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CA Big Sur and San Fran Vicinity

March 17, 2013

March 2 – We left SF at 7am and arrived at the gate for the Point Sur Lightstation at 9:45.  The lightstation is part of the Point Sur State Historic Park.  A volunteer guide opened the gate at 10am and we drove to the base of the moro rock formation for our guided tour.  The lightstation (1889) is one of only two active turn-of-the-century lightstations in the country that are open to the public.  The three hour tour involved walking up the road to the top of the rock while the docent described history and structures.

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Sea Lion

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A nice lunch at the Nepenthe Restaurant overlooking the Pacific

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Our next stop was McWay Falls in Julia Pfeiffer Burns SP.  It is only a quarter mile hike to lookouts from which you can see the Falls spilling onto the sand as the waves crash in from the ocean.

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Shocked at the fantastic view!

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Sandollar Beach (USFS) – rock piles, sand and crane

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We had a light dinner and spent the night in the Fernwood Resort – an old 50’s era motel.

March 3 – We were up early and off to find Pfeiffer Beach (USFS).  This was the best beach we visited on our entire trip – cypress tree riparian zone, rocks, arches, surf, birds and even purple sand!

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See Pfeiffer Beach Video at http://youtu.be/Q2erjJ7zYIw

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Proceeding north, Pt Lobos State Reserve was our next stop.  We hiked the South Shore Trail and then the Sea Lion Loop Trail

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Sea Otter

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Sea Lions

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Cypress Grove Loop Trail

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View from Cannery Point

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Whalers Cabin and Museum at Whalers Cove

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Monterey Bay Aquarium in Carmel

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Sea Cucumbers

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Jelly Fish

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On the way back to SF we stopped at the Negeen Persian restaurant outside of San Jose to have dinner with Amir and Afsaneh.

 March 4 – Golden Gate Park from the top (9th floor) of the de Young Museum

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Tai Chi

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We were able to see the special Dutch Painters exhibit at the de Young Museum including the “Girl with a Pearl Earing” by Vermeer.  There were 35 paintings representing the Dutch Golden Age on loan from The Hague.  Here is a picture of a glass sculpture from the museum that really impressed us –

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Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park

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March 5 – We first walked Casey on Baker Beach (Battery Chamberlin).

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We then drove across the Golden Gate Bridge to the vista point at Horseshoe Bay and Battery Cavallo.  The Sailor’s Statue overlooks SF Bay, the GG Bridge, and San Francisco.

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Impressive U.S. Coast Guard plaque

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Rosie the Riveter – World War II Home Front National Historical Park in Richmond (north bay).  World War II was an important stimulus for moving women into the work force and toward gender equality.  Seven hundred and forty-seven ships, mainly Liberty and Victory cargo ships, were launched from the Richmond Naval Yards.

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Rosie the Riveter Monument

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Check out those guns!

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Refurbished Red Oak Victory Ship

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In the evening, we had a hardy dinner (including potato pancakes!) at the Suppenkuche restaurant

March 6 – Napa Valley tour with Amir and Afsaneh, our first stop was the Darioush winery.  It was started by an Iranian and has Persian motifs from Persepolis – the ancient ceremonial capital of Persia.

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We had lunch at Boskos Trattoria Italian Restaurant in Calistoga

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We then took a short drive to Old Faithful Geyser of CA – one of only 3 “Old Faithful” geysers in the world.  Who knew?

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March 7 – the Nestle rabbit caught us just as we were ready to go down into the BART station at 16th and Mission – one free Nestle Chocolate drink for later in the day.

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We took the BART to the end of the line in Dublin/Pleasonton in the east  bay and were picked up by Dave and his wife Carla.  I had met Dave on our Arctic trip in AK last summer.  We drove to Danville where we were picked up by a National Park Service van to be driven to Eugene O’Neil National Historic Site.  O’Neil was a famous playwright who won the Noble Prize for literature in 1936.  He took his prize money and built the Tao House outside of Danville to “get away from the world.”

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Office

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Beautiful view from the house –

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O’Neil produced many American dramas, e.g. – “The Emperor Jones,” Anna Christie,” The Hairy Ape,” “Desire Under the Elms,” “Mourning Becomes Electra,” “The Iceman Cometh,” and “Long Day’s Journey Into Night.”  This sculpture is in Danville across from the library and is a quote from “Long Day’s Journey Into Night.”

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After lunch at La Boulange in Danville we drove to Port Chicago Naval Magazine National Memorial on the Military Ocean Terminal Concord Army base on Suisun Bay.  This is an active Army base and we needed pre-approval with name, ID, etc. to get a reservation on the National Park Service tour, which is limited to 15 because of the size of the van.  We were first checked in and photographed at the entrance to the base and then permitted to continue the tour.

Port Chicago was the sight of the worst homeland disaster during World War II.  It was a Naval site for loading munitions for the Pacific theater and on July 17, 1944 when two munitions ships were being loaded they exploded killing 320 men.  It was a huge explosion with a debris-filled cloud rising 12,000 feet and a shock wave felt 40 miles away.  Two hundred and two of the men were African American enlisted personnel who were relegated to the menial loading tasks.  About three week later when 258 African Americans survivors were being marched back to continue loading munition ships – they refused because of unsafe conditions.  This was called a “Mutiny” and all were jailed.  Two hundred and eight later yielded, completed their terms, and were given bad conduct discharges.  Fifty refused and faced the largest mass mutiny trial in naval history.

Despite being represented by Thurgood Marshall, these men were found guilty and sentenced to 8 to 15 years imprisonment and dishonorable discharges.  A black mark in naval history.  Their acts of civil disobedience brought to light the injustices of racial segregation in the military and was an important catalyst for the American Civil Rights movement.  Following this tragedy the Navy began addressing the issue of both safety and segregation.

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March 8 – Helen and I began the day by taking Casey to the Fort Funston beach, which is dog friendly.  It was a good hike and a bit of a climb back to the parking lot.

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We then took the trolly to the waterfront and finished our tour of the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park that we had started last year.  Kate and I had our second annual mani-pedicure that evening and we then heated frozen pizzas and watched the James Bond movie Skyfall.

March 9 – Our first stop was Muir Woods National Monument.

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Our two mile morning walk through the redwood forest was delightful as can be seen from these photos.

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We then drove to Stinson Beach, walked the beach, and had lunch at the Breakers Cafe.  We then drove south along the ocean and stopped at a headland where we could see Muir Beach.

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View north from overlook

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We did a quick walk on Muir Beach and then headed for the Marin Headlands Visitor Center.  We then had to hustle to make it to the trail to the Point Bonito Lighthouse as it closed at 3:30.

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After a nice dinner at the Indian Oven restaurant, we drove to the Oakland Bay Bridge where they had just started a two year LED light display a few days before.

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Check out a video of the bridge lights at – http://youtu.be/sgQXyxRSYaA

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March 10 – We went to mass at the Spanish Mission Dolores (1776 but rebuilt after the earthquake) and then had brunch at the Crepevine.  Our flight left SF at 2:30 and we switched planes in Denver.  We didn’t get home until 1am due to the three hour time change and the one hour lost switching to daylight saving time!

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