Our 200th Post!!! Woof Trekking Dispatch #15: Griffith Observatory, Los Angeles, May 2013

Our 200th Post!!! Woof Trekking Dispatch #15: Griffith Observatory, Los Angeles, May 2013

posted in: Dispatches, On the Road, Woof Trekking | 6 | This post may contain referral links. See privacy policy for more.

First, we’d like to mention that today’s post is our 200th! We love sharing our adventures and interests with you and can’t wait for the next hundred! Now, we are going to celebrate this anniversary with a post that is out of this world!

In our previous dispatches, we were visiting the East Coast and ended that trip in Savannah before returning home. Our next Woof Trek was to the West Coast, aka the best coast. We made a trip to Los Angeles and we drove up to Griffith Park.

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Griffith Park is located at the east end of the Santa Monica Mountains and is one of the largest urban parks, covering over 4000 acres. Earlier this year Griffith Park was in the news because a beautiful mountain lion named P22 made a koala his supper one March night. P22 first gained fame in 2013 after Steve Winter snapped an iconic photograph of the big cat with the Hollywood sign for National Geographic.

The land the Park sits on was originally owned by Welsh-born Colonel Griffith J. Griffith in the late 1800s, who made his money in the California Gold Rush. He originally used part of the land as an ostrich farm so he could sell the feathers, which were a popular addition to women’s hats. He also tried to sell the land to home builders but no one wanted the land, so he donated it to the City of Los Angeles in 1896.
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In 1903, after a heavy drinking session, Colonel Griffith shot his wife while they were on vacation. While she did not die, she did lose her right eye. He was sentenced to two years in jail. After he was released, he wanted to develop the land he donated to the city, but they rebuffed him and his money due to his criminal past. The rest of his life, he spent designing the park and investing in architectural designs for several building he envisioned on the land. Upon his death in 1919, he bequeathed his designs and money to the city. The city built the Greek Theater and the Griffith Observatory to his specifications.

We made the drive up the mountain and spotted the iconic architecture of the Observatory. The park surrounding the Observatory is dog friendly, so we hopped out and took turns going inside.
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Izzy and Nana enjoyed investigating the park surrounding the Observatory.
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A large monument stands in the park area in front of the Observatory, called the Astronomers Monument. There are six astronomers on the Monument: Hipparchus, Nicolaus Copernicus, Galileo Galilei, Johannes Kepler, Isaac Newton, and John Herschel. Atop the Monument is an armillary sphere, which was added in 1991 to replace a copper covered concrete sphere which had degraded.
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We walked up the stairs on the outside of the building to look back at Mount Lee and the Hollywood sign.
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Here is a closer view of the famous sign.
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We turned around and looked out over the metropolis of Los Angeles.
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The Observatory was opened in 1935 and has this stylish art deco entrance.
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Above the entryway is this window protected by an awesome, decorative grill depicting different astronomy icons.
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Upon entry into the Observatory, you are greeted by this massive Foucault pendulum, which demonstrates the rotation of Earth. (In case you were wondering, admission to the Observatory building, grounds, telescopes, and parking is always FREE!!!)
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Here’s a GIF we made of the pendulum!

The main hall also has murals painted by Hugo Ballin which all have astronomical themes. One of the murals is on the ceiling of the dome and you can see the reflection of that mural in the pendulum.
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Here is a picture of the ceiling mural painted inside the dome.
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We enjoyed a brief tour of the exhibits from the Tesla Coil, to the Camera Obscura, and learning about the Sun. We didn’t have time to explore the lower level, which looks like lots of fun also!

We had a great time nerding out at the Griffith Observatory and especially enjoyed that it was completely FREE and dog friendly! We definitely recommend it if you are in Los Angeles and are interested in space!

Have you been to Griffith Observatory? What did you think about it? Let us know in the comments below.

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Woof Trekking Dispatch #14: Our Visit to Savannah, Georgia, January 2013

Woof Trekking Dispatch #14: Our Visit to Savannah, Georgia, January 2013

posted in: Dispatches, On the Road, Woof Trekking | 0 | This post may contain referral links. See privacy policy for more.

After we visited the Outer Banks, we continued our journey down the East Coast and ended our trip in Savannah, Georgia.

Our Visit to Savannah

One of our favorite cities we passed through was Charleston, South Carolina where we went to our very first Piggly Wiggly grocery store. Here is a photo of us near White Point Garden. We had to keep driving, but the city seemed full of southern cosmopolitan charm.
Our Visit to Savannah
Savannah is a very interesting city and has a lot of history. James Oglethorpe travelled to the Americas in 1732 and established the Georgia colony for the British. His arrival to the south was important because he was an agriculturist and on his boat he brought several types of seeds to test on an experimental farm in America. One of the seeds he brought with him that was very successful was cotton, thus establishing cotton farms in the south.

Our Visit to Savannah
James Oglethorpe, more on this statue in a bit.

We drove through the city and then stopped for lunch at The Pirates’ House, this restaurant was very intriguing. It is located in an old historic building that was built around 1753 as inn for sailors who came to the burgeoning Savannah seaport. The building sits on land that used to be part of the experimental farm that James Oglethorpe established. ?
Our Visit to Savannah
After lunch, we wanted to explore with our dogs and the city of Savannah is very dog friendly. There are a multitude of Squares (24 to be exact), which are like miniature parks, in the Historic District that are all within walking distance of each other.


The first Square we visited was Chippewa Square. In the center of this Square is the James Oglethorpe Monument. The square was built around 1815 and in 1910 the Monument was added. The Square is named after the Battle of Chippewa in Canada where the Americans defeated the British in 1812.
Our Visit to Savannah
This Square is also an important part of American History, as it is where a significant portion of Forrest Gump was filmed. The monument is visible behind Tom Hanks in every bench scene.

 
There is a replica of the bench at the Savannah History Museum, however, we didn’t get a chance to see it.
Our Visit to Savannah
While the bench is no longer there, we did sit on a bench in Chippewa Square and that was pretty exciting!
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We spotted this beautiful flower in Chippewa Square that we had never seen before. This is a Japanese Camellia (Camellia japonica) and can be found across the south. It is the state flower of Alabama.
Our Visit to Savannah
In all the parks, the giant trees are draped in Spanish moss. It was so beautiful, we had to take a photo.
Our Visit to Savannah
The next area we visited was Forsyth Park. When it was originally built in the 1840s and was only 10 acres, but now it is a massive 30 acres. We only explored the north end where the Forsyth Fountain is located. The fountain was built in 1858.
Our Visit to Savannah
Two blocks north of Forsyth Park is Monterey Square which was built in 1847 and is named in honor of the capture of Monterey, Mexico in 1846 by the Americans. The home of Jim Williams, of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil fame, is located on the west side of the square. The home is known as the Mercer-Williams House. The focal point of this Square is the Casimir Pulaski Monument. Casimir Pulaski was born in Poland and was a revolutionary for both Poland and America. In Poland he fought for the freedom of Poland against the Russians and when their uprising failed, he took the advice of Benjamin Franklin and came to America to help the British in the American Revolutionary War.

This panel on the Monument depicts how Pulaski was killed during the Siege of Savannah. He led an American cavalry unit into battle however he was mortally wounded and the British won this battle.
Our Visit to Savannah
After grabbing some ice cream at Leopold’s, we departed Savannah and ventured out to Tybee Island, a barrier island east of the Savannah. We arrived just in time to see the sun set which resulted in a beautiful scene.
Our Visit to Savannah
It was incredibly windy and cold while we walked on the beach. However, the view and crashing waves made Tybee Island extremely memorable.
Our Visit to Savannah
We hope you enjoyed this little sampling of Savannah. It is a beautiful city that we definitely hope to visit again. Happy Thursday!

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Woof Trekking Dispatch #13: Outer Banks, North Carolina, January 2013

Woof Trekking Dispatch #13: Outer Banks, North Carolina, January 2013

posted in: Dispatches, On the Road, Woof Trekking | 0 | This post may contain referral links. See privacy policy for more.

We started going on road trips with our pets about four years ago and were total noobs at traveling with them. Our adventures have taken across the US and we have been sharing them with you in our Dispatch series. We have also published a book, Woof Trekking, about how you too can road trip with your pets.

Woof Trekking in North Carolina

In our last dispatch, we told you about our adventure around downtown Richmond, VA, and the history of the area. We made our way to the coast and travelled south. We entered North Carolina and decided to check out the Outer Banks area.

The Outer Banks is a string of peninsulas and small islands that cover about 200 miles along the northern part of the North Carolina coast. We were intrigued by this area because of its historical meaning and because of the lighthouses.


Our first stop was the Wright Brothers National Memorial, located in Kill Devil Hills, NC. Wilbur and Orville Wright tested their aircraft on this land from 1900 to 1903 and eventually had their first successful flight on December 17, 1903. At that time, the nearest town was Kitty Hawk, four miles to the north; Kill Devil Hills was not established until 1953.

The Wright Brothers chose this location because of its steady wind. When we visited in January 2013, the conditions were also windy and cold – a very authentic experience.
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The Wright Brothers Memorial Tower is 60 feet tall and sits atop the Kill Devil Hill, which is 90 feet tall. The Wright Brothers used the hill to perform many of their glider tests, including their most famous in December 1903. The dome on the top is marine beacon, like those seen in lighthouses.
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The inscription on the monument reads: “In commemoration of the conquest of the air by the brothers Wilbur and Orville Wright. Conceived by genius, achieved by dauntless resolution and unconquerable faith.” Another angle of the Memorial Tower is pictured below.

When we arrived, we were just in time for a Flight Room Talk given by the Park Rangers. We learned about how the Wright brothers developed their planes and saw a demonstration of how the plane for their first flight worked. It was very exciting.

After the talk, the dogs joined us (Dogs are permitted on the grounds if they are on a leash, but not in the buildings). We walked around in the cold, blustery wind. In the distance you can see the Kill Devil Hill and Memorial Tower.
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At the base of Kill Devil Hill there is a bronze sculpture garden that depicts Orville Wright on his first flight.
Orville Wright Statue at Kill Devil Hills
Once we were done investigating the Memorial, we decided to drive further along the Outer Banks and down to Cape Hatteras. We arrived at the Bodie Island Light Station, but it was closed for the season. It was still quite an impressive sight.
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We continued our trek along the ocean and it was slightly erie. There was no one around because it was freezing cold. It was peaceful, yet slightly spooky.
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Eventually, we arrived at the Cape Hatteras Light Station. This lighthouse was also closed, but we did get the chance to see it lit since we arrived at sunset. In 1999, the Cape Hatteras lighthouse and surrounding buildings were moved 2900 feet inland to protect it from destruction.
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When the buildings were placed in their new locations, they kept the same elevation and spatial relationships that they had when they were originally built.
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We hope you enjoyed this dispatch from the Outer Banks! Happy Thursday!

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Woof Trekking Dispatch #12: Richmond, the Virginia State Capitol, December 2012

Woof Trekking Dispatch #12: Richmond, the Virginia State Capitol, December 2012

posted in: Dispatches, On the Road, Woof Trekking | 0 | This post may contain referral links. See privacy policy for more.

In late December 2012, we took a Woof Trek to the East Coast and our first stop was Richmond, Virginia. We arrived in the early evening and got to explore the heart of downtown Richmond without hardly anyone around. Although it was cold, we had a great time exploring the area.

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Capitol Building

We are a family of history buffs and exploring this area was a dream. Our first stop was the Virginia State Capitol Building. The idea for capitol building came to Thomas Jefferson and Charles-Louis Clérisseau while they were in France. Construction began in 1786 and was finished in 1792. In 1904, two wings were added and in 2004, the building underwent a major renovation to update the building.

Nana would have preferred not to have posed for this picture in front of the Capitol building and instead run after the squirrels that were playing in the trees.
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Here you can see some of the ceiling detail inside the Capitol Building along with an electric candle decoration for the holidays.
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Virginia Washington Monument

The area around the Capitol Building is known as Capitol Square. The centerpiece to the square is the Virginia Washington Monument, built in 1858. This Monument was quite the sight, it has George Washington sitting atop his faithful steed and below he is surrounded by six other historical figures including: Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Lewis, John Marshall, George Mason, and Thomas Nelson Jr.
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George Washington looking across Richmond.
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This plaque was on the side of the Monument, marking where Jefferson Davis was inaugurated as President of the Confederate States.
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Here is Thomas Jefferson pondering the future of America with a quill at the ready.
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The sculpture was very detailed.
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Old City Hall

We wandered around behind the Capitol Building and saw this huge gray Gothic-style building that took our breath away. The hulking building is the Old City Hall and was used from 1894 through the 1970’s. It was designed by Elijah E. Myers (1832-1909), who also designed the state capitol buildings of Michigan, Colorado, and Texas.

The architecture of this building was intriguing and in stark contrast to the Palladian-style Capitol. Since it was late, we did not get the chance to go inside however you can tour the first floor during operating hours.
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We did get a look inside through a set of windows and were impressed with the internal architecture as well.
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Here you can see the classic pointed arches of the Gothic-style and elaborate lamp to illuminate one of the entrances.
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The Old City Hall is a symmetrical building, except for this majestic 195-foot tall clock tower.
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Governor’s Mansion

This is the Governor’s Mansion, we couldn’t get too close due to security but it was still nicely decorated for the holidays.
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Our Friend, Edgar

Darkness fell upon us, but we continued around the Square and, perhaps fittingly, came across this statue of Edgar Allen Poe. It was erected in 1958 to honor Poe’s time in Richmond.
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We had an awesome time exploring the Virginia Capitol and we hope you enjoyed this mini tour!

Happy Thursday!

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Woof Trekking Dispatch #12: Madera Canyon, Santa Rita Mountains, September 2016

Woof Trekking Dispatch #12: Madera Canyon, Santa Rita Mountains, September 2016

posted in: Dispatches, Living in the Southwest, Nature, On the Road, Woof Trekking | 2 | This post may contain referral links. See privacy policy for more.

A couple weeks ago, we decided to go on a spontaneous Woof Trek. We hadn’t gone Woof Trekking for several months and everyone was ready to hit the road. We hopped in the car and traveled across the valley to Madera Canyon.
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Madera Canyon is about 30 miles south of Tucson and is located in the Santa Rita Mountains. The Canyon is part of the US Forest Service. When some people think of the desert southwest, they think that it is just a flat desert, however that is not the case. Madera Canyon is a perfect example of this.
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Tucson itself is surrounded by four different mountain ranges, with the Santa Rita’s being the one to the South. Madera Canyon is big birding location as it is a stopping point during migrations north and south. We missed the migration this year, but will be returning in the future to see some of the unique birds. We packed a picnic lunch and drove up to the highest paved area, called the Mt. Wrightson Picnic Area and Trailheads.
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The elevation at this point was 5400 feet and it was slightly cooler than the valley but not by much. Izzy and Nana were itching to go explore the Canyon, but had to wait for us to eat lunch first.
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We brought a little battery operated fan because Izzy runs warm temperature-wise due to all her fur. We needed a bigger fan – like one of those on the sidelines at football games. But she stayed hydrated and that’s most important.
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After lunch, we set out on a couple of the trails. There are an abundance of trails in Madera Canyon, but we are amateur hikers so we didn’t go too far. Our first little hike was at Madera Canyon Picnic Area. We walked over to see the creek that runs down the canyon.
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Nana wasn’t a big fan of the running water, but Izzy was fearless.
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She hopped up onto a giant boulder and smiled.
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We drove up around the camping area and saw a couple of plants we don’t normally see in Tucson. We saw an agave with these crazy looking seed pods growing out of the center. It was unlike any agave we had ever seen.
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We also saw these pretty bottlebrush flowers.
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Our final stop was the Proctor area, near the entrance/exit to the Canyon. At this stop, we hiked around a paved loop that was about 2 miles long.
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When we were eating our lunch earlier in the day, we saw some blue colored berries on the ground and we didn’t know what kind of tree they were from. On this trail, we found a sign that said that the area has a lot of Alligator Juniper trees, thus solving the mystery of the berries. If you look at the bark, you can totally see why they named them Alligator Junipers.
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Another interesting feature of this trail were these boxes on posts. They are houses for bats! We knew that Arizona had a lot of bat residents but from informational boards on the trail, we learned that of the 45 bat varieties that live in the Unites States and Canada, 28 can be found in Arizona. Wow!
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As we walked further on, we found a wooden bridge that crossed the river.
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Sun’s out, tongue’s out.
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Overall, Madera Canyon was great fun! We will definitely be back!

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Woof Trekking Dispatch #11: Japanese American Historic Plaza in Portland, July 2012

Woof Trekking Dispatch #11: Japanese American Historic Plaza in Portland, July 2012

posted in: Dispatches, On the Road, Woof Trekking | 0 | This post may contain referral links. See privacy policy for more.

After our adventure out to Tillamook Forest, the Tillamook Cheese Factory and the beach, we made our way back to Portland. As you will recall from our first post in this series, we went on this road trip in 2012, six weeks after both of our grandparents passed away hours apart.

Portland is a city of great importance to our family history. Our grandma was born in Sherwood but she grew up in Portland. As she grew older, she never had the desire to go back so we never got to experience the city with her. However, our mom had spent time in Portland with her mom so we got to have these experiences second hand.

Portland had a large population of Japanese immigrants at the turn of the century. Our maternal great grandfather sailed to Oregon in 1906. He was originally going to immigrate to San Francisco, but he saw the devastation of the 1906 earthquake from the boat and decided to sail on to Oregon. A large community developed in the area and today there is still a large Japanese presence in the city.

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We went into downtown Portland and walked around Japantown. The site that had the most impact on us was the Japanese American Historic Plaza. This plaza is part of the Tom McCall Waterfront Park which sits on 36 acres and runs along the Willamette River.

The Plaza was developed by the Oregon Nikkei Endowment “… to raise greater public awareness about the diversity of cultural experiences in America. The Japanese American experience is a unique story that evokes a deep appreciation of the freedoms granted to all Americans by their Bill of Rights.” This article from 2010 was written on the 20th anniversary of the Plaza’s dedication and gives more description of the Plaza.

The Plaza features several cast bronze reliefs and large granite slabs that have been engraved with poems that tell the story of Japanese Americans in Portland during World War II and with the names of internment camps. One hundred cherry trees shade the Plaza and people are a draw to the area every spring when they blossom.

We started out by reading this dedication plaque, that explains the purpose of the Plaza.
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One of the bronze relief sculptures showing a father carrying his son on his back.
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This granite slab is engraved with the names of the internment camps. Our grandma was interned at the Minidoka War Relocation Center with her family. Read our blog post about our visit to Minidoka here.
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Another bronze relief depicts a Japanese American soldier. While in camp, Army recruiters came looking to enlist young men to fight in the Army. Many did their patriotic duty even though they were being incarcerated by the same government that was now asking for help. Japanese Americans were organized into two regiments, which later combined to form a single combat team: the 100th Infantry Battalion and the 442nd Infantry Regiment.

The 442nd Regiment became one of the most decorated units in American military history. For more, read History.com’s Unlikely World War II Soldiers Awarded Nation’s Highest Honor.
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One of the poems.
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Another relief depicting children waiting on the train to leave for camp.
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Another poem relaying the sentiment of Japanese American children in internment camps.
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A depiction of the Japanese Americans being forced to report for deportation to internment camps, in accordance with Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066.
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A poem talking about the experience of being sent to internment camp.
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The following two pictures are of the cast bronze copy of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 that acknowledged and apologized for the evacuation and internment of Japanese Americans during World War II.
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Woof Trekking Dispatch #10: Longmire in Las Vegas, New Mexico, January 2016

Woof Trekking Dispatch #10: Longmire in Las Vegas, New Mexico, January 2016

posted in: Dispatches, Entertainment, On the Road, Television, Woof Trekking | 1 | This post may contain referral links. See privacy policy for more.

The newest season of Longmire premieres this Friday, September 23rd, on Netflix. We were devoted fans to this show while it was airing on A&E, but we might be one of the few people on Earth that doesn’t subscribe to Netflix, so we haven’t seen Season 4.

We did have the pleasure of seeing Robert Taylor, Lou Diamond Phillips and Craig Johnson at the Tucson Festival of Books last year.

Please Be Seated

You can see our blog post about their panel here. The show is based off a book series by Johnson based in a fictional town in Wyoming. However, they film the series in various locations in New Mexico.

This past January we were on a road trip to Colorado and we stopped in Las Vegas, New Mexico for lunch. On a whim, we decided to take a detour into the Old Town and see where some of Longmire is filmed.

The town of Las Vegas is fairly small, with a population of just over 14,000 people. Despite this, the town has a lot of history. In this town alone, there are 900 buildings on the National Register of Historic Places. This NY Times article from 2007 gives an excellent description of the historic town.


At the heart of the Old Town Plaza is the Plaza Hotel that was built in 1882.
The Plaza Hotel
If you are looking at the hotel, you can turn to your left and cross S. Pacific Street and you are at the front door of the Sheriff’s Department of Durant, Wyoming in Absaroka County.
Approaching the Sheriff's Department
Here is a close up of the door. The door was locked when we visited, and also, to our surprise, we were the only ones interested in the building and door. We might have looked like some crazy strangers, if you didn’t know that Longmire was filmed here.
Knocking on Longmire's Door
The details on the door were amazing to us, since all the lettering was left in place even when they weren’t currently filming.
Close up of the Sheriff's Department Badge
This building was originally built in 1895 by the Veeder brothers who were attorneys and community leaders. Their office was on the second floor and a grocery store was on the first.
Wyoming in New Mexico!
The Plaza was pretty empty when we visited, probably because it was January and freezing. Christmas lights still hung in the trees. 🙂 The park benches are featured pretty regularly in Longmire.
The Old Town Park
Here is the official trailer for Season 5 and you can see Ferg and Vic sitting in the Old Town Plaza at the 0:46 mark.

Izzy loved running around the Plaza with the cool, winter air flowing through her ears.
Izzy Enjoying Las Vegas, New Mexico
This sculpture is called Nuestra Senora de los Dolores and was carved by Margarito Mondragon out of a dying Chinese Elm tree that was in the park. You can read more about this piece of artwork in the Las Vegas Citizens Committee for Historic Preservation Newsletter here.
Nuestra Senora de los Dolores
This second sculpture is called El Campesino by Peter Lopez. You can see a video of the different stages of the creation of the sculpture on the YouTube channel of Main Street de Las Vegas here.
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If you are ever in the area, it is totally worth it to take a little side trip to see this location.

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Woof Trekking Dispatch # 9: Rockaway Beach and Cannon Beach, July 2012

Woof Trekking Dispatch # 9: Rockaway Beach and Cannon Beach, July 2012

posted in: Dispatches, On the Road, Woof Trekking | 1 | This post may contain referral links. See privacy policy for more.

In our last dispatch, we went to the Tillamook Cheese Factory and gorged ourselves on cheese. Next, we decided to drive over to the coast and walk along the beach.

Woof Trekking at Oregon Beaches

There are lots and lots of little beach towns up and down the Oregon coast and they are linked by Highway 101. If you ever visit the Oregon coast, the Oregon Coast Visitors Association has a great website. Our first stop was Rockaway Beach.

Rockaway Beach

Izzy loved running around the beach and she left these super cute paw prints in the sand before they were washed away by the waves.

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The coolest feature of this beach was the Twin Rocks. This formation is 88 feet tall and the hole in the structure is 35 feet across. When you are standing on the beach it doesn’t look that big at all.

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Izzy posing and smiling in front of the Twin Rocks.

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After exploring this area, we jumped back into the car and drove up the coast to Cannon Beach.

Cannon Beach

Cannon Beach also has some fantastic geological formations that were amazing to see. In the far distance, you can see the Tillamook Rock Lighthouse. This lighthouse was operational from 1881 to 1957 and was nicknamed “Terrible Tilly.” It is one of nine original lighthouses along the Oregon Coast, but it is closed to the public. Now, it is a nature wildlife refuge serving as a nesting area for common murres and cormorants.

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Jockey Cap Rock surrounded by the ocean mist.

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We were at Cannon Beach at sunset and it was incredible. We got to take in the waves and see all the birds flying to their nests.

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Izzy really enjoyed her time at the beach running in an out of the waves. Her lolling tongue is pretty darn cute, isn’t it?

Cannon Beach 4

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Woof Trekking Dispatch #8: Tillamook Cheese Factory, July 2012

Woof Trekking Dispatch #8: Tillamook Cheese Factory, July 2012

posted in: Dispatches, Food, On the Road, Woof Trekking | 1 | This post may contain referral links. See privacy policy for more.

In our last dispatch, we left off at our visit to the Tillamook Forest Center. Today’s dispatch is all about cheese, more specifically, the Tillamook Cheese Factory! If you are ever in Western Oregon, this glorious cheese factory is a must see! Our family loves all kinds of cheese, but we really LOVE Tillamook Cheese.

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The Tillamook Cheese Factory is open every day except Thanksgiving and Christmas and is a working cheese factory.

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When you first pull up the factory, you see this massive boat, called the Morning Star. You can read more about the story of the boat in the picture below.

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There is a small walk-through museum of the Tillamook Company’s history and at the end there is a glorious sample table of all kinds of cheese.

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We may or may not have taken a couple trips through the sample line. ?

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Cheddar and more cheddar.

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Yummy pepper jack.

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After our cheese feast, we wandered up stairs to see the actual factory. But before you even see the factory, you see this ice cream stand. There were so many flavors to choose from.

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But we were too full to indulge in ice cream.

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There are two sides to the factory, one side there are these monster vats.

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Here is a description of what happens on this side of the factory.

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On the opposite side is where the blocks of cheese are cut. It was a beautiful sight to see the cheese marching its way through, starting as large blocks and ending up being packaged as small blocks.

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This panel describes what actually occurs on this side of the factory.

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After we were done being mesmerized by the cheese, we were hungry again. Luckily, it was supper time and they had a café with a menu based entirely around all the Tillamook cheese types.

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We got a huge helping of delicious mac and cheese along with a side salad topped with cheddar.

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We also got a grilled cheese with some of the awesome Tillamook cheddar and more salad topped with cheddar.

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Even though we were stuffed to the gills, we did indulge in Tillamook ice cream for dessert. However, it was so yummy, we forgot to take a picture. ?

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Woof Trekking Dispatch #7: Ducks, Roloff Farms and Tillamook Forest, July 2012

Woof Trekking Dispatch #7: Ducks, Roloff Farms and Tillamook Forest, July 2012

posted in: Dispatches, Food, On the Road, Woof Trekking | 2 | This post may contain referral links. See privacy policy for more.

In our last dispatch we made our way from California up into Oregon, the state of our Grandma’s birth. If you recall from the first dispatch, you will recall that the whole purpose of this trip was to commemorate our grandparents who had recently passed.

WT 7 Oregon Featured

As we drove north, we made a stop in Eugene. Of course, we had to stop and take a look around the University of Oregon campus. Even though we were in enemy country (BEAR DOWN!), we did enjoy their campus. It was beautiful. We have a cousin who went to Oregon State and worked with several Oregon Duck alums. Once when we were at a family reunion he said, ‘It’s like those guys never left college!” It does seem that Oregon Ducks bleed yellow and green.

Oregon Ducks and Tillamook Forest - 1

After our stop in Eugene, we made our way up to Portland. Along the way, we also stopped at Corvallis and drove around Oregon State University, however we forgot to take pictures. Once we made it to Portland, we decided it was time to head back out to the coast. Since we are big fans of Little People, Big World, we made a semi-creeper-esque stop outside the Roloff Farm. We used to love the show but, lately it has featured some unhappier times in their family. They’ve even talked about selling the farm ?. After snapping a pic from the car, we hit the road again.

Oregon Ducks and Tillamook Forest - 2

Our next stop was the Tillamook Forest Center. We were amazed by the lush forest and the running stream. We hopped out and took the dogs on a little walk around the area. There is an awesome wooden bridge that takes you over the river.

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We snapped this picture from atop the bridge over the Wilson River that told us about archeological finds they had found near the river.

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On our walk we spotted this beautiful purple flower. It is commonly known as foxglove but its scientific name is Digitalis purpurea. This plant is used to make digoxin, a heart medication. While the medication may be beneficial, if given in too high of doses, it can be toxic. The foxglove plant is beautiful, however the flower, seeds and leaves are poisonous to humans and some animal species, including dogs and cats.

In the current book Mac is reading, Julia & the Master of Morancourt by Janet Aylmer, one of the main characters mentioned how his godmother was being treated “… with a carefully measured dosage of digitalis, made from the leaves of the foxglove plant.”

Oregon Ducks and Tillamook Forest - 5

We went inside the visitor center which was quite pleasant and were greeted by Smokey the Bear and of course we had to say “Only YOU can prevent forrest fires” in our best Smokey voice.

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There is a replica lookout tower on site, similar to the ones found out in the forest.

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We climbed all the way to the top of the lookout tower. It was quite a hike to go up all the stairs, but we loved the view from above.

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A view of the visitor center after climbing five flights of stairs.

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Our next dispatch, we will report on our adventure to the Tillamook cheese factory and our trip to the beach!

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Woof Trekking Dispatch #6: Goodbye San Fran, Hello Sunflower Fields and Dozing Dogs (July 2012)

Woof Trekking Dispatch #6: Goodbye San Fran, Hello Sunflower Fields and Dozing Dogs (July 2012)

posted in: Dispatches, On the Road, Woof Trekking | 1 | This post may contain referral links. See privacy policy for more.

Last week, we showcased our time at Fisherman’s Wharf. Today, we will travel further north all the way up to Oregon!

Northern Cali featured

After the Wharf, we drove over to Chinatown for dinner. We ended up at R&G Lounge and were led downstairs to a table near a fish tank. It seemed very authentic when compared with our 2008 trip to China. However, when I just checked out their Yelp page, there was a warning that during a recent health inspection, the restaurant did not exactly pass with flying colors. So that’s something to bear in mind…
San Francisco to Grants Pass - 1

The next day, it was time to say goodbye to San Francisco and we did so in grand fashion, by driving over the Golden Gate Bridge. While it would have been nice to see the bridge without fog, it was still beautiful! Apparently, it is only clear of fog 30% of the year, as I discovered when writing our post, Happy Birthday, Golden Gate Bridge!

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We drove through Napa and then came upon a long stretch of interstate surrounded by farm land on our way to Redding, CA where our next La Quinta was located. One of the most exciting sights was this sunflower field.

San Francisco to Grants Pass - 4


Days filled largely with driving are a good time for some catch up on beauty sleep. Adventures can really take a lot out of a dog.

San Francisco to Grants Pass - 3

After a good night’s rest, we pressed onward toward Oregon. On the way, we stopped in Weed under the shadow of the awe-inspiring Mount Shasta for some lunch.

We were all excited to get out of the car after a day and a half of driving, so we stopped at Subway and brought our sandwiches to nearby Bel Air Park. That’s where we snapped this scenic photo of Mount Shasta, which happens to be a “potentially active volcano.” Here is the Google Maps Street View position from which we took the photo.

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After eating at a picnic table and a brief walk/run around Bel Air Park, we hopped back into the car and drove around College of the Siskiyous, which was located right next door. Dad loves to drive around a college campus, as you will see again in our next Woof Trekking Dispatch. Everyone caught a bit more shuteye as we crossed into Oregon.

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Finally, we arrived in Grants Pass and checked into our La Quinta. Billy made full use of the window ledge, inspecting the exterior of the hotel for anything that moves. The hotel key had a coupon for a local pizza and beer place called Wild River Brewing and Pizza Co. so we headed over. Dad treated himself to a beer sampler after two full days of driving and we all enjoyed some fresh baked pizza!

San Francisco to Grants Pass - 7

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Woof Trekking in Willcox: Apple Picking and Cowboy Crooning

Woof Trekking in Willcox: Apple Picking and Cowboy Crooning

posted in: Dispatches, On the Road, Woof Trekking | 0 | This post may contain referral links. See privacy policy for more.

The official start to fall isn’t until next month, but with local schools back in session, it’s easy to get lost in a bit of autumnal enthusiasm. In this spirit, we share today’s post.

Apple Annies in Willcox Arizona

Apple Annie’s is our favorite Pick-Your-Own Produce spot in Southern Arizona. It is located near Willcox, a small city with three main attractions. The first is Wings Over Willcox, a birding/nature festival in January focused primarily on the annual Sandhill Cranes migration stop in Willcox. The second is Rex Allen, who we’ll discuss more in a minute. The third is Apple Annie’s.

 
We have visited Apple Annie’s twice, once in 2010 without the dogs and again in 2012 with the dogs, once we discovered pets are allowed in the orchards.

Apple Annies in Willcox Arizona

Their orchards feature many varieties of apples, pears, and peaches, all available for purchase by the pound.

Apple Annies in Willcox Arizona 5

Izzy and Nana quite enjoyed roaming through the rows of fruit trees, sniffing everything they could. They didn’t attempt to eat anything, although they do enjoy a bit of sliced apple as a snack at home. Apple seeds contain cyanide and consumed in large quantities can be dangerous for dogs.

Apple Annies in Willcox Arizona


Pets are not allowed in the produce and pumpkin section of Apple Annie’s. Luckily, we had already visited that area in 2010.

Apple Annies in Willcox Arizona

They had a huge field of sunflowers, pumpkins and squash galore, as well as plenty of row crops like green beans, tomatoes, and chili peppers.

Apple Annies in Willcox Arizona

With our bags full of produce, we headed back toward Willcox. Our next stop was a visit with the city’s favorite son: Rex Allen. The actor, singer, songwriter and narrator was a contemporary of Roy Rogers and Gene Autry and has his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Apple Annies in Willcox Arizona

Rex Allen is celebrated in Willcox every fall during Rex Allen Days. This year is 65th Annual Event and will be held September 29th – October 2nd.

Apple Annies in Willcox Arizona

Across the street is the Rex Allen Museum. Our grandparents were huge fans of the old westerns and would have loved to have visited. If you love cowboy movies, then you will probably enjoy it. See Trip Advisor for tips before you go.

Rex Allen Museum

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Woof Trekking in Willcox Arizona

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Woof Trekking Dispatch #5: Blue Mermaid, Rainbow Sequin Man, and Ghirardelli Square, July 2012

Woof Trekking Dispatch #5: Blue Mermaid, Rainbow Sequin Man, and Ghirardelli Square, July 2012

posted in: Dispatches, On the Road, Woof Trekking | 0 | This post may contain referral links. See privacy policy for more.

The next stop on our very first Woof Trek was Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco. This was another fun stop after our previous adventures at Angel’s Flight, the Pacific Coast Highway, Silicon Valley, and Japantown.

Dispatch 5 Fishermans Wharf - 1

 
The weather in San Francisco can be quite cool and wet, even in summer. Weather.com states that September is actually the warmest month. The day we visited Fisherman’s Wharf, the temperatures hovered around 60 degrees. It was a bit chilly for us desert dwellers.

Dispatch 5 Fishermans Wharf - 2

We had lunch at Blue Mermaid Restaurant, located in conjunction with the Argonaut Hotel. Yelp reviewers rank this seafood spot at 3 1/2 stars. We would tend to agree with this due to some fancy prices and fairly slow service. That being said, the food was delicious.

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Pictured above is the New England Clam Chowder. Pictured below is the Manhattan Clam Chowder. Both excellent choices if you decide to go.

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One of the most exciting things about this stop was the restroom. With a short jaunt into the Argonaut Hotel, you are in a natty and nautical Blue Mermaid-themed wonderland.

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A close-up of the wallpaper brings to mind the intro to a James Bond movie.

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After our delicious meal, we headed out to hang out with the doggies. Next, we ducked into Boudin Bakery’s flagship location at the Wharf for a little sourdough treat and some cans of Clam Chowder for home.


We didn’t get a chance to take a self-guided Bakery Museum Tour, but next time we will. It’s only $3. Boudin has locations all across California, so we’ll definitely have to stop there next time we are in LA.

Dispatch 5 Fishermans Wharf - 7

We returned to the Wharf and decided to stretch our legs. Not long into our walk we encountered this colorful character. Oh yeah.

Dispatch 5 Fishermans Wharf - 8

We tore our eyes away from Sequin Man and headed toward Ghirardelli Square. Ghi-rar-delli- that is a hard word to spell. It’s got two r’s, kind of like February, but we digress.

We arrived at the shopping center and popped into a little pet boutique, YAP, that featured clothes mostly for smaller dogs. A very cute store! Then we headed over to the main event: the Ghirardelli Chocolate Shop and Café!

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Izzy, happy to hang out in Ghirardelli Square!

Dispatch 5 Fishermans Wharf - 10

When we visited in 2012, the café was quite cramped. Thanks to Google Maps, we now know that the Shop and Cafe has relocated next door and has expanded a lot! The previous spot is now occupied by Jackson and Polk, a lifestyle boutique, and Vom Fass, offering oils, vinegars and liquors. What a difference 4 years makes.

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Woof Trekking at Fisherman's Wharf

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Woof Trekking Dispatch #4: Japantown and Lombard Street, July 2012

Woof Trekking Dispatch #4: Japantown and Lombard Street, July 2012

posted in: Dispatches, On the Road, Woof Trekking | 0 | This post may contain referral links. See privacy policy for more.

Our fourth dispatch from our very first Woof Trek is from San Francisco. You can check out our previous entries in this series here. You can check out our new book, Woof Trekking, on Amazon and Kobo.

We started off the day by going to Japantown, located in the Western Addition district of San Francisco. Prior to 1906, there were actually two Japantowns since San Francisco was the main port of entry of Japanese immigrants, but after the 1906 earthquake only one survived. According to Wikipedia, Japantown in San Francisco is the oldest enclave of Japanese residents in the United States.

The earthquake of 1906 is an important time in our own family history because both of our maternal great-grandfathers witnessed the destruction caused by the earthquake as they were arriving by boat from Japan (our grandma’s father) and from Hawaii (our grandpa’s father).
san francisco, japantown peace plaza, peace pagoda
We found a nice parking spot at the corner of Sutter Street and Buchanan Street and walked across Sutter to wander around.
san francisco, traffic light, street sign
Our first stop was the Japantown Peace Plaza. This Plaza holds several events throughout the year marking Japanese holidays. At the heart of this Plaza is the Peace Pagoda. The Pagoda was built in 1968, designed by Yoshiro Taniguchi and was a gift from the people of Osaka, San Francisco’s sister city in Japan.
san francisco, peace pagoda, japantown peace plaza
After walking around the Peace Plaza we ventured into the Japan Center East Mall. We went into a couple of shops, but our favorite was Daiso Japan. They had all sorts of household items but the most impressive section was these colorful containers, arranged in perfect order. It was quite the sight to see.
daiso japan, store, japanese, store, Japan Center East Mall
While walking around the mall, we stumbled across this fabulous mural of Japanese umbrellas.
Japan Center East Mall, mural


After doing some shopping, we hopped back into the car and set off to see Lombard Street.
san francisco, cars, road, hill,
This street is dubbed, “The most crooked street in the world.” It is located in the Russian Hill neighborhood. We took the slow, winding route down the hill. You can’t go too fast with all the switchbacks in the street. In the distance, you can see stately Coit Tower. You can also see Yerba Buena and Treasure Island further out into the bay, accessible via the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge.
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The homes lining along this street seemed quaint. This the biggest and probably the oldest bougainvillea we have ever seen! Very beautiful in full bloom.
bougainvillea
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Another shot, a few turns down the street.

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You can take a virtual tour of Lombard Street on Google Maps.

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Woof Trekking Japantown and Lombard Street

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