Thursday, October 20, 2011

Cali Color

This afternoon Auntie and I took a ride over to Calaveras Big Trees.  Driving up Highway 4 from Murphys we were very surprised to see the bright color of the maples that grow along the creek.  The leaves don't usually hang on the maples for long so we were very lucky to see them and were actually not expecting much color at the Big Trees; it's still a bit early.  Holy smokes we were in for another surprise!

Darn the apple ranch was closed, so no apple donuts, just a quick snack of cheese and crackers.  Auntie settled in for a read in the sunshine while I headed out to hike the North Loop.  

Trying not to exaggerate but have to say this is probably the most beautiful color I have EVER seen at the Big Trees.  The Dogwoods are maybe 60-70% turning today.  No storms are forecast so the next week or two should continue to be outstanding.

I walked the loop in the opposite direction of my usual route.  It was almost like being on a whole new trail!

Love this old stump along the upper section of the trail.

I met two groups on the lower section but nobody was on the outer loop.  Hope you enjoy the rest of the hike.....

Finally, to back track a bit, this old snag is called the Mother of the Forest.  Notice that she is almost as tall as the live trees nearby.  She must have been really, really tall in her prime.  And what a view of the dogwoods from way up there!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Rainy Day Roses

It's raining today, but it wasn't the day I saw these roses at Shore Acres in Oregon.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Dragon in the Mist

On a foggy morning I was greeted at Shore Acres State Park by a dragon in the mist.

The estate at Shore Acres began life as a summer retreat created by ship builder and logger, Louis Simpson, for his wife Cassie. The home evolved into a three story show place with an indoor swimming pool and ball room. Unfortunately, it burned in 1921 and the planned replacement fell into disrepair during the Great Depression. Enter the State of Oregon who purchased the property in 1942. The Visitors Center was built in the gamble-roofed style of the original home.

Maybe it was the mist, maybe the remains of the tennis court on the bluff, whatever, I felt the presence and continuing influence of the original owners so strongly here that it was spooky.

The developed gardens are surrounded by forest. Entry through the main gate into formal garden might seem abrupt, but no, it was a lovely transition and the forest is the perfect back drop for the gardens.

Sword ferns were sprouting new fronds in both the gardens and the forest.

There were very few visitors on this foggy week day morning. The biggest crowd was photographing in the begonia house.

Estate trees were gathered from all around the world. The Monkey Tree caught my imagination. The trunk is spiky, kind of like a palm, but not.

The branches are smaller versions of the trunk. It's a big tree, maybe 30 feet, or more.

A foil to the more exotic plants are variegated geraniums and baby's tears.

A few steps lead down to a pond in a Japanese influenced garden. Wooden gates offer access out to the trail along the bluff and down to the Simpson's private beach.

Yet another garden path leads to the Rose Garden. I'm guessing maybe August was the perfect time of year to visit. They were amazing. Stay tuned the roses in a future post.

A famous feature of the park that I didn't get to see is The Wave. Instead, the rock formations that create these amazing waves were clearly visible.

If you look closely at the above pic you will see an overlook and wall on the edge of the bluff. Just behind that is a fully enclosed observation building that sits on the location of the original home.

The park has many miles of great trails through the forest in addition to the Oregon Coast Trail that travels along the ocean on the bluffs. I hiked north on the Coast Trail. A couple miles up is the Sunset Beach campground; a great base camp for exploring more of this section of the coast on a future visit.

By mid afternoon, the mist was receeding into the woods and the dragons reverted to their regular work as roots sparkling in the sunshine.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Bullard's Beach and Bandon

Oregon State Parks are really, really nice. Bullard's Beach is just north of Bandon. It's pretty big but individual campsites are secluded and protected from the wind. There's a great trail across the dunes to the beach and a bike path that follows the road. Many birds make their homes in the woods between the campsites. And my neighbors were all super friendly.

But the thing that made Bullard's Beach perfect was meeting friends for a 'get together'! That's Laura and Harley on the left; Marda and Monty in the middle; and Karen and Blossom on the right.

Bullard's Beach is on the north side of the Coquille River. Bandon on the south. The Coquille River Light house sits at the north jetty about a mile from the campground. It was built in 1896 and in use until 1936. Many people come to this area to fish in the river. I had intended to kayak, but way too windy that week.

The south jetty has a fog horn that seemed like it *might* be the tsunami warning the first time I heard it! That's Bullard's Beach in the far reaches of the next shot. It's several miles long and I walked most of it over the course of the week I was there.

Between Coos Bay to the north and Flora Lake to the south (a total of maybe 30 miles) there are at least 12 state, county, city, federal parks. Not to mention the many scenic overlooks with interpretive signs AND access to the beaches. Face Rock was fascinating. The source of many local legends.

Quintessential Oregon coast.

The Bandon Museum is terrific. They have great exhibits of the local history. Including a quilt with the names of my cousins from Oakdale. That is a bit of a mystery to be solved! Virtually the whole downtown and waterfront of Bandon burned in 1936. It's worth a stop at the museum for that story alone. And now the waterfront has been restored yet again. It's really beautiful with sculptures, benches, art displays. And if it's too windy to walk on the beach, just go back to the wharf and have a shrimp cocktail at Tony's Crab Shack. (Which is what I did several times!).