We started this week between Santa Cruz and San Francisco on the California coast watching sea lions and surfers. Then we headed to the Sierra Nevada mountains and ended in beautiful Yosemite National Park hiking up giant mountains and to gorgeous waterfalls.
When we were in San Francisco we went to Alcatraz Island. I really liked the audio tour that was narrated by the prison guards and former prisoners. Some of the most fascinating things they talked about were the one successful escape from Alcatraz and the privileges that the prisoners got. It was an ingenious escape and the people were never found again; they just disappeared.The privileges that the prisoners got, other than basic food, water and shelter, had to be earned. Also they had some prison cells furnished so we saw what a typical cell would have looked like. Last, we saw an art exhibit by Ai Wei Wei, an artist from China. He had three pieces of art; the one that I found most interesting was the one about political prisoners.
While we were staying near San Francisco we went biking in Big Basin Redwoods State Park near the ocean. I really liked biking here because there were so many cool trees and plants, like coast redwoods. During our bike ride we stopped near a river and saw a newt! The newt was swimming in the water and looked exactly like a salamander. It was a really muddy trail, about wide enough for two people to walk on, with steep drop-offs where you could fall right off the side, which I almost did.
Yosemite Water Falls:
Yosemite National Park is one of my favorite parks so far in America and, while there, we did lots of activities. Some of my favorites were going to see the water falls. On our first day, we did a moderately strenuous hike to see the Upper Yosemite Falls, one of the highest on earth (2,425 ft). On our second day, we did some easier hikes to the Lower Yosemite Falls and Bridalveil Falls. All of them were pretty, but you can only see them in the spring because they dry up during summer.
We did several hikes to get from place to place in Yosemite. All of them were in Yosemite Valley, which is a huge place and, even still, it’s less than 5% of the total national park. Besides the waterfall hikes, we did a ranger guided tree walk. This was very informative, but the ranger leading the walk kept getting distracted and talking about birds or animals and a lot of things that didn’t have to do with trees. This was OK because we learned about a variety of things, but not as much about the actual trees. We saw many black oaks, incense cedars, ponderosa pines, and my favorite, giant sequoias.
We still have one more day in Yosemite and so far it has been really great. Next we will be going to Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon National Park.