Tag Archives: adventure

Yosemite

IMG_2072There are places on this earth carved out by the hand of god, creator, deity, or if you prefer, mother nature herself .  The point is that they are spectacular to behold, beautiful, and breathtaking but far beyond the skill of man to create.

IMG_2342

I found myself at the foot of an intimidating looking crag, early one September morning. The shadows of the morning sun defining each crack and crevasse making it seem more ominous and daunting.  We were about to make a 3,200 foot vertical assent over a 4.7 mile long trail dubbed 4-mile-trail.

IMG_2038This is Yosemite. Hikers, backpackers, rock climbers, and campers paradise. There is something for everyone here, from the free trams that circle the Yosemite Valley stopping at all the sights, to trails leading to some of he most incredible places; Half dome, panorama trail, glacier point, clouds rest to name a few.IMG_2054I am embarrassed to admit that it has been decades since I have been to Yosemite and in the 5 years we have made Santa Rosa our home, this was my first time making the short 4 hour drive to visit this place. It will not be long before I return.

IMG_2025

As we hiked up the very steep trail that zig-zagged its way up the mountain side, the rising sun dappled the light through the trees that surrounded the trail. Every corner brought a new vista, each one more impressive than the last.

IMG_2014Smoke from a fire burning across the canyon, hung in the air threatening to steal away the sharp contrast of the rock faces. The muted cliffs seemed distant and featureless. I had resided myself to the fact that views would not be as beautiful or as impressive as I had hoped. IMG_2062Somewhere along the trail we made it above the smoke layer. The colors became crisp and sharp, the scenery so vivid as if it were straight out of a painting.  The smoke had settled into the lower elevations and traveled like a river through the valleys and canyons below. IMG_2026As we reached the end of 4-mile-trail, we found we were not alone. In fact, we did not come across one other person on the entire trail, yet now there seemed to be a couple dozen people milling about. Thats when I noticed a lodge (store) and a paved area. As it turns out, that for $41, you can take a tram from the valley floor up to glacier point and then back down.  I realize that making a hike like 4 mile trail is not an option for many people…I am fortunate that I am not one of them. Even if the tram was free, I would still hike the trail just to experience the views and sense of accomplishment.

IMG_2081Our prize for making this trek – Glacier point; the view here is absolutely amazing!IMG_2116

IMG_2124My day would have been complete had we turned around and went back down the mountain, but we continued on across the Panorama Trail, to the Mist Trail to Nevada and Vernal falls, then back down to the valley floor. All said and done, we managed hiking about 17.5 miles through one of the most spectacular places in California. IMG_2128

My only disappointment was that the iconic Yosemite falls was dried up. The low volumn of winter snow pack, drought conditions, and a shortage of rainfall, has taken its toll on all the waterways and falls within Yosemite.  Nevada and Vernal falls still had water flowing, but they certainly not as impressive as I remember. Still, the sacred beauty of this place lies within every tree, shrub, rock, animal, and incredible views that change every minute of the day and night.

IMG_2294

Go to Yosemite if you:

  1. love the outdoors
  2. love backpacking, hiking, camping, and exploring
  3. love nature
  4. love incredible views

Don’t go to Yosemite if you:

  1. Hate to walk
  2. like to liter
  3. don’t care for nature or wild life
  4. like to sit in your camper and watch tv. (it’s hard to reserve a campsite in Yosemite during the summer months, do the rest of us a favor and stay home if you don’t want to leave your camper.

Kahalu’u Beach Park; Great beginner snorkeling

 

DCIM100GOPRO

Paradise would not be complete without warm, tropical, blue-green water. The water is one of the main reasons I am drawn to Hawaii or anywhere tropical for that matter. As we planned our trip to Kona this year, I did a fair amount of research on where the best places would be to go snorkeling with a 6-year-old and 34-month-old.

DCIM100GOPRO

What we stumbled across was a fabulous little beach just south of Kailua-Kona, called Kahalu’u Beach Park. This turned out to be the perfect beach for my little family. We ended up coming here on several occasions and used it as our goto spot aka, our backup plan.

GOPR0322

Kahalu’u is a protected cove, meaning that the water is fairly calm and easy to navigate. The beach has a coarser salt and pepper colored sand, and the beach area is rather small. The facilities here are very nice and every time we came here, there were classes and activities for the youth, and volunteers on standby to teach about the fish, corals, and sea turtles in Kahalu’u bay.

GOPR0422 GOPR0259

 

One of the best things about this park is that it is completely free.

The parking is free, and access to the beach is free (as it should be). A catering truck shows up daily offering food, shave ice, iced coffee, and even locker rentals for $5 for the day so you can store your valuables safely while you are in the water.

DCIM100GOPRO

As far as being kid friendly we could not ask for anything more. The water was calm and the fish population is pretty dense. This trip was an opportunity to introduce our kids to the ocean undersea life, and we wanted to do so in a positive way.

DCIM100GOPRO

For the nearly 3-year-old, we purchased a Sea Window snorkeling raft. This is a raft that is made for adults up to 300 lbs. It has a viewing window that magnifies the underwater view by 25x. The size made it perfect for our youngest to lay on and feel completely safe while being able to enjoy the fish and corals along with the rest of us. (it was well worth the $59 price tag). For the 6-year-old, we purchased a $3 donut raft. This gave him some security and confidence as he braved the open waters with us.

DCIM100GOPRO

This little bay is amazing. The corals are abundant and beautiful, as well as the fish. We found that closer in to shore, the water was a little murky, however, this seemed to be where most of the snorkelers were hanging out. We made our way a little further out and found the water to be exceedingly clear and the scenery and wild life to be quite stunning, with hardly any other snorkelers around. We saw sea turtles on every visit here. We also spotted a moray eel as well as a zebra eel. The concentration and variety of fish was incredible. We spent many hours in the water here and always tried to squeeze in a trip to this beach whenever we had a some spare time in our day.

DCIM100GOPRO

The kids would lose interest in snorkeling after a while, but they would stay entertained for hours playing on the beach. My wife and I took turns snorkeling while the other one sunbathed and kept an eye on the kids. The volunteers at this beach have a true love for the sea life and are very knowledgeable. They are an asset to the park and were there to educate the public and to protect the reefs and stop the tourist from trying to feed or harass the fish and sea turtles.

GOPR0146 DCIM100GOPRO

Go to Kahalu’u if:

 

  1. You have small kids
  2. you are a beginning snorkeler or want to learn how to snorkel.
  3. you want to see and possibly swim next to sea turtles
  4. you are on a budget and want a fun, low-cost adventure
  5. you are staying in Kailua-Kona and you have an hour or two to spare

Don’t go if:

  1. You like challenging intermediate to advanced snorkeling (or scuba diving)
  2. you are looking for a quiet beech to lay in the sun
  3. you don’t want to be around children (mainly on the beach or close in)
  4. you can’t keep from standing on the corals.

Snorkeling can work up your appetite. Fortunately, just a short trip up the road from Kahalu’u, we discovered one of the best places to eat ahi poke (pronounced POH-kay) in Kailua-kona; Da Poke Shack. If you are a fan of poke, don’t pass this place up. If you are not a fan, they offer some awesome Huli Huli Chicken and Kailua Pork that will satisfy even the most discerning palate.  To compliment the perfect Hawaiian meal, keep your eyes open for a roadside coconut vendor. For about $5, they slice off the top of a fresh, young, green coconut and stick a straw in it, and serve you the freshest coconut water available.

Snorkeling with the family at Kahalu’u, lunch at Da Poke Shack, and a fresh green coconut to drink = the perfect Hawaiian experience.

GOPR0144

Tangible Views

I live a charmed life I suppose. Maybe not what many would consider “charmed”  however, I have had my fair share of adventures and travels and when I look back on them, I feel pretty lucky.

I live in wine country, that is to say, the original wine country of California seeing as how most of the state is growing wine grapes now. My job allows me the opportunity to see some pretty amazing places here locally. Some of them in plain sight, others off the beaten path.

fall vine

I see things for what they are, not the marketed, over-hyped version, but the real, behind the scenes, down to earth people and places that make a particular place magical. In this blog, I will attempt to convey some of that magic the best that I can. It may be a winery, a campground, hiking trail, bike path, oversea adventure, or possibly just someplace that I find interesting.

Many of my posts will have to do with places in and around Sonoma county as this has been my home for the past 5 years, but I will also share stories of past and present adventures that have taken me away from here.

I am an adventurer at heart, and I enjoy the simple pleasures in life. I will take a rustic hotel or bungalow over 4 star resort any day. I want to explore the roads less traveled, find the secret beaches, and discover the local flavor. I will take the corner taco cart in Baja over an overpriced restaurant with a wine list and a view.

My experiences are always tangible. To put it another way, I won’t be rushing out to French Laundry anytime soon to review their world class food (that will break your budget), but I will definitely be telling you about my favorite produce stands like Mike’s Truck Garden.

I may not offer up any wisdom on this blog, but I will be keeping it real.

Enjoy my tangible view!