Showing posts from September, 2015

California Roadtrip 2015: Yosemite National Park

Yosemite had always been on my list of “10,000 Places to See Before I Die”, but I always thought that I would save visiting it for last. One would think that as a member of the Yosemite Park Conservancy, who receives newsletters and invitations to Yosemite events, I should already have visited Yosemite on many occasions. Perhaps it was that kind of familiarity and the proximity to home (3 ½ - 4 hours’ drive away) that kept me from visiting sooner.     This past week, however, I found myself marveling at the grandeur of Yosemite. The Drive to Yosemite National Park A visiting relative from Alaska wanted to experience driving in California, so I left the driving to him. We drove through the undulating hills of California’s central valley, the ugly landscape, due to the harsh effect of drought, and the beautiful landscape *(pictured below). The drive to Yosemite was definitely a challenge, especially the drive through the narrow Highway 120 Priest Grade. The steep and narrow r

California Roadtrip 2015: Missions Along the El Camino Real

Twenty-one missions were established between the period 1769-1833, near the California coast along the El Camino Real (King’s Highway) extending 650 miles. I joined our local church in visiting six of the 21 mission churches last weekend. Not only a religious tour, but I also learned so much about California history – the Old World (Spain) attempts at colonization, the Pacific connection between Central America, Philippines and Mexico and Alta California. Common to the mission church ground is the statue of Junipero Serra, a Franciscan priest who led the way (founded nine missions) including his headquarters, the Mission San Carlos Borromeo at Carmel. We heard stories about this soon to be sainted Blessed Junipero Serra: Apostle of California.  Another common feature of the mission churches is the architecture that includes adobe walls, tile roofs, long and curved corridors, patio and gardens. Exposed wood beams, and flowers and the river of life motif painting in pastel colors are

California Roadtrip 2015: Postcards from Solvang

On a tour of mission churches in California, we stopped to eat and shop at a tiny village called Solvang (Danish for 'sunny field').  It is a beautiful little city nestled in the Santa Ynez Valley of California.  We went back the following day to explore the city. The village retains its authentic Danish look with horse drawn wagons, windmills, Danish and Northern European style architecture and Hans Christian Andersen Park, Danish pastry shops and bakeries, and quaint shops.  Okay, I was disappointed with the food and the pastries, but I enjoyed photographing this beautiful town. And of course, nature added to the fairy-tale look and feel of the village. Photo Gallery:      NOTE:  All photos by the author