Reuniting with Family at Pinnacles National Park

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During our trek across California, we wanted to also make time to see some of Scott’s family that live here.  Scott’s aunt, uncle, and his cousin and her family live a few hours from Pinnacles National Park and graciously offered to meet us there and spend time with us at the park.


We met at a restaurant called Togo’s… we had never heard of it before, but Scott’s cousin described it as “like subway only better.”  She was right!  It was delicious.  Every time we have passed a Toga’s since the kids call out, “TO-GOs!!”  with great excitement.  I wish we had remembered to snap a picture during lunch but we were too busy chatting and eating and having a blast.  Just imagine 13 people gathered around small tables talking and laughing and eating and catching up on life.  It was great.


After Togo’s we drove to the the park (about 40 minutes away) and found ourselves taking an extended time at the visitor center talking and catching up some more.  Some of it had to do with the fact that it was 108deg outside, but mostly it was just because family is great.  Eventually we made it to the trailhead.





This was our first time meeting Scott’s cousins’ husband Henrique and their daughter.  But, thanks to facebook, I felt like I new them somewhat already.

Their daughter is the happiest, smiliest, most easy going baby.  What a delight!



We all took a hike of the Bear Gulch trail together…  all the surrounding rocks were very distinctive, clearly volcanic, and had lots of smaller rocks mixed right into them like chunky cookie dough.


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It was hot but our hike went through some caves which made it much more doable…  It was actually quite amazing how, as we approached, it was very notable natural air-conditioning. 


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We saw some wildlife in the cave.  We spotted a red legged frog in the cave (a threatened species under the Endangered Species act). 




Some other trail hikers helped us spot some bats!




After the cave we almost doubled back to re-enjoy the air conditioning but instead we decided to complete the loop trail.  I’m really glad we did as the rock formations were pretty along the far side.




As we hiked along, Henrique was ahead of us and found an awesome spot to do the Lion King pose.  Jenna’s response was so awesome, as she cracked up.  She is a WAY cooler Mom than I am.  The spot was perfect… We didn’t see animals gathering in reverence below but I assume they were.


Scott says this was totally safe and not as close as it looks


How could I not let my whole fam join him for a group pic?  I opted to take the photo though. 




Once we were back to the parking lot, we bid farewell.  It was such a fun time, and Scott and I both commented on how we just wish we could have had more time with them all. 




Still, we are so grateful for all the effort they went through to meet us and spend the day with us.  Family is awesome. 


After they left, we decided to take a hike uphill to try and see some of the Pinnacles this park was named after. 




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As we hiked further up the mountain we could really smell and see the smoke from a nearby wildfire.  It seemed to get progressively worse the higher we went, though the fires were miles away. 


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The smoke actually blotted out the sun.




Sadly, given the time of day (the sun back lit the Pinnacles) and the smoke from the fires, it really wasn’t an optimum time for viewing the pinnacles.   We did get this shot of one of the smaller pinnacles.




Our time at Pinnacles was shorter than other parks this trip, but a good time was had by all.



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