NAVIGATION ∧

the photo journal + misc. news of Emma Kisiel

Pinnacles National Park

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As I mentioned before, we said that on our San Jose trip we’d just do the Winchester Mystery House, and maybe a National Park. We knew we’d want to spend a lot more than one day in Yosemite, and Kings Canyon and Sequoia were a little too far away. We thought about going to Big Sur, but that’s a trip we’ve always talked about taking several days to do, so Pinnacles it was. It’s the newest National Park! Established as such in 2013, although it had been a national monument since 1908.

I wasn’t expecting to be blown away, since it’s pretty small and I’d never heard much about it and, looking at pictures, I imagined it to be very “Colorado” (which we are so used to). But we had a great time! We came in the east entrance and went to the visitor center, where we asked about a good, short hike (that I could do in Crocs 😂). The ranger sent us to the Bear Gulch Cave Trail. My Crocs ended up being perfect, because most of the trail is through a cave, and a good portion of that is through the water (Nat had to take off his shoes and socks and walk barefoot on rocks). Even though it’s a little less than a mile, we spent more than an hour hiking through the cave to Bear Gulch Reservoir, using our phones as flashlights. The sight of the reservoir at the end was pretty incredible. We hung out there for a while, then headed back out through the cave. It was a nice, short trip – our tenth National Park together. And on the way out of the park, we saw a bobcat! I don’t think I’d ever seen one in the wild before.

Butterfly Sanctuary / Point Pinos

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We didn’t see any monarchs at the butterfly sanctuary, but we saw lots of things with representations of butterflies on them, which is kinda what I’m always after anyway. Afterward we thought we’d just drive to the beach, and when I opened my maps app to get us to the water, I saw that we were heading right toward the John Denver memorial, which my mom had mentioned to me a few days before and told me I should go see for her (she is the world’s biggest John Denver fan and the beach is the site of his fatal plane crash). We ended up scrambling on the rocks for a long time, watching giant waves and sea otters and looking for crabs. Then we picked up dinner and ate in our really lovely hotel room. Definitely going back to that place again and again forever and ever.

Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History

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I loved this museum! I think I found out about it by browsing Roadside America and seeing the “dead gray whale monument” that’s located outside. But then I also remember learning that Pacific Grove has one of the largest monarch overwintering sites in America, and there’s monarch viewing at the museum and a sanctuary a few blocks away, so it all kind of got wrapped up into this must-experience destination. Anyway, what I loved about the museum was the really beautiful, unique displays (“Sands from all over the world!” The “examples of protective coloration” case! Small dioramas of individual reptiles that you view from above!) and displays that looked old and gorgeous, the focus on monarchs, and the incredible Birds of Monterey County exhibition (featuring 291 bird species and 409 mounted birds, including a Passenger Pigeon – one of only about 30 on public display west of the Mississippi). Not just visiting natural history museums but photographing in them makes me happier than maybe anything else on earth. I had a truly wonderful time.