themed “conservation carousel” and contains 60 mostly rare and endangered animals that can take you for a ride.  An appropriate menagerie of critters for this terrific family travel-friendly destination.

(Click on thumbnails to enlarge, right arrow to advance)

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.All Trips / California / North America / Southwestern USA

Remarkable Sequoia National Park

Sequoia National Park 6-90 017. Congress Trail

Going back through my travel records, I was surprised to find that it’s been almost 20 years since I last visited Sequoia National Park — my, how time flies.  I’m glad I spent a lot of time exploring this park during the 1980s and 1990s because it’s a special place.

Sequoia NP was about a 4 hour drive from our home in Southern California (under ideal traffic conditions– often more like 5 or 6 hours) and was one of the easiest to reach natural destinations near us, so we visited it almost every year.  The park spans over 400,000 acres so it’s impossible to see it all.  It’s part of the UNESCO Sequoia-Kings Canyon Biosphere Reserve (1976).

What’s so special about the park?  Lots, to be sure …

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“Pic of the Week”, December 7, 2018: Unbearably Lake Tahoe

05 Lake Tahoe, California (19)

An art form I enjoy, which has seen growing popularity these past few decades, is chainsaw carvings.  As the name implies, the artist uses chainsaws of different size to work a piece of dried raw wood into the final carved piece.  The carvings are often large and heavy.  The wood is then generally stained or painted and sealed with varnish or polyurethane to protect the art.  

While driving around Lake Tahoe this past summer — a beautiful scenic drive that’s highly recommended — we came across several homes on the California side of the lake that had some fine examples of carved bears.  I thought they were quite good and stopped to get some photos.  Not sure if all the ones …

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California / North America / Southwestern USA

“Pic of the Week”, July 6, 2018: Flying A Service Station, Truckee

04 Truckee Ca (36)

I’ve previously discussed my visit to the small town of Truckee, which rests on California’s eastern Sierra Nevada slopes and which you can read about at this link.  The town has a nicely preserved historic core, with lots of buildings from the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

My favorite building in Truckee was this old Flying A Service Station, which brought back memories of many like it I’d see when I was much younger, under a variety of banners like Texaco and Sinclair’s.  Most of these old buildings have been torn down and replaced by large self-serve fueling outlets, each with an attached convenience store.  These new structures may be efficient but they lack the intimacy …

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