his park located between Merced and Turlock, was our destination yesterday. Thousands of people a day hurry past on busy Hwy 99, unaware that McConnell State Recreation Area lies a short distance away along the Merced River. Not a soul was there when we arrived, no rangers, no camp host, no campers. We had the place to ourselves. We breathed in the silence and recovered from a tense morning of freeway driving and fog. We had lunch on the picnic table and strolled through the park counting the numerous birds. Exploring further we walked to the beach area on the river where fish were busy spawning in the gravel beds. The temperature was perfect in the 70s. What's not to like about this park? Neglect. The grass badly needs to be mowed, the restrooms sit doors wide open, showers are marked in-operable, vehicles and machinery sit idle in a deserted work area. It looks like this was once a vital park, but for some reason every one has walked away. It is a California State Park and as we have seen too many times for budgetary reasons or what ever their parks are in a depressing state of neglect. We have enjoyed the solitude though and we do have Internet! During a stroll at dusk we heard and located a pair of Great Horned Owls, a great treat and the highlight of our birding experience here.