Feature

Getting the flavor of...California’s public Garden of Eden

California's Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District consists of 60,000 acres of backcountry that stretches to the Pacific.

California’s public Garden of Eden
Standing alone in the “Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District,” I thought I had stumbled upon a “portal to a prehistoric world,” said Bonnie Tsui in The New York Times. Everything in this Northern California greenbelt is “supersized in a kind of lush, Land Before Time way.” That I was only an hour south of San Francisco made the setting “all the more miraculous.” Composed of 26 preserves, the 60,000-acre district was established to create “a corridor of public space that reaches to the ocean.” With a “lacy green canopy of giant redwoods” above and “enormous sprigs of clover underfoot,” I felt lost in a fairyland. Hundreds of miles of trails lead hikers and equestrians through open meadows, past fragrant eucalyptus groves, and along windy bluffs that drop down to the Pacific. The trailheads lie within an hour of several urban areas, but city life seems millennia away.
Contact: openspace.org

Mark Twain’s New York retreat
Elmira, N.Y., “played a central role” in Mark Twain’s life, said Andrea Sachs in The Washington Post. In this quaint town, Twain met and married his wife, created “most of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer,” and was laid to rest in Woodlawn Cemetery. You don’t have to be a “hard-core” Twain pilgrim to enjoy the local lore. On Elmira College’s “leafy campus,” you’ll find the study where Twain did his writing; the little building’s air still “smells faintly” of Twain’s “30-cigars-a-day habit.” The study was moved to its present site from Twain’s “summer retreat,” Quarry Farm, which today is open to scholars and holds spring and fall lecture series in its carriage barn. Don’t leave Elmira without enjoying one of Samuel Draper’s walking tours; the guide and, “from a distance, Twain lookalike” has been regaling Twainites with stories about their hero for 25 years.
Contact: ci.elmira.ny.us

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