Aurulent Autumn

Autumn around here isn’t necessarily something that leaf peepers would come flocking to, as they do in my hometown in Indiana, but the season has its own charm.

Devils Punchbowl

Bigleaf Maples in Prairie Creek

The top photo is in the “high country” around 4,640ft or so just before Devils Punchbowl in the Siskiyou Wilderness. While it’s not the most dramatic hike in regard to fall color, it is amazing for the conifers.  It almost looks like a botanical garden set in granite peaks! Somewhere around 15 or 17 species are found up here, some left from the last glaciation period. Speaking of glaciers, the little lakes up there were carved by them. Worth a visit to this sensitive area–just tread lightly!

The second photo is from [of course!] Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. Bigleaf maples are one of the few species in the redwoods that throw color into the forest during the fall. I’d assume that the prominence of yellow is one of the reasons banana slugs might be yellow. Pity, since that crunchy yellow leaf wasn’t actually so crunchy…more on the smooshy side…[a tip if you’re like me and have to move all banana slugs off the trail–don’t use water to remove the slime off your fingers, scrape it off instead!]

You’d think with all the yellow around, people would get sick of it, but October is odd here. Along with a scattering of blue-sky days, the thickest fog comes around during this month [9 days straight of fog, 3 minutes of sunshine on the 9th day, little over an hour on the 10th day, and about a half an hour this morning, the 11th day]. The golden yellows of autumn serve to remind us that we don’t live in a world of grey tones.

Surfer at Houda Point

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Good Heavens, Slow Down!

Son of a Gun, Slow Down!

In between the general hubbub of getting ready in the morning with 6 pets who are doing their best theatrical representations of starving to death, coupled with a broken water heater, trying to straighten out plans for an upcoming trip back home, and writing 7 emails, I had in fact sat down originally to edit photos from the previous evening and I saw this quote scroll by on Facebook:

“You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes a day–unless you are too busy; then you should sit for an hour.”

So with that, I am going to write a blog post. About nothing. I feel like every time I sit to expound some grand idea into a post, it never gets finished, mostly because it leads to other tangents. My latest attempt, for example, is to pictorially represent the California Coast from peak to ocean, but it cascaded into my fight with Lightroom catalogs [turns out, my backup drives weren’t copying the lightroom edits!].

So, instead of doing all that for the time being, I present to you two sunset shots for your meditative pleasure. I feel better now.

Moonstone Sunset

On the Rocks…

On the Rocks…

A house on the water isn’t something often seen in the real estate listings here. In fact, the coastline is sparsely inhabited, thanks to meandering rivers, crumbling cliffs, and the threat of a 30 [or higher] foot tsunami knocking at your doorstep. Walking along this coast provides an entirely different feeling than that of walking along the beaches in Charleston.

Not better–or worse–but just different.  Instead of wondering what sloppy wet dog is going to jump on my camera next, or who is watching from what beach house as I poke at a half exposed whelk, here along the North Coast, we  are the watchers, pondering the crab boats’ next moves, cringing as people get too close to the surf [of what few people are out on the beaches anyway], and we sometimes debate evacuation routes in case of an earthquake-induced tsunami. Here, the landscape dominates, hiding people and civilization; in Charleston, it felt as if you could tell you were standing on a giant sphere [no flat-earth-theory-breaking-equations necessary], with multistory beach houses determining the look of the horizon.

I was surprised when, the first time on a local beach, I rounded a cliff corner during low tide to find no trespassing signs and a house precariously perched on a shelf just barely above the ocean. The view they must have during winter storms when the waves are huge! Woooweee!

House on the Rocks

Coming from the land of tornadoes, and having a weatherman for a husband, storms don’t seem near as scary as the threat of tsunamis and large earthquakes do.  Some days, the waves crashing on the beach rattle our house, a constant vibration that unnerves if you start thinking about it too much. I can’t even imagine living at that house! Just knowing in an instant the earth could shake so violently that your house might end up in the tidepools, and if that somehow doesn’t happen, then a succession of house-eating waves will come barreling towards you, giving you at most 5 minutes to find higher ground….ufff!

Makes you really ponder how strong your walls really are, whether they are made from straw, wood, or brick, Mother Nature seems to be entertained with knocking them down in some elaborate fashion every now and then.  I remember in Charleston wondering if I’d have to pack up the pets to sidestep an approaching hurricane. Here, the scenario is a bit different, to say the least. Definitely a different feeling!

Lucky Dog: Redwood National Park

Lucky Dog: Redwood National Park

I’ve never been there, but I claim with certainty that there are no redwoods in the Pyrenees Mountains. I can proclaim this solely based on my dog’s fur; the amount of redwood duff [and even a few cones] that lodges into her Pyrenees hind end each time she sits down is infinite. I’m not sure which she is more bothered by: the forest that spooks her field-loving nature, or the forest debris that tugs and causes her to be tugged on as we try to remove it. Luckily, she puts up with our redwood-filled, gawking-instead-of-walking, stroll.

You can take your leashed dog several places in Redwood National and State Parks. Trails are off-limits, but anywhere a car is permitted, so is a leashed dog. This includes campgrounds and scenic drives [just watch out for cars–the drivers often are looking up!]. Any beach that you don’t have to hike a trail to get to is also dog-friendly–including right by the Kuchel Visitor Center. Of course, your dog has to be leashed at all times [6 feet or shorter].

There are a few places I’d be wary of taking my dog. The Bald Hills Road during tick season is one; but more importantly, anywhere there are elk, I’d leave my dog in the car. It’s not unheard of for a dog to forget how big is too big and give chase or at least bark at elk, and elk usually don’t forget how big they are and willingly throw their 500-1,000 lbs in the direction of any dog, no matter how cute or tough-looking.

The one redwood-lined place I like dragging my dog [she is not a fan of forests] is Cal-Barrel Road.  This narrow gravel road, most days open to cars, climbs up a ridge for about 2 miles as it winds through the redwoods. Once an easement for logging trucks to access their timber during World War II (so I’ve been told by a knowledgeable ranger), this road allows your dog to accompany you on a serene, forested walk.

Road Closed. This is actually not a redwood, but a Douglas-Fir. Note the difference between the bark of the fallen Doug-fir and the redwood standing behind it. Husband for scale.

While not all parks are quite as dog-friendly, Redwood National and State Parks, a unique cooperation between three state parks and one national park, offers a chance to stand under the tallest canooy in the world with your four-pawed friend.  Something on both your bucket lists, I’m sure!

Fire Cave [Redwoods in high-key, nothing wrong with that!]

Large Log

Winding Up