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!

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.

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!

Wide Open Walls 916

The Wide Open Walls 916 festival is about to kick off again in Sacramento and I’m totally excited! I very much enjoyed visiting the various locations throughout Sacramento since last summer mural viewing and can’t wait to see what the artists come up with for this year’s festival. The art freshens up boring or run down buildings. It gives people an excuse to visit buildings or parts of town perhaps they wouldn’t normally. It freshens up areas of town and brings new energy. Somehow it makes me feel like my humble town has “finally arrived!”

Stay tuned for new murals big and small! Click here for previous posts on lots of exciting local art.

BULLDOG!!!!!!

Lands End Labyrinth – San Francisco

Ever wonder what’s at the end of the world?  Well, at Land’s End in San Francisco Bay, it’s a labyrinth and an amazing view of the most iconic bridge in the world…the Golden Gate.  I’ve been visiting this city for a long time and only just heard about this labyrinth.  Where has it been all this time?  I had to go check it out.  And check it out I did in the same high heels I used to go shopping earlier int he day.  Readers, I risked my ankles for you!  You are welcome! 😉

The labyrinth can be accessed most easily by parking at the Legion of Honor and walking on the cart path north towards the Golden Gate Bridge through the golf course.  The path will lead to the labyrinth but it also navigates around the entire peninsula making for a splendid sea walk.  The path is not handicap accessible.  If you plan it right stop for a visit at the Legion of Honor which is worth a look any day of the week!  Eat there at their lovely café or top it off for some Clam Chowder by Ubering to the Cliff House overlooking Ocean Beach at sunset.

California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park

I have posted about Golden Gate Park in San Francisco before but there is even more to talk about.  The California Academy of Sciences is a world class science center which proves entertaining for adults and children.  I was visiting the sites nearby and had a few hours to kill and thought it would be a fun stop. It’s been a few years since I last visited and the dinosaurs were visiting this time around!

One of my favorite features is the living roof which is reminiscent of a hobbit house being bulbous with port hole windows. From the roof one can see 360 degree views of the spacious and green park and get a burst of sea air.

Next on the list of my favorites is the indoor rain forest.  No time to travel south of the equator? Come here and see some lovely tress, flowers, birds, frogs, and butterflies native to the world’s rain forests.  Science center guides are available to educate children on butterfly and bird species and their habitats.

Not enough for you?  Head downstairs to a spacious and impressive aquarium where the littles can touch sea creatures in a tide pool and walk under the fish tanks. Don’t forget a visit to the famous albino alligator on your way out of the natural history museum area.  And bring a picnic because there is no better place to sit and enjoy the sunshine in the City by the Bay!

Don’t miss this wonderful stop on your next trip to San Francisco!

Bodega Bay’s Kortum Trail

My husband and I and friends have been camping in Bodega Bay for years and years. We typically camp on the beach in the Sonoma Coast State Parks which is pretty darn glorious. During many of those trips we hiked portions of the Kortum trail which parallels the coast for approximately 5 miles round trip. The mild and maintained trail connects Wright’s Beach all the way to Blind Beach.

Since baby made his arrival in my life two years ago we haven’t been back to the beach or the trail. So finally my Mom and son and I spent the weekend visiting the area and I took the opportunity here to show you some views from the trail. One can see magnificent views of the ocean, beautiful rock outcroppings, lovely wild flowers, seals, birds, rabbits, and sunsets. iPhone photos but hopefully I get the point across.

It frankly does not get much better than this friends.

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