Sunday, March 11, 2012

we raced the sunset and we almost won...

Well, not REALLY. Those are some favorite lyrics from hubs and I's favorite band. But, we did have a darn good time in Northern California a couple weeks ago. (PS, so glad NorthernCal is so different from SouthernCal...I like it much better!!).

Anyway, as part of our outdoor enthusiasm and our National Park Project, we visited Redwoods State and National Parks, made a quick stop (too quick if you ask me) in San Francisco, and finished our trip in the amazingly beautiful Big Sur. Here are the highlights!

We started the trip by camping in Elk Prairie Creek Campground in Prairie Creek Redwoods SP, which was an amazing campground. There are several sites 'in the woods' near the creek that are just adorable. But, it was pretty chilly when we were there (26 degrees F at one point!) and we thought it might be warmer if we stayed in the 'prairie' part of the campground...and I'm glad we did!

It turns out that a herd of 8 bull elk were using our campground as their own little bachelor pad.  They even came to visit the campground host!


They were pretty playful with each other, which was amazing to watch.  And they really didn't mind us being there.  We kept our distance, of course, but they basically walked through our little campsite.  Definitely a highlight of the trip!

The first morning, we woke up to a frosty 26 degrees (that is, frosty inside the tent!).   

 So we set out in the car to warm up a little.

Made a quick stop to view our new friends...

We landed at Gold Bluff Beach.  Very beautiful, and peaceful.

By the time we returned to the campsite, it had warmed up enough to take a few hikes.  We did most of the James Irvine Trail, the Foothills Trail and the Cathedral Trees Trail.  All very close to our home campsite.

James Irvine Trail

After a hard day of hiking, we returned for some R&R...and elk watching.  Yep, they were still there.

(Left) Never had a tangerine wheat before. This was pretty good! - From Lost Coast Brewing. (Right) 
We stopped at this place (Redwood Curtain) in Arcata, CA.  Low key and good beer. 
Below - a Stellar's Jay.

My hubs and the beautiful night sky.

Our next and last day, we traveled through Humboldt Redwoods State Park and the Avenue of the Giants which was amazing.  Kind of wish we would have gotten to spend more time there.

We did the Founders Trail, which was beautiful.

This tree was believed to be the tallest tree until it fell recently.

That ends our trip to Redwoods.  From here, we stopped quickly in San Francisco.  We stayed at the Hilton San Francisco Wharf, which I really liked.  In walking distance to the wharf; where we spent most of our time.


Hubs REALLY wanted to see Alcatraz.  So off we went.

Beautiful landscaping on the island.

Does someone have a key...cause I'd really like to lock him in here ;)

 We spent the evening after Alcatraz exploring the Wharf, eating the clam chowder bread bowl at Boudin Bakery (amazing!!) and at Scoma's, which was okay for a pricier meal.  The next day, we were off to Big Sur.


We camped at Kirk Creek Campground.  This is probably the most beautiful campsite I have ever seen.  On a bluff about 8 stories above the ocean, with ocean views and sounds.  Just amazing.

Our first (and my favorite) stop once we got to Big Sur was to Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park and McWay Falls.  This place is the definition of picturesque and amazingly beautiful.  I could have sat and stared at the beauty of this place all day.  I was a little bummed that the sun didn't cooperate for a better picture, but this definitely makes my top ten list of beautiful places!

 There is an interesting amount of history that goes along with this place. 

Below, some of the beautiful shoreline that Big Sur is so overrun with and the historic Bixby Bridge. 

We stopped to have breakfast at the Big Sur Inn which was as quaint as can be.  I had the raspberry cream cheese stuffed sourdough french toast.  Heavenly.

This definitely was one of my favorite trips just because we were so isolated and detached from the hustle and bustle of everyday life that we strive so hard to get away from.  No cell phone reception and only the noise of the nature around us.  The perfect get-away for this outdoor loving couple.

Hope you enjoy! 

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