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Monterey California Revisit – Images

Tuesday, March 4th, 2008

Monterey Old fisherman‘s wharf

Monterey Marina in California

Monterey Marina in California

Yosemite NP, California – “Good Mountain Beautiful Land” 优山美地

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2007

Bridalveil Fall.jpg

The first long weekend trip we took in California was a 2-day trip to Yosemite National Park. Even though Yosemite in the United States is almost as well-known as Yellowstone NP or Great Canyon NP, but to Chinese, it is a brand new travel knowledge. You can ask your Chinese friends in China to test my conclusion. 🙂
Can’t believe it? Some numbers for your reference:


Another amazing thing about Yesemite is its Chinese translation which means “Good Mountain and Beautiful Land” literally. Nobody won’t agree with this name, though I prefer something like “good mountain and beautiful fall” because its waterfalls are what make Yosemite different.

I have never seen so many waterfalls (and from different angles) in 2 days of my life. Water is the spirit of Yosemite, so the best season to visit this national park is late spring and early summer (late April – early July) after the raining season from Jan to Mar and the weather is not too chilly. This is the tip I learn from travel guide book, but it was also confirmed by the people we met in the park. They told us they had been to the park in November, but saw not as half as many of the falls as they saw in June.

Photo tour: On the Way to Vernal Fall (Jun 2005)


vernal fall, yosemite NP, california

vernal fall, yosemite NP, california

vernal fall, yosemite NP, california

vernal fall, yosemite NP, california

A Day Trip from San Francisco to See Old Park, Big Tree, and Small People

Friday, September 28th, 2007

Big Basin Redwoods State Park (see more photos here) is the oldest state park of California. It is a 18,000 acres of old growth forest in south of San Francisco. If you live in central California and want to see the big trees but don’t have time to visit Redwood National Park in the north or Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks in the south, this state park is a nice 1-day trip destination. The park is actually extended to Pacific coast and the elevations in the park vary from sea level to over 2,000 feet. You can hike to the nice beach from the redwoods in 2 days, longer if you will hike back.
We visited the park on a usual Saturday. It is about 2-hours drive from south bay area, 20 miles away from Santa Cruz. The road to the park headquarter is very curvy and one-way. You are expected to stop on the roadside/turnout often when there is no rooms for the coming cars to stop. It is hard to explain the feeling when into the redwood forests, even just in the car. Everything is so big and misty and you will have the impulsion to stop and walk around.

Big Basin State Park, California

We hiked for about 4 hours on two trails, 1) easy Redwoods Loop trail on which you will see the mother and the father of the forest; 2)first part of Sequoia Trail on which you will see Sempervirens Falls and Founders Monument at Slippery Rock. We tried to look for the “icon’ of Big Basin banana slugs but weren’t successful.

Tips: 1) do a little research on the park website ; 2) Buy a map (25c), 2 groups of people were lost and asked us for direction.

More Hotels on the Strip, Las Vegas NV (photo tour)

Friday, September 14th, 2007

A photo tour of the hotels on the strip at night. I like Las Vegas for its great food!
Excalibur hotel and casino

MGM hotel and casino, Las Vegas, NV

Paris hotel and casino, Las Vegas, NV

Monte Carlo hotel and casino, Las Vegas, NV

New York New York hotel and casino, Las Vegas, NV

The Bellagio hotel and casino, Las Vegas, NV

Strip, Las Vegas, NV

Hotel on The Strip, Las Vegas: Luxor Hotel and Casino

Thursday, September 13th, 2007

I watched Ocean’s 13 last night on DVD, and found the hotel in the movie is very cool. But after I goolged it today, I knew it is a fake hotel, and the real hotel in this movie is actually The Bellagio. I wasn’t impressed by the interior decoration of the Bank hotel, but the whole red “DNA” shape design is fantastic, and Ocean’s 13’s villa is very stylish.

hotels_on_the_strip.JPG look for the Red building.

We’ve been to Las Vegas once and had a great time there, though I don’t recommend the hotel – Luxor Hotel & Casino we stayed. Two reasons: 1) too far away from the strip though it is on the strip; 2)we stayed at the upgraded room in the tower which is a long way to the hotel front entrance and parking lot. But the rate is good, we paid about $80 a night during Christmas after applying promotion codes which are easy to find on the Net.
Ok, photo time!

Luxor Hotel, Las Vegas

Luxor hotel in day, Las Vegas

Luxor hotel inside, Las Vegas

Luxor hotel inside, Las Vegas

To the Lighthouse, Point Reyes National Seashore, California (pictures only)

Monday, September 10th, 2007
Point Reyes Lighthouse, California
South_North_Beach_Point_Reyes California
South & North Beach, Point Reyes, California
Coast Point Reyes California
Coast viewed from the lighthouse, Point Reyes, California
Grigo at south beach, point reyes california
This is me, Grigo in Oct 2005, @ a romantic beach

Hearst Castle, Bring Your Kids Back to 16th Century in California

Tuesday, September 4th, 2007

ef6c9fe1.jpgI’ve never been to Europe. Maybe that is the reason I found Hearst Castle in San Simeon California is amazing. Built from 1919- 1947 by William Randolph Hearst, all the bits and pieces are authentic — “400-year-old Spanish and Italian ceilings, 500-year-old mantels, 16th-century Florentine bed-stead, Renaissance paintings, Flemish tapestries, and innumerable other European treasures.” (Frommer’s)


1873, William took a Europe tour with his mother. It was “a journey of epic proportions” where he went “to the galleries, palaces, churches, etc.” This tour was a life of impermanence, and one important impact was how this grand castle was designed and constructed.

tennis court It was my first visit to the Hearst Castle. We took a 2-hour tour which is organized in the way to show the overview of the 60,000-acre ranch for first time visitors. It was a misty day which enhenced the atmosphere of “back to 16th century”, but we were not able to see the Pacific coast which was a pity.

Ok, Let’s take a visual tour of what I have seen.

Casa Grande, Hearst Castle, San Simeon California

Casa Grande, has more than 100 rooms.

Indoor Swimming pool, hearst castle, california

A Roman-inspired Indoor Pool

Outdoor swimming pool, Hearst castle, california

Outdoor Greco-Roman Neptune Pool, this is the 3rd edition

Frommers picks this castle as one of the “500 places to take your kids before they grow up”. It will be sure of a different travel experience for older kids (over 8 years old). Though one of my Hungarian friend won’t agree with it. Anyway, your call. Check out reviews here to make you decision.

Monterey and Big Sur, a must visit in California

Tuesday, September 4th, 2007

Big Sur, California is one of my favorite place. It is the No. 1 of top 10 romantic places by “Big Sur” means “big mouth” in Spanish. It is not a spot in the map, instead, it is a coastline on Highway 1. The scenic charm can be extended from between Santa Cruz to San Simon. From Carmel to Lucia alone, touring Big Sur on Highway 1 is one of the most captivating drive anywhere. The inland strip along Highway 1 provides access to state parks, redwoods, coastal streams and Los Padres National Forest.

The last time we visited Big Sur was mid spring 2006,driving from Mountain View (where Goolge is headquatered) to San Simon, Hearst Castle. The mode of our trip was relaxing. We stopped many times at the turnout along Highway 1. It seemed that I will never be bored by the deep blue of the Pacific Ocean.

TentWe stayed at a tent cabin in Fernwood Resort. It is on the right hand side of road if you drive towards south. All the lodgings in Big Sur don’t have specific address but a common simple address “Highway 1, Big Sur”. So I will recommend you do some homework about your hotel’s location if you will check in after sunset. The tents area is next to Big Sur river in the redwoods, you can hike easily to Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. We got an special rate by mentioned its website. Find more accommodations and review here. Check out trip planner here.
Big Sur Bridge

Big Sur Coast on Highway 1