Category Archives: California

Lassen Volcanic National Park

Until we purchased Fodor’s The Complete Guide to the National Parks of the West (Full-color Travel Guide), we had never really thought of visiting a volcanic site. We figured the areas would be considered dangerous, off-limits, and we never actually considered that there would be any in the US.

Our main attraction to northern California was the redwoods, but we noticed as we were planning that Lassen Volcanic National Park wasn’t too far. We decided to stay near Mount Shasta and take a day trip out to Lassen Volcanic National Park while we were there.

We only spent about four hours at the park, but it seemed like you could spend a few days. The park was huge and offered scenic drives, hikes, and some awesome geothermal activity.

A ring of volcanic rock from the explosion of Lassen Peak in 1915
A ring of volcanic rock from the explosion of Lassen Peak in 1915

Continue reading Lassen Volcanic National Park

The Redwoods Along the Pacific Coast Highway

As I had posted in my personal blog last year, I had always wanted to see the redwoods in California. I remember flipping through this old travel book my parents had; I was always amazed at the pictures of tiny people next to massive, living, towering trees.

Having been born in California while my parents were in the Navy, I’d actually been to see the redwoods when I was a little baby. My mom always talked about them fondly, saying they were amazing and bigger than you can imagine.

When people say things are more than you can imagine, you still try to imagine them. You might even think that you’ve successfully imagined the awe inspiring feeling you’d get from looking at the redwoods… but you haven’t.

We drove from Crescent City down to San Francisco in November of 2013 on Highway 101. It was a 6.5 hour drive. Honestly, a bit short by our normal standards of driving 12+ hours per day. We even stayed in Fort Bragg for a couple nights in the middle of the drive. This gave us plenty of time to see the northern Californian coast.

The redwoods thrive and are able to grow so tall because of the fog on the west coast. John and I had never seen fog quite so thick or expansive. If I remember correctly, we were either driving through, towards, or around fog for 2-3 hours of our morning drive.

The smallest redwoods we saw were at least 2 times the size of the largest pine trees we’ve seen in Florida. In areas with older groves that weren’t bothered by loggers, looking up towards the top of the trees reminded me of looking up at the buildings in New York City. Nothing has ever made me feel smaller or more in awe of our planet.

Endert’s Beach Overlook

This was a little park near Crescent City. It has hiking trails and we took a short 30 minute hike that reminded us of something from Jurassic Park.

Bridge and ferns

Moss

Coastal hike near Crescent City

It was extremely foggy and wet, but we got to experience some coastal hiking and even saw one of those huge banana slugs.

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Banana slug for scale
A banana slug for scale

The overlook was nice even if we couldn’t see much. We had initially stopped there in hopes of seeing a whale but we could barely see the water below.

Fog at Endert's Beach Overlook

Fog at Endert's Beach Overlook

Cathedral Trees Trail

We stopped at the Cathedral Trees Trail in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. This park had one of the first really large redwoods we had the opportunity to stand next to.

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Meet the Big Tree:

John in front of the Big Tree in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park
John in front of the Big Tree in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park

John looking up at the

This was a really lovely hike. I noticed that everywhere that we hiked in California, it was very quiet. Maybe it was the time of year (mid-November), but everything seemed very peaceful.

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Lady Bird Johnson Grove

The Lady Bird Johnson Grove was a really short hike on a lot of boardwalks. We were here around 2pm and the sun came through the trees beautifully. I guess all of the moisture in the air gives the light a lot to play off of.

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Fern Canyon

Fern Canyon was a really fun and easy hike in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. We got a little wet walking in the creek between the fern walls and saw so many different types of mushrooms.

Driving to Fern Canyon
The drive through Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park to Fern Canyon was lovely, dark and deep.
Elk
We saw elk – for real
John in Fern Canyon
John taking a picture of me taking a picture of him
Fern Canyon
Playing in the canyon
Shallow waters
Shallow water
Fern Canyon
Leveling up those climbing skills
Fern Canyon
Tight roping in Fern Canyon
mushrooms
Mushrooms galore
Mushrooms galore
Like I said…
Fern Canyon, California
Fern Canyon
Mushrooms
I enjoy taking pictures of mushrooms
Mandy and John at Fern Canyon
A little hippy took a picture of us
Mandy at Fern Canyon
Everything just seems to dwarf me… but that’s nothing new
Fern Canyon
John on the path towards/away from Fern Canyon
mushrooms
One more for good measure

 

Avenue of the Giants

Before we started driving through the Avenue of the Giants, I had it in my head that it couldn’t possibly be that great to drive through the redwoods. We had been driving through the redwoods along 101 all day, so what could be so different?

Amazing redwoods – Avenue of the Giants

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The Avenue of the Giants
Our redwoods will blot out the sun!

The redwoods along the Avenue of the Giants are bigger, better, and some are so close to the road you feel like you want to fold in the side-view mirrors to keep them from flying off.

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The only problem is that because the trees are so enormous and not a lot of light gets through to the road, I couldn’t take good photos without stopping the car.

I often wondered if people who live near the redwoods get used to seeing them on the side of the road. I was just in awe for the entire drive, especially on the Avenue of the Giants, gasping every 10-20 minutes as we passed by another tree trunk that was at least 6 feet in diameter.

The redwoods are something everyone should see at least once in their life. Standing next to one is so humbling.

Mount Shasta, California

For our honeymoon in November of 2013, John and I flew to San Fransisco, California and drove around northern California for a week.

We drove to Mount Shasta from San Francisco and stayed there for the first two days of our trip.

Being from Florida, I was amazed at how gigantic this mountain was as we slowly drove toward it from the airport. It’s been a while, but I think we could see it for the last hour of the drive. There’s nothing in Florida that you can see from an 60-80 miles away. Well, except for the sky.

Mount Shasta from afar
Mount Shasta from afar

One of our favorite memories from our entire trip was leaving the hotel around 6am and driving up Mount Shasta to watch the sun rise.

View of Mount Shasta
View of Mount Shasta from the hotel – including beautiful trucks in the way. 😛
Driving on Mount Shasta
This was probably a picture of the drive down, since there is some sunlight

Sun rise on Mount Shasta

Sunrise on Mount Shasta

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As the sun rose on Mount Shasta
As the sun rose on Mount Shasta
We couldn't drive higher than this point. This is a trail up towards the skiing areas that weren't open.
We couldn’t drive higher than this point. This is a trail up towards the skiing areas that weren’t open.

It was so cold and so quiet. It was just a perfect moment.

Mount Shasta from so far away
Mount Shasta from so far away