May 2011
May--Just Magnificent!

"One Touch of Nature Makes the Whole World Kin" is a quote from Shakespeare inscribed on a memorial in the Redwood National Forest in Northern California. Hiking and driving alongside the oldest and tallest living creatures on the planet was awe inspiring. The Coastal Redwoods dot the landscape from Santa Cruz to the Oregon border with the thick groves set aside as state and national parks. It is truly something to experience.

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May 2011 May 2011
Surfing is common place along the California coastline, and Santa Cruz the surf city of Northern California because of its great beaches, great waves and the number of surf shops in town. Here along Cliff Drive is a statue, titled "To Honor Surfing". As we hiked along Cliff Road overlooking the Pacific Ocean, we caught this surfer riding this wave. He also took top prize for a surfing contest that was going on.
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Fishing piers and boats were filled with people catching fish, but this lone man stood on this huge rock with the underside washed away. Hope he was lucky. Natural Bridges State Beach--Oops, "bridge" sits outside Santa Cruz. It is a great beach for sun worshipers, beachcombers, whale and dolphin watchers and known widely for the annual migration of monarch butterflies.
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Mission Santa Cruz still offers weekday masses in a chapel that replicates the original one built in the late 1700. The mission mainly serves as a museum open to visitors, but is also available for weddings and funerals. Just south of Santa Cruz, we stumbled across Capitola, a cute little village filled with shops, restaurants and pubs. The colorful houses shown in this picture are said to be photographed, drawn and painted by artisans worldwide. They also have a pub called Margaretville that serves some great microbrew beer.
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Here we are standing on the Mystery Spot, which is a tourist trap located in the redwood forest just north of Santa Cruz. Its attraction is an odd gravitation pull that makes thing appear to defy the laws of physics. The area where we are standing is level, but when Glorine and I switch places it appears that we have either grown or shrunk. It was kooky.
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On the drive from our campground near Santa Cruz to Monterey Bay, we drove past hundreds of acres of what looked like mostly vegetables. We caught this picture because it reminded us so much of Mexico. Within miles of the previous picture we arrived at Moss Landing, a small village which is home to a huge number of pleasure and commercial boats.
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With approximately one billion sardines caught each season in Monterey Bay, many sardine canning factories sprang up making Monterey the Sardine Capital of the World. Due to over fishing, none of them are in production today. In there place are hotels, stores, restaurants and bars. Cannery Row, which used to be Ocean View Avenue, got its name in honor of the 1945 novel Cannery Row written by John Steinbeck. In the 1930s, sardines boats would unload their catch without docking. Instead their catch was pumped through pipes to large hoppers connected to the canneries. Divers, using primitive diving equipment, would install and repair these pipes regardless of the weather conditions. Understandably many lost their lives and this memorial stands by Cannery Row to commemorate their hard work and sacrifice.
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The character of another popular book and movie is located on Cannery Row. It is a chain of restaurants called Bubby Gump, specializing in shrimp and other seafood. The place was a virtual Forest Gump museum. And no trip to Cannery Row is complete without visiting the famous Monterey Bay Aquarium. Here Glorine is watching an exhibit of fish in their natural environment.
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This rock is known as Bird Rock and one of several attractions along "17-Mile Drive". Click on the picture and see that it is covered with both birds and sea lions. But if you want to see it in person, you would have to pay just to drive on "17 Mile Drive". It is well worth it. The Lone Cypress is one of California's most enduring landmarks, The Lone Cypress is said to be over 250 years old. This tree is Trade Marked as the eternal symbol of Pebble Beach Company. Nothing more needs to be said.
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Pebble Beach is ranked as one of America's finest golf course, but it is one of five golf courses that exist along 17 Mile Drive. We stopped in the club house for a tea and a beer and this was our view out of the window. Yes they were expensive, but what a view.
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Mission Carmel Basilica would be the last mission we stopped to tour along our Pacific Coast road trip. We learned that the priest who built nine of the California missions, loved this one the best and is buried in front of the alter. What started as a 280 square foot Hansel and Gretel doll house, began a desire among local artisans in Carmel to live in one. So several of these charming, yet simple, homes were built back in the 1920s. Now they sell for millions each.
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Moving up the coast highway from Santa Cruz was a bit of a challenge--crossing the Golden Gate Bridge with a motorhome and car in tow. But as you can see we made it. It was not as frightening as one would think. Glorine was busy taking as many pictures as she could and Larry just kept it between the lines.
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While every state in America now has its own vineyards, there is something special about Sonoma and Napa county wine regions. The local tourist centers have lists upon lists of wineries and vineyards, many of which are open daily for sampling. In California, the motto is "anything for a friend for a fee." And yes it is $10 to sample five wines.
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Having lived in Minnesota for a while, we always thought Charles Schulz; the creator of Peanuts, was a permanent fixture in St. Paul. However, another interesting find was his adopted home in Santa Rosa where he lived and worked for nearly 30 years. Here we visited Redwood Empire Ice Arena that he had built because of his love of hockey. The Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center was built after his death in 2000 and houses his original studio and many displays of his cartoons. Luther Burbank Home and Garden was another unexpected discovery in Santa Rosa. Burbank is to horticulture as Edison was to electricity and Ford was to automobiles. While originally from Pennsylvania, he adopted Santa Rosa because of its great soil and mild temperatures. Here he created over 800 varieties of plants, among them the Russet Burbank potato, now known as the famous Idaho potato.
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San Francisco is truly one of Americas most beautiful cities. And loaded with attractions that you can only see in San Francisco. Here are the famous cable cars being drug around town with underground cables. So while in San Francisco, do what the San Franciscans do, ride the cable cars. While a thrill for us, this is routine transportation for the thousands of people who live in the city, many without cars.
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Fisherman's Wharf is one of the most famous destinations for visitors of San Francisco, because there is so much to see and do there that one could make an entire trip to the city and not leave the Wharf. It boosts of 2,500 hotel rooms, several restaurants, and an almost endless amount of shopping, history, culture, and attractions. Here Glorine is standing on Lombard Street, which is noted as one of America's crookest streets. This two block street is on a steep hill lined with beautiful Victorian homes. We walked it one day and drove down it the next day. It is unique and a fun thing to do.
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Other than being the largest Chinatown outside of Asia, it is also the oldest Chinatown in North America and one of the most popular attractions in San Francisco. As we walked along its many streets, it was like we entered a different world, fruit and vegetables we had never seen before and Chinese bartering in languages we could not understand. Ghirardelli Square, considered the first successful adaptive re-use project in the country. It started out as a wool mill until 1895, when Ghirardelli turned it into a chocolate factory, which lasted through the 1959. City fathers feared the building would be demolished, so they purchased it and turned it into specialty retail shops and restaurants. They still sell chocolate.
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North of San Francisco is a large grove of coastal redwoods called Muir Woods. As we hiked the trails, we learned of a significance event that occurred here in 1945. Following Franklin Roosevelt's death, delegates from throughout the world met here to pay tribute to Roosevelt and his high regard for national parks as a source of inspiration and human renewal. These delegates founded the United Nations. Being in the presence of these ancient giants was inspirational for us also. Each tree seemed to have a character all of its own. Here Glorine is standing inside the tree that was hollowed out by a previous fire or fires.
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Mt. Tamalpais State Park is a short drive from Muir Woods. It has redwood groves and oak woodlands with a spectacular view from the 2,571-foot peak. We hiked to the top and took this picture of San Francisco Bay with the city in the background. On our drive along California Highway 1 back to our campground, we drove along the ocean, but were amazed by the sight of large farms with cattle and horse. Being a farm kid, Larry could not refuse taking this picture.
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Oops! We learned not to rely on our Tom Tom GPS device. Here it was directing us on this one lane dirt mountainous road, leading to who knows where. Having the good judgment to stop, we called the RV park and told them of our situation. They said, you must have a Tom Tom. We disconnected the car, back down the hill and made it safe to our next home. From our RV Park, we drove a short distance to Oakland to spend the weekend with Chuck and Jean, friends we met in Ajijic four years ago. Here we are riding a ferry from Oakland to San Francisco to enjoy the day. We spent the day walking along the bay viewing unique artwork and markets filled with shoppers.
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Oakland is amazing. While on the ferry, we saw a massive ship being loaded with cargo containers with huge cranes. It seemed like miles of containers sitting waiting to be loaded or recently unloaded. It was truly an unexpected sight. While in Oakland, we were able to go on a garden tour. They were located in the hills of Oakland and consisted mostly of organic fruit trees, vegetable gardens and lots of flowers. Some also had one to three chickens.
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Here is one garden with a chicken in what they call a chicken tractor. It is triangle shaped and made of 2x4 and chicken wire with no floor. Here the chicken was pecking on weeds during the day and producing eggs at nights. While the four of us sat and relaxed at one of the gardens, we had this picture taken with the Oakland skyline in the background. We had a very great visit, which included a Greek Festival, a walking tour of the harbor and a ferry ride. In addition, Chuck is a mighty fine cook.
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Mike's graduation from Cal State-Fullerton brought us back to Southern California. Glorine went from touring gardens to working them. We spent a week enjoying the warmer weather and being with family. Here they are, five, four, three, two and one--five grandkids enjoying their time together. Craig and Denise flew in for an extended weekend, which meant another Barnhardt family reunion--two in just a couple of months. It is great watching the kids enjoy each other's company.
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Here is Dakota at her school. She will be graduating from kindergarten soon. This evening she was a frog in a school play. She is the second from the right in green. It was a fun performance.
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Michael's big day. He only worked on this degree for umpteen years. Here we are getting ready for the ceremony. Four hours later, the convocation and commencement were over and it is official. Lots of celebration during and after the event.
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Michael's mom, dad and sister and her family came out from New York to help celebrate the big event and do some vacationing in Southern California. And like Larry did not expect to get picked on by his two son-in-laws. All in fun.
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This hot tub has seen a lot of Barnhardt time over the years and what a great day it was to enjoy it with family. Nana and Papa got to spend some alone time with each of the California grand kids. Here we took Dakota to Starbucks for pastries and juice before taking her to school.
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Here we are with Hunter at a kid's gym. He was the only kid there that could walk, so it seemed like he was more interested in the hand sanitizer and washing his hands then playing with the other kids. Here Papa is playing air hockey with Sierra at her favorite place--Chucky Cheese, especially with Nana and Papa. After playing on every ride in the place, we sat down for pizza and lemonade.
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From Fullerton we picked up the RV and drove it to Klamath near the Oregon border. Here we immersed ourselves in the redwoods. And yes, we got the SUV through this giant redwood. As if the redwoods were not enough to attract people to the forest, we saw our share of tourist traps. Here is Paul Bunyan and Blue Ox on display. Notice Glorine on the lower left corner.
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This is the largest "family" tree in the world. It consists of twelve living trees in one tree with only one truck. If nothing else, the beautiful redwoods got us out hiking a lot. Notice the large knots on this tree. They are called burls and when this tree eventually falls, these burls grow roots and life goes on in the redwoods.
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Several of the state and national parks are open to automobiles also, but this road is a one lane dirt road. We did not mind it because the trees were just so magnificent. As we noted earlier, each tree seems to take on a character all of its own so it was a slow drive meeting and viewing each of these giants individually.
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While coming back from a hike in the woods, we ran upon this elk. He was one of many we saw in the park. They are well taken care of by the park rangers. We did not measure these two, but they say that the coastal redwoods get as large as 15 to 18 feet in diameter and 300 feet tall. We seemed so small as we walked among the giants.
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Here Larry is hiking through a dead redwood that fell across the trail. They cut part of it out to make the trail still useable. Larry cleared it OK and only half of the tree was cut out. Another enormous tree that is still living after having survived a fire that gutted out most of its inners. It is actually a tunnel.
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Trinidad was a cute little community right on the coast with its own unique lighthouse constructed on the top of a hill. This was Memorial Day weekend and the memorials in the background are for men and women buried or lost at sea. Eureka is the largest city along the northern most part of California. Timber was king in the 1800s and many men made their fortunes cutting down the trees that we are trying to protect today. Eureka is filled with Victorian styled homes and here is one that symbolizes artisans and craftsmen of the day. Today it is a bed and breakfast.
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The Carson Mansion in Eureka is one of the most photographed home in the world. It was built by a timber baron who came to California during the Gold Rush Days and struck it rich on redwood. The mansion is now a private club for the elite of Humboldt County. Not only were the homes fashioned after the Victorian style, so were many of the business establishments. Here is the hotel we stayed in during our extended outing south of the campground.
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South of Eureka is the Avenue of the Giants. Part of this highway is on Hwy 101, but most of it is a special road which was built as a scenic road meandering through the redwoods. This giant was sprouted around 1148 AD and fell in 1987 making it 839 years old. Its average diameter is nine feet, was 300 feet tall and weighed an estimated 325 tons.
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A large grove of redwoods was dedicated to the environmental work of Lady Bird Johnson by Richard Nixon in August of 1969. The grove is near the town of Orick, about 1,000 feet from the ocean and survives well on the coastal fog that nourishes the tree tops. As you can tell by now, we could not get enough of the redwoods, but knew that we would soon be heading north and would not be seeing them for quite some time. If you have not had the opportunity to experience these natural wonders, we would strongly encourage you to.
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No, we are not looking to trade up to an RV built from redwood, but thought it was cute. Comes equipped with a kitchen, toilet, and bed. The town of Ferndale is another cute town with dozens of Victorian homes. This one is called "The Gingerbread House". The downtown area is also decked out with this style.
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Next to the Catholic church was a cemetery built alongside of a mountain. It was quite unique to see how they laid out the cemetery plots. From the cemetery, we got a picturesque view of the village of Ferndale. It is interesting to see a village so well maintained, while so many are in decay. The northern most town in California is Crescent City which was destroyed by a Tsunami in 1964. Along Highway 101, they posted signs of entering, leaving or being in a Tsunami Hazard Zone. After the recent news of the Tsunami in Japan, it was a bit shocking to think that where we were driving was once on the bottom of a 20 foot wave. However, we made it through and on to our next adventure in Oregon.

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May's web page includes May 1 through May 31.