In late winter, from somewhere in January through March, the vineyards of Napa Valley turn yellow with mustard flowers. The exact timing varies from year to year. This year, I journeyed up to Napa Valley in the first week of February and the mustards looked great.

Napa Valley Vineyard with Mustard Flowers

 

Napa Vineyard Row with Mustard Flowers

California, Wine Country

Napa Valley Mustard Season

Image

Shark Fin Cove Sunset

I’d seen Shark Fin Cove from above many times. The cove is visible from Highway 1, just south of the town of Davenport. Descending into the cove gives a completely different experience than peering down on it from above. The sheer rock walls ascend dramatically and envelope the cove on three sides. The shark’s fin in the middle of cove creates the feeling of the cove being a magical place.

California, Santa Cruz Coast

Shark Fin Cove Sunset

Image

While is the image is from this year, I wrote the following back in 2013 and it still does a good job of capturing of how I feel about the solstice:

The solstice always makes me think about the humans that came 1000s of years before us. They couldn’t really be sure that days would start getting longer again.

All of our forbearers must have had the fear that maybe the days would keep get shorter and shorter and they would be plunged into darkness. The solstice was clearly an important day to many cultures. In Ireland, the massive ancient monument of New Grange is built on a solstice alignment and the rising sun on the solstice illuminates a chamber deep inside. The Mayans ended their year on the solstice which why their calendar ran out on the solstice causing people to predict the end of the world (in 2012).

In in modern times, our calendar year reset and our biggest holiday celebrations are both quite near the solstice which is no coincidence. Humans have always celebrated or marked the shortest day of the year. As the light fades from the sky on this Winter Solstice, I feel a connection to thousands years of my ancestors who also marked this shortest day of the year.

California, Silicon Valley

Winter Solstice

Image

Santa Cruz Coastline Sunset

The clouds looked just right for an amazingly colorful sunset. But by the time sun went down, the clouds had mostly dissipated. There was still some color along the horizon and any sunset along the Santa Cruz Coast where the sun isn’t obscured by fog is always worth seeing.

Santa Cruz Coast

Laguna Creek Beach Sunset

Image

Trinidad State Beach, Humboldt County, California

California, Landscape

Last Light — Trinidad State Beach

Image

Sunset over Bowling Beach Beach, Mendocino Coast, Califorinia

California, Landscape, Travel

Bowling Ball Beach Sunset

Image

Yoda Fountain

The Yoda Fountain outside the Lucas Film Building in The Presidio, San Francisco

California, San Francisco

May The Force Be With You

Image

Snowy Egret

A Snowy Egret at Palo Alto Baylands Nature Preserve

Silicon Valley, Wildlife

Snowy Egret

Image

Happy 100th Birthday National Parks!

The National Parks Service turns 100 years old today. National Parks are one of America’s great ideas. Preserving our natural treasures in perpetuity as publicly owned parks was a brilliant and revolutionary idea in the late 1800s and it changed the world. Countries all the world have adopted the concept and in doing so have created an amazing legacy for future generations.

I treasure the time I’ve been fortunate enough to spend in our National Parks. A huge thank you to all the members of the National Park Service. They take care of our parks. It’s a vocation that people choose because of their love and reverence for the parks and we all owe you a debt gratitude for your hard work and dedication to our parks.

Landscape, Travel

Happy 100th Birthday National Parks Service!

Image