I looked on the map for the farthest south point along Tomales Bey that has a view to open ocean (not just into Bodega Bay, which is bounded by the distant second headlands on the right), and decided this little turnout was as close as I would get - the next time the road meets the shore, Tomales Bluff cuts off the view past the Bodega Bay headlands.
I was going over some old photos today and happened to notice this picture, remembering that we were wondering what this is. After a second it clicked, and I remembered that these looked like the buds of the California Tiger Lily - perhaps the most spectacular flower in all of California, and which I was lucky enough to see on a Canyoneer hike this year.
I'd like to point out that with this iPad photo, this gallery rounded out with photos from 5 different cameras
I wonder if I can beat that in some future gallery?
Fields of goldfields
After leaving, I drove down the cost, spending some time wandering around Goat Rock State Beach.
I had seen this growing in the grass near the windmill. I spotted the flower on a wildflower brochure being sold in the giftshop and mentioned it to the park volunteer who was manning the register for the afternoon. She seemed dubious, since it's a California Native Plant Society-rated 'rare plant' (with rank 4.2! - which is not particularly rare, but somewhat), until I returned with a picture to confirm that this is a Harlequin lotus (listed on the brochure as bicolor lotus), Hosackia gracilis
A sweat bee on some kind of aster, although I didn't take enough pictures to tell just what I don't think.
Two blockhouses on opposite corners of the fort were armed with canons.
The re-created gardens stand next to the mostly reconstructed fort.
The entire milling house up top is rotated along with the blades to point into the wind.
The recreated millstone lies on the ground behind the mill, as it was undergoing refurbishment of some kind.
Time jump two more days!
The next day was mostly a driving day. From Santa Cruz, I took the 9 up the penninsula, with a detour drive through Big Basin Redwoods SP. When I reached the 35, I started the next segment of 'faulty' roads, as of course the San Andreas Fault runs up the peninsula. I took that up to the 92, side-stepped over to Half Moon Bay, and followed the coast through SF, across the Golden Gate Bridge (in the toll-free direction), past Marin to a rural hotel. Though I made a few stops at viewpoints, I didn't take any pictures until I got here the next day: Fort Ross State Park.
In this picture, a spectator looks up at a re-creation of the style of windmill that was used when Fort Ross was occupied by the Russians. It was built in Russia (of inauthentic Larch wood) and shipped here to be reassembled, when the park was renovated after an infusion of funds from Russian oligarchs who kept the park open after it was slated to be closed by California during the budget crisis.
Though some water seeped out of the rock walls, most came out of a tunnel cut into the rock, presumably for the purpose of allowing groundwater to harmlessly flow under the coast highway rather than eroding it.
Unfortunately I forgot my Lumix, so I did not take many pictures here.
A stream trickled along the back edge of the cove.
I brought a chair and a book and just relaxed here. Though it was quite cold and windy...
Rusty Rails! It feels safe to say that this line has not been used in quite some time.
More redwoods, along the Redwood Grove Loop Trail near the park visitor center. Pictures - and words - just don't do justice.
The famous Banana Slug - mascot of UC Santa Cruz
I'm curious if these trees grew out o f a single fallen trunk, or shared a root burl
Close-up of thimbleberry flower, with my fingers on the stem for scale.
Another thimbleberry, this time with flowers
Though burned out, this redwood still grows green.
To my knowledge, though, I did manage to make it through with no poison oak, here reaching the Cathedral Redwoods.
I took the Big Rock Hole Trail to Cathedral Redwoods. The trail was being encroached on by native vegetation. Normally that might not be too bad of a fact, but in this case the native vegetation happened to be poison oak. At times I found myself walking sideways holding my backpack in front of me as a counterbalance to creep through narrow openings between the toxic plant.
A thicket of forget-me-nots.
"Strangko - Made In Denmark". The prominence of the country-of-origin markings is slightly unusual - perhaps they're advertising to the rider? I wonder how this horse watering lever came to be sourced from a place I've never thought of as linked to horses.
I can't believe this is the only picture I took of this! Well, I suppose that's not true - I took more, trying to play with fill-flash, but the Lumix' flash isn't bright enough to meaningfully illuminate a subject, and I suppose this was the best of what came out of that. But there were a lot of these along the Eagle Creek Trail to the Observation Deck.
It looks like these are Silver Bush Lupines, Lupinus albifrons var. albifrons
This wonderful example shows why poison oak dermatitis so often comes as a surprise, as the plant here shows the same colors and the columbine leaves surrounding it.
Finally I reached the main highlight of the hike. While planning, I saw a trail named "Columbine Trail", so I was optimistic that I would see some of this fantastic flower, which looks as if five Scarlet Larkspurs merged into one. And indeed the trail was rife with these Western Columbines, Aquilegia formosa.
A few flowers bloom on top of an Yerba Santa, Eriodictyon californicum
The redwoods are fabulous to walk through for the personal experience, but with the tall trees blotting out the sun, relatively few other plants can survive. The middle part of this trail passed through a bit of familiar chaparral.
Here, another bush poppy, Dendromecon rigida
Another fencepost lizard, still a bit chilly from the morning
Looks like a hoverfly? It was certainly hovering, at least. It was fairly hard to convince the camera to focus on the fly, so I had to focus it manually to get this.
I'd hazard a guess that this is a wood rose, Rosa gymnocarpa, but I would really need more angles to be sure.
A tight closeup of the flower stalks of the Feathery False Lily of the Valley, Maianthemum racemosum
I think this is the first time I've used Calflora's 'category' search, since I can tell it's a monocot - the clade of plants that includes lilies, orchids, and grasses - but not much else. Searching by category and county brings up only 433 results, a reasonable amount to pore over.
In this case, I found that this is 'Feathery False Lily of the Valley', Maianthemum racemosum.
It seems pretty false, because certainly the flowers look little like Lily-of-the-valley, though the leaves share a strong resemblance and they are in the same subfamily (Nolinoideae).
This looks like Western Trillium, Trillium ovatum. I've heard Trillium referred to in song but I don't think I've ever seen it in real life before.
Sorrel in a gully similarly diffuse their brief glints of light. To survive on dark forest floors, plants must be adapted to quickly spin up their photosynthetic machinery to take advantage of sunlight when they can get it, while wasting as little energy as possible while they wait patiently in the shade.
Another big-leaved maple, Acer macrophyllum, the same tree spotted south of Solvang, blazes bright green as it catches glints of light passing through the Redwood canopy. It seems to enjoy showing off its translucency wherever it can be found.
... though of course a full panorama reveals that even such large patches make up but a fraction of the scenery.
Large embankments covered with these Redwood Violets were common along the trail.
As this tributary erodes its banks, a mess of roots beneath is revealed.
Talk about association: These Redwood Sorrel (Oxalis oregana, the Oxalis I referred to earlier) were growing out of this redwood stump.
This invasive French Broom, Genista monspessulana, grows very frequently in the area.
Several varieties of violets grew among the redwoods, including this 'known associate' unsurprisingly named the Redwood Violet, Viola sempervirens - a name that is a nod to the Coast Redwood's name, Sequoyah sempervirens.
The Roaring Camp Railroad here crosses over the San Lorenzo River
As I started to reach the redwoods along the river trail, these became far more common. My suspicion that this is an Oxalis was borne out when I picked up a self-guided tour brochure absentmindedly dropped by another hiker, as there is a species of Oxalis that is closely associated with Redwood forests specifically.
Another rubus, but I think this time California Blackberry, Rubus ursinus.
I would never have guessed this was a member of the Poppy family. Pacific bleeding hearts - from the shape of the flower, presumably. Dicentra formosa
An invasive but a pretty one: Scarlet Pimpernill.