admin

California Avenue of the Giants

Massive Redwood Giants!

Avenue of the Giants Day Trip
Giant Redwoods – Wine & Cheese Tasting – Victorian Architecture – Museums – Tourist Kitsch!
http://avenueofthegiants.net/Zoom/map.htm

Get an early start around 8 a.m. if you can! Heading north on highway 101 from Fort Bragg, California we hug the dramatic Pacific coastline and pull over a few times to marvel at the crashing waves. About 10 miles north of Fort Bragg is Ten Mile Beach, which during low tide is a great place to hike around.

A day long drive up the coast

Mendocino county coastline

A few miles more and we pass Pacific Star Winery on the left, a great spot for enjoying a wine tasting or just to take your binoculars and look for migrating whales. It was a bit early for a wine tasting, but we went on another day and saw gray whales in the distance.

Wine Tasting at Pacific Star Winery

We follow Highway 1 a bit longer and turn northwest towards Leggett, the home of the Chandelier Tree, a drive-through Redwood, a classic tourist stop. For $5 a carload, you can experience the thrill of driving THROUGH a grand old Redwood tree. The tree above seems healthy and unaffected, but it does seem rather awful to imagine someone hollowing out a living tree for our amusement, but indeed they did.

Drive-through Redwood tree

So, we slowly drove through and the path (of course!) leads right to the gift shop parking lot. Here is where I teach our international visitors a new word for their American vocabulary: “Tacky”. There are goofy hats, toys, souvenirs galore including candy Squirrel droppings, Big Foot postcards, even a fake Raccoon skin cap complete with the tail!

Move over Davy Crockett!

Back to Leggett, we head north up highway 101 toward the Avenue of the Giants. Just south of Garberville, look for the Benbow Inn, a beautiful old resort which sponsors an afternoon tea, should you be back by here later in the afternoon. Near Phillipsville, look for the signs for the Avenue of the Giants; which was the old highway before they rerouted highway 101 away from the Big Trees. There are several groves of giant Redwoods along this 31 mile stretch so pull over and point your camera UP. While you´re at it, just try to hug a tree – all five of us could barely cover the front of the trunk, fingertip to fingertip.
In Myers Flat there is another drive-through tree, look for the signs. Signs touting the Amazing Eternal Treehouse peaked our interest, so Redcrest was out next stop. Tucked behind a dinky café on the left was a little parking lot in front of the tree. It was just a tree that had been hollowed out at its base! The tree had managed to survive and you can walk down a few steps and stand in the center of the trunk base. I don´t think this was the kind of tree house we had all imagined, but it was a nice stop to stretch our legs!

Eternal Treehouse

Just another few miles and you´ll find the Immortal Tree, 33 feet in girth! Hug this big boy…
Exiting the Avenue of the Giants, we head further north on highway 101 towards Fortuna. About 4 miles south of Fortuna on the left side of the road is another great stop – Chapman´s Rock & Gem Shop and museum. The museum itself is really outstanding (free) – with gorgeous redwood and rock carvings, jewelry and other area memorabilia. Don´t miss it!

A rock for your finger

Just past Fortuna, we head west to the Victorian village of Ferndale. The setting for several Hollywood movies through the years including The Majestic with Jim Carrey, this little town is a wonderful place to eat, browse and shop. This town is so cute you just want to pinch it!

Ferndale Victorian

A walk down Main street isn´t complete without stopping at the Golden Gait Mercantile, full of reasonably priced gadgets and goodies from years past. If you have a hankering for a cowboy hat, classic candies, regional sweets and savories – here´s the place. They also have the displays done to resemble an old time mercantile, the packaging all a part of the charm. Upstairs, they have whole glassed-in rooms with the real deal – shop displays set up with turn-of-the-century goods including a Millinery shop, a Grocery, a Hardware store and more. There are also some good values up there in antique furniture to be had, including board games from days past.

Ferndale Mercantile

Another great shop is the Blacksmith Shop – (www.ferndaleblacksmith.com) which is a unique gallery of hand-forged delights including sculptures, lighting, furniture and anything else you can imagine.
If you have time, stop in Loleta – a tiny town on the way back towards Eureka. There is little to do in town but one thing – CHEESE. The Loleta Cheese factory is the only place in town to go – samples of a wondrous selection of cheeses await you! www.loletacheese.com

Mike´s Garlic Fries – Eureka, CA

North again on Highway 101 towards Eureka now, we pass an unlikely stop, but if you have the munchies, STOP at Mike´s Garlic Fries. It´s a little divey, but it´s been in business since the 1940´s . The Garlic Fries and chocolate malts are to-die-for. However, suffice it to say that the whole carload should indulge because of the lingering fragrance! The inside is worth a peek also as the owners are die-hard Republicans and proudly post classic Republican paraphernalia on the walls, including a Palin-McCain calendar front and center.

Republican Fervor

Drive by the Carson mansion, (M and Second street) probably one of the most elaborate and notable examples of Victorian architecture in these parts. The neighborhood surrounding it also has more homes to admire – most now B&B´s or owned by businesses or groups.

Carson Mansion – Eureka, CA

If you still have some walking in you, a trip to the Clarke historical museum in the old downtown district features displays from the Victorian period and a great Native American wing with collections of baskets, stoneware and other regalia. It is open until 5 p.m. daily. www.clarkemuseum.org
One final stop for us was the American Indian Art & Gift shop, downtown Eureka at 241 F Street. They have the real deal – jewelry, gifts, paintings, baskets and other goodies made by the area Natives. www.americanindianonline.com
If you have any time left, stop for a nightcap at the Benbow Inn before heading south back down the coast. www.benbowinn.com
Here are a few good guides for activities, maps, attractions and events –
So there you have it – a taste of Humboldt county and the Big Trees!

Just a Taste of Humboldt County, California!

Animal photos

Mlle. Penelope LePew! Our blue Russian with enough tolerance to wear this silly Diablo pet hat I found at the Goodwill. (for about 30 seconds!)

Lucy is a rescue dog – lab and setter mix, I´d imagine. She has a special talent – she plays a toy piano!

Sweet little Annie dog is a mix – I found her this funny pet hat at the Goodwill and she was the belle of the ball at her mom´s halloween party!

Our other cat Tigger – who managed to get himself caught with a plastic shopping bag around himself. Being a cat, and of course being TOO COOL – he just walked around in it for awhile!

The Thin Veil Between Worlds

DiaDeSantsNovena
The day of Samhain, Hallow´s Eve, where the veil is the thinnest between the world of the living and those who have left their bodies – set a place setting at your dinner table to honor and converse with loved ones who have passed over – nothing truly ever dies, it just transforms! Love and laughter to my dad Sam, brothers  Mike and Karl, my grand and great-grandparents – and my family of friends and loves – Gregg, Susan, Chuck, Alberto, Joyce and so many others!!!
Here´s a beautiful relevant poem by Don Marquis:
Have I not known the sky and sea
Put on a look as hushed and still
As if some ancient prophecy
Drew close upon to be fulfilled?
Like mist the houses shrink and swell,
Like blood the highways throb and beat,
The sapless stones beneath my feet
Turn foliate with miracle.
And life and death but one thing are –
And I have seen this wingless world
Cursed with impermanence and whirled
Like dust across the summer swirled,
And I have dealt with Presences
Behind the veils of Time and Place,
And I have seen this world a star –
Bright, shining, wonderful in space.

Beach Toes in oil pastel


One of my first attempts at oil pastels – I had great fun playing with the big, gooey chunks of pastels. Feet are one of those taken-for-granted sort of body bits, but if I could have a penny for every mile my feet have walked on this planet,
I´d be one wealthy gal!

Cat´s Afire!

Penny, the Wonder Cat!

My third attempt in oil pastels – a rousing success! I thought, why do just a cat portrait? Penny´s a circus performer at heart – so through the hoop she goes!

Oil pastels are fun, like big gooey crayons – big slashes of color, easily correctable and fun to smear and mix colors – I´m like a big kid again!

Traveling the World Connecting Hands and Hearts

For the life of me, I cannot recall how I first was introduced to Meetup. I know it was several years back – before the popularity of Facebook, before Twitter, before CouchSurfing, before LinkedIn– all those great virtual meeting points where inquisitive folks connect, disconnect and reconnect. It was even before “Social Networking” became a commonplace word – now a necessity in every upwardly mobile executive´s lingo and skillset.

I´ve met European newbies on a party barge docked along the river Thames; young Persians from Tehran that were delighted and astonished when my distant recollection of Farsi was sufficient to welcome them and ask “How are you?” in their own familiar language. Alone and newly arriving in London, when my birthday fell on a weekday I was not to be deterred in finding a group to celebrate with.  Searching the web, I found a social networking group Meetup gathering that very night for a wine tasting near St. Paul´s cathedral. I joined the group and checked YES on the attendance roster, posting the message that “In America, it´s tradition to buy a drink for someone on their birthday.” Put it this way, my memories of this event are all happy, but the first half was much clearer in focus than the final few hours! Returning home on the top front seat of the double-decker bus through the late night streets of London was indeed a magical memory in itself.

Gathering in a central pub in downtown Madrid for a language exchange Meetup proved to be an amazing way to gain new friends and meet people. There I was, a blonde woman in a group of dark-haired Spaniards – a beacon, an exotic “pavo real” – drawing hopeful English speakers like a moth to a flame.  “Hello! Can we join your table and practice our English?” So while my Spanish conversation was not enhanced that evening, I might as well have been a dealer at a hot table in Las Vegas for the group of enthusiastic English speakers I was surrounded by.

Barcelona is a city of amazing architecture with a vibrant art & music scene – a city that knows the joy of living la vida calma.  Here in the land of the siesta, your sense of time is stretched and pulled and tweaked until eating dinner at 10 p.m. and going to bed at 2 a.m. seems commonplace. Meetups for The Night of the Museums (rambling with groups speaking English and Spanish while visiting the late night museums FREE), the Great Photo Challenge (a scavenger hunt with digital cameras in mixed language groups), Cinebar (Films In English on a pub wall), Gratitude Reading Circle (sharing universal spiritual inspirations), The Fat Lady Sings Classical Music  group (Oh, the beautiful cathedrals and the magnificent acoustics!), the Cheap Wine Challenge (picnic in the park with wine under 5 €), Live MusicSalsa or Tango dance groups – it is all there. You never need walk alone, unless it is by choice.

I´ve met great friends from every country and continent, spoken several languages and botched many, but always with a smile on my face, a willingness to try and a keen sense of humor. Those that can laugh at themselves shall never fail to be amused!

Sketching with SketchCrawlers

Just who have I met through Meetups? A shaman from Peru, oncologists and scientists, techno-geeks, George Clooney wannabes, a past life regressionist, salsa kings & queens, movie nerds, bloggers and photographers – everyone´s there! I´ve accumulated good friends from every continent and culture (joy!), interesting job leads and a few eager TEFL English students (work!), a rare date or two (like, not love!), dance partners (joy again!), fellow artists (creativity!) – a colorful worldwide tapestry of friends to share the joys and experiences of life with.

I wish I could say I found love through Meetup, but it’s truly the opposite. I lost my husband through Meetup, in a Meetup that I had organized – how´s that for synchronicity? He met a charismatic new buddy,  a lost boy whose ideas of luring him away from our marriage to the “Pleasure Island” of San Francisco´s glittery, upwardly mobile  social scene culminated in the disastrous destruction our marriage of nearly two decades. Yes, Pinocchio wandered off with stars in his eyes and hope in his heart, but any longings he had to return back  “home” were doomed. As they say in Las Vegas “Elvis has left the building.” – and of course, in this case I am Elvis. Wanderlust and an unquenchable desire to connect with others worldwide, coupled with a healthy dose of courage has replaced the sense of sadness and loneliness I felt after that life-altering course correction.

But honestly, meeting new people, sharing interests and celebrating our common humanity –  isn´t that really the juice? It´s the reason we get off the couch, the reason we dust off our conversation skills, tackle new languages, travel across town or across an ocean, stretching our boundaries to reach out to others in friendship and community. Sharing a laugh or a sorrow in meaningful conversations is always sheer joy, all made possible by a willingness to connect. Grief shared is sorrow halved – and a smile shared – well, it´s priceless! Whether you´re new to town or new to being single, or just aching to become a new YOU – let your fingers do the walking and MeetUp!

“Thou hast made me known to friends whom I know not.
Thou hast given me seats in homes not my own.  Thou hast brought the distant near
and made a brother of strangers.”  ~ R. Tagore

Poble Español

Poble Español is a classic 1929 “Disneyesque” village by village representation of many of the Spanish towns & villages. It is beautifully preserved, and the best thing about it is that after 8 p.m. it´s only 5€ to get in, and there are several romantic plaza cafés under the stars. Also, several pubs and cafés there have live music – or bring your own!

Poble Español is a classic 1929 “Disneyesque” village by village representation of many of the Spanish towns & villages. It is beautifully preserved, and the best thing about it is that after 8 p.m. it´s only 5€ to get in, and there are several romantic plaza cafés under the stars. Also, several pubs and cafés there have live music – or bring your own!

An Awakened World

Well, blackberries and blueberries were in season, too – so naturally we never left the house without a basket in hand.

An amazing poem that is so pertinent today –

AN AWAKENED WORLD

Imagine a world where land is known simply as Land ~
Not Russia or Africa, Australia or China or America or Antarctica,
Just one glorious graceland of God’s geography.

Imagine a world where people are known simply as People –
Not Indians or Persians, Asians or Americans, Aborigines or Africans,
Just one brilliant bouquet of flowering humanity.

Imagine a world where true religion is known simply as Kindness,
Not only Islam or Buddhism, Hinduism or Judaism, Christianity or Taoism,
Just one great circle of love, honoring all of creation.

Imagine this world often ~
One shifting from overpowering some to empowering all.
A planet evolving from “I love to have,” to “I have to love.”
A world that knows there are no sides
to a globe that is round.

– Diana Loomans

Kindness in all Ways

The Cat Lady of Santa Maria del Mar

“Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for kindness.”  – Seneca

___

“Always be kind, for everyone is fighting a hard battle.”   – Plato

___

“Our task must be to free ourselves from our prison by widening our circle of compassion – to embrace all humanity and the whole of nature in its beauty.”   – Albert Einstein

Flower Festival, Spain Style!

Girona Flower Festival 2011

Rambling all day until dark through the streets, cathedrals, plazas and hills of Girona for the annual Flower Festival…
Click here to join me for a walk through the festival –
http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150232262261869.371599.756531868&l=6dad7b24b9

Like what you see? Subscribe by entering your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Pen2Paint Portfolio

Art Prints

Warning: Unknown: open(/tmp/sess_e6f49e80c4b76eba0ff1f7cc2da545a5, O_RDWR) failed: Read-only file system (30) in Unknown on line 0

Warning: Unknown: Failed to write session data (files). Please verify that the current setting of session.save_path is correct (/tmp) in Unknown on line 0