Travels with Tucker

Travels with Tucker

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Saying Goodbye to Santa Cruz

We had one more full day in Santa Cruz before leaving for Big Sur, so we packed a lot in.  We spent the morning at the Forest of Nisene Marks State Park and walked among the beautiful redwoods just a short hop from the village of Aptos.  This forest, like so many others, was clearcut in the late 1800s but thanks to the tremendously fast growth of redwood trees, it is now quite a nice forest.

After lunch we headed over to the Wilder Ranch State Park near the UC campus.  When I went to school there, the Wilder ranch was still a ranch, but in the 90s was donated to the state and now is over 10,000 acres of protected coastal bluff, forest and beaches.  Santa Cruz is really quite well-endowed, with parks nearly circling the town for miles around.  The park was having a big celebration with period-costumed docents and kids events going on all afternoon.  We hung around for a bit of that and then headed off to walk the bluffs.

Horse-drawn wagon rides

Blacksmiths demonstrated their skills

Of course, fields full of pumpkins
The bluffs protected by the new state park are still used for agriculture, preserving the character that this area has had for over 100 years.  Apparently a housing development was proposed for this land but it was preserved through the efforts of Santa Cruz area citizens.  It is a very beautiful place!

Field of rosemary, with scarecrow

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Dog Beach!

Santa Cruz has probably the nicest dog park/beach we have seen anywhere.  The one in Bonita Springs is very nice, but I think Santa Cruz edges it out.  Closed on either end by rocky points and with access down the cliff only on one stairway, the dogs can't leave.  And, these California dogs are very mellow.  Plus the beach is gorgeous, with the lighthouse at one end and Monterey Cypress trees around the perimeter.  We had a blast and tired Tucker out thoroughly, which was good since we were planning to go to lecture that night and he would be left home.

The sky was filling with clouds and there was almost no color on the beach or in the water so I tried processing some pictures I took on beach in black and white.  They came out striking, I think!

Friday, October 24, 2014

More Exploring Around Santa Cruz

This is such a beautiful area--the beaches and coastline, the forests, the cool vibe of the town (people in the grocery checkout line talk about surf spots and the current wave conditions).  We took Tucker to the dog beach and visited the butterfly's at Natrual Bridges State Park.  I got up before sunrise one day and went to world-renowned surf spot, Steamer Lane, and took some shots of the surfers waiting for waves.  Then we visited with my old work buddy, Dave Thomas, and went to a mountain winery for some tasting during the solar eclipse.  Having a great week!

Every year the monarch butterfly's return to the same grotto in Natural Bridges SP for the winter. These insects are the fourth generation descendents of the prior years' butterflies whose offpring traveled all the way to Idaho and back, with each generation only living a few weeks or months.  By December there will be many times more of them here in Santa Cruz, as they have just started to arrive.  My neck was sore from looking up at them hanging from the eucalyptus trees!

Burrell School Winery is located way up in the mountains between Santa Cruz and San Jose.  The views were beautiful (and the wine was good!)

We didn't know it, but a partial solar eclipse was going on when we arrived at the winery. Conveniently, they had a welder's mask to look through and I got this shot by awkwardly shooting through the mask.  Notice the sunspots.

The vineyards were gorgeous and the last of the grapes were still hanging on the vines while the leaves are starting to change color.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Santa Cruz

I lived in Santa Cruz from 1969 to 1972 while in college and loved the town.  It has certainly grown (and gotten more expensive!) since then, but it still has this funky, laid back, beach town 60's feel to it that is very nice.  We are camped at Henry Cowell Redwoods state park, just 5 miles from downtown and we'll be here a week.  Yesterday, our friends Jim and Bobby came to hang out with us, had lunch and we went for a hike in the redwoods.  Most of this area was logged in the late 1800's and early 1900's.  The magnificent redwood trees went into building homes (many of these 100-year-old victorians are still scattered around Santa Cruz) and for fueling limestone kilns.  After the 1906 earthquake, more buildings were being built of brick and mortar and 75% of the lime for the mortar came from the kilns now within this park.  By 1920, all the redwoods were cut down except a few small groves, but due to the redwood tree's extremely fast growth, the second-growth redwood forests here are quite nice.

Lynnae and Bobby

This old narrow-gauge railroad still runs through the park.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Point Reyes National Seashore

We drove from the northern redwood country nearly all the way to San Francisco, stopping at Pt. Reyes for a few days, joined by Jeff and his girlfriend Katie.  We walked on the beach, went out kayaking on Tomales Bay, ate oysters from the Hog Island Oyster Company and generally hung out in this beautiful coastal area only an hour from SF, but feeling like a different world.  Lynnae dared to take her cell phone in the kayak, so I'll post some of her shots from that trip.  Other than the big weekend crowds visiting from the city, this whole are looks much like it did 50 years ago and has a bit of a Cape Cod feel to it.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Moving South!

Having poked to within about 20 miles of Oregon, we have now firmly turned south for the winter. Though it is still warm and nice up here now, we know that will change and head with our noses pointed toward San Diego, about 800 miles away.

We are staying for a few days at Richardson Grove State Park, where we can camp right within this little old-growth redwood forest.  We hiked (more like wandered) through the trees for a while this afternoon and look forward to nachos in the trailer for dinner.  Tomorrow we have a pretty long driving day to Olema, near Pt. Reyes National Seashore, which is only an hour north of San Francisco.  We'll see Jeff and Katie and spend some time in the wine country before heading to the southern half of the California coast.

Sometimes you see some funny (not intentionally) signs in the parks

One Year!

October 6, 2013 we left Plymouth for our life on the road.   It has been a hell of a year--everything we hoped it would be and no day anything like we imagined.  What did we do?

Miles traveled in the truck: 17,458

Campgrounds (or campground substitutes): 58

National Parks visited: 8 (Carlsbad Caverns, Yosemite, Kings Canyon, Sequoia, Death Valley, Joshua Tree, Redwood, Lassen, Cape Breton Highlands (Canada))

Miles of trail walked:  A couple hundred

Good times, meals together, laughs and moments of gratitude that we really get to do this:  Countless

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Tidepools and Seals

We headed over to Palmer Point, where there were supposed to be some great tidepools, at 2 in the afternoon--low tide.  Like all the coastline around here, it is a bit of a hike down to the beach, or in this case, the rocky ledge where the tidepools are.  We were a bit late for low tide, as it turned out, but the tidepools were disappointing.  We had seen tidepools with more life and beauty in Laguna Beach, on the coast of overpopulated Southern California.  I had some fun shooting a hermit crab and a dead octopus washed up on the beach, then Lynnae spied some harbor seals hanging on the rocks offshore--or should I say posing!

This dead octopus was about 3 feet long.  I found the suckers to be fascinating.
Hermit crabs are common, but I liked this guy's blue socks

Doesn't this guy look like he is smiling!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Walking around Patrick's Point

This is such a scenic park, and very compact so walking just short distances brings you to scenic vista after scenic vista.  They are having a heat wave (in the 90's in San Francisco), so up here it is an unseasonable 75-80 degrees and beautifully sunny.

View of Agate Beach from our campground
From the beach north of Wedding Rock
From the viewpoint on Wedding Rock