National Parks

Sequoia National Park

Here’s why you’ll fall in love with Sequoia National Park.

The U.S. has 62 National Parks (29 states have national parks and California has the most, 9 of them). I just got back from Sequoia NP for a 3-Days trip with a girlfriend so now I have been to 9 (3 in California) in the last 20 years while I live here (Yosemite, Death Valley, Sequoia, Yellowstone, Glacier, Mount Rainier, Olympic, Haleakalā, Hawaiʻi Volcanoes).

You can download this map HERE.

We went in through Hwy 198 Three Rivers from the Bay Area, and out through Hwy 180. We spent our time in the lower part of the park – the first day we went to the General Sherman tree area, the second day we went to Moro Rock, Tunnel Log, and Crescent Meadow, the last day we went to the Tokopah Fall area. That’s all we have time for because the park is too big.

From our hotel to the park entrance is about an hour, from the Lodgepole Visitor Center to King Canyon Visitor Center is about 1.5 hours (middle part of the park), and from the King Canyon Visitor Center to Cedar Grove Visitor Center is about 2 hours (upper part of the park) (it might be longer because there are constructions between the Lodgepole Visitor Center to Cedar Grove Visitor Center).  I wish we could stay longer to explore more.

*The entrance fee per car is $35 for a week; if you plan to visit 2-3 different National Parks a year, buying an Annual Pass for $80 per car would be better.

There are no Wifi or cellphone signals in most parts of the park.

Maybe it’s because Sequoia NP is less known and farther away than Yosemite so it’s less crowded which is what I wanted plus I haven’t visited it before.

We stayed in Comfort Inn & Suites at Three Rivers. Although it said they offer free breakfast, we went to Sequoia Coffee Co. to get our expresso and baked goods instead (3 min drive from the hotel and it’s on the way to the park) and there are two gas stations nearby as well (no gas stations inside the park). If you want better dinner choices, consider a 30 min drive to the City of Visalia; otherwise, there are few restaurants choices near the hotel (pizza, burgers, Mexican food, etc.)

Let me share some photos we took with our iPhones.

Day 1 – General Sherman Tree area

 

Day 2 – Moro Rock, Tunnel Log, and Crescent Meadow area

This view is the reward after all those steps when you are on top of the rock.

I love all the tree roots formations that I have seen. They are so beautiful like sculptures.

 

Day 3 – Tokopah Falls (from Lodgepole Visitor Center)

We found a perfect spot to do a meditation with water sound around us, so peaceful and calm. I took off my shoes and put my feet down in the water. It felt so good.

Most people wear a mask and keep a distance from each other so I feel very safe and comfortable to be in nature. I need to smell the fresh air and say hello to those giant trees because my body, mind and soul need it.

Although it’s fewer people due to COVID-19 (fewer people from out of the area and local area), I would still recommend come during the weekdays because when we enter on Friday morning we need to wait a bit at the entrance, and all the camping area are full.

I wonder how many National Parks an average American has been in their lifetime because if you visit one per year, it will take 62 years to see them all. I have only been to 9 in the last 20 years. Shame on me!!!

Hmmm, now I am thinking which NP do I want to go next!!!

Accessing the Sacred Energy of Trees

National Parks, Photography, Trip to Hawaii

Hawaii Big Island Volcanoes & Waterfalls Photo Workshop with Gary Hart

GaryHart
Gary Hart是一位Landscape Photographer, 他以Yosemite攝影團出名, 因為他一年去二十幾次, 對優勝美地像自家後院一樣熟悉, 而且專挑月亮美的時候出團, 因為藉由月光夜攝影是別有一番風味. 他每年固定在春秋冬三季帶領攝影團去優勝美地, 秋天還去Eastern Sierra和Big Island, Hawaii, 冬天則去Death Valley, 另外還和攝影師Don Smith搭配, 帶攝影團去Big Sur, Arches National Park, Grand Canyon and Sedona.

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連帶這次的Hawaii Big Island Photo Workshop (以Hilo為主), 所有他主領的五個攝影團(外加Big Sur)我都參加過 (粉絲啦). 攝影團的行程通常在週一的下午二點集合, 週五中午結束行程 (以拍照為主, 若有時間會穿插Image Review).  Gary會讓所有團員先做自我介紹, 彼此有個基本瞭解, 然後將初步時刻表和拍照地點講一遍 (會因天氣而略作變動), 這次的行程基本上是早上4:45出發拍日出, 大約八點左右回到飯店吃早餐, 睡個回籠覺, 中午再出去拍照, 晚上6:20拍完夕陽才回飯店吃晚餐 (夜拍火山則會拍到十點才回飯店).

Hilo的天氣變化無常, 每分鐘都在變, 加上地勢高低不一, 常有馬路這邊下著大雨, 馬路那邊卻沒雨, 或者山下烏雲密佈, 山上晴空萬里, 所以無法以出發當時的天氣預估, 都得到了目的地才算數.

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Day 1: Sunset at Onomea Bay (第五天的日出也在這裡, 但是前一晚拍Star Trails太累, 就沒去拍日出)

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Day 2: Sunrise at Mackenzie Park

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Day 2: Umauma Falls (Very cool place for Zip Line)

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Day 2: Akaka Fall

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Day 2: Sunset at Luapahoehoe Point

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Day 3: Sunrise at Punalu'u Black Sand Beach

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Day 3: Late Afternoon at Kilauea Caldera, Volcano NP. (It's getting more red, very active but don't know when would happen)

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Day 3: Night at Kilauea Caldera, Volcano NP. (It's really windy and cold at night, so dress accordingly)

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Monkeypod Tree (aka saman and rain tree) usually reaches a height of 25 m (82 ft) and a diameter of 40 m (130 ft).

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Day 4: Tropical Botanical Garden (a very cool place), 創辦人是一對來自舊金山的夫妻, 先生將運輸業的生意賣掉後到夏威夷玩, 看上這塊16 acres臨海的地, 花了八年規劃, 種植, 後來捐出來做植物園. 門票15塊, 下午四點是最後入場時間, 五點關門.

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Day 4: Night at Steam Vants, Volcano NP.

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第一次拍 Star Trail (ISO 200, F/5.6, Bulb Mode, 30 min exposure), 數學不好的我, 還真搞不清楚ISO, F-stop, Length of Time三者之間的關係 (is there an App for this?).

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Day 5: Sunset at Punalu'u Black Sand Beach (第三天拍日出的地點). 攝影團的行程原本在今天中午結束, 但是因為Gary和多數的人都是明天才離開, 所以我們多得到一個Image Review Session and a Sunset Shoot.

我們去的這些地點都有很多蚊子, 而且都是體積小, 但很毒的蚊子, 因為被咬之後, 那個包包很大, 而且要癢好幾天. 據同團的團員說, 防蚊噴霧劑買含高劑量的Deet效果最好, 但是, Deet會將塑膠融化, 所以噴完之後要把手洗乾淨才碰相機, 不然後果很慘.

相關閱讀: Big Island, Kona1, Kona2, Hilo1, Hilo2.

Hotels, National Parks, Trip to Hawaii

Hilo, Big Island, Hawaii 1

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我把Hamakua, Hilo, Puna, 和火山國家公園這半邊的Ka'u都歸類為東邊的Hilo (地圖折半的東半邊).

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Hilo Hawaiian Hotel 據說是Hilo最好的飯店, 也不過如此 (床和枕頭不是很舒服), 實際上比官網的照片要老舊, 停車免費, 大廳有免費無線網路 (房間網路要收費, 所以我都是抱著電腦去大廳), 有小冰箱, 電視, 吹風機要跟櫃台拿.

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三樓窗外看出去的是Coconut Island. 晚上常會聽到很響亮的 "賭堆" 叫聲, 原已為是鳥聲, 後來才知道是蛙叫聲, 一直沒機會看到青蛙, 不過那個聲音之響亮, 要是隔音差, 你晚上肯定不用睡了.

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早餐Buffet很豐富 – 有白飯, 煎馬鈴薯絲, 炒蛋, 火腿, 美式香腸和培根, 麥片粥, 味增豆腐湯, Muffin, 土司, 優格, 四種果汁, 哈密瓜, 香瓜, 鳳梨, 西瓜, 木瓜等等, 不過連續吃上四天也是會膩.

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週六我們從Kona開到Hilo已經將近晚上八點, 飯店櫃台介紹的幾家餐廳後來去才知道多半已經打烊, 最後不得已, 只好去一家很貴又不好吃的日本餐廳 (忘了餐廳名字, 在一個Shopping Plaza).

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第四天的行程是(東南邊) Breakfast at Bear's Cafe > Hilo Sunday Farmer's Market on Hwy 130, between Ainaloa Blve & Ka Ohuwalu Dr (using address 16 Keaau Pahoa Rd, Pahoa for GPS) > Hwy 11 > Volcanoes NP > Dinner at Cafe Pasto

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Breakfast at Bear's Coffee (106 Keawe Street), 非常Local, 店不大, 室內六張方桌子, 室外五張小圓桌, Kona coffee, 店員非常友善, 是少數幾家咖啡店很早 (M-Sat 7:00am/Sun 8:00am) 開門做生意的 (最保險的就是去星巴克, 不過到夏威夷還去星巴克好像有點無聊).

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吃完早餐就前往Hilo Sunday Farmer's Market, on Hwy 130 (路邊就會看到), between Ainaloa Blve & Ka Ohuwalu Dr (using address 16 Keaau Pahoa Rd, Pahoa for GPS) 體驗一下當地居民的日常生活. 香蕉樹和木瓜樹有好多品種, 一大串Apple Banana只要二塊錢, 三個木瓜一塊錢, 一大份青木瓜沙拉六塊錢, 一份烤雞肉便當七塊.

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逛完農夫市場, 吃完午飯就去火山國家公園 (我們待了半天), 門票十塊/七天效期.

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白天看火山冒煙覺得很特別, 等後來我和攝影團是晚上去拍火山冒煙就更特別了.

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Lava Tube 入口

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Lava Tube

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有一個蠻長的健行步道是可以走在舊火山口 (淡白色煙霧狀橫跨東西向就是步道, 隱隱約約可以看到幾個人), 據說踩在上面感覺暖暖的, 而且很多地方還在冒煙.

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Chain of Creaters Road – 面積很大, 看起來很壯觀.

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Road Closed by 2003 Lava Flow.

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晚上回到Hilo後, 去Cafe Pasto吃晚餐 (308 Kamehameha Ave/ Daily 11-9), 菜色選擇不少, 服務不錯, 價格也親和多了, 而且好吃, 早點去還有現場演奏.

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Coconut Crusted Calamari – set on a slaw of arugula, won bok and pickled ginger accewted with honey mustard mango dipping sauce.

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Volcano Mist Salad -green, sweet local tomatoes, a smoky mozzarella drizzled with a citrus balsamic vinaigrette, garnished with madam Pele crisped onion rings.

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Island Beef Special – grilled Kulana Tenderloin served on a bed of spinach with Gorgonzola meshed potatoes, grilled vine rippned tomatoes with balsamic mango reduction.

另外還有二家餐廳沒機會吃, 因為我們去到店門口才發現前者那家晚上八點就打烊, 後者那家週日不營業, 希望你有機會去試試, 再和我分享心得啦.

Sushi Hime 14 Furneaux Ln

Cafe Concerto 808 Kilauea Ave

 

相關閱讀: Big Island, Kona1, Kona2, Hilo2, Big Island Photo Workshop.

National Parks, Trip to Hawaii

Kona, Big Island, Hawaii 2

BigIsland-West

第三天的行程是(西南邊) Hwy 19 S > Hwy 180 > Breakfast at Theatre Cafe >Kealakekua Bay (Outlook Capt Cook Monument) > Puuhonua National Historical Park/Place of Refuge > Hwy 160 > Hwy 11 N > Lunch at Teshima > Hwy 11 S > Coffee Shops with great ocan view on on Hwy 11 between Capt Cook and Hwy 160 > Southernmost Point/Green Sand Beach > Stop at Punalu's Bake Shop for some snack/ice cream/sweets > Hilo Hotel > Dinner at 一家在Plaza裡的日本餐廳 (不建議).

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Breakfast at Theatre Cafe
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Coconut Syrup

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Kealakekua Bay, 需要從這裡搭船或划船才到的了Capt Cook Monument (第二張圖的右上角那個白色尖型)

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Puuhonua National Historical Park (aka Place of Refuge), 門票五塊, 不是很大, 有空就去看看, 沒空跳過也沒有太大損失, 不過是個拍日出夜景的好地方.

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Lunch at Teshima. 這家餐廳是朋友推薦, 後來發現有被美食雜誌寫到, 我覺得還OK啦, 不過是比我們後來在Hilo吃到的日本菜要好很多.

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在去Southernmost Point的路上看到一區廢棄的Windmill, 難得有機會這麼近距離的看. 這段路況不太好, 越下去路況越差.

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Southernmost Point of U.S.

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在開往Hilo的路上, 我們小停Punalu'u Bake Shop, 這個地方蠻受小型旅遊團體喜愛, 因為有廁所, 有戶外座位, 有賣冰淇淋, 咖啡, 麵包, 甜點, 明信片和紀念品.

 

相關閱讀: Big Island, Kona1, Hilo1, Hilo2, Big Island Photo Workshop.

Hotels, National Parks, Restaurants, Travel

Glacier National Park 4 – Hotels and Restaurants

我們這次在公園裡住三晚, 皆在公園東邊.

第一晚住在Swiftcurrent Motor Inn 的Pinetop Moter Room (二張Full-size bed, 瘦小的成人可以二個人擠一張), 忘記拍照, 參考這張吧. 晚餐就在附設的餐廳吃, 我覺得選擇少, 而且不太好吃.

(笑話) 我們開車經過一個蠻美的小溪流, 坐在我駕駛座後面的Celine突然冒出一句話: 這條水溝還蠻美的耶! 我突然大笑, "水溝", 哪裡來的水溝, 這個用詞實在蠻好笑的 🙂 . 結果Celine馬上說她數字概念好, 文字就不是強項了.

第二天早餐在Many Glacier Hotel 吃, Buffet Style, 選擇還不算少, 但是我們去的晚, 熱太久的鍋底就不好吃了.

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從前面看

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從後面看 (using iPhone with 360 apps)

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晚上住在九十幾歲的Many Glacier Hotel (1915), 是冰河公園裡最好的住宿選擇 (五層樓, 共214間房, 但沒有電梯), 有點鐵達尼號的味道, 但就現在的眼光來看, 實在有很大的改進空間. 我們選擇樓下沒景的便宜房間, 裡面有二張Full-size床, 歐式澡盆, 設備簡單 但是隔音差, 隔壁打呼聲都聽的很清楚.

(笑話) 就當我們三人正聊的開心, 電話響了, 原來是櫃台說我們被隔壁投訴太吵. 我們猜想是打呼的那個人, 因為有幾分鐘都沒聽到他打呼的聲音, 結果沒多久, 打呼聲又開始, Austin才說: 房間電話都是連的, Celine馬上說: 嘎喨 (台語, 意指用電話響他, 把他吵醒), 我馬上大笑, 而且足足笑了幾分鐘, 覺得這主意實在太讚了, 不過我們沒真的做啦, 雖然很想.

講話聲可以被投訴, 不知道打呼聲可不可以投訴呢? 因為我整晚都因為那打呼聲而睡得不好.

但是飯店面水的那邊風景美 (180度觀看Swiftcurrent Lake), 一樓中空式大廳採光很好, 有現場演奏音樂可聽, 樓上有餐廳, 樓下有義式咖啡, .

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晚餐去Two Sisters Restaurant, 一個在公園外 (Between St Mary and Many Glacier), 私人經營的餐廳, 我想算是冰河公園附近最好的用餐地點, 因為整間餐廳坐滿滿的.  食物選擇不少, 也算好吃, 如果你住在公園東邊, 可以找一天來這裡吃晚餐, 享受一下不同公園附設餐廳的氣氛.

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第三晚住在Rising Sun Motor Inn. 我們住在長條型的Moter Inn Room, 分前後二邊, 每邊有八間房, 我們那間內部有二張Twin床 (只夠一個大人睡), 但是空間夠大, 所以可以再加床, 衛浴間也蠻大的.

2009年我住過Rising Sun Motor Inn, 不過是住在Cabins (有點像鐵皮屋, 每個鐵皮屋有左右二邊, 每一邊有二個單人床, 衛浴. 但是整體來說, 空間很小, 每一個鐵皮屋是獨立, 分散各地). 而且Moter Inn Room才比Cabin貴十幾塊, 我覺得很值得.

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晚餐就在附設的餐廳吃, 我覺得食物比Swiftcurrent Motor Inn附設餐廳的要好吃點.

相關閱讀: 冰河公園1, 冰河公園2, 冰河公園3, 冰河公園4-健行步道.