San José for the Day...

We continued our path north, spending an interesting day in San José.

Before entering towns, I search on for what we shouldn't miss. This quaint enclave Willow Glen, a neighborhood of San Jose, was an ideal location for a lunch pause. Began in the mid-1800s, it has walkable tree-lined streets, diverse architecture, specialty shops, and independent businesses.

To learn about this town, we have only passed through previously, we spent hours at its History Park. With 32 original and reproduction homes, businesses and landmarks, this unique space highlights Santa Clara Valley’s past. Complete with paved streets, running trolleys and a café (on weekends), this 14-acre site has the charm and ambiance of times gone by.
I appreciated the information boards that showed us these historic buildings at their actual location and usage.

We then meandered into the Pacific Hotel to visit the current exhibit at the Arbuckle Gallery- The Wireless Age: Electronics Entrepreneurs Before Silicon Valley.
Everyone is familiar with the local garage stories of Wozniak and Jobs, Hewlett and Packard, and the big semiconductor pioneers that gave today’s Silicon Valley its name. It is the earlier electronics pioneers of the Bay Area, however, who produced some of the most revolutionary communication devices, laying the foundation for what is today’s high-tech corridor. While exploring, we learned about some of the entrepreneurs who existed in a time when inventing was still an individual and passionate pursuit. Very, very cool.
Being a Disney fan, this exhibit about HP's start intrigued me. Hewlett and Packard's earliest project together was an audio oscillator. In 1938, the sound engineer for the movie Fantasia, from the Walt Disney Studios, saw it in action and ordered eight of them, at $71.50 each. This 'big' order was enough to launch the HP company. I had no idea about this Disney connection. You just never know what you will learn when you visit someplace new.

Now that we know what treasures are here, we so ♪♫... know the way to San José...♫♪ and will plan to return.

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Santa Cruz to Escape the Heat...

The best cure for being too hot is to get to the seashore.

Sea breezes, 50° temperatures and being by the beach. Our path 'home' has certainly been diverse.

“Today was good. Today was fun. Tomorrow is another one.” 
― Dr. Seuss

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Pinnacles National Park: Flowers & Bees

We thought since summer was here in full force we would be disappointed by a lack of wildflowers. We were pleasantly surprised by the variety we found. However, what surprised us the most were the bees. There are nearly 400 bee species found at Pinnacles National Park. Pinnacles supports the highest known bee diversity per unit area of any place on earth. And these bees range in size from a sesame seed to an almond... so amazing!

And while we missed the main bloom of the wildflower season, there were still treasures to be found.

Pinnacles National Park displays such a variety of beauty. It is like no place we have ever visited. It surprised and delighted. We will return.

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Pinnacles National Park Part: 2

We started our hike at 6:30 AM on the Old Pinnacles Trail to Balconies Cave, a 5.3 miles round trip, four hour "stroll".

We walked 2.5 miles thinking we'd be making a loop. The hike was described "This sunny hike to Balconies Cave also leads to towering rock formations: Machete Ridge and the Balconies Cliffs. Flashlight required in the cave."

We made it this far and were spooked about all the boulders we had to crawl under but we

I loved this description by a true spelunker, "My favorite portion of the Balconies Cave network was the lengthy passage at the beginning of the cave. This 'passageway' is about 100 feet long, and is comprised of a number of fallen boulders, which really emphasize the nature of what a talus cave is. This area is about two to three feet wide, or less in spots, and in places, you will have to duck to fit under some of these boulders. Further, as an amateur photographer, the light in this area was really interesting to me – while it was all natural, it has a definite unusual tint to it. This is definitely an area that’s worth examining at your leisure."

To finish the loop, we would have had to enter a very long, very dark cave. When Steve looked in the entrance, he could not see any light just a path that meandered downward. We both agree, "No dang way".
So one goal was to experience the talus caves. And we did just that as we meandered in the deep, narrow gorges that were transformed into caves by large chunks of rock falling from above, wedging into the cracks leaving an open area below. Our brief explore was enough. We then returned the way we had come. We were amazed and impressed by the uniqueness of this peaceful place. What a great stop on our road home.

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Pinnacles National Park: Part 1

This unique, and new, National Park began in 1908 as Pinnacles National Monument (established by U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt). Its current status as a National Park is compliments of President Barack Obama (2013).

The park's namesakes are the eroded leftovers of the western half of an extinct volcano that has moved 200 miles from its original location on the San Andreas Fault, embedded in a portion of the California Pacific Coast Ranges. The uniqueness of these rock formations add to the beauty of this park.
We arrived on a date whose temperatures were 109° in the shade. Wanting to hike, we waited until 7 PM when it had cooled to 96°.
Our goal was to see condors. Since 2003, this park has been the location of a California condor re-establishment program. The first nest, since reintroduction, was built in 2010 and Pinnacles now manages a population of 25 free-flying condors. What better place to try to see one of the largest birds in North America than a hike to the Condor Gulch Overlook.

For a brief moment, we caught sight of these soaring, majestic birds. It was a wonderful reward for our hike.

Some 23 million years ago multiple volcanoes erupted, flowed, and slid to form what would become Pinnacles National Park. What remains is a unique landscape. Travelers journey through chaparral, oak woodlands, and canyon bottoms. Hikers enter rare talus caves and emerge to towering rock spires teeming with life: prairie and peregrine falcons, golden eagles, and the inspiring California condor.

This is truly a unique and interesting place worthy of exploration. So much so that we will awake at 4:45 AM tomorrow to begin again before the temperatures rise. We can't wait to see what we will discover.
“Of all the paths you take in life,
make sure a few of them are dirt.”
-John Muir

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