Mission San Juan Bautista

The beautiful state of California is dotted with Missions harkening back to a profoundly different time in our history. Some have been restored and some show their age. I would love to see them all and had the opportunity to check one more off the complete list near the Monterey area. Mission San Juan Bautista is a fine example of a restored mission turned state park adjacent to a lovely little historic town. I’m not exactly sure why I’ve never been hear considering its close proximity to Monterey and Carmel. Perhaps I’ve always been in a hurry to hit the beach? Regardless, this gem was a great place to take a break and stretch our legs on the way to the beach. The church is magnificent and the grounds are pleasing and peaceful. The nearby structures show period houses, hotels, a jail, blacksmith, stables, etc. School kids were running around soaking it all in as little kids should be.

Have you ever visited any of the California Missions?  I’ll try my best to stop by and visit some more in coming days and years, they are a treat.

*In other news, I have also been looking for the opportunity to take a photo and mention the mission bells one can see whiling driving on historic California roads. The mission bells indicate El Camino Real and there are many of them connecting Mission country up and down California. I am usually whizzing by them on the highway without the ability to stop and wanted to capture this one for you since it was right outside the church.

Cypress Tree Tunnel – Point Reyes National Seashore

So who isn’t a fan of a good tree tunnel?  Well, it’s been on my mind for a while to go check this one out.  So, the little guy and I headed out early in the morning and Point Reyes National Seashore did not disappoint.  We travelled through the lovely and picturesque town of Inverness (aptly named because it certainly harkens back to the Scottish Loch Ness with a long thin waterway flanked by hills on either side) through some washed out roads and one lane drives to get to the North District Operations Center.  The communications center, an Art Deco building lovely in its own right, is overshadowed by its gorgeous driveway.  Kudos to whatever random person took the time to tree line this driveway so many years ago.  It was clearly unnecessary but boy am I grateful.  It took me back to Northern Ireland visiting Dark Hedges, only this was two hours from my house on my beloved and spectacular California coast.

We left the Cypress Tree tunnel and made for the lighthouse on an even worse road.  But, we were delighted by a bunch of Tule Elk presumably in the mood for love because they were fighting and there wasn’t a lady Elk anywhere to be seen.  I am told by a lovely and protective Ranger that Point Reyes Lighthouse was recently renovated.  It had only reopened the week prior to my visit.  Apparently locals were uptight over the cost of said renovation.  I’ll bet that old lighthouse could tell some stories about some epic storms and some shipwrecks of which there have been many around this dangerous peninsula.  She probably deserves a good tidy up from time to time if you were to ask me.  So, my sweet little guy got to see his first real tree tunnel, his first lighthouse, his first Tule Elk, and got to see the beach/ocean again.  Hurray for a wonderful day out!

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Villa Ca’Toga – A little bit of Italy in Calistoga

Earlier in the year I visited Ca’Toga Gallery in Calistoga, California and knew immediately I needed to meet the artist and see his amazing Ca’Toga Villa. So as soon as we had the time we went for a tour which did not disappoint. The artist Carlos Marchiori hand built every piece of this house and prepared the blank property right down to planting every beautiful tree. (His proudest accomplishment by the way which I found interesting.) Between the watercolor murals, sculpture, ceramics, tile work, and his overall whimsical vision it was surreal and genuinely impressive. Carlos peppered genuine old world antiques like wood from a Portuguese monastery and real antique sculpture work from old dilapidated European buildings he brought over in a container in the 80’s. Everything else is hand made. Everything! Originally created as a life size way to display his work to perspective clients it’s clearly taken thirty years to realize a life love and obsession. If the mural look familiar you may have seen his work in multiple locations around the world most notably Las Vegas casinos and other casinos around the world.  I feel very much honored to have seen Ca’Toga Villa, walked the grounds, and met the eclectic and entertaining master.  Add this to any Napa visit for a special and interesting thing to do in the valley.

 

 

Walking among Giants

I’ve been visiting Calaveras Big Trees State Park since I was a kid. Back then there wasn’t a visitor’s center, camping, and all the trails.  That said, they frankly enhance the park and encourage people to repeat their visits. I am happy the park has grown and with it the park’s attendance. The amazing giant trees can only be found in certain areas of our state and the world and they never disappoint. It’s hard to describe or capture the size of these trees but I did my best here with my good ol’ iPhone. I hope you enjoy because Mother Nature did her best when she created these specimens.

This trip I did something I always wanted to do and visited the south grove trail after visiting the main north grove trail first. I’m very glad I did because we were treated with a relaxing and cool respite at Beaver Creek. It was a hot hot day so our feet welcomed the swim.

I can’t wait to go back and hit a few more of the trails to see some of the big trees which are harder to find and take more preparation to plan for. I hope to camp next time so we can enjoy them in the calm cool morning.  These miraculous trees deserve the effort!

Wide Open Walls 916- a few new walls

Quick errands to downtown Sac allowed me the opportunity to visit a few new murals from the Wide Open Walls 916 festival in town. I love how they bring life to an otherwise boring and dirty and uninteresting wall or alley. The Auto Museum mural was still under construction when I happened by. Enjoy!

Monet the Late Years at the De Young

Fighting with cataracts Claude Monet became a master of impressionism and a forebear of modernism. With a muted color pallet he fought through a disease that could have broken a lesser man. I feel privileged to  have seen and visited Giverny and so many of Monet’s works in person both in Paris at Marmotton and Orangerie, at the Legion of Honor in San Francisco, and now at the De Young in San Francisco.

I posted last week lighter and brighter early works seen at Orangerie, those which are the most famous and known worldwide.  But this “Later Works” exhibit at the De Young was amazing.  It was fantastic to see how he adapted both with color and impressionism.  Giverny, his muse, is identifiable in mind bending ways.  His pink house, his roses, water lilies, the Japanese bridge all recognizable if you know what you are looking at.  All of which are blurry and likely painted at least partially from the memory of a man who loved this land as much as he could any single person.

I stood before them humbled if not for the masses of people stepping on my feet and elbowing my sides.  I’ve seen a lot of beautiful things and places in my life but these “things”, these paintings, are something meaningful and hard to explain for me. I am grateful for them, the man who created them, and grateful for the opportunity to have seen them in person.

Wide Open Walls 916 @ The Mill

The Wide Open Walls festival is in full swing in Sacramento again for 2019! This one isn’t so much a wall but I love the rainbow colors! This new addition has an interesting take on a “wall.” It’s right smack in the middle of a new housing development who has chosen to retain a few of the old mill related items from before its redevelopment. I love the fresh look and imagine it will be iconic for the area. Cheers!

Old Sacramento in the cool morning

This time of year marks the time of year in Sacramento where it’s too hot to do much of anything outdoors unless it’s bright and early in the morning. So, baby bulldog and I headed for Old Sacramento to watch the old steam trains. We had a nice little walk through old town enjoying the architecture and trains and fresh air. While old town is totally commercial and touristy I’ve been visiting my entire life and never get tired of it unless it’s too crowded. I look forward to taking my son here many more times over the years to explore Sacramento history and to just travel back in time for a few hours at a time.

Mission San Rafael

California is speckled with Missions. Each and everyone one is different in size, color and current level of rehabilitation. They are a lot of fun to visit and a good excuse for a drive. My parents even took their honeymoon in 1969 visiting various missions up and down California. I’m not sure how popular that is now-a-days to do so. But, it’s a good excuse to drive the state and see what there is to see and visit everything in between. Mission San Rafael is clearly the recipient of a lot of love because it looks like new! #PINK I’ve always fancied trying to visit every mission. With any luck one day I’ll have them all checked off the list!