applied vision blog

South-West to North-West California

18 Sep 2011

We left Simi Valley in LA to travel north to Sebastapol to stay with Martin’s nephew, Leif. We drove via Santa Barbara which has the largest Morton Bay Fig tree in the U.S., then via a huge lake area (Lake Cachuma) to stay in Solvang – a quaint Danish village in vast wine country. Further north, we visited Hearst Castle, a mansion on an estate of 250,000 acres – established by William Hearst in 1947 who was an American business magnate, leading newspaper publisher. We decided to continue north via the windy scenic coast 200 km coast road (similar to the Great Ocean Road in Victoria) and stayed at Monterey – a picturesque town on the bay inhabited by numerous seals. California enjoys long summers stretching May to October. The vegetation changed significantly – northern California being typically cooler and wetter than southern California which is hot and dry. The vegetation became green on the mountains with forests, including the Redwood Cedar forests which have the largest and oldest ‘Redwoods’ in the world. We drove across the famous ‘golden gate bridge’ of San Fransisco (for some reason I thought it would be ‘golden’), where you can see the island of Alcatraz and military prison. San Fransisco is a land of hills and bays, waterfronts and promedades with lots of rain. The weather is similar to Melbourne – 4 seasons in one day. It felt good to be leaving the big city behind, driving further north to Sebastapol – a town situated amongst vineyards and apple orchards. Leif spoilt us (took us out for dinner, cooked for us etc.), introduced us to friends and showed us some of his favourite places in this rich and diverse area. Martin attended an open day of the last-remaining steam-operated & fully-functioning timber mill in America – breaking down & sawing western red cedar logs up to 1.8 meters in diameter. Tomorrow, we journey north, staying at Mount Shasta – a dormant volcano, long revered by Native Americans for its beauty and sacred significance of harmony & peace – staying with another ‘couch-surfing buddie’. Mount Shasta is 4,300 m above sea level so has snow most of the year. We are looking forward to experiencing some of the essence and power of this special mountain.

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