The California Countryside has its share of superlatives
and other oddments…those first, mosts, biggests, smallests, bests and one-of-a-kinds
that make a visit there even more fun. Some are along the roadside, some are in
town or in the woods.
The Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary is one
and a half times the size of the country’s largest national park, covering 5,312
square miles. At the center of the bay is an underwater canyon that is twice as
deep as the Grand Canyon.
The Point Pinos Lighthouse in Pacific Grove is
the oldest continuously operating lighthouse on the West Coast, marking the rocky
shoreline since 1853.
The website already mentions that Castroville is
the “Artichoke Center of the World," producing 95 percent of the nation’s artichokes.
But it doesn’t point out that the annual Castroville Artichoke Festival includes
the crowning of Artichoke Queen - an honor first bestowed in 1947, when a young
woman named Norma Jean won the title. She later gained fame as actress Marilyn
California has two official state trees - both redwoods and both
found primarily in the countryside. Redwoods are the oldest living thing on the
entire planet, some estimated at 3,000 to 4,000 years old. Among these redwoods
are the tallest (the coastal redwood, Sequaia sempervirens) and the largest (the
Sierra redwood, Sequaia gigante). The coastal redwood Founders Tree in Humboldt
County's Avenue of the Giants is the tallest at 364 feet. The General Sherman
Tree, a Sierra redwood in Sequoia
National Park, is the largest, 101.5 feet in circumference, even when measured
100 feet above the ground.
California's Mount Whitney in the Sequoia
National Forest is the tallest point (14,495 feet) in the lower 48 United
States and Death Valley clocks in as the lowest (282 feet below sea level). They're
only about 100 miles apart. Death Valley also is the hottest (and driest) place
in all of the US
While not the tallest mountain in California, Mount Shasta
is the most dramatic. It is a singular peak rising 10,000 above the plain below.
The total elevation 14,162 feet.
The California Countryside's roadside attractions
include the "World's Biggest Clam" in Pismo
Beach and the "World's Largest Artichoke" in Castroville. Castroville is considered
the artichoke capital of the world. Other capitals in the world of produce: Gilroy
for garlic, Fresno for raisins, and Tulelake for horseradish. In fact, Tulelake
grows more than one third of the world's supply.
County, whose county seat is Visalia,
is the biggest dairy center in the world. With more than 800,000 cows, this bucolic
gateway to Sequoia and Kings
Canyon National Parks has more cows than people. Got milk? Yep.
city of Tulare plays host each
year to more than 100,000 delegates to the world's largest agricultural gathering,
the World Ag Expo, held at the sprawling Agri-Center.
is home to both the world's largest winery and the world's largest cannery. Chico,
on the other hand, is home to, yes, the National Yo-Yo Museum, has on display
the world's largest yo-yo, all 256 pounds of it.
County, Fort Bragg's Tattoo Museum was founded in 1986. No procedures on premises,
last we looked. The town is also the host of the world's largest Salmon Barbecue
The annual day-long festival serves more than 5,000 pounds of fish and raises
money for the Salmon Restoration Association.
hosts the World's Wristwrestling Championships every year and in nearby Cotati
one can attend the annual Cotati Accordion Festival.
Luis Obispo is the site of the world's first motel. Local hotelier James Vail
coined the contraction in 1925 when he opened the Milestone Motel on Monterey
Street. Modeled in the Mission style, the motel later changed its name to the
Motel Inn. It is currently being restored and will once again be welcoming the
weary off the 101.
founded in 1852, is the oldest town between Los Angeles and San Francisco.
venerable structures were each made from one tree: The One Log Houses in Eureka
and Phillipsville and the One Tree Church in Santa
The largest concentration of wintering bald eagle can
be found at the Lower Klamath and Tulelake National Wildlife Refuges in northeastern
Sonoma County, Osmosis is
the only day spa in the U.S. that offers the "Enzyme Bath," a rejuvenating
dry heat treatment from Japan.