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.

Leaf Peeping in Hope Valley

It’s a goal of ours every year to get up to Hope Valley in Alpine county to see the golden leaves of the aspens. It’s difficult to gage exactly when the leaves are at their peak. Sometimes we’re a bit early and other years we arrive and the leaves have already faded from their glory, but none the less it’s always a beautiful, scenic drive. On this day the leaves weren’t at their height of color, but we were greeted with gorgeous sights everywhere we looked.  We won’t have time to drive up again this month, but I’m betting that this coming weekend the trees will be putting on a spectacular show .img_1282img_1287img_1284img_1280img_1288img_1290img_1331We spent a lovely afternoon taking in the sights, strolling around the trails and hills, and then had a delicious early dinner at the cafe at Sorensen’s Resort. Autumn has definitely arrived!

“Just before the death of flowers, and before they are buried in snow, there comes a festival season when nature is all aglow.” ~Author Unknown

 

Glorious Glen Alpine Trail

I think it’s safe to say that the best weekends involve some hiking, a chance for a little get away to the mountains or the shore, exhilarating fresh air and the incredibly beautiful vistas mother nature has to offer us.

We recently hiked the Glen Alpine Trail in South Lake Tahoe. To get there you must drive the long one lane road along the south shore of gorgeous Fallen Leaf Lake. I’m certainly not complaining; look at this incredible view from the car!img_1044We parked in the parking lot near the general store and walked a little over a mile to get to the trail head. There is limited parking closer to the trailhead, but we’ve always enjoyed the walk. Along the way we passed the lower falls which were just trickling, and the cozy Saint Francis of the Mountains chapel where a wedding was underway. I refrained from taking a photo, wanting to give them their privacy, but it was truly a lovely sight.img_1053img_1059img_1052img_1063img_1049img_1100Once we got to the trailhead we were gifted with meadows, springs, historical sites, rushing waterfalls, and stunning view of Mount Tallac all along this secluded mountain trail.img_1230img_1098John Muir was just one of the many hikers who found the trail unforgettable, writing that it “seems to me one of the most delightful places in all the famous Tahoe region. From no other valley, as far as I know, may excursions be made in a single day to see so many peaks, wild gardens, glacier lakes, glacier meadows, and alpine groves, cascades, etc.”img_1069img_1074img_1084img_1083img_1082img_1107img_1095img_1109img_1110His words are perfect. We found all of that and a whole lot of love!

 

Where Fairies Dwell

Clearly there is a bit of magic happening along the American River parkway in Sacramento, as my dad and I observed during a recent morning walk.

The trails have everything necessary for fairies, elves, and leprechauns to set up housekeeping:

Cool, clear water from the river,IMG_9890branches of a tree that have grown together, creating whimsy,IMG_9899magnificent oaks to live in,IMG_9896IMG_9894heart shaped grape vine leaves, plenty of grapes, and wild blackberries,IMG_9889a heart shaped rock,IMG_9888and pretty wildflowers. IMG_9887Who could resist making their home right here surrounded by all of nature’s treasures?IMG_9875Open the door…
IMG_9876Wow! Special feathers, pebbles, and clear lids to use as stools.

A pretty painted rock,IMG_9883A peacock feather, sparkling jewels, stones for a path to the door, flower petals and a tiny little doorbell!IMG_9880Here’s a closer look. Open the door! Look how sweet!IMG_9881Here’s another little home.
IMG_9874And another!IMG_9884Someone’s having so much fun! I’d love to come across them as I’m out walking.

I’m going to be on the lookout for more fairy homes on my walks. Hope you’re lucky enough to find them too! And wouldn’t it be fun to make your own? Who knew that last week was International Build a Fairy House & Den Week? Earlier today I came across a free booklet, Build a Fairy House and Den to download. The author includes lots of great ideas. Have a look!

“Hand in hand, with fairy grace, we will sing and bless this place. ~William Shakespeare

Breathtaking Burney Falls

“Come away oh human child! To the waters and the wild.”

~Yeats

A few weeks ago my husband and I had the pleasure of  spending the day with my in laws and taking the short one hour drive from Redding, where they live, to Burney Falls.  Located in beautiful McArthur-Burney Falls State Park, the park offers ample camp sites and plenty of trails to hike, but the 129 foot waterfall is the crowned jewel. I’m just going to let the photos do the talking! Just take a look at this stunning display of nature’s splendor.
IMG_9867IMG_9346IMG_9865IMG_9866IMG_9362It’s easy to see why President Roosevelt called this the 8th wonder of the world! Mother Nature at her finest.

Glorious Hills of Poppies

“Let us dance in the sun, wearing wildflowers in our hair. ~Susan Polis Shutz
IMG_8607IMG_8620IMG_8622IMG_8649IMG_8610IMG_8612IMG_8643IMG_8635A week and a half ago we had the pleasure of going on a poppy hike facilitated by the American River Conservancy. The hike was on private property in Coloma which had spectacular views of the American River below us and hills of happy poppies everywhere we looked. Bill and Robin Center were so generous, leading groups of us on their trails, sharing their wisdom, and providing a delicious spread of appetizers and desserts afterwards under the shady oaks. Being surrounded by nature’s beauty in Coloma is something we won’t forget. We are so grateful for the experience!

Let’s Take a Walk

The sun is rising; birds are singing their finest songs. C’mon, let’s take a walk. We’re on one of the nearby trails that I use regularly. IMG_8208This is my sweet girl, Gemma, who accompanies me on my walks. Isn’t she beautiful? Beautiful and gentle with children, a wonderful protector, and the best ball retriever you’ll ever meet!IMG_8206Everywhere I look there are things to marvel about. Notice the shape of this graceful oak’s branches.IMG_8214And the vibrant greens of the moss and ferns growing on this large rock.IMG_8209This touched my heart and put a smile on my face. Here’s a memory bench that I’ve walked by every week, but today, dozens of pastel colored tulips planted behind it on the hillside are blooming and brightening everyone’s day! IMG_8204I didn’t know this woman, but I know she was so loved.IMG_8212So lovely! Such a special tribute.IMG_8202This area of the trail is in a lot of shade and is still wet from rains we had three days ago.IMG_8210IMG_8128Did you see the nest cradled in the tree branches in the photo above? And just look at all the newly unfurled spring leaves. I hope the nest is full of eggs. I’ll have to check in regularly as I walk by.IMG_8124A few miles in the freshness of the early morning… I can’t think of a better way to start my day. Thanks for coming along.

Love Messages

I’d been up last night quite a bit with some troubles tumbling around in my head, and upon waking in the morning, the worries were still there at the forefront of my mind. I dressed and then leashed up my furry walking companion for our morning walk, hoping I could find some answers or clear my head a bit. The morning was beautiful and I started to feel a bit better as we walked briskly on one of our usual routes.

Lo and behold, right in front of me, throughout the walk I began to see messages. Love messages, I’ll call them. Just when I needed them.IMG_7961IMG_8108IMG_8109IMG_8110IMG_8118Surely this doesn’t solve my problems, but I assure you, it helped immensely and put a smile on my face. Things will be alright. We’ll get through this. Messages received (all of them!) with a grateful heart!

Valentine’s Day Hiking

Sugarloaf Ridge State Park in Sonoma county was an ideal place to go for a hike on Valentine’s Day. The temperatures were in the 70s and the scenery was spectacular.

There are 25 miles of hiking trails within the park, and so many trails to choose from.
IMG_7799IMG_7802We chose a trail that was mostly shady and was right along a creek, one that would only take a couple of hours.
IMG_7814Look at all the beautiful Spanish moss draping from this tree!
IMG_7811IMG_7809IMG_7805IMG_7808IMG_7806IMG_7801The hike was just what we had been clamoring for, a bit of exploring in a gorgeous location. And then we were off to a late lunch in St. Helena. You know how hard it is to get reservations for dining on Valentine’s Day! IMG_7831We had to pull over and take some pictures of the exquisite views on our drive! Wow! Can you believe this is mid February?