Tuesday, October 25, 2011

97 Big Basin Redwoods State Park - Santa Cruz Mountains

Declan hikes Big Basin Redwoods - multiplicity 
Tall Redwoods
Scenic trails
Let me start of with saying that we just did not give this place enough time so we will be going back.

The Big Basin Redwoods State Park in the Santa Cruz Mountains if a scenic old growth forest which is great to hike around on the many marked trails. (trail map)

With 80 miles of trails we only tasted a couple of miles but then that was mainly due to having a 3 year old with little legs slowing us down a little.

The hike was just great and having our own Naturalist guide; my wife Julia, meant that we had a full run down on the decomposition and breakdown process, fungus identification and many discussions relating to anything from banana slugs to the difference between old growth forests compared to logged regrowth forests.

We had scenic spots to stop at, fallen trees to climb and to go under and streams to cross.

Reuben takes the
high road
The park address is:

Big Basin Redwoods State Park
21600 Big Basin Way
Boulder Creek, California, U.S.A.

Google Maps location is here and the State Park website is http://www.bigbasin.org/index.html

Friday, October 14, 2011

96 The Blue Angels in San Francisco - A break in the cruise post -

Blue Angels taxi for take off SFO
Fat Albert C130 on take off

The other week it was Fleet Week in San Francisco and whilst we didn't get to see much of it, we did decide to see a glimpse of the Blue Angels.

I say a glimpse because instead of fighting the crowds at the waterfront in San Francisco we decided to go the the airport instead.

Fat Albert C130 returning 
Whilst the disadvantage of this was that we didn't get to see the main show. the advantages were many, including: a shorter car trip, easy parking, no crowds, and plenty of aircraft to watch taking off and landing.

The biggest advantage of going to the airport was that we did see things that the rest of the crowd didn't, such as; Fat Albert the C130 Support Aircraft do a simulated rocket assisted take off with a climb out at 45 degrees and then a simulated short landing with a similarly steep angle of decent so as to avoid small arms fire by staying as high as possible for as long as possible.

Blue Angels
We also obviously had the chance to see the Blue Angels do a formation take off and then a formation landing.  We were surprised that the Blue Angels didn't stay out longer as they were only gone for about 20 minutes.

Well next year we may fight the traffic and go in to San Fran, have a great day.

Blue Angels Smoke On take off

An FA 18 returns to SFO - landing next to a taxing United 747

An F 15 Eagle landing and holding off on nose wheel touch down

Lufthansa A380 taxing SFO

Friday, October 7, 2011

95 Cruising the Inside Passage day 4 - Hubbard Glacier

A wet day for Hubbard Glacier but hot chocolate and Bailys helped
 Day 4 of our cruise centred around our arrival at the Hubbard Glacier which was also our most northerly point on the cruise.

Yakutat Bay 
The bergs can be dirty
 We arrived earlier than scheduled after departing Icy Strait Point the night before and unfortunately the rain arrived first.

 As we sailed into Yakutat Bay and started to venture on deck we found it to be cold, windy, rainy, overcast but totally spectacular.

First glimpse of the Hubbard Glacier through the rain
As we continued into the bay towards the glacier we started to see ice in the water and the bergs started to increase in size.

Blue ice and milky water
 The water was totally milky with ground silt from the effect of the glacier, and the icebergs in some cases were full of dirt.

Visibility was poor and the mist obscured the glacier from afar but as we slowly and carefully moved forward the mountain of ice became clearer.
The glacier was shedding bergs during our stay

Size was sometimes hard to fathom standing on deck level 11 on a 70 odd thousand tonne cruise ship with the glacier still taller than the ship.

The ship held position close to the glacier and used thrusters to rotate in position slowly allowing viewing from all parts of the ship.

Peter bought a new raincoat after
this, and one for his camera also.
The Wiki page says that the Hubbard Glacier is in the US state of Alaska but starts in the Yukon Territory of Canada and stretches 76miles (122km).

Would have loved to stay and spend the entire day and night there to catch the light, and go ashore, but not on this cruise, next stop will be Juneau on our day 5.

Cruising back south after the glacier and whilst
having dinner we sailed past Mount Logan in Canada

End of day 4

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

94 Cruising Inside Passage day 3 - Icy Strait Point

Sailing to Icy Strait Point
Reuben on the look out for Orcas

Continuing on from my previous post we are now on day 3 of our cruise along the Inside Passage Alaska, heading to Icy Strait Point.   

We arrived on schedule after more spectacular scenery along the way in the sheltered waters of the passage.

On arrival we went out on deck to a find a very chilled deck and made sure we were rugged up for the shore visit.

Shore transportation
Also on arrival we spotted another cruise ship the "Radiance of the Seas" maintaining station whilst re-boarding passages  from Icy Strait Point shore excursions.

The locals at Icy Strait are apparently outnumbered by bears 3:1 and it would appear that they are outnumbered by cruise visitors by many times that.

We headed to shore using the vessels tenders and were glad that the water was calm for the trip ashore, especially when boarding the tender with children.
Beach pebbles - we brought
 some home

The shore line Icy Strait Point
We booked a child friendly tour on shore and didn't do the zip line which looked frighteningly good, for information of the shore activities you can visit the Icy Strait line Point web site here - www.icystraitpoint.com 

Once ashore and on our Forrest Tram Tour it was time to zone in to the local sites and stories being described by the tour guide.

On the tour we stopped at a beach location and then on the way back pulled up as a pod of whales swam past.

Tail shot - wish I had my longer lens
The place was totally amazing with the vistas, waterfalls and the colored stones and pebbles along the beach.

It was a short stop at Icy Strait Point and it is a place we would like to return to and explore further one day, but now it was getting close to dinner time so it was back to the ship with some excitement about tomorrows stop "Hubbard Glacier"

Celebrity Century at Icy Strait Point