Saturday, May 26, 2012

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park

Now that we are home, I don't have very much to blog about except getting our house and yard straightened out after being away for five months. Instead of going into those boring details, I've decided to remember some places that we have visited that I haven't yet written about. I'll begin with Yosemite National Park.

We visited Yosemite National Park on our 2010 trip, and what a wonderland it was. We arrived on June 19th. There had been plenty of rain in the spring, so the falls were absolutely amazing. Everywhere you looked there were falls pouring down from the surrounding mountains. That, mixed with the sunlight streaming through the trees, made the scenery almost surreal. It reminded me of the waterfall scenes from Lord of the Rings. Bob and I fell in love with the place, and it quickly became one of our favorite national parks.

We stayed at Yosemite Pines RV Resort, a campground about 22 miles from the Big Oak Flat park entrance. The park has a swimming pool, although we didn't get to use it. We were there for five nights, but didn't spend much time in the campground since we were busy seeing Yosemite. There are many campgrounds in the National Park, but we wanted the convenience of electric. Yosemite Pines RV Resort worked out just fine for us, and we enjoyed our stay there. Here are the highlights of the four days that we had to tour the park.

Day 1: We headed into the valley and did the loop. Bridalveil Falls was our first stop, and we got there early enough that hardly anyone was there. We moved on through the valley to Mirror Lake after stopping at the visitor center. Finally we took the path to the Lower Falls. So much breathtaking scenery in one day!
Bridalveil Falls - Yosemite National Park

Mirror Lake - Yosemite National Park

Upper and Lower Falls - Yosemite National Park

Day 2: We went to Glacier Point. You get spectacular views of Half Dome and waterfalls cascading into the valley everywhere. It was chilly up there – the elevation is 7274 feet. 

Half Dome - Yosemite National Park

View from Glacier Point - Yosemite National Park

View From Glacier Point - Yosemite National Park

Day 3: We toured the Hetch Hetchy Valley.  On our way we saw the cutest black bear cub (it was actually a blond) eating flowers on the roadside. We didn't see the mother, but I'm sure she was nearby!

Baby Brown Bear cub - Yosemite National Park
Damming up the Hetch Hetchy valley was a source of great controversy from 1901-1913 and was fought against violently by John Muir.  Today it contains 25% of San Francisco's water supply which is delivered through an aqueduct.

O'Shaughnessy Dam

Hetch Hetchy Reservoir

Hetch  Hetchy Reservoir

Day 4: We visited the Mariposa Grove to see the Giant Sequoias. The 1800 year old Giant Grizzly is located there - the oldest living sequoia in the park.

Mariposa Grove, Yosemite National Park

Grizzly Giant - Yosemite National Park

 On the way back we stopped at Tunnel View, one of the most scenic places in the park.

Tunnel View - Yosemite National Park

Here's a short video of our Yosemite Tour – only three minutes long, but covers the highlights of the park.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Huntington Beach State Park, Murrells Inlet SC

We completed our 2012 winter trip with a 9 day stay in Huntington Beach State Park.  The park is in Murrells Inlet, which is right next to Myrtle Beach.  However, Murrells Inlet is much quieter and has far less traffic than Myrtle Beach does.

Huntington Beach has 125 sites altogether - 20 sites with sewer, and 105 with electric.  The sites are spacious, and fortunately are built to shed the rain.  We caught a stalled front of rain halfway through our stay there that just wouldn't move, and gave us 7 inches of rain in four days.  Our site remained high and dry even after that.

Campsite 98 at Huntington Beach State Park

In spite of the rain, we managed to get in some good beach time.  There are two paths from the campground that lead down to the beach, and you can even take your dog to the beach as long as it's on a leash.  The water was 78 degrees, great for swimming!

Beautiful uncrowded beach - Huntington Beach State Park

78 degree water in May
Huntington State Park is home to alligators that reside in the causeway coming into the park.  We had some excitement when we went to take pictures of the gators.  Two alligators were going through a courtship ritual, and I got video of the male alligator letting out a mating call.  It was incredible - sounded like a motor cycle.  When he reared his head up he looked like a dinosaur.  Check out the video!

I am home now as I write this, and as usual I have mixed emotions - glad to be home, but sorry that the trip has ended.  I'm already planning our excursion for 2013, which will include the Florida panhandle, Alabama's Gulf State Park, Vicksburg and Chattanooga.  Bob and I have three grandchildren graduating from college next year, so I made sure that we will be home in time for the ceremonies.  For now, we have lots of unpacking and cleaning to do.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Anastasia State Park, Saint Augustine FL

The Super Moon over Anastasia State Park Beach

We arrived in Anastasia on Saturday, and will be leaving tomorrow.  On Saturday night we ran down to the beach to get a shot of the Super Moon.  It was a crystal clear night, and the moon looked enormous.

Campsite 41 - Anastasia State Park, Saint Augustine Florida

This park has large well spaced sites nestled in a beautiful woods of Thatched Palms and Live Oaks.  A short distance away is an outstanding white sandy beach on the Atlantic.   We spent two wonderful days on the beach and in the ocean, which was warm with a very gentle surf, making it great for swimming.

Beach at Anastasia State Park, Saint Augustine Florida

This morning we took Miracle to the Joe Pomar Dog Park in Saint Augustine.  Unfortunately, there weren't any other dogs there.  She still got a good workout playing with her ball, and left tired and happy.  Saint Augustine has about four dog parks, so it's a very dog-friendly place.

Miracle at Joe Pomar Dog Park

I would definitely like to visit Anastasia State Park again, and stay for at least a week.  There's plenty to see and do here.  The old town of Saint Augustine is fun to explore.  We toured it a few years ago and loved it.

Well, on to Hilton Head Island tomorrow.  We're looking forward to the hot tub and swimming pool there. 

Cactus Flower - Anastasia State Park
I told you - we have RV insurance!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Jonathon Dickenson State Park, Jupiter FL

Campsite 51 at Jonathon Dickinson State Park
We arrived at Jonathon Dickinson State Park yesterday, and we are leaving tomorrow.  This is a very nice park offering full hookups with sewer.  We are staying in the newer section.  There is another older campground closer to the river, but that area  doesn't have sewer, and the sites are not as large nor as level as the new ones.  The only problem with these newer sites is that there is no shade - you're really out in the open.

This land originally contained Camp Murphy, a top secret radar training base during World War II.  In 1944 it was handed over to the state, and Jonathon Dickinson Park was opened in 1950.

The Loxahatchee river runs through the park, and I wish we had more time to explore it.  It would be a great place to put our canoe in.  In 1985 the Loxahatchee was named Florida's first National Wild and Scenic river.  The park runs a guided boat tour of the river for $20/person, but we really didn't have the time since we're only here for a day.

There is also a swimming beach, but I don't think I would go in.   There are plenty of gators in the area, although we didn't see any just touring through.

Swimming beach at Jonathon Dickinson State Park

 We did, however, see this neat tortoise.

We took a quick drive to Hobe Sound national wildlife preserve which is right down the road.  There is a nice swimming beach there, and they allow dogs on the beach.  Hobe Sound and Jupiter Island are lined with absolutely gorgeous homes - definitely a place where the one percent lives (Tiger Woods has a $60 million mansion on Jupiter Island).

One of the beautiful homes on Hobe Sound, Jupiter Florida

Beach on Hobe Sound National Wildlife Refuge

Tomorrow it's off to Anastasia State Park in Saint Augustine for three nights.  Hopefully, we'll be able to get to the beach.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Mirra Goes Out to Dinner

Boondockers Restaurant in Big Pine Key allows you to bring your dog.  In fact, they even have dog menus.  So we put Mirra's best scarf on her and took her out to dinner.  Bob had a pulled pork sandwich, I had a Mahi Mahi sandwich, and Mirra had grilled chicken with a bowl of ice water.

Dinner is served

It was good to get out.  It's been raining pretty steadily now for three days, and so we've been cooped up in the trailer.  It finally stopped tonight, and should be clear tomorrow.  Good thing since we have to pack up in preparation for our Thursday travel day.