Monday, October 27, 2014

Northern California's Coastal Wonders

           Mention the California Coast and images of surfer-dudes, beach volleyball players and Santa Monica Pier sightseers come to mind.
           Fill your mind instead with starfish, seabirds, seals and sea lions, with surf crashing upon rocks and untamed shorelines.  How?  By visiting the Northern California coastline during September.

          Replace those rusty SoCal images with these shiny NoCal scenes.  Enjoy the following snapshots from the uncrowded seascapes between Point Arena and Crescent City.

Point Arena Lighthouse.
For a fee you can access this remote area
and walk the 145 steps to the Lighthouse Tower.

Walking the beach as the tide rolls in.
Manchester State Park,  Point Arena, CA.

A Harbor Seal watches us as we watch it swim and dive in
MacKerricher State Park near Fort Bragg.

A stormy day near Ferndale,  CA.

Pelagic Cormorants congregate on this surf-scoured rock
near Cape Mendocino, the westernmost point in
the contiguous United States.

Giant Green Sea Anemones on the beach near Crescent City.

Starfish cling to the rocks on a beach near Crescent City.
Unfortunately west coast starfish are experiencing massive die-offs.
Scientists don't know the cause but human activities are
suspected to be a factor.

If you want your footprints to be the only ones
on the beach, head to the Northern California
Coast during autumn.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

In the Realm of the Superlative—Exploring Redwoods State and National Parks, California

The Stout Grove in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park.

            Our new world is mostly downward-facing, people continually checking their hand-held devices.  But here among the old-world giants everyone is looking up, their faces wearing expressions of wonder and awe. 
           Perhaps strolling among these titans causes visitors to speak in hushed, murmured tones.  Or maybe it’s the sheer mass of living plant material absorbing any noise.  Whatever it is, the human presence in an old-growth Redwood forest is not an intrusive one.

Tim snaps a photograph in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park.
(If you're having trouble spotting him, he's to the left of the
light-barked tree on the right.)

Waist-high Sword Ferns grow beneath the
Redwood canopy.

           In the 21st century we’re obsessed with bucket lists, with extreme sport, with triumphing over terrain when we set out for the wilds.  But there’s no speed-hiking here. People amble about these trails with the care and deliberation of meditating monks.
          Old-growth Redwood groves are places to slow down, to lose yourself in quiet contemplation and reflection.  Visit Redwoods State and National Parks in Northern California.  Look up.  Be amazed.

Red-tinted fallen needles carpet the
forest floor.

Walking alongside the trunk of a fallen Redwood.
Redwood trees always fall while they're still alive and
this tree, with it's furrowed red bark and several green
limbs still attached, looks as though it could
have fallen only yesterday.