|On our way|
|My oldest son|
|Lichens taking back the wood|
|Leaning over from the constant sea wind|
|Vista along Route 1|
|Are you in there Gopher?|
|I've seen heaven on earth|
|So has my hubby|
|View from bed!|
|Beach trail hike|
|gnarly old tree|
|moss hanging from the branches|
|End of a 9 mile hike|
|Dream Window Seat|
|Tiny Living Room|
|What a view|
|Sonoma State Park|
|What a place to hang out!|
|Armstrong Redwood Forest|
|Meet Parsons Jones|
|Lots of Brush|
|15 feet high|
Arrived in San Fransisco at 10:30am. Immediately set off for the wharf to indulge in some west coast seafood. I opted for a delicious cold platter filled with Dungenous Crab, Clams, Oysters, Shrimp and an amazing Squid Cerviche. We dined while viewing the harbor. Soon as we finished lunch off we went to find Healdsburg where our oldest son is doing a strike for the NCCC. It is in the heart of the Russian River Valley. Wineries absolutely every where. The Bishops Ranch is surrounded by them. What a delightful place the Ranch is. Such a peaceful retreat. Seeing my Jason made me so happy. There was a Mourning Cloak butterfly flying around, immediately letting me know we have arrived at Spring! How cool to get on a plane and land right in the middle of Spring. Northern California is several weeks if not months ahead of our Spring. I could hear flocks of Red-Wing Blackbirds and Brewers Blackbirds as well. Exciting!
Met a few people that Jason has been working with and then loaded his things up in the rental car and headed up to Point Reyes National Seashore. Route 1 never fails to take my breath away. This was our 3rd trip to California, and again I was awed by the scenery. The tiny tree house cottage I rented was completely adorable! Perfect size and location for the 3 of us to spend quality time together.
After a wonderful breakfast cooked by master chef Bob in a galley kitchen that only fits one, we decided to take a drive up to the Point. The fog was so thick you could cut it with a knife. Along the way we happened on a Coyote. He was a good size one, and looked very healthy. We were able to watch him for about 10 minutes. There wasn't much to see because of the fog. The wind was blowing strongly and it was neat to be near the sea in those conditions. Sometimes the worst conditions in nature make you feel the most alive, this was one of those times. We did the stairs to the lighthouse all 300 of them. Because the weather was so bad, we pretty much had the place to ourselves, which really heightened the experience. After the lighthouse Jason took us to see the Elephant Seal Colony. Most of the young were already abandoned by their moms, they were grouped together, and a few cows and bulls still remained all over the beach and in the ocean. Lots of ducks for easy viewing at the same bluff the seals were under. I could have spent the entire day seal watching, hubby and son don't share my obsession with nature and animals so off we went. Next stop was for 3 dozen oysters right at the Oyster farm. And finally a delicious lunch at a local restaurant that specializes in all local organic ingredients. I had the best oyster stew I've ever eaten. It was made with baby kale and mushrooms, soooo incredibly awesome.
After lunch we decided that a trip to Muir Woods National Monument would be the best idea, as the tourist traffic would only increase by the weekend. I'm glad we went, it was crowed enough on a late Thursday afternoon. The trip en-route one took our breath away as always. Muir Woods, while simply amazing, made me feel deeply sad. It's a tree museum, one of the last forests of old growth Red-wood trees in the world. As we walked through the forest I felt as if I was in one of the most sacred places on earth, maybe I was. I can only imagine what our country must have looked like before we set foot on it and began to destroy it. I feel privileged to have met the trees that remain in Muir Woods. I hugged several, indescribable how I felt, those trees are all between 400 to 800 years old. Awe inspiring sunset on the drive home, we had to pull over and watch the sun sink into the ocean. We completed the night with local cheeses, a bottle of CA wine and lots of raw oysters. I slept like a baby.
Today we went to Sky-trail head and did a great 9.2 mile hike that started up in a Conifer forest. The trail wound down to the beach and back up to the forest again, great loop. The forest was full of birds song and loaded with species. We passed through numerous different habitats. I felt like a kid in a candy store and was constantly lagging behind my hubby and son because I couldn't stop birding. What a great day. Later sat in the window seat at the cottage under a comfy comforter reading a great book. Dinner was more oysters, smoked fish, organic salad and local cheeses and CA wine. We laid outside on the deck and listened to 3 Great Horned Owls calling in the distance. The stars were brilliant. I glimpsed one shooting.
A short trip to the San Andreas Fault Line. We did a short uneventful hike, lots of birds species around though, always exciting for me, no matter where I wonder in another state or country. Lunch was out again, another great meal, seafood cioppino. On the drive home, I spotted a pure white raptor with black markings. Bobby pulled over immediately and we both got out of the car to look at the bird. It was a White-tailed kite. The most stunning raptor I've ever seen. We watched him *kite* over the field for a long while. He reminded me of a male Harrier, Bobby couldn't understand why I was saying that, he's only seen immature s and females. Because the morning hike wasn't long enough we had to take one of the trails from the cottage to Tomales Bay. We didn't have enough time to do the whole trail, it was another gorgeous area, chuck full of birds. Ran into a small flock of warblers. Dinner was out was to a Czech Restaurant, Vladimir's.... we had an excellent meal! I had duck, red cabbage, dumplings and a delicious Piot Noir. Another wonderful day spent with two men I love deeply.
We packed up our belongings, cleaned up the cottage and said our goodbyes to Point Reyes. We headed North to Sonoma State Park. Driving down to the beach parking area, Bobby finally saw his first Grey Ghost, a male Harrier. Now he understood why I thought the WT Kite looked so much like a Harrier. Sonoma State Park is a special spot, huge rock formations sit out in the ocean. The surf was violent and the wind wild. We walked down the beach to the Harbor Seal area. About 100 of them all gather at the mouth of the Russian River to give birth. They were about 2 weeks away from their pups arriving. Again, it was so hard to pull myself away from watching their every move. If I lived near the CA coast, I'd have to be involved in some sort of citizen science monitoring project, like I am at the Hawk Watch. I can't fill up my wildlife gas tank no matter how hard I try. I never want to stop watching wild creatures in their natural habitats. As I begrudgingly walked away from the seals, what did I spy in the surf? California Sea Lions! 3 of them rolling and playing on the waves. How truly blessed am I? I watched and walked down the beach backwards as I couldn't take my bins off of them.
On the road again we headed back east. We wound through tiny towns and red wood forests all along the Russian River Valley. I had no idea that CA had such beauty. Destination was to the Armstrong Redwood Forest. This forest has trees that are over a thousand years old. Again I felt humbled to be among them. I will always cherish the memories of walking in those two sacred forests with my first born and my hubby. Back at the Ranch we unpacked quickly, and went out to Matrix Wines to taste a couple different vintages of Pinot Noir. We dined with Jason's team, and then went to bed early.
As always a hard day for me, my dad would have been 79 this year. Great breakfast with our team, then to the work shed for work assignments. I was put with Jason and Greta. We were to burn piles of brush for the morning. I loved working with my son who so resembles my dad. After lunch Bobby and I hiked the property. What a beautiful piece of acreage the Bishops Ranch owns. Birds everywhere. As always kept lagging behind trying to ID all that I could. Dinner was another great meal.
Up early, had a nice breakfast with Jason and we hit the road for the airport. Noon flight and vacation was over. We had a terrific week.
Bird Species:Lesser Goldfinch, Western Scrub Jay, Brewers Blackbird, Western Gull, Red-Tailed Hawk, Red Shouldered Hawk, Prairie Falcon, Starling , Grackle, Robin, Turkey Vulture, Canada Goose, Crow, RW Black Birds, Band-Tailed Pigeon, Varied Thrush, Green-wing Teal, Gadwall, Kestrel, House Finch, Red Breasted Merg, Black Phoebe, Surf Scoter, Mt. Bluebird, WB Nuthatch, Nuttalls Woodpecker, House Wren, Bushtit, California Towee, Townsend's Solitaire, Blue Grosbeak, Oregon Junco, Savannah Sparrow, Hermit Thrush, White-Tailed Kite, RC Kinglet, BT Green Warbler, Euragian Collard Dove, Coot, Bufflehead, Western Grebe, Black Oyster-catcher, Common Muere, Loon, Hooded Merg, Brown Pelican, Meadowlark, Great Blue Heron, Great White Egreat, Pintails, Black Turnstone, Peregrine Falcon, Wimbrel, White Crowned Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Cedar Waxwing, Marbled Godwit, Bluewing Teal, Commerant, American Wigeon, Golden Eagle, Pleated WP, GH Owl, Phoebe, Turkey, Spotted Towee, Winter Wren, Osprey, Black-billed Magpie, Accorn Woodpecker, Black chinned Hummingbird, Annas Hummingbird, Black Phoebe, Wrentit, Pinon Jay, Yellowrumpted Warbler, Blackpole Warbler, Stellers Jay, Tree Swallow, Chestnut backed Chickadee, Red Breasted Nuthatch, Bewids Wren, Western Bluebird, Swift, and California Quail.
Wildlife: Coyote, Bobcat, Elephant Seal, Harbor Seal, California Sea Lion, Raccoon, Gopher, Black-tailed deer, Grey squirrel. Pacific Chorus Frog, Alligator Lizard.