When you think of California you think of nutty people and beautiful surroundings. My daughter and I took a vacation there a couple of weeks ago and were blown away by both people and the beauty of the state.

If you’ve never been to California, it truly is a magnificent state with amazing natural beauty and honestly some pretty amazing people as well. We went to San Francisco, Monterey, Carmel-by-the-Sea, Big Sur, Napa Valley, and a redwood forest.

Everyone we met during the week was friendly, happy and really cool to talk to and be around. Our perceptions sometimes are formed by news reports are innuendo and often when we see things close up there not quite what we thought.

We were really impressed with California. If you think New Jersey is expensive and over regulated, then you have never been to California. New Jersey is kind of a mini-version of California.

But beneath all the nonsense of overreaching government in out-of-control crime in certain areas, it really is a wonderful place. On our last day there we went to Muir Woods.

That is the famous national park that contains a beautiful giant redwood forest.

It’s a crazy ride down a mountain to get there and once you’re there, the place truly is magical. The stunning beauty and majesty of these giant ancient redwood trees is jaw-dropping.

Dennis Malloy/ Townsquare Media
Dennis Malloy/ Townsquare Media
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We hiked about a mile up a fairly steep trail on a dirt path and then back down to level ground where there was a boardwalk of sorts. It's made of wooden planks that guide you through a trail past more of the majestic redwoods that we had just seen up on the hill.

We were snapping pictures left and right knowing that a photograph just couldn’t capture the sheer beauty and majesty of this place. Pictures also can’t quite capture the scale of these trees.

Dennis Malloy/ Townsquare Media
Dennis Malloy/ Townsquare Media
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So my daughter wanted to wrap her arms around part of one of them to show just how big these giant beauties are. She wanted to take a few steps off the wooden planks to demonstrate and hug this tree. She asked me to wait until a family that was approaching had passed us by. I foolishly said “oh don’t worry about those people honey just go and hug the tree".

As soon as I snapped the picture I heard the woman in the group of five people, her three children and her husband in tow, screaming "no no no no you can’t do that, you’re killing the tree! “Didn’t you see the signs you have to stay on the path, you’re killing that tree!"

Dennis Malloy/ Townsquare Media
Dennis Malloy/ Townsquare Media
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Plenty of people have been taking similar pictures throughout the park in the previous hour that we spent there. No one said anything and no trees died. I just calmly smiled and said, "OK thanks."

Once they walked past us, I was fuming. My daughter said I should have pretended not to speak English and spoken to her in Italian.

My instinct was a lot stronger, I felt like finding them on the trail and giving her and her wimpy husband a piece of my mind. That’s how mad I was.

No harm was done to the tree. No abuse to the woods was perpetrated that afternoon. Some people just feel the need to scold and to show that they know more than you and her better than you. I hate those people. They probably weren’t from California since that is a very touristy place.

We guessed they were probably from Oregon or Washington state. Maybe even New Jersey. We definitely have plenty of those folks around here.

It almost ruined the last day of the trip until my daughter and I thought about the irony of it all after about an hour and just laughed. We were scolded by a tree hugger for hugging a tree!

Opinions expressed in the post above are those of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Dennis Malloy only.

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These are the best hiking spots in New Jersey

A trip to New Jersey doesn't have to be all about the beach. Our state has some incredible trails, waterfalls, and lakes to enjoy.

From the Pine Barrens to the Appalachian Trail to the hidden gems of New Jersey, you have plenty of options for a great hike. Hiking is such a great way to spend time outdoors and enjoy nature, plus it's a great workout.

Before you go out on the trails and explore some of our listeners' suggestions, I have some tips on hiking etiquette from the American Hiking Society.

If you are going downhill and run into an uphill hiker, step to the side and give the uphill hiker space. A hiker going uphill has the right of way unless they stop to catch their breath.

Always stay on the trail, you may see side paths, unless they are marked as an official trail, steer clear of them. By going off-trail you may cause damage to the ecosystems around the trail, the plants, and wildlife that live there.

You also do not want to disturb the wildlife you encounter, just keep your distance from the wildlife and continue hiking.

Bicyclists should yield to hikers and horses. Hikers should also yield to horses, but I’m not sure how many horses you will encounter on the trails in New Jersey.
If you are thinking of bringing your dog on your hike, they should be leashed, and make sure to clean up all pet waste.

Lastly, be mindful of the weather, if the trail is too muddy, it's probably best to save your hike for another day.

I asked our listeners for their suggestions of the best hiking spots in New Jersey, check out their suggestions:

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