Now that Spring is in the air, it is time to start getting the maps out and planning visits to my usual haunts. Let me start with the SF Bay Area. Stunning from sea or by air, and even better on land, here is a view of two bridges, the Golden Gate Bridge on the bottom left and the two-part Bay bridge on your upper right! The city is between these two bridges.
The Golden Gate bridge separates the Pacific Ocean from the SF bay, is wonderful bridge to walk on and if traveling north, takes you into Marin County, the richest county in California and the most beauteous.
South of the Golden Gate bridge one can go into the city and make a stop at the Palace of the Legion of Honor museum. Commune with Auguste Rodin’s Thinker in the entrance courtyard or be entranced by Dale Chihuly’s blown glass sculpture!
Travel north from the Bay area into a geologically unique National Park – Lassen Volcanic Park. Here a deeply dormant volcano can still rumble and rock and bubbling mud pits and steam vents are evidence of the fury that lies buried deep in the ground. Not far from the bubbling mud pots is a placid alpine lake, Lake Manzanita.
Move south from Lassen and one hits the jewel of California – Yosemite National Park. I make a pilgrimage once a year. The Mariposa grove of Big Trees has this Giant Sequoia tunnel tree – the Giant Sequoia is the largest living thing known to man.
No trip to Mariposa grove is complete without a meal at the charmingly colonial Wawona hotel.
In the Valley a stop has to be made at grand Ahwanee hotel – breakfast is superb, and even the ice-cream is worth a visit! If you can afford it, stay there, or on the cheap try the tent cabins.
Before leaving the park get up to Glacier point, and watch the setting sun bathe the mountains in a rosy glow – Half dome is most spectacular from this vantage point.
Then head south towards San Simeon (I have an earlier post on Hearst Castle), not to be missed – take a few seconds to see the views from Hearst castle, the outside is as beautiful as the insides.
The California Missions on the way traveling south provide a rich source of the history of California. These Missions were established by Father Junipero Serra – the founder of California. But my favorite is Mission San Juan Capistrano. Father Serra’s church is still a practicing church.
The Mission buildings are well preserved but original and laid out amidst the most charming gardens – here with a Brugmansia in glorious bloom!
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