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Archive for March, 2019

A Delightful Spring Afternoon

It was the second day of Spring, and I was not incredibly optimistic about having a good day looking for wildflowers.  It had rained the day before and was—in fact—still raining into the morning.  The rain was expected to stop by about noon, but it was still cloudy.  My goal was to get out to Carrizo Plain National Monument, but since it is traversed by a combination of paved and dirt roads, I knew I would not drive on those roads until they had time to really dry out.  Afterall, four cars were stuck in the mud last week.

The best I could do would be to head towards the Carrizo Plain National Monument  and just see what I could find.  I started on some county roads heading out to pick up Highway 33 near McKittrick; that road becomes Highway 58 as it heads out toward Seven Mile Road.

I drove about 65 miles to get out into the beautiful hills.  Some more color started to appear in the fields as I moved closer to McKittrick.

The color on the early part of the drive was nice but not really spectacular.  The clouds, however, were incredible–they made it a good afternoon even if that’s all I saw.

The greatest color was evident around the intersection of Highway 58 and Seven Mile Road.  Yellow seemed to be everywhere, with occasional spots of purple, white, and orange.

There were no poppies and lupine on these hills.  They are my favorite, and I should see them when I visit the Poppy Preserve in a few weeks.  In these hills, Goldfields, Great Valley Phacelia, Common Fiddleneck, and Milk Vetch provided the color.  They are pretty!

Fiddleneck

Some Nice Little Purple Flowers

Goldfields

Milk Vetch

Great Valley Phacelia

It ended up being a wonderfully colorful afternoon.  I look forward to driving out to Carrizo Plain National Monument in the next couple of weeks.  This year’s bloom could rival the 2017 Super Bloom.

A Little Glimpse of Spring

“The day the Lord created hope was probably the same day He created Spring.”  Bern Williams

 “Where flowers bloom so does hope.”   Lady Bird Johnson

It has been a long hard winter. In California, that means we have had a lot more cold and rain than usual.  Other parts of the country have been hit even harder with extensive storms and floods—and resulting tragedies.

Tomorrow is the official first day of Spring.  Finally. I expect we are all ready for the promise and hope of the season. Of course, just because it is the Spring Equinox does not mean the storms of winter will just stop. In fact, in my area, a late storm is expected that day.

But eventually spring will be here in full bloom.  Maybe not tomorrow, but soon.  Already glimpses of spring are popping up all over.

In fact, these fruit-tree blossoms are already waning, as foliage takes over.

Blue skies are gorgeous along the hills near Gorman, California.

These flowers are starting to emerge around my apartment.

The other day I took a lovely drive through The Wind Wolves Preserve.  The hills were green, the breezes were blowing, and a few wildflowers were hiding out in the fields.  It was a delightful afternoon.

“No matter how chaotic it is, wildflowers will still spring up in the middle of nowhere.”  Sheryl Crow

“Springtime is the land awakening.  The March winds are the morning yawn.”   Lewis Grizzard

This Road Runner was, not unexpectedly, running along the road!

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THE HOPE OF SPRING

 “It is spring again.  The Earth is like a child that knows poems.”   Rainer Maria Rilke

“Come with me into the woods.  Where spring is advancing, as it does, no matter what, not being singular or particular, but one of the forever gifts, and certainly visible.”   Mary Oliver

“You can cut all the flowers, but you cannot keep spring from coming.”   Pablo Neruda

“If people did not love one another, I really don’t see what use there would be in having any spring.”   Victor Hugo

“Always it’s spring and everyone’s in love and flowers pick themselves.”   e. e. cummings

“If winter comes, can spring be far behind?”   Percy Bysshe Shelley

“The promise of spring’s arrival is enough to get anyone through the bitter winter.”  Jen Slelinsky

“No winter lasts forever, no spring skips its turn.”  Hal Borland

“Spring is nature’s way of saying, ‘Let’s party!”  Robin Williams

“Spring won’t let me stay in this house any longer! I must get out and breathe the air deeply again.”   Gustav Mahler

 “Blossom by blossom the spring begins.”  Algernon Charles Swinburne

“I suppose the best kind of spring morning is the best weather God has to offer.”   Dodie Smith

“Some old-fashioned things like fresh air and sunshine are hard to beat.” Laura Ingalls Wilder

“A kind word is like a spring day.”   Russian Proverb

 “Deep in their roots, all flowers keep the light.”  Theodore Roethke

Winter Trip: SOME FINAL BITS & PIECES

I usually take trips in Spring and Fall, sometimes in Summer.  This year, I chanced a trip in Winter—and it was great.  My main goal was to go to Klamath and Tulelake National Wildlife Refuges to see some bald eagles.  In my younger days, I thought little of driving 10 to 12 hours a day, just to get from Point A to Point B.  If I followed that practice, my trip would have been 3 days: One to drive 12 hours to Medford, OR; another to visit the wildlife refuges; and then a long drive home.  The trip would have covered about 1400 miles, staying mainly on I-5.

Now that I am old(er) and wiser more experienced, I have three basic rules I use to plan my trips:

  • Travel no more than about 300 miles a day, so there is plenty of time to stop and play.
  • Always look for scenic routes that will get you where you want to go.
  • Add some extra days to your trip, just to take time to play—especially getting out in Nature.

With these rules in mind, my trip changed to an 8-day drive, covering about 1800 miles.  Instead of having one great day out in Nature, I ended up having six—with eight stops along the way.  I saw eagles, geese, redwoods and even a little stretch of beach.  I’ve already shared posts on these major stops along the way, but there are a few final bits and pieces worth sharing.

This trip was especially fun because my good friend Raquel was able to travel with me.  We have been friends for about 30 years, and her sense of humor and love of adventure make her a great traveling companion.  We don’t even drive each other crazy—well, at least not too much.

We did travel a bit on I-5 in Northern California and saw some nice views of Mt. Shasta as well as another look at Priscilla, the Dragon Princess.

But we also traveled some small state and county roads.  As John Denver sings, “Country roads, take me home, to the place I belong.”

It rained a bit on this trip—and I loved it!  We never saw so much rain that it interrupted our plans.  And looking out through rain-drenched windows is always fun.

I am never sure if they are coming or going, but I love seeing geese in flight!

I have always loved trees, and this trip provided ample opportunity to experience the mighty redwoods.  As John Muir explains, “The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.”  But there were some other wonderful trees along the way too.

Nature is always massive and majestic.  But looking deeper always showcases some great details in Nature as well.

On my trips, I spend a fair amount of time staring into Nature.  Here are a few photos, where some faces seemed to be looking back.  Do you see them too?

Next week, Spring 2019 officially arrives.  For many, it seems that this long, harsh winter will never end.  But it will.  And when spring arrives by you, take time to enjoy it.  I am already planning some day trips to find wildflowers in the area.  Spring really is everywhere.  These flowers were blooming along the road even on my Winter Trip.

“If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant.”   Anne Bradstreet

“That is one good thing about this world—there are always sure to be more springs.”  L. M. Montgomery

Winter Trip Stop 8: CHANDELIER DRIVE-THRU TREE

Our Winter Trip was nearing the end.  This second to the last day, we were driving from Eureka, California to Sacramento, California.  We knew we would see some mighty redwoods along the way as we started out on Highway 101.  We even drove part of the alternate route labeled Avenue of the Giants, traveling along Eel River and through towering redwoods.

Internet Photo

Avenue of the Giants is a 32-mile portion of Old Highway 101 that is surrounded by the Humboldt Redwoods State Park. Humboldt RSP was created in 1921 through the efforts of the Save the Redwoods League that even back then valued the large trees much more alive than dead.  Over the years, through purchase and donation, this state park has grown to nearly 53,000 acres.  Roughly a third of the park (17,000 acres) is old growth redwoods, making it the largest expanse of ancient redwoods in existence.

We did catch glimpses of the Eel River along the road.

CHANDELIER DRIVE-THRU TREE, LEGGETT, CALIFORNIA

As we continued our drive along Highway 101, heading to Highway 20 where we would head east to Sacramento, we noticed an intriguing sign:  Chandelier Drive-Thru Tree.  We just had to explore! This privately owned location in Leggett, California, became the eighth stop on our Winter Trip.

The Underwood Family has privately owned the land since 1922.  In 1937, after the tunnel was cut through the Chandelier Tree, the family opened the tree and its surroundings as a tourist attraction.  For a small fee, tourists can enter the property and enjoy the trees.

After a short drive, one comes to the drive-thru tree.  Throughout the property, there are also places to hike and picnic as well as shop in a little store.

I loved this poem!

But we were also thrilled to notice a fun surprise hiding throughout the redwoods:  wooden carvings. These sculptures—carved with a chainsaw out of redwood—were interspersed throughout the trees, catching tourists by surprise.  There were bears and eagles and deer and squirrels and turtles, and more. Two artists are responsible for these carvings, and they apparently return periodically to add more art.  The two artists are Dayton Scoggins (Artistry in Wood) and Mark Colp (Wooden Creations).

This eagle sculpture is my favorite.

If you have never visited this little tourist attraction, add it to your list of places to see.  It is delightful!

The Goodbye Committee

Not far past this little drive-thru diversion, we picked up Highway 20 en route to our hotel in Sacramento.  As we drove, the temperature dropped, and we even experienced some snow.

Once we drove out of the snow, we saw a rainbow.

Once in the hotel, we heard the news that Highway 20 closed because of the snow that—apparently—kept falling behind us.  The next day, we made it home to Bakersfield, ending a great Winter Trip.

Winter Trip Stop 7: ROOSEVELT ELK

As part of our Winter Trip, we were driving from Medford, Oregon, to Eureka, California, enjoying redwoods and ocean views along the way.

Closing in on our hotel, we figured our day was almost over.  Then, we saw a sign directing us to a spot to view some elk. Maybe. It was raining, light but steady. Still, we decided to take see what we could find.  Apparently, elk do not mind snacking in the rain.  Thank goodness.

Our seventh stop, therefore, became viewing Roosevelt Elk off the Davison Road exit from Highway 101, near Orick, California.

Named after President Theodore Roosevelt, the Roosevelt Elk is the largest of four sub-species living in North America. By 1925, there were fewer than 15 Roosevelt Elk alive in California; their number has increased to over 1,000 today.  These massive animals are 6 to 10 feet in length, and they stand 2.5 to 5.6 feet tall at the withers (base of neck, above the shoulders).

My friend took this video, showing how oblivious the elk were to us and the rain.

 

It was great to see these magnificent beasts so up close and personal.

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