Category Archives: Everyday Awesome

Lighthouse Sentinel

Lighthouse

Lighthouse sentinel
Once for sailors, now wildlife
Whales, seals, sea lions, more!

On July 8, I had the pleasure of touring the Piedras Blancas Light Station along with BLM office newbies and interns. This even counted as work! #LivingTheDream ūüôā

The light station is a focal point of the Piedras Blancas Outstanding Natural Area, one of the special management areas within the Bakersfield Field Office jurisdiction. (This is why it counted for work.)

As BLM-insiders, we had the VIP opportunity of climbing to the top of the lighthouse Рvery windy up there!

On top of the lighthouse
looking stunning in my floppy hat

In the background of the above photo, you can see one of the Piedras Blancas, which translates to “white¬†rocks” in Spanish. The rock acquired its¬†whitish hue from centuries of guano deposits, or in less technical terms: seabird poo.

These large offshore rocks provide excellent refuge to marine animals large and small. While we were at the Light Station, we saw:

Sea lion
sea lions
male elephant seal
multiple male elephant seals – quite the schnoz! (the male elephant seal uses his enlarged nose – or proboscis – in territorial displays)
humpback whale sighting location
we saw a humpback whale out there! whale!!!!!!!!
juvenile humpback whale skeleton
juvenile humpback whale skeleton; the deceased whale washed up on one of the nearby beaches several years ago
Oystercatcher
a modern day Piedras Blancas painter: the black oystercatcher! it is hard to see but oystercatchers have a fabulous red bill

We also saw sea otters, but I was not able to get a picture this trip. I will definitely be back. For more history of the light station, you can visit piedrasblancas.org.  Рor you can visit me and I will take you there!

IMG_6635
I also take pictures of pretty flowers; this is a poppy

Weekend Warrior*

This is one of the most stunning sunsets I have ever seen. We were situated above the coastal fog, approximately on O'Rourke's Bench in Mt. Tamalpais State Park. Phenomenal.
This is one of the most stunning sunsets I have ever seen. We were situated above the coastal fog, approximately on O’Rourke’s Bench in Mt. Tamalpais State Park. Phenomenal.

Sea of fog sunsets
Point Reyes falls, seals, lighthouse
Muir Woods sky-scrapers

As if we had not been spoiled enough, we were treated to this gorgeous view out of our tent on Saturday morning at the Pantoll campground in Mt. Tamalpais State Park.
As if we had not been spoiled enough, we were treated to this gorgeous view out of our tent on Saturday morning at the Pantoll campground in Mt. Tamalpais State Park.
Our Saturday adventure began with a seven-ish mile hike along the coast at Point Reyes National Seashore.
Our Saturday adventure began with a seven-ish mile hike along the coast at Point Reyes National Seashore.
Our destination was Alamere Falls, a waterfall into the ocean.
Our destination was Alamere Falls, a waterfall into the ocean. California really does have it all.
We made it!
We made it!
Throughout the park, we were treated to an abundance of blooming wildflowers. The Douglas iris (pictured here) was particularly stunning.
Throughout the park, we encountered an abundance of blooming wildflowers. The Douglas iris (pictured here) was particularly stunning.
In the afternoon, we journeyed across the park to see the Point Reyes Lighthouse. For the physics buffs out there: the Point Reyes Lighthouse is a "first order" Fresnel lens, and its inner workings are particularly display-worthy because they originally debuted at the 1867 Paris World's Fair.
In the afternoon, we journeyed across the park to see the Point Reyes Lighthouse. For the physics buffs out there: the Point Reyes Lighthouse is a “first order” Fresnel lens, and its inner workings are particularly display-worthy because they originally debuted at the 1867 Paris World’s Fair.
Our final park stop was to see the elephant seals. This is a picture through a binocular of one of the male elephant seals calling.
Our final park stop was to see the elephant seals. This is a picture through a binocular of one of the male elephant seals calling. It was a rather amusing sound.
Day two of our adventure led Laura and I to Muir Woods National Monument. Yes, we are wearing matching rain jackets and pants; we bought the rain jackets separately.
Day two of our adventure led Laura and I to Muir Woods National Monument. Yes, we are wearing matching rain jackets and pants; we bought the rain jackets separately.
There is something captivating and special about these trees. For the botany enthusiasts, these are the coastal redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens). You will see a picture of another of the "redwoods" in the next section.
There is something captivating about these trees. For the botany enthusiasts, these are the coastal redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens). You will see a picture of another of the “redwoods” in the next section.

Walking among giants
Walking among giants

GIANT sequoias
Rim Trail, peep s’mores, & dyed eggs
Sippin’ the good life

In early April, a group of us went to see the “Big Trees” of Calaveras State Park in Arnold, California. The “Big Trees”¬†are giant sequoias (Sequoiadendron giganteum), and no picture can do them justice, you will have to come see them for yourself.

Walking along the North Grove Trail was akin to walking through an adult-sized jungle gym made of tree parts past and present. Look how big they are!
Walking along the North Grove Trail was akin to walking through an adult-sized jungle gym made of tree parts past and present. Look how big they are!
On day two, David and I hiked a 10-mile section of the Arnold Rim Trail.
On day two, David and I hiked a 10-mile section of the Arnold Rim Trail. Here I am at the Top of the World.
At night, we refueled and rewarded ourselves with peep smores, which is just like a traditional smore but with the marshmallow replaced by a peep! Before you dismiss the idea, try it. Its all about the caramelized sugar.
At night, we refueled and rewarded ourselves with peep s’mores, which are¬†like a traditional s’more, but with the marshmallow replaced by a peep! Before you dismiss the idea, try it: it’s all about the caramelized sugar.
Easter coincided with our trip and to celebrate, we dyed eggs.
Easter coincided with our trip and to celebrate, we dyed eggs. I think that one is looking at you!

Cache Creek Backpacking

Cache Creek backpacking
Rolling trail, wild blooms, critters
Vast oak savanna

The last weekend of March, three of us went on our first backpacking trip of 2015. Our travel destination was Cache Creek Natural Area, a 70,000+ acre expanse of BLM land. For our adventure, we selected the 10-mile Ridge Trail hike, which meandered through oak savannas and the occasional stretch of chamise chaparral. It was a beautiful trip full of wildflowers and animal sightings, the latter of which included a coyote, a gopher snake, a ring-necked snake, a squirrel, and more lizards than I could count.

Sometimes the best way to celebrate trail life is with a shady nap.
Sometimes the best way to celebrate trail life is with a shady nap.
Dinner never tastes so fine as when it comes at the end of a 10-mile hike and is made over a camp stove.
Dinner never tastes so fine as when it comes at the end of a 10-mile hike and is made over a camp stove. Here we are enjoying pita pizzas.
Gopher snake left; Ring-necked snake right
Wildlife sightings/catchings: gopher snake left and ring-necked snake right.
Happy crew nearing the end of our trek - what a weekend!
Happy crew nearing the end of our trek – what a weekend!

*Weekend Warrior endnote: hopefully now it is clear why there have been a dearth of posts. This blog is still something I intend to keep up, but the spread between posts might continue at the current pace. Thank you for reading!

Snail Mail

Snail Mail

Mailbox to Mailbox
Inching across the US
A long distance hug

One letter and one postcard have made it an exceptional week for snail mail here, and this makes me very happy.  There is something wonderful about a handwritten note traversing the US to share news and smiles. I encourage everyone to try it.

Special thank you to Brittany B. and Cady E. for making this post possible!