Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Growing Older in the Forest

Last weekend I turned 32 years old. Somehow it felt a little bit like I was getting closer to 40. I guess, in theory, every day I’m getting closer to 40, 50, 60, etc. Every day I turn a bit older or, as I like to think of it, a bit wiser!

To celebrate my big day, we went camping for 4 days. We booked our campsite sometime back in February, which was a good idea because the campground was full when we arrived to it on Thursday afternoon. We have noticed that parks in California get heavily used. I mean that in a good way. I’m not just talking about the big well-known parks like Yosemite, but about all parks, forests, preserves, etc. There is a TV ad that uses a play of words to say that Californians are “out there.” Yes, they are out there in many ways, but they sure are out there in the woods and in nature, enjoying the beautiful scenery this state has!

We have camped in many different areas in the state. We have been to the desert in Death Valley, in the valley at Lake Isabella, on the coast at Big Sur and MontaƱa de Oro, and this time we went up north, about a 4-hour drive from San Francisco, to the Mendocino area.

Because I wanted to bring Bomber with us to celebrate my birthday, we had to do our research to find dog-friendly parks that had trails where dogs were allowed. Well, Joe was the one who did all the background work and he did great! The result was a very cute site on MacKerricher State Park, a popular park located about 4 miles from Fort Bragg, a “city” in Mendocino County.


The campground was very close to the beach, about a 5-minute walk, and dogs were allowed on it. Alongside the coast there was a great paved path that ran for miles in each direction. The haul road, as it was called, had been used to transport lumber and is now used as a walking/biking path. If you walked south, you could get all the way to Fort Bragg and, if you walked north, you reached a 10-mile preserve.

When we arrived to the park, we were greeted by a very cheerful park ranger. After checking us into our site, he told us to make sure to keep our coolers locked because, sometimes, the “local youth” come around looking for free drinks. In fact, he suggested we keep valuables out of sight when we were not around the campsite. We thought it was funny in some ways. I mean, the “local youth” probably consists of a bunch of 13-15 year-old kids who have too much time on their hands.

During our time at the park, we walked pretty much all of the haul road and enjoyed the beauty of the gorgeous California coast with its rocks, arches and dramatic cliffs.  We also walked north, all the way up to the preserve, but couldn’t go in because no dogs were allowed. The sign made it look like dogs used to be allowed on a leash but probably they changed the rule to no dogs because some people seem to be completely unable to follow rules and respect laws that are in place simply to protect wildlife.

I won’t lie. Sometimes, I too want to bend the rules regarding dogs and let Bomber off-leash at beaches where dogs are supposed to be on-leash.  But, either Joe or I end up reminding each other that there is a reason why dogs are not allowed, and that letting him off-leash would have a greater impact on the ecosystem than we actually think.

Nesting birds and other animals will change their nesting and migration patterns if they sense a predator. Dogs, as much as we think of them as pets, are predators in nature, and they can be threatening to certain species, regardless of how small the dog is.

The park also had a great boardwalk that ran over wheat-like grass areas. From the boardwalk you could see an endless field of gold to one side, and the endless Pacific Ocean to the other. Ahhhh, the California coastline, simply a beautiful thing!

It was during this walk that we had one encounter with the “local youth.” As we approached one of the platforms alongside the boardwalk, we saw two kids sitting on the ground and another one leaned over the railing. Well, the one on the railing was obviously carving something on it, presumably his name, and the other two were acting as lookouts. We walked by the lookouts with Bomber. The two of them looked so tough, so not willing to be friendly but, when Bomber started acting crazy after seeing a ground squirrel, one of the kids’ faces slowly turned from a frown into a smile, the smile that kids his age should have: carefree and sincere.

Why do kids try so hard to grow up?

During our walks, we also enjoyed seeing lots of wildlife. We saw deer, seals, Great Blue Herons, Western Scrub Jays, lots of seagulls and other fishing birds, Snowy Plovers, and three Ospreys! What a treat!

It was such a lovely weekend and such a lovely way to celebrate another year of life, out in nature! There is something amazing about being outside all day long, tuning up with nature’s clock, going to bed when the sun goes down and waking up with it. On top of that, we could hear the ocean all the way to our campsite and, every night, when we went to bed, we would fall asleep to the sound of the waves.

On the day of my birthday we went for a drive on Highway 1. This highway is one of the most beautiful I’ve ever been on and, on this new stretch, it lived up to my expectation. We drove through giant redwoods and right next to ocean cliffs. It was foggy but it didn’t really matter. Nature is beautiful in any way, rain or shine!

But, like everything in life, our camping trip had to come to an end. On our way back to the city we stopped at the Cabrillo Lighthouse and were fascinated by the beauty of this lighthouse. After that, we drove through redwood forests first, and through small towns, before crossing the Golden Gate Bridge into our foggy but lovely city!

In other news, yesterday I sold another photo. This time it was a photo of a yellow cable car in Lisbon and it’s going to join other photos in decorating the laundry room of a wonderful lady from Portugal! So very excited about this!

I hope you enjoyed this week’s post and photos. For more fun photos, visit my Etsy store at:


  1. MAGNIFICENT!! Happy Birthday, love, very delayed, but VERY heartfelt <3 <3