Saturday, March 29, 2014

Henry Cowell and Santa Cruz beach

Traditional Saturday outing in Northern California-Santa Cruz beach and Redwoods, March 2014

We hadn't really been to the beach with Kahn yet, so we took a Saturday to do a very traditional day out.  First the beach, where we ate our sandwiches while listening to the screams from the boardwalk.

Crashing waves are lovely but it is just too cold for me to hang out for long.

So next we headed to Henry Cowell, which I knew had some of the most impressive redwoods.  But we ended up coming into a different entrance and got to see great new stuff as well.

There is a cool observation tower to climb.

 A great view of the Santa Cruz mountains

Then we started down a trail to get to the big redwoods that is mostly limestone.  What happens to limestone over time is that it falls apart into sand.  For all the trails I've been on in the area, this is the first I've seen like this.  There are fun patterns on the side walls

That turn into sand underfoot.

 This is a multi-use trail, so look out for horses and evidence of horses!

This is cathedral redwood grove, also something I haven't seen elsewhere.  Usually the redwoods fill in all the space to take up all the sun.  

It is hard to show just how tall the tree get, but I try!

we managed to find a the steepest part of the trail

and the most picturesque spot ever-I think I photographed this the first time we visited too.

I even managed to spot an actual plant that is on the guide.  This is Trillium and they were in bloom.

And you would think this is clover, but it is actually Redwood Sorrel.  Also in bloom-very different flowers from clover, even though I couldn't tell the greens apart.

We made it to the area of Redwood giants

You can go into the John Fremont tree.  The inside can easily hold 10 people but the entrance is small because the tree has been growing over the hole.

An aspirational redwood

And no walk int he woods is complete without fungus!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Tower Falls, Forces of the Northern Range, Epic Yellowstone, Day 4

Epic Yellowstone, 2013

This afternoon we saw almost no thermal features!  We did learn about the flowers and trees.

Tower Falls-I love the different levels of the falls.


Random geology spot.

Yet another waterfall.  After a few days you get a bit immune-oh yes, of course there will be amazing waterfalls or bubbling water pools.  But then when you are back in regular life you can remember that we were just surrounded-couldn't escape the beauty-what a great problem to have.

I have a feeling not many people stop to hike the Forces of the Northern Range Trail.  There are no thermal features, waterfalls or canyons and probably not any big wildlife.  It is not very long and no challenges.  Some might call it boring.  I found it refreshing, meditative and yes, informative.

It was an almost rainy day-great clouds

We had a big debate about the plants-was this the fireweed?  Are these two the same plant at different stages?  It starts as a red/purple flower that seems to burst like dandelions.  But we had no definitive guide.  

Flower guides are super hard-the flowers can look so different from the pictures I am never really sure.  

Is this the fireweed? 

There were aspens around this meditative sitting area-delightful

They leave the remains of the trees which are important to smaller animals and the whole ecosystem.

Somehow I didn't take any photos at the Museum of the National Park Ranger-probably the cutest place ever.  A small 2 room cabin where they explain the history of the rangers.  In the early days they were supposed to be both  brave and humble.  In the 70s women joined and eventually folks got over it and everyone gets to wear the not so fashionable outfits :)

And then on the last leg we saw a bunch of people stopped off the road...a bear siting!!  A couple of our folks saw it, but not me, as I was driving.  So here is a bison.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Obsidian cliffs and melted marshmallows, Epic Yellowstone, Day 4

Epic Yellowstone 2013

Preview of the melted marshmallows

The morning of day 4 we saw some of the best geology-the Obsidian cliffs

Early morning view of the low lying fogs that collect around some thermal features

Close up of the obsidian ribbons inside the rocks

Do not take the obsidian home!  There was some on the ground that we were able to examine a put back!

The Angel terrace is on a short walk just off the main road.  It is another of the landscapes that look like the moon.  But whereas Norris was rapidly changing, this area is much less active and you shouldn't expect much change.  (Unless of course the super volcano blows!  Apparently the area is overdue for a seismic event)

A nice example of young 'bobby socks trees' 

After all the other sites, the lack of color in this area is just odd.  

Odd, but beautiful.

About a third of the pretty pattern pictures came from this area-everything looks trapped in motion.

Do you see the melted marshmallows?  

There is hot water still pouring out, but no dramatic bubbling or splashing.

Am I the only one who sees screaming faces trapped in the rock?

This was the spot where E- did a fantastic job backing the RV into a space in the crowded lot-yeah back up mirrors!