pameladean: (Default)
On my second full day in California, I awoke for the second time to a world without Jordan. Things felt both terrible and unreal. I was so far away; she had flirted her tail at me as I went out with my suitcase, and I had said, "Hello, pretty girl," and then put down the suitcase and rubbed her head and scritched her fine white spiral-permed ruff. She had a great chuffy purr when she was pleased, but it was reserved for less brief encounters.

Eric and I made an early start because we wanted to make the most of the low tide at the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve. We invariably refer to any expeditions to this reserve as "going to Moss Beach," but that's actually the town rather than the beach itself.

We stopped at Whole Foods again for lunch supplies and noted with pleasure, as we neared the marine reserve, the new location of the Flying Fish Grill. We had tried to visit it in 2006, on [livejournal.com profile] mrissa's recommendation, but inadvertently arrived on a Tuesday, the day it is closed.

The day was overcast and extremely windy when we got there, and I feared I was under-dressed. But we read the sign explaining that it is a felony in San Mateo County to go within 300 feet of a harbor seal, noted that the beach was closed off on its southern end because a lot of harbor seals had "hauled out," as the proper phrase apparently is, and were lying about on the rocks looking spotted and satisfied; and clambered down from the high point. We crossed the stream with its warnings about e. coli, and began walking cautiously around on the exposed rocks. At first all we saw were snails. I was having a lot of trouble just making my way around and feared I had lost a lot of my acquired sure-footedness in such circumstances. However, I think it was a bad combination of very slippery rocks, which the sun soon came out and half-dried, and the height of the nasty side effects of my blood pressure medication, which soon abated. Eric found the first sea anemones. Most of them were tightly closed and decorated with a scattering of sand. As the sun warmed the rocks and water and our eyes remembered what to look for, we saw hermit crabs tugging their temporary snail-shell homes about, and small fish startling from shade to sun and back to shade again, as fast as fast. And we saw a large, intensely red crab hiding as well as it could under a small overhang of rock in one of the tide pools.

There were also ravens, sailing about on the wind and making "gronk" sounds. In the lagoon left by the receding tide were oyster-catchers, and we got to see one of them taking a bath, with great splashings and preenings and then more splashing. A few small and larger sandpiper-like birds ran about, but the light was so strong that they were hard to identify. We were also fairly sure that we saw a western grebe.

I spent some time looking at the main mass of harbor seals. It was early for them to have many young, but one or two small ones were rolling about and poking the larger seals with their noses. The adult seals would emit gusty breaths or outright groans, turn over, and go back to sleep, and the young ones would go poke another adult or two. Eric came back from one of the further spits of rock at the other end of the tide-pool area, looking agitated. "There's a harbor seal out there," he said, "and it's pointing its nose superciliously at the sky, and if I can see that I think I'm too close." After a little discussion, we decided to leave the beach to the harbor seals and drive into the Santa Cruz Mountains. Neither one of us had thought in time that we should bring Eric's California atlas, but he said that he had spent enough time driving around the Santa Cruz Mountains that he was unlikely to get lost.

We drove along the coast for a while, with Eric telling me to just sing out if I wanted to stop at a particular beach. I looked fondly at San Gregorio, but didn't sing out. In time we came to Alpine Road, which led up into the hills, and took it. It was narrow to begin with, extremely winding, and after a short time full of views. As we went up and in, the dry scrubby landscape of the coast gave way to evergreens, redwoods, and damp. The road was often too narrow for two cars to pass, and had a habit of going to the extreme edge of a drop before curving abruptly back in a different direction. The car had a compass, and if you watched it for a few moments you could see almost every direction available.

In a particularly lush and drippy stretch, we saw signs for the Heritage Grove. This is part of Pescadero State Park, it turns out. We parked in a minute damp parking lot and crossed a wooden bridge encrusted with moss, from which tiny mushrooms stood up along the railings. There was an entire dead tree completely covered with brilliant green moss. At the time, this seemed beautiful.

The Heritage Grove is believed to contain the largest remaining redwoods in the Santa Cruz Mountains. The trees were already marked to be logged in the 1970's when citizens of a nearby town got themselves together to protest the logging. They succeeded in saving the trees. We had a choice of visiting the upper or the lower grove first. I suggested the upper, on the grounds that that would be more tiring, so we should do it first. We climbed a wet path with occasional wooden steps, winding around boulders and roots. There were firs and redwoods, intensely green moss, fallen branches laden with lichen, and banana slugs. By the time we returned to the car we had counted eight of them. I found it strange, given their color, that they were so well camouflaged. Eric pointed out later that they were pretty much the exact color of a fallen, yellowed leaf from a California bay laurel. Everything was pearled and starred with minute drops of water.

The old-growth redwoods, when we got to them, were fully as amazing as most of the ones we had seen when we went north to Humboldt County in 2007. And you could in fact see, cracked and grown apart and sometimes interrupted by bark, the blue paint laid upon their trunks by the failed loggers while I was still in college.

We pressed on past the immense grove, drawn on by the greenness. I had noticed a lot of brown oak leaves, which struck a strange note in the overall lushness. Eric said now that those were tan oaks, and that they suffered from Sudden Oak Death, a plant disease first noticed in the 1990's but only recently traced to its source. I looked out among the spaces of the forest, seeing more and more trees and branches completely covered with moss. They no longer seemed so beautiful.

The path eventually became too steep or muddy, or perhaps was blocked by a fallen tree, and we turned back and came down again through the many shades of green and rich dark red and gray and brown, past the sky-touching old redwoods, past our bridge, and down to the lower grove, which was near a small stream. We found the rest of the ancient trees and looked at the blue paint on their trunks. I may have said something triumphal to the long-gone loggers.

When we got back to the car we decided to go on upwards rather than retracing our path to the coast road. Alpine Road continued narrow, or narrower, on and on, pushing itself out to the edge of a drop and back to a cliff, showing us layers of hills, valleys full of trees, mountains of trees and mountains of grass, damp forest and dry and damp again. There were no intersections for what seemed like a long time. We finally got up to Highway 35, also known as Skyline Boulevard, which was cheering because at least we had heard of it and had been on other parts of it. Eric became concerned about ending up in suburbia or even in Silicon Valley, so we turned south on Skyline. At last we came upon Highway 9, also known, though we didn't at the time, as Big Basin Way; and then, not being completely tired of wandering around at random, we turned onto Highway 236, Big Basin Way. There continued a general dearth of choices to go much of anywhere, aside from the roads mentioned.

We began to see signs for Big Basin State Park. Eric remembered visiting it in September of 2003, when he moved back to California and I came with him and stayed for a week to make the transition less painful for both of us. I couldn't recall anything about it, though I remembered a lot of the other redwood parks we had seen. We went on and on, around and around and around, up and up and up and up. We were hungry and bewildered by now, and there was some doubt, in the absence of a map, as to whether the road we were on would go through Big Basin State Park, or maybe only to it, whereupon we would have to retrace our convoluted route. I had felt for quite some time that it was getting dark, though this impression was created by the density of much of the forest and the intermittent overcase rather than by the sun's actually having set.

We arrived at Big Basin State Park, and if I recall correctly were so intent on making sure that the road went on to the coast that we did not avail ourselves of its amenities. Eric said that our previous visit had involved arriving late in the day and walking around among the largest trees for a while. Since we had seen large redwoods in more salubrious conditions that same day, we gaped but did not stop. Eric, however, was getting tired after all the hairpin curves and scary views, so I got him to pull into a turnout and eat a battered Luna bar that I had been carting around for months. He said this was very helpful.

We drove down, then, down and down through deep green forest and blue-shadowed hills and valleys, and came at last to the coast road, and turned north. The sun was very close to setting. We stopped at one beach because there were surfers and also people flying kites. Then we realized that these were all the same people -- they were kite-surfing. The ocean looked wild and temperamental; the sunset light caught the sails and the wind alternately billowed and flattened them. We watched for a while, and then drove a little further to another beach, where we elected to watch the sunset. It was a quite nice one, but what remains most in my memory now is the birds. There were surf scoters in the surf. ("Do surf scoters have clown faces?" I asked Eric, having left Sibley in the car, and he affirmed that they did.) And as the sun set and twilight came on, there were ducks on the beach. "Are those MALLARDS?" demanded Eric.

They were. But they were behaving as I have not seen mallards behave. They would run after the receding waves, and at the edge of the water they would plunge their bills into the sand, wrench their heads back and forth, yank unidentifiable things out of the water, and swallow them. Then the next wave would carry them up the shore, and they would right themselves and run after it and yank more food out of the sand. We watched until it was too dark to see and the wind was cold and we were hungry.

Then we drove back to Half Moon Bay and had dinner at the Flying Fish Grill.

Many thanks to [livejournal.com profile] arkuat for confirming our wanderings on a map.

Pamela
pameladean: (Default)
On my second full day in California, I awoke for the second time to a world without Jordan. Things felt both terrible and unreal. I was so far away; she had flirted her tail at me as I went out with my suitcase, and I had said, "Hello, pretty girl," and then put down the suitcase and rubbed her head and scritched her fine white spiral-permed ruff. She had a great chuffy purr when she was pleased, but it was reserved for less brief encounters.

Eric and I made an early start because we wanted to make the most of the low tide at the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve. We invariably refer to any expeditions to this reserve as "going to Moss Beach," but that's actually the town rather than the beach itself.

We stopped at Whole Foods again for lunch supplies and noted with pleasure, as we neared the marine reserve, the new location of the Flying Fish Grill. We had tried to visit it in 2006, on [livejournal.com profile] mrissa's recommendation, but inadvertently arrived on a Tuesday, the day it is closed.

The day was overcast and extremely windy when we got there, and I feared I was under-dressed. But we read the sign explaining that it is a felony in San Mateo County to go within 300 feet of a harbor seal, noted that the beach was closed off on its southern end because a lot of harbor seals had "hauled out," as the proper phrase apparently is, and were lying about on the rocks looking spotted and satisfied; and clambered down from the high point. We crossed the stream with its warnings about e. coli, and began walking cautiously around on the exposed rocks. At first all we saw were snails. I was having a lot of trouble just making my way around and feared I had lost a lot of my acquired sure-footedness in such circumstances. However, I think it was a bad combination of very slippery rocks, which the sun soon came out and half-dried, and the height of the nasty side effects of my blood pressure medication, which soon abated. Eric found the first sea anemones. Most of them were tightly closed and decorated with a scattering of sand. As the sun warmed the rocks and water and our eyes remembered what to look for, we saw hermit crabs tugging their temporary snail-shell homes about, and small fish startling from shade to sun and back to shade again, as fast as fast. And we saw a large, intensely red crab hiding as well as it could under a small overhang of rock in one of the tide pools.

There were also ravens, sailing about on the wind and making "gronk" sounds. In the lagoon left by the receding tide were oyster-catchers, and we got to see one of them taking a bath, with great splashings and preenings and then more splashing. A few small and larger sandpiper-like birds ran about, but the light was so strong that they were hard to identify. We were also fairly sure that we saw a western grebe.

I spent some time looking at the main mass of harbor seals. It was early for them to have many young, but one or two small ones were rolling about and poking the larger seals with their noses. The adult seals would emit gusty breaths or outright groans, turn over, and go back to sleep, and the young ones would go poke another adult or two. Eric came back from one of the further spits of rock at the other end of the tide-pool area, looking agitated. "There's a harbor seal out there," he said, "and it's pointing its nose superciliously at the sky, and if I can see that I think I'm too close." After a little discussion, we decided to leave the beach to the harbor seals and drive into the Santa Cruz Mountains. Neither one of us had thought in time that we should bring Eric's California atlas, but he said that he had spent enough time driving around the Santa Cruz Mountains that he was unlikely to get lost.

We drove along the coast for a while, with Eric telling me to just sing out if I wanted to stop at a particular beach. I looked fondly at San Gregorio, but didn't sing out. In time we came to Alpine Road, which led up into the hills, and took it. It was narrow to begin with, extremely winding, and after a short time full of views. As we went up and in, the dry scrubby landscape of the coast gave way to evergreens, redwoods, and damp. The road was often too narrow for two cars to pass, and had a habit of going to the extreme edge of a drop before curving abruptly back in a different direction. The car had a compass, and if you watched it for a few moments you could see almost every direction available.

In a particularly lush and drippy stretch, we saw signs for the Heritage Grove. This is part of Pescadero State Park, it turns out. We parked in a minute damp parking lot and crossed a wooden bridge encrusted with moss, from which tiny mushrooms stood up along the railings. There was an entire dead tree completely covered with brilliant green moss. At the time, this seemed beautiful.

The Heritage Grove is believed to contain the largest remaining redwoods in the Santa Cruz Mountains. The trees were already marked to be logged in the 1970's when citizens of a nearby town got themselves together to protest the logging. They succeeded in saving the trees. We had a choice of visiting the upper or the lower grove first. I suggested the upper, on the grounds that that would be more tiring, so we should do it first. We climbed a wet path with occasional wooden steps, winding around boulders and roots. There were firs and redwoods, intensely green moss, fallen branches laden with lichen, and banana slugs. By the time we returned to the car we had counted eight of them. I found it strange, given their color, that they were so well camouflaged. Eric pointed out later that they were pretty much the exact color of a fallen, yellowed leaf from a California bay laurel. Everything was pearled and starred with minute drops of water.

The old-growth redwoods, when we got to them, were fully as amazing as most of the ones we had seen when we went north to Humboldt County in 2007. And you could in fact see, cracked and grown apart and sometimes interrupted by bark, the blue paint laid upon their trunks by the failed loggers while I was still in college.

We pressed on past the immense grove, drawn on by the greenness. I had noticed a lot of brown oak leaves, which struck a strange note in the overall lushness. Eric said now that those were tan oaks, and that they suffered from Sudden Oak Death, a plant disease first noticed in the 1990's but only recently traced to its source. I looked out among the spaces of the forest, seeing more and more trees and branches completely covered with moss. They no longer seemed so beautiful.

The path eventually became too steep or muddy, or perhaps was blocked by a fallen tree, and we turned back and came down again through the many shades of green and rich dark red and gray and brown, past the sky-touching old redwoods, past our bridge, and down to the lower grove, which was near a small stream. We found the rest of the ancient trees and looked at the blue paint on their trunks. I may have said something triumphal to the long-gone loggers.

When we got back to the car we decided to go on upwards rather than retracing our path to the coast road. Alpine Road continued narrow, or narrower, on and on, pushing itself out to the edge of a drop and back to a cliff, showing us layers of hills, valleys full of trees, mountains of trees and mountains of grass, damp forest and dry and damp again. There were no intersections for what seemed like a long time. We finally got up to Highway 35, also known as Skyline Boulevard, which was cheering because at least we had heard of it and had been on other parts of it. Eric became concerned about ending up in suburbia or even in Silicon Valley, so we turned south on Skyline. At last we came upon Highway 9, also known, though we didn't at the time, as Big Basin Way; and then, not being completely tired of wandering around at random, we turned onto Highway 236, Big Basin Way. There continued a general dearth of choices to go much of anywhere, aside from the roads mentioned.

We began to see signs for Big Basin State Park. Eric remembered visiting it in September of 2003, when he moved back to California and I came with him and stayed for a week to make the transition less painful for both of us. I couldn't recall anything about it, though I remembered a lot of the other redwood parks we had seen. We went on and on, around and around and around, up and up and up and up. We were hungry and bewildered by now, and there was some doubt, in the absence of a map, as to whether the road we were on would go through Big Basin State Park, or maybe only to it, whereupon we would have to retrace our convoluted route. I had felt for quite some time that it was getting dark, though this impression was created by the density of much of the forest and the intermittent overcase rather than by the sun's actually having set.

We arrived at Big Basin State Park, and if I recall correctly were so intent on making sure that the road went on to the coast that we did not avail ourselves of its amenities. Eric said that our previous visit had involved arriving late in the day and walking around among the largest trees for a while. Since we had seen large redwoods in more salubrious conditions that same day, we gaped but did not stop. Eric, however, was getting tired after all the hairpin curves and scary views, so I got him to pull into a turnout and eat a battered Luna bar that I had been carting around for months. He said this was very helpful.

We drove down, then, down and down through deep green forest and blue-shadowed hills and valleys, and came at last to the coast road, and turned north. The sun was very close to setting. We stopped at one beach because there were surfers and also people flying kites. Then we realized that these were all the same people -- they were kite-surfing. The ocean looked wild and temperamental; the sunset light caught the sails and the wind alternately billowed and flattened them. We watched for a while, and then drove a little further to another beach, where we elected to watch the sunset. It was a quite nice one, but what remains most in my memory now is the birds. There were surf scoters in the surf. ("Do surf scoters have clown faces?" I asked Eric, having left Sibley in the car, and he affirmed that they did.) And as the sun set and twilight came on, there were ducks on the beach. "Are those MALLARDS?" demanded Eric.

They were. But they were behaving as I have not seen mallards behave. They would run after the receding waves, and at the edge of the water they would plunge their bills into the sand, wrench their heads back and forth, yank unidentifiable things out of the water, and swallow them. Then the next wave would carry them up the shore, and they would right themselves and run after it and yank more food out of the sand. We watched until it was too dark to see and the wind was cold and we were hungry.

Then we drove back to Half Moon Bay and had dinner at the Flying Fish Grill.

Many thanks to [livejournal.com profile] arkuat for confirming our wanderings on a map.

Pamela

Profile

pameladean: (Default)
pameladean

May 2017

S M T W T F S
 123456
78910 111213
14151617181920
21222324 252627
2829 3031   

Syndicate

RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Aug. 16th, 2017 03:11 pm
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios