The return to California after being away for 30 years was indeed the most special journey I have taken to date. The amazing beauty that surrounded me with the added significance that this was the land of my birth made the trip a memorable one for sure. My trek began and ended in San Francisco. My rent-a-car happened to be a brand new white Nissan Altima just like the one I own. I needed to make little to no adjustment concerning the car which allowed me to feel all the more at home. Never have I traveled so far, yet felt so at home than this 4 day / 1100 mile adventure in the heart of California.
The main places I traversed were Point Reyes, Yosemite and a good portion of the central part of the Pacific Coast Highway. The points in between were a result of the gracious guidance of God. Many times I had to take a deep breath as I gazed at the wonders around me to assure myself that I was actually awake and present. “Ahh California” I would exhale. I love the variety found within the central portion of the state. Some of the places I ventured held a mystical element to them. From the dramatic mountain sceneries to the colorful array of spring flowers blooming in abundance, all of one’s senses are involved in capturing the surroundings. Even the fog or the low lying clouds on hills are interesting to watch in motion. I visited my former residence (1973-1979). It was not a highlight exactly, but a necessary part of the journey making The Return complete. I was pleasantly and thoroughly surprised by some of the sights I beheld. The size and heights of the coastal mountains is stunning. The deep, rich green that covers many of the hills and mountains is spectacular. I even saw salt marshes and swamp like landscape where a variety of wading birds are found.
The contrast between the valley and The Great Sequoia National Park is awesome. A drive of an hour and a half from Fresno to the Sequoias allowed me to experience from 70 degree weather at near sea level in a plain city to a temperature of 34 degrees at 6500 feet above level with an abundance of snow all over. The works of the Lord are marvelous. The uniqueness of the plant and flower life that grows wild on sand dunes, rocks and all over captures the attention to say the least. The sizes of the Sequoias and Red Wood trees are quite a sight. It is a place also filled with openly seen wild life like a vast variety of curious birds, squirrels, deer, Tule Elk, Seals, Sea Otters and more. The opportunity to see whales, bears, foxes and other distinct wild life would take more time and patience in the right places.
The people I met and conversed with along the way helped connect me further to the places. I saw a pair of beautiful Collies owned by an older couple who were very kind. This is the same breed of dog we owned when we lived in California. The name of the dog was Lion. I even met a family from Miami at Yosemite. At one hotel’s parking lot I unknowingly dropped my wallet. When I was at the check in desk signing in, and I did not find my wallet in my pockets I began to worry. The clerk was delaying me from going to my car, but I finally excused myself to go to the parking lot. I saw a man just pick up my wallet from the floor and start to comment to a family member what a treasure he had found when I promptly announced to him that it was mine. He immediately submitted the wallet, and I thanked him. I thanked God much more of course.
The ocean waves all along the coast and especially the designated surf spots are a must see when in California. The Pacific Ocean along the central portion is shades of a pristine blue. The waves I saw were not up to the classic California standard, but they were sizable and shapely enough at Steamers Lane in Santa Cruz to look like a lot of fun to ride. The water falls in Yosemite were great, and Mc Way Falls which empties out on a sandy beach cove is a refreshing view. The vistas are everywhere along the road or highway. This caused me to stop and document the sceneries with my Sony HDR-11 numerously and in close proximities. (www.picasaweb.google.com/dkamanel) Another feature I enjoyed is the high sand dunes found all along the coast. The sand is soft and thin thus takes on desert sand appearance with the prevailing onshore wind.
I started on day one by viewing the Golden Gate, and I finished on day four by exploring a little more of San Francisco via San Bruno Mountain and Fort Funston Sand Dunes. Some of the other places not mentioned before I visited are Kings Canyon, Morro Bay, Elephant Seal Overlook, Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, Big Sur Trails, Monterey, Point Lobos, Half Moon Bay and Mavericks. I reluctantly said good bye to my original home state as flight 494 took off into a gorgeous hastened sunrise over the Sierra Mountains. I have been blessed by the Lord God and I am thankful to Him to have been able to embark on this epic journey.