Picture of the Day: Natural Bridges State Beach

Just north of Santa Cruz, CA is Natural Bridges State Beach which features this beautiful arch. This was one of three arches that were here, but erosion and storms have caused two to already collapse. rk

Sunday Hikes: Hiking to M*A*S*H in Malibu Creek State Park

When I heard about this Southern California hike that takes you to where the TV series M*A*S*H was filmed, I knew that I had to do it. Josh and I arrived at Malibu Creek State Park on a beautiful spring day. The parking lot was mostly empty as we parked and scouted out the area.

The trails are not that well marked, but took off down the trail. After passing the visitor center, we had a lot of fun crossing the stream by jumping from rock to rock. The trails themselves are wide and we could picture the M*A*S*H jeeps and ambulances driving down these old dirt roads.

Before we knew it, we came up on an old army ambulance where we took pictures and climbed in.

Right around the corner from the ambulance was the M*A*S*H film site. It was marked with signs and leftovers from the filming. You could see the distinctive hilltop that is the backdrop for the opening sequence.

On the way back we took a side detour around Crescent Lake and checked out a small dam. This trail had some smaller redwoods, the farthest south place in California you can see these trees.

This hike was approximately 5.5 miles with our detours and was well worth the effort. We had such a great time. Thanks for reading. rk

Picture of the Day: Driving through Redwoods!

Josh’s intrepid Nissan XE pickup has performed well driving from Atlanta to Los Angeles and now up to Oregon. To reward the truck we let it drive thru a few redwoods in Northern California.

There are three drive thru trees in Northern California, all on private property. We did the Chandelier Tree first just south of the Avenue of the Giants. It was a 21 foot diameter tree. We also drove thru the Tour Thru Tree in Klamath in the Redwoods National and State Parks area. This was a 17 foot diameter tree.

The drive thru trees both cost a mere $5 each which was a bargain considering the fun we had doing it. We did miss the third drive thru tree called the Shrine Tree. It is in the Avenue of the Giants area.


Friday Favorites:  Dantes View in Death Valley NP

One of the most beautiful places I have ever seen is looking down at Badwater Basin from Dantes View in Death Valley National Park.   Looking down the 5760 feet in elevation change to the salt flats covering the lowest spot in North America with snow capped Telescope Peak towering behind is just breathtaking.

This view is something that should be the reward after a grueling all day hike.  Instead it’s a short stroll from the parking area at the end of the 8 mile Dantes View Road.  

I hope you get a taste from this video and I encourage you to see for yourself.  rk

Sunday Hikes: Natural Bridge Trail 

Between Badwater Basin and the Devil’s Golf Course in Death Valley national park there is a short gravel road that will take you up to the Natural Bridge Trailhead. A short one mile trail that can be extended a half mile on the end to wander up the canyon a little more. We parked our rental car at the trailhead, grabbed our water and snacks and headed up the trail. Just like everything leaving from Badwater Basin, the trail takes you up pretty much the whole time but at a very slight angle. The trail had once been paved but little remains of the path due to a flash flood at some point in history. The trail is all gravel and at some of the steeper points a little harder to make your way up but it’s still a very easy trail. Probably .75miles in you will reach the trail’s namesake feature: the Natural Bridge.

Looking plucked straight out of southern Utah, the hefty chunk of rock reaches from one end of the canyon to the other. We were quite impressed by the arch as we passed under it like a gateway to the rest of the canyon. After the Natural Bridge the canyon has a large rounded area where Anya and I sat down to eat our apricot clif bars (the best flavor ever). While we snacked, Dad checked out a nook in the rocks that seemed perfectly round and you could store a giant pencil in it if you had one. After that we met a very friendly couple from Sacramento that had done much of the same road trips as us and had even visited the little train museum by our house. After chatting we carried on to the end of the trail where there had once been a waterfall but was now a slick rock slide. We climbed up it and scrambled around the canyon for a little more before heading back to the car. Dad tested the former waterfall’s slideability and we figured out it worked a little too well! We were back at the car in no time thanks to the trail’s short length and ready to explore the rest of the park. If you’re in Death Valley for a short time or for a long trip make sure to check out the Natural Bridge trail! Also bring water along with you even though it is a short hike because Death Valley has that name for a reason!

Badwater Basin (-279fasl) and Telescope Peak (11,043fasl) from the trailhead. 

Thanks for reading! – Josh

Kelso Sand Dunes

The Mojave Desert stretches from Southern California to the southwest corner of Utah and takes up almost 50,000 square miles. We recently visited the Mojave National Preserve while driving from Joshua Tree National Park to Las Vegas. We had been hiking a bunch that past four days and were pretty tired so we decided to hike at the Kelso Sand Dunes. The sign at the trailhead said the trail was 3 miles to the top of the 600ft high Kelso Dune and back but we thought it looked like much less.

It was high noon in the desert with barely a cloud in the sky. We set out towards the big sand dune and about half a mile in the sand dunes began to get so tall it was almost a struggle to get up them. After the next half mile we were all tired and really hot with the temperature being close to 90F that day. Being low on water we were tempted to turn back but we wanted to conquer the giant sand dune ahead of us so we kept going. We reached the bottom of the largest sand dune and Anya decided to sit down in the sand while dad and I attempted to climb the sand dune. We followed the very hard to see trail up the side of the sand dune. Some parts of the sand were black and a little easier to walk on for me but dad wasn’t wearing shoes and burned the bottoms of his feet on the sun baked sand.

I reached the crest of  the sand dune’s ridge and the peak was in sight. Dad who seemed like the heat was getting to him sat on the sand for a minute and drank the little water we had left and we finished the last stretch to the top. The views at the top were beautiful and we could see pretty far in every direction. We agreed the view made the trek up definitely worth it as we took pictures and enjoyed our sand dune conquering.

The next step was getting down via the steep 600 foot slide to the bottom of the dune. You can’t really slide down on your bottom (I tried) but if you walk down and lift your feet quick enough it feels like you are gliding down. This was a lot of fun to me and I would have gone back to the top just to do it again!

I reached Anya and the bottom and dad soon followed. We all began going back but dad decided to run back so he got there before us but when we arrived we all hopped in the car, chugged some water, and dumped out the pounds of sand in our shoes. Despite being a little more strenuous than expected I really enjoyed this unique and beautiful hike!

Thanks for reading – Josh

Las Vegas NV


Really the best thing about Las Vegas to me is that it is centrally located to a lot of cool places to visit within about 3 hours.   You can see spots in Utah, Nevada, Arizona, and California all on a “reasonably priced” flight from Atlanta.

I’m not a gambler and even though I’ve done the drink all the way down the Strip thing, I don’t really recommend it.  Most of the casinos reek of smoke (except the Bellagio for some reason).  There are some good restaurants, but they no longer are the bargains they once were.   What I do like about Las Vegas is the architecture.   It does feel like taking a trip around the world in one evening.   Where else can you visit New York, Rome,Venice, Paris, Egypt etc in one evening.  That alone is worth a trip to Las Vegas in my opinion.