(Northern) California Parkist

The dogs and I are avid park visitors. Join us as we document our wanderings, mostly in northern California. We visit all jurisdictions -- United States National Parks, State Parks, County, Regional and City Parks -- we love open spaces!

Friday, December 31, 2010

City of San Rafael: Freitas Park

Steve was visiting in Kaiser Hospital, San Rafael, this morning so Youngest Daughter and I tagged along.  Adjacent to the hospital parking lot is Freitas Park, a lovely neighborhood space with 3.8 acres.

Brix and Demi were with us as we followed a footpath to the ridge running along the top of a steep hill and hiked our way across and back down. With such a small area we didn't exactly rack up miles and miles, but it was enough to get our blood stirring and our heart rates moving faster.

We saw one squirrel and disturbed a flock of birds, but we couldn't identify the two-toed footprints on the ridge, the ones the dogs were tracking with their noses while we followed with our eyes.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Sonoma County Regional Parks: Hood Mountain (Santa Rosa)

For all my years living in this area -- over 16 now -- I had never driven off Route 12 and up the hill to Hood Mountain Regional Park. What a treat! It's lovely and definitely off the beaten path. I had Demi with me - who sniffed appreciably - but we were short on time and I was a bit spooked by the quiet so we didn't hike any of the trails. I would like to return some nice warm day for a picnic lunch with dogs and husband (to protect me, of course!).

Monday, December 27, 2010

City of Sonoma: The Plaza

We were back on the Plaza this afternoon with Brix and Demi.  There were an amazing number of people already there when we arrived -- kids in the play areas, picnickers in spite of the cool weather and other walkers like ourselves. A family from Minnesota stopped us so they could play with our dogs because they are missing theirs.

Friday, December 24, 2010

City of Sonoma: The Plaza

Brix and I were finishing our holiday errands today in the shops surrounding Sonoma Plaza.

City Hall, in the center, was dedicated in 1908. All four sides are identical, an architectural design so that none of the merchants could claim an advantage ("City Hall directly faces MY shop," etc.). That's the story I've always heard...

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Town of Windsor: Esposti Park

On the way to somewhere else I got lost in my own backyard and happened to see this small park on the Redwood Highway.

Too bad I didn't have a dog along because other canines were present. So I walked myself around the baseball field and noticed the fence and Do Not Enter sign in front of this tree.

Now I am puzzled. There are more oak trees in our area than stars in the sky -- so why is it necessary to cordon off this "Heritage Tree #4" in Esposti Park?  If I learn the reason I'll add onto this post.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

California State Parks: Lachryma Montis (Sonoma)

View of General Vallejo's home, Lachryma Montis
This was an amazing 2-1/2 mile walk with Steve, Demi and Brix. What made it so unusual was that within less than a mile we passed through five public parks.

We were walking the dogs along a bike path that extends from Rte. 12 in Sonoma and ends at the Sebastiani Winery. We turned off at Second Street East, a few blocks before the end and wrapped around to West Spain Street.

  • We first passed Olsen Park, a small neighborhood park with a basketball court. 
  • Then we walked on the path that dissects this field. It's part of the California State Park system with General Vallejo's home at the far end of the photo. 
  • A short walk further and we were walking through Depot Park, owned by the City of Sonoma. 
  • On West Spain Street we walked past the Barracks and Toscano Hotel (California State Parks) and 
  • Sonoma Plaza (City of Sonoma).  

How many people in this country can take such a short walk and trek through so many open spaces? We are fortunate, indeed.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

California State Parks: Lachryma Montis (Sonoma)

I was a docent this rainy afternoon at General Vallejo's home.  Demi and I walked 1/3 mile near and around the property while waiting for visitors.

We always bring tourists through this entrance, but it's actually the back door!  The porch on the opposite side is identical, but when you enter that door the staircase leading to the second floor is facing, exactly as it should be.  But I like to imagine the General sitting on this side - his study is the first room on the right - and considering his contributions to the community and beyond. I'm sure that's what's on Demi's mind too.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Sonoma County Regional Parks: Maxwell (Boyes Hot Springs)

Brix ponders the wonders of Maxwell Park
There's no point in saying we can't walk because of the rain because it's forecasted to continue for at least ten days! So I got Brix and myself up and off the sofa and took advantage of a lull in between storms and headed back to Maxwell Park.

Officially I'm a park monitor and am supposed to be over there at least one hour a week. No problem!

This morning there were people at the entrance but no one was on the back trail where we were so we had acres and acres of bay laurel and oak forest all to ourselves. I could hear a few birds, but it seemed as though the rest of the wildlife was hunkered down awaiting the next storm.

Friday, December 17, 2010

City of Sonoma: The Plaza

There's nothing as startling as a pile of bright yellow gingko leaves blanketing the green grass. This morning Brix and I walked around Sonoma Plaza, the oldest continuously used park in northern California. General Vallejo's troops used to drill here back in the 1820's, but now the park is enjoyed by civilians.

Unfortunately for Brix, dogs are not allowed inside this block-square park. Instead, we walked around three times, sometimes admiring the park itself and sometimes window-shopping the stores all around the square. Each round measures .5 miles so we logged in another 1.5 miles today.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Sonoma County Regional Parks: Sonoma Valley (Glen Ellen)

Brix and I spent a wonderful hour following the bicycle path in Sonoma Valley Regional Park.

Wedged between Rte. 12 and Arnold Drive, the trail parallels a narrow creek that meanders back and forth on both sides.

At this time of year, even with a frosty ground, Spanish moss hangs from the Valley Oaks.  The park is immaculate; we never saw even a shred of litter and simply enjoyed a crisp winterish stroll of about 2-1/2 miles.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Sonoma County Regional Parks: Maxwell (Boyes Hot Springs)

Brix and I trekked through Maxwell Park this afternoon.  We were there for about 45 minutes and walked a bit over a half mile, stopping here and there to observe.

The photo is blurry, I know, but I only had my cellphone with me.  The big blobs are turkey vultures - there are four here -- and later we saw others swooping and soaring.  It's been a mystery to me how such an ugly bird can have the most beautiful flight pattern of any I see around here!