Photography: California Vacation, Part Three

CS Sherin, August 14, 2019

A slice of a fallen redwood with dated rings, at the entrance to the trails at Muir National Monument in Mill Valley, CA; July 2019. “909 AD tree is born…1930 tree falls.”

It was a beautiful day this past July when we drove up to Mill Valley from the Bay Area in order to visit Muir National Monument, aka Muir woods, where some of the ancient redwoods have been protected as a National Park by Sierra Club founder, John Muir, since 1908.

Looking up at a congregation of ancient redwood trees bathed in sunlight, July 2019, Muir National Monument (Muir Woods State Park). Photo by CS Sherin

We were enthralled with the forest that is home to countless ancient trees (the oldest in these woods is at least 1200 years old, and redwoods can live well over 2000 years old) as well as so many groves of baby redwoods. The tallest redwoods in this forest are almost 300 feet tall. Further north they get to be closer to 400 feet tall. We spent over four hours simply hiking the trails there, from top to bottom, and all around. While there wasn’t overwhelming evidence of wildlife, the further we got from the crowds of people below on the walking trail, we did encounter tiny birds, a curious chipmunk, and ravens flying silently above us.

My daughter, Samara, inside and beneath a mammoth redwood. July 2019. Photo by CS Sherin

Being among the tallest and oldest trees I have ever seen, for a short while, was a beautiful experience. I experienced it as an atmosphere of complete goodness, as if the ancient rootedness exudes an aura of deep peace, and contentment ripples outward.

Towering giants of Muir woods, July 2019, Mill Valley, CA. Photo by CS Sherin

Giant clover, the main ground cover along the floor of the redwood forest in Muir National Monument, July 2019. Photo by CS Sherin

The ground cover, amazingly, was mostly a bigger than usual kind of clover. I would say that it is 3- times bigger than the clover leaves I am accustomed to. Since Wild Clover is my brand name, I have to say, it meant a lot and surprised me to see the clover there. No one talks about the giant clover dressing the ground around the ancient giants in northern California, and I completely understand why that detail would be lost. As I spoke about this with a fellow writer and friend, it pleased our humor when I mentioned that perhaps the average wild clover would be inspired to become giant among such companions towering above. My friend suggested that perhaps they are, in fact, aspirational clover. This made us laugh happily. Brilliant!

Here I am stretching up to photograph the upward view, beside Samara, July 2019. Photo by Jeff Sherin

After coming back to the Midwest’s Driftless area, the trees here who stand the tallest and oldest now look like children to us, because of the tree world scale we now know. It is a strange and welcome awareness.

Impossibly tall redwood trees leave us feeling smaller than I felt the first time we walked through Manhattan; July 2019. Photo by CS Sherin

Most of all, I come away from Muir woods with, first, a deep sense of gratitude for National and State parks and beaches. Second, and just as deeply, I am thankful that the redwoods and other ancient and giant beings still exist in this world. At times, all the destruction being waged against many things — including health, biodiversity, and nature — overwhelms.

My first encounter with these giants has left me with a sense that some great natural magic of this world is and has been protected.

From that deep gratitude, I say to you and all: may we arise from the current attacks by hatred and corruption upon many fronts — stronger, wiser, and with greater measures of caution, restoration, and protection for all that is precious, naturally magical, and irreplaceable in this world and life.

This is not quite the conclusion of the California Vacation photography series! Stay tuned next week for the conclusion. 🙂


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Photography: California Vacation, Part Two

I have always wanted to see northern California. This past July, that wish was fulfilled. We were able to rent a Prius via Turo, and drove all around the Bay area, from Mill Valley and Sausalito, to Berkeley, Oakland, and San Francisco, and then back and forth along Highway 1, and down to Santa Cruz. It was an adventure I would happily repeat. Even the driving across a 7 mile bridge (San Mateo-Hayward bridge) was okay, because on either side is such beauty to be in and explore.

Last week’s Part One highlighted some closeups I captured at the state beaches. Today, I will highlight some of the vistas and grandeur:

The morning was misty and cool at Gray Whale Cove State Beach, CA and the surfers were out. Photo by CS Sherin

The mist was still hanging on around lunch time, at San Gregorio State Beach, CA.
Photo by CS Sherin

Standing at the top of a trail above part of San Gregorio beach in the afternoon.
Photo by CS Sherin

On another cool and blustery morning, Shark Fin Cove (along Hwy 1, CA, near Santa Cruz) was wondrous as seen from the trail above. Photo by CS Sherin

The shape that gives it the name — Shark Fin Cove; July 2019. Photo by CS Sherin

A beautiful view of the flowered hills above Pescadero State Beach, and my daughter, Samara, on the trail heading down. Photo by CS Sherin

Pescadero beach is another gem along Highway 1, not so far from Santa Cruz either.
Photo by CS Sherin

There are many fun tide pools to explore, sea birds around, and interesting paths up above, on, and around Pescadero Beach. Photo by CS Sherin

The next installment in this series will feature our trip to Muir Woods National Monument, where we got to spend an afternoon with the ancient giants. See you next week!

Photography: California Vacation, Part One

CS Sherin, August 1, 2019

We had a great time in the Bay area this July. From state beaches to seeing the ancient redwoods in Muir Woods, nature was where it was at — and is at. In general, we consider a good vacation one in which we can connect with nature, relax on a beach, encounter other cultures and diversity, and walk for many, many miles each day to explore nature and local experiences.

Being near the ocean and in the woods, and out in the sunshine with the cool ocean breezes brought me a great deal of peace, strength, and even some real, lasting rejuvenation. I am thankful for the experiences and movement.

To start, here are some close-ups from some of the hand full of state beaches we visited along Highway 1:


Mole Crab (upper left), mole crab skeleton (lower left and right) on San Gregorio State Beach, CA; July 2019. Photo by CS Sherin

Sea kelp washed ashore on San Gregorio beach. Photo by CS Sherin

Rock ledge at Natural Bridges State Beach, Santa Cruz, CA that quickly got submerged by higher tides; July 2019. Photo by CS Sherin

Seagull prints in the sand at Natural Bridges beach. Photo by CS Sherin

A misty morning at Gray Whale Cove State Beach, CA; July 2019. Photo by CS Sherin

That’s all for part one of my California vacation photos. Stay tuned next week for another installment.

In the meantime, you can see more photos from this trip (that won’t be featured here) along with an article I wrote for the Rollerbag Goddess website — The Complete Guide To More Sustainable Travel. And if you haven’t visited the Rollerbag Goddess lately, they are up to some very exciting things over there. Go check it out, and I’ll see you next week. 🙂