Posts Tagged ‘California’

Exploring Northern California: Redwood National and State Parks

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Light rays streaming through the Avenue of the Giants

Northern California has so much of the Golden State’s beauty. There are stunning beaches as well as some of the most magnificent, mature and tallest coastal redwood trees in the world. If you’re into natural beauty, and enjoy a good forest hike Redwood National Park is great place to spend a few days.

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Sunset view in along the coast in the Del Norte section of Redwood National Park

And visiting in the winter means mild weather and virtually no crowds.

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Even the stumps are impressive at Redwood National Park

The trees are so tall they are challenging to photograph!

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A fallen log the the Boy Scout Tree Trail 

Redwood National Park consists of three California state parks–  Del Norte Coast, Jedediah Smith, and Prairie Creek Redwoods State Parks. If you’re visiting the area, it’s also worth visiting The Avenue of the Giants, a scenic 31 mile drive through the old growth forest of  Humboldt Redwoods State Park off the 101 Freeway.

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Looking up at some redwoods

There are a lot of great hikes in the area.  The easy 1. 4 mile Lady Bird Johnson Grove Nature Loop hike  is relatively flat but a nice place to start and gives you a sense of the park. My favorite hike was the moderately difficult 2.8mile Boy Scout Tree Trail Hike, where we only passed one other pair of hikers in early December.

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Dwarfed by trees

We flew into the Arcata Eureka airport (ACV) in Humboldt County, rented an SUV and drove up the coast to the Jedediah Smith Information Center to plan our days. SUVs are recommended as not all the roads in the parks are paved.

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Trees of Mystery

Forest hikes aren’t all Redwood National Park has to offer. The Del Norte section of the park includes some spectacular west coast scenery, sandy and almost empty beaches and fabulous moody sunsets. I visited Redwood National Park with my friend Zan in December and enjoyed the area’s extremely chill vibe.

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Looking up the trunks of giant redwoods

In addition to the Redwood Coast’s National Park, there are some fun other tourist attractions including the Trees of Mystery in Klamath.

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A humorous sign on the Redwood Coast

If you’re planning a visit, Crescent City can make a great base to explore the northern parts of the park. It’s also a good place to grab a bite to eat.

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Hiking the Boy Scout Tree Trail (photo credit: Zan Aufderheide)

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Giant Redwoods have shallow roots

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Left: Zan is little compared to the giant sequoia tree stumps Right: Pine needles make the trails springy 

45% of all remaining Coast redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens) are in the area that stretches through Humboldt and Del Norte counties.

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A quiet moment on the Boy Scout Tree Trail

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Zan enjoying the pleasant climate in the Jedediah Smith section of the park

Roosevelt elk and sea lions can also be found in the park.

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Heart shaped stump in Prarie Creek Redwoods state Park

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Moss on the trunk of a giant redwood

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Enjoying the beach in Redwood National Park

If you want to #findyourpark in Northern California, check out Redwood National Park.

 

Redwood National Park

Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park

Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park

Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park

and don’t miss the scenic Avenue of the Giants drive through  Humboldt Redwoods State Park

 

Crescent City Visitors Center

1111 Second Street, Crescent City, Calif. (Corner of 2nd and K Streets)

Hours of Operation.

Summer: Open daily, 9 am to 5 pm.

Winter: Open 9am to 4pm. Closed Tuesday and Wednesday.

Closed: New Years day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day.

Phone707-465-7306.

Jedediah Smith Visitor’s Center

US Highway 199 at Hiouchi, Calif.

Hours of Operation

Summer: Open daily, 9 am to 5 pm

Winter: Subject to staffing.

Phone 707-458-3496.

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Exploring Northern California: Trinidad State Beach

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Sunset among the rock pools at Trinidad State Beach

There are many beloved beaches in California so it’s hard to say there any single one is best. The best known beaches stretch from Big Sur south to San Diego. But Northern California has some lesser known gems. Discovering the stunning beauty of Trinidad State Beach in Humboldt County last month was quite a surprise.

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Sunset stroll on Trinidad Beach

Located almost 400 miles north of San Francisco, Trinidad State Beach is closer to Oregon than the Bay Area. It’s the mix of the Pacific Northwest geography  and soft golden sand that makes it quite magical.

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Sea stacks on Trinidad State Beach

Located on a cove in the small city of Trinidad (population approximate 400), Trinidad State Beach is the gateway city to the California Coastal National Monument. I stumbled across it during a trip to Redwood National Park. It is also one of California’s smallest incorporated cities.

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Low tide + Sunset

Trinidad State Beach has soft sand, coastal bluffs, sea stacks, and waves strong enough to entice surfers.

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Pretty from every angle

The best time to visit is sunset, when the tide is low enough to walk your dog and enjoy stroll along on the sand.

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Enjoying the sunset view 

The secluded location of Trinidad State Beach means it’s never that busy. Visiting in December, the weather was pleasant enough to hike along both Trinidad Head as well as along the coast.

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Scenery like this is usually reserved for beaches in Oregon and Washington

The tiny town of Trinidad is rather charming. The Trinidad Bay Eatery and Gallery is a great local spot to stop for a breakfast burrito and cup of coffee before exploring the area or venturing to Redwood National Park.

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Rocks + horizon

The historic Trinidad Head Lighthouse was located here until it was moved on January 10th, 2018.

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low tide views 

Visiting during low tide allows you to explore behind the rocks and get views of Trinidad Head.

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Sun about to dip below the horizon

If you want to stay in the area, I can recommend the charming View Crest Lodge, where I stayed for two nights. The cabins are cute with modern amenities and located just a few miles from the beach on Patrick’s Point Road. Patches of the road are rough, and it’s not lit after dark so an SUV is recommended.

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Random amazing view #12 on Trinidad State Beach

If you’re looking for the best beaches in California or things to do in Humboldt County, Trinidad State Beach is definitely worth checking out. It’s as gorgeous as better known beaches in Big Sur and significantly less crowded. My friend, Patrick McGowen, who grew up near the area, told me it’s his favorite beach and turned me on to the area.

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This view reminded me of Cannon Beach’s Haystack Rock

The scenery reminded me of what you find at Ruby Beach (located in Olympic National Park) or Oregon’s famed Cannon Beach.
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Sunset and sea stacks on Trinidad State Beach

Trinidad State Beach

Getting there: Trinidad State Beach is located 19 miles north of Eureka, CA just off Highway 101. From north- or southbound 101, take the Trinidad exit (Exit 728). Turn west on Main St and proceed to Stagecoach Rd. Turn right; the park entrance is about 200 feet north on the left. There is another entrance about 1/2 mile north on Stagecoach Rd, also on the left.

Trinidad Bay Eatery & Gallery

607 Parker St
Trinidad, California 95570

View Crest Lodge

3415 Patricks Point Drive. Trinidad, CA
(707) 677-3393
Rates from  $95

 

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Exploring California: The New Tesla Supercharger in Kettleman City

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The exterior of the new Tesla Supercharger in Kettleman City

With the holidays upon us, more people will be hitting the road. For Tesla owners, this can mean long wait times at Supercharger stations. For those traveling on the I-5 between Los Angeles and San Francisco, there is good news. A 40 stall Supercharger station just opened in Kettleman City.

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Panorama of the Kettleman City Tesla Supercharger

I visited the spanking new supercharger on Saturday and was wildly impressed. It looks like something straight out of the Jetsons. In addition to the well designed and shaded layout and of the solar charging stalls, the Kettleman City Supercharger offers amenities for Tesla owners. There are bathrooms and a guest lounge where you can order a craft beverage from a Tesla barista while enjoying free wifi. There is even Tesla merchandise for sale.

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Kettleman City Supercharger Entrance 

The Kettleman City supercharger should help relieve the burden at the Bakersfield and Harris Ranch Superchargers during heavy traffic times, as well as when the Tesla Model 3s start to add additional traffic.  Access to the facilities is gained by an access code sent directly to guest’s Tesla touchscreen.

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Solar covered charging stalls at the Kettleman City Supercharger

There are quite a few dining options near the Kettleman City supercharger, including California favorites In-N-Out Burger, Bravo Farms and Baja Fresh.

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Pretty Tesla Chargers all in a row

The astroturf lawn is perfect for walking your pets.

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Kettleman City Supercharger

Another 40 stall Tesla Supercharger is set to open this week in Baker, for those driving between Los Angeles and Las Vegas.

My Tesla did not list the Kettleman City supercharger as an option last Thursday (a day after it opened) so be sure to ask your Tesla navigation system for specific directions.

Kettleman City Supercharger

27675 Bernard Drive

Kettleman City, CA 93239

Roadside Assistance (877) 798-3752

Charging
40 Superchargers, available 24/7, up to 120kW

 

 

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Exploring Los Angeles, California: The Museum of Ice Cream

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Obligatory selfie at the Museum of Ice Cream

One of my favorite things about Los Angeles is how many interesting and quirky events there are to check out. Last week I got a chance to visit the highly instagramable Museum of Ice Cream in the downtown LA Arts District.

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Great people watching at the Museum of Ice Cream

Part pop-up art gallery, part interactive ice cream experience (featuring artisanal frozen goodness from L.A. faves Salt & Straw and Coolhaus) the Museum of Ice Cream is an offbeat place to explore and get a sugar high while learning some interesting ice cream facts and history.

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Popsicle art 

25 year old Laguna Beach native Maryellis Bunn came up with the idea for the MoIC was recently profiled in Forbes magazine. The Los Angeles version of the MoIC opened in late April and is currently sold out for it’s extended run through August. It may be extended, so sign up here for updates.

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Pink telephone room at the Museum of Ice Cream

Ms. Bunn hopes to open Museum of Ice Cream locations in San Francisco and Miami by the end of the year, and is rumored to be thinking about a permanent location in New York City.

The banana swing room was my favorite installation 

My friend, photographer Rebecca Adler joined me at the museum of ice cream and shot this video in the banana swing room.

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Sweet decor details at the Museum of Ice Cream

The whole experience was fun and everyone from kids to hipsters to tourists were enjoying the MoIC. Workers were rocking pink denim Canadian tuxedos and entertained guests with fun factoids about ice cream. The employee who seemed to be having the least good time was the sprinkle sweep, in charge of explaining the rules to visitors before they are allowed to play in the four foot deep pit full of plastic “sprinkles.”

Slow motion sprinkles = good times

Be warned— those sprinkles get EVERYWHERE!

Visitors exit through the gift shop where they can buy ice-cream related items ranging from $10 Unicorn Snot body glitter to a $10,500 limited edition MoIC x Elevate tennis table.

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Cute museum of Ice Cream goers

I really enjoyed my interactive Museum of Ice Cream experience and think it’s a perfect opportunity for summer fun. The people watching was really great as well.

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Getting cozy with a giant gummy bear at the Museum of Ice Cream

Ticket holders should arrive ahead of time, as they are strict about entry times.

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Charcoal cookie dough”ice cream” in front of an installation by artist Abel Benton

The Museum of Ice Cream is yet another fun draw to Los Angeles’ Downtown Arts District, which gets more impressive every time I visit.

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Left: the sprinkle pit Right: Bon-Bon Jovi’s star at the MoIC’s walk of fame

Workers were checking IDs (one per group) against the names on tickets, so be warned if you are planning on attempting to buy a ticket on the re-sale market.

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You can buy this custom tennis table in the gift shop

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Neon sweetness at the Museum of Ice Cream

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Unicorn snot for sale in the gift store

Museum of Ice Cream

2018 E 7th Place Los Angeles, CA 90021

Adult ( age 13 +) $29

Child (age 3-12) Senior (age 60+) $18

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Exploring Southern California: Sunrise at Joshua Tree National Park

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Colorful sunrise in Joshua Tree

I have a fondness for desert landscapes and love to visit Joshua Tree National Park during the winter. The weather is pleasant and the park never seems too crowded. I find it particularly peaceful to get up before dawn to watch the sunrise.

I shot this time lapse video on my iPhone 7 plus at Joshua Tree National Park

On my most recent trip, I had my two labs with me. Since activities with dogs are limited in the park, I stayed in Palm Springs at the pet friendly Ace Hotel Palm Springs. The Ace Hotel also two dedicated Tesla chargers, which made this road trip easy since since I drive a Tesla.

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Bristled Joshua Trees

If I was traveling without my two dogs, I would have stayed closer to the park. I’m a big fan of the Mojave Sands at Joshua Tree (check out this previous post about a stay at Mojave Sands), but they only allow small dogs.

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Twisted, surreal Joshua Trees

If you’re heading to Joshua Tree National Park from Palm Springs, I suggest coming in through the West Entrance.  Each morning I drove towards Hidden Valley, Barker Dam, and Keys Ranch until I found a spot I wanted to watch the sunrise.

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Here comes the desert sun

If you are driving from Palm Springs, and want to watch the sunrise, allow at least 90 before sunrise to drive to the West Entrance of the park and find a spot to watch and set up your equipment. It can get windy at times, and you might want to use a tripod.

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Colors change dramatically just after dawn in Joshua Tree

Joshua Tree has been a favorite spot of mine to just chill. After photographing the sunrise, it’s nice to explore the cholla cactus garden, an easy quarter mile loop with a dense population of cholla cactus.

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Sunrise panorama shot on my iPhone 7 plus

Pet owners should note that activities with dogs are limited and animals must be leashed at all times. You can check out what activities you can do with your dog in Joshua Tree National Park here.

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The last super moon of 2016 seen through a Joshua Tree

My trip occurred during the last supermoon of 2016, so that made both the sunrise and moon interesting to photograph.

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Warm skies in Joshua Tree

After exploring the park for a few hours after sunrise, I like to head to the funky Joshua Tree Saloon for breakfast. The service is friendly and the place is packed after 7:30 with climbers and desert dwellers. They make a mean Bloody Mary, and the potato pancakes are quite tasty.

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Morning walk through the cholla cactus garden

If you head to the Joshua Tree Saloon, don’t miss the vintage photo of Johnny Cash near the front door.

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Rocky landscape at Joshua Tree National Park

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Morning in the desert at Joshua Tree National Park

I’m a big fan of National Parks and Joshua Tree is the one I am most comfortable exploring on my own. It’s pretty user friendly.

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Funky roadside Joshua tree

If you’re visiting Palm Springs, Palm Desert, or the Coachella Valley, I’d definitely recommend spending a morning exploring the surreal desert landscape of Joshua Tree National Park. It’s one of those special places in California that has a “vibe.”

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Morning sunlight in the cholla cactus garden

Joshua Tree National Park

74485 National Park Dr.
Twentynine Palms, CA 92277-3597

Joshua Tree National Park is open 24 hours a day and may be visited at any time of the year.

Entrance Fee – $20.00 (7-day vehicle permit, admitting the passengers of a single, non-commercial vehicle on the day of purchase and for the next six days).

Motorcycle or Bicycle Entrance Fee/ Walk-In Fee – $10.00 (7-day entrance permit, per motorcycle or bicycle/per person on foot).

Joshua Tree Saloon

61835 Twentynine Palms Hwy.
P.O. Box 289 Joshua Tree
CA 92252 USA

1-760-366-2250

Hours Open:
Sunday – Thursday 7:00 am-12:00 Midnight
Friday & Saturday 7:00 am – 2:00 AM

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