Joshua Tree National Park

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Just East of Palm Springs along I-10 in California is Joshua Tree National Park.  Established as a park in 1994 it is home to it’s namesake, the Joshua Tree.

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The Joshua Tree looks like a Yucca Tree, but it actually part of the Agave family.

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The park itself is a big loop that takes one through hiking trails, multiple camping sites, and picnic areas.

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It makes for a scenic drive through boulders, wildflowers, and lots of Joshua trees… making it a fabulous drive through this desert oasis.

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Northern California Coast

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After all the scenic overviews we had along the Oregon coast, we were a bit surprised by the lack of ocean views along the Northern California Coast.  Granted California has a lot of beach and ocean views… but I’m not talking about San Diego, Mission Beach, or Redondo Beach.  I’m talking about the section from Crescent City, CA to just north of San Francisco.

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This area tucks inland and goes through some very pretty red wood country.  There are a number of ‘alternate routes’ like the Humboldt State Park that are certainly worth doing to get the full exposure to the redwoods… not just highway driving, which is what most of this drive feels like.  While there are small towns in between, they seem to be working towns, run down and dilapidated.  They aren’t the popular tourist towns bustling with people and shops like Sausalito.

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There are the occasional signs that says ‘Coastal Access’ … turn here. If you drive down the long dirt road (and back) it’ll take an hour with no premonition of the view until you get there.  Once you do, it yield beach access to the ocean and beach, but no great views, no jutting rocks.

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The best ocean views along this stretch is between Jenner and Bodega Bay… with the added advantage that you can tuck into the quaint charming winery towns from Jenner.  You can visit Duncan Mills, Guerneville, Sonoma, many more.

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Costa Mesa / Newport Beach

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We haven’t been to California in a bit.. life gets in the way, there are so many other places to go… and do… you know how it goes.  But it was time to visit our friends, Danube and Bobby, in Del Mar… and pick up some sushi grade fish to freeze for awesome ‘tuna trios’ at home.

Every time we go, we try to shake it up and do different things, so as not to tire from the same ol’ – same ol’.  We have done the downtown San Diego and Point Loma thing… and  the ever interesting Solano Beach and Cedros District.  Last time we were in the area we stumbled into the Culinary District in SoCo (South Coast), where there are foodie stores, cheese stores and other culinary temptations.  So we decided to make a food holiday of it after our wonderful visit with friends.  We hit Surfas and the Cheese Shop.  We ate well at restaurants in South Coast and Newport (see my reviews at  krittersmenu.com ), trying new places… and old.

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We checked out The Wedge at the end of Balboa Island, which was a great way to watch the waves at sunset.

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We had a mocha shake at Shake Shack – highly recommended, and walked the Crystal Cove beach – very picturesque.

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All in all, it was a terrific trip… a great visit with friends… walks on the beach at sunset … and amazing food and new experiences with beautiful scenery and good weather.  Check out more photos on  kritterspix.com