Yesterday after work we headed out on an airboat tour of the Everglades. We signed up for a 90 minute tour. Once we arrived at the tour location we were quickly boarded and off into the Everglades we had fun cruising around and looking at the plants and animals. We would drive for a while, then stop and look at things, then go somewhere else. Our guide had a good plan and showed us several alligators, birds, fish, and plants.
This morning we were up early to head to Carlsbad Caverns National Park. We took two trips down to the caves. First we took the elevator down and walked around the Big Room. Then we went back up to the surface for lunch and hiked down the natural entrance. Neat.
After lunch today we went to Saguaro National Park. We have seen a lot of desert on our trip, but the saguaros here were very dense. They had one of the most interesting films of any of the national parks we have been to. After stopping by the visitor’s center for our traditional sticker and t-shirt, we went for two short hikes – one through the desert and one up Signal Hill, to see some petroglyphs.
Yesterday we went to the Mystery Castle; today we headed north to Montezuma Castle. We tried to stop here last week on our way to Sedona, but it was closed because of the government shutdown. We spent about 30 minutes each at Montezuma Castle and Montezuma Well. The castle area features some neat cliff-dwellings. The well area features a spring that comes up in a limestone crater of sorts. Over 1.5 million gallons of water per day come up through the desert floor. There were also cliff-dwellings, cave-dwellings, and a pit house around the well. I am glad we had to make a special trip and had more time. Had we gone last week we would not have taken the time to go to Montezuma Well.
This afternoon we visit Cabrillo National Monument, in/on Point Loma, a peninsula that juts out to help form the San Diego Bay. The park featured an old lighthouse, a lot of information, and a nice hike with beautiful views of the city. It was a nice day, but very windy, so we did not stay too long.
Joshua Tree National Park is about an hour from where we are staying Palm Springs. We headed that way this morning, not knowing what to expect, other than Joshua Trees. Joshua Trees are cool, but the real beauty of the park is the huge piles of rock that have evolved there over time. The best thing of all is that you are encouraged to go off the trail and climb on the rocks. The kids had a blast with this part.
While we were there we went on a couple of hikes, drove to an overlook, and the kids earned their Jr. Ranger badges, of course.
Our third trip into Yosemite brought us back into the valley, for the mirror lake hike. It was a nice, relatively flat loop around mirror lake, which is mostly dry this time of year. One of the most exciting things is that we were very close to a bear and did not even know it. We were bummed that we missed it. A family hiking the other way said they had to turn around and wait for the bear to clear the trail. The group in front of us saw it, but not us. 🙁
Glacier Point in Yosemite National Park offers beautiful views of the valley below. We visited there today after work to take in the view and for a short hike. The hike was great, but we were bummed because the sign at the beginning said the falls were 1.5 miles away, but at the 1.5 mile mark there was another sign that said they were another .9 miles. By that point the sun was going down so we had to head back. We finished in nearly total darkness, with a beautiful view of the stars.
Susan’s parents, Gary & Kathie, celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary this past weekend. We all met in San Francisco for lunch on Sunday and then headed up to a house in Dillon Beach for a few days. It was a fun weekend. Erin & Cameron made the trip from Des Moines and Mary flew in from Kansas City. On Sunday we were joined by Kathie’s brother-in-law, Ron, and his son, Andrew. We actually visited Andrew on our honeymoon, dropping by his house outside of Portland.
Our time in Dillon Beach went quick. We spent Sunday getting moved and settled in. Then on Monday we hung out at the beach, enjoying the nice weather. On Tuesday we headed back toward San Francisco for an outing to Muir Woods.