OldWestNewWest.com: History & Travel Magazine

Feb 22nd
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The idea was simple: outfit a schooner for war, recruit a crew of Southern sympathizers, capture one of the mail steamers that each month sailed out of San Francisco Bay carrying at least a million dollars in gold, then go terrorize the Pacific Coast as a Confederate privateer.

The plot didn't come out of a Hollywood producer's script. It was real, and except for a slip of the tongue by one of the crewmen bragging during a night of drinking (as one account suggests) might have become more than just a minor footnote in California's role in Civil War history.
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Confederate general escaping into the desert, Texas soldiers heading west to invade, a troop of California militia "going over" to kill Yankees, and a Confederate privateer planning to sail boldly into San Francisco Bay.

It's a story big enough only for Hollywood. And it's all true.
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Honor the men and women who fought and died for America's freedom when Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks hosts the 88th annual Trek to the Nation's Christmas Tree ceremony on Dec. 8, 2013, from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. at Kings Canyon National Park.

The free event, sponsored by the Sanger District Chamber of Commerce in cooperation with the National Park Service, will include the Jubilation Singers, Sanger High School Choir, Tubachristmas Ensemble, and a non-denominational holiday message.
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Lava Beds National Monument in Tulelake, California now has a group of certified staff ready to conduct a safe and efficient cave rescue should the need arise, the National Park Service announced on July 22, 2013.
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The main park road through Lassen Volcanic National Park in northern California is scheduled to open at noon Friday, May 24, 2013 in time for the Memorial Day weekend.

"The unusually warm spring weather has really helped in snow plowing operations and will give greater access for visitors this coming holiday weekend," said Superintendent Darlene M Koontz.
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Island Packers, the official concessioner for Channel Islands National Park along the Southern California coastline, will celebrate 45 years in business with the christening of their new 64-foot catamaran next on, April 30, 2013, in Ventura Harbor.

The new catamaran, appropriately named Island Explorer, was built by All American Marine in Bellingham, Wash. It joins the Island Packers' fleet of two catamarans, the Islander and Island Adventure, and a single-hulled vessel, the Vanguard.

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San Francisco's famous Cliff House celebrates its 150-year anniversary this year, having survived earthquakes, fires, and the Pacific Ocean's pounding, turbulent waves.

Constructed in 1863, the year of the Battle of Gettysburg, and renovated three times, the Cliff House is among a rarified number of U.S. restaurants still in operation dating from the Civil War period in U.S. history.
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Summer campground reservations are now being accepted for California's Silver Strand State Beach in San Diego where campers will find new electrical and water hookups and a new sewage dump station.

The improvements are expected to be in place by May 17, 2013, said Clay Phillips, superintendent of the San Diego Coast District of California State Parks.
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Two special Christmas programs with a definite maritime feel will be offered to the public on Dec. 8, 2012 at the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park.

The first program, Christmas At Sea, will be held Dec. 8, 2012, at 3 p.m. on board the historic sailing ship Balclutha, berthed at Hyde Street Pier, and will present unique family fun for all.
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The 14th year of offering shuttle bus transportation allowing visitors to Point Reyes National Seashore in northern California easier access to watch migrating gray whales and Northern Elephant seals will begin Dec. 31, 2011.

"Winter is a wonderful time not only to watch the annual Pacific gray whale migration from Alaska to Mexico but also to celebrate the recovering populations of Northern Elephant seals as they return to breed at Point Reyes," said Park Superintendent Cicely Muldoon.
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Whiskeytown National Recreation Area in northern California will host its 1st Annual Harvest Festival on Oct. 22, 2011 and the family-friendly event will feature apple tasting, a harvest-themed bake-off contest, games for all ages, tours of the historic Camden House and orchards, and light refreshments.

The Harvest Festival will take place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the park's Tower House Historic District.
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The Trail of 100 Giants, Sequoia National Forest's popular recreation site, probably will remain closed all of this winter due to two huge sequoia trees that fell across the trail Sept. 30, 2011.

The trail was immediately closed for public safety, and no injuries were reported.
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A stranded Canadian climber at risk from hypothermia was rescued off El Capitan Monday, Oct. 22, by Yosemite National Park Rangers and search and rescue personnel during a high-angle, high-risk operation during a snow storm.

The incident began on Sunday, Oct.21, 2012, when two rock climbers were trying to reach the top of the El Capitan climb just before a large storm, with several inches of snow, was predicted to hit.
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For the first time in almost 100 years, California Common Murre (Uria aalge californica) chicks have hatched on the Channel Islands, researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and National Park Service (NPS) discovered.

"This is an exciting finding; certainly a historic one," said Josh Adams, a seabird ecologist with the USGS Western Ecological Research Center. "The murres appear to have re-established their former southern range, perhaps benefitting from present ocean conditions."
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Even as Yosemite National Park continues to scale up its public health response and outreach as a result of six confirmed cases of hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) in individuals who visited the park this year, officials said the park is safe to visit.

"While there is a small risk of Hantavirus throughout the United States wherever rodents are found, there is no reason to alter your plans in and around Yosemite ... and to enjoy all the park has to offer," officials said.
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The main road into Lassen Volcanic National Park in northern California is open for through traffic, marking the end of what has been a long 2011 winter and late spring.

"The park road crew and Caltrans have cleared snow along the 30 mile highway through the park, road turnouts, and trailhead parking areas," Park Superintendent Darlene M. Koontz said in late July. "We are happy to have this primary access to Lassen National Park open for our summer visitors. This year's heavy snowfall seemed to come later this winter and spring, which extended the time it took to open the road."
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Yosemite National Park will use a lottery system to allocate Day Use Permits for climbing the Half Dome cables during the summer 2012 season, with the preseason drawing conducted through www.recreation.gov.

"We are trying to eliminate (permit) scalping, and to make the process as fair as possible for park visitors," Yosemite National Park spokesperson Kari Cobb told OldWestNewWest.com Travel & History Magazine.
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If you've never driven the majectic Big Sur Coast Highway, California Route One, you need to add it to your bucket list. Seriously. If you've driven along the highway, but it's been awhile, there's never been a better time of year for you to go see it again.

Located between Central California's historic city of Monterey and the town of San Simeon, of Hearst Castle fame, Big Sur Coast Highway 1 hugs the California coast, providing access to austere, windswept cypress trees, fog-shrouded cliffs and the crashing surf of the Pacific Ocean.
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Park rangers on Saturday, Aug. 18, 2012, continued searching for 6-year-old Jacob Adams, who, along with his 10-year-old brother, were swept away Wednesday afternoon by the Merced River near the Vernal Falls Footbridge in Yosemite National Park.

Jacob's brother, identified by Calvary Chapel East Anaheim church (CCEA) in Orange County, Calif. as Andreas Adams, was pulled from the river by a park visitor approximately 150 yards below the footbridge.
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Yosemite National Park's Tioga Road opened for summer season vehicle traffic May 7, 2012, but rangers urge visitors to take safety precautions while traveling on the road.

Due to a light snowpack this past winter (approximately 50 percent of normal), the Tioga Road was able to be cleared of snow early into the summer season.
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