nature

Mammoth Weekend

Oh man, I went on the best camping trip last weekend. I can't believe all the amazing things we saw and did in under 48 hours. We left Friday night and headed back Sunday morning, but even in that short a time we covered a lot of ground: sunsets, sunrises, guns, hot spring and on and on. Every time I get away camping, I come back reinvigorated and new. I sometimes feel so overwhelmed by what I saw and experienced, when I return home I feel like my art seems so insignificant in comparison. As if there is something that draws me to be back out there and not at a desk painting. Then, that feeling goes away and I get back to work. 

Lately, I think I should have been a park ranger or professional road tripper. I think I could camp and be on the road most of the time. The textures, colors and smells are so much better than what I experience in San Jose. It isn't until you get out of town that you realize how the murky air quality is in the valley. Everything feels so big and magnificent on the open road.

The road to Mammoth Lakes

The road to Mammoth Lakes

The drive out to the Yosemite and Mammoth is actually really unpleasant. The central valley is hot, flat, dry and boring in my opinion. Once you get to about Oakdale, the landscape includes some hills and trees finally, but really doesn't get nice until you get to Yosemite, which we had to drive through to get to Mammoth. It's always beautiful there. The picture above is from the 395, past Yosemite.

School bus and cows

School bus and cows

The dirt road to our primitive backroad campsite was rocky and even had some potholes and bumps. Probably best navigated by a 4x4 and not the Honda Civic we were in, but we did ok. There was a school bus parked by the river and surrounded by cows. 

The view from the road on the way to our campsite was something else. The granite peaks are nearly as beautiful as Yosemite, but without all the crowds. I just missed shooting a pic of them lit pink by the setting sun. Still even the dusk colors and valley were really pretty. 

We stopped and caught this alien sunset. The elongated orb clouds looked like UFO's. 

On Saturday, our only full day, we drove to Convict Lake, where we had a whole beach to ourselves. The water was cold and the mountains were high. 

Later this day we drove to a makeshift shooting range and shot some of our friend's guns. It's a little scary for me since they are dangerous and I don't feel very experienced or that I have much control over them. Luckily, our friend knows a lot about them and it was super fun!

I almost skipped waking up at dawn to watch the sunrise from the hot spring, something we planned by the campfire the night before. A friend came by my tent to wake me up, but I declined at first. As I lay there looking at this I thought "What the hell am I doing?" and jumped out of the tent to head down to the hot spring. I walked alone and didn't know where it was, but had an idea. It was a little eerie. When I got to the spring, the others mentioned hearing a pack of coyotes when they woke up and on their walk down. So glad I didn't hear them! I may not have trekked down myself.

And yes, it was totally worth it. It was definitely the best natural hot spring I had been to. Only four of us made it down and we were rewarded with this. 

I'm a huge fan of watching the sunrise while camping and hiking. The colors of everything are completely different from the daytime. 

Friends weren't kidding when they said that Mono Lake is like the moon. It's a strange and still place. 

It reminded me a lot of the Salton Sea, another desolate and salty body of water. Mono Lake is a pretty fascinating place and you can read more about it here

And by the way, we never made it to Mammoth Lakes, just nearby. Next time I want to check those out and the Devil's Post Pile, an amazing rock formation in the area. I definitely want to go back next year. 

Purisima Creek Redwoods Hike

We knew it was going to rain on Sunday, but thought that would make for an extra magical hike. I had been wanting to do a trail at Purisima Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve for awhile now. I always pass it on my long solo drives up Skyline and have suspected there is a killer ocean view. It was super chilly and luckily I had a bag of clothes to donate in the trunk so I could add extra layers!

There's just something about moss. 

There's just something about moss. 

One of my favorite places to search for hikes is Bay Area Hiker. I went on the second hike in that link. I made the mistake of not reading where the trailhead was, instead just pulling off at the Purisima Creek parking lot. This meant that what I thought was a 7-mile hike was actually an almost 10-mile. It wasn't a big deal, we just had to be somewhere at 3pm and ended up being late. It all worked out though. All in all we did the loop of Harkins Ridge to Purisima Creek to the Craig Britton Trail. 

Return of the Jedi?

Return of the Jedi?

At first, the hike brought me right back to the Pacific Northwest. I lived there in junior high and have camped the overcast West Coast many times. Definitely planning a trip there in the fall. Also, every time I get in the redwoods, I think of Return of the Jedi. I probably watched it too much as a kid.

Foggy hillside

Foggy hillside

Layers of hills 

Layers of hills 

First glimpse of the sea

First glimpse of the sea

The trail was a bit of a roller coaster, going up and down to get to views of the ocean, fog settling in between the pines. The hike dips down to Purisima Creek, with lush ferns and banana slugs everywhere. 

Purisima Creek

Purisima Creek

I saw a salamander, tons of banana slugs and wildflowers including, poppies, wild irises, Indian paintbrush and baby blue eyes. 

Little salamander on its way

Little salamander on its way

Wild irises

Wild irises

Indian paintbrush

Indian paintbrush

Sea view

Sea view

Bryan and closed poppies. 

Bryan and closed poppies. 

This is one of the best hikes in the area. My legs are still super sore two days later. I didn't fully time it, but it took somewhere around 4 hours. It's totally worth it for the workout, views and variation. The last leg of the hike was on the Craig Britton Trail where a dedicated bench plaque reads, "They aren't making any more land, so preserve it while you can!"

True, true.

Weekend in the North Bay - Pt. 1 Bolinas

I like doing wacky things sometimes, like driving up to the North Bay coast two days in a row, with two different sets of people. The drive is maybe 2.5 hours to Bolinas and 3.5 to Cazadero. Let's start with Bolinas.

Gospel Flat Farm - This is a family farm. We live here so please smile and say hello.

Gospel Flat Farm - This is a family farm. We live here so please smile and say hello.

We started by heading to Gospel Flat Farm, a family run farm in Bolinas. I had never stopped here before, usually because I beeline for the beach and on the way home, it looked closed. I learned they have a 24 hour farm stand that operates on the honor system. I love Bolinas even so much more now. 

Kaaaaale

Kaaaaale

Look at all that kale! Their farm was beautiful. So many good things growing here. 

Family laundry hanging on the line

Family laundry hanging on the line

Chris and Claudine

Chris and Claudine

The reason we came to visit the farm was because of an art show title Nature Babes. I knew of one of the artists from Instagram. Chris and Claudine came along with us and as you can see, they had a blast. We were lucky to spend their 5 year wedding anniversary with them. I enticed them with the following question: "Wanna go to an art show on a farm with wood-fired pizza and wine in a small beach town and have a killer dinner and pie at the Coast Cafe afterward?"

Who could say no?

Wood-fired pizza with toppings from the farm

Wood-fired pizza with toppings from the farm

Pretty huh? Work by  Maria Schoettler

Pretty huh? Work by Maria Schoettler

It was nice to meet Maria Schoettler in person. We follow each other on Instagram and I must say, these kinds of things make you love the internet. Her work is so lovely. The textures and colors are pure bliss.

Lindsay Stripling, part one of two of one artwork

Lindsay Stripling, part one of two of one artwork

Linday Stripling, part two of one artwork

Linday Stripling, part two of one artwork

Aren't these pieces gorgeous? Lindsay Stripling created this diptych of an invasion of a campsite. Looks like the wolves and turkeys took over everything. 

Work on paper by Emily Ritz

Work on paper by Emily Ritz

Emily Ritz created highly detailed watercolors with ink details. You can see the scale of this one by looking over at that window sill. The work is really insane closeup. So much detail!

Inside the gallery, work by Emily Ritz

Inside the gallery, work by Emily Ritz

You know I love a good A-Frame. Another one coming in Part 2 of this weekend:)

Pattern Inspiration in San Francisco

On Wednesday, I went to see a friend in San Francisco. We didn't have much of a plan, but we were thinking something like lunch and checking out the sunset at Land's End. My friend Gabby is a crazy-inspiring person. She has a lot going on in her life right now and actually kind of always does as a traveling, swimming (she just swam to Alacatraz!), pilot who is starting a company with her man. The day was like a breath of fresh air for the both of us. I won't write too much since the pictures speak for themselves. 

Mile Rock Beach, Land's End

Mile Rock Beach, Land's End

A-maze-ing rock pattern

A-maze-ing rock pattern

Gabby walking through the maze.

Gabby walking through the maze.

Mussels

Mussels

More mussels... and look at that hole pattern in the sand too.

More mussels... and look at that hole pattern in the sand too.

Sand lines with golden hour lighting.

Sand lines with golden hour lighting.

More sand lines. 

More sand lines. 

A tree-like pattern. 

A tree-like pattern. 

Fractals, dude. It always amazes me how this pattern exists so commonly in nature. Blood vessels, trees, lightning, snowflakes, this repeating pattern occurs everywhere. 

The view of the Golden Gate from Mile Rock Beach. You can see the mussels on the rocks here. 

The view of the Golden Gate from Mile Rock Beach. You can see the mussels on the rocks here. 

Never a bad sunset here. 

Never a bad sunset here. 

The sunset getting more ridiculous.

The sunset getting more ridiculous.

View of the moon from  Top of the Mark

View of the moon from Top of the Mark

We ended the night at Top of the Mark, the 19th story bar and lounge at the top of the Mark Hopkins Hotel. We wanted to sit with a view of the moon and at first we couldn't see it. After a few minutes, we saw it peek out from behind this building.  We drank martinis while a jazz pianist played. Of course, the picture doesn't quite do it justice.

Such a good day and night.