Friday, February 17, 2017

Sebastopol, California - February 2017

please remember you can click on a photo to see a larger version

From drought to deluge, that has been the nature of this winter. Weekends of pouring rain or blowing snow have kept us home. Not made for sitting around, the previous weekend we built and installed pull out shelves for the Lady's pantry cabinet. Certainly productive but stifling for our wandering spirits. We longed for a weekend of sun. We got it, and it was the Lady's three day weekend for Honest Abe's birthday!

The trip had been planned for months, if the weather allowed. A trip to visit our niece and her partner at their home in Sebastopol. The provided directions were entertaining,  "Turn left at Batman, take the next right, and our place has the car in front of the house."

"Your Honda?" the Lady asked.

"No," our niece explained. "The small car with our landlord, his ex-wife, and dog inside. It will make sense."

We left home Saturday morning in sun. We packed the truck and camper Friday evening, in the rain. The directions made sense. We parked beside the car.

I see our niece and her partner as down to earth truck women, so for this narrative - with the relative anonymity of this blog  - our niece will be "Ram" and her partner, "Dodge."  

After hugs and hellos, this car with their landlord and ex wife aboard needed an explanation. Oh, and Batman around the corner too. Dodge Ram led the way and we went for a walk...........

All these - and so many more - delightful pieces of urban folk art are the creations of Sebastopol artists, Patrick Amiot and Brigitte Laurent.

After our quick orientation of the neighborhood, we all piled into a real car and headed for the coast. If you want to find the quiet places to go on our busy California coast, hire a local guide. The Dodge Ram unit was great and we'll stay mum about actual locations. We started in a redwood canyon and climbed up to the top for an impressive view of the Pacific. We traveled through a wet wonderland of alder, mosses, fungi, and wildlife. It was a wonderful afternoon of wandering.

Our summit provided an expansive overlook of the swollen Russian River's meeting with the Pacific. The brown plume of water ran for miles out into the ocean.

We came upon a recent lion kill. The remains of the large deer were well cleaned, only a bit of hide remained on the skull. It was quite stinky so I refrained from forensic photos of the scene.

The Lady surely loves the open spaces and high vistas.

We moved back through the thick redwoods to return to our starting point.

The Barley and Hops Tavern in Occidental was a pleasant stop for a casual after hike dinner.

Sunday was the highlight of our weekend trip. Dodge works as one of the resident scientists - climate data - at Pepperwood Preserve in the coast range.

We were so excited about our opportunity to explore, learn about, and experience this place. What should be our destination? "Waterfalls!" Ram insisted. We all agreed.

Most everything conspired against us quickly reaching waterfalls. Days like this are so incredible. Owl pellets are a must stop.

Grazing is part of the equation here with bovines replacing the displaced native species.

The Lady was our fearless leader to the first highpoint.

Searching for lizards took precedence.

We all were enjoying the sun!

Dodge is an expert on amphibians. As we dropped into the newly leafing out canopy of oaks, she started searching cavities and quickly found a juvenile Arboreal Salamander. I was surprised to learn these salamanders are predators,  hunt insects and consider baby rodents a special delicacy.

We stopped for a lunch break on a sunny ridge among the oaks and madrones.

Lunch didn't last long. These three women couldn't wait to get to "log rolling" and discovering the treasures underneath. I called it an "S Fauna" day - scorpions and salamanders.

Slender Salamanders were abundant and a lot of fun.


California Bay Laurel is the namesake of the Preserve as it is also called Pepperwood.

Our destination.

There were several Bay Laurels, as in the photo above, arched across the canyon with branches reaching for the sun.

It was a short quick walk back to the high grasslands.

We finished our wanderings at one of the original homestead sites. We imagined the fun the children must of had playing on and around the large rock.


It was a wonderful weekend in the sun on the coast. A big thank you to the Dodge Ram unit for their hospitality and generously sharing their lives with us. It gives us good hope for the future when we spend time with energetic, well educated, kind stewards of our world. We hope it was fun for them spending time with their Aunt and Uncle, "The guests who bring their own bedroom."


  1. Green hills! Flowing water! What an unfamiliar pleasure. Beautiful photos, as always.

    1. Thank you Dan for your kind comments! Yes with the sun working it's magic this weekend, we all agreed the grass grew at least an inch during our time at Pepperwood. An amazing end to the multi year drought.