El Capitan is a 3,000-foot (910 m) vertical rock formation in Yosemite National Park, California, located on the north side of Yosemite Valley, near its western end. The granite monolith is one of the world’s favorite challenges for rock climbers.
The formation was named ‘El Capitan’ by the Mariposa Battalion who explored the valley in 1851. (Mariposa Battalion was a California State Militia unit formed in 1851 to fight the Yosemites and Chowchillas in the Mariposa War.)
El Capitan (‘the captain’, ‘the chief’) was taken to be a loose Spanish translation of the local Native American name for the cliff, variously transcribed as ‘To-to-kon oo-lah’ or ‘To-tock-ah-noo-lah’. It is unclear if the Native American name referred to a specific Tribal chief, or simply meant ‘the chief’ or ‘rock chief’.
In modern times, the formation’s name is often contracted to “El Cap”, especially among rock climbers. The top of El Capitan can be reached by hiking out of Yosemite Valley on the trail next to Yosemite Falls, then proceeding west.
For climbers, the challenge is to climb up the sheer granite face; there are dozens of named climbing routes, all of them long and difficult.
Emerald Bay State Park is a state park located around Emerald Bay, a National Natural Landmark, at Lake Tahoe, California.
The park is home to Eagle Falls and Vikingsholm, a 38-room mansion that is one of the finest examples of Scandinavian architecture in the western hemisphere. The park contains the only island in Lake Tahoe, Fannette Island and is accessible by State Route 89 near the southwest shore of the lake. Emerald Bay is one of Lake Tahoe’s most photographed and popular locations.
In 1969, Emerald Bay was recognized as a National Natural Landmark by the federal Department of the Interior. In 1994, California State Parks included the surrounding water of the bay as a part of the park, making Emerald Bay one of the first underwater parks of its type in the state, protecting the various wrecks and other items on the bay’s bottom.
Summer temperatures at the park range from the low 40 °F (4 °C) at night to mid-70 °F (25 °C) during the day, and during the winter visitors will usually experience temperatures between 20 and 40 °F (-7 and 4 °C). During harsh winters, the bay freezes over. The bay is about 1.7 miles (2.7 km) in length, and about two-thirds of a mile (1 km) wide at its widest point.
Sea World San Diego is a theme park located in San Diego, California. The park was founded in 1964 by four graduates of the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA). They had originally considered the idea of building an underwater restaurant, but the concept grew into the idea of a marine zoological park on 22 acres (89,000 m2) along the shore of Mission Bay in San Diego.
With an initial investment of $1.5 million, 45 employees, several dolphins, sea lions, and two seawater aquariums, Sea World drew more than 400,000 visitors its first year.
To date, the park has now surpassed 130 million visitors since opening.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium, which is located on the site of a former sardine cannery on Cannery Row in Monterey, California, is one of the largest aquariums in the world. It has an annual attendance of 1.8 million and holds 35,000 plants and animals representing 623 species. Among the aquarium’s numerous exhibits, two are of particular note.
The centerpiece of the Ocean’s Edge wing is a 33-foot (10-m) high tank for viewing California coastal marine life. In this tank, the aquarium was the first in the world to grow live California Giant Kelp using a wave machine at the top of the tank allowing sunlight in through the open tank top, and pumping in raw seawater.
The second exhibit of note is a one million gallon tank in the Outer Bay Wing which features one of the world’s largest single-paned windows (crafted by a Japanese company, the window is actually four panes seamlessly glued together through a proprietary process). The Monterey Bay Aquarium maintains a close relationship with the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI).
General Sherman is the name of a Giant Sequoia, which is the largest tree in the world with a height of 275 feet (83.8 metres).
As of 2002, the volume of its trunk measured about 1487 cubic meters, making it the largest non-clonal organism by volume. The tree is located in the Giant Forest of Sequoia National Park in the United States, east of Visalia, California. The tree is believed to be between 2,300 and 2,700 years old.
The tree was named after the American Civil War leader General William Tecumseh Sherman, by naturalist James Wolverton in 1879. Wolverton had served as a Lieutenant in the 9th Indiana Cavalry under Sherman.
In January 2006 the largest branch on the tree, seen most commonly in older photos as an “L” or “golf club” shape protruding from about 1/4th down the trunk, broke off. No one was present for the incident, but the branch, which had a diameter of over 2 m (6 feet) and a length of over 30 m (100 feet), was itself bigger than most trees on the planet.
The Sundial Bridge is a cantilever spar cable-stayed bridge that spans the Sacramento River in Redding, California. It was designed by Santiago Calatrava and completed in 2004 at a cost of US$23,000,000. Similar to his earlier (1992) design (the Puente del Alamillo in Seville, Spain), the bridge does not balance the forces by using a symmetrical arrangement of cable forces on each side of the tower; instead it uses an angled cantilever tower loaded by cable stays on only one side. This requires that the spar resist bending and torsional forces and that its foundation resists overturning.
While this leads to a less structurally efficient structure, the architectural statement is dramatic. This ‘greenbridge’ features a single 217 foot (66 metre) mast that serves as the gnomon of the world’s largest sundial. Sundial Bridge’s shadow is cast upon a large dial to the north of the bridge, though the shadow cast by the bridge is exactly accurate on only one day in a year – the summer solstice, June 21. The tip of the shadow moves at approximately one foot per minute so that the Earth’s rotation about its axis can be seen with the naked eye.
Sundial Bridge provides pedestrian access to the north and south areas of Turtle Bay Exploration Park, a complex containing environmental, art and history museums and the McConnell Arboretum and Gardens, and to the Sacramento River Trail.
Death Valley is a desert located in California. It is the lowest, driest and hottest valley in the United States and the location of the lowest elevation in North America at 85.5 m (282 ft) below sea level.
Death Valley holds the record for the highest reliably reported temperature in the Western hemisphere (134 °F (56.7 °C) at Furnace Creek in 1913) – just short of the world’s highest, which was 136 F (58 C) in El Aziza, Libya on Sept. 13, 1922.
Located southeast of the Sierra Nevada range in the Great Basin and the Mojave Desert, it constitutes much of Death Valley National Park. It is mostly located in Inyo County, California. It has an area of about 3,000 square miles (7,800 square km).