Endless Ocean ASMR: Fort Bragg, California

I actually have culled through my ocean pictures from our trip, but I just can’t go with any less than these. Even if it’s just for my own benefit of collecting them all in one place. I hope you’ll look through them and find a sense of peaceful joy.

We’ve been to the ocean many times during the past three years of living in California, but we’ve yet to just BE at the ocean. We’re always doing something around it but this time my only request was to be able to sit on the beach and read, etc.

Scott brought his fishing pole and we each had three blissful hours of absolute relaxation. There weren’t many people at the beach we happened upon, which made it even sweeter.

I read and cross-stitched and fell in love with two little girls and their sweet parents. Tilly smelled and smelled and loved getting wet. The sun was warm but the temperatures were very cool. I’m telling you…lots of people leave their hearts in San Francisco, but Scott and I left a huge piece of ours in Fort Bragg, California at Pudding Creek Beach.

We explored. We breathed slow and deep. We fell in love with the area and deeper with each other. What a wonderful new place to return to again and again…

One of the many things I love about Scott is his unguarded enthusiasm. He and Tilly took a walk on the beach while I set up my little spot in the sand. Soon they were back and Scott was animatedly telling me that I had to come see this “really cool hiding spot!”

Tilly met a new friend. And like any pre-teen girl, she chased him senselessly without pride or reserve.

Ahhhhh the tribulations of young summer love.

Pawprints in the Sand

I love the California shoreline. It’s craggy and moody and looks like every suspenseful movie or book plot you’ve ever imagined. I always think of Daphne DuMaurier’s, REBECCA. Words like plummeted or at the edge of the shoreline or discarded mitten come to mind. – ha!! (I’ve never lacked an active imagination.)

I want to learn how to speak to anyone at any time and make us both feel a little bit better, lighter, richer, with no commitments of ever meeting again. I want to learn how to stand wherever with whomever and still feel stable. I want to learn how to unlock the locks to our minds, my mind, so that when I hear opinions or views that don’t match up with mine, I can still listen and understand. I want to burn up lifeless habits of following maps and to-do lists, and I want to go back to the way nature shaped me. I want to learn to go on well with whatever I have in my hands at the moment in a natural state of mind,
certain like the sea.

I will find comfort in the rhythm of the sea.

Charlotte Eriksson

Happiest World Ocean Day 2022 today. Oceans are vast and intimidating and mysterious and all the more alluring because of it.

GPS signal lost

“GPS signal lost. No Sirius signal.”

Two phrases broadcasted through our car radio. The truest music to my ears. We were pioneers! Nothing but our car and enormous redwoods to guide us through the Navarro River Redwoods State Park in Mendocino County, California.

We felt like the only humans on the road, wrapped in the magnitude of the mighty redwoods and their preternatural understory. It was quiet and cool and magical. Fairies? Mystical creatures watching us from the privacy of their hiding spot? Maybe! This far into the woods you’d believe just about anything.

The brush underneath the 300+ foot trees deserves its own mention of beauty. The luscious greens and forest scents. Ferns leaning toward the spots where the sun forces its way through to the forest floor. It was absolute heaven.

Unfortunately, this little swallowtail was not long for the forest. He was injured somewhere and trying to limp along unsuccessfully. I’m thankful he let us capture his array of colors. I will treasure this photo all the more for the effort he had to give up to allow it to happen.

Tilly was overwhelmed by all the exciting smells and my little bitty 6’3” husband was no match for the vast height of the California redwoods.

Standing in the middle of this road was one of the highlights of our trip to the coast. The quiet air around me. The road leading us to unknown places. The embrace of the redwoods. The magical dance of the sunbursts. I wanted to sit down and be for just a few moments longer.

I felt the energizing truth of forest bathing.

And then, within a few moments of our forest drive, the smell of salty air started to overtake the pine and our view of the Pacific started to emerge.

I’ll take THIS house, please.

California is the most unusual state. The topography changes within a handful of minutes. Desert. Mountains. Forest. Sea. What an incredible place to live. We keep discovering more and more ‘favorite places’.

Having soaked up the fresh air and lowered our blood pressure from the terpene in our forest therapy, we were ready to put our feet in the Pacific…

The Call of the Mild

You know that emoji with the shocked face, gaping eyes, and raised eyebrows?? 😳 Imagine our goldendoodle, Tilly, with that expression on her people-loving, never-met-a-foe, mild-mannered, pampered face as we drove through the California Napa Valley, listening to The Call of the Wild by Jack London on audio. She had no idea dogs could even act with such violence toward each other or that dog owners would leave their dogs to burrow in a snow pile for warmth at night.

She was aghast!

On our way to the coast for some much-needed time away, we stopped in Glen Ellen, California, at the home of Jack London (1876-1916), one of the first American writers to make successful money during his lifetime (not just posthumously.) He also was one of the first authors to write what would later become known as science fiction.

We listened to The Call of the Wild in the car, quickly invested in the life of Buck – the fictional main character (dog) of London’s 1903 novel. Driving through the vineyard country, then through the magnificent redwoods, on to the sandy beaches of the Pacific, we listened and gasped and reassuringly patted Tilly’s head as we made our way westward.

Calling on his canine ancestors, Buck endured difficult days, learning experiences, and eventually, to trust and love again.

He was older than the days he had seen and the breaths he had drawn.

We have much to learn from our four-legged companions, a wealth of wisdom and insight at our fingertips, in the lives lived of generations past.

Rattlesnakes aside, we walked the grounds of London’s home, graveyard, and museum and picked up a few of his treasured short stories to add to our library.

It was difficult to photograph due to the lighting, but this view from his home looked out over the coastal mountains with pine trees enveloping the house. I mean… who couldn’t write with a view like that?!

Precursor to John Steinbeck, London wrote with the same rugged determination that many of his American literary comrades strove to achieve…the wild West calling to their masculine imagery and dreams. London was part of the radical literary group “The Crowd” in San Francisco and a passionate advocate of workers’ rights and socialism.

After our literary pit stop, Tilly, Scott, and I (a trio of not so rough and tough, hardened adventurers) packed back in our car and kept driving West toward our final destination.

The wild was calling us, but in a much more mildly temperate fashion.

If ya can’t stand the heat…

After numerous days over 105 degrees, we needed to ‘get out of the kitchen’.

So we threw Tilly in the car and headed to Lake Tahoe. It was still warm outside there, but about 20 degrees cooler and that felt a little like heaven.

Of course – these views didn’t hurt either.

Just a little bit of snow left on the Sierra Nevada mountains. Enough to imagine how nice it would be to make a snow angel in this July California heat.

The smell of pine overtakes you. It’s a scent that just can’t be replicated. (sorry, car freshener trees.)

This was our third daytrip with Tilly. The first two trips she got sick with all the twists and turns. This time we didn’t feed her breakfast and gave her some motion sickness medicine and she ROCKED IT! From what we’ve read, a puppy’s inner ears aren’t fully developed until about a year old, so we are hoping she grows beyond the car sickness because we love to travel and want her to be a part of those journeys. Today gave us hope.

We drove to Truckee – which is the cutest town with so many shops and restaurants. Truckee is the northern part of Lake Tahoe. Then we drove over the northern tip (which is my favorite view of the lake) then down the Nevada side of the lake. At the southern end we stopped and ate at this cute burger joint. I could have skipped it all and just had their amazing handmade shake. Oh my word…..so good!

The vastness of this area is overwhelming when you pay attention. The enormity of everything. The immenseness of pine trees. The age-rounded boulders.

What an amazing part of the country and just a few hours from our front door. We feel immensely blessed to be living here and experiencing this part of America.

Tilly had a big day. She came nose to nose with another dog. She has not been that close to another animal except our cat, Haddie. We met a dog trainer who was walking some of her dobermans. Tilly has no concept of her size. She is very subservient to other dogs. (Which is the part I regret about her pandemic birth timing.) We talked to the breeder about how difficult it has been for all of us to find dog training classes that are open. Since we all keep our distance while walking, she doesn’t come into close contact with other humans or animals.

(if only you could see the side-eye she was giving this curious dog!)

Our current problem with Tilly is that it appears she is a…(google title)…subservient urinator. UGH! She ‘shows her deference’ to others by immediately peeing. It’s a definite problem! She’s so curious about other people. She isn’t aggressive and doesn’t cower. But as soon as someone pets her, she lets it all go. Unfortunately, I’ve read this isn’t something they necessarily grow out of. We have some serious socializing to do with this one!

What a beautiful day. It was a thrill to not burn up in the intense heat but rather enjoy the gorgeous colors of a stunningly beautiful part of the country.

Tilly’s First Tide

Vacationing without vacationing seems to be our rallying cry this summer. Keeping things local, daytrips, and ‘cheap entertainment’. Like so many of you, COVID has left its mark on many. We continue to be grateful, however. For health and the health of our extended family as well.

And, of course, for Tilly and all of her unadulterated joy. It is her one and only goal in life: to play.

We thought it was time to venture out and introduce her to the Pacific Ocean for her four month birthday. She’s 16 weeks old and we have had her for exactly half of those weeks. She’s changed and grown in a million ways! (And literally grown. When we got her she was 6.3 lbs and is now 26.8 lbs!)

The beaches were full, but nothing like what you see on tv. People were broadly spaced and many wore masks. Bodega Bay is a more liberally-minded area of Northern California so it was nice to step into their heightened concern for public well-being and not feel like the odd man out like we do sometimes in the Sacramento suburbs.

It felt so good to hear the waves and smell the salty water. Driving through the mighty pine trees was also filled with the undeniable scent of fresh pine in the air.

Tilly loved the water. No surprise. But what she was mostly interested in were the other dogs and people! She is a quarantine puppy so she’s been severely people-limited. I’m not sure how socialization will go in the future, but she seems to be endlessly curious about all these potential playmates!

She ran Scott up and down the incoming waves!

She was a mess when it was done, though! Her curly hair was not quite curled right since it was naturally blow-dried in the ocean breeze.

We ate in town – crab and fish. This town is known for their crabbing and oysters. Someday Scott plans on doing some crab catching at the cove – hopefully with a fish-loving dog in tow.

We also ran across this crazy flower. I don’t know what kind of flower or plant it is. Seems like it would be on a cactus but I don’t think that’s what it was. The bloom was as big as a dinner plate.

What a day! Admittedly, it was a lot more stressful than if it had just been the two of us, but we were excited to introduce Tilly to the ocean and were thrilled that she loved it!

Here are a number of videos of her first time experience…

 

It was slated to be a hot day in Sacramento (dry heat or not, 107 is HOT!), so we did the only logical thing and headed to the shore. The sun was high but it was 66 degrees of pure heaven.

Oroville

We originally planned to head to the Bay area this week but so many of the parking lots are still closed, it would be difficult to get to the beach and even a gamble on whether or not the beach would be open to the public. So we nixed those plans and decided to go northeast instead.

Scott had heard about Lake Oroville from co-workers so we woke up the next day and headed north to Oroville, California. It was the perfect day – overcast for the early part of the day and the temperatures were almost too cool in the mid-70’s. The perfect daytrip weather!

Most importantly, this was Tilly’s FIRST public outing since finishing her PARVO shots. (For new dog owners, you know how thrilling it is when you can finally let your dog walk somewhere besides your own backyard!)

We stopped for a hike at the Bidwell Bar Bridge – a suspension bridge that was the first steel suspension bridge in California in 1855, costing $35,000 for the 240 foot long bridge. It is now two suspension bridges open for foot traffic only. 

Tilly couldn’t get enough of the smells along the bridge! -ha!

I’m sparing you (believe it or not) the 6.7 million pictures I took of these manzanita trees. Their reddish, smooth bark is amazing and the gnarly, twisty way they grow is so interesting! Our hike took us through a canopy of them. (They’d make a great Halloween-inspired hike.)

 

 

 

 

Everything about the trail seemed magical and otherwordly with a beautiful view of the lake. Boats are waiting for all the summer fun.

Gnome or fairy house, maybe??

Being the seasoned hiker that I am – the below picture means we’re heading in a specific direction. North, south, east west…it’s one of those.

Oroville Lake was formed from the creation of the Oroville Dam and winds through the Feather River canyon. The shoreline has been extended to allow for the melting snow from the nearby mountains in the spring. 

There were fishermen out enjoying the gorgeous day. Scott can’t wait to fish here this summer too. We will definitely be back.

How about a little community of houseboats?? Livin the life! -ha

 

 

The foothills looked pretty, but honestly – I really wanted to cut down these dried grasses to bring home for arrangements. But I played nicely… (that, and there was a park ranger nearby.)

We stopped for lunch and a quick restroom break for all three of us. The public restrooms were really nice but THIS SIGN was on the entrance. WHAT?! The surveillance footage of me stooping down to check under the sinks and behind the toilet and all the corners of the room were probably entertaining to someone. -ugh! “She must be from the Midwest.” 

The restrooms had an open air slat system that convinced me that some rattler was ready to pull an Indiana Jones on me at any minute. 

Our picnic basket left a little to be desired but we were going for a 1950’s style lunch. White bread sandwiches with PB&J and maybe a bologna or two for good measure. It was fun!

The Oroville Dam is the tallest dam in the United States at 770 ft. Looking over one side is no big deal. Looking over the other is a whole different thing. – yikes!

The foothills of the Sierra Nevada on a white cloud, blue sky, clear day. 

For those of you who know Monica Smith, the buttes around the foothills is near where she lives and where her brother, Doug, pastors a Nazarene church in Yuba City. It’s always fun to see the wide open areas when we drive to see her.

 

Okay guys. I’m just telling you what they’re telling me. I kept telling Scott, “I’m not buying this” but if it’s on an historical sign – we’ve gotta believe, right? 

In 1856, a judge planted this orange seedling and it has survived all these years (including a relocation), making it the oldest surviving orange tree in California. The Mother Orange Tree.

I know.

I’m assuming someone somewhere has proof. 

 

My family saw the last few years of the Wye Oak Tree in Talbot County, Maryland before its final demise. It had grown there since 1540. 

How do we have proof of all this, people?  But hey – I’m just here for the site seeing.

Still producing fruit all these years later. Impressive, Mama. Impressive.

In the back of my mind – in the neverending list of ‘coffee table books’ I’d like to attempt someday, will be the mid-century buildings in California. They’re just so classic. This was a nature center next to the Mother Orange Tree. If you love mid-century, California offers it in spades.

Admittedly, I had a moment looking at these flags. California has endured. The US has endured. We’ve fought about how and when but there were some moments of national and global unity that I will always hold in memory of COVID Spring 2020. 

This was a BIG surprise for us. On one of our stops we were walking toward the site with other people social-distanced behind us. Just walking along, enjoying the day when we realized we had to go down some steps to get to the sidewalk. All of a sudden Tilly FROZE. She just stopped. She’s never seen or been on stairs before! We live in a ranch-style home so this was a complete first for her and it didn’t even dawn on us. Scott urged her along with the leash while I coaxed her like a soccer mom as people passed us on the stairs. It’s so funny the things that never occur to you about an infant or a puppy. Each step she took was like a new adventure. She tackled it, though, like a pro!

We were feeling all proud of her until…..BABOOM!….there it was again. A rattlesnake alert. This time, we had to walk through a gauntlet of snake heaven to get to where we were going. Rocks and rocks everywhere. I knew they were out there. Each and every one of them curled up and ready to attack!

To make things worse, this was the last sign we saw before entering the rock wonderland…

As I read the sign it says: FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, MAN!, stay on the sidewalk so as to not entice the bevy of rattlers (the end.)

Please tell me this isn’t snake nirvana. I was stepping high and moving fast. Scott and Tilly were on their own! 

(Dear Lord, thank you to the person who left me a little balance reminder in the rocks.)

But it was worth getting to one of the spillways of the Feather River.

(I almost had a perfect view except that one person being that one person enjoying….the view??? ugh – move!) 

There is a fish hatchery streamway that runs along the side of the river. They say (…and yes, I looked hard for some!) that salmon jump as high as 12 feet in the air coming out of this overspill. Oh to be able to fish here!!

Because of the dam (which primarily provides water irrigation, hydroelectricity and flood control), fish migration up the Feather River has been constricted and the controlled flow of the river has affected river habitat. As an attempt to try to counter the dam’s impacts on fish migration, they constructed this salmon/steelhead fish incubator on the river, which began shortly after the dam was completed in 1968.

(no jumping fish today, though)

The river water was SO mirror-like calm up top. I stood there thinking the top was January and February of 2020. Then March happened……

Hoping we are nearing the end of the white water chaos and entering the blue waters again soon. 

(How far can I take this metaphor??)

You were wrong. I can take it a little further…

Where was our siren call about COVID?! Why didn’t it sound sooner???

In all seriousness – the day after we visited the dam, Michigan’s dams overflowed and caused such complete chaos and possibly long-term environmental damage. It was difficult to listen to those news reports and not imagine what it would be like if we were here and the dams broke nearby. They are an ingenious invention until they give way and no longer function. 

 

Manzanitas and oaks, but always-present palm trees.

What a day. I wish it had stayed overcast a little longer. I certainly don’t want to ever complain about the endlessly sunny days in California. But the high sun makes photography challenging. The occasional overcast day is nice too. 

Beaut of a butte. (had to do it)

 

On the drive home we played some travel Scattergories. Musician that starts with a B….

After exhausting the Beatles and Beach Boys and BTO and Beethoven, I won with the best one: Baird. 

img_5958
We suck at selfies. Especially trying to get Tilly in the picture!

 

Maybe we will have perfected it by our next adventure!

We got back home early but were ALL wiped out by 6pm. It was very nice to be able to get out of town safely and enjoy some adventuring again. We’ve missed it very much these past few months. 

Great day. Great company.