Monday, June 16, 2008

Was It Heaven? Close

I just spent a long weekend in northern California, primarily around Berkeley. And I am in love, again. (I've been there before and fall in love every time.) This time I was so excited to be in the land that Mark Twain never actually described as "the coldest winter I ever saw was the summer I spent in San Francisco" for many reasons: a girls' weekend; traveling with a good Austin friend to visit another good friend, and former Austinite, who was celebrating a BIG birthday; and, have I mentioned, the HIGH temperature was 75 degrees? We also visited with other Austinites who now call the land of milk and honey home. (I'm still working on my plan to become one of them.)

I've got so many photos and stories to share, but today I will start with a hike in Redwood Regional Park, in Oakland. Northern California is exceedingly dog friendly, and Redwood Park is one of the many leash-free areas. The area is also home to Ohlone Dog Park in Berkeley, recognized as the nation's first dog park, and Point Isabel, which, at 23 acres, is the nation's largest dog park.

I don't think my friend's dog, Sadie, know how lucky she is, but I sure did. I won't be hiking in Texas again without sweating for a few months.

The East Bay Regional Park district website describes the park:
"On Redwood Road, just a few miles over the ridge from downtown Oakland, is a hidden redwood forest whose peaceful groves give little evidence of its bustling past. In the mid-1800s, what is now Redwood Regional Park was the scene of extensive logging to supply building materials for the San Francisco Bay Area.

The logging era has long since passed, and a stately forest of 150-foot coast redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens) has replaced those cut down."

I'm fairly certain this tree is a pine, not a redwood, but you get the idea about the height and the majesty.

These plants reminded me a bit of inland sea oats, but with puffier oats. They were all over the area and just sort of floated in the air.

These poppies were part of the John Da Vega Grove, at the start of our hike.

Everything seems to grow well and easily in California, including the invasive nonnatives like French broom.

My friend said that the poison oak is so bad in the area that the volunteers who help remove the broom wear full head-to-toe protective garments. I think they might even wear inhalers.

So my newfound love has a couple of flaws.

And maybe one big one:

But I'd still love to spend every summer and maybe a few other seasons there.


  1. That does sound like heaven, Vertie. I'm ready to pack my bags!

  2. Maybe we can start a club for former-Austin-future-Bay-Area garden webloggers. ;)

  3. That view in your first picture has me sighing ... I can almost feel the cool air. (Oh, wait, that's my a/c.)

  4. I'm still dreaming about the days I spent in San Francisco at the end of May. My hands were cold--actually cold. It was lovely!

  5. I love the Bay Area. If I could afford to live there, I'd move in a heartbeat. The climate is perfect.

    Those white poppies are stunning!