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A very Good Friday

The courthouse at Santa Barbara

STEVE ADAMS is touring California in a motorhome for a feature that will appear in Camping & Caravanning magazine later this year. Here’s his latest report from the road.

Without wanting to cast aspersions or tempt fate, if you’re ever going to get into trouble with the law, Santa Barbara is the place to do it. The courthouse, built in 1929 in Spanish Moorish style and featuring a ridiculously ornate staircase and an 85-foot clocktower, is so beautiful you’ll forget your freedom is on the line.

My visit was purely of a touristic nature – we made excellent time on our six-hour drive from Yosemite the previous day but no laws were broken – and came at the end of a fairly relaxed Good Friday, which also happened to be my birthday. The lovely Debbie, manageress of Santa Barbara Sunrise RV Park, presented me with some celebratory cookies to commemorate the occasion, but please note her generous gesture has no bearing on my recommendation of the site if you’re ever visiting the area. It’s not exactly picturesque, but the facilities are excellent and the location ideal for a walk to the beach or downtown area, and there’s also a nearby bus stop for the latter (the set rate fare for any destination is just $1.75 for adults and children ride free). The site might be a little close to the freeway for some but we barely noticed the noise and got our best night’s sleep as well as our first lie-in of the holiday so far. The previous day’s driving, followed by a night out at Soho, one of Santa Barbara’s best live music venues, clearly tipped us over the edge in terms of sleep deprivation.

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Melting our hearts

Steve at Glacier Point, with Half Dome in the background

STEVE ADAMS is touring California in a motorhome for a feature that will appear in Camping & Caravanning magazine later this year. Here’s his latest report from the road.

Mark Twain apparently once said there are two seasons in the Sierras – ‘the end of winter and the start of the next one’. Or words to that effect. I’m paraphrasing the coach driver/tour guide who probably paraphrased Twain, but I’m sure you get the message.

That said, after another day of glorious sunshine and 80º temperatures in Yosemite National Park, I’m happy to report that the Huckleberry Finn author’s tongue-in-cheek comment holds little water in 2014. Indeed the Park experienced such a mild winter this year that many of its magnificent waterfalls – fed by melting snow – are in danger of drying up before the summer season is over.

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Joining Yosemite’s birthday celebrations

Steve's partner Natalie with the Apollo Euro Tourer at Indian Flat RV Park in Yosemite National Park

On 30 June 1864 President Abraham Lincoln took a break from attending to his duties during a particularly bloody period of the Civil War to sign the Yosemite Grant Act, a document that set aside the Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias “upon the express conditions that the premises shall be held for public use, resort and recreation”.

The hugely important Act effectively signaled the start of the National Park movement – even though Yellowstone ultimately became the United States’ first official National Park – and provided a blueprint for other states and countries to follow.

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the Act, and the good people of Yosemite National Park are making the most of it, with a number of activities celebrating the park as well as the work of the visionaries – including as many writers, artists and photographers as conservationists – who led the campaign to preserve it for the enjoyment of all.

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