Thursday, December 13, 2018

Pinnacles National Park, Condors!!, Salinas, CA

While staying near Salinas, CA, on our last stop, we also spent a couple of days in Pinnacle National Park.  In addition to being another beautiful place, is has the added attraction of being a home of some California Condors!!  We were fortunate enough to see a couple of them!  So thrilling!:

Great hiking in the park!
 A cool cave on our trail!  We had to have flashlights....or pitch blackness for part of the trail!

first condor sighting!!!
 The Pinnacles Trail was pretty exciting and a bit strenuous!

second condor sighting!

this one flew right overhead!

great place, great hikes!

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Monarch Butterflies!!, Salinas, CA

We had a wonderful week enjoying the area near where we parked just outside of Salinas, Prunedale, to be exact.  Our first hike there was at the Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve (whew) on the coast where we saw lots of water birds and hawks, woodpeckers, etc:

cormorants, pelicans, gulls, ducks, wading birds.....

downey woodpecker

We came across this sea lion
hanging out alone on the
bank.  Probably sick
unfortunately, we reported him
to the ranger:(
acorn woodpecker

After our hike around the
slough, we drove into town
for a brew at the Elkhorn
Slough Brewery!

Our next adventure was a nice walk along the coast at Santa Cruz and a visit to Natural Bridges State Park.  It is a lovely area, of course, but the best part was a surprise for us.  We learned it is the winter home for thousands of monarch butterflies!

The butterflies hang out primarily up in the high canopies of the eucalyptus trees there.  You do need binoculars and cameras for the best views:

the butterfly area

Santa Cruz coastline

a Santa Cruz native:)
 Next: a visit to Pinnacles National Park!

Thursday, November 22, 2018


A very Happy Thanksgiving to all!  We have hiked a couple of redwood groves since we've been in northern CA.  Just something magical about those giants of nature. We are leaving Ukiah tomorrow for Salinas, CA.

Our time here in Ukiah was very nice as we are back in wine country;)  It has been unfortunate, though, as we have been near the city of Paradise and smaller towns which suffered devastating losses with the Camp Fire.  Most of our week stay was encased in the smoke from the fire but we finally have rain! Yay!  The fire victims and families are in our thoughts.

Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park:

Mike is in this pic

banana slug

Smith River

some time ago a tree fell in-between these two giants knocking them down, Mike stands in-between the upturned root balls

a photo op;)

 Just a couple more coastal sunsets:

Montgomery Woods State Natural Reserve near Ukiah:


US Army Corp of Engineers Park, Iowa City, IA

Mike and I love it when we can find a COE park because they are always on water and our last stop at Coralville Lake was no exception.  A bi...