Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Thank-you Live Writer

Thanks to Windows Live Writer I can create blogs at home OFF LINE.  Then post them when I can get to a fast connection.  That’s the reason my posts are arriving in batches.  Sorry about that!  Next week I will be at June Lake with a promised fast connection. We’ll see if that happens.  If not,  look for another batch of posts next week.

I love Fort Bragg

My friends, R and P, graciously offered me a site at their ‘Fish Camp’ on Dolphin Isle.  After one last stop to walk in the redwoods at Van Dam State Park on Little River, I arrived at Fort Bragg late in the afternoon.   The first thing I did was hit the showers.  Yay, hot water! 

They are renting kayaks now and these were just outside my window waiting for a chance to get out on the Noyo River.


Across the river a heron was hunting for her dinner.


For me, I had left overs and then walked back into town to Harvest Market for some dairy free ice cream.  Stopping just a few times for photo ops it was about an hour round trip. 


Love these antique roses. (This shot would be nicer flipped upside down!)


The boneyard is almost more interesting than the marina.


I got back to camp just before dark for my last lovely cool night on the coast.


Point Arena Light House

I had been mulling over the idea to continue north up Highway 1 instead of going home for a couple days and didn’t really decide until Friday morning when the sun came out for the first time all week.  It’s 100 miles from Bodega Bay to Fort Bragg.  I took the whole day and was wishing I had a whole week. There is nothing to compare to the north coast.  A high ‘light’ for me was the Point Arena Light House.  As soon as I saw the signs I knew I was stopping to climb the stairs.


The lighthouse is 127 feet tall.  That’s the fog horn building in the background.


There’s a narrow hall way around the stairs in the base. Then the structure narrows around the spiral staircase.


There’s a bit of movement as people climb the stairs.  I was lucky to join a group of only 9 and they were ahead of me so I got to really feel the experience.  (HH friends, I am happy to say I climbed those 127 stairs easily, yay, maybe I can get inside the dam for a test of those  infamous 312!)

This is looking back down a section of the stairs.


And this is looking up.  The stairs get steep and the spiral gets very tight towards the top.  In fact, the last section into the light chamber is more like a ladder.


The light was removed in 1977 and so the chamber is empty.  That’s my van parked against the white fence.


It’s an absolutely amazing view from the balcony that circles outside the light chamber.  This is the fog horn building and on the right is a small section of the punch bowl that’s left (the rest has washed away).


The old equipment is housed in the fog house along with the light.  The Fresnel lens was created in Paris in 1907.  It’s comprised of 666 individual hand-ground glass prisms.  This huge light was mounted in a structure that enabled it to float on 5.3 gallons of mercury, providing an almost frictionless bearing.  (Thinking of the HH again and the rotators in the generators). 


The Point Cabrillo Light House is a ways north of here (just south of Fort Bragg).  It’s only open on week-ends so will require some advance planning for a visit. 

Finally, a shout out to the ‘light house keepers’ and their families who lived in these remote and very harsh locations.  I always feel a deep connection to my ‘watershed keeper’ roots.

Fort Ross

One foggy morning we drove up the coast to visit Fort Ross with the promise to the kids that we would play on the beach in the afternoon. None of us had a clue what a fun and interesting morning our visit to Fort Ross would turn out to be.


(Insert more gratitude that the CA State Park system is still in tact!)

The Fort Ross Colony was established by the Russian-American Company in 1812 with the help of Alaskan Alutiiq natives.  It was the southern most Russian settlement in North America.  Also in the park is the Call Ranch house that represents the era following the Russians.  The park is 3,400 acres, but sorry to say, most of that is not accessible.  It’s fun to imagine that these buildings are all original. In fact,  extensive restoration has been completed by the CA park system.

All of the structures are in pristine condition.  Maybe because they are redwood?  The only paint is on the borders around the windows.


The whole fort is surrounded with a very tall fence with these stakes at the top.


Blockhouses anchor the northwest and southeast corners.


The Kuskov House was probably a dorm, but now houses an extensive collection of artifacts from the Russian settlement. Note the middle door, it leads to the stairs you will see in next picture.


This massive door closes the top of the stairs.  I’m guessing two purposes…….first for security, and second to keep the downstairs heat from escaping up the stairs.


Each room has a different theme.  This is the lab.  On the other wall was a great collection of specimens.  Including a huge barnacle that I didn’t get to see.




The powder kegs and horns were part of a collection of rifles.



The Rotchev House is furnished with beautiful antiques and hand craved cabinets.  The path leads to the Call Ranch House and Sandy Cove.


The fog was creeping in and out creating a very typical north coast  morning the day we visited.   This is the Chapel in the south west corner.


Only two ‘sally ports’ allow access to the interior courtyard of the fort.  This one faces the ocean.  The other is in the north wall.


I bet you can imagine how much fun it was to run across the compound, explore the shadowy buildings, climb to the top of the blockhouses to search the ocean for ships, and pretend to fire the canons!


Several out buildings for the Call ranch are just barely holding on.  The Ranch house is open for tours on week-ends.  There’s a vegetable garden created by a local elementary school class.


My camera continues to play tricks on me, but you can at least get an idea of the massive size of this tree.


On the walk back to the parking lot we discovered a patch of rattle snake grass.


The drive down the coast didn’t seem so long and soon the kids were playing in the sand on the jetty at Bodega Bay.  It’s about the only safe place to get in the water on the whole Sonoma Coast.

On Friday I decided to drive north on Highway 1 while L and the kids headed for home.  The sun was out when I stopped to walk down to Sandy Cove at the Fort.


Bodega Bay Camping

Surprise!  It’s a CALIFORNIA State Park!  I made my reservations for Wright’s Beach campground way last year.  Finally it was time to head for the coast.

Another surprise, it was almost cold when we stopped for a quick walk about the little town of Bodega.  The historical buildings are up on the hill above the commercial district on the highway. 

This is the Potter School.


Across the road is the Catholic Church.


We didn’t spend much time here because it’s just 5 miles from the campground.  I was really anxious to get settled into the campsite and out on the beach.

This is Wright’s Beach.  You can see the campground in the far right against the cliff.  It’s a small campground.  No hook-ups, no showers.  Just beach!  It’s maybe 1 1/2 miles long and hard walking in the soft sand.  This is not a swimming beach, it drops off sharply and is heavily posted with warning signs. That said, there’s tons of room for flying kites, digging in the sand and watching the waves.


We hiked up this trail to an over look of waves breaking in the rocks. 




When we got tired of walking in the sand there is a 5 mile trail along the bluffs with gorgeous views of the ocean.  Every so often there a spur trail down to the beach.  Here’s Super Nephew G climbing the stairs from Shell Beach.


The kids found rocks to climb around every corner.  While I tried not to be a worry wart auntie!


We found this fuzzy creature along the trail. 


There was plenty of room in the main part of our site for my van and Linda’s car.  The boys were happy to put their tent a bit farther away in a clearing under an umbrella tree.


There are two campgrounds along Sonoma State Beach.  We loved Wright’s Beach.  The Dunes, while closer to town, and having showers,  is way too big and busy.  Wright’s is perfect. I’ll surely go back soon.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Day Trips – Pinecrest

One of my favorites and rating a visit as soon as I get home.  A least once a week, sometimes more, I hike at Pinecrest.  It’s a beautiful high elevation lake that is loved by many people, so requires strategic planning to avoid crowds. Happily this is simply accomplished by arriving early in the morning and staking out a place at the south end of the shore road.  Who would of thought?

The trail circumvents the lake in about 4 miles.  It’s a bit rocky with a couple good climbs, but mostly just fun.  I usually start out on the left side and cross the dam then to the headwater.



There were many wildflowers still blooming in the granite.  A bonus of our high Sierra, spring lasts many weeks as we follow it to the highest elevations.


There are at least 3 groups of snow plants along the trail. Probably more that I haven’t seen yet!


This year there’s a pretty meadow at the headwater with this reflection in a small pool of water.


Parts of the trail are across open granite with very small markers.  Super Nephew S led us through that section and SN G did some rock climbing.



Waiting for us back at the picnic area with a yummy lunch, Grandma L and Auntie soaked up some sun.