Welcome to the Geodome

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Experiences are what life is about for us as a family and finding places to stay where we can relax and unwind from the daily grind is something we aspire to. To celebrate another April birthday, I wanted the experience of staying in a geodome for the weekend. We found this beautiful geodome out in the Santa Cruz mountains complete with banana slugs and a rushing creek right by – this all appealed to our back to the earth lifestyle, so I booked it pretty much after we had spent a weekend in the caravan in the redwoods the month before.

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This space was incredible and so peaceful to sleep in – the owners of this geodome found it on Craigslist. They purchased it from a family who were living in it in Watsonville, who had they had their 2nd baby in the dome ūüėÄ Previously the geodome was living in a commune in Sonoma, what a life and experience this space has had!

The kids really enjoyed jumping around in the creek – note to self, take the water shoes for everyone whenever there is water as no doubt they will get their shoes wet! And looking underneath the redwoods, we found a few banana slugs.

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The geodome had a guidebook on what to check out in the area, and we decided we wanted to go for a hike taken care of by the Land Trust of Santa Cruz – called Byrne-Milliron Forest. This hike was highly recommended in the guidebook and only 30 minutes away down the hill near a town called Corralitos.

It was a hard ask for one of our little hikers who does not like going uphill but when you go uphill there is always nice views to be had. We found a plaque at the AJ’s Point of View dedicated to a steward¬†of the forest, who had looked after this forest for 27 years – such dedication and I truly understand what he meant by magical. The hike was just over 3 miles to a white redwood tree – it was uphill for a while, and then we found the view!

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When we reached a place on the map called AJs Point of View it was filled with art created by locals artists using nature and a mailbox full of books and journals (where you could write an entry) donated by Jeff Helmer, the forest caretaker. The added bonus was water where you really needed a refill after the uphill in the sunshine on a warm spring day.

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We got in touch with our wild side when travelling from the AJs Point of View as the trail narrowed and crossed a creek. We had to use a rope to jump across to the foot trail surrounded by wildflowers and sorrel, this is where the magic happens.

In the sunlight, these little blue flowers were lit up like little fireflies in amongst the green. To walk on this narrow trail led to the white redwood where the trail ended. The trail went up and down, and at points, it was steep and hard on the knees and legs!

And eventually, we took the trail up from where the kids were done up to the white redwood to this chair that read ‘For the Glory Not the Gold’. This is what being in nature is about to me feeling it within and in communion with the natural embrace of the green of the trees.

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Here are some of the trees of this 2nd growth redwood forest, there were many trees like the 600-year-old white redwood that were taken from here, but over time their little tree family had grown around them. Ash is sitting there by a burnt redwood not wanting to go any further – a lot of these trees we had missed going on the track to the white redwood as we had to watch where our feet when we were walking.

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Check out my acorn cap!

 

What an incredible discovery weekend for all of us all the while mourning the loss of our beloved cat Mack. We had a fire for him by the geodome and enjoyed some peace contemplating the good times we had together.

The geodome had a journal for all the guests to share their thoughts and illustrations of their time. The kids shared the two at the top, and the illustration below was my favourite by a very talented artist.

Even where we parked the car was a geodome for the kids to play on – Ash with his new friend the bird we found at a church charity sale where everything was free!

On Sunday we went to Sunset State Beach for a bit of beach time – living by the beach most of my life I feel very much at home when we visit, and it was so good to walk in the ice cold water checking out the sand dollars.

We honoured our furry friend at the beach by saying goodbye in the waves and remembering our love for him.

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It is with so much gratitude that I enjoyed this weekend and am celebrating my birthday writing this today for all the wonderful experiences we have together as a family. Soon we will be homeward bound in Australia where we can start some new adventures. My love is with you for all eternity and beyond, Namaste x

 

 

2017 The year of exploring new frontiers

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This year I am on a mission to visit places that we have not explored before and this means getting out a map and going OK this is something different let’s give it a go. So today we visited a place we have been before for camping and a picnic but never for a hike!! The hike within the park is an area called Phleger Estate¬†that was saved with the help of the Peninsula Open Space Trust in 1995 protecting the second growth redwood forest for future generations.¬†Coming from Washington State with all the green and visiting this preserve after the rains we appreciated seeing the green on the trees and the water in the creeks here in the Bay Area at long last!

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The highlight of having the rains and the creeks full of water is locating these little fellas, the California Newt Рwith the amazing camouflage they are quite hard to find as they blend in with the undergrowth but we did manage to find two. We may be going newt tracking as there will be more to be found in other parks around the Bay Рespecially Butano State Park. They are very hard to photograph too even though they are quite slow they easily get lost amongst their surroundings.

I took out my 50mm low light lens into the forest today to see how it performs under the shade of the trees and I am so impressed! I would have many more beautiful shots if I had thought of this when we were in Washington recently as the overcast day combined with the shade of trees made it pretty tricky to take pics. I love the detail of this lens especially for close up images of moss and fungi and I found so many after the rain.

 

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Entering the Golden Gate National Recreation Area – need to find more hikes
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Brilliant white fungi
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These are so special with the way they grow – so inspiring for textiles
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The creeks are flowing beautifully
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The mossy grandfather tree with the second growth redwoods behind
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After the storm, this tree came down across the trail
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Close up of a redwood cone and its babies

 

As an example of some of the images taken today with the 50mm fixed lens – you do get stuck sometimes if you want to capture more in the frame but it worked today for the subjects of close-up foliage and landscapes of the river. The trees can be tricky with their height depending on your angle.

In the BA Hiker info page, there was an emphasis on the signposts on the trail so I had to take a picture of this one with the horse and the Indian. As we were wandering through the trail I saw power lines going through and what is a power line without a pair of sneakers hanging from them – this runner must have had enough!

 

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Pegasus with a wig
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In honour of David Cronenberg’s Naked Lunch?
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Yum homemade granola and yoghurt
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Excited for his burger and chips!
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Everything has to have a side of bacon for this girl!
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Nothing like an ice cream for the Lady Liberty herself!

 

After our hike as we were in Woodside we visited a legendary cafe – (again something we have not experienced) for lunch. This place is called Buck’s of Woodside and they serve breakfast until 2:30 pm on public holidays so we were sorted following our hike. They did have a delicious choice of meals for lunch on the menu too! It is a place where my Uncle would just love as it reminded me of his House of Vintage back in Australia. What a collection of stuff in there and there’s a whole catalogue of it on the website as an added bonus the food was fresh and tasty and the service was excellent! (This is saying a lot for an American restaurant – usually, service is pretty mediocre, I come from Melbourne where the service is exemplary).

On our way home from hike and lunch it was our day to spend time with the ladies – the chickens, and they were so excited to get out into the sunshine and do their chicken yoga in the grass and run around. Here is Missy with her new chicken MichelleBella. And of course, as I had my camera I could not resist the goats on the farm!

 

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Oh, look at this cute pygmy goat!
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Ash hanging out with a baby goat

 

A piece a Week – Thanksgiving Camping at Little Basin State Park

Finally a week to relax and chill out РI mean literally! It was a two day week of school which was just lovely and the hubby and I got to go and see The Hunger Games РMockingjay part 2 which I loved! As it the trilogy was my favorite read over the summer. With the kids out from school from Wednesday it was time to just catch up on stuff and get ready for our visit to our friends place in Oakland for Thanksgiving. I made yummy key lime pies for dessert and we had a veggie feast of Quorn and amazing sides including a sweet potato mash bake with candied pecans Рyum! 
After our feast we had the leftovers ready for our weekend getaway of camping at Little Basin State Park РI booked the cabins in summer when we visited over June this year when it was nice and warm and I thought from our thanksgiving weekend at Napa last year with the rain it would be full of banana slugs. Unfortunately, this year we were like frozen popsicles due to super cold temperatures Рthe cabins are heated but with a heater that sits atop the ceiling it is quite inefficient!! As it turns out you can talk to the front office about getting a space heater for your cabin as they know! 
On our arrival the kids found the naturalist from the WOLF (Web of Life Field) School and we went searching for newts, slugs and fish in the creek Рthere was nothing to be found, the creek was dry and the weather was super cold! Not even a banana slug in sight, though we did find a lot of cool looking fungi. 
The kids with Sunshine the Naturalist from the WOLF school
The dark of night arrived just after 5pm and the weather was super cold by then and we had to get that extra layer of warmth on – meaning put on the thermals and add that extra knitted layer of cashmere plus another wool layer to keep the cold out. The fire was amazing but as soon as we hit the cabin it was a night of chills even in our sleeping bag and underneath a blanket – oh that space heater would have been amazing!!
Kids enjoying the fire at night after their one pot mac and cheese straight out of the Annie’s box

The next day after thawing out by the fire and having a very long breakfast and sleep in due to the super cold morning. Everyone stayed tucked away in our sleeping bags until one of the boys started a fire for breakfast. It was so icy cold and after breakfast we were ready for a short hike through the forest to get the blood flowing and some exercise.

From little trees big trees grow!

Playing with the equipment before the hike

Little berries on moss found on the hike

The morning we were leaving the overnight low was around -1 degrees C (30F) and the kids had found some frost on the ground which was so beautiful and very difficult to capture with a camera.

Their first discovery of frost on the weeds

A frosty stick 

Frosty stars in the grass

A frosty clover

Heading back for my breakfast of eggs in holes hot off a iron skillet on the fire I found some beautiful redwoods and acorns on the way back to the cabin. I always appreciate the view of the sunshine beaming through a grove of redwood trees.

Beautiful sunshine keep me warm!

An acorn family

Our cabin number 9 was a perfect hideaway

Thanks to some neighbors leaving on the Saturday who donated us some big logs of wood for our fire we were warm as toast for Saturday evening and Sunday morning it was pancakes on the grill by request of the kids.

Pancakes on the iron skillets – perfect!

Close up of the warmth of the fire, just toasty

Finally it was time to check out of camping and boy we were ready to head on home to our cozy houses and have a shower!

The gang outside our cabin ready to head on home!!