The California Blog: 2 Million Years Of Crystal Cave

DSC_0055_FotorWe arose early on day two in hopes of getting tickets for a tour of Crystal Cave. If any of you ever get the chance to visit Sequoia, I highly recommend seeing Crystal Cave. We stopped by the Foothills Visitor Center (inside the park) and bought our tickets which cost $15 ea. We were soon back on the Generals Highway ( it’s the road that I mentioned in my last post) and on our way to the Crystal Cave. The dive took us about 45-50 mins.
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We stored our food in a bear safe storage box, and waited a few minutes for our tour to commence.  Before we made our way down a half mile trail to Crystal Cave, we were asked to sanitize our shoes by stepping in a solution of Lysol. This was to prevent White-nose syndrome, a fungus that grows on the face of bats. It has become more popular over the years, wiping out entire colonies of bats. It is a very sad fate that the bats suffer. The half mile trail is a beautiful scenic trail, with a few waterfalls along the way.

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The outside walls of the cave.

Crystal Cave is a marble karst cave. It is one of at least 240 known caves in the park. The cave is a constant 48 °F, which after a 45 min tour, you’ll be grateful that you brought a jacket or sweater.
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During the tour we were told many interesting stories or facts. Amongst the impressive facts we were told, the one that impressed me the most was that the cave is estimated at being 2 million years old. I was completely awestruck. This was my first time inside a cave, but besides that, it was a 2 million year old cave. Think about this, what is the oldest thing you’ve ever seen? Touched? I was inside something that had been around for so long, I only wished I could know all the stories which it hid. What had been inside it before me? I’ll never see anything so old again, and it was magnificent. There aren’t many words I can use to describe how entranced I was by Crystal Cave.
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At one point during the tour we entered a chamber, and were told that all sources of lighting would be turned off so we could appreciate how dark the cave is, and if we could all turn off/ put away anything that would have a light.
I think for the first time in my life I experienced true darkness.

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I raised my hand before my face, and could not see a thing. I blinked a couple times, just to make sure I had my eyes open. How do you describe nothing? I don’t know, but I never experienced such omnipresent darkness. As a result, I became hyper aware of the sounds around me. I could hear water dripping in the distance, then echoing, and realized that we must be in a big chamber. Bigger than the other ones we had previously been inDSC_0157 copy.

When the lights came on, we were greeted with this magnificent chamber. It was, in fact, the largest we had been in.DSC_0193 copy

DSC_0145 copyWhen the tour was over, we made our way up the trail, and back to the car. We were heading to the Congress Trail next. Come back next week to read about it! I’m splitting this day in two parts. I have a lot of pictures and didn’t want to have to cut some out for fear of this post being too long.

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Have you been to a cave before? Let me know in the comments where! I’d love to know. I enjoyed the Crystal Cave so much I’m interested in seeing more caves. 

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The California Blog: Beautiful Sequoia, The Magnificent Forest.

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Recently I was visiting California. I’ve never been to the west coast before, so it was such an adventure for me. One of the places that I saw that left me in awe, that I will never forget, was Sequoia. This will be a little series of mine, about my Sequoia trip. As some of you know, we usually write about Costa Rica, but while my mother is away I will be sharing my experiences from my trip with you all.
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As we set off on out trip to Sequoia, I was really excited. First of all, we would be heading through  a semi desert. I was so excited because I have never seen anything that resembles a desert.Sequoia Ride.DSC_3164


After a three and a half hour drive, and a stop to drop suitcases off at the hotel,  we made it to Sequoia! Sequoia National park is located in the southern portion of the sierra Nevada, and it houses the largest trees in the world, along with THE largest tree, which all can be found between the elevations of 4,000 – 8,000 feet.  Though the largest trees; they are not the tallest (which is hard to believe after one has seen the massive size of these trees!) The tallest are their distant cousins called the coast redwoods. The largest sequoia (Sequoiadendron  giganteum), is named General Sherman. It is the largest tree by volume in the world.  It is 274 feet high and 36.5 feet in diameter at the base. It weighs aprox.  1,400 tons. and is estimated at being 2,300- 2,700 years old! Many of the sequoias I pictured are at least 1,500 years old, but sequoias can live for 3,000 years.  Only the bristlecone trees live longer than the sequoias, making the sequoias one of the longest living trees on earth. I thought that was really neat. It made me think: How many things have I seen in my life that are living after 1,500 years? None. It was beautiful and breathtaking.DSC_3257

Notice the people at the bottom right corner? They were so small in comparison to the General Sherman.

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Compared to the Costa Rican national parks which I am used to, Sequoia felt oddly full. Granted, it was the last week summer break. The paths were paved with asphalt, and it was a very easy walk down to the General Sherman. Many people visit with young children. The walk back up to the parking might be slightly harder, but at least you’ll be taking deep breaths of the pristine cool cedar air! It’s wonderful.

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I snapped a picture of this guy on the way up.
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I was so glad that I had decided on taking my wide angled lens when I was packing for California! I hadn’t be expecting the Sequoia trip, and I can only imagine how upset I would have been if I had missed out on the opportunity to photograph these beauties!
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Because we had made the long drive there that day, we arrived in the afternoon. We decided not to waste any time and at least see the General Sherman the on the first day, and leave the rest for the next day.
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From the entrance of the park, the drive to the General Sherman was about 30- 45min  along a winding road. I thought that from living in Costa Rica I’d be more than prepared for the road, but it even made me feel a little car sick. DSC_0027 DSC_3182
We were about half way down, back towards the entrance, when we pulled over so my friend could take a little break. She had been trying to read as we made our descent, and needed a little break to get rid of her car sickness. While she laid down a moment, I was able to snap a picture of this view.MPM Productions-Escondido Entre Montañas
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We piled back into the car, and started out again only to find this little guy a little farther down the road

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It had been walking across the road when it was spotted, and we pulled over to check him out. A Tarantula!

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I snapped this one from the car window once we existed the park, and made our way towards the hotel. That concluded day one of the trip, come back for the next part!

Have any of you been to Sequoia? If not, leave a comment about your favorite National park! It can be anywhere in the world. If you’ve written about it, link it below! I’d love to  read about it. My favorites definitely have to be Tapantí (We wrote a blog about it click here to read about it!) and Sequoia.

Ducky and Marshmallow: A Chicken Bittersweet Love

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I enjoy keeping chickens, they entertain me immensely.  When I get stressed out, my youngest son’s favorite saying is, ” Mom go to the backyard and relax and watch the chickens.”  I specially like watching the relationship between Ducky , my rooster, (don’t ask me why a rooster is named Ducky, my children named him) and Marshmallow my top hen.

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Marshmallow as a chick.

If you never have had chickens, chickens are very socially organized. Like dogs or wolves, there  is a top chicken and so on down. They also form strong loyalties and friendships within the flock, usually in groups of two or three. Ducky and Marshmallow have this bond where Ducky is never far from Marshmallow.

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Ducky as a chick.

Marshmallow is very fussy as to where she  lays her eggs. She will make honking sounds and look around the yard forever before she lays her egg. It drives me nuts sometimes. But Good Husband Ducky will go around the yard finding  her different places to lay. When he has found one he calls to her, most of the time she will continue to look. But eventually she will find a place that is up to her standards. What I find unusual is that Ducky will occasionally sit with Marshmallow until she lays her egg. Theirs is the great chicken love affair.

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Ducky keeping eye over Marshmallow.

Oh, but don’t let Ducky see Marshmallow go broody, blood will be drawn. A chicken gone broody is a hen that decides to sit and warm her eggs to hatch chicks. Most of the time a hen lays her eggs and moves on, but occasionally she will decide to start a family. The problem is she will not let anyone or anything by her nest and in Marshmallows case, this includes Ducky. Ducky having his feelings hurt, will chase her around the yard, or grab her by her neck and peck her. It gets so violent that we have to separate them. Ducky does this with no other hen. The good thing about it all is that when Marshmallow decides to snap out her broodyness they’re soon lovey dovey.

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DSC_0553 (Top) Ducky and Marshmallow eating together. (Bottom) Ducky waiting while Marshmallow grooms herself.

Theirs is a bittersweet chicken love story. Ducky is an excellent rooster, he shares food with the other hens and watches over them jealously. His only flaw is his possessiveness over Marshmallow.  It’s funny but they remind me of some human relationships.  But like my son says, I’m going to relax and watch chicken TV.

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