N is for National Parks & Monuments – #atozchallenge

The US National Park System has 417 official units throughout the country including 59 National Parks, 87 National Monuments, 19 National Preserves, 51 National Historic Parks, 78 National Historic Sites, 4 National Battlefield Parks, 9 National Military Parks, 9 National Battlefields, 30 National Memorials and a number of other National sites including National Rivers, National Seashores, National Lakeshores, National Parkways and National Trails.

Bison relax along Lava Creek in Yellowstone while pronghorned antelope look on from the background
Sumoflam and Cannons at Vicksburg National Military Park
Towpath Trail in Cuyahoga Valley NP, Ohio

Officially, the National Park Service preserves unimpaired the natural and cultural resources and values of the National Park System for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations. The Park Service cooperates with partners to extend the benefits of natural and cultural resource conservation and outdoor recreation throughout this country and the world.

Some of the scenic and colorful hills of Theodore Roosevelt National Park
A couple of my children at the birthplace of Abraham Lincoln in Kentucky in 1997
Badlands National Park in SD

The NPS is a great blessing to the citizens of this country and all others that may visit.  They have some amazing offerings and a road trip that passes by these is not a worthy roadtrip.  These sites are the gems of our country!

Though I have visited all 50 states in the US, I have not been able to get to many of the sites.  Of the 59 National Parks, for instance, I have only visited 28 of them and some of those were way before my travel blogging and photography days. Of all of the others, I have been to 77 of the nearly 350 sites.  So, I still have a long way to go.

Grand Tetons along US 89 in March 2013
Visiting Shenandoah National Park on Easter Sunday 2017
Gettysburg Address Commemorative Sign, July 1998

That said, I have thoroughly enjoyed my visits to many of the National Parks, Monuments and other NPS sites. My personal favorites are Glacier National Park (Montana), Grand Teton National Park (Wyoming) and Yellowstone National Park (WY) — OK…I love the mountains!!

Following are some photos of some of the other NPS Sites that I have visited over the years.  More are sure to come soon!!  (In fact, just this past weekend — Easter weekend 2017 — I drove the Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park and got photos of the Easter Sunrise!!)

Easter Morning Sunrise 2017 in Shenandoah National Park
Grave markers of the US Calvary Soldiers that died at the Battle of Little Big Horn in Little Big Horn National Monument in Montana
Sumoflam at Montezuma Castle National Monument in Arizona in 1983
Visiting the Grand Canyon in 1983
Dinosaur National Monument, Vernal, UT
Family at Sunset Crater National Monument north of Flagstaff in July 1993
The Washington Monument and the US Capitol in Washington DC in 2016
Visiting White Sands, NM in 2013
Visiting Craters of the Moon in Idaho in 2013
Entering Mt. Rainier National Park on WA 410 south of Greenwater, WA
Agate Fossil Bed National Monument in Nebraska
With some family members and a friend at Glacier National Park (May 2005)
Purple Mountain Majesties – Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska
Mount Olympus and Olympic National Park in Washington as seen from Hwy 104
One of the wild horses on the sand dunes at Assateague National Seashore in Maryland
Visiting the Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona with some tourists from the Isle of Man in 1983
Sumoflam at the White House – July 1990
Mt. Rushmore in 2013
Family at the Lincoln Home in Springfield, Illinois, Summer 2001
Visiting Yellowstone National Park in 2014
Family at the George Rogers Clark National Historic Park in Vincennes, Indiana Summer 2001
Capulin Volcano – part of the Capulin National Monument in New Mexico
Some of the kids viewing the massive New River Gorge Bridge in New River Gorge National River, WV in August 1995
Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, NY 1990
Visiting Bandelier National Monument near Los Alamos, New Mexico in 1979. I have always enjoyed visiting old Indian ruins.
Sumoflam at the Everglades in Florida in July 1990
At the St. Louis Arch in Missouri
At Golden Gate Bridge in May 2015
My son Seth at Wupatki National Monument in April 1992

 

 

 

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Going to California – San Francisco to Santa Rosa

WoodflockWoodflock – a relatively unknown destination for those unfamiliar with Antsy McClain and the Trailer Park Troubadours. For the last six years Flamingoheads from California and other places have gathered in the Sycamore Grove campground along the Sacramento River near Red Bluff, CA to enjoy time schmoozing with Antsy and the band and each other through music, meditation, arts and crafts and food. Held every Memorial Day weekend, the campground turns into a flamingo haven.

Singing with Antsy McClain
Singing with Antsy McClain

I have traveled with Antsy McClain on a cruise to Mexico, I have accompanied him on Field Trips in Kentucky and Texas and have toured with him and the band in Washington, Pennsylvania, Texas, West Virginia and California, but I have never had the opportunity to attend the pinnacle of Flamingohead Fantasy trips…Woodflock. That is, until last week. And what a trip it was!

Flying on the plane to California
Flying on the plane to California

I departed on a non-stop flight to San Francisco from Cincinnati on Thursday. It was a nice four and a half hour flight with views of clouds until we got over the Rocky Mountains In Colorado and oh what a view. The snow covered peaks and the lakes…phenomenal. We went right over Mount Evans, where I have set foot in the past. How fun.

A view of the Colorado Rockies form the air.  Lovely!
A view of the Colorado Rockies form the air. Lovely!
Riding with Carla and her little dog...we were Enjoying the RIde!
Riding with Carla and her little dog…we were Enjoying the RIde!

I arrived in San Francisco at about 11:30 AM California time and was met there by my Flamingohead friend Carla, a sweet and bouncy young lady of 70. Carla had worked out a few plans for our day and our drive to Santa Rosa, where she lives.

Mural at the Golden Gate Park Visitor's Center
Mural at the Golden Gate Park Visitor’s Center
At Golden Gate Park Visitor's Center in San Francisco.  Nice murals
At Golden Gate Park Visitor’s Center in San Francisco. Nice murals

We left SFO and began our trip north to the city where we first visited Golden Gate Park to see the lovely mural in the visitor’s center, the beautiful flowers and a cool old Dutch windmill. The park is a beautiful inner city park with lots to see, but we had to move on to see some of the other sights. Here are a few scenes.

A portion of the Golden Gate Park mural
A portion of the Golden Gate Park mural
Another section of the mural at Golden Gate Park
Another section of the mural at Golden Gate Park
A vivid painting under a stairwell at Golden Gate Park
A vivid painting under a stairwell at Golden Gate Park
There were also a number of tile mosaics.  This one was at the entrance to the restrooms in Golden Gate Park visitor's center
There were also a number of tile mosaics. This one was at the entrance to the restrooms in Golden Gate Park visitor’s center

In 1901, John McLaren, together with Park Commissioners Adolph B. Spreckles and Reuben Lloyd, convinced the San Francisco Recreation and Park Commission to build a windmill 300 yards from the ocean. This windmill could take advantage of the prevailing winds to pump water for the park’s irrigation system.   Completed in 1902 at a cost of $25,000, the North Windmill was designed by Alpheus Bull Jr., a prominent San Franciscan at the time.  Over the years it has had to go through various restorations, but the blades now function, though the pump has long been removed.

Dutch Windmill (North Windmill) in Golden Gate Park
Dutch Windmill (North Windmill) in Golden Gate Park (Photo by Carla Lockwood)
The North Windmill in Golden Gate Park
The North Windmill in Golden Gate Park

Golden Gate Park runs along the coast and so there are plenty of beach scenes and birds, etc.

A couple sits on the beach near Golden Gate Park
A couple sits on the beach near Golden Gate Park
A hawk or falcon watches the scene on the beach
A hawk or falcon watches the scene on the beach
A young seagull has his own perch on a light pole
A young seagull has his own perch on a light pole
Mel's Drive-in in San Francisco
Mel’s Drive-in in San Francisco

Our next stop was for lunch. What better place than an old fashioned diner. We stopped at the historic Mel’s Drive-in, a throwback to the 1950s both in style and cooking. Every table had a Rock-ola jukebox with 50s and 60s songs. Though working hard to change my diet, coming to this diner was risky…the meatloaf looked fabulous. But, I stuck with a large salad and a couple of rolls. No butter. Great diner atmosphere and what appeared to be great diner food.

Sumoflam at Mel's Drive-in in San Francisco
Sumoflam at Mel’s Drive-in in San Francisco

The original Mel’s Drive-in, built in the 1940s, was used for George Lucas’ classic film American Graffiti. There are now a few in the San Francisco area and even a couple, with the trademarked name and logo, at amusement parks.  Following is a brief portion of the history from their website:

Rockola Juke Boxes line the store and fill it with 50s and 60s music
Rock-ola Juke Boxes line the store and fill it with 50s and 60s music

Following is a brief portion of the history of Mel’s as taken from their website:

DSC_2290“Mel Weiss and Harold Dobbs started it all back in 1947 when they built their first car hop eatery, inspired by similar restaurants serving motorists in Los Angeles. With a staff of fourteen carhops covering a 30,000 square foot parking lot, they lured the hungry with a local radio personality broadcasting a live remote. As music reverberated through car radios in the drive-ups, the curb-stepping gals of 140 South Van Ness became a new paradigm for service.

DSC_2286At all hours of the day and night, crowds of patrons that fancied dining-in-your-car came early and often. It didn’t take long for the first unit to multiply into eleven! Six Mels became landmarks in the Bay Area with additional cluster achieving their own notoriety in Stockton and Sacramento. They reigned for almost twenty years, until a parade of franchised fast food outlets finally outpaced their service. As the new philosophy of “serve yourself” began to reprogram attitude about dining, Mel’s began its gradual decline.”

A Drive Down Lombard Street in San Francisco

After a good lunch and a break, we drove around town and made our way to Lombard St., the so called Crookedest Street in the World.  The one-way block on Russian Hill between Hyde and Leavenworth Streets has eight sharp turns that supposedly make it the crookedest street in the world. The design, first suggested by property owner Carl Henry and built in 1922, was intended to reduce the hill’s natural 27% grade, which was too steep for most vehicles.  The sign at the top recommends 5 mph. There were dozens of tourists at the top of the road, all along the crooked road and even dozens more when we got to the bottom. A fun little drive, as can be seen from the video above.

Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco
Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco

After our little brake infused jaunt down Lombard St., we then meandered around town over to Fisherman’s Wharf.  Following are a few scenes from along the way.

Giant whale mural on a building
Giant whale mural on a building
A look towards downtown San Francisco
A look towards downtown San Francisco
Another unique mural seen along the way
Another unique mural seen along the way
Colorful houses along the streets of San Francisco
Colorful houses along the streets of San Francisco
Another colorful neighborhood with unique fountain art
Another colorful neighborhood with unique fountain art
A gull and a crow converse on a light pole in San Francisco
A gull and a crow converse on a light pole in San Francisco
Bike Rickshaws in Fisherman's Wharf
Bike Rickshaws in Fisherman’s Wharf
A proud seagull
A proud seagull
A skeleton pirate guards the entrance to a shop in Fisherman's Wharf
A skeleton pirate guards the entrance to a shop in Fisherman’s Wharf
Buildings upon buildings in the Presidio District of San Francisco
Buildings upon buildings in the Presidio District of San Francisco
Golden Gate Bridge as seen from the approach from San Fraancisco
Golden Gate Bridge as seen from the approach from San Fraancisco
On the north end of Golden Gate Bridge
On the north end of Golden Gate Bridge

From Fisherman’s Wharf we made our way to the Golden Gate Bridge. There was plenty of construction going on so traffic was slow going. But, once we got to the bridge the fog began to sneak in above the bridge…a beautiful sight. We crawled across the bridge, which was covered in foot traffic as well. Truly a major attraction.

San Francisco as seen from across the Golden Gate Bridge
San Francisco as seen from across the Golden Gate Bridge
A paddle boarder in the bay with the city behind her
A paddle boarder in the bay with the city behind her

Once across the bridge we found the viewing area which offered not only a spectacular view of the Golden Gate Bridge, but an expansive view of San Francisco, Alcatraz Island, Coit Tower and more. And the weather was perfect.

A gorgeous view of the expansive and historic Golden Gate Bridge
A gorgeous view of the expansive and historic Golden Gate Bridge
A panorama of the bridge and the city
A panorama of the bridge and the city
Shrouded in fog
Shrouded in fog

I was last in San Francisco in 2009 with Antsy McClain when he and the band performed at the Great American Music Hall (see video below). But we didn’t have time to stop and enjoy the bridge.  So it was an awesome opportunity.

A pelican in flight over the bay
A pelican in flight over the bay
Headed north on US 101
Headed north on US 101

After the bridge we made our way into Novato to join another Flamingohead sweetheart, Ione, who would be lending me her RV (nicknamed IRV) for the weekend in Red Bluff.  We had some great Chinese food at the China Palace and then joined together for a fun picture to memorialize the occasion.

Heading to Novato, CA on US 101
Heading to Novato, CA on US 101
After dinner photo with Ione and Carla at the China Palace in Novato.  The meal was excellent...the company was amazing!!
After dinner photo with Ione and Carla at the China Palace in Novato. The meal was excellent…the company was amazing!!

After dinner, Carla drove us up to her doublewide trailer in Santa Rosa, CA.  She Lives in Aluminum and is happy there in Lot #36 …see the video below if you don’t get it!! (Taken in 2009 at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco…video by Sumoflam)

A nice 2500 mile day!

Next post will cover Santa Rosa to Ukiah to Red Bluff!

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