Golden Gate National Recreation Area: Point Bonita Lighthouse

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The Golden Gate National Recreation Area protects over 80 thousand acres in Northern California. For this trip, we decided to explore the Marin Headlands section. The Marin Headlands is a peninsula just north of San Francisco on the Marin County side of the Golden Gate Bridge.

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Point Bonita Lighthouse sits at the entrance to San Francisco Bay in the Marin Headlands. Point Bonita was the third lighthouse built on the West Coast (in 1855)  and was the last manned lighthouse on the California coast. It is maintained by the National Park Service as part of the Golden Gate NRA (The coast guard maintains the still-active signal) and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1991.

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We hiked down the steep half mile trail through a tunnel in a hill and across a  suspension bridge to the lighthouse. There was a ranger inside whose grandmother had lived in this lighthouse as a child and he told us some her stories as we perused the museum displays.

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Originally, Point Bonita was up higher on the cliffs and the light was often obscured by fog. The current lighthouse was built at a lower location in 1877. It is on a bluff 124 feet above sea level and a shipwreck from the Gold Rush years is just offshore from it.

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Golden Gate National Recreation Area posts:

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Location: 948 Fort Barry, Sausalito, CA 94965

Designation: National Recreation Area, NRHP

Date designation declared: 10/27/1972

Date of my visit: August 12, 2012

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Golden Gate Park: Japanese Tea Garden -NRHP

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The Japanese Tea Garden in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park was originally built for the California Midwinter International Exposition of 1894. It is the oldest public Japanese garden in the United States.

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After the World’s Fair, Makoto Hagiwara modified the Japanese Village exhibit into a permanent Japanese Tea Garden, importing many of the elements from Japan. He was the caretaker until his death in 1925, when his daughter took over for him until she was forced into an internment camp during WWII.

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During the War, the garden was renamed the Oriental Tea Garden and Chinese servers took over at the tea house. The Hagiwara home and Shinto Temple were destroyed. The garden was restored to the Japanese Tea Garden after the signing of the peace treaty with Japan.

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After visiting the nearby  Science Academy, we visited the Tea Garden, took a stroll through the lovely landscaping and had tea at the tea house.

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Location: 75 Hagiwara Tea Garden Dr, San Francisco, CA 94118

Designation: National Register of Historic Places

Date designation declared: 10/15/2004

Date of my visit: August 14, 2012

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The drum or moon bridge is designed to look like a full circle when reflected in the water. It is also intended to make people slow down and appreciate the garden.

Fitzgerald Marine Reserve

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The Fitzgerald Marine Reserve lies within the Montara State Marine Reserve. It is in Northern California, 20 miles south of San Francisco along the coast in Moss Beach and protects some endangered species of butterflies and plants as well as the marine life off the coast.

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It is a popular location to explore tide-pools. We timed our visit to coincide with low tide and saw lots of anemones, hermits crabs and other marine life.

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The tide-pools are at the base of a cliff with a steep staircase down to the beach. We saw a couple of seals hanging out on a rock in the surf as we wandered among the tide-pools.

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Location: 200 Nevada Ave, Moss Beach, CA 94038

Designation: State Marine Reserve

Date designation declared: 8/5/1969

Date of my visit: August 13, 2012

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Rockaway Beach, Pacifica

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We stopped at Rockaway Beach in Pacifica because we’d heard there was a black sand beach there. When we got there, we saw brownish, ordinary sand. We needed to go a little farther North to Sharp Park Beach for the black sand.

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But what we saw at Rockaway was a beach with hardly anyone else on it. We climbed down to the beach, watched a couple of surfers catch a wave and walked out to some cool rock formations with a colony of sea birds on them.

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Location: Cabrillo Hwy and Rockaway Beach Ave, Pacifica, CA

Designation: City Beach

Date of my visit: August 13, 2012

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Coit Tower – NRHP

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Coit Tower is a 210-foot tower in Pioneer Park on Telegraph Hill, one of San Francisco’s seven hills.  The tower was completed in 1933 using funds from Lillie Hitchcock Coit’s bequest to beautify the city of San Francisco.

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Coit was an eccentric socialite who wore pants, smoked cigars, gambled in mens-only clubs and liked to chase fires. She is said to have pitched in to help the firemen fight a blaze near her home. This was considered unusual behavior for a lady in those days.

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The tower is dedicated to the firefighters who died in the city’s long history of fires. Some say the structure resembles a fire hose nozzle, though the architect insisted that was a coincidence.

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Visitors can buy a ticket to the observation deck on top. We rode in the old-time elvator, complete with elevator operator, to the top to see the panoramic views of the city and the bay.

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Location: 1 Telegraph Hill Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94133

Designation: National Register of Historic Places

Date designated/established: 1/29/2008

Date of my visit: 8/16/2012

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View of Telegraph Hill and Coit Tower from Lombard Street.

John Muir National Historic Site: Happy Earth Day!

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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.

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John Muir published 300 articles and 12 books in his lifetime

“When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.” –John Muir

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Happy Earth Day and happy 181st birthday to John Muir, father of the National Parks! My very first post on this blog back in February of 2018 was about the John Muir National  Historic Site and you can see it by clicking here.

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I wan’t sure how much space photos would use back then, so I only included four in that first post. I didn’t take many because on the day we visited there was an oppressive heat wave, but I’ve included more in this special Earth Day post.

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This sequoia tree, now about 120 years old, was planted by John Muir himself when he lived here on the fruit ranch in Martinez, California.

Location: 4202 Alhambra Avenue, Martinez, California

Designation: National Historic Site

Date designated or established: 8/31/1964

Date of my visit: September 2017

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The ornate decor in the 17-room Italianate mansion is attributed to Muir’s wife and father-in-law
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There are still olive trees and fruit orchards on the grounds of the National Historic Site

Big Basin Redwoods State Park

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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.

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Big Basin Redwoods State Park is California’s oldest state park, established in 1902. Northwest of Santa Cruz, it is home to the largest stand of coastal redwoods south of San Francisco.

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This is normally a pretty popular park with limited parking by the visitor center. But we visited in the midst of a stifling heat wave, so we had no trouble getting a spot in the early afternoon.

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We stopped in at the visitor center to determine the best way to see the park given the 108 degree temperature. We opted for the Redwood Loop Trail, an easy half-mile loop with well-marked points of interest that begins at the end of the parking lot. The only other people we encountered on this trail were an elderly couple and a mom with a baby in a stroller. It’s a nice wide and flat path suitable for any ability.

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As we ambled along, trying not to collapse from heat exhaustion, we stopped at the well-marked points of interest and read the placards.

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We passed the ‘Father of the Forest’, a 2000-year-old, 250 foot tall redwood with a circumference of 16 feet.

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We also saw the ‘Mother of the Forest.’ The Mother is not as wide as the Father, but is taller. She was once the tallest tree in Big Basin at 329 feet until a storm knocked off a portion, reducing her to 293 feet.

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We stood inside the hollowed-out Chimney Tree to take in a unique view of the sky.

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There are many other sights to see in Big Basin….waterfalls, varied habitats, ocean views, etc… But on this day, the short walk through the redwoods was experience enough for us. Being in the presence of these ancient giants is always a humbling experience and we were grateful for the well-maintained path through them.

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Location: 21600 Big Basin Way, Boulder Creek, CA 

Designation: State Park

Date designation declared: 1902

Date of my visit: 9/1/2017

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