Sunday Stills: #Yellow Discoveries in the Golden State

sunflower

The color yellow and all things associated with it is the theme for this week’s Sunday Stills photo challenge.

I had a slightly different post planned, but my journalist tendencies would not allow me to bury the lead.

Blogger Meet-Up

Two Bloggers

This week I got to spend a day with my blogger pal Marsha Ingrao of Always Write at her lovely home near Visalia in the Central Valley of California. Driving to the small town of Woodlake, I discovered the charming, nearby town of Exeter, amid the golden yellow foothills.

As we drove around the area, we spontaneously took the short drive through the foothills into the south entrance of Sequoia National Park! Sequoia is known for its giant redwood forest, home of the General Sherman tree, Moro Rock, and other natural wonders of the Eastern Sierra Nevada Range. And she lives so close to the park!

I was 12 years old the last time I visited Sequoia and nearby Kings Canyon NP. This was a treat!

We drove the winding roads and stopped along vista points to capture the scenery. Yellow leaves and dry grass help frame the jagged peaks. On a clear day, you can see Mt Whitney, the highest mountain in the contiguous U.S. at 14,505 feet. We walked a little for more photo ops, but I will leave that for Marsha to tell you.

Yellow leaf vista of Sierra Range

As we drove toward the park exit, a black bear stood in the road begging for a photo op. By the time I got out my phone (I left my camera in my overnight bag), he had lumbered off the road amid the yellow grasses, the late afternoon sun highlighting his coat a golden brown.

Golden Black Bear

Why California is Golden

In Northern California at the end of July the grasses have turned yellow as vegetation dries out and temps heat up.

While walking in the delta last weekend I found these beautiful yellow wildflowers growing along the levee.

Delta Yellow Wildflowers

Summer flowers show a variety of colors but none so recognizable as the sunflower. Indulge me while I share a few with you this week.

Another golden bear, this time a Teddy Bear sunflower!

Teddy Bear Sunflower 2020

As of this post, I have a whopping 13 sunflowers in my small garden. These are two of the five varieties I planted from seeds from last year’s crop. I recently caught this one opening up.

Square photos of varying perspectives are partially inspired by Becky B’s July Square Perspectives and Cee’s Flower of the Day challenges.

Blogging Break

Please note that after this week, I’m taking a six-week break for travel and family events while focusing on packing and working on our house to ready it for sale in October. I also need to focus as I prepare to teach my university classes online for the Fall semester at the end of August.

Sunday Stills will be in the capable hands of Cathy Ryan of PictureThis who will take hosting duties during August, while Hugh Roberts of Hugh’s Views and News will host September 6 and 13th. Please visit and follow their blogs to stay updated for the challenge. You can find their themes and links to their blogs on my Sunday Stills Page.

I will be back on Sept 20 with new themes. Please stay tuned. Please follow me on Instagram as I travel around Mammoth Lakes and San Diego.

Please link your yellow posts to today’s post so I can read, comment and share. You can link all week; however, by Thursday I will be driving to Mammoth Lakes and may not get to your post right away.

I appreciate all of you who take the time to read and comment on my posts and photography, and those who take part in Sunday Stills each week. Photo challenges are fun and offer a chance to be part of a wonderful blogging community. Who knows? You might also meet a fellow blogger in real life, too!

All my best as you enjoy the rest of your summer (or winter)!

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Sunday Stills: The People’s National #Parks

Half Dome View from Glacier Point

Did you know that today, Sunday, August 25th is the National Park Service Anniversary? So what, right? The NPS celebrates this day along with two other days with FREE entrance to all US national parks!

“For the first time in human history, land—great sections of our national landscape—was set aside, not for kings or noblemen or the very rich, but for everyone, for all time.”

From the National Parks: America’s Best Idea by Dayton Duncan, Ken Burns

The last time I was near a national park was during our winter road trip to Southern California, Arizona, and Nevada. We were thisclose to the Grand Canyon, but icy roads, unexpected snow, AND the US government shut-down prevented us from getting to it safely.

One of these days! But we did visit Nevada’s Valley of Fire State Park and I got my photography fix.

Slot Canyon Hike
Almost Antelope Canyon

Here are a few photos of the National Parks I have visited. After 25 separate visits in my lifetime to Yosemite National Park, I may have a few pics! Here are some of my favorites.

A view of Mono Lake (National Monument) in the Eastern Sierra Nevada along Hwy 395. You can just make out the road in the bottom right that winds through the town of Lee Vining and connects with Hwy 120, the gateway to Yosemite through the Tioga Pass entrance.

View of Mono Lake

As much as I thrill to the iconic image of Yosemite’s Half Dome located in the Valley…

Half Dome View from Glacier Point
Half Dome View from Glacier Point

…my heart belongs to Tuolumne Meadows in the high country a few miles in from the Tioga Pass entrance. At almost 10,000 feet in elevation, the air is crisp, the water insanely blue, and the tourists are few!

Tuolumne-Meadows-River
Dana Fork of the Tuolumne River runs near the campground (Yosemite National Park)

For more on National Parks, consider visiting my previous post NPS Celebrates 100 Years.

Moving away from the North American continent, Hawaii boasts several national parks and recreation areas.

In January 2018, before the Kilauea crater and nearby vents erupted again, we spent a day walking around Hawaii Volcanoes National Park near Hilo on the Big Island.

Kilauea Crater
Steam rises from the very active Kilauea Crater (Painnt filter applied)

On an earlier trip to Oahu in 2006, I also was fortunate to visit Pearl Harbor National Memorial and see the sunken remains of the USS Arizona. Within this structure is the huge memorial plaque with the names of those who perished.

I have been fortunate to visit a variety of national parks, monuments and recreation areas, mostly in California, all US public lands. I never will forget my parents’ insistence on visiting these locations during my life.

  • Alcatraz Island in San Francisco
  • Cabrillo National Monument (Point Loma, San Diego)
  • Death Valley
  • Devil’s Postpile Nat’l Monument in Mammoth Lakes
  • Fort Point Presidio and Presidio of San Francisco, Golden Gate park
  • Lassen Volcanic
  • Mojave Nat’l Preserve
  • Muir Woods Nat’l Monument North San Francisco Bay
  • Pony Express Trail (came through Old Sacramento),
  • Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park
  • Yosemite National Park

Even if you miss the free admission day, paying the entrance fee for a day or a week is worth more to you in the long term than paying your HMO’s co-pay when you must visit the doctor for effects of lack of exercise!

Have you heard of ParkRx? Doctors in South Dakota get these prescriptions through a new program run by the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks and the state‘s Department of Health. For me, I would love to get a prescription to visit a park rather than drugs to lower my cholesterol!

“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity.”

John Muir, Our National Parks

Whether you live in the US or another country, why is it so important to visit our national lands? Because someone with vision understood the vital importance of setting aside public lands for all of us to enjoy and for future generations.

Next time you visit a National Park, a public playground or any other public leisure space, say a quick thank you to those visionaries: Teddy Roosevelt, John Muir, Jane Addams, Steven T Mather, among many.

I dearly love this image of my brother-in-law’s posture as he takes in his first view of Tuolumne Meadows.

Yosemite is the People's Park

This post is partially inspired by Snow’s Friendly Friday Photo Challenge: Tourism.

I am taking a short break to get caught up with school prep and other exciting things, so there is NO photo challenge for September 1, Labor Day weekend. Thank you to all who participate each week!

Sunday Stills resumes September 8. September themes are up on my Sunday Stills Photography page

Which national parks, monuments or public lands have you visited so far?

Prolific Poppies

Happy spring poppies!

As a blogger, do you ever get a sense of deja’vu with that nagging feeling that you have posted something similar before?

When I saw the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge theme ProlificI remembered this word and something to do with poppies. And guess what? I searched google and found my own post from three years ago! 

What better way to celebrate this theme than with photos of native California poppies? The beautiful orange flower is indeed prolific in March and April and adds beautiful pops of color along the freeways and in neighbors’ yards.

Prolific-Poppies
California Poppies

Poppies are California’s State flower. 

Prolific-Poppies
California Poppies pop up everywhere in the spring

I planted poppies from seeds a little too late for them to bloom this spring, but since they are annuals, I hope to see their little golden heads in spring 2016!

**Update** they never did grow. I’ve read you have to plant poppies in late Fall. Better put it on my to-do list then if I want my own poppies.

Happy spring poppies!
Popping Out!

I refreshed this post today from April 2015 when I participated in Ed’s Sunday Stills Photography Challenge. Wildflowers were the theme.

I enjoyed Sunday Stills so much that I am bringing the photo challenge back with it’s launch on May 6th! Visit my page   for more information!

Enjoy the prolific poppy flashback!

Tiki signature

 

 

 

Lusting for Travel

Welcome to Waikiki

Welcome to Waikiki

Why did the traveler cross the road? To satisfy her wanderlust, of course! If that is even possible.

I have barely been off the North American continent, the furthest travel spots being Mexico and Hawaii. But I am willing to pack for any kind of adventure!

Referring to the “Polaroid” above, it has been over 10 years since I visited Hawaii and stayed on Waikiki Beach. That was the view from our balcony. Not a fancy place, but who hangs out in a hotel room all day?

View of La Ventana, home to windsurfing and kiteboarding.

In 2010, I flew solo to Baja, Mexico by way of Guadalajara. I almost didn’t make the hopper that took us to Baja. From this view you can look down into La Ventana Bay which is home to several resorts that cater to windsurfing, kite-boarding and all things water-sport! My hubby (then boyfriend) was already camped there. He had driven in his truck over 1200 miles from Northern California. This is a popular winter spot for wind-sport enthusiasts to get some warm sunshine between November and February.

This week’s photo challenge asks us to share our visions of Wanderlust. Here are a few places I have been.

I am hoping to visit Hawaii or Mexico in January. My hubby and I are making plans to visit Europe in a few years. The road is open!

Where has the road taken you?

 

One Word Photo Challenge: Drought

Dry-Marigolds

Dry-Marigolds

Yeah, I know, another post about the California drought, yada yada. But, appropriately, drought is the subject of this week’s One Word Photo Challenge hosted by the talented Jennifer Nichole Wells.

My poor marigolds didn’t quite make it. I even replanted their seeds, but no. Too hot, too dry.

Here is our official watering schedule.

Watering-Schedule

I can water my lawn two days a week for 15 minutes. Yippee! I am still using the water saving tips I posted in June.

There are weather predictions about a winter El Nino weather system that promises record-breaking rainfall. The key to the winter storms, though, is a large snowpack in the California mountains. A deep snowpack is key to full reservoirs and the survival of the California economy and agriculture.

I am looking forward to unpacking my wellies and raincoat. Keeping my fingers crossed.

Polar Bear Plunge California Style

California-Polar-Bears

To start out their New Year, willing participants jump into the frigid waters of a public pool. This day the air temp was 50 degrees and the water temperature a crisp 39 degrees.

The woman in the middle wearing the water wings was a local media anchor who participated. The event was a fund-raiser for recreational swimming programs.

Polar Bear Plunges are popular in cold, winter climates, making the plunge something to dread and remember. Here in Northern California, this is as close to cold as it gets.

Off-Season