The Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge is the Nation’s first waterfowl refuge. Established in 1908 under President Theodore Roosevelt it encompasses over 40,000 acres. The 10 mile drive around the refuge is a bird watcher’s paradise. The species visible varies throughout the year, as some of the birds are migratory.
Take the Loop Drive – Slowly
The loop drive through the refuge is a bit puzzling on the first trip. When I started the loop many of the areas that would be flooded during the rainy season were pretty dry. The water in the roadside canals was stagnant and I was getting a bit disappointed. I was thinking ‘my gosh this drought in California is awful’. But I stuck it out. Dusty, oh my was it dusty.
I kept rolling through the park rolling and rolling and finally I came to a stand of cottonwood trees. The stand of trees is a sign for me to stop and be quiet and wait patiently. The payoff is coming. Then there was water and then there were birds and birds and birds and birds it was marvelous.
Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge Best Viewing Times
Best viewing is always early and late in the day, however there is always some degree of action throughout the day. On my last trip, I came up on a raptor having lunch and he flew directly in front of my windshield to a tree on the opposite side of the road. Wonderful. Then as I was approaching the tree where he was dining, he flew back in front of me and flew off into the reeds. It was a falcon and I got such a beautiful view it was breathtaking.
This place is always worth the drive, and if it’s dry, or you get the wrong season there will always be some action. Most noteworthy are Bald Eagles in addition to the Golden Eagles, American White Pelicans and over 200 other bird types that are resident at various times of the year. The Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge is mind boggling today, and to think of it in in 1908, when it was founded, is indeed inspiring. Ah the imagination. Where there’s water there will be life. Oh what an incredible slice of life.
While coming through Boron, CA the 20 Mule Team Museum is awaiting your visit. I think it is waiting for anyone to visit. We were on our way to the Saxon Aerospace Museum (next door) and we arrived right at opening time. Wow! Right on time, however, as luck would have it the place was locked. No one around.
20 Mule Team Museum Hours Vary
Well as places like this can be, and usually are dependent upon volunteers. In this small town, Boron (population 2,253), we weren’t too surprised. A few minutes later a pickup with two guys pull up and they wave one finger indicating, I think, that it will just be few minutes. Well they park their truck and tell us that the person who is opening the museum today, was having breakfast and they pointed at the restaurant across the street. No problem I say.
So I wander next door to the 20 Mule Team Museum. Now this place I have driven by for many years, and not stopped as the grounds looked pretty sad. Scattered around the place is bunch of ferric oxide disguised as mining equipment.
So, I go into the museum, which is also the chamber of commerce of Boron, and sign the guest book and start looking around. The whole place seemed a bit small, and I thought this would be a real short visit. Then I was greeted by the staff member and the fun begins. She lit up everything and and museum began to take form. The back rooms came to light, There were models, displays, and photographs of the 20 Mule Team Experience. The viewing area has a movie about the mules and how they were used in the transport of the borax. The information is what you need to know if you are going to have mules pull your wagon. for sure it told me more about mules than I will ever need to know.
The collection of history is a nice stop to break the trip, be it to Vegas, Phoenix or beyond. I enjoy the work volunteers put into preserving history that would otherwise just fade to dust or rust in the desert. Oh Yes! Its Free. So help support it with a donation!
The Camp Roberts Military Museum is the largest military museum in California – or so they told me – this is a great museum for military historians and also for everyone to get a picture and feeling of many historical events that are not covered in a movie based history about the battle of so and so. This base has been training hundreds of thousands of men for many decades.
The museum has a very limited schedule as to when you can enter. So check carefully, and have ID, Registration and insurance ready. Remember the only days are Thursday and Saturday 9 to 4 Only.
Once through the gate you are greeted by the museum annex. It has a display of choppers and tanks in many configurations. Inside the Annex there are displays from many different battle fields and displays of what conditions were like in the past. It can get quite warm on the base in the summer, however it gets a great deal warmer inside a tank or in the fields of the deserts where many of the men portrayed were deployed. The base has trained many movie and stage stars, and created a legacy that is worthy of investigation. The barracks of Red Skelton are displayed and the story of his service is one that was almost all done at Camp Roberts.
Camp Roberts Military Museum – Main Building
Proceeding up the road to the main museum, upon entering one is greeted by most welcome air conditioning. It may be a swamp cooler, but whatever it is it was most welcome! There is a 35 minute movie of the history of the camp and I always find these documentaries to reveal so many stories about goings on in the past. The museums entry way will tell the story of the naming of the base. This one was not named for a general! The docents are very helpful and will talk your ears off with stories given the slightest openings. So be ready to be guided through a big piece of California History. This seemingly desolate site hold many secrets. How many can you find?
The General Sherman Tree, listed as the largest living thing on earth, makes it a must see on everyone’s bucket list. Well it is impressive, and the tree definitely has pull for visitors. It is Located in Sequoia National Park above Visailia and east of Fresno, it is easy to find. A winding road is definitely worth the drive. To visit the tree there are two options.
General Sherman – Just Ahead
I like to think of the options as the easy way and the harder way. As the elevation is nearing 7,000 foot, oxygen is short, and for city dwellers, even short walks can be difficult. For those who are sedentary, pay attention, and you will be happier on your trip.
General Sherman – The Harder Way
World’s Largest Living Tree – General Sherman
– For the walkers – The longer way is to go to the Sherman Tree main trail and parking. Sounds like
the right thing to do doesn’t it? This will lead you to a what they say is a half mile trail to the Sherman Tree. It is down hill to the tree, and I think it is a lot longer than a half mile down to the tree. It is then about 3 miles back up the exact same trail to the parking lot. Up hill with lots of steps and at over 6,000 foot elevation, this will be very difficult for those unaccustomed to altitude. For the Hikers, it will be a short jaunt.
General Sherman – The Easy Way
Go to the Giant Forest Museum and park across the street. Enjoy the museum for a bit and then Continue reading
The Rios Caledonia Adobe was built in 1846. It was a stage stop and a hotel on the route from Los Angeles to San Francisco.
1968 – Before Restoration
Over time things changed, the trains came and finally of course the roads. In 1968 the building was almost totally dissolved by weather.
Today, due to some hard work and steady efforts by the Friends of The Adobes. Rios Caledonia is well maintained and now a restored piece of history for San Luis Obispo County.
Caledonia Days Every September
Over the decades the the Rios Caledonia Adobe has been a residence for various families, a stagecoach stop, a tavern, a hotel, a mattress factory, and a tailor shop.
After sliding into grave disrepair in the 1960’s the building was purchased by the County of San Luis Obispo. The Friends of the Adobe was formed to protect, repair and restore Rios Caledonia. Major restoration was completed in 1972 and the Adobe was opened to the public for tours in 1978. A gift shop is also in the Adobe. Continue reading
The Wardholme Torrey pine tree is the most amazing pine I have ever seen. Now I have been to Carpinteria many times and driven past Carpinteria on US 101 hundreds of times, but who would have guesses you could find the Largest Torrey Pine in existence? Really in Carpinteria?
Anet wants coffee and the car wants gas, so we made the standard stop for rest room, coffee and gas. I gassed the car and she found a coffee place across the street. The Lucky Llama. It was just across the street and down a few doors down. She calls me and Continue reading