Sunday, May 24, 2015

San Francisco Trip - Muir Woods

Theresa's #1 item on the list for our trip to San Francisco was a trip Muir Woods. Even though it's vacation, we knew we'd need to get up here early to make sure we could find parking. Everything we'd read said that you need to arrive between 8-9am. Being Memorial Day weekend, I didn't know how crazy it would be. We pulled into the parking lot at 8:30am and took one of the very last spots in the lot.

If mommy is cold, Ian must be cold.

By 8:45am we were at the entrance to Muir Woods and honestly it's not very crowded.
Back in the early 1900s, William Kent bought this land to protect it from all the logging that was cutting down old growth forests. He donated the land to the federal government in 1907, and in early 1908 Teddy Roosevelt declared the area a National Monument. Originally it was going to be called the Kent Monument, but William Kent suggested that it should be named after John Muir, whose efforts helped establish the National Park System. And that's why it's called Muir Woods National Monument.

Giant Sequoias huh? I suppose I was expecting a little bit bigger.

That's more like it.
Ruston said we should come back at Christmas. I bet it looks great when they decorate all these trees.

This tree was born over 1100 years ago!

For this first section, there's a great boardwalk. It was super easy bringing the stroller.

A whole patch of 4-leaf clovers, though all of them seemed to be missing a leaf or two.

It's amazing how tall these trees are. For scale, Ruston is standing at the bottom of this one.

Planning the rest of our hike. Theresa suggesting a more moderate trail. Ian wanting to do a more strenuous hike.

Entering Cathedral Grove, A Refuge of Peace and Quiet.
"Cathedral Grove was set aside as a quiet refuge to protect its natural soundscape in an increasingly noisy world."

Taking the left path, we encountered the hollowed out remains of a once giant tree.

Ian wanted to touch it.

Then give it a hug.

Pretty happy with himself.

After being carried and riding in the stroller for so long, Ian was happy to get down and walk.

Gotta catch up with Ruston and Jacob.

The Kent Tree (named after William Kent), was once the tallest tree in the forest. This Douglas Fir (yes, the same kind as your Christmas Tree), stood tall for hundreds of years. In 1982-83, after a tough winter, 40 feet were missing from the top. In January 2003, a large crack was noticed in the tree, and on March 18, 2003 it came crashing down.
The Fern Creek Trail once went right beside this towering giant, but the tree fell directly across the path.

Now the Fern Creek Trail takes a quick detour, around the massive root system of this tree, then continues along the other side.
The plaque reads "William Kent - Who gave these woods and other natural beauty sites to perpetuate them for people who love the out-of-doors. 1864-1968."

Now that he's out of the stroller there's no putting him back.

Seriously, this boy loved walking all by himself down the paths.

In the end, he walked about a mile from the Kent Tree back to the Visitors Center. Not bad at all for someone with much shorter legs than the rest of us.

Once we arrived back at the visitors center, we were still a little chilly. How about a nice cup of hot chocolate to warm ourselves up.

Ian can have some too.

Outside the visitor center are a collection of carved bears. Ian just loves bears and wanted to meet them all.

Here's a little bear that's more Ian sized.

He tried climbing into this bear's lap by himself, but couldn't quite make it. His mamma helped him up so he could get a picture with it.

Hopping on the back of this one for a ride.

It was around 11am and we left and headed to the parking lot, which had a line of cars down the center just waiting for someone to be leaving. There were a few cars parked illegally and they had tickets on their windshield.  Many people asked us if we were leaving as we walked by, but only the person who happened to be directly behind us when we pulled out was lucky enough to get our spot.

As we were driving back into the city, we noticed the line of cars try to get in was really long. Where I colored the map dark blue, it was bumper to bumper on the other side of the road. So glad we came here early. This would not have been fun to sit in if we'd came later. It backed all the way up to the 101 freeway, and cars were lined up on the off-ramp trying to exit.

Ian was so tired from walking, he fell asleep shortly after we got in the car.
On the drive back we had our own line of cars backed up and waiting to see the Golden Gate Bridge from the small parking lot on the North West side.

Theresa and Ruston stayed in the car with Ian while he slept. Jacob and I hiked to the top of Fort Baker Battery Spencer.

The top was super foggy and ridiculously windy, but in all my trips to see the Golden Gate Bridge, this is the first time I've ever seen it from up here.

Hard to imagine what it was like back in the early 1900s, but this Battery Spencer used to hold three 12" guns.

Ian just started to wake up as we pulled along side our next destination.
The Palace of Fine Arts was built back in 1915.

Ducks like goldfish, right?

There's just one more stop for us before we head to lunch. It's the Lucasfilm Digital Arts Center. We can't go inside, but there's still a few things we can see.

Like the Yoda fountain!

And when the wind catches it just right, it can give you a little shower. Ian loved it!

Yes, I wore this shirt on purpose.

Tossing a coin in the fountain for luck.

A closer look at the statue.

And the back of the statue.

Behind the statue is the main lobby. Looking in we can see some decorations.

A full size Boba Fett and Darth Vader guard the lobby.

The bookshelf beside them also has some interesting figurines, including C-3PO, various busts of Darth Vader, C-3PO, and a pilot helmet, a statue of Vader choking Captain Antilles, some light sabers under glass, and even a what looks like a thermal detonator. Hmm, where's all the Episode 1-3 stuff?

The main statue in the lobby is Willis O'Brien, the main animator for the original movie King Kong.

And to the right, we can see a silver R2-D2.

It's been a busy morning, and we're not through yet. Next up is the Walt Disney Family Museum!

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