20150529

A Peach of a Day ... Thursday, 5/28/15


One final post from our short excursion to Truckee -- the ubiquitous ride on Tahoe-Truckee bike trail.  It may be repetitious for some, but this trip is always fun for us and most times we discover something new, as we did today.  As it has been for the past several days, our weather today was nearly picture-perfect.


It's a short drive from our Granite Flat c/g on Hwy 89 to Squaw Valley Road.  At the corner is the very nice Squaw Valley Park, complete with playground, restrooms, drinking fountain, parking, and the Tahoe-Truckee bike trail. Click on the link if you want to see a map of the trail.  Neither of us likes riding on the road (any road), hence a bike trail like this is right up our alley.  Jimmy gallantly posed at the Olympic Flame entrance of Squaw Valley. Notice that it's warm enough for short sleeves!


This fellow, along with his two friends, passed us on the trail.  They stopped, we passed.  We stopped, they passed, etc., you get it.  99% of people on a bike trail are friendly and these young people were great. They asked Jimmy if he'd take their picture, and then they responded in kind.  Lots of laughter, especially when I asked the guy in the red shirt if he wanted to get in on our picture.  You see the result.  He gave us a good tip about Tahoe City, too.


Mr. and Mrs. Common Merganser creating a motor-boat wake on the river.


The tip was that Tahoe City had a Farmer's Market on Thursdays and he told us where it was, just off the bike trail.  We found it, no problem, at Commons Beach, right on Lake Tahoe's shore.  We parked our bikes and walked the grounds twice, then selected two juicy, ripe peaches and two oatmeal-raisin cookies to supplement our granola bar lunch.  Their market had quite a selection of good things.  The grassy area above had picnic tables, where we ate and watched the kids playing.  Lots of activity here on a Wednesday!

We continued our ride up North Lake Blvd and found an RV park -- Tahoe State Park, which we didn't know existed.  It's a nice-looking park, small, nestled in the pines, but we won't be staying there ... our rig is too long. The camp host, Denise, came out to greet us on our bikes and we spent a half hour visiting, sharing stories and learning about new places to stop.  Very helpful, interesting lady.


A flotilla flock (or a flocking flotilla?).


Back on the Truckee River trail, we spied this pier to ... uh, mid-air?  There won't be any whitewater rafting on the Truckee River this year.  Sorry, Matt.  Water is flowing, but it's thin.  Probably mainly from storm runoff, and it won't last.  Maybe NorCal will experience an El NiƱo this winter, and put the drought to rest.

It seems so darned strange that Texas has received 35 Trillion Gallons of rain in the month of May, tragically for many.  Feast or famine, all or nothing at all, in the weather department.  Yikes.


This picturesque ponding area on the river is backup from the beaver dam. 


The End.

Whoa, hold on!  Not really the end.  When I took my Canon PowerShot Elph 330H5 out of my bike bag to take one last picture, the lens cover was stuck open halfway.  It wouldn't open or close all the way.  Jimmy took it apart in Tergel, but I'm sorry to report, the camera is KAPUT.  I've been considering buying a new one (I wear the dang things out), but ....  This one has a 10X optical zoom.  More would be better, but I don't want to spend a TON of money on something that sits in my pockets or purse or a bike bag, and I drop occasionally.  I like a camera that will go anywhere, not something I have to wear around my neck.  So, I'm in the market and I'm open to suggestion.

Friday morning we go home.  It's less than 60 miles from our house to this campground.  Because it's close, we don't bother hooking up and I drive the Prius while Jimmy pilots Tergel.  Going home is fun because we drop from 7,239' at Donner Summit to 3,200' at home.  That's a lot of coasting for the Prius, and I watch the MPG skyrocket! Yee-haw!

20150528

It doesn't get much better than this! Wed 5/27/15


When the weather is perfect like today, hitting the trail just makes good sense.  As I mentioned yesterday, the Truckee/Tahoe area is fast becoming a favorite of ours, and that includes Sagehen Creek.  The daytime temp was forecast to be around 70 degrees, nice and warm, but with a cooling breeze.  (In the process of typing up my post this afternoon, everything just kind of quit, so I quit, too, w/o publishing ... but lo-and-behold, it published itself, and I didn't know it, till Judy left a comment about the Chickadee.  Too weird.  Maybe I can finish what I started now.)  Sagehen Creek is located off Hwy 89, about seven miles north of Truckee.  Limited parking is on the right.


Sagehen trail heads downstream thru the lush riparian habitat of Sagehen Creek, which (happily) has plenty of water in it moving down toward Stampede Reservoir.  The trail then moves into a mixed forest of Lodgepole and Jeffrey Pines and White Firs, ending in beautiful meadowlands.  Here in the Sierras, this is considered Upper Montane Zone (6,000 - 7,000 ft). The trail is pretty level and not strenuous.  It's fairly heavily used this time of year when spring wildflowers are blooming.  Spectacular scenery, be it spring, summer or fall.  The smells alone are worth a thousand bucks, fresh mountain air fragrant with blooming willows and vanilla-scented Jeffrey pines.


Aspens are beginning to leaf out in a dazzling spring green.


Entire hillsides are covered with the yellow flowers of Woolly Mule's Ears (Wyethia mollis), just one of the many reasons people like this trail.  I can't begin to describe all the wildflowers we spotted, many of them yellow, which is curious, or purple.  Lupines and Paintbrush and Baker's Violets (yellow), and the list goes on and on ....


Spring thunderstorms the past couple of weeks may have felled this tree blocking the path.  According to other footprints, it's not a problem -- simply go around, till the forest service has a chance to cut it away, which we did.


We spotted several areas of puddling by tiny Anna's Blue Butterfly.


Birds were chirping and flitting about, including this Mountain Chickadee, which makes for a cheerful walk.


Mahala Mat Manzanita (Ceanothus prostratus) -- very interesting name.  Some call it Squaw Blanket.  Low growing ground cover, liberally plastering the hillsides with purple.  Pretty.


We saw the beaver in this pond last year when we hiked the trail with my sister, Nannie.  Obviously, the beaver is still active, but we didn't see it this year.


The meadow is only beginning to flower.  Western Bistort (Polygonum bistortoides) and Purple Meadow Penstamon were starting to put on a show.


 I call Bistort Q-tips.  This one has a visitor.


Clumps of Sierra Shooting Star (Dodecatheon jeffreyi) and Water Plantain buttercup dotted the moist areas and rivulets feeding into the Creek.


Lunch time!  (The Creek is off to the right in this picture)



Because we wandered further on the path toward the reservoir than previously, we saw this cement foundation of an old sheepherder's place, now overgrown with Aspens and sage.  We hadn't been this far before.  Apparently this area (Truckee) was once teeming with sheep.  The herders picked some fantastic spots to live.


Stampede Reservoir is so low that you can't see it from this point.  We turned around here to head back.  Look at that sky!


I was surprised to see a Western Tanager in the pine.  It's probably a recent migrant.  Gorgeous colors.


Now we're back at the pond.  We heard the Osprey long before we spied it.  I took a picture, but the Osprey was too far away for my little point-n-shoot.  Yellow Warblers zipped from tree to tree and woodpeckers were havin' a go at the dead trees.  Perhaps you can see why we enjoy this so much; we spent the better part of the afternoon Out and About.  Loved it all.


Oh, I almost forgot to include a photo of Pussy Paws (Calyptridium), the last picture of the day.  The flowers are soft and they feel like and remind me of chenille.  This one is for you, Nannie!

When we returned to Tergel, sitting pretty in her own right on the Truckee River, we showered and got tidied up, so we could drive into town for a PIZZA.  Figured we deserved pizza after the miles we put on our feet today.  We ordered two medium pizzas (one for me and one for Jimmy) at Pizza Bar and polished off most of both.  Mine was half Mixed/half Herbavore, and Jimmy always orders the Meatlovers.  They were delicious, and we brought home enough pizza for tomorrow night!  Aw, heck, sorry I forgot to take a Food Picture!

20150527

Into the mountains ... May 26th, 2015


Here we are again, back to what's becoming one of our favorite spots.  It's a beautiful area and we can drive to it in little more than an hour.  Win-win!  We waited till the Memorial Day week-enders left to return to their jobs, leaving the campground open for the retirees.  When we drove Tergel into the c/g entrance, no one else was around ...just how we like it (tho later a few other RV's dribbled in).  It's been a year, almost to the week, since we camped at Granite Flat c/g on the Truckee River, and we're happy to be here.  This is in Tahoe Nat'l Forest -- so no hookups, but we filled our fresh water tank when we pulled in.  With our solar panels, we are juiced, and completely self-sufficient.

Jimmy has two more weeks to wait before he "goes under the knife" for his knee replacement, so we said, why not head up to the mountains.  The thunderstorms of the past couple of weeks are over, according to the weather service, who forecast nothing but fine days for us.


It's wonderful to see water in the Truckee River!  When we stayed at a Truckee BnB for our anniversary a month ago, the river was dry.  Very sad to see.  I guess we can thank all the rain/snow that fell during those storms for the water now flowing again.  Took this photo from our campsite.  


Our plan for today was to walk around town a bit, nothing special.  The clouds look ominous, but they were dry. I was surprised to see a snow dusting on the mountains east of Lake Tahoe, in Nevada, another gift of the storms that rolled thru the Sierras.  As I was fixin to take the picture, oops, here comes a freight train!  I waved, the engineer waved, and then he blew the horn right next to me ... and I nearly fell over! 



The first log cabin, circa 1863, erected by Joseph Gray to serve Dutch Flat wagon road traffic over Donner Pass, so sayeth the plaque beneath the window.  Jimmy and I are becoming more familiar with Truckee as we roam (and drive) the streets.  It's an easy, friendly town.


The pretty statue is located in a remembrance garden in Truckee (behind the old Truckee stone jail, 1875).


Jimmy wondered if this dilapidated structure with six numbered doors could be the original Motel 6?


On our walk-about, we stopped in the Truckee Hotel for the first time, and received a very nice personalized tour of the building.  Established in 1873, it has been a hotel continuously since then, albeit under different names.  The above pic was taken around 1909.  Moody's is the onsite restaurant and I'm thinking that we need to give it a try! Below is the hotel today ... terrific mountain views from the upstairs balcony!



These little rodents -- Golden Mantled Ground Squirrels -- are all over the campground, zipping around, digging up "nuggets," and begging food.  This particular guy was devouring a nut (?) at my feet, oblivious to me or Jimmy.  We don't feed them.


Home from town, we enjoyed sitting in our chairs with a cuppa coffee, a book (and squirrels), enjoying the serene beauty, and feeling grateful to be a part of it.  We'll be here till Friday.  Tomorrow maybe we'll go for a hike!

20150522

Woo-hoo Wednesday! May 20th


We may be prejudiced, but it's our opinion that the Nevada County Fairgrounds are some of the prettiest in the country.  It's one of our favorite places to walk, basically level, nicely shaded and landscaped.  A couple of times around the perimeter nets us lots of steps on the Fitbit.  The fairgrounds host a number of venues every year; the county fair in August is the biggest one.  In summer, its gates are open seven days a week to walkers and joggers ... and we often see young women with babies in strollers and tots on bikes, but the paths are never crowded. Plus, it's dog-friendly, too, with your pet on a leash.

Occasionally the fairgrounds are closed to walkers, like today.  Crews were setting up for the Strawberry Music Festival this weekend and pedestrians would have been a hazard.  Soooo ...

The "Gentle Giant" sculpture by Todd Andrews.  It is magnificent. 

And the large bushes covered with white flowers?  Look below.

Crimson Spot Rockrose (Cistus ladanifer)

... barred from the fairgrounds, and since we were in the mood for a walk and talk, we drove Smartie to our other favorite place to walk:  "our" canal path, choosing the upper section this time.  And we walked and we talked and we savored being outdoors on such a pretty day.  We put on a few miles today!  All our walks or hikes these days are on flat ground because of Jimmy's painful left knee.  He's back in the queue for a total knee replacement on June 10th, and we're keeping our fingers crossed that this third attempt will be the charm!  (He's had two postponements due to other circumstances.)


What a tree!  Sugar Pine (Pinus lambertiana) -- the largest species of pine.  This HUGE tree is my favorite on the trail (I call it My Friend). Jimmy is standing, I'm guessing, 20 or 30 feet from the trunk base and I'm almost around the bend, so to speak, taking this picture.  It's a beauty.

Enlarge the photo to see the pine cones.  The things are monsters.

 Pine Lupine (Lupinus albicaulis)

Insects were out in force today.

Blue Larkspur (Delphinium)

Fragrant like a lilac, but is it a lilac?  Kinda late in the season for lilacs ....


Enjoyable day, for sure.  No kidding!

20150521

Sunday's Satisfactory Stroll -- May 17th


I've heard it said that keeping your mind busy with various mental activities helps to ward off dementia, keeps a person interested in something other than the body's aging protests, and provides a bit of challenge, if only to oneself.  I know quite a few people who do "Words with Friends," and I tried it for a while, but disliked having my phone constantly dinging to tell me it was my turn.  So I opted out.  I enjoy the Sunday crossword puzzle, but don't want to do the daily puzzle.  I love reading, too, always have; I'm hoping that I'm hedging my bets on the senility part.

Learning is a good thing, regardless of age.  Jimmy bought me a nonfiction book for Christmas called, "Trees and Shrubs of Nevada and Placer Counties, California."  He knows how fascinated I am in all things nature.  Last week I bought it's counterpart, "Wildflowers of Nevada and Placer Counties, California."  I've had more fun than a barrel of monkeys looking up various flowers, shrubs, and trees, especially those hard to identify.  Each to her own, right?


Both books, I discovered, have a section devoted to local trails, some of which we've been on and some we'd never heard of.  On Sunday, (after the puzzle), we decided to try one of the new trails, specifically Rock Creek Nature Trail.  Located in Tahoe National Forest, it's less than 10 miles from our house!  A mostly level, short (approx one mile) loop trail, it comes with an interpretive guide.  (The guide seems more adapted for school-age kids than adults; e.g., "Now try to poke your finger into the soil on the trail.  Does it feel different?" etc.) No matter, it was helpful.


We thought others might be on this trail, it being a Sunday, but no other vehicle was in the parking lot, and we saw no one else.  OK, well, high-ho, off we go, and it's better to be Out and About than rusting in place. The first thing we spotted on the trail was the above sign:  Registered Mining Claim. Absolutely no prospecting allowed. Hmmm ... someone still has mining rights.  This being the Mother Lode Country, Rock Creek was probably overrun with gold-seekers after the big discovery at Sutter's Mill.  Long ago the Maidu Indians gathered food here (two grinding stones are visible).  A large logging operation was ongoing here in the 1880's, and an old cabin site is near the trail, but we couldn't find it.


Rock Creek Nature Trail is not the kind of place you hurry thru in five minutes.  It's a tiny meandering creek in a diverse forest that invites a person to stop, look, listen and even smell.  The little guide says "The overall theme of this trail is that of ecosystems."  And it's oh-so-quiet.  Jimmy is standing on a bridge over the creek, which is so dinky you could hop across it, but it is moving water and I'm sure keeps a lot of critters alive.

Starflower (Trientalis latifolia)

We had to rummage around in the Prius to find insect repellent (old) because skeeters swarmed us when we got out of the car.  I carried my walking stick, mostly to beat off a bear should we see one (I hope you're smiling at that), and my camera and the unwieldy guide, and I kept juggling these things from one hand to the other. Consequently many of my flower pictures were not well-focused.  Maybe next time we'll carry our bear spray in a pack and leave the walking stick in the car.

 This one took a lot of looking up, since I'd never seen it before:  Rattlesnake Plantain (Goodyera oblongifolia)

 Banana slugs "raced" across the path, taking their lives in their, um, hands?


The trail is unique for the number of orchid species to be found.  The above Spotted Coralroot Orchid (Corallorbiza maculata) was one that we saw.  


Thimbleberry (Rubus parviflorus) is blooming.  Another name for this is Salmonberry, which is what I've always called it.  The berry is edible, salmon-colored, and usually ripens in the fall when the salmon begin their spawning run.  I've eaten a few berries, but they kinda melt in your fingers as you pull 'em off the plant.


Woodpeckers drummed, thrushes sang, and little birds chirped ... those were the only sounds we heard.  Some of the trees towered above us ... the largest trees are up to 200 years old ... Ponderosas and Douglas Firs, Black Oaks, Madrones, Pacific Yews and Dogwoods, etc., all shaded the trail.  And teeny-tiny Rock Creek streaks along on it's way to the South Yuba River.  A most satisfactory afternoon, and I only got bit once.  Plus, thanks to me carrying my walking stick, we didn't come across a single bear!