Jackpot!

We spent a few days on the beautiful coast of Mendocino recently.  One afternoon while my love was golfing, I walked the trail down to the beach with the sweetest furry friend a girl could ask for.
This is beautiful Buckhorn Cove. It was such a great place to explore a bit and just relax. When I first arrived there were a few kayakers in the water and a group of divers who were packing up to leave. In less than five minutes I had this serene stretch of coast all to myself. 
There were tide pools to investigate, caves to peek around in, and large rocks for sitting on and gazing out at God’s mesmerizing handiwork.

And there were a whole lot of valentines from nature.Yes indeed. A bag full of treasures, peace and gratitude in my heart, abundant love in my life; I hit the jackpot in so many ways.

Meiss Meadows Trail

Near Carson Pass, on the north side of highway 88 is Meiss Meadows Trail. A few weeks ago we set out to hike one of our favorite areas but when we got to the parking lot we were surprised that it was still covered in snow. Yep, snow in July. We still plan to go back to that location, but decided to venture a bit further and to the other side of the highway and discovered Meiss Meadows Trail. The parking lot  to the trailhead wasn’t under snow even with the starting elevation at 8200 feet. That was a good sign!

Though this was not our first choice for hiking on this day, by no means were we disappointed. The views along the trail were outstanding.
Hillsides full of Mule’s Ear, Indian Paintbrush, Forget Me Nots, Lupine, and Creeping Phlox had me stopping to take photos every few feet!Heart rocks and all of this wildflower beauty. These are a few of my favorite things! 
 Mountain beauty as far as the eyes can see.  I just may have spun around with my arms outstretched like Maria in The Sound of Music!Oh yes, the hills are definitely alive!

Short and Sweet

A short and sweet little break in nature was just what we were looking for. We had the joy of taking care of our eleven month grand daughter this weekend and were looking for a short hike to take her on in a new back pack. We figured we could take turns holding her if she got fussy or didn’t want to sit in the back pack, and decided to go to the Dave Moore Nature Trail near Coloma. We found it to be ideal for our needs.  It’s an easy 1.1 mile trail loop, very well maintained, with a canopy of oaks to provide ample shade.
The trail took up past this beautiful madrone tree,blackberry bushes, wild grape vines, some interesting rock formations, and lots of colorful wildflowers.
 And on we hiked, right to the south fork of The American River. Here we found a small beach to enjoy for awhile, before carrying on with the trail. In no time at all, we were back at the parking lot, just in time to give our sweetie a bottle and a snack. What a great hike for families with little ones, or anyone who wants a quick dose of nature.I’ll leave you with a little lichen heart along the way that brought a smile to my face. Hope it does the same for you too.

Breathtakingly Beautiful Bassi Falls

Hallelujah! Our long drought is over and the rivers and waterfalls are at peak flow. Now is the time to see them.

One of our local news channels put together a list of five must-see waterfalls nearby, and Bassi Falls was on the list. Never having been to Bassi Falls we recently set out for an afternoon adventure.

Bassi Falls is in the Sierra Nevada mountain range off of Ice House Road. The trail is two miles each way, and is fairly well marked.Parts of the trail were shaded by a canopy of conifers while other areas require climbing over granite under the warm sun. Wildflowers dotted the trail and we had the music of the rushing falls and creek to add to our sensory enjoyment.Heart rocks greeted us throughout the hike and I ended up coming home with six of them in the backpack. I left even more there for the next heart rock collector though. Go have a look!

Soak up all of this natural beauty as far as the eye can see.
Almost there!Here at the base of the falls we could cross low parts of Bassi Creek to sit on a boulder and admire this incredible sight. Don’t you agree with me? It’s a breathtakingly beautiful reward at the end of the hike!

Forest Bathing

Have you heard of forest bathing (Shinrin-yoku)? Forest bathing was formalized in Japan in 1982, and now is recognized as a cornerstone of their preventive health care and natural healing medicine. Lately, the idea has been spreading around the world.

It’s not about hiking through the forest or counting steps on a Fitbit; the objective is to slow down, be present with all of your senses, and relax among the trees. It’s about de-stressing. Let the trees soothe your spirit.Spending time in natural environments has been linked to lower stress levels, improved working memory, and feeling more alive. Forest bathing has been proven to lower heart rate and blood pressure, reduce stress hormone production, boost the immune system, and improve overall feelings of well-being.

I don’t know anyone who couldn’t benefit from that. C’mon, I’ll meet you in the forest!

Daffodil Hill

Daffy Down Dilly has come to town in a yellow petticoat and a green gown! ~Nathanial HawthorneDriving on a winding country road, and passing statuesque pines, and hills covered in emerald carpet, I thought to myself that this is exactly how spring is supposed to feel. Fresh, alive, and absolutely bursting with blooms! Yes, the drive to Daffodil Hill in Amador County is almost as pretty as the historical ranch itself.Fields of daffodils, farm animals and peacocks greet visitors upon arrival. Meandering through trails you’ll come across’s the original 1880s barn, old wagon wheels, gold rush mining equipment, and antique farm implements. There is no entrance fee, but donations are accepted and there is a small souvenir shop to purchase something special. Daffodil Hill in Volcano has been owned by the McLaughlin Family since 1887. Ancestors bought it from Pete Denzer, who had planted a few daffodils to remember his home country of Holland. The McLaughlin’s continued to plant daffodils through the years, and now plant several thousand bulbs annually. It is estimated that there are 300,000 daffodils blooming now. What a sight to behold!

The generous McLaughlin Family gives us all an enormous gift by opening up their private ranch each year for a few weeks to let the public traipse around the gardens and trails, picnic under shade trees, and soak up all that spring in the country offers. We are undeniably grateful!The stunning photo above came right off  Daffodil Hill’s Facebook page. They ask that you check the page or call daily to make sure the ranch is open. Rainy weather closes the ranch until the trails dry out. Make a day of your visit by stopping in the nearby little towns of Amador and Sutter Creek. Both are fun to visit and get a bite to eat.

What a lovely place to celebrate the arrival of spring!

Bale Grist Mill

A little preview of spring was in the air when we set out to explore Bale Grist Mill State Historic Park in Saint Helena a few weeks ago. We had driven to the Napa Valley just for the day, planning to shop, wine taste, and eat dinner at a favorite restaurant, but we also wanted to get a short hike in. The weather was warm, trees were budding, the sky was brilliant blue, and a trail was calling!

A short walk from the parking lot took us into the park where we first took an interesting tour of the mill. We learned that the mill was built in 1846 by Edward Bale, is fully operational, and is the sole surviving water powered mill in California. Inside the museum/gift shop, bags of grains (polenta, cornmeal, spelt, buckwheat, rye, and whole wheat flours) that the mill grinds are available to purchase. The park is quite picturesque with a babbling creek, stately oaks, rolling hills, and plenty of picnic benches in the shade. We hiked the peaceful trail that connects to Bothe State Park and even found some heart rocks along the way. I left them for you to find. Go take a look!Along the easy, two mile hike we encountered beautiful scenery. After driving in the car for a few hours to get to wine country that morning, and anticipating more sitting on the drive home later in the evening, this little hike was definitely needed. A bit of shopping, some wine tasting, delicious food, and a lovely hike — everything in moderation (even in the Napa Valley), right?!

Celebrating the Snow

Sierra snowpack levels and rain are way above normal here in Northern California this year and that’s cause for celebration in my book. Evidently, many others were celebrating all of the recent storms right along with us by taking a trip to snow country during the holiday weekend! A drive to Tahoe usually takes us an hour. Today it was a v-e-r-y slow two and a half hour drive.

We have a few usual spots where we like to go snowshoeing, but we got a later start on the road than usual and we found those to be too crowded. Continuing on and feeling up for an adventure, we came to Camp Richardson on the southwest side of the lake and found parking spaces available! In no time at all we were layered up and had our gear strapped on.What a sight to behold! Just look at this incredibly beautiful winter wonderland!
It felt so good to be out exploring in all of nature’s winter beauty after being cooped up from our rainy weather for so long.Through the branches is our dog, Gemma, prancing around in the snow where there’s usually sand, with Lake Tahoe just beyond.  Ahhh! Here’s a little snow heart along our pathand another amidst the tree branches! There’s so much to celebrate in life. Hope you’re finding cause to celebrate this winter as well.

Sacramento’s Capitol Park

An edifice should be constructed…satisfactory of the grandeur of the coming time … surrounded by grounds … with a beauty and luxuriousness that no other capitol can boast.”

~Governor Leland Stanford, 1863img_1899img_1890img_1848img_1878On a recent November day I spent a delightful morning with my love strolling around the grounds of the Capitol admiring the memorials, gardens, statues, fountains and trees.

Covering forty acres and spanning twelve city blocks, Capitol Park began life in 1860 as just four blocks, and from then to 1917 the remaining blocks became part of the park’s expansion projects. Since 1869 eight hundred flowering trees and shrubs have been planted, representing over two hundred native and exotic varieties.

Here’s just a glimpse of the World Peace Rose Garden in Capitol Park, still bursting with blooms in November and displaying 650 roses in over 140 varieties of colors and fragrances.img_1866img_1865img_1864In honor of Veteran’s Day two harpists played gentle melodies in front of war memorials.img_1863Many of the trees planted are dedicated to former members of staff of the California State Legislature, or to mark special anniversaries. There’s also the Moon Tree, a Coastal Redwood that began life as one seed among hundreds which orbited the moon aboard the command module of the Apollo 14 mission.

Just look at all of this tree magic.img_1855img_1856img_1860img_1873img_1869img_1868img_1867img_1880img_1877img_1891img_1893Beautiful and luxurious grounds, indeed. What a great way to spend a few hours. I think Governor Leland Stanford would be quite proud.

 

Skunk Harbor

No, I can’t answer why this particularly gorgeous hike to a secluded beach with crystal clear waters is called Skunk Harbor.img_1373All I know is that just two weekends ago, my brothers, my husband, and I hiked this winding trail, located on Highway 28, just two miles north of Highway 50, down to this dazzling, yet serene beach.

Hike about a mile and a half down the trail and you’ll come to a fork in the road. Going left leads you to Prey Meadows and veering right takes you to Skunk Harbor.

Look at these striking views you’ll take in!img_1369img_1368img_1700img_1366img_1392img_1393img_1462Close to the shore we came upon this old stone building built by a wealthy San Francisco family who used it as a secluded picnic pavilion in the roaring twenties! Oh, if these stone walls could speak what stories we might hear!
img_1377img_1382img_1381img_1379Brilliant blues!img_1378Beautiful cove, beach and views!img_1460No skunks!

As I write today I am reminded how quickly the fall season passes. On the recent day of our hike, we enjoyed warm temperatures and didn’t even need the sweatshirts we had packed. Watching the evening news tonight I learned that the high temperature in the Skunk Harbor area today was 38 degrees. It may get a dusting of snow tonight. Back at home it’s pouring rain, and our trees are completely aglow with the costumes of autumn’s finery. Another two weeks and the trees may be bare. I’m making sure to get outside and soak up all of the glory this short season offers. Wishes to you for a lovely autumn season.