CHANNEL ISLANDS NATIONAL PARK – CALIFORNIA

Our life goal is to visit as many National Parks as we can. National Parks draw you in with splendid beauty, history and protected wildlife. We chose Santa Cruz Island as the park rangers advised it had lots of hiking, animal life and spectacular cliff edge views.

Channel Islands National Park comprises 5 ecologically rich islands off the Southern California coast. Anacapa Island has trails to a 1932 lighthouse and clifftop Inspiration Point. Santa Cruz Island’s many sea caves include the vast Painted Cave. Santa Rosa Island features rare Torrey pines. Thousands of seals gather at San Miguel Island’s Point Bennett. Southernmost Santa Barbara Island draws nesting seabirds.

We began by pre purchasing our tickets the day before through Island Packers Cruises – 805-642-1393 – info@islandpackers.com. You are required to call for reservations and they fill up fast. Super friendly and very helpful people, from making reservations to boarding the boat. At $52.00 a person for round trip tickets it was a bargain, Highly recommend.

So the very early morning began our trip. Up at 5 am packed a lunch, snacks and water bottles for a full day. Water is available at several camping sites but no food, snacks or vending machines available. This is a very remote and protected island twelve miles from the mainland. The catamaran ride from Island Packers dock to the island was spectacular. Smooth sailing, lots of dolphins diving out of the water following our boat on either side. As we approached the island I felt like I was in a Jurassic Park movie. The dock was safe but rustic and no building in site just beautiful hills blooming wildflowers and the deepest green terrain I have ever witnessed. Just approaching the dock was breathtaking, wow what would the rest of the island be like.

We opted to join a 2 hour ranger walk to get a real feel of the island. Highly recommend as he directed us to trails and viewing of wild island foxes, explained the abundance of wild flowers and the protected island scrub jay, also where to view the world largest sea caves. After the tour we set out on our own following the trail map the ranger provided us. The trails were well marked and led to pristine beaches, views of rugged mountains, pure paradise. We decided to stop and have lunch on a cliff overlooking a sea lion rookery and sea caves. Hard to eat when the Ravens wouldn’t stop begging us for food, but rules are do not feed the animals, the birds just dont know the rules. As we continued our hike we periodically came upon small gray foxes as large as house cats and were not frightened by us all which gave us great photo opportunities. The island fox is only found on 6 of the 8 Channel Islands and found nowhere else on earth. They would walk up to you within feet without any fear and they are adorable.

No cell coverage allows for shear peacefulness of this island with only the sound of the rhythmic waves, salty breezes and over 2000 species of plants and animals made us want to stay for longer. We had a full day of hiking over 6 miles and it was now time to head back to the dock. What a wonderful day and we would definitely do this again, possibly a different island next time.

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Tucson Arizona The Presidio District

Leaving our camp site at Gilbert Ray we decided to explore the city of Tucson. Where to start, its a very historic town with tons of Artisans and unforgettable restaurants. My husband knowing me well had spoken with the camp host who directed us to the best farmers market in Tucson, right down my ally for sure. The farmers market was spectacular with Artisans with pottery, hand woven rugs, art and amazing food, so much fun. Next we headed downtown.

As we parked our large truck in a legal parking spot we spotted a costumed Spanish soldier walking and asked about his costume. It turns out we were right next to the Presidio San Agustin Del Tucson Museum and the most northerly spanish fort. Today happened to be living history day and there was lots of action going on from soldiers shooting muskets to cannon fire. The volunteers were dressed in period costume and some making some great tasting homemade tortillas,cactus jams. salsas and soups with plenty to sample. A priest toured us around the fort with lots of information about life in the time period. We even got to view a 2000 year old Native American pit house.

Our next exploration was to find the beginning of The Turquoise Trail and great luck it began outside the walls of the FORT. We picked up a self guided brochure at the Presidio Museum and proceeded to walk the 2.5-mile loop trail through downtown Tucson. The trail highlights structures and sites of historic interest and is marked by a turquoise stripe on the sidewalk.

We would highly recommend visiting downtown Tucson if you are in the neighborhood, so fun and informative.

On our walk on the Turquoise Trail Jeff just happened to find a sampling of yes Organic Gelato and I have to say was outstanding.

Just A Sample

See You Next time from JUST AROUND THE BEND

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