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Feb 15, 2014

Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

There is nothing that can prepare you for this one. It is 277 river miles long ( 446 kms ), 18 miles ( 29 kms wide ) and one mile deep ( 1.6 kms ). Carved by the roaring and majestic Colorado River, it has for millions of years carved out one of the most spectacular sights. You can see the river but it is a mile down and continues to carve the Grand Canyon. This is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage site and is all about the marvellous and mysterious Grand Canyon.

The Grand Canyon is located in Arizona, USA about a 1 1\2 hours drive from Flagstaff or Williams. In 2013, the Grand Canyon was in the news, as millions around the world watched Nick Wallenda Live on television, make his incredible, daredevil tightrope stunt walk across the Grand Canyon. To see the clipping, click on this Youtube link.

GRAND CANYON:

The south rim of the Grand Canyon is the most visited by millions throughout the year.

If your planning just driving through Grand Canyon and do not have a lot of time there, here are some suggestions. Either use the free shuttle from point to point or park and walk the trails of your interest. The Rim trail is good to experience the Grand Canyon from various viewpoints. It is paved from Pipe creek vista point to Maricopa point. Some places are unsecured.
  • Evening may have a nip in the air specially in spring and in fall. Winter be prepared for cold, windy temperatures.
  • Take the shuttle. It is an easier way to get around without having to worry about parking. 
  • See the sunrise\sunset if possible. 
  • Winter you could expect snow and rain, whilst in summer, as hot as an oven. 
Panoramic views from different points will enable you to see the amazing canyon. Far below, you will be able to see the Colorado river that snakes its way through the canyon. No pictures or videos can make you experience this fascinating wonder of the world. Take a drive along the East rim and be amazed at how wide and large the canyon is! Hire bikes and enjoy views from the various vista points along the trail.

Some of the vista points worth seeing are:

Canyon View
Mather Point
Yavapai Observation Station
Powell Point
Hopi Point ( for sunset )
Yavapai Point: There is a glass viewing area that gives you a perspective of how far below the bottom of the Grand Canyon is.

Visit the NPS site for indepth guidance and information regarding the Grand Canyon. Sharing some pictures from our drive from San Francisco all the way to Arizona.

grand canyon
Layered look of the canyon

grand canyon
Visitors at the Canyon

grand canyon
cloud shadow over the Grand Canyon
I have gathered some travel itineraries of ours if you would like to visit other places too. Williams in Arizona, Flagstaff in Arizona, Page in Arizona, St. George in Utah is where we stayed while visiting the Grand Canyon. If your staying in and around the Flagstaff area, its worth checking out the night sky!

Las Vegas to Grand Canyon ( about 5 1\2 hrs driving time ):

Grand Canyon National Park to Page ( about 3 hours ) : details in this post.
Page ( Horse Shoe Bend & Antelope Canyon ) to Bryce Canyon ( about 3 hours drive ): 

Bryce Canyon to Zion National Park ( 2 hours )

Zion National Park  back to Vegas ( about 2 1\2 hours drive ) http://www.savsmich.com/2012/07/zion-national-park.html

Monument Valleyhttp://www.savsmich.com/2012/03/monument-valley.html

Till our next post, cheers to yet another drive!!

Feb 12, 2014

Twin Peaks, San Francisco

Viewing places from a height is always captivating whether it is from a flight, a blimp or a skyscraper. The place could be blanketed in fog for a few minutes and the next moment you see the city lights, vehicle tail lights and downtown right in front of you. What is it about viewing places from a height that brings people to photograph and visit these places? San Francisco, the city of lights, fog or love ( or any other name you want to call it ) has the most perfect place to sit and relax and marvel at how the city transforms hour by hour each day.

Sometime in September 2013, we drove down to Twin Peaks. It was windy, cold and the city was covered in fog. With umbrellas almost flying off the cliff with the wind and the rain coming down on us at intervals, we decided to stay another 5 -10 mins in the hope that the rain subsides and the sun shines brightly. As if our prayers were heard, in minutes the fog suddenly lifted and the entire city revealed itself to us majestically. Check this picture.. Isn't it beautiful!

Check out this time lapse video I found online: Video Link by Chad Richard. An amazing time lapse video of the night and day!

Foggy San Francisco

twin peaks
Sunny San Francisco
Twin Peaks is located at: 501 Twin Peaks Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94114.

downtown san francisco
San Francisco  Downtown
Parking is available. Restrooms are located near the vista point.Hiking trails are also in the vicinity.Windy and chill\cold is all I can say when up there!
Good place for night photography on a clear night. Watch a breathtaking sunset from here too.

Nov 10, 2013

San Diego Attractions, California

Sunny San Diego.. One of our favorite places in Southern California. You can grab a beach towel and head for the beaches, laze around building sand castles or sit in the amphitheater and watch a whale, dolphin pet show or just gaze in wonder at underwater sea creatures. And if that is just not enough you can go from viewing underwater creatures to viewing pandas, exotic animals and birds from around the world at the San Diego Zoo. How about visiting The Old Town of San Diego which will take you back in time. Sharing these adventures with you in our fabulous San Diego road-trip.

Location: 2 hours from Los Angeles and the last big city in Southern California before you head into Mexico.
  • LA JOLLA COVE:
  • This is one of those places that you would like to spend a great weekend. The location and the panoramic views drives people here to enjoy the sea, the views, birds and relax. Parking spots are in plenty if you know where to find it. Here is a website where you can find all the tips on parking in this gorgeous location. Parking in La Jolla

    Spend some time at the Scripps Park. Stroll along the waterfront or just sit and relax and enjoy the views. For more information on visiting this place click HERE.

  • CORONADO BRIDGE: Take a drive to the other side of downtown San Diego via the Coronado bridge. From the ramp of the Coronado ferry landing enjoy views of San Diego, the Coronado bridge and Seaport Village. 

Old Town, San Diego

Old Town is a state owned Historic Park and is considered the birthplace of California. Located just off highway I 5 ( exit Old Town ), sign boards guide you to the park. The address is 4010 Twiggs St and the intersection is San Diego Ave. We found free parking just opposite the Old Town sign board behind the Immaculate Conception Church. Parking is limited.

The Market place has tons of stuff to buy, restaurants, a leather Depot, Toby's candle soap shop. Visit the many museums and experience Old Town during yester years.

History of the town: For more information on Old Town please check this link which has interesting facts and informationhttp://www.oldtownsandiego.org/history/52.html

Here is an excerpt from the above website: "The earliest indications of people living in San Diego date back 9,000 years. They called themselves Kumeyaay. With the arrival of the Spanish settlements in 1769, many Kumeyaay retreated to the hills." Learn about life in the Mexican and early American periods of 1821 to 1872.  Even today, life moves more slowly in this part of San Diego, where the hustle and bustle is balanced with history and fiestas. Visitors are offered a glimpse into yesteryear, as converging cultures transformed San Diego from a Mexican pueblo to an American settlement.  The core of restored original historic buildings from the interpretive period are complemented by reconstructed sites, along with early twentieth century buildings designed in the same mode.  The Historic Plaza remains a gathering place for community events and historic activity. Five original adobe buildings are part of the historic park, which includes museums, unique retail shops, and several restaurants."

Sharing some pictures from our visit here.

Entrance to Old Town Market

Leather store

One of the restaurants in the town

Stage Coach

Mexican architecture

Onne of the curio stores

Mexican wind chimes

Tuna Harbor Park & Maritime Museum, San Diego

A quick stop on the last leg of our San Diego tour took us to The Maritime Museum and the Tuna Harbor Park. The Maritime Museum is located at 1492 North Harbor Drive, San Diego, CA 92101. 

Metered parking is available along the docks for 12 mins to 2 hours. Carry coins. Take pictures at the "Star of India " ship that was a three mastered bark and one of the oldest iron hulled merchant ship from Great Britain. This was used early as California's maritime commerce, circum navigating the earth 21 times stopping in San Francisco in 1873 and 1883 before being purchased by the Alaskan Packers Association. This is registered as one of California's registered landmark. Tickets can be purchased to go on board.  


star of india san diego
Star of India
HMS SURPRISE:

Take a picture of the HMS Surprise. It is a detailed re-creation of a 24-gun British frigate.


hms surprise san diego
HMS Surprise

TUNA HARBOR PARK:

Location: Tuna Ln, San Diego, CA 92132. It is located after the USS MIdway Museum on N. Harbor Dr.
Metered Parking is available here. Enjoy views of the USS Midway. Take pictures of the tall statue of the Sailor kissing the Nurse. The park gets its name due to the commercial fishing industry of San Diego. 


Unconditional Surrender San Diego
This above architecture is at the Tuna Harbor. Reviews about this classic piece of art history has been positive and negative on the internet. I do not know which story is true, however if you are in that area it is worth checking it out.


Sea World, San Diego

One Ocean Shamu Show
Get the family together and go and have fun at the fun, amusement theme park that features orcas, dolphins, pets, aquariums, dolphin viewing, rides, and much more. Located in beautiful sunny San Diego this is a very popular attraction which will require a day to see the shows and the exhibits. 


Blue Horizon

"SAVSMICH THOUGHTS
  • Get there early. 
  • The lines get long at the bag check. NO food is allowed except for water. 
  • Lines for popular shows open about 15-30 mins before the show starts. Get there early and grab your best spot. 
  • Some shows have the splash zone. If you intend to get wet, carry ponchos and an extra pair of clothing\ shoes and protect your Cameras and other electronic gadgets.
  • Various stalls are located within the park for a quick bite.
  • Don't miss Shamu the Orca show.   
  • Check the flamingo exhibit. Carry coins if you would like to purchase a tray to feed them.
  • Feed the sea lions. View them from a close distance and enjoy their company when feeding them. They are super cute and have an attitude when you have food in front of them. They are really cute to hear. Watch for the birds surrounding them who vie for the fish in your hand.
  • Catch the Blue Horizon show. Much more appealing and attractive with dolphins, birds, aerialists and dancers performing to music. 
  • Check the timing before you book your tickets. Some weekends ( specially in summer have extended hours and fireworks ).
  • Have toddlers and kids? I highly recommend strollers. It is a blessing to have it around as they may tire after walking the long distances within the park or if they fall asleep after a few hours. 
  • Click on THIS LINK for Know before you go details to Sea World.
  • Take pictures/video to capture the memories.
  • Enjoy and have fun !!
Soak Zone at Shamu Show
POPULAR SHOWS TO SEE:
  1. One Ocean
  2. Blue Horizon
  3. Sea Lion Live
  4. Pets Rule
  5. Shamu Rocks ( Night show viewing with lights and sound )
  6. Dolphin Point
  7. Penguins Encounter
  8. Turtle Reef
  9. Shark Encounter
  10. Sesame Street Bay of Play for Kids
MUST SEE ANIMAL EXHIBITS:
  • Shamu underwater viewing
  • Polar Bear
  • Sea Lions
  • Flamingos
  • Penguins
  • Overhead Shark walkway
  • Beluga whale
  • Walrus
  • Tidepool Area
Here are some of our pictures from our trip in August 2013. 

Flamingo Exhibit

Dolphin Encounter

Sea Lions

Pet Show
Exhibits
Exhibits

















Before you exit, remember to take a pic near the entrance with "Sea World" to add to your list of places visited \ diary.

San Diego Zoo, California

Enjoy viewing animals, birds, reptiles from the Amazon forest to the Australian outback koalas. See elephants, giraffes, pandas, meerkats, sun bears, experencce elephants, polar bears, apes, cats hippos and exotic birds, tapirs, jaguars, pronghorn, hornbills, porcupines and much much more. All at the San Diego Zoo located in Southern California.
Pandas


 Enjoy viewing some of our pictures and maybe a live Panda here on this link. San Diego Live Panda Camera

Koalas

Go snout to snout with a hippo

Warch Polar bears play around with love

A reindeer in California?

Watch a majestic zebra and learn all about the stripes

Feed or just watch a giraffe

Learn about endangered species in a show
If your going, here is a direct LINK that you can refer for more information, timings and other information. The San Diego Zoo, located in Southern California has so far been one of the best!
 Other places of interest are San Diego Sea world, San Diego Downtown, Legoland and Disneyland to name a few.

Aug 8, 2013

Mark's Steel Art Exhibit, San Francisco

A leisurely walk on the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California got us wondering about the array of what looked like miniature structures against the city's skyline. Since we had ample time, we decided to take a closer look.

art sculpture
Mark di Suvero, Figolu, 2005-11;
art sculpture
Another amazing scupture
art sculpture
Mark Di Suveero's steel sculpture


crissy field exhibit
Mark di Suvero, Will, 1994
art sculpture
Mark Di Suveero's sculpture
Located in Crissy Field, San Francisco. This is Mark Di Suveero's Art Exhibit. He is an American abstract expressionist sculptor. Not that much int art, they looked just like some steel logs attached together. Only when I viewed them closer did I appreciate the intricate work involved in putting them together. 

It will be on exhibit for a year till May 26th, 2014. For more information about this internationally renowned sculptor click here. The steel structures are unique and are his collection from 1967 -2012. 

If you are going .. 

- Crissy Field is located are 1199 East Beach , San Francisco
- Admission is free.
- Metered parking is available just across the field.
- For more information on transportation and other details.. click HERE

Other places to see around: 

Golden Gate Park ( includes North Dutch Windmill, South Murphy Windmill, Japanese Tea Garden and Conservatory of flowers ) : 
http://www.savsmich.com/2013/03/golden-gate-park-san-francisco.html

San Francisco ( includes Pier 39, Golden Gate Bridge, Painted Ladies, Crooked Street, Conservatory of flowers: 
 http://www.savsmich.com/2012/08/san-francisco.html 

Polynesian Festival, Santa Cruz, California

Celebrate summer at the pier and escape to The Polynesian Islands for a couple of hours in Santa Cruz, California.

Head over to the Santa Cruz Pier, Santa Cruz, California this August and enjoy Hawaiian music, food, performances and even Aloha canoe races. You can also buy Aloha outfits. A number of artisans display their crafts. You can buy some Hawaiian dresses, art or craft, earrings and much more. Enjoy an afternoon of music and dance and seeing the young and young at heart swaying to the rhythmic Hawaiian music. Below are some pictures taken in 2009.

If your going.. the festival is on August 18th, 2013. Here is the link for the schedule.

dancer
Dancing to the hawaiian rhythm

kids perfornance
Cute and adorable kids

dancer
Splendid performance

alohan dancer
Kids displaying their talent

polynesian festival
Dancers

dancers polynesian festival
Dancers
Savsmich Thoughts:

** Carry a jacket. Cool temperatures towards evening is typical.**
Click here for parking locations: Santa Cruz Parking
**Coin operated parking is available on the streets, all day parking is available near the Santa Cruz Boardwalk.

Jun 1, 2013

Lighthouses in California

California boasts of some pretty lighthouses. If you are lost of options of what to do for a weekend, this might help. With summer nearly set in, the coast is a perfect place to be on a hot day. The lighthouses below are along California Highway 1. Driving along this highway is an experience with amazing views of the coastline and the ocean, however be prepared for lonely, single lane curvy roads and not many gas stations. So fill up whenever your tank is half and check for any road closures on THIS website.  

The lighthouses mentioned below have been visited on various single day or overnight trips. Read on for details.


View California Lighthouses in a larger map

1.) CABRILLO LIGHTHOUSE, MENDOCINO, NORTHERN CALIFORNIA:
Our previous post has all the information you need. Click HERE for the information.

For latest and upto date information regarding timing and other events planned for 2013, click on this link: http://www.pointcabrillo.org/events.htm.


2.) POINT REYES LIGHTHOUSE, POINT REYES STATION, CALIFORNIA



Visit our previous post. Click HERE for more information.

3.) POINT BONITA LIGHTHOUSE, SAUSALITO, CALIFORNIA

Still an active Lighthouse, this is a short drive from San Francisco ( about 30-40 min ) to the Lighthouse. From the parking lot it is a steep 1\2 mile trail that has stunning views of the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco.

Timing: The tunnel to the lighthouse is open SATURDAY, SUNDAY AND MONDAY FROM 12.30 - 3.30 PM. Our trip was completed in July 2009. Latest updates on yelp, confirm that the old bridge has been replaced with a new one. In 2009, limited peopled could pass the bridge and there was always a wait. Things may have changed since then with a new bridge. We haven't been there after 2009, but if you have do let me know details so I can update it on the post. Parking is limited. Carry a lunch \ snack and enjoy the views.

pt bonita
Trail to Point Bonita

Lighthouse
Pt. Bonita  Lighthouse

view of San francisco
San Francisco 
4.) PIGEON POINT LIGHTHOUSE, PESCADERO, CALIFORNIA:

Location: about 50 miles south of San Francisco on CA Highway 1.
The lighthouse is currently closed to the public however the grounds are open. For more information here is the LINK for timings, and guided tours.

Pigeon Point Lighthouse
Pigeon Point Lighthouse

You can check out other places en-route on CA-1 by clicking on this link : http://www.savsmich.com/2012/11/ca-1-central-coast.html

5.) SANTA CRUZ LIGHTHOUSE, SANTA CRUZ, CALIFORNIA

Location: About 30 miles south of Pigeon Point Lighthouse on West Cliff Drive in Santa Cruz. Parking is available in a parking lot close to the lighthouse.
Address: W. Cliff Dr, Santa Cruz, Ca

Santa Cruz Lighthouse
Santa Cruz Lighthouse
Enjoy the day at the beach or a walk along the Pier. Enjoy some sea food and watch the pelicans, pelicans or watch for a stray sighting of dolphins swimming.

In winter, visit the Natural Bridges State Beach to view the Monarch butterflies. More details on the butterflies and when you can see them can be found HERE.

6.) CABRILLO NATIONAL MONUMENT \ OLD POINT LOMA LIGHTHOUSE, SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA

This lighthouse can be visited throughout the year. This lighthouse has been restored to look what it was like in the 1800's. Get a glimpse of what the rooms looked like. Read stories of the past in its exhibits. Read stories of San Diego's efforts during the World War II, of the 19th Coast Artillery and the army's efforts to defend the harbor.

Enjoy some beautiful views of San Diego skyline. Latest information can be found HERE regarding the Old Point Loma Lighthouse and the Cabrillo National Monument.

Cabrillo Monument
Cabrillo Monument, San Diego

Lens at the Old Point Loma Lighthouse

If your going to San Diego, the Cabrillo Monument can be found at 1800 Cabrillo Memorial Dr. San Diego, CA

1800 Cabrillo Memorial Dr  San Diego, CA


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