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Archive for california

Tallest Deck in California

By Linda Tancs

OUE Skyspace LA is home to California’s tallest open-air observation deck, perched nearly 1,000 feet above downtown Los Angeles in the U.S. Bank Tower. As if stunning panoramic views weren’t enough enticement, Skyspace also lures in daredevils seeking a different kind of view thanks to the Skyslide. That’s a glass tube on the outside of the skyscraper spanning 45 feet from the 70th to the 69th floor. Dispensed like a human cannonball, gliders maneuver their way down the glass on a mat to what is hoped will be a smooth landing. Fingers crossed.

The Devil’s Teeth

By Linda Tancs

Once known as “the devil’s teeth” due to its treacherous and steep, rocky shoreline, the Farallon Islands (named for the Spanish farallón, meaning a rocky sea pillar) is a National Wildlife Refuge and home to the largest colony of nesting seabirds in the contiguous United States. Located 30 miles west of the Golden Gate Bridge in California, the Refuge comprises four groups of small islands: Southeast Farallon, North Farallons, Middle Farallon and Noonday Rock. Given the sensitivity of the avian and mammalian community living there, the islands are not open to the public, and only Southeast Farallon (a research station) is accessible by boat. Nonetheless, year-round tours operate out of San Francisco to the southeast quadrant, offering wildlife enthusiasts the chance to gawk at whales and substantial populations of sea lions, northern elephant seals, tufted puffins and some of more than 400 species of birds recorded there.

Big Sur’s Golden Gate

By Linda Tancs

Along California’s sun-kissed Pacific Coast Highway is Big Sur‘s celebrated alternative to the Golden Gate Bridge. Known alternatively as Bixby Creek Bridge or Bixby Bridge, the span is a reinforced concrete open-spandrel arch bridge. Completed in 1932, the historic structure is one of the tallest single-span concrete bridges in the world, soaring 260 feet above the bottom of a steep canyon carved by Bixby Creek. A favorite of shutterbugs, the view is particularly impressive from the bridge’s south end at sunset.

The Crags of Santa Barbara

By Linda Tancs

California’s Rattlesnake Canyon trail moves north and eastward for nearly three miles up Rattlesnake Canyon and ends on Gibraltar Road. Besides the beautiful views of Santa Barbara, Montecito, birds and wildflowers, this part of Santa Barbara’s back country offers the intrepid the formidable Gibraltar Rock. Located next to its namesake road, the formation’s south face is akin to a bunny slope. Those desiring more of a challenge should head for the west face and the cliff’s subsidiary formations. There you’ll meet up with climbs bearing names like Sweating Buckets, The Nose, Toxic Waste Wall and The Bolt Ladder. Don’t say you weren’t warned.

Art, History and Anthropology

By Linda Tancs

The Grace Hudson Museum and Sun House in Ukiah, California, is an art, history and anthropology museum focusing on the life and works of artist Grace Carpenter Hudson and her ethnologist husband, Dr. John W. Hudson. The result is a treasure trove of cultural and educational resources on Western American art, California Indian cultures and the history of California’s North Coast region. Their legacy is further highlighted by their Craftsman-style home, the Sun House. In addition to their personal touches, the home sports such classic Craftsman elements as a sloping gabled roof with overhang, the sleeping porch, the use of natural redwood and stone, board-and-batten walls, burlap and monks cloth wall coverings and exposed timbers.

The Golden Age of American Gardens

By Linda Tancs

Draped by the northern Santa Cruz mountains in Woodside, California, Filoli is a country estate with enviable grounds beckoning the Golden Age of private estate gardens. Designed between 1917 and 1929 for prominent San Franciscans Mr. and Mrs. William Bowers Bourn, its grounds are remarkably preserved as one of the few surviving and best examples of an English Renaissance style garden. Its many charms also include the Sunken Garden and clock tower, a 6.8-acre orchard and a trail system highlighting five different ecosystems. No less elegant, the gracious country house adorning the estate boasts 36,000 square feet, resplendent in an extensive collection of 17th and 18th century English antiques among its 43 rooms.

World’s Largest Tree

By Linda Tancs

A giant among giants, the General Sherman in the Giant Forest in California’s Sequoia National Park is not only the largest living tree in the world, but the largest living organism, by volume, on the planet. A giant sequoia (sequoiadendron giganteum), General Sherman is over 100 feet at its trunk, nearly 3 million pounds in weight and 275 feet in height. Needless to say, it draws quite a crowd, which is why the park runs free summer shuttle buses to two separate stops, one above and one below this amazing tree.

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