Arizona to California

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As Ryne said in the last post, we are now in California (Monterey Bay area right now), but we experienced a lot on our journey here. After we left Scottsdale, AZ, we headed north to Sedona to see gorgeous red rock, and then toured the grandest canyon of them all.
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The Canyon of Grandeur:
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We hiked 12 miles round trip (via the Bright Angel Trail) into the inner canyon. This was amazing and gave some sense of size which is pretty much inscrutable when your on the rim. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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We hiked on snow for the first 3 miles and then got down to a massive canyon within a ginormous canyon and the murky Colorado river. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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We were fortunate enough to see a wild hatched California Condor! There are only about 230 birds in the wild.
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Clarks Grebe, Lake Havasu
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Next, we headed to the Mojave Desert at Joshua Tree NP.
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Torrey Pines State Park near San Diego, CA
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While at the Trogan’s Condo in Camarillo we did a lot of sea watching, whale watching and got to spend some time with Michelle, Andrew and their kids Weston and Gabriel. We went to the Arboretum in LA and then Michelle made us yummy potato-leek soup and flat bread pizza. It was so fun to meet their kids! And they were so enthusiastic about looking at birds through Ryne’s spotting scope and Weston loved to use what he called ‘noculars’
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We took a lovely trip to the Channel Islands and got to see a lot of the endemic flora and fauna including Santa Cruz Scrub Jay and Island Fox.
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Grey Whales migrating south
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Mountain Plovers on the Carrizo Plains
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The Big Trees at Seqoiua and Kings Canyon NP. My new favorite place on Earth!
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And the famous Yosemite Valley in winter!
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And finally to bring you up to date, the Monterey Bay Area: we went whale watching, but only saw Long Beaked common Dolphins. The water was so choppy that Ryne and I both got sea sick for the first time.
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I had to share this awesome lunch we had at Roys near Pebble Beach. I had a giant portabella sandwich! So delic!
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California spring

Jen and I arrived in California on the California coast to find the hills and valleys lush and verdant and the air thick with the fragrances of flowers and birdsong. Butterflies dart around spring blooms and hillsides are generously cloaked in wildflowers (I suppose I should also mention that the freeways are clogged with cars and yellow-brown smog looms over the valleys). It was a great delight to finally see signs of life again. We stayed at the Trogon’s condo in Ventura County for almost a week. During our stay we saw Gray Whales migrating down the coast, we took a trip to Channel islands National Park and spent some time in the coastal mountains. We also got to visit my cousin Michelle and her family. Since then we headed to the sierras. We spent yesterday admiring giant Sequoia’s at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.The whole area is covered with a few feet of snow, but we are warm and cozy here at the John Muir Lodge in Kings Canyon NP. Its neat and inspiring be in place named after my personal hero, with quotes and pictures of Muir and giant trees all around. Its always good to remember that without dedicated conservations, few beautiful places would exist. We should all be grateful for the battles they fought and won. This $200 per night place is only $70 in the winter! We’ll head to Yosemite later today. Pics to come later. I hope Jen enjoys her valentine’s fruit basket I put out. Shes still sleeping.