Crater Lake – A Magical Place

Of all the places I have EVER been, Crater Lake is the most magical I have ever seen. There. That’s a bold statement. I’ve seen some nice spots in my time on this planet but there was something about this place that was magical, spiritual, call it what you will, but it left both of us in true awe at the sight of the place. It helped than there wasn’t to many other people about. It wasn’t hard to wander off along the rim and find a quiet spot were not a single sound of humans could be heard.

It’s the deepest lake in the United Sates and was formed 7700 years ago. The local Indian tribe treated it as a religious site and only people of wisdom were allowed to view it. That’s obviously stopped if I was there, but I take their point. It’s special.

The views as you see are truly stunning and even though I was only able to visit a small portion of the rim due to snow, it was spectacular to see it in this rugged condition. I will be back in the future to ride that rim, all 33 miles of it.

The trees, Mountain Hemlock and Limber Pine were showing every bit of the tough conditions they have to survive in. I stood for a long time studying the deadwood and taking inspiration from natures shaping of these old characters. Surely Mountain Hemlock should be utilised more for bonsai?

I have probably overdone the gallery yet again, but what could I leave out!

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Coastal Redwoods

Having seen Sequoiadendron Giganteum I was keen to see the best of the Sequoia Sempervirens or Coastal Redwood. This meant taking a bit of a detour between Redding and Klamath Falls. We left Redding and headed west through some beautiful country in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest dropping down into Redwood National and State Parks. Stunning views along the way and even the roadworks at a landslide on the 199 didn’t bother us as we got to stop and see a stunning river gorge.

Our first stop proper was the Lady Bird Johnston Grove of Redwoods. A compact walk through old growth Redwoods with loads of character and a quiet spot with very few tourists about. We were able to stroll through and take it all in. Another one of those special moments on our trip.

We then moved on to Prairie Creek, home of the BIG Redwoods which were a treat to behold. I had a stiff neck the next day, and no wonder, after staring skyward for long periods of the day.

Photos just don’t capture the immenseness of these trees. It nearly takes you to have someone standing in each photo to help capture the scale of what you are seeing. These trees are survivors with many showing signs of fire damage. The deadwood in many places was as exciting to view as the living.

I’ve added some wildlife pics and coastal shots too. A coastline that doesn’t get talked about very much but stunning. I’ve tried to make the images run chronologically but they may be  mixed here and there with some from the camera and some from my phone. Enjoy. Next up is Crater Lake, probably my favourite piece of America so far, and that’s saying something.

 

Bonsai @ Lake Merritt

After two amazing days in San Francisco we moved on towards our next over night stop in Redding. On the way we stopped off in Oakland to see the Bonsai collection at Lake Merritt.

It was interesting to compare this to Huntington Gardens, Huntington was a more elegant location and inspiring in it’s own way but I think I actually preferred the bonsai here at Lake Merritt. I was told that local club members regularly take the trees home to work on them and I think this shows in the quality and condition. The watering system here also looked the part and I didn’t see any sign of suffering on any tree.

I had a few favourites, I’m a redwood convert and the ones a saw here were excellent with tight tight budding. I can only dream of getting mine that tight! Some amazing junipers of course and a fantastic Japanese Black Pine that I think would be the first one I’d save if the place went on fire. The heat there that day, it might just do that at some point!! Free entry, well done. Donations were evident which was nice to see, I made one myself and bought a T-Shirt for my rapidly growing collection. Some accents there but would have been nice to see them displayed along with the trees but perhaps problematic for watering.

I’m so glad I made the effort to drop by and see this collection. I did manage to peek in at the overflow area, I’d have loved 30 minutes in there too. If you’re in the Bay area, make sure you pop in for a look.  Gallery, the biggest yet I think, is below. Next up will be Redwood National Forest and those awesome Coastal Redwoods.

Boon’s Bonsai

After a busy few days of bonsai home and away, I’m only now getting back to the USA trip photos. Here’s the next chronological instalment…..

Next up after Yosemite was a drive back across California to the Bay area and San Francisco. On route one of our stops was in Hayward to see Boon and his amazing Nursery. As with most of my Bonsai stops on this trip, there was a busy nursery found on arrival. Boon’s was no different with a workshop in full flow and many trees being transported in and out for work. Boon made us very welcome even though he was busy with students and Paul, his apprentice, gave us a guided tour of the trees.

It was interesting to see the impact a more northerly location had on the species range in the nursery with much more variety than in LA.  A comprehensive watering system was in evidence and can be seen in the photo gallery below. As we were delayed in the Bay area traffic (horrendous) we arrived later than expected and photos were all a bit of a rush and mostly taken with my phone. Sun was low and many of the pics are in a bad sun/shade combo position. As a result they don’t do justice to the quality of the trees on the benches.

A big thank you to Boon, Paul and Matt for their time on the day and it was nice to chat with the other students as time permitted. A real pity I was unable to accept the invite to dinner with Team Boon but San Francisco beckoned after a long drive. I’ve added a couple of photos from there as well just for flavour.

Cheers Leinster

A big thank you to the guys at Leinster Bonsai Club for having me down to do a group workshop on Sunday. A great day’s craic. Great to see new faces as well. See you all soon.

Thanks for the photos Max.

Yosemite

Next day we took the short journey from the Taneya Lodge to Yosemite Park gate. We were early enough to beat the rangers to the booth 🙂 A drive upwards lead to Tunnel View and our first breath taking view of Yosemite Valley and it’s wonderful waterfalls, mountain views, and of course trees.

We made it down to the bottom of the valley and walked to Yosemite Falls. You can hear these Falls from all over the valley with water crashing down 2425 feet. We then took a hike up to Mirror lake. A beautiful walk through the woods accompanied by the mozzies! A walk back down and a quick lunch saw us visiting the meadow area to watch those crazy enough to climb up El Capitan.

To finish our day we drove out of the valley and made it Glacier Point for some stunning panoramic views of Yosemite. All that was left was to head back to the Lodge and swallow a few beers and toast some S’mores at the fire pit.

 

Giant Redwoods

After leaving Monterrey we headed West and down a little to take in the Giant Redwoods of Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park. This was an ‘add on’ to the trip as I had hoped to see the Giant Redwoods in the Maraposa Grove when we reached Yosemite. However, the Maraposa Grove was still closed and the only way I’d get to see some BIG trees was to drive a little more and hit up these guys.

The weather turned the closer we got to the park and it was a little wet and misty for our visit. At one point we drove up through the cloud on hairpin bends with 10 feet visability. Nearly as stressful as driving in the Bay area! 🙂 We broke through the cloud level and within a few bends we saw our first big Sequoiadendron Giganteum. I pulled over and got out for a first look and a hug. A special moment walking up to these trees for the first time. They make you feel insignificant and short lived.

We travelled on to the visitors centre at Sequoia National Park and took a walk to see some of the bigger trees and then over into Kings Canyon National Park to see some more. General Sherman and General Grant got a visit, the first and third largest living things in the world. I’ll be honest, a few of the other big boys nearby were better for me. Better shape, more character, hollow trunks etc. Everyone’s a critique.

Very hard to capture the awesomeness of these in a photo on a grey day. However, here are some of the shots I captured.

 

The Amazing Point Lobos and That Other Place

When I was planning this trip of a lifetime I was in contact with many people about the best places to stop to see old growth trees. I managed to see most of them with a few escaping until the next trip of a lifetime. 🙂 One of my pointers was from Ryan Neil who said I HAD to make it to Point Lobos State Park for the Monterrey Cypress. Boy was he right! The Allan Grove in the Park is a magical place to walk and the photos just don’t do the wonder of the place justice. It’s a quiet spot, not to many people there on the paths so at many points you were on your own and able to soak it all in. The trees really tell a story of life on that coast with deadwood and character in abundance. Some amazing wild flowers and coastline as well, a great accent for the trees. Interesting to see the rust  fungus on so many of the Cypress.

Now, the other place, which officially is called ‘the 17 mile drive’, is a, you guessed it, a 17 mile private road around the headland at Monterrey over looking the sea and Pebble Beach Golf Course. You pay $10 for the privilege of taking this drive and getting to see the famous Lone Cypress on the rock and the Ghost tree. As a tree person I found the lone tree a bit disappointing after Point Lobos and the Ghost tree was a dead one nearby. There were literally hundreds of better Cypress across the Bay at Point Lobos and entry to the State Park was also $10. The park also offers up much more in the way of scenery. So there you go, tourist tip of the day. Photos of all below. Some general shots from the park as well showing the coast and the Sealions on the rocks. I’ll put the Lone tree last for you to compare.