Category Archives: Travel

Grand Canyon National Park Photo Gallery

Where Millions Come to Stare into a Hole in the Ground

Fall on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon
Fall on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon

I’m not going to say a lot here because, well… Grand Canyon, DUH. You had to have been hiding in the biggest hole in the United States if you hadn’t heard of it. Therefore, you had to be in the Grand Canyon to begin with, so what do you mean you haven’t heard of it? Continue reading Grand Canyon National Park Photo Gallery

Wildflowers of O’Neil Regional Park

Stopping to enjoy the sweet smell of freedom among the wildflowers

Honey Bee in a California Sunflower in O'Neill Regional Park
Honey Bee in a California Sunflower in O’Neill Regional Park

For Memorial Day, in addition to taking the time to remember those who gave their all for our country, we also took some time to stop and smell the wildflowers. Even this late in the season, wildflowers can still be found in the hills surrounding Orange County. Continue reading Wildflowers of O’Neil Regional Park

La Tour at Victoria Beach, Orange County, CA

The Pirate Tower Lies at the Center of Some Terrific Orange County Legends

La Tour: The Pirate Tower during a stormy sunset
La Tour: The Pirate Tower during a stormy sunset.

On a hidden beach in South Orange County, CA, visitors are treated to a sight that has even the most skeptical hoping to stumble upon buried treasure, scanning the horizon to try and spot a distant galleon bearing the skull and crossbones, or perhaps craning their neck in hopes of spying a fair maiden in need of rescue. The cause of these fantastical fancies of the imagination is almost as magical as the musings themselves, a tower, known simply as La Tour, or The Tower. Resembling something straight out of a fairy tale, it stands on the shoreline reaching for the sky as it stretches up the cliff face, enduring crashing waves and the harsh salt air of the Pacific Ocean.

La Tour has long been on my bucket list of places to see, and I have little excuse for not seeing it as it is practically right here in my own backyard. I chose sunset during a stormy weekend to add as much drama to the story as Mother Nature could muster, and my camera could capture. I think I lucked out in both respects. Hopefully the images compel you to read on, or at the very least, see La Tour for yourself.

Getting to La Tour

Victoria Beach at Sunset
Victoria Beach at Sunset

To see this come-to-life story book portrait for yourself, pack up your beach gear and head to Laguna Beach at low tide. La Tour is inaccessible during high tide. As you head toward South Laguna along Pacific Coast Highway, watch for Victoria Drive. Don’t worry if you miss it, you can also access the beach from Sunset Terrace, or McAuley Place. The real trick is finding parking. You will find none on any of the mentioned streets, you’re best bet is on PCH or in the neighborhoods on the inland side of the highway. Once you find parking head down any of the aforementioned streets, the beach lies below the houses on the cliff along Victoria Drive. There is a staircase to access the beach just a few feet south of Sunset Terrace on Victoria Drive. It’s a little steep, and a hike back up, but worth every step to come face to face with the stuff of dreams.

If you enjoy the romance and magic of pirates and magic castles, read no further, or risk having the magic hijacked by the pirates of knowledge and reason as the real story of La Tour is revealed below.

The Magic of The Pirate Tower Shattered

Taking the light from the magic of The Pirate Tower
Taking the light from the magic of The Pirate Tower

I’m sad to inform those who have read this far, that the tower never housed any damsels in distress, was not used to watch for pirates, and never even served as noble a purpose as a lighthouse. La Tour is nothing more than a fancy staircase built in 1926. It was built as access to the beach for the private residence of state senator William E. Brown on the cliff above.

In 1940, Brown sold the home to a retired naval officer named Harold Kendrick. It may have been Kendrick who lit the imaginations of area youth with stories of lost pirate treasure, and the need to keep a sharp lookout for the scourge of the high seas. It seemed Kendrick rather fancied dressing up as a pirate himself and hiding coins in the cracks of the tower for visiting children to find. But Kendrick’s kindness and imagination were the closest thing to real pirates to ever scale the hidden staircase.

Preserving the Real Treasure of La Tour

I don’t like this explanation for the towers existence. It steals everything we love about La Tour from our hearts and souls. To lose the magic of La Tour is to lose something much more valuable than losing all the buried treasure ever plundered or pillaged in the name of rogue privateering. I prefer to think the stories of state senators and retired naval officers are the real fairy tales; told to pesky visitors to throw them off the track, while treasure hunters continue their search for the very real buried treasure. And I know that if I listen carefully and watch the high window in the tower, one day I’ll see the imprisoned damsel seeking her hero, and she’ll tell me where the treasure is buried as soon as I rescue her… or warn me if the pirates are returning to claim their buried fortune.

I know the truth of the treasure of La Tour. Believe what you will.

By

California Wolf Center

Saving the Rocky Mountain and Mexican Gray Wolf at the California Wolf Center

Watching the visitors to the California Wolf Center from the safety of cover.
Watching the visitors to the California Wolf Center from the safety of cover.

We visited the California Wolf Center on Sunday, November 16th. It’s an education center, and wolf breeding program aimed at recovering the endangered species from the brink of extinction and reintroducing them into the wild. Two of the three types of wolves found in the United States can be viewed at the California Wolf Center, both are species Continue reading California Wolf Center

Knee Defender: Ban or Barn?

Knee Defender, or Barnyard Riot Inciter?
Knee Defender, or Barnyard Riot Inciter?

Knee Defender, a device designed to save knees from reclining seats, makes hogs and jackasses out of cattle.

Just because you are flying coach and have been herded aboard your plane and crowded in like cattle, doesn’t mean you need to act like a hog. It’s not pleasant for any of us: the battle over the arm rests, staking your turf in the overhead bins, and being continually stepped on or having to get up to let those with weaker bladders make multiple trips to the bathroom during your two hour flight are just a few of the things we all contend with. But common courtesy Continue reading Knee Defender: Ban or Barn?

Yellowstone Photography – July 4, 2014

July 4th marked our final day in Yellowstone National Park. While we had made it out to see Old Faithful earlier in the week, we too a break from seeing geysers to make sure we saw the rest of the park and the Grand Tetons. Now that we had “glimpsed it all,” we headed back to cover what we missed in the Old Faithful area. A week is just not enough time to do Yellowstone, the world’s first national park,  justice.

In the Old Faithful Geyser area, are Riverside Geyser and Morning Glory Spring, a spring that many heralded as one of the most beautiful in the park–until the vents at the bottom of the spring became clogged with debris thrown in by many moronic tourists in Continue reading Yellowstone Photography – July 4, 2014

Yellowstone Photography – July 3, 2014

So we had to skip July 2nd and go straight to July 3rd as a cold I had been battling since Sunday finally got the better of me and left me spending the day in bed. At the time, I thought nothing is more painful than having to take a sick day while on vacation! Then while doing some fact checking , I stumbled across this story that occurred yesterday: “Child, 8, Falls to Death in Yellowstone Canyon.” I’d gladly spend my whole vacation sick rather than have a family have to end their vacation like that. My condolences to the family. With much less enthusiasm than I have had in my other posts, here are my pics that include the area where the girl fell.

On this leg of the journey we cut across the middle of the park on Norris Canyon Road and then headed south on the Grand Loop to the Grand Canyone of the Yellowstone to start our day. We then made our way around the Grand loop counterclockwise and out to the north gate to end our day with dinner in Gardiner, MT.

The below gallery contains the best images captured on our fourth day in Yellowstone National Park. The slideshow should start automatically, if you see an image you like, you  can mouse over it to show the parts that don’t display in the viewer, or you can click on it and the full image will pop up. I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed shooting them.

Grand Tetons – July 1, 2014

For today’s post, we take a break from Yellowstone, and venture southeast from the world’s first national park, and head to Grand Tetons National Park. We drove south along U.S. 191, stopping for photo opps along the way until we reached Jackson, WY.

The below gallery contains the best images from our visit. The slideshow should start automatically, if you see an image you like, you  can mouse over it to show the parts that don’t display in the viewer, or you can click on it and the full image will pop up. I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed shooting them.

Yellowstone – June 30, 2014

In this post, we continue this summer’s adventure trip to Yellowstone with day 2. This leg of the journey we traveled north on the west side of the loops from Madison Junction and stopped at Gibbon Falls, Artist Paint Pots and spent the majority of our time in Norris Geyser Basin.

The below gallery contains the best images captured on our second day in the park. The slideshow should start automatically, if you see an image you like, you  can mouse over it to show the parts that don’t display in the viewer, or you can click on it and the full image will pop up. I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed shooting them.

Yellowstone – June 29, 2014

This summer’s adventure was a trip to Yellowstone. On our first day we traveled south from Madison Junction along the west side of the loops making it as far as southeast as Old Faithful with stops at Firehole Canyon Falls, Lower and Midway Geyser Basins, Firehole Lake Drive, Upper Geyser Basin and Biscuit Geyser Basin.

The below gallery contains the best images captured on our first full day in Yellowstone National Park. The slideshow should start automatically, if you see an image you like, you  can mouse over it to show the parts that don’t display in the viewer, or you can click on it and the full image will pop up. I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed shooting them.