Tag Archives: national monument

Secret caves at Cabrillo National Monument

 

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I have been trying to get to Cabrillo National Monument for the last two years but couldn’t interest the boys. After much internet research, I finally found a compelling reason – a secret cave! We did some research and found a day with extra low tide at a reasonable hour and made the plan to drive the hour down to check things out…

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We climbed down from the upper level parking lot and then headed north rather than south along the coast line in search of the cave.

IMG_3746Thanks to the very detailed instructions from www.Californiathroughmylens.com we knew not to get suckered in by the first cave we saw but to continue on in search of a tiny slot on the far side of a cove…

IMG_3754The cove on the outside of the cave is pretty cool and we got to see a number of seals frolicking around.

Once you go through the slot you climb down into an opening that has a large skylight above and two entry/exit paths for the water. At low enough tide, and with a willingness to get a little wet, you can wander through the northern opening to check out a whole pod of seals out sunning themselves on a large flat rock.

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We made the most of the visit and went to check out the southern area of sea cliffs and tidal pools.

With all the rocks laying around we had an inukshuk building contest (math, physics, architecture…???) as this was a school day.

We had fun attempting to catch the rock crabs that were hiding in the horizontal slots in the rocks – they move fast!

No day at the beach is complete without playing with the Sea Anenomes… glad we got outside and explore this national monument. Totally worth the drive from North County San Diego.

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Sledding in the sand at White Sands National Monument

DSCN1141We were missing snow so much that we rushed home for a quick trip to the Fraser Summit – NOT!!! We did however have a fun 18 hours at the White Sands National Monument, where those of us that are very familiar with snow would swear that you are surrounded by snow piles not sand dunes.

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At one point driving down the sand road we had to hit the breaks due to some other cars slowing down and both Tim and I cringed while waiting for the skid of the truck and the swing of the trailer until we remembered that this is a sand road not a snow road – what tricks our brains can play on us!

We got to the park an hour before dark and were able to experience the sunset there – it seemed to go on forever. With very little surrounding light and an almost full moon it was a fabulous place to spend the night. The only downside was the temperature – it got down to freezing and I fell asleep still wearing my winter hat and mitts. Tim got mild frost-bite in his toes from running around in the dunes in bare feet that night!

We were up bright and early the next morning and drove around the park checking out all the various parking lots and picnic sites. You can definitely envision how busy it is in the summer time. Their picnic covers are really quite cool and futuristic looking – the shade cover and the table are all one piece and made of metal.

By 10:00 am the day had warmed up enough to get out and play on the sand dunes with the 2 sleds we bought at the gift shop. Sand definitely has a higher friction factor than snow so you need to pick tall dunes to get some speed going. It was a morning full of giggles and smiles with many versions of head to head racing, and the workout of climbing back up to the top.

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We finished off our junior ranger book by lunch time and were then back on the road headed eastbound to Balmorhea State Park in Texas. White Sands National Monument is barely out of the way for anyone heading east or west along I-10 and definitely worth a stop to play for the day.

Montezuma Castle National Monument, Cape Verde Arizona

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Montezuma Castle National Monument is halfway between Phoenix and Flagstaff in Arizona. It was created back in 1906 when President Roosevelt celebrated the passing of the Antiquities Act by declaring the first 4 National Monuments. The 20 room high rise “apartment” represents the Sinagua culture and civilization from over 800 years ago.

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After a very long day of driving yesterday (8+ hours) we had a slow morning at the Distant Drums RV Resort and spent the afternoon just down the road at the National Monument. It is a fairly small “park” but has a great Junior Ranger program. We visited their museum, played with an interactive display that gave you 360 visuals inside the Castle and then wandered out down the paths to experience the Verde River basin and the amazing cave formations. One of the neat things we learned was they made “T” shaped doorways (look carefully in photos) to symbolize that they were a friendly and welcoming community.

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It was a wonderful learning opportunity about ancient civilizations, relative timelines (when this was happening in North America, the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris was being built and the ceiling on the sistine chapel was being finished), and how cultures rise and fall due to location, disease and amenities.