Travel: CALIFORNIA

Yosemite National Park, Spinning Wheel Yosemite VRBO

The last leg of our California trip was a visit to Yosemite National Park. We have been ticking off the major national parks on our bucket list and Yosemite was next. www.nps.gov/yose/

Yose, jamie & wally, Yose falls

We left our friends in Sonoma County and drove Hwy 108 and 120  toward the park. I had investigated places to stay and reserved a VRBO cottage that looked pretty close to the north entrance, Spinning Wheel Yosemite. www.spinningwheelyosemite.com/

I loved this vacation rental complex and would highly recommend it to other travelers that don’t want to stay in the park. It’s about as close as you’re going to get outside the park, but be ready to drive about an hour on the curvy roads. Just so you know. When you turn off the highway to go to Spinning Wheel, it seems like you are driving into a field to nowhere.

We stayed in the Spinning Wheel Cottage, below, and it was perfect for a couple. I enjoyed lounging by the pool with some of the other guests as Wally napped after the drive. They showed me their house, which was really nice for two couples. There are lots of neat carved totem poles and artsy sculptures around the complex, along with a resident peacock that roosted in the trees.

Yose-Our VRBO, Spinning Wheel cottage

Yose-spinn, lion carving

Yose-spinn, metal art girl

Peacock totem pole…

Yose-spinn, peacock totem pole

Yose-Spinning wheel meditation room

Yose, spinn, cat post

Yose, spinn, flower pots

Yose, spinn, hot tub ext idea

Yose, spinn, meditation door

Yose, spinn, peacock:alarm clock

Yose, spinn, river house

Yose, spinn, sunshine house porch

Yose, Spinning, sunshine house

It was a pretty drive from San Francisco, and we passed through the little town of Groveland. There is a family-style diner at the edge of Groveland about 10-15 minutes from Spinning Wheel, and we ate there several times for breakfast and dinner. It was good food and reasonably priced.

When driving into and through Yosemite, especially early in the morning and in the evening, keep a lookout for wildlife. We spied deer and a bear! When we were there in June 2011, they had a record snowfall over the winter and so a record snow melt that spring. That meant the waterfalls were pumping an amazing amount of water! I happened to catch the stream when there was no wind and got a great reflection of Yosemite Falls.

Yose-Yose Falls Reflection

Yose-Wally getting on post

Yose-Wally on post, yose falls

Yose-squirrel

Yose-Wally in rock shrine

Yose-yose chapel

Yose-Yose Falls, first valley view

Yose-Yosemite Falls, hori

Yose-Wally on bridge, yose falls

El Capitan from the valley floor

Yose-Yosemite Valley, looking west

Yose, bees on lavender

Yose-Bridalveil Falls closeup

Yose-Bridalveil mist

There was so much water coming from the falls the path was flooding – this was Bridal Falls

Yose-Bridalveil path, creek flooding

This is one of my favorite pictures – these little girls were SO cute!

Yose-cute Asian girls, Yose Falls path

Yose-El Capitan, waterfall

Yose-Giants, Redwood & Ponderosa PIne

Yose-Jamie & Wally on bridge

Yose-Jamie by river

Yose-Merced River

Yose-moon over valley

There were stray little waterfalls everywhere!

Yose-new waterfall

Yose-another stray waterfall

As we were exiting the park, through one of the campground areas, look what was ambling across the road! BEAR # 1

Yose-Bear #1

Yose-bear crossing road

Yosemite Falls reflection

Yosemite-Sunset at Tunnel View

Sadly, the week we were at the park, three hikers were swept over Vernal Falls and died. They ignored danger signs, crossing the guard rail for a photo op and were swept over the falls and away by the river. It cost them their lives. There were several others that year around Yosemite that died as well in the rivers and falls. PLEASE EXERCISE CAUTION WHEN IN THE PARKS! A COOL PHOTO IS NOT WORTH YOUR LIFE!

Yosemite was our final stop for the trip so we headed back to San Francisco to fly home. We spent the last day driving and stayed at the Inn at Oyster Point just a few minutes from the airport. www.innatoysterpoint.com/ It’s really more like a hotel and offers great views to the marina and is reasonably priced. Our room was very spacious and comfortable, and the airport was five minutes away for our morning departure. We would highly recommend it for other travelers and they offer park and fly for residents.

They were holding a wedding reception the evening we were there so we didn’t get to try their restaurant. We ended up in a fabulous Italian restaurant just a few minutes drive on Grand Avenue – I just can’t remember which one it was! There’s actually several Italian restaurants, as well as others and shopping along Grand.

That’s all for California this time! WE’LL BE BACK!

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Mendocino, Glass Beach and town

Exploring Glass Beach was on my “to-do” list so we loaded up and headed into Mendocino to explore town and the beach. Years ago, town folks threw all their garbage into the ocean and the water eroded the glass items, smoothing and polishing into artful bits before depositing them back onto the beach. Blue and green are the most popular colors and they all make pretty jewelry.

Glass Bch-green glass

Glass Bch-more pebble closeups

This coast line is  spectacular with ice plants blooming and dripping everywhere, seals basking on the rocks and playing in the water and birds soaring about. It was so relaxing to spend a few hours scouring the beach for the pretty glass and enjoying the fabulous June day.

Glass Bch-ice plants dripping off rock

Glass Bch-Jamie and wally 2

Glass Bch-Jamie and wally

Glass Bch-kelp under water  Glass Bch-Net and dogs

Glass Bch-Net with glass

Glass Bch-pelicans going up coast

Glass Bch-pelicans v

Glass Bch-pink & cream ice plants

glass bch-pink ice plants 2

Glass Bch-pink ice plants

Seals! They were so fun to watch!

Glass Bch-seal climbing rock

Glass Bch-seals on rock

Glass Bch-seals on rocks 2

Glass Bch-view up coast

Glass Bch-Wally & Skip

Glass Bch-Wally, skip, net on rock

Glass Bch-Wally, skip, net

Glass Bch-anenomes & kelp

Glass Bch-birds coming over

Glass Bch-cream ice plant, fern

We headed into town to explore the petite historic little town that sits on above the ocean. There’s a road below town that leads out to the ocean’s edge with paths along the cliffs. This is a perfect place to watch the sun set with a picnic and cocktails. What an amazing place!

Mendo- storefront row

Mendo-church steeple

Mendo-church

Mendo-church:organic food

Mendo-butterfly bush-tree

Mendo-calla lily, ferns

Mendo-house & water tower

Mendo-Little River Inn

Mendo-Mendocino Hotel

Mendo-US 1, aqua water

Mendo-water towers

Glass Bch-closeup of pebbles, glass

Mendo-Wally & Skip on brdg

Next stop: Yosemite National Park!

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Mendocino: Tidal pools and abalone diving

Just down the road from The Inn at Schoolhouse Creek is an amazingly beautiful cove with wind and water eroded rocks. At low tide, it reveals a diversity of life amongst the rocks and crevices. It’s thrilling to see all the water creatures clinging to the rocks and the vibrant colors of starfish contorted in the pools.

The flowers along the road were in full bloom and so pretty!

Mendo-lavender & flowers

Here’s a view of the cove from the top of the hill…

Mendo-flowers on bank, vert

Mendo-flowers, scum line

Mendo-cove, tunnel rocks

Mendo-cove, wave coming in

Mendo-cove sand pebbles Mendo-cove with tunneled rock

Mendo-anenome gripping finger

Mendo-anenome, closed

Mendo-anenomes and moss

A heron was hunting for breakfast

Mendo-heron in tide pool

Mendo-jamie on rock, full view

Mendo-kayakers riding wave in

A kelp bed exposed at low tide. I tasted a bit – it was rather rubbery and salty and supposed to be very good for you to eat.

Mendo-kelp beds at low tide

Mendo-little crab on hands

Mendo-little red crab

A bright orange starfish clinging amongst the kelp

Mendo-ochre sea star and kelp

And here was a purple one!

Mendo-purple sea star, frilly kelp

Mendo-sea anenomes covering rocks

Mendo-sea kelp bulb

Mendo-sea kelp bulbs?

Mendo-sea kelps

Mendo-starburst anenome open

Mendo-starburst anenome partial open

Mendo-Wally in tide pool

Mendo-Wally next to tide

Mendo-Wally searching tide pool

Our friend free dives for abalones and had brought his gear along to see if he could bring up some big ones. You have to get a abalone permit and they have to measure a certain size to be able to keep them.

Mendo-Skip ab diving, got one

Mendo-skip diving, legs

  A keeper – we’ll be having fried abalone!

Mendo-Skip with abalone

Mendo-Wally & Skip with ab

Mendo-fresh abalone, 10+"

Mendo-trees on shore

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Russian River Valley to The Inn at Schoolhouse Creek, Mendocino

From Sonoma County, we took a road trip out the Russian River Valley and then north up the California coast on U.S. 1 for a few nights in Mendocino. Where the Russian River meets the Pacific Ocean there is a great overlook pullout and here’s what we saw – seals basking on the beach below! The flowers along the banks were glorious!

Russian Riv, purp lupines vert

Jamie & Wally, Russ River 2

Seals & birds, Russian River mouth Seals & lupine

Our California friends…

Skip & Jeannette, Russian River

orange flower

purple & white lupines

Jamie US 1 overlook

Calif coast, clear to bottom

U.S. 1, a nice beach cove U.S. 1, yellow lupines on coast

US 1, steep cove

Wally & Skip, US 1 overlook

yellow lupines

We arrived at our destination – The Inn at Schoolhouse Creek for our two-night stay. www.schoolhousecreek.com/

Mendo-Schoolhouse inn sign

Wally waving from our deck – the Captain’s and Whale’s Quarters

Wally, Schoolhouse inn rooms

red clematis

Our room – Captain’s Quarters

Inn at Schoolhouse Captain's Quarters

Schoolhouse, Capt, Whale Quarters

View from our deck to the ocean

view from our deck, schoolhouse

Their massage yurt and hot tub area

Schoolhouse yurt

Some flowers around the grounds…

calla lilly

fuschia shrub

hen and chick giant

bee on yell columbine

purp columbine

Sampling another wine… and it was very good!

Summers bottle, pink flowers Summers wine silhouette

Just outside the dining room window were stumps – before mealtime they would scatter seed and the animals would come a-running, hopping and flying! It was so entertaining to watch them while eating. The breakfast was really delicious and the view to the ocean was nice too.

Mendo-2 chipmunks, rabbit

Mendo-cardinal jay

Mendo, quail, chips

Next up, abalone diving and exploring the tidal pools in the cove down the road, then Glass Beach and Mendocino

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Wine tasting in Sonoma Valley, California

Along with good food, I love wine, and wanted to sample as many as possible while in California wine country. My friend that lives there said she had been wanting to try the Kendall-Jackson wine and food pairing, so we decided to start there.

Kendall Jackson, jamie no sungl

The Kendall-Jackson Winery is in the French Chateau style, and inside, they their wines are available for sale along with wine-related gifts and local art and jewelry. They have wonderful culinary gardens where the chef can gather fresh vegetables and herbs for their food pairing menu. www.kj.com/

Kendall Jackson ext

Here was our menu for  our wine and food pairing experience. Their patio was open for the tasting, so we headed outside to enjoy the California sunshine.

Kendall Jackson menu

What a wonderful way to spend the afternoon! Good wine, food and friends… Cheers!

Here was the lineup…

Kendall, jamie, wine lineup

Kendall-jamie & net 2

Kendall-reds & food

Our chef and wine serving gurus…

Kendall, Jamie and ex chef, staff

  Dessert with a delish riesling

Kendall, Riesling, Chard

Inside in the sales room…

Kendall, door knob stoppers

After our dining/drinking experience, we made a few purchases in the sales room and then headed outside to wander through the gardens.

Their culinary gardens, below

kendall-culinary garden

We decided to make one more winery stop and Paradise Ridge Winery was our next stop. They are a smaller winery and have a fabulous view over Sonoma Valley with some interesting sculptural art on the grounds. www.prwinery.com/

Our server guided us through a few choices to try and we really liked one of their reds.

Paradise wine master

The fabulous view from their patio and tasting room looks over Sonoma Valley. It was a bit hazy that day.

Paradise-vineyards, sonoma valley

Some of their art on the grounds…

paradise-sculpture art

Paradise-vineyard view

“We live here”

Paradise-net pointing to mtn

Me and my purchase for the evening…

Paradise-jamie with bottle, view

While we had been enjoying our wine country experience, the guys had been golfing in the redwoods. We were to meet them at a friend’s for dinner and some more local tasting. The main item on the dinner menu – DUNGENESS CRABS, fresh off the boat from Bodega Bay! Yummmm! And everyone brought things fresh from their gardens to complement the crabs. What a day!

Rons-sink of crabs

Ron with crabs

One of their friends has a small winery and olive orchard  and he brought a sampling of wine and olive oil for us to try. I LOVED their Nico Dolcetto wine…

Rons-local wine

Ron's porch art

One of the neighbors has a wonderful garden and they told me to go check it out before dinner. It was a bit early for her flowers to start blooming, but I enjoyed all of her succulents and all of the cool rusty bits and pieces.

Flowers, fish weathervane

Flowers, iron bed

Flowers, iron beds

Flowers, iron scraps, pots

Flowers, more iron accents

Flowers, troll, hens

Needless to say, with all that divine food and drink, I slept well that night!

Jamie, Kendall Jackson hori

Next adventure… road trip out the Russian River Valley and up the coast to Mendocino!

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Sebastapol, California

Just a short drive north of Petaluma is the charming little town of Sebastapol, California. We pulled into town in time to catch their market day on the square in full swing. Fresh produce, food tents, local pottery and arts and crafts booths were set up around the square. We hadn’t eaten lunch yet so we wandered the square to see what our choices were before settling on the Mexican tent. It was delicious with fresh greens tossed on for garnish.

Sebastapol lunch

It was fun to sit and watch all the locals mingling around the square. Music struck up some where on the square and families and friends spread out blankets on the lawn to relax and enjoy the day.

Sebastapol pottery

I loved watching the kids playing in the fountain. They were prepared with their galoshes on to stomp around in the water.

Sebastapol boy in fountain

On a street just a few blocks from the square is a folk artist’s dream – a street lined with whimsical junky folk art that I absolutely adored! These creations were made by Patrick Amiot and Brigitte Laurent and they’ve put this street on the map with their artwork. Patrick creates the sculptures from “junk” and Brigitte paints it. Learn more about them at: http://www.patrickamiot.com/index.html

Here’s some of my favorites… See how many “re-purposed” things you can identify!

Sebast art-A's pitcher

Sebast art-angel

Sebast art-art yard

Sebast art-banjo picker

Sebast art-baseball

Sebast art-boat captain

Sebast art-chick attacking tractor

Sebast art-cow in truck

Sebast art-dog racer

Sebast art-dog

Sebast art-mermaid

Sebast art-rabbit running

Sebast art-red truck

Sebast art-skeleton on bike

Sebast art-surfer

Sebast art-waitress

Sebast art-wicked witch

I just liked the modernistic ironwork on this house for the climbing roses.

Sebast condo

This it for now! Mendocino, wine tasting, a California gathering, Yosemite and more to come…

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Marin Co Farmers Market & Petaluma, California

So you know if you haven’t figured it out yet. I love 1) FOOD, 2) FARMERS MARKETS WITH FOOD, 3) ANTIQUES, 4) FLOWERS. I had mapped out our way from Mill Valley to Sonoma County with stops at the Marin County Farmer’s Market and in Petaluma to visit the Petaluma Heirloom Seed Bank. We were joining our friends in Sonoma County for dinner and a barbecue so I needed to find some goodies to bring along.

Marin FM- kohl rabi

Marin FM-austrailian flowers 2

Marin FM-austrailian flowers

Marin FM-blueberries

Marin FM-broccoli

Marin FM-maitake mush Marin FM-morels

Marin FM-rasp:blackberries

Marin FM-red gerber daisies

Marin FM-wheat grass

We picked up some local cheeses and assorted veggies for the cookout and then headed on north. The Petaluma Seed Bank is located in a historic bank building on the main drag through town. I had ordered from them online and wanted to visit in person since it was along the way. Luckily seed packets are very light and travel well as I loaded up on about 50 different kinds. www.rareseeds.com/petalumaseedbank/

Heirloom Seed Bank, ext

Heirloom seed bank windows

Heirloom seed, hex bee

Heirloom Seed, seed shelves

I didn’t realize that Petaluma was such a neat little town filled with antique shops until we arrived! Much to Wally’s dismay… And they had REALLY COOL stores! I tried to hurry.. but look how AWESOME these stores and malls were!!!!

Peta, Bank St eagle sign, cmyk

Petaluma antique bldgs

Boulevard, deer head

Boulevard, flying geese quilt

Boulevard, french inspired

Boulevard, griststone

Boulevard, harvest table, wine

Boulevard, mustard sign

Boulevard, religious drape

Boulevard, stained glass, screen

Boulevard, stained glass

Boulevard, stained, iron table   Peta, vintage bank antiques ext

Wally patiently waiting outside as I drifted in and out of the stores.

  Petaluma, wally waiting

Pierre Clauzon, art

Pierre, mid cent table, buffet

Pierre, mid-cen sofa, coffee

sienna euro furn

Sienna ext

Sienna inter, euro ant

After Wally begged me away from the antique shops, we headed north again on the backroads, with our next stop in the tiny town of Sebastapol.

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San Francisco Ferry, Farmer’s Market, Fisherman’s Wharf

My Saturday destination was the San Francisco Farmer’s Market at the Ferry Building. I found the ferry schedule from Larkspur just five minutes from our hotel to the Ferry Building at: http://goldengateferry.org/schedules/ and timed it to arrive mid-morning. By taking the ferry instead of driving, we got to see the Golden Gate Bridge, San Quentin Prison, Sausalito and Alcatraz by water and didn’t have to figure out where to park!

ferry, docking at ferry bldg

ferry, golden gate

ferry, jamie vert

ferry, jamie, wally

ferry, Larkspur lifering

ferry, san quentin, angle

I love this photo of these two WWII veteran friends that were chatting during the ride.

ferry, veterans

ferry, wally on back

ferry, wally with bridge

San Quentin Prison, below

San Quentin, front

The ferry docks at the Ferry Building and you step off and you’re right at the farmer’s market. I LOVED their farmer’s market but WOW! at the prices!! Sticker shock and some of it is weeds to us that I would gladly give away…  www.ferrybuildingmarketplace.com/farmers_market.php

SFFM-Ferry Building, Port of SF

SFFM-flower asst, hori

SFFM-flower asst, vert

SFFM-Flower buckets

SFFM-Morels

SFFM-Orchids & wood-turned bowls

SFFM-sweet peas and sweet william

SFFM-sweet peas

SFFM-tomatoes SFFM-wally & seagull

Wally’s oyster sampling – Pricey!

SFFM-Wally with oysters

SFFM-yellow heirloom tomatoes

SFFM bread

Oh, my, gosh… CHEEEESEEE!!!

SFFM cheese

SFFM cherries

Think there’s a market for dandelion greens here in Tennessee? I got a few acres…

SFFM dandelion

SFFM dried tomatoes

SFFM glad? butterfly

SFFM jap iris, freesia

SFFM mixed greens

SFFM mixed vegge

SFFM mr big peas

SFFM mushroom sign SFFM mushrooms

SFFM onions

SFFM oysters

SFFM red jalapenos canned

SFFM strawberries

SFFM-blueberries

SFFM-cherokee purple tomatoes

So after photographing and drooling my way through the farmer’s market, we decided to walk to the touristy Fisherman’s Pier area. For those that like to walk – go for it as it is a LONG walk. I would advise catching the trolley if you can fit on one. By the time we reached the Pier 39 area we were starving. We had heard that Scoma’s was the place to eat fresh seafood, so navigated our way to their humble-looking cafe on the docks. They had great views and we ordered the seafood sampler appetizer – because that was all we could stand to pay for. They are EXPENSIVE so be prepared if you want to eat there. I was so hungry I neglected to photograph the sampler. Sorry! www.scomas.com/

View from Scoma’s

SF-sailboats on bay from Scomas

SF-Scoma's ships

SF- Fisherman's Wharf boats

SF- Harbor ferries

I loved this bakery sign painted on the side of the building.

SF-Bouidin Bakery wall

SF-crab trap

SF-Fisherman's Grotto

SF-Fisherman's Wharf, crab traps dock

SF-Fisherman's wharf, tubs

SF-Fishing boats, vert

SF-flowers & hot dog stand 2

SF-Flowers & hotdog stand

SF-flowers in park at Pier 39

Headed back to Larkspur…tired after a full day!

SF-Leaving SF on the ferry

Next stop, Petaluma Seed Bank and antique shops on our way north to Sonoma County.

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Discovering California, June 2011: Muir Woods & Muir Beach

Last spring we decided to visit friends in California and to go see Yosemite National Park. June seemed like a good month, so after spending weeks researching, I got it mapped out. We flew Southwest from Nashville to San Francisco and rented a car. Our destination for the first leg of the trip was Mill Valley for a few nights to explore the San Francisco Bay area. We booked our stay at the Larkspur Hotel, which had a nice walking/biking trail right next to the hotel. The rooms were fine, they offered a good breakfast, movie rental, a fire pit and smores and more at a reasonable price. http://www.larkspurhotels.com/larkspur-hotels/hotels/mill-valley

Next door was a highly rated Italian restaurant on Trip Advisor, Frantoio. The dining room was a bit formal for us but the bar was perfect for pizza and drinks after our day of exploring. The pizza was great! http://www.frantoio.com/about

Our first evening was gray and dreary but we braved the San Fran “ick” and went for a hike at Muir Woods just a few minutes drive from the hotel. It was so worth it! The redwoods really are amazing and make you feel SO SMALL and insignificant in the scheme of life. www.nps.gov/muwo/

We struck up a conversation with this father and daughter from the Philipines. Ironically, he was from the village where Wally’s grandfather, Aubrey Lee Ogles was stationed during WWII.

Wally & Phillipines

burl on redwood

redwood burl placque

flowering shrub

hollow in redwood base

maidenhair? fern

Muir woods wildflower chart

Wally, big redwood

thimbleberry

sorrel and horsetail

Asian-style bridge over creek

The next day we drove over Mt. Tamalpais to the ocean. There are great overlook trails and old bunkers where our soldiers kept vigil during the wars for enemy ships and subs. http://www.mttam.net/

Wally on Mt. Tamalpais

Wally on Muir overlook

Wally, closeup, tamalpais

Muir overlook, fog

Monterey? pine, Tamalpais Mtn

muir bch orange flowers

Muir Bch overlook, Jamie Muir Bch overlook, wally

 

Muir bch pelican muir bch rocks

Muir bch, hori, lupines

Muir Bch, vert, purp lupines

Muir bch, wally seagull

muir bch, wally walking

Muir bch, yell, vert

Muir, bch dog playing

Muir, beach dog greeting

Muir, jap boat lookouts

muir, org flowers, rosemary

muir, slug

purple lupines

white water bird hunting, larkspur

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