Posts Tagged With: California

Very tall, very old things

On our way to the Boy Scout Tree in California’s Jedediah Smith State Park today, our camera found several other old, tall living things along the trail, including a former Scout!

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A different kind of change in Chico

Can you spare some change? These machines in downtown Chico, California, ask passersby to reduce panhandling and help the needy. Feed the machine a few coins or a donation from your credit/debit card. A green light blinks for a time, depending on the amount of your donation. The money goes to local agencies that help those in need.

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A Wild River and the Wild West

The Klamath River flows 263 miles, from Oregon into California, before emptying into the Pacific Ocean. Early in the 20th century, construction began on a series of dams along the river. Today, those dams have become a source of major controversy, primarily because they block historical salmon spawning grounds, and are facing removal.

Taking advantage of a break in our gloomy weather, we packed a picnic lunch and headed south into California, where we drove up the Klamath River to explore the Iron Gate Reservoir, a lake created by the lowermost of the above mentioned dams.

We were surprised to see Pilot Rock, a Southern Oregon landmark, rising in the distance from the bank of Iron Gate Reservoir.

We had the road mostly to ourselves with the exception of an occasional car or truck.

Fishing, boating, swimming, camping and hiking are popular activities.

Not quite ready to return home, we backtracked along the reservoir and Klamath River until we came upon the turnoff to the California town of Montague. In hopes of finding afternoon coffee and a piece of pie, we were pleasantly surprised to discover a cute little town, big on historical charm.

The town of Montague was founded in 1887

Bits of the old west are seen everywhere.

This short poem expresses the spirit of Montague.


A downtown sculpture celebrates Cowboys of yesterday and today.


At The Dutchman Cafe a fresh pot of coffee filled our cups...


...and vanilla ice cream topped our dessert!


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A California diversion leads to secret World War II radar station

Radar Station 71 is preserved as a National Historic site.

The buildings are perched on a cliff above the Pacific Ocean.

Fake dormers were added to make the buildings look like farm structures.


A narrow, one-way dirt road near the mouth of the Klamath River in California's Del Norte County led us to an important World War II site today, perched above the Pacific Ocean.

Disguised as farm buildings, the early warning system housed radar to watch for Japanese submarines and planes.

Radar Station 71 is the last preserved coastal outpost that was part of a string of such defensive sites. Fifty-caliber anti-aircraft guns stood guard. American military watched, ready to summon help from San Francisco if a Japanese attack was imminent.

We couldn't help but imagine what it was like at this outpost more than 70 years ago when our nation's security depended on the people at this place.


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Our mission for the day

Welcome to La Purisima Mission



Of the twenty-one missions that dot the coast of California, La Purisima Mission, in Lompoc, has always been a favorite of mine. As kids, my friends and I used to pack a picnic lunch and ride our bikes out to the mission grounds, eager to explore the gardens, pat the livestock and wander through history.




Years later my three boys loved their childhood visits to La Purisima just as much as I did…so on a recent trip home for my Dad's 90th birthday, Reg and I returned with two of my (now adult) sons to relive the memories.

La Purisima is one of the most completely and authentically restored missions, so be prepared to let your imagination take you on a trip back through time.

Individual rooms are furnished as they would have been when it was a bustling community hub. Wander into the church, shops, blacksmith shop, living quarters and more.

Walk the trail that leads to days gone by.

Wear your walking shoes. There are miles of hiking trails around the perimeter of this 1,860 acre park as well as paths through the gardens and around the buildings.


The bell tower stands out as an easily recognizable symbol of La Purisima.


Restoration and reconstruction of La Purisima Mission was done by the California Conservation Corp (CCC) and began in the 1930s.


The livestock is still fun to see...but don't feed them!

The Visitors Center is the best place to learn the history of La Purisima and to start your tour. Be sure to allow enough time to see this treasure of California's Central Coast…and don't forget your lunch!


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Old Town Eureka shines like new

The Carson Mansion, built in 1884-1886, continues to stand watch over Old Town Eureka. Once owned by lumber baron William Carson, it has been a private club since 1950.

We spent four years in Garberville, California soon after we were married. The population was about 1300 back then and Eureka was “the big city” we drove to for much of our shopping. It's always fun for us to revisit Old Town Eureka to see what has changed (and what hasn't) since we first wandered through the historic district 30 years ago.

We were pleased to see so many of the beautiful old Victorian buildings renovated, brightly painted and home to a variety of shops, cafes and professionals. We even recognized a few of our old favorites that have survived the recent economic ups and downs

The Milton Carson home was a wedding gift from lumber baron William Carson to his son.

Pride of ownership is spreading outward from the historic center.

The Arkley Center for the Performing Arts provides an array of cultural events.

For many of these buildings renovations continue both inside and out.

Architectural detail and Victorian era color schemes bring these old buildings to life.

Eureka is located on the Northern California coast in Humboldt county. U.S. Highway 101 will guide you right downtown, but not before first leading you through beautiful coastal redwood forests that blanket the area.

There is plenty of lodging available in town…or the more adventurous can pitch a tent amongst the redwoods in nearby campgrounds or state parks.


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Santa Barbara is the place for us!

A wall of pennies covers the outside of a Funk Zone coffee shop.

A highlight of our visit was a chance to visit with longtime friends Rebecca Fox, top photo, and Carolyn Shupe.

Santa Barbara welcomed us back to our longtime home with brilliant weather.

We walked around a relatively new area near West Beach that features wine bars, beer tasting and art galleries. It is aptly named the Funk Zone.

As usual, food was a highlight of our travels. We had fresh fish with mountain and harbor views at Brophy Brothers for lunch and more fresh seafood in the evening at Fish Enterprise. The night before we tried a good, new Goleta restaurant called High Sierra Grill and Bar.

A parade of St. Patrick's Day revelers strolled down State Street, encouraging bystanders to join the fun.

Santa Barbara has so much to offer, but if you want to live here, you need a cool million for the median-priced home.

St. Patrick's Day revelers asked us to join their stroll down State Street. Bars were mostly packed and one even featured a swing.



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Farewell, Mariposa

Twenty four years worth of stuff - minus some furniture that the buyers wanted - went into storage pending a new home.

We had booked our next “carryon” expedition to Europe for May before we went to Ashland, Oregon on a discovery mission in March. It seemed like a perfect match for us and we decided to try to move this year. The Mariposa house sold so fast (escrow closed Wednesday) that we found ourselves, with help from son Brad and some great friends, moving out of our home and getting on a plane almost simultaneously.



Home free! Or homeless!? We did manage to rent a furnished condo in Ashland for when we return.

People we meet here in Scotland ask where we are from. Our answer will take some getting used to.


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A blank calendar filled with possibilities

Sue has taken up watercolor painting.

“What are you going to do?”

After I decided to end my 31-year teaching career, I heard this question often.

“I really don't have a plan,” I usually answered.

When I was working and raising a family, most days were planned.

A blank calendar presented an exciting challenge.

A retired friend once advised me that it doesn't take a long list of activities to make the post-work life satisfying and exciting. Just some little things, punctuated by a nap or two, rewarded by Happy Hour at 5. My friend does some big things, like travel and visiting his kids and grandkids, but he was talking about the day-to-day.

Sue recently read an article on the Forbes website that brilliantly captures this idea. Author Andy Robin calls his new life the Tapas Life, after the Spanish appetizers. Life without full-time work allows you to try things. You don't have to fill your plate and the menu is as varied as you want it to be.

Like sampling candy at See's. Or having a flight at a brewery.

Sue and I are in our second year after stepping out of the workplace.

We have loved some big things, like off-season travel. One item will stay on our plate as long as health and budget permit: long-distance trekking. The Camino de Santiago walk in Spain last spring was so inspiring and enjoyable that we intend to do more trips like it (but perhaps not quite as long).

Along with the travel, we enjoy blogging. It allows us to communicate with friends, relatives and strangers around the world as we travel.

We have tried many appetizers, or tapas. Sue has taken up watercolor painting and frequent long walks around our neighborhood in the Sierra Nevada foothills in California. She loves reading. In the summer, she swam almost every day.

We start our days with coffee and leisurely reading our favorite snapshots of the world on Flipboard. We go to weekday matinee movies, with a senior discount. Day trips to Yosemite or Merced for bicycling. Movie nights at home. TV series on Netflix (why did Breaking Bad have to end?).

I have taken up yoga at home (learned from some great instructors on the web). I listen to music while using our eliptical trainer. Several online classes through iTunesU and Open University have been terrific. I occasionally have a beer and dinner with former colleagues. I love TED talks and have tried assembling model ships. I have read non-fiction books in areas outside my field of political science, such as psychology and science. I bicycle around the neighborhood and sometimes beyond.

I tried golf for awhile, but I have put it on hold while I figure out a way to keep my perfectionist side off the course.

Now, Sue and I know we want some tapas that may not be available where we live. So, we are going to try out some new places and, when we find one we like, we will move. It will be hard to leave our longtime home and friends.

There will be new challenges. Some will be difficult. You never know what menu choices will be around the next corner!


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Avenue of the Giants

We found the most charming place to stay while visiting with friends in Southern Humboldt County.

In the past we've camped while visiting Southern Humboldt. When we woke up to rain this morning, we were glad to have a roof over our heads!

Miranda Gardens, located along California's beautiful Avenue of the Giants highway, offers something for everyone. There is a pool for hot Southern Humboldt summers, a playground for cooped up kids, soaring redwoods for relaxed afternoons, a continental breakfast featuring a simple but delicious array of breakfast foods…all this and more is available to you while enjoying the comfort of your own cozy cottage.

We stayed in a studio cottage that provided us with plenty of room to spread out. We had a wardrobe to hang our clothes, two comfy chairs, a fridge and coffee maker and a private patio complete with table and chairs to relax and breath in the fresh forest air. There are also larger cottages with bedrooms and kitchens for families or extended stays.

The Avenue Cafe, right across the street, is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. We gave it a try tonight and were both happy with our pasta choices.


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