California travel guide



California Travel Guide

Explore California

Great Statues of Auburn
The big Statues of Auburn are true roadside colossi, and depict an eclectic mix of subjects, ranging from Amazon archers, to a coolie pushing a wheelbarrow, to a nude man wrestling with chains. To say that they are larger than life size is an understatement: the largest is 42 feet tall and weighs over 120 tons. The statues are unadvertised, which only adds to your initial shock when they loom into view. A few stand in a parking lot of an otherwise ordinary street. Fox began lifting his statues in the late '60s, as a political statement but for the first few years the town was opposite him.

Old Faithful Geyser of California
In a world of current plumbing, it's the pits being a natural spring. Travellers of past centuries stood and watched, as heated water blasted heavenward from rocky fissures, it was a true mystery. Today you get the same effect from a broken fire hydrant or the fountain show at the Bellagio. With a geyser, it's important to keep in mind that the phenomenon is not manipulated by Man: it's an underground river encountering hot magma deep in the earth and squirting for its own amusement. Three geothermal geysers in the world are predictable; erupting as if set on clocks, and is called Old Faithful. Historically, California's geyser erupts every 45 minutes at least since it was fenced off years ago and offered to the admission-paying public. An impressive entrance gate and ample parking suggests California's Old Faithful is a popular Napa Valley attraction, a stop on a day trip that might include one of several hundred local wineries and the nearby Petrified Forest.

Toad Hollow - Tunnel for Toad Traffic
If you weren't searching for it, you'd likely never spot Toad Hollow. Its wood carved sign and handful of miniature buildings are often shaded by trees along the highway, just beyond a busy bridge overpass. It's on an odd sliver of property next to the post office. But when it comes to saving the lives of uncounted toads, one can't be picky about location. Toad Hollow is in the spot where the local amphibian population was faced with certain death to cross a new six lane highway after it cut them off from their ancestral wetlands. The highway was slated to replace a dirt road, where toad comings and goings were well-known by locals. A civic controversy ensued, and wildlife fans demanded a solution to protect the Davis toads. The city finally agreed, and in 1995 spent $14,000 to construct toad access tunnels (there are several) funnelling northbound and southbound toads to and from the wetlands. It's also called the "Frog Tunnel" by some, though dry skinned, warty toads are the principle inhabitants in Davis.

Pee Wee Golf
More of the surreal landscape of post-World War II miniature golf courses explodes from the mind of artist Lee Koplin. A welder by trade, his first miniature golf project was creating sculptures to populate the Pee Wee Golf in Guerneville, California, which begin in 1948. Koplin headed east, fashioning more golf challenges over the years.

World's Largest Thermometer
Will Herron is a businessman, dreamed of a big thermometer for 25 years before he created it in California's high desert. The World's biggest Thermometer is 134-ft. tall, symbolic of the record high temperature in the US, in Death Valley 134 degrees Fahrenheit in 1913. It juts up above the Herron's Bun Boy coffee shop in Baker, a small town near Nevada, "Gateway to Death Valley." Herron had the thermometer constructed by Electric Sign Co. of Las Vegas (manufacturers of many neon and bulb monstrosities of the Vegas strip). They used 33 tons of steel and almost 5,000 lamps to render the three sided digital display. After strong winds broke the thermometer, smashing a gift shop under construction, it was rebuilt, and eventually filled with concrete so that it would survive anything short of a direct thermonuclear attack (okay, that's our claim not Baker's).

Leonard Knight's Salvation Mountain
Going all the way to Salvation Mountain is a big adventure, is three hours out of San Diego.

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