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Rodeo Lagoon

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California, I Love You

My love for this great state shouldn't come as much of a surprise. Though I often think about what it would be like to call someplace else home, I would sure have trouble leaving California's beauty behind.Today I'm offering up a simple photo essay of some of my favorite places. If you're planning a trip here anytime soon, may I suggest beginning your adventure in Northern California?

She's a stunner:

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{Alcatraz from the Presidio in San Francisco.}

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{Upper Sacramento River}

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{Taft Point in Yosemite National Park}

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{Blue Ridge Loop, overlooking Lake Berryessa}

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{View of Rodeo Beach & Lagoon, Marin Headlands}

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{Castle Crags State Park near Dunsmuir, California}

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{Sunrise over the American River in Sacramento}

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{Views of the Napa Valley}

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{Pigeon Point Lighthouse near Pescadero}

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{Tenaya Lake in Yosemite National Park}

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{Pebble Beach in Crescent City}

See what I mean? B-E-A-utiful.

If you’re planning to spend time in Northern California this summer, be sure to check out a mobile collection of my favorite outdoor spots here.

Now tell me: which places and spaces make you love California? Any spots on the "must see" list for Southern California? I'm always looking for recommendations!

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A Day Date with Myself to the Marin Headlands

I absolutely love exploring places with other people. More often than not, I'll convince my husband or call upon friends to come with me when I get the urge to just go and see and do.Not long ago, however, I discovered the complete joy of exploring places alone. As in, by myself. With no one else. Just me, myself and I. It's lovely.

That's not to say I'll ever stop exploring and traveling with others. I love that too much. Yet, I find myself drawn to the convenience of the occasional solo journey, where I can move at my own pace, have little need for compromise and can listen to whatever music I choose on the way there (and back).

Several weeks ago, I ventured out on a solo date -- a day date with myself, if you will -- to the Marin Headlands located in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area just north of San Francisco.

This was the same trip during which I was able to spend time admiring the Golden Gate Bridge and the day was filled with all of the things I wanted to experience.

I started at the Marin Headlands Visitor Center, which I highly recommend if you've never been to the park before:

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The helpful docents told me about a few short trails and I opted for the Rodeo Lagoon Trail, which starts at the parking lot and ends at the ocean. It's a fairly easy trail and since I had my sights set on the Point Bonita Lighthouse (which I'll get to shortly) and the Golden Gate Bridge, it sounded like the perfect way to start the day.

The trail takes you through wetland areas and under fantastic tree canopies like this:

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There is also a giant tree along the trail that creaks and cracks in the breeze:

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Once you're out from under the trees, you'll start getting a glimpse of the trails' namesake lagoon and Fort Cronkhite beyond.

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Then you'll catch a breathtaking (at least to me) view of Rodeo Beach:

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I sat for a bit at the edge of the lagoon:

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Again, lovely. I took in the sites:

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Perfect. And decided to explore the beach a bit:

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The beach was blustery at best, but the sights and sounds were just what I needed.

I knew that I wanted to have plenty of time to explore the lighthouse and the bridge, so I headed back along the trail to the parking lot. Once in the car, the trail head for Point Bonita Lighthouse was a short drive up the hill. If I'm not mistaken, you can hike from Rodeo Beach to Point Bonita Lighthouse, but that wasn't in the cards during this visit.

When I reached the trail head, my first thought was, "what lighthouse?"

The tricky headlands have her hidden from view:

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You'll head down the short, steep trail and end up at the entrance to a tunnel:

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The tunnel is open only part of the day, so be sure to check the schedule at the visitor center before you head toward the lighthouse.

Once you exit the tunnel, you'll walk a skinny path that hugs a cliff. After a few bends and curves, the small lighthouse will come into view:

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While it's not a grand structure, Point Bonita Lighthouse is the only known lighthouse reachable just by suspension bridge. We all know how much I love a cool bridge, so naturally, I was impressed.

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Because of where the lighthouse is situated, it offers great views from the platform toward the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco. Can you imagine being a docent? Talk about a corner office!

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Back on solid ground (yes, my friends, the bridge sways in the breeze wind), you can catch a glimpse of just how amazing this structure really is. It's perched on the very last bit of land and has been in that spot since 1877.

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Amazing.

As I mentioned, I wrapped up my perfect little solo excursion with a healthy dose of the Golden Gate Bridge. You can read more about that here.

Anyone else enjoy the occasional solo adventure? What do you find rewarding about traveling, exploring or sight seeing alone?

Link up in the comment section if you'd care to share!

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Happy Tuesday, all!

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