While eating lots of good food is a fun part of a trip away, it does provide you with some encouragement to have a bit of exercise too to try and offset what you have consumed. Combine that with some scenery and a plan starts to emerge. Nancy had found out about a trail at Russian Gulch State Park that led to some waterfalls. This seemed like a worthwhile venture so off we set.
Sadly, our planning did not prove to be quite as good as we had hoped. The access route to the park was closed off at a certain point which we assumed to be the normal starting point. Instead, I think we were a bit further out that the distances in our guide suggested. Also, the distances they gave, even assuming the change in start point, were a bit optimistic. Consequently, as we headed further in and the clock ticked by, we realized that we were not going to get all the way to the falls and get back out again before it started getting a bit dark.
The valley is very sheltered, particularly at this time of year, so the lack of direct sunlight means it is a bit darker in there and, as the sun drops, it will get a lot darker than the surrounding area. It also gets a bit cold since the area is very moist. We wisely turned back to ensure we weren’t going to get uncomfortable. Besides, judging by the flow of water in the river along the valley floor, the falls were probably not at their most productive.
The valley itself was really pretty. Combinations of all sorts of plants that like damp environments and tall trees reaching up to gather sunlight at their highest reaches made you feel like you were in a scene from the Hobbit. I was particularly impressed by some young trees that had chosen the stump of a chopped down tree to use as their base. The little trunk rising out of roots that were drooping down the sides of the stump looked very cool.
When we had finished the walk, we headed around to a sinkhole in another part of the park. This is apparently quite impressive at high tide and when the waves are strong since the hole makes all sorts of sounds as the air is compressed by the water. Sadly, it was low tide while we were there so it was just a big hole. However, the walk there did give us a great view of one of the bridges along the Pacific Coast Highway.
No long story for this one. A llama farm was beside the road in Albion and I wandered over to see the animals one morning as they grazed. They seemed mildly interested in me for a while and then kept eating. I grabbed some shots of them and then went on my way. I know llamas are hardly a rarity these days but it is still interesting to see them.
Sitting on the deck of our room in Albion provided a beautiful view across the Pacific as the sun was setting. As is usual with sunsets, you never knew exactly what you were going to get. One night it all looked quite promising but the cloud cover low on the horizon meant it all went dull rather than getting dramatic. On another evening, though, we had some high level clouds that started picking up the low evening light very nicely resulting in some great skies.
One evening the sun set in front of us with nothing much to obscure our view. While I was happy to be sitting on the deck watching it go down, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to grab some shots of it. A long lens meant some bigger views of it as the atmosphere distorted the view of its last gasps of west coast light. After that, someone else was getting the benefits.
The strange shapes the atmospheric distortion produces were really interesting to watch. The roundness was replaced by all sorts of shapes including one that looked more like a Mayan pyramid. It changed so often that I had to keep shooting. Only as it was almost done did I realize that I really should have been videoing this as well to show just how quickly it retreated below the horizon and how much it changed apparent shape while doing do. (As an aside, I do know that the refraction of the atmosphere means that I am seeing an image of the sun on the horizon when it has actually already fallen below the true sightlines.)
Having missed this video opportunity, I shall have to be ready to try that out in future. Meanwhile, I shall continue to enjoy the memory of the speed and rapid changes that the sun went through in the last moments of the day.
A weekend away after a bunch of home moving activities seemed like a great idea. We had an invitation away for the Thanksgiving weekend which we would have liked to have taken but the travel involved meant it was not going to be a practical proposition. Instead, we decided to drive a couple of hours north to Mendocino and have a short break there as compensation for the missed trip to friends.
This turned out to be a great idea. We chose a weekend when the weather was gorgeous and the number of people was limited. What a combination! While we were staying in Albion, a little way south of Mendocino itself, we decided to head there on the day we arrived and take a look around. It is a cracking little town. It is a combination destination with people who are getting away from the hustle of life being there as well as city folks doing the same thing if only for a day or two.
There are lots of little shops to deal with the tourists and the place is very picturesque. It is planted right on the coast and you can walk out onto the headland to see the waves crashing in while looking back at the town on the cliffs behind you. Seeing as it was later in the day and the sun was low given the time of year, it all looked even better!
One feature of the town I particularly liked was the use of water towers. You could see the evolution of the towers around the town. Some of them were as designed with a timber framework holding up the water barrel. Others had decided to enclose the tower structure to provide some additional room space under the barrel. Then there were those that had gone the whole hog and got rid of the barrel and converted the tower into part of the home. The distinctive shape was still there which is what gives it all away.
Other little details of the place appealed. The weathervane on the fire house was rather cool. If you like chocolate, you would have several places to visit to sample their wares – something that made Nancy a lot happier than me! All in all, a great place to wander around and relax in.