al4kosh: Random Thoughts

Paris Notes 2019

I visited Paris in January 2019. Again, I stayed near the Sorbonne and spent 10 days exploring. The weather was notably colder than before with the temperature hovering around freezing. In fact, it snowed for most of one morning.

So, you can find photos of the trip, organized by day and activity here. This page will access all the photos. Photos of snow day are here, while short video clips associated with some of these photos are here

Sequoia -- Late Spring 2018

Hanford and Hazelwood

As in most years, I attend a meeting in Paso Robles, CA on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend. Last year, rather than returning home to Oakland, CA after the meeting, I headed northeast to Yosemite National Park to visit sights in the park that were not open when I visited earlier that year. This year, I decided to aim a little further south and revisit Sequoia National Park to more fully explore a few areas I had rushed by during my visit last fall.

So, after the meeting concluded, I had dinner with some friends and then headed north to King City for the night (lodging prices in Paso Robles were out of this world). Sunday morning, I headed east on California Highway 198 headed for Coalinga and then Hanford, the county seat of Kings County.


As Hanford was the county seat, I thought that the downtown might house some interesting civic and commercial buildings. I was in luck, as you can see by the photos taken around Courthouse Square. Although the actual government functions moved to new buildings on the edge of town in the 1970’s, the 1890’s ere courthouse and jail have been remodeled into shops and offices. In the 1920’s a Veterans Hall and Municipal Auditorium were built on the other side of the square, while a Fox Theater was built on the west side. However, on a sleepy Sunday, the biggest attraction was the Superior Dairy ice cream shop on the east side.


I finished the day and spent the night is Visalia, CA abd the next morning headed into Sequoia National Park. I only took a few pictures that day along the Hazelwood Nature Trail near the Giant Forest Museum, as I think that I felt the effect of the rapid climb of over 6000’ from Visalia to the park.

Pictures related to this page are here. All pictures from the trip are here.

The Giant Forest


By Tuesday, I apparently had acclimated to the altitude and set out to hike through the Giant Forest from the General Sherman Tree to the Museum. I rode a park bus from the parking lot for the Sherman Tree to a shuttle stop near the tree, avoiding a walk down many stirs (hard on my knees).  After visiting the largest currently living tree, I started down the Congress Trail toward the Senate and House groups of trees, paying my respects to The President and Chief Sequoyah along the way. After passing the House and seeing McKinley, I turned down the Alta Trail. Passing Lincoln, I took a short spur to the remains of Washington and then came to the break in forest at the Bedrock Mortors. After traversing the rockier terrain, I entered a mixed forestwhile traversing a slope above Deer Creek. Finally, I hit the junction with the Big Trees trail, and after eating my packed lunch, heade across the Highway to Round Meadow, site of the ranger walk and bear sighting last year. Paying my regards to Ed (by Ned), I passed Clara Barton on my way to the shuttle stop. 

I shuttled back to the General Sherman tree for a ranger talk and then returned to Wuksachi for dinner that evening.

Pictures for the day are here

The Grant Grove

The Resurrection Tree

On Wednesday, I left Sequoia and continued north twoard the Grant Grove section of Kings Canyon National Park. Along the way, I stopped at viewpoints to see the Sierra crest over Kings Canyon and Redwood Canyon and areas to the south and west. Arriving in the Grant Grove section, I headed to the trailhead for the Big Stump trail. Last year, this area was closed as it was being used as a base camp for some controlled burns. So, my attempted hike of the Big Stump loop consisted of a rather confused set of unguided walks. This year I was able to hike the complete loop in a manner that make some sense. I was able to view the Resurrection Tree, a Tree whose top had been severed by lightning but had grown a news one. I was also able to circle the meadow that had been the site of a lumbering operation and saw a collection of stumps, newer growth, and a huge shattered log—a demonstration of why cutting Sequoia forests was not a very lucrative pursuit.


I then stopped at Grant Village for lunch and finished the day’s tours with a walk in the the vicinity of the General Grant Tree, the largest tree in this grove. I then drove down out of the Sierra’s to Fresno, returning home the next day.

Pictures for the day are here.

Yosemite — April 2018


In late winter, as in the previous 2 years, I began thinking about revisiting Yosemite Valley during the spring. Spring is the ideal time to visit Yosemite Valley; the water is running at its highest and the crowds are still relatively light. Unfortunately, 2018 saw an absolutely dry February, so snow levels were low and prospects for water appeared dim. However, the storms resumed travelling through Northern California in March, bringing estimates of a sub-normal but not absolutely dry year. So, in March, I beagan checking for openings in the reservation schedule for Yosemite Lodge during the 2nd week of April; a period when I had almost no obligations keeping me at home.

Southern Sierra National Park Trip

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My 50th high school reunion was scheduled for September 23 at a country club above the San Fernando Valley in Southern California. I decided that it would be great to return home via the road-accessible areas of the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.  I managed to secure reservations at the lodges and cabins in each park . What follows is an account of the five day trip through the area. Of course, there are photos associated with the trip. 

Day 1 —Visalia to Wuksachi

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On earlier trips this year, I realized that the economical way to maximize my time in a scenic area was to spend the night before in a gateway town. So, on Sunday, the day after the reunion, I departed the Valley for the Visalia, which is about 35 miles from the Ash Mountain entrance to Sequoia National Park.On Monday, I entered the park. From Ash Mountain to the Giant Forest, the Generals Highway climbs about 5000 feet in 16 miles on a tortuous path. Along the way are views of the mighty Sierra as well as interesting collections of rocks. At the top of the climb, one reaches the heart of the park at the Giant Forest Museum. Until the 1990’s, visitor services were concentrated in this area and causing the main attraction of the park, one of the largest Sequoia groves, to deteriorate. So, most services were moved to less sensitive areas at Lodgepole and Wuksachi, with the old store converted to a museum. Most parking lots were reclaimed with only a large parking area across the road from the museum remaining.. So I parked there aned walked over to the museum and proton of my first Seqoia experience. You can find pictures here.

I then headed to Lodgepole for a quick lunch and then returned to the north end of the Giant Forest to see the largest sequoia, the General Sherman Tree, as well as the various collections of trees along the Congress Trail. Photos are here.

After a full day, I retired for the night at Wuksachi Lodge.

Day 2 — Exploring the Park’s Core

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To start the day, I drove back to the Giant Forest and up the spur road to Moro Rock (which you can see in the pictures fromj Amphitheater Point on day 1).  A 350-stairway and path provides access to the top of the rock. From the top (and also a points along the way, the view stretches from the Great Western Divide in the east to the San Joaquin Valley to the west. The top of the rock is at 6725 feet above sea level while the peaks in the distance top out at 12,000 to 13,ooo feetand shield views of the Kern River drainage and the High Sieera crest further east. Pictures from the climb of the rock are here.

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I continued along the road to its end at Crescent Meadow. Crescent Meadow is the trailhead for the High Sierra Trail which ends 60 miles later at Mt. Whitney, but my ambitions were much more limited: to hike to Tharp’s log, returning via the west side of Crescent Meadow. That I did, encountering a woodpecker along the way. Pictures are here.

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I returned to the museum and ate a sandwich that had been packed at the lodge. Afterwards, I joined a ranger-led walk on the Big Trees trail around Round Meadow. A highlight of the walk was encountering a black bear and her two very agile cubs (video clip above). After the walk, I returned to the lodge and observed a great sunset from my room. Pictures? Of course.

Day 3 — Wuksachi to the Grant Grove

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On Wednesday morning, after breakfast, a deer in the lodge parking area greeted me and I was off to the Grant Grove in the smaller but older section of Kings Canyon National Park (originally known as General Grant National Park). Before arriving at Grant Grove Village, I stopped at viewpoints: one with views to the north otver the Kings watershed, and the other, to the south, over the vast Redwood Mountain sequoia grove. Pictures here.

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Then, it was down to the Grant Grove, home of the second largest Sequoia, for an initial view and ranger talk. Pictures.

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Finally, I took a short drive in the other direction for Panorama Point, for a view of mountains behind Hume Lake. Pictures here.

Day 4 — Kings Canyon and the Grant Grove

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After breakfast in the 3-month old restaurant at Grant Grove Village, I spent most of day touring the Kings Canyon Scenic Byway (Highway 180). The road, built in the 1930’s, descends about 3000 feet into Kings Canyon before rising  to an elevation of 5000  feet at Road End. This road connects the Grant Grove with the High Sierra Section of Kings Canyon National Park (created in 1940), although the sections in the canyons were not added until 1965. The area between the two sections was part of Sequoia National Forest until 2000 when it became part of the newly created Giant Sequoia National Monument. 

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The road first travelled along ridges scarred by the 1955 McGee and 2015 Rough Fires with views of the Converse Basin, the world’s larges Sequoia grove, throughly logged over in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The descent into the canyon began at Junction Point, with its view to the junction of the Middle and South Forks of the Kings, 5000 feet below. Pictures.

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Once in the Canyon, I stopped occaisionally to  view the canyon walls and two waterfalls. Photos.

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I then stopped to hike the 1.5 mile Zumwalt Meadow loop. Although billed as an easy hike, the first portion of the hike through the fallen rock below the Grand Sentinel involved a bit of scrambling and uncertain footholds. Once I came into the flat damper area along the river, I had to constantly wave away the gnat swarms from my face.  At Road End, the gnats defeated my patience as I observed backpackers returning from their trips into the backcountry. Pictures.


I left the gnats and returned to the Grant Grove area in mid-afternoon. Pictures.

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I finished with another whirl around the Grant Grove trail (also taking in the side loop to the fallen Michigan Tree) before dinner. Pictures.

Day 5 — Last Hikes

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Day 5 was getaway day. Originally, I planned to return home. After realizing that I would be fighting the Bay Area Friday evening rush hourto return home, I made arrangements to stay in Fresno Friday night and return home on Saturday. So, after packing and seeing that a ranger walk  at the Grant Grove was scheduled in 5 minutes, I headed dwon the road and arrived 3 minutes later. The talk walk provided a final chance to hear about the role of the Sequoia in the founding of the national park system (3 of 4 original national parks involved the preservation of Sequoia groves) and a re-emphasis on the role of all natural elements, including fire in sustaining a healthful environment for the forest. Pictures.

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After the walk, I went to far end of the parking area to the trailhead for the North Grove loop, a hike around a grove at the northwest corner of the park This hike provided an opportunity to hike thfough the border area between a living grove and one that had been thinned in the 2015 Rough Fire. Pictures.

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For the final hike of the trip, I parked at the Big Stump entrance station to hike 2 sections of the Big Stump trail. The trail was a loop trail, but the end eastern portion (nearest to the Grant Grove) was temporarily closed and being used as a staging area for controlled burns to help maintain a healthy forest. The Big Stump area was added to the park in 1958, having been logged over in the 19th century with even a swmill at its center. Sights on the hike included , the Sawed Tree (with a visible sawcut through the trunk), the Mark Twain Stumps, and other smaller stumps around the meadow that was the sawmill site. Pictures.

From the Bing Stump entrance, it took a bit over 1 hour to reach Fresno. After cleaning up, I headed over to the Apple Store in the local mall to upload the 700 or so photos residing on my iPhone. After about 30 minutes, the job was done, and, after dinner and a good night’s sleep, it was time to head home.


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•Photo Notes —  All photos were taken on an iPhone 7. In order to capture the full height of some of the Sequoia, I created vertical panoramas, so you may see some distortion.

•Auto Notes — I travelled 1043 miles round trip from home over the 9-day trip. My 2016 Prius averaged 52.5 mpg. I started with an almost full tank of gas and filled up twice during the trip: on Sunday morning in Burbank, CA and on Saturday morning in Fresno, CA.  A day by day log is here.

•Connectivity Notes — Cellular and Internet services were almost non-existent in these parks. There was intermitent satellite interset service as the Wuksachi Lodge in Sequoia while the only reliable service in Grant Grove Village was in the area between the registration desk and the restrooms in the John Muir Lodge. The main lounge on the other side of registration had intermitent service at best. Nonbe of it was robust enough to aloow one to backup or edit one’s photos. While this is not critical, I find it amusing that Apple’s last 4 computer operating systems* have been named for regions where the ability to use Apple’s interconnection services is almost non-existent. Perhaps Apple would want to deidicate some funds to encourage the government, concessionaires, communications companies, and public utilities to use existing right-of -ways to provide most robust services in the developed areas of the National Parks and Monuments in the area.

*Yosemite, El Capitan, Sierra, High Sierra

August trip to Shasta-Lassen

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Last year, I drove a week-long loop through Northeastern California to Crater Lake and back. However, I felt that I rushed the return. In early August, I decided to visit the area between Mount Shasta and Mount Lassen in a more leisurely manner. Of course, there are photos of the trip. 

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I started the trip late on Monday morning heading up I-5 about 200 miles to Redding, California. After checking in at my motel, I headed over to Turtle Bay to visit Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava’s Sundial Bridge

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Tuesday morning, I drove to Shasta Dam, a key component of California’s water and power infrastructure. The Bureau of Reclamation conducts tours through the dam and power station showcasing the structure and exploring its history. …



Most of my web activity is related to my photo site. The site is actually hosted on, which provides great flexibility in desgning and displaying one’s photos and videos. I have found it to be good value for the money. If you’d like to try it out, please use the referral link at the bottom of all my blog web pages. If you decide to subscribe, you will get a substantial discount (and I will get an equivalent rebate) for your 1st year’s subscription.

Late Spring Yosemite Trip


I usually attend an event in Paso Robles during Memorial Day weekend. This year, rather than returning immediately to the Bay Area, I decided to spend the next week exploring some easily accessible areas of Yosemite National Park that I still had not seen. I spent two nights at Wawona in the southwestern area of the park a spent a day heading up to Glacier Point. I then crossed the park to a base closer to the Hetch Hetchy area which I then explored. Along the way, I checked out part of the Valley now that the vacation crush has started.

Naturally, I have posted the photos on You can explore the photos in two different ways:

Cocoaconf Yosemite

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In March 2016, i attended CocoaConf Yosemite, a unique event in the conference world. While aimed primarily at Mac developers the seesions involved no analysis of code or technical breakthroughs. Instead the presenters spoke of issues related to the development life—being inspired, overcomiong burnout, appreciating the world, and living more harmoniously.  

The conference was held at the Yosemite (Valley) Lodge, with Yosemite Falls in constant view (even from the converence room skylight) and only a short walk away. Conference sessions happened in the morning and evening with the afternoon reserved for a variety of touring activities either with other participants or on your own. …

Notes on my London Trip

The author at the Tower Hill Underground Station
Lord of the Tower

I have returned from a trip to London that started in late January. Unlike the weather we have been experiencing in Northern California, it was quite soggy there. Although London only had light rain during the trip, flooding in other parts of England, expecially the southwest, dominated the news.

Using Bloombury as a base, I also travelled up to Bletchley Park and also to the Olympic site and Greenwich. Pictures of my travels are on my photo pages.

Photo Site Update

Like other providers of sites for displaying photos, Smugmug updated its service last week. The service provided more flexibility in organizing and displaying a subsciber's photos. Although their are still some rough edges and bugs in the setup, I have chosen to reorganize my site using one of the new layouts. Over the next few weeks, I will probably be making some changes in the way individual pages are displayed, but the basic organization should remain the same. 

Click here to check out the new site.

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