Friends, Food, and Fun in Sacramento!

What a good time we've had here, and Sacramento wasn't even on our radar scope initially! We pulled into Cal-Expo RV Park Thurs afternoon. Warm and sunny days are forecast for our stay (10/21 thru 10/24). We weren't aware of the American River Bike Trail up till now either, but we certainly availed ourselves of this fine 33-mile-long paved bike trail that runs alongside of the river from Sacramento to Folsom. Cal-Expo is right on the trail at about Mile 6. On Friday we set off fairly early and rode toward Old Sacramento... enjoying this stretch lined with huge cottonwoods and screeching hawks, and a turkey or two crossing the pathway. Outstanding.

Imagine the stars lining up for this: Meeting up with three sets of friends in one fell Sacramento swoop! We haven't seen friends or relatives in a long time - so this was a real treat for us. New friends, Alice and Tom (Matt's girlfriend's Mom and Dad) invited us to lunch in Auburn Fri afternoon, after which we walked a bit and shopped a bit in town. We talked and laughed and had a great time. So nice to finally meet them. We'll see them again at Matt and Jen's place for Thanksgiving, along with Charley, their cute li'l dog.

After that, we met up with full-timers Laurie and Odel. Our tracks this summer have paralleled each other, but they happily joined here. We drove to Folsom and enjoyed drinks and appetizers on the terrace of a very nice restaurant overlooking the American River... and the bike trail. We shared stories (good, bad and ugly!) and laughed and talked some more. All-in-all, this was quite a day for us...!

Tergel and Smartie and our bikes parked at Cal-Expo. Off the bikes and posing at the American River.

The river water is clear and fast and hopping with salmon. These kayakers sounded like they were having lots of fun.

Hawk looking for lunch? This guy on a tiny steam engine-powered train made 'er go! (let's ride!)

Harness racing at Cal-Expo - we watched them practice. Trees and bushes on parts of the bike trail are covered with vines and tiny wild grapes.

Me and Jimmy with Alice and Tom in Auburn. And with Laurie and Odel in Folsom.

I try to carry my little camera everywhere. I had it with me the whole time we were with our long-time friends, Richard and Bethann. Formerly of Santa Ana and now the proud owners of Bermudes Family Vineyard in Healdsburg, we met for lunch on Saturday. Well, the camera was in my purse, out of sight... so I plumb forgot to get a photo of the four of us! Phooey! We talked and laughed (more!) and caught up with each others goings-on of the past two years. Special people. Special times.

Did we go to the state capitol? Visit museums? Or any other tourist attraction? Nope. We climbed back on the bikes Sunday morning after reading the Sacramento Bee. This time we pedaled in the opposite direction - toward Folsom. T'was a spectacular morning. Don't think we've ever been on a bikeway so well-used. Walkers, joggers, runners, bikers - they fit every description: every flavor, size, age, speed, gait - you name it, we saw it. The path is clean, tho autumn leaves are falling... I love to hear them crunch under my tires (sycamores are best). This trail even has call boxes! We rode all the way to Nimbus Dam before we turned around - a 35-mile ride altogether. Really, what a terrific place. So we missed seeing much of Sacramento and environs, and what does that mean? It means we'll just have to come back! Sign us up!


Still on the water! (just inland) Clear Lake 10/19-20

This was a fairly long day's drive for us... 200+ miles from the north coast. I mean, we've been making short hops from one outstanding park to the next. The longer drive was enjoyable, but we were happy to pull into the Clear Lake area near Kelseyville: A place of luxurious rolling hills and orchards and vineyards near California's largest natural lake. It's a refuge and nesting place for lots waterfowl. We saw quite a few ourselves, inc hundreds of white pelicans, lots of grebes, Canada geese, coots, and etc.

We could hardly believe our eyes with all the pear and walnut orchards and (wine) vineyards. Also dismayed to see so many pears left to rot on the ground! Breaks your heart. Walnuts are just now beginning to fall, so we were too late for the big pear harvest and too early for walnuts! Oh nuts! We were lucky to find a roadside farm (above) that still had beautiful produce: We happily bought ripe Bartlett pears and apples, a spaghetti squash, and a couple of table grape clusters. Don't need a pumpkin. Too late for garlic and onions, tho. Oh nuts again!

On Wednesday the 19th, Jimmy and I spent hours pedaling around the 330 acre Clear Lake St Pk. Again, we basically had the place to ourselves. Such beautiful autumn countryside - we count this day as one of our best. We spotted California quail, lots of northern flickers and acorn woodpeckers (one pictured above - closeup is first). These guys drill small holes in a dead tree trunk and pound an acorn into each hole for winter food. Never saw this done before. They had quite an assembly "line" going to the tree and plenty of large oak trees providing a great crop of acorns. Jimmy is posing near the lake by a "stump" of a size and type we'd also never seen before. Wow!

This vineyard is on a straight up and down hill.
How could they harvest grapes?

Jimmy up ahead on his bike dodging deer in the park. Really!
Two deer dashed across the road and almost crashed into him! But didn't.

Lots of wildlife in this area; very pretty slice of California. Warm and sunny days while we were here, cool evenings. Ah, so....


Patrick's Point St Pk, California, Oct 16 & 17, 2011

Looking at Agate Beach from the top of the trail.

Monday morning was really foggy. Began clearing as we walked down... is that a fog-bow?

The fog bank lies just off shore, but it does stay out there. Love this photo of Jimmy on the beach.

Not easy navigating these steps. How do you like Jimmy's sweatshirt?

Still hugging the Pacific Ocean, we drove south a short distance to spend a couple of nites at Patrick's Point St Pk. High on the point, we camped overlooking the ocean, a very fine place to be. Tiny bunny rabbits appeared out of the bushes for morning/evening siflays - they sure were cute. One morning the fog lay pea-soup thick, but it cleared by mid-morning and off we went down the steep path to Agate Beach. We strolled the sands for probably three hours - three most relaxing hours - keeping a watchful eye on the rising tide. Almost got caught a couple of times and it might have made a funny YouTube video to see me (not Jimmy) sprinting from a dead stop in sand to escape getting a soaking! When we were here two years ago, we found lots of agates; today I found one small one. We saw lots of everything else and maybe I'll do a separate posting of photos to show a few of the swell - if bizarre - things we found.

The afternoons were sunny and warm and enjoyable. We walked along the rim trail, seeing no one else, with its excellent views of the ocean and offshore rocks; the water was dotted with sea birds bobbing up and down on the waves - most of them common murres. There aren't many campers this time of year and we enjoy the quiet. On a sour note, we noticed evidence throughout the park of the state cut-backs - lots of negligence in park upkeep, as in the steps above. Budget cuts, doncha know. So sad.

So, from here we head inland, away from the coast. Don't know which route we'll take; might not make any difference! Love being by the water - pretty soon we'll be cruising on the Blue Pacific!


Agate Beach stuff 'n junk 10/17/11

Sort of like a flea market, only worse: Two ball caps, a man's large boot, soles and shoes, gray jacket, pretty blue shirt, four or five heavy duty gloves (lost by fishermen/crabbers at sea?), one sock, one tire, a small bathing suit and a red hair brush (not pictured), assorted belly-up starfish and a hundred empty crab shells. Also, one wounded sea lion and an immobile common murre; neither could move - didn't like that part. Lots of plastic parts of every color and size. None of the photos is staged or altered. (Almost had a complete outfit here!) All washed up on the shore.

Oct 14/15 Jedediah Smith Redwoods St Pk, California

We make tentative plans and sometimes we follow these and sometimes we change directions. We’re usually as flexible as a rubber band… with exceptions. This year's trip has two musts: We must be in Seattle by June 1st and we must be in Los Angeles by October 25th and for the same reason: A Princess awaits us! In June we cruised to the 49th state, and in little more than a week we’ll be cruisin’ to the 50th state. WOW – what a way to celebrate our 10-year wedding anniversary! (We can eat beans next year!) Wait – back to today.

Our original idea was to travel south from Oregon into California on I-5 since it’s also a “dotted road,” and we hadn’t done that section yet. Plus, we could veer off the freeway whenever we wanted. But the siren call of the ocean is powerful to Jimmy and me, so we chose Hwy 199 south to Crescent City and the Redwoods. It wasn’t a long drive from Rogue River to Crescent City. We even did laundry in town after we set up camp amid the BIG trees, plus we had time for a nice walk along Smith River afterwards… where, once again, salmon were splashing in the water!

At home in the redwoods. Jimmy watching salmon (steelhead?) thrashing around in Smith River. 

Saturday was clear and sunny and beautiful – just right for a long coastal hike, not always within sight of the ocean, but always within earshot of the pounding surf... and often barking sea lions. We moved between bright sun and deep shade, and in moist shady areas I felt like I was in a fern forest – so many different kinds, tiny to gigantic – mushrooms, too. This section of the trail was supposed to be “relatively flat.” Maybe so, but that’s a subjective call – my “relatively flat” doesn’t involve climbing a headland that seemed to have no summit! So we eventually turned around. We’d passed a sign for Hidden Beach earlier and on our return, we scrambled down to it. A great place! We ate lunch there and spent a long time just messing around. We were all by ourselves, too.

Creepy-looking spider hole I actually walked thru. Hidden Beach is in the curve.

Sea stack with a tree or two growing up top! Hidden Beach is littered with logs. Jimmy rests on one.

And then you have to wonder what force drove that huge log atop the boulders? Gazing out to sea.

Later in the afternoon, we drove to Klamath Overlook and saw gray whales feeding just off the coast far below. Jimmy got our spotting scope from Smartie and thru that lens we watched one whale's great barnacled maw open to draw in krill. Over and over. It was pretty impressive. But after about 15 minutes, fog drifted in and obscured everyone’s view….

Back in camp, Jimmy grilled brook trout for dinner... brookies he caught in Livingston MT (and froze). Oh how Yummy!


Valley of the Rogue St Pk, Oct 11-12-13

We didn’t have a particular destination when we left the Valley River Mall on Tuesday… just south to get out of Oregon’s famous rain. We passed by several cities, and a few miles south of Grant’s Pass we found the above C/G and pulled in. The park lies along the old Applegate Trail and the 1857 Oregon Gold Rush. It’s a lovely place, and our very spacious site beside the lively Rogue River is brilliant with tree color. We signed up for two nites and then added a third. Best of All: Sunny weather! As usual – lots of neat things to do! The C/G has a viewing platform overlooking the Rogue where we saw spawning salmon agitating the shallows (still wish I could scoop one up). We climbed on our bikes Wed morning and rode the river’s edge trail to the town of Rogue River for a look-see and then pedaled for a time on the opposite bank. Very pleasant ride on a trail lined with blackberry bushes DRIPPING with berries (ho-hum, we passed ‘em by).

Jimmy on his bike @ the new arched Rogue River bridge. 
Leaf color and a totem @ the library.

After lunch we drove to the historic town of Jacksonville… but first we came up on 7 Oaks Farm with produce and pumpkin signs out front, so we wheeled Smartie in. This is a true family farm whose history goes back many generations. We eyeballed every sort of gourd oddity and the pun’kins, but Jonagold apples and a lb of dried anazasi beans were all we bought. Sure enjoyed looking at everything. Surprising to us that the area is home to such fertile farmland, but this must be part of the “crop” corridor that stretches from British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley south to California’s Central Valley. Give it water and watch good stuff grow!

Jacksonville was a former gold mining boom town, and now its streets are lined with historic bldgs and attractive shops. (Tourists are the new gold mine.) We parked Smartie and strolled. The townsfolk decorated the main street with comical autumn-inspired creatures and pretty autumn flowers in large planters… quaint touch. After hoofing it for a while, we parked our butts outside a coffee shop and drank a cuppa coffee. Nice town; nice day… nice full day.

I took lots of farm fotos - here are two.

Gourds and Pumpkins at the farm. Jimmy jollyin' in Jacksonville!

This guy looks kinda scary! New Smart car, Jimmy? Nah, just a "bumble bee" near ours.

Thursday we set an alarm so we’d have plenty of time to drive approx 85 miles to world-famous Crater Lake. Neither of us had ever been and we were excited. The drive itself (in Smartie) via Hwy 62 was spectacular and took a couple hours. (Campgrounds up here are already closed for the season.) This lake is amazing – it is the deepest lake in the US, created when a 12,000 ft volcano called Mount Mazama blew AND then collapsed around 7,700 yrs ago, leaving a land-locked crater surrounded by a “wall” that’s 1,000 ft high in most places. Springs, snow and rain eventually filled the crater and since no stream runs into or out of it, it’s considered a closed ecological system. The result? A very clear, very amazing blue lake. Standing high on the rim overlooking the lake, there’s no real sense of how big it is. We got the idea it was large, ok, but then we read it was six miles across at its maximum – me and Jimmy and my sister, Nannie, used to RUN that in 10k road races, so we know about a six-mile distance! – that’s when we KNEW it was big!

Following the rip-roarin' Rogue River toward Crater Lake.

Wizard Island in Crater Lake. Looking down a realllly steep slide toward the water. Long way down!

We ate our packed lunch at a picnic table outside the Visitor Center,
 and watched clouds overtake the sun.

A chill wind blew. We zipped up our jackets and set out on a rim hike. The deep blue lake soon reflected the cloud color and took on a grayer tone. I got cold – (the rim elevation is around 7000 ft for heaven’s sake!) We came. We saw. We conquered. We left happy, and drove two hours back down to Rogue River where the sun was shining happily and the temp was 70°. Ah, warmth! Another great day!