Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Around Lake Mendin Thousand Trails

Lake Mendin was one of the smallest Thousand Trails Preserves we've visited. While there we went down to visit Sacramento. The capital of California is a busy place. Even on a Sunday afternoon. We went by the capital building but didn't see the Governor. Or the Governator as we heard Mr Schwarzenegger called.

In downtown Sacramento we visited Old Sacramento. This 28-acre town of historic buildings constructed in the 1850s, on the Sacramento River contains several museums dedicated to educating us about the history or the area. To quote the Chamber of Commerce Web Site "The discovery of gold at Sutter’s Mill capped off the greatest human migration in history. Thousands of hopeful pioneers headed towards Mexican California on the Oregon Trail in search of a better life. From the settlement town of Old Sacramento, to the supply center and trade post of Sutter’s Fort, the Sacramento region is rich in Gold Rush History. "

There are wooden sidewalks, horse-drawn carriages, old-fashioned candy shops and even a Mississippi-style riverboat. There are many shops and restaurants to collect the tourist $$$ too.

We eat a barely passable lunch at Annabelle's Pizza. Cheap and filling but I wouldn't go back. CiCi's Pizza shouldn't worry. Noooo competition.

We also saw the Tower Bridge which crosses the Sacramento River nearby. The bridge is painted an odd gold color. It is supposed to be representative of the gold leafed cupola on the nearby State Capitol. I'm not sure they succeeded in that.

The Lake Mendin Thousand Trails is surrounded by farm land. And for the first time we saw rice growing in the flooded fields. There are also many groves of walnut trees.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Gladys is SOOOO funny...enjoy this video from Ellen

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Gary and the Street Entertainer

Along The Embarcadero and the Wharfs of San Francisco there are many street entertainers. On our way back to the hotel one night, Gary got "caught"..and became a participate.

If you click on the pictures, it'll open in a larger screen.

Check List for San Francisco

We had a list..
See Alcatraz....check
Eat Sourdough Bread in San Francisco...check
Ride a Street Car...check

Take a boat ride on the bay...check

Visit Fisherman's Wharf...check
Visit Haight Ashbury..check
See Coit Tower...check
See the Golden Gate Bridge....check
Ride across the Golden Gate Bridge...check
See the Sea Lions at Pier 39...check

Ride down American's crookedest St..Lombard Street...check

We spent 4 days in San Francisco. It isn't nearly enough time to enjoy this wonderful city.

Alcatraz Tour

When we were planing our trip to San Francisco one of the first things I said was, " I want to see Alcatraz". Having seen movies over the years like "The Rock and Escape From Alcatraz", I was curious to see how the "real" rock looked. I was surprised to learn that Alcatraz was actually used for several purposes other than a Federal Prison.

While there isn't a charge to visit the island you must take a ferry to get to the island. The ferry company offers many choices of times and we decided to go in the evening so we could see the lights of San Francisco from the island and boat. It was difficult to get a clear picture at night while on the boat.

In 1775, the Spanish explorer Juan Manuel de Ayala was the first to sail into what is now known as San Francisco Bay. His expedition mapped the bay, and named one of the three islands Alcatraces. Over time, the name was changed to Alcatraz. While the exact meaning isn't really known, Alcatraz is usually defined as meaning "pelican" or "strange bird."

Alcatraz became the first long-term Army prison. The first prisoners to be brought in to Alcatraz were Civil War and Spanish American War Prisoners during the 1800s. As the number of inmates increased, the prison structure was also extended and renovated. By the 1920s, the three-story building was almost at full capacity.

Alcatraz Island was declared a military reservation in 1850 and troops had arrived by 1859. For almost eighty years the Island was the site of the first fortress and military prison on the west coast.

Due to its isolated location and the extremely cold San Francisco Bay waters, the authorities considered Alcatraz as an ideal place for holding dangerous prisoners. Criminals like George "Machine Gun" Kelly and Al Capone are some of the most famous inmates to claim residence on Alcatraz.

Alcatraz operated for a full 29 years and during that time, there has been no known case of any successful escape attempts. In 1962, three prisoners - Clarens Anglin, his brother John and Frank Morris – disappeared from the premises and were never found. But nobody knows if they ever reached the shore.

From the mid 1930's until the mid 1960's, Alcatraz was America 's premier maximum-security prison, the final stop for the nation's most incorrigible inmates.

On March 21, 1963, when the prison was closed, Alcatraz had already accommodated 1033 prisoners.

From November 1969 until June 1971, the American Indians inhabited the island. Since October 1972, Alcatraz has been a historic site and is part of the "Golden Gate National Recreation Area" ran by the National Park Service.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Happy Birthday Amy

On Monday June 1st my niece Amy turned 16. And...promptly went and earned her driver's license. Congratulations Amy. You are very special to us and we love you dearly.

We're back in Thousand Trails

After lots of hugs, we left Nikki and Bill on Monday and moved to the Thousand Trails park at Lake Mendin near Nicholaus. Compared to the parks we've stayed in previously in California this is a small preserve. With only water and electric at the site conservation is the word for our stay. They offer sewer pump out twice a week for $15.00. Since we're going up to San Francisco tomorrow for the weekend without the house, we should only need it once before we leave here on the 15th.

We're taking a vacation tomorrow and going up to San Francisco. We have reservations at the Sheraton at Fisherman's Wharf. Love those credit card points. Thanks American Express. We have tickets to see Alcatraz on Friday evening. We're going to eat sourdough bread and seafood, ride a streetcar and walk Fisherman's Wharf. I can hardly wait.

Love to you all...Deb

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Massive, ancient giant sequoias live in three groves in Yosemite National Park. The most easily accessible of these (spring through fall) is the Mariposa Grove near the park's South Entrance, off of the Wawona Road (Highway 41). On Saturday Gary and I along with Miss Ellie drove back to visit. When we arrived we learned the parking lots were already full so it was necessary to drive down to the Wowona Hotel to park. We walked Miss El, and set her up with water to wait for our return. We caught the free shuttle provided by the park service and went to the grove. There are several self-guided trails thru the grove. We walked about a mile up (yes..up..up..up) and then back down to get up close with these awesome trees.

Many of the trees have been recently changed by fire. I don't say damaged as we learned fire is a normal and desired part of life in this forest. It helps to clean out the undergrowth to allow the tress to continue their own growth.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Park of the Sierra with Nikki and Bill

This past week we had a wonderful visit with Nikki and Bill Sage. Nikki and Bill were our next door neighbors in Texas at Rustic Cove. They invited us to visit Park of the Sierra Escapees SKP park in Coarsegold. This park is a Co-op where Escapee members can buy a lease to use a site for their life (or until they want to leave). The park is beautiful. So far it is the prettiest Escapees park we've stayed in.

When we arrived on Friday evening, they prepared a great steak dinner to share with us. We enjoyed visiting with them on their patio surrounded by flowers and bushes. They have landscaped their site with many bushes and flowers. It is very cozy and pleasant. There was even a hummingbird that flew by occasionally on it's way to the flowers. It buzzed Gary's head one time.

On Saturday the town of Coarsegold had a Memorial Weekend antique and craft fair. Gary and I went down with Miss Ellie for a few hours. Lots of "stuff" to see. We didn't buy anything, but it's always fun to look.

On Tuesday we rented a car with Nikki and Bill. They shared Yosemite National Park with us. They both were born and raised in California and are very familiar with the park.

Our first stop was at the Wowona Hotel. This beautiful National Historic Landmark, rests near flowering meadows and beside a rushing stream. The white Victorian-style lodge seemed a very peaceful place to visit for a while. There aren't any TVs or phones in the rooms. That would sure be peaceful to me. Nikki and Bill have their 60th wedding anniversary coming up in June. They wanted to check on reservations for a visit to celebrate.

Next we took the 16 mile mile up to Glacier Point. Once at the parking area we hiked up about a quarter mile to the peak. The views of the surrounding valley and mountains was incredible. Yosemite is home to countless waterfalls. And we saw many of them during our visit. Yosemite Falls is actually 3 falls, 1 above the other. Wow!!! May was the best time to visit as the snow runoff increases the size of the falls.

We enjoyed a tasty lunch at The Ahwahnee® Hotel patio. While there Gary saw a bear...yes, a bear. It ran across the meadow right near the dining area. Several other folks saw it too as they started running over to the area with cameras in hand. But, that bear was running fast and was quickly gone for sight.
This is a picture of the hotel from the overlook. It was built in the early 1920's to accommodate the affluent and influential traveler. It's still serving that purpose today. It looks like it's built of redwood but because many of the earlier hotels burned it is actually made of poured concert stained to look like wood.

Very large fireplace in one of the setting rooms.

After lunch we continued our exploration of the valley. It started to rain but we stopped and visited Bridalveil Fall anyway. What's a little water??? It is 620' tall and even in the rain very beautiful.