Twentynine Palms, CA

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Twentynine Palms is a town of about 25,000 people located in the Mojave Desert on the north side of the Joshua Tree National Park.  It was named for the palm trees found there in 1852 by Col. Henry Washington while surveying the area.

Joshua Tree National Park is the only national park that encompasses two distinct ecosystems, the Mojave and the Colorado.  It was declared a national park in 1994 when the US Congress passed the California Desert Protection Act.  The elevation in the park ranges from 1,900 feet above sea level to over 5,500 feet.

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Greenfield, CA

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Greenfield is on Highway 101 south of Salinas.  While here we visited the Monterey peninsula and Pinnacles National Park.

We have been to Monterey before on a road trip and it’s a beautiful place to visit.  We checked out the Monterey Bay Coastal Trail, Lovers Point Park, Point Pinos Lightstation and had a terrific lunch in Cannery Row at The Fish Hopper restaurant.  We also stopped at the Monarch Butterfly Grove in Pacific Grove.  This is one of several wintering sites for these colorful butterflies along the Pacific coast.  Temps were in the mid-50’s when we were there so they were not very active and we saw only a couple of them.  We’re hoping to see more at the grove in Pismo Beach.

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Yosemite National Park

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We all have our views about natural beauty but I can’t imagine that anyone would not agree that Yosemite National Park is one of the most spectacular places on earth.  Yosemite Valley has majestic glacier carved granite walls with waterfalls and lush meadows.  With Yosemite Falls, El Capitan, Half Dome and Glacier Point the mind has difficulty coping with the sheer size and scope of what the eye sees.

Yosemite Falls, at 2,425 feet, is the tallest waterfall in North America when including all three portions, upper, middle and lower falls.  Generally, at this time of year its water source would be mostly dried up but there was still a good stream tumbling down the sheer rock face.

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Oakhurst, CA

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We spent a few days in Oakhurst, CA, which is north of Fresno, about 17 miles from the south entrance for Yosemite National Park.

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We took some day hikes around Oakhurst and Bass Lake.  We also took one day trip into Yosemite going as far as Wawona.  Sadly the Mariposa grove of giant Sequoias is currently closed for restoration work but we enjoyed the visit to Wawona, home to the Big Trees Lodge.

Next stop:  Yosemite National Park

Miami, FL

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For our stop in the Miami area we parked at the Larry & Penny Thompson Memorial Park & Campground.  This is a Miami-Dade County park that is located about 20 miles south of the city of Miami, actually closer to Homestead, FL.  This location put us in between two national parks:  Everglades National Park and Biscayne National Park.

Everglades National Park

Everglades National Park is the first park area to be protected not for its scenic beauty but for its biological and ecological value.  As the largest tropical wilderness in the United States this area supports 350 species of birds, 300 species of fresh and saltwater fish, 40 species of mammals and 50 species of reptiles.  Although it is commonly thought of as a swamp, it is in fact the widest river in the world, however, it is shallow and slow moving, about 1/2 mile per day.  Early settlers considered this part of Florida to be useless land and over the years tried in many ways to “reclaim” it so it could be put to better use. Continue reading