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?!
“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, 1863On 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.In honor of Veteran’s Day two harpists played gentle melodies in front of war memorials.Many 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.Beautiful and luxurious grounds, indeed. What a great way to spend a few hours. I think Governor Leland Stanford would be quite proud.
No, I can’t answer why this particularly gorgeous hike to a secluded beach with crystal clear waters is called Skunk Harbor.All 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!Close 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!
Brilliant blues!Beautiful cove, beach and views!No 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.
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!We 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.Once 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.John 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.”His words are perfect. We found all of that and a whole lot of love!
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,branches of a tree that have grown together, creating whimsy,magnificent oaks to live in,heart shaped grape vine leaves, plenty of grapes, and wild blackberries,a heart shaped rock,and pretty wildflowers. Who could resist making their home right here surrounded by all of nature’s treasures?Open the door…
Wow! Special feathers, pebbles, and clear lids to use as stools.
A pretty painted rock,A peacock feather, sparkling jewels, stones for a path to the door, flower petals and a tiny little doorbell!Here’s a closer look. Open the door! Look how sweet!Here’s another little home.
And another!Someone’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