Adventures Close to Home

canoe rideI confess to the bit of envy I feel when seeing my friends post photos to Facebook from a trip to Morocco, a twinge of wanderlust to be in a new land, sampling exotic spices and hearing the melody of a language that doesn’t roll off my tongue. Those are the times I find it most important to remember that adventure awaits outside the front door, a short walk to the pond or a 20 minute drive to put the canoe in at Solano Lake.

1147523_10201895782622614_366563213_oReally, it’s just a section of Putah Creek. But it’s full of wildlife–beaver, otter, raccoon, egrets, great blue heron, bullfrogs, osprey, woodpecker, kingfisher, Canada geese, buffleheads, cormorants, turkey vultures, red-shouldered hawks, red-winged blackbirds, three-spined stickleback that my son loves to scoop up in a net while drifting in the canoe. I’m sure this is only scratching the surface of the species out there.

raccoonBut it’s our little slice of heaven that we explore in every season.

blackberry cobblerDeep in the summer months, we stain fingers purple with blackberry juice in our quest to gather enough for a cobbler.

tacosThose are the days we head west toward Winters in late afternoon and stop at the El Verduzco taco truck parked at the Mariani Nut Company. After eating an assortment of carnitas, asada and adobada tacos, we hit the road to drive another few miles along Putah Creek Road till we find the extra wide pullouts  where you can park your car to unload a canoe or kayak.

DSC_3609_LR for blogOnce on the water, you never know what you’ll see! Here are some images from the past couple of trips–enjoy!

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On the water again…

For many years, tradition had it that our family would load up the canoe on my birthday and head up to Lake Natomas, near Folsom, for a day on the water. We brought plastic buckets and other containers to pick blackberries from branches overhanging the canoe. My dad always joked that for every berry that made it into my bucket, I must be eating two. By the end of the day, I had purple lips and teeth. We’d often make homemade vanilla ice cream out on the back porch after getting home and a blackberry cobbler with luscious crunchy crumbles on top.

This year J made sure we were back on the water for my birthday–a sojourn out to Putah Creek up near the Berryessa hills. Thanks babe!

Roxy’s first canoe trip!

Captain Hamilton

Pelicans on Putah Creek!

Great blue heron and Canada geese

Berry thief!

Flight dreams…

A dog’s life…and remembering

Saturday…up with the sun and on the road before 6. Coffee in hand made the night before, heading northeast to Table Mountain near Oroville, CA. The day spread as a fertile field before us, open to new sights, sounds and smells.

Roxy was running so fast, this is the best I could do getting a shot of her moving! We adopted her a little over a month ago–a three year old lab/pointer mix. So many smells to sniff, puddles to splash through and hills to bound over–she was in what must have been dog heaven. Pure joy to watch her. To live in the moment, running for joy, no tumbling thoughts crowding my mind, jostling for space…that’s what I wish to learn from her.

Wolf spider in his burrow.


J can make even road-side sandwiches look straight out of Bon Appetite! And they taste just as good too!

Chef and photographer extraordinaire…

Along a county road, we stopped to photograph wildflowers. I looked up to see five yellow ribbons around five oak trees at the start of a driveway…may they come home safely.

We often stop and visit in old pioneer cemeteries we come across in our travels. Even a soldier from so long ago was remembered this day.

Catching a sunset near the river on the way home.

A perfect Sunday…

walnut grove

Up before dawn, we picked up Peet’s coffee and a bag of Noah’s bagels and hit the road. Exploring north for a photo project, following instinct and a hunch. Dense fog along the Sacramento River, farmlands and orchards. Winter’s chill giving way to sun in the afternoon. Knights Landing, Colusa, Robbins, Rumsey, Guinda—towns with quiet Sunday mornings.

Mary’s chapel and cemetery

Homesteader cemeteries—babies dead before they could walk, sons lost in the two world wars, wives gone in childbirth. A few headstones of those who lived long enough to witness horse-drawn wagons give way to Fords, to hold grandchildren on their knees and pass along a farmer’s hunch of what to expect come spring.

Farmhouse in foreclosure

A sprawling farmhouse off a levee road, fallow fields to the north and hundreds of rose bushes carefully planted to the south. Nobody left to roll marbles across the warped wood floors. A foreclosure sign tacked to a Mediterranean blue front door. Orange trees lining the drive dropping fruit to rot and mold on the damp ground. The stories these walls must hold, lives begun and ended, hopes and dreams born and dashed.

Old barn in foreclosure

Old bridge over floodplain at base of Sutter Buttes

Past walnut orchards, old bridges and fields. Geese honking through the fog, egrets perched on the levee’s edge. Putah creek, Cache Creek, Sacramento river, the base of Sutter Buttes, the ridges of the coastal range. Driving till dusk, our eyes full of this land of plenty.

Tacos from Roberta’s Taqueria in Colusa–YUMM!!

Oaks framing Sutter Buttes
dormant orchard
Old truck in Rumsey, CA
Cache creek from old Rumsey bridge
Three billy goats gruff