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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Año Nuevo State Park

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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

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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.

Fort Point National Historic Site

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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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After exploring the Marin Headlands on the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge (you can see my post on the Marin Headlands by clicking here,) we drove across the famous bridge to visit Fort Point nestled under its southern side.

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Fort Point was built during the Gold Rush by the United States Army to defend San Francisco Bay against foreign attacks. It was completed just before the start of the Civil War and never saw battle.DSC02578

Renowned for its fine masonry, it was saved from demolition in the 1930s . The Golden Gate Bridge architect designed the span to arch over the fort instead of razing it.

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The fort is now protected as Fort Point National Historic Site, signed into law by President Nixon in 1970. It is administered by the National Park Service as a unit of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

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We tagged on to the end of a ranger-led tour and explored the three levels where there are historical artifacts on display. There are great views of San Francisco and Alcatraz from the roof. And this view of the Golden Gate is quite a different perspective from the usual bridge vista.

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Location: Long Ave & Marine Dr, San Francisco, CA 94129

Designation: National Historic Site

Date designation declared: 10/16/1970

Date of my visit: August 18, 2012

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