San Diego Sunsets

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“…time can be slowed if you live deliberately. If you stop and watch sunsets. If you spend time sitting on porches listening to the woods. If you give in to the reality of the seasons.”

― Thomas Christopher Greene, I’ll Never Be Long Gone

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“One day,” you said to me, “I saw the sunset forty-four times!”

And a little later you added:

“You know– one loves the sunset, when one is so sad…”

“Were you so sad, then?” I asked, “on the day of the forty-four sunsets?”

But the little prince made no reply.”

― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

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“Because I can count on my fingers the number of sunsets I have left, and I don’t want to miss any of them.”

― Suzanne Collins, Catching Fire

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“Sunsets, like childhood, are viewed with wonder not just because they are beautiful but because they are fleeting.”

― Richard Paul Evans, The Gift

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Ahhh, the ocean…the waves….the sunset!! An awesome, must see location. You will not be disappointed. Beautiful views. People out walking, running and bike riding. Enjoyable and relaxing.

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“A sunset is the sun’s fiery kiss to the night.”

― Crystal Woods, Write Like No One is Reading 

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“And I learned what is obvious to a child. That life is simply a collection of little lives, each lived one day at a time. That each day should be spent finding beauty in flowers and poetry and talking to animals. That a day spent with dreaming and sunsets and refreshing breezes cannot be bettered.”

― Nicholas Sparks, The Notebook

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“Oscar Wilde said that sunsets were not valued because we could not pay for sunsets. But Oscar Wilde was wrong; we can pay for sunsets. We can pay for them by not being Oscar Wilde.”

― G.K. Chesterton

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“The setting sun burned the sky pink and orange in the same bright hues as surfers’ bathing suits. It was beautiful deception, Bosch thought, as he drove north on the Hollywood Freeway to home. Sunsets did that here. Made you forget it was the smog that made their colors so brilliant, that behind every pretty picture there could be an ugly story.”

― Michael Connelly, The Black Echo

CALIFORNIA – Santa Cruz

Welcome to Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz County is located on California’s Central Coast, 65 miles south of San Francisco and 35 miles north of Monterey. Situated on the northern side of the Monterey Bay and rimmed by redwood forested mountains, Santa Cruz County has 29 miles of beaches and 14 state parks.

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Santa Cruz is one of America’s surfing capitals, complete with its own museum devoted to the sport, and a beach whose waves are known all over the world.

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I was born and raised in Santa Cruz, California, and the whole lifestyle revolves around the beach. My parents met surfing, and the beach was a major part of our daily lives.

Marisa Miller

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I went to UC Santa Cruz, overlooking the Bay of Monterey and Santa Cruz, in 1969. Back then, the city was part-hippie, part-surfer, but mostly retired chicken farmer.

Clive Sinclair

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I live in Santa Cruz. I moved here in 1974 and couldn’t leave.

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Santa Cruz is blessed not only with natural wonders, but also with gifted souls who can fashion nature’s bounty into man-made treasures.

Clive Sinclair

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Just up the coast from Santa Cruz lies Half Moon Bay, a coastal city in San Mateo County, California. It’s an idyllic enclave and truly the perfect place to spend some time away from the big city.

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Growing up in northern California has had a big influence on my love and respect for the outdoors. When I lived in Oakland, we would think nothing of driving to Half Moon Bay and Santa Cruz one day and then driving to the foothills of the Sierras the next day.

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Just off the Half Moon Bay coast of California, winter storms and underwater geography combine to create some the world’s biggest and most dangerous waves. The Mavericks Surf Contest gives the world’s best surfers a chance to pit their skills against the big ones that can rise over 50 feet high, but this contest has an interesting twist.  No one knows when it will be held until just 24 hours before it starts.

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The big waves come in winter, and around the end of each year, the official waiting period for the Mavericks Surf Contest begins. When conditions are right, organizers call a field of 24 surfers (who have been pre-selected) to tell them when the Mavericks Surf Contest will begin.

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“I like to go for a little drive up the California coast.”
Author: Colin Farrell

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“In California in the early Spring, There are pale yellow mornings, when the mist burns slowly into day, The air stings like Autumn, clarifies like pain – Well, I have dreamed this coast myself.”
Author: Robert Hass

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If you are looking to surf in North America then head on out to California – there is great surf all the way down the coast. It is worth the trip to catch the big wave surfers riding the mountains of Maverick’s during the huge winter swells.

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“Soon it got dusk, a grapey dusk, a purple dusk over tangerine groves and long melon fields; the sun the color of pressed grapes, slashed with burgundy red, the fields the color of love and Spanish mysteries.”
― Jack Kerouac, On the Road

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“The setting sun burned the sky pink and orange in the same bright hues as surfers’ bathing suits. It was beautiful deception, Bosch thought, as he drove north on the Hollywood Freeway to home. Sunsets did that here. Made you forget it was the smog that made their colors so brilliant, that behind every pretty picture there could be an ugly story.”
― Michael Connelly, The Black Echo

California – The Pacific Coast Highway

Stretching 650 curve-hugging, jaw-dropping miles along the ruggedly beautiful central coast of California, Highway 1 is one of the most scenic roads in the country.

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This is the road driving was invented for-the road where car commercials are filmed. On the Pacific Coast Highway, you don’t crack your window for a bit of air, you roll it down all the way to feel the wind blast through your hair like a lighthearted tornado.

You can get a taste of what makes the road so famous on a short trip from San Francisco.

From the City by the Bay, it’s a 30-mile drive through redwood groves and past sandy beaches to your first stop, Half Moon Bay. The small town is home to some of the best surfing in the world and the international Mavericks competition, held when winter waves get big enough.

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An exhilarating driving experience, this twisting, cliff-hugging route along the central California coast takes about five hours to complete at a leisurely pace. Designated an All-American Road—among the nation’s most scenic—the drive encompasses both the Big Sur Coast Highway and the San Luis Obispo North Coast Byway.

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Also known as California State Route 1, the PCH was built in 1934 and took 15 years to complete. 

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For the most dramatic scenery packed into less than half the mileage, set your sights on the Central Coast and a journey of about 240 miles from Monterey south to Santa Barbara.

Driving the route from north to south is ideal, as you’ll be on the ocean side of the road the entire way, allowing unobstructed views of the jagged coastline below.

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The road winds high on the cliffs, with the crashing surf below. Many of the beaches you’ll see are inaccessible or require serious hikes in, making them all the more enchanting.

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South of Carmel is where the route really reels you into its splendor. And while you never know when that ubiquitous coastal fog is going to lower a curtain over the views, when it lifts it’s as if Oz is being revealed.

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One of the most famous photo-ops along the way is the Bixby Creek Bridge, one of the tallest and longest single-span concrete bridges in the world.

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If I’m in Malibu driving up and down Pacific Coast Highway, my ‘2000 Heritage Softail Harley Davidson is what I usually like to ride.

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Pacific Coast Sunset

“Sixty three sunsets I saw revolve on that perpendicular hill – mad raging sunsets pouring in sea foams of cloud through unimaginable crags like the crags you grayly drew in pencil as a child, with every rose-tint of hope beyond, making you feel just like them, brilliant and bleak beyond words.”
― Jack Kerouac, Lonesome Traveler

California – San Francisco

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If California is one grand, sweeping gesture, a long arm cradling the Pacific, then San Francisco, that seven-by-seven-mile peninsula, is a forefinger pointing upwards. Take this as a hint to look up: you’ll notice San Francisco’s crooked Victorian rooflines, wind-sculpted treetops and fog tumbling over the Golden Gate Bridge.

Heads are perpetually in the clouds atop San Francisco’s 43 hills. Cable cars provide easy access to Russian and Nob Hills, and splendid panoramas reward the slog up to Coit Tower – but the most exhilarating highs are earned on Telegraph Hill’s garden-lined stairway walks and windswept hikes around Land’s End.

Consider permission permanently granted to be outlandish: other towns may surprise you, but in San Francisco you will surprise yourself. Good times and social revolutions tend to start here, from manic gold rushes to blissful hippie be-ins. If there’s a skateboard move yet to be busted, a technology still unimagined, a poem left unspoken or a green scheme untested, chances are it’s about to happen here. Yes, right now. This town has lost almost everything in earthquakes and dot-com gambles, but never its nerve.

– Lonely Planet

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San Francisco is one of the most beloved cities in the entire world, and has been written about and commented on innumerable times by from the most profound literary geniuses to the shallowest of pop culture celebrities. There is hardly anything one can add to the thoughts that have already been so eloquently expressed by the world at large about this unique city.

Here are just a few of the thousands of quotations that capture the essence of the effect of the San Francisco vibe:

One day if I go to heaven…..I’ll look around and say “It ain’t bad, but it ain’t San Francisco”. (Herb Caen)

San Francisco has only one drawback – ’tis hard to leave. (Rudyard Kipling)

You know what it is? (It) is a golden handcuff with the key thrown away. (John Steinbeck)

East is East, and West is San Francisco. (O. Henry)

San Franciscans are very proud of their city, and they should be.  It’s the most beautiful place in the world.  (Robert Redford)

If you’re alive, you can’t be bored in San Francisco.  If you’re not alive, San Francisco will bring you to life……San Francisco is a world to explore. It is a place where the heart can go on a delightful adventure. It is a city in which the spirit can know refreshment every day.  (William Saroyan)

Every man should be allowed to love two cities, his own and San Francisco.  (Gene Fowler)

Of all cities in the United States I have seen, San Francisco is the most beautiful.  (Nikita Kruschev)

I prefer a wet San Francisco to a dry Manhattan. (Larry Geraldi)

The cool, grey city of love. (George Sterling)

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I never dreamed I’d like any city as well as London.  San Francisco is exciting, moody, exhilarating.  I even love the muted fogs.  (Julie Christie)

I don’t know of any other city where you can walk through so many culturally diverse neighbourhoods, and you’re never out of sight of the wild hills.  Nature is very close here.  (Gary Snyder)

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I’m proud to have been a Yankee. But I have found more happiness and contentment, since I came back home to San Francisco than any man has a rigo deserve. This is the friendliest city in the world. (Joe di Maggio)

San Francisco is 49 square miles surrounded by reality.  (Paul Kantner)

The ultimate (travel destination) for me would be one perfect day in San Francisco.  It’s a perfect 72 degrees, clear, the sky bright blue.  I’d start down at Fisherman’s Wharf with someone I really like and end with a romantic dinner and a ride over the Golden Gate Bridge.  There’s no city like it anywhere.  And, if I could be there with the girl of my dreams, that would be the ultimate.  (Larry King)

The port of San Francisco……is a marvel of nature, and might well be called the harbor of harbors….And I think if it could be well settled like Europe there would not be anything more beautiful in all the world” (Juan Bautista de Anza)

Leaving San Francisco is like saying goodbye to an old sweetheart.  You want to linger as long as possible.  (Walter Kronkite)

The Bay Area is so beautiful, I hesitate to preach about heaven while I’m here. (Billy Graham)

San Francisco can start right now to become number one. We can set examples so that others will follow. We can start overnight. We don’t have to wait for budgets to be passed, surveys to be made, political wheelings and dealings…….for it takes no money……it takes no compromising to give the people their rights……it takes no money to respect the individual. It takes no political deal to give people freedom. It takes no survey to remove repression. (Harvey Milk)

There’s no question this is where I want to live.  Never has been.  (Robin Williams)

San Francisco is one of my favourite cities in the world…I would probably rank it at the top or near the top.  It’s small but photogenic and has layers…You never have problems finding great angles that people have never done.  (Ang Lee)

When you get tired of walking around in San Francisco, you can always lean against it.  (unknown)

It seemed like a matter of minutes when we began rolling in the foothills before Oakland and suddenly reached a height and saw stretched out of us the fabulous white city of San Francisco on her eleven mystic hills with the blue Pacific and its advancing wall of potato-patch fog beyond, and smoke and goldenness in the late afternoon of time. (Jack Kerouac)

There may not be a Heaven, but there is San Francisco. (Ashleigh Brilliant)

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I have done more for San Francisco than any of its old residents. Since I left there it has increased in population fully 300,000. I could have done more – I could have gone earlier – it was suggested. (Mark Twain)

I find no objection to turning Hollywood into a suburb of San Francisco, the most photogenic city in the world. (Mayor Joseph Alioto)

The City that knows how. (William Howard Taft)

San Francisco is the only city I can think of that can survive all the things you people are doing to it and still look beautiful. (Frank Lloyd Wright)

You wouldn’t think such a place as San Francisco could exist.  The wonderful sunlight here, the hills, the great bridges, the Pacific at your shoes.  Beautiful Chinatown.  Every race in the world.  The sardine fleets sailing out.  The little cable-cars whizzing down The City hills….And all the people are open and friendly.  (Dylan Thomas)

(San Francisco) is a rich, lusty city, rippling with people, with movement, with girls in summer dresses, with flowers, with color; one of the great and wonderful cities of the world….the great seaport of the Pacific now, one of the great naval bases. Through it have poured a million men…..And the sea is always just on the other side of those hills. (James Marlow)

I certainly was surprised to be named Poet Laureate of this far-out city on the left side of the world, and I gratefully accept, for as I told the Mayor, “How could I refuse?” I’d rather be Poet Laureate of San Francisco than anywhere because this city has always been a poetic center, a frontier for free poetic life, with perhaps more poets and more poetry readers than any city in the world. (Lawrence Ferlinghetti)

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In all my travels I have never seen the hospitality of San Francisco equalled anywhere in the world.  (Conrad Hilton)

San Francisco! Is there a land where the magic of that name has not been felt? (Clarence F. Edwards)

Your city is remarkable not only for its beauty.  It is also, of all the cities in the United States, the one whose name, the world over, conjures up the most visions and more than any other city incites one to dream.  (Georges Pompidou)

It’s a mad city, inhabited by insane people whose women are of remarkable beauty (Rudyard Kipling)

Somehow the great cities of America have taken their places in a jythology that shapes their destiny: money live sin New York. Power sits in Washington. Freedom sips cappuccino in a sidewalk café in San Francisco. (Joe Flower)

I was married once – in San Francisco. I haven’t seen her for many years. The great earthquake and fire in 1906 destroyed the marriage certificate. There’s no legal proof. Which means that earthquakes aren’t always bad. (W.C. Fields)

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It is a good thing the early settlers landed on the East Coast; if they’d landed in San Francisco first, the rest of the country would still be uninhabited.  (Herbert Mye)

What fetched me instantly (and thousands of other newcomers with me) was the subtle but unmistakeable sense of escape from the United States.  (H.L. Mencken)

The City of San Francisco (the metropolis of the State) considering its age, is by long odds the most wonderful city on the face of the earth.  (G.W. Sullivan)

Any one who doesn’t have a great time in San Francisco is pretty much dead to me. (Anthony Bourdain)

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There are just three big cities in the United States that are “story cities” – New York, of course, New Orleans, and, best of the lot, San Francisco. (Frank Norris)

You have in San Francisco this magnificent Civic Center crowned by a City Hall which I have never seen anywhere equalled.  (Joseph Strauss)

A city is where you can sign a petition, boo the chief justice, fish off a pier, gape at a hippopotamus, buy a flower at the corner, or get a good hamburger or a bad girl at 4 A.M. A city is where sirens make white streaks of sound in the sky and foghorns speak dark grays – San Francisco is such a city. (Herb Caen)

Caen’s San Francisco may not be the city we remember, but it is the city we want to remember. (Mayor Willie Brown)

Of all American cities of whatever size the most friendly on preliminary inspection, and on further acquaintance the most likable. The happiest-hearted, the gayest, the most care-free city on this continent.  (Irwin S. Cobb)

No city invites the heart to come to life as San Francisco does.  Arrival in San Francisco is an experience in living.  (William Saroyan)

God took the beauty of the Bay of Naples, the Valley of the Nile, the Swiss Alps, the Hudson River Valley, rolled them into one and made San Francisco Bay.  (Fiorello La Guardia)

I always see about six scuffles a night when I come to San Francisco.  That’s one of the town’s charms.  (Erroll Flynn)

San Francisco is a complex town that lets you be yourself, that accepts you even if your family doesn’t. No matter how uncomfortable your own skin feels, you can move to this city, discover who you really are, and plant your feet on the ground.  (Jack Boulware)

San Francisco, open your Golden Gate, you’ll let nobody wait outside your door, San Francisco, here is your wanderin’ one, saying I’ll wander no more. (Gus Khan, Bronislaw Kaper, Walter Jurrman)

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San Francisco! – one of my two favorite cities.  There is more grace per square foot in San Francisco than any place on earth!  (Bishop Fulton J. Sheen)

I don’t think San Francisco needs defending.  I never meet anyone who doesn’t love the place, Americans or others.  (Doris Lessing)

There are a thousand viewpoints in the viewtiful city. (Herb Caen)

San Francisco has always been a haven for misfits and weirdos. I’m both of these, which is why I came here. (Michael Franti)

I think San Francisco is the best place in the whole world for an easy life. (Imogen Cunningham)

San Francisco is perhaps the most European of all American cities. (Cecil Beaton)

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San Francisco is Beautiful People wearing a bracelet of bridges.  (Hal Lipset)

I have always been rather better treated in San Francisco than I actually deserved (Mark Twain)

It’s an odd thing, but anyone who disappears is said to be seen in San Francisco. It must be a delightful city and possess all the attraction of the next world. (Oscar Wilde)

Every city on earth has its special sink of vice, crime and degradation, its running ulcer or moral cancer, which it would fain hide from the gaze of mankind…..San Franciscans will not yield the palm of superiority to anything to be found elsewhere in the world. Speak of the deeper depth, the lower hell, the maelstrom of vice and iniquity – from whence those who once fairly enter escape no more forever – and they will point triumphantly to the Barbary Coast, strewn from end to end with the wrecks of humanity, and challenge you to match it anywhere outside of he lake of fire and brimstone. (Colonel Evans)

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If you’re going to San Francisco, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair, if you’re going to San Francisco, you’re gonna meet some gentle people there. (John Phillips)

San Francisco is the greatest…the hills…fabulous food…most beautiful and civilised people.  (Duke and Duchess of Bedford)

The old San Francisco is dead. The gayest, lightest hearted, and most pleasure-loving city of the western continent, and in many ways the most interesting and romantic, is a horde of refugees living among ruins. It may rebuild; it probably will; but those who have known that peculiar city by the Golden Gate, have caught its flavour of the Arabian Nights, feel it can never be the same. It is as though a pretty, frivolous woman has passed through a great tragedy. She survives, but she is sobered and different. If it rises out of the ashes it must be a modern city, much like other cities without its old atmosphere. (Will Irwin)

I love San Francisco.  It would be a perfect place for a honeymoon.  (Kim Novak)

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San Francisco is a breathtakingly beautiful city, with lots of great contrasts between dark and light, often overlapping each other. It’s a great setting for a horror story. (Christopher Moore)

Now there’s a grown-up swinging town.  (Frank Sinatra)

Whoever after due and proper warning shall be heard to utter the abominable word “Frisco”, which has no linguistic or other warrant, shall be deemed guilty of High Misdemeanour, and shall pay into the Imperial Treasury as penalty the sum of twenty-five dollars. (Emperor Norton)

If civil disobedience is the way to go about change, than I think a lot of people will be going to San Francisco (Rosie O’Donnell)

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I don’t like San Francisco.  I love it!  (Dorothy Lamour)

“Queen of the Pacific Coast! Fair city whose changing skies for half the year shower down mist and rain, and the other half sunbeams of molten brass! Metropolis of alternate sticky mud and blinding dust! In spite of these and more thou art a city of my heart,  O Ciudad de San Francisco!” (T.S. Kenderdine)

Two days in this city is worth two months in New York.  (Robert Menzies)

I’m just mad for San Francisco.  It is like London and Paris stacked on top of each other.  (Twiggy)

I fell in love with the most cordial and sociable city in the Union. After the sagebrush and alkali deserts of Wahoe, San Francisco was Paradise to me. (Mark Twain)

San Francisco is poetry.  Even the hills rhyme.  (Pat Montandon)

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San Francisco itself is art, above all literary art. Every block is a short story, every hill a novel. Every house a poem, every dweller within immortal. This is the whole truth. (William Saroyan)

I love this city.  If I am elected, I’ll move the White House to San Francisco. Everybody’s so friendly.  (Robert Kennedy)

I like the fog that creeps over the whole city every night about five, and the warm protective feeling it gives…and lights of San Francisco at night, the fog horn, the bay at dusk and the little flower stands where spring flowers appear before anywhere else in the country…But, most of all, I like the view of the ocean from the Cliff House.  (Irene Dunne)

San Francisco is really fun and liberal, and it’s my kind of politics. It’s like being Jewish in front of Jewish people. (Elayne Bossier)

I love San Francisco and Brighton has something of San Francisco about it. It’s by the sea, there’s a big gay community, a feeling of people being there because they enjoy their life there. (Brian Eno)

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We’re crazy about this city.  First time we came here, we walked the streets all day – all over town – and nobody hassled us.  People smiled, friendly-like, and we knew we could live here……Los Angeles? That’s just a big parking lot where you buy a hamburger for a trip to San Francisco……And the beautiful old houses and the strange light.  We’ve never been in a city with light like this.  We sit in our hotel room for hours, watching the fog come in, the light change.  (John Lennon and Yoko Ono)

The extreme geniality of San Francisco’s economic, intellectual and political climate makes it the most varied and challenging city in the United States (James Michener)

But I would rather be with you, somewhere in San Francisco on a back porch in July, just looking up to Heaven, at this crescent in the sky (Robert Hunter)

I have seen few things as beautiful as a 6.30 am lift-off from San Francisco International Airport in the autumn. From above, the rippled fog layer laps against the shores of the foothills like a voluminous cotton ocean (Eric Chang)

San Francisco is a city with the assets of a metropolis without the disadvantages of size and industry.  (Jack Kenny)

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Isn’t it nice that people who prefer Los Angeles to San Francisco live there? (Herb Caen)

San Francisco is one of the great cultural plateaus in the world….one of the really urbane communities in the United States…one of the truly cosmopolitan places – and for many, many years, it has always had a warm welcome for human beings from all over the world.  (Duke Ellington)

The Golden Gate Bridge’s daily strip tease from enveloping stoles of mist to full frontal glory is still the most provocative show in town (Mary Moore Mason)

No visit to the United States would be complete without San Francisco – this beautiful city, center of the West, very well known for its beauty and the place where the United Nations was born.  (Queen Sirikit of Thailand)

To a traveler paying his first visit, it has the interest of a new planet.  It ignores the meteorological laws which govern the rest of the world.  (Fitz Hugh Ludlow)

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Cities are like gentlemen, they are born, not made.  You are either a city, or you are not, size has nothing to do with it.  I bet San Francisco was a city from the very first time it had a dozen settlers.  New York is “Yokel”, but San Francisco is “City at Heart”.  (Will Rogers)

God! I love this city! (Herb Caen)

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This is the first place in the United States where I sang, and I like San Francisco better than any other city in the world.  I love no city more than this one.  Where else could I sing outdoors on Christmas Eve?  (Luisa Tetrazzini)

The San Francisco Bay Area is the playpen of countercultures (RZ Sheppard)

I have seen purer liqors, better segars, finer tobacco, truer guns and pistols, larger dirks and bowie knives, and prettier women courtesans here in San Francisco than in any other place I have ever visited. (Hinton Helper)

San Francisco is gone. Nothing remains of it but memories. (Jack London)

San Francisco may soon become the first fully gentrified city in America, the urban equivalent of a gated bedroom community…..Now it’s becoming almost impossible for a lot of the people who have made this such a world-class city – people who have been the heart and soul of the city for decades – from the fishers and pasta makers and blue-collar workers to the jazz musicians to the beat poets to the hippies to the punks and so many others –to exist here anymore. And when you’ve lost that part of the city, you’ve lost San Francisco. (Daniel Zoll)

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San Francisco is a city where people are never more abroad than when they are at home.  (Benjamin F. Taylor)

It’s the grandest city I saw in America.  If everyone acted as the San Franciscans did, there would be hope for settlement of the world’s difficulties.  (Frol Zozlov)

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To this day the city of San Francisco remains to the Chinese the Great City of the Golden Mountains.  (Kai Fu Shah)

California – Death Valley

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The very name evokes all that is harsh, hot and hellish – a punishing, barren and lifeless place of Old Testament severity. Yet closer inspection reveals that in Death Valley nature is putting on a truly spectacular show: singing sand dunes, water-sculpted canyons, boulders moving across the desert floor, extinct volcanic craters, palm-shaded oases and plenty of endemic wildlife. This is a land of superlatives, holding the US records for hottest temperature (134°F/57°C), lowest point (Badwater, 282ft below sea level) and largest national park outside Alaska (over 5000 sq miles).

-Lonely Planet

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Death Valley is a contradiction of the natural world. Its deadly heat is contrasted by snow capped mountains. It’s dry and below sea level, yet the occasional rain causes wildflowers to bloom. Even its name is a contradiction as plenty of life and beauty exist here.

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Death Valley National Park comprises more than 3.3 million acres of spectacular desert scenery, rare desert wildlife, complex geology, undisturbed wilderness and sites of historical interest. Death Valley is unique because it contains the lowest, hottest, driest location in North America. Nearly 550 square miles of its area lie below sea level. Ecologically, its plants and animals are representative of the Mojave Desert.

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The moniker belies the beauty in this vast graben, the geological term for a sunken fragment of the Earth’s crust. Here are rocks sculptured by erosion, richly tinted mudstone hills and canyons, luminous sand dunes, lush oases, and a 200-square-mile salt pan surrounded by mountains, one of America’s greatest vertical rises. In some years spring rains trigger wildflower blooms amid more than a thousand varieties of plants.

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The park protects part of the Mojave Desert and many other formations such as mountains, canyons, valleys, sand dunes, and salt flats. There is roughly three-million acres to explore in the park and due to its desolate nature, it’s important for travellers to plan and pack thoughtfully.

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At 3.4 million acres, Death Valley is the largest national park in the United States. Humans made their mark in Death Valley at least 9,000 years ago, with rock art and other artifacts left behind as evidence.

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Dozens of scenes from Star Wars have been filmed in Death Valley, including Artist’s Palette (the Sandcrawler scene from Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope), Golden Canyon (Jawa scenes from Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope) and Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes (Droid scenes from Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope).

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“Death Valley is really wide-open – it’s bigger than Rhode Island – and it’s less a part of California than an ungoverned territory, so there’s lots of weird cops-and-robbers stuff going on.”

– Gus Van Sant

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Despite it’s foreboding name, Death Valley is home to bighorn sheep, reptiles, lizards, snakes, amphibians plus more than 300 species of birds, not to mention the explosion of fauna that erupt after a rainfall.

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“Probably the one Bible passage that is read by Jews and Roman Catholics, Protestants, Islam, more than any other chapter is Psalm 23. And in Psalm 23 there is a verse that says, ‘Surely, yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.’ “

-Robert Schuller

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Only 15 miles separate the highest elevation in Death Valley National Park (Telescope Peak at 11,049 feet) and Badwater Basin (282 feet below sea level).

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In 1849 emigrants bound for California’s gold fields strayed into the 120-mile long basin, enduring a two-month ordeal of “hunger and thirst and an awful silence.” One of the last to leave looked down from a mountain at the narrow valley and said, “Good-bye, Death Valley.”

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Almost like being on another planet, a trip to Death Valley should be on your bucket list because it’s truly like no other place on Earth.