April 5, 2012

Pinnacles and Valleys

Although Pinnacles National Monument is located within a reasonable distance from several major metropolitan areas, it is not a very well-known park.  We decided today to find out what the park is all about and entered from the west side on a narrow, winding road.

Pinnacles National Monument is all about rocks.  Massive monoliths, spires and canyons rise from the Gabilan Mountains, just east of the Salinas Valley.  These remains of an ancient volcano are totally unlike the surrounding landscape.  It is a place for hiking and rock climbing.  We learned that the east side of the park is more visited, but it’s one of those “you can’t get there from here.”  The highway into the park is not a through road.

The Park Is also Rolling Hills and Chaparral
Rocky Crags
Colorful Rocks

High Peaks
It's Easy to Find Solitude
We enjoyed the virtual solitude as ours was one of only a handful of vehicles in this section of the park.  We wandered on some of the trails to explore what the park has to offer and twisted our necks to admire the dramatic rock formations.  While Tim searched the skies for the elusive California condor, I admired the tiny wildflowers that are starting to pop up on the ground.

My Favorite Wildflowers
Such Tiny Flowers

Pretty Flowers
A Touch of White

We left the park and made our way eastward over the Coast Range on Highway 198, which was a beautiful drive.  After leaving the rich agricultural Salinas Valley, we climbed into cattle country and enjoyed the hills that were green following the recent rains.

In the Coast Range
An odd tree along the side of the road caught my attention as we rounded a bend.  I thought at first that it was a “shoe tree,” a tree which people decorate by throwing shoes into the branches.  I had seen one of those in Nevada on the “Loneliest Road in America” many years ago.  Closer examination, however, revealed this one to be a “bra tree”!  Tim had driven past the tree by the time I realized what it was, but he decided that this one was too good to miss.  He turned the RV around, and we returned for photographs.  There were some really large bras hanging from the limbs.  The tree made us smile.

The Bra Tree
We descended the highway into the San Joaquin Valley, often referred to as “the nation’s salad bowl.”  I love seeing the patchwork of green fields with their beautiful and varied colors and long straight rows of who-knows-what.  If I only knew what was growing in each one, I’d be more satisfied.


  1. All kinds of "wild life" going on in the woods.. ha ha LV

    1. LV, You never know what you might find in the woods around here. I had thought about making a donation, but had none to spare! Sarah

  2. You should get Tim to stop and see if you can tell what is growing. Chuck can tell just by driving by . Love. A

    1. A, I'm afraid that even if we stopped, I wouldn't be able to tell what's growing. My identification skills are mostly limited to strawberries (if the berries are on the vine!), corn and rice. Pretty sad! Where's Chuck when we need him. Sarah