|Charong and Paradise walking along the cliffs at Wilder State Park.
Originally known as Rancho del Matadero, and founded by Mission Santa Cruz in 1791, the Wilder family later acquired the land and operated a very successful dairy on the property - which includes an extraordinary stretch of coastland, with spectacular cliffs and coves.
|Hudson sitting on the rocks, while I climb out to him.
You can walk along the cliffs and enjoy the spectacular vistas, but only a couple of the beaches are accessible for swimming - but they are well worth the hike to get there.
|Hudson jumping in to join me in the water.
|Hudson and I swimming into shore.
|Paradise running on Santa Cruz Beach.
|The elevator track at Shadowbrook.
Shadowbrook has been open since 1947, and is well worth a visit, both for the food and bar and for the elevator and grounds. I thought the elevator was a funicular - but that requires two cars which counterbalance one another. In any case, it's great fun to ride up and down to the restaurant.
|Giant redwood, Big Basin State Park.
|Walking among the giant redwoods.
Unfortunately, 96% of the original coastal redwoods (a species of sequoia) were logged, but great efforts have been made since to protect vast areas of forest and to preserve the huge old-growth redwoods.
|The world's tallest trees.
If you'd like to learn more about the redwoods, read Richard Preston's wonderful non-fiction book, The Wild Trees: A Story of Passion and Daring, which recounts the adventures of young "canopy voyagers" - scientists and enthusiasts who risked their lives to live high above the rain forests of Northern California and explore the largely unknown world and eco-systems in the soaring heights of the giant redwoods.
All photographs copyright 2012 Alexander Chow-Stuart.