50 States – 50 Countries – California (Part 1)

50 States – 50 Countries – California (Part 1)

The “Golden State” is big. Not Texas or Alaska big, but it takes up almost half of the “Left Coast.” Home to movie stars, Hollywood, several national parks, a wide variety of climates, a lot of liberal Democrats, Beach Boys, surfing, Spanish Mission, wineries, and a mix of many cultures and races. So many places, animals and people to see, I decided to break this post up into multiple parts.  Enjoy!

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State Capitol Building in Sacremento…

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Governor’s Mansion, Sacremento…

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San Diego…

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Coronado Hotel in San Diego. The site of the movie “Some Like it Hot.”

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Balboa Park in San Diego…

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Bodega Bay, film site for “The Birds.”

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Napa Valley home to many wineries…

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California wildlife…

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Wild Turkeys

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Roosevelt Elk

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Rare white pelicans

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Sea Lions

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Queen Mary, Long Beach

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Great Heron, Long Beach

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Sierra Mountains…

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Capistrano Mission…

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Many Victorian homes and hotels…

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Lava Beds National Monument…

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Hollywood Bowl, site of many famous concerts, including the Beatles in 1964 and 1965.

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Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, site of many Hollywood premieres…

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More of our photographs later!!

Wildlife

I love photographing animals. They almost always take a good picture, unlike a few humans I know…and they hardly ever sue you for an invasion of privacy. Anyway, since many of you enjoyed my blog & photos on Yellowstone, I thought I’d share some random favorites from over the years.

— Richard Allan Jones, traveler, actor, musician, & author of “Drafted” and “Identity Check.”

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Road Trip 2015: Yellowstone

Road Trip 2015: Yellowstone

IMG_4586 (2)One of this countries greatest national parks & the first, Yellowstone has been a 3,500-sq.-mile wilderness protected area in Wyoming (and parts of Montana & Idaho) since 1872. The park sits on a volcanic hot spot symbolized by the famous spouting geyser, “Old Faithful.”IMG_4650 (2)

This was our second visit, so we spent a couple of days going to parts we hadn’t seen before. Even in September, the park is crowded and you might have trouble finding a parking spot in the most popular attractions. We stayed in West Yellowstone, just outside the west entrance and a much easier drive into the park that if you stay in Cody and come in the mountainous east entrance.IMG_4621 (2)

Our favorite part of visiting Yellowstone is the animals. Buffalo are everywhere,DSC01750 (2) sometimes in a distant meadow, sometime right next to the road, sometimes strolling right down the road at a leisurely pace, with a long line of cars right behind.IMG_4617 (2) IMG_4601

Elk are a little harder to spot, IMG_4670 (2)although they normally travel in herds, with one or two bulls, a female harem & little ones here and there.IMG_4589 (2)

You almost never see grizzlies or wolves in the populated areas or campgrounds, but just in case, they sell bear spray in the stores and have posted signs to stay at least 100 feet away from any wildlife.IMG_4553 (2)DSC01718 (2)

Bull Buffalo and elk can weight up to 2000 pounds.IMG_4576 (2)

Lots of hot springs in Yellowstone and the smell of sulfur from the deep underground magma that causes all the activity.IMG_4666 (2)DSC01729 (2)DSC01732 (2)

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Also many beautiful waterfalls. DSC01745

DSC01748 (2)IMG_4520 (2)Hope you enjoy the photos we shot…DSC01757 (2)IMG_4579 (2)

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Richard Allan Jones is the author of “Drafted,” a comic adventure of a college student drafted into the Army during Vietnam.

Road Trip 2015: Craters of the Moon

Road Trip 2015: Craters of the Moon

We headed north out of Ely, Nevada, stopping first at McGill to peek in the window of a classic former working drug store that has now become a museum. McGill only has a handful of people left living there with a ton of abandoned buildings.DSC01617 (2)IMG_4424 (2)

 

SR 93 is another lonely road with three of four tiny farm towns all the way to the Idaho border. Towns with names like Currie, Wells and Contact. My favorite, right before the state line, was Jackpot, consisting of several casinos and two gas stations.

Our overnight destination was Twin Falls, Idaho, just a whistle-stop, with nothing particular to see, or so we thought. IMG_4438

Turns out there is a giant bridge on the edge of town, spanning a deep canyon carved out years ago by the Snake River. The bridge is so high, people come from miles around to free base jump from it, because no permit is required here. IMG_4433 (2)

DSC01640 (2)Also, since the town is called Twin Falls, we figured there had to be a waterfall somewhere nearby, and there was.  In fact they call it the “Niagara of the West.” Unfortunately, the falls is controlled by a dam to generate power, and with the drought, only a small portion of the water flow was being released. In the spring, the entire span in this picture is covered in water.DSC01652 (2)

We headed out north again to a really cool national monument called “Craters of the Moon.”IMG_4471 (2)

At one point in our ancient history, the entire area consisted of many massive active volcanoes and now there are miles and miles of lava beds, lava tubes, calderas, cone formations, and lava vents, creating a fascinating and eerie landscape.IMG_4497 (2)DSC01672 (2)

Next up:  Yellowstone

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Richard Allan Jones is the author of “Drafted” an adventure/comedy and “Identity Check,” a political thriller, soon to be released.

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Road Trip 2015: Great Basin National Park

Coming up out of Death Valley (at sea level or below) and headed eastward, we noticed a significant drop in the temperature as we climbed in elevation and entered Nevada. Only a few significant towns in Nevada; most of it is wide open spaces, driving miles without seeing a town or even another car. IMG_4311

Our destination was Ely, Nevada, one of the former mining towns we drove through that had survived, even though the primary industry of mining is now but a shadow of the heyday that produced tons of copper, gold, silver and borax. Many of the towns were barely hanging on, while others had turned to resting places for ghosts and broken down buildings. Beatty, Goldfield, Tonopah and the miles on route 95 rolled by… DSC01606

Our host had warned us to top off our gas tank in Tonopah before we turned onto route 6 because there was nothing for 150 plus miles until we reached Ely. Sage advice.

Ely, with a population of 4300, is a huge metropolis compared to others towns in this part of the world. It would be our base to explore one of least visited national parks in the U.S.A., Great Basin. DSC01578

Great Basin is located in central Nevada, near Baker, and 12 miles from the Utah border. Established in 1986, it contains 121 square miles of wilderness, a natural cave, and one of the darkest night skies. There is a fee to enter the park and one for the cave. They had an astronomer’s weekend when we were there, with large telescopes to look at the sun and the stars…even the Milky Way. DSC01586

There is also a drive to an overlook at 10,000 feet up a very narrow road with steep drop-offs and no railings. We made it to 9,000 feet and chickened out.IMG_4399

Lehman Caves has two tours; take the 90 minute one to see the most formations. If you have claustrophobia, close your eyes when the guide closes the outside tunnel entrance and gives her talk before opening the cave entrance door. The passageway is reasonable although there are a couple of “fat man” squeezes.DSC01550

Ely turned out to be interesting. Take time to visit the railroad museum and the Lone Pine museum. Worth the time and meager fee. Lone Pine Museum has a prehistoric cave bear skeleton, fairly rare, I understand. The engine house was my favorite at the  railroad museum.IMG_4361

All the hotels, bars, most restaurants and even gas stations have slot machines in Nevada, so you can lose your travel money anywhere. Choose wisely.

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Richard Allan Jones is the author of “Drafted” an adventure/comedy and “Identity Check,” a political thriller.

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