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Sunday, January 17, we woke up to a fabulous breakfast of Gluten-Free Banana-Blueberry Pancakes and bacon.  I was extremely thrilled to have pancakes without any flour! Barbara said she added vanilla to help give it a more pancake flavor; it was well worth it.   This trip will turn into a feast for my gluten sensitive gut and I will definately be sharing the websites of the places we induldged.

Because of the time of year we decided to visit, we were rained on most of the ten days we were there.  However, getting to see the area lush, green and misty was so worth the rain boots, ponchos, and umbrellas. We were able to see the Bay Area in a way many tourists will not see.  This gave our trip a hue of imagination and fairy dust.  Ok, maybe not the fairy dust, but it sounded good.

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Once we were packed up with rain gear, we headed to the Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park.  This would be our first state park that was not a Texas State Park.  We loved every step we took within this park with giant Redwood trees, banana slugs and rain.  The area we spent our time was the Old Growth Redwood Grove Loop Trail.  It is a nicely cared for trail, clearly marked points of interest, and wooden fence giving this park a comfortable path.  This path is wide and accessible with no steps or hard-to-maneuver areas so everyone can enjoy these amazing trees.

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My friend Barbara has a thing she likes to do with her out-of-state visitors, tree hugging.  If you remember, I had Scott practice for this by hugging a tree at Tyler State Park.  That was definately not even close to good practice.

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As you can see, the trees in Henry Cowell are definately huge.  “How do they get so large?” is what I think I am hearing from you all.  From the California State Park website we find this answer to that very question:  “The trees grow tall for the following reasons: large amounts of rain (60-140 inches per year), mostly from November-April; summer fog which reduces evapotranspiration; temperate climate, average temperatures between 45 degrees and 61 degrees Fahrenheit; rich soil in river bottom flats; few natural enemies; burl sprouts, which promote growth after injury by fire or toppling; wind protection by other redwoods.”  And yes, I did hug a tree myself as well as we getting one taken together.  Unfortunately the photos are not that great since it was dark and rainy.

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In the Texas State Park tradition, we decided to take a sign photo.  Unfortunately it was pouring at that point so we took the photo inside the visitor center.  We both looked so horrible due to the rain, but this is now an official State Park in our books!

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So, the State Park was finished and it was time for the Roaring Camp Railroads.  This was an actual logging camp.  The railway used here is original to the camp.  If you have ever wanted to ride a steam engine train, this is a wonderful place to do it.  It is not a long continuous trip, but you will find it full of “switches” to get you up to the top of the mountain.  Yes, I said mountain!  The view is fantastic with all the way up.  But before you enjoy the train ride, you will enter into the town of Roaring Camp and you enter via a covered bridge.

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This is a place to bring your children so they can experience the gold rush days.  Granted, it won’t be like the real gold rush days, but it will give them a wonderful opportunity to experience a little bit of history.  Once you have enjoyed the panning for gold, a tasty treat and souvenir shopping it will be time to take a ride on the Roaring Railway up the mountain to see the Cathedral Grove.

On your way up, you will see some wonderful views, skyhigh redwoods, and unique historical activity.  Once you get up to the top of the mountain you will be given about thirty minutes, give and take, to explore the area and taking a quick break.  We were able to see the grove of Redwoods that is called the Cathedral Grove.

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This was only two-thirds of our day, we still needed to find food for a late lunch and Barbara had still more plans for us.  We piled into the car and headed to the coast!

We went to a beachside town called Capitola.  This had the cutest historical downtown with the tourist shops and tasty resturants.  The best part of this town though was the beach.  I haven’t seen the beach and ocean in more than twenty years and it was like going home.  Scott had never been to the beach even though he had lived in California for a little while so it was wonderful time two!

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One of the best things about our trip into Capitola is that Scott got extremely giddy when he came across a Soquel Creek running into the ocean.  He said he knew about creeks and rivers rushing into the ocean, but he had never seen it happening.  Because I was in tall rain boots I waded into the creek just to show off.

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We were having so much fun looking at the beach and it’s pretty surrounding buildings, but we were getting very hungry so we were off to find food.  We found a Mexican Seafood restuarant called Margaritaville just off the beach next to the creek and it was warm and tasy.  If you are in that area, you should try them because they are worth it.

We finished lunch and walked around the downtown area a bit to visit a couple of shops.  While we were walking around town we came across a shop window full of my favorite things:  rubber ducks!  I had to have a photo.

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This being our final destination for the day, we climbed into the car to head for our home away from home.  It was a wonderful day, but so much for us to enjoy over the next few days.  So, stay tuned for more!

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