Do you see that large exposed rock? Once upon a time, nearly 23 million years ago, that was a lava flow. A whole lot of hot lava came flowing out of volcanos that happened to be situated on a fault, a crack in the Earth’s crust, where the west side of the fault moved north slowly but surely in fits and starts punctuated by earthquakes in California. Today, this now solid rock is in northern California, less than 90 miles by car south of San Jose. The volcanoes themselves, mountains made of softer rock, have eroded away leaving these giant hardened and ancient lava flows to stand out and be explored and appreciated. What about the rest of the volcano flows that happened to land on the east side of that fault millions of years ago? Well, those hardened flows are in southern California, 195 miles away near Los Angeles.
Yes, that giant rock pictured, and there is a WHOLE lot more not pictured – the lava flow area was huge from several volcanos, has traveled north 195 miles since it formed from cooling lava, along with much of coastal California. I told my children that in a few million years more, it will only take a couple of minutes to drive to Pinnacles National Park from San Jose.
Those above are Sequoia trees, the largest trees in the world. They are incredible. Incredible.
Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks offer so much beauty. The Sequoia trees themselves are amazing. They grow stunningly tall at over 280 feet, though they are not the tallest trees on Earth. The tallest are the Coast Redwood tress along the coast of California with one measured at over 380 feet tall. However, these Sequoia trees on the Sierra Nevada Range in California are taller than most trees and are additionally the largest trees by total mass on all of Earth; they are massive and make adult humans look puny beside them. They can have trunks with a circumference over 100 feet. Also, they grow very old; over 2500 years old.
It’s not just the Sequoia’s that are beautiful in this wonderful place. There are other trees, and rocks, and creatures, and weather, and so much more.
This is an overall beautiful place. I like staring “into” the above picture quite a bit and still it does not compare to the air and view in front of me when I took the photo.
Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon National Park have separate names and entrances from back in the old days when they started as separate locations. In time, land added to the parks connected their borders. Technically two separate parks, they are managed jointly today.
Up close with a Sequoia. These are breathtaking trees and none of my photos captured the grandness of them though I feel close to this one through the above photo.
John Muir himself planted this redwood tree about 120 years ago. This is his home in Martinez on the San Francisco Bay. I was happy to learn how close it is and happy to find that you may walk around the property and throughout the entire home at leisure here during open hours.
A statue of John Muir in the visitor center on the property of Muir’s home, now a National Historic Site maintained by the U.S. National Park Service.
Muir has an impressive story you can read about elsewhere. For a few reference facts, he co-founded the Sierra Club, wrote numerous naturalist books, and played important rolls in the creation and protection of Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks. If you can imagine, John Muir took then President Theodore Roosevelt on a three day back county camping trip to convince him to make Yosemite into a National Park. It worked. I find it amazing to imagine a time when a president would agree and be able to go off on foot with a naturalist to just camp and be in nature for three days out in the back country. It is a pretty fascinating form of lobbying.
John Muir himself use to ring this very bell from this cupola above his home to let the workers on his orchard know to come in for lunch. Today, you are welcomed to go on up and ring the bell as much as you like! Of course, they keep the windows closed now. Not that there are acres and acres of orchards anymore to call in the workers from. From the windows of the cupola you can now see part of the town and a 7-11 across the street from Muir’s home. Times change and so it is all the more wonderful that this part of the property is preserved.
Each bedroom had it’s own sink.
The view out the front window onto the porch.
It’s neat to imagine John Muir also using this door knob to enter his front door as I use it.
Part of the Muir property includes this historic two story adobe house called the Martinez Adobe built in 1849 as part of the Martinez land grant.
These are the thickest, and presumably the oldest, grape vines I have ever seen up close in person.
Door knob to the Martinez Adobe where John Muir spent plenty of time visiting his eldest daughter and her family who lived there.
Visiting and exploring this park and historical site was a treat. Walking around, touching and appreciating nature, thinking, and absorbing a part of a glimpse into another time in our history was wonderful. Muir’s life is fairly fascinating and intriguing to learn about. To walk around and within his home was special.
What happens when you start with mantle rock, that bendable hot semi-fluid-like rock that is miles below the surface and that the Earth’s crust floats on top of, and get it to come up a bit after mixing with ocean water and the heat induced chemical reactions that follow? You get a beautiful rock called serpentine that is usually miles deep but now makes up significant portions of the US west coast having been scraped off the ocean plates that sank below the US west coast in the last 200 million years.
A few interesting facts about this rock. It is awesome that it is the Earth’s mantle come up to the surface where we can touch it! It is the state rock of California. It can be mined for talc or asbestos. Did I mention it comes from miles below the surface? It is pretty. It is found where rocks from deep in, and below, the ocean have come to the surface through strong geologic events. The chemicals of the rock make it toxic to most plants and trees. Many California native plants have adapted to survive amongst the rock. You can see, for example, the Toyon bush (also known as California holly or Christmas berry) growing on the serpentine in the top photo.
Knowing that most trees and plants can not grow on serpentine rock, a previous owner of this land, now a part of the Don Edwards Wildlife Refuge, planted agave plants to add some garden interest where he hoped to build a house. While the agave was not growing naturally in this particular area, it is one of the native plants that had adapted to grow among serpentine rocks in California. Today, in this national refuge, the planted agave continues to grow.