The Best View of Smith Rock: Peak 4230

To kick off my 40 in 40 Peak Bagging challenge, I took my birthday off from work and hiked the first summit. My target was Peak 4230, a summit named only by its elevation, overlooking Smith Rock State Park. I highly recommend this hike as a way to get away from the crowded main trails of Smith Rock, as well as get a view that includes not only the famous park, but the peaks of the Cascades in the distance.

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Painted Hills, John Day Fossil Beds

The Painted Hills is a small, remote unit of John Day Fossil Beds National Monument. It is known for its colorful hills and fossil remains, and is a popular place for those who want to break up the long drive along highway 26. The Painted Hills are a little under 2 hours from Bend, OR and about 5 hours from Boise, ID.

The park’s size is perfectly matched to its remoteness. You can see the entire Painted Hills unit of John Day, including hiking all of the trails, in about 3 hours. This means it makes a perfect day trip from Central Oregon, or a great leg stretch if you are doing the long drive along highway 26 between Oregon and Idaho. If you do find yourself in this remote country, don’t skip a visit to the Painted Hills!
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Windsor Castle and Tower of London

During my whirlwind trip to London, I managed to fit in quite a lot of sightseeing in one day. But as they say on the infomercials, “but wait, there’s more!” Since I did such a good job on Saturday, I had a whole Sunday to see more! I was staying across the street from Windsor Castle, so I decided to spend the morning touring the castle and grounds, then I hopped back on a train to London and spent the afternoon at the Tower of London.

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Mt Umunhum: Opening to the Public Soon!

Everyone in the San Francisco Bay Area knows Mt Umunhum, even if they don’t know its name. The large concrete box that sits atop the summit was one the base of a Coastal Defense Radar at the Almaden Air Force Station. Visible from all over the Bay Area, the “Cube” has been a landmark since the base opened in 1958.

This weekend I had the opportunity to visit the closed summit with the Umunhum Conservancy. Not only did I get a close look at the Cube, I got a peek at what is coming when the site opens to the public later this fall. There is still a lot of construction work to do, but the end is in sight!

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Carrizo Plain Coreopsis

Carrizo Plain Wildflower Update for March 27, 2016

I just got back from an extended weekend in Carrizo Plain to check out the wildflowers. The flowers aren’t quite up to the standards of the ‘superbloom’ you might keep hearing about, but after several years of drought it was great to see so much color! They look pretty good right now, and we even saw some significant differences in the same space in a 24 hour period.

Below are a few shots of flowers and the locations we found them. For more photos, check out the link in the ‘If You Go’ box on the right.

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Taronga Zoo

Sydney, Australia: Taronga Zoo

My last full day in Sydney was another perfect one – warm and sunny, with a light breeze to keep me from sweating to death. I had another big day of walking in store, this time at the Taronga Zoo. I was adamant that I would not leave Australia without seeing a koala and a kangaroo, and since I was in the middle of a major city my best chance at seeing either was going to be at a zoo.

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