Año Nuevo State Park


Welcome back to National Parks and other public lands with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.


Año Nuevo State Park  is about 55 miles south of San Francisco on Highway 1, and is known for its elephant seal breeding colony. This is one of the world’s largest colonies for the northern elephant seal. The seals swim  an average of 2000 miles every year on their migration from the Arctic to Año Nuevo.


We were there on the very first day of what is considered ‘Juvenile Haul Out Season’, which begins after the April-August Molting Season. To see the babies, you need to take a guided hike with a docent during breeding season which is mid-December through March. The park is closed for two weeks at the beginning of December when the pregnant females arrive to give birth.


When it’s not breeding season, you must hike from the visitor center over about 3 miles of sand dunes to the seal viewing platform. We were concerned that my disabled cousin wouldn’t be able to do that hike with her cane and unsteady feet. I checked into the state park’s Equal Access program and was able to reserve a docent-guided tour that bypassed the sandy hike.


We arrived in the midst of a blistering heat wave, a little early for our scheduled tour. We perused the exhibits in the Visitor Center and watched the short film. The journey the elephant seals make each year is remarkable!


Then we boarded a van and our guide drove us on unpaved park roads to the Equal Access Trail. This is a quarter-mile boardwalk trail out to the viewing platform. Our guide walked with us, pointing out various flora and fauna along the way.


What a wonderful service this is for the disabled! We are so grateful to the park and our docent for providing us with this amazing experience. We learned a lot about the elephant seal life cycle and saw some huge bulls on the shore.

Location: 1 New Years Creek Rd, Pescadero, CA 94060

Designation: State Park

Date designation declared: 1985

Date of my visit: September 2017

Año Nuevo Island is just off the point and is part of the State Park and Reserve. The abandoned buildings are the remains of a 19th century light-keeping station.

Paterson Great Falls: Waterfall Wednesday


Welcome back to National Parks & other public lands with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.


On a sunny day, you can often find a rainbow over the rear section of Paterson Great Falls National Park.


I was visiting the park for the Native American Heritage celebration and walked over the bridge to this section. We’d had a downpour the night before so there was a lot of water cascading and creating mist. The mist acts as a prism and creates the rainbow.


Scroll down for a video clip.

Paterson Great Falls posts:

Location: 72 McBride Avenue Extension, Paterson, NJ

Designation: National Historical Park

Date designated or established: 11/7/2011

Date of my visit: 11/4/2018


Lincoln National Memorial

2007_1124(025)Welcome back to National Parks & other public lands with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.

It’s been over ten years since we spent a day touring the many monuments and memorials in Washington DC while on a road trip to visit family in South Carolina. We’d purchased tickets for a hop on and off bus, after stopping at the Jefferson and FDR Memorials, we took the bus to the Lincoln Memorial.


The Lincoln Memorial was built to honor Abraham Lincoln in 1922. It is across from the Washington Monument in the National Mall. Fifty-seven years after the Civil War ended and Lincoln was assassinated, this memorial was dedicated to the 16th president of the United States.

The memorial features a Greek temple design, a 19 foot statue of Lincoln and inscriptions of his famous Gettysburg Address on the walls. Because of Lincoln’s role in abolishing slavery, the memorial became a symbolic location for the Civil Rights Movement. Martin Luther King Jr delivered his ‘I have a dream’ speech here in 1963.


Because we visited in the afternoon, it was quite crowded. But it was still moving to read some of the inscriptions and gaze upon the Washington Monument across the pool.


Location: 2 Lincoln Memorial Cir NW, Washington, DC 20037

Designation: National Memorial

Date designation declared: 5/30/1922

Date of my visit: November 7, 2007


Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site


Welcome back to National Parks & other public lands with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.


The Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site preserves an important piece of American Western history. The Open Range Cattle Era, from 1860-1890, gave rise to the legendary cowboy culture and helped to feed a growing nation.


Johnny Grant, a Canadian, first settled the land on which the ranch was built. His marriage to a Shoshone woman insured his peaceful coexistence with the Native Americans in the valley. He made a living driving cattle to market in Sacramento and built the original ranch house in Deer Lodge, Montana in 1862.


Conrad Kohrs moved to the territory in the 1850s without much besides knowledge of the butchering trade. He established himself and opened up several butcher shops where he bought cattle from Johnny Grant. In 1866, Grant sold his ranch and home to Kohrs and moved back to Canada.


Kohrs, along with his half-brother, built up a cattle ranching empire. By the 1890s, he was grazing cattle over 10 million acres and shipping 10,000 cattle a year to Chicago by rail. He became influential in Montana politics and played a part in the territory being granted statehood.


We’d driven a long way to visit the ranch and when we pulled into the parking lot in front of a tiny visitors center, I was worried we may have spent hours on the road for a 15 minute stop. Fortunately for the sake of marital harmony, there is much more to this park unit than meets the eye.


We signed up for a tour of the ranch house and explored the grounds while we waited for our tour time. In addition to the ranch house, there are several outbuildings to explore, livestock, and volunteers and rangers providing living history demonstrations.


We practiced our non-existent lassoing skills, sampled some ‘Cowboy Coffee’ made by the chuck wagon cook and watched the blacksmith make a gate latch out of a nail. My daughter got to make her own cattle brand out of foam.


The ranch house looks like an large, but unassuming country home on the outside. But once we stepped inside for the tour, we were blown away by the opulence. The docent explained that Kohrs would reward his wife with extravagant shopping trips in Chicago after enduring the annual cattle drive to the stockyards.


One huge marble statue in the living room was from the Egyptian exhibit at the Chicago World’s Fair. Everywhere we looked, there were ornate knick-knacks. The dining room table was set for 22 with fine china and silver that some hapless ranger has to polish on a regular basis.


Kohrs’ large desk had a unique hinged design that allowed it to be closed up and locked when he was away. There was a sort of press in his office that acted as a copy machine (I bet it was more reliable than the one in my office.) We weren’t allowed to take any photos inside the house.


Kohrs had expanded the house with a 5000 square foot addition, including a tub with running water and a flush toilet. Pretty unheard of in the wild west. Cattle ranching was lucrative for the Kohrs family.


I asked the docent how all of the belongings and furnishings had been so well-preserved. Most historical homes I’ve visited are partially restored with period-appropriate items that didn’t necessarily belong to the original occupants.  After Kohrs’ death in 1920, the home and ranch passed to a trust company of which Conrad Kohr’s grandson was the head.


Conrad Kohrs Warren and his wife eventually bought the ranch out from the trust. They moved into a more modern house on the premises. In 1972, they donated the original ranch house and property to the NPS with all of the elder Kohr’s belongings intact.

Location: 266 Warren Ln, Deer Lodge, MT 59722

Designation: National Historic Site

Date designation declared: 8/9/1972

Date of my visit: 6/26/2018


Barnegat Lighthouse State Park: Maritime Forest Trail


Happy Blogiversary to National Parks with T! It’s been a year since I first started this blog. Many thanks to those who have come along for the journey!


Every October the NJ Lighthouse Society runs the Lighthouse Challenge of New Jersey in order to raise funds for the state’s historic lighthouses and maritime sites. This year, we purchased an incomplete commemorative deck of cards at our starting point and then tried to complete the deck by collecting cards at each of the participating locations. There were 13 sites included in the challenge this year and I got to 5 of them on the Saturday of the challenge.


After climbing to the top of Barnegat Lighthouse, I decided to walk the quarter-mile Maritime Forest Trail behind the visitor center. Most people were in the visitors center, by the lighthouse or out on the jetty so I was able to take a peaceful, leisurely stroll on the sandy trail.


A maritime forest grows on the dunes farthest from the shore and consists of trees, bushes and plants adapted to the salty environment. Many of the trees here are fruit bearing and so provide a bountiful home for birds and other critters.


Maritime forests once covered the length of the Jersey Shore, but most were lost to agricultural or recreational development. In Barnegat State Park, there were 30 acres of forests, but erosion has washed away all but two acres. The short loop winds through this remnant with placards identifying the flora along the way.

View of the Maritime Forest remnant from the top of Barnegat Light. The Visitor Center is the rectangular building at lower left. You can see the loop trail extending behind it into the trees.

Lighthouse Challenge and related posts:


Location: 208 Broadway, Barnegat Light, NJ 08006

Designation: State Park

Date designated or established: January 1944

Date of my visit: 10/20/2018


Eisenhower National Historic Site


Welcome back to National Parks & other public lands with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.

We visited the Eisenhower National Historic Site right after our tour of Gettysburg National Military Park (you can read my Gettysburg post here.) The home isn’t far from Gettysburg, but we arrived just in time for the last house tour of the day.


Dwight D. (Ike) Eisenhower was a Five-Star General in World War II, the Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces and the 34th President of the United States. His presidency brought us the Interstate Highway System, The Civil Rights Act, NASA, the escalation of the Cold War and the Eisenhower Doctrine which promised US protection for unstable but ‘friendly’ Middle Eastern countries from communist invasion.


Because of his military career, Ike and his wife Mamie moved around frequently and had never owned a home. After the war, Mamie insisted they settle down. They purchased a run-down farm and 189 acres on the outskirts of Gettysburg. They rebuilt the old house during Eisenhower’s first presidential term.


In 1955, Eisenhower suffered a heart attack while in office and he spent over a month recuperating at the newly (and extravagantly) renovated farmhouse. Afterwards, Mamie and Ike returned to Gettysburg most weekends and holidays.

Eisenhower drew sharp criticism from his political opponents for his frequent absences from the White House and for the amount of money spent on the farmhouse renovation. By today’s standards, the cost was over $2 million.


The Eisenhowers donated their home and land to the National Park Service in 1967, retaining lifetime living rights for Ike. Eisenhower died only two years later, but Mamie was given federal permission to remain in the home. She lived on the farm (in a smaller section) until her death in 1979.

The National Park Service opened the site to the public in 1980. There is a short video in the visitors center and several outbuildings to explore, in addition to the main house.

Location: 243 Eisenhower Farm Rd, Gettysburg, PA 17325

Designation: National Historic Site

Date designated or established: 11/27/1967

Date of my visit: 9/3/2011


Capitol Reef National Park: Scenic Drive


Welcome back to National Parks & other public lands with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.


After our hike to Hickman Bridge, we drove back to the Visitor Center where we perused the displays about the park’s geological history. The rock formations in the park are sedimentary…loose matter that has settled in layers and has compressed into rock. Each layer is from a different period of the Earth’s history.


Next we continued on the service road past the Visitor Center to the Gifford Homestead. The Giffords were the last residents of Fruita and sold their property to the NPS in 1969.


The NPS and the Capitol Reef Natural History Association maintain a working farm on the homestead site with a store that sells baked goods.


We admired the horses and then got back on the road to begin the Scenic Drive. Just past the Gifford barn is the entrance to the drive with a lock box for the fee charged to drive the road. This is the only section of the park where there is an entrance fee and it is on the honor system.


The drive itself is five miles out and back and is indeed quite scenic. We were there towards the end of the day and there weren’t any other cars on the road with us.


We stopped at a few points to take photos. There are trail heads all along the road worthy of exploration, but we will have to save that for a future visit.


Capitol Reef posts:

  • Cathedral Valley
  • Goblin Valley State Park
  • Hickman Bridge
  • Scenic Drive
  • Panorama Point

Location: Wayne, Utah

Designation: National Park

Date designation declared: 12/18/1971

Date of my visit: 4/13/2017